Archive for the ‘ Beer News ’ Category

2011, Resolutions, and Craft Beer.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone was able to kick back and enjoy the beginning of 2011 with some delicious craft beer.

A few weeks ago in my post An Amateur Beer Enthusiast is Back, I mentioned some of the monumental progress that the craft beer industry made in 2010. While it is important to reflect on past successes, 2010 has come and gone and now it is time to move forward into 2011.

So craft beer fans….where do we start?

Photo Credit: Craftbeer.com

Leading up to 2011 Craftbeer.com released and article by Brewer’s Association Web Editor Meghan Storey titled Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Beer Lovers. Now I know that New Year’s Resolution articles seem so tired and true, but Storey’s list is both practical and fun. The following are Storey’s 2011 Craft Beer Resolutions:

10. Introduce someone to craft beer.

9. Try at least one new beer a month.

8. Participate in an American Craft Beer Week event. (May 16 – 22, 2011)

7. Host or attend a beer tasting.

6. Cook with craft beer!  Craftbeer.com has several resources and recipes for cooking with craft beer.

5. Give craft beer or brewery gear as a present. Most brewery websites have fun gifts for you to purchase.

4. Learn more about your favorite beverage; read a book on beer or brewing. I have been told that Charlie Papazian’s The Joy of Homebrewing is a great book to start building a knowledge base with.

3. Experience a beer festival. Whether it is a week long event like NY Craft Beer Week or a simple weekend celebration, beer festivals are a great way to meet the people who work passionately to provide drinkers with the best beer.

2. Plan a side-trip to a brewery on your next vacation.

1. Bring craft beer to a housewarming or dinner party.

I have decided that for 2011 I am going to follow through on these resolutions and share them with my readers on An Amateur Beer Enthusiast. I encourage you to implement these 2011 Craft Beer Resolutions as well. They all are very easy to complete and will continue to move the craft beer industry forward in 2011.

Merry Christmas from An Amateur Beer Enthusiast!

It is Christmas once again, and everyone knows what that means!

Christmas is a time for time for great food, quality time with family and friends, a few presents, and of course some well crafted beer.

This Christmas has been a bit strange in terms of my beer selection. Typically I stock up on every winter seasonal possible since many of my favorite beers are winter seasonals. This year, however, I have decided to try to some new year round craft beers in order to replace the void I have with my inability to get Thirsty Dog Brewing Company’s 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale and Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale (2 of the best winter seasonals from Northeast Ohio). My first series of beers comes from a fun Colorado Brewery known as Oskar Blues.

What makes Oskar Blues special in the world of craft beer is that they were the first craft brewery to can their beer. Originally Oskar Blues beer was available on a draught only basis at the Oskar Blue Grill and Brew in Lyons, Colorado. In November 2002, brewery founder Dale Katechis  launched a campaign titled “Canned Beer Apocalypse” with the canning of Oskar Blues flagship beer Dale’s Pale Ale.

At the beginning, Oskar Blues could only seal one can at a time. Now Oskar Blues offer 6 beer varieties available in cans as well as several draught only beers available at multiple Oskar Blues locations throughout Colorado.

I sampled all 6 Oskar Blues canned offerings and I must say I am very impressed. For many craft beer enthusiasts the can is a symbol of the bland tasting macro produced beers. Oskar Blues on the other hand has put some of the best beer I have ever tasted into convenience of a can.

The debate between whether beer should be canned or bottled has always raged amongst craft beer fans. The perception among many is that bottled beer is superior to canned beer. This is not necessarily true, as Oskar Blues decision to can their beer was intentional.

Canned beer actually has several benefits. Cans keep beer safe from light and oxygen, provide easier portability than bottles for both outdoor events and commercial transportation. According to Oskar Blues website, 35% of the weight of a bottled beer is the bottle itself.

Cans also protect beer from potential breakage that is very common with the transportation of glass bottles. Working in beer distribution, I have witnessed first hand the horrors of broken glass and the mess that comes when bottled beers break.

And most importantly, you cannot hang beer bottles on your Christmas tree.

I know. What an awesome picture.

Here is a brief summary of Oskar Blues “Canned Beer Apocalypse” lineup:

Dale’s Pale Ale ( American Pale Ale, 6.5% Abv, 65 IBUs): This is Oskar Blues flagship beer. It has received several accolades, including a Gold Medal from the 2010 World Beer Championships and recognition in the New York Times as one of the best American Pale Ales. Overall this beer is a great session beer that is a light amber/copper in color, and has a slight sweetness and a solid hop finish.

Mama’s Little Yella Pils (Czech Pilsner, 5.3%Abv, 35 IBUs): Mama’s Little Yella Pils is what a pilsner should be. Want something light, easy to drink and full of flavor. Well put down that Miller Lite champ and treat yourself to this beer.

Old Chub (Scottish Ale/ Wee Heavy, 8% Abv): When I drank this beer, I was slightly reminded of 12 Dogs of Christmas. While Old Chub is not as sweet, it has a semi-sweet/smokey flavor that makes this beer very warming for the cold winter months. I will certainly be buying this again during the winter season.

Gordon Ale ( Imperial Red/Double IPA, 8.7% Abv, 6o IBUs): Named after Colorado craft brewer Gordon Knight, this beer falls into the categories of IPAs I like. I tend to gravitate toward IPAs that can couple strong hop bitterness with a full body and enough malt to prevent the beer from tasting to dry. Gordon Ale is an interesting take in the world of IPAs.

Ten Fidy (Imperial Stout, 10.5% Abv, 98 IBUs): Next to Old Chub, Ten Fidy is probably my favorite beer from Oskar Blues. This beer is rich in flavor and has a deep black color that always makes me smile when I pour it into a glass. Ten Fidy has the strong chocolate/toffee flavors that do well to balance out the hop taste.

Gubna (Imperial IPA, 10% Abv, 100 IBUs): Oskar Blues calls this a hop grenade in a can. This is definitely true, as Gubna is a complex IPA. Gubna pours an orangish color that has a slight haze to it. The flavor is strong throughout the beer, but does well to not be offensive.

So there you have it. These are the beers that I have been drinking as I prepared for the Christmas season. They are all delicious and it is impressive when a craft brewery has a lineup of beers that exudes this much quality. While Ten Fidy, and Gubna are only available in expensive four packs, I will not think twice about purchasing beer from Oskar Blues in the future.

Merry Christmas readers! Drink and be merry!

NY Craft Beer Week

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting New York City during the 3rd annual NY Craft Beer Week.

I know today is the last day of the festival, but the video for NY Craft Beer Week is still entertaining to watch.

While I was unable to visit any major events, I was able to take some time out of my schedule to visit some of NYC’s craft beer bars. The cool thing about this festival was that even if you did not have the time (or money) to attend some of the bigger events, many bars participating in the festival featured a selection of draft beers from specific breweries.

The first bar that I visited Thursday evening was Bar Great Harry. Located in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood, this small craft beer bar featured drafts from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (Pleasantville, NY). This brewery is located an hour north of New York City and has a reputation for crafting award-winning beer.

Since Captain Lawrence brews were being featured, I decided to sample their cask Kölsch. Previously I have never tasted a cask beer, so I did not know what to expect. I also lack experience with the Kölsch style, so I was just tasting this beer to see if I enjoyed it or not.

This beer is described as “Spring in a glass”. After tasting the Captain Lawrence cask Kölsch, I did not find this beer to be spring in a glass. While it was very good, it had an extreme sour taste that makes this beer more of a sour ale.

The first thing I noticed about this cask Kölsch was how smooth it was. Unlike many beers stored in kegs or keg systems, cask ales tend to lack that carbonation in the mouthfeel. The foam on this Kölsch was practically fluffy, and added a pleasant texture to the beer.

Cask aged ales also add flavor to a beer depending on what type of cask you use. While the flavors from the hop and malt were subdued, the sour lemon taste of this beer served as the most present flavor. The sour lemon taste was biting, as this beer may be to acidic for some. Overall I enjoyed this beer and liked the soft mouthfeel coupled with the harsh flavor.

Friday evening, I decided to visit Rattle N Hum located in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood. Smuttynose (Portsmouth, NH) and Ballast Point (San Diego, CA) were the two featured breweries that evening.

Rattle N Hum is a craft beer bar with 40 taps, 4 casks, and more bottled craft beer than I care to count. I was even surprised to see a beer from Hoppin’ Frog (Akron, OH) on their bottled beer list. It was the only beer from Northeast Ohio that I saw during my visit.

From their list, I tried their Smuttynose Oak Aged Imperial Stout ’08. This beer was aged in Jack Daniels oak casks and spotted a 10.1% abv. As with Captain Lawrence’s cask Kölsch, this imperial stout had an incredibly smooth texture. The head on Smuttynose Oak Aged Imperial Stout ’08 was incredibly creamy and there is a strong viscosity to this beer.

The flavor of this beer was also harsh. Smuttynose’s beer had a strong alcohol flavor coupled with a harsh oak taste that will remind you of drinking Jack Daniels Whiskey. There are also toffee and coffee flavors in this stout. This beer is definitely a sipping beer.

I had an awesome time visiting NYC during NY Craft Beer Week. Both Bar Great Harry and Rattle N Hum had incredible atmospheres that were perfect for socializing with strangers over a delicious beer. If you are ever in NYC, then visit either of these bars for some quality craft beer.

This quote was on the wall at Rattle N Hum. Nice.

If anything in this post gets you excited, I encourage you to take a look to see what beer festivals are happening in your area. Beer festivals are a great way to sample limited edition brews that are usually not available in your market. If you are willing to travel, Road Trips for Beer and Beer Advocate are excellent resources to see a list of upcoming beer events.

If you happen to live in Northeast Ohio like I do, then take a look into Cleveland Beer Week (Oct. 15-23). The festival is in its second year and it should prove to be even better than last year. I am excited for this festival, as some of the events happening for the week look huge! (Brewzilla anyone?)

Beer+Chai Tea=Mutinous Battle Chai

Yes. You read the headline correctly.

Craftbeer.com recently highlighted a collaboration project between Mutineer Magazine and New Holland Brewing Company (Holland, MI) known as Mutinous Battle Chai. The idea for this collaborative beer began in July and was finally released at the Falling Rock Tap House (Denver, CO) during the Great American Beer Festival.

Photo Credit: Craftbeer.com

Mutinous Battle Chai was initially thought of a chai tea inspired saison. Ingredients include:

Malt: 80% two-row barley, 20% Malted Rye

Hops: Summit, Styrian Goldings

Spices: Traditional chai tea spices, Saigon cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, crystallized ginger, pink peppercorns, and toasted fennel

Yeast: Belgian wit (first fermentation), Merlot yeast (secondary fermentation)

Other Ingredients: Michigan beer sugars (first fermentation), Nutty Dutchman Brown Ale wort (secondary fermentation)

This collaborative beer seems like a complex and ambitious beer. According to the Craftbeer.com article, Mutinous Battle Chai does not fit into any style category. Good thing that is what Mutineer Magazine and New Holland Brewing Company were going for.

Mutinous Battle Chai is another example of how spirited craft beer enthusiasts and brewers are. This crazy and eccentric beer shows how Americans continue to push the boundaries on beer and brewing. Beer styles will continue to evolve as craft brewers continue to innovate the art of brewing.

I am not sure if Mutinous Battle Chai will be bottled or distributed in a larger market. However, proceeds from Mutinous Battle Chai and Mutineer Magazine go towards A Child’s Right. A Child’s Right is a non-profit charity that works to provide children with clean and safe water in areas where drinkable water is scarce.

Photo Credit: A Child’s Right

So even if you can not get your hands on Mutinous Battle Chai, purchase an issue of Mutineer Magazine and support A Child’s Right. This month’s issue is filled with some cool stuff, including a feature on Mutinous Battle Chai and an interview with James Watt of BrewDog.

Guinness Foregin Extra Stout Coming to America

It is really funny that I just wrote about Guinness on Friday.

An article from beernews.org said the Guinness announced the U.S. launch of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout today. While many American consumers are familiar with Guinness Draught, most Americans have probably never tasted Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

Photo Credit: beernews.org

That is because this will be the first time Guinness Foreign Extra Stout will be available in the U.S. since prohibition.

The history behind Foreign Extra Stout is fairly interesting. Brewed at St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland in 1801, Foreign Extra Stout was Guinness’s flagship export beer. It was originally known as West India Porter.

Unlike Guinness Draught, Foreign Extra Stout is carbonated instead of nitrogenated. It is also brewed with a larger amount of hops. Along with a stronger hop flavor, the increased volume of hops in serves to preserve the beer that may have made long trip during exportation.

Foreign Extra Stout also spots a 7.5% Abv. This is considerably stronger than Guinness Draught’s 4.2% Abv. In short, Foreign Extra Stout seems like a stronger Guinness with a larger hop profile.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout will be available this October in 4-packs priced at $9.49.

Happy 251st. Guinness!

Well the title says it all. Guinness turns 251 today!

Photo Credit: Wayyang Times

251….well that make Yuengling look like an infant.

Although I primarily drink American craft beer, I have been known to have a Guinness every now and then. Guinness has actually made its way onto An Amateur Beer Enthusiast a couple of times.

My recent post “Drink Up! Beer is healthy for you” highlights the antioxidants in Guinness that can provide advantageous health benefits. Not only is this beer the premier Irish Stout, but it is healthy for you! That is a nice deal.

In commemoration of Guinness’s birth, it is necessary to take a moment and pay respect to Guinness father Arthur Guinness. If Arthur were still alive (God rest his soul) he would be 285 year old!

Photo Credit: Counter Intelligence

Wow. That is old. Almost as old as drinking a Guinness with Toucan Sam’s cousin.

So take a moment tonight and drink a Guinness in honor of Arthur Guinness and his creation. After all, it is a lovely day for a Guinness.

Beer and Religion: A good combination

On Saturday the Jewish day of repentance, Yom Kippur, ended at sundown. So in celebration of the completion to this holy day I decided that I would drink a kosher beer.

He’Brew Genesis Ale from Shmatlz Brewing Company is the flagship of the He’Brew line of beers that provides beer choices for those looking to consume something kosher. He’Brew Genesis Ale in particular is certified by Kosher Supervision of America.

A beer that is Rabbi-approved? Holy it may be, is it actually any good?

Well the picture says it all.

After drinking this beer its kosher identity made sense.  He’Brew Genesis Ale is a solid brown ale that does not overwhelm in any way. The aroma, taste, and mouthfeel all have moderate qualities that make this beer easy to drink. The flavors in this beer give it just enough to avoid being too bland. This beer will both satisfy those looking to be kosher and those looking for a refreshing brown ale.

Drinking He’Brew Genesis Ale reminded me that connection between beer and religion is not something new. In fact, monasteries were (and many still are) known for brewing beer. Indigo Imp’s Candi Man is a Belgian Style Double Ale that pays homage to the Monastic breweries of the Middle Ages. I had that beer earlier this year at a local beer tasting. While I enjoyed Genesis Ale more than Candi Man, it is cool to see that there are even beer styles that are rooted in religion.

There is also a Pittsburgh brewpub called Church Brew Works that operates out of the now defunct (but restored) St. John the Baptist parish. I reviewed their Pious Monk Dunkel last May and remember it having the same inoffensive qualities as He’Brew Genesis Ale.

You can learn more about He’Brew Genesis Ale on my Examiner page. The article is located here. It is a little more detailed and will give you a better idea about how this beer tastes.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?