Category Archives: Beer Events

The Single Best Holiday Gift for the Beer Nerd in Your Life

Beer Nerd Christmas Tree Ornament

I hate holiday gift guides. A lot. They suck. Or most of them do at least. I don’t care whether they’re focused on gadgets, clothing, media or beer, most of them consist of a bunch of cliché crap thrown together by lazy writers, often in the form of “slide shows” to maximize page-view traffic.

Here’s the only gift suggestion you need for your special beer nerd: Buy beer. Good beer. Beer they probably wouldn’t buy on their own, because it’s too expensive or because they’d have to order it from a far off land, like Belgium. And buy them the appropriate beer glass to drink it from. That’s it.

Is your beer nerd an IPA-crazed hop head? Buy him/her one of the beers on this list, and a glass from the brewer—not a shaker pint if at all possible. If your beer geek loves sour brews, buy one of the beers on this list and wrap it up all purty like, along with a fancy schmancy glass. Do a little research, find the best beer store or liquor store that sells beer in your area, and buy a bottle of something special. Or do a search for Belgian/German/whatever beer online. Etc. Etc.

I admit, this post was written in jest…sort of. But I’m also dead serious. I’m a class-A beer nerd, and the best (beer-related) present I could get from my significant other would be a bottle of Cantillon, any Cantillon, and a Cantillon glass. (I’d really love a new Mercedes, but we all know that ain’t fucking happening, sooooo….)

Forget those silly bottle openers and tshirts and shit. Good, special beer is the best gift a beer nerd can receive this holiday season.

UBN

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Boston Beer Co. Wants You to Celebrate ‘National Lager Day’ on Monday, Dec. 10

National Lager Day Beer Bier

Here we go again: Another silly “international/national beer day” for people who need another excuse to drink beer. This time it’s National Lager Day, which, you guessed it, is meant to motivate drinkers to raise a few pints of lager in celebration of that specific style of beer—and to sell more of it. (Last month it was International Stout Day and before that, National Drink Beer Day.)

The Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams Beer, appears to be behind the first annual National Lager Day, which will be held this Monday, December 10.

From the Boston Beer Co:

“What started out as a grassroots movement among craft beer drinkers has grown into a full-blown celebration of the lager family of beers, and for Samuel Adams, this means celebrating the holiday with a rich, full-flavored Samuel Adams Boston Lager®, and celebrating among friends.”

The brewery says its Boston Lager is the number one craft lager in the United States, but Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors both sell a lot more lager than the Boston Beer Co. It’s just not “craft lager,” it’s crap lager.

The Boston Beer Company is also holding what it’s calling ” The Great Samuel Adams Boston Lager Log Off – a chance to go off the grid and relax with a full-flavored craft lager.”

To participate, Samuel Adams wants you to follow and tweet @SamuelAdamsBeer with the hashtag #BostonLagerLogOff and where you’re celebrating National Lager Day; or post on Facebook and tag Samuel Adams (be sure to snap a photo of you and your lager). Then you’re supposed to log off, shut off your phone and join Samuel Adams in celebrating National Lager Day with a Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

Meh. The craft beer scene is packed with stupid marketing gimmicks right now, ranging from beers that MUST BE CONSUMED with a month of their bottling dates, to brews made with paper from classic novels and even the ingredients in Elvis Presley’s favorite snack. It’s all starting to feel somewhat manipulative to me, and I’m the Urban Beer Nerd; I don’t need another excuse to drink, I drink whatever kind of beer I feel like, and it’s very rarely a lager these days.

But, shit, if it makes you feel all happy and warm to drink the same kind of beer on the same day as a bunch of other morons, by all means, Samuel Adams will be glad to sell you a six pack of Boston Lager on Monday.

UBN

Image via Etsy.com

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Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project 4th Birthday Bash (Photos)

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Birthday Cake

I unfortunately missed the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project fourth anniversary bash last Saturday at Precinct in Somerville, Mass.—I was busy with Cantillon Zwanze Day and then I helped my sister decorate her Christmas tree. So I was glad to see Boston.com post some photos from the fête.

Pretty Things is a Somerville-based brewery that makes some fantastic beer, and it’s doing a lot of good things for the Boston beer scene. I couldn’t be more pleased to see it celebrating four years of hard work. I sat down with Pretty Things’ head brewing duo last month; read more about the brewery here. And check out all of the photos from the Pretty Things party on Boston.com.

UBN

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Stone’s Last ‘Vertical Epic’ Brew, 12.12.12, Hits Stores Today

Stone Brewing Co. Vertical Epic 12.12.12

Stone Brewing Co. announced via Twitter today that its latest—and last—Vertical Epic series brew, called Vertical Epic 12.12.12, is hitting store shelves today.

Stone started the Vertical Epic series of ales in 2002, and they “are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012.” The idea is for Stone fans to try multiple Vertical Epic brews in “vertical tastings” in 2013 of later.

Here are some details on the 2012 release, from Stone:

“Crafted in the style of a traditional Belgian Noël beer, it’s dark, big and hearty; the type of brew one might have actually expected to come first in the Vertical Epic series…Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale should stand up to aging, but is already a beautiful brew fresh off the bottling line.

“Brewed with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, orange peel and rosehips (which turned out to be so sturdy we had to roll over them with a forklift to pulverize them for the brew), it’s a complex beer with many layers. The spices come on strong along with a nice bready malt character. That said, Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale is rather dry on the finish, making it a beer that should do a great job as the last beer in the rotation at fans’ Vertical Epic tastings.”

I’ve only tried to two or three Vertical Epic brews, and honestly, I wasn’t blown away by any of them. But maybe that’s because I have no patience, and I didn’t wait until after December 12 of this year.

Learn more about Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic beer on the company’s website. (And read my review of its much-lauded Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA here.)

UBN

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Build a Beer-Bottle Menorah This Chanukah, Win Prizes from Shmaltz Brewing

ShmatlzBrewingBeerMenorahContest

Chanukah 2012 is right around the corner, and this year Chosen beer nerds have many reasons to celebrate, not the least of which: Shmaltz Brewing Co. is once again holding its annual Beer Menorah Contest, and you can win a number of prizes from the brewer simply by pounding a few brews and then constructing a menorah out of your empties.

Shmaltz is pushing its Limited 2012 Holiday Gift Pack, which comes with eight different beers, a special glass and Chanukah candles, as part of the Beer Menorah Contest. And the gift pack comes with some basic instruction on how to get started. Once you’ve completed your holiday beer masterpiece, you simply submit images to Shmaltz via email (BeerMenorah@shmaltzbrewing.com) or on the brewer’s Facebook page. And Shmaltz’s Facebook “Friends” will then vote for the best submissions.

ShmaltzBrewingHolidayGiftPack2012

Shmaltz hasn’t specified the prizes that can be won, but it stands to reason that pint glasses, tshirts, bottle openers and all the usual beer tchotchkes will be on the list.

L’Chaim!

(Gentiles may also be interested in my recent post, “How to Make Your Own Custom Beer Nerd Christmas Ornament.”)

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA

Zwanze Day 2012 at Lord Hobo

Yesterday, Saturday, December 1, 2012, was Cantillon Zwanze Day, and beer nerds across the world simultaneously celebrated by toasting this year’s Zwanze lambic at 3 PM ET. (Zwanze 2012 continued to be poured until it ran out, but the official toast was at 3PM.)

I attended the Zwanze Day festivities at Lord Hobo, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a medium-size, dimly lit bar just outside the city’s Kendall Square neighborhood, home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—and the Cambridge Brewing Co., my favorite Boston-area brewpub.

Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA

The 2012 Zwanze lambic, a recreation of the original 2008 Zwanze lambic made with rhubarb, was poured at 3PM, but wise beer nerds arrived at Lord Hobo hours before the pour. I walked through the doors of Lord Hobo and pushed back the thick curtain that covers the bar just after noon, and it was already packed; my girlfriend and I were able to nab two seats at a communal table, but the bar and most of the other tables were full three hours before Zwanze was poured. The staff stopped letting people in around 1:30, and by 3 o’clock a line of 20 or so drinkers were lined up outside—in the snow—along the front of the bar.

Barfly's View Lord Hobo Zwanze Day

Lord Hobo is known for its extensive bottle and draft list, and the staff took it a step further for Zwanze Day, with 9 different Cantillon lambics available in bottles and an extremely-rare, unblended two-year old Cantillon lambic on tap, in addition to countless other rare beers, including the 2003 Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale, a 2005 Dogfish Head Pangea and multiple Hill Farmstead brews in bottle and on draft. I can honestly say that Lord Hobo’s Zwanze Day 2012 beer list was the most impressive list I’ve ever seen.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 Tap List at Lord Hobo

To kill time until the Zwanze 2012 pour, my girl and I sidled up to a few Cantillon bottles (Cantillon’s 2012 Fou’ Foune and 2012 Kriek 100% Lambic), a couple of glasses of the two-year-old unblended lambic and some grub; I got fried chicken and waffles and the chef made a special vegan-friendly dish for the lady. Lord Hobo’s menu is not at all vegan or even vegetarian friendly, but we were pleased to see that both our waiter and the chef were more than willing to whip up a vegan offering. They came up with a fruit/granola dish along with hash and a fried-rice patty thing that was much more than either of us expected. And the service at Lord Hobo, even during the crazy period just before and just after the Zwanze toast, was impeccable.

Cantillon Two-Year-Old Unblended Lambic

Glasses of Two-Year-Old Cantillon Unblended Lambic

Just before 3PM, the owner of the bar stood up on a chair to address all of the anxious beer nerds awaiting the Zwanze. He spoke about how important the Cantillon brewery and its head brewer Jean Van Roy are to him personally and why it was an honor to host Zwanze Day at Lord Hobo. You could feel real passion in the man’s words, and everyone else in the bar fed off of his energy; the noise level in Lord Hobo immediately increased. When the Zwanze was poured and distributed—six ounces each for about 100 people in the bar—and three o’clock came around, everyone raised their glasses in a salute to Lord Hobo and the Van Roy family and yelled out in unison, “Cheers!” It was a special moment, and I am glad to have been a part of it.

Two Glasses of 2012 Cantillon Zwanze lambic

Glasses of Cantillon’s 2102 Zwanze

I visit Lord Hobo relatively frequently, but I’d never been to a Zwanze Day celebration there. The next time I stop by for a brew, which will likely be sooner than later, I’ll picture the barroom filled with excited Cantillon drinkers, all of the tables covered with spent bottles, and I’ll remember that Lord Hobo is not just another beer bar. Lord Hobo is run by people who love beer and brewing as much as I do, and the bar and its staff deserve to be recognized for that.

If you’re ever in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I strongly suggest you make some time for a beer or six at Lord Hobo.

UBN

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Reminder: Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 is Saturday, December 1

Just a quick reminder that the 2012 Cantillon Zwanze Day is this Saturday, December 1. Lambic, sour and Belian-beer lovers won’t want to miss it. The 2012 Zwanze lambic is a reproduction of the 2008 Zwanze brew, and it will be made with rhubard. More details on Zwanze Day and all the 31 official locations across the globe can be found here. I’ll be attending the event at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA. If you’re there, just scream, “Yo, Urban Beer Nerd, where you at?” and I’ll come say hello. Cheers, salute, slainte, prost and all that good shit.

UBN

Image via 100Beers30Days.com

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Thankful for Craft Beer

Rodenbach Vintate Allagash Interlude Stone Enjoy By IPA Brux

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for craft beer. (I’m also thankful for lots of other things—and people—but this is a beer blog, so I won’t bore you with all that shit).

As I wandered around my local beer shop yesterday, stocking up for today’s holiday, I couldn’t help but feel happy about the current state of craft beer in my home state of Massachusetts and throughout the rest of the United States. I stopped in one of the liquor store aisles, surrounded by bomber bottles stacked so high I couldn’t see beyond them, and thought about how awesome it is that beer is finally getting the respect it deserves. Talented brewers are pushing the boundaries of beer making every day, and I, and all my fellow beer lovers, get to reap the benefits.  For that, I’m truly thankful.

What you see above is my Thanksgiving 2012 craft beer lineup. I plan to start with Stone Brewing Co.‘s fantastic Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA, then move on to the Russian River/Sierra Nevada collaboration wild ale, Brux. After that, I’ll either pop the cork on the Rodenbach Vintage 2009 or the Allagash 2009 Interlude; I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

I hope you’ve got something special to sip on today, too. Happy Thanksgiving, beer nerds.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Last week I traveled to Portland, Maine, for a few days to celebrate Portland Beer Week. Portland is an amazing New England city by the sea that’s packed with great restaurants, quality breweries and brewpubs, and top-notch beer bars. I hit up nearly a dozen different bars in Portland, but one in particular really stood out: Novare Res Bier Café.

Novare Res is a dark, semi-subterranean beer bar with brick columns and other brick accents, and Belgian-themed decorations throughout, which make for a very cool, laid-back atmosphere. The beer list is amazing; Novare Res has 25 rotating drafts, two hand-pumped casks and more than 500 bottles—I drank some very hard-to-find Cantillon Lambics, Vigneronne and Saint Lamvinus. And Novare Res spotlighted a number of Maine brewers I’d never heard of, as part of Portland Beer Week. (Shout out to Oxbow Brewing Co. and Bull Jagger Brewing Co., two awesome Maine breweries that put on noteworthy events at Novare Res last week.)

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

The bar serves a number of meat-and-cheese hors d’oeuvres, and a few small meals, but it’s the beer not the food that makes Novare Res shine. The bartenders are also very knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, one particularly-cool bartender noticed that I was drinking sour beers and went out of his way to let me know that a nearby Japanese noodle bar had one of my favorite gueuzes, Tilquin, on draft. (If you read this, thanks man, the gueuze—and gyoza—at Pai Men Miyake was awesome.)

Boston is home to some world-class beer bars that I frequent. I travel fairly often, and I make it a point to visit all the best beer bars wherever I roam—hence, my collection of Barfly’s Views. In other words, I know my beer bars. But I was blown away by Novare Res Bier Café. Novare Res is not only the best beer bar I found in Portland, it’s one of the best beer bars I’ve ever been to. If you find yourself in Portland, Maine, you need to get your ass over to Novare Res.

UBN

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Get Your Cantillon Zwanze on Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon bottles

Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon, one of the world’s finest Belgian-Lambic beer brewers, is holding its annual Zwanze Day celebration on Saturday, December 1, 2012, in 31 cities across the globe, and 16 of those locations are bars in the United States.

If you’re a fan of Lambic, gueuze or other sour beers—and you’re near one of the few official Zwanze Day bars—this is an event you don’t want to miss.

From Cantillon.be:

“Seeing that we had received numerous requests to organise a Zwanze Day this year we decided to recreate the very first Zwanze produced in 2008. As a reminder, that year’s vintage had been brought about by soaking rhubarb in Lambic. The ultimate result of that experiment was a very delicate and complex product in which the beer’ acidic taste struck a very nice balance with the plant’s tartness and then lingered long on the palate.

“For this new production batch we decided to work with organically-grown rhubarb, and you can really taste this in the beer, which is more structured and full-bodied than the 2008 vintage. We opted to recreate the rhubarb Lambic because very few consumers had been able to taste this beer 4 years ago, when only 300 litres had been produced. On top of this, unlike fruit crops, rhubarb production was not adversely affected by the very poor weather which hit Europe this spring. And finally, the last, perhaps most important reason of all for bringing back Zwanze 2008: my wife tells me it’s one of her favourites.”

Here’s a list of all the Zwanze Day bars/cities:

America – USA:

  • Armsby Abbey – Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Avenue Pub – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • ChurchKey – Washington, D.C.
  • Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar – Denver, Colorado
  • Holy Grale – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Hop and Vine – Portland, Oregon
  • Lord Hobo – Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Monk’s Café – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Novare Res Bier Café – Portland, Maine
  • REAL a gastropub – Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Redlight Redlight – Orlando, Florida
  • Spuyten Duyvil – Brooklyn, New York
  • The Foundry – Kansas City, Missouri
  • The Trappist – Oakland, California
  • Toronado – San Diego, California
  • West Lakeview Liquors – Chicago, Illinois

America – Canada:

  • Canada – Montréal : Dieu du Ciel

Europe :

  • Belgium – Brussels : Moeder Lambic Fontainas
  • Belgium – Brussels : Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles
  • Belgium – Arlon : Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon
  • France – Paris : La Fine Mousse
  • France – Lille : La Capsule
  • Great Britain – London : The Earl of Essex
  • Italy Rome : Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà
  • Italy Bergamo : The Dome
  • Italy Nicorvo : Sherwood Pub
  • Italy – Quinto Vicentino : The Drunken Duck
  • Italy – Quartu Sant’Elena : Ristopub Margherita
  • Norway – Grimstad : Nøgne Ø
  • Finland Helsinki : Pikkulitu
  • Denmark Copenhagen : Olbutikken
  • Netherlands – Amsterdam : De Bierkoning
  • Sweden Stockholm : Akkurat
  • Spain – Sant Joan de Mediona : Masia Agullons

Asia:

  • Japan – Tokyo: Embassy of Belgium

I will most definitely be attending the Zwanze Day event at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass. As far as I can tell, you don’t need tickets for any of these events; they’re first come, first serve. I was fortunate enough to find bottles of Cantillon Vigneronne and Saint Lamvinus last week at Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, Maine, two fantastic Lambics made with grapes, and I seriously can’t stop thinking about them. And Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 can’t get here soon enough.

UBN

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