Release Dates for Russian River Pliny the Younger 2014, Beatification

Russian River Pliny the Younger and Beatification

I just got the latest Russian River newsletter in my inbox, and it brings tidings of good beer. The brewery announced the releases dates for two of its most sought-after brews: this year’s version of Pliny the Younger, its double IPA, and Beatification, a spontaneously-fermented ale that’s produced in small batches and is inspired by one of my favorite Belgium lambic makers, Cantillon.

Pliny the Younger 2014 will be released on Friday, February 14. Here are some more details from Russian River:

“Pliny the Younger’s 10th Annual Return to our pub in Santa Rosa will occur on Friday, February 7th, 2014! It will be available everyday (until we run out each day) for 14 days. Distribution begins the following week for local and no-so-local bar and restaurant accounts.   Younger has not even been brewed yet so allocations will not be set until the final yield is determined in LATE JANUARY. If you are planning a trip to Santa Rosa for the release, I will have a Younger page up on the website SOON with more information regarding hotels, what to expect, etc. So far one local hotel has expressed interest in extending a special rate to our Younger fans! Hopefully more will follow their lead. Horizon Airlines flies directly into Santa Rosa from Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Diego if you want to book your air travel now! Stay tuned…”

And here’s some new information on Beatification:

“We are finally releasing the next batch of Beatification on draft and in 375ml bottles on Saturday, December 14th, 2013!  This is a brewpub ONLY release.  Beatification is our spontaneously fermented beer, meaning that we add no yeast and allow the beer to naturally collect any wild yeast and bacteria in the air and barrels.  We call this style of beer “Sonambic”- a nod to the traditionally spontaneous beers brewed in the Lambic region of Belgium.  The pub will open at 9AM on the 14th for bottle sales as well as draft beer at the bar.  Customers wishing to purchase just bottles (and be on their way) will have a separate “queue”, while anyone wanting to enjoy a morning beer will be seated on a first come, first served basis.  The kitchen will open at 11AM as usual.  Bottles are $18/each, limit one case per person (subject to change). “

I’ve never tried either of these beers, and while I’m sure the Pliny the Younger is fantastic, I’d trade 12 growlers o’ Younger for a bottle of that Beatification. So, if anyone reading this is able to grab some bottles and wants to trade, please drop a comment. You know I have something else you’ll be interested in.

UBN

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Intellectuals and Beer

Ray Bradbury with Maine Beer Company Lunch bottle

“Beer’s intellectual. What a shame so many idiots drink it.”

- Ray Bradbury, The October Country

Every time I go to a professional sporting event, this quote from Mr. Bradbury comes to mind. So true. But lots of really interesting (and handsome) intellectuals drink beer, too. Like me.

UBN

Image (sans Lunch bottle) via LiveScience.com

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Beer, Calories and Your Fat Ass

Fat Man with Beer

During the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted effort to eat better, exercise more, drink less beer and basically get my shit together. I’ve never really been a health-conscious person, so all of these things were a challenge at first. Hell, they still are. But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and when I set my mind to something, I do it.

I set my mind to losing a bunch of weight, and so far I’ve dropped more than 60 pounds. My success can largely be attributed to a drastic reduction in the amount of beer I consume and a shift in the types of beer I drink. Like it or not, beer is not healthy, and frankly, drinking lots of beer over time will make you a fat fuck. Trust me, I know.

But I love beer. A lot. And there was no way I was cutting beer out completely. That meant I had to come up with some strategy for drinking beer that would not counteract all of my other efforts to get in shape.

The obvious answer: Drink only light beer. But therein lay a problem. Light beer, in general, sucks. It’s flavorless and uninteresting.

All of this got me thinking about the amount of calories in the beer I drink. After some cursory research, it became very clear that the amount of calories in beer is directly related to the alcohol content or alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV, the more calories. That 12-ounce Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, with an ABV of somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent, has many, many more calories than that Anchor Brewing California Lager, which has an ABV of 4.9 percent.

This may seem obvious, but I didn’t really think of it that way. So the calorie-conscious beer drinker wants to limit the amount of high-ABV brews he consumes or at least balance them out with some low-calorie beers. And, thankfully, low calorie doesn’t always mean “light beer,” or at least not the way the average beer drinker thinks of light beer. (Think: Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, etc.)

Allagash House Beer

“Session beers,” or beers with an ABV of less than 5 percent, are a good place to start. Session beer is quite popular today, and lots of great breweries are experimenting with the concept.  Though they’re generally less flavorful than “bigger” beers, I’ve found some session options that I really enjoy. The one that comes to mind is Allagash Brewing Co.’s House Beer, which unfortunately is only sold at Allagash’s brewery in Portland, ME. (I travel to Portland fairly often, and I always pick up a case of House Beer when I do.) Notch Brewing Co. and Full Sail Brewing Co. also make some quality session brews.

I still drink my fair share of big double IPAs and imperial stouts, but I’m much more conscious of the ABV of the beers I consume these days. And I’m always on the lookout for great, low-ABV session beers.

UBN

Image via HowToLoseBellyFatSoon.com

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Beer Nerd PSA: Cantillion Zwanze Day 2013 is This Saturday

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013

Just an (un)friendly reminder: Cantillon’s 2013 Zwanze Day is this Saturday, September 14. I wrote about the event last year, and believe you me, it was a blast.

Details on this year’s event and a full list of locations can be found on Cantillon’s website. Or read more about it here.

I’ll be at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA, on Saturday. If you spot me—I’ll be the guy with the Red Sox hat and the beer—leave me the fuck alone, huh? I’ll be busy drinking Cantillon.

UBN

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Dogfish’s Coolest Tap Handle Ever

Dogfish Head Uber Shark tap handle

Is this new Dogfish Uber Shark Tap handle the coolest tap handle ever? No, probably not. But I think it’s Dogfish’s coolest tap handle, at least of the ones I’ve seen. During the past couple of years, Dogfish has really upped its tap-handle game, releasing new tap handles every year, at least, and getting more and more colorful and creative.

Dogfish Head Uber Shark Tap handle

Some of the most interesting tap handles aren’t cheap—this one costs a cool $79, plus shipping—but any of the bars I drink at regularly should easily be able to afford it with the profits they make from my overblown drinking habit. (Give me more free beer, ya cheap bastards!)

Learn more about this tap handle, and other handles, at Dogfish’s online store.

UBN

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‘Gansett’s Jaws Can Enough to Make Me Buy Beer in a Can — but Not Drink from One

Narragansett retro 1975 Jaws cans

“It’s only a canned beer if you look at it before it’s poured into a glass.” – Urban Beer Nerd, 2013

I dislike canned beer. Not because it tastes bad, or even different. Most of the time, canned beer tastes as good as bottled beer, despite the now-long-in-the-tooth belief that beer tastes better from glass than aluminum. (Kegs are metal, too, right? You never hear people bitch about draft beer—unless it’s old or poured through a dirty tap line.)

It’s more of a mental thing for me. I drink quality beer, and cans feel cheap. So I pour just about all of my beer into a glass, if I can. One of my favorite canned beers, The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, specifically instructs you to drink it from the can. But fuck that. That’s what I have a Heady glass for.

After pouring a canned brew into a glass, I always recite the quote at the top of this post. (Okay, I’ve never said that before. I just came up with it when I saw Naragansett’s retro 1975 beer can this afternoon. But I’ll say it going forward. Maybe.)

One of my favorite films ever is “Jaws,” and one of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from a conversation between Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and Brody (Roy Scheider), which goes a little something like this:

Brody: It doesn’t make any sense when you pay a guy like you to watch sharks.

Hooper: Well, uh, it doesn’t make much sense for a guy who hates the water to live on an island either.

Brody: It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.

Hooper: That makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, to the point of this post: Rhode Island-based Narragansett Beer Co. has released the third of three 2013 retro beer cans, and this one’s a doozy, at least if you’re a Jaws buff like I am. The can was released in 1975, and it was “made famous in the ‘Jaws’ movie during the scene in which Captain Sam Quint, played by Robert Shaw, famously crushes a can of Narragansett Lager to intimidate Richard Dreyfuss’ [sic] character, Hooper,” according to ‘Gansett.

Jaws Quint Narragansett Crush It Like Quint

I honestly haven’t had a Narragansett beer for at least a few years, and the last time I did, I only drank it because I was in Providence, Rhode Island, and I wanted to drink local brew. It’s a decent lager, and I have nothing against the brewery or the beer—except the annoying “Hi Neighbor!” slogan. I try not to be influenced by gimmicky advertising, but I admit, I’m going to run out and pick up a 12-pack of these cans and then get drunk while watching Jaws. If you’re smart, you’ll do the same

UBN

Via Boston.com

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Awesome Animated Beer Labels Make Me Want to Start Drinking Right Now

Alchemist Heady Topper Motion

I don’t really have much to say about these fantastic animated beer labels from Beer Labels in Motion, except that they’re making it hard to be productive this morning. It’s cool to start drinking at 10 am on a weekday, while you’re in the office and supposed to be working, right? Right?

Pop on over to BeerLabelsInMotion.Tumblr.com for more.

UBN

via Gizmodo

Pretty Things Jack D'Or Motion

Clown Shoes Miracle Motion

21st Amendment Bitter American Motion

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Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 is Saturday, September 14

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

It feels like just yesterday that it was Zwanze Day 2012, but this year’s version is right around the corner.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 will be held on Saturday, September 14, according to a post on the Belgian brewery’s Facebook page, though no additional details on the actual Zwanze brew or the locations have been released yet.

Zwanze Day is held once a year, and it’s when Cantillon releases a small amount of an experimental beer, usually an interesting take on a lambic, at select beer bars across the word. (Learn more about Zwanze Day and check out my Zwanze adventures last year at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass.)

I recent shared a look at the 2013 Zwanze in bottles at the Cantillon brewery in Belgium, and I shared some information on a unique beer that may become the 2014 Zwanze brew. But this is the first official information I’ve heard about Zwanze 2013. Mark the day on your calendar right this instant, and stay tuned to this blog for updates on locations, which I will post just as soon I find them.

UBN

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Buying Belgian Beer Online and Shipping It to the US

Belgian beer bottles Cantillon Fantome 3F Rodenbach

A few of the beers I purchased from BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet

Being the Urban Beer Nerd that I am, I’m always on the lookout for rare, hard-to-find, unique and limited-release brews. Many of my favorite breweries are located in Belgium and elsewhere overseas. Often these breweries’ most unique beers are released in very limited quantities, and the brews that do make it to America are often difficult to locate and/or very expensive.

So a few months ago, I started researching ways to buy my own Belgian beer online and then ship it to Boston, where I can sit in the comfort of my own home with the rare beer of my choice. I was sick of only being able to drink Cantillon beers a few times a year and paying an arm and a liver for bottles when I could find them.

I came up with the following two websites, which I’ve since ordered from at least three times each and had no problems: BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet (BieresGourmet.be).

Before I go on, a warning seems appropriate: When you order beer online, you do so at your own risk. Depending on where you live, it may not “legal” in the strictest sense of the word to buy beer online from an international retailer to ship to your locale. And in many cases, shipping companies will not accept and deliver packages with beer in them.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll say that personally, I have not had any issues ordering beer from BelgiumInABox.com or EtreGourmet. And when the sites declared the contents of my boxes of beer, as is required by Customs, they usually wrote something like “lambic glassware” or “collectible bottles,” which was technically true because I usually bought glassware in addition to beer.

Anyway, both of these sites offer reasonable prices on beer from my favorite Belgian breweries, including Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Fantome, Rodenbach, Tilquin and Blaugies. Shipping is expensive, but it’s not too much more than the markup you’d pay for a rare bottle at a beer bar or through a retailer. For example, the last time I ordered from BelgiumInABox.com, I purchased a 750ml bottle of Cantillon’s 2013 Kriek Lambic Bio (about $13), a 750ml bottle of 2012 Fantome Saison (about $9) and a 3 Fonteinen gueuze glass (about $16) for a total of roughly $38, and the shipping cost around $43.

My previous EtreGourmet order looked like this: a 750ml bottle of Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (about $20) and two 375ml bottles of Oude Quetsche Tilquin 2012-2013 (about $25 for both). The shipping was about $53.

The shipping is expensive, but I’ve been willing to pay it for beers I would not otherwise be able to find in the United States. I feel confident my payment card information is secure, because BelgiumInaBox uses Ogone for payment processing, a well-known and trusted Europe payment processing service, and EtreGourment accepts PayPal. And both sites have HTTP Secure Web pages for payments.

My packages of beer arrived in great shape, and overall, I’m very pleased with the experience with both BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet. Another site that’s been recommended to me is BeerPlanet.eu, but I’ve heard rumors about some of the site’s shipments being held up in customs, so I never ordered from them.

I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post, because it may draw unwanted attention to these sites and services, but fuck it. A post like this would have been helpful to me when I was trying to fine reputable sites to order from, so I wanted to share my experiences.

UBN

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Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic ’13 Bottled Today, Very Limited Distribution

Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic label

I like Cantillon beers. A lot.

I’m always seeking news ways to obtain the incredibly-rare lambics, and I keep a close eye on the brewery online and in social-media circles.

This morning, Cantillon announced via Facebook that its super-exclusive, you-can’t-fucking-have-any-unless-you-live-in-or-near-Belgium lambic made with blueberries, Cantillon Blåbær, was bottled today. Only a single barrel, or 300 liters, was made. It will be shipped out at the end of June, but Blåbær will only be available at a specialty beer shop in Copenhagen called Ølbutikken. (“Ølbutikken” translates to The Beer Shop.)

Unfortunately, Ølbutikken doesn’t ship beers, but you can contact them and ask them to hold bottles for you if you plan to be in Copenhagen within the next month or so.

I will not be in Copenhagen anytime soon, so I guess Blåbær is going to remain on my Must-Have Beers list for the foreseeable future.

UBN

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