Long Overdue Beer News

Greetings, March is a pretty rough month for beer sellers in Southwest Florida. Do not get me wrong, it is a great month down here, just time for things like blogging are difficult to come by. Here is beer news people as busy as I am may have missed.

The American Beer Industry’s economic impact is $246.6 billion dollars and the industry provides two million American Jobs. This study came from the Beer Institute (BI) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA).

Soon Floridians may be able to enjoy the long-awaited 64oz beer growlers!

SABMiller is now producing a cheap beer made with cassava called Eagle in Ghana. This project hopes to curb consumption of “rather toxic home-brews” common in Africa. Cassava has a very short usefulness after harvest, why not turn it into beer?!

Lakeland Florida is about to be home to the first Brew Hub in Florida. Brew Hub is a business started by ex-Anheuser-Busch executives that provides craft brewers with the space, equipment and expertise to make their recipes come to realization.

Anheuser-Busch has achieved its 3 year environmental goals concerning water, energy, carbon emissions and recycling. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/innovation-sustainable-practices-lead-to-stronger-returns-research-report-on-anheuser-busch-coors-femsa-diageo-and-beam-2013-03-11

In February, NPR commissioned an independent study on the alcohol content of some of Budweiser’s primary beers. White Labs (a very well-respected and large producer of brewing yeast) found the alcohol content in Budweiser, Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra to be spot on or well withing the legal requirements.

I do not think this to be very likely as exponential growth for 37 years is not an easy thing to sustain, however craft beer output could surpass Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors by 2050 if the trend continues.

Here are a few interesting (not surprising) trends the beer search engine SaveOnBrew has recently cataloged. http://news.yahoo.com/saveonbrew-identifies-intriguing-trends-among-craft-beer-drinkers-120031741.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UbFA09RyUgAtn7QtDMD

I love the craft beer world, there is a unique and refreshing spirit of community, respect, innovation and fun that I just do not see in any other business. Sadly, it is still business and I fear that as the craft segment grows, so will the intensity of the competition. With an intensified competition, I think many people will see business practices and attitudes commonly associated with big business trickle down. I hope I am wrong, but the following article proves I am certainly not the only one thinking about it. http://business.time.com/2013/03/22/as-craft-beer-gets-bigger-will-it-become-more-like-big-beer-or-perhaps-wine/

The following link is off topic but I found it to be interesting just the same about “hip” neighborhoods and their overall benefit to cities.

Chicago Chef Rick Bayless is teaming up with Crown Imports to help make a beer.
title="http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2013/03/04/rick-bayless-to-create-craft-beer-for.html" target="_blank">http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2013/03/04/rick-bayless-to-create-craft-beer-for.html

I found this on Beer Advocate’s forums last night and thought it was interesting (Posted by pheurton)
The top 10 beers on Beer Advocate in the Spring of 2003

“In order, 1-10 (Spring 2003):
Storm King Stout
Westvleteren Abt 12 (yellow Cap)
Celebrator Doppelbock
Two Hearted Ale
Stone Imperial Stout
Shakespeare Stout
Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout
HopDevil Ale
Trappistes Rochefort 10
Double Bastard Ale”

I would be happy with any of these. The discussion on the changes over that ten years is worth reading ass well.

Rodenbach Grand Cru (Review)

Since moving to Florida, I have finally gained access to the much acclaimed Rodenbach Grand Cru. I am a huge fan of Flanders Red Ales and the Rodenbach Grand Cru is one of iconic examples of the style. Upon finally trying it, I am glad to report that I was not disappointed. The Rodenbach Grand Cru is a marvelous beer. It pours a deep red hue with a solid 1.5 finger head.The nosel is filled with cider, overripe cherries and a little vinegar. The Rodenbach Grand Cru does not disappoint the palate either, it is significantly sour with some cherry and black currant notes, balanced by a delightful sweetness. It is an amazing beer and at $10 a 750ml bottle, a solid deal. As far as sour browns go, I put the Rodenbach Grand Cru right up there with New Belgium’s La Folie.

On a related note, the Flanders Red (Rodenbach Grand Cru) and Flanders Brown (New Belgium La Folie, according to Beer Advocate, continue reading) are similar, but different styles. I used the labeling on Beer Advocate for the difference between Rodenbach Grand Cru and La Folie. The Beer Judge Certification Program considers them the same style (both Flanders Red) and from my tasting experience, I agree with them. It seems part of the difficulty of classifying La Folie depends on its age, in my experience La Folie has been fairly acetic. Here is a Beer Judge Certification Program discussion on the subject that will hopefully clear up some confusion. http://wortblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/flanders-red-vs-flanders-brown-bjcp.html

The Brick Store Pub In Decatur Georgia

On the second leg of our move to Cape Coral Florida, I had the pleasure to visit the Brick Store Pub in Decatur Georgia. The Brick Store Pub is one of America’s highest acclaimed beer bars. It is currently the #2 beer bar in the world according to Beer Advocate and constantly earns a place on lists such as Draft Magazine’s America’s 100 Best Beer Bars. Let me be the first to tell you, the Brick Store Pub lives up to all the hype! The bar is an experience in beer at it’s best!

We stayed at the Courtyard Atlanta Decatur Downtown/Emory which was conveniently located a block away from the Brick Store Pub. The hotel was very nice, but we were there for the Brick Store Pub. The decor in the pub was warm and welcoming with an English motif. The entire staff was friendly, passionate about beer and knowledgeable. The food was killer, I had the pierogies (still dream of their savory deliciousness).

Cozy with an excellent atmosphere, perfect for drinking beer!

Of course, the beer selection (the most important aspect of such a bar) was the primary reason for seeking out the Brick Store Pub. As expected, it’s offerings were simply out of this world. The Brick Store Pub had over 20 world class taps, such as St. Bernardus ABT 12, Weihenstephaner and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. It was divided into two sections (Belgian and everything else). The Brick Store Pub also offered a great number of bottled beers. Perhaps more excitingly, the Brick Store Pub boasted a 20 page cellar menu. This menu (available by request) included cellar aged versions of some of the best beers in the world, including a lot of offerings from from great Belgian producers such as Cantillon, Boon and Drie Fonteinen. If your are not a fan of Sours, the cellar menu also included many Imperial Stouts, Old Ales, Barleywines and so on (I was in a mood for Sours, but then again I am always in a mood for Sours!). The prices were very reasonable, we purchased a 2006 Boon Kriek, a Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait 2008 and several others delicious Sours, for around $20 a piece. We very easily could have and almost did (the atmosphere in the place was very good, for losing fiscal inhibitions) spend a small fortune on some particularly rare selections. It was simply a great night for beer all around, I was fortunate enough to try a 2012 Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (which was every bit as delicious as I had hoped) a 2010 Allagash Interlude (one of the best Brett beers I have ever had) and many other great beers. This was all due to a great bar, great staff and great patrons!

Two killer beers, Allagash 2010 Interlude and Boulevard Love Child #2.

Delicious beers at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur Georgia.

In case you were not able to infer this from the rest of this post, I had a blast and can not wait to return to the Brick Store Pub! A big thanks to all the staff as well as the friendly and interesting patrons that I met there last week. Kampai!

Brasserie Bourganel – Biere au Nougat (Review)

First off, Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas Eve went smoothly. I recently had a beer that can be seen as seasonalbly appropriate, the Brasserie Bourganel – Biere au Nougat. I received the beer from Michael Jackson’s Rare Beer Club for this December. It earned horrible reviews from Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. This is a prime example of why review sites should never be the only factor one looks at when they are considering a beer. I do not think this was a good beer by any means, but I do not think it was nearly as bad as the ratings suggest. Yes, some of the main flaws reviewers mentioned were evident, it was a little watery, it did not taste like a beer and the flavors did seem to have trouble blending. Still, it was exactly what the label claimed, a beer brewed with nougat. The nougat flavor was evident on the nose and the taste. There was a strong nougat aftertaste as well, which I enjoyed. It really did taste like a Kit Kat Bar! I do not plan on drinking a lot more of the Biere au Nougat, but am glad I tried it once. I think it was innovative and deserves at least a little credit for that. I have never tasted or heard of a beer like the Biere au Nougat.

(I will post a picture when I have time)

Beer Ratings Debate


That is an interesting article that I think makes some good points. I agree with the author in that Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do tend to overrate rare and bigger beers. I also agree with his stance on the big three domestics Budweiser and Miller-Coors, in that they probably do not deserve a D- or F rating. Just because they are not a very imaginative style (American Adjunct Lager), does not mean they are a flawed beer. I would argue that they are decent beers, if an American Adjunct Lager is what one is looking to drink. I think most beers and styles, have their time and place, as well as price considerations. That does not mean I like those beers, in fact my stance is very much the opposite. I think the size and the power exerted by the big three is bad for business all around. I also believe their dominance has, for years, made America look foolish on the world beer scene. I am glad there is a revolution in the beer world going on and love seeing those companies lose market share every year!

I disagree with the “trained professional panel” aspect, in part. I agree that there is a usefulness for panels such as those utilized by the Great American Beer Fest and various publications. I do not believe they should dominate the market, nor do I want to see a bunch of shelf tags with ratings in my beer store. A lot of times I disagree with their findings and in the cases mentioned the reviews are often limited to certain geographical areas. There are many fantastic beers that do not fit nicely in a particular style as well, which would unfairly hurt their rating. I also do not believe that a single person nor a group of people regardless of training are infallible.

Ultimately, I believe there is room for both styles, a professional system as well as a democratic mass based system. I would not mind seeing more ratings come from the so called “experts” but I never want to see the only ratings coming from those people. I think both are important and should be considered when researching beers as aside from examples on the extreme high end or extreme low end, I think Rate Beer and Beer Advocate to be fairly accurate. Luckily most beers are relatively inexpensive (at least compared to wine) and a rating system at all is not as important because a poor investment will not, in most cases “break the bank”. I would like to know others thoughts on this issue, feel free to comment here or bring up the topic in the forums.

Founder’s Backstage Series

The Beer Advocate rumor mill has started moving again concerning Founder’s Brewing Company. There is a hope that Founder’s will bottle another Backstage Series beer before the year is out. So far this year, they have bottled the Blushing Monk, which is about as raspberry like as any beer will ever be, and the Canadian Breakfast Stout which is about as good as any beer will ever be. The Canadian Breakfast Stout was especially impressive and stupidly rare that it was selling for $150 a bottle on Ebay…. I still almost bought one… If I did not have the opportunity to try it last year on draft at the Flying Saucer in Kansas City or at work this year, I probably would have. I still want one and may take up beer trading just for that beer (I am reluctant to, because I am not familiar with the shipping laws and have plenty of amazing beers to occupy me here in Missouri as well as through other sources from out of state). For anyone unfamiliar with Founder’s, it is one of the best breweries in the country. Furthermore, they really do not mess around when it comes to their Backstage Series. From what I have read, there is a general agreement or hope that another Backstage Series will come out before the end of the year. From Beer Advocate, I have seen a lot of speculation that it will be the Black Biscuit. Everything I have just said about the release, including whether or not it will even happen, is purely speculation. Still, what an exciting speculation it is!

One more side note on Founder’s (and yes I know it is old news), they are discontinuing the Nemesis line due to a lawsuit. I have not yet heard of any new product set up to replace it. The Nemesis never made my top ten list of barley wines but like everything Founder’s created, I thought it was very good. I drank a 2010 last month and was very satisfied.

As with anything I put up here, if anyone has any insight or comments, feel free to chime in.

Bananatana (Review)

—Originally Posted on http://beerandboardgames.blogspot.com 10/27/2011—

I just wanted to quickly review an interesting beer I had a few days ago. Bananatana is the ultimate in banana beer. That is simply the easiest way to describe it. This ale was created by De 3 Horne Bierbrouweij in the Netherlands with bananas and plantains. Like the name and description imply that is exactly what this beer is. This beer is a very thick and cloudy brown, in which banana is the only flavor I picked out of it. And it is banana-y. This brewery somehow managed to liquify some bananas and ferment the mush. It is sweet and kind of funky looking, but interesting and worth a try if you are bored. It is around 5% abv. Beer Advocate gives it a C+, I think this rating is unfair as several non-banana fans have lowered the ranking by giving it an F. I think it is at least a B-. It retails for around $9.99 at the Brown Derby International Wine Center, in Springfield, MO.