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Stone & place; Grodziskie & poppycock


Based only on what I read in the blogs I subscribe to and my Twitter feed Stone Brewing’s crowdfunding campaign was the worst idea since Miller Lite (Exhibit 1: Crowd-Funded Brewery Campaigns Are Bullshit; Exhibit 2: On Rich and Successful People Wanting Free Money). I didn’t see a whole lot positive, except for the very basic fact that plenty of people are happily signing up for the Stone program.

I’m more interested in the potential impact of Stone’s brewery in Berlin — if and how Stone’s presence changes beer in Germany and Europe, and if and how Stone’s beers change when they are brewed in an entirely different geographical and cultural place. Better to wait and see rather than guess.

Craft Breweries Scale Up But Keep It Real. This Wall Street Journal article blurs the facts here and there, but ventures into total bullshit when referring to a collaboration beer produced by New Belgium Brewing and 3 Floyds Brewing: “Their latest joint effort resuscitated a once-forgotten wheat beer called Grätzer, introducing drinkers to an ancient style and an unfamiliar brewer at the same time.” Poppycock. Polish homebrewers deserve credit for reviving Grodziskie (Grätzer is German name). That the article overlooks the fact the collaboration differs in character from traditional Grodziskie in several different ways isn’t what bugs me the most. It’s the insinuation that “America craft beer will save the world.”

[Via The Wall Street Journal]

The (Non) Beer Bubble, Part Deux. Interesting math and some smart thinking from Bart Watson at the Brewers Association. What it doesn’t address — hey, it’s not his job — is the aspirations of these brewery owners, if their business plans are realistic. I’d ramble on, but we’re in Oregon right now, part of summer travel that has included visiting schools our daughter, Sierra, might want to attend. Were I much younger and thinking about starting a brewery (I’m never going to be again and I’m not about to) then paying college tuition x number of years down the road would be part of the equation. I’m not sure it is for many of these Sierra Nevada wannabes.

[Via the Brewers Association]

Governor Cuomo Announces Formation of NY Craft Brewer Workgroup. Here’s one paragraph from the press release: “The workgroup will help coordinate and improve communication between all segments of the craft brew industry and state government. Members will also work together to identify emerging needs, including research on new varieties of hops and barley, production methods and consumer trends; as well as making sure that the state has the infrastructure in place for this growing industry.” Promising.

[Via a press release.]

Second thoughts on the mysterious origins of AK. Your beer history fix of the week.

[Via Zythophile (Martyn Cornell)]

Bootleg Biology’s “Chief Yeast Wrangler” Talks Delicious Science. Meet Jeff Mello. Your beer geek fix of the week.

[Via Epicurious]

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Friday beer: Peach Pie Heffy

Peach Pie Heffy from Laht Neppur Brewing was not the best beer I sampled Wednesday at the Oregon Brewers Festival, but it was worth thinking about and a perfectly pleasant three-ounce experience.

In fact, it does taste like peach pie, with a bit of crust — reminiscent of Key Lime Pie from Short’s Brewing. Jeff Alworth said it didn’t taste like beer. I understand his thinking but I suspect that the underlying beer character — mouthfeel, some balancing non-sweetness from hops and fermentation byproducts — helped make it something I was happy that I tried.

Jeff said that he and his friends, who gather annually for the OBF experience as much as the beer and mostly avoid overthinking beer, had once played a game where they’d get a sample and then classify it as “beer” or “not beer.” Those conversations are not uncommon at OBF.

I amused myself a while Wednesday by eavesdropping on people discussing Peach Pie Heffy or just thinking about trying it.

“Oooh, that sounds gross.”

“Those guys make some good beers. They should have brought one of those.”

“This would be good on a hot day.” (It was pouring rain at the time.)

Beer? Not beer? I guess it depends who you ask.


Related post: Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat.

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Beer history according to John Laffler


Guinness, Pilsner Urquell and the beer spectrum. Chris Hall writes, “On some imaginary sliding scale of corporateness and craftness, with Guinness at the corporate end, and a microbrewery that started yesterday at the craft end, Pilsner perhaps sits closer to, say, Sierra Nevada or Brooklyn Brewery.” In the comments section, the discussion is about Guinness and PU, rather than the question I think Alan McLeod would ask: Where do Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery sit on that scale?”

[Via The Beer Diary]

Part of a balanced diet. Inspired in part by a thought from the afformentioned Mr. McLeod, Boak & Bailey suggest components for a healthy beer market: a broad choice of good quality “normal” beers; some cheap-but-drinkable beers for those on a budget; and on the fringes, some weird stuff for special occasions and novelty-seekers. Much discussion follows.

[Via Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog]

“Are these beers not ultimately the wolf in sheep’s clothing?” “Craft versus crafty” — German style.

Via Berlin Craft Beer

What do we really taste when we drink wine? Or drink orange juice, or taste strawberries, or taste peaches, or drink beer? Lots to think about:

Expectations, argued the neuroscientists Lauren Atlas and Tor Wager in a recent review, can influence our experience in two interrelated ways. There is the conscious influence, or those things we are knowingly aware of: I’ve had this wine before and liked or hated it; I’ve been to this vineyard; I love this grape; the color reminds me of a wine I had earlier that was delicious. As our experience grows, so do our expectations. Every time we have a wine, we taste everything we know about it and other related wines. Then there are the unconscious factors: the weather is getting on our nerves, or our dining companion is; we’ve loved or hated this restaurant before; I’m mad at my boss over something he said this morning; the music is too loud, and the room is too cold. These can all affect taste, too, even though they are unrelated to the wine itself.

[Via The New Yorker]

“Genuineness will be the next crisis in craft brewing.” Several quotes from John Laffler (Off Color Brewing) showed up in my Twitter feed last week, including “Everybody else makes IPA, so why would we?” He had a lot to say in a two-part interview [Part I - Part II]. Not wandering down the slippery genuineness/authenticity slope today, and instead musing on just how much fun Laffler had saying sometimes outlandish things that ended up verbatim in print. So much for fact checking.

Witbier, for example, was a near-extinct beer in the 70s until Pierre Celis thought, ‘This beer tastes good, why isn’t anybody else making it?’ and started making Blue Moon. Now Hoegaarden makes how many millions of barrels a year?

[Via The Chicago Reader]

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Friday beer: So this is where all the Cascade hops are going

Heineken Light slim canThe question came up Wednesday if really big breweries were buying up hop varieties previously used mostly by smaller breweries.

First, three very big breweries funded the development of Citra — and each eventually rejected it because it didn’t seem suitable for the beers they brew. That’s why it so many brewers can use the variety today.

Second, Heineken began using Cascade in Heineken Light relatively recently. They may have already been boasted about this in advertising — I’m pretty oblivious — but if not this item today in Shanken News Daily indicates they are now:

Heineken USA has launched a new campaign to support its recently-reformulated Heineken Light label. The effort, which seeks to capitalize on Heineken Light’s ‘Best Tasting Low Calorie Lager’ award from the 2013 World Beer Championships, stars actor Neil Patrick Harris and puts the focus on Heineken Light’s new taste and package.

The label’s update includes the addition of Cascade hops, which give the 99-calorie brew a more IPA-like flavor and finish, as well as the introduction of a taller, slimmer-necked bottle and a new 8.5-ounce ‘slim can’ format. The ‘Best Tasting Light Beer’ campaign is currently running across TV advertising, digital, and other platforms.

About that “slim can.” Heineken first introduced a 12-ounce slim can for Heineken Premium Light in 2007. (That’s the one in the picture here. I’d be curious to see what the smaller one looks like.) At the time the goal was to overcome the “Heineken Hurdle” — a perception among light beer drinkers who previously have tasted Heineken that HPL would be too robust for them.

Now there’s a hint, although the one YouTube commercial I looked at doesn’t mention hops, the beer may have a “more IPA-like” flavor. Apparently not a hurdle, although maybe why they’ve limited the dose size to 8.5 ounces.

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‘What beer is all about’


The Jim Koch magic eat-yeast-and-don’t-get-drunk trick revisited. NPR’s The Salt invests a lot of time and more than 1,000 words before concluding, “we didn’t learn the ultimate trick to drinking without getting drunk, but we did enjoy monitoring our experience of intoxication.” Including the “sweet spot” for getting buzzed. (0.04 BAC if you are too lazy to read that far.)

[Via NPR]

“All in all, the BJCP system rewards conformity and ‘cloning’ while punishing creativity.” OK, that’s a little bit provocative, but Boak and Bailey put it in boldface midway through their post “On Judging” – so give it a read and see what you think.

[Via Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog]

Saison. Saison. Saison. In a rather strange post at Slate, Pete Mortensen offers major beer producers suggestions what they should be brewing, including “tart saisons.” Jeff Alworth is not impressed with Mortensen’s thinking, but “here’s the thing: he may very well have a point.” And although the headline reads, “Why We Should Take Beer Styles Less Seriously” Derek Dellinger is really talking about saison(s). I’m a sucker for any posts that concludes, “…. Okay, maybe all I’m really saying here is, if I ever have kids, I want them to grow up having very strong opinions about the microbial content of saisons.”

[Via Slate, Beervana, and Bear Flavored Ales]

Why bars charge what they do for beer. Which is different than why you are willing (or not) to pay the markup.

[Via serious eats]

Mexican Logger: Simply What Beer Is All About. My favorite post of the week, and the thought I want to leave you with.

I’ve had Double Black IPA’s aged in oak barrels, beers with two adjunct ingredients for every color in the rainbow, IPA’s steeped in hops in a french-press, sours that are fermented with 100% Brett yeasts, pumpkin beers that bring in money for local non-profits, beers aged in rum barrels, beers made with ingredients from local hikes, I’ve had beers that are taken and aged five different ways, beers that were a collaboration between over ten Colorado breweries, and I’ve had some of the tastiest cask beers ever (I never did get to try those mushroom beers though). The beer that stands out above them all is Ska Brewing’s Mexian Logger. To put it plainly, it’s the only one that made me realize that sometimes in my effort to try everything that is new and special, I miss out on the great beers that I can drink repeatedly, all night long while hanging out with my pals. This beer reminded me that sometimes beer is simply about drinking with friends, relaxing, and enjoying the end of a long day.

[Via Focus on the Beer]

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