Monthly Archives: February 2013

Massachusetts Beer Pride

Massachusetts Beer Sign

The state of Massachusetts is a beer nerd Mecca today. Sometimes it hits me just how lucky I am to live here. I know there are cities that are far ahead of Boston when it comes to craft beer and states that have been pushing quality beer for much longer than the Commonwealth.

But Massachusetts, and Boston in particular, really stepped up its game during the past few years. And the five New England states in general are now producing genuine world-class beer. I don’t think I’d be writing this blog if that weren’t the case.

Boston Beer Co. Harpoon. Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Slumbrew. Backlash. Mystic. Jack’s Abby. Cambridge Brewing Co. Wormtown. Notch. Rapscallion. I could go on and. And on.

So many great local breweries. So many awesome beer bars. And so many people embracing the movement.

Each and every one of these breweries, bars and people makes me proud. I’m filled to the brim with Massachusetts beer pride. Us beer-lovin’ Massholes truly have it good right now.

UBN

Tagged , , , , ,

Cheap Beer = Revolution

Queen Victoria with Pliny the Elder IPA

“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them” – Queen Alexandrina Victoria

Yeah. Says the overfed, Alfred-Hitchcock-looking former queen of the United Kingdom, who just happens to have a frosty, fresh bottle of Pliny in front of her. You keep the cheap beer, Vicky, give us lowly folk the good beer, and we’ll try to avoid revolt. Deal? (I’m not making any promises though.)

UBN

Image (sans Pliny bottle) via kingsacademy.com

Tagged , , , , , ,

My Beer Glass Runneth Over

Overflowing Beer Glass

I’m so thankful it is Friday night and I can put an abnormally-shitty workweek behind me. I’m thankful tomorrow is Saturday and I have nothing to do but watch Red Sox spring-training baseball. I’m thankful I don’t have to travel anywhere in the coming weeks, and I’m thankful my marvelous girlfriend is sitting next to me, writing her own shit as I write this. And I’m thankful for craft beer and the people who make it.

You won’t find too many overtly positive posts on this blog; I’m not a positive person, in general. But sometimes you have to be thankful for the little things. My beer glass truly runneth over. Literally.

UBN

Tagged , , , ,

AT&T Park to Get Even More Beer-Friendly Thanks to New Anchor Brewery, Restaurant and Museum

Anchor Steam Beer at AT&T Park

If you read this blog, you know I’m a beer lover. What you might not know is that I’m also obsessed with baseball. I attend dozens of MLB games each year, and I always try to visit new ballparks during my travels. My favorite park is Fenway Park in Boston. But not too far behind Fenway is San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the Giants.

AT&T Park is far and away the most beer-nerd-friendly ball park I’ve ever been too. It’s easy to find a good selection of Anchor brews inside the park, which already gives it an advantage over many other parks that still focus mostly on Budweiser and Coors. And there’s even a top-notch beer bar inside AT&T Park called Public House that offers a very impressive lineup of craft beer drafts.

AT&T Park will increase its beer appeal even more in the coming years. Anchor Brewing Co. today announced along with Giants that it will begin construction in 2014 on a new brewing facility not far from AT&T Park, inside the Giants’ Mission Rock Development space. The new facility is expected to quadruple Anchor’s annual beer-production capacity from 180,000 barrels to 680,000 barrels, according to a press release from the Giants. And it will also include a new restaurant and museum, as well as a restored walkway that will let pedestrians see into the Anchor brewhouse.

From that release:

“Anchor will continue to operate its facility in Potrero Hill, but will greatly expand its operations with the development of the Pier 48 facility…Pier 48, the southern-most structure of the Port’s Embarcadero Historic District, will be fully rehabilitated and re-established as an industrial hub of the central waterfront…Anchor will offer tours of the facilities and educational seminars with a focus on the history of craft beer, the art of craft distilling and Anchor’s history in San Francisco. “

Though the new brewing facility isn’t actually inside AT&T Park, it’s within walking distance, and the brewery/museum will be a great place to swing by for a few brews before the baseball game. The actually facility won’t likely be operational until 2016 at the earliest, according to RealBeer.com, so it’ll be a while before Anchor opens the doors, but I look forward to checking it out as soon as possible.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses for the Discerning Beer Nerd

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses

Specialty-glass-maker Spiegelau has been getting a lot of attention this month thanks to the introduction of its new IPA glass, which was designed along with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (That glass looks remarkably like a wine glass from Riedel, a Spiegelau sister company, but that’s another story altogether.)

Spiegelau has been making fancy glasses for beer aficionados for quite some, though. In fact, Spiegelau’s Beer Connoisseur set, which is composed of one wheat beer glass, one lager/blond glass, one tulip and a tall pilsner glass, is probably my favorite set of unbranded glassware. I got my set as a gift from my girlfriend, and I use it constantly. I prefer to use branded glassware whenever I can—I’m just as much of a beer-glass nerd as I am a regular ol’ beer nerd. But, honestly, the quality of these four Spiegelau glasses is higher than 90 percent of the branded glasses in my collection anyway, and I drink so many different kinds of beer that using corresponding branded glassware isn’t always an option.

Spiegelau glass is very thin and delicate. And it’s also quite expensive. This set of four glasses sells for $49.90 plus shipping in the official Spiegelau’s online store, but Amazon.com will sell you the same set for $39.99 plus shipping. (Free shipping is available for Amazon Prime members.) All of the glasses have the Spiegelau logo on their bases.

From Spiegelau:

“Each of these glasses is especially blown thin, and has a thin rim that lifts the perception of mouth feel and taste. The beer specific glass shape supports the beer in releasing its full spectrum of flavors and delivers them to nose and mouth.”

My favorite glass is the tulip, because I drink a lot of Belgian and Belgian-style ales that are best suited to this type of glass. It’s very well designed, and it just feels elegant. I also use the lager glass quite a bit for lagers and hoppy ales—though I’ve mostly been using the Dogfish Spiegelau glass for IPAs.

Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur Glasses Logo

Amazon.com says they are dishwasher safe, but I always hand wash my glasses just in case; they don’t feel dishwasher safe.

Again, these glasses aren’t cheap but if you take care of them they should last a long time. And they genuinely do enhance the beer-drinking experience.

UBN

Tagged , , , , , ,

Five Fantastic Flemish Sour Ales

Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge Flemish sour red ale

A few months ago, I wrote a post spotlighting my favorite sour beers. That post has since become one of the most popular entries on this blog—based on page views—because a whole lot of people apparently search Google for “sour beer” and “the best sour beers.”

Many different styles of sour beer exist today, but my single favorite style is the Flemish or Flanders sour red/brown ale.

If you’re unfamiliar with the style it consists of Belgian red or brown ales aged in oak for long periods of time, sometimes multiple years, and then typically blended with “younger” beer of the same style to balance the acidic, sour flavor.

From the Oxford Companion to Beer:

“Oak aging allows lactic fermentation to occur and some additional conditioning by slowly working yeasts, turning the beer slightly sour like neatly aged wine, though many varieties [of Flemish/Flanders aged ales] are later softened by the addition of younger beer.”

Flemish sour ales are often favored by red-wine drinkers because of the crossover in taste. They’re also extremely refreshing. These beers are often expensive, at least compared to other brews, but a lot of work goes into them and they’re usually well worth the price, in my opinion. Here’s a quick list of the best Flemish/Flanders red/brown sour ales I’ve tasted:

1) Brouwerij Bockor Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge

My single favorite Flemish sour ale is Bockor Brewery’s Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge. It’s very sour and acidic yet impressively balanced.  Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge is made from spontaneously fermented beer that’s been aged in oak for at least 18 months.

2) Anything Rodenbach

The most common, easiest to find and least challenging Rodenbach beer is the brewery’s flagship Rodenbach Red. It’s the least sour of its brews, and it’s a great starting point for drinkers looking to experiment with the Flemish sour style and sour beer in general. Folks with an established taste for sour beer will also appreciate Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is more sour than Rodenbach Red because it’s composed of more older-aged beer and less young beer, and Rodenbach’s Reserve series.

3) Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Bacchus

Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck’s Bacchus Flemish brown ale is another must-try Flemish sour beer. It’s similar to the other beer noted here, but it has a very fruity aroma.

4) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne

Duchesse de Bourgogne, or just “Duchesse” as it’s often called in beer bars, is a reddish-brown Flemish sour ale that’s notable due to its strong vinegar taste, which blends nicely with its sour body. The beer is top fermented and is a blend of eight-month and 18-month-old oak-aged beers.

5) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Vichtenaar

Vichtenaar is another top-notch Flemish sour ale from Brouwerij Verhaeghe, and it’s aged in oak casks for at least eight months, but unlike most of the other beers featured in this post, it’s not blended with any other younger or older beer.

Those are my five favorite Flemish sour ales. Drop a comment below if you know of any other worthy Flemish sour brews that should be on my list.

UBN

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

Boston Beer Co. Designs New Can for Its Samuel Adams Brew

Boston Beer Co. Samuel Adams prototype beer can

Traditional beer can and prototype Samuel Adams can (right)

Craft-beer watchers have seen numerous respectable breweries can their beers during the past few years, after Oskar Blues Brewing Co. proved that cans do not necessarily negatively affect the taste of beer. (Last month, I wrote about Ballast Point Brewing Co.’s decision to can one of my favorite IPAs, Sculpin.)

The Boston Beer Co. and its founder Jim Koch have strongly resisted the whole craft-beer-in-a-can movement, but the company has apparently come up with a brand new can design, and it will release Samuel Adams beer in cans “in time for beach cooler weather,” according to Boston.com.

From Boston.com:

“The two-year effort cost more than $1 million, including the hiring of a renowned design firm and professional beer consultants, as well as the purchase of expensive canning equipment…

“The hourglass curve [or the can] and wider lid deposits the beer further in the mouth so a drinker doesn’t have to tilt his head back…

“The bigger lid forces people to open their mouths wider, allowing more air to pass through and go up into the nasal passages. This increased exposure to the smells brings out the flavors of the beer — the hops, the grains, the fruitiness — earlier in the drinking experience, which is what consumers associate with a fresher beverage…the outward-turned lip pours the beer directly on the palate, maximizing the sweetness from the malt.”

Personally, I don’t really care if my beer comes in a bottle or a can because I don’t think cans affect taste. I also almost always pour my beer into a glass. But cans clearly have a number of advantages over bottles; they’re lighter; they don’t shatter or break; they’re easier to carry in bulk for recycling; and they take up less space and are stackable. These reasons and more are why so many brewers today are canning their beer instead of bottling. And its nice to see another craft-beer pioneer embrace aluminum cans because it means Sam Adams will be served in more places, in venues that may not welcome glass bottle, such as sporting arenas.

UBN

via Boston.com

Tagged , , , , , ,

KegWorks.com Wastes Countless Man-Hours Sticking 60K Bottle Caps to a Wall

KegWorks.com, an online purveyor of “home and professional draft beer equipment, bartending tools, premium cocktail ingredients and novelty items, as well as high quality commercial restaurant and bar supplies and equipment,” recently built a big-ass wall of bottle caps in its New York office.

It took the company just under two months. Forty-three staffers—who apparently had nothing better to do—helped position the caps. The wall takes up roughly 459 square feet of space. KegWorks used about 60,000 bottles caps, most of which were sent in from customers and brewers. (The first cap stuck was from Dogfish Head and the last was from Harpoon.) Magnetic sheeting was applied to the wall before the bottle caps, and the magnets hold the caps in place.

I admit, the wall looks pretty cool. But the beer-snob in me sees lots of caps from shitty beers like Labatt Blue Light and Molson Canadian. That would piss me off every time I walked by. I guess the company is getting some publicity out of the wall—it made a fancy YouTube video, after all.

I can’t help but wonder just how many man-hours were wasted over two months sticking fucking bottle caps to a wall. And what happens if you accidently bump into the wall and shift a bunch of the caps? Spend another day repositioning them? Ah, time well spent.

UBN

Tagged , , , , ,

Dogfish, Sierra IPA Glass Looks a Hell of a Lot Like Riedel’s Red + White Wine Tumbler

Dogfish Sierra Spiegelau IPA Glass and Riedel Wine Tumbler

UPDATE: Dogfish commented on the similarities between its new IPA glass and Riedel’s Red + White wine glass on a related post on A Good Beer Blog. Here’s what it had to say:

“Hi, all. Wanted to share some background on the development of the new IPA glass.

“At the earliest design and tasting workshops, Sam and Mariah from Dogfish, Ken and Brian from Sierra, and Georg Riedel sampled from dozens and dozens of glasses from Spiegelau/Riedel’s huge library. (You wine lovers out there know that Spiegelau has been around for more than four centuries, so there were a lot to choose from.)

“Traits of various glasses that boosted the hop aromas and flavors of IPAs helped inform the direction of our glass, but the final design came from carefully refining eight original hand-blown glasses. This wasn’t plucked from a shelf.

“The Red and White glass did stand out in workshops — but for all the wrong reasons initially. Our whole panel chuckled at the odd-looking base. However, after much testing it became obvious the function of the rolling base outweighed its fashion. The friction and surface area of those ridges aerate beer on its way in and out of the glass. Each member of our panel, voting without knowledge of anyone else’s opinion, favored the base.

“In later workshops we learned that the upper bowl of the Red and White glass was not best-suited to IPAs, so several one-off molds were made featuring different bowl geometries and dimensions on the rippled base. We labored over the right bowl diameter and flare angle to best direct and contain aroma for the drinker and finally came to agree on an ideal design. At that point, Spiegelau literally broke the mold. They no longer make any glass with the rippled base other than the IPA glass.

“We all agreed that the IPA glass also had to hold a larger volume, too. At 19 ounces, it not only accommodates a 12-ounce pour at home, but also a 16-ounce bar pour with plenty of head. The bigger volume dictated a thicker base, which also houses laser-etched nucleation. The CO2 rising from Dogfish’s tiny shark and Sierra’s hop boosts the aromas of IPAs and helps sustain head.

“We took our 50 collective years in craft beer, heeded the experience of a premier glass manufacturer, and created what we feel is an exceptional glass to enjoy IPA. We don’t expect everyone to love it, but wanted you to know that it’s not ‘off the shelf.’

“Cheers to those inspired to give it a try!”

This is a solid response from Dogfish. It was open and honest about using the Red + White glass design as inspiration, and it explained the subtle differences between it and the IPA glass. Again, the brewer initially represented this glass as something entirely new and different, and it clearly is not. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Dogfish or Sierra to explain that they got the design from an existing wine glass in their promotional blog post but some background information on the design process, like the information they shared above, would have been helpful and could have been posted on their online stores.

As I wrote in my post, this glass really does enhance the IPA-drinking experience, if for no other reason than it’s a high-quality glass that makes drinking an IPA feel more special. I like mine a lot. So it’s a good thing for beer drinkers willing to spend $9, plus shipping, on experimental glassware, even if Dogfish, Sierra and Spiegelau were a bit misleading when they introduced it.

Last week Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and specialty glass-maker Spiegelau released a fancy new glass, which Dogfish called “a new standard for IPA glassware.”

Well, the glass may be a new standard for IPA glasses, but its design apparently isn’t original at all. In fact, it looks remarkably similar to Riedel’s O Wine Tumbler Red + White wine glass.

The only differences between the two that I can see are the capacities—the Spiegelau IPA glass holds 19 ounces, and the Riedel glass holds 17 ¼ ounces. And there’s a “laser-etched logo on the bottom of the bowl to sustain carbonation and head” on the Spiegelau glass that isn’t found on the Riedel version. The Riedel version also costs about twice as much as the Spiegelau glass, at least on Amazon.com. (Dogfish and Sierra are selling single glasses for $9 plus shipping; Amazon.com has a set of two Riedel wine tumblers for $39.99 plus shipping.) And, of course, the Riedel version doesn’t have a Dogfish or Sierra logo on its side.

It’s also worth noting that Riedel owns Spiegelau. In 2004, Spiegelau was purchased by Georg Riedel, the owner of Riedel Glass Works, and it is now part of the Riedel/Nachtmann/Spiegelau Group. So Riedel owns Spiegelau, and it’s feasible that they would share glass designs.

I really like the Dogfish/Sierra glass, because it’s made of high-quality glass, and it’s different than any other beer glass I have. But I admit, I feel kind of misled by Dogfish and Sierra, who seem to have positioned their IPA glass as an original design. They never really came right out and said that, but they certainly implied it.

In the end, none of that really matters; the glass enhances the IPA experience, so it’s good for craft beer and craft beer drinkers. But something about how Dogfish and Sierra presented the new glass rubs me the wrong way.

UBN

A Good Beer Blog via BeerPulse.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Markets for Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA

Stone Brewing Co. Enjoy By IPA Logo

UPDATE: Hours after I published this post, Stone officially announced Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA. And BeerPulse.com’s report on the markets that will get the latest Enjoy By batch was mostly accurate, with the exception of one market. North Carolina will also be getting Enjoy By 04.01.13, and I added that market to the list below. (In bold.) Hit Stone’s website for the official details. Can’t wait to get me a couple of bottles of Enjoy By 04.01.13.

Yesterday, brew news site BeerPulse.com posted what it claims are the markets for the next version of Stone Brewing Co.’s Enjoy By IPA. I’m a bit hesitant to post this information here, because it hasn’t been confirmed by Stone—in fact, Stone hasn’t even announced the next Enjoy By IPA at all. And there was also a bit of confusion on my blog regarding the last version, Enjoy By IPA 02.15.13. But BeerPulse.com is generally reliable, so I’m listing the following alleged markets for Enjoy By 04.01.13 with the caveat that they are not official at this point. (Note: I love Enjoy By IPA. Read this to find out why.)

Here we go:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan (Detroit & Ann Arbor)
  • New York (NYC & burbs)
  • Northern California (Bay Area)
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Southern California
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont

If the information turns out to be accurate, Stone is sending Enjoy By back to a number of markets that already got earlier releases of the beer, in some cases because those markets showed the most support on social media channels including Twitter and Facebook. Texas, Massachusetts and Missouri showed the most social support for Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12, and the brewer said at the time that it would be sending more Enjoy By to these areas, so it certainly stands to reason that Enjoy By 04.01.13 is headed to these markets—especially since Enjoy By 02.15.12 was not shipped to Texas, Massachusetts or Missouri.

BeerPulse.com says Stone should start shipping the beer in the coming week or two for late February availability, and if this holds true, Stone should announce the beer in the near future. I’ll confirm—or correct—the details here as soon as I can.

UBN

Via BeerPulse.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,