Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cantillon’s 2014/2015 Zwanze Could be Spontaneously-Fermented Stout

Cantillon Zwanze Stout wort

Brasserie Cantillon, one of the world’s finest traditional brewers of Belgian lambic beer and one of my favorite breweries, recently posted some images and information on its Facebook page that suggest its annual Zwanze beer for 2014 or 2015 could be a spontaneously fermented stout.

From Cantillon’s page:

“Dark for a Lambic wort isn’it?? This is the probably future Zwanze 2014 or 2015, a Cantillon interpretation for a spontaneous fermentation stout…Fermentation starts! Foam is darker than the one from a Lambic, we are on the right way…”

Last year’s Zwanze Day was one of my favorite beer “holidays” of 2012. (Find out why here.) And the 2012 Zwanze brew, a lambic flavored with rhubard, was one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted. I haven’t been able to find any official details on the 2013 Zwanze Day, but I can tell you I will be in attendance, assuming there is a celebration this year.

Cantillon Zwanze Stout Fermentation

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a spontaneously fermented stout, but I’ll give anything Cantillon brews a try. The closest beer I can think of is Drie Fonteinen’s Zwet.be, a porter brewed with wild yeast, which I had recently and enjoyed.

Anyway, the countdown to 2013—and 2014 and 2015—Zwanze Day is on.

UBN

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One More Reason to Dig Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head for Life beer coaster

I’ve been drinking beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery for nearly a decade. I remember the first bottle of Dogfish 90 Minute IPA I drank at an Irish pub called the Squealing Pig in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood. It blew me away and sparked a love affair with hops and IPA.

I support Dogfish first and foremost because it brews great beer. But I also support the brewery because it’s a cool, socially responsible company with a sense of humor that genuinely cares about and values its customers. (Read, “5 Funky Facts I Learned About Dogfish from Founder Sam Calagione’s Book,” for more on Dogfish.)

Case in point: I purchased Dogfish’s new Spiegelau IPA glass the day it was released via Dogfish’s online store. Less than a month later, my glass cracked while I was hand washing it under very hot water. I didn’t drop the glass. I didn’t bump it. It didn’t shatter. It just cracked straight down its side, from the rim of the glass to close to the bottom of its “bowl.”

I tweeted about the incident, and Dogfish quickly responded, asking me to send details to its customer support account. I did so, received an email response within 24 hours and a new Dogfish IPA glass in just a few days.

Dogfish didn’t have to send a new glass; I honestly didn’t expect to get another one for free. Glasses break, right? Especially when people are drinking alcohol out of them.

That said, I also probably would not have purchased another Spiegelau IPA glass. I collect beer glasses. I own other Spiegelau glasses. I have other Dogfish glasses, and I have never had one break while simply washing it, without bumping it or anything. This makes me question the viability of the design of the IPA glass. Its features work just as Dogfish, its partner in design Sierra Nevada and Spiegelau intended them to. It provides an quality IPA drinking experience. But the glass is so thin along its rim that I bet I won’t be the only person to see their IPA glass break for no good reason.

Time will tell, but I’m still dubious. Either way, I appreciate the new glass. And even more, I appreciate the gesture of good faith. Thanks Dogfish. (Shout out to Janelle at Dogfish who responded to my email and quickly sent along a new glass.)

UBN

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Hoppiness is…

image

Happiness may be a warm gun, but hoppiness is a warm brew kettle anxiously awaiting a healthy dose of dank hops. I spent yesterday afternoon at a local craft brew shop called Barleycorn’s brewing up my own special batch of Belgian-style double IPA. My favorite part of the process was smelling and liberally applying a variety of hops through the boil. Love me some hops.

UBN

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AB InBev Responds to Watered-Down Budweiser Lawsuit with Snide Ad, Lies

AB InBev's watered down Budweiser ad

I’ve blasted AB InBev and Budweiser many times on this blog. And every time I sling harsh criticism at Budweiser, creepers come out of the woodwork to blast me for blasting Budweiser because it is apparently a beer-snob thing to do. It’s also apparently cool to defend Budweiser these days, because Budweiser’s brewmasters are actually talented brewers who create a remarkably consistent product on an insanely huge scale, which, I am told, takes real skill.

I’ll give AB InBev and Budweiser that much. They do a great job of creating cheap, shitty-tasting beer. Lots of people love Budweiser, and that’s all fine and good—lots of people love McDonald’s food, but I wouldn’t say McDonald’s serves good grub. I have family members who turn down the expensive craft brews I bring to functions for Bud Light. But the people who faithfully drink Bud products are usually more interesting in price and the ability to buy large quantities in a single, discounted pack. These people typically want non-challenging brew that tastes just like it did when they first drank it in high school. Good for them.

But I digress.

AB InBev is currently being accused of false advertisement and sued for watering down its Budweiser beer and therein offering a lower alcohol content than its bottles/cans suggest, according to Boston.com. In response to the claims, AB InBen ran a big ol’ ad in 10 newspapers last Sunday. (See above image.)

I won’t get into the merits or lack thereof in the case against Budweiser. I don’t really give a shit. Not a single one. The ad points out that the company has donated millions of cans of water to the American Red Cross and other disaster relief causes. And that’s admirable. But its donated water has absolutely nothing to do with the charges filed against the company.

The text at the bottom of the ad sums up why I harbor such harsh feelings toward AB InBev and its Bud Mud: The company is sketchy.

“[T]he beer in your hand is the best beer we know how to brew. We take no shortcuts and make no exceptions ever.”

That is complete bullshit. The adjuncts AB InBev uses, such as corn and rice, to reduce the costs of its brewing process are the definition of shortcuts and exceptions, are they not? Using a cheaper, inferior product to cut costs is a clear shortcut.

I also honestly have trouble believing that Budweiser’s talented brewmaster believe that they couldn’t make better beer than the low-quality lager they sell under the Budweiser name. Those brewers may love Budweiser and drink it regularly. But the best beer they could make? I doubt it.

UBN

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Urban Beer Nerd Self Portrait

Urban Beer Nerd self portrait

Conventional blog wisdom suggests that people want to feel like they know the writers they read. I have no idea why. Writers are idiots. And bloggers suck. Trust me. I know. You can’t really know someone without seeing what they look like. Well, I guess you can, but you’ll always be curious about appearance. So I decided to share a self portrait. And what better way to get one than with a shitty cell phone camera and a dirty bathroom mirror, just like all the fools on Instagram do. Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, I give you my Urban Beer Nerd self portrait.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, MA

Bukowksi Tavern in Cambridge Mass.

Last fall, I Barfly’s View’d the fuck out of Boston’s Bukowski Tavern, one of my regular haunts. Today, I’m spotlighting Buk Boston’s sister bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Inman Square, which I don’t visit as often but still stop by a few times a year.

The hipster vibe is palpable at Bukowski Tavern Cambridge, probably even more so than at Buk Boston, and you’re guaranteed to spot lots of tattoos. But the bartenders are friendly enough to non-regulars, and they’re usually knowledgeable about the beer they serve. One complaint: Yesterday the beer list was a mess. I ordered two beers that were on the draft list but weren’t tapped yet. And when I asked about the rotating gueuze as the beer book told me to, I was told they no longer sell gueuze. (Get your shit together, Buk.)

My favorite thing about Bukowski Tavern Cambridge is the atmosphere. The bar is inside an old mechanics’ garage, and its facade is still composed of two garage doors with rows of square-glass windows. A long bar runs along the right side as you enter, there are booths in the middle of the long thin space and tables just inside the entrance. Bukowski and Hank-Chinaski-related imagery adorns the walls. Behind the bar, hundreds of thick glass beer steins hang above the bartenders, a testament to the popularity of Buk Cambridge’s “mug club,” which requires that you drink every bottled beer they offer within a six-month period.

From BukowskiTavern.net:

“Bukowski Tavern is not responsible for any excessive weigh gain, marriage annulments, black eyes, one night stands, or spur of the moment tribal tattoo arm bands that one may incur throughout the process of completing your mug. Although completing a mug is an awesome accomplishment, it does not shoot said customer into the ranks of infinite coolness that are currently occupied by the bar staff at Bukowski Tavern.”

Well put.

Bukowski Tavern offers more than 100 bottles at any given time, in addition to a handful of “extra special bottles,” and 30 or more drafts. Buk also has a beer engine that serves up unique cask-conditioned offerings. And you can spin the Wheel of Beer if you can’t decide what you want to drink. But if you want the truth, only fucking amateurs spin the Beer Wheel.

Bukowksi Tavern in Cambridge Mass.

Food is fairly standard pub grub, and though I’ve never actually eaten at the bar—I hit up East Coast Grill for grub when in Inman Square, which is next door to Buk—my brother is a semi regular, and he tells me the quality has gone downhill in recent days.

I also get a kick out of Bukowski’s “Hobo Special,” which gets you a hot dog and a 40-ounce of your choice for $6.99. You won’t catch me drinking a fucking 40, unless it’s made by Dogfish Head. But I’m sure lots of grimy college kids and other lowlifes take advantage of the Hobo Special.

I still prefer Bukowski Boston, but that’s largely because it has sentimental value to me. Both bars make my list of Boston’s best beer bars, and you should definitely make a stop at each if you’re ever in Boston’s Back Bay or Inman Square in Cambridge.

UBN

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On Beer and Tea

Bar sign drink beer tea sucks

“After water and tea, beer is the third most popular drink in the world.” – Garrett Oliver, in the preface to the 2011 Oxford Companion to Beer. (Oliver is the brewmaster at The Brooklyn Brewery.)

Interesting factoid. But the above image, taken last year outside of Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, Mass., sums up my feelings on the subject.

UBN

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A Boston Take on the Harlem Shake

I hate the goddamn Harlem Shake. I don’t even really know what it is, and I can’t bring myself to research the subject to find out. But it’s everywhere right now. And I fucking hate it. This video is my personal, Boston-beer-nerd take on the Harlem Shake.

UBN

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