Archive | September, 2012

The Session #68 announced: Novelty Beers

The Session99 Pours has announced the topic for The Session #68 will be Novelty Beers. Here’s the idea:

With the onslaught of even weirder beards…erm…beers…than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have.” We’ve even seen some novelty beers in our top-sellers. But beer traditionalists sometimes frown on these new and bizarre concoctions. And I can’t help but wonder if Martyn Cornell will participate, sharing bizarre but notable historic brews.

And . . .

What novelty beer comes to mind when you think: Is this beer just to strange to stay around? Why in the world would they choose ingredients most beer drinkers have never heard of . . . what the heck is a qatar fruit? If it’s okay for beer to taste like tea or coffee, why not pizza? If wild yeasts are allowed to ferment beer, then why not beard yeast? If oysters, why not bacon? If pumpkin’s good enough for pie, why not beer? Since hops are flowers, why not brew with actual flowers?

As always, the session is open to bloggers everywhere. To participate, write a post on Oct. 5 and announce it at 99 Pours.

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Now, it’s time for Oktoberfest bier

Cannstatter Volksfest

We can quit complaining now about how early some breweries rolled out their Oktoberfest beers.

Oktoberfest begins in Munich tomorrow. The Big One. About seven million people will visit during the next two weeks.1

Oktoberfests across the U.S. during the next month (some even in October) will attract more in total. There’s something about them, don’t you think? Here in St. Louis, Urban Chestnut Brewing and Schlafly (Saint Louis Brewery) and hold their first co-celebration this weekend at Urban Chestnut. Next month’s Soulard Oktoberfest is the big one in these parts, with multiple tents, multiple bands (including once again Brave Combo, who seem to be on sort of an Oktoberfest trail), multiple vendors.

Beer is pretty much an essential element, although for years Cullman, Alabama, held a beer-free Oktoberfest.

Anyway, here are a few photos from when we visited the Cannstatter Volkfest in Stuttgart in 2008. Imagine the Wisconsin State Fair without the agricultural displays but a lot more beer. It’s billed as the second largest beer festival in the world, smaller than only Munich’s. As in Munich just a few local breweries sell beer. Unlike Munich, most are not beers available internationally, or even nationally. And the breweries offer more than a single festbier in their respective tents. You can cleanse your palate with a pils distinctively more bitter than you usually find nearby in Bavaria or choose a refreshing weisse beer to wash down typical Swabian dishes.

Cannstatter Volksfest

The festival began in 1818, occurs annually at about the same time as the Munich celebration, and attracts four million visitors over the course of two weeks. Three of the beer tents accommodate 5,000, and smaller ones pack in thousands. Outside food and crafts vendors share the midway with rides more impressive than those at the average U.S. state fair or seaside boardwalk, witness the photo at the top.

Cannstatter Volksfest

Those are young Germans — you know, the ones who no longer find beer relevant — standing on benches lining long beer tables, hoisting one-liter mugs, banging them together, singing along to songs like “YMCA” and boogying big time.

Earlier in the day we listened to brass bands like those you’d hear at Americanized Oktoberfest celebrations, playing traditional German tunes. After about every fourth song the afternoon bands stopped to sing “Ein Prosit” and lead thousands of revelers in a toast. Ohlala-Partyband, the group on the stage when the drinkers were on the benches, followed the same formula, but then quickly returned to belting out another pop song that doesn’t sound all that different in German.

1 As you may have noticed, infographics are bigger even than pumpkin beers these days. Here’s a link to one that landed in my email box, and another.

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Perhaps the best definition of craft beer you’ll read today

“What I’d say is, if you can identify exactly where it was brewed, name the brewer and it has great aromas and good strong flavours (and perhaps a silly name), it’s probably craft beer.”

From a lengthy look at “a thing called ‘craft’ beer” in The New Zealand Record.

Of course there is a downside for those in the U.S. who’ve discovered how much they like New Zealand hops. This is why more of them will be staying at home.

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Friday tasting: That back-of-the-throat reverberation

Bert Grant, pictured with fresh picked hops

Reverb Imperial Pilsner, the latest in the Smokestack Series from Boulevard Brewing, arrived in St. Louis this week.

The “sell sheet” explains the name, first quoting Nigel Tufnel from This is Spinal Tap: “You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar.Where can you go from there? Where? These go to eleven.”

At 7.5% ABV Reberb is amped up, although not stupidly so. The bitterness units, 30, are in fact less than, for instance, Pilsner Urquell. The hop presence is somewhat more, likely because of first wort hopping. A second reason the beer is called Reverb is because it echoes Collaboration No. 1, brewed in partnership with Jean-Marie Rock, who is in charge of brewing at Orval Trappist monastery brewery. Details are here.

It’s been more than two years since I last had Collaboration No. 1 — saw a bottle sitting warm in a bottle shop in Osage Beach about a year ago, but that was not at all tempting. The spicy Saaz aroma seems more apparent in the newest version, tickling the nose, in fact. But this time Reverb struck another note for me, the first reverberation triggering a second.

It is by no means bitter, but that bitterness is persistent and echoes in my throat. I could not help be remember the late Bert Grant (pictured at the top) talking about his own Fresh Hop Ale (one of the first) in 1997.

“You should feel it in the back of your throat,” he said.

Not taste it but feel it. It’s that kind of beer.

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The best beers are the ones you can drink

This is stupid. Simply stupid. No expletive needed.

10 Best Beer Investments For Your Cellar

Even aside from suggesting you cellar Pliny the Younger.

Look at Michael Jackson’s list of the 42 best beers in the world in 1982.

One thing they share in common is that if you showed up where they were brewed you could drink a pint, half liter, whatever.

That’s what you do with beer.

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