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AB-InBev stirs the kettle at Super Bowl once again

NotAHobbyThe Super Bowl is over and that means that Anheuser-Busch/InBev has succeeded in raising the ire of someone in the craft beer world. This time they took aim at hobbiests who enjoy brewing their own beers and by association many craft beer breweries that come from home brewing roots.

The offending ad, titled Not Backing Down, features Budweiser and asserts that making the beer is “NOT A HOBBY.” The thing is, home brewers agree with this sentiment. BUt, likely for reasons other than the mega brewer intended.

In a new blog post, American Homebrewers Association Director Gary Glass reacts to the ad.

Below is an excerpt:
The hobby of making beer is usually done in small batches at home by passionate beer lovers. Budweiser is made in massive automated factories (not what I would consider “brewed the hard way,” as suggested by a Budweiser ad aired during last year’s Super Bowl)—it’s actually about as far from a hobby as you can get. As homebrewers, we brew beer because we love beer with full flavor and by brewing beer ourselves we can hone in on the flavors we like most. 

Read the full post and share the link

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

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Cold weather means big beer releases

Coco_Jones_LgDuring this time of year it is not uncommon for breweries to release their heavier beers. For instance, last month Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter was release to great fanfare at the brewer’s South Florida brewery. Closer to home, this weekend Jacksonville brewery Intuition Ale Works is releasing its annual Underdark Imperial Stout and next month Tampa brewery Cigar City will host a beer festival where they will release their Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout.

All three of these release events draw heavy beer fans from all over the state and region. Fans stand in line for hours to get their hands on their allotment of these highly-coveted and extremely-limited bottles. Often, the hearty souls share bottles of other high-end brews among themselves as they wait.

Scoring a bottle of these brews is akin to catching a home run baseball at Camden Yards, it is something beer aficionados treat as a badge of honor. Many collectors have multiple vintages of the beers aging in their beer cellars and bring them out only on special occasions.

But, what happens if you cannot make one of these bottle release extravaganzas? Well, there is always the beer trading circuit. If a collector has a bottle that is desired by another collector a trade may be negotiated. Or, if a taste of the beer is enough to satiate craving, bottle shares are common within the craft beer community.

Another way to score a taste of these rare beers is to watch for tasting events at local bars and bottle shops sponsored by the breweries. For instance, if you were unable to make the pilgrimage to South Florida for the Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter release event last month, your chances of tasting the brew are not lost. In a recent post on its website, the brewery has announced that the beer is going on tour throughout Florida.

Over the next few months you will likely see several tastings of Underdark pop up around Jacksonville and other markets where Intuition beers are sold. Hunahpu’s though is a rare find on tap. It may show up in one or two places after the bottle release, but traditionally it is pretty hard to find.

So, if you are after these big beers, it is best to try to make it to a bottle release. But, if that is not possible, ask around at local beer pubs about bottle shares and watch for special tappings. For lovers of big beers, the brews discussed in this article are more than worth the effort to find them.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Coastal Empire Beer Co. to invade Florida

Coastal_Empire_Beer_Co._logoLook for a new brewery out of Savannah, Ga. to be gracing the shelves of your local beer store soon. Coastal Empire Beer Company has partnered with Cavalier Distributing in Lakeland, Florida to open distribution for the state of Florida. The brewery began as a contract brewer, but quickly began brewing their own beers and winning medals for them.

“We have a great relationship with our distributor in Georgia with Savannah Distributing,” said co-founder Chris Haborak. “And the team at Cavalier Distributing is top notch as well. We are very excited to have partnered up with them for state wide distribution in Florida.”

Coastal Empire’s core lineup includes Southern Delight Praline Amber, Inshore Slam IPA, Tybee Island Blonde(Kolsch) and, Savannah Brown Ale.  Other releases will include Dawn Patrol Imperial Molé Stout (2014 GABF Bronze Medal winner Herb&Spiced Beer category), Barrel Aged Savannah Brown, Red Wine Barrel Midnight in the Garden ICS, and finally Coco-Piña Gose brewed with Pineapple, Coconut and Pink Himalayan Salt.

A Jacksonville launch event is planned for some time in the next few weeks. Follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Jax-Beer-Guy-105824162894505/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/SPRBrewCrew) for more details.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Beer basics for the uninitiated

beer pint - Creative Commons - mfajardoBeer 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 are 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 types lies 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 stout 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 January 29, 2016 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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Breaker, Breaker E-Street tapping special brews, showing classic movie

e-streetIn the history of cinema, there have been a few movies in which beer has played a central role. Cinematic masterpieces such as “Beerfest,” “Strange Brew,” and “Drinking Buddies” have graced the silver screen for years leaving beer-lovers thirsty for more. But, there has never been a beer movie of such epic proportions, such cultural relevance, such earth-shattering gravitas as “Smokey and the Bandit.”

The only thing better than watching Bandit out-smart Smokey is to watch it with a cold brew on an outdoor screen along with a gang of other beer-lovers. For those looking for this kind of experience, you are in luck! On Sunday, January 31 European Street Restaurant on Park Street in Riverside will host the second annual E-Street Movie Night.

To make the night particularly special, E-Street has decided to crack open a few special kegs, including:

  • Intuition Underdark 2015
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
  • Dogfish Head Higher Math
  • Lagunitas Bitter Oats

In keeping with the movie’s co-star – a truck load of a very specific beer – plenty of Coors Banquet beer will be available at just $2.00 per bottle. Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale with also be offered at the astounding price of just $2.00 per can.

And, just to make it even more fun, Millie’s Famous Hot Barbecue will be onsite serving smoked pork sandwiches (get it?).

The movie starts at 7:00 p.m. and is free to anyone who wants to sit out and watch in under the stars. So, gather some beer-loving friends and make a convoy to Riverside. We’ll catch you on the flip side good-buddy.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Beer, Events

 

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Silver Cow offers beer education classes

silver_cowBeer is a wondrous and often confusing substance. Questions abound like; where did beer come from? What is the difference between lagers and ales? How did different styles get their start? What foods go best with specific beers styles? All these questions and more are answered in the new series of beer education classes at King Street Beer District watering hole The Silver Cow/The Annex.

“We’re hoping those who are interested in craft beer or just beginning will get involved and more at ease when purchasing beer at the store or at the bar,” said owner Regina Heffington about the classes. “This is why we offer samples for customers to try because we want the customer to be happy with their selections and we’re here to answer any questions.”

Silver Cow bartender Kyle Rose led the first class, Beer 101, with a slew of interesting stories and facts that both entertained and informed. Armed with a notepad full of notes, Rose kept the gathering of beer pilgrims enthralled as they sipped several different beers and munched charcuterie matched to each.

In all, the hour or so spent at the class was pleasant, informative and satisfying. Beer samples were appropriate and the food parings were suitable.

Future classes will cover topics such as Belgian beers, sour ales and Bourbon barrel-aged brews.

Each class includes:

  • Four (4) different craft beer styles during the class
  • Charcuterie, fromage and fruit pairings – each matched with the beer
  • Class sheets and information to keep
  • 10% off food purchase at Silver Cow
  • 10% off of your container and growler fill of one of the beers used in the class
  • An extra $1 off Happy Hour price for one of the beers tasted during your class
  • 10% off Silver Cow packaged beer (or wine) to go
  • A Silver Cow sticker
  • A pint glass to keep

Classes are $20 each, reservations may be made at The Silver Cow/The Annex or by emailing info@silvercowjax.com. More information can be found at:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1676964462592719/.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Beer Education

 

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German beer purity law to celebrate 500 years

Reinheitsgebot TrademarkWater, barley and hops; as most beer aficionados know, these are the three main ingredients – along with yeast – that makes up the basis of the world’s third favorite beverage. These are also the only three ingredients allowed in beer according to the famous German Beer Purity law known as Reinheitsgebot (pronounced Rhine-Hites-gaBoat). This year the often misunderstood law celebrates 500 years of legislating German beer production.

Originally, the law was a ducal decree issued by Duke Wilhelm IV and his brother Duke Ludwig X on April 23, 1516. The two Bavarian dukes introduced the law at Ingolstadt during a meeting of the assembly of the Estates of Bavaria. It was proposed as a means for the government to regulate the ingredients, processes and taxation of beer produced. At first, the law only covered the southern regions of the Germanic world, later it was adopted by the entire German Empire. The true intent, though, was to keep beer “pure” and safe and keep cheap, sometimes dangerous, ingredients out of beer that was sold to the general public.

In medieval times, unscrupulous brewers often added unhealthy ingredients to beer in order to produce the beverage more economically. Often items such as roots, rushes, mushrooms and animal by-products would be added to the brewing process – sometimes leading to batches of toxic brew.

To fight this practice, the Reinheitsgebot limited the brewers to using only three ingredients in beer – water, barley and hops. Yeast was not listed in the original law because it had not yet been discovered; it was added to the law later after Louis Pastor documented the part the organism plays in fermenting liquids. The law applies to bottom-fermented or lager beers leaving room for top-fermented German ales like Kolsch and Alt to use other grains.  The law provides for German ales to contain other malted grains including wheat for Weissbier as well as various forms of sugar derived cane or beet and sugar-derived coloring agents. Chemicals or other processed compounds were still expressly forbidden.

Over the centuries, the law stood the test of time and, though it was struck down by the European Court in 1987 as a restraint of free trade, many German breweries still proudly follow the law. These traditional breweries proudly announce on their labels that they still adhere to the purity law and have no intention of wavering.

At 500-years-old, the Reinheitsgebot stands as the world’s oldest consumer protection law. It is a testament to how a law once thought to be constraining actually served to spark creativity and innovation. Today, there are scores of German beer styles that adhere to the law in a dizzying array of strengths and flavors. More than enough to keep beer-lovers busy tasting the many brews still conforming to the law.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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