Archive | October, 2006

Where are they now?

Microbrews: A Ten Year Retrospective looks to be an interesting project.

The premise:

The whole premise of this blog is to see how many of the 200+ microbrews and brews featured in MICROBREWS: A GUIDE TO AMERICA’S BEST NEW BEERS AND BREWERIES have survived the craft brew infatuation of the last 20 years or so. I’m using this book because it is ten years old and is the only book I have of its sort.

My choice likely would have been to start with Steve Johnson’s “ON TAP: Guide to North American Brewpubs” because Steve chronicled the comings and goings of breweries with the zeal of a librarian (perhaps because he is a librarian), but it would appear this book is alphabetical and that lends itself well to this undertaking.

Today’s post features the brewery formerly known as Adler Brau and now called Stone Cellar Brewpub. Adler Brau made some excellent German inspired beers – in fact winning four medals at the 1991 Great American Beer Festival.

What we really liked was the cellar pub, which included what we refer to as a “Wisconsin bar.” These exist elsewhere, but we always associate them with Wisconsin. Basically the area behind the bar is recessed and the bartender is pretty much face-to-face with seated customers. Very friendly.

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It’s not only beer

grapesWines & Vines reports Americans are drinking more wine than ever, and appear to be moving away from mega-brands.

Overall wine consumption reached an all-time high of 279 million cases in 2005, a 3.3% increase. Brands selling fewer than 1 million cases grew at double that rate. Smaller-production wines are also expected to drive industry growth in 2006.

One million cases equates to about 77,000 beer barrels (at 31 gallons per barrel) in volume, but quite a bit more in cash sales. So we’re not talking tiny, but many of those wineries are way smaller, surviving based on what’s inside the bottle rather than an advertising budget.

Sound familiar?

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Beer snobs and snarky prejudices

Old breweryFriday the New York Times had a story about Ambitious Brew and Saturday the Wall Street Journal chimed in with a review. Given that I’ve already posted a longish (three-part) interview with Ogle at Beer Therapy you might be tired of the subject.

That won’t keep me from writing an actual review of the book. For now though I want to share my “ah-ha” moment in reading the WSJ review (that sadly sit at a pay site). The Journal focuses on Prohibition, how it came about and how beer changed when it ended. Then Eric Felton concludes:

It was a taste that favored bland beer, and the brewers bowed to that public preference until the microbrewery revolution that got going in earnest about 20 years ago. Ms. Ogle tells that story with appreciation for the new school of brewers but without the snarky prejudice against the big corporate beer companies that is so common to today’s beer snobs. It is one of the virtues of her history of American beer that Ms. Ogle isn’t afraid to admit admiration for the bold risks and ambitions of the capitalists — then and now — who have made beer their business.

Ah-ha.

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Beyond the sexy tap handles

Meantime taps

Nearly 100 news outlets have picked up the Associated Press story about the art of tap handles. That’s understandable, because tap handles can be pretty cool, although you’ll notice I chose to illustrate this story with the simple but elegant tap handles of Meantime Brewing in Greenwich. The photo was shot at the Brew Wharf, part of the Vinopolis complext in London.

But I’m not sure that I ever ordered a beer because it had a great handle. Handles certainly have grabbed my attention at a pub, and if I already knew something about the brewery (or even the beer) then I may have ended up drinking a beer from that tap.

Thus I wish I had written what Roger Baylor offered at the Potable Curmudgeon. Be sure to read clear to the conclusion:

You can’t read a book without cracking the cover. Admire the tap handle from afar, but delve into the true significance of what it represents, and become knowledgeable.

Words to drink by.

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Bringing your own to the restaurant

Ever think of taking your own beer to a fancy restaurant?

I don’t mean homebrew, but a special beer you want to have with a special meal. Wine lovers often have the option, usually paying a corkage fee. After all, the restaurant is giving up a two-to-three times mark up on the bottle of wine you’d otherwise order.

Bill Brand surveyed a few upscale Northern California restaurants – starting with the very upscale French Laundry in Yountville.

French Laundry wine director Paul Roberts said the restaurant has a number of regular guests who brew their own beers and bring them to drink with dinner. The corkage fee for beer is $10, compared to $50 for wine.

“One of our VIPs who comes regularly here and to Per Se (chef Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant) usually brings beer,” Roberts said. “Their son has been home brewing for years, so every time he comes in, he brings one of his beers.”

Other restaurants indicated they’d never had customers ask, but many said that they’d be happy to accommodate customers who want to bring their own beer. They even indicated there’d be no corkage fee.

Of course if many customers start taking them up on that expect a charge to follow.

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