Archive for craft beer

Cans are good!

Posted in Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning, Random drunken griping with tags , , , , , , , , on 06/11/2014 by beerbygarth

The fine folks over at http://www.CANFEST.com (https://www.facebook.com/CANFEST?ref=br_tf) are having their annual Beer Blogger Contest, and the subject matter is why cans are awesome.  This works out perfectly, because the debate over cans vs bottles continues to go on for every new member entering the craft beer community.  The age-old argument of better taste, more “draft-like” qualities, possible off flavors due to packaging, safety, and what have you continue to permeate not just the fans of craft beer, but find their way all the way up the ladder to brewers and owners, as well.  I love a good debate as much as the next guy, so it’s time to throw my two cents in on the subject of CANS!

NOT THOSE CANS…that’s a different blog altogether.

There, that’s a little better.  Slightly outdated, but you get the point.

Anytime you find yourself discussing the craft beer culture with other folks, it is very common for the debate of cans vs bottles to come into the conversation.  Many times I have heard the aspiring beer snob declare “how much better beer tastes coming out of a bottle” or “how much closer a bottle is to draft over a can as far as flavor and body.”  No matter what the defense of their newly found anti-can rant, all I hear is:

Let’s tackle some of the jabs the canned craft beer segment is regularly subjected to.

1. Bottles give you a closer experience to draft than cans
I’m pretty sure your tap lines are coming directly from a keg, which really shares an insanely huge amount of characteristics with the cans you are degrading.  I rest my case.

2. Cans give the beer an aluminum/tinny taste
Most, if not all, beer cans contain an inner coating to eliminate any alteration of taste.  I don’t know hard numbers, but I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a study out there involving some sort of blind taste test of beers in cans and bottles and how little people could actually discern a difference.

3. I’m trying to avoid the BPA that the can lining gives off
Studies have shown that the low levels of BPA contained in the can liners is safe, per the FDA.  Besides, that BPA from the can lining is also on the bottle cap you just pried off with your judgmental self.  Boom!

Now, to stray away from the jabs, and look more to the positive.  Canned beer brings a plethora of pros to the debate.

-GREEN!!!
Cans save more energy all around.  They are easy to recycle.  They do not break, lending themselves more to being able to recycle, as well as being easier to ship for distributors.  In regards to distribution, cans are lighter and smaller, allowing increased volume/decreased weight per truck, which leads to less trucks/better mileage.  No matter which way you slice it, Mother Earth wants you to use cans.

-SAVE THE BEER!!!
The biggest enemy of beer is sunlight/UV light, and we’ve all seen the pictures of how much light is deflected by the different colored glass bottles, clear<green<brown and so on and so forth.  Guess what?  Cans block it all.  (imagine a dropped microphone here)

-PACK IN, PACK OUT
Cans are universally accepted.  Most beaches are prohibiting bottles…cans are welcome and accounted for!  A lot of outdoor entertainment venues are doing away with glass (and don’t you dare bring me a plastic bottle!), so bring on those cans!  You can load a hiking backpack full of beer cans and not worry the slightest about them breaking during your trip, as well as them being lighter to carry in general.

-COST
I’ve already listed how cans help decrease shipping, well this in turn costs the breweries less money, and well all know that means less out of our pockets for these wonderful brews.

-COOKING
You can’t successfully cook a chicken with a bottle of beer shoved in it, but a can is just about damn perfect.  Do I really need to keep going here????

It’s ironic, really, that people have turned against cans, which were truly the mainstream form of transit for all beer for decades.  I’ve always wondered if the original craft beer supporters tried to distance themselves from canned beer to try to further distance themselves from the Big 3 beer makers, in some way thinking that bottles gave them an immediate step-up from the lowly swill-swiggers?

In 2002, Oskar Blues became the first microbrewery to exclusively can their products.  At the time, this was unheard of.  According to a recent article on Beerpulse.com, the number of canning craft brewers has doubled in the last 18 months, raising the total count past 500.  The largest of craft brewers resembles this statistic, as the Boston Beer Co (Sam Adam’s) has recently begun canning, Sierra Nevada has been canning for some time, and more continue to follow suit.  Canning has even reached new heights, with breweries like Cigar City and Oskar Blues introducing the Crowler, which is a 32 ounce growler (basically) in the shape of a giant can, and said can is seem sealed right there behind the bar, containing your preference of wonderful liquid awesome.

I mean, c’mon people, this is the renaissance of canned beer, and we should not leave anyone behind in this adventure!

Cans are the future.  They make more sense, both in terms of logic and logistics.  Ultimately, they impart no ill effects on the beer they contain, and impart less of an impact on this great ol’ planet of ours.  Regardless, everyone is entitled to their opinions.  What I ask of you, my loyal readers, is that you take each beer unbiased, and ultimately, enjoy it.  And as always, drink educated my friends!

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Exciting milestone…for me, not my liver…he’s protesting…

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , on 05/18/2014 by beerbygarth

I recently officially reviewed my 2000th beer.  This list is a bit skewed, as I didn’t “officially” begin reviewing until after living in Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, and Anchorage, AK.  Seriously, all those “meccas” of craft beer, and I waited until moving to Ridgecrest, CA to begin officially logging my craft beer adventures.  What a dumbass.  Most people have these great, deep, philosophical answers to “What would you change if you could go back in time?” and my answer is to create a Beeradvocate.com account before moving to Portland.  Oh well, on to the fantastic number 2k!

I made sure to make it a worthwhile brew, sitting on this wonderful beer for a while after moving from New Hampshire.  Now, I bring to you, Firestone Walker Parabola, vintage 2013.

look closely, it’s technically a selfie…

The beer is jet black, with a light halo of off-white head. Pours very thick and smooth. Aromas are spilling out of this snifter from a good distance; this is a beast. Very rich molasses, vanilla, bourbon, woody notes, chocolate, and toffee notes provide huge layers on your sense of smell. Throughout the layers, you pick up hints of licorice, cream, cherry, tobacco, smoke and char. This smells great. Flavors are very rich, with a blast of char, bitter and roasted coffee, bitter dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, and heavy booze notes. This is a blast on your palate. The more you drink, more flavor profiles reveal themselves, including tobacco, peat, earthy notes, and smoke. This is heavy. The body is robust, smooth, and full, like old motor oil, which is the perfect body to support this cavalcade of flavors. Rich, thickly sweet aftertaste of coffee, chocolate, and molasses, this remains heavy from start to finish. The finish is thick, smooth, and lingering. This beer keeps you on the ropes from the moment you open the bottle, and I personally loved every second of it.  This beer is an annual release…FIND IT!  Once in your possession, feel free to delve into the rapture that is this brew immediately, or, for those of stronger ilk, cellar it, because I can only imagine this beast grows more smooth and lethal as it ages!

Milestones are fun, as long as you can make them fun.  It’s all about perspective.  Big beers like this, which some people refer to as “whales”, are actually fairly attainable, in comparison to other limited releases that require traveling to a specific brewery, going to a festival, etc.  That being said, it doesn’t always have to be rare to be a good beer, but sometimes, especially in this case, a rare beer is the absolute tits it’s been built up to be.  Regardless, the best beer out there is the one in your hands.  With that said, remember to drink educated, my friends!

 

 

Craft beer misinformation on a media destination…

Posted in Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning, Random drunken griping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/09/2014 by beerbygarth

Well, this day was bound to happen.  My favorite pastime while in my car is listening to talk radio, specifically Opie and Anthony (I do love Ron & Fez, too).  I’ve been a loyal listener to the show for at least 9 years, and many days of driving to and from people’s homes during the work day that show has been what’s gotten me through.  I knew, in my heart of hearts, that eventually craft beer would come within the crosshairs of their attention.  There have been mentions from time to time, but the topic rarely warrants more than passing conversation.  Erock dropping some fruity beers at Opie’s beach house, local NYC brewpubs providing food during the show, etc.  Today, somehow the show transitioned from Nancy Grace and the legalization of weed to craft beer, and I cringed as I listened to every comedic blow dealt.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this show.  I will continue to love this show.  If this particular post does nothing more than open a few more sets of ears to the show then I would be ecstatic.  That being said, I wanted to jump into the ring to defend craft beer.  Ultimately, nobody even remotely associated with the show is likely to ever set eyes upon this blog, and that’s fine.  Even if they did, at this point Opie would be doing a Sudoku puzzle, Jimmy and Anthony would be gawking at some young intern walking down the hallway, and Sam would be trying to figure out which host would be easiest to knock off and replace.  Without further ado, here is the clip from the broadcast this morning.  I’ll punch out timed bullet points for all the egregious errors and stereotypes thrown about.  Start around 16:50, and if you’re at work wear some headphones because the language gets a little fucking salty at times.

For anyone not familiar with the show, there are a ton of ongoing bits and inside jokes that are really frigging funny throughout any given episode, and it really is worth checking out.  A week or so into it and you can pretty much be up to speed on most running threads.

17:06 Jim Norton: “Blue Moon’s a beer?”
As happy as I am that there are people out there that have no knowledge of this shit product existing, that simple statement takes any validity away from Jim in a beer conversation.  This fact is fine given Jim’s ongoing sobriety, which is a monumental feat, and something anyone should be proud of.  Pride and accomplishment aside, your opinions on beer now mean as much as the shit you pay trannies to leave on your chest.

17:25 Opie talks about Club Soda Kenny stopping drinking because “kid’s don’t understand hangovers.”
This is a very true statement, but what’s great is the fact that adults do have the ability to understand restraint and responsibility.  The average craft beer drinker consumes 2-4 beers in a sitting at max.  Your shit swillers may be a different story, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I try to defend any of those sheep.

There is a topic here of hangovers and binge drinking for a few minutes which I think we can all relate to in some form or another.  Almost every fan of craft beer got their starts with the big 3, or one of their off-shoot brands, and likely have many similar stories.  The misguided keeping of a streak by The Opster is pretty goddamned funny.  They also go off the highway a bit with some college nostalgia here.  The “off the highway” phenomenon is pretty common on O&A, and leads to some great radio.  Don’t worry, it comes back to beer very shortly.

22:25 A listener calls in to rant about the shit that is Blue Moon.  Listener’s who call in are three types of people: 1)Brave, because if they have listened to the show more than once they should know that no matter how well spoken and eloquent their point they are probably going to be shit all over for some minute detail; 2) oblivious and crazy, thinking that the hosts are constantly talking directly to them through their receivers; or 3) assholes.

Anthony says “Any beer you mention that you like, someone will say what a shitty piss it is, and then recommend a beer they like.  Fuck you!”
He’s not wrong, and I wouldn’t argue that statement a bit.  One of the biggest detriments to the craft beer community is verbal and behavioral cannibalism.  Go on any beer community website and it won’t take more than two clicks and a couple scroll scroll scrolls to find some fucking troll ripping someone apart because of the beer they happen to like.

23:00 Caller begins singing the praises of Sixpoint brewery.
As he should, because Sixpoint continues to make fantastic beers!  Also, Sixpoint is one of the many breweries and beer related organizations that make it a point to give back to communities and charities through events and fundraisers, such as the annual Beer for Beasts event.

23:06 “…oldest frat boy in the world Opie…”
Great line, sir.  Seriously…great line.

23:55 This is where the caller loses some steam.  Resin by Sixpoint is a fantastic beer.  It’s one of my favorite DIPAs.  That being said, when you are talking to people who mainly consume watered down raccoon jizz, you need to offer more “bridge” friendly options, not a beast of flavor weighing in at 9.2% ABV.  Sixpoint makes some great tasting, light, sessionable beers like Apollo, Incredibly Mild Ale, Little Buzz, and so on.  You can’t throw these stalwart motherfuckers into the deep end right off the bat; you have to lure them into the waters slowly and gently.  These children of the 80s are fragile.

27:55 Anthony: “This guy’s a bore at a party, criticizing everyone’s beer…”
Again, I can’t argue.  As bad as the infighting in the craft beer community is on message boards and forums, there are way too many that love to jump down someone’s throat at social gatherings, completely unsolicited or initiated.

29:00 Jim makes a joke about “steering wheel” flavored beer in regards to wrecking a car when drunk.
Funny, but eerily similar to the stereotyping and gross generalization one cow-whore Nancy Grace was getting ripped apart for making a mere 20 minutes prior on this same broadcast.  I get it’s a comedy show and I get you need to make jokes and keep it moving, but right now I’m just being a nit-picking bitch, and that was definitely a noticeable parallel, so there. Pbbbtt!  Just because you drink beer doesn’t automatically mean you drive drunk.  I would love to see the stats on DUI and motor vehicle accidents where alcohol was involved and get a breakdown of how many were related to craft beer.  I’d be willing to bet it’s minimal.

29:30 Anthony: “You’re a wannabe kind of rich guy, but you’re a snob, hipster snob…”
All over the map here, but again, a gross generalization.  Most craft beer drinkers are not trying to look the part of well to do; instead, most craft beer drinkers are trying to conserve money, while at the same time getting more quality for the dollars they are spending.  Buying local has become a huge movement, and you truly cannot get more local than the beers being brewed in your city, or even your state, by companies that are owned by locals and make jobs for locals.  The snob comment is a tough defense, as I’ve previously admitted.  They are out there, but they aren’t all of us.  And hipster, absolutely not.  Hipsters drink PBR…just ask Pepper Hicks, that alcoholic centaur fuck.

30:20 listener “DoggyDaddy” from Rome, NY joins the conversation, and brings an underwhelming mass of garbage and mess with him.
Of course, as most follow-up callers are wont to do, he starts by saying the initial caller is full of shit.  Great gag.  Then, he states Sixpoint is made in Utica, NY and not Brooklyn.  Sorry dipshit, Sixpoint is in Brooklyn.  Saranac is made in Utica by the Matt Brewing Company.  Saranac was the beer you were looking for, you should-have-been-abortion.  If you are going to come in with a full head of steam talking shit, at least do a little fact-checking first.

Now you have two listeners talking to each other without listening, which leads to answering questions that aren’t being asked and both of them sounding like drunk-ass dipshits. #nothelping

32:40 Anthony: “…every fucking time I take a picture during the summer…someone catches the Bud Light…”
Again, the snobs and trolls coming out of the woodwork to attack the uninitiated or uncaring is not helping anybody.  Some people just don’t care, and that’s always going to be there.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.  It is ironic that these guys don’t care, though.  These guys, who worked their way through terrestrial radio to get to satellite radio, a service that people have to pay for rather than free FM.  I mean, by their logic of drinking what’s cheap, light, and mass consumable, shouldn’t we all, then, be listening to what’s free, light, and mass consumable?  Saving that SiriusXM subscription money for other worthwhile ventures.  Ultimately, it doesn’t affect them…they signed their contracts, so no matter who tunes in and who doesn’t they are getting paid, but it does make for an interesting analogy.

37:37 They bring in Erock, one of the producers, who admits to being a fan of craft beer.
Hooray, a man on the inside!  This is the best bet for turning anyone on the show.  Sam is a waste, because that overgrown child is emulating CM Punk in the straight-edge category, all while blasting his eardrums with pop-music horse shit and snacking on chicken fingers and other toddler foods.  I don’t hear Travis weighing in on any of this, but the man has good taste in music and sports, so there’s always a chance there, too.

38:08 Anthony laments about wanting to drink all day, which obviously limits him to the Bud Light realm, right?
Not true, sir!  The craft beer movement is ever-changing, and one of the more popular styles, or genres if you will, coming out now is Session beers.  Session beers are generally 4-5% ABV (depending on who you ask) or below, so you can drink a shit ton of them and still pass the day pool side, beside your velociraptor statue and pre-teen co-eds.

I can’t say enough how much I love this show.  Ask my wife, because I am constantly talking about it.  If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have gone to this much trouble to comb the hell out of a single episode.  When you really boil it down, Jimmy is a non-factor because he is dry and I can only hope he remains that way.  His comic genius needs to stay sharp and firing on all cylinders.  Anthony just doesn’t give a shit, whether it be due to laziness, cheapness, or that ingrained whiskey-tango gene that drives him towards quantity over quality.  Get on the topic of guns and that quantity over quality mantra would change quickly for our follicle-transplanted friend, but in all fairness a craft beer is not going to stop most home invasions, so that argument is fairly weak.  Although, Anthony does like Guinness, which is a gateway beer for many a people, so all hope may not be lost.  Opie is the best chance in this bunch.  He already has been dabbling in the shallow end of craft beer, and with a little push from Erock and a lot of hooks in the water, we might be able to lure that motherhucker over to our side.

The whole point of this spiel was to show how much nonsense was being spread about craft beer, despite the craft beer community’s best efforts to mass-educate in any way, shape, or form.  As I said before, I highly doubt anyone from this show or network will ever even catch the slightest wind of this blog.  If they do, I apologize to everyone I actually know who reads this blog, because I’m sure the pests of the O&A show will descend upon this blog, my facebook account, and every other online aspect of me out there, with a barrage of pictures of big dicks, Denny, and Scott & Todd references.  If it does get ignored, as I expect, just take this as a token that no mountain is too big to attempt to tackle.  As always, 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!