Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays from My Journey Through Beer

Well, 2012 is coming to a close. I have a special brew picked out for tomorrow night (just in case), and the Holidays are yet again upon us. Here at MJTB, we would like to thank everyone who has been loyal to the site over the past year. I still cannot believe that we get so much traffic, but I certainly am thankful that our most loyal readers keep coming back for more.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the readers (you guys and gals are awesome), the editor at Gig Harbor Life (which has recently brought My Journey Through Beer to print), and especially my family who consistently put up with what was originally a hobby, but which seems to have grown into much more of a lifestyle.

As for 2013, MJTB will continue to focus on the world of Craft Beer, but from a far more West Coast approach. Our plan is to focus more on Craft Beer from Washington, Oregon and California...with an occasional nod to our East Coast brethren. This will mean more regional coverage, as well as West Coast festivals and events.

Other than that, this closes out 2012. It's been a great year, and I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday, and a prosperous New Year.

We'll see you in 2013...unless the Mayans mess up everything.


Port Brewing Announces “Board Meeting”


SAN MARCOS, CA — Award-winning craft brewery Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey today announced a new addition to its portfolio produced under the company’s Port Brewing label. Board Meeting Brown Ale, an imperial brown ale brewed with coffee and cocoa nibs, will join Port favorites Wipeout IPA, Shark Attack Imperial Red, Old Viscosity and Mongo Double IPA, as a year-round offering from the brewery in February 2013. It is the first new beer to be added to the Port Brewing regular line-up since Mongo’s release in early 2010.

“Between our Lost Abbey and Port Brewing labels we produce a really broad variety of beers; over three dozen in all,” said Port Brewing director of brewery operations, Tomme Arthur. “Interestingly, we’ve never produced a brown ale, so Board Meeting seemed a natural fit in our portfolio.”

Port Brewing beers are typically boldly-flavored American and hop-forward West Coast style ales or lagers, and Board Meeting Brown Ale is no exception. An amplified brown ale, the beer is brewed with liberal additions of coffee from local San Diego roasters, Ryan Brothers, and cocoa nibs sourced from famed San Francisco chocolate maker TCHO. Alcohol by volume is 8.5%.

“Board Meeting offers the malty richness and assertive hop presence that you expect in an American brown ale, but enhanced with pronounced roasted coffee and bitter chocolate aromas and flavors,” Arthur said. “I think people will enjoy this beer by itself and at the table paired with meat dishes like pork, roasts and barbeque. I imagine it’d be pretty good washing down a sausage omelet at breakfast too.”

As with the other members of the Port Brewing year-round portfolio, Board Meeting brown ale will be available in 22 ounce bottles and on draft throughout the brewery’s distribution network. Consumers should expect to see it on tap in draft houses and on retailer’s shelves by mid February 2013.

About Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey

Founded in 2006, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey produces an extensive line-up of continental and American-inspired ales and lagers. Under the direction of legendary brewmaster and co-founder Tomme Arthur, the brewery has garnered dozens of awards in its six year history including the 2007 Great American Beer Festival Small Brewery of the Year, and 2008 World Beer Cup Champion Small Brewery. The company’s beers, many of which are aged in oak barrels for 12 months or longer, are universally recognized for their complexity, unique flavors, and bold, boundary-pushing styles. For more information, contact Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey at 155 Mata Way, Suite 104, San Marcos, CA 92069, telephone (800) 918-6816, and on the web at www.lostabbey.com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Belgium’s ‘Glass That Gives’ Program Runs Through December 31


FT. COLLINS, CO – New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale, is once again hosting “The Glass That Gives” program, in which the purchase of nucleated Belgian globes benefit nonprofit organizations. So far, nearly 5,300 sets have been ordered and 350.org, People for Bikes, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Waterkeeper Alliance are reaping the benefits. The campaign runs through December 31, so it’s not too late to order the festive two-pack gift box for the last people on your shopping list.

Each glassware set is available for only $8.99, with $1.00 from each purchase going to one of the four beneficiaries. The globes are available in two sizes: the smaller 12/14 oz. glasses (12 oz. to the line, 14 oz. to the top) and the classic 16/18 oz. globes. Built to enhance the beer tasting experience, the globe shape captures and directs the beer’s aromas toward the nose, while a narrow opening benefits the foam. The logo etching on the bottom provides nucleation, designed to refresh and release flavors and create a continuous stream of bubbles. It’s all balanced atop a sturdy stem to keep hands from warming the beer and allow for unobstructed viewing.

Additionally, don’t forget to send free, custom-made holiday cards through www.newbelgium.com. Join the more than 625 people who have already sent a “give cheer + drink beer” online card to friends and family. You simply pick the card shape and background, throw in a little ditty or poem, add an email address and send! As an added bonus, New Belgium will donate $1.00 to one of the selected nonprofits for every card created.

The nonprofits you can support by participating in “The Glass That Gives” program include:

People for Bikes (www.peopleforbikes.org), whose mission is to make bicycling safer, more convenient, and appealing to everyone.

Water Keeper Alliance (www.waterkeeper.org), whose mission is to provide a way for communities to stand up for their right to clean water and for the wise and equitable use of water resources, both locally and globally.

350.org (www.350.org), which is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Online campaigns, grassroots organization and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in more than 188 countries who spread awareness about climate change and educate people about what they can do about it.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (sustainableagriculture.net), is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources and rural communities.

Join New Belgium’s online holiday festivities at www.newbelgium.com to buy glassware, send cards and stock up on other souvenirs.

About New Belgium Brewing Company:

New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces nine year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit, Ranger IPA, Belgo IPA and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship. For more information, visit www.newbelgium.com


Friday, December 14, 2012

“The Definitive Guide to Buying Craft Beer” Released


HALES CORNERS, WI - Craft beer can be a great gift, and learning about craft beers is a fun and festive hobby. The Definitive Guide to Buying Craft Beer: Discover Everything You Need to Know About Buying and Enjoying Craft Beer by Dan Koester is the ultimate guide to get started. With this handy guide, anyone can learn the difference between the many different brewing styles. Readers will also learn how to select the perfect glass for each type of beer and which foods go best with which beers.

Of Steins and Stouts:

Beer brewing is an ancient craft that has grown more complex through the ages. Brew masters enjoy coming up with innovative and creative new blends, especially ones to mark specific seasons. Why settle for a can from the supermarket when you could be sampling something so much more special, not to mention downright delicious? That collection of taps at the local brew pub might seem intimidating, but with The Definitive Guide to Buying Craft Beer, you will quickly learn what makes each brew special and discover your own favorites and how best to enjoy them. There is a whole world of craft brewing to be discovered with a fascinating history. Koester’s second literary publication is a comprehensive overview and is perfect for the novice craft beer fan who wants to know more. Learn how to taste beer and throw a beer tasting party incorporating the trivia, geography and background of the brews you highlight.

Brewing Up Fun:

“Beer should be fun,” declared Koester. “And I wanted to give people who are interested in craft beer some background to welcome them to the ranks of beer aficionados. I can’t stand beer snobbery, but I love knowing what I’m drinking and why it tastes the way it does.”

This highly readable guide gives just enough detail to intrigue, but never gets weighed down with it. It’s the perfect introduction to the wide world of craft beers for those ready to say goodbye to the bland, mass-produced version and have some serious fun with the quirky and creative craft brews from all over America. Anyone feeling overwhelmed by talk of hops and malt will be reassured and informed by this book. The Definitive Guide to Buying Craft Beer: Discover Everything You Need to Know About Buying and Enjoying Craft Beer by Dan Koester will be available in print and eBook from Amazon and http://americanbookofcraftbreweries.com/

About Dan Koester:

Dr. Dan Koester is a 1980 graduate of Marquette University Dental School. He enjoys traveling and biking with his wife and three children. Restoring a 1965 Barracuda and his current restoration project, a military M1009 truck, provide a diversion from real work. An avid sports fan that enjoys a good craft beer, he intends to sample offerings from as many craft breweries as possible.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

2013 Beerdrinker of the Year Search is Underway


(Denver, CO) – Once again, Wynkoop Brewing Company is seeking beer resumes from the nation’s most beer-minded men and women for its 2013 Beerdrinker of the Year contest. The 17th annual contest seeks and honors America’s most passionate, knowledgeable beer lovers and ambassadors.

The Beerdrinker of the Year wins free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing Company, a $250 tab at their local brewpub or beer bar, and has their name engraved on the Beerdrinker of the Year trophy at Wynkoop.

They also design and brew a special batch of beer at Wynkoop Brewing (with head brewerAndy Brown) as part of their winnings. The winner also enjoys the unmatched glory that comes from being named the nation’s greatest beer fiend.

J. Wilson, a Prescott, Iowa writer, homebrewer, beer judge and beer blogger, is the reigning Beerdrinker of the Year. Wilson’s astute beer knowledge, beer ambassadorship (from a town of just 283 people) and a 2011 beer & water fast helped him win the 2012 contest.

In 2011 Wilson fasted for 46 days on just water and a dopplebock he brewed with a Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant in West Des Moines. His experience became a book, Diary of a Part-Time Monk, and landed him national attention.

Wilson is the first Beerdrinker winner to hail from the nation’s heartland, and he lives in a rural area far removed from a rich beer culture. “I don’t live near any beer mecca and I’m a 90-minute drive from a city with a brewery,” he says. “But you can win this contest by doing things in your own community.”

At the finals, Wilson discussed his philosophy for a life rich with beer. ”Having a balance is all important,” he said. “I love beer. But I also truly love my family, and in the grand scheme of things that’s far more important.”

Wilson has a 3-tap, 8-foot home bar supplied by a 10-gallon brewing system in his basement. An advocate for beer for 15 years, he organized numerous beer events in his home state in 2011. (Read his beer blog at www.brewvana.net.)

The three Beerdrinker of the Year finalists are flown to Denver at Wynkoop’s expense for an action-packed weekend that culminates with the Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on February 23, 2013 at 2 PM at Wynkoop Brewing.

The event is open to the public and draws a standing-room-only crowd. At the event a panel of wigged & robed beer experts and previous Beerdrinker winners grills the finalists with tough beery questions. They then pick the 2013 winner.

This year’s three finalists will stay in Denver’s famed Brown Palace Hotel while in town for the finals.

To enter the contest, applicants must submit beer resumes that include the entrant’s beer philosophy and details on their passion for beer and 2012 beer experiences.
Resumes should also detail the entrant’s understanding of beer and its history and importance to civilization, along with the entrant’s efforts to educate others to the joys of great beer.

Resumes for the Beerdrinker of the Year are reviewed by the nation’s beer experts and previous Beerdrinker of the Year winners.

Resumes must be sent by email to beerdrinker@wynkoop.com and be received by Wynkoop by no later than December 31, 2012. Each entrant will receive an email confirmation that their resume was received.

A few more rules:

•   Resumes cannot exceed three 8 1⁄2 x 11 pages and must be written in 12-point or larger font, in Word format.
•   Resumes must include the entrant’s home brewpub/beer bar and T-shirt size.
•   Do not enter if you are currently employed in the beer-making trade.
Entrants must read the complete contest details at www.wynkoop.com



Friday, December 7, 2012

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale Released December 3


SAN DIEGO - They say all good things come to an end, and sadly, this is true of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series. Today marks the release of Stone Brewing Co.’s final beer in the series, Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. However, before tears are shed for the end of this epic era, consider that the release of this beer actually calls for a celebration.

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale was brewed with a Belgian yeast strain and features cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, rosehips, sweet orange peel, and a dash of clove. Spices and banana notes are prominently featured in the taste. As it warms, notes of caramel, dark toffee and molasses assert themselves. Overall, the dark beer provides a pleasant juxtaposition of roasted malts, hops and spice layers.

Each year since Feb. 2, 2002 (02.02.02), Stone has released a Stone Vertical Epic Ale beer exactly one year, one month and one day apart. Stone envisioned that each year a beer in the series would be brewed with its own unique recipe, one that would allow the beer to mature over time enhancing the flavors and aromas. The intention was that Stone fans would cellar the bottles from each year and open all 11 vintages together for a vertical tasting on Dec. 12, 2012, the date of the last Stone Vertical Epic Ale.

With the release of Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale, Stone closes the chapter on the series but will open 11 bottles in tasty celebration. In Stone fashion, the company will hold a festival at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: Stone Epic Festival: The Final Chapter. This grand-scale tasting extravaganza will take place on December 12 and commence at exactly 12:12 p.m. PST. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to experience all 11 Stone Vertical Epic Ales, in addition to special barrel-aged variations, with food pairing stations featuring dishes specifically created to marry with each of the vintages.

Name: Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale


Stats: 9.0% ABV, 50 IBUs

Availability: Limited 22-ounce bottles, 3-liter bottles and draft, beginning December 3

Hops bill: Simcoe, Tettnang, and Willamette

Spices: Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, rosehips, sweet orange peel, and a dash of clove

Distribution: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WA

Tasting Notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele:

- Appearance: Deep black with a dark brown, foamy head.

- Aroma: First impressions are of cinnamon and allspice, combined with fruity banana esters and hints of clove from the Belgian yeast. As the beer warms in the glass, swirl it around and take in the aromatics one more time—caramel, dark toffee and molasses notes come into play as well. The end result is a wonderful juxtaposition of roasted malts, yeast esters and baking spices.

- Taste: Intense cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice with banana esters dominate up front. Hints of citrus arrive mid-palate, while molasses notes persevere in the finish along with a very nice dark-roasted malt dryness.

- Palate: A full, but not sweet, extremely dry finish. Very complex with great flavor balance.

- Overall: The aromas wafting through the brewery as we brewed this beer were amazing! We couldn’t think of a better way to sign off this epic series of beers.

From Lead Brewer Jeremy Moynier:

This beer will transport you to a very warm place: the house is warm, a fire’s going and grandma’s in the kitchen baking away.

ABOUT STONE BREWING CO.

Twice named “All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine, Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner and is the 11th largest craft brewer in the U.S. Headquartered in Escondido, CA, Stone owns and operates the farm-to-table restaurant Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido, as well as Stone Catering, Stone Distributing, and Stone Farms. Other lofty ventures include construction of Stone Packaging Hall and a second restaurant with an on-site brewhouse, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, both with an estimated completion of first quarter 2013, and Stone Hotel & Headquarters with an estimated completion of second quarter 2013. For more information, please visit www.stonebrewing.com or on social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and The Stone Blog.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Repeal Day: The Good Thing About Prohibition Was...


A dark time in American history officially ended on December 5, 1933. Over a decade of national Prohibition ended on this day with the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Most articles on the period describe the inability of Prohibition to fix America’s out of control drinking problem, and in turn created a far greater problem of organized crime, which built and ran a black market alcohol trade with bribery, intimidation and violence.

Nearly ninety years after the repeal of what is considered by some to be the only amendment in the Constitution to restrict rights rather than expand them. In “Last Call”, a recent article in the Washington Monthly, Tim Heffernan suggests that while Prohibition did not succeed the way its supporters hoped, the end may have set this country up for a better future. Could the Noble Experiment and consequential end of Prohibition have been a good thing?

The article compared the crime and health problems of the United Kingdom to those of the U.S. Heffernan suggests that while alcohol abuse and subsequent crime and health issues have steadily increased in the UK, America in comparison has not struggled with the same issues as deeply, despite the country’s tenuous relationship with adult beverages.

“The United States, although no stranger to alcohol abuse problems, is in comparatively better shape. A third of the country does not drink, and teenage drinking is at a historic low. The rate of alcohol use among seniors in high school has fallen 25 percentage points since 1980."

Prohibition Changed the Way America Did Business

Heffernan believes that the two nation's different paths stems from many things, but the laws and restrictions placed on how alcohol was sold in the U.S. at the end of Prohibition is a big factor.

"From civics class, you may remember that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution formally ended Prohibition in 1933. But while the amendment made it once again legal to sell and produce alcohol, it also contained a measure designed to ensure that America would never again have the horrible drinking problem it had before, which led to the passage of Prohibition in the first place."

The Three-Tier System

The 21st Amendment specifically worked to restrict vertical integration of the alcohol industry by creating a somewhat awkward partnership between the stakeholders—today we call this the three-tier system.

The system is set up to ensure that producers (brewer, distillers, importers, winemakers) must go through a middleman (broker or wholesaler) in order to get their product to market (retailers) for consumers to purchase.

The three-tier system exists with a certain level of discomfort, so that no single tier controls everything. For the most part, the system is intentionally archaic, but has worked to ensure that history would not be repeated.

“...pre-Prohibition America, in which big, politically powerful liquor producers owned their own saloons and were therefore free to pour cheap booze into communities coast to coast, sweetening the doses with enticements ranging from rebates on drinks to cash loans, and frequently tolerating in-bar gambling and prostitution.”

Having never experienced Prohibition, the UK was not as successful in restricting vertical integration, resulting in, “...[m]onopolistic enterprises control[ing] the flow of drink in England at every step—starting with the breweries and distilleries where it’s produced and down the channels through which it reaches consumers in pubs and supermarkets.”

The article goes on to warn that global beer concerns are attempting to work outside the three-tier system by finding ways to control the middle tier of process. Read the albeit long, but interesting article and toast the end of Prohibition today on December, 5.