Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beer. It's what's for... dessert?

Beer Cupcakes. Need I say more?

And now for something just as sweet...

Click on image to enlarge and read the entire article. FUNNY stuff!

Thanks for sending these to me Steven!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beer. Approprate for all things!

Thanks to our friends Mark and Heather out in Iowa (who we met in Negril, Jamaica during our vacation this past April) for sending over these absolutely hilarious beer related photos. Thanks guys!

Panic Floods Ireland!

We’ve all seen the faces of those ravaged by the floods of Sri Lanka and New Orleans… This "award-winning" photograph of the recent flood waters rising in Ireland captures the horror and suffering there. Keep these people in your thoughts and prayers!

Moving on to a lighter note...

The Cat's Meow

Now what would happen if the Cat in the Hat got drunk? Ponder no longer!

The Chronicles of Brewing, Part Three - El Finito!

Entry #4, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This my friends is a bitter beer face.

Yup, my first batch of homebrew was a miserable failure. It looked good, had a nice head, but didn't smell right. And the taste? Sour? You don't know the half of it. Simply stated, this isn't beer I'd let my dog drink.

But I'm not going to let that deter me. I've ordered up a fresh batch of ingredients (I'm hoping the fact that this sucker sat around for 3 years was the culprit) and I'll give it the ole college try one more time. If that fails, well... like many things in life - I tried, I failed, I learned from my mistakes and moved on.

Thankfully the world's supply of beer does not rest on my shoulders.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Three Sheets to a Beer Nut

I have a new "favorite" show and its name is Three Sheets (not Beer Nutz as one might expect). Both shows can be found on Mojo, 100% hi-def channel that presents all of its content in the highest quality 1080i picture and 5.1 surround sound.

Three Sheets follows comedian Zane Lamprey as he traverses the globe on an international drinking tour to master the local drinking customs. The world's biggest pub crawl indeed! I'd tell you more about Beer Nutz, but I can't seem to find any information about it anywhere on Mojo's own website. I've heard from fellow BeerAdvocates that it has been canned. Not a shock considering...

I've watched one episode of Beer Nutz (Portland), and two episodes of Three Sheets (Ireland and Mexico). Three Sheets is by far the funnier of the two shows, and actually very informative. Granted, it's not always about beer, but still... I found the whole process of how tequila is made (as shown in the Mexico episode) to be very fascinating. I had no clue! The tidbits that Zane (funniest host with the best paying gig EVER) throws out (did you know that the optimum drinking time after the first pour of a Guinness is 119.5 seconds according to Guinness; and did you know there should actually be two pours when dispensing this dark, thick stout?), the way the show is produced and edited - outstanding! Funny, irreverent, informative... what more can you ask?!

Beer Nutz on the other hand... both of the hosts should be hogtied and dropped in a mash tun. They're both complete dorks with zero sense of comedic timing and even less knowledge of (or interest in) craft beer. These two are the LAST guys they should have hosting the show, and probably the reason it got canned. Sad because this show had SO much potential! They go to very cool breweries and interview the legends of the industry, but... the hosts simply don't care, and they have this gawd-awful review system wherein they judge who the biggest "beer nut" is in the town the visit by awarding them a number between 1 and 5 - kegs. DOH!

I wonder if a letter writing campaign from the legion of craft brew fans out there could generate some buzz to bring it back... with new hosts. Who's with me!?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beer Nutz!

So I was channel surfing last night (after finally getting around to watching the History Channel's Star Wars Tech show that aired way back on May 28th) and came across a show on the INHD Channel called "Beer Nutz." Apparently this is (or was) a series about beer that I've never seen or even heard about before. The episode I DVRed (and havent' watched yet) last night featured McMenamins brewery up in Oregon, where Fran and I were just at.

After doing some research, I discovered that Season 1 is being released on DVD on July 24th. But I can't find any recent info on this show, or whether it's even still on the air. There's a couple of threads over on BeerAdvocate.com about it, but again - nothing recent. If anyone has any more info on this show, let me know. I'm gonna track down this DVD the second it drops and let ya'll know how it is.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Chronicles of Brewing, Part Two

Entry #3, Friday, July 13, 2007

"Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor..." (Drowning Pool)

One might think that the ironic timing of tasting a homebrew for the first time on Friday the 13th would not bode well. The good news is I'm still alive and my body did not in fact hit the floor after giving "Mad Man Golden Lager" a try.

Bad news? Well, it's not that my first homebrew is bad per say... it just ain't all that good either. It looks good - cloudy like a Hefe (it still has to go through the clarification stage in the fridge), smells good, and retains a nice head... it's just not very tasty at this point. It has a taste, I think, but of what... not sure. Not any lager I've ever had that's for sure. With any luck - any luck that's not bad given the whole Friday the 13th thing - it might turn out to be drinkable. Only time (five more days to be precise) as they say, will tell.

Fran wanted to give it try and it was better then she was expecting. Coming from a non-beertriot (beer + patriot = beertriot) that says a little somethin' somethin'. At this point I'm pretty impressed with Ole Keggy's ability to bang out brew. I also have to take into account that I did receive this kit some 3 years ago and the contents, while hermetically sealed against the ravaging elements and (to some degree) time... they're still three years old. I've ordered a fresh new Honey Beer Kit for my next project. That might "git-r-done."

One thing I can say thus far - I'm having fun. Remember that old (it played in the late 70's) commercial for Heinz Ketchup that used Carly Simon song's "Anticipation?" Well, that about sums it up for home brewing. There's a feeling that's similar to the one you had as a kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. If this next batch o' brew works out, I'm thinking about graduating to a more serious set up. This one from Williams Brewing looks intriguing. I'd like reader input on this, so if anyone has any thoughts, or knows of an even better system (that is simple enough that I won't blow my house up, or cost me an arm and a leg), please let me know!

As I said, five more days until the brew is done done. Five more days of sitting in the fridge chilling and clarifying. Five more days of anticipation. Check back Wednesday night for the results of the final taste test!

Until then, keep this maxim from Dave Barry (the famous humor columnist) in mind: "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Chronicles of Brewing, Part One

A few years ago my folks got me a homebrew kit for my birthday. The Beer Machine - AS SEEN ON TV! - is a nifty little gadget, but it hasn't done much brewing. OK, it hasn't done any brewing. Alas, the little keg that could has been relegated to sitting idly down in my beer room staring up at my fellow beer-patriots and I as we walked in and out, in and out, in and out... grabbing bottles of pre-made beer from the icy cold fridge. Instead Lil Keggy (so what if I've nicknamed my beer machine?!) has been collecting a form of yeast as yet to be useful in the actual brewing of beer.

Until now.

What follows will be a chronicle of my adventures in brewing my first batch of beer with The Beer Machine. This first endeavor will be called "Mad Man Golden Lager." I'm calling it this because it is a golden lager mix, I am "The Mad Man," and since this is my first attempt at brewing a beverage that I will actually ingest into my body - it might quite literally make me mad. If that should happen... send help. Please. So, without further ado... on with the show.

The Chronicles of Brewing, Part One

Entry #1: Sunday, July 8, 2007

I drink beer. That's what I do. Way back in my first semester of college (wow, was that really 22 years ago?) I dove in with the fervor - some would call it plain ole naivety - of an 18 year old ready to take on the world. Sadly, I choose to take on the world of science. By the time that first semester ended I knew that I never wanted to have anything to do with science ever again. Not ever.

Fast forward a few decades to my current state of beertopia. As I said - I drink beer. The actual brewing I left to better (and decidedly much more intelligent) men. Then I turned the Big Four Ooooh, and my quaint lil world changed. As Yoda once said (yes, my inner geek still lives even after 40 years), "Do or do not. There is no try." These days my ears are actually starting to resemble those of that little old geezer.

But I digress... as I'm wont to do now that I'm middle aged.

I've decided to throw my much maligned sense of science out with the mash tun water, and brew my own beer. I'm starting small. Small as in Yoda small. Small as in The Beer Machine small. If the whole process of allowing yeast to ferment under pressure happens to go completely sideways, it won't blow my house up. At most I'll lose a few breweriana items, maybe a wall.

I crack open the kit and read through the directions for once in my life. Men, as we all know, do not read directions. Why should we? Most of the words are either way over our heads or fail to correspond to any one of the 4,326 illustrations in said directions - which all look like they were crudely drawn by a 3rd grader using a charcoal briquette. Why waste time reading when we could be trying to put a square peg in a round hole?!

But read I do nonetheless. Saint Arnold must have been looking down on me because had I not read the directions I'm pretty sure I would have blown up a portion of my basement trying to incorrectly insert the CO2 cartridge into the thingeemajig atop The Beer Machine.

After a relatively brain pain free thirty minutes or so I had the contraption assembled and the essential ingredients (water, golden lager beer mix and brewer's yeast) mixed inside - fermenting away!

The next phase = the hardest part, which amounts to a lot of waiting. For the next five days The Beer Machine must remain undisturbed as it goes about the fermentation process. God may have rested on the seventh day, but The Mad Man gets to get his drink on two days sooner!

Entry #2: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I have to do something to fill the time between Day 1 and Day 5, and what better thing to do then make my body - which as they say is my temple - fit for beer consumption! During my work out I take time out to investigate The Beer Machine and find that all the foaming bubbles have vanished. Science my friends... science!

I'll save you all the tedium I've been experiencing and won't post again until Day 5 (which will be Friday). Tune in next time when you'll (hopefully) hear me say "Damn howdy that's good beer!" and not the thud of a body hitting the cold vinyl floor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


So much beer news... so little time. Let's dive in shall we?!

A microbrewery in the little down of Pawnee City, Nebraska, recently released a beer honoring America's Redneck, Larry the Cable Guy. Launched on July 7 by Schilling Bridge Winery & MicroBrewery, Git-R-Done beer is named after the comic's world famous catchphrase. Pawnee City is home to both Schilling Bridge and Dan Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy). "The light beer is made from high-quality ingredients with more 'flavor and body' than popular corporate beers," said Mike Schilling, owner/operator of previously mentioned establishment.

Fran and I spent the 4th of July holiday up in the Portland, Oregon, area. During our trip I got to taste a bounty of new brews and visit a few very cool breweries. Let's start with the beers (at least the one's I remember): MacTarnahan's Oregon Honey Beer, Henry Weinhard's Summer Wheat, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Metolius Golden Stone Amber Ale, Beach Bum from - GULP! - Anheuser-Busch (which is getting a pretty heady review at BeerAdvocate), and a few others I can't seem to remember. I did have something from Deschutes Brewery, either the Mirror Pond Ale or the Twilight Ale, but which one... no idea. Anywho, they were all very tasty for summer brews. I'm not found of Sierra Nevada, but their Summerfest was darn tasty. And AB's Beach Bum was, very surprisingly, quite good.

The pièce de résistance though was Bridgport Brewery's Haymaker Extra Pale Ale. Absolutely outstanding! This bright gold ale is made with four malts and three varieties of hops. It's very refreshing and flavorful without being over the top. It contains 5.3 percent alcohol (by volume). Haymaker was first released in May (just in time for Summer) and will be available through September, but only in the 18 most Western states. Grab some while you can!

Oregon is home to more breweries than even Colorado. Fran and I have been to many a bar and breweries over the years (no Barfly's Anonymous? time to set one up!). None are more original then the one we stumbled onto (thanks to Fran's sister Kathy for the recommendation!) - McMenamins. By now you all know I'm not one to mince words or find myself lacking when it comes to jibberjabbering, but to try and explain in so many words excactly what this wholly bizarre yet exquisite establishment is... fails even me. Check out their website for all the details, and if you ever find yourself in Troutdale, Oregon, do yourself a favor and check out their Edgefield Brewery. Beer geeks will have heard of their Terminator Stout, which is fairly world famous, but you must check out their Ruby (the first beer in the US to be brewed with fruit, in this case raspberries), their Wheat, and Hammerhead Pale Ale (their biggest seller).

With all this beer to drink, one needs the perfect beer glass in which to drink from, right? Well, Sam Adams has just the glass. Jim Koch, King Brewba of The Boston Beer Company (makers of the Samuel Adams line of hoptastic beers), got together with some scientists and engineers to design the world's best pint glass. Apparently, they got-r-done. According to Paul Pacult, a consultant on the project (and Editor of the Spirit Journal newsletter), "I've consulted on glass shapes for wine and whiskey, but as far as beer goes, this is the first one designed specifically for a lager beer by people who aren't in the glass industry. And it definitely makes a difference in experiencing taste and aroma." (photo taken from the Colorado Springs Gazette)

With an endorsement like that I ordered up a set of 4 (for $30) from the Sam Adams E-store. They're so popular that they're starting to show up in pubs and bars across the country. In fact, the glasses are currently on a 2-4 week backorder, so you better grab them while you can!

I'll leave you with this thought from the great Winston Churchill: Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Beer - American as Apple Pie and Chevrolet!


As in... copper can. As in the copper beer can that my sister and brother-in-law found in the basement at their home in Oregon. This particular copper beer can of Hop Gold True Lager came from the Star Brewery in Vancouver, WA. The date stamped on the top reads April 28, 1939.

I did a little research on the Internet and found this can (in really good shape) going for $1,750. Sadly, the can they found wasn't nearly as nice, but still... it's a wonderful piece of Americana. Beer has had a tremendous impact on the development of this country, more of which I'll get into later. There was a time (several actually) where beer was an everyday drink, consumed by kids and adults like.

I found very little information on Star Brewery on the web, other then they restarted operation in 1933 (immediately after prohibition ended). If anyone has any solid info about Star, please let me know!

I love Oregon. Do you know that it's the only state in the Union that has an entire month legislatively dedicated to craft beer and microbreweries. The entire month is full of craft beer related events. Sadly, I won't be here for any of them! So last night we improvised and had a mini-beerfest here at the lake house. Haymaker Pale Ale from Bridgeport Brewing (in Portland) is unequivocally a fantastic beer. For a more refined review of this beer, check out Jason's Alstrom's review over on Beeradvocate. If you can suck a few bottles down, I highly recommend you do so on this most American of holidays. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2007


So, what prompted me to dedicate a blog just to beer? A few things actually.

First, there's the fact that I love to write, and I love to write about beer. Goes without saying. Secondly, I turned 40 back on April 7. Which by the way was the 74th anniversary of the legalization of beer for those not paying attention. Next year's 75th anniversary - PARTY! But I digress...

At 40, things change. In this case me and my immediate family have been talking about a great many things (more on that later). Frankly, as the old saying goes: "It's time to shit or get off the pot." In Januray of this year that feeling hit me regarding my "never endingly-finished" (trademarked, pay me to use it!) novel. I've been working on this thing for 5+ years. It was time to write it - or don't. I had 20 pages 6 months ago. I have almost 100 now. I've stalled over the last two months (meaning I haven't written a damn thing), but I've gotten back on the horse recently.

The same can be said for all the crap we've talked about doing for the last 5 or so years (more on that latter; I'm just not ready to divulge my plans for world beer domination... or something like that). Anywho, I'm tired of just talking about it. It's time to do something about it, or stop talking about it and just keep on living life like most people in today's world - too afraid (or brainwashed by their own fears) to get off the couch and make their dreams come true.

Third, a new wave of marketing is sweeping the craft brew industry. Actually, you're taking part in it by reading this blog. That's right - blogs. I heard rumors of this before now, but the latest issue of Beeradvocate confirms it. According to Jason Feifer's "Beer News" article: "as brewers look for ways to announce their latest beers, bloggers are increasingly part of their plans."

I don't surf, but by God I want in on this wave!

According to Paula Johnston, Bridgeport Brewing's (Oregon's oldest craft brewery) marketing manager, "When we launch a new product, we want everybody and their brother to know about it."

Jason Feifer goes on to explain that "beer bloggers may not have the same clout as professional reviewers (which I just so happen to be, just not of beer; not yet anyway!) nor the same reach as newspapers or magazines, but they have devoted followings and can help spread the word about good new brews."

Amen brother... amen!

Case in point: I recently bought my dad a membership to the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club for his birthday. The first package arrived last week and we got to sample (OK, fully enjoy) all 4 of the fine brews included in this months' package. Two were from Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois, and two were from Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland. They were all spectacular! My pops and I would never have discovered these wonderful brews if not for this club. They are well worth the price of admission folks.

From Two Brothers we sampled The Bitter End Pale Ale. For me to say any pale ale is good is a feat unto itself because I am not big on bold hoppiness. Then we had had - a daring direction for an American craft brewery I have to admit - Domaine DuPage French Country Ale. I'm about as fond of anything French (damn frogs) as I am of pale ales. The Domaine was - dare I say - exquisite. I'd keep this in my fridge on a regular basis.

From Clipper City we had the Clipper City Gold Ale and the Peg Leg Imperial Stout (at a hefty 8% A/V), one of their "Heavy Seas" line of beers. In this the "Year of the Pirate" I would pimp this till the treasure was found. I love the marketing direction Clipper City uses. The Gold Ale was good (it should be since it won some awards a few years back), but I could use a never ending supply of the Peg Leg during the winter months. It's one damn fine (chocolaty) stout that would go perfect with snow on the ground and a fire roaring.

By the way, take a look at Hugh Sisson's (Clipper City's head brewer) "Diary of a Brewer" blog which I added to the list off to the left. It's a very cool look into things from a brewer's (of renown) perspective.

Damn I can ramble. OK, so I've sucked down a few today. SUE ME! So with that...

Until next time, keep the taps full. Ya never know when I might be dropping by!
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