My female constituents, stand together and defend your better taste in #beer!

Posted in Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning, Style in a glass with tags , , , , , , , , on 07/09/2013 by beerbygarth

“Best Beers for Women to Order”

This video was posted on www.womensforum.com, and was brought to my attention via a forum post on beeradvocate.com written by member Higy.  The video, both in subject and delivery, annoyed me to the point that I won’t even touch upon the fact that I am citing a source named Higy.  Jesus, if that doesn’t wreak of an inside-joke frat nickname.  Anyway, I’m getting distracted…on to the video dissection!

“I’m gravitating towards this pretty, red one…”
First off, the premise of your video is a female consumer walking into a new beer bar, picking up a beer menu, and not knowing what to order.  I have lots of issues with this in so many different ways, but let’s make the easy tackles, because I tend to be on the lazy side (as most of you can likely discern from my frequency of posts here).  One, the beer menus in beer bars do not have pictures, so the fact that you are “gravitating towards” the lambic does nothing towards helping those venturing into uncharted territories.  Also, beer bars, in general, do not have glassware full of all of their beer offerings like a dessert plate at the Olive Garden that gets wheeled around to choose from.  Now, I have been around some folks that will look around an establishment and find something that looks “yummy”, at which point they will order that, but drinks aren’t always good to judge by looks alone.  My money would be on this particular person being a martini/cosmo type person, which would lead to her being drawn to the raspberry lambic.  Am I assuming and/or stereotyping?  Of course I am…that’s the basis for the article I’m bitching about, so turnabout is the most fair play I can think of.

“I can even smell the raspberries…”
No shit.  You can smell them so much that it makes your eyes cross, eh?  Please.  I pity the significant other that has to endure your ‘faking’ through other aspects in life.  The best explanation for the raspberry smell jumping out at you may be attributed to suggestion.  Now, don’t get me wrong, lambics can be ungodly fragrant, almost to the point of sugary sweetness, but on the flipside, there is a reason judges at beer competitions drink from unlabeled vessels.  The power of suggestion is a bitch.  If I say raspberries fifteen times while describing a beer to you, there is a hell of a chance that any fruit characteristics will seem like raspberry to you.  Of course, that thing looked like a liquid ruby, and chances are there was an “odeur de framboise” spreading out from that glass like a creepy mist in a Stephen King story.

“Women tend to gravitate towards the sweeter beers…”
So do diabetics, dick.  I know that my circle is nowhere near large enough to make generalizations, however I am married to someone who prefers Russian Imperial Stouts to anything, although retains the ability to appreciate the DIPAs, IPAs, and other monsters that I sometimes drink.  She does draw the line at Sours and Farmhouse styles, though.  And in that vein, I have a female friend who has developed a penchant for Sours, Farmhouse, and funky Belgian brews.  To spread this anecdotal cross-section a bit further, I’ve volunteered two years in a row at the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, hosted by BeerAdvocate and Harpoon Brewery, and I can tell you that all of the females do not ‘gravitate’ towards the lambics or all-pale brews, and there aren’t any ciders at the fest.  More on the cider part in a bit, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

“Lambics could also be very high, somewhere between 6 and 10%…”
Having moved on to the Belgian beer, our fearless leader in this journey of misleading stereotypes and gross generalizations reports on certain ranges of the styles of beer.  Belgians tend to have more fermentable sugar, leading to higher ABVs.  Okay, true in some instances, but there are Belgian styles coming out as sessionable ales, meaning ABVs are less than 5%. On the flipside, I have seen Quads as high as 25% ABV (although rare, but there are a couple out there).  Lambics, on the other hand, are more often lower in ABV, with some as low as 2%.  Bottom line, don’t start quoting numbers because styles are not solely based on their alcohol content.  Sessionability is an adjective.

“…and now we have ciders…”
And just when I started to worry this post was getting long-winded, we fall upon something that is not, in fact, a beer.  The title of the video is “Best Beers for Women to Order,” and the key word there is BEER.  This is along the lines of saying “…and next on the list of best cars for teens is a motorcycle…” Not going to fly.  Apples and oranges, my friend (not cider apples, either, and we’ll get to those damn oranges).

“…what about when I see the oranges…”
And now you have completely lost me.  There is a debate ongoing in the beer community regarding garnish with beer.  Some feel that the finished product (beer) should be consumed as-is, sans orange wedge/cinnamon-sugar rim/etc.  Others state that some brewers intend for the garnish to be part of the beer drinking experience.  I tend to side with the former…keep the fruit/sugar/shit out of my beer.

“…what, maybe, I can order…”
The joy of this country is that you can order whatever you want, darlin’.  Just because someone tells you “this is what most women order” doesn’t mean you have to do the same, nor does it mean that he/she is correct in that statement.  Make your own choice, build your own palate, and buck the stereotypes.

This blog entry was not an excuse to post pics of women drinking beer (although it appears to have turned into that rather hastily). It was written in defense of all of those I know whom have taken the time and effort to develop their tastes in craft beer.  Also, I wanted to let those new to the craft world know that any path they choose may be correct. People should choose their own way, sometimes with the aide of others, but never to be forced into a pigeon-holed box of norms.  Bottom line, to those new and old in the world of craft beer, drink educated my friends.

History of #Beer, Vol I

Posted in Beer Reviews, Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 05/16/2013 by beerbygarth

There is a lot of back story to the nectar that is beer.  More and more information is being discovered all the time, pushing the limits of what we think we know in terms of styles, flavors, brewing processes, availability, and even when beer was being made.  There are a lot of hands working diligently to discover and learn as much as they can from the sometimes convoluted and sometimes mysterious histories that make up the world of beer.  Many have seen the season of Brew Masters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brew_Masters) put out by the Discovery Channel, which put a large spotlight on beer and its origins.  Also, the writings of many beer historians provide insight into old recipes, old brewing log books, etc, etc.  I personally enjoy reading Ron Pattinson, both on his blog (http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/) and his articles in BeerAdvocate magazine (www.beeradvocate.com), and there are many others out there putting out a lot of interesting work.  As the craft beer scene in the United States balloons to astronomical numbers, both in brewers and breweries, it is sometimes fun and educational to cast an eye back on where this entire beer journey really started from.

One of the truly interactive and fun ways to participate in a self-driven study in beer history is being provided currently by Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (http://prettybeer.com/wp/).  Pretty Things has a series (http://www.oldbeers.com/) known as “Once Upon A Time,” in which they brew beers from historical records/documents/recipes, true to form, to open up a window into the past (of beer).  As they put it: “We do not interpret or attempt to commercialize these beers in any manner.  In fact you have our pledge that if history presents us with a less-than-desirable beer, you will taste this beer as it was. That’s our unique commitment to you.”  It’s like going back to the good old days without the shitty Delorean ride.

For today’s history lesson, I’ll talk about three particular brews from the “Once Upon A Time” series, and I’ll relay the brewer’s descriptions of the beers, as well as my experiences with each brew, all in chronological order of original brew date, as any self-respecting geek would do.

December 6th, 1855 East India Porter, 6.0% ABV

From the brewers:
“The recipe that we’re using dates back to a brewsheet from Barclay Perkins Brewery in London, from December 6th, 1855. As with our other historical beers, the EIP was brewed in a vast batch-size that we cannot hope to recreate. The “Porter tuns” were apparently over 3400 barrels in size (that’s bigger than any modern American brewhouse). So, we’re brewing at 1/34th that size, but so much else is the same.  We visited our favorite maltster, Thomas Fawcett & Sons in Yorkshire a few months before we brewed this. The Fawcett maltings has been around since the 1780s, this is pretty authentic stuff.  So we employed their lovely grain for this beer. Their brown malt is sublime; the amber was, and to some degree still is a mystery. It’s a lightly roasted malt and our guess was that it would accentuate the dryness of the beer. But why did they use it back then?  The hops are a different story altogether: 4.47 lbs hops per barrel (Kent Goldings & Spalt).  4.5 pounds per barrel! That’s a double IPA, and as many hops as the 1832 10.5% Mild had! It’s more than some of the hoppiest MODERN IPAs out there… Crazy!  So: our Once Upon a Time 1855 EIP is dry, malty beer with a substantial pipe-tobacco bitterness, dark garnet colour and 6% abv.”

From yours truly:
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark, hazy, chestnut highlighted brown-to-black coloring with a thin, frothy, foamy, off-white head. Great bright ring on the surface of this beer the whole time you are drinking.  Aromas are heavy of roasted coffee, both bitter and a bit smoky. Flavors are very heavily roasted, with a solid profile of coffee, both bitter and rich. Very heavy coffee profile throughout, as I’m sure was being relayed already. The aftertaste is bitter and roasted, with a hint of bittersweet chocolate notes. Dry, bitter, mid-lingering finish. Solid brew, and fun to see what brews used to be like back in the day, as they say.  Coffee lovers dream!

Once Upon A Time 1879 East India Pale Ale

From Pretty Things:
“We couldn’t help but want to brew a proper period version of the beer that started the craft beer movement here in the US and Ron came up with a brewsheet that launched many OUAT firsts.  Not only does this one use English hops as would be expected, but also hops from Germany (including hops from Alsace that was only recently ceded to Germany from France) and California.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  We don’t even grow hops in California these days so it was surprise to see a Yorkshire brewery using them in the 19th century.  First ever use of American hops in a OUAT beer.  This is also our first non-London historical recreation and we’re really pleased that it lands us in Leeds, England – home of Martha and where I spent several happy years working at Daleside Brewery in Harrogate. That’s one first.  Another first with this beer is that it’s from a brick and mortar brewery that only recently closed.  In fact I went to a meeting there in 2006 and had a great tour of their brand new packaging hall.  Oh well, sometimes history is even closer than we would have liked.  That said, I could only dream to have visited at Trumans, Whitbread or Barclay Perkins!”

From this intermittently dedicated author (who is working on consistency a little more now):
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, golden-copper coloring with a frothy, filmy, bright white head that eventually settles into a filmy coating. Nose of biscuits in the backbone, with a toffee sweetness, a touch of grapefruit tart, and a hint of hops bitter. The nose is very sweet, but very well blended and balanced. Flavors are balanced, too, but lend more to the bitter side. Initially toasty, with a lemon and grapefruit citrus blend that overcomes the palate rapidly, with a bitter and peppery hops profile following shortly behind. The bitterness is bold, and helps to clean the palate. The aftertaste is a bit on the bitter side, with the citrus tart still present, but slightly overpowered. The original biscuit backbone is a little lost, leading to a slightly astringent finish. Mid-bodied, which works to support the flavors, but the bitterness may “do in” some drinkers who are not fans of the hops, or accustomed to more bold flavorings. Interesting and very flavorful brew, nonetheless. I really like this series so far, it’s been fun getting to know these brews.

Once Upon A Time 1939 No. 1 Ale

From the horse’s mouth:
“This beer was originally brewed November 15th, 1939.  On that very day Franklin Delano Roosevelt  was laying the cornerstone to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.. Across the Atlantic a shift brewer in Edinburgh, Scotland was making one of the strongest beers his brewery had in its repetoire and it was called “No. 1.”  This dark, malty and sweet beer epitomizes Scottish beer of the day…and actually it was a peculiar recipe!  Not only does this recipe contain lactose sugar and require us to colour the beer mostly with caramel, but it also demands a “cereal mash”.  This one really is a beer from a comparatively modern industrial brewery.  So far in our list of historical beers we have beers reproduced from the years 1832, 1839, 1855, 1879, 1901 & 1945. Not one of them showed this type of complexity in the brewhouse. So it was a great joy and challenge to be able to tackle this beer.”

From a horse’s ass:
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a slightly hazed, dark, amber highlighted brown colored ale with a sparse, very thin surface coat of white head. Aromas of darkly sweet caramel and a hint of nut, with a sugary highlight that gives it richness instead of cloying. Flavors are just as rich as you would expect from the nose, with a deep, smooth ribbon of dark caramel providing a backbone that is highlighted by a touch of smoke and an earthy character that provides both depth and balance to the brew. Very rich, but surprisingly drinkable. There are subtle notes of alcohol throughout, but never anything that builds or overpowers. Smooth, full body that is lightened slightly by the carbonation. Roasty and rich aftertaste, with a sugary kiss, leading to a slick, slightly lingering finish. Really strong representation of the style, and possibly a good bar to use when tasting other Scottish Ales.  This was a really tasty beer!

These three brews are a start into this area of the beer world that I want to explore more, and drag all of you with me, kicking and screaming if I must.  In all honesty, there are some really great, unique beers being created/recreated due to this look back on history.  In this particular instance, we have Pretty Things, which is most readily available in New England…so, for those outside of that area, I guess either plan a trip or find a beer pen pal.  In all honesty, it’s worth the effort.  In future history lessons I will tackle the other offerings in the “Once Upon A Time” line, as well as some of the historical styles from Dogfish Head and other breweries.  It’s an interesting way to delve deeper into the awesomeness that is craft beer.  So brush off those history corners of your brain, and drink educated my friends!

#Beer list…let’s take a (really long) road trip!

Posted in Geography with tags , , , on 04/11/2013 by beerbygarth

http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/media/press-releases/show?title=brewers-association-releases-top-50-breweries-of-2012 The Brewers Association released its annual list of top craft breweries based on sales for the past year.  Everyone loves a good list, and everyone (I hope) loves searching out new beers to try, so how much more awesome could it get to combine the two??  I’ll tell you: it couldn’t possibly get any awesomer!!!

Even if you don’t fancy driving all over creation to visit each of the breweries (I can’t even fathom not wanting to, but to each their own), there will likely have to be some travel involved to get your hands on products from each of these breweries, due to distribution areas and what not.  So, that being said, let’s take a look at this little list, shall we?

1 Boston Beer Co.-they make Sam Adams…they sell nationwide.  This is one of the easier check-offs.  Readily available, quality brews, and responsible for bringing many craft beer drinkers over to the good side.

2 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.-another agent of craft beer recruitment, Sierra Nevada was one of the first in the biz.  With an East Coast brewery in the very near future, their offerings will be even easier to get your hands on.

3 New Belgium Brewing Co.- Fat Tire was one of the first craft brews I ever had, not even knowing what craft beer really was.  Ranger IPA is fantastic, as well.  New Belgium also planning an East Coast set-up soon.

4 The Gambrinus Co.-owner and brewer of Shiner Beers, which are brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Gambrinus also owns the BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Oregon, the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California and the Pete’s Brewing Company.  I’ve had my fair share of Shiner brews, as well as Bridgeport beers while living in Portland.  I think everyone has had Pete’s Wicked something at this point.

5 Deschutes Brewery-having lived in Portland for a time, I more than immersed myself in what Deschutes has to offer.  The result?  I miss it terribly.  Abyss is amazing, and their flagships are tremendous.  Bill Murray commonly sings the praises of Mirror Pond, and if you can’t trust Mr. Bill Murray, who can you trust?

6 Lagunitas Brewing Co.-some of my favorite beers, being the hop head that I am.  Hop Stoopid, Lagunitas Sucks, Brown Shugga, etc, etc…another brewery looking to spread east shortly.

7 Bell’s Brewery, Inc.-always finding itself on “Best Beer” lists, commonly with multiple representations.  Two Hearted is an all-time favorite of this author.

8 Matt Brewing Co.-having family in New York, I am frequently enjoying the Saranac offerings.  I have been pleased to see a more expansive number of styles coming from Saranac/Matt.

9 Harpoon Brewery-another Boston brewery, their IPA came on the scene 20 years ago, and they have been going and growing ever since.  A new beer hall recently opened in Boston, making visits even more tempting to all.  The UFO series is very popular, as well as their Leviathan line and Barrel Series.

10 Stone Brewing Co.- amazing West Coast brewery with a surprisingly far-reaching distribution.  That’s a good thing, because Ruination is my all-time favorite beer.  Their Enjoy By IPA has brought waves of anticipation throughout the craft beer scene, and they continue to innovate.

11 Brooklyn Brewery- currently celebrating their 25th anniversary, and I know this because I have a bottle of their 25th Anniversary Ale in my beer fridge right now…in fact, I may go crack that while I finish typing this.  Brooklyn cranks out great beers from a ton of styles, from lagers to stouts.

12 Boulevard Brewing Co.-I’ve only had three of their beers, but each was very different from the others, and all three were damn good.  Chocolate Ale, which is not a Porter or Stout that you would normally expect to see, but is a Strong Ale; Dark Truth Stout, which is rich, dark, and delicious; and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, a funky, tasty brew that hits all the marks for the Farmhouse/Saison style.

13 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery-“off-centered ales” is the DFH specialty, and owner Sam may be one of the more recognizable people in the craft beer world.  Their IPAs and World Wide Stout rank as some of my favorite beers out there, and the uniqueness of their new products continually coming out challenge the beer drinker’s palate, as well as introduce MANY to ingredients never seen in beers before.

14 Abita Brewing Co.-had for the first time going through NOLA on a cross-country trip.  Fell in love with TurboDog, while being also impressed with the bevy of drinkable offerings from other styles, including Purple Haze, Jockamo IPA, and AndyGator.  Now, I’m hard pressed to celebrate Fat Tuesday without stocking the fridge straight from the bayou.

15 Shipyard Brewing Co.-I’m from Maine, I could talk about Shipyard until I’m blue in the face.  Shipyard now brews all the Sea Dog beers, so that would keep me going even longer.  Fan favorites are Sea Dog’s Blue Paw and Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead.  Also worth searching out are the Pugsley Series, specifically Imperial Porter, Smashed Pumpkin, and Smashed Blueberry.

16 Alaskan Brewing Co.-the wife and I lived in Alaska for 3 months, and the longer time goes by the more I crave the offerings from Alaskan.  You can’t be there and not have their Amber, and the Smoked Porter they put out every year is legendary.  They are another brewery that has really been spreading out their line-up with new styles and year round offerings.

17 New Glarus Brewing Co.-amazingly still missing this fine brewery…it has been on my radar for some time, and I need to delve a little deeper into their distribution regions to figure out where I can pick some up.  I’m coming for ya NGB, I’m coming for ya…

18 Long Trail Brewing Co.-“Take A Hike!”  One of the better known and more widespread offerings from Vermont.  Actually went to a Long Trail tasting where pint glasses were handed out with tree seedlings inside…pretty cool.  Long Trail does a good job of switching up their sampler packs with each season, so it’s possible to get to try a lot of what they have to offer.  Very solid Pale Ale, and their Brewmaster Series is damn strong.

19 Great Lakes Brewing Co.-Edmund Fitzgerald.  Nuff said.

20 Firestone Walker Brewing Co.-California brewery known best for their Union Jack IPA, which is delicious.  Also, their Reserve Series is borderline amazing, some of my personal favorites being the Porter and Wookey Jack.  Also, I finally got my hands on some Sucaba this very evening, which I am very much looking forward to.  I’ll keep you posted…

21 Anchor Brewing Co.- Originators of the Steam Beer, a style known from other breweries as California Common due to Anchor having exclusive rights to the term “Steam Beer.”  Anchor Steam is a great beer, and they put out an annual brew around Christmas time called Our Special Ale, which changes its recipe each year.

22 Rogue Ales-more beer styles and offerings than I have ever seen from one brewery!  In the Oregon area, it’s impossible not to know Rogue.  Most know Dead Guy, but the favorites around this house are the Double Chocolate Stout, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, and Chipotle Ale.  Rogue also has their own farms (http://roguefarmsblog.wordpress.com/category/crops/) where crops are produced for their beers and other projects.

23 Summit Brewing Co.-from the Land of 10,000 Lakes…haven’t had any yet, so it appears I need to find a pen pal in Minnesota…

t. 24 Full Sail Brewing Co.-some of my favorite session beers, and oddly enough, they are called Session.  Available in 3 styles, Red, Black, and Fest.  Great brews.

t. 24 SweetWater Brewing Co.-I’ve only had the 420 Extra Pale Ale, but it was pretty good.  I’m looking forward to getting some more of their brews, because any brewery that can land it’s products on an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ is right up my alley.

26 Victory Brewing Co.-love the Storm King and Hop Wallop.  A lot of very hoppy, yet very unique brews.  Also, the Dark Intrigue, which is their Russian Imperial Stout, is wicked good.  I have a bottle aging, so it will be interesting to see how patient I can be before tearing into it.

27 Oskar Blues Brewery-behold the power of the can!  Dale’s Pale, Deviant, and Ten Fidy are all delicious…really can’t go wrong with anything they make.  Pretty solid distribution area, too, so most can get their hands on the flagship brews.

28 Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse- honestly hadn’t heard of this one until this list…apparently Minnesota is calling my name.

29 Flying Dog Brewery-strong beers adorned by label art inspired by Hunter S Thompson.  Gonzo and Pearl Necklace are the two I recommend keeping an eye out for, but any of the dog-themed brews are tasty, too.

30 Founders Brewing Co.- Founders makes BIG beers.  I have yet to try one of their brews that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.  Backwoods Bastard, Breakfast Stout, Double Trouble…I could go right down their entire list of beers.  Currently in a raffle for a shot at Doom and KBS…keep your fingers crossed for me.

31 Ninkasi Brewing Co.-Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian matron goddess of beer, and also a brewery in Eugene, OR.  Sadly, I’ve only had Oatis, their Oatmeal Stout, but it was delicious.  Always keeping an eye open for more from them.

32 CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.-operates 14 different chains/brands of brewery/restaurants, including Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Old Chicago.  I have visited each of these establishments separately, and the beers are decent.  These types of places are safe bets for traveling folk trying to avoid the shitty beer offerings common to a Chili’s/Applebee’s/Friday’s, etc.

33 Odell Brewing Co.-another brewery that frequents most “Top Beer” lists…and missing this brewery has actually been bugging me for quite some time.  High on my list…

34 Bear Republic Brewing Co.-write this down: Café Racer 15, Hop Rod Rye, Racer 5, and Red Rocket.  Now, go find them…you won’t be disappointed!

35 Stevens Point Brewery-I’ve only had a couple from here (Whole Hog and Nude Beach), but they were good.  A lot of good things coming from this part of the country, which is steeped in American brewing history.

36 Blue Point Brewing Co.-good things can come from Long Island (sorry, that’s my hockey fan side coming through).  Had the pleasure of seeing these folks at lots of festivals and events…I personally recommend the Toxic Sludge and Hoptical Illusion.

37 Southern Tier Brewing Co.-another solid brewery out of New York.  A lot of their regular offerings are very tasty, but it’s their bombers that I have been gravitating towards recently, providing some more heavy and rich offerings, such as Choklat, Crème Brulee, and Iniquity.

38 Lost Coast Brewery and Café- Eureka!  Okay, bad joke…introduced to Lost Coast while living in California, this one is a little tougher to find for those on the East Coast.  Pretty decent lineup, and their Imperial offerings tend to get more of the focus.

39 Karl Strauss Brewing Co.-another restaurant/brewery, this one found around the San Diego metro.  Very solid brews, and very tasty beer-infused menus.  Parrot in a Palm Tree comes out around the holidays, and it is worth timing a visit around its release.

40 BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery-another chain style brewery/restaurant establishment.  When we first moved to San Mateo, CA, we stayed in a hotel while searching out housing, and there was a BJ’s across the street.  Needless to say, we hit that a few times.  Same as the other places like it, decent food and tasty brews that beat the normal options.

41 Breckenridge Brewery-Colorado representing once again.  Most people really enjoy the Vanilla Porter, and they make some tasty IPAs, too.

42 North Coast Brewing Co.-Old Rasputin…my wife’s favorite beer.  Old Rasputin is also available annually in a barrel-aged offering that is very tasty.  Very solid IPA offerings that we have become accustomed to from Cali breweries.

43 Left Hand Brewing Co.-very large distribution area for this Rocky Mountain brewery.  Get your hands on some Milk Stout and Sawtooth.

44 St. Louis Brewery, Inc./Schlafly Beers-haven’t had this one yet, but this is likely the first to come off of my current ‘to-do’ list…I am working out a trade with a friend in the Lou, so hopefully some of these beauties will be coming my way soon…

45 Saint Arnold Brewing Co.-Texas’ oldest craft brewery, located in Houston.  Who do I know in Texas….hmmmmmmm……

46 Ballast Point Brewing Co.-another out of the San Diego area, they make a couple that are near and dear to this beer drinker’s heart (one more rhyming word in that sentence and I was going to jump off the nearest bridge).  Specifically, Sculpin IPA and Sea Monster Imperial Stout are worth picking up.  They also operate a distillery, making this a must-stop on your trip to San Diego.

47 Big Sky Brewing Co.-first ran into this brewery while driving through Yellowstone…my eye was caught by a big cold bottle of Moose Drool.  It was a refreshing, tasty brew, and sadly the only one I’ve had from Big Sky.

48 Allagash Brewing Co.-bring on the funk!  Allagash brings you beers with a heavy Belgian influence, including an array of Lambics and Wilds.  A favorite gem nestled in the beer city that Portland has quickly become.  My personal faves are Hugh Malone, Black, and Fluxus.

49 Uinta Brewing Co.-prior to this week, Uinta was a brewery I commonly bought when visiting beer shops in Massachusetts.  As of this week, Uinta distributes to New Hampshire.  Very excited.  Baba and Dubhe are strong, tasty brews, and the Crooked Line series gives some more unique styles a spin.  Uinta is also rolling out a canning line now, which continues to grow in popularity in the craft beer community.

50 Tröegs Brewing Co.-very easy to find on the East Coast….hit or miss on the West Coast.  Nugget Nectar is a beast, and the Hopback Amber is not far behind.  Located in Hershey, PA, drop the family off at the chocolate house and go get some beer!

Yet again, another reason to get out there and see the country while drinking some damn tasty brews!  Travel safe and drink educated, my friends!

Farewell to a #beer artisan…hopefully only temporarily…

Posted in Geography with tags , , , , , , on 03/19/2013 by beerbygarth

When I was a kid nothing consumed my being more than the constant scheming to get out of the state of Maine, the only place I had known to that point.  Visions of travel and planting roots anywhere else became my focus, leading me to a profession that actually allowed (and rewarded) me to travel coast to coast, and then some.  Despite my yearning to escape, there have always been things about Vactionland that I have held dear.  Not many, but a few.  One of these nuggets of nostalgia blossomed along with my love and appreciation for craft beer.  Maine has been one of the frontrunners in the recent craft beer explosion, and has been growing both in number and ongoing notoriety.  Current brewery numbers are 40+ in the great state of Maine, but unfortunately beer fans must bid one of these institutions a fond adieu.

R.I.P. Bull Jagger

Bull Jagger (http://www.bulljagger.com/), a microbrewery opened in Portland, ME in 2011, carved a niche instantly by tackling the more time-consuming and unforgiving art of Lager brewing.  Their flagship offerings of Big Claw Pilsner, Crimson Lager, Original No. 19 Baltic Porter, and Portland Lager spread in availability across Maine and into parts of Massachusetts.  Also, the crew participated in many beer events, get togethers, and festivals.  I had the chance to briefly mingle with them at last year’s American Craft Beer Festival in Boston amongst the thousands of people crowding the tables.  Always friendly and always more than willing to talk shop, talk beer, or even just shoot the shit.  Well, for reasons unknown at this time, the brewery has been placed on the market (http://maine.craigslist.org/bfs/3688915790.html), impending the forthcoming end of the Bull Jagger era, albeit a short one, in the Maine craft beer scene.

Copied from the Bull Jagger Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/bulljagger?ref=stream):

“Friends of Bull Jagger~

As some of you know, the brewery is for sale.  Bull and Jagger are going their separate ways, and under the circumstances, we have no choice but to close the company.  In the coming weeks, we will have fresh beer to package and sell.  Our lagers are and will be available in Maine through our distributor, retailers, and to the public while supplies last.

Tom Bull, co-owner and head brewer, has been asked by the owners of the Big Claw brand to work with another local brewer to brew Big Claw Pilsner (and keep Tom brewing in general) for the coming spring and summers seasons . . . and beyond.

A world of gratitude to all of you who have supported us– we have learned a lot, laughed a lot, and made lots of new friends along the way.

After the brewery is sold, Tom will regroup and continue to pursue the passion that made him Maine’s 1st all lager craft brewer.  Until then, enjoy our local lagers and keep supporting your local craft beers and beer sellers.

Drink up boys and girls, the brewery needs the kegs.

Prost!”

Goodbye BJ!

So, no matter how unstoppable the juggernaut of the craft beer movement may seem at any given time, no matter how much of a love or drive it is for those out there making and creating for our enjoyment, the bottom line is that this is still a business.  Sometimes, for reasons unforeseen, businesses move, and sometimes they close.  My point?  Don’t take anything for granted.  That brewery down the road that you’ve been meaning to visit for the past week…month…year?  It may not be there forever, so go down and say hello, make a friend, become a customer, and most importantly, enjoy what has been so painstakingly crafted for the sole purpose of being enjoyed, while you can.  And as always, drink educated my friends!

New Pope, time for a #beer….

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 03/13/2013 by beerbygarth

This guy stole Bob Barker’s microphone!

So there was some big to-do today about the big man with the tall hat.  What’s more amazing is that this dude is replacing the first pope to retire in OVER 500 YEARS…and no one is really digging into that?  Seriously, these guys die on the throne (not literally, that would be way too hilarious), and everyone just blows over the retirement and the record short 2 day election (or whatever the process is) to pick the new guy?  American Idol takes months to pick out some no talent ass-clown to have a solid future in benders and rehab, and the heads of the god patrol pick their new leader in 48 hours.  Amazing.  Some smoke came out of a chimney (imagine that), and now someone else is in charge of covering up molestation stories, committing tax fraud/evasion, and continuing a strong homophobic mantra.  I don’t know why the change is so esteemed…nothing is really changing past the scalp holding up that rolled newspaper hat.  Any who, what better beer to “celebrate” the new big operator of the Vatican than Big Operator from Big Boss Brewing?

Big Boss Brewing Company (http://bigbossbrewing.com/) hails from Raleigh, NC, and was started in 2006.  Their mission statement, from their website, reads as follows: “At Big Boss, we brew real beer.  Beer for people who appreciate the fact that while different styles of beer taste, well, different, a well-made beer always satisfies.  Big Boss is designed to be appreciated, but crafted to be enjoyed.  It’s a beer drinker’s ‘house brand’ – always satisfying.  Enjoy a pint when you’re out, and keep a few in the fridge.”  Words that play my heart-strings, that is for sure.  We are fortunate enough to have some great friends that live in North Carolina…family, really…and at one particular get together they hoisted a growler of Big Boss Big Operator, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale weighing in at 8.0% ABV.

Big indeed!

I had the beer in a pint glass, and it poured a jet black coloring with brown highlights and no head. The aroma was bitter coffee and fruity sweet, smoked malts. The beer’s flavor was heavy on bitter coffee, with very light undertones of raspberry ribboning throughout. A creamy body, but slightly dry at the same time. Very layered and dynamic throughout the drink. There is a fruit-sweet, malty aftertaste, again with a hint of raspberry. Smooth, subtle, slow transition finish, starting with the bitter and sweet fruit and quickly, but quietly, trailing off to nothing. Very, very tasty. Would make a good ice cream float, too, I’m willing to bet.  Either way, worth getting your hands on this one, if you can.  Cue the music…

I poke a lot of fun at religion, but I poke a lot of fun at most staunch, outdated institutions.  I mean, look at all the barbs I throw in Anheuser-Busch’s direction.  Bottom line, I don’t really care about people’s affiliations in matters of religion, politics, etc.  I care about craft beer, and it’s because of this care that I attempt to tie in with current culture and news the greatness that is the craft beer movement, to show some sort of twisted parallel, and perhaps win some people over to the side of taste and quality.  No matter the means, winning “beer drinkers” over to the good side is worth any amount of effort.  Whatever the reason some may need to celebrate any given day, drink educated my friends!

A big #beer from Delaware to ease some pain…

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , on 02/27/2013 by beerbygarth

1no·ble

adjective \ˈnō-bəl\

Definition of NOBLE

1
a: possessing outstanding qualities : illustrious
b: famous, notable <noble deeds>
2
: of high birth or exalted rank : aristocratic
3
a: possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties <noble wine>
b: very good or excellent
4
: grand or impressive especially in appearance <noble edifice>
5
: possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals : lofty <a noble ambition>
6
: chemically inert or inactive especially toward oxygen <a noble metal such as platinum>
noble-rot-label-small-border

There’s a family in Delaware that’s going through some “things” right now.  Hell, not just one family, but an entire state, really.  I mean, this is a giant shot to the eye for the state of Delaware itself.  When something this unexpected and tumultuous happens, when things are rushing down the shitter at an incredible speed, it helps to take some time to step away (as much as you can) and “pull out” from the current situation.  What better way to accomplish this feat than by cracking open a bottle of Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot.  Brewed right in your backyard, this beer is a heavy hitter.  Weighing in at 9.00% ABV, quaffing a couple of these will have you forgetting that ugly hotel room bedspread that is haunting your subconscious in no time.  I highly doubt you will be focusing on the finer details and intricacies of this fine brew, leaning yourself more on the alcohol component, but for the rest of my faithful readers, let’s delve into this beauty a little deeper (oooh…bad choice of words, I suppose).

photo taken by newsviewsandbrews.blogspot.com

photo taken by newsviewsandbrews.blogspot.com

The most recent time I had the pleasure of enjoying this brew, it was poured on-tap and served in a snifter.  The beer is a bright, vibrant, almost clear yellow coloring with a healthy, white, fluffy, frothy head. Aromas are rich in vino characteristics, with a white grape and boozey blend that is light and effervescent. Flavors are also wine-like, as is the body. This is borderline pinot gris. Sweet, smooth, and slightly dry grape characteristics with a rich, sugary body that avoids cloying. It really is like drinking a glass of carbonated wine. Slick, loose film along the glass as you drink. The aftertaste is tart, and slightly drying. A sweet, heavy finish that is slightly tart, leaving a bit of a pucker feeling in the mouth. Very unique, that is for sure.  This is a fantastic option for wine drinkers looking to venture into the ever-growing beer world.

"Oh, I lost my crown!"

“Oh, I lost my crown!”

I realize that reading through the review, some might ask “why the extraneous use of ‘tart’ as a descriptor?”  Well, once you piece together the not so subtle underlying joke throughout this review, you will realize that ‘tart’ is insanely appropriate.  That being said, to get back on track, DFH makes some incredibly unique styles of beer, almost pushing the limits of the definition of beer itself.  This particular brew embodies their style and flair, and it should be one you look for.  As I said earlier, it’s a good transition for wine drinkers into the beer foray, but that door could easily swing both ways (hehe), serving to bridge some beer drinkers over to the wonderful world of wine.  Flavor is flavor, and to only focus on one avenue means missing out on entire worlds.  Keep your minds and palates open, and as always, drink educated my friends!

punchline

Disney #Beer???

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on 10/31/2012 by beerbygarth

So, for the past few days I was trying to hammer out a way to tie in a beer review with the whole Sandy Superstorm.  I kept coming up on shandy reviews, thinking I would sprinkle in Grease pictures, but I have yet to find a shandy I truly looked upon with any level of favorability.  When I thought all was lost, I happened to spy on one of the televisions at the gym that Disney had purchased LucasFilms.  BINGO!!  Back in business…natural disasters be damned (although this may turn out to be one in the end!).

Disney has been on a shopping spree in the past decade in an attempt to lure in male audiences…basically of all ages.  I mean, some males get sucked in when they take their kids to the cartoon features, but for the most part, Disney didn’t really have much to offer a little boy past the age of 6.  Step 1, they bought Pixar.  Okay, you now have the Dads you had, the boyfriends who are taking their girlfriends to see Toy Story, and younger males up to the age of 8 instead of 6.  Then, smartly, Disney bought Marvel.  At first people might scoff, seeing as how the comic book forum is a slow dying breed, but with the pulp classics that I and many others grew up with came the movie rights to all of the major powerhouse characters (minus Spidey, Punisher, and FF, among some other flops).  In all honesty, who didn’t see Avengers crap plastered EVERYWHERE last year??  So, now Disney has lured in the male audience from the wee ages of 4 all the way to mid-life crisis.  Good to go, right?  Well, what if someone said there were some closet geeks that had fallen through the cracks?  How will that play into Disney’s plans for world domination?  Apparently not well, as in the midst of the east coast destroying Frankenstorm that was Sandy it was announced that Scrooge McDuck loosened his purse strings to the tune of 4 billion dollars to purchase LucasFilms, and possibly more importantly the rights to churn out more sequels to Lucas’ crown jewel that is Star Wars.

I love Star Wars…not enough to go to the festivals or cosplay or any of that shit, but I love them all the same.  That being said, Episodes I-III were painful…the most painful, for me, being Episode I.  Jar Jar Binks made me look on the Ewoks like they were equivalent to Kevin Spacey’s character John Doe in Se7en.  Seriously, even as a kid I hated the Ewoks, and then there was Jar Jar.  What a cinematic clusterfuck that character was.  It was bad to the point that his brief cameo in Episode II physically angers me every time I see it, and he was barely in the movie.  No matter how bad those three flicks were to many, I find myself unable to really tear myself away when they are on the tube.  The story, on the whole, is classic and alluring.  The characters (for the most part) are endearing and dynamic.  The galaxy far far away just sucks me in.  So, would I be willing to watch a new sequel?  The Episode VII that has been rumored since the release of the A New Hope?  You bet your Jabba I would!

“But Garth, what does this have to do with beer?” you might ask.  Well, actually, you probably wouldn’t ask that, because until now most people didn’t look around to see what my name was, and with the length of this post, I’m sure I lost at least half of the people who didn’t bail on the premise of this being a Star Wars related post.  To those of you dedicated enough to read this far, I say “BRAVO!”  I also implore that you recommend this site to your like-minded, beer enthused friends…I’m trying to get my numbers up!  Anyway, the tie in is in the beer itself.  Today, fellow ale-conners, I present to you Imperial Stout Trooper from the New England Brewing Co (http://www.newenglandbrewing.com/) out of Woodbridge, CT.

Imperial Stout Trooper was originally released in 2006, packaged in 12 ounce bottles.  The following year, nothing, but that wouldn’t slow down the behemoth that is this brew.  In 2008, the 12 ounce bottle returned, and in 2009 they made the switch to the 750ml format…more bang per bottle!  In 2010, for aesthetic purposes, they added Groucho Marx glasses and mustache combo to the label art.  Nice touch, if I don’t say so.  I will admit that this one is tough to find…if you live in New England you have a decent shot when it is unleashed on the shelves.  I don’t know their exact distribution geography, but outside of New England, I wish you luck.  Now, on to the beer.

This review is a 2012 vintage. Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is jet black with a low profile, dense, creamy, chocolate milk colored head. Aromas are creamy, with a mocha blending, leaning slightly on the bitter side. Flavors are supersmooth, with a healthy underlying kick from the ABV. Bitter and dark roasted coffee throughout, with some dark, bittersweet chocolate overtones and earthy, roasted highlights. There is a subtle sweetness that jumps in at the end of the palate…seems like a tangy caramel. The body remains smooth throughout, but is light enough to be drinkable. Another solid boozey bite in the aftertaste, as well as a roasty and bitter blend. The finish is smooth and bitter at the same time; creamy, yet sharp. Very dynamic, solidly brewed RIS. Delicious!

So, the storm trooper connection is obvious.  At the end of Episode VI, which is the third movie in the original trilogy (if that’s confusing then you weren’t a real Star Wars fan, not that there’s anything wrong with that!), the storm troopers, along with everyone else, was running their asses off of an exploding Death Star.  I’m not sure if the storm trooper will have a place in the new trilogy, but that won’t stop me from cracking a few of these heavy ass stouts to celebrate the planned Episode VII release in 2015.  Until then, why not throw in A New Hope, sit back, and sip on this heavy hitting beast of a beer.  Sounds like a fun, SciFi themed beer night to me, and from previous posts you all know how much I love a good theme drinking night!  The hard part is going to be getting your hands on the beer, but the fun is in the chase…and you never know what gems you may stumble upon while searching for something like this.  May the force be with you, and as always, drink educated my friends!