Left hand Brewing Company sponsors bike team to help fight MS

Team-Left-Hand-LogoIt has long been a tenet of the craft beer industry that its members are a particularly philanthropic bunch. Maybe it is because the community is so tight-knit and more established breweries pitch in to help new breweries get up and started. Maybe it is because of the grassroots nature of the business. Or, maybe it is just that craft beer people have big hearts. No matter what the cause, it is a well-represented phenomenon and Longmont, Colo. stalwart Left Hand Brewing Company is carrying on the tradition.

Team Left Hand (TLH) is a cycling team that is participating in the Bike MS rides to help end Multiple Sclerosis. The team participates in three national rides, raising both money and awareness for the debilitating disease.  This year will mark the seventh year the team has participated in the Bike MS ride in Colorado, its second in North Carolina and its debut in the Florida ride.

Team Left Hand consists of over 180 riders from across the U.S., who volunteer their time and effort to help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people living with MS. The team’s inspiration lies in the friends & family afflicted by Multiple Sclerosis, motivating each member to work towards their personal goal of raising at least $1000 a year. To date the team has raised over $940,000 for the cause.

Carolyn Graham, District Manager and North Florida Brand Manager for Brown Distributing, the distributor that supplies Left Hand Brewing Company beers to Florida, will be participating in the Florida ride this year. In this, her third year of participating in the ride with TLH, Graham said, “I have family friends living with MS and I feel extremely blessed and honored to be able help people with MS and to raise awareness and funds for research. It’s an honor to be a part of this ride that provides support for the person living with MS and their families.”

She summed up her reasons for riding as, “I ride so that one day MS will one day stand for Mystery Solved.”

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease with symptoms ranging from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, affecting 2.3 million people worldwide. Team Left Hand currently rides for 80 people, whose names are honored on the team’s jersey. As the list of names grows longer, TLH’s resolve to solve the MS mystery grows stronger.

The Florida Bike MS ride — Bike MS: PGA Tour Cycle to the Shore – takes place September 20 and 21. There are three routes that riders can choose from depending on their riding skill level. Details can be found on the National MS Society website or by clicking this link. More information about Team Left hand can be found at the Left Hand Brewing Company website or at this link.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Beer, Beer Industry


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The Beer Guy Beer School; Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

beerschool_Lesson2Note to readers: This is the second in a weekly four-part series about how to get the most out of your craft beer experience. If you missed the first article in this series, click this link to get caught up.

Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

Our second lesson in the art of enjoying great beer involves your sense of vision. For years the world has thought of beer visually as crystal clear, yellow in color and with robust carbonation streaming up the glass. While that presentation is great for many styles, it is not always how beer should appear. As you will learn, the way a beer looks can be influenced by style, temperature and even the skill of the bartender.

When evaluating the appearance of a beer there are three things you should look for:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Head Retention

Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics individually.


Today’s craft and import beers run the gamut of the color spectrum from pale straw to golden, amber, copper, orange, brown, black, and everything in between. Dictated solely by the style of the beer, color is not an indication of whether a beer will taste good it is merely an indication of which malts and adjuncts the brewer used while making the beer. One color is not necessarily better than another when it comes to beer. It’s all a matter of preference.

In the world of competitive beer brewing – yes, there is such a thing – judges use a style guide to determine the general color a given beer style should have. One of the most accepted and respected guide is the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines. This extensive guide catalogs how over 75 general beer styles should look, smell and taste. It is well worth a look if you really want to know all the details of how a beer should look in your glass.

But, for the casual beer-drinker, we can simplify the color issue.

pale  Pale: Light Lager, Lager, Wheat Ale and Belgian White


Light: Pilsners, Marzen/Oktoberfest, Weizen

straw  Straw: Hefewizen, Kolsch, Cream Ale, English Pale Ale, Belgian-style Triple

goldenGolden: American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Amber Lager, Lambic, Dopplebock


Amber: Scottish Ale, Vienna-style Lager, Dunkelweizen, Irish Ale, Amber/Red Ale, Barleywine


Black: Stout, Porter, Milk Stout, Irish Dry Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Black IPA



Of course, there are plenty of other styles not represented on the above chart. Styles like Brown Ales that are, well, brown and Schwarzbier and dark lagers that lean towards the amber side of brown. But, for the most part, this chart should help give you an idea of how certain styles should fit on the color scale.

In general, if the beer falls within the expected color spectrum of its style, the brewer followed good procedure and used fresh, quality ingredients. Beer that is far outside of the expected color for the style may still be good, but treat it a bit more cautiously in your expectations.


Crystal clear or cloudy, that is the question. And the answer is a definitive; it depends. While the quest for beer clarity is a goal to most modern brewers, there are certain styles of beer that are inherently cloudy and that is perfectly okay.

Historically, beer was rarely crystal clear. Indeed, the suspended particles were desireable because they are what made beer the nourishing drink that it was. Sure there were a few styles prized for their clarity like Pilsners and other German lagers, but the vast majority of beer was anything from hazy to outright cloudy. Today, for beers like Wits, Hefeweizens and other unfiltered styles a cloudy appearance is perfectly appropriate.

But, beer styles other than those mentioned above and a few others, today most beer is expected to be clear in order to be properly brewed. There are several factors that contribute to a beer’s clarity including:

  • Suspended proteins
  • Unsettled yeast
  • Other particles

In the world of beer tasting there is a phenomenon known as chill haze. When a beer is not boiled properly during and then cooled fast enough chill haze can set in. When this occurs and the beer is refrigerated, the proteins still in the brew are driven out of the solution causing it to take on a hazy appearance in the glass. While it rarely changes the flavor of the beer, it does make it less appealing to look at.

Another cause of hazy or cloudy beer is the presence of yeast that has not settled to the bottom yet. Certain yeast strains are bred to have a high degree of flocculation or the ability to settle out of beer quickly. Others, like those used in Witbiers and Hefeweizens flocculate much slower and cause the cloudy appearance that is perfectly normal for those styles.

Brewers will often store beer in a cool place or even refrigerate it to increase flocculation in yeast. A perfect example of this is the practice of lagering employed by the Germans who, in the old days, stored beer in caves for several months before serving it. The time spent sitting undisturbed in the lagering caves allowed the yeast to fall to the bottom of the barrel and produced a much clearer brew.

Other particles that remain in beer for a long period of time include things like hop particles, fruit pectins and any other adjuncts that may be added. Beers like double and triple IPAs will often appear hazy due to the higher amount of hop residue that stays in suspension in the beer. Dry-hopping, a practice of adding hops to a beer after the original boil, also contributes to a decrease in beer clarity.

To increase the clarity of beer brewers will often add materials like Irish Moss, isinglass and whirlfloc. They may also employ a filter or whirlpool the remove solids.

For your enjoyment, though, just keep in mind that some beers are meant to be cloudy. As a rule of thumb, wheat beers or beers made with a large amount of wheat in the grain bill are meant to be cloudy. Also, keep in mind that chill haze, while not attractive will likely not affect the flavor of your beer.

Head Retention

For years the excepted standard of two fingers so foam at the top of a well-poured glass of beer was what all good bartenders strived for. Another tell-tae sign of good head is the lacing – known as Belgian or Brussels lace – left on the sides of the glass as you drink the beer. But, if the head did not form it is not always the bartender’s fault. There is a lot of chemistry and artistry that goes into brewing beer that will form and perfect, fluffy head.

During travels in Belgium, I noticed a bartender mis-poured a beer. Before she would serve the beer to her guest, she made sure there was head on the beer by taking two coffee stir sticks and whipping one up. By doing this she not only saved an innocent beer from being wasted, but she also insured her guest got full enjoyment from his beer. The Belgians are fanatics about beer and would not dream of serving a beer without a proper head. But, why?

The foam at the top of your beer serves a number of purposes; most importantly it captures and disburses aromatics that lead to an increased enjoyment of beer. But, it also provides part of the beers feel in your mouth and is an indication of the relative health of the beer.

So, what kills foam? Soap residue in a glass and oils. Glassware used for beer must be impeccably clean, any soap or cleanser left in the glass can kill a foam head and leave a beer with a surface smoother than a lake on a windless day. Oils will do the same thing. For instance, lipstick and lip balms react with the foam a cause it to quickly dissipate. This is why the old trick of touching your nose and then sticking your finger in an overflowing beer or soda works.

But, there are other factors to a rich head including the type and alcohol content of the beer. Just as Witbiers and Hefeweizens are typically cloudy, they are also blessed with glorious, billowy heads because of their high concentration of compounds that enhance foam production. Higher alcohol beers, on the other hand, generally have lower amounts of head.

So, how can you insure the best possible head for your beer? Pour your beer straight down the middle of your glass. Sure, this goes against the steps given on the perfect pour instructions last week, but if head is what you want, this is how to get the most.

Let’s review:

The color of your beer depends on the style you are drinking and can indicate whether the brewer hit the mark for the style he was going for. Clarity can be an indication of improper boil and cool down procedures or, depending on the style can be perfectly acceptable. And, head retention can be affected by the cleanliness of your local pub or tap room or it can be an indication of the alcohol content of the beer.

Next week: Ooh, ooh that smell! What effects the aroma and how it should affect your perception of beer.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Beer Education


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North Brevard Rotary club holding Craft BrewFest

brevardThe Space Coast of Florida is nearing the dog days of summer, but the Rotary Club of Titusville want to help beer lovers relax and cool down. Their answer to oppressive Florida summer heat? A beer festival, of course! The North Brevard Craft BrewFest will help raise funds for the clubs philanthropic efforts such as the eradication of polio and helping to provide education, better healthcare and clean water to those in need. Local Rotary programs such as service projects throughout the North Brevard community and scholarships for the three local high schools will also benefit from the festival.

The event will showcase samples of beers distributed by Florida Beer Company, Bug Nutty Beer Company, Due South, Brown Distributing and Carroll Distributing. Live music will feature The Johnnie Morgan Band and musical legend Tim Reynolds, lead guitarist for The Dave Matthews Band.

Food and soft drinks will also be available at the festival.

The event takes place Saturday, August 9 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 with a $1 service fee for the BeerFest only and $20 with a $1 fee for both the BeerFest and the Tim Reynolds concert. Tickets are available at the club’s website:

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “JaxBeerGuy” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Beer Festival


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Stone expanding to Berlin

Stone-Brewing-BerlinFor over 200 years the United States has been taking its brewing ques from Germany. It was the influx of German immigrants that saw the rise of the big beer companies of today. But, as the country turns back to more flavorful, more pure beers it is the Germans that are taking note. And with that, Stone Brewing Company of Escondido, Calif. has announced plans to open a production brewery and restaurant in Berlin, Germany. With an anticipated opening in late 2015 or early 2016, Stone is making an initial investment of more than $25 million to renovate a historic gasworks complex in Marienpark Berlin, turning the more than two acres (9,290 square meters) of indoor and outdoor space into a world-class operation that will welcome beer enthusiasts from around the globe. Stone will be the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery in Europe. Stone Brewing Co. – Berlin will encompass three components: a brewery and packaging hall, a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant and a Stone Company Store.

“This is a historic moment for Stone. I’ve wanted to say these next words for many years now: We’re coming to Europe. We’re coming to Germany. We are coming to Berlin!” said Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch. “It has been a long time coming and I couldn’t be more proud to say that we are finally on our way to being the first American craft brewer to own and operate our own brewery in Europe. Once open, we will bring Germany and the rest of Europe a taste of our craft beer vision, and look forward to sharing the unique beers that we have spent the last 18 years brewing.”

“Stone’s future European home will serve as the company’s international hub; a central location promoting goodwill and quality craft beer spanning the globe,” said Stone President and Co-founder Steve Wagner. “With this expansion comes our commitment to brewing bold, aggressive, hop-forward beers in a country with a long history rooted in the art of brewing.”

The company will transform the setting into a one-of-a-kind destination that includes:

  • A spectacular, historic, red brick main hall built in 1901 measuring 43,000-plus square feet (3,994 square meters), featuring a vaulted ceiling that will house a custom-built, stainless steel brewhouse, an eclectic farm-to-table restaurant, and retail store featuring specialty Stone beers and merchandise.
  • A second 20,775-square-foot (1,930 square meters) building that will be utilized for brewing operations and house fermenters, bright tanks, and packaging equipment and materials. Ultimately, the company’s signature ales will be packaged and distributed throughout Europe from the facility.
  • A third 1,300-square-foot (120 square meters) building, situated in what will be the expansive gardens, to be utilized as event space.

The property’s brewhouse will produce year-round and special-release Stone beers to be packaged, kegged and enjoyed on site and eventually distributed. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin will highlight locally grown, organic food that complements the harmonious nature and seasonality of the location’s surroundings. As proud supporters of the international Slow Food movement, Stone will ensure that every dish is made from ingredients adhering to Slow Food’s principles of good, clean, fair food. An ambassador of the craft beer movement, Stone will serve an extensive array of exceptional craft and specialty beers from other breweries in Germany, Europe and across the world, both on tap and in bottles.

Additionally, the company launched an Indiegogo crowd-participation campaign, so fans can participate in the venture by purchasing special collaboration beers to be brewed with award-winning, renowned craft brewers from around the world at Stone Brewing Co. – Berlin once the facility is operational.

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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Craft Beer Brewery


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The Beer Guy Beer School; Lesson 1 — Pop That Top! Serving Beer Properly

beerschool_lesson2Because we know that not everyone who reads this blog is a beer expert, we are starting a new four-week series to help you hone your beer-tasting skills. It is our goal to help you learn how to swill your brew with authority. So, we present to you The Beer Guy’s Beer School!

Because understanding how to properly serve your beer in integral to getting full enjoyment from it the first lesson in the series will address these important topics. Other lessons in this series will cover topics such as how to assess the quality of your chosen beer through the use of multiple senses including sight, smell and taste. In these lessons, you will find information on what you should be looking for in a beer, how it should smell and how it should taste.

The first topic, as mentioned above is how to properly serve your beer.

Lesson 1 – Pop That Top! Serving Beer Properly

So, you want to drink beer? Who doesn’t? But, if you want to truly enjoy your beer-drinking experience and not merely pound some swill, keep the first golden rule of serving beer in mind:

Golden Rule of Beer Serving #1

NEVER taste your beer directly from the bottle or can it came in.

To truly savor your brew it is vital to sample your beer from the proper glass. Because of the many characteristics tied to the huge variety of beers, there is an equally astounding number of glasses that have been created to drink it. For most establishments, the common shaker pint glass is the preferred vessel for beer consumption. But, research – and tradition – may indicate otherwise.

In Belgium, using the proper glassware to serve a beer is practically a religion. No self-respecting bartender in that beer-loving country would ever serve a Flanders Red ale in a shaker glass. No, these tart ales from the northern – Flanders – region of Belgium require a glass that will concentrate and intensify the aromas of the beer so the drinker can enjoy the brew fully.

Proper glassware can be tricky, though. With so many glass styles to choose from, it can be daunting to figure out which beer should be served in a given glass style. Never fear,  Beer School has a handy reference for you right here. Instead of purchasing dozens of glassware styles, concentrate on just a few that can be used to great success for several beer styles.

pintglass Pint Glass, Shaker Glass, Nonic Glass, Tumbler Glass

In America, the pint glass is the most commonly used glass to serve beer. While it is not the best suited glass for all beers, it is inexpensive and holds approximately 16-ounces of beer.  The American shaker has straight sides rather than the pictured Nonic, or British-style glass.

Beer styles this glass is most appropriate for include: British-Style Bitter, Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Double/Imperial IPA, Amber/Red Ale, Brown Ale, Altbier, Porter, Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Marzen/Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ale, Rye Beer, Saison, Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy, Smoked Beer.


pilsnrglassPilsner Glass

The German Pilsner Glass was developed as a tall thin glass to showcase the beautiful golden color of the beer style. The tall shape also highlights the bubbles running up the inside and concentrates the fluffy, aromatic head.

Beer styles this glass is most appropriate for include: Blonde Ale, Hefeweizen, Pilsner, California Common/Steam Beer, Japanese Rice Lager, Witbier.



Snifters have a large bowl area with a narrower mouth. The bowl provides plenty of room for swirling the beer to bring aromas out while the narrower mouth serves to concentrate those aromas.

Beer styles this glass is most appropriate for include: Old or Strong Ale, Barleywine, Double/Imperial IPA, Double/Imperial Stout, Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Quad, Tripel.



Sturdy, yet elegant, the goblet is generally composed of a large, wide-mouthed bowl on a sturdy stem. Often these glasses are very ornate and may include gold or silver leaf designs. The goblet’s main purpose is to create a large surface area for copious amounts of aromatic head.

Beer styles this glass is most appropriate for include: Belgian IPA, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Berliner Weissbier, Dubbel, Tripel, Quad.

These four beer glasses will accommodate the majority of beer styles adequately. But, if you are a purest and want to serve beer in only the most appropriate glassware, prepare to invest in hundreds of styles.

Now that you have the proper glassware, it is important to know how to properly pour beer into it. Before we get to that, here is another golden rule:

Golden Rule of Beer Serving #2

NEVER pour beer into a chilled glass.

A chilled glass will cause the beer to foam too much when poured resulting in a short pour. Another problem with a frosted mug is that it may chill the beer too much, which you will learn later is a real problem for beer enjoyment. So, for best results, keep your beer glasses at room temperature .

When you have opened your beer and are ready to pour it into a glass, hold the bottle (or can) in one hand and the glass in the other. Pour your beer in such a way as to create a decent head of foam. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Hold the glass at 45 degrees.
  2. Pour the beer at the midpoint of the glass.
  3. Tilt the glass upright as you reach the midpoint of the glass.
  4. Finish your pour to create a one to one and one half inch head.

If you end up with more than the optimal amount of head, you have poured too fast. Allow the head to settle a bit and try again on the next beer. Pouring beer is an art form and like all artistic endeavors, practice makes perfect.

Now that you have mastered choosing the correct glass for your beer and how to pour it into that glass, it is time to learn how to evaluate how your beer appears. We will cover this important topic next Friday in Lesson #2 of The Beer Guy’s Beer School. Until then, hone those pouring skills and impress your friend with your new-found proficiency.

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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Beer Education


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Europe’s Best Beer Festivals; an Infographic

When a beer-lover thinks of Ireland, a number of things come to mind; pints of the black stuff, pubs filled with lively music and beer paired with hearty Irish foods. The folks at Homebrew West, a home beer brewing supply store in Galway, Ireland also want you to know about beer festivals around Europe.

Always a sucker for a fun infographic, the enthusiastic group at Homebrew West sent me the gem below with all the information you could ever want about the biggest European beer festivals. Several may make it on to my travel itinerary over the next few years!

If you like the infographic, be sure to stop by Homebrew West’s website and let them know!


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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Infographic


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Sierra Nevada celebrates craft beer with Beer Camp Across America

beercampEarlier this year, one of the craft brewing industry’s founding breweries — Sierra Nevada — announced that it had invited every craft brewery in the United States to participate in a first-of-its-kind collaboration. The event, dubbed Beer Camp Across America, is a multi-weekend traveling beer festival that begins in the brewery’s hometown of Chico, Calif. and ends at their new East Coast brewery in Mills River, NC. Along the way the Beer Camp will make five other stops throughout the country.

Sierra Nevada founder, Ken Grossman, reflected on the festivals, “We’ve watched and learned from each other for decades, and together we’ve seen tastes change and craft’s momentum snowball. Beer Camp Across America is our way of reflecting on this—with thousands of brewers, fans and great beers. It should be pretty fun.”

But, Beer Camp is not just another beer festival; it is also a way for Sierra Nevada and other participating breweries to foster their craft and the development of more diversity in the industry.  Proceeds from each stop will go to the state brewers guilds in the festival host state as well as to hop and barley research to foster the development of new types of hop varieties and barley crops to fuel the pursuit of new flavor experiences for the ever-expanding tastes of craft drinkers.

In all, over 700 breweries have signed-on for the historic multi-city tour with more than 1,400 beers representing every state in the country.

Beer Camp stops stretch from coast to coast with festivals in each of America’s many regions. At each stop guests will receive a commemorative tasting glass with unlimited tastings where possible. In addition organizers have insured there will be plenty to eat by bringing in local food trucks and entertainment will be provided by MarchFourth Marching Band. West Coast beer lovers will be the first to experience the traveling camp with the kickoff in Chico, Calif. on July 19. The entire schedule includes:

  • Saturday, July 19: Northwest Edition at Sierra Nevada Hop Field in Chico, Calif., 12:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 20: Southwest Edition at Embarcadero North in San Diego, Calif., 1:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Friday, July 25: Rocky Mountain Edition at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colo., 5:00-10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 27: Midwest Edition at Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill., 12:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, August 1: New England Edition at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine, 5:00-10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 2: Mid-Atlantic Edition at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, Pa., 1:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 3: Southeast Edition in Mills River, N.C., 1:00-6:00 p.m.

In addition to, an in support of the Beer Camp tour, Sierra Nevada has collaborated with 12 breweries across the country to create a once in a lifetime 12-pack. The Beer Camp Across America Mixed 12-Pack consists of 10 bottles of beer and two cans from some of the country’s most coveted breweries. Each of the brewers chosen will travel to each of the Beer Camp stops to pour and discuss the collaboration brew they created with Sierra Nevada.

“A lot of creativity and hard work went into the Beer Camp Across America 12-pack, and we’re excited to finally share it with drinkers,” said Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada. “We’ll pour these beers at every festival stop with hundreds of other craft brewers who are pushing the boundaries of our industry. It’s a traveling party, and we’re going to have a great time.”

The brewers chosen and the beers they created are:

  • Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine — Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale
  • Asheville Brewers Alliance, Asheville, N.C. — Tater Ridge Scottish Ale
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif. — Electric Ray India Pale Lager
  • Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. — Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale
  • Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Fla. — Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock (CAN)
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif. — Torpedo Pilsner
  • New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wis. — There and Back English-Style Bitter
  • Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, Ore. — Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout
  • Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo./Brevard, N.C. — CANfusion Rye Bock (CAN)
  • Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Calif. —  Yvan the Great Belgian-Style Blonde
  • 3 Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind. — Chico King Pale Ale
  • Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Alt Route Altbier

Tickets are now on sale at and are limited to 5,000 per venue. Tickets cost $65 for general admission, which includes a tasting glass and unlimited tastings (in most locations, see the website for full details). A designated driver ticket is available for $30. Ticket prices are exclusive of taxes and fees, which will vary according to location.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “JaxBeerGuy” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Beer Festival


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