Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Suds of the South beer festival March 10th at Wilhagan's of Tuscaloosa

On Saturday, March 10th at 4 pm, Wilhagan's of Tuscaloosa (2209 4th Street) will be holding the third annual Suds of the South beer festival.

“Suds of the South” is a beer festival that celebrates the amazing breweries we have in Southeast by showcasing the stellar beers being brewed in the region.  You can expect to see regular offerings and seasonals from our area's brewers, but several of the breweries will also be bringing special cask and small batch offerings specifically for this event.  Although they do focus on local breweries at this festival, Suds of the South invites a brewery from outside of the region to be what they call a "Southern Sympathizer".  This year's sympathizer will be Tallgrass Brewing Company of Manhattan, Kansas.

Here is the full list of breweries attending the festival and the tentative beer list:


Avondale Brewing Company (Birmingham)

Spring Street Saison
more listed as event get closer

Back Forty Beer Company (Gadsden)

Naked Pig Pale Ale
Kudzu Porter
Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale
Freckle Belly IPA
 Special rare batch announced the week before

Blue Pants Brewery (Huntsville)

Knickerbocker Red
more listed as event get closer

Good People Brewing Company (Birmingham)

Brown Ale
Coffee Oatmeal Stout
Special rare batch announced the week before

Straight to Ale (Huntsville)

Monkeynaut IPA
Lily Flagg Milk Stout
Montesano Maibock
Rocket City Red Irish Red Ale
Special rare batch announced the week before

Yellowhammer Brewing (Huntsville)

Yellowhammer White
more listed as event get closer


SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta)

420 Extra Pale Ale

Terrapin Beer Company (Athens)

Hop Karma Brown India Pale Ale
Rye Pale Ale
Hopsecutioner IPA
Special rare batch announced the week before


Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville)

Hop Project
Sly Rye Porter
Special Cask announced week before event


Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company (Kiln)

Jefferson Stout
Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale
Basil, Pineapple and Grapefruit Deep South Pale Ale


Abita Brewing Company (Abita Springs)

Purple Haze
Jockamo IPA
NOLA Brewing (New Orleans)

NOLA Blonde Ale
Hopitoulas IPA
Special rare batch announced the week before

North Carolina

Highland Brewing Company (Asheville)

Gaelic Ale
Oatmeal Porter
Kashmir IPA
Southern Sympathizer

Tallgrass Brewing Company (Manhattan, Kansas)

8 Bit Hop Rocketed Pale Ale
Velvet Rooster Belgian-style Tripel
Buffalo Sweat

Price of admission to Suds of the South gets you a keepsake glass and beer samples during the event.  Tickets are currently available online and you can arrange them by clicking here.  There are still some "Early Bird" tickets left for the price of $20 at that link.  Once those run out, tickets will only be available online for $25.  A limited amount of hard copy tickets also went on sale today for $20 (cash only), and they are available at Alcove Tavern, Corks and Tops, and Wilhagan's.  This event does act as a fundraiser for Free the Hops, so a portion of the proceeds will benefit the organization.

Suds of the South has proven to be a great time and wonderful event over the last couple of years, and I am sure this year will be better than ever.  So, if you are free on March 10th, make the short drive down to Tuscaloosa for good times celebrating great, local craft beer.  Prost!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy Arrives Early

The Chippewa Falls, WI-based Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is celebrating “Leap Day” by bringing warm weather refresher, Summer Shandy, out of hibernation early. Typically not on shelves until late March, Leinenkugel’s will roll out the seasonal brew on Feb. 29. An adventurous blend of select malted wheat and barley, lemonade flavor and a hint of Wisconsin honey, Summer Shandy is available nationwide in cans, bottles and on draft.

Leinie’s Summer Shandy, the first shandy-style brew in the United States, experienced an impressive 80 percent growth in 2011. When autumn rolled around, many Shandy fanatics stocked up on as much as they could for the off-season. Since then, Leinie fans have anxiously awaited its return.

“Summer Shandy has captured the imagination of fans who want a refreshing light-bodied beer – the ultimate combination of craft beer and refreshment,” said Jake Leinenkugel, fifth generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. “We’re excited to celebrate this leap year by giving our fans an early taste of summer.”

The “shandy” (which is short for “shandygaff”) as it’s called in England and Germany, is typically a mixture of beer and soda or lemonade. The drink has been enjoyed across Europe since the 17th century. Another variation of a shandy is the “radler,” which is a German term for cyclist. In September 1922, Franz Xaver Kugler developed the radler, when approximately 13,000 cyclists visited his tavern in Munich. His beer supply started to run out, so he cleverly mixed the remaining beer with lemonade and claimed to have created the blend especially for the cyclists.

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy features a tangy character with malty undertones of hops. Its tart lemonade flavor complements spicy and robust grilling dishes, and its subtle hoppiness creates the perfect balance for salads.

Summer Shandy will be available where Leinenkugel’s is sold in 12-pack 12-oz. cans, 6 and 12-pack bottles and on draft. Summer Shandy retails for approximately $6.99 to $7.99 a 6-pack.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicago-based bar creates Anthony Bourdain-inspired beer

Developed and brewed by Local Option at Against the Grain Brewery in Louisville, KY, this Vienna style lager was inspired by and pays homage to world-renown chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain.

This premium red lager was brewed with the highest quality German Pilsner, Melanoidin and Amber malts; perfectly balanced with the German hop triumvirate of Magnum, Perle and Tettnang; and fermented with a crisp, clean, lager yeast. Anthony of Bourdainia is a formidable beer to be enjoyed with or without food.

Style: Vienna/Red Lager
Brewed By: Local Option Bierwerker, Chicago, IL
Brewed At: Against The Grain Brewery, Louisville, KY
ABV: 5.5%
Serve in: Lager glass
Serving Temperature: 45°F, 7.2°C
Available on Draft Only

Local Option Bierwerker:

Against The Grain Brewery:

Sacramento Beer Week: February 24 - March 4

(Sacramento, CA) – Sacramento’s Third Annual Beer Week (SBW) is Friday, February 24 through Sunday, March 4, and will host over 300 exciting beer tasting events and delicious food experiences around the Sacramento area. SBW is a week to celebrate our rich Sacramento beer culture. SBW extensive list of pub, brewery, and restaurant participants will be offering great lunch, dinner, and brunch specials to showcase their delectable cuisine that are perfectly paired with all types of beer. SBW enthusiasts can also partake in a slew of great events such as educational events, brewery showcases, beer tastings, pub-crawls, and even a week long scavenger hunt to where beer lovers can compete for exciting prizes.

“Sacramento is a boomtown for craft beer”, said Founder and Executive Director Dan Scott. "This year, we have more than 20 breweries attending our Sacramento Brewers Showcase, all located within about a one-hour drive. Since last year’s SBW, three new brewing companies have opened within city limits and two more in our metro area. I am thrilled with Sacramento’s growing position in the industry, and our thirsty beer lovers feel the same way.”

Sacramento Beer Week Events Not to Miss

The Sacramento Brewers Showcase | February 25 | Cal Expo | 12:00pm

The Sacramento Brewers Showcase is a great opportunity for attendees to sample 20 local Sacramento brews and beers exclusive to SBW. This event is a great social event to meet the faces behind the breweries, listen to musical performances by local artists, and sample small plates by culinary artists. Sacramento Brewers Showcase tickets are $20.

The Capital Beerfest | February 25 | Cal Expo | 3:00pm

Capital Beerfest will feature over 80 rare and unique brews from breweries around the world. The Capital Beerfest extravaganza provides unlimited tasting along with music, food, and cool beer stuff for sale. SBW always emphasizes the importance and education of responsible drinking and will provide free shuttles to and from Midtown Sacramento to Cal Expo. Capital Beerfest tickets are $40 for General Admission.

For tickets, and information visit, or for interviews and more information call Sarah Carballo at 916-448-1104.

Sacramento Beer Week | Dan Scott | |

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dogfish Head Twenty Faithful Ale - The Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Milton, DE

Why do we search out the finest Craft Beers? Is it because it’s the hip thing to drink? No, it has nothing to do with the hipness. Is it because it enables us to rub elbows with Beer Geeks all over the world? No, that would mean that it’s all for the conversation, and there are better things to do with a fine brew than talk about it. Nope, I believe it’s because we, as a beer community, truly feel that a well-brewed beverage, made with the finest ingredients, and a loving approach to the process, is worth chasing after. Dogfish has cracked the code. They consistently put out some of the finest, most creative brews out there. 

Tonight, I’m reviewing their tribute to Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary as a band…Faithful Ale. Here’s what the website had to say:


Availability:  Limited
ABV: 7.0
IBU: 20

Faithfull Ale is a celebration of Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary as a band and its extraordinary debut album, "Ten." In recognition of these milestones, this Belgian-style golden ale is delicately hopped to 20 IBUs and fruit-forward from 10 incremental additions of black currants over a one-hour boil. Faithfull clocks in at 7% ABV.

"To me, 'Ten' is the perfect example of a record-lover's-record. The whole thing rocks," says Dogfish Head President & Founder Sam Calagione. "As an off-centered brewery, we believe in celebrating the breadth of our whole portfolio and we feel an affinity for Pearl Jam a long-player band in a singles-obsessed world."

Faithfull Ale is the third beer in our Music Series, following our Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew and our beer tribute to blues man Robert Johnson, Hellhound On My Ale.

For more on the band and their 20th anniversary celebration, visit and


The story of Dogfish Head began in June of 1995 when we opened Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, the first state's first brewpub opened in the resort beach community of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The plan was to bring original beer, original food, and original music to the area.

Not only was Dogfish Head Delaware’s first brewpub, it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. Our very first batch, Shelter Pale Ale, was brewed on a system which essentially was three little kegs with propane burners underneath. Brewing 12–gallon batches of beer for a whole restaurant proved to be more than a full time job. When the doors to the pub first opened, we brewed three times a day, five days a week! The one benefit to brewing on such a small system was the ability to try out a myriad of different recipes. We quickly got bored brewing the same things over and over – that’s when we started adding all sorts of weird ingredients and getting kind of crazy with the beers!

The beer wasn't the brewpub’s only draw. The pub's menu centered on a wood-burning grill. We soon became known as the place to enjoy fresh grilled seafood, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. The wood–burning grill imparts a unique flavor to everything on the menu, whether it's a hearty sandwich, a delicate piece of fish or our signature pizza dough.

With the popularity of the pub growing, it was quickly apparent that the 12–gallon brewery would not keep up with demand. We built a new brewery and underwent a thirty-fold expansion of the brew house!

The reputation of Dogfish Head ales quickly grew beyond Delaware's borders. Calls from Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and beyond poured in, as thirsty restaurant patrons demanded their favorite beach beer at home. We began bottling our Shelter Pale Ale in 1996 and just 1 year later we expanded again – this time we separated the packaging operation from the restaurant, and kept on brewing! By 1999, we were up to five year–round bottled brands in about a dozen states.

We outgrew our distributing brewery in a couple years and in the summer of 2002; we moved our entire production brewery up the road to Milton, Delaware into a 100,000 square foot converted cannery. Around the same time (just to keep thing interesting), we built a distillery on the second floor of our Rehoboth Beach brewpub, so we could make vodka, rum and gin.

Thanks to all our employees and every one of our customers, Dogfish Head continues to grow today! We’re now up to nearly 20 styles of beer that are sold in more than 25 states, and a half–dozen kinds of hand–crafted spirits... and we still have some ideas in the back of our collective heads.

If you haven’t had the chance to taste Dogfish Head... find a beer, track down one of our spirits – or visit one of our restaurants! You will see why international beer writer Michael Jackson calls Dogfish Head "America's most interesting and adventurous small brewery."



Here in Northern New this time of's cold. In fact, it's really cold. It's for this reason that I'm a little partial to darker, thicker, more hopped up brews when the temperature outside hovers around twenty...much like today. I'm not usually in the mood for the refreshing, light taste, of a Belgian brew, when the smell of the ice rink still lingers in my clothes. The fruit overtones just seem to be more in line with the warmth of a Spring afternoon. That said, Dogfish Head has put forth one hell of a brew in their Faithful Ale. The pour was light, with a promise of a refreshing taste. The head was quick to form, and seemed to fade evenly, and not too quickly. As for the taste, you can clearly detect, as well as smell, the easy-going fruit overtones. The brew is not too bold, but rather smooth as silk, with no aftertaste. It's a wonderful tribute to one of the finest Band's around. I don't care if it gives away my age...Pearl Jam is, and will forever be, one of the last true Rock Bands to grace a stage. Seek this one out if you can.


8/10 - Seek it out if you can

Friday, February 24, 2012

Craft Brewers Well Represented in James Beard Award Semi-Finalist List

The 2012 James Beard Awards semi-finalists list has been released, and more craft brewers than ever before have been nominated for this internationally recognized achievement in the category of Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professionals.

Receiving a Beard Award is the highest honor one can receive within the food and beverage industry in America. 

"It's so cool that this year there are more craft brewers that made the list than in any previous years the awards have existed," said Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. "It shows that craft beer has truly gained respect in the culinary world."

Nominated Craft Beer Professionals

Sam Calagione | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery | Milton, Delaware
Ken Grossman | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. | Chico, California
Jim Koch | Boston Beer Company | Boston, Massachusetts
Garrett Oliver | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
Sean Lilly Wilson | Fullsteam | Durham, North Carolina
Greg Engert | Beer Director of Neighborhood Restaurant Group

The finalists will be announced on March 19, and the awards ceremony will be held on May 7, at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA - The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Chico, CA

The West Coast...sometimes, I really miss it. I miss the Pacific Ocean, the Mountains, the music and the attitude. There's just something about the Left Coast that exudes a certain independence amongst those that call it home. Here on the East Coast...America began, but when those who wanted to just get away from it all and live by there own rules wanted a change...they headed West to cities like Seattle, Gig Harbor, Eugene, Solvang...and Chico. these were pioneers and mavericks...and I miss them. Fortunately for me, The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is available...pretty much everywhere. So if I want a taste of the West Coast's only a short walk to my local brew shop. Tonight, I'm reviewing their Torpedo...a brew that promises a heavy dose of hops, along with a taste that will set your spirit free. Here's what the website had to say:


Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a big American IPA; bold, assertive, and full of flavor highlighting the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.

Around here, we take hops pretty seriously, which is why we weren’t satisfied with the standard method of dry hopping for our first year-round IPA. We spent years tinkering; tasting, and tweaking ways to get the biggest and best hop flavors and aromas into our beer.

Our persistence has paid off. Our obsession with harnessing huge hop flavor led to the development of what we call the hop torpedo, a revolutionary method of dry-hopping designed, built, and debuted here at the brewery. Our torpedo is a sleek, stainless steel piece of hardware that delivers more pure hop aroma than any method of dry-hopping we’ve ever seen. Like all our beers, Torpedo Extra IPA uses only the best whole-cone hops possible making this delicious ale worth the wait.

ENDING GRAVITY: 4.2 PLATO           
BITTERNESS UNITS: 65           


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.


Energy Generation – Solar Power

In December 2008, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. completed what is now one of the largest privately owned solar installations in the country.  Our solar system consists of two layouts– a carport array and a roof top array. The carport array was commissioned in September 2007.  It includes 2,288 Sunpower photovoltaic panels, each with a 225-watt capacity, and a total potential electricity output of 503 kW DC.  A single axis sun tracking system allows the panels to follow the sun throughout the day, making the system 30% more efficient than a stationary system.

Installation of the roof top array began almost immediately after the carport system. It was completed in two phases and commissioned in December 2008.  The system includes 7,688 Mitsubishi, 185-watt photovoltaic panels.  The system is capable of providing an additional 1.42 Megawatts of DC electricity to the facility. Solar panels have also been installed on our onsite daycare facility and rail facility.  The daycare has a 28 panel system with a 5.18 kW DC capacity that provided 100% of the center’s electricity in 2010. The rail spur has 76 panels with a 14 kW DC capacity that will produce more than 100% of the rail spur’s electricity needs.

The roof of a new cold storage warehouse, completed in late 2010, is slated to be covered with solar panels in 2011, adding an additional 110 kW of solar power. 
Altogether, Sierra Nevada’s solar systems are currently capable of producing 1.94 Megawatts DC and include over 10,000 individual photovoltaic panels.  In 2010, they produced 2,635,869 kWh, or 19% of our total electricity needs—roughly equivalent to powering 265 average American households. 

Energy Generation – Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

In 2005, Sierra Nevada became the first brewing operation in the United States to install hydrogen fuel cells.  The onsite facility consists of four 300 kW Fuel Cell Energy units that together are capable of generating 1.2 Megawatts of DC electricity.  The fuel cells run on natural gas and have the potential to be more efficient by using the biogas generated at our onsite water treatment facility; we are currently exploring the infrastructure needed to make this happen. To enhance the fuel cell’s efficiency, we added heat recovery units that recover the 750°F exhaust leaving the units and produce steam that is recycled back into the brewing process.  The heat recovery units add 15% efficiency to the installation. In 2010, the fuel cells produced 6,639,821 kWh or 48% of our electricity needs—roughly equivalent to powering 665 average American households.

Energy From Recovered Biogas

Our waste water treatment process, described in detail in the next section, includes an anaerobic digester that breaks down organic materials in an oxygen-deprived environment and produces a methane-rich biogas.  A recovery system captures this gas and sends it to fuel our boilers to offset the natural gas needed to run the system.  This lowers our natural gas utility consumption and cost while reducing   greenhouse gas emissions.



I love beer! I really do love it. I love when complex flavors tease my taste buds, and when beer is so much more than something to sip on while the hockey game is on. I particularly like a good IPA. I love the hopped up attitude that tickles the senses and promises a bold, not to be taken lightly finish. When I cracked open The Torpedo and it's promise of an EXTRA IPA...I was prepared for the boldest of the bold. Unfortunately, what I got was a pretty average IPA. This is not say that it wasn't good. In fact, it was really good. The pour was crisp, producing a strong, stable head. The coloring was dark and inviting, giving away hints of pine, with an earthy feel to it. The only downside was that it wasn't as bold as I expected...almost as if it was an IPA...for the masses. Now Sierra Nevada is widely distributed, with a large fan base out I guess I shouldn't be surprised by its mainstream attitude. The taste was pure IPA...done really well. It was bold, and finished very just wasn't what you might call an "EXTRA" IPA.


8/10 - Not quite an "EXRA" IPA

Maui, Grand Rapids and Portsmouth all celebrating Beer over the next few months

Maui Brewers Festival

Saturday, May 19 - 2 to 7 pm

Maui Arts & Cultural Center - Yokouchi Pavilion/A&B Amphitheater
Join hosts Maui Brewing Co. and Maui Arts & Cultural Center for a leisurely day under swaying coconut palms, tasting beers from two dozen craft brewers, sampling appetizers from popular Maui restaurants and groovin' to live music by island bands.  General admission per adult includes eight 4oz. pours of beer in keepsake glass, all-you-can-eat food and parking ($45/advance, $55/event day). Happy Hour Package includes the above plus early entry at 2pm for private sampling, reserved parking, amenity gift and more ($75/advance, $85/event day). For tickets, call 808-242-7469 or order online at
Maui Arts & Cultural Center | Karee | |, |

Inaugural Grand Rapids Beer Week: February 20-25

(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) – With a cold bite in the air and a cold pint in hand, beer lovers from all over Michigan and surrounding states will descend on Fifth Third Ballpark just north of Grand Rapids on February 25 for the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival. This year, craft beer fans will have an even better reason to spend an entire week in Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids Beer Week (GRBW) makes its debut this year, during the week leading up to the Winter Beer Festival. Events will take place over the course of five days at locations in and around Grand Rapids. Beer dinners, rare beer tastings, tap takeovers and other unique events are planned.

While the focus is on Michigan beer as a whole, GRBW is a time for Grand Rapids breweries to shine. With seven established breweries within the city limits, (Schmohz, Hopcat, B.O.B.’s Brewery, Founders, The Hideout, and Brewery Vivant), and several more on the horizon for 2012 (Harmony Brewing and Elk Brewing to name two), Grand Rapids is quickly becoming a destination for craft beer culture.
Use the Brewery Locator to locate breweries in Michigan and the Grand Rapids area.

Detroit-based Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is producing and marketing GRBW. Liquid Table began Detroit Beer Week in 2009 in cooperation with the Michigan Brewers Guild, piggybacking the Detroit Fall Beer Festival. This concept will be brought to Grand Rapids for the first time this year, in conjunction with the Winter Beer Festival.

“Liquid Table has proven to be uniquely qualified in the organization and promotion of craft beer events,” said Eric Briggeman, President of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “This partnership will continue to further The Guild’s mission of promoting a healthy beer culture in the State of Michigan.”

GRBW events and information will be constantly updated on Facebook. “We have several large events planned for each night of the week,” said Barry Johnson, West Michigan Liaison for Liquid Table. “The wholesalers, breweries, retailers and consumers have been extremely helpful and supportive of our cause. Everyone understands the importance of such a vibrant, growing industry, especially in a down economy—everyone loves beer.” Head to for details.

GRBW culminates with the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, held Saturday, February 25 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park. Roughly 6,000 tickets for the event went on sale December 1, 2011, and sold out in a record three weeks! In addition to the other GRBW events taking place, two charity ticket auctions are scheduled for Thursday, February 23. Head to for details.

About Liquid Table

Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is a privately-owned Detroit-based company. Formed in 2010 by Jon Piepenbrok, Liquid Table focuses on producing and marketing beverage events, including Detroit Beer Week, with a focus on local craft beer, mead, and artisan spirits, as well as providing private beverage services on contract for in-home and private events. The company also offers trade services, such as on- and off-premise consulting, education, marketing, and brand management. For more information, contact

About the Michigan Brewers Guild

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state. Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation, with over 100 current licenses—thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Michigan Brewers Guild / Liquid Table Beverage Solutions

3rd Annual Portsmouth Beer Week

The Portsmouth Beer Week is a celebration of beer, culminating in the release of Kate the Great at the Portsmouth Brewery on Monday, March 5. With the help of local establishments and partnerships with breweries, our goal is the increase Portsmouth’s footprint on the national craft beer map. To get updated information on Twitter, check out#pbw12 and @portsbeerweek and the Seacoast Beverage Lab have teamed up with local establishments to host the 3rd Annual Portsmouth Beer Week. Portsmouth Beer Week is a collective celebration of beer within the Portsmouth community.

Local breweries (including Portsmouth Brewery, Smuttynose, Redhook, and Throwback) and regional breweries have also teamed up with local establishments to provide some unique offerings to their draught lineups. All of this is leading up to Monday which has both ceremoniously and affectionately become know as “Kate the Great Day”.

Our goal is to foster a collaborative environment, so we can push Portsmouth further along into the national eye as the great beer city that we locally know it as. If you want to get involved, please let us know.

Let us help transform your Kate the Great experience into a fantastic beer weekend. Check out the schedule of events and the Portsmouth Beer Week FAQ’s for additional tips and a guide of what’s going on. - @PortsBeerWeek

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest to brew up funds for a good cause: Paso Robles beer festival will feature 40 breweries and raise money for Pioneer Day

Forty microbreweries are slated to pour at the first Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest in Paso Robles on June 9.

The daylong festival was created by several local residents to raise money for Pioneer Day, Paso Robles’ annual celebration of its western heritage.

But the new showcase is also touted as a way to draw attention to craft beer, artisan brews produced in limited quantities, amid San Luis Obispo County’s ever-expanding wine country.

“The wineries take such a front seat, which is great, but we want to become more of a part of the fabric of the community,” said Jamie Smith, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s vice president of marketing.

Booths will be set up at Frontier Town in the Paso Robles Event Center to showcase the beers along with live music and samples from 20 to 30 local restaurants for food pairings.

Firestone Walker’s brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, handpicked which companies to invite with one request — teach the public about the creation process.

“We asked them to bring one brewer so they can come talk about their beers,” Smith said. “Make it about what the beers are over the distribution aspects.”

A few names of those onboard are Three Floyds Brewing in Indiana, Cigar City Brewing in Florida and Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan.

“They make some really excellent beer that is highly sought after and has a fantastic reputation in the brewing world and amongst beer geeks everywhere,” Firestone event manager Tim Miller said.

Denmark’s Mikkeller brewery and Yoho Brewing Co. in Japan will also be among those participating.

Tickets are $60 and are now available at

Firestone Walker, a Paso Robles-based company, the Pioneer Day Committee and several sponsors are putting on the roughly $50,000 event. The net proceeds will benefit Pioneer Day, although organizers say that share may be small this year as the event becomes established.

Plans call for making the showcase an annual festival.


Beijing Brews Up Its Own Craft Beers

With the recent opening of Slow Boat Brewery in Beijing, the city’s number of American-style microbreweries officially doubled — to two. But according to both brewers, there’s a growing and largely untapped market in China’s capital as disposable income rises and beer-swilling residents clamor for more variety at the pub.

Late last year, Slow Boat held an evening tasting of its beers, whose flavor resembles brews of the U.S. Pacific Northwest such as Sierra Nevada. The beer ran out in just 45 minutes, despite the brewery quadrupling its offerings to four kegs from a prior event.

“It was a little embarrassing,” said the brewery’s chief executive Chandler Jurinka, though he added that it was also an encouraging sign of demand.

Mr. Jurinka and Slow Boat co-founder Daniel Hebert are looking to open a tap room and sell their beer directly to local bars and restaurants in the meantime, with each pint typically retailing for about 40 to 50 yuan ($6.35 to $7.90). The brewery currently carries six standard beers, with a new seasonal beer introduced each month. At the moment it produces 60 hectoliters per month — about 100 kegs — but plans to expand to three times that capacity.

Slow Boat Brewery

American Porter, a beer from Slow Boat Brewery, Beijing’s second microbrewery.
The other brewpub in town is Great Leap Brewing, set in a classic hutong in Beijing’s Gulou neighborhood. A brewpub veteran in Beijing terms, it produced its first batch in September 2010 and opened its doors the following month.

Great Leap’s owner, Carl Setzer, has been living in China and Taiwan for eight years and says he took a cautious approach to setting up shop. “Because Beijing had very little in the way of microbrewing and beer culture, we took it slowly,” he said.

Mr. Setzer initially brewed beer on Sundays and opened the brewpub for only three days a week, Thursday through Saturday. His wife helped out while he continued to work full-time as a manager in a consulting firm. Last January, Mr. Setzer left his job to dedicate himself wholly to his beer business.

U.S. microbrew beer exports to China hit a record in 2010, with sales reaching $546,000, five times the level just five years ago, according to figures from the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing. And beer consumption overall is rising, too: SABMiller reported that China saw volume growth in beer consumption of 6% from 2005 to 2010, higher than the world average growth rate of 3.3% or the emerging-market average of 5.7%. In 2010, Chinese drinkers consumed 31 liters per capita, or 40.89 billion liters, according to Credit Suisse.

Great Leap and Slow Boat take differing approaches when it comes to ingredients. Slow Boat uses nearly all imports, including malt, hops and yeast, because it’s “comforting for local Chinese to know the ingredients aren’t Chinese, because of all the food scandals,” Mr. Jurinka said.

By contrast, Great Leap uses local hops and highlights a range of Chinese ingredients, from Sichuan peppercorns and Yunnan coffee beans to organic honey from Shandong province and a variety of teas. ”You don’t have to import quality,” Mr. Setzer said. “You can have good-quality things that are made in China, using existing ingredients.”

That appeals to the local market, he said, because “those people become strong advocates for what we’re doing. It proves you can do well-done, craft, artisan brewing in China without having to make it look American or European.”

Great Leap Brewing

The courtyard of Great Leap Brewing, a brewpub in Beijing’s Gulou district.
Great Leap, which currently produces about 300 kegs a month, usually has a dozen or so beers in stock, ranging from pumpkin and cinnamon-rock ales to oatmeal and mocha stouts, as well as standards like pale and blond ales for 25 to 55 yuan ($4 to $8.70) a serve. Domestic beers like Tsingtao and Yanjing typically retail for about 15 to 30 yuan ($2.38 to $4.76) at bars and restaurants, and closer to 6 yuan ($0.95) in supermarkets.

With the ripe market, Mr. Setzer has his sights set on expansion and expects to move into semi-nationwide distribution of kegs and bottles by the fall, for which the brewery conducted a trial run from September to November last year.

Great Leap’s hutong bar is currently closed for the winter as it focuses on setting up a new distribution facility, but the brewery is still holding pop-up events around Beijing and also has kegs available for order.

Mr. Setzer says he wants the brewery to maintain an artisan product, but doesn’t think the company can avoid going big when “there’s no such thing as a mid-sized company as far as size and scope in China.”

Foreigners are among the breweries’ most loyal customers, but both said they’ve been heartened by interest from locals.

“We didn’t think that would be the case right off,” said Mr. Jurinka, but in Beijing, “the disposable income and wealth levels have reached a level where these things are now accessible.”

With relatively low per-capita rates of beer drinking, China has plenty of room for growth, Mr. Jurinka said. Besides, he added, “Why would you ever order a Tsingtao when you can order a craft beer?


World of Beer Opening in Kendall, FL: 500 Bottles, 50 Beers on Tap

World of Beer is opening its first Miami-Dade location on Tuesday, March 6 at Downtown Dadeland shopping center in Kendall.

What's World of Beer? The name pretty much tells the story. It's a small chain of bars in the south  with headquarters in the Tampa area. Each World of Beer features over 500 different bottled beers and an ever-revolving selection of brews on tap, with around 50 varieties offered at any given time. Selections include small craft beers, stouts, ciders, and seasonal brews.

With such an insane selection, it's gotta be pretty difficult to make up your mind - even if you're a professional beer drinker. That's why WOB staff are trained at a two-week beer school, which sounds like the best school curriculum ever!

WOB offers daily drink specials and theme nights, like the Tuesday Yappy Hour where you and Fido can grab any brew named after a dog for $1 off (think Abita Turbo Dog and Flying Dog, to name a few). Regulars can also get a loyalty card, where beer lovers can rack up points for trying new beers, redeemable for prizes.

The 2,950-square-foot Dadeland location will feature several flat-screen televisions, an outdoor patio and live music Thursday to Saturday. A special pre-opening party exclusively for Facebook followers on Monday, March 5 will offer beer sampling and giveaways.

World of Beer will be open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday - Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday & Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, and noon to 1 a.m. Sunday.

World of Beer
9010 SW 72nd Place, Suite F-101, Miami

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rick Santorum's Beer Money

Rick Santorum might not be the political candidate you'd most associate with a keg party. But during his 12 years in the Senate, few members did more to promote the suds industry's interests in Washington than Santorum.

Big Beer is big business in Pennsylvania, home to major breweries like Rolling Rock, Yuengling, and Keystone. And the beer industry has worked hard to make its voice heard in Washington, channelling millions into lobbying and campaign contributions. From 1995 through 2006, Rick Santorum was one of the upper chamber's biggest beneficiaries of beer industry cash. Wholesalers, brewers, and their top executives filled Santorum's coffers with at least $80,000 in campaign donations. And they got their money's worth: Four times during his two Senate terms Santorum pushed to cut the beer excise tax by half, over the protests of economists and public health experts who say that a lower tax would lead to a loss of revenue and lives.

The beer excise tax isn't the hottest topic on the campaign trail, but it's serious business in Washington, where the alcohol industry spent $79 million on lobbyists between 2001 and 2006 alone. The industry-backed Beer Institute, to take one example, spent $3.9 million on lobbyists over that period, and chief among its goals was reversing a seemingly innocuous piece of the vast federal tax code. Set at the flat rate of $9 per barrel in 1951, the federal excise tax on beer (paid by the brewer) went unchanged for 40 years, until it was raised to $18 per barrel in 1991.

The beer lobby opposed the new standard long before Santorum came on board, and sought willing allies in Washington. In 1997, the New York Times noted that "the politically powerful beer industry has been hoping to persuade Congress to reduce the excise tax on beer." To help win support for repealing the excise tax increase, Anheuser-Busch bankrolled a "Roll Back the Beer Tax" web campaign that launched in 2002, touting the Main Street cred of "Joe & Jane Six Pack: The Average American Beer Drinkers," and leaning on the work of the Beer Institute.

But since the tax is not indexed to inflation, the real tax rate has been steadily eroding since the Eisenhower era; the current rate actually marks a 75 percent decline from its original value, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"The name of the game is to deflect attention at all costs from the fact that really we should be raising beer taxes and the most brilliant way to do that was devised by the beer industry by creating this 'roll back the beer tax' campaign," explains Michele Simon, president of the industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics. Santorum took up the industry's agenda in Congress. "He was just parroting what the beer industry had told him to say," Simon says.

In some cases, almost literally. Santorum's floor speeches and public statements in support of his beer tax repeal measures read like an almost verbatim rehash of industry talking points.

Here's a statement from the Anheuser-Busch-backed website, "In 1990, Congress raised taxes on luxury items like expensive cars, fur coats, jewelry, yachts, and private airplanes and doubled Federal excise taxes on beer. Though most of the luxury taxes were repealed in 1993, the beer tax remains in place."

Here's Santorum in a 1998 floor speech introducing his beer tax repeal bill: "The federal excise tax on beer was doubled as part of the 1991 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act…While taxes on furs, jewelry, and yachts were repealed through subsequent legislation, the federal beer tax remains in place with continued and far reaching negative effects."

Here's Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute: "The tax on beer is one of the most regressive of all taxes in the federal and state tax codes."

And here's Santorum in 1998: "The excise tax on beer is among the most regressive federal taxes"—and again in 2003: "I am proud to once again sponsor a bill to repeal this obsolete and regressive tax on working Americans."

According to Santorum, the tax increase had cost the American economy 50,000 jobs since 1991—including 30,000 in the beer industry itself—and he estimated that 43 percent of the cost of beer was a result of state and federal taxes. Both of those dubious figures have been trumpeted by the Beer Institute, the industry funded shop that adds charts and figures to the beverage industry's talking points.

Santorum, who did not respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones, has defended many of his less palatable legislative pursuits by noting that he was merely sticking up for his constituents. But if today's comparatively tame tax rate is costing the beer industry tens of thousands of jobs, it's tough to see how. The Center for Science in the Public Interest touts Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations showing that from 1990 to 2000—roughly the time period Santorum was fretting about the crippling effect of the excise tax—the Beer wholesaler industry actually added 8,000 jobs, offsetting the 8,000 jobs lost in the beer manufacturing sector (as with the rest of the American economy, the industry has been shedding manufacturing jobs for decades). And despite Santorum's claims, the beer excise tax is a lot less regressive than, say, federal tobacco taxes.

But there's another issue at play here, too. According to public health researchers, when the beer industry saves money, the rest of society ends up picking up the tab.

Lowering the beer excise tax "would lead to an increase of sales of alcohol and an increase in drinking, and that would lead to an associated or proportionate increase in the health problems associated with alcohol," says Alex Wagenaar, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida who has studied the impact of the tax on public health. "It's chronic disease for people that drink heavily, it's also, just for people that occasionally drink more than a very small amount, [an] increased risk for car crashes, pedestrian injuries, fights and assaults and things like that."

That's part of the reason why the Centers for Disease Control recommends increasing excise taxes on all alcohol products. So does Mothers Against Drunk Driving (although the group's focus has been on the state level). In Florida alone, Wagenaar estimates that between 600 to 800 lives could be saved each year if the state's real tax rate was returned to its 1983 level. A 1999 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research posited that "raising the price of alcohol by one percent would decrease the rate of [domestic] abuse by 3.1-3.5%."

Bad policy or not, Santorum wouldn't be the first Republican nominee with deep ties to Big Keg. John McCain's wife, Cindy, owned a majority stake in her family-owned beer distributor, which donated tens of thousands of dollars to the National Beer Wholesalers Association's PAC at a time the organization was locked in a lobbying war with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

You won't hear a peep from Santorum about the excise tax these days, though, and he's made only brief mentions of suds on the campaign trail. He told reporters in Iowa City that he prefers stouts and bocks to IPAs, and last August informed the Des Moines Register's editorial board that calling gay marriage "marriage" was like calling water "beer." (He's clearly never tried Keystone Lite). Santorum might not be the candidate you'd most like to have a beer with. For 12 years in Washington, though, he was the toast of the industry.

Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale - The Great Lakes Brewing Company - Cleveland, OH

When I first moved back to the Northeast, I knew that I was going to have an opportunity to try several beers that just weren't available on the West Coast. I was also prepared to have to spend days trying to hunt down these incredibly tasty libations. You see, contrary to popular belief, the Left Coast isn't the only shoreline that can produce top shelf brews. What I wasn't prepared for, is the fact that one of these outstanding brews would be available in my local "Nice "n Easy" corner store for me to pick up on my way home from my kids Hockey practice.

The Great Lakes Brewing Company was one of the best surprises when I back here. They seem to bottle nothing but quality, and although I had yet to sample their Burning Pale Ale, I was pretty sure that it was going to be something that I would be willing to serve both family and friends. Here's what the website had to say:


Name Origin: This American pale ale garners its fair share of attention around the world—just as the Cuyahoga River did when it suddenly caught fire in 1969 and spurred the introduction of the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Style Origin: Pale ales gradually evolved from an English town called Burton-upon-Trent that was known for its distinctive hard water supply and propensity to brew a lighter-colored beer than was common at the time.

Flavor: Assertively hopped with citrusy and piney Cascade hops



Harrington 2-Row Base Malt: Allows color and flavor from other specialty malts to come through; makes for very clean beer

Crystal 45: Contributes to color and adds sweet caramel aroma and flavor

Crystal 77: Contributes to color and adds slight aroma and flavor

Biscuit: Adds toasty aroma and flavor


Northern Brewer: Traditional bittering hop for English-style ales; provides strong bitterness to complement full flavored pale ales

Cascade: Popular in American pale ales; provides citrusy/grapefruit aroma and flavor

Pairs With: Smoky red meats and aromatic cheeses like Stilton and blue

Shelf Life: 90 days

An assertively hopped American pale ale with citrusy and piney Cascade hops.

6 packs, 12 packs and draft

Gold Medal, 2011 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 2008 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 2007 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 2005 World Beer Championships
Silver Medal, 2002 World Beer Championships
Silver Medal, 2001 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 1996 World Beer Championships
Gold Medal, 1995 World Beer Championships
World Champion, Gold Medal, 1994 World Beer Championships
Silver Medal, 1993 Great American Beer Festival


Brewhouse: The Brewhouse is a two-story facility that features full glass walls to give visitors a view of the stainless steel brewing vessels responsible for the four stages of the brewing process: mashing, lautering, boiling and whirlpooling.

Tank Farm: The Tank Farm warehouses the 300 barrel stainless steel fermentation tanks where beers undergo fermentation, aging and filtration before reaching the bottling line.

Bottling & Packaging Line: The Bottling & Packaging Line is where fresh beer is bottled in brown bottles and packaged in high walled carriers to protect the beer from damaging light. In addition, each bottle is labeled with a consumer friendly freshness date and packaged in eco-friendly carriers and cartons, as well as kegged in half barrels and 1/6 barrels.

Beer Cooler: The Beer Cooler refrigerates the beer immediately after bottling to prevent oxidation from prolonged warm storage. Freshness dates are regularly checked to ensure proper rotation and freshness.

Quality Assurance Labs: We maintain two onsite laboratories for quality assurance - one for physical and chemical tests and one for microbiological work. These labs are capable of performing a broad range of tests and data analyses to help guarantee the quality of the beer being delivered to customers.

Physical/Chemical Lab
In this laboratory, all of the physical and chemical analyses of raw materials and beer in process are performed. These tests include but are not limited to: beer color, beer bitterness, alcohol content, haze stability, hop aromatic oils and malt modification. Data from the lab is used to adjust the process to guarantee a consistent, high quality beer.

Microbiological Lab
The production of beer is a microbiological process. Microscopic single-celled organisms (yeast) metabolize sugar and produce ethanol (alcohol), carbon dioxide and other chemicals recognized as "beer" flavor. In this lab, the technicians monitor the fermentation process and combine this data with physical and chemical tests to ensure proper flavor is achieved in the beers. Lab technicians also check for the presence of other organisms such as bacteria (non-harmful to humans) that may cause the beer to develop a sour or "off" flavor.

A Discerning Difference
Recognized as one of the finest regional craft breweries in the country, we continue to make a name for ourselves by ensuring that an uncompromising pursuit of superior taste differentiates our products from the rest of the market. To make sure that products are stored correctly on retailer shelves, we maintain a team of area managers and field sales representatives who regularly monitor product storage and freshness in the field. "Imports run the risk of growing stale by the time they reach the United States, and preservative-laden, highly pasteurized beers tend to offer less than full-bodied taste," Patrick Conway notes. "Our fresh product positions us as a very strong player among discerning craft brew consumers."

Exceptional Measures Ensure Top-of-Line Quality
We continuously look for opportunities to provide customers with the highest quality, freshest beer possible. Every aspect of the process from raw materials to packaging undergoes stringent quality checks and must be approved by both quality and production teams before use.

Brewery Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Brewery Contact Information
Great Lakes Brewing Company
1947 West 28th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216.771.2799 (fax)



Well, once again, The Great Lakes Brewing Company impresses me. Just when I thought that I had found my favorite, they roll out another for me to sample and it equals or surpasses the last. In The Burning River Pale Ale, the citrus is very apparent, as is the pine-like overtone. The pour was smooth as silk, producing a nice strong head. This locked in that burst of flavor. I could definitely detect the pine and grapefruit, and it was not overdone, which is nice to see for a change. This brewery just seems to get it right all of the time. Burning River is no exception. Seek it out!


8/10 - Seek it out!

Strong Beer Fest 2012: Totally Worth the Wait

By the looks of the lines, the fact that Tops Liquor went through 5000 bottles of water, and the throbbing pain in many a forehead, I'd say the 2012 Strong Beer Fest in Phoenix was a success.

Read on for details of the best -- and not-so-best -- beers of the day.

Saturday's sold out event drew somewhere close to 4000 people out of their local bars and away from their TVs to enjoy a perfect 70 degree day while getting hammered on strong beer samples from about 75 breweries.

Unlike last year's Strong Beer Fest (a rain-soaked adventure for those that braved the weather), the people were out in full force, which created a rather intimidating line to gain access to all the beer waiting inside the chain-link fence. Thankfully, the lines moved quickly and people didn't end up standing outside thirsty for more then 15 minutes. Once they made it inside, it was game on!

Four Peaks stole the show with one of the longest lines and the most beer. The local boys brought 13 different brews including their wine barrel aged Belgium Black, the infamous bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Sirus Black, and one of the favorites of the day -- the ML209 West Coast Malt Liquor.

The Odell Brewing truck seemed to be the second favorite of the day and with good reason. The Colorado brewing company brought several of their best beers out including the delicious Footloose (a strong, unique sour brew that I'd never heard of), T.A.P. (totally awesome pale), and they even tapped one tiny keg of Footprint (a rare beer brewed with one ingredient from 10 states including Arizona prickly pear and green chilies from New Mexico).

Another local favorite was the Baconator from some new kids on the Flagstaff beer block, Mother Road brewing.

Tucson Brewery Borderlands brought their sustainably brewed Ol' Loco (a kind of fruity beer) and the unforgettable Noche Dulce. The super dark vanilla porter has more vanilla bean flavor then any other beer.

Other breweries that deserve a mention -- Port Brewing's “Boob Shaka Laka”, The Bruery's “White Orchid” and Left Hand's “Nitro Stout”.

All in all it was a great day. Can't wait till next year!