Monthly Archives: December 2012

Beery Christmas and Hoppy Holidays from Your (Un)Friendly Urban Beer Nerd

image

Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time of year when families and friends gather together to eat (too much) and drink (too much), give each other gifts they can’t really afford that nobody really wants and fight (thanks to too much drink) over animosities that built up during the past year. Joy.

Or maybe you’re one of those happy people who actually enjoys the holidays. If so, fuck you ya happy bastard.

This is the last post of 2012 for this Urban Beer Nerd because as much as I enjoy writing this blog, my day job is also writing and editing, so posting still kind of feels like “work” to me. And I really need a vacation.

That said, I wish you as beery a Christmas as possible and an extra hoppy New Year. Thanks for reading, and see ya in 2013.

UBN

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Barfly’s View: Deep Ellum in Allston, MA

Deep Ellum Barfly's View Allston Boston MA

Deep Ellum is a chic, atmospheric beer/cocktail bar in Boston’s Allston neighbor, which is commonly referred to as the city’s “college ghetto.” At least that’s what I call the area, thanks to its large population of college kids and recent college graduates fucking around before starting Real Life. Allston is also Boston’s hipster center; the only place I’ve been with more hipsters per capita is Brooklyn, New York. (The bar is named after the Deep Ellum section of Dallas, Texas, which is known for its music and nightlife scene.)

Though Deep Ellum is located right in the college kid/hipsters zone, it’s not really a college hangout or hipster haven; it’s a little of both, I guess, but it’s also a great beer bar staffed with passionate and knowledgeable bartenders and waiters. It is without a doubt one of my 10 favorite beer bars in Boston. (Check out my full list of the Best Boston Beer Bars.)

One of the coolest things about Deep Ellum is its unique atmosphere. The bar top is made of glossy, dark wood; there are black and white television sets in both corners of the barroom, and they only play random old movies, sometimes just static, with no sound; reddish-orange lamps hang above the bar and lend an amber hue to the dimly-lit room; and a network of overhead fans powered by and connected to each other by rubber belts provide an industrial flair.

Deep Ellum Bar Boston Allston MA

The bar has 25 or so taps on at any given time, with many local brews and limited-release or hard to find imports, including many great Belgian ales. Deep Ellum has a cask. And its bottle list is impressive. In fact, you’ll often find bottles of Cantillon and other rarities. Deep Ellum is also known for its wide array of cocktails, but I don’t drink cocktails, so I don’t have any firsthand experience with them.

The food at Deep Ellum is upscale comfort food, and it can be a bit pricey. I’m particularly fond of its appetizers, especially the handmade pretzels with beer cheese and mustard. I’ve had dinner there a few times, but I find the entrees to be overpriced, so I stick to the snacks for the most part. (The bar is also connected to the popular Lone Star Taco Bar, so you can just walk next door for food if tacos are your thing.)

Deep Ellum’s bartenders are cool and willing to chat up beer nerds. Nicole, in particular, gets a big shout out from me because she knows her shit and she really brightened up my day last Friday when I was having a personal poor-me pity party. (Thanks Nicole.)

Any beer nerd looking to hit up the best bars in Boston should have Deep Ellum on his or her list. Learn more about Deep Ellum on the bar’s website.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Recipe for Beer-Infused Caramel Popcorn

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Beer Caramel Popcorn

Sierra-Nevada Brewing Co. just posted what seems like an interesting recipe for beer-infused caramel popcorn. I say “seems like” because I haven’t actually tried it. But how can you go wrong with beer, caramel and popcorn?

The Sierra recipe suggests you use the brewery’s tasty Celebration Ale, which is a very nice American IPA. You could use any brew of your choice, really, though dark, malty, spicy winter-seasonal ales will probably work best. Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Christmas Ale comes to mind. And beery caramel corn will surely make a nice addition to any beer-nerd holiday fête.

Here’s Sierra recipe for caramel popcorn with Celebration Ale, from its head chef:

  • 2 cups popping corn
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups toasted nuts (e.g., pecans, almonds, peanuts)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries)
  • Non-stick vegetable oil spray

Caramel sauce consisting of:

  • 1/2 cup Celebration Ale
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

“In a large pot with a lid, add the vegetable oil and the corn. With the lid on the pot, cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot continuously for about 8 minutes or until all of the kernels are popped. Pour the popped corn into a large bowl and set aside.

“In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine Celebration, water, sugar, salt and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is dark amber—about 300 degrees. Remove from heat, add baking soda and butter and stir for about 30 seconds. Caution: This will produce considerable steam. Use a long whisk and avoid touching the top of the sauce pan.

“Working quickly and carefully, pour the caramel sauce over the popped corn. Stir to coat the popped corn evenly. Add the nuts and fruit. Pour the final mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Note: Caramel sauce needs to be hot to mix effectively. Be mindful of timing.”

Pop on over to Sierra’s website for some pretty pictures of the cooking process.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Relive Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 with T-Shirts and Tulip Glasses

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 Tulip Glasses

Saturday, December 1 was this year’s Cantillon Zwanze Day, and I was fortunate enough to attend a Zwanze celebration in Cambridge, MA. (For information on Zwanze Day and a recap of the Zwanze Day event , read this post.)

Like many beer nerds, I collect beer glassware. And some of the more difficult glasses to obtain are Cantillon glasses. Sure, you can order some of them online from Belgium, but the shipping costs more than triple the price of an already expensive glass. So I’m always on the lookout for different ways to obtain Cantillon glassware.

Prior to the 2012 Zwanze Day celebrations, I’d read a number of recaps about Zwanze events in past years at which attendees could purchase Cantillon Zwanze glasses. So I was really looking forward to grabbing a few at Lord Hobo in Cambridge. But unfortunately, Lord Hobo didn’t have Zwanze glasses or any other Cantillon crap for sale. (I later read that the bar was supposed to get t-shirts and glasses, but they never showed up on time, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not.)

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 T-Shirt

So I had to take things into my own hands. After some online research, I found a liquor store in Chicago that’s selling both Cantillon Zwanze 2012 tees and tulip glasses. The glasses have the West Lakeview Liquors name on them, but that’s a small price to pay for a unique Cantillon glass. (West Lakeview hosted its own Zwanze celebration on December 1.) Now if you didn’t attend any of the events, or you’re just not particularly interested in Cantillon glassware, you might be wondering why you should care. But if you’re thinking that than fuck you, man, I didn’t tell you to read this post.

If you do care, you too can get yourself Cantillon Zwanze 2012 glasses and t-shirts from West Lakeview Liquors. The glasses cost $9.99 each, and I paid $21.99 for my shirt–$19.99 plust $2 for the XXL size. The glasses have the liquor store’s name on them, but I don’t mind. And the t-shirt is the definition of beer-nerd chic, with a small Cantillon logo on the front left breast and a list of all the 2012 Zwanze Day locations on the back. West Lakeview even still has a few Zwanze Day 2011 t-shirts, if you’d rather than vintage.

Visit the store’s website for more details on the glasses and tees. But you should act fast if you’re interested; the glasses in particular will be gone before long.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Details on Russian River’s Pliny the Younger 2013 Release

Russian River Pliny the Younger tap handle

Every year, on the first Friday of February, Sonoma County, California-based Russian River Brewing Co. releases its limited triple IPA, Pliny the Younger. So the fact that the 2013 Pliny the Younger will be released at Russian River’s brewpub on Friday, February 1 isn’t really news. But Russian River also shared some new release details on its Pliny the Younger 2013 in a new blog post.

If you’re not familiar with Pliny the Younger, you’re not paying close enough attention. Or you’re just not as big of a beer nerd as I am. Pliny the Younger is the “brother IPA” to Russian River’s stellar Pliny the Elder double IPA, which is one of my favorite IPAs, if not my single favorite IPA in the whole damn world. It’s fantastic. I admit, I’ve never had Pliny the Younger, because it’s made in very small quantities and only served at Russian River’s brewpub and at select local bars and establishments. But some day I will make a trip to wine country in February with the sole goal of securing a few pints of Pliny the Younger.

Now, those 2013 release details I mentioned, from Russian River:

“Pliny the Younger will be released at our brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa on February 1st, 2013 (always the first Friday in February)!  Younger will be available on tap in 10 ounce glasses (no growlers or bottles) for 2 weeks, or 14 days.  We will allocate a certain amount each day until we run out for the day.  Last year we had very few days where we ran out at all!  The last day we will have it at the pub will be February 14th.  Last year the wait was up to 5 hours, and sometimes there was no wait at all.  It’s a bit unpredictable, however, except on weekends where you can definitely expect the longest wait.  We have learned that waiting in line can be fun and can even lead to new relationships, especially after several glasses of Younger!  So please use the buddy system while getting “Younger” at our pub (your friends will hopefully look out for you!).   As far as distribution is concerned, we usually start distributing a small amount of kegs to our accounts and distributors right after we release it at the pub.  We are planning to brew the same amount this year and release the same quantities for distribution, but who gets what is yet to be determined.  First batch of Younger will be brewed this Thursday at the pub!  I saw the man himself hand-selecting this year’s Younger hops just last week… artist or mad scientist?  Probably a lot of both :-)”

And a description of Pliny the Younger, from Russian River’s website:

“Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.”

UBN

Image via Brewniversal.com

Tagged , , , , , ,

Official BeerAdvocate.com Mobile Apps Coming Soon

BeerAdvocate.com Mobile Web App

UPDATE: It looks like BeerAdvocate is also working on a mobile app for the upcoming, sold out Extreme Beer Fest in Boston this February. (You bet your ass I already have tickets.)

BeerAdvocate.com just posted what I think is the first image of its upcoming, official BeerAdvocate mobile app on Twitter. It’s unclear when exactly the application will be released, but it is apparently “in development.” And the apps will be Web apps, meaning they’ll run in the mobile browser and will work on all platforms. (There are some disadvantages to Web apps vs. true mobile apps—they cannot take advantage of certain device features, such as notifications, for example—but at least the BeerAdvocate apps won’t be restricted to just one or two platforms.)

The app is noteworthy because though BeerAdvocate.com is probably the single most popular beer-related website on the Internet, it does not have a mobile app. Third-party mobile developers have created BeerAdvocate.com mobile apps in the past, and some were even distributed via major app stores including Google’s Play Store. But they were quickly, removed, presumably at BeerAdvocate’s request.

BeerAdvocate’s mobile app could also have a direct impact on similar beer apps such as Untappd, my personal favorite beer app, due to BeerAdvocate’s massive user base. (Just last week, BeerAdvocate.com’s Todd Alstrom tweeted that the site is now serving up around 800,000 views per day on average.)

UBN

Tagged , , , , , ,

Boost Your Beer IQ with Free Beer Guide

TotalWine.com Total Guide to Beer

True beer nerds pride themselves on their beer and brewing knowledge, or their “beer IQs.” The best way to boost your beer IQ is to drink lots of different kinds of beer and then learn why certain styles taste the way they do and how they’re made. TotalWine.com’s “Total Guide to Beer” is a great place to start, or continue, your quest for true beer understanding. It’s packed with great information on beer styles, the history of beer, beer glassware, cellaring and aging beer, and much more. And the price sure is right: Free.

I’ve read through most of the guide, and I’ve found it to be quite valuable. You can view TotalWine.com’s beer guide online in your browser here; iNerds can download an iBook version from iTunes; and technophobes can find paperback versions using this store locator.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Brewery Ommegang, HBO to Release ‘Game of Thrones’ Inspired Beers

Brewery Ommegang Gang of Thrones Beer

Ah, more lame beer-related marketing stunts.

“Game of Thrones” is an HBO show about medieval nights and dragons and shit. At least I think it is; I’m a beer nerd not a regular fucking nerd and have no time for fantasy TV. Brewery Ommegang is a Cooperstown, New York-based brewer of Belgian-style beers. And HBO and Ommegang are teaming up to create a lineup of Game of Thrones beers that will be released next spring, according to The New York Times Arts Beat blog.

From the NYT:

“HBO is set to announce that it will team up with Brewery Ommegang, a Belgian-style brewery in Cooperstown N.Y., to create beers based on themes and characters in the fantasy series adapted from the novels by George R. R. Martin.

“The first beer, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, will be inaugurated nationwide in late March, to coincide with the Season 3 premiere of “Game of Thrones,” which is scheduled for March 31. Three more beers are planned, with the second to be released next fall. The others will follow in subsequent seasons.”

I don’t have strong feelings, positive or negative, towards Ommegang, but this does seem a little weird. Great beer doesn’t need goofy marketing gimmicks. And goofy marketing gimmicks cheapen great beer. This I know. But I also know that these Game of Thrones beers will probably pair well with this crazy-ass chainmail beer stein.

UBN

via ArtsBeat.Blogs.NYTimes.com

Tagged , , , , , ,

SaveOnBrew.com Helps You Find Deals on Already-Cheap, Terrible Beer

SaveOnBrew.com Beer Deals

This morning, I came across a new website called SaveOnBrew.com, which, as its name implies, is designed to help you save money on beer. Sounds good, right? The only problem: The site is useless right now, at least to me, because it only shows deals on shitty beer at completely random liquor stores and markets.

For example, I searched for deals on any and all beer within 20 miles of Boston, a major city, and SaveOnBrew.com found less than a dozen deals at only two liquor stores. Every single “deal” it found was for beer I wouldn’t drink if you paid me. (Natural Light, Genessee, Keystone Light, etc.) Not one deal on one craft beer. And the site also serves up ads for shitty beer like Coors Light.

To be fair, SaveOnBrew.com is new, and it will naturally take some time to build a database of participating stores—right now, it looks like somebody from a liquor store or somebody familiar with that store actually needs to list every deal. As for the lack of any decent beer, SaveOnBrew.com says “we just post the deals. We don’t decide what goes on sale, or what appears in an ad. We’re like the United Nations of Beer, all are welcome, with malice toward none. All SaveOnBrew does is show the lowest ADVERTISED price.”

Saving money on beer is great, but right now SaveOnBrew.com is not at all effective in helping me do so.

UBN

Tagged , , , , ,

Barfly’s View: Watch City Brewing Co. in Waltham, MA

Watch City Brewing Company Waltham MA

I’ve been drinking at Watch City Brewing Co. in Waltham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, for years, and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the brewpub. (Waltham is known as The Watch City due to a massive, but now-defunct Watch Factory that’s not far from the brewpub.)

I love Watch City Brewing because I love the area it is in; Moody St. in Waltham is the city’s “restaurant row,” and it’s packed with unique bars and eating establishments. The people who work at Watch City, or “The Watch,” are also great, and I know a number of them well. And the atmosphere is unique, thanks to a number of different styles of clocks on the walls alongside a bunch of local artwork.

But the beer at Watch City is subpar, plain and simple, especially for a joint that prides itself on brewing. I’ve honestly never had one single brew at Watch City that really impressed me. And I’ve had all of its flagship brews many times, as well as lots of other beers Watch City makes. They’re all just kind of “meh.” And The Watch really needs to clean its tap lines more frequently.

Watch City Brewing Company Waltham Massachusetts

Watch City makes decent food, but it’s way overpriced. The bar itself has uncomfortable wooden seats that are fixed to the ground so you can even shift them into a more comfortable position. And again, the beer is weak. That’s hard to ignore.

If a beer nerd asked me for recommendations in Waltham, I’d have a hard time suggesting Watch City. I’d be much more likely to recommend The Gaff or Bison County Bar and Grill, both of which are located on Moody St., and both of which have impressive craft beer selections.

I honestly wish I had more good things to say about Watch City. But as I wrote earlier this week sometimes bad people drink really good beer. And on the flip side, good people sometimes make not-so-great beer.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,