Category Archives: News

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

‘Gansett’s Jaws Can Enough to Make Me Buy Beer in a Can — but Not Drink from One

Narragansett retro 1975 Jaws cans

“It’s only a canned beer if you look at it before it’s poured into a glass.” – Urban Beer Nerd, 2013

I dislike canned beer. Not because it tastes bad, or even different. Most of the time, canned beer tastes as good as bottled beer, despite the now-long-in-the-tooth belief that beer tastes better from glass than aluminum. (Kegs are metal, too, right? You never hear people bitch about draft beer—unless it’s old or poured through a dirty tap line.)

It’s more of a mental thing for me. I drink quality beer, and cans feel cheap. So I pour just about all of my beer into a glass, if I can. One of my favorite canned beers, The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, specifically instructs you to drink it from the can. But fuck that. That’s what I have a Heady glass for.

After pouring a canned brew into a glass, I always recite the quote at the top of this post. (Okay, I’ve never said that before. I just came up with it when I saw Naragansett’s retro 1975 beer can this afternoon. But I’ll say it going forward. Maybe.)

One of my favorite films ever is “Jaws,” and one of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from a conversation between Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and Brody (Roy Scheider), which goes a little something like this:

Brody: It doesn’t make any sense when you pay a guy like you to watch sharks.

Hooper: Well, uh, it doesn’t make much sense for a guy who hates the water to live on an island either.

Brody: It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.

Hooper: That makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, to the point of this post: Rhode Island-based Narragansett Beer Co. has released the third of three 2013 retro beer cans, and this one’s a doozy, at least if you’re a Jaws buff like I am. The can was released in 1975, and it was “made famous in the ‘Jaws’ movie during the scene in which Captain Sam Quint, played by Robert Shaw, famously crushes a can of Narragansett Lager to intimidate Richard Dreyfuss’ [sic] character, Hooper,” according to ‘Gansett.

Jaws Quint Narragansett Crush It Like Quint

I honestly haven’t had a Narragansett beer for at least a few years, and the last time I did, I only drank it because I was in Providence, Rhode Island, and I wanted to drink local brew. It’s a decent lager, and I have nothing against the brewery or the beer—except the annoying “Hi Neighbor!” slogan. I try not to be influenced by gimmicky advertising, but I admit, I’m going to run out and pick up a 12-pack of these cans and then get drunk while watching Jaws. If you’re smart, you’ll do the same

UBN

Via Boston.com

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Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 is Saturday, September 14

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

It feels like just yesterday that it was Zwanze Day 2012, but this year’s version is right around the corner.

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013 will be held on Saturday, September 14, according to a post on the Belgian brewery’s Facebook page, though no additional details on the actual Zwanze brew or the locations have been released yet.

Zwanze Day is held once a year, and it’s when Cantillon releases a small amount of an experimental beer, usually an interesting take on a lambic, at select beer bars across the word. (Learn more about Zwanze Day and check out my Zwanze adventures last year at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass.)

I recent shared a look at the 2013 Zwanze in bottles at the Cantillon brewery in Belgium, and I shared some information on a unique beer that may become the 2014 Zwanze brew. But this is the first official information I’ve heard about Zwanze 2013. Mark the day on your calendar right this instant, and stay tuned to this blog for updates on locations, which I will post just as soon I find them.

UBN

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Buying Belgian Beer Online and Shipping It to the US

Belgian beer bottles Cantillon Fantome 3F Rodenbach

A few of the beers I purchased from BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet

Being the Urban Beer Nerd that I am, I’m always on the lookout for rare, hard-to-find, unique and limited-release brews. Many of my favorite breweries are located in Belgium and elsewhere overseas. Often these breweries’ most unique beers are released in very limited quantities, and the brews that do make it to America are often difficult to locate and/or very expensive.

So a few months ago, I started researching ways to buy my own Belgian beer online and then ship it to Boston, where I can sit in the comfort of my own home with the rare beer of my choice. I was sick of only being able to drink Cantillon beers a few times a year and paying an arm and a liver for bottles when I could find them.

I came up with the following two websites, which I’ve since ordered from at least three times each and had no problems: BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet (BieresGourmet.be).

Before I go on, a warning seems appropriate: When you order beer online, you do so at your own risk. Depending on where you live, it may not “legal” in the strictest sense of the word to buy beer online from an international retailer to ship to your locale. And in many cases, shipping companies will not accept and deliver packages with beer in them.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll say that personally, I have not had any issues ordering beer from BelgiumInABox.com or EtreGourmet. And when the sites declared the contents of my boxes of beer, as is required by Customs, they usually wrote something like “lambic glassware” or “collectible bottles,” which was technically true because I usually bought glassware in addition to beer.

Anyway, both of these sites offer reasonable prices on beer from my favorite Belgian breweries, including Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Fantome, Rodenbach, Tilquin and Blaugies. Shipping is expensive, but it’s not too much more than the markup you’d pay for a rare bottle at a beer bar or through a retailer. For example, the last time I ordered from BelgiumInABox.com, I purchased a 750ml bottle of Cantillon’s 2013 Kriek Lambic Bio (about $13), a 750ml bottle of 2012 Fantome Saison (about $9) and a 3 Fonteinen gueuze glass (about $16) for a total of roughly $38, and the shipping cost around $43.

My previous EtreGourmet order looked like this: a 750ml bottle of Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (about $20) and two 375ml bottles of Oude Quetsche Tilquin 2012-2013 (about $25 for both). The shipping was about $53.

The shipping is expensive, but I’ve been willing to pay it for beers I would not otherwise be able to find in the United States. I feel confident my payment card information is secure, because BelgiumInaBox uses Ogone for payment processing, a well-known and trusted Europe payment processing service, and EtreGourment accepts PayPal. And both sites have HTTP Secure Web pages for payments.

My packages of beer arrived in great shape, and overall, I’m very pleased with the experience with both BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet. Another site that’s been recommended to me is BeerPlanet.eu, but I’ve heard rumors about some of the site’s shipments being held up in customs, so I never ordered from them.

I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post, because it may draw unwanted attention to these sites and services, but fuck it. A post like this would have been helpful to me when I was trying to fine reputable sites to order from, so I wanted to share my experiences.

UBN

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Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic ’13 Bottled Today, Very Limited Distribution

Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic label

I like Cantillon beers. A lot.

I’m always seeking news ways to obtain the incredibly-rare lambics, and I keep a close eye on the brewery online and in social-media circles.

This morning, Cantillon announced via Facebook that its super-exclusive, you-can’t-fucking-have-any-unless-you-live-in-or-near-Belgium lambic made with blueberries, Cantillon Blåbær, was bottled today. Only a single barrel, or 300 liters, was made. It will be shipped out at the end of June, but Blåbær will only be available at a specialty beer shop in Copenhagen called Ølbutikken. (“Ølbutikken” translates to The Beer Shop.)

Unfortunately, Ølbutikken doesn’t ship beers, but you can contact them and ask them to hold bottles for you if you plan to be in Copenhagen within the next month or so.

I will not be in Copenhagen anytime soon, so I guess Blåbær is going to remain on my Must-Have Beers list for the foreseeable future.

UBN

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Anchor California Lager Now Available Outside of the Golden State

Anchor California Lager Label

I’ve been drinking Anchor Brewing Co. beers for years. I’m a big fan of Anchor Steam and its Liberty Ale, in particular. So, a few months back, when I heard that Anchor was brewing a new beer – a recreation of an old brew – I was rather excited to try it ASAP. I was equally disappointed to hear that the new brew, Anchor California Lager, would only be available in Anchor’s home state of California.

From Anchor Brewing:

“Anchor Steam’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer.”

Last month I was in San Francisco covering Google’s I/O conference, and picked up a couple of six packs of Anchor California Lager. Normally, I’m much more of an ale guy, but I had been drinking IPAs and sour ales beforehand, and I felt like something a little lighter. California Lager fit that bill nicely, and at the time, I kept wishing that I could get the beer back home in Boston.

Yesterday, Anchor announced that I can, or I will be able to soon. California Lager will begin shipping to a number of new markets this month, and it will be available June through September 2013. The markets are as follows: Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

If you’re located in one of these states, I definitely recommend picking up a sixer of California Lager post haste.

UBN

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Dogfish ‘Randall Jr.’ Mini Fresh-Hopping Gadget Costs $20

Dogfish Head Randall Jr.

You may or may not have heard of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery‘s fresh-hopping contraption called Randall the Enamel Animal. The gadget basically lets you stream beer through a variety of different ingredients, including hops, spices, etc., to impart the flavors of those ingredients in the beer.

Sounds interesting, right? Unfortunately, the full-size Randall the Enamel Animal is rather pricey at almost $300, and it’s really designed for commercial use in bars or other drinking establishments.

Dogfish also offers a Randall Jr. “Mini Enamel Animal” that lets individuals “randalize” their beers. Randall Jr. isn’t a new product, but it has been sold out in Dogfish’s online store for quite some time. Its latest release was also supposed to be in February,  but the new Randall Jrs. just went on sale this week. Randall Jr. is basically a thick plastic container that holds 16 ounces of brew. You fit a filtering screen on top of it once you add your beer and other ingredients, put another cap on to maintain carbonation, let the beer chill for a while and then pour the filtered beer into a drinking glass.

Dogfish Head Randall Jr.

You could certainly build your own Randall Jr. using a large glass or other container and a filter, but the Dogfish unit probably looks cooler than what you’ll come up with. And it’s not too pricey at $20.

Here’s the official Randall Jr. description from Dogfish:

“Our new Mini Enamel Animal will give you the power for off-centered infusions. Just twist off the top; add hops, spices, fruit or whatnot, fill with off-centered ale and savor the fruits of your creativity.

“The new super-thick Randall holds a whopping 16 ounces. Made of double-walled, BPA-free plastic, he’s a bold but sensitive guy, so please wash with a mild, non-scented soap, and by golly keep him out of the microwave or dishwasher!”

And here’s a video infomercial from Dogfish about Randall Jr.

Learn more about Randall Jr. or order one of your own via Dogfish’s online store.

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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Buy Cantillon T-Shirts, Sweatshirts Online Directly from the Source

Gold Cantillon T-shirt

Yesterday I posted about an interesting new beer Brasserie Cantillon is currently working on: a spontaneously-fermented stout that will likely become either its 2014 or 2015 Zwanze beer. Once a year, Cantillon releases a special limited-release brew, and beer lovers the world over celebrate “Zwanze Day” at bars and other locales lucky enough to get some of it. (Check out my post on Zwanze Day 2012 for more information.)

While doing some research online, trying to dig up some details on this year’s Zwanze beer and the Zwanze Day 2013 date—to no avail—I found Cantillon’s new online store. In the past, if you wanted a Cantillon t-shirt or hoodie you had to visit the brewery in Belgium, attend some special event, like Zwanze Day, at which the shirts were being sold or find some random online retailer. Now you can purchase Cantillon t-shirts and sweatshirts online directly from Cantillon.

Cantillon Sweatshirt

The Cantillon tees and hoodies aren’t cheap though, and shipping to the United States is also pricey. To send a single $52.00 hooded sweatshirt from Cantillon to Boston, where I live, you need to pay roughly $32.50 in shipping fees. That’s a $85 hoodie. But $85 is still cheaper than a trip to Belgium and the Cantillon brewery. And one of these shirts would make a great gift for a Cantillon lover.

Unfortunately, the Cantillon Web shop is only selling t-shirts and sweatshirts at this point. It would be nice to see them offer glassware and other branded goodies in the future.

Visit Cantillon’s online store for more details.

UBN

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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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