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Archive | July, 2010

A few links while we search for cowboy bars

Million Dollar Cowboy BarWe’re headed north in the morning (attention burglars: somebody will be watching our house), eventually to Montana and Wyoming because my brother’s son is getting married in a week.

While we’re off looking for cowboy neon signs hanging on old bars (maybe even old saloons) here are a few links I’ve been meaning to pass along. (The photo on the left is was taken in front of The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, Wyoming. A place your really should visit before dropping by Snake River Brewing for excellent beer.)

  • If you can’t trust your own taste buds whose can you trust?
  • More from our trip to New Orleans and NOLA Brewing’s 7th Street Wheat, another beer that illustrates “American Wheat” should not be called a style.
  • I stuck thoughts about “cloning” Westmalle Tripel at Brew Like a Monk, but if you are curious why it tastes like it does . . .
  • Probably should have anticipated something silly like this. Seamus Campbell writes “I have learned that the August issue of Reader’s Digest borrows from our results to construct a list of ‘The Twelve Best American Beers’ — the dozen beers listed all being 9-point scorers in The Beer Trials.” And then notes why this might not be so good. “The best-scoring beers in the book are, of course, merely the best-scoring of the beers we tasted. And make no mistake, there are a lot of beers we didn’t taste.”
  • British economists say real ale drinkers offer “economic inspiration.” Don’t be put off that the report begins, “It’s not often beer drinkers are role models.”
  • I have resisted writing (and pretty much reading) about all that surrounds BrewDog’s latest. But “BrewDog’s Next Beer: Ahab’s Undoing” had me at “implanted into the abdomen of a live sperm whale.”
  • As I type this, a thread at Beer Advocate titled “Professional Brewers discuss BA and RB” has elicited 148 replies. Perhaps time for them to consider NEW BEER RULE #8: Always take beer more seriously than yourself.
  • So when did the meaning of artisanal change?

    The headline across the bottom of Details magazine caught my eye today at Borders.

    “Artisanal America: How Handmade and Homegrown Became the New Consumer Religion.” The story itself is even online. Sure enough, the cute timeline that runs above the story has a picture of beers from Anchor Brewing and a note that in 1965 the brewery helped “kickoff the microbrew craze.”

    (See, not everybody uses the term craft beer.)

    What’s troubling, and a reminder why I’m not part of Details’ target audience, is that most of the items mentioned in the story turn out to be expensive. (It’s hard to continue reading after the reporter asks this question: “Does the phrase ‘Horween Tracker bone suede upper’ mean anything to you?”)

    This story equates artisanal with luxury and exclusivity. Which is not the way to build a better beer culture.

    Innocent nose and palate

    Drinking note of the day (not really a new feature, so don’t expect one tomorrow):

    From The Gourmet Guide to Beer by Howard Hillman (1983).

    Hamm’s (U.S.A.) 2 mugs (out of five)

    “Born in the land of sky blues waters,” says the motto. Pale yellow color. Innocent nose and palate.

    How’s that for concise?

    How Lagunitas made me giggle

    Lagunitas glasswareI think the Lagunitas glassware pictured on the left has been around a while. However it’s just now that I’m looking at a press release dated 3.5.10. It arrived yesterday and it made me laugh out loud. So I will pass it along without comment, other than to note I hope you enjoy it as much as I have:

    “The Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma CA commissioned Dr’s Petchutnik and Splam of the Nagorno-Karabackh Institute for Brewing Research to develop a radically new design of glassware for enjoying fine American Craft Beer.

    “The revolutionary design abandons conventional wisdom regarding the characteristics of traditional post-20th century Ale-ware. Lagunitas and the research team drew inspiration from homestead fine cuisine influences of the early 1930’s.

    “Focusing on southeastern US regional imbibement traditions, Dr’s Petchutnik ans Splam and Lagunitas have re-evolved the Jarre du le Mason, or colloquially: The Mason Jar.

    “This container’s utilitarian design and multi-purpose functionality eschews the new pretense and geekery in favor of glassware that:
    1. Fills and empties easily and,
    2. Washes quickly.

    “According to Lagunitas Brewmaster Emil Kerputchinikikik, ‘We felt that in the new post-private-sedtor world this was a statement of solidarity and expression of our own pese que de dunche por ce est as well as acknowledgment of this 21st century imperative.’

    “In addition to vastly improve functionality the glassware is also decorated with distinct Lagunitas Brewing Company iconography and should be considered for immediate use by all brewers across the country.

    “The Lagunitas Brewing company, founded in 1372, brews iconoclastic American-style ales in Petaluma, CA. Earth.”

    NOLA Brewing: Tales of the un-cocktail

    NOLA Brewing Hopitulous IPAThis week New Orleans hosts Tales of the Cocktail.

    We went last week.

    Not because we have anything against cocktails, but because that’s when the birthdays fall. In fact, we drank hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and cocktails at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. We also had pretty good wine with dinner at Irene’s Cuisine.

    But mostly we drank beer. Finding flavorful beer in New Orleans has been relatively easily for a long time. Thank the students at Tulane for supporting places like Cooter Brown’s and The Bulldog. However the city was, and is, the poster child for BMC (Bud Miller Coors) markets. “When we opened a year and a half ago (they) accounted for 95 percent of beer sales,” said NOLA Brewing founder Kirk Coco. “I don’t mean all light lagers. Just beers from Bud, Miller and Coors.”

    NOLA (New Orleans Lager and Ale) hasn’t even begun to approach the status of Abita, but the fact that Crescent Pie & Sausage, located in Mid-City and one of the city’s hip new dining spots, offers three NOLA beers on tap signals that change is at hand.

    We built our itinerary around eating, and there was much to be said to finding Abita or NOLA beers available at almost every turn. Beer and food should go together in New Orleans, Coco said. “We have the right attitude. We’re not afraid of calories.”

    He pointed out New Orleans’ shortage of diet po-boy shops and promised, “You’ll never see a NOLA Light, not as long as I’m alive.”

    These are not necessarily “Big Ass Beers” (as seen on signs throughout the French Quarter). NOLA Blonde, 4.9% abv, outsells all the others three-to-one. Coco’s favorite is NOLA Brown, at 3.9% abv tame but rich. A beer some would surely describe as quaffable.

    Hopitulous IPA — the brewery is located on historically important Tchoupitoulas Street; Tipitina’s is at the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon and if I need to explain Tip’s please just Google Professor Longhair — was supposed to be a seasonal, but proved too popular not to keep brewing. It’s more about hop flavor than bitterness (60 IBU, calculated). Brewmaster Peter Caddoo, a veteran of Dixie Brewing, adds Nugget hops while running wort into the kettle. He uses Warrior for bittering, Columbus and Cascade for flavor, Simcoe late in the kettle, then more Simcoe in the whirlpool. He dry hops it with Simcoe and Amarillo.

    It’s a fine food beer. I might just mail in “eating the Mixed Grill (a plate of house-made sausages) at Crescent Pie and Sausage served Hopitulous” as my entry for The Session #42. Each made the other better.


    Two other bits I should probably save for future stories, but can’t resist passing on:

    – When did Peter Caddoo begin homebrewing? “The day John Lennon died.” That was Dec. 8, 1980 and he was a student the the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, N.Y. He and the other students made “Lennon Lager” and drank it on New Year’s Eve.

    – Although Cooter Brown’s, The Bulldog and d.b.a. (in the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood) remain fine places to drink and have been joined by Bulldog Mid-City, The Avenue Pub on St. Charles has vaulted to the top of the class.

    This joint has been around forever (maybe the nineteenth century). Story is that more recently celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse played pool in the back room after he go off work. When we first visited several years ago the beer was OK, and sitting beside one of the windows looking onto St. Charles was pretty terrific. However, a few years ago (not long before Katrina and on a Jazz & Heritage Festival weekend) somebody suggested it hard turned into a dive.

    Not today. After her father died Polly Watts turned it into as good a beer place as any of us should need. For instance, Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery is in town this week for Tales of the Cocktail so the pub is featuring special Brooklyn beers all week. Oliver will make an appearance Friday.

    Perhaps he heard that Craig and Kim Giesecke of J’Anita’s took over the kitchen after their place on Magazine closed. They’re not afraid of calories.

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