Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hoppy Brew Year!

Let me apologize for not having regular, timely columns over the last few weeks. While I'd like to say I was taking a break, being lazy, or too busy playing with my new PS3 that my loving wife (be sure to heck out her food blog For the Love of Fran's Food) gave me for Christmas (it's killer, friend me on the PlayStation Network @ Eli_the_Mad_Man)... it's none of those things.

Fact is I've been beery busy elsewhere in the Beer-o-sphere. Aside from writing 3 - 4 articles every week as the Southern Colorado Beer Examiner, I was also recently made VP of Content & Programming at Beer Tap TV , which means I have even less time to write here. On top of all that I'm still a freelance writer scribbling about other things. I have several pens in the inkwell, including the possibility of writing for one of the coolest beer mags (sorry, can't say which one at the moment), and I'm still writing the occasional video game article (a big write up about DC Universe Online will be published in the next issue of Beckett's Massive Online Gamer Magazine).

But back to Beer Tap TV... we're growing exponentially every week and 2009 is gonna be off the tap crazy. So if you've missed what's been going on now's a good time to catch up. Since the week of December 7 we've been banging out 4 episodes a week - three Taste Buds and a Beer Buzz. Within the next few weeks we'll be adding another new show (so we'll have a new show 5 days a week). As you may recall I was writing The Beer Bucket List column for MOJO135. Well, MOJO officially closed it's doors on December 1st. We're converting that written column into what should be a very cool televised show.

So there ya have it. I want to wish all those who have have been reading this little slice of beery goodness a very Hoppy Brew Year! Be sure to drink in 2009 with a great craft beer... it's the new champagne you know. ;)

Until next year... Zivjeli!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Beery Christmas to all... and to all a good beer!

Wishing all my friends and family out in the blog-o-sphere a very Merry Christmas! Be sure to have a good brew or two today.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saint Arnold Brewing Company invites you to have fun

I love Saint Arnold's Brewing Company (the oldest brewery in Texas). The funny thing is... I've never actually had any of their beer. So what is it that I love about them?

Aside from having a super cool mascot (in Saint Arnold, Patron Saint of Brewers) and a kick ass logo (see it on the right), they always have something crazy going on.

If you live in the Houston area and have a penchant for growing facial hair - Grow A Donegal & Win A Blu-Ray Player! And what the hell is a "donegal" exactly? According to the website: "A beard that goes from one sideburn along the jawline to the other sideburn without a mustache, leprechaun and Abe Lincoln style."


To compete you must check in with the brewery (clean-shaven) sometime between Saturday, December 27 and Saturday, January 3. If you're lazy, you can send them a picture of yourself with the day's newspaper. So what does "clean-shaven" mean exactly? Zero facial hair and those Elvis sideburns must be cut at least halfway up the ear. Judging will occur at their St. Patrick's Day Party.

Too much work? How does hopping onto a ship full of Saint Arnold brew and cruising around the Caribbean sound to you? Ya, that's what I thought. In November 2009 they'll be loading up a cruise ship full of brew and hitting Jamaica (where Fran and I have been a few times now), Grand Cayman and Cozumel. They dont' have a lot of info up for the '09 cruise, but click here to check out the 411 from last year's cruise.

Is cooking more your thang? Saint Arnold invites all you chefs out there to face off at their second annual One Pot Showdown. This big Texas throwdown is slated for Sunday, January 25. Thirty teams will have up to four hours to knockout on some knockout food. Judges will award prizes to the top three recipes based on creativity, use and distinction of the Saint Arnold beer in the recipe and overall taste. A portion of each ticket sold will benefit the Houston Food Bank, which feeds 80,000 different people each week and nearly a half million people each year. Last year's event raised $1,800 for charity. Tickets will be available through the brewery. Be sure to check the website for all the rules. Last years winners whipped up a finger food that the brewery renamed "Saint Arnold Fried Beer," using Saint Arnold Winter Stout as an ingredient. Feel free to download the recipe from the Saint Arnold Brewhouse Blog.

Obviously this brewery has a zest for life (who else sponsors a PGA golfer?). They also care about their patrons, community, and their beer. 2009 will be big for the Saint. A move to a "new" (for them, the building was first built in 1914) and massive (I do mean massive) building is planned. Check out this link for info and a slew of pictures on the undertaking.

Oh, and according to the list of awards ole Arney has collected, this Saint makes some damn fine beer. Now all I need to do is have some! Can someone help me out with that? Please? ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Stuff Works - Beer!

How Stuff Works on Discovery Channel (home of Dirty Jobs, MythBusters, Man vs. Wild, etc.) is a program that shows folks how a vast number of ordinary things - work.

Well, this Thursday (that would be tomorrow) HSW will focus on the essentials of beer making. Throughout the hour long program numerous experts, brew masters and beer connoisseurs talk about how they are innovating new ways to make beer.

One of those experts is local (to Coloradans) Beer Rockstar, Charlie Papazian. According to an article he wrote on his National Beer Examiner column the producers of the show spent the day with Charlie at his home over the summer. During their visit they filmed his hop garden, homebrew “garage,” beer stash and sampled several brews while he told them “how beer works.”

Another expert on the show will be brewunderkind Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing Company in Delaware. If you're looking for a totally different kind of beer... Dogfish is the brewery that makes it.

Be sure to check out the HSW website because there are several links to some really interesting beer articles, such as: "Find out how the first beer can was introduced by the American Can Co. and Krueger Brewing Co. of New Jersey."

What: "How Stuff (Beer) Works"
Airs: Thursday, December 18 @ 8:00 PM
Re-Airs: Friday, December 19 @ Midnight
Friday, January 2 @ 6:00 PM

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

American craft beer sweeps Chinese taste buds

I just received this press release from the Brewer's Association and found it very interesting. Apparently the Chinese want more of our craft beer! After reading this press release (which I did not write)... let me know what you think.

Export Development Program Showcases Flavorful Craft Beer in China

Boulder, Colorado- December 16, 2008 - With the success of the American craft beer movement in the United States and ever-growing interest in Europe, the Brewers Association again turned its attention to the burgeoning Chinese market. During the week of December 8, 2008, the BA's Export Development Program (EDP) showcased American craft beer in Shanghai and Beijing. The trip promoted craft beer for the first time in China's capital city, while expanding on the previous activity conducted in the country's financial center. The BA's efforts were highlighted by an unexpected visit with, and support from, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer.

Photo Caption: Bob Pease (Brewers Association)(Right) and Eric Rosenburg (Bryant Christie Inc.)(Left) receive assistance from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer (Center) promoting American craft beer in China.

"We are excited about the possibility of exposing more people in China to the flavor and diversity of American craft beer," said Brewers Association Vice President Bob Pease. Through craft beer seminars held in Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese beer trade and media were introduced to different styles of American craft beer. Pease added, "American craft beer is gaining traction in this market, but much of the trade and media are still unaware of the unique characteristics, numerous styles and superior quality of American craft beer compared to beers that are more readily available."

The seminars, with content provided by the Siebel Institute, offered information on beer styles, ingredients, storage and handling, and food and beer pairing. Six beers were sampled during each seminar with the final three beers paired with Western and Asian foods. Five American craft breweries currently export to China, supplying 20 brands to the marketplace.

To date, the Export Development Program has been able to promote its members' beer in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Japan, Australia and Germany. Today, exported beer from American craft brewers is in demand with over 50% more sales in 2007 than in 2006. This was the Brewers Association's second visit to China. American craft beer sales grew four times from 2007 to 2008 in China with more than 80 on-premise establishments and 50 retailers carrying products today.

Export Development Program Web site:

Friday, December 12, 2008

A holiday beer with a malt ball center?

This (literally) just in from the fine folks at the Karl Strauss Brewing Company in beautiful San Diego, California.

I'll name this PR sheet... Karl Strauss and the Malt Ball.

San Diego, CA - December 12, 2008 - It is tradition at Karl Strauss that each winter a different Karl Strauss brewer gets to try their hand at the Holiday Beer. This year the opportunity fell to our very own Ian Young. Ian knew he wanted to brew a Stout, but he had visions of malt balls dancing in his head. Our friends at Briess Malting had kicked off the holiday season for us with a sack of Briess malt balls and that's when inspiration hit - Ian wanted to use the malt balls in his holiday beer. Some thought he was crazy, others were intrigued, but no one expected the end result to taste so good.

This beer is rich and full-bodied and based off of a recipe for a classic Russian Imperial Stout. But we used large amounts of chocolate malt and dark caramel malt for a less roasty version of the classic style. Rolled oats introduced during the four-step mash helped create a smooth and full mouthfeel. A blend of Willamette and Chinook hops were added solely for balance, and then came the fun part. The equivalent of 5,000 malt ball centers was tossed directly into the boil. "I wanted the four-step mash to create a dryer taste from the barley and then have a lingering sweetness from the non-fermentable malt ball sugars added during the boil. I love malt balls, but now I think they taste even better in beer!" said Ian.

Karl Strauss Imperial Malt Ball Stout is a rich, full-bodied stout with
loads of chocolate flavor and a subtle sweetness imparted from the malt balls. This is the perfect winter warmer on a cold night, and at 8.5% ABV, you won't need a fire to warm you up. The hint of chocolaty sweetness makes it an excellent match with heartier fare such as holiday roasts and of course chocolate desserts.

You can enjoy the Imperial Malt Ball Stout at all six Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant locations and select bars across Southern California during the month of December.

Karl Strauss Imperial Malt Ball Stout
8.5% ABV
85 SRM
30 IBU

I don't know about you, but I'm drooling! I want some of this beer!!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Save Three Sheets: The Rally

MOJO HD went off the air on December 1st. Aside from ending my run of weekly Beer Bucket List entries (more on that at the end of this article) that means no new Three Sheets. No more Zane Lamprey or his faithful sidekick, Pleepleus.

As of this moment no network has picked up this amazing global pub crawl with the funniest host on television. Why? No clue other then to say that television execs are obviously stupid. Just look at all the moronic programming (i.e., "reality" programs like dancing with the hasbeens and other "talent" shows) that saturates the airwaves.

Well, Zane is holding a rally... and a party.

On Tuesday, December 16th Zane will personally lead a protest march to SAVE THREE SHEETS! As is typical with Zane this is far more than just a protest march. It's a pub crawl as well! Here's the deal:

  • It will take place in Century City, California, and march to and from Beverly Hills... because that's where all the decision makers are. As poor as these maker's of decisions seem to be, they are still the one's who must see the march and hear the wails and laments of 3S fans.
  • Zane will also be doing the same thing in New York City on Thursday, December 18th! You can see all the details, locations, etc, on Zane's website.
  • These rallies are free. It'll only cost you as much as you want to spend on drinks during the pub crawl.
  • "Save Three Sheets" t-shirts will be available on Zane's website. He's going to make them as inexpensive as possible. They will also be available at the rallies until supplies run out.
  • Everyone who attends will receive a THREE SHEETS shot glass signed by Zane.
  • Feel free to make signs and banners. Let your voices be heard!

Below is the official press release that went out today:


Popular Travel and Drinking Show Host Calls All Fans to Send a Message

(December 9, 2008) LOS ANGELES- Zane Lamprey, host of the fan-favorite television series Three Sheets, is hosting a rally on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 in Los Angeles and in New York on Thursday, December 18, 2008 to save his beloved show. The show, which previously aired on the MOJO HD channel, needs to find a new network to air its next season. Rallies being held in Los Angeles and New York City are an effort to draw attention to the show's popularity and convince television executives to place the program on their network.

To help save their favorite show from extinction, hundreds of Three Sheets fans will join Lamprey in Los Angeles as he leads the march from Century City to Beverly Hills, passing the buildings that house the executives with the power to put the show into their television line-up. The rally, which will also be a three-stop pub crawl, will begin at 3pm at Rock Sugar in the Westfield Century City Mall (10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Century City, CA 90067). The group will march east towards Beverly Hills for a second stop at Siniqual (9595 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210) around 4:30pm. The final stretch will lead them back to Century City at Pink Taco (10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Century City, CA 90067) for a post-rally party around 6pm.

Lamprey will then head to NYC to host a similar rally/pub crawl with the score of loyal east coast "Three Sheets" fans. Steve McKenna and Jim-the-Cop, two of the show's regular guest stars, will join the cause. The rally will begin with a pre-march drink at 3pm at Houndstooth Pub (820 8th Avenue at 37th) and then march up Broadway through Times Square making their second stop at Aspen Social Club (157 W. 47th St between 6th and 7th) around 4:30pm. They will continue east through Rockefeller Center and end their march at Sutton Place (1015 2nd Ave between 53rd and 54th) for a post-rally party around 6pm. New York-based mobile social network, will be providing exclusive bar specials and a free drink ticket to each person who registers and tags their location by "broadcasting" from each bar (

"The networks need to stop looking at Three Sheets at face value. It's not just a show about a guy who travels around the world and drinks," Says Zane Lamprey, host of Three Sheets. "It's more than that... I also eat. We're going to show the TV execs that this tried and proven show has a bevy of the world's most loyal, dedicated and endearing fans."

As the most recognized world drinking ambassador, Lamprey has imbibed his way through over 50 countries while shooting Three Sheets. He has acquired not only a full passport, but a wealth of knowledge about world drinking customs. He's enjoyed the finest Champagnes, oldest Scotches, and most expensive Sakes. He has downed booze strong enough to degrease an engine, danced with the green fairy (Absinthe), and bathed in a tub of beer. Lamprey not only knows how to drink, he also knows a lot about what he's drinking.

Three Sheets has aired for three seasons on MOJO HD and is wrapping up filming on season four, which includes exotic locations like Tahiti, Tanzania, Tuscany, New Zealand, Newcastle, Iceland, Poland, Lithuania and Namibia.

For more information on Zane Lamprey, Three Sheets and the Los Angeles or New York pub crawl/rally, please visit

Media Contact:
Karen Marines

So... what about "The Beer Bucket List"? Well, it's being moved from MOJO135 to Beer Tap TV where it will undergo a glorious transformation -- printed word to vunderbar video! Look for this to kick off right after the New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are you the Beerdrinker of the Year?

Pssst. I hear you're a Beer Geek. Think so do ya?

Let me ask: do you keep track of every single beer you've ever tasted, and what it tasted like? Do you write down every place you've ever been to taste that beer? Do you live, breath, think, talk and drink beer? Is your beeresume (beer resume) so hefty that when you drop the sucker on a table it wobbles and strains under the weight?

If so... you may be the next Beerdrinker of the Year!

Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, is seeking the most passionate, edu-ma-kated beer geek from around the globe to become their 13th annual BDotY! But it's not just a matter of being able to throw back kegs o' beer... you gotta know stuff. Lot's o' stuff. Here are the details:

Beeresumes for the 2009 Beerdrinker search must include each entrant’s beer drinking philosophy, details on their passion for beer, and their 2008 beer experiences. Beeresumes should detail the entrant’s understanding of beer and its history and importance to civilization, as well as the entrant’s efforts to educate others to the joys of great beer.

It must be emailed to Wynkoop as an email Word document attachment to, and it must be received by Wynkoop no later than December 31, 2008 (so you better hurry, time is running out!). Resumes sent via any other means will not be accepted. Be sure to check Wynkoop's website for all the details and requirements.

All submitted beeresumes will be reviewed by the nation’s best beer experts, beer journalists and previous Beerdrinker winners. The top three entrants are flown to Wynkoop (at their expense, not yours) for the BDotY finals to be held on February 21, 2009. At the finals, a panel of wigged & robed judges (literally) comprised of the nation’s best beer minds and previous winners will grill the crap out of the finalists and pick the winner. The event is open to the public and starts at 2:00 PM.

So what do you get for going to all this trouble?
  • Free beer for life at the Wynkoop brewery in Denver
  • $250 worth of beer at your local brewpub or beer bar
  • Apparel proclaiming you are the '09 BDotY
  • Name engraved on the BDotY trophy located at Wynkoop
I attended last year's ceremony and I'll be at the '09 coronation as well. Not as a participant mind you. These devoted beer geeks must endure two hours of questioning and cross examination about a hoary host of beer facts, theory, brewing concepts, etc. Frankly, I ain't that SMRT, but my beer buddy Matt Venzke (who I met via the social networking site, The Aleuminati) is, and won last year's competition through a combination of knowledge and a lot of humor.

It's so tough to get to the finals that last year Wynkoop decided to pay tribute to some of the entrants by adding a Rookie of the Year award to the best first-time BDotY entrant. Last year, Virgil Grider (also a member of The Aleuminati) was the first recipient of the award and got himself a special "Rookie of the Year Beerdrinker" shirt. To give you just a little idea of how hard it is to win -- Virgil tasted over 1,100 different beers in 2007 and didn't even make it into the final round. DOH!

Here's what Matt Venzke had to say about winning BDotY:

The whole ex-beer-ience has been a blast. Joining the prestigious ranks of Beerdrinker winners has led to private brewery tours, much free beer and a greatly expanded circle of beery friends. I’ve also had the pleasure of representing Beer Nation in various newspaper, TV and radio appearances. My parents are very proud.

Sooooo... still think you got the hops to go toe-to-toe with these seriously hardcore Beer Geeks? If you do, throw your mug into the ring and find out. Good luck. You're gonna need it!

*And if you can't make it... don't worry. It looks like Beer Tap TV will be on hand to film and air the entire thing LIVE to the Interwebs for those of you who can't make it out to the Napa Valley of the Beer World!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Full Sail Brewing & Big Daddy J

Nope, that's not a new rock band... but it is a collaboration of sorts.

As part of Full Sail's continuing "Brewer's Share" line up of small batch draft beers they are proud to introduce... Big Daddy J's Malt Liquor!

Every new and interesting beer in the "Brewer's Share" line is made by each individual brewer at Full Sail and gets featured in the Full Sail pubs in both Hood River and Portland.

Big Daddy J's Malt Liquor was created by soon-to-be-daddy, Jason Munoz. Thus the name Big Daddy J. According to Jason, BDJ is golden in color, hopped up with Hallertau Hersbrucker hops, and perfectly balanced. It's clean and smooth, and at a hefty 8% ABV has a drinkable smoothness that goes down easy. Oh, I bet it does!

Full Sail invites you to come and meet Jason (and his beer) at the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub on Monday December 15, from 5:00 to7:00PM and at their Riverplace Brewery in Portland, on Tuesday December16th from 5:00 to 7:00PM. In addition, Full Sail is also celebrating 21 years of doing what they love to do... and that's brew beer. So there's plenty to celebrate!

The "Brewer's Share" beers will only be available on tap at Full Sail's Tasting Room and Pub in Hood River, Oregon, and at Full Sail's Brewery at Riverplace, in Portland, Oregon. (Growlers to go are welcome.)

For a complete list of Full Sail's birthday festivities visit

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Avery releases the devil!

Hey, even the devil likes him a lil Christmas!

On Wednesday, December 3, Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, is letting the devil run free as they host a Mephistopheles' Stout release party!

Beer Style: Stout
Hop Variety: Magnum, Styrian Goldings
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, black malt,roasted barley,Belgian special B, aromatic
OG: 1.135
ABV: An ungodly 16.1%
IBU's: 107
Color: Black as night

Mephistopheles is the crafty shape shifter, the second fallen angel. Amazingly complex, coal black, velvety and liqueurish, this demon has a bouquet of vine-ripened grapes, anise and chocolate covered cherries with flavors of rum-soaked caramelized dark fruits and a double espresso finish. IBU's 107.

Mephistopheles is the final installment of "The Demons of Ale" series.

So are you cold, tired, and need something to knock your socks off? Who the hell says "no" to that kinda question... even if you don't?!

Whatever the true answer may be, get yourself up to Boulder and kick it with Mephistopheles’ at Avery's taproom (5763 Arapahoe Ave.) between 4 and 7 PM.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

De Proef-Bell's Collaboration Announcement

Bell's Brewery named as partner for 2009 De Proef Brewmaster's Collaboration Series

Seattle, WA December 1, 2008 - SBS Imports of Seattle, Washington is pleased to announce that Bell's Brewery has agreed to be the 2009 partner for the latest brew in the De Proef Brewmaster's Collaboration Series. The yet to be designed beer will be brewed in March at De Proef in Lochristi, Belgium and released to the USA market in September 2009.

The initial beer in the series was Signature Ale - originally brewed in 2007 with Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing/Lost Abbey. Jason Perkins of Allagash collaborated in 2008 on Les Deux Brasseurs. Both beers have been exceptionally well-received by beer enthusiasts.

"Each year it is my pleasure to invite a noted American brewer to
participate in this series," noted SBS Founder Alan Shapiro. "I am thrilled that John Mallet & Bell's have agreed to be the 2009 partner."

"I am really looking forward to this project," added Bell's Production
Manager, John Mallet. "I have several family ties to the area which makes
this invite to brew with Dirk Naudts at De Proef even more special."

Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo, MI is one of the most highly regarded and
creative breweries in the country, known for its bold, unfiltered,
bottle-conditioned beers. Since its founding in 1983 by Larry Bell it has
garnered numerous medals and accolades. Its 2007 production of over 90,000
barrels ranked it among the top 15 of American craft breweries. More
information on Bell's is available at

De Proef Brouwerij of Lochristi, Belgium was created in 1996 by highly
regarded brewing engineer and professor, Dirk Naudts. The ultra-scientific brewery blends modern equipment and technologies with both traditional and new world brewing techniques. SBS imports a unique range of beers from De Proef under the De Proef Brewmaster's Collection branding.

SBS Imports was created in 2002 by specialty beer industry veteran Alan
Shapiro. In addition to the DeProef brands, SBS represents Aspall Cyders
from Suffolk, England and Batemans beers from Wainfleet, England. More information on the SBS portfolio is available at

Friday, November 28, 2008

Flying Dog Beverage Stimulus Package

Were you one of those really "dedicated" (aka crazy) Christmas shoppers waiting in line this morning... just raring to run over anyone who got in your way for that supercallafragalisticlly priced "Black Friday" gift?

Well... hope ya had fun. If you're a beer geek, or looking for a sweet gift for a beer geek in your life... you didn't have to get up early. If fact, you didn't even have to leave the house.

WTF?! How is that possible?!

Introducing the “Flying Dog Beverage Stimulus Package”

All day today (Black Friday, November 28) Flying Dog Brewery is giving everyone 33% off at their online store (! Shop their site leisurely from the comfy confines of your home, suckin' down some morning after java in your PJs. When you're ready to check out use the discount code BEERDRINKERBAILOUT and you'll save 1/3 on everything from pint glass sets to T-shirts to cute women’s hoodies. Beer is not included 'cuz it’s completely illegal, but every other bit o' Flying Dog swag is eligible!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

13th annual Holiday Ale Festival

Are you "ale-ing" for a good time? If so... here's a possible cure!

The 13th annual Holiday Ale Festival will take place December 4 - 7 at
Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. Yes, December can be nasty in the Great Northwest -- dark, cold and wet, but don't let that stop you because everyone will stay nice and toasty (and dry!) under the heated tents! Hey, Oregonians know how to party!

There will be more than 40 specialty and vintage beers from around the country, all of which have been brewed specifically to bring warmth and cheer to the holiday season. Each beer is uniquely crafted for the festival and can't be tasted outside the celebration. DOH! Take a look at the list of beers that will be on tap and you'll instantly turn Grinch green with envy! Oh man I wish I could go!!!

As readers of this blog know, I love me some Widmer. Their Hefeweizen was my first sortie into the craft beer bunker waaaay back in the day, so I'm pretty much a sucka for all their brews. Well, those of you lucky enough to be going can expect to taste a delicious holiday-inspired brew from Widmer in the form of the recently concocted Babushka's Secret, a Black Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout with an ABV of 9.0%. I WANT SOME OF THIS... NOW!!!!! How can I get some?!

Admission into the festival is free, but if you want to taste beers... well, you're gonna have to pony(keg) up some dough (or would that be yeast?). To actually taste brew you have to purchase a $20 tasting package. Not bad considering you get a souvenir mug and 10 beer tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased for $1 each. Ouch. See, I'm not big on the whole "beer ticket" model at festivals. They're just.... meh.

But wait! There are various pour sizes and ticket amounts, so in scheme of things... not bad. A "taster" size pour at this festival is a whopping 4 ounces! Be warned: a few of the limited release and special tapping beers will require two tickets. You can get a full mug 'o beer (14 lushes ounces), but you'll have to drop four tickets, and some of the limited release and special tappings brewskis may not be available in full mug pours.

Ya, I want to go. I am super jealous of you Northwesters. Be sure to check out the Ale Festival website, there are tons of other things going on, including a sweet looking Sunday Belgian beer brunch.


I'm gonna go over in the corner now and throw a hissy fit. Screw the holiday spirit... ya lucky bastiches. :P


Monday, November 24, 2008

Do u Beerdo?

Are you a Twitter Freak? How about a Beer Geek? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions then Beerdo is right up your alley.

Beer-who? No, Beerdo! And what exactly does Beerdo... do? It's a little Twitter "application" that allows you to quickly rate beers on the fly that get posted across the Twitterverse.

It's so easy even a... well, I was going to say child could do it, but that's a bad analogy. Let's just say it's so easy that a drunken monkey could do it. Simply type the name of the beer you want to rate, followed with your rating (1 - 5 exclamation points depending on how good or bad it is) to @beerdo, and ba-blam... a few seconds later your rating is Twitterized.

Here are a few examples:

  • @beerdo Widmer Snow Plow !!!!! = 5 stars for Snow Plow
  • @beerdo Lost Abbey Witch's Wit !!!! = 4 stars for Witch's Wit
  • @beerdo Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat !!! = 3 stars for the Leiny
  • @beerdo Sam Adams Light !! = 2 stars for Sam Adams Light
  • @beerdo MGD ! = 1 star for MGD

Do the right thing and join the beer review revolution! Check out Beerdo today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pike Brewing Company releases wood-aged stout

Pike Brewing Company up in Seattle, Washington, is set to release Pike Entire Wood-Aged Stout on Monday, November 24, 2008.

Pike Entire is actually and interesting blend of three beers:
  • Pike's XXXXX Extra Stout, original gravity 10.73, 7.00% ABV
  • Pike's XXXXX Extra Stout aged 6+ months in oak Bourbon barrels
  • Imperial Stout, original gravity of 10.98, massive 12% ABV

The blend contains 42.7% barrel aged beer and weighs in at a heft 9.5% alcohol. According to the PR sheet, "the taste is complex with velvety malt tones, a coffee aroma, and a palate and finish of bitter chocolate."

The pale and crystal malts, along with roasted barley, is balanced by a heaping dose of Yakima Valley Willamette, Goldings and Columbus hops in the boil, then finished off with even more Willamette and Goldings. Topping it off "are the underlying wood tones perfumed by the caramel sweetness of wood-aged Kentucky Bourbon."

Right off the bat I can say I probably won't care much for this beer, not only because of the hops, but because of the Kentucky Bourbon. I'm not a fan of bourbon or whiskey. Not even a little bit. With that said... I wasn't expecting to like their Auld Acquaintance Happy Holiday Ale, and I was very wrong about that!

As I (and hopefully you as well) have learned... Pike Brewing is different. They don't just release a PR sheet, they release a history lesson. And they've done it again with Pike Entire. This beerstory lesson comes straight from the press release:

Until the 18th century, malt was "kilned" over wood fires making most beers dark brown or black, and contributing significantly to the pollution in cities like London. The use of coal allowed brewers a little more control, but it was not until coke, a bi-product of coal, was introduced as a fuel that pale malt could be made. Pale malt yielded more sugar than black malt.

Because the Thames was polluted, soft water was drawn from wells, ideal for dark beers, but yielding unpleasant flavor to black beers unless they were blended with the paler beers made by country brewers who had access to hard water. These country brewers also bought dark beers from London and aged them in large oak casks.

After aging they sold them back to the London brew pubs as highly desirable, "stale" (aged) beer. Home brew houses then began to blend the black, pale, and stale beers and the result became known as "three threads", a corruption of "three thirds."

Ralph Harwood's Bell Brewhouse, one of London's original common brewers, was the first to market an already blended beer to other pubs called "Entire". It is believed that he blended his own black beer with purchased pale and stale. Since it saved publicans the chore of blending their own three threads, it became an immediate success and the beer style of choice that was sold by London's train porters. Ultimately the style became known as Porter.

As brewing moved away from the brew pub to common brewers, Harwood's creation became London's great contribution to beer. As the British Empire expanded, "Porter," later known as "Stout Porter," then simply "Stout," became the world's most widely distributed beer style.

I love Pike Brewing! As much for their ability to teach us about beer's past as for the great beers they make in the present.

To keep with tradition, but also to make a distinctly American beer, Pike acquired oak Bourbon barrels in April 2008 and filled them full of Pike XXXXX Extra Stout to be blended back. Pike Head Brewer, Drew Cluley, says the beer is "complex and chocolaty with a great vanilla wood overtone."

Come Monday, November 24, Pike Entire will be released in 22 oz. bombers, complete with wax-dipped caps. It will have very limited availability at the Pike Pub and in select bottle shops, primarily in the Seattle area. Only a few quarter-barrels are being released for sale on draft. The Pike Pub will tap its one and only quarter-barrel of Pike Entire on Friday, November 28.

So if you want some... you better skedaddle to Seattle!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hoppy days are here again!

CSU's Brewing Science Class Partners with Odell Brewing on Third Brew

Thursday, November 13, students from Colorado State University's Brewing Science and Technology course gathered at Odell Brewing Company's Tap Room to celebrate the release of their class beer, Hoppy Days IPA. The class, along with Professor Jack Avens joined Doug Odell on October 25th to brew the beer on Odell Brewing's five barrel pilot system. Hoppy Days IPA is the third beer brewed at Odell Brewing by the CSU class which is now in its fourth year.

"This is a capstone event in the total course learning experience for these students, and it exemplifies the continuing cooperation of Odell Brewing Company in the education of students at Colorado State University," said Professor Jack Avens.

Hoppy Days IPA, an American style IPA, was first developed and brewed by the students in class at CSU on a ten gallon brewing system donated by Odell Brewing Co. The recipe for the ale, which features generous amounts of Columbus, Amarillo, and Centennial hops, was then modified to be brewed on Odell Brewing's pilot system.

Eli Kolodny, a student in the class and avid homebrewer said, "Brew days in lab and at Odell's were my favorite because they afforded us the opportunity to experience brewing on both a smaller and larger scale." Kolodny, who came up with the name Hoppy Days, will be a brewmaster for the class next semester.

Hoppy Days IPA will be available at Odell Brewing and at CSU's Ramskeller beginning November 14th.

What I want to know is this: where the hell were classes like this when I was in college?! HELLO!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Great Divide Brewing dines with AiX

AiX & Great Divide Brewing Company present... a tasting dinner!

When: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Four-course dinner pairing AiX's modern cuisine with the ales from Great Divide

AiX Restaurant (719 East 17th Ave., Denver, CO 80203)

$35 per person (excluding tax and 18% gratuity)

What's on the menu?
  • Ahi tartare marinated in sake vinaigrette with cucumber discs appetizer paired with Samurai Unfiltered Rice Ale
  • Mussels in a white wine garlic butter paired with Hades Belgian Style Ale
  • Braised pork carnita tacos with gouda paired with Hercules Double IPA
  • Grilled vegetable duck ragu with chorizo and duck confit paired with Hibernation Ale
  • House made chocolate truffles paired with Old Ruffian Barleywine
WOW! My taste buds are telling me to go!

As one might expect if you plan on going, don't just show up, you must call and make reservations (AiX at 303-831-1296.) A credit card is required when making the reservation and there is a 24-hour cancellation policy for this particular dinner. Seating is super limited, so call ASAP!

If you do go, be sure to let me know how it was!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

InBev finally gets Anheuser-Busch

Well, it's official. The jolly Belgian giant has snatched up Anheuser-Busch and scurried back up the hop stalk. Here's the official press release:

InBev (Euronext: INB) announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD), following approval from shareholders of both companies. The combination creates the global leader in beer and one of the world’s top five consumer products companies. Under the terms of the merger agreement, all shares of Anheuser-Busch will be acquired for 70 USD per share in cash, for an aggregate of 52 billion USD.

Effective today, InBev has changed its name to Anheuser-Busch InBev to reflect the heritage and traditions of Anheuser-Busch. Starting November 20, 2008, the company will trade under the new ticker symbol ABI on the Euronext Brussels stock exchange. Anheuser-Busch has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev and will retain its current headquarters in St. Louis, MO. St. Louis will also become the North American headquarters for the combined company. The new Anheuser-Busch InBev is geographically diversified, benefiting from a balanced exposure to developed and developing markets. The company manages a portfolio of over 200 brands that includes global flagship brands Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, fast growing multi-country brands like Leffe and Hoegaarden, and strong “local jewels” such as Bud Light, Skol, Brahma, Quilmes, Michelob, Harbin, Sedrin, Cass, Klinskoye, Sibirskaya Korona, Chernigivske, and Jupiler, among others.

Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said, “We are extremely pleased to announce the closing of this historic transaction. By bringing together these two great businesses, we have created a stronger, more competitive global company with a leading international brand portfolio and distribution network, and great potential for growth all over the world. We look forward to leveraging the operational and cultural strengths of both companies.

“Today also marks an important step towards achieving our shared dream of becoming the best beer company in a better world. Anheuser-Busch and InBev both have rich brewing traditions and a commitment to quality and integrity. We will succeed by celebrating and integrating both companies’ strong brands, heritages and values and by incorporating the best practices of both to create opportunities for all of our stakeholders worldwide."August A. Busch IV, President and CEO of Anheuser-Busch said, “By combining with InBev, we have created a first-class international consumer products company and, without a doubt, the premier global brewer. Together, we will achieve our goals far more effectively than either company could on its own.”


InBev has received all regulatory clearances required to be obtained in order to proceed with completion. Prior to completion, InBev reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") that permitted the completion of the acquisition provided that certain actions to address competition concerns relating to the combination of InBev USA’s sales of Labatt branded beer and Anheuser-Busch’s sales of beer in upstate New York are implemented following closing of the deal. The terms of the consent final judgment with the DOJ were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on November 14, 2008.


Several management and board of director changes became effective today as a result of closing the transaction. Luiz Fernando Edmond, currently Zone President Latin America North and AmBev's Chief Executive Officer, becomes Zone President North America. Dave Peacock, who most recently served as Vice President of Marketing of Anheuser-Busch Incorporated and Chief Executive Officer of Wholesaler Equity Development Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., becomes President of Anheuser-Busch.

Additionally, Joao Castro Neves becomes Zone President Latin America North and AmBev's Chief Executive Officer, and the incumbent Zone President for North America, Bernardo Pinto Paiva, has become Zone President Latin America South, replacing Joao.

The Board of Directors of the combined company will be comprised of the existing directors of the InBev Board and former Anheuser-Busch President and CEO August A. Busch IV.


Effective as of the close of trading yesterday, Anheuser-Busch common stock (NYSE: BUD) has ceased trading. Every shareholder of Anheuser-Busch common stock will receive 70 USD per share in cash. Anheuser-Busch’s shareholders holding through a broker or bank should receive information regarding their Anheuser-Busch common shares from the broker or bank.

InBev has appointed BNY Mellon Shareowner Services as paying agent in connection with the acquisition. Anheuser-Busch shareholders with any questions regarding the payment for their Anheuser-Busch common stock should contact BNY Mellon Shareowner Services at 1-888-213-0964 from within the U.S. and 1-201-683-6884 from outside the U.S. Additional information will be mailed to all Anheuser-Busch common shareholders as well.


Financing for the transaction was provided by a group of leading financial institutions. The lending group provided 45 billion USD in debt financing and 9.8 billion USD in equity bridge financing.

Dutch and French versions of this press release will be posted on as soon as possible.

About Anheuser-Busch InBev

Anheuser-Busch InBev is a publicly traded company based in Leuven, Belgium. It is the leading global brewer and one of the world's top five consumer products companies. A true consumer-centric, sales driven company, Anheuser-Busch InBev manages a portfolio of over 200 brands that includes global flagship brands Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, fast growing multi-country Brands like Leffe and Hoegaarden, and strong "local jewels" such as Bud Light, Skol, Brahma, Quilmes, Michelob, Harbin, Sedrin, Cass, Klinskoye, Sibirskaya Korona, Chernigivske, and Jupiler, among others. In addition, the company owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer and owner of the global Corona brand, and a 27 percent share in China brewer Tsingtao, whose namesake beer brand is the country's best-selling premium beer. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s dedication to heritage and quality is rooted in brewing traditions that originate from the Den Hoorn brewery in Leuven, Belgium, dating back to 1366 and the pioneering spirit of the Anheuser & Co brewery, established in 1860 in St. Louis, USA. Geographically diversified with a balanced exposure to developed and developing markets, Anheuser-Busch InBev leverages the collective strengths of its 120,000 employees based in operations in over 30 countries across the world. The Company strives to be the Best Beer Company in a Better World. On a pro-forma basis for 2007, the combined company would have generated revenues of 26.4 billion euro.

So there you have it.

This merger will create one of the world’s top five consumer products companies. Now that the deal is done, I'd like to know what you think... so chime in!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pike packs the holidays into Auld Acquaintance

I received a 22 oz. bomber of Pike Brewing Company's Auld Acquaintance Happy Holiday Ale at the confessional last week. The official press release went like this:

Brewed as a perfect complement to holiday meals, the alcohol is a restrained 5% by volume with an original gravity of 1.052. In addition to generous batches of Yakima Valley Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings hops, Auld Acquaintance is subtly seasoned with orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Our goal, then and now, is to brew a luxurious beer to be enjoyed with splendid winter fare, like hearty soups, cheeses, turkey, hams and joints of meat.

Considering this thing is full of hops from Yakima Valley, Willamette and East Kent I was expecting a massive hop storm.

Not... even... close.

Since I don't care to have my palate carpet bombed by hops, I didn't think I was going to dig this beer very much. Boy, was I wrong! I had some of this wonderful winter warmer the other night while we filmed the latest "Taste Buds" for Beer tap TV.

As you know... I'm not big on "formal" reviews. I never understood why anyone would care so much about the exact color a beer pours -- describing it in such exacting detail that you use adjectives and terminology that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS! Or that you could taste the slightest bit of something that's probably not even in the beer. Maybe I'm not SMRT enuff for that (there are lots of people who are), but most likely... I just don't care. It's good, bad, or not my type of beer. Pretty easy analysis when ya boil it all down. But then that's how I roll.

Anywho... I digress.

The beer poured nicely into my glass, and came to rest with a sweet head. I didn't smell or taste any hops. What I did taste was a soothing, tasty mix of orange peel (probably the most predominant taste, which comes at the end of the swig) coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg. I love it! Don't let all the hop hubbub fool ya... there's just enough of cannabis' cousin here to tame all the spices without going completely over the edge and making your mouth feel violated.

Pike's PR sheet says Auld Acquaintance is "festive and flavorful with subtle spices on the nose and palate that marry perfectly with holiday foods." That pretty much sums it up... complete with a nifty bow on top!

So if you can get a hold of this sensational seasonal... do so! I'm going to get in touch with our Pike peeps and beg for more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oskar Blues releases Ten FIDY Imperial Stout

According to the PR release, Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado, has just released a small amount of its winter seasonal -- Ten FIDY Imperial Stout. The beer will be showing up in stores in Colorado, Southern California, Texas and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Limited amounts will reach other markets later this year.

That's pretty odd distribution if you ask me. I'll have to ask Marty Jones at Oskar's why it's so seemingly haphazard. Anywho... Ten FIDY is "an immensely rich imperial stout" that's raved about here in The Napa Valley of the Beer World and has won several honors and accolades: “Beer of the Year” by The Denver Post, “100 Rating” from, “This one puts the ‘A’ in ‘Holy Crap!’” exclcaims Beer Advocate Magazine, and “The biggest, baddest, boldest beer in a can” from Celebrator Beer News. Ya, it's good.

Verbatim from the PR sheet:

Ten FIDY is dramatically viscous and loaded with neck-deep flavors of chocolate, malt, coffee and oats. It’s the beer equivalent of a decadently rich milkshake made with malted milk balls and Heaven’s best chocolate ice cream. Ten FIDY is about 10% ABV and made with enormous amounts of two-row malts, chocolate malts, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Its huge-but-comforting flavors hide a hefty 98 IBUs that are deftly tucked underneath the beer’s blankets of malty goodness. The beer will retail for approximately $12 a fourpack.

Now that it's winter time here in the Rocky Mountains it's time to crack out the stouts and porters! A Ten FIDY sounds good right about now.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Beer Geeks & Foodies unite at Moylan's Brewery

Listen up all you beer lovin' foodies!

The Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant is hosting an event you can not miss. Sadly, I won't be able to make it this time around. It sure would be nice to to kick around in my old stompin' grounds. Anywho, for those of you who can make it, here's the info:

What: Join Moylan's Brewmaster Denise Jones for the 2nd Annual Brewmaster's Dinner (see the full menu below).

Thursday, November 13th at 7:00pm

Noonan's Bar and Grill, 2233 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, CA 94939

Need to know: Reservations (required) are $79.00 a person and can be made by calling 415.464.8711 or visit the Noonan's Bar and Grill website.

Reception starts at 7:00 PM
A trio of hors d 'oeuvres will be dished out including poached white prawns with spicy tomato & pepper relish, dungeness crab crostinis with tarragon aioli, and smoked Point Reyes oysters. All served with Moylan's Extra Special Bitter.

Dinner begins at 7:30 PM
The menu includes:

Marinated Niman Ranch Tenderloin of Beef on a bed of arugula, fennel & orange with cilantro vinaigrette, served with Moylan's Oktoberfest Marzen

Banana Leaf Wrapped Pacific Rockfish in Adobo sauce with vegetable filled pasilla pepper & queso fresco served with Moylan's White Christmas Winter Lager

A little Wheat Ale & Lemon Granita to cleanse the palate...

Pan Roasted Quail filled with a dried cranberries, wild mushrooms& spinach, sauce Bernaise served with Moylan's IPA.

For dessert... walnut bread pudding with a malted barley caramel reduction served with three of Moylan's Ryan Sullivan Imperial Stout variations:
  • Bourbon Barrel
  • Espresso & Chocolate Infused
  • Fresh Raspberry
All that for a mere $79.00 a person?! My mouth is watering. Hmmm... I think I can get a round trip Southwest flight for about that. Maybe I will make it out there! ;)

For those who actually do attend I would love to hear how the dinner was, so please let me know!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pike Brewing Releases Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale

From Pike Brewing Company press release:

Seattle, Washington, November 2, 2008.

As Jack Frost approaches each year, King Gambrinus, dressed as Santa, introduces special ales meant especially for drinking with old friends that gather for good cheer.

According to the Association of Brewer's who represent over 1400 microbreweries nationally, seasonal beer, and especially holiday beer, has become the most popular style of craft beer, outselling pale ale, wheat beer and other classic styles.

Pike first brewed Auld Acquaintance in 1990 and it was an immediate hit with customers. At the time, most American's were not familiar with seasonal beers. Each year Pike brews a limited amount, bottled in 22oz. bottles and on draft. Brewed as a perfect complement to holiday meals, the alcohol is a restrained 5% by volume with an original gravity of 1.052. In addition to generous batches of Yakima Valley Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings hops, Auld Acquaintance is subtly seasoned with orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Our goal, then and now, is to brew a luxurious beer to be enjoyed with splendid winter fare, like hearty soups, cheeses, turkey, hams and joints of meat.

Pike Auld Acquaintance is now available at better stores, restaurants and, of course, at our own Pike Pub.

While this tradition is fairly new to American beer-bibers, the custom of brewing flavorful, spiced beer dates back well over a thousand years to what is now England. When the Vikings arrived, the Britons drank primarily megithin (mead), a brew of honey with spices (the origin of our word for medicine); cider from crab apples; perry from pears, and wine from grapes. Though there is evidence of cerevista (a beverage made from cereal) being brewed, it was a little known part of British life until the recipes for ales, the technique for cultivating and malting barley, and the art of brewing, were imported from the Middle East by the monasteries. The church did an exceptional job of promoting ale as an elixir superior to all other drinks. The Danes and Norwegians, at odds with the church about most things, agreed with them about their delicious strong malt liquor. Over a period of a couple of hundred years, the Danish word "Øl" (oyl) became the English word "Ale," a name for the drink as well as the festival where it was served. The Jüle or Yule winter festival had a long tradition before the Vikings and the monks. Jüle, introduced by the Celts, in honor of the sun god, promised a period of warmth and plenty.

As Britons converted to Christianity, the Jüle (Xmas) Ale became the most popular winter festival. Before the Norman Conquest the Scandinavians were uninvited guests at Christmas parties throughout the land. As time passed, many of them converted and turned their lives around. While the tradition of holiday beers nearly became extinct in The British Isles, Jüle Øl from Norway and Weinachts Bock from Bavaria never completely died out; but it is in America that the style grew dramatically to become an important part of every beer lover's calendar.

Notice anything different about this press release? That's right, it's filled with beer history! Not the superficial kind either, this is like going to history class and getting some cool, useful knowledge dropped on ya. How freakin' cool is that?! Long time readers of my blog should know that learning new tidbits about the history of beer is just as exciting as drinking a new beer for me. Heck, my very first post here was all about how beer has shaped the world we live in.

But that's how Pike Brewing Company rolls. They love to spill knowledge. Go to their website and click on the "Brewery" link on the main page; then click on the "history" link. What you'll find is six detailed pages of how Pike Brewing Company and its illustrious owner, Charles Finkel, was born. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Charles Finkel is a legend in the craft beer world. He not only created Pike and Merchant du Vin, but has been involved with many famous breweries and people, and has quite literally helped shape the craft beer industry in the United States.

Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) wrote an article about Charles in the July/August '07 issue of Draft Magazine where he says, "You can't understate the impact of his quest." He goes on to say that "The exotic flavors of Merchant do Vin import's later influenced a whole generation of craft brewers." The man who started out as a wine merchant shaped the American craft beer scene. Cheers to Charles and all that he's done!

With that... stay tuned for some "Mad Beer Man" style reviews of Pike Brewing beers coming soon, here and on Beer Tap TV.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Save Three Sheets!

The high definition cable channel MOJO HD will close up shop on December 1. MOJO as you know is the home of my much beloved show, Three Sheets, with "host" Pleepleus and his constant companion (and "co-host") Zane Lamprey.

But all is not lost. Not yet anways... and that's why Zane and Pleepleus need your help! It would seem the most likely place for Three Sheets to end up is over on the Travel Channel. Zane has put out a call to all 3S fans to head over to the Travel Channel forums and besiege them with posts saying how stupid it would be for them NOT to pick up and continue the global pub crawl!

According to Zane's MySpace page they've already filmed 15 episodes (with 5 more in the works) for the as yet unaired Season 4!

Zane loves his job. Fran and I love watching Zane love his job. Most of all... we love Pleepleus! Don't let this magnificent show fade away. SAVE THREE SHEETS NOW!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Living, loving and writing the Beer Life

Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion. -- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I started this blog because I'm passionate about beer. I love everything about the "elixir of the gods" -- the culture, the history, the camaraderie... and yes, its glorious ability to act as a delectable social lubricant.

But I love to write even more than I love to drink a good craft beer (or play a great video game). When asked what my one, true passion is (other than my wife of course)... I always answer: "writing." Lord Byron, the 19th century poet, said it best: "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." And I probably would. Not the clock tower/high powered rifle mad mind you. Writing acts as a release valve for me, and oddly enough... a different form of social lubricant that oils up the squeaky cogs of my "mad" brain.

I'm a writer. And after years of wordsmithing I think I've reached the point where I can call myself that without it sounding odd (to me) or egotistical (to everyone else). It's what I am, not what I do. I know that because I'm most happy when I'm writing... about anything. Well, almost anything. I probably wouldn't be too passionate about the lifestyles of the broke and infamous, but... ya never know. In the past I've written about George Lucas' Star Wars and PC video games, and I'm sure I'll eventually stumble onto some other topic that will "light my fire." At the end of the day it always boils down to one thing for me: passion.

I've always thought of "writers" as mythical beings, and I really do believe that "the pen is mightier than the sword." Writers have the power to make people cry, rejoice, rebel, change and even create nations. There is no limit to what a great writer can do... as long as they have passion. Sadly, any Tom, Dick, or Jane with the ability to turn on a computer can "write" about their cat (or their inanely boring life) through a blog. And because of this the luster of being a real "writer" seems to have faded to some degree. See, most of them don't have passion.

But I digress... what the hell am I getting at?

Over the years I've run into a number of "colleagues" that are jaded as the day is long. Why? They've lost their passion. I refuse to let myself become jaded. Hell, I still get giddy when -- no matter how big or small -- someone asks to profile me, or use one of my quotes, or tells me that I'm "relevant," or that my blog has made it onto a "best of" list... as was the case yesterday when the folks at the Culinary School Guide informed me that this lil blog o' mine made it onto their 100 Best Beer and Wine Blogs. All that stuff is not only very humbling, but -- even more than the money -- validates every single letter I've ever written.

A lot of great things have happened since I started this blog. I look at this space as my lucky charm. Furthermore, my life is richer for it. Writing, like all things, requires constant practice, and banging away here in my little corner of the blogosphere has not only opened doors to things I never thought possible, but has helped me perfect my craft. More importantly, it has introduced me to a brewery full of new friends.

It is said that the craft beer community -- top to bottom -- has a camaraderie unlike any other. Having experienced it personally time and time again, I can attest to the truthfulness of that statement. There really is nothing like it anywhere else, and it is my sincerest desire that the global wave of popularity craft beer is riding right now doesn't ever ruin that.

So thanks very much to all my friends, and all the people who keep coming back for more beer madness. The word "appreciate" doesn't even begin to describe my heartfelt gratitude! Oh, and thanks for letting me indulge in a little self reflection with this post. Now... let's get back to drinkin' some damn fine beer shall we?!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Redhook doubles back with Double Black Stout

Redhook Ale Brewery's Double Black Stout is back! Ironically, the lyrics to AC/DC 's famous song, "Back in Black," is perfect for the occasion:

Back in black
I hit the sack
I've been too long I'm glad to be back
Yes, I'm let loose
From the noose
That's kept me hanging about
I've been looking at the sky
'Cause it's gettin' me high
Forget the hearst 'cause I never die
I got nine lives
'Cause I'm back
I'm back in black!

Double Black that is! After an 8 year hiatus Redhook's much loved Imperial stout has been let loose from the brew house. Even though it's only going to be available for a limited time, at least it's back on store shelves.

Eight years ago I wasn't much of a Beer Geek, so I've never had the pleasure of tasting this most succulent of stouty suds. According to the PR release "Double Black Stout is a smooth, imperial stout enhanced by the addition of rich, flavorful coffee and dark malts to create a big, roasted flavor." I love my morning coffee as much as I love my afternoon beer... so pairing the two is a match made in adult beverage heaven!

I ain't gonna lie: I love this beer. It's so smooth you'd think you were drinking satin. There is no harsh bitter taste from any component of the beer, making it perfectly balances. No wonder beer fans have been clamoring for this bad boy! Since Widmer decided to stop brewing Snow Plow (it's going to be harder to get than a straight answer from a "professional" politician) -- Double Black Stout just became my fave winter brew.

Speaking of... Double Black is only being sold in 22 oz bombers at -- get this -- the unbelievable price of $4.99. Ya, there's no one (1) in front of that four people! For a mere five bucks you can suck down an entire bomber of this 7% ABV stout and feel all nice and toasty. With the economy in the crapper, most six packs costing $9 or so a pop, this is probably one of the best deals around! I'm going to snatch up all the bombers I can find in my neck of the woods, so if my fellow beer geeks in the area can't find it at their local liquor store... come see me.

But wait... there's more! Following DBS, Redhook will be unleashing three additional limited release beers throughout 2009. The next one (don't ask, I don't know what it is) will hit the shelves in March. So stay tuned!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Brothers Widmer release Brrr

Brrr it's cold outside! It puts me in a -- singin' mood! Bare with me...

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the beer is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let us drink! Let us drink! Let us drink!

Thanks to lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne for that little bit of inspiration. In 1945 Cahn and Styne created the legendary winter song "Let it Snow."

And thanks to Kurt and Rob Widmer for making legendary beers. Widmer Brothers Brewing up Oregon way is one of my all-time favorite breweries. I can/will/have drink their Hefe all summer long, Snow Plow all winter (more on that later) long, Drop Top Amber anytime, and don't even get me started on their W'08 Crimson Wheat. Put it this way: if I was stuck on an island like Robinson Crusoe (if you haven't seen the new NBC series Crusoe yet - do so!) and could only have beer from one brewery, well... Kurt and Rob would be stuck there with me.

But I digress...

We got our first "official" snowfall here in Colorado Springs the other day. So the weather outside is in fact frightful, and Mother Nature went ahead and "let it snow," so it's the prefect time for a brand spanking new beer from the Brothers Widmer called "Brrr," right?! It's the first new winter seasonal they've made in four years.

According to the PR release, Brrr is "a moderately strong dark red ale that embodies the notable 'Pacific Northwest' citrus hop aroma and flavor." How understated of their wordsmithing PR people. At a winter warming 7.15% ABV, it's "moderately" strong alright!

I recently received a few bottles to try prior to its release to 17 Western states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, OR, MN, MT, ND, NM, NV, SD, TX, WA, WI, and WY) later this month. When you first crap the cap (I love Widmer's bottle caps; they each have a different, wacky prost on the underside of each one!) you will definitely smell the citrus hop aroma. As many long time readers know I'm not big on hop bombs, so my first thought after sniffing the hoptacular scent of cannabis' cousin was that I wasn't going to like this new winter brew.

Brrr does pour a dark red and has a super big head. The first sip was... hoppy. So for those of you who love your hops -- and I know there are many, including my wife -- you'll absolutely love this brew. According to the PR sheet Brrr should provide "a tangible, but not excessive, flavor that ultimately transitions into a candy-like malty sweetness and quick finish. Caramel and chocolate malts provide flavor complexity, and an enticing color." There was none of that on the first few sips as my "unrefined" palate was attempting to adjust to the violation of an overly hoppy invasion. However, after the third sip the hop napalm subsided and I did notice a subtle "transition into a candy-like malty sweetness."

This is a good beer. Some of you will certainly think it's great. I probably wouldn't drink a whole lot of this only because it doesn't suit my palate profile, but a lot of you will. No matter what though, it will definitely warm you up on a cold winter's night.

Sadly, Brrr will be replacing Snow Plow as Widmer's regular winter seasonal for the foreseeable future. Snowplow happens to be my favorite winter beer. I've bought 1 - 2 cases every winter for a few years now, so I'm not happy that Snow Plow is getting the heave ho. I've been told that it may come back, and I hope it's permanent. Everyone I've turned on to Snow Plow has loved it. Breaking News! I've just learned it's not totally gone! It will be released on the West Coast (and by "West Coast" they mean OR, WA and ID) in 22oz bottles for a limited time this winter. And yes, I'll be hitting up my Oregon relatives to snag me a few!

Anywho... Brrr should be in a store near you (well, if you're on the Left Side of the U.S.A. that is; sorry East Coasters) next week and I want to know what you think! Once you try it send me some feedback.

Oh, you can watch Erik Boles and I drink and talk about Brrr on the next episode of Beer Buzz (Episode 004) on Beer Tap TV!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cicerones in the making!


A Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) is one who has proven expertise in beers. Think the beery version of a wine "sommelier." The titles “Certified Cicerone” and “Master Cicerone” are protected certification trademarks and can only be used by those who have passed the requisite test of knowledge and tasting skill.

Yes... even you can become one!

Ray Daniels, a legend in the beer industry, is the man behind the Cicerone plan. He'll be on the West Coast in November to conduct Certified Cicerone exams as well as a workshop. Exams are scheduled as follows:
  • San Diego (Stone World Bistro and Beer Garden) - Nov 15*
  • Berkeley/Oakland (More Beer) - Nov 16
  • Seattle (Pike Brewery) - Nov 17
* A Certified Cicerone "prep" class will be held during the morning of the 15th. This course will run from 9 am to noon during which time key content from the Certified Cicerone exam will be covered (from draught system parts and operation to beer styles, off-flavors, brewing and beer & food pairing). The 3-hour course is designed to provide a quick overview of the exam and help you gauge whether or not you're ready for this most difficult exam.

Awesome! But I don't live on the West coast! Well, my Cicerone wannabe... you are in luck! Ray will be conducting two Midwest Certified Cicerone exams in November as well:
  • Ann Arbor (Vinology) - Nov 9 (11 am - 3 pm)
  • Chicago (Siebel Institute) - Nov 23 (11 am - 3 pm)
Sadly, I'm not SMRT to take this test, but I bet some of you are! If you're interested register through the exam site.

Contact Ray Daniels if you have any questions or wish to reserve a spot in the class. Ray can be reached at

Good luck!