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Archive | December, 2007

What do beer people really want to read about?

Michael Jackson and Blue Moon.

Those were the most popular search terms that brought readers here in 2007. Looking at lists of the best read posts at several blogs I read got me poking around the stats at Appellation Beer, to see what you were reading and to try to guess why.

I was surprised this final post of the year will be the 299th, more than double 2006 and a lot more than I expect in 2008. An explanation about why week after next, when we’re back from an Internetless shakeout cruise that’s practice for a trip we expect to occupy much of 2008 and 2009.

Anyway, I won’t be finishing 2007 with a list of “top beer stories” (we already know the biggest one is also the one that still makes us terribly sad). I do recommend Don Russell’s look back with some make-you-smile predictions.

And I can tell you that the search terms that are trending up are Firestone, beer sommelier and Michelada.

Make of that what you will, as well as this list of the best read stories here during 2007:

1- Michael Jackson: Journalist
2- Russian River Brewing expansion update
3 – Blue Moon: Peter, Paul & Mary or Trini Lopez?
4 – 10 Beers that changed America
5 – New Beer Rule #2: IBUs and IQs
6 – And now . . . Imperial Hefeweizen
7 – Firestone 11 and a ‘Tale of Two Matts’
8 – Globalization versus local versus variety
9 – Fantasy Beer Dinner #1: Neal Stewart
10 – A million dollars worth of beer?

See you next week in time for The Session #11.

Flying Dog’s mixed 8: Better than Little Kings

Flying Dog Garde DogA while back I asked why breweries put some of their strongest beers in bigger bottles. Yes, they are nice to share with a friends, but sometimes you don’t want 750ml of a 12% beer.

Additionally, smaller bottles can sell for less (even if the per ounce price goes up because we still have to pay for glass).

Enter Flying Dog’s Canis Major series for 2008, which will be available in two versions. One mixed four-pack features a 12-ounce bottle of each the Canis Major style. The second option is a mixed eight-pack of 7-ounce bottles, two of each style.

Flying Dog is in a unique position to do this because when it acquired the former Frederick Brewing facility in Maryland last year it also picked up a bottling line that can handle 7-ounce bottles. That’s because Frederick was brewing Little Kings — the cream ale in small green bottles familiar to those of us who grew up east of the Mississippi — under contract.

The Canis Major high gravity series includes Gonzo Imperial Porter, Horn Dog Barley Wine, Double Dog Double Pale Ale and a new beer, Cerberus Tripel.

These beers are not outlandishly strong, but each qualifies as a nightcap, when you might prefer to sip from a snifter.

As well as adding the tripel to its lineup in 2008, Flying Dog is making “Garde Dog” Biere de Garde its spring release. When these two are available I’ll try to post drinking notes, perhaps at Brew Like a Monk.

Allagash christens its American coolship

It wasn’t two years ago that Allagash Brewing founder Rob Tod returned from a trip to Belgium with other American brewers and talked about the fermenting beers under the influence of wild yeast:

“I am inspired to maybe try it some time, but these beers really seem like an art that takes years to master. I don’t know if Allagash can afford to focus on them enough to do them justice. We have enough on our plate as it is.”

Sometimes you can’t help yourself. Check out this video at YouTube:

Allagash built a separate coolship (“koolschip”) facility at its Portland, Maine, brewery. Head brewer Jason Perkins supervised the first brew to go into the flat, open fermenter late in November and begin spontaneous fermentation. A film crew was on hand to capture history in progress.

Perkins called it “an epic event.” No kidding.

“A lot of the stuff we are doing today really goes against most modern brewing techniques,” he said.

Monday morning musing: Belgian authenticity

I don’t expect many are reading beer blogs this day before Christmas, so not much musing. Just a few links that will be way too old if I wait to pass them along.

Family Brewers Association– Stephen Beaumont recently called the Belgian Family Brewers Association a “brilliant idea.” Indeed.

Beaumont writes: “Given the number of multinational brands on the market today which seek to evoke the Belgian ethos, and the penchant some Belgian brewers have for releasing beers under two or three different labels, the BFB is definitely a step in the right direction. While it won’t guarantee that you’ll like a specific brand, or even that said brand is a stellar example of the Belgian brewing arts, it at least will guarantee authenticity.”

To be an association member a brewery must have been in business for at least 50 years, so a small nit to pick. Surely there are new independent (family run) breweries who would be a perfect match with the older ones.

– The St. Louis Post-Disptach story abuut the distribution deal between Virginia micro brewery Starr Hill and Anheuser-Busch doesn’t make it clear what this deal means, but it’s a start. The lead:

Starr Hill Brewery is housed in a big converted food warehouse near the railroad tracks in Crozet, Va. In nearly every other way it’s tiny: A half-dozen employees make 5,000 barrels of beer a year — about the volume Anheuser-Busch can churn out in less than three hours at its St. Louis brewery.

But if you think the brewery on Three Notch’d Road is too small to catch the eye of the biggest U.S. brewer, think again.

– Following last week’s links about Frankenbeer came the news that the pinot noir grape genome has been sequenced.

More fodder for the wine world’s never-ending debate about the existence of terroir. The Economist even devotes two stories to the topic, in the second asking what sort of traits consumers might ask for.

The answer: “More reliable flavours for one thing. No longer need you doubt whether a wine truly does possess flavours of exotic coffee, chocolate, Asian spice, roast duck and blackberry and prune liqueur. Genes from those very animals and plants could be spliced straight into the grape’s genome. Forget hours spent swilling, swirling, sniffing, gurgling and spitting — it will all be there in black and white, in the sequence data.”

Sounds like a great tasting note. But where’s the soul?

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