Thursday, February 28, 2008

Down... but not out

I'm still alive. Barely.

I started feeling the onset of "sick" last Friday morning. Knowing that I had to go up to Denver Saturday and Sunday for the prestigous Wynkoop Beerdrinker of the Year awards I pounded every over-the-counter med I could get my hands on.

Fran and I (along with our friend Stevie Chips) made it up there, but boy did I pay the price. I've been sick as a (Hair of the) dog since Sunday morning. I'm just now starting to come out of the funk enough to sit down at the PC for more than a few minutes. Rest assured, I'll be back in the beer drinking saddle with a complete write up, photos and video from the very cool and unique event up at Wynkoops soon. A lot has gone on in the beer world this week... so I have lots to catch up on.

Until then... Zivjeli!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado

Say you're tooling around the great outdoors... specifically, you're out in the hinterlands of the awe inspiring Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Say you get a hankerin' for some of the hoppily righteous brew that bubbles forth from the #1 beer producing state in these here United States of America. Take that California and Oregon! HA!

But wait... you don't know where to find such a place to quench what has now become a beast of a thirst! Your cellphone has no bars (I'd like to see the Verizon dude do a commercial out there!) and your Blackberry stopped pickin' (get it, pickin'... berries - work with me people!) up a signal at the last "y" in the road. You know there's a hoary host of hoppiness somewhere out here where the buffalo roam and the deer and antelope play! But where!?! WHEEEEEERE!?!?!

Only if you had a map...

A map that would guide your hop lovin' ass straight to the nearest brewery, brewpub or historic tavern. YES! That would be splendiferous. But... is there such a thing Mad Beer Man? Why, yes there is my young beery padawan.

The folks at the Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado have you covered. This thing - this invaluable navigational tool they call the Great Beer Map - is something every Colorado Beer Geek needs to have tucked away in their backpack or glove box. It will save you from the Parched Throat Effect of high-altitude discombobulation, and help quench the beastly thirst monster that is known to attack the unprepared.

It is chock full of things you need (or at least want) to know. Where to get the brew, how long it will take to get to the brew, what type of brew (complete with a beer tree - sweet!) you might want to get once you get to where you want to go... photos, charts, diagrams - the list goes on! And once you get to where you're going, you'll want to take it inside with you. It's one helluva conversation starter sure to create envy in those Beer Geeks without such a magnificent tool. Trust me...

I've seen one. I have one. It is a thing of beauty. It is a font of knowledge. It's the Swiss-Army Knife of maps! It does everything but actually pour the beer into your mug. You need it, you want it, so get it. Now. It even comes in three fabulous flavors - folded ($12.95) for tight spots, rolled ($12.95) for the wall (I just ordered one to put up in my beer room) and for those who perspire too much, have overly active saliva glands, or just can't keep the beer in the container - they even have a rolled laminated version! Click on over to the Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado site, which in and of itself is a fantastic keg of beery goodness, and order one now.

You wouldn't leave home without your driver's license, right? Why leave home without such an amazing, one of a kind tool like the Great Beer Map? Ya... you wouldn't.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time to pay the Piper

On the cover of this morning's Colorado Springs Gazette there's an article about the rising cost of beer. The hop shortage has come home to roost, folks. Last week was the first I really began to feel the impact, with prices jumping at least $1.00 per 6-pack. While this was an expected rise, it still leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth and the wallet.

Staff reporter Scott Rappold recently spoke with John Osterhoudt, the GM for Bristol Brewing Company here in Colorado Springs, a brewery that likes to use a ton of hops. On February 1 Bristol raised their prices $1 per sick-pack, while prices at the brewery went up 50 cents per pint. Osterhoudt stated the price of hops, barley and grains jumped anywhere from 70 percent to 200 percent recently.

But as I (and many other beer geeks, beer columnists, beer lovers, etc.) have stated over the last few months... this is a world-wide shortage, not just something the Colorado based breweries are forced to deal with. And it may go on for a few years as supplies are replenished.

It's so bad that Andrew Bradley, the head brewer for Phantom Canyon (another Colorado Springs based brewery and one of my favorite hang outs), is growing hops in his backyard. "It might take more than a single year, but at least I’ll have some real American hops to work with.”

Damn. Be sure to read the whole article (and some of the fanatical rants and raves left in the comments section by readers are also hilarious, if not completely false and ridiculous).

Speaking of Bristol... they're tapping a keg of Skull & Bones tomorrow night. I might be down there, and if so will report back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The National IPA Championship

This might very well be one of the funniest (not to mention cleverest) things I've seen in some time.

Great Lakes Brewing News is holding a "March Madness" style bracket contest for the National IP Champsionship.

As the Guinness Guys would say: BRILLIANT!

Go register, check out the competitors, then go and make your predictions! You can even print out the brackets just like normal NCAA March Madness pools. Better hurry though, first round starts 2/23/08!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The '08 Beerdrinker of the Year Award goes to...

Sorry, we won't know the winner until Saturday, February 23rd, which is only a few days away. Oh how the anticipation builds...

However, the Wynkoop Brewing Company's judging panel has picked its three finalists for this prestigous award (which I talked about in a previous post back in October). They are:

Richard Pedretti-Allen, from McKinney, Texas. Richard is a recording producer and three-time BDotY finalist, an avid homebrewer and certified beer judge. So far he's visited 100+ brewpubs in North America, has won sevearl homebrewing awards, and owns over 7000 beer coasters. Dat's a lotta coasters! Oh ya, he's also a member of the Aleuminati.

J Mark Angelus hails from Nehalem, Oregon, and is a semi-retired prosecutor. Aside from being a beer geek and a 2007 BDotY semifinalist, J Mark has sampled 916 beers, visited 68 breweries and attended nine beer festivals. NICE!

Lastly we have Matt Venzke from Yorktown, Virginia. When not mangaing aircraft maintenance maintainers (that profession sounds ripe for a Bud Light Real Men of Genius ad!), Matt travels the globe in search of damn fine beer. He's pounded pints in 454 different breweries in 16 countries and 39 states. Last year alone he logged over 3,000 "brewery visit" miles! Matt is also a member of the Aleuminati.

In less than two weeks these three worthy finalists will be grilled by a judging panel made up of previous BDotY winners and national beer experts. The judges -- as always -- will be dressed in traditional jurist wigs and robes, and will cross-examine each finalist like they were hostile witnesses. Their answers will help determine the 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year.

And Fran and I will be there to record the historic event live and in person!

We have plans to meet up with fellow Aleuminati members Matt and Richard. Special guests (well, special to me anywho) Chris and Meredith Nelson, aka The Traveleing Beer Geek(s) - and fellow Aleuminati members - will also be in attendence! Stevie Chips might also be there chugging whatever stout-a-rrific brews they have on hand... who knows who else might show up!

Will you be going? Let me know!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sam Adams Longshot ABVs

Busy Monday... sorry for no big update today. One's coming tomorrow - promise! Got some really interesting stuff to ramble about.

I did want to give a quick update to a question that was asked of me a few weeks ago. Butch asked what the ABV content was in the Sam Adam's LongShot beers. I just heard back from my contact today!

The Grape Pale Ale comes in at 5.35% while the Weizenbock tips the scale at 7.2% ABV. So Butch... you'll be good to go with the Grape, not so much with the Bock. Sorry man!
Until tomorrow... Zivjeli!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I saw a U.F.O.

As I mentioned the other day our sojourn to the Nashville Flying Saucer Draught Emporium was pallet bending. The selection was nothing short of magnificent. In fact, the only other beer bar that I've personally been to with that kind of selection is the world-famous Falling Rock Taphouse. And I'm pretty sure they don't have 175 beers available. While both are on my list of beer bars to visit before you die, Flying Saucer wins hands down. In fact, I loved it so much I'm looking at franchise possibilities. Possibilities being the key word there.

I joined their U.F.O. Club ($14 gets you a T-shirt, membership card, and the chance to get your name engraved on a plate and stuck up on the wall). Only... I left the T-shirt sitting on the bench upon my inebriated departure. How inebriated? Well, here's what I had:


Build-Your-Own Flight sampler that included 5 five ounce pours of:
And for kicks, two Beer Mixers:
How can I remember all that? Weeeeell... I may have been hammered, and I think I saw a U.F.O. too - but I remember damn good beer. (Full disclosure: I took home a menu from the joint. What, you thought I remembered all those off the top of my head? Bwaaahahaha!)

The two Rocherforts were absolutely exquisite, as were the brews from Ommegang. I was surprised by the maltiness of the Dos Perros and the Dinkel-Acker Dark, but they were a great change of pace to the Belgians I was gulping. The mixers were, surprisingly, very tasty. Ya ya... I like fruit beers. So what?

As you know, I don't do technical reviews. Good. Bad. That's my grading policy. The thing I've found over the years - reviews are wholly subjective to each individual, so why bother? The biggest reason though... I don't like taking notes when I'm drinking beer. I'm drinking beer people - not doing homework! So I've linked every beer I tasted that night to the fine BeerAdvocate community where you can read far more technical reviews of each one. Think I picked some pretty great beers considering the overall score of each one on BA.

You'll notice there are no pix from my excursion. Well, I forgot my digital camera and it was too dark for my lame cell phone camera to function. Guess that means I have to go back soon. Oh... darn. Give me a hollah if you've had any of these beers and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time... Zivjeli!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Flying Saucers, Stupid People and Bad Beer

Just got back from our Nashville trip, so I'm playing catch up at work. However, the sojourn to the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium was nothing short of mind (and palette) blowing. With over 175 beers available (when we were there), this is what a beer bar should be! I'll have a full write up on my visit in a day or two, but for now... check out this nugget:

A female driver in St. Augustine, Florida, was arrested for having a 24-pack of Busch beer strapped into her daughter's car seat. Now, I can understand the fury of the officer upon seeing craptacular beer like Busch being handled with such reverence. Busch beer? I think I'd rather drink my own piss (like Bear Grylls did in the Australian outback episode of Man vs. Wild) . It probably has a higher ABV and more taste than Busch beer. Anywho... the worst part? This numnut had her 16-month old daughter in the car with the Busch beer. Unrestrained. Busch beer strapped in the baby seat... baby not. Wow.

What happened to priorities people? What happened to... taste?! I have the answer.

Join the Aleuminati and find out for yourself.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ask the Mad Beer Man

Last week I had a reader ask me what the beer was that they talked about on Zane's (of Three Sheets) trip to the Delirium Cafe in Belgium. They weren't allowed to say the name of the beer or who brewed it, and by the looks of it they never even drank it. During the episode a few clues were dropped, and fortunately they displayed three bottles - without any labels. One had a green cap, one had a blue cap and the third had a yellow cap. Just like the ones in the picture below...

Thanks to the glory of HD DVR, my dazzling investigative skills (honed from 10 years of being a private investigator no doubt), and the Internet... the beer Zane wasn't even allowed to drink came from the Westvleteren Brewery in Belgium. Founded in 1838, it resides inside the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren.

The brewery currently brews three beers:
  • Westvleteren Blonde (green cap) - at 5.8% ABV.
  • Westvleteren 8 (blue cap) - (formerly Extra) at 8% ABV.
  • Westvleteren 12 (yellow cap) (formerly Abt), a 10.2% ABV.
As Francois (the bartender at the Delirium Cafe) said, you can only get one case and you have to actually go to the abbey to get the beer. And he's right. Since September 2006 you can only get one case per car license plate. And that one crate must be reserved via their "beerphone" (+32 (0)70 21 00 45) beforehand. The monks absolutely will not sell any beer if you just drive up hoping to get some.

So there ya go! The wife and I (along with what may be several more folks from the Extraordinary League of Drinkers) are planning on going to Oktoberfest in 2010, and part of that sojourn will include a trip to Belgium... and the Delirium Cafe.

Ramblings of a Mad Beer Man

I need a beer. Thank God it's Beerday, huh?

If you've been perusing the site this week you'll notice quite few new additions on the sidebar. I've been busy trying new stuff out, some of which didn't work out so well due to massive load time lag. So I removed them. Nothing worse then a laggy blog that won't load fast, right? Hell, if you can pop open a cold one and down it before the page is done loading... why bother!?

You also might have noticed the addition of the "I'm a member of the Aleuminati" badge. It's right under the "Who are the Aleuminati?" logo. Click on it and go find out what that's all about. Trust me, you'll want to be a part of this new global brotherhood while it's still on the ground floor. It's gonna go, and it's gonna go huge.

As I've mentioned before I'm not much for making detailed analytical reviews of beers. It either tastes great, or it tastes like ass. I leave the sophisticated, intricate reviews to those who know what the hell they're talking about. Me... I'm a writer not a chemist. Or a poet. ;) But if you know what you're talking about I want to hear from you! What the hell does a pint of Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence taste like? What does any of the bajillion local (to you) craft beers taste like? LET ME KNOW!

I'll be heading out to Nashville, TN, on Monday for some business. Snooze. Fortunately, the wife and I are hitting up the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium Monday night. I'll be sure to write up the experience and upload some snaps.

Enjoy the Super Bowl this weekend as the Giants upset the Patriots. Yup, you read that prediction right. And nope, I don't care about either team... so I don't care if I'm wrong. I just hope the game is good. Sadly, it's the last NFL game of the year (sorry, the Bore Bowl, er... Pro Bowl doesn't count).

Catchya all next week... Zivjeli!