Monday, October 31, 2011

Harpoon IPA - The Harpoon Brewery - Boston, MA / Windsor, VT

It's Halloween in Northern New York, and my son just finished making his tour of the neighborhood, threatening to eat peoples brains with their eyeballs for desert. I love Halloween...the costumes, the shameless indulgence in candy and the comfort that people feel in being scared out of their minds. That's great for trick or treating, but not when it comes to beer. So on this Halloween, I'm going with one of my favored styles of beer...the Indian Pale Ale. That said, tonight's IPA is from the Harpoon Brewery, a brewery that splits its production between Vermont and Massachusetts. This one just stands out on the shelves, with its orange flowers on the label and its bright packaging. It's readily available here in Northern New York, which is probably why I haven't reviewed it yet. It was always there, just sitting on the shelf, waiting to be bought on the way to some end-of-summer BBQ. Well here we are. The winds of winter are blowing, and the Harpoon has made its way into my fridge and onto this Blog. Here what the website had to say:


The origins of India Pale Ale (IPA) dictate its flavor profile. As a result of needing a beer that could withstand the trip from England to India via unrefrigerated sailing vessels, the English brewers took advantage of two natural preservatives: alcohol and hops.

Harpoon IPA is an interpretation of the classic English style using hops and malt grown in the United States.


The pronounced hop aroma and the deep copper color make an immediate sensory impression. Northwest Cascade hops are used generously in Harpoon IPA. The aroma is floral, distinctly different from the herbal, spicy, or “cut grass” aromas of other hop varieties.
Harpoon IPA has three malts. One adds a toasted flavor and another a malty flavor. Along with the third malt, a 2-row pale, there is an abundance of fermentable sugar to be converted into alcohol, which accounts for the relatively high original gravity. These sugars ferment fully creating 5.9% alcohol by volume and leaving no residual sweetness.
Harpoon IPA uses Harpoon's proprietary yeast strain. Our yeast is cultivated here in the brewery and is unique to Harpoon. Yeast contributes  to our beer's slightly fruity aroma.

The high hopping of Harpoon IPA is not only noticeable in the nose but especially in the finish. The lingering bitter finish of this beer is not harsh or astringent, but crisp and pronounced. This is created, in part, by dry hopping – a technique that involves adding fresh hops to the conditioning beer to provide a fresh hop aroma.

Style:India Pale Ale
History:brewed since 1992
Orig. Gravity:15.5 P
Copper 15 EBC

grilled seafood, Thai food, spicy chicken 

This beer is floral, medium body with an aggressive, clean hop finish.




Dear Friends of Harpoon,

We started the Harpoon Brewery in 1986 because—like today—we loved beer and wanted more good choices.  While traveling in Europe after college, we drank many wonderfully diverse, fresh, local beers.  We also saw firsthand how important local breweries were to their communities.  After our travels, we asked each other, "why not bring great beer and that sense of community to New England?"  That was the genesis of the Harpoon Brewery.

Twenty years later we still revel in making great beer and sharing that joy with our friends and neighbors.  The success that we have had running Harpoon is due entirely to the wonderful employees who brew, package, warehouse, sell, deliver, and market our beer and you, the people who drink Harpoon.  We hope that our sense of gratitude is reflected in both the quality of the beer and the spirit of fun and enjoyment surrounding our beer and breweries.

At Harpoon, we have always worked hard at two things:  brewing great beer and welcoming our customers to our breweries.  Our beer styles were created to provide you, our beer-drinking friends, with fresh, fun and interesting choices.  We draw on numerous brewing traditions to make our beers, but we always add our own “interpretation” of how the styles can be best matched to our – and your - tastes.

We invite all of you to visit our Boston brewery, where it all began, and our beautiful brewery in Windsor, Vermont.  You will see a commitment to brewing excellence and receive a warm greeting.  In addition, please visit us during one of our seasonal brewery festivals – which have grown very popular since we held our first Octoberfest in 1990.  Directions to both breweries, schedules of tastings, and festival information can be found in other parts of this website.

Thank you for appreciating great beer and for your continued support.

Rich and Dan




When I'm watching the hockey game with a fine IPA, I expect a heavy dose of Hops to set the tone for the evening, but I truly did not get that with The Harpoon. It's billed as a hoppy brew with a crisp finish, but what I got instead was a fairly tame version of an IPA. The pour was fine, but not spectacular. The coloring is a nice golden hue, reminiscent more of a slightly darker lager than an IPA. As for the aroma popping out at you...I would say that I detected a slight hoppy aroma, but nothing to write home about. On the palate, it hung nicely, with little bitterness, making it an easy to drink brew, but again, this brew was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was rather boring.


6.5/10 - You can do better

Freetail La Muerta Imperial Stout release details

(San Antonio, TX) – The following is an excerpt from the Freetail Brewing newsletter…

As happens every year, La Muerta will be on tap tomorrow when we open at 11:30am. This year’s version of our Imperial Stout is as good as ever. When John and I sampled yesterday (you know, for… like… Quality Control purposes…) I commented that I thought it felt a little more full bodied that previous years, which I think complements the beer well. Based on the growing popularity of La Muerta, we expect to have it on tap until late November.

Our annual bottle release will take place on Saturday, November 5 this year (it’ll always be on the first Saturday of November). This year 750 bottles will be made available for sale, the largest bottling project ever undertaken at our brewery (we bottle everything by hand!). Our bottle releases have gotten pretty big, and we know La Muerta is the grandaddy of them all and we plan on making this the best bottle release yet. We’ll have a staff member distributing “tickets” on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 8am. You’ll need to turn in your ticket to buy your beers, which have a 3 bottle/person limit. If there are any left over after everyone makes it through the line, we’ll allow folks to buy more. Quite honestly I’m a little anxious to see if we make it completely through the line.

La Muerta 2011 was another double batch, brewed on October 5th and 6th. We’re spending all of Halloween day filling the 750 bottles that will be made available to the public, plus a couple of extras for “internal purposes”. As mentioned above, this year will have a 3 bottle/person limit.

Daily Pint » New on the Shelves New on the Shelves Tallgrass Brewing Company Releases Velvet Rooster

Tallgrass Brewing Company is releasing the industry’s first canned Belgian-style Tripel under the auspicious name of “Velvet Rooster.” Velvet Rooster began shipping this week in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans and in kegs. “Andrew Hood, our head brewer, put together this amazing brew as his first test batch when he came to Tallgrass. I tasted it and wanted to can it that day,” said Tallgrass founder Jeff Gill. ”Traditionally, Belgian-style Tripels take themselves very seriously, but we just couldn’t do that. We had to give it our Tallgrass-twist, and Velvet Rooster was born.”

Velvet Rooster is in the Trappist tradition of Belgian Tripels with sweet tones gently hiding its strong alcohol bite (8.5% ABV). The beer pours a golden straw color and is topped with a lofty pure white head that unveils the beer’s strong floral and fruit aromas.

The taste is clean but complex, starting with hints of fruit and sweet malt, with just a touch of candy sweetness at the end. The beer’s Champagne-like effervescence provides a crisp offset to its sweet finish.

According to, a website dedicated to promoting craft beer in cans, Velvet Rooster is the first of its kind. “As far as I know, Tallgrass’s Velvet Rooster is the first canned Tripel in the world,” said co-founder Russ Phillips. “Tripels are usually in serious looking bottles with stuffy names. I wonder what the Trappist Monks would think of their heritage in a 16-ounce can with a psychedelic rooster on it?”

The Tallgrass website ( playfully says of their latest creation,“It is smooth and carefully crafted, like a fine velvet painting.” 


New Dogfish beer is distinctly Delawarean

REHOBOTH, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is toasting a new craft-brewed beer with a distinctive Delaware flair.

Markell is joining famed Dogfish Head brewer Sam Calagione for the unveiling of Delaware Native Ale.

Calagione worked with state economic development and agricultural official to make a truly Delaware-centric ale, which will be available only on tap in limited supplies after its unveiling Monday.

The ale was made with barley milled at the 18th-century Abbott's mill near Milford, and Dogfish worked with fourth-generation farmer Bobby Fifer of Fifer Orchards near Dover to capture wild yeast to ferment the ale.

Fifer also contributed fruit to flavor the ale, while University of Delaware experts helped sequence the DNA of the yeasts to find the best strain, which Markell declared to be the first Honorary State Yeast.

Craft Brewery Ghost Tour

At night after the customers clear out bartenders at the Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, North Carolina say they sometimes see figures three stories above, near a skylight in the ceiling. Odd, mysterious and a little creepy, one night bartenders were talking with customers about the visions and a few days later one came back with a possible explanation.

His name was Henry Wenzel and he was a German immigrant who at the time of his death worked as a painter. In the early 1900s he was on scaffolding, painting the ceiling and fell to his death. The building dates back to 1865 and that area he would have been painting now holds the skylight, says Head Brewer Kevin Kozak. One interesting fact from the obituary said Wenzel worked as a driver for the long-gone Palmetto Brewery in South Carolina.

“Which may explain his reasoning behind hanging around the brewery,” said Kozak. “German immigrant, old brewery worker, it kind of makes sense to me.”

From Waterbury, Vermont to Terre Haute, Indiana, America’s craft breweries are filled with tales of things that go bump in the mash, friendly specters living in the cellar or ghouls gumming up bottling lines. With so many breweries housed in historic buildings, it's not surprising to hear of a growler loving ghost!

Here are a few to help get you in the Halloween spirit!

Questioning Sanity: Triumph Brewing Co.


There are times when brewer Brendan Anderson is in the fermentation room at Triumph Brewing Co. in New Hope, PA and he can feel “a black mass staring” at him. It hovers in the doorway that connects the fermentation room to the brew house, a portal that connects an old part of the structure that was once a paper bag manufacturer with newer construction.

“The first time I saw it I swore it was my boss; then a quick glance to see who was there, and I found nothing,” recalled Anderson. “It happened again and again and then I started mentioning this to some of our employees. As soon as I said, 'You know, sometimes I think I see a…’ and they finish my sentence with, ‘this black thing in the door way?’”

He says it is not a shadow or a glare because people see it from different points in the brewery. He said no one seems to feel threatened, just curious of their own sanity.

“No one wants to admit to such crazy sightings, but I must say it feels good to not be the only one who has witnessed this thing,” Anderson said.

Rattling Above: Portneuf Valley Brewing



Penny Pink calls it the ghost of brewer’s past. Shortly after she purchased the building that would become the Portneuf Valley Brewing in Idaho, it was not uncommon to hear bottles rattling across the old wooden floor. What is strange, is that after investigating the noise, there were no bottles to be found.

Pink, the owner and general manager, says that 50 years ago her current brewery was the bottling plant for East Idaho Brewing Company. When she bought the building in 1999 it was a gutted shell. No running water. No heat. Power was supplied from another building. The bottles rattled, and footsteps could be heard, she said. Creepy indeed coming from an empty structure.

“The good news is that now that we've had the building renovated and producing beer again, it appears to have appeased the ghosts. We no longer hear the footsteps or beer bottles upstairs... but, occasionally when things go missing, we just blame the ghosts of brewer's past,” she said.

Facing the Ghost: Front Street Brewing


After years of dismissing the bartender’s stories about the Front Street ghost, Kozak says he got his own encounter. He was in his office, in the basement of the building “paging through a McMaster Carr catalog looking for a particular part, when out of the corner of my eye through the window I saw someone coming towards my office wearing mostly gray,” Kozak recalls.

It so happened that on that day the general manager was wearing a gray shirt and Kozak called out a greeting. No reply came and looking up Kozak saw no one in his office. Further examination revealed no one was outside, or in the adjacent area.

“I went back in to my office and tried to compute the situation. I immediately started to think of the ghost stories and decided to be a man about it by sitting back down and picking up the catalog again. I then trashed the idea of being a man about it and scurried upstairs to the bar area where customers and staff were plentiful,” he said. “I told my story to a few of the bartenders and they laughed at me and made fun of me for thinking they were crazy for all these years. "


Vostok space beer makers are stout-hearted

Jason Held and Jaron Mitchell have a dream. In that dream, you are floating along in the inky black expanse of space. You've just finished a game of zero-gravity tennis, and you are really, really thirsty. You reach out as an ice-cold bottle of beer drifts past, and once the first drop hits your lips, you know your lunar holiday is complete.

For Held and Mitchell, there is nothing far-fetched about this scenario. Held, 40, is an American aeronautical engineer who has worked on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope; 29-year-old Mitchell owns a successful gastro pub in Sydney. The unlikely duo has teamed up to craft a high-tech brew called Vostok 4 Pines Stout, named after the Soviet rocket that made Yuri Gagarin the first man in outer space. Their goal is to have Vostok stacked in a drink cart on future commercial space flights.
In 20 years, Vostok "could very likely be up in outer space for the weekend," says Mitchell, sitting in his pub overlooking Sydney Harbor.

Many challenges

To get a jump on the competition, he's contending not only with the earthly challenges of brewing beer but also with intergalactic ones, namely weightlessness, tastelessness and downright messiness.
When mankind embarked on great voyages, Mitchell says, the priorities have always been "water, shelter, and clothing. ... But then pretty soon after, beer is ... No. 5." Beer is, after all, the longest-served and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world. (There were breweries in Mesopotamia as early as 9,500 B.C.) To put that into perspective, that's about 5,000 years before our ancestors sobered up enough to invent the wheel.

While everyone knows about Neil Armstrong's famously giant leap for mankind, less known was a smaller step taken by crewmate Buzz Aldrin: He took communion on the moon, wine and all. In 2007, on the International Space Station, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko drank what he said was a birthday toast. The Ukrainian squeezed free a translucent shot of vodka from a clear tube before deftly floating forward to suck down the suspended liquid orb.

Getting enthused

But it wasn't videos of tipsy Russians in outer space that inspired Held. When he was a young army officer on leave in South Korea, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot let him briefly control the vehicle in flight. Returning from the furlough mesmerized by his aeronautical experience, he demanded a transfer to Air Force Space Command. When his commanding officer told him there likely wasn't a position open for an orbiting artilleryman, he resigned to pursue a master's degree in engineering, the traditional keys to the kingdom at NASA.

Shortly after, while Held was working in Colorado as an engineer on Hubble, the idea for space beer took root in his imagination.

"We were a really tight-knit group of engineers, and at the end of the day we'd go home and have a beer and just talk about space ... and conversation went to 'What would you drink when you're there?' " says Held. "And so we thought about doing this sort of thing, but we never actually got into it."
The push to develop space beer really got under way after Held moved to Australia in 2004 for a Ph.D. program in robotics and struck up a friendship with Mitchell, whose 4 Pines brewery was Held's local pub. Mitchell says he saw the potential in this completely untapped market, even if he was unaware of the myriad technical difficulties.

First, a palatable prototype had to be designed for zero gravity, where the tongue loses sensitivity to taste. The stout's flavor had to be amplified. Then came the issue of carbonation and its dreaded corollary: the wet burp. If you burp in space, the liquid and bubbles come up together, emitted as floating pearls of regurgitation - not an appetizing thought. So the carbonation had to be taken down to nearly zero. A small glass of the space version sampled at the pub proved they had overcome the challenges, resulting in a smoky and slightly bitter stout.

But it is Held's company, Saber Astronautics, that has been left with the most formidable challenge: the delivery system. Most space drinks are packaged in powdered form like the orange drink Tang because of the high pressures and violent shaking of launch. Finding a method of delivery that meets the exigencies of liftoff has become the primary focus of the pair's work.

Held and Mitchell estimate that they've spent roughly $52,000 on research and development, including $7,000 on a parabolic test flight earlier this year to simulate the effects of drinking beer on the human body in zero gravity. The tests will likely have to be repeated before Vostok is approved for imbibing in outer space.

Needing a carrier

The approval process, though grueling, will not prove to be the beer's final frontier. Even if the pair is able to get the brew past the FAA, TSA, NASA and a host of other regulatory acronyms, they will have to find a carrier willing to move their beer.

"Virgin Galactic's customers have always been very clear about what they want from their space experience - the thrill of acceleration G's, an out-of-seat, zero-gravity experience, and of course the incredible views back to earth from the blackness of space," Stephen Attenborough, director of the most prominent company offering commercial space flights, said in an e-mail. "Frankly, we suspect that few if any will want to spend the precious flight time worrying about food and drink."

Held says cost barriers will be driven down as the commercial space travel industry evolves and that "overnight space hotels" will soon follow. Inevitably, consumers will expect refreshments to complement their zero-gravity experience.

"A space hotel without a space bar without space beer," says Held. "I can't see it happening."


Sierra Nevada brewery not coming to Montgomery County, Virginia

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. won’t confirm the news, but Montgomery County will not be the home of the California craft brewer’s first East Coast brewery.

“Montgomery County is no longer under consideration for the Sierra Nevada project,” county spokeswoman Ruth Richey said in an Oct. 27 email.

Online outdoor retailer announced Oct. 11 that it plans to build a distribution center in the county’s Falling Branch Industrial Park. It turns out that was the site that Sierra Nevada was considering.

Sierra Nevada, which began brewing beer Chico, Calif., in 1979, is a leader among craft beers and talk of it setting up shop in the East has kept beer blogs buzzing for months.

News reports have said an East Coast brewery would employ about 100 people and bring an initial investment of as much as $100 million.

Reports have consistently put Montgomery County in second place among potential sites behind Alcoa, Tenn., south of Knoxville.

Sierra spokesman Bill Manley has been quoted saying as much, but he’s much less talkative now.
“We really can’t comment too much on our potential sites right now,” Manley said in an email in response to a question about the Montgomery County site. “We still have a handful of sites we are interested in and several states that are involved. We hope to have a decision made by the end of the year.”

Originally, a decision on the new site was supposed to come in August, then in mid-fall. The company has said it may not build in the East at all.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County officials are excited about, which operates 10 websites selling more than 1,000 brands of outdoor clothing and equipment.

The company, which will reportedly invest more than $20 million in its distribution center, received a $300,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. It also will get help from the Virginia Department of Business Assistance.

“Backcountry will be bringing more than 200 jobs along with its investment,” Richey said. “It also fits in really well with all of the outdoor activities available here with the mountains, trails and New River.”


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sierra Nevada Weizenbock (Beer Camp 2011) # 37 - Sierra Nevada Brewery - Chico, CA

This morning, I woke up at well before when normal people should wake up, to take my son to Hockey Practice. This was followed by watching my son's best friend play Hockey as the Watertown Rapids Peewee squad defeated Oswego, NY. And this evening, I myself got in my weekly game of Hockey with the Wise Guys. I love winter, and everything that comes with it! That said, I'm pretty worn out, but not too worn out to skip this evenings review. And what a review it is...#100. It's hard to believe that just a few short months ago, I began this journey. I truly appreciate all of the support that I've gotten along the way, and I hope that the next 100 are as enjoyable as the first. Now, let's get on with the review.

Tonight, I'm reviewing the 2011 Beer Camp #37...The Weizenbock, from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. I'm not usually a big fan of Weizenbocks, as they always wind up being just a bit too fruity for my taste, but the Beer Camp additions seem to always give us just a little more, so here I am enjoying a pint. Here's what the website had to say:

A more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of "bock strength"), with a pronounced estery alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits.



I've been reviewing Sierra Nevada for the last days, and I've covered a lot of ground. For this installment, I figured that I would highlight some areas where the brewery is trying to make a difference.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has sponsored the Sea Otter Classic for the past five years and is proud to be the official recycling sponsor for the second time at this year’s event in April.

There is a mutual goal of environmental responsibility in Sierra Nevada’s partnership with the Sea Otter Classic; environmental stewardship is a general operating guideline at Sierra Nevada and any effort to extend that philosophy to the events they sponsor is acted upon. As the recycling sponsor for this year’s Sea Otter Classic, Sierra Nevada encourages recycling awareness to all attendees and will be increasing participation among all participants, organizers, and other sponsors.  Sierra Nevada will be increasing the ease and accessibility of recycling at the event in an effort to keep materials out of landfills and has embarked on a unique partnership to drive this goal.

Sierra Nevada will not only be sponsoring the recycling locations throughout the event.  They are excited to announce that they will be partnering with The Offset Project to sponsor the Zero Waste Store. The Store will be stocked with fabulous items from other Sea Otter sponsors and local organizations that can only be “purchased” with special recycling tokens.  If festival attendees are spotted placing recyclable items into appropriate recycling receptacles by a member of the Offset Project, they will be given a token that can be redeemed in the store.  The more you recycle, the more opportunities you have to collect tokens!   

Sustainability, including recycling, is deeply integrated into Sierra Nevada’s mission statement and the company’s daily operations. Since its inception, Sierra Nevada has understood that its success is directly dependent on the health of the environment and has instituted the concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle in every aspect of their operation.  The brewery was founded in 1980 in Chico, CA using recycled dairy and soda filling equipment.  All packaging was returned for reuse and a careful eye was kept on resource consumption and management.  Although the company has grown to over 450 employees with state of the art brewing equipment, the core values and operating principles of the early days have been retained.

Waste reduction plays a significant role in sustainability and is often overlooked as a good business practice. In 2008, Sierra Nevada diverted 99.5% of materials leaving the plant from going to the landfill through various recycling, composting and reuse programs.  Sierra Nevada collects and recycles just about everything in their process including cardboard, shrink wrap, paper, glass, construction debris, food scraps from break rooms, used vegetable oil, cans and bottles, and spent grains and yeast. 

Sierra Nevada is excited to promote the recycling efforts of the Sea Otter Classic and encourages all participants to visit the Sierra Nevada booth and look for their banners at recycling stations throughout the event.  For more information on Sierra Nevada practices, visit their website at . Remember, if you are seen recycling you may be handed a token to use at the Zero Waste Store!


This one kind of worried me...only because of my lack of faith in the Weizenbock. It's just not one of my preferred beers. The pour was fine, but perhaps a little carbonated...but nothing to deter. The coloring was a little hazy, but this is to be expected with a fine Weizenbock. As for the head...a little rich and bubbly for me. The taste was immediately fruity. I detected some bananas, oranges...maybe even some lemon. A little bitterness, but only in the aftertaste...there was no bitterness during the tasting. Overall, an easy to drink beer.


7/10 - A little fruity

Avery Brewing planning to stay put in Boulder

(Boulder, CO) – Avery Brewing Brewmaster, Matt “Truck” Thrall, told Colorado Craft Beer Radio this week that the company is “under contract for land” in Boulder, about 4.5 miles north of the current Arapahoe Drive location.

Purchasing land is only one phase of the process though. Avery now has a proposal into the city with a public hearing tentatively set for December 1st. The brewery is already seeing objection from locals though. No surprise considering the proposed location at 4910 Nautilus Court is right next to a day school. The Boulder Camera reports:
Several parents of children who attend the Boulder Country Day School, at 4820 Nautilus Court in Gunbarrel, have written letters to the city expressing concerns about the Avery Brewing Co.’s plans to expand its operation to include a new brewery, tap house and restaurant near the school.
 “There are many studies that show exposure to basic alcohol logos and basic branding increases underage drinking,” Jacqueline Noel wrote in a letter. Mike Shields, head of the school, told the board members Thursday night that the proposed code changes could affect the safety of the 350 students. “We want to be a good neighbor,” he said. “However, we also need to protect the safety and welfare of the children in our school.”

The concept that Avery is pushing to city officials is a potential tourism mecca. The plan includes “a 30,000 square foot brewery/warehouse along with a 5,000 square foot restaurant and outdoor deck, a 1,500 square foot gift shop, and 36,000 square feet of office space.” The building will be three floors. The brewery is currently working with Coburn Development. 

Avery is in dire need of larger space for its brewing operations, being maxed out at the current location. Production surpassed 21,000 barrels last year and is up 71% this year according to a report late last month.

The new location would be virtually across the street from Asher Brewing which will turn just two years old this winter. Avery will turn 20 years old during the month of August, 2013, and Thrall hopes that they are settled into the new spot by then.

On an additional note, Thrall mentioned that Uncle Jacob’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout would probably be released late next year in bottles. They are aiming to get the beer up to around 16% ABV like others in the Demon Series. Even the recently released Rumpkin is 15.9% ABV.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sierra Nevada Juniper Black Ale (Beer Camp #16) - Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Chico, CA

It's Day 2 at Camp, and we're tackling their #16, The Juniper Black Ale. So far, it's all Smores and good fishing, everything that Camp should to be. The Juniper Black Ale is billed as the perfect option for a cold winters night, and although it's only Ocotober in Northern New York, the weather sure does feel like winter. Here what the website had to say about Old # 16:


This dark russet-colored beer has an intricate aroma of roasted malt and fruity esters, with a touch of resinous pine note from the use of juniper berries. The flavor is deep and complex with an upfront sweetness and flavor of dark baking chocolate, which give way to a dry finish from a mixture of hops, and a mild touch of juniper. Juniper Black Ale is very drinkable and perfect for a cold winter night.  
ABV: 8.0%


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded with one purpose: to brew the finest ales and lagers. We follow traditional brewing methods, using only select malted barley, whole hop flowers, brewer's yeast, and pure water. The quality of our ingredients and our devotion to the craft of brewing shows in the superior flavor, aroma, balance, and character of our ales and lagers.
The brewing process starts in our hydrating malt mill, where we crack the malted barley grains. Spraying the grains with hot water before crushing softens them, yielding a more intact husk. The resulting grist is then mixed in the mash tun, activating naturally present enzymes to convert the barley’s starches into fermentable sugars.

In the lauter tun, hot water is run through the mash, extracting the sugars, color, and flavor components into a sweet, nutritious syrup called wort. For the next hour and a half, the wort is boiled with hops in our brew kettles. While some breweries brew their wort into “high-gravity” concentrate that they then water down before packaging, we adhere to the time-honored brewing traditions that shun this cost-cutting practice. 

In our fermentation tanks, living yeasts convert the malt sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The type of beer produced depends on the strain of yeast and the fermentation temperature. To make our ales we use top-fermenting yeasts, which produce a robustly flavorful and aromatic beer.

During this process, we allow the temperature of the fermenting beer to climb to 68°F, hold it there for several days, and then slowly cool the fermented beer.

The beer naturally clarifies and the flavor matures during an additional period of cold conditioning below 32°F. Our lagers are produced by bottom-fermenting yeasts at temperatures below 50°F. After fermentation, the lagers are cold-stored in their tanks for up to eight weeks. Though expensive, this aging time is necessary to fully develop each beer’s quality and character.
 Next, we carefully centrifuge and cold-filter our ales and lagers. This gentle process removes haze-forming proteins and yeast, producing a clear, bright beer without affecting flavor, aroma, or mouthfeel.

At last, the beer is ready to be bottled or racked into kegs. All our beers are naturally carbonated. For the bottled ales, we employ the same bottle-conditioning techniques used for centuries to produce the finest champagnes.

Just before bottling, our ales receive a small dosage of brewer's yeast, which produces a secondary fermentation in the bottle, adding character and developing the perfect level of carbonation. The small amount of brewer's yeast at the bottom of each bottle attests to this traditional method of natural carbonation.


In 1979, Ken Grossman began building a small brewery in the town of Chico, California. His goal: to brew exceptional ales and lagers. Today, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. And the beer? Critics proclaim it “Among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”

Ken’s passion for brewing began when a friend showed him the basics of home brewing. Using homemade equipment, Ken began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own, and soon became a proficient home brewer.

In 1976, after studying chemistry and physics at Butte Community College and California State University at Chico, Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop. There, he supplied Chico’s home-brewing community with equipment, materials, and advice, but dreamed of opening his own brewery.

Two years later, it was time to make the dream a reality. Ken and co-founder Paul Camusi cobbled a brewery together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and equipment salvaged from defunct breweries. Though the equipment was secondhand, they created a first-rate microbrewery. The ingredients were premium, including the copious quantities of hops that would become the brewery’s trademark. An avid backpacker, Ken named the new company for his favorite hiking grounds—the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Finally, on November 15, 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Word spread quickly, and over the next decade the demand for Sierra Nevada brews soon exceeded the brewery’s modest brewing capacity. Despite nearly constant additions to the brewery, Ken was soon back at the drawing board, planning a new brewery. In 1989, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. moved to its current site.




I believe we have a bit of a Hybrid here in the #16. It definitely has the characteristics of a Stout, presenting dark and heavy, but there is a nice heavy layer of hop to it reminding you of a strong IPA. You can taste the spice immediately, and it does have hints of the Juniper, along with a nice pine-like aftertaste. Many layers make this a truly complex beer with a lot going for it. On a cold winters day, or night for that matter, this is one beer that will warm you to the core.


8.5/10 - A Great Warming Beer

Oxford's definitive beer guide

"The history of beer, quite literally, is the history of human civilization. Some anthropologists believe that man moved away from a hunter-gather existence to a settled agriculture-based existence largely to grow enough grain to brew large amounts of beer."

So says Garrett Oliver, editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, but then he takes it back. These statements, he says, have not been verified. Picky, picky. Things like this are always hard to prove, but we have it on good authority that beer was among the provisions Noah loaded onto the ark. We know that Egyptian pharaohs stocked their pyramids with barrels of beer. We also know that beer was used in the Middle Ages as legal tender for paying taxes and settling debts.
All this makes perfect sense to me, although I must confess that I never met a beer I didn't like. But that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that all sorts of fascinating beer-related facts have been poured into this 920-page everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know beauty of a book that has the answer for everything—including why the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals battled it out for this year's National League pennant in quaintly named places like Busch Stadium (BUD) and Miller Park.

In all sincerity, the book is terrific. It looks good, thanks in part to 16 pages of beautiful color photographs and hundreds of tasteful black-and-white images. It's got the heft you'd expect from a $65 scholarly tome. And it covers all the bases—from the variety of agricultural commodities that go into beer to the vast number of ways it can be brewed, with each method imparting its own taste and texture.

Homebrewing—a process that "can be as simple as making soup from a can or as technically involved as small-scale commercial craft brewing"—is covered in detail, as well it should. An estimated 750,000 Americans are brewing at home these days. For beer enthusiasts who want to hit the road, the book includes an overview of the more than 1,200 beer festivals held around the world each year. This month features the annual Oktoberfests in Munich and Brazil. Closer to home, 20 local breweries will be trotting out their wares at the Maine Brewers Festival in Portland in November.

The book consists of more than 1,100 separate entries, presented in A to Z fashion. Some of them are surprising. I've always associated abbey beers with Trappist monks from Belgium, but wouldn't you know? There's no hard evidence abbey beers were actually brewed within the walls of a monastery. And what about Dr. Klaus Zastrow, who turned a Ph.D. in agricultural science from the Technical University in Berlin into several high-level posts at Anheuser-Busch? He ended his career as a lecturer and instructor in the Budweiser Beer School, where he helped teach members of the public the basics of the beer business.

There's a lot to it. It's far trickier, for example, to serve beer than wine. "Almost all beer contains some carbonation," the book tells us, "and unlike sparkling wine it generally forms a crown of foam. Getting beer into its glass with its carbonation intact and the correct volume of foam while achieving a nice visual presentation is an art form that takes some practice."

With microbreweries popping up right and left, and with consumers finally taking beer seriously, The Oxford Companion to Beer couldn't be timelier. It is the work of 166 experts from 20 countries. Garrett Oliver, who wrote many of the sections himself and assembled the rest into a guide that's fun and easy to handle, knows his business. He hosts tastings and gives talks around the world, appears regularly on radio and TV as a spokesman for the craft brewing industry. Beers created by Oliver have won national and international awards. He's currently brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, a respected brewery based in the borough that brought us Piel's, Rheingold, Schaefer, Schlitz, Trommer's and other ancient firms that produced the beers I cut my teeth on back in the Dark Ages.


The Secret Life of Hops

You probably know that hops provide much more to craft beer than just bitterness, but how much do you really know? After a recent trip to Hopunion's Hop & Brew School in Yakima, WA,'s Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's Craft Beer Program Coordinator, returned with his mind officially blown! Here are just a few of his revelations about this amazing plant:
  1. 1.  Hops grow clockwise, but not on vines. -Whaaahh?!
  2. Hops are vigorous growers, averaging several inches a day at minimum. Maybe they shoot up because they plan their route? Hops always grow clockwise. On hop farms, they grow up heavy twine or rope, but in the wild they use other plants for support to get to sunlight. Oh, and hops are not vines, they're bines. Whereas vines have suction cups and tendrils for support, hop bines have strong stems and prickly hairs to help in their ascent.

  3. Some hops are alpha and others are aromega.
  4. The hop market can be divided into two categories, alpha hops and aroma hops. Alpha hops refer to the higher percentages of alpha acid in certain varieties' lupulin glands. Alpha hops provide more in the way of bitterness, while aroma varietals are lower in alpha acids and have a higher percentage of essential oils, which impart the characteristic flavors and aroma to beer.
    In terms of harvesting, alpha hop yield is measured in kilogram of alpha per acre, while aroma hop yield is measured in pounds per acre. Craft brewers account for over 60 percent of the aroma hops market, but both categories have their use in craft brewing.

  5. Hops can just up and burst into flames!
  6. The immense pressure created by the weight of hop bales and super high levels of alpha acids in some varieties can make for a serious fire hazard. In 2006, Hopunion lost 2 million pounds of hops from spontaneous combustion. The fire added to the 2007-2008 hop shortage that greatly affected craft brewers. The majority of the hops destroyed were of the CTZ variety, which include Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus (CTZ's are especially prone to combustion).

  7. The good ol' US of A grows 30 percent of the world's hops.
  8. Many grape growing regions claim exceptional terroir, and hops tend to be blessed by where they're grown too. Typically German and Czech hops are known for being floral, while in the UK, hops are described as earthy. Here in the U.S., craft beers benefit from the country's piney, citrusy and resinous hops like Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo®. In the U.S., 77 percent of hops are grown in Washington, while the majority of the rest are grown in Oregon and Idaho.

  9. The average U.S. hop farm is 429 acres.
  10. By comparison, the largest grower in the Hallertau region of Germany is 193 acres. The average size of all farms in Germany is 32 acres. There are 73 hop growers in the U.S. (twenty years ago there were nearly 200).

  11. Ever seen hop seeds at the garden center?
  12. And you’re never going to. Hop farmers never use seeds to grow hops because there is a fifty-fifty chance of growing a male plant. Hop cones only come from the female plant, making the male plants commercially worthless. So, with no seeds, hops are grown from potted plants or rhizomes. So one might wonder why when hops are portrayed as cartoons, they're always a masculine monster-like hop?

  13. It takes 11 years to create a new hop variety.
  14. Originally, hop breeding programs were started to "maximize the potential of hop varietals in specific environmental conditions and to fulfill certain industry needs." Translation: to make hops yield more in specific growing conditions and to develop hops that yield more bitter alpha acids.

    Today, hop breeding programs are more focused on new flavors, but that can take a long time. For instance, initial research for the Simcoe® hop variety began in the early 1990s. However, most experimental hops will never make it to market. If they don't make the cut, they are either bred into other experimentals or destroyed.

    Trivia: What was the Simcoe® variety named after? Follow @craftbeerdotcom on Twitter or Like us on Facebook for the answer!
  15. Czech Cascades?
  16. Nope. It is illegal to grow any variety other than Saaz in the Czech Republic.

  17. 'C' Hops are supreme.
  18. The Brewers Association surveys its members each year to determine what hop varieties are most often used by craft brewers. Chris Swersey, the Brewers Association's technical coordinator, reported that in 2011, the top three utilized hops were Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. Chinook surpassed Willamette this year to take over the number three spot.

  19. Craft brewers like their hops.
  20. Swersey also reported that on average, a pound of hops goes into just one barrel of craft beer. With the growth in craft beer recently, I think it's safe to say that craft beer drinkers like hops too.

  21. Don't smoke 'em, don't eat 'em. (A PSA brought to you by Andy Sparhawk)
  22. Humulus lupulus is in fact related to cannabis. Despite that, smoking and/or eating hops is not recommended—not even for medical purposes! Consuming hops in any way, other than in beer, can give you an upset stomach and a raging headache, but your pets are at a far higher risk as hops are often toxic to animals.
    One thing hops do have in common with their controversial cousin is their calming effect. Hops were once used to fill pillows to help people sleep. Ninkasi Brewing Co.'s Jamie Floyd says that he always needs a hop buddy with him when he goes to pick up hops for his fresh hop beers. Not because of the company, but to keep him alert and awake. With a car full of hops, and a long drive back to Eugene, the soothing aroma would make anybody want to take a siesta.


IBUs  - Is that a brewing school?
IBU, or International Bittering Unit, is a value that refers to how much dissolved alpha acid is present in a finished beer. Basically, it's a number that helps a brewer compare their beer to a given style specification. The higher the IBU rating, the more bitter the beer, right? This is not necessarily the case. Many people cannot taste bitterness in excess of around 100 IBUs. Plus, the IBU of a beer matters little to how each individual perceives the bitterness of a beer. It is also important to note that many factors affect hop utilization during the brewing process. The only accurate way to find out a beer's IBU number is by sending it to a lab for testing, so most the time it's just a brewer's estimate.
Long story short, don't let a number determine whether you try a craft beer or not, it's just a number and has little to do with how your palate will perceive a beer.


Alchemy and Science joins forces with Boston Beer Co.

Alan Newman, Founder of Magic Hat, Returns to Industry

(Burlington, VT) — Alan Newman, who founded Magic Hat Brewing in 1994, and Jim Koch, founder and brewer of The Boston Beer Company, have been friends and colleagues for more than 15 years. Recently, they met over a beer, and Jim urged Alan to return to the craft beer industry. They talked about how they might collaborate. Out of this came Alchemy & Science, a craft brew incubator headquartered in Burlington, Vermont, that will be funded by Boston Beer Company. Newman is joined in this venture by Stacey Steinmetz, his longtime business associate from Magic Hat.

“I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Newman. “Stacey and I get to start with a blank piece of paper and a mission. Our job will be to find the opportunities in craft brewing — the blank spaces that exist. Some of those blank spaces will be geographical, others will be stylistic. Some may be with existing breweries or brewpubs. We’ll be looking for unique brewing techniques and ingredients as well as hunting for ancient or new recipes and beer styles to develop and introduce to beer lovers,” he concluded. Alchemy & Science will have the brewing talents and broad resources of Boston Beer available to them as they look for opportunities around the country.

“When Alan left Magic Hat in 2010, our industry lost a unique individual,” said Jim Koch. “He was a very creative brewer with real brand and business sense. We’ve kept in contact and recently, I asked what he was doing. He said he had no real interest in returning to craft brewing.”

“I asked if he would be open to working with us. The whole thing fell into place quickly. We talked about our vision for the venture and how to structure it. We decided Alchemy & Science should be a subsidiary of Boston Beer and that Alan should run it. I told him the mission should be to make great craft beer in any way, place or style that he thought made sense,” Koch added.

The cask in hand

Remember, remember your ales this NovEmber, as Ember Pub & Dining venue The Castle Gardens in Carleton launches a month-long cask ale festival.

The Castle Gardens is introducing four specially selected new ales including “the fastest ale on Earth,” one created by the Mercury award-winning band Elbow, an eco-friendly brew and one created by a collaboration of seven female brewers.

Last year Ember became the first pub group to make a green hopped ale, which is when fresh ‘green’ hops are used for brewing, rather than using dried hops, which can be stored for up to five years.

Project Green (4.5% ABV), takes just 100 hours to get from the field to a glass – making it the fastest ale on Earth. Only a small number of brewers use green hops as the process is very technical, and unlike regular ales, the flavours in a green hopped ale cannot be refined at a later stage, so each cask really is one of a kind.

Barry Lumley, manager at the Castle Gardens, comments: “Project Green proved so popular last year we decided to give guests the opportunity to sample the unique taste again. With Project Green only available for a limited time, I’d encourage everyone to come down from November 1 and sample this exclusive ale.”

Also available is Build a Rocket Boys, which was created by the band Elbow. Named after their current album, the band teamed up with brewers Robinsons of Stockport to produce a golden ale (4% ABV) which has a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, and a subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma.
The third ale is Pure Gold from Purity Brewery – one of the country’s most eco-friendly breweries. The refreshing beer (3.8% ABV), has a fresh and zesty taste with a dry and bitter finish.
The final ale during NovEmber is Venus Black, which has been brewed by a collaboration of seven British and Irish female brewers. The Black IPA (5% ABV) has an intense citrus and pine aroma, which is similar to a classic American IPA.

“At the Castle Gardens we are champions of cask ale and are always keen to show our support for the British cask ale industry,” said Barry. “Our NovEmber Ale Festival gives guests a real cask experience, and with a host of different ales available throughout the month, there is bound to be one out there for everyone.”

To find out more about the Castle Gardens log on to the Ember Pub & Dining website at


Friday, October 28, 2011

Sierra Nevada The Best of Beer Camp 2011 #29 (Ghidorah) Double IPA - Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Chico, CA

Ahh, the weekend is finally here. It's been a long week, full of the mindless stress that working for the Government can bring, and I'm truly feeling that I've been neglecting my chosen path. After work, I head out to my local brew shop to select the weekends fare. Rows and rows of beautiful beers to choose from, but for some reason, The Best of Beer Camp 2011 selections from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company catch my eye. These are the best of the best, right? How could I go wrong? That, combined with the fact that I've never been let down by Sierra Nevada has me putting together a nice package for the weekend. So I guess you can look forward to a few Sierra Nevada-focused reviews for the next few days. Tonight, I'm camping out with their Double IPA #29, better known back in 2010 as The Ghidorah Double IPA. The only difference between the 2010 version and the 2011 Best Of selection is the ABV. The 2010 ABV checks in at 8.1% and the 2011 Best Of version, somewhat bigger at 8.5%. Here's what the website has to say:


Brewed by Chris and Joe DeCicco, in conjunction with Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp, an American Double IPA that is as formidable as its Sci-Fi monster namesake. Ghidorah is golden-amber in color, with a pronounced hop-forward presence. Grassy, resinous, and citrus peel dominate the aroma. It has significant malt body, which adds balance to the beer, but the malt quickly subsides toward a firm bitter finish.


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded with one purpose: to brew the finest ales and lagers. We follow traditional brewing methods, using only select malted barley, whole hop flowers, brewer's yeast, and pure water. The quality of our ingredients and our devotion to the craft of brewing shows in the superior flavor, aroma, balance, and character of our ales and lagers.

In 1979, Ken Grossman began building a small brewery in the town of Chico, California. His goal: to brew exceptional ales and lagers. Today, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. And the beer? Critics proclaim it “Among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”

Ken’s passion for brewing began when a friend showed him the basics of home brewing. Using homemade equipment, Ken began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own, and soon became a proficient home brewer.

In 1976, after studying chemistry and physics at Butte Community College and California State University at Chico, Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop. There, he supplied Chico’s home-brewing community with equipment, materials, and advice, but dreamed of opening his own brewery.

Two years later, it was time to make the dream a reality. Ken and co-founder Paul Camusi cobbled a brewery together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and equipment salvaged from defunct breweries. Though the equipment was secondhand, they created a first-rate microbrewery. The ingredients were premium, including the copious quantities of hops that would become the brewery’s trademark. An avid backpacker, Ken named the new company for his favorite hiking grounds—the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Finally, on November 15, 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Word spread quickly, and over the next decade the demand for Sierra Nevada brews soon exceeded the brewery’s modest brewing capacity. Despite nearly constant additions to the brewery, Ken was soon back at the drawing board, planning a new brewery. In 1989, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. moved to its current site.

Ken traveled to Germany and brought back a traditional 100-barrel copper brew house, which became the heart of the new brewery. This met demand for a while, but the brewery soon needed to expand again. In 1997, Ken commissioned the original coppersmiths to match new kettles to the originals, bringing the brewery’s total capacity to almost eight hundred thousand barrels per year.

Building the new brewery afforded Sierra Nevada the opportunity to create two stunning showcases, both featuring exceptional dining, live music, and its award-winning beers. The elegant Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant has become a destination in its own right. With mouthwatering lunch and dinner menus, an impressive dining room, and a large outdoor dining patio, it offers distinctive, contemporary cuisine as well as an opportunity to sample the brewery’s entire line of premium ales and lagers, including hard-to-find specialty drafts. The 350-seat Big Room—a beautifully designed live music and multi-purpose room—was constructed on the west end of the brewery to feature live music events for all ages and is a perfect facility for weddings, reunions, and business conferences.

To this day, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. remains true to its roots. Ken is still personally involved in every aspect of brewery operation. Most importantly, the Sierra Nevada commitment to quality remains the same. Premium ingredients and time-honored brewing techniques make Sierra Nevada ales and lagers truly exceptional beers.


 I could probably go on and on about how committed Sierra Nevada is to protecting our environment. That combined with a level of sustainability that's hard to match makes them an industry leader in everything from Water Conservation, to Energy Efficiency, to Recycling. Check out the following link to see all that they're doing for the planet:



In this fine Double IPA, you get a big bad Indian Pale Ale that doesn't dress like one. Unspectacular in color, just a nice amber glow, but huge on taste with Hops, Hops and more Hops. You get a strong malt body that seems to disappear before your very eyes, smacking you in the face with a great strong finish. It's bitter, but at the right moment. Imagine a librarian, that has a dark side in the bedroom. Deceptive...yes...enticing...definitely...easy to forget...doubtful.


8.5/10 - Sinful

Deschutes Brewery to go with dual brewmasters

Pushing Forward with Passion: Deschutes Brewery Names Two New Brewmasters

(Bend, OR) – Deschutes Brewery has promoted Cam O’Connor and Brian Faivre to two newly formed brewmaster positions. The two, who have been instrumental in the development of such game-changing brews as Hop in the Dark, Red Chair NWPA, Gluten Free Ale, the soon to be released Chainbreaker White IPA, and others, were chosen for their abilities to both innovate and lead.

“Pushing boundaries and experimenting with new beers is what defines us as a company,” said Gary Fish, president and founder of Deschutes Brewery. “Brian and Cam have been instrumental in creating many of the new beers that have been brought to our fans over the last few years. The fact that we were able to promote from within the brewing department is a testament to the strong team of brewers we have here at Deschutes, and we are looking forward to seeing their creativity continue in their expanded roles as brewmasters.”

Cam was the first brewer at the Portland pub when it opened in 2009, has been responsible for crafting many of the exclusive experimental beers served there. He has also worked on labors of love like Hop in the Dark, which wasn’t released formally until it had gone through 22 rounds of tinkering. He joined the company in 2004 after spending a couple of years with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Cam holds a bachelor of arts in biology with a minor in chemistry, and has completed the University of California Davis Master Brewer Program.

Brian has been with Deschutes Brewery for five years and worked in various roles in the brewing department, most recently as assistant brewmaster for production technology. With a background in computer science and software development, Brian brings this precision to the brewhouse – optimizing recipes and developing operating procedures. He holds a bachelor of science in computer science and has also completed the University of California Davis Master Brewer Program.

Both Brian and Cam have played critical roles for the past several years in the ongoing success and growth of Deschutes Brewery. In their new roles as brewmasters, they will continue to help guide the development of the company’s future.

About Deschutes Brewery

Located on the banks of the Deschutes River in beautiful Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery is in the business of daring people to expect more from their beer. That’s why we started off back in 1988, selling Black Butte Porter at a time when others were sure a dark beer would never catch on. Our brewers love to buck convention, especially if it makes someone nervous. For us, however, the highest praise is a raised glass and a toast of “Bravely Done!” For more information about Deschutes Brewery and its courageously crafted beers, please visit, on Facebook at or on Twitter at

Brewers Guild Update: California Craft Brewers Association

Support and development of State Brewers Guilds is a major focus of the Brewers Association in 2011. The addition of Acacia Coast, the Brewers Association's new State Brewers Association Coordinator has helped the BA be more of a resource for existing and fledgling guilds. Acacia has been busy crisscrossing the country attending state brewers association meetings in 10 states, thus far, with half of them centered on initial guild formation.

Recently, Acacia was in California to attend the CCBA meeting. Below is her description of how things went.

California Craft Brewers Association Meeting
 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, CA
Oct 11th, 2011

As Glynn Philips and I reflected on the number of years of experience represented in the brewing and beer industry at the recent CCBA meeting, we came to the conclusion that there was easily at least 1,000 years!  It was the largest CSBA General Meeting ever with over 100 brewers and about 20 allied trade sponsors attending.  With so many of those brewers with 20+ years, it was easy to come to that supposition. There are so many attendees at the CCBA meetings now, Tom has decided to “copy Charlie [Papazian]”, simply conducting a show-of-hands to questions on location and years of experience, instead of asking participants to introduce themselves individually.

The California Craft Brewers Association (formally the California Small Brewers Association) is truly a treasure to the craft industry, advocating and promoting the advancement of the California breweries in every single city and town throughout the massive state. They also bring immense benefit to the entire nation, as a prominent guild setting pro-craft advantageous precedents on countless legislative issues.

With over 50% membership, out of about 275 breweries, Tom McCormick, CCBA Executive Director, never stops being amazed when he finds another brewery has opened, and it already has 800 Facebook “Likes” before he catches wind of their blazing success. Tom and his delightful assistant, Janet Caisse, organize some of the most informative, proactive, enlightening guild meetings that I’ve attended. With ample time for suppliers to demonstrate their wares, brewery tours led by Ken Grossman and his Sierra Nevada family, a delicious lunch, beer socials, and guest speakers with captivating presentations, I listen knowing that someday all of our nation’s guilds will follow in the CCBA’s robust footprint.

To open, Tom gave a CCBA update, presenting the new website and playing quite a moving video advocating the Support Your Local Brewery grassroots movement. The CCBA has introduced new levels of membership, commissioned a study to conglomerate all the studies on the health benefits of beer,  and is beginning the process of a new social media outreach.  The video is due to be available on the CCBA’s soon-to-be live website before long.

The CCBA employs a contract lobbyist, Chris Walker, who keeps a close eye on the industry issues and legislative affairs. Though similar to the BA in that they do not have a PAC, the CCBA is able to stay abreast of the increasing pressures on the craft industry and take action proactively under Chris’s watchful eye. California brewers, assisted by the CCBA, were able to win favorable legislation on high alcohol flavored malt beverages (HAFMBs), 4-MEI, tasting rooms, and beer maker dinners this year. They successfully defeated tax increases, a bill to ban stimulants, and a bill that allowed alcohol suppliers to advertise on digital displays.  Prop 26 passed, a huge win for the industry, requires a 2/3 vote on any new fees on alcohol.

There are, of course, many new and challenging issues looming. Chris encouraged the membership to stay involved in the CCBA, read the blogs, forum, and industry news, engage consumers and participate in outreach and education with local and state policymakers by offering brewery tours, Capitol beer tastings, etc for elected officials.

Dan Wandel, with Symphony IRI, had an overwhelmingly informative presentation on the craft industry specific to California. With mostly rosy stats, it was an uplifting report. Craft continues to sell exceptionally well despite the Beer Category sales being down in California and also despite the strong presence of wine and spirits in this state. Native CA state brewers (42 tracked by SIG) command nearly a 50 share of Craft Dollar Sales in CA supermarkets. IPA Style has increased from 62 IPA’s selling CA Supermarkets in 2008 to 102 selling in 2011. In addition, the Craft Segment has gained 2.3 Dollar Share points in Supermarkets over the past four years in California and is now up to a 12.1 share of total beer dollar sales in CA supermarkets.

Following Dan, the CCBA hosted a panel on “The Future of Craft: Where Are We Going?” The panel was made up of Erin Glass, with the Brewers Association, Glynn Philips, owner of Rubicon Brewing and Pres of the NorCal guild, and Joe Whitney, who travels the nation extensively as Sales and Marketing Director of Sierra Nevada. They answered questions and provided insight on the booming craft segment and what it might look like in 3-5 years.  Erin reported on the exponential growth, and all agreed that craft is only going to get stronger, more abundant, and more creative moving forward.

After the panel, Sierra Nevada hosted a beer social and sponsor showcase, with more time to peruse the vendors, network, reconnect with colleagues, and share stories.  It was truly an excellent meeting, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take part! The impact the CCBA is making on the state of California, and the nation as a whole, is inspiring and hugely valuable for our industry. The years of experience in that meeting will only grow, and the impact is tangible. Thanks California Craft Brewers Association for all that you do.


Newport Storm Cyclone Sabrina- A Belgian Pale Ale

The latest brew from Rhode Island’s microbrewery will be bottled on Tuesday, November 1st!

A limited release “Belgian Pale Ale,” Cyclone Sabrina is the delightful offspring of two brewing worlds – Belgian and American.  She was brewed in October on the second birthday of her namesake, Sabrina Ryan, daughter of one of Newport Storm’s founders.  Cyclone Sabrina (the beer) is quite simple up front (only pale malt was used) and relatively straight-forward without complicated hopping schedules.  We chose to let the authentic Belgian yeast’s attributes shine—with all its yummy carried phenols, bubble gum esters, and clove smells.  A Cascade citrus background ties this beer to American Pale Ales without overshadowing the yeast’s dominant profile.  Lastly, this is our first unfiltered brew released at the new Newport Storm Brewery and is, like its namesake ‘Cyclone Sabrina Ryan’ – beautifully unique.  

Newport Storm’s Cyclone Series of Limited Release Beers is the answer to craft beer lovers’ prayers.  Named alphabetically like hurricanes, every few months a new, intense ‘Cyclone’ hits the shelves, bringing a storm of unique flavor to your palette.  Only 800 cases of each ‘Cyclone’ beer is produced, the next beer in the alphabetical series being brewed once the previous one sells out.  Each recipe is unique with a consistent commitment to every ‘Cyclone’ being an intense, assertive brew.  Starting with Alyssa in 2006, the Series has proceeded down the alphabet alternating, girl boy girl boy, producing 19 unique brews to date.  Gloria was a Pumpkin Ale, Luke was an India Red Ale, Elle was a Belgian Ale with hints of clove, while Isabel was simply hoppy and intense.

The bottling of Cyclone Sabrina is open to the public this Tuesday, November 1st from 4-6pm.  Guests will have the opportunity to sip Cyclone Sabrina from fresh bottles off the line, as well sample Newport Storm draught brews.  Only a very small batch of this beer was made and will be available in your CT, MA, or RI liquor stores in early November.  Cheers!

Coastal Extreme Brewing Company is Rhode Island’s Microbrewery, brewing Newport Storm beers since 1999.  In spring of 2010 they built a new facility within the Newport city limits on JT Connell Rd.  Their Visitors Center is open for tours and tastings from 12pm-5pm on Weekdays and Weekends (except Tuesdays).  Newport Storm beers continue to be distributed throughout RI, MA and CT, with their beer lines including the flagship Newport Storm-Hurricane Amber Ale, Newport Storm-Rhode Island Blueberry, the Cyclone Series of limited release beers, the Storm of the Season beers, and the Annual Limited Release Series of bottle-conditioned beers.  Their Summer Storm of the Season is available in kegs, cases, twelve-packs and six packs.  Hurricane Amber Ale Cans are available in twelve packs in the summer months.

In 2006 they began the Newport Distilling Company, becoming the first distillers in Rhode Island in 135 years.  Newport Distilling Company focuses on one signature spirit, Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum, named after the famous Newport pirate.  Thomas Tew Rum is an authentic aged pot still rum of the type that would have been made in Newport’s colonial rum heyday.  Thomas Tew Rum is currently available for sale only in Rhode Island.     


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beer Enthusiasts, Brewers Connect During Beerhoptacular

It's time to dust off your sampling glasses as the second annual Beer Hoptacular will commence on Nov. 5 at the Aragon Ballroom. This craft beer and home-brewing event will feature local breweries including Piece Brewery, Five Rabbit and Finch's Beer Co. along with returning favorites like Half Acre, Dogfish Head, Great Lakes Brewing Company and Bells, to name just a few. Additionally, brewers from around the globe, like Duvel (Belgium), Imperial (Costa Rica) and Magners Irish Cider (Ireland), will be in attendance.

MORE ON BeerHoptacular:

Mark your calendars. Beer Hoptacular! 2011 is confirmed for November 5 at Aragon Ballroom. After a huge first year, we will be back again for round 2. The buzz has generated and Chicago beer enthusiasts are thirsty for more. The now annual event was an enormous success in 2010. This year we will be holding 2 sessions, both on Saturday, November 5, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening.

Featuring adventures in craft beer tasting, home brewing and DIY fun, Beer Hoptacular! will introduce craft breweries from the Midwest and across the country to a broader audience than any Midwest beer tasting to date.

With close to 4000 beer lovers over three sessions, last year's Beer Hoptacular! proved to be what the Chicago beer community was craving. In its first annual year, patrons had the opportunity to get acquainted with over 100 different craft and specialty beer varieties supplied by 35 breweries from the Midwest and across the country.

Festivities will also include a Home Brew Club Challenge, which will be judged by professional brewers and recognized local beer dignitaries alike. With over 4,200 craft beer and home-brewing enthusiasts in attendance last year, and ticket prices ten dollars less than last years' price, expect a crowd. Tickets are $35 in advance or $45 at the door. The event, as you can imagine, is 21 and over. For tickets and additional information, visit or call (773) 769-3294.


Anheuser-Busch InBev extends FIFA World Cup™ sponsorship for 2018 and 2022

(BELGIUM) – Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext: ABI; NYSE: BUD) is pleased to announce the extension of its Official Beer sponsorship for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. This agreement, which builds further on the existing 25 year-old partnership with the FIFA World Cup™, will ensure that Budweiser will serve as the Official Beer of the FIFA World Cup™ for the ninth and tenth time, in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

The sponsorship agreement means that Anheuser-Busch InBev has global sponsorship rights for all editions of the FIFA World Cup™ and the FIFA Confederations Cup™ up to and including the 2022 edition of the tournament.

“We are delighted to be strengthening our relationship with Anheuser-Busch InBev even further” said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. “Ever since joining the FIFA sponsorship family for the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ Budweiser has played a vital role in helping to develop our flagship event, effectively supporting us in bringing the event closer to fans all over the world.”

Mr. Valcke’s sentiments were echoed by Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Burggraeve, who commented, “We’re very pleased to extend our long-standing partnership with the FIFA World Cup™. Football and sports in general are a key global consumption and celebration moment and the FIFA World Cup™ offers a strong and relevant global platform from which we can connect with passionate football fans around the world. We’re looking forward to the opportunities presented as the FIFA World Cup™ tournament brings the excitement of the beautiful game to new and different places around the world, and to connecting Budweiser with even more consumers globally”.

For both the 2018 and 2022 editions of the FIFA World Cup™ Budweiser will serve as the “Official Beer” of the FIFA World Cup™, whilst Anheuser-Busch InBev will also have the opportunity to leverage its portfolio of beers by extending local sponsorship rights to its leading brands in selected football markets, including, but not limited to Brahma (Brazil), Hasseröder (Germany), Jupiler (Belgium and the Netherlands), Quilmes (Argentina) and Harbin (China), as it did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

In 2010, the newly combined Anheuser-Busch InBev used the opportunity of the FIFA World Cup South Africa™ to bring its global flagship brand Budweiser to a global audience like never before. Budweiser, the world’s most valuable beer brand1, also grew volumes globally in 20102. It was launched in Russia in anticipation of the excitement surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and was introduced earlier this year in Brazil, host of the FIFA World Cup 2014™, where preparations for the tournament have already begun.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brewery Profile - Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

Dogfish Head opened as the smallest commercial brewery in America in 1995, brewing in ten-gallon batches on a glorified-modified homebrew system. Even then, our mission was to bring off-centered ales to off-centered people. The only problem was, in that era, we couldn't find a lot of off-centered beer enthusiasts in our corner of the world. From the day we opened, the average beer we brewed was 9% alcohol by volume (ABV) and made with six, as opposed to the normal 4, ingredients. Trying to convince people to trade up to an 8% ABV beer brewed with beet sugars and raisins, or a stout made with chicory and St. John’s wort, was difficult.

Over 95% of the beers sold in America are slight variations of the same exact beer style—the light lager. In our mind there was something wrong with one beer style dominating the global beer landscape. We were interested in standing out, not joining in. We wanted to create beers that look, smell and taste nothing like a light lager. Our belief was (and still is) that beer can have as much flavor, complexity, diversity, food-compatibility and age-ability as the world’s finest wines. We have never wavered from this belief. We have never dumbed-down or discounted our beers in order to grow.

So, for many years, we stayed very, very small. But something began to change in the late 90's. While our company is located in sleepy, scenic coastal Delaware (we love it here!), it is still only two hours from DC, Philly and Baltimore and three-and-a-half hours from NYC. By the late 90's, beer-believers from these cities were making the pilgrimage to the beach to try our unique, off-centered ales. Publications as diverse as Esquire, Men's Journal, The New York Times, Food & Wine, and The Wall Street Journal took notice of the ground-breaking beers coming out of our little brewery as hardcore beer-believers continued to spread the word among their own friends and family.

So, we're a little less small now. We're the biggest craft brewery in the Mid-Atlantic region, but we still make less than 1/20th of 1% of the beer sold in the entire US (the big guys are surely quaking in their brewing boots). Today, the average case of beer coming out of our 103,000-foot, state-of-the-art, Milton, Delaware brewery is still 9% ABV and brewed with six ingredients. To borrow a refrain from the Talking Heads: "Same as it ever was, same as it ever was." We haven't had to bend toward the status quo. The status quo, thankfully, has slowly moved in the direction we have always been going. Americans are waking up to the fact that world-class beer is being made right in their own backyards. Now there are lots of other amazing, independent American craft breweries who have set their own course and helped to educate people to think outside of the light lager style. We are proud to be part of this beer renaissance. While we're proud of our craft brewing brethren, we have never once looked to another brewery for inspiration or direction. We have grown because hardcore enthusiasts have discovered Dogfish and spread the word.

We don't have a multi-million dollar marketing budget. We don't work with a PR firm. In fact, we pretty much only advertise in beer publications and our local newspapers. We don't do focus groups or hire marketing consultants. We design our own packaging and marketing the way we design our own beers; with very little concern for the way things are done traditionally but with great concern for continuing the off-centered tradition we have established. Along the way, we have never once let the tail of money wag the dog of inspiration.

Visit Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales to learn more.