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What if New Belgium had beat Bud Light to Crested Butte?


What Happens When Bud Light Takes Over Your Town for a Weekend. After all the hoopla before Bud Light’s “Whatever, U.S.A.” takeover of Crested Butte, Colorado, I was disappointed in the days after the event by the lack of stories about how it went (other than the one, repeated over and over, describing how hard it was for people to get flights home). But then I came across this account from a local in Vanity Fair.,

… anyone who says you can’t get drunk on light beer clearly hasn’t witnessed 1,000 twentysomethings flown from sea level to the mountains and pumped with an endless supply of cheap lager. Illuminated by blinding set lights and stumbling along streets paved in blue, partygoers had an eerie, zombie-like glow about them.

In the aftermath I remembered a story heard long ago at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins. Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch seriously considered starting their brewery in Crested Butte — well known for its skiing, mountain biking, and wildflowers in the spring — rather than Fort Collins. PR director Bryan Simpson confirmed that it was once on the short list but was eliminated because shipping logistics were “challenging.” If you’ve ever driven there from just about any direction you are entitled to add an expletive before “challenging.”

But think about it. Had New Belgium located instead in Crested Butte maybe it would not have become “Whatever, U.S.A.” But of course New Belgium might not have become New Belgium.
[Via Vanity Fair]

Hegra maltøl at Granås Gård. One pleasant result last week when I solicited input on what constitutes an “indigenous beer” (and input is still welcome) was Boak & Bailey pointed me to Lars Marius Garshol’s series on farmhouse ales and I discovered that my feed reader hadn’t been collecting the latest posts from Larsblog for quite a while. I’ve had some catching up to do. This entry stands nicely on its own, but you might want to set aside some time for several of them.
[Via Larsblog]

A trip to Jester King Brewing

[Via Its Okay to be Smart]

Why pubs are a bit like bananas. Just go read it.
[Via beersoakedboy, H/T Boak & Bailey]

Bohemian Lagers of the 1880’s and 1890’s and The Ease of Misunderstanding Czech Beer. A) The numbers from Ron Pattinson, and B) and first post in a series from Jeff Alworth that, if he succeeds, will result in people throwing their hands in the air, shouting “Why am I satisfied only reading about this?” and booking a trip to the Czech Republic.
[Via Shut up About Barclay Perkins and Beervana]

Here’s How A Six-Pack Of Craft Beer Ends Up Costing $12. This is being shared all over the Internet and on the whole nicely done, giving consumers insight into why beer costs what it does. Thus I don’t want to seem like a picky curmudgeon when I point out an error of fact. However, the story suggests that large breweries use a pound of hops in each barrel they brew and mentions that craft brewers may add up to 4 pounds. Well, the Brewers Association has surveyed members and they average 1.3 pounds, and that’s one key number. More important, brewers worldwide add between 2 and 3 ounces per barrel. If they used a pound we’d be headed for a hop shortage, as Peter Venkman once said, “of biblical proportions.” (“What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff!”)
[Via Huffington Post]

Garage science: High school teacher opens brewery. Of course this would happen in a garage in Burlington, Vermont.
[Via Burlington Free Press]


Comment about indigenous beer; win a book

Earlier this week, Boak & Bailey pointed to a couple of other posts and offered a thought and a question about “Native or Local?”

First, the thought. “It seems that native style, then, might be a more important idea than local manufacture.”

Second, the question. “Thought experiment: if you were to visit Berlin, would you feel you’d had a more authentic experience drinking American-brewed Berliner Weisse, or locally made Cascade-hopped IPA?”

Maybe it was the word “native” that caught my attention. Or the question John Holl asked about if beer were invented today was still rattling around in my head. Anyway, this is something that’s been on my mind for a while — what makes a beer indigenous and what belongs on the official indigenous beer list?

Yes, there might be a book in the works, which I’d like to help make better. So I’ve been building a bit of a list of what might be called “indigenous beers.” You can help improve it and in return you might win a book. I’ve had several show up at my door, so will reward one contributor an opportunity to pick from them.

To win, add a beer to this list. Or provide meaningful details about one of the beers already here. Or add something to the “What the heck is indigenous?” conversation. For instance: New Glarus Brewing uses the phrase “Drink Indigenous” on its logo. The brewery is Wisconsin through and through, but what does that mean for its beers?

The prize winner will be drawn from those who comment or — for those feeling shy — email suggestions to

So for starters, uniquely American beers:

* Classic American Pilsner
Kentucky Common
American colonial ales

* And then there is the question, does this beer really belong on the list?

And (this list is woefully short) the rest of the world:

Keptinis Alus
Heather ale
Eqyptian Bouza
Mesopotanium ale
African sorghum beers (there are enough perhaps they should be considered individually)


Hops: Now you see them, now you don’t

No, this post is not about the impending, or not impending, hop shortage. One of the reasons I went to Michigan over the Labor Day weekend was to see the three-level drying system at Hop Head Farms in action. As far as I know it is the only German-style one being used in the United States.

Not every farm in Germany employs this system (some have belt dryers, more common in the Czech Republic), but it works well on smaller farms. The average farm size in Germany is about 34 acres, compared to more than 500 acres in the American Northwest, and considerably more in the Yakima Valley. (Roy Farms and Wyckoff Farms each grow hops on more than 3,500 acres, each producing more hops than all but four countries.) The first two levels of the kiln have louvered floors, so hops drop from one level to the next. Fresh hops are loaded onto the top tier (shown in the video) each time that dry hops are removed from the bottom tier (a drawer that pulls out).

German hop kiln
Illustration courtesy of The German Hop Research Center Hüll

The drying system at Hop Head can process about 80 to 100 acres a harvest season (Jeff and Bonnie Steinman have 30 acres on their property and will dry about another 30 acres of hops for other farmers, so it will be another season before Jeff can be certain about the capacity). Kilns are much different in the Northwest, where farmers may process 100 acres in a day. They are basically giant sheds with multiple sections, called floors.

Yakima Valley hop kiln

Hops are spread 8 to 14 inches deep in the German system, 24 to 36 inches deep in the U.S. Heated air, forced through the bed from the bottom, dries the hops. Tom Nielsen of Sierra Nevada Brewing writes about kilning in the September issue of Beer Advocate and the new attention on preserving the quality and quantity of essential oils for brewers, and ultimately beer drinkers. Bitch all you want about the IPA-ing of America, but this emphasis is improving the quality of hops used in all beers.


How do I ‘adopt’ a row of hops?

Top photo from Oregon, bottom one from England (via Twitter). Goschie Farms is a prominent hop grower in the Willamette Valley, supporting its community in a variety of ways. As noted just yesterday, British hop acreage has long been shrinking. It will take the support of the British brewing community to change that.

Goschie Farms 'Adopt-A-Road'


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