Saturday, December 31, 2011

Labatt Blue - The John Labatt Brewery - London, ON

Every time I think of Hockey...which is a lot, I think of Labatt Blue. It's the most associated beer with Hockey. In fact, you can't get near a 3 on 3 adult tournament without running into the Blue Girls or being offered free samples. At the bar near my local arena, I don't think they advertize for anything other than Blue. Blue IS Hockey and Hockey IS Blue. Here's what the website had to say:


Labatt Blue is a clean, refreshing pilsner with a distinctive hoppy aroma, a delicate character, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.

The pilsner-style lager comes from the Czech Republic, where it was first brewed in 1842. Today pilsner has grown beyond Europe and North America to become the world's most popular kind of beer, brewed from Brazil to Beijing.
The light body and fresh taste of a pilsner make it a versatile partner for many different foods. Steve enjoys Blue with classic bar fare like burgers and pizza, but it also makes a refreshing match with spicier fare like hot wings or Mexican food.
Blue by the numbers:
  • Calories: 135
  • Carbs: 9.9 grams
  • ABV: 5%

1998: Silver medal in the International Lager category at the Brewing Industry International Awards. 2003: Gold medal, Monde Selection (an award that's based on quality).


In Canada, the Labatt brewery is as legendary as the beer it makes. Founded in 1847 by John Kinder Labatt, it has survived prohibition, a kidnapping, and over 160 years' worth of incredible events.


John Labatt opens his first brewery in London, Ontario. That same year, a little more than a decade after arriving in Canada, John Kinder Labatt reveals his life-long calling in a letter to his wife:"I have been considering this brewing affair for some time and think it would suit me better than anything else..."


After an apprenticeship at a Wheeling, West Virginia brewery, John Labatt Jr. returns to Canada and takes over the family business.


Labatt's India Pale Ale wins a gold medal at the International Exposition in Paris, France. It's the first of many Labatt beers to gain international recognition.


Demand for Labatt products increases to such an extent that another sales office and warehouse has to be opened in Toronto.


Labatt survives prohibition by producing full-strength beer for export south of the border, and by introducing two "temperance ales" (brews with less than two per cent alcohol) for sale in Ontario. When prohibition is repealed in 1927, Labatt enjoys a strengthened industry position.


John S. Labatt is kidnapped by gangsters in Lambton County. Three days later, he is released unharmed at Toronto's Royal York Hotel.


Labatt introduces its 50th Anniversary Ale,commemorating a half-century of business under the leadership of John S. and Hugh Labatt. This first "light" ale, affectionately called "Annie" and later "50," quickly gains a dedicated following and eventually becomes Canada's best-selling brand.


Labatt launches its Pilsner Lager, setting the trend for lager beers in Canada. When it's introduced in Manitoba, the beer is nicknamed "Blue" for the colour of its label and the company's support of Winnipeg's Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise, the Blue Bombers. The nickname sticks and in 1979, Blue claims top spot in the Canadian beer market – a position it holds to this day.


Labatt Blue places first at the World Beer Competition.


Labatt Blue becomes the best selling Canadian beer in the world.


Labatt introduces the first twist-off cap on a refillable bottle.


Labatt celebrates its 150th birthday.



I've sampled some of the most obscure beers around, as well as some of the most popular ones. Typically, the more popular it is, the more watered down and tasteless it is, but that really isn't the case with Blue. It's true that it isn't bursting with hop or bitterness, but if you're looking for a clean, refreshing beer to share with friends...then Blue is for you. The pour was clean with a loose but consistent head. The taste is very refreshing without an overly bitter aftertaste. This is just a really good Pilsner. And the fact that it comes in a case of 28 is just a bonus. Pick up a case if you can...this is a pretty good brew for a Mega-Brewery.


7/10 - Surprisingly good

How Beer Works

Have you ever wondered what "malt" really is, and how you get malt from barley? And what about hops, and why d­o we need yeast? Barley, water, hops and yeast -- brewers combine these four ­simple ingredients to make beer.
But it's not just a matter of mixing the right amount of each ingredient and voila! have beer. A complex series of biochemical reactions must take place to convert barley to fermentable sugars, and to allow yeast to live and multiply, converting those sugars to alcohol.

Commercial breweries use sophisticated equipment and processes to control hundreds of variables so that each batch of beer will taste the same. In this article, we'll learn how events like Prohibition and World War II influenced the taste of the beer we still drink today. Then we'll take a tour through a regional brewery, the Carolina Brewing Company, to learn how they make beer, picking up some of the amazing technology and terminology of beermaking along the way.

People have been brewing beer for thousands of years. Beer especially became a staple in the Middle Ages, when people began to live in cities where close quarters and poor sanitation made clean water difficult to find. The alcohol in beer made it safer to drink than water.

In the 1400s in Germany, a type of beer was made that was fermented in the winter with a different type of yeast. This beer was called a lager, and, in part due to Prohibition, a variation of this type of beer is dominant in the United States today.

For 13 years, starting in 1920, a constitutional amendment banned the production of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Before Prohibition, America had thousands of breweries producing many different types of beer. But Prohibition forced most breweries out of business. By the time the laws were repealed in 1933, only the largest breweries had survived. These breweries sought to brew a beer with universal appeal so that it could be sold everywhere in the country. And then came World War II. With food in short supply and many of the men overseas, breweries started brewing a lighter style of beer that is very common today. Since the early 1990s, small regional breweries have made a comeback, popping up all over the United States, and variety has increased.

In the next section, we'll take a closer look at the ingredients of beer.

As we learned in the introduction, there are four main ingredients in beer: barley, water, hops and yeast. Each has many complexities. We'll start with malted barley.

Malted Barley 

Barley is the seed of a grain that looks a lot like wheat. Before barley can be used to make beer, it must be malted, which involves a natural conversion process.

First, the barley must be allowed to germinate, or start to sprout. This is done by soaking the barley in water for several days, and then draining the barley and holding it at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 C) for five days. This allows the husk to open and barley to start to sprout -- at this point it is called green malt. Like all seeds, the barley contains nutrients that can sustain the growing seed until it can produce its own nutrients using photosynthesis. During the germination process, enzymes released by the plant convert these nutrients (which are starches) into sugars that can feed the plant while it grows. The key to the malting process is to stop the germination of the barley at a point when the sugar-producing enzymes are present but most of the starch is still unconverted. Eventually, these enzymes will produce the sugars that will feed the yeast to make the alcohol in the beer.

After this natural process has released the enzymes, the green malt is dried by gradually raising the temperature. The intensity of the malt flavor and color depends on how high the temperature is raised during the drying process. One final step must be completed -- removing any small roots that formed during germination -- and the malted barley is ready to begin the brewing process. Most breweries buy barley that has already been malted to their specifications.


The hops used to make beer are the flower of the hop vine, which is a member of the hemp family (Cannabaceae). Hops are closely related to another member of the hemp family that you may have heard of -- cannabis, or marijuana, although hops do not have the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana.

Hops contain acids, which give beer its bitterness, as well as oils that give beer some of its flavor and aroma. Adding hops to beer also inhibits the formation of certain bacteria that can spoil the beer.

There are many different kinds of hops, each of which gives a different taste, aroma and amount of bitterness to the beer it is used in. In the United States, hops are grown mainly in Washington state. Hops are also grown in Germany, Southern England and Australia.

Yeast is the single-celled micro-organism that is responsible for creating the alcohol and carbon dioxide found in beer. There are many different kinds of yeasts used to make beer; and just as the yeast in a sourdough starter gives sourdough bread its distinctive flavor, different types of beer yeast help to give beer its various tastes.

There are two main categories of beer yeast: ale yeast and lager yeast. Ale yeast is top fermenting, meaning it rises near the surface of the beer during fermentation, and typically prefers to ferment at temperatures around 70 F (21 C). Lager yeasts are bottom fermenting. They ferment more slowly and prefer colder temperatures, around 50 F (10 C).

The Mash

The mash is the process that converts the starches in the malted barley into fermentable sugars. At the Carolina Brewery, they start by crushing the malted barley between rollers to break up the kernel.

There is a fine tradeoff in the rolling process: the more the kernel is broken up, the more sugars can be extracted from the grains; but if it is broken up too much, the husk that surrounds the kernel may get broken down, which can cause a stuck mash. If the kernel is broken up just enough, then when the mash is finished, the whole husks form a filter bed that captures any solids from the liquid; but if the husks are broken down too much, they clog up and don't let the liquid through -- a stuck mash.

Next, the crushed grains pass through a feed pipe into the mash-lauter-tun. This insulated vessel has a device called a hydrator, which sprays heated water onto the grains as they enter. This eliminates any dry spots in the mash -- dry spots mean wasted sugars. The wet grains stay in the mash-lauter-tun for an hour. Since the vessel is insulated, the temperature stays at around 150 F (65 C).

The purpose of the mash is to convert the starches in the malted barley into fermentable sugars to be used in the next step of the brewing process. Starches are strings of many glucose molecules chained together -- these chains must be broken down into chains of only two or three glucose molecules before they can be fermented. We learned earlier that the malted barley contains enzymes, which can convert the starches.

There are two different types of enzymes in the malted barley: alpha-amylase and beta-amylase. The alpha enzymes break up the long chains of starches by splitting them in half. The beta enzymes break down the starches by chopping them off a couple at a time from the ends of the chain. Only if these two enzymes work together can the conversion be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. There is a catch though: The alpha enzymes are most active at 149 to 153 F (65 to 67 C), and the beta enzymes are most active at 126 to 144 F (52 to 62 C). So the temperature and duration of the mash must be carefully controlled to get a good conversion.

The last steps needed to complete the mash are lautering and sparging. The liquid is drained from the bottom of the mash-lauter-tun and then recirculated to the top so that it is filtered through the husks of the spent grains. Additional heated water is then poured over the grains -- a process called sparging -- to make sure all of the sugars are removed.

The mash is an amazing process. Before the mash starts, the grains don't taste at all sweet, but the liquid that is drained off from the grains at the end of the mash is very sweet and sticky. This liquid, which now contains mostly fermentable sugars, goes on to the boil.

The Wort

The next step in the beer brewing process is called the boil. At the end of the boil we will have a finished wort (pronounced wert).

To start, the liquid from the mash is put into a huge brew kettle. The one used at the Carolina Brewery holds more than 600 gallons (2,270 L). It is a steam jacketed brew kettle. This kettle has double walls with a gap between them through which steam is circulated. This provides very even heating, since both the bottom and the sides are heated. The temperature is raised until the liquid comes to a vigorous rolling boil, and it is held there for 90 minutes.

At the beginning of the boil, hops are added. These are called the boiling hops, and their job is to add bitterness to the beer. The acids that produce bitterness in the beer are not easy to extract from the hops, which is why they need to be boiled for up to 90 minutes. The oils that produce the hop flavor and aroma are very volatile and evaporate quickly, so the boiling hops only contribute bitterness to the beer -- the flavor and aroma are added later.

Depending on what type of beer is being brewed, more hops may be added near the end of the boil -- these are called finishing hops. Generally, hops that are added about 15 minutes before the end contribute flavor to the beer. Hops added just a few minutes before the end contribute aroma to the beer. The oils in the hops that give the beer a distinctive hop smell are the most volatile, so these hops really just need to steep in the hot wort for a few minutes, like tea leaves, to extract the oils. Some of the beers brewed at the Carolina Brewery get finishing hops added at three different times. In order for each batch of beer to taste the same, exactly the same amount of the same type of hops must be added at exactly the same time during each boil.

In the next section, we'll see the next step in the brewing process.

Before the wort can go on to the next step, all of the solids must be separated from the liquid. This is done in a very neat way. The wort is pumped from the kettle, and forced back into the kettle through a jet nozzle. This flow of liquid causes a whirlpool to form; and if you've ever stirred tea leaves in a cup, you know that they move to the center of the whirlpool. When this whirlpool forms in the brew kettle, all of the hops and other solids move to the center. The pump is then turned off, and over the next 20 minutes the whirlpool gradually stops and the solids settle to the bottom, forming a fairly solid cone. 

When the wort is drained, the solids stay in the kettle. Next, the wort must be cooled down to the proper temperature for the yeast. This is done in a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger. The wort is circulated through one set of tubes while chilled water is circulated through another set. The tubes with hot wort running through them transfer heat to the tubes holding the chilled water.

The cooling water is chilled first, so that the volume of water that is required to cool down one entire batch of wort is about equal to the volume of wort. The cooling water ends up at a temperature of about 170 F (76 C), and is stored in an insulated tank and used to brew the next batch of beer. This way both the water and the heat energy are saved.

It is important to cool the wort quickly so that the yeast can be added right away and fermentation can begin. This reduces the chance of contamination by stray yeasts floating around in the air.

Fermentation is the process by which yeast converts the glucose in the wort to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas -- giving the beer both its alcohol content and its carbonation. To begin the fermentation process, the cooled wort is transferred into a fermentation vessel to which the yeast has already been added. If the beer being made is an ale, the wort will be maintained at a constant temperature of 68 F (20 C) for about two weeks. If the beer is a lager, the temperature will be maintained at 48 F (9 C) for about six weeks. Since fermentation produces a substantial amount of heat, the tanks must be cooled constantly to maintain the proper temperature.

These fermentation tanks hold more than 2,400 gallons (9,085 L), which means that it takes four batches of wort to fill one tank. Since fermentation takes at least two weeks, the capacity of the brewery is limited by how many tanks they have.

When the wort is first added to the yeast, the specific gravity of the mixture is measured. Later, the specific gravity may be measured again to determine how much alcohol is in the beer, and to know when to stop the fermentation.

The fermenter is sealed off from the air except for a long narrow vent pipe, which allows carbon dioxide to escape from the fermenter. Since there is a constant flow of CO2 through the pipe, outside air is prevented from entering the fermenter, which reduces the threat of contamination by stray yeasts.

When fermentation is nearly complete, most of the yeast will settle to the bottom of the fermenter. The bottom of the fermenter is cone shaped, which makes it easy to capture and remove the yeast, which is saved and used in the next batch of beer. The yeast can be reused a number of times before it needs to be replaced. It is replaced when it has mutated and produces a different taste -- remember, commercial brewing is all about consistency.

While fermentation is still happening, and when the specific gravity has reached a predetermined level, the carbon dioxide vent tube is capped. Now the vessel is sealed; so as fermentation continues, pressure builds as CO2 continues to be produced. This is how the beer gets most of its carbonation, and the rest will be added manually later in the process. From this point on, the beer will remain under pressure (except for a short time during bottling).

When fermentation has finished, the beer is cooled to about 32 F (0 C). This helps the remaining yeast settle to the bottom of the fermenter, along with other undesirable proteins that come out of solution at this lower temperature.

Now that most of the solids have settled to the bottom, the beer is slowly pumped from the fermenter and filtered to remove any remaining solids. From the filter, the beer goes into another tank, called a bright beer tank. This is its last stop before bottling or kegging. Here, the level of carbon dioxide is adjusted by bubbling a little extra CO2 into the beer through a porous stone. 

The most important thing about the bottling and kegging process is to keep the beer from being contaminated by stray yeasts, and to keep oxygen away from the beer. These are the main things that can reduce the shelf-life of beer.

The ways that the beer is transferred into bottles and kegs is pretty similar; but bottling has a few extra steps, so we'll talk about bottling.

The bottling line at the Carolina Brewery can fill up to 100 12-oz (355 ml) bottles of beer every minute. To start the process, the empty bottles are loaded onto the bottling line, where they are first rinsed with a chlorine solution, and then blasted with CO2 to remove the solution.

Next, the bottles enter a turret-like mechanism that can hold 12 bottles at once. Each bottle rides around the turret once. During its ride, the bottle is purged with CO2 several times before it is filled. The bottles are pressurized with CO2 so that when the beer is forced into the bottles under pressure it doesn't foam up too much. After the beer has been added to the bottles, the pressure is slowly relieved until the beer is at ambient pressure. As each filled bottle leaves the turret, an empty one takes its place. 

Next comes the capping machine -- but now there is a little bit of air space at the top of the bottle that needs to be purged. To do this, the bottle is passed under a very narrow, high-pressure jet of water that hits the beer, causing it to foam up and drive the air out of the bottle. The cap is then applied before any air can re-enter the bottle.

After the cap is applied, the outside of the bottle is rinsed to remove any beer that may have foamed out during the process. 

Surprisingly, the most difficult part of the bottling process is applying the label to the bottle. Getting a label to stick to a cold wet beer bottle is no easy trick.

The labels are fed into the labeling machine, which has a spinning device that rolls glue onto the labels and then sticks them to the bottles as they pass by. If all goes well, the label will be properly positioned, smooth and well-adhered.

A special inkjet printer squirts the date onto the label as it moves past the print head. The date the beer was bottled and also a "best before" date (three months after the bottling date) are printed on the label.


If this all sounds very complicated, then you might be wondering how people ever manage to brew their own beer. But as you may have gathered, most of the complexity of the brewing process is due to the need for a commercial brewery to turn out beer that tastes exactly the same batch after batch, year after year.

Most homebrewers have no such requirement -- it doesn't matter if the beer tastes exactly the same each time they make it. There are so many different types of beer to brew that many homebrewers never make the same type of beer twice anyway.

At homebrewing stores you can buy malt extract, which is the fermentable sugars extracted from the mash. That eliminates one fairly complicated step (although it is entirely possible to do a mash in your home). A basic set of homebrewing equipment consists of:
  • Fermentation vessels (a bucket or glass water jug)
  • Various hoses for siphoning beer from one container to another or to fill bottles
  • An airlock so that carbon dioxide can escape the fermentation vessel but air cannot get in
  • Some cleaning equipment for washing your fermenters, bottles and hoses
  • Floating thermometer
  • Floating hydrometer
  • Bottle capper
  • Funnel
All of these supplies and any ingredients you need are available at homebrewing stores, and are sometimes packaged as a kit.


Dogfish Head to ship 50% more beer to New Jersey next year

(Milton, DE) – According to the press release below, Dogfish Head sent around 7,200 barrels out of 145,000 barrels or so to New Jersey in 2011. If Dogfish Head holds at 20% growth next year as it projects to and Hunterdon Distributors hits its projection of 50% growth over this year’s amount, we are looking at 10,800 barrels out of 174,000 being shipped to New Jersey in 2012 (subject to change!).

Hunterdon is excited to announce that Dogfish Head sales for the year 2011 have exceeded the 100,000 case equivalent mark. This year marks the first time in company history that Hunterdon has reached this tremendous goal with any of its suppliers.

In a company-wide memo on December 20, 2011, Hunterdon co-founder Dave Masterson wrote, “Yesterday marked the historic day that the record-breaking case of Dogfish Head was delivered into the market. We would like to congratulate and thank everyone at Hunterdon and at Dogfish Head for their hard work, passion and enthusiasm with reaching this extraordinary milestone. We are very proud to represent Dogfish Head for the state of New Jersey and look forward to selling 150,000 case equivalents in 2012.”

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione also gave a statement regarding this exciting news. “This is a huge milestone. I still remember the day I rowed the first six-pack to New Jersey and three people showed up to greet me. I’m pretty sure those three people were our only loyal customers for the first few years. Mike Short used to say that Dogfish and Hunterdon were in a race to go bankrupt as we unloaded my three-pallet delivery truck by hand because the fork lift was busted once again. But slowly and surely, Dogfish and Hunterdon grew our collective business in New Jersey. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of passionate people, but we made it happen together and I am very proud. Thanks for all the support!”

Hunterdon has been distributing Dogfish Head’s “off-centered ales” in New Jersey since 1998. They are the fifth distributor nationwide to have achieved this significant goal for the brewery.

About Hunterdon Distributors

Hunterdon was founded in 1996 and has grown steadily over the years into a company with sixty full-time employees. Hunterdon has raised the bar for craft beverage availability and selection in the state by providing the most diverse and sought-after portfolio the market has to offer. The company currently represents over fifty domestic craft brands, hundreds of imports and a unique line of micro-distilled spirits, sakes, ciders and meads. Owners Mike Short and Dave Masterson continue to focus on bringing quality products to the New Jersey consumer.

Friday, December 30, 2011

SanTan Brewing to pilot new canning system for Cask

(Chandler, AZ) – SanTan Brewing Company has played a huge role in advancing the craft beer movement in Arizona by producing innovative brews, promoting local collaborations, participating in regional and national beer competitions and by utilizing the latest technologies in craft beer canning. The canning process at SanTan Brewing Company is about to get slammed into high gear in January, 2012. Cask Brewing Systems Inc., a Canada based canning technology company, has selected SanTan Brewing Company as the beta test site for their new and improved five head automatic canning system.

SanTan Brewing Company, named 2011 Best Brewery by Phoenix New Times, purchased their first Cask brand automatic canning system (ACS) in 2010, producing around 28 cans per minute. Since then, SanTan’s four core brands, Hopshock IPA, Devil’s Pale Ale, Epicenter Arizona Amber and Hefeweizen have exploded in sales. The growth in distribution has reached over 300% year-to-date with 40% of that volume in canned beer sales. “We couldn’t be happier with our existing canning machine and with our relationship with Cask. The new ACS system will crank out around 35-37 cans per minute, allowing for a 20% increase in production” said SanTan Brewing Company owner and head brew master, Anthony Canecchia.
In addition to beta testing the automatic canning system, SanTan Brewing Company will also test a new fully automated depalletizer called the AD2. The new automated depalletizer will take up less space than the current shaker table that SanTan Brewing Company uses to move the empty cans onto the fill conveyor.

Cask Brewing Systems Inc. has been working to improve their existing machines and found that by improving the efficiencies in the timing sequence on the seaming wheels they could reduce the length of some of the strokes to achieve further speed increases without sacrificing stability. Cask machines have the lowest package and beer waste of any automated packaging line on the market and they plan to keep it that way with improved technologies. When asked why SanTan Brewing Company was selected as the beta testing site for the new ACS machine, Jamie Gordon of Cask Brewing Systems Inc. said, “We’ve had a great working relationship with Anthony for years and since SanTan Brewing Company has been working our canning machine to their full capacity for some time now, we felt they would benefit from any additional efficiency we could provide”.

About SanTan Brewing Company

Open since 2007, SanTan Brewing Company has made a name for itself as Arizona’s favorite craft beer destination, operating with a commitment to advance the culture of craft beer. SanTan Brewing Company accomplishes this goal through beer production using the highest quality ingredients and methods. In addition to great beer, SanTan has gained a loyal following of craft beer enthusiasts in the Arizona area by offering delicious food, happy hour specials, live music and participating in beer festivals. Visit SanTan Brewing Company at 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, AZ. They’re open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight and Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Also, check out SanTan Brewing Company online and become a fan on Facebook or follow them more information on upcoming specials and promotions.

About Cask Brewing Systems Inc.

Cask Brewing Systems Inc. has been involved in the craft brewing industry since 1984 when they began making 5 bbl brewing systems, training brewers and developing recipes for the emerging brewpub scene. Cask developed their first manual can seamers and fillers in 2001 and built their first compact automated line in 2004. They have now sold and shipped over 100 of them worldwide. For more information about Cask

The Hangover, Gwyneth Paltrow style: Actress swears by Bloody Marys as she shares recipe for the ultimate New Year’s Eve cure

She’s made no secret of the fact she enjoys having a few drinks.

And now Gwyneth Paltrow has revealed her foolproof hangover cure, just in time for New Year’s Eve.

The actress says the hair of the dog is often the best option and shared the recipe for a Bloody Mary, or Red Snapper, which she describes as ‘The Classic’. 

Hitting the juice: Gwyneth Paltrow, drinking Guiness on the Jonothan Ross show, has shared her hangover cure – a Bloody Mary

She says on her blog: ‘Perhaps the least healthy choice, but sometimes unavoidable – at times, just a little of last night’s poison does the trick.’

It consists of vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

Mother-of-two Gwyneth, 39, also shared ‘The Mexican version’ of the drink.

She says: ‘This is the perfect hangover drink for the beach. It’s a Mexican classic that can easily be re-created all over the world’

I swear by this! Gwyneth Paltrow posted this hangover cure on her website, Goop
It includes a Corona beer, tomato juice, clam juice, lemon, Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco sauce.
The Oscar-winner also asked around to get some of the best hangover remedies.

Over the counter options were pain tablets Alka Seltzer and Resolve or Milk Thistle tablets before a big night to prepare the liver.

She pushed the drink, Mercy, but told was upfront in saying: ‘Full disclosure, this stuff is so good that I went ahead and invested in the company’

Or try this: She shared another version of the drink, made with Corona or another light beer
Gwyneth also swears by hot and cold spa treatments, her favourite in Osaka, Japan.

But one create the experience at home too, with Epsom Salts and baking soda in a hot bath.

Last year Gwyneth told Chelsea Handler she was ‘a lush’, and loved to drink.

‘Do you drink regularly?’ the talkshow host asked.

Not just a beer girl: Gwyneth sips a glass of wine at Bloomingdales where she launched a fragrance, and a beer at Glastonbury in 2005

‘A lot, yeah,’ she admitted.

‘Red wine is my favourite, but I’ll drink white, rosé… Guinness is my favourite beer. I like a dirty vodka martini. I’m just a lush, basically.’

She also spoke about asking her former alcoholic friend, Robert Downey Jr, for tips about playing an alcoholic in her new movie Country Strong.

‘I didn’t understand how you could do something so crazy one night and kind of wreck lives in your wake and wake up and expect to be back to normal.

Give me the bottle! She also played an alcoholic in last year’s drama, Country Song

‘So I actually e-mailed Robert Downey Jr. who has been sober for a long time, I was like, explain to me addiction, and he wrote me the most amazing e-mail and he helped me understand it.’

She ended up hitting the sauce herself to get into character.

‘You just get really drunk all the time. Which is awesome,’ she told Rachael Ray.

‘At least I did anyway, it’s not very professional. There’s a Bloody Mary at 10am. and keep it going all day.’


And please take the time to read how The Watertown Rapids Squirt Team is working its way to Buffalo 


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Watertown Rapids "Squirt" Hockey Program hope to be Buffalo-Bound in '12 for the 2012 Pepsi Hockey Invitational

 Just between Syracuse, NY and Kingston, ON...just off of I-81... lays the picturesque town of Watertown, NY. It's a town dominated by the Black River, Jefferson Community College and The Fort Drum Army Installation (Home of the 10th Mountain Division). It's also a town that loves Hockey. But then again, what did you expect, with all levels of Hockey from College to the NHL, all within three hours from the city limits.

And in this Hockey-mad town, The Watertown Rapids "Squirts" of the Watertown Hockey Association spend their weekends challenging all opponents on the frozen arenas of Northern New York. They're a diverse group of nine and ten year-old kids who come from all walks of life. We have Military kids (whose mother or father may be deployed at any time). We have lifelong residents of this beautiful town, and we have some who are so new to the area, that their parents still need directions to opponents arenas. The one thing that all these kids do have in Hockey.

Every year, these mighty warriors of the ice have their season culminate with a trip to one of the best Minor Hockey Tournaments in New York...The Pepsi Invitational. It's a tournament where the teams play in a round robin fashion, ending with the crowning of another Champion. The Rapids have always been there, and hope to once again head West to Buffalo in March of 2012. Unfortunately, their annual trip West may be in jeopardy this year.

We're all aware of the financial crunch that this Country has been facing these days. People everywhere have been having to tighten their belts. Hockey is an incredibly expensive sport that promises a parent nothing but memories, friendships and crippling financial costs. The Buffalo Tournament cost $695 to attend. It may not seem like much, but it's a cost that is above and beyond the $500+ that parents already spend just to register their kids for Hockey.

That is why I'm coming to you today. My son (#12) is one the talented kids that make up this team, and just like him, I know that the teams hearts would be crushed if we were not able to attend this year. On the right hand side of the screen (under the photo of yours truly), you might have seen the donate button. All donations received will be used exclusively for The Pepsi Invitational. You can donate as little as $1, or as much as you see fit. Everything in this case helps.

Below, I've included some of the background information on both The Pepsi Invitational and The Watertown Hockey Association. I certainly do hope that you will consider a small donation to help these kids get to Buffalo. They may not all be future pro hockey players...but when they get to go to a Tournament like The Pepsi Invitational...they sure do feel like one. Thank you again for your support.
Holiday Twin Rinks & Leisure Rinks, along with the Pepsi Bottling Group, are proud to invite your organization or team to our 36th Annual "PEPSI HOCKEY INVITATIONAL" tournament. This year more than 265 teams from the United States and Canada will compete for House League and Travel Championships between March 9 - April 7, 2012. We encourage you to come and experience one of North America's most exciting amateur hockey events.
Since its organization in 1958, the Watertown Skating and Hockey Association, Inc., has remained true to its original purpose of developing “the health and cultural growth of youth in the community” through participation in athletics.  Over the past 50 years the Association’s volunteers have coached, trained and mentored thousands of children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.  The Association has skaters on the ice ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old.  Our teams compete throughout New York and Canada and we play host to several hockey tournaments in Watertown each season.  The Association is the local affiliated organization of USA Hockey, Inc., the national governing body for the sport of hockey in the United States.  We take pride in the strict standards of coach education, qualifications and screening required by USA Hockey.  The quality and dedication of our coaches and volunteer management and staff is directly reflected the years of loyalty of our many skaters and parents.  Besides training athletic skill and teaching a sport, our coaches strive to develop character, sportsmanship, and overall physical fitness.  Our mission is to provide each child with the opportunity to grow socially, learn mental and physical discipline and experience the power of teamwork and collective competitiveness.  The Association looks forward to another 50 years of developing civic minded, responsible citizens through youth sport.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sam Adams Boston Lager - The Boston Beer Company - Boston, MA

Well, here we go. I finally get around to reviewing one of my favorite beers...Sam Adams Boston Lager. No offense Boston...I don't like your Bruins or your Patriots, but I'll take your Red Sox and your Beer any day. Sam Adams seems to package craft-like fundamentals into every mega-produced bottle that it puts on the shelf of your local shop. Every time I grab a Boston Lager...I just know that I'm in for a quality brew, that won't leave me hangin'. Here's what the website had to say:


Flavor: Full bodied and complex. Caramel sweetness balanced with distinct citrus and piney notes. A strong, smooth finish and mouth feel.
Color: A deep amber to golden, 11 SRM
Original Gravity:13° Plato
Alcohol by Vol/Wt: 4.9%ABV - 3.8%ABW Calories/12oz: 175
IBUs: 30 
Malt Varieties: Two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, and Caramel 60
Hop Varieties: Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger Noble hops
Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams lager yeast
First Brewed: 1984

Complex and balanced with a beautiful hop aroma.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager® is an excellent example of the fundamentals of a great beer, offering a full, rich flavor that is both balanced and complex.  that unique flavor is the result of a perfect combination of our signature hand selected ingredients and a traditional four vessel brewing process.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager uses only the finest ingredients including two-row malted barley and Bavarian Noble hops.  The sole use of two-row barley not only imparts a full, smooth body but also gives the beer a wide spectrum of malt flavor ranging from slightly sweet to roasted.
We also take great pride in the Noble hops we use.  They’re hand selected by Jim Koch and our brewers from the world’s oldest hop growing areas.  Although they are among the most expensive hops, their unmistakable aroma and taste is essential to Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  The Noble hop varieties of Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger add a wide range of floral, piney and citrus notes, which are present from the aroma, through the taste, and all the way to the lingering smooth finish.  

Samuel Adams Boston Lager helped lead the American beer revolution, reviving a passion for full-bodied brews that are robust and rich with character.  When it was introduced in 1984, Samuel Adams Boston Lager was unusual in a world of thin, light-bodied beers that were being churned out for mass market consumption.

Following his great-great grandfather's recipe, Jim Koch used only traditional brewing processes as well as the finest ingredients to brew his Samuel Adams Boston Lager. "My great-great grandfather named his beer after himself: Louis Koch Lager," said Jim Koch.  "I renamed my beer after the patriot Samuel Adams, who helped lead the Revolution and was a brewer by trade. I thought the name was assertively American."
Just six weeks after its introduction, Samuel Adams Boston Lager turned the beer industry on its ear when it was named “The Best Beer in America” in the Consumer Preference Poll at the Great American Beer Festival.  At less than two months old, Samuel Adams had secured a place in the history of American brewing.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager is brewed using two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, and Caramel 60 malt, as well as the Noble hop varieties of Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger. The traditional brewing processes, including decoction mash (a four vessel process) and krausening (a secondary fermentation), allow the large quantities of these ingredients to come together and form layers of complex flavor.  Towards the end of the process the beer is also dry hopped using the Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops for an enhanced hop signature in the aroma and finish.  The process may be labor intensive but it’s essential in developing the distinct balanced full flavor of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.



What can I say? It's not the best that I've ever had the pleasure of sampling, but it sure is the best that's available just about everywhere. The pour was awesome. The head is tight, with a serious aroma that makes you just want to gulp it (it's better to go slow). But the flavour is what truly sets this one apart. It is a mouthful of flavour crushing your taste buds. This is one hell of a beer.

9/10 - Outstanding

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Figueroa Mountain Stagecoach Stout - Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company - Buelton, CA

Two years ago, my wife took me to her hometown of Solvang, CA. It's a small Danish village, complete with windmills and fantastic pastries. The experience was awesome, but I missed the boat on the beer. Apparently, it also has some great beer. Her cousin sent me this fine bottle of the signature Stout from the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company in Buelton, CA (the neighboring town to Solvang). She promised an outstanding Stout worthy of some of the finest Ale Houses in the world. Here's what the website had to say:


Stagecoach Stout
ABV 5.6% IBU 17


Oatmeal Stout

As dark as Santa Ynez at midnight, with hints of chocolate, espresso and smoke. It is a full-bodied, intensely-rich ale with a velvety-smooth finish.
Tasting Notes

Bursting with layers of dark caramel, chocolate, and roast malt flavors. The addition of oatmeal to the grist gives this brew a silky, satin mouthfeel and increased body. Jet black and opaque, our stout pours a dense, frothy, tan head that lingers as lace on a glass.


A Father & Son Team

Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer are a father & son team with a passion for quality beer. Both businessmen and entrepreneurs, they’ve grown their companies on hard work and quality products. Jim raised his family in the Santa Ynez Valley along with wife Judie, and have enjoyed its natural beauty and the character of its inhabitants for years. Starting this business has been a dream of the Dietenhofers for some time, and they feel fortunate to provide patrons the quality that they deserve. Jaime’s wife Meighan and sons Anders and Gray are also key supporters of the operation.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing has focused on producing top tier beers from day one. They attribute that to not only the necessity for the highest quality ingredients, but the same expectations for their staff. “We believe that success in this business like other industries starts with building a culture that is focused on always improving and never feeling complacent with mediocrity, always striving to better yourself and your business every day.”



Although this one starts out as any Oatmeal Stout would, I thought that the finish was a little rough. The pour was deep and dark, but the head was a little overactive. This didn't really affect the beer negatively, but it just wasn't what you expect from a deep oatmeal stout. The chocolate and caramel overtones are there, and the coloring was about as opaque as you can get. That said...the finish was just a little edgy and not as smooth as I would have liked it to be. It certainly is a fine stout, and most definitely deserves your consideration, but I would not say that it's a top it or die trying stout.


9/10 - A Fine Stout

Seventh Sun Brewing to launch on January 7th, auctions first pour on eBay

(Dunedin, FL) – Seventh Sun Brewing Company in Dunedin, FL plans to unveil their beer on Jan 7th; the first glass poured will be up for auction, proceeds benefiting the Homeless Emergency Project (HEP).

Owner Justin Stange began brewing beer shortly after opening on December 2nd. Since that date, Seventh Sun has been offering guest taps of beer in the same styles the pair plan to offer – a mix of Belgian style ales, sour beers and a variety of IPA’s.

The brewery will open with all ten hand-blown glass taps pouring Seventh Sun beer for the first time on January 7th. Those vying for the first taste can bid on Ebay (or search Ebay with item # 230719655159) and take their pick of the first of the ten beers to be poured.

Proceeds of the auction will be donated to Clearwater’s Homeless Emergency Project (HEP), one of the oldest and largest providers of housing and support services for the homeless in Pinellas. Visit for more information.

“We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to begin this venture and we wanted to give something back, especially to a cause that is helping where so many people are hurting right now, “says owner Devon Kreps. “We really hope that given the spirit of the holiday season, we will be able to raise a substantial amount for HEP. Getting a family back on its feet takes a lot of resources and every donation whether financial or by volunteering time, makes a difference.”

Seventh Sun’s official launch happens at 1012 Broadway in Dunedin with the first beer pouring at 2:00pm on January 7th. HEP will also have a booth for those wishing to donate or inquire.

For updates on Seventh Sun follow them on Facebook or twitter @SeventhSunBeer.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from "My Journey Through Beer"

Here at "My Journey Through Beer", we would like to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a fantastic New Year.

May your Holiday dinners consist of topped off beer mugs, and may your New Year bring the finest undiscovered Craft Beers.

“Green” Beer Comes to Hale’s Ales with Installation of Net Zero Impact Hybrid Solar Thermal System

Seattle, WA (December 2011) - Net Zero Impact has begun installation of a hybrid solar-thermal system at Hale’s Ales, the company’s largest and most sophisticated solar project to date.

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, the project kicked off today with the dramatic lowering of a 1,200-gallon storage tank through a temporary opening in the brewery’s roof.

Over the next 25 years, Net Zero Impact technology will prevent 3.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Hale’s Ales expects to save approximately $15,000 per year on natural gas costs. The system will supply 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of solar-heated water per day for various brewing processes, radiant heating for the building and use by the adjoining Hale’s Pub.

The new solar-thermal investment is one of several sustainable initiatives Hale’s Ales has implemented. Other “green” efforts include use of high-efficiency light bulbs throughout the 17,000 square foot facility and “smart” technology to manage the building’s lights and heating/cooling systems.

The Net Zero Impact system, replacing the inefficient gas-fueled steam boiler, includes:
480 solar thermal tubes manufactured by Kingspan Solar,
1 million British Thermal unit (MBtu) steam boiler,
1 MBtu high-efficiency hot water boiler, 1,200-gallon water storage tank, heat exchangers and programmable controllers for all pump delivery systems.

“We’ve spent 27 years serving the community with the very best hand-crafted beers possible and making our operations greener is just another way of giving back to our community,” said Mike Hale, founder and president of Hale's Ales. “Net Zero Impact’s experience working with breweries, exceptional warranty and ability to implement an extremely complex design made it an easy choice to work with the company.”

Kingspan solar thermal tubes transform direct and diffuse sunlight—solar radiation available even on cold, cloudy or humid days—into useful heat in the form of hot water, capturing the sun’s energy, a critically important advantage in the Pacific Northwest’s frequently sun-starved environment.

Inside each Kingspan Solar air evacuated tube, solar radiation is collected, concentrated and transferred to an insulated manifold. Super-heated water is then pumped through a heat exchanger to Hale’s 1,200-gallon storage tank. Kingspan’s patented technology for controlling heat in this process is credited for the system’s long production life and 25-year warranty.

“Northwest brewers have an acute need for hot water and have been early adopters of our hybrid solar thermal technology,” said Barry Andersen, CEO, Net Zero Impact LLC. “We proved the value of the Net Zero Impact system with our installation at Big Al Brewing earlier this year and now, with Hale’s, we’re demonstrating that it works on a large scale.”

About Net Zero Impact LLC

Net Zero Impact LLC is expert in the design and installation of hybrid solar technologies for commercial applications in the Pacific Northwest. The company, founded in 2007, designs and deploys integrated solar systems, incorporating the patented, high-efficiency Thermomax solar-thermal tubes from industry leader Kingspan Solar. Through a comprehensive approach, including needs analysis, design and financing, Net Zero Impact is making a brighter future for forward-thinking organizations and enterprises in the Pacific Northwest.

Kona Brewing To Bring Back KoKo Brown To the Mainland & 1st Time To The East Coast

Kailua-Kona, HI (December 2011) - After a successful launch of Koko Brown Ale to west coast mainland markets this spring, Kona Brewing Company has announced that east coast markets will also receive Koko Brown Ale when it’s released again in January 2012. The 2011 arrival of Koko Brown Ale marked the first new mainland beer offering from Kona Brewing in four years, and also the third seasonal in the brewer’s Aloha Series. Koko Brown Ale was first tapped at Kona’s Kailua-Kona pub in the summer of 2009.

The vintage artwork on Koko’s bottle and packaging depicts a stand-up paddler on the calm waters of Maunalua Bay, in the shadow of Koko Head and Koko Crater. Stand up paddling (SUP), or hoe he'e nalu, is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Paddling served as the ancient Hawaiians’ mode of solo transport in visiting remote villages and fishing grounds, and today, SUP competitions often launch at the docks below Kona Brewing’s Koko Marina pub. Kona Brewing sponsors a number of SUP events including Battle of the Paddle, Maui Jim Surf Monkey and the first ever SUP Awards as well as brand ambassadors Jenny Kalmbach, Candice Appleby, Andrew Logreco, Jerry Bess and Tom Pokahu Stone.

Koko Brown Ale pairs best with coconut and caramel-infused recipes including coconut rice, Thai curries, caramelized roast turkey and chocolate-dipped macaroons. The rich flavors of Koko Brown also complement aged cheeses, barbecued meats and carne asada. Koko Brown Ale will be available on shelves and on draught through May 2012.

Koko Brown Ale brewing notes:

· Dried, toasted coconut is added to the mash resulting in a pleasant nutty aroma and flavor.
· Deep amber with rich mahogany hues. Distinctive and pronounced toasted coconut
aroma. Toffee and nutty coconut flavor is complemented by the mildly roasty Victory and Munich malts.
· Malt: Premium 2-Row, Victory, Carapils, Munich, Chocolate
· Hops: Cascade, Willamette, Warrior, Millennium
· Original Gravity (OG): 13.3 P
· Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%
· IBU: 28
· Extras: toasted coconut chips.

About Kona Brewing

Kona Brewing Company was started in the spring of 1994 by father and son team Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa, who had a dream to create fresh, local island brews made with spirit, passion and quality. It is a Hawaii-born and Hawaii-based craft brewery that prides itself on brewing the freshest beer of exceptional quality, closest to market. This helps to minimize its carbon footprint by reducing shipping of raw materials, finished beer and wasteful packaging materials. The brewery is headquartered where it began, in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. It has grown into Hawaii’s largest brewery, has three restaurant sites in Hawaii and beer distribution reaching 28 states and Japan. It is the 13th largest craft brewery in the country. For more information call 808-334-BREW or

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York-based Greenport Harbor Brewing to expand tenfold

(Greenport, NY) – In order to make room for additional production capacity and ultimately the bottling of its beer, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company announced that it is now in contract on the Lucas Ford dealership in the Hamlet of Peconic, Southold Town.

There are, however, no plans to leave Greenport.

“Our heart and soul will always be in Greenport”, said Richard Vandenburgh who co-founded the Brewery with his best friend, John Liegey. “We will maintain the tasting room on Carpenter Street and use the production space for an apprenticeship program. We want to give those interested in breaking into the business an opportunity to learn.”

The Lucas Ford property not only provides room for increased operations, but land to cultivate and explore local grown crops solidifying the North Fork as a local beer destination. Once completed, it will also hold a tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating.

Greenport Harbor Brewery plans to close on the new property in spring of 2012 and be up-and-running in January of 2013. The new facility, with its 25,000 barrel brew house system, will quadruple production and double its workforce in 24 months.

Greenport Harbor Brewery is currently located on 234 Carpenter Street in Greenport, New York. Its mission is to create great tasting, local craft beer. No frills or fanciness–just great beer. Learn more at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SF Beer Week Opening Celebration Tickets Now On Sale

On February 10, 2012, over 50 Northern California breweries will converge on the Concourse in San Francisco for the Opening Celebration of SF Beer Week, which kicks off a nine day marathon of beer tastings, small festivals and food pairing dinners across the Bay Area. From 6-10pm, beer lovers will discover newly minted nanobrewers pouring alongside legendary craft brewing pioneers.

Early bird tickets are now available for $55. Each attendee will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy unlimited samples of new, rare and classic beers. Tickets are expected to go quickly. The event is one of the largest and most anticipated gatherings of the region’s beer community. A complete list of attending breweries will be published in mid January.

This year the Opening Celebration has moved to a larger venue in San Francisco’s SOMA district. The Concourse pavilion will provide a more spacious experience, easier access to the breweries and more food options will be available. Artisan producers from around the Bay will serve up a range of delicious choices for purchase, while live music fills the air.

Act now and secure your tickets to what will be one of the most memorable beer events of the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


PHILADELPHIA, PA - The only way to take a stand is to start costing them money! 
Starting December 21th and every Wednesday thereon, Dock Street Brewery will not pay out to the One Percent.
Every time you make a payment with your credit or debit card, businesses have to pay fees to the credit card companies. Operating on a cash-only system allows us to keep the money in the pockets of the 99%. This is why Dock Street Brewery will not accept credit or debit cards on Wednesdays. Since we aren't paying credit card fees we will pass that saving on to you . We will give everyone a 3% discount.... just for using cash.  All day and night, everything will cost 3% less AND you will be keeping the movement alive!
One of the most recent issues to affect Occupy Philly is the eviction from City Hall.  As free thinkers, we realize the value of a space to convene and arouse momentum. Occupiers and Supporters, come take warmth in a beer at Dock Street. Leave your credit Cards home and make a statement. Hit them where it hurts!
PS. In case you forget cash, there's an atm machine across the street from Dock Street.

Which Beer Is Heineken's Key To Conquering The US Market?

Heineken has been losing ground in the US lately, as brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev's Stella Artois take the country by storm.

But one of Heineken's beer brands is on a big hot streak, and it's not Heineken or Heineken Light.

It's Dos Equis.

Sales are up 17% in the quarter, in stark contrast to the 2% decline in the industry and 1% decline for Heineken's flagship brand, reports Clementine Fletcher at Bloomberg. Heineken's head in the Americas John Nicolson told Fletcher that Dos Equis is his company's "shining star."

What's been Dos Equis' driving force?

"The Most Interesting Man In The World" ads have worked spectacularly well, and have developed somewhat of a cult following in the US. The social campaign around the ads, based at, has also been successful.

Also, the brand has developed a particularly broad base of followers. It's not limited to a craft beer niche or a American beer taste stigma.

Impressive, especially for a once-tiny Mexican beer brand. It's made by Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery in Mexico, which was bought by Heineken in 2010. 


Moylan’s Brewery and Restaurant Recognized for it’s Superior Stout Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout Celebrates a Great Year

Novato, CA-- The Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout from Moylan’s Brewery and Restaurant is enjoying one of it’s best years on the beer awards circuit. In October 2011, the imperial stout received a silver medal at the 8th Annual European Beer Star Competition, held in Munich Germany.  1,113 beers were submitted, an increase of 16% over 2010. The jury that chose the world's best beers in all 49 beer categories consisted of almost 100 Brewmasters, beer sommeliers and specialized journalists from 26 countries. This imperial stout was awarded a bronze in the 2010 competition. In addition, it was awarded top honors at the 2011 years Australian Beer Awards, assisting Moylan’s Brewery with it’s move into the international brewing spotlight. Moylan’s beer can be found in 35 states, 5 foreign countries and 2 U.S. territories. For more information about Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant visit

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Ten: Craft beer themes of 2011

PHILADELPHIA, December 16, 2011 – 2011 may not have seen much in the way of brand new industry-wide development or innovation. However, that did not stop the following list of themes from continuing to grow deeper roots and being taken to a continually widening audience.

10. Eat, Drink, Food, Beer

The concept of centering a dinner around a beer theme has grown over the past several years and seemed to explode across the beer landscape in 2011. Pizza shops paired Italian craft beers with a variety of pizzas. Fine dining restaurants and award-winning chefs created multi-course gastronomical affairs with some of the country's leading brew masters. Cheesemongers set up tastings to highlight the more-often-than-not superiority of beer pairings than that of wine. From region to region and across the spectrum of dining options, the way in which beer is enjoyed is changing and the idea of beer and food compatibility has become more accepted and appreciated than ever.

9. Better with age?

Beer enthusiasts have stashed away some of their beers in hopes of discovering a drinkable product better than when it was first delivered fresh from the brewery. A blended Lambic beer like Boon Mariage Parfait from 2004 has a bottle stamp proclaiming it "best by" the year 2028. In recent years, the better beer bars of the mid-Atlantic – ChurchKey (Washington), Monk's Café (Philadelphia), and Max's (Baltimore) to name just three – have carved out a special nook on their beer menus to showcase their own cellaring programs and the wondrous potential of aged beer. Certain beers age differently and sometimes better than others; beer enthusiasts are having a blast trying to figure out which beers.
8. Keep it fresh, keep it local

Farm fresh and local are terms that are difficult to miss in the lexicon of today's food and beverage. As the beer-drinking public becomes more aware that beer, in essence, is a food product, they have come to better understand the value of sourcing ingredients as locally as possible and that fresher beer is almost always (exception: see #9) better. Next time you travel, search out a brewery and sample their beer fresh at the source, then buy one from your local bottle shop at home and see if you can tell the difference.

7. Beer makes you more social

Once upon a time (in the old days of the Internet, circa 2005), I had high hopes of running a web-based service that would catalog all the draft beer available around the Philadelphia region and, eventually, beyond. The thinking was along the lines of "Who wouldn't want to know, before hitting the town, where they could find a great beer during the night?" and "Wouldn't publicans want this form of advertising their rock star beer lists?" Well, I never saw the idea through and perhaps I was just a bit ahead of the time. Fast forward to 2011 with Facebook and Twitter an integral part of many business marketing approaches. And in every other corner of the Internet, mobile apps, taplists/beer finders, beer rating sites, and other social media services have sprung up to tie together breweries, bars, and consumers like never before.

6. Collaboration, not litigation

Once upon a time, Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colo.) put aside the less-than-human corporate side of their businesses and took a human approach to dealing with a beer that they each brewed under the same name: Salvation. Vinnie Cilurzo and Adam Avery joined up to brew Collaboration, Not Litigation, a strong and dark Belgian ale that is still on the market five years after it was first conceived. Lawsuits and threatened litigation over brand names, images, and the like have popped up a bit more in recent years than make many craft beer aficionados comfortable. But, collaborations have become even more common. Collaborations between star chefs and brewers (e.g. Jose Garces and Victory Brewing), between domestic craft brewers (e.g. Allagash and New Belgium breweries), and even between American craft brewers and overseas brewers (e.g. Stillwater and Denmark's Mikkeller breweries) continued in 2011 to the delight craft beer lovers. Now if only our friends in Washington could collaborate as well on legislation.

5. Drink a sour beer to chase away the blues

Drinking intentionally soured, tart, or otherwise funk-ified beer might initially strike one about as odd as a grandfather's attraction to limburger cheese and sardines. But, once the brain is wrapped around the idea that a beer can be, indeed, excellent when presenting flavors and aromas described as funky, tart, sour, barnyard, horse blanket, and yes, even locker room, the possibilities are endless for discovering some of the most amazing beers that many have never tried. Many of these beers have their roots in the open fermentation breweries of Belgium and some, particularly the tart ones, are considered good "gateway" beers for new beer drinkers.

4. When a glass jug is not just a jug

For years, the word growler, and derivations thereof, has been one of the top search engine keyword referrals over at my blog, The Brew Lounge. It has not been until recently that the little brown jug has gained more widespread recognition and acceptance. Cross-eyed glances used to shoot in the direction of a bar patron leaving with a 64-ounce brown jug of freshly-poured draft beer in hand to enjoy later at home. Now, growlers show up in any brewery or beer bar worth their hops.

3. Drinking with the seasons

India Pale Ales are still enormously popular in the craft beer segment. But add together Bock, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin, Fresh Hop Harvest, and Christmas beers under the umbrella term "seasonal" and it creates the largest sales segment of the craft beer industry. It underscores not only the popularity of the myriad flavors and aromas presented by beer, but illustrates the consumer's willingness to vary their beer drinking preferences throughout the year.

2. Everything but the kitchen sink

Tying together #8 and #3 here into #2 is the practice of incorporating more ingredients and, hence, more flavors and aromas into beer than ever before. While perching a piece of fruit on the rim of the glass is, generally speaking, still verboten, herbs, spices, chocolate, salt, and more than just the traditional flavors from malt, hops, and yeast are filling the brewer's canvas with endless possibilities. Apples, chocolate, cinnamon, coriander, elderflowers, figs, hibiscus flowers, honey, lavender, oak, orange peel, persimmon, rose hips, rhubarb, toasted pear wood, and white peaches give you just a few ideas from the creative recipe-bending that brewers are undertaking in 2011.

1. Growth upon growth

The large, industrial segment of the brewing industry continued its annual slide in 2011. Meanwhile, the craft segment (less than six million barrels of annual beer production) strung together another banner year. Well-established breweries like Brooklyn, Captain Lawrence, and Tröegs increased capacity and production in 2011, adding new kettles and fermentation tanks – and in some cases moving to new locations – while doing their part to boost local economies. However, the real eye-opener is the smallest niche of this niche industry: nanobreweries. While the term rankles some, it does convey that these are the smallest of small brewers. Brewers that often must keep their day jobs to make ends meet. After a roughly 10% increase in the number of U.S. breweries in 2010 over 2009, there are reportedly at least several hundred more in various stages of planning and development in mid-2011, many of them of the nanobrewery size (generally described as less then three barrel batches of beer at a time). How many survive remains to be seen; however, it underscores the spectacular growth that the craft segment of the beer industry continues to enjoy and opportunities that it presents.
After another strong year of craft beer growth, time will tell what 2012 has in store for the beer-loving masses. It should continue to be a wild, fun, and fascinating ride.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

More gift ideas for beer lovers

If you’re like me, you have at least one person on your holiday shopping list that you feel obligated to get a present for, but don’t know them well enough to know what to buy.  If that someone on your list is a fan of good beer, this is your lucky day.  Here are some surefire gifts that any self respecting beer connoisseur will be happy to receive.

1.      The Oxford Companion to Beer- The ultimate beer reference guide from A to Z.  This book can answer every question you have about beer.  I have seen it priced as low as twenty five, and as high as sixty five; definitely shop around.

2.      Iphone 4s beer bottle opener phone case.  This is an “app” I can get behind.  Practical, and always on you, not to mention a great conversation piece at your next New Years Eve party. Available at

3.      Bottle shop gift certificate-This may seem like a generic and impersonal gift to give, but believe me, beer nuts will love it.  With craft breweries continuing to push the bounds of creativity, specialty and anniversary beers can get expensive.  That’s not to say they aren’t worth it, but there are many beer lovers (like me) who are hesitant to plunk down twenty something dollars for a beer they have never tried.  The gift certificate is the perfect excuse to try some beers I might not otherwise purchase on my own.  There is also the possibility said recipient will use that gift certificate to fill up a growler on the way to your house. Some noteworthy local shops are 99 Bottles in Federal Way, Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown, Malt and Vine in Redmond, and Chuck’s on 85th in Greenwood.

4.      Firestone XV-This is one of those specialty beers mentioned above that I buy every year (unless someone gets it for me) no matter what.  The Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles, California releases their anniversary ale just in time for the holidays.  Different every year, and comprised of a blend of about eight different beers this is a beer to celebrate with.  It comes in a cool gift box, and has an explanation of the beers inside.   True elegance in a bottle.

5.      Fancy beer and glassware package- More and more breweries these days are packaging a Holiday/specialty beer with the appropriate glassware included.  The St. Bernadus gift pack from Belgium is a can’t miss.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Molson Golden - Molson Brewery - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Ahh, it's the holidays, and that means drinking large quantities of beer with family and friends. With that in mind, this holiday season has me turning to some old favorites from my hometown of Montreal, Quebec. It may not be the craftiest of brands, but Molson does put out some of the most consistent Mega-Brews. Tonight's featured brand is Molson Golden...the "upscale" offering from the Molson Family of beers. Here's what the website had to say:


Molson Golden is a unique blend of ale and lager that delivers the spicy, fruity flavors of ale, combined with the clean, crisp, refreshing qualities of a lager.

 Molson Brewmasters have created a new standard in smoothness with Molson Golden. Each batch is brewed with pure spring water and features a unique two part hopping procedure. Galena hop essences are added in the brewing kettle, followed by the addition of a patented, mild hop after fermentation.



To say that this is a tame beer is not doing it justice. After downing some of the finest craft beers out there, a Golden certainly seems average, but looking at it from the perspective of it's fellow Mega-Brewery Beers such as Coors, Miller and Labatt...the "Golden" does seem to deliver. There is a certain degree of spice with a nice hoppy finish. The pour is smooth, but the head does gather rather loosely. In the end, if you're looking to pick up a case of beer that's going to set you apart from your buddies...then grab a "Golden". But if you're looking to get smacked in the mouth with flavor...then keep looking.


6/10 - An okay brew.

Wis. beer expert honored by his peers

Ray Klimovitz knows his beer.

With just a sip, the 75-year-old rural Chippewa Falls resident can speak extensively about the freshness, ingredients, chemistry and brewing procedure for any beer you put in front of him.

Klimovitz has worked in the beer industry for 50 years, beginning at Carling Brewing Co. in Baltimore in 1961. He has worked as a brewmaster, is a judge at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and works as a consultant for several breweries in Wisconsin.

The Chippewa Falls resident recently was given the Distinguished Life Service Award by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, an organization that dates back to 1887.

While Klimovitiz has a passion for the beer industry, it wasn't his early goal.

"I had a degree in chemistry," he explained. "I just stumbled into it."

Klimovitz landed a job at Carling Brewing Co. in 1961, where he worked in a lab as a quality control manager.

"I knew I wanted to be a brewer," he said.

Klimovitz was promoted to brewmaster in 1972, but he decided to leave Carling in 1976 to take a job with Schlitz in Milwaukee. He then went to Stroh's in Detroit in 1982, where he worked until 1999 when Stroh's shut down. At that point Klimovitz moved to the Chippewa County town of Eagle Point, north of Chippewa Falls, where he continues to work as a consultant for breweries.

"I don't make my own beer. I make enough beer for other people," he said. "I create formulas for them."

For example, a beer manufacturer will tell Klimovitz how he wants a certain new beer to taste. Klimovitz responds by asking for comparison beers with a similar taste. Klimovitz then devises a formula for a new beer with the same flavor qualities as the beers suggested by the brewer.

"It's a great profession to be in," he said.

Beer makers used to be secretive about their brewing processes, but with the growth of craft beers in the 1980s, brewers are more likely to share tips and ideas with each other, he said.

"They've brought the industry back to being fun again," he said. "You can be creative."

As a consultant, Klimovitz travels to breweries in locations like La Crosse or Milwaukee once or twice a month to check the quality of the finished product.

"It will take 1½ hours to go through a client's production," he said.

Klimovitz said that his work on tasting panels has trained him to notice the small differences in beers.
"I have a good sense of taste and smell, and that's helped me throughout my career, that's for sure," he said. "And it hasn't gone away (as I've gotten older.)"

Klimovitz isn't picky about what type of beer he drinks. He is as likely to try a mainstream, well-known brand as he is to drink a specialty beer from a small brewer. He isn't reluctant to send a beer back if he thinks it has been on tap too long.

"That's the key - beer has to stay fresh. It has to stay cold," he said.

In his refrigerator at home recently, Klimovitz had Guinness Black Lager, Alaskan Smoked Porter, a German beer named Kraftig and a California beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Klimovitz has no plans to cut back on his work. He enjoys it too much.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It keeps me involved."