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Archive | January, 2008

‘Fried beer’ and hedge fund beer picks

Super Bowl Sunday could be called “National Beer Day,” according to one press release, because an estimated $12 million will be spent on beer for consumption before and during the game day.

Much of the discussion centers around Budweiser and Bud Light, since Anheuser-Busch is the Super Bowl’s biggest advertiser. And Miller has co-opted some of the attention with a second Dalmatian commercial. More of the same? Mostly, but look around and you never know what you’ll find.

Saint Arnold Brewing in Texas posted recipes “just in time for the big game.” Last week the brewery held its first “One Pot Showdown,” cooking contest that requires each recipe to include Saint Arnold beer as an ingredient and to be cooked in a single pot in the Saint Arnold parking lot. The event raised $1,800 for Meals on Wheels. Fried Beer (click on the link for the lengthy recipe), made with Winter Stout, finished first. Amberized Green Chili was second.

TheStreet.com has “Microbrewed Beer Picks for the Big Game” – a good list if you’re having hedge fund managers over to watch the game.

– Among the “proposition” bets you can place is which will be the first beer commerical at halftime.

And then there’s YouTube.

– Miller has already started showing its second Dalmatian commercial, featured in the Wall Street Journal with A-B’s reaction.

– The Associated Press put together a sneak preview of the A-B ads:

– Of course, you knew we could count on the Marin Institute to demand an end to advertising and marketing beer during the Super Bowl. They might have found it more effective to come up with a spoof like this one:

Sadly, this sort fun doesn’t do any of us beer drinkers much good. Don’t think it’s just an attack on Bud.

Why beer blogs are good even when things suck

Jens Dalsgaard puts it this way at Nanobryg: This is the end of Ølfabrikken.

Dalsgaard’s take on Gourmetbryggeriet acquiring the remaining 50% of Ølfabrikken is pretty despressing.

Look, I don’t care if I never drink another bottle of Ølfabrikken Porter (though I know just where to find several). I’m not thinking first about my beer drinking convenience. In fact, my least favorite thing about Ølfabrikken could be that the brewery ships its beer to the U.S.

That might sound strange, but (trust me, this is proof you don’t want to be living inside my head) the logic goes likes this: If they didn’t ship us beer then I wouldn’t know they made really good beer and wouldn’t care when Dalsgaard writes: “We shall see if the brand stays unchanged, but I seriously doubt it.”

You hate it that it appears what looked to be a cool little brewery is changing. One where you knew just who was making the beer and what ingredients they were using.

Without the Internet we might have ever heard of Ølfabrikken (ranked 12th in the world by Rate Beer). Maybe this has already by discussed to death at the beer sites, but I lean on beer blogs, via rss feeds, to get news like this. News I could have missed without Nanobryg.

And, yes, there is the possibility that Dalsgaard is totally off base — which is why brewers scream about “those damn bloggers” — but he’s earned my respect and will have to be proved wrong. (I hope he is, but as already noted, it can get strange inside this head; maybe I need a beer).

It will suck for drinkers in Denmark if what were beers of conviction won’t be brewed with the same character. It doesn’t make me happy knowing what I now know, but I am happy to know Nanobryg and the 193 other blogs really simple BEER syndication currently tracks are out there digging up stuff like this.

(Full disclosure: This is not intended as a shot across Alan’s bows, but his post a few days ago caused me to stop and find a silver lining in what looks like pretty sucky news.)

Gordon Biersch X 4: Compare and contrast

Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen“Brew” Blog reports that Costco has received label application approval to sell three beers under the Kirkland brand name.

This has all kind of implications. In brief:

– Costco is a poster child for “trading up.” You go there to buy products you are brand agnostic about in bulk (often the dependable Kirkland brand), leaving you money to spend more on those you care about. At Costco or some place else.

– In case you were napping, Costco has been fighting the three-tier system, this week suffering a setback when an appeals court overturned most of a previous favorable ruling.

– It’s the largest wine retailer in the United States. I’ve always wondered what would happen if they got equally serious about beer. Yes, Costco sells beer by the case, and I can often find a New Belgium specialty beer there as well as Fat Tire. But as well as stacks of wine at $6.99-$9.99 they’ve also two islands with wine in bins. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a bottle, but the real sport is shopping in the $11-14 range. Might they make room in those bins for a few bottles of hard-to-find beer?

All good topics for a bar stool, but right now I’m considering the possibility of a side-by-side-by-side-by-side tasting.

Gordon Biersch in San Jose, Calif., will brew the Kirkland beers (labels indicate an amber, a pale ale and a hefeweizen). BG already brews a hefeweizen which it sells under its own name. It also brews a hefe for Trader Joe’s, and each of its brewpubs across the country has a hefe among its core beers.

So if you live someplace with all the right stores and a Gordon Biersch brewery/restaurant you could line up four beers and see what differences you taste.

Three beers from the same good home and one from one of the kids.

Hofbräuhaus Double Bock revisited

Gee, I wish I’d received the press release before we were in Las Vegas and I went looking for a doppelbock to try for The Session rather than a few days ago.

For the second straight year, the Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas is pouring a draft beer that is truly special – even by the standards of this beer hall that’s been redefining great-tasting beer for Las Vegans and visitors alike since 2004.

The Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas was able to obtain 50 kegs of this rare brew with the powerful punch (it contains 8% alcohol) and ultra smooth taste. Like all the Hofbräu beers served at Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, this very special brew was imported fresh from Munich, Germany.

Made completely without preservatives, the Double Bock at Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas can be had only as long as the 50 kegs hold out – and it is a delicious treat not to be missed: this true Double Bock is made with a unique blend of pilsner and Munich malts, which eliminates bitterness, despite its higher alcohol content.

In addition, the Double Bock uses more hops in every batch than the other beers at Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, and the beer is aged twice as long. The result? A surprisingly light-colored brew (compared to the dark, bitter mass-market American beers claiming to be “Double Bock”) that is amazingly smooth on the palate with a faint sweetness, which completely hides the fact that every delicious sip runs about 16 proof!

According to Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas president Stefan Gastager, Hofbräu Double Bock is more familiar to European beer drinkers; many Italians even use it as an aperitif, to whet the appetite before a meal. “Obviously, it is very special to be able to provide this great tasting beer with the storied history to our guests for a second year in a row,” Gastager said. “It’s not often that a beer of this magnitude is available in the United States; I invite everyone to come in and experience this great tasting brew while it lasts, but be careful this beer is very strong!”

. . . compared to the dark, bitter mass-market American beers claiming to be “Double Bock.”

Do you know of a Double Bock other than one from Samuel Adams? What kind of statement is the press release making about the doppelbocks brewed in Munich (where the style originated)?

Just trying to figure out whose bows are being shot across.

Monday morning musing: A case for Mild

Lots of catching up to do after a wonderful time in balmy St. Paul, Minn. Great beers, not so good beers. More important, great conversations and stories, not all of them about beer.

So just one bit of musing, then off to all that e-mail. First stop Thursday was The Muddy Pig in St. Paul, which bills itself as a “neighborhood bistro.” And it is. Good looking food menu, beer menu that includes descriptions of 48 beers on tap and a an excellent bottle selection, all set in a comfortable pub/tavern. (Photo is from their website.)

Muddy PigPlaces like this barely existed when we started research on the first Beer Travelers Guide in the early 1990s, and the best did not have a beer selection so inviting.

I considered beers from Belgium. I looked at the Bell’s offerings — who could turn down Two Hearted Ale, Hopslam or Expedition Stout? I’ve got the latter in my cooler, but Expedition Stout on tap . . .

Aside from my interest in drinking local I also did a bit of math. This was going to an 18-to-20 hour day, and drinking would continue from this moment on. I ordered Surly Mild.

Not a a beer that would have scored well in the Upper Mississippi Mash Out. A session-friendly 4.2% abv with the rich chocolate, caramel and roast you expect in a mild, but brimming with juicy hop character. The description said 31 BU but against a modest malt bill it seemed like more.

Much of the discussion about session beers has focused on alcohol content, but that should be only part of the conversation. A session beer needs to understand its place at the table. It’s there to facilitate the session, not to star.

Saint Arnold Brewing founder Brock Wagner defined this perfectly in a conversation several years ago.

“We want you to think about what you are drinking. I’ll think about the beer when I first taste it. After that I’m sitting there with my wife and with friends shooting the breeze and it becomes background,” he said. “But periodically I will think about the beer again.”

Maybe you have to be a hophead, which I am, and you certainly need to set aside your idea of traditional mild, but to me Surly Mild qualifies as an outstanding session beer.

Had I stuck with it my head would have thanked me the next morning.

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