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Esquire Network brings back ‘Booziest Night on Television’

It is no joke that the Esquire Network has brought some truly outstanding television programs to cable over the past few years. Esquire, a lifestyle and entertainment network, which debuted in September 2013, features programming that speaks to classic and contemporary passions and interests, from fashion and style to food and drink, travel, family and relationships. The channel builds on Esquire magazine’s 80 years of insight into what makes men tick. On Wednesday, April 1, 2015 the network premiers the new seasons of two of its most popular programs; Best Bars in America and Brew Dogs. Both programs take a decidedly tongue-in-cheek approach to their respective subjects along with a distinctive style that could only come from Esquire.

Source: Esquire Network

Source: Esquire Network

Before Brew Dogs hit cable in 2013, I had the privilege of speaking with James Watt and Martin Dickie, founders of the Brew Dog brewery in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The duo is… well, they are eclectic, outspoken and utterly entertaining. Those very eccentricities are what drew producers Steve Stockman, Chris Burke and Jared Cotton of Custom/Redtail Partners LLC to reach out to them for a new beer-centered television program for the Esquire Network.

“We came out to the US because the whole craft beer movement is so far ahead.” Watts said. “There are so many beers and styles. It’s a fun place to hang out.”

Known for creating outlandish brews with astronomical alcohol content – the duo created a beer that once held the record for highest alcohol content at 55% ABV — Watts and Dickie wanted to shake up the British brewing industry and learn how to do it from those who were on the cutting edge of the industry: Americans.

“The UK doesn’t have anything like the craft beer culture that you’ve got in the U.S.,” Dickie explained. “In the UK before 2007, you had two options; you could have industrial generic beer or you could have cask beer. We just didn’t have the excitement, the diversity, or the innovation that was happening in the US. So, we wanted to capture some of that.”

Now in its third season, Brew Dogs opens this year by returning home to Scotland and brewing in the most haunted house in the UK. While doing so they hope to revive a long dead Scottish beer style that they plan to age in Scotch whiskey super-cask while hunting for ghosts with a team of the UK’s best paranormal investigators. The program airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, April 1.

Source: Esquire Network

Source: Esquire Network

Comedians Jay Larson and Sean Patton roam the U.S. in search of the perfect cocktails on their show Best Bars in America. Larson, a stand-up comic with 15 years of delivering punchlines under his belt with gigs on Conan, Carson Daly and The Late Late Show, livens the show with witty banter with co-host Patton. Patton, a comedian based in New York and Los Angeles by way of New Orleans, lends his opinions, insights and humor to the show keeping the banter zippy and the glasses full.

This season’s premier finds the comics kicking off their nationwide bar tour in San Francisco, where they find a detective-themed speakeasy, try their first waffle shots at a boozy brunch, and get punch drunk with Academy Award winner Nat Faxon. The program airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern just before Brew Dogs.

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Beer News

 

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Craft beer continues phenomenal growth

Credit: Creative Commons / mfajardo

Credit: Creative Commons / mfajardo

Beverage Industry, a leading magazine covering the $400 billion North American beverage market, has released its 2015 Beer Report and says that craft beer is still showing increased interest both in the industry and in pop culture.  Based on data from Information Resources, Inc. based in Chicago, 2014 craft beer sales volume saw just over 17 percent in increases over 2013, with dollar sales up 20.5 percent.

“Craft is more than a beer segment; it is a cultural movement in American society,” says Jeff Nowicki, chief strategy officer with Bump Williams Consulting in the report. “I think if you look at where these small brewers have built their breweries, in many cases it is in the somewhat low-rent urban locations within their respective cities. These locations attract consumer visits and enhance these neighborhoods over a period of time. [In turn,] that brings people in, and, in many cases, ignites redevelopment of these areas in a multitude of ways.”

Another trend noticed by the report writers is how retailers are embracing locally-brewed beers.

“Local and regional brewers are now being given more consideration for shelf placement as consumers show greater support and interest in these brands,” Nowicki said.

One of the major factors driving the craft beer wave is the variety of styles, says the report. But, IPAs and other hoppy styles still rule the roost with 45 percent of the category’s growth. The relatively new session IPA segment saw the largest growth over 2013 with 323 percent increases.

Seasonal releases hold the second position with growth of 16.8 percent dollar share and 9.8 percent volume. In third place are variety packs, coming in at 7.8 percent market share. The top 5 styles – IPA, seasonal, Pale Ale, variety packs and Amber Ale – represent 64 percent of all craft beer sold in 2014.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Beer News

 

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Oats and hops coexist in New Belgium, Half Acre collaboration

oatmealipa_lNew Belgium Brewing’s Hop Kitchen series will see a new release soon. This time the trailblazing series will be produced with Chicago’s Half Acre Beer company to create a creamy, hops forward Oatmeal IPA. If you are thinking that oatmeal is not your normal addition to an IPA, you are right. Used more often in stouts, oatmeal imparts a smoother, creamier mouthfeel to this innovative brew.

Learn more about the beer and the Hop Kitchen series in New Belgium’s press release below.

Ft. Collins, Colo., March 16, 2015 New Belgium Brewing and Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company join forces to create Oatmeal IPA, a fruity, tropical hop-bomb with a creamier sip than the average IPA. The beer is available on draft, while supplies last, through New Belgium’s Hop Kitchen Series.

Oatmeal IPA first came to life about four years ago, when New Belgium’s brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, visited Half Acre where he met with owners Gabriel Magliaro and Matt Gallagher. That’s when they planted the seeds for a collaboration beer.

In late 2013, the first beer in this two-part collaboration was released as Avoine IPA, an oat-spiked IPA brewed at New Belgium and released throughout Chicago (Avoine means “oats” in French). In February of this year, the Half Acre team traveled to Fort Collins, Colo., to brew the second installment: Oatmeal IPA.

This 2015 release is honey-hued with a velvety mouthfeel that offers brilliant pine, grass and guava courtesy of Citra and Centennial dry-hopping. Oatmeal IPA is ultra-tropical and appears softer than the traditional IPA, but be warned – lurking beneath the smooth oats and toasted malts, are vibrant hops with a bitter bite.

“Having Avoine IPA only available in Chicago was just too much of a tease,” says Specialty Brand Manager and Blender Lauren Salazar. “I couldn’t resist bringing it back and sharing it with everyone. You just can’t get better than the Half Acre guys—we’ll always have a soft spot for them.”

Oatmeal IPA comes in at 6 percent ABV and 60 IBUs. Pricing varies by location. To find this beer and other New Belgium beers near you use the New Belgium Libation Location tool: http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/locator.aspx.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Beer Styles

 

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Powdered alcohol approved in U.S., is powdered beer coming soon?

Source: Firebox.com

Source: Firebox.com

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol, a powdered alcohol that people can drink by mixing the product with water on April 10, 2014. Currently, only four flavors have been approved — vodka, rum, cosmopolitan and Powderita (a margarita flavor). But, there are several more flavors in the process of approval. This new approval opens up a number of possibilities and even more questions, in particular; is powdered beer coming in our near future?

The simple answer is we do not know. The approval so far is only for the four flavors already mentioned. The Brewers Association, a trade and lobbying organization that represents the interests of craft brewers in the United States, reported in its February 2015 Legal & Legislative Report that a number of states are moving to ban Palcohol even though the federal government has approved it. This would mean that powdered beer would be illegal, too.

So far, the closest beer lovers have to powdered beer is concentrated beer. Beer concentrate has been around for a few years, though. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages has marketed two varieties; Pale Rail a pale ale and Black Hops a black IPA. But, these products are not powdered; they are concentrated syrup that has had most of the water removed and requires the addition of water and an activator powder that adds carbonation. The product is intended for use by backpackers because of its small, lightweight packets.

But, with the advent of alcohol in actual powder form, it seems to be only a matter of time before some enterprising soul begins marketing a powdered form of beer. Whether that is a good thing or not is yet to be seen. The biggest hurdle to overcome would seem to be how to carbonate the product. But, if developers harness the process used in the beer concentrate and activator, they may be able to make a powdered brew a reality. Time will tell.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Beer News

 

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Video answers the age-old question: Why does beer taste they way it does?

Yesterday I posted an article on the basics of craft beer. Well, the folks at Reactions, Everyday Chemistry have put together a fun video that provides a scientific look at why craft beer tastes the way it does.

Check the video out here:

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Beer

 

How to become a beer connoisseur: the basics of craft beer

I was recently introduced to Man Crates, who have some awesome gifts for guys.  They posed the question, what would help a beginner that is looking to get into beer. So I thought about it a bit and came to the conclusion that we should start at the beginning with a foundation discussion of beer types, ingredients and styles.

Beer is an exceptionally complex creation that, as the craft beer renaissance continues, is also exceedingly intimidating. There is a dizzying number of styles to choose from each described in terms that sound like they come from a different language.  But, fear not gentle neophyte, we are here to help.

Beer Types

Whether you want to learn about beer for your own edification or so that you can follow a beer-centric conversation without having to ask for translation, every beer drinker should know what type of beer they drinking. To clarify, there are two main types of beer, but many different styles. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guide (2008 Edition) there are 23 distinct beer styles, each with multiple sub-styles. The 2014 Great American Beer Festival guidelines list 90 styles with multiple sub-styles. But, we will talk more about styles later.

As noted above, there are two main beer types; ale and lager. The major differences between the two lie in the yeast that is used and how they are fermented.

Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures and employ top-fermenting yeast. That is to say, the yeast tends to float towards the top of a fermentation tank as it works its miracle on sugars suspended in the liquid. Ales were the first type of beer discovered and have roots that extend more than 9,000 years into history. Ales tend to have robust flavors and higher alcohol content.

Lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast and require cooler temperatures – around 40 to 55F. They also require longer for fermentation to complete. The term lager comes from the Germany word for storing the beer in cool caves or lagerung. Because of the longer fermentation time and cooler temperatures, lagers tend to have lighter, crisper flavors.

Beer Ingredients

Now that you know the two types of beer, it is important to understand what ingredients besides yeast go into the final product. In its purest form beer consists of just four components; water, malt, yeast and hops.

Water is arguably the most important ingredient in the mixture that comprises beer. Without this single, abundant element beer would never have been discovered. But, different water results in different beer. Indeed, entire styles of beers have resulted because of the type of water available. The relative hardness or softness of water can impart very different flavors due to mineral content.

Malt usually refers to barley that has been allowed to begin to sprout before being dried in a kiln. But, other grains such as rye, wheat and oats can be used in the brewing process. The type of malt and the amount that it is roasted in the kiln plays a major role in the characteristics of the finished beer.

Yeast strains are not restricted to just top and bottom fermenting. Within those two categories are hundreds of strains that impart different flavor profiles in to beer. Some brewers even allow their beer to be inoculated by wild yeasts to elicit sour or funky flavors.

Hops are the flower cones of the hops plant. Added during the boil phase of brewing beer, hops contribute the distinctive bitter flavor evident in most beer. In addition, hops are a natural preservative and contribute to stabilizing beer for storage over a period of time.

In the hands of a master brewer, these four ingredients can be transformed into literally scores of different beer styles. But, when adjuncts are added such as corn, rice or fruit, the possibilities open further.

Beer Styles

So, now that you know about basic beer types and ingredients, it is time to have a discussion on styles. The most popular style of beer in the world is the light lagers produced by huge corporate beer conglomerates. These beers tend to be light to medium yellow in color, highly carbonated and are mild in flavor. Most of these light lagers are brewed to closely approximate the German pilsner style. But, there are many more styles with much more flavor to choose from.

With more than 90 styles and at least that many sub-styles, getting to know them all can be daunting. So, in order to keep it simple, we will only look at the major styles and their characteristics. By far the most popular styles are:

  • Pilsner
  • Wheat
  • Pale Ale
  • India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • Stout and Porter

Pilsners are lagers and are generally straw to light gold in color and crystal clear. They have aromas of grain, yeast, flowers and some bitterness. They are crisp, slightly bitter and maybe a bit biscuity in flavor. This style takes its name from the city of Plzeň, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. Later the Germans began producing the style and to this day many people mistakenly attribute the style to the Germans.

Wheat beers are ales and as a general style are cloudy and range in color from pale straw to dark gold. When you smell a wheat beer you are likely to get hints of banana, cloves, grain and perhaps sweet citrus. A sip should provide a mild to strong banana and clove flavor as well as a slight tart tang. Brewers often add orange peel, cardamom and coriander to this style so these flavors may be present as well. These beers may be referred to as heffeweizen, weizen, witbier or wit.

Pale ales are, as the name implies, ales that range from pale gold to deep amber in color. They usually have a moderate aroma of hops that might include pine or citrus. On the tongue pale ales generally show off their moderate hop characteristic with a balanced, mildly sweet malty backbone. Pale ales that are brewed in the Burton upon Trent, UK are considered to be the best in the world to the high gypsum content of the local water.

IPAs are ales that are clear and have a range of colors from deep gold to reddish copper. Aromas from IPAs are heavy on hop bitterness and can include pine, citrus, resin, floral or fruity. The flavor can be mildly hoppy to bitingly bitter with an assertively sweet malt backbone. IPAs began in England and were formulated to survive long voyages by sea better than other styles.

Stouts and porters, while technically two different styles, share many of the same characteristics. These dark brews range in color from light brown to black. Aromas you will experience with both can include coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, toffee, caramel and even cream.  A taste of these styles may present flavors that match the aromas as well as others like burnt toast, hop bitterness and sweet cream. Stouts are generally considered heavy beers than porters in flavor but, not necessarily in alcohol. Porters were said to be favored by the baggage handlers in London’s train stations, thus the name. Both styles are often carbonated with nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide producing a creamier, richer mouthfeel.

As a starting point, the information presented here can be used to springboard into more learning. The world of beer is full of traditions, customs and practices. There are many more styles of beer to discover as you taste your way through craft beer culture. In addition, each style has an optimal style of glassware created to enhance its specific characteristics. The best way to learn is to simply try new things, read as much as you can and enjoy the camaraderie of friends over a delicious well-crafted beer.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Beer Education

 

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St. Patrick’s Day tradition; how to pour a perfect Guinness

guinnessWith St. Patrick’s Day just a few days off, many Irish and wanna-be Irish revelers will be filling pubs and bars across the nation. Many will reach for that quintessential Irish brew Guinness to refresh and fortify them through the long celebration. Understanding the proper way to pour a pint of black is important to understanding why it takes a few extra minutes for the bartender to deliver your draft. Pouring Guinness is an art and requires a bit more than simply pulling a pint of any old brew. The following article, originally published on Kegorator.com, explains the steps.

But, if you are a more introspective type and plan to celebrate the with friends at home or in small gatherings. For those souls who wisely eschew the crowds and stay close to home, but still want a perfect pour of Guinness, simply take the following instructions and apply it to pouring from a bottle of can of the black stuff.

Whether you stay home or embrace the madness that is St. Patty’s Day, please remember to never drink and drive!

The Mystery Behind Pouring the Perfect Guinness: Step-by-Step Guide

For some reason Guinness seems more prone to be shrouded in a veil of mystery than any other type of beer out there. It is popular dry Stout which was originally developed in Ireland back in the late 1700s. Three centuries later, it remains one of the most popular beers across the globe. Because it is unique in many ways, it must be treated differently when pouring, kegging and distributing it.

We’ve previously discussed how to pour the perfect draft beer. However, in that article we failed to mention that pouring Guinness takes a slightly different technique. To honor our devoted Guinness drinkers, we’d like to take this opportunity to teach you how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

Why Does Guinness Need to be Poured Differently?

The first question many people ask is why Guinness must be poured differently from other beers. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is the ratio of nitrogen to carbon dioxide. Guinness relies on a much higher nitrogen ratio than any other type of beer. For the perfect pint, the gas mixture is 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent carbon dioxide released at a pressure of between 30 and 40 pounds per square inch. Additionally, because the beer is so thick it takes longer for the nitrogen bubbles to release which is essential to pouring it correctly.

The 5 Basics Steps to Pouring Guinness

1. Use the Right Glass

The first step to pouring the perfect Guinness is knowing what type of glassware to use. For the best results, it important to use a dry, clean tulip glass. Tulip glasses are designed to allow the nitrogen bubbles in Guinness to flow down. Guinness also has their own official pint glass, pictured to the right, which they redesigned in 2010 and recommend using. The use of either of these glasses play an important role in giving Guinness its famous first bite.

2. 45 Degrees

The next step is to hold the glass at a 45 degree angle when pouring the beer. It is also important that you never let the faucet actually touch the glass. If you do, not only will the faucet become contaminated, but the glass will as well. When beginning your pour, it is critical that you never pour straight down to the bottom of the glass. While Guinness will not develop thick head like other beers if you pour straight down into the glass, it will still be heavier than it should.

3. Only ¾ Full

With most beer you simply keep pouring until the glass is mostly full, leaving enough room for the proper amount of foam head. With Guinness, however, you should only fill it up three quarters of the way. Once you reach this point stop pouring and set the beer down and let it rest.

4. Letting Guinness Rest

Once your glass is three quarters full, place it on the counter and let it rest. Because Guinness has such a unique pouring process, all of the nitrogen bubbles will float down the side of the glass and then return to the top by flowing up through the middle of the beer. The route the nitrogen bubbles take is primarily responsible for creating the creamy head that makes Guinness so appealing. The amount of time you should let a Guinness it varies based upon who you ask. Typically, a good wait time is around two minutes.

5. Finish the Pour

Once you’ve allowed the Guinness to rest for a couple of minutes, you can top off the glass with more beer. It is important to wait the full two minutes to allow the head time to finish building. Otherwise you will end up over pouring when you top off the glass.

What’s the Deal with the Special Guinness Faucet?

If you’ve ever poured a Guinness before, then one of the first things you may have noticed is the special faucet that is used to dispense the beer. It is important that you never use a standard beer faucet to pour Guinness. This is because Guinness relies on the specially formulated nitrogen carbon dioxide ratio, and the faucet plays a very important role in pouring the perfect Guinness. In fact, this unique type of beer faucet contains a five disc restrictor plate which compresses the liquid as it passes through it, creating tiny little nitrogen bubbles which help created the creamy foam head Guinness is famous for.

What About Special Mixed Guinness Beers?

Over the past decade it has become popular to mix and Guinness with other types of beer although the traditional combining Guinness with other beers dates back to the 18th century. One of the earliest examples is the Black and Tan. This drink originated in Britain and is a mix of Stout and draft bitter beer. In the United States, the Black and Tan is typically Guinness mixed with Bass.

Another popular mixed Guinness drink is called ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. A play on words when mixing Blue Moon and Guinness. This trend has grown very popular over the years, with special mixed drinks now including all styles of beer ranging from the lagers to hard ciders. Visit your favorite pub, and if they have Guinness on tap, it’s very likely that they have their own special mixed menu available.

When pouring this type of beer, the first step is pouring whatever the other beer is. Once you do this, you should let the beer sit for a few minutes so that the head begins to dissipate. Next, you will use a special layering spoon which is essentially a long spoon with the head curved at a 90 degree angle. You will then rest the spoon on the top of the first beer you poured. Afterwards, pour the Guinness directly onto the spoon. Once it hits the spoon, the surface tension will create a visible layer with Guinness sitting on top.

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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Beer

 

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