Thursday, June 16, 2011

9 Beers I Must Try While in Denver

I'll be in Denver, helping my sister and bro-in-law paint their house -- all next week -- and I'm definitely going to need a beer after all that scrubbin', sandin' and scrapin'. Here are the 9 beers I must try while I'm out there:
  1. Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
  2. Wynkoop Mister Fister
  3. Breckenridge Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout
  4. Great Divide Messiah
  5. Dry Dock SS Minow, Mild Ale
  6. Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager
  7. Great Divide Hades
  8. Anything at Falling Rock Taphouse
  9. Mountain Sun Colorado Kind

Remember When Mickey's Was a Microbrew?

Remember when Mickey's Big Mouth was a microbrew? No, seriously, it was! Well, according to my dad at the time, it was. Do you also remember how HUGE the barrel and mouth looked? I'm aging myself, aren't I?

Ah yes, the big dipper.
Believe it or not, yes, Mickey's Big Mouth was considered a microbrew. I think guys and their 1982 moustaches were just mezmorized by that bumble bee on the cap. I know I was. I mean, it's a malt liquor, and the only proper way to drink it is in 40-ounce increments. Then again, if there was a 40-ounce bottle of Pliny the Elder available, I'd buy it.

My dad didn't double-fist 40s, but he did get a nice purchase around the waffled barrel-shaped bottle I was so entranced with. And he had the moustache, too. My dad was an original hipster. It was the real thing.

Technically, to be considered a microbrew, the brewing company can't bottle more than 15,000 barrels (460,000 gallons) a year. Yet, to be considered a craft brewery, it can bottle up to 6 million barrels a year. How is this possible? Does this mean Mickey's Big Mouth was not only once a microbrew but also a craft beer? Again, holy.crap. Do I have my numbers wrong? Correct me if I'm wrong, please. It's not like I went to the Library of Congress to find these numbers.

Owned and distributed by MillerCoors, it's nearly impossible to see how many bottles are distributed and sold in the U.S. I can't find the numbers anywhere, but seeing as MillerCoors' numbers went up last quarter 8.7 percent, but I can't imagine Mickey's numbers went up. Fortunately Mickey's can't be considered a "craft beer," since it's distributed by such a megafargin company. If so, I'm going to laugh my way all the way to the liqa' sto' and get me a 40.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Officially Beer Blogger 1,000

And here I thought it would be great to have another beer blogger on the web. Well, at least I'm number 1,000 and not 5,000! Thanks for the shout out.

Here's the post:

European and North American Beer Blogging Compared
Blogging in general and beer blogging in specific is much bigger in North American than in the rest of the world. Our current Complete List of Beer Blogs shows 684 “citizen” beer blogs in North America as compared to 315 in the rest of the world. See today’s Press Release on “999 Bloggers of Beer on the Web“. (Update: We just hit 1000 and are still growing. Congrats to homebrewer and blogger Manic Organik for being blog 1000.)
The largest concentration of beer bloggers outside North America is in the UK, which has 126, a reasonable number given the different population sizes. In addition, there are at least 57 non-blogger beer writers in the UK, likely more than in North America.

Beer blogging is also more advanced in North America. We found fewer laptops being used, fewer people on Twitter, and fewer who knew the meaning of SEO (search engine optimization) at the European Beer Bloggers Conference just completed. It also appeared there is less ongoing interaction between bloggers and breweries and fewer attempts by European bloggers to create their own “brand” they can use to go beyond blogging, two trends important in North America. But I found the European bloggers to be quite professional, highly dedicated, and interested in learning. They will catch up very fast.

(Two side notes. 1) We have also found from running the Wine Bloggers Conference and International Food Bloggers Conference that wine bloggers and food bloggers tend to be more along that technical curve than beer bloggers, when looking at North America. 2) All bloggers need to decide why they do what they do and if they are not interested in more hits, better SEO, better connections with breweries, etc, than they need not be concerned with all of this.)

Also interesting is there is more interaction among bloggers in different U.S. states than there is between beer bloggers in various European countries. European bloggers are not following blogs – even in their own language – outside their own country, although there does seem to be good cross-fertilization between the U.K. and the U.S. Of course, the language barrier does keep many bloggers from reading other blogs but Google Translate is a pretty good tool and I would not hesitate to leave a comment in English on a blog post you have translated and read in another language.

All this actually makes our conference in Europe that much more exciting. European beer blogging is new, it is growing, and it has tremendous upside. In fact, were I to characterize European beer blogging in one word it would be potential. European beer bloggers have the potential to increase their readers (via better websites and better SEO), to have a great influence on breweries (through more interaction), and ultimately to be able to change the entire producing and consuming beer scene in Europe (by coming together as a more cohesive community).

It is the beer scene in Europe that makes beer blogging there especially rewarding. I remember back in the 1980s how, for the most part, European beer seemed to be much ahead of beer in North America. The craft brewing revolution changed all that and now we in the US have an amazing variety of good, flavorful beers available most everywhere. The large breweries are paying attention and are starting to produce their own craft beers or to buy into existing craft breweries, which only supports the movement.

From my week in London interacting with bloggers and breweries, I would say this same revolution is just beginning in Europe. A brewery like BrewDog has a fantastic PR approach but, ultimately, their success is due to brewing good quality, flavorful, bottled beers. Other breweries are just starting to do the same and I predict 40 BrewDog-like success stories to come out of Europe in the next eight years. And large breweries are paying closer attention sooner in Europe, since they have the US model to follow and know what is coming.

It is that attention that made the European Beer Bloggers Conference the most fantastic conference I have organized, over three years of running blogger conferences. The sponsors were amazingly supportive of the conference. They fully recognize bloggers are key “influencers” who will have an effect in reaching out to the public. They want to help their local beer bloggers grow and thrive. Even mega brewers like MolsonCoors are avid supporters of the concept of beer blogging and did not try to impose their will on the conference but, instead, were happy to provide their best beers, interact, and let the bloggers make their own decision.

The level of brewery support, large and small, went well beyond any support we received from the North American BBC this past November, I think in part because many craft breweries in the US are simply selling their beer as fast as they can produce it and don’t need another marketing outlet. On the other hand, North American breweries seem to be better at putting bloggers on their press list, inviting them to dinners, and telling them about special beer releases. Both geographies could learn – European breweries could reach out more to bloggers on a regular basis and North American breweries could realize that Citizen Beer Bloggers, who spend their own time and money doing what they do, could use support to make sure the beer blogging community thrives.

In short, it is exciting on both sides of the pond and I would love to learn more about beer blogging in Australia/New Zealand, Asia, South America, or Latin America!

Beer Events Calendar Now Available

Just click on Beer Events Calendar here or at the top-left side of this page. To see a list, click on "Agenda" on the right of the calendar. If you have any events you'd like me to post, just shoot me an email at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Tilted Kilt and Mama's Little Yellow: A Review

After an hour and ten minute commute home, my friend calls me to tell me he's at the Tilted Kilt to watch "the game." What game this is, I have no idea. It could be the Superbowl for all I know. Ok, I'm not that unaware of the season, but still, I have no idea what he's talking about. I assumed it was just a random baseball game. Wrong! Apparently its game five in basketball finals. OK, so it might be packed.

And packed it was ... full of sports-lovin', three-buttons-undone-wearin', 19-yr-old stalkin', older men sans my friend, of course; he has a beard, so he doesn't count. Plus, his wife, a good friend of mine, was there, so even if he was one of "those guys." I certainly wouldn't know it. It was obvious no men, er, boys, would ever be hired here unless they had a size-C cup and hips like J-Lo. Unfortunate for them, I guess, because it was a packed house. Size C cups and basketball finals = makin' it rain.

As for the employees, because I'm as old as The Bible, I became maternal and thought, "She could be my daughter!" Is that a good thing? In this case, no. Ill admit the skimpy, plaid skirts are totally cute, but I was given flashbacks of Sister Nancy cracking the yard stick across my knuckles for trying to show my desk neighbor my new elephant-shaped eraser at Saint Anthony's in fourth grade. That's not a good memory to conjure up while trying to peruse their beer list.

As the screams of joy after a triple-double subsided, I said hi to my pals and checked out the Tilted Kilt's beer list. Ok, it wasn't toooo bad, but not good, either. In fact, so not good that I went with a Bass Ale, which the breastaurant so proudly displayed was "on tap." Where is Bass not on tap? Hey, whatever, I'm not a beer snob, just a brestaurant snob. Bass Ale is good.

So, I ordered a Bass from a green girl who could hardly blink from the amount of mascara on, and went about my convo with my friend. You know, Facebook drama (we've all had it), high school, realizing you're getting older than you want to be, etc. It was all good. My waitress brought me my Bass, and I was happy again. Except, the head was about 3 inches tall.
Just sip it, it'll be good. Ignore the fact that half the head is being inserted into your brain.
Yes, it was good, and the ale beneath it was the perfect light-orange color and faded brick. It was a good pour.
However, when I handed the waitress my cash, she became confused.
"What's this?"
"Its for the Bass."
And she walked away.
First day? Maybe. No biggy, but I didn't want this thing attached to my friends' four pizzas and 32 beers.
She came back to deliver some beers to my friends.
"How much was my Bass?"
"Oh! I don't know, let me go check!"
No prob, I thought; I totally understand a busy night. Plus, she had breasts popping out of her shirt, which was no doubt confusing her, and the dude with a hairy chest (It was obvious how much hair he had because his work shirt was buttoned down halfway down his chest, and when he leaned over across the table to check out the young girl, his hair nearly touched me. Ew.)
The youngster with the white tube top came back with some food and I asked, "So how much for my Bass?"
"Oh my gosh! Is that what you asked? Let me go see!"
Hmmm ... I see another beer in my near future.
She came back asking how everything was.
"Everything is great, so how much do I owe you?"
"What? Oh, yah."
"Never mind, ill get a Mama's Little Yellow please."

Has anyone out there heard of this brew? Me neither. My friend and I quickly hit up Beer Advocate to get a rating, but they apparently hadn't heard of it either, or I just punched in the name incorrectly. That's most likely the case. Well, I'm here to say that if this pilsner is on your beer list, it's worth getting.

The head was pretty small, maybe 3/4 inch or so, and the color was about the color of iced tea that had sat out in the sun for maybe three hours instead of the recommended eight. I took a sip and immediately tasted citrus flavors at the back end. My friend tasted it and also sensed a bit of orange in there. The carbonation was good not too fizzy, not too flat, and the body was, well, thick. That's the only way I can describe it nice and dense.

All in all, from 1 to 10, I'd give The Tilted Kilt a three and Momma's Little Yellow a six or seven. Not bad for a day that I thought would end with an hour and 10 minute drive and a shower!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mosquitos Love Beer

Hmmm ... I wonder what the source for this research is. Maybe it has something to do with carbon dioxide?

Mosquito season is upon us. Ever wondered why some people seem to be magnets for mosquitoes and others never get bitten? Scientists say mosquitoes flock to people wearing dark clothes, and people who move around a lot. Also pregnant women, maybe because of their extra body heat. And new research shows mosquitoes are attracted to people drinking beer. Something to bear in mind when you reach for a cold one at this weekend's backyard barbecue.

Original on NPR:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Week, My Favorite Beer Is...

Pliny the Elder! In fact, it may be the greatest beer I've ever tasted, hands down. Review to come. What's your favorite beer this week?

Photo courtesy of freeloosedirt

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Belgian Trappist Ale

Today I brewed a Belgian Trappist Ale with my brewing partner/teacher, Nosh, thanks to a Stein Fillers kit (Lakewood, CA). I’ll start with the recipe:

Belgian Trappist Beer Recipe (Inspired by Chimay Red)
MALT: 8 lbs. Pale Malt Extract
              1.5 lbs. Candi Sugar

GRAIN: Wheat Malt (.5 lbs)
               Belgian Aromatic (.5 lbs)
               Belgian CaraMunich (.25 lbs)
               Chocolate Malt (.1 lb)

HOPS: Tettnanger (2 oz, boil)
             Styrian Golding (.5 oz, finish)

YEAST: White Labs Trappist Ale Yeast

Damn, I make a good beer!
Those crazy Catholics! Ironic, isn’t it? That only a true trappist brews can come from trappist breweries, which are run and brewed, by trappist monks. Yes, those quiet, self-sufficient, holier-than-thou monks who live in solitude and devote their entire lives to “God” as they know him or her. The ironic part is that, although the Catholic church  celebrates many saints related to alcohol, many offshoots of the church see alcohol as the devil’s blood, inherent evil that contributes to poverty, unemployment and crime. And, honestly, it kind of does, doesn’t it? I mean, who hasn’t been freaked out a little when a poverty-stricken homeless person smelling of cheap gin drunkenly stumbles over to you asking for a bite of that slice of that pizza you’re walking home with? (Yes, that happened … hey, I live in Long Beach, what do you expect?)

Despite those profound religious indoctrinations, I think that after reading this you might have much more appreciation for trappist beers. They are brewed by trappist monks … and only trappist monks … well, if you want a “real” trappist that’s been labeled an Authentic Trappist Product.
            Ever excitedly popped open a Chimay or La Trappe? If so, it was brewed under strict conditions, including:
1.      Must have been brewed in a trappist abbey under the control of trappist monks
2.      Anything commercial having to do with the beer must depend on the monastic community
3.      The money earned from sales of these beers must not be for financial profit; the money must be directed toward helping a community

Here are the eight trappist breweries:

  1. Bières de Chimay (Belgium)
  2. Brasserie d'Orval (Belgium)
  3. Brasserie de Rochefort (Belgium)
  4. Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle (Belgium)
  5. Brouwerij Westvleteren (Belgium) (This is number-one on my 20 Beers in My Future list)
  6. Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis (Belgium)
  7. Brouwerij de Koningshoeven (Netherlands)
  8. Mont des Cats (France)
Don’t be fooled by those beers called “abbey ales.” True, they probably practice perfect Belgian beer-brewing practices, but they are not true trappists.

Trappist monk testing his brew. Courtesy London Slow Food

What was the first Belgian trappist beer brewed? When was it first brewed? What the hell is a trappist? Where am I? What’s my name? Hold on … take a deep breath. There is much to learn, and I can’t possibly get into every detail about this fine drink, but I can at least get the gist of it down.

Let’s start with who the trappist monks are. What it boils down to is they are people of a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns. They live what’s called a Cistercian life, which means they are self-sufficient and base their days around manual labor. They first started in France, moving on over to the Netherlands and Belgium. Well, they probably didn’t “move” per se, they just happened to be chopped up among political dividing lines way back when. Waaaaaaay back when. Like, the year 1,000.

Why did trappists brew beer? That’s much simpler than explaining what a trappist monk is — to feed their community. Not only feed their community, but feed it with a drink that wouldn’t kill them. Water was obviously disgusting back then, and they knew that boiling the water was possibly a lifesaver. On a side note, some say monks actually discovered using hops in beer, too … in the 15th century.

Now that I know there are certain trappist beers you can only get at certain monasteries, I have a mission! Brouwerij Westvleteren sells very limited amounts only at the monastery, and only after having made a reservation ahead of time. Now that’s an exclusive beer! I’m surprised you don’t have to also fly a monastery-built jet and land in a monastery-run airport to get it! You also have to agree to not sell it to anyone; you can only drink it yourself. I might share with you, but not if it’s against the rules.

The first trappist beer? Who really knows? It’s said the monasteries were brewing before the Middle Ages, but the first known proof of an official trappist brewery is said to be 1685, La Trappe.

Do yourself a favor and either follow the Belgian trappist recipe above and delight your senses in six weeks or find yourself a true trappist beer with the logo that states it is an Authentic Trappist Product and welcome yourself to the world of some of the finest beers ever created. Some have said that Red Chimay leaves a “silky sensation” in your mouth. Sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Well, as sexy as a monk-made beer can be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Budweiser to Men: Don’t Shave, Save Water

From Urban Farm Online:

As part of its "Grow One. Save a Million." program, Budweiser wants men to do their part for World Environment Day.

June 3, 2011

Photo: Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
 Budweiser is encouraging men to not shave in order to
save water.

This weekend, as the international community gears up for World Environment Day (June 5, 2011), Budweiser is asking adult men across the U.S. to help save 1 million gallons of water by not shaving.

As part of Budweiser’s ongoing commitment to water conservation, the “Grow One. Save a Million.” program encourages consumers to get involved by skipping a shave. The average shave uses 3 to 10 gallons of water.

Consumers 21 years of age and older can visit Budweiser’s Facebook page to make a pledge and share the water-conservation program with Facebook friends. Participants can commit to a range of no-shaving options, from a few days to multiple weeks. The page also features a daily tracker of the gallons of water saved to date.

“Water is a key ingredient in brewing Budweiser and all our beers, which is why water conservation is a priority both inside and outside our breweries,” says Kathy Casso, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Anheuser-Busch. “In the past three years alone, our 12 U.S. breweries have reduced water use by 34 percent. Additionally, our employees and their families take action by volunteering to participate in local river-cleanup projects in communities across the country.”

In 2010, more than 1,200 employees from Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch skipped shaving for one week prior to World Environment Day, helping to save about 42,000 gallons of water. This year, Budweiser is expanding the water-conservation effort by inviting suppliers, partners, wholesalers, retailers and consumers to join the effort.

“Every gallon of water that we conserve makes a difference to our communities. So when thousands of people get together for one common cause, great things can happen,” says Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters and the face of the program on Budweiser’s Facebook page. “By pledging to skip shaving and ‘grow one,’ guys can literally wear their commitment to conserving our most valuable natural resource.”

In 1998, Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters, a non-profit organization based in East Moline, Ill., dedicated to cleaning up and preserving U.S. rivers. For 20 years, River Network has provided organizational, technical and networking assistance to people working for watershed protection at the local, state and regional levels. Today, the organization has grown to include 10 full-time employees. Since the organization’s inception, more than 60,000 volunteers have helped remove more than 6 million pounds of debris from rivers. For his efforts, Pregracke has received numerous national awards.

As part of its annual recognition of World Environment Day, Anheuser-Busch and its Budweiser brand will again donate $150,000 to River Network to help support the organization’s watershed-conservation projects in each of the company’s 12 U.S. brewery cities. These projects will include stream and river cleanups, education programs, tree plantings and various activities that support the environment and provide employees and local wholesalers the opportunity to volunteer in their communities.

World Environment Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to create awareness of the environment and encourage participation in sustainability programs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Releases 'Brew in the Lou'

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Releases Brew in the Lou

ST. LOUIS, May 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has released its new book, Brew in the Lou: St. Louis' Beer Culture - Past, Present and Future. In the newspaper's new 160-page, full-color book, Post-Dispatch features editor, reporter and beer columnist Evan Benn explores the beginning of beer in the caves beneath the Lemp and Anheuser-Busch breweries to the craft beer explosion happening today.
Additionally, readers can find out what's in store from a new generation of locally owned, small-production breweries and brewpubs, build up a thirst while looking at great photos, and get suggestions for meal and beer pairings.

Brew in the Lou: St. Louis' Beer Culture - Past, Present and Future retails for $19.95 (tradecloth) and is currently available at the Post-Dispatch online store, and in local bookstores.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Think You Don't Have Time to Brew?

Think again! Come on, you know you've been letting that brewing kit your wife bought you for your 35th birthday sit in a dark, lonely, spider-web-infested corner of your garage to collect dust. What is it that's allowing you to leave it like that ... all ... lonely? You have the beer-making book, you're an armchair beer enthusiast, so stop letting your tired old bones hold you back!

Work schmork. Since when does anyone leave work at 5, sit in traffic for an hour and then get home and jump right into their hobby? Unless your hobby is sitting on the couch with your tie slightly askew, smelling like the freeway, then you're one of millions who just want to relax after work. But that still doesn't mean you don't have time to learn how to make your own beer. You still have those precious 2,880 minutes of free time during the weekend to both enjoy a craft beer AND brew your own!

Ok, so you have kids. And? Kids are great slaves ... I mean, helpers. Need something sanitized? Your kid'll do it. Send him or her outside with your fermenting bucket and a dollop of sanitizer, turn on the hose and voila! Instant sanitizing slave. And really, what more does your kid want than to just spend time with you? That could very well mean sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen as you babble on about original gravity and barley for three hours (which is about the maximum time you'll need with an extract recipe). Your little one will love hanging out with you! You're showing him or her science. Yep, that's right -- science. You'll be doing your child some serious good by having them join you in learning how to brew beer. You wouldn't dare deny your child science, would you?

Now you have no excuse to not brew beer at home. Do you and your family a favor, and just brew some beer!