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Archive | March, 2011


In 2001 Anheuser-Busch began an expansion to boost capacity at its Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery 28% increase to 8.2 million barrels annually. A few years ago I toured the brewery and I’m pretty sure I heard production had reached 15 million barrels.

Monday, the news that Anheuser-Busch (InbBev) bought Goose Island, which produced 127,000 barrels in 2010, probably chewed up more bandwidth than the Fort Collins brewery has in its history.

Since everybody else has an opinion about what the Goose Island sale means I’ll be honest and type, I don’t know. And unless you’re drinking beer with Dave Peacock and Carlos Brito right now there’s every chance you don’t know either.

Instead, meet me for the Goose Island tour in 2014. We’ll see what’s available in the tasting room after the tour ends.

Remembering Michael Jackson (and a movie update)

Beer Hunter Michael Jackson in Alaska

Michael Jackson would have been 69 years old Sunday.

A good day to pull one of his books — I always recommend Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion — off the shelf. Read aloud if you like.

Also, there are new publications on both sides of the Atlantic that pay tribute to his legacy. In England, the Brewery History Society dedicated the current issue to “the most significant writer on beer there has been.”

In the United States, Jay Brooks wrote about Jackson’s influence in the latest Beer Connoisseur magazine. I haven’t actually seen this issue and can’t guarantee how easy it will be to find, but look for Jackson on the cover.

The Beer Society tribute gets an official launch at 6 p.m. Sunday at The Rake in London. Pete Brown, who wrote the introduction, contributor Mark Dredge, the editor and others will be on hand. And the magazine will be for sale. Brown’s introduction in online. Here’s the rest of the table of contents:

The World Guide to Beer – Jeff Evans
Michael Jackson and beer styles – Martyn Cornell
Michael Jackson and world beers – Tim Webb
The taste of beer – Zak Avery
Michael Jackson and beer writing – Roger Protz
Michael Jackson: Father of the craft brewing renaissance in America – Carolyn Smagalski
On the road with the Beer Hunter – J.R. Richards
Michael Jackson: the personal view of a brewer – John Keeling
Beer writing and new media – Mark Dredge

And a quick heads up. Richards is the filmmaker who trailed Jackson through much of Europe and the United States during the last years before Jackson died in 2007. He is working to complete his documentary — “Beer Hunter: The Movie” — and seeking donations. Here are the basics:

Your donation will also help establish the “Pints for Parkinson’s Foundation,” aimed at preserving Michael’s legacy while raising money and awareness for the Parkinson’s Foundation. As a sponsor, your name will appear on the credits of the Beer Hunter movie and you’ll receive a free download of the film after its release.

A suggested donation would be $10.

The wisdom of beer crowds, or not

Where are the hops?

Surely you are familiar with Beer Madness at the The Washington Post. If not, read this.

Basically, beer fans get to vote between two beers — for instance, right now you can pick Breckenridge Vanilla Porter or Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout — a panel of eleven has tasted blind. Then the paper reveals the results and another round commences based on the beers the panelists favor.

Had I not been traveling Oregon’s sometimes snow-covered roads* in order to learn the mysteries of hop genetics, quality pelletizing and other information that belongs in a book about hops I would have liked to have handicapped the tournament.

* The road got more exciting after I took the picture at the top. Eventually I came to flashing lights that demanded vehicles have chains or traction tires. My travel tip to you is: visit hop country when hops are growing.

Well, maybe not the whole thing. But I’d just read one of way too many analyses about how to win your office March Madness pool; this one based on find value. The example was Texas, which was undervalued (correctly, it seems) since a respected numbers guy gave Texas something like a 5 percent chance to win the tournament and at that moment more like 3 percent of people entering some online mega-pool picked Texas.

You’ll have to trust me on this, but I was going to suggest that Great Divide Claymore Scotch Ale offered similar value. At the time, Founders Dirty Bastard was already burying Claymore, which is such a beautifully balanced beer I feel compelled to comment on how that balance and finesse is what seems to set Great Divide’s beer apart every time I drink one. In fact, Dirty Bastard won the popularity contest, 1,017-351. The panelists preferred Claymore.

I’m not really that brilliant, but you knew that. Because I had a 50 percent chance to be right. This contest is a random walk through better beer land. That’s not a bad thing. I love Edmund Fitzgerald Porter &#151 one of these days the T-shirt I bought in 1993 is simply going to fall apart — but it received more than 70 percent of votes from fans. The panelists preferred it over Hoppin’ Frog Silk Porter by a 6-5 vote, which probably better represents the difference between two.

Personal preference is good, and the contest is fun. But I’m not sure it is different than flipping a coin. In the first round, the panelists and crowd agreed sixteen times. They disagreed fifteen times (Anchor Old Foghorn and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot tied at 512 — or 32 pints apiece — in the popularity contest. It doesn’t get more random that that.

My value bet for this round? How about Smuttynose Finest Kind Finestkind IPA? A 1,228-357 underdog to Bell’s Two-Hearted it captured eight of the eleven panelists’ palates. Now it is running way behind Lagunitas Maximus.

(And speaking of fans, check out how many votes have been lodged in the showdown between Evolution Rise Up Stout and Port City Porter.)

Trumpets blare: Session #50 topic unveiled

The SessionAfter much brain and soul searching, Alan McLeod has settled on the theme for the 50th Session: How Do They Make Me Buy The Beer?

Think about it. You have until April 1. Then post.

Alan points out the question is “multi-faceted.” The wording itself is intriguing. Does a brewery make you buy beer? Did a relatively few breweries once brainwash the American public into drinking pale, adjunct lager, virtually eliminating any other choice? Were jingles and billboards at sporting events and television commercials really that effective?

Sorry. Getting ahead of myself. April 1. Be there.

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