Archive for July, 2007

Stewart’s 12th Anniversary

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Karen and I headed over to Stewart’s Brew Pub in Bear, DE for their 12th Anniversary party. The main theme for the party was that Stewart’s was going to rock out with 12 Barleywines.


Before we arrived at Stewart’s I wanted to stop by Garret’s house so that I could try our almost one year old barleywine on tap. Not only would I get to try a draft variation but I could also compare ours to all of the ones Stewart’s would have. Garret has split his half of the Gnarleywine into two half sized kegs. One keg he left alone and let the beer age, the other keg he added oak wood chips that had been soaked in bourbon. The Gnarleywine at Garret’s from the kegerator is basically the same as what I have in bottles, except his is carbonated and mine is well, not. I thought the flavor and aroma were as expected and the carbonation did help the mouthfeel. I hadn’t had one in a few months and was really surprised at how hot the Gnarleywine still seemed. He then brought up a taste of the Boubonized Gnarleywine and though the keg seemed to have lost pressure and lost carbonation I thought it was incredible. I thought the oak and bourbon notes really tied together the hotness that the Gnarleywine had so that it seemed more appropriate. I think the BGNW is where it is at.

After Garret’s we headed on over to Stewart’s. It was pretty busy, but not obnoxiouly so. We decided to order the 12 barleywine flight so that we could sample them all. They had 4 vintages from Stewart’s and 8 guest barleywines. My favorites were Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and most of the Stewart’s vintages and Karen’s was the Young’s Old Nick from England. We also picked up some sandwiches while we were there. After the barleywines and dinner I wound up talking to an old friend I hadn’t seen in like 10 years, Wyatt Creswell, while enjoying one of Stewart’s delicious American Brown Ales. Very hoppy (in a good way) for an American Brown yet still rich and malty – nice. Overall I’d say the Stewart’s 12th Anniversary party was a success. I need to remember to check out some of their other events.

Belgium Comes To Cooperstown

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

This weekend, July 20-22, was the annual event at Brewery Ommegang called Belgium Comes To Cooperstown (BCTC). This was their 4th year holding the event and my first year attending. I must say, all of the good things I have heard about this event are true, it was a really great time!


Click HERE to see all the rest of the pictures. Sorry there isn’t many, I kept forgetting I had my camera with me.

This year Ommegang limited the number of tickets being sold to 800 tickets (previously I don’t believe there was a cap). Of those 800 tickets, 200 of these tickets were to be VIP tickets. VIP ticket holders were entitled to a 750ml bottle of Ommegeddon (there newest beer), a special 6 course meal paired with beer Friday night, camping Friday night, a ticket to the BCTC beer festival event on Saturday, and camping Saturday night for $120. Not a bad deal in my opinion for a weekend of fun, but unfortunately these tickets sold out in 5 days. The other 600 tickets included a ticket to the BCTC beer festival and Saturday night camping for $90, a little bit pricey but could be worth the cost. These tickets sold out also before we got a chance to purchase them. So about two weeks ago now I contacted the brewery to see if they still needed volunteers for the fest. They said they did and we were on our way. For the volunteers included was camping Friday and Saturday and a ticket to the BCTC beer fest on Saturday – plus the deal was for every four hour shift you volunteered you were compensated with a case of Ommegang beer! So all of this for the cost of our time, I think we scored!

We had been in contact with the brewery previously and signed up for a volunteer shift both on Friday and Saturday, that way guaranteeing we could camp both nights plus so we both could score two cases of Ommegang beer each. So, it was Robert and I who decided to volunteer for Ommegang. I took off from work on Friday and Monday and he was already off. We left the house on Friday around 6:30AM (just slightly behind schedule) to make the 5ish hour drive. We needed to be there by noon to start our first shift. Both days we had 12-4 shifts, not bad. Everything went fine on the drive up except for the hour of stand-still traffic we hit on the North East Extension of the PA Turnpike thanks to an environmental spill. We made it to Ommegang right at noon and luckily for us they were not quite ready for the volunteers so we were able to pitch our tent and throw our gear down before starting our shift. On Friday I got assigned to traffic control. Essentially we (myself, a guy from Milwaukee we met named Craig, and Robert for part of the time) had to direct the different cars where to go depending on what they were there for. Of course we were told conflicting information from different employees, but eventually Craig and I agreed on what we were telling the cars so at least from our end it started to go smoothly. One of the groups I checked in was the crew from Stewart’s in Bear, so it was good to see Ric and Natalie to know some familiar faces. About a third of the way through our shift Robert was reassigned to do another section, basically they said they needed some muscles and he volunteered, so he got the job of being the ‘hey-can-you-move-this’ guy.

After our shift on Friday we went back to the beer booth to get out vouchers for our case of beer, it was very much like getting your paycheck, and when we went to the store to acquire the cases it was very much like blowing your whole paycheck at the bar, bizarre. Anyway, we were allowed to choose from the Ommegang (Abbey Ale), Rare Vos (Amber Ale), Hennepin (Saison), and the Witte (White Ale). We also found out we could upgrade by paying extra to the two “bigger” beers they have the Three Philosophers (Quad) and the Ommegeddon (Belgian Farmhouse-style with Brettanomyces). We got paid with the Ommegang and Ommegeddon for that shift. After we were done there the Friday night fun began and we started drinking some top notch beers with fellow campers and playing some Cornhole until dark. After a dinner break, we began walking around the campgrounds and hanging and drinking with all the great and diverse people that were there. We probably crashed around 2AM calling it a night.

Saturday morning came around early, we were probably up between 7-8AM, partially because that’s how camping goes and partially because there was a mandatory meeting for the volunteers from 9-10AM on how to tell if someone is drunk and how to deal with them. The meeting was a pure waist of time. The lady in charge could have honestly made her point much clearer if she would have said what she really wanted us to hear and been done in 10 minutes instead of drawing it out with stories and losing most of out attentions. After the meeting we had about two hours before our shift began. I’m glad we had that break for while we were sitting in the meeting I had delayed-hang-over set in and I really needed those next two hours to drink some water, eat some food, and find my face.

For our shifts on Saturday Robert and I were assigned as beer pours for the first half of the fest. So the actual beer fest part of the whole weekend was scheduled from 2-6PM on Saturday, our shift was 12-4PM. So by volunteering we worked half of the tasting time but got to drink half of the tasting time too. There were some volunteers that did the same thing but flipped, I’m glad that isn’t what we got. Anyway, from 12-2 we were suppose to help set up and from 2-4 pour beers at the fest. Each volunteer was assigned to a specific brewery – Robert got The Tap Brewpub and I got Troegs. Well, The Tap never showed up and Troegs rolled up with a posse of about four people so they didn’t need my help. So instead for the first two hours we just randomly helped who ever needed help, mostly hauling bags of ice and standing around. At two o’clock I went back to Troegs to see if they need help pouring and of course they didn’t and Robert hooked up with the guy from Shelton Bros. Distributing and helped him pour Jolly Pumpkin beers for two hours. So from 2-4 I basically walked around again, refilled ice for a few people, took out some trash, and basically killed time until four. At four Robert and I stripped off our volunteer shirts, grabbed our beer case vouchers, went to pick up our beers (Three Philosophers and the Hennepin this time), ran back to the car to drop them off, and ran back to the fest to play catch-up. In all honesty, two hours of drinking huge Belgian-style beers was probably better than four because I was starting to “loose my edge” after two hours. Some highlights of beers I can remember are the Gorm Noire from Three Floyds, the Hop Goddess and Ink Well from Offshore, the 06.06.06 Vertical Epic from Stone, and everything from the Lost Abbey.

After the fest we moseyed back to the camp site, grabbed some more beers and the Cornhole sets and started all over again. We wound up finishing the last Cornhole game on Saturday a good 30 minutes after dark. It was pretty sweet having the set with us because we got to hang out with several other people who we may not have met otherwise, everyone was totally into the game. We also happened to run into the Unibroue representative while playing and he had me follow him back to his car and he hooked us up with six 750ml of Unibroue beer, Chambly Noire, La Fin Du Monde, Maudite, and some others. After it got dark it was time for wondering around the camp grounds again. While we were wondering around we saw a game similar to Cornhole but very different at three different campsites. It was like mini-cornhole played with metal washers instead of corn bags. The boards were smaller and closer together too, plus two of the three sets had three holes on the boar instead of one, it looked quite interesting. We wound up kicking it with the Iron Hill compound, the Stewart’s crew, and the employees from Ommegang mostly. After a while (near midnight) a cool band took the stage, there was live music from 2PM-2AM. They were called Mecca Bodega and they threw down some serious percussion good time dancin’ fun. We kicked it in the music tent during most of there set. After the Mecca Bodega throw-down we meandered back to our tent to hit the hay about 2AM.

When Sunday morning arrived it was between 7-8AM again. So a whopping total of about 10 hours sleep for the weekend, nice! Fortunately, besides being a bit tired, we both woke up feeling rather fresh. We took our time eating breakfast, drinking coffee, and breaking down camp. While we were breaking down camp two separate other campers that had volunteered came over and asked us if we wanted one of their beer vouchers because they didn’t have enough room in their cars to bring home the beer. Of course we took the vouchers and thanked them several times. We redeemed these two vouchers for the only two styles of beer we hadn’t acquired yet which were the Witte and the Rare Vos. So we wound up scoring one of each style beer Ommegang makes, sweet! To be fair and because we wanted to, we decided we were going to split each case, so we actually got a half case of each style a piece. Packing the car was interesting, but we got it all to fit. It was funny, driving the car I could really feel the weight of everything we had, but after a half an hour or so on the highway it felt “normal”.

All in all it was a great weekend and I would totally go back again. In all honesty I feel as if volunteering was definitely a good choice and would probably do the same next year. Robert has already talked to Ommegang about trying to get Erik Mitchell and the band booked to play next year, so that’s really cool, especially since the person we need to talk to is one of the ones we were hanging out with a lot. For me, this is now the fest that all the rest will get compared to, thanks to Brewery Ommegang!

Harry Potter Book 7 Speculations

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

OK, two quick things: – 1 – I know this isn’t a beery kind of post, but it is about one of my favorite book series, so deal with it. And – 2 – PLEASE, if you read this post after Harry Potter 7 comes out and especially if you have finished it, PLEASE do not post spoilers in the comments section. Karen and I read the HP books slowly because we read them the way we feel they were supposed to be read, out loud to each other. So it takes us much longer to finish the books then most people. I will be VERY disappointed if someone who knows me ruins the true ending of this series for me. You have been warned.


NOW, onto the meat. I am going to try and organize my thoughts a little bit so it doesn’t seem to sporadic, but this is the kind of thing where one thought tends to lead into another. To anyone who has not read books 1-6 (especially book 6) there are spoilers below, read at your own risk.

  • OK, the big one, we’re all thinking it – Is Harry Potter going to die? And I think, YES. I think Harry HAS to die in order for Voldemort to die and I don’t think JKR will leave us in a world where good has not triumphed over evil.
  • Who else is going to die? Well, I say not Ron and Hermione, I think they are our happy ending. I say probably Lupin (possibly protecting Tonks), most likely Snape (Harry will be involved one way or another), possibly Neville (the other ‘Non-Chosen One’?), and maybe and unfortunately Hagrid. And Ginny I’m not sure about. I don’t think she’ll die, but I think some how she will be involved very closely to Harry’s death – like, I’m not sure, Harry sacrifices himself to save Ginny from Voldemort thus protecting Ginny with the ‘love is greater then magic’ protection and sacrificing himself at the same time which I think must happen. Plus, by killing Harry it is a way for JKR to say good-bye to the series too, and it’ll help thwart others from writing unofficial HP books (like Star Wars and such).
  • Is Sirius Black going to be back (is he really dead)? Oh, he’ll be back! They NEVER explained his death well enough for me to be satisfied. I’ll actually be annoyed if he doesn’t come back. I’m thinking his first appearance will be via the two-way-magic mirror he gave Harry and he’ll be all Superman II style with General Zod and company trapped behind that crazy-glass-looking-portal thing (Phantom Zone). Did anyone follow that? And I think he’ll make a true appearance and kick-ass, haven’t decided if I think he is going to die (again/for real) or if he will be acquitted of all of the wrong charges and welcomed back into the wizarding world though he will never truly fit in again. Maybe he’ll fly off into the sunset with Buckbeak or Norbert the dragon (yes, I think he will be back and I think it was obvious.)
  • What about Snape? Where to begin . . . Is Snape a good guy or a bad guy? I thin Snape is a good guy, ‘Dumbledore’s man through and through’ as someone else says about Harry. I think Snape’s story is very rich and purposefully misleading. I’m not sure if he ever was a Death Eater, or actually a spy/double agent for Voldemort. But I do think that whatever he did/said to prove his loyalty to Dumbledore was true. I’m pretty sure we’ll find out what this even was, but by the time Harry or even us readers find out, it may be too late for Snape – he is going to die. But I also think he will turn on the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters in the zero hour. Check out his name Severus Snape – sounds oddly like ‘sever a snake’ doesn’t it? I think said snake could be physical or metaphorical, but I think Snape is a controlled bad-ass, “Don’t tread on me!” OK, What happened between Snape and Dumbledore when Snape killed him? I’m not sure. I don’t really think it was prearranged. I think it was more along the lines of Dumbledore knew Draco didn’t have the balls to kill him, and he also knew about the Unbreakable Vow, and he also had a feeling Snape was a very important player in the game that laid ahead, and possibly the potion Dumbledore had to drink may have really weakened him or shown him something horrible – but anyway, I think it was more along the lines of Dumbledore sacrificing himself to save Snape. Dumbledore seeing that Snape had a larger role still left to play than himself in this adventure.
  • Who/what is R.A.B.? Well, I think the obvious choice and the choice that JKR wants us to guess is Regulus Black, Sirius’ brother. I’m not sure about that JKR is the kind of author that likes to spill the beans about big developments, and that just seems way to easy. The only advantage to it being Regulus is that it brings us closer to a Sirius connection. I’m thinking that it stands for a group of people, like the D.A. – Dumbledore’s Army. I have no idea what it means, but my guess is Snape was a part of it. He appears to be close to Voldemort and knows enough about potions that he could have helped pull it off. Oh, a little off subject, yes I think we will see Dumbledore’s Army again.
  • Is Dumbledore dead? Dead as a doornail. BUT I know we are still going to get more Dumbledore action. At the least in the form of advise (ala Obi Wan Kanobi) from his portrait in the head masters office. So we will still get Dumbledore advise in this book, but not Dumbledore’s physical help. Not sure how this ties in, but I think Faux the Pheonix will have some sort of reappearance, maybe able to fight for Dumbledore, or maybe not.
  • Was Dumbledore right in his guesses on what the 7 Horcruxes were? And will Harry and crew find them all? I’ll start with the second question, yes Harry and company will find and destroy all 7 Horcruxes. Why am I so sure? Again, because I don’t think JKR will leave us in a world where evil triumphs or with a huge open ending like that (for example they find 6 and smite Voldemort so physically he is gone (again) but spiritually 1/7th of him still lives – not going to happen.) No, I don’t think Dumbledore was right, but I think he was close. Obviously Tom Riddle’s diary (1), Marvolo’s ring (2) and Voldemort himself (7) are 3 of the 4 Horcruxes. But I think Voldemort DID plant a Horcrux in an object from each house. Slytherin’s locket (3), Hufflepuff’s cup(4), something from Ravenclaw (5), and something from Gryffindor (6) – and not Nagini the snake.
  • So what are the two objects from Ravenclaw and Gryffindor? I don’t have an answer for Ravenclaw, but I’d bet it is something that has already been mentioned in one of the other 6 books. And Gryffindor . . . (this is my BIG revelation where either I’m a genius or an idiot), I think Harry is the heir to Gryffindor and the Horcrux is in him!! I think the Gryffindor family heritage line was hidden at some point for some reason (think The DaVinci Code) and it was never revealed to Harry that he is the heir to Gryffindor. And I think when Harry’s mother sacrificed herself to save Harry (again, the whole love is more powerful than magic thing) somehow at that moment and with Voldemort already planning on killing Harry and using his death to form his 6th Horcrux, things got turned-around somehow and the Horcrux became part of Harry. Think about it, the ultimate sacrifice, in order for Voldemort to die Harry MUST die because a piece of Voldemort is in Harry! To me, it really just makes sense. Plus two other notes that ring along these lines (some how) is the fact that everyone keeps mentioning how much Harry’s eyes look like his mothers (this will mean something) and the fact that Voldemort used Harry’s own blood to resurrect his physical body will be a weakness or a strength in all of this. I’m not sure how these two tie in yet, but mark my words – important.
  • Where is Book 7 going to start? I hope with the story of Draco and Snape and what happened with them right after everything hit the fan. Another good start would be Bill and Fleur’s wedding which will be a wizarding galla-event (will Percy be there? will Percy come back to join the Weasley’s good side? I bet Victor Krum could be there or at least in book 7). But I think we’ll start at Privot Drive once more just to show that Harry was there and that the magic put on the house until Harry is an adult is still working? Speaking of Privot Drive, remember in book 5 I think when Aunt Petunia got a howler sent to her via owl? Something along the lines of remember your promise? Well, I don’t think she is a witch or anything, but I am still waiting for her or Uncle Vernon to accidentally use magic or something along those lines some how.


Finally, I am fully ready for this HP book to be the greatest adventure yet, so get ready to buckle-up! We’re going to have the three amigos in search of the pieces to solve the puzzle to the greatest threat to the wizarding world with a climax that will be awesome! I just know it. Enjoy the two pictures of the cover and the special edition cover. You can click on them to enlarge them. Oh, hopefully I covered most of what I wanted to say, but if I think of something else (I had scribbled notes and lost them) I’ll post them here too.

Saturday IPA

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Saturday IPA, well at least what it has been dubbed for now. This was a joint venture between myself and Garrett (mostly Garrett ;-)) brewing up a 20 gallon batch of a super Columbus-Simcoe IPA!! It looks and smells great!!


What is all that green goodness you may ask? That my friends is a pound and a half of equal parts Columbus and Simcoe whole leaf hops. Man, did it feel good and sticky playing with all those lovely green nuggets, it felt a little naughty too. This beer was my first time brewing with this much whole leaf hops and brewing 20 gallons (4 times what I typically brew) of beer. The day takes a little bit longer to brew that volume of beer, basically just because there is so much more water and wort to boil and chill. Otherwise the process is essentially the same as when I brew a 5 gallon batch of beer.

satipaweb1.jpgWe started around 8AM which came very early after the night before (see the short post on the Kinda Blue Band below) and not falling asleep until almost 2AM. Initially everything seemed like it was going to go OK, we had coffee brewing, water heating, equipment pulled out of the basement, and everything basically set-up. Oh, did I forget to mention that Garrett did all of that before I even got there. From there on we really only ran into one problem, though it was a problem that extended the brew day by a good hour plus. While grinding the grains that morning, Garrett had forgotten that he had his mill set to grind wheat (a tighter setting = smaller pieces), and had ground half of the grain bill at the wheat setting. So, we anticipated we may have trouble with one of the two mash tuns and possibly getting a stuck mash. At first it was just laboriously slow to run off, then it did stick. We wound up working on it a little bit and things got going again. Really the only true hang-up of the day. The rest of the day was pretty good: ran out and bought propane in the middle of the boil that we never needed (lucky us), had a quick and sticky boil-over (oops), and had a hell of a time getting four pounds of Turbinado sugar to melt gently yet quickly. Plus we got to play with all of those lushy hops! The IPA will be plenty bitter especially since both those hops are pretty high in alpha acids, but we REALLY front loaded the recipe with a whole pound going in with less than 10 minutes left in the boil – two 4oz. additions, one at 10 minutes and one at flame-out. The brew day finally wrapped up around 5PM and we enjoyed one last pint before I had to run off to go camping.

The set-up Garrett has to work with works really well – he has pumps to move all the massive amount of liquids, and falsesatipaweb3.jpg bottoms that in conjunction with the whole leaf hops do a crazy good job of presenting really clean wort, and really has his techniques down on his system so the whole day feels very smooth. The “worst” part is that he uses two separate mash tuns which are both really too small for the beers that he brews. Not only did it limit our grain bill some (not that I am complaining with the bill we created), but it really is a pain-in-the-ass and takes twice the amount of time to sparge two separate tuns. I addressed this on Saturday and not surprising he feels the same way and already has a plan to correct this, it’s just a matter of time, timing, and of course everyone’s favorite money. But the plan for him is to build a sick 20 gallon stainless steel brew sculpture that I am sure will be the shit!  Anyway, as of now there are two 5 gallon carboys sitting in the basement blowing off some of the best smelling hops-infused CO2 I have ever smelt, and can smell from probably about 20 feet away – delicious!

The Kinda Blue Band

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

On Friday the 13th a bunch of us went out to Rox’s Bar in Marshallton, DE to see our buddy’s band play, The Kinda Blue Band. I have never been to this place before nor have I even heard of it, so my expectations of what the evening were going to bring were all over the place.


The night actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Above is Dave Carson on bongos, Glenn Wiltsee on bass, and John Zdimal on guitar. This is the band that played our wedding for anybody who was there and remembers these guys. This was a new venue for these guys to play and it seemed as if both the band and the owner of the bar thought things went well. The band karen-heather-jody.jpgwas asked to come back already, but there is not set date yet. The guys also added some new songs to the mix, I’m sure I didn’t pick up on all of them but there was definitely some Bob Marley thrown into the mix. As the night progressed and the libations continued to flow the girls started to really to have fun. I’m including what I think is a good picture and hopefully it won’t embarrass anyone.

Bottling the Pastime Pale Ale & the Saison

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Yesterday was a double bottling day, four cases of beer, very tedious boring work (did I ever mention how much I dislike bottling?). Fortunately I had my lil’ helper Karen there to keep me company. As the title says, we bottled the Pastime Pale Ale and the Saison.


Once again, impatience  proved to be not be an attribute of the qualities found in a good homebrewer. The PPA was brewed 15 days prior to bottling. For what its original gravity was and what its final gravity was this should have been plenty of time for everything to be ‘all good’. Instead what I was dealing with was a rather hazy/cloudy pale ale that had a slight sulfur flavor to it, I was getting pissy. And instead of racking it to a secondary and giving it another two weeks to help fall clear, I went ahead and bottled it anyway – very amateurish. I’m not overly concerned with the sulfury off flavor, I’ve had that before and it has gone away (though now that I’ve said that . . .), and I’m not overly concerned with the haze as long as it tastes fine, though this may still fall clear. What I AM concerned with is that most likely there will be a considerable amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottles, and this has and will always bother me. The Saison on the other hand was bottled with no problems, looked a lovely color, fell mostly clear, and had a wonderful peppery Belgian flavor – aahhh the difference some patience makes.

regulator-web.jpgI also got my regulator back from being repaired! While I was on my short lived kegging kick earlier in the year I accidentally knocked over my tank and regulator and crushed the gauge that tells you how much gas is left in the tank. The good part about this was I was able to still us the regulator to carbonate my beer and push it through the draft box, the bad part was I had no idea how much gas I had or had left and was pushing the limits each time I tried it. Unbeknown to me that gauge was more of a pain in the butt to get replaced than I had anticipated. The first place I went to told me minimum 1 week turn around. Unfortunately I didn’t have time. Second place was a friend who offered to do it through her work. This, I think, may have been one of those thimes where she wished she would have kept her mouth shut. She had it for about a month with several attempts made to repair it, only to repeatedly be stymied because of a backward threading on the gauge. Sorry about the inconvenience, Heather, but thank you all the same! Now that I know how much gas is left in my tank, guess what, it’s time for a fill. I wonder how much a tank of gas costs . . .

BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #7

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

The ‘Food Issue’. Definitely a step in the right direction from the last issue, but also seems to be a little trendy to me, a little with the times instead of ahead of the times. Right now, and for the last while, beer & food pairings and cooking with beer have been hot topics. Cool that they are choosing to advocate this, but often I have felt that these guys were slightly ahead of the curve. Oh well, what’s next the ‘Session Issue’?


Right off the bat in the Beer Smack section (where the two founding brothers sign off) there is a great little list of things a restaurant or chef can do to make their place a better beer/food location. I actually thought this was really great, would love to see it flushed out. Perhaps printed in a book-mark-esque format and then flood the restaurant and beer scene so everyone in the business sees this information. Another very current debate going on in the beer world is something along the lines of: are mass produced craft-style beers still craft beer? Like Blue Moon for example. Blue Moon is made by Coors, Anheuser Busch also has several on the market right now. And the debate kind of goes like this; if it were a blind tasting, based on what you see, smell, fee, and taste in the glass (and this is the only information you know) what makes it a craft beer? And should these better mass produced beers be considered craft? I like Blue Moon as a wit, regardless of who makes it. I don’t think it is the best, but it sure is a clean easy drinker. That’s about as far as a fully formed answer that I have so far. Aahhh, 9 Steps to Beerdom, my favorite! This time featuring Rob Tod from Allagash – sounds like he’s one hard working lucky bastard! When we finally get to the main featured article on food & beer, ‘Beer: It’s what’s for dinner’ it isn’t a disappointment. It’s five short interviews with America’s top beer chefs plus included recipes from the chefs. Basically the common denominator that I gathered from the article was use any and all beer, use the beer in a reduction to amplify the flavor, if the flavor is in the beer it will come through in the reduction, and don’t be afraid to experiment. The article actually made me consider getting a job in a kitchen again, fun times with lots of headaches and low pay – sucks. My favorite recipe was for Sean Paxton’s Liquid-Nitrogen-Infused Rochefort 10 Ice Cream, damn right! One it uses Rochefort 10 for the beer (awesome beer), he explains how this style could be applied to make individual ice-creams ala Ben & Jerry’s style (my own words), and it allows you to play with liquid-nitrogen! Now, does anyone know where I can get my hands on some liquid-nitrogen! Next was the too many pages of beer reviews again, I’m starting to sound as repetitive as their reviews, yyaaawwwwnn. Interestingly though, the majority of the beers this time (and I bet hence forth) were either from a brewery or from an importer. Though I know beer is what they do, it must be nice to get that much “free” beer. The issue has a little section in the back that I rarely talk about called Beer Destinations and this time it was all about San Diego. There is enough action going on there that we might need to plan a vacation, nice! Overall, best issue since about issue #4, way to get back on top of things.

Zymurgy July/August

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Zymurgy magazine ‘The Journal of the American Homebrewers Association’ is probably the best beer rag publication there is. It is written and edited by professionals, ex-professionals, and degree holding highly involved individuals. Overall it makes you feel that what they have to say matters.


This issue was the readers choice awards, for lack of a better idea for what to call it. It was the issue in which the homebrewing society at large are given the opportunity to vote on what they think is the number one beer, brewery, and other such topics commercially available in the US. First I’d like to mention the cool little article on some gentlemen who got to try a 138 year old beer(strong ale), lucky bastards! The results were good to fair (I did vote) on the readers choice awards. Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA was voted the top ranked beer as was Dogfish Head Craft Brewery voted the top ranked brewery – WOW! Double your pleasure, now that was something! Best portfolio, ranked by number of beer brands named in the poll, went to Rogue Ales with 14 and Dogfish Head pulling in a second this time with 13. Top import, not overly surprising, went to everyone’s favorite Guinness Draught. And the final award was the spirit of homebrew award, this ranking is based on total number of votes divided by annual production in barrels, went to AleSmith Brewing, probably the least know out of the five (this is where Dogfish Head used to score big a few years ago). Also in this section were several choice clone recipes, not submitted by the breweries, but of high quality choices all the same. Following that were too mostly interesting and a little bit long articles on ‘other brown malts beyond crystal’ and oat malts. Both were fine reads but neither made me drop my mash paddle and slap myself in the forehead thinking “what have I been doing all this time!” The rest was, you know, the rest.

Now I will take the opportunity to both highlight a small section and embarrass myself. There is a small section in the front of the magazine called ‘You Gotta Drink This’. Well, when the AHA asked for our votes for the above awards they also mentioned we could submit a beer review that may get posted in this section. Guess who’s review made this issue? Yup, mine! Anyway, I don’t know if this is exactly how the original was written, but here’s what they printed:

You Gotta Drink This: Iron Hill Anvil Ale (Served cask conditioned)

This is the kind of beer you find yourself curled up next to for the entire night. After the generous 20-ounce hand-pumped English-pub style glass arrives with the final steps of the cascade still flowing, one is captured. The beer is served “warm”, maybe 55’F. This difference in temperature skyrockets the smell of this beer into a new dimension, really bringing out the hops. The taste is dangerous in the sense that you find you find yourself diving in for more to try and identify the caramel and cereal-like flavors along with the presence of more hops. The taste is like walking on the beach, or hiking in the woods. It is relaxing and rewarding, and could easily replace most daily drinks. The texture is light and smooth without interruption. Creamy smooth goodness runs all the way from lips down one’s throat, very refreshing. This beer would be a daily driver if it were a Volkswagen.

Nuff said.

BYO Magazine July-August Issue

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine has dubbed themselves ‘The How-to Homebrew Beer Magazine’. Maybe. I like BYO enough, it’s the lighter fluffier read of the beer rags I receive, and I guess it can’t be too awful if I’m on like my fourth years subscription, but it just seems to be missing depth or something. It is like talking to someone who has an education or job authority that should make them appear to  have superior knowledge to you on a subject, but they talk without confidence so it is hard to rely on or trust everything they say. Kind of a weak analogy, but that’s what I’m talking about.


This issue was supposed to be about great summer homebrew recipes. It also had the annual editors picks best label contest winners. Basically, per usual, I am going to go over what I feel are the highlights from this issue.  Right off the bat in the ‘Replicator’ section we get a happy vibe, there staring me back is a clone recipe for Dogfish Head’s Shelter Pale Ale! Sweet! Not that the Shelter is my favorite DFH beer or anything, but I love seeing DFH get props even if they are getting bigger than the state of Delaware. Next, we get to their ‘Style Profile’ section with the man Jamil Z busting out a nice little profile on Witbiers. This dude know what he’s talking about, so I always take note to read his stuff. Second time in a row that BYO seems to be putting their magazine out late or I’m brewing the style early (also happened with my EPA), but it would be nice if we could get more aligned on our brewing. Next is the ‘Label Contest Winners’, I entered this two times I think like two and three years ago, and I’ll tell you, the years I entered some of my labels were better – but whatever. The Grand Champion label was definitely nice with a sweet Willy Wonka themed chocolate bar type label for a Triple Chocolate Stout, the rest – not awful. After that there was an odd little article on ‘Small Scale Brewing’ and they meant small, like a six-pack per batch, that reminds me of the coffee-maker method! Anyway, I can see the attraction of being able to do an experiment on a smaller scale so as not to ‘ruin’ a full batch, but it seems like a lot of work to get back such little results. Though not the same, I think I liked the idea of the Oatmeal Stout Experiment better where I split a five gallon batch five ways and tinkered with each of those. The rest of the magazine from there just felt boring, repeatative, and down-hill. They had a section with 15 beer recipes donated by readers and shops, OK but personally I would have liked to seen 15 clone recipes from the breweries. They also had a section again on how to build a stir plate and how to build a yeast starter (didn’t they just run those articles, yawn). So, per usual, BYO was an OK to read but nothing I’d adjust my style over.