Category Archives: Beer Holidays

No Russian River Framboise for a Cure (FfaC) 2016 bottles for you!

russian-river-framboise-for-a-cure-bottles

Ah, October. Märzens and foliage and cooler temperatures and pumpkins and Halloween decorations and, yesssss, Russian River Framboise for a Cure (FfaC) …. usually.

Wait, what?!? Russian River Brewing Co. isn’t bottling their raspberry sour ale this year? Why the hell not?

Those three sentences summed up my thought process last week when I read a blog post that suggested one of my fav-o-rite American breweries, Russian River, will not bottle one of my fav-o-rite American sours this in 2016.

So, is this travesty true? Yep.

And why the hell not?

From a Sept. 11 Russian River Facebook post:

“October is coming and we are gearing up for our annual breast cancer fundraiser for the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation right here in Santa Rosa! “Framboise For A Cure 2016″ will be released a few days BEFORE October 1st due to our participation that day in Cantillon’s annual Zwanze Day celebration! Due to our very busy schedules right now, we were unable to get this year’s batch of Framboise bottled in time for October. But that also means we will have it on draft at the pub longer! And, since 100% of the proceeds of Framboise is for charity, we will sell a limited number of growlers to those who want to share with friends and loved ones who also support this very important cause.”

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Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo with the 2016 Framboise for a Cure. Image Credit: Russian River/Facebook

The post seems to suggest that when Russian River frees up some time, it might eventually bottle some FfaC 2016. But nope. That ain’t happening either, according to an inside source who works at the Santa Rosa brew pub. Looks like it’ll be growlers only for FfaC this year, and that’s going to make it a real challenge for anyone who doesn’t live in Northern California (me) or who can’t make the trip there (me) to try any of this year’s fruity nectar.

Color me disappointed. I’ve had every vintage of FfaC since 2012 — the beer was first brewed in 2010 — and it’s always a treat. Let’s hope next year’s FfaC once again makes it into bottles.

UBN

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Beer Porn: Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

Last week, I posted about Brasserie Cantillon‘s 2014/2015 Zwanze beer, which will very likely be a spontaneously-fermented stout. I’ve been searching for details on the 2013 version of Cantillon’s Zwanze, an annual, limited-release beer that’s different each year, but I haven’t come up with anything. In fact, it seems as though Cantillon and its lead brewer Jean Van Roy are being somewhat secretive about the 2013 Zwanze beer.

The picture above comes from Twitter user Kyle Black (@kylefblack), and it was taken yesterday at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium. The image shows bottles of 2013 Zwanze and 2013 gueuze. When Black asked about Zwanze 2013, the Cantillon staff would not share any details. That’s unfortunate, but I’m still glad to see this fine bit of beer porn. It was all but certain that Cantillon has a 2013 Zwanze in the works, and this image seems to confirm it. This Zwanze 2013 appears to have been bottled in October 2012. For more on Zwanze, check out my post from a 2012 Zwanze Day celebration.

Thanks again for sharing, Kyle.

UBN

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Scenes from Extreme Beer Fest (EBF) 2013 in Boston

I just walked through the doors of Boston’s Cyclorama, the location of the 2013 Extreme Beer Fest (EBF), presented by Beer Advocate and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. EBF was supposed to be held in Boston a month ago, but a major snow storm hit the Northeast and crippled the city for days, leading to the cancellation and eventual rescheduling of the festival. Mother Nature can’t keep us beer nerds down, and we’re here today to try as many wacky, wild and challenging new beers as we can in three and a half hours. I don’t think I’ll have too much more time to write, but I thought I’d share some scenes from this year’s EBF. I’ll be updating this post throughout the event with images so check back often if you want to see what I see.

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Craft beer enthusiasts mill about before the EBF evening session

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The EBF line rapidly forming 45 minutes before doors open

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The Dogfish stand at EBF

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Allagash stand at EBF. Fantastic sour called FV13.

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Crazy busy show floor at EBF

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Firestone Walker booth at EBF. Wild Weisse Berliner Weisse made it worth the wait in the long ass line

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John Kimmich from The Alchemist, brewer of the illustrious Heady Topper

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The Bruery folks. Love that Sour in the Rye

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Samuel Adams dudes talking beer

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Captain Lawrence Brewing served a nice chocolate stout

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Nothing like a piping hot, sugar-coated waffle to top off a successful beer fest

UBN

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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

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The Earrings Only a Hop Head Could Love

Hop Earrings from Summit Brewing Co.

If you have a fashion-conscious hop head in your life, or are one yourself, these handmade hop earrings from Summit Brewing Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota, could make for a great holiday gift. They could also draw some strange stares because they’re slightly weird looking. And they might appear to be ganja nuggets to folks who aren’t familiar with hops and who’ve been hitting the bong. But I think they’re pretty cool, and they cost just $14.95 plus shipping. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Hop earring from Summit Brewing Co.

UBN

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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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Meet the Man Behind Anchor Brewing’s Beer-Label Art, Jim Stitt

Anchor Brewing Co. Our Special Ale/Christmas Ale 2012

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. just posted a great new video spotlighting local San Francisco artist Jim Stitt, who has hand drawn the graphics on almost all of Anchor’s beer-bottle labels since the 1970s, including the trees on its annual Our Special Ale/Christmas Ale, which are different every year.

I’m a loyal Anchor drinker, and I’ve been bringing a magnum bottle of Anchor Christmas Ale to my annual family Christmas celebrations for years. One of my favorite things about the holiday season is picking up a new bottle of Anchor Christmas and checking out the new tree. I never knew Mr. Stitt’s name, but I’ve been appreciating his art for a long time.

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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