Beer: The ultimate social lubricant

bus2Since I began writing on the subject, I have maintained that beer is the ultimate social beverage. Indeed, beer is commonly attributed to be the catalyst that led to the beginnings of civilization. In a study created by the Social Issues Research Center for the European Commission in 1998, the author cites several renowned researchers and concludes, “…that the attractions of mild inebriation provided the true motive for developments which, coincidentally, led to a selective advantage among beer drinking groups and their immediate descendants.” In other words, ancient Mesopotamian opted to band together and cultivate grains for the sole purpose of producing beer. And then, the beer they produced was consumed in social settings, often as a tribute to their various gods.

Throughout history there are examples of how beer has served as a means of bringing people together. Even Shakespeare commented on it by writing that alehouses were, “… sites … where people of disparate status mixed…[which] brought men, high born and low, into relation, fostering a propinquity that might secure, adjust or threaten hierarchies.”

That’s some flowery writing that seems to say, alehouses were the height of social gathering places for men of all means.

According to Eric Burns in his book, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol, even the forefathers of the United States understood the social engineering opportunities afforded by beer. In 1757, after having suffered a discouraging defeat for a seat in the Virginia Assembly two years earlier, George Washington again made a bid for a seat. To help win over voters, he had barrels of beer and other alcoholic beverages placed near polling sites. His supporters were stationed at the barrels and encouraged voters to imbibe before casting their votes. Washington won his seat that year.

Prof. Matthias Liechti, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues, came to the conclusion that very little research had been done on how beer affected social tendencies and emotions. To fill this gap, they studied the effect of beer on 60 subjects – 30 men and 30 women. The goal was to see how beer effected their ability to identify happy faces and empathy. The results overwhelmingly showed that subjects who were given alcoholic beer were able to choose images of people with happy faces better than those given non-alcoholic beer. They were also much more likely to want to join those happy people in a social group.

In the study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, Prof. Liechti concluded, “These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”

So, if we weren’t already convinced that beer was a social lubricant, this study seems to put all speculation to bed. Beer is indeed a factor in fostering the desire for social interaction.

Practice some of your social skills at these beer-centric locations around Jacksonville:

Silver Cow, 931 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville

Cozy and comfortable, The Cow as it is known by its patrons, is perfect for socializing with a small group of friends. The extensive tap and bottle selection of craft and import beers provide even more reason to get chatty.

Hoptinger, 333 1st Street North, Jacksonville Beach

On weekend evenings this German beer hall themed watering hole is packed with happy drinkers looking to socialize. Expect crowds, lots of cold German and craft beer and plenty of lively socializing.

European Street Café, 2753 Park Street, Jacksonville

The Happy Hour scene at E-Street is the height of social interaction. On a nice day you can find plenty of interesting beer-lovers laughing and enjoying the weather on the outdoor patio. Two-for-one 22-ounce beers help the conversations flow.


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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer Bars


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Oskar Blues sees year of milestones in 2016, Dale’s Pale Ale becomes #1 craft can 6-pack

dalesLongmont, CO, Brevard, NC & Austin, TXOskar Blues Brewery, the innovators behind the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse, finished 2016 strong eclipsing 200,000 barrels shipped with several significant milestones achieved throughout the year including the addition of a brewery in Austin, several new SKUs, expansion of its barrel-aging program and the completion of its U.S. footprint. Flagship brew Dale’s Pale Ale became the bestselling craft can 6-pack in total U.S. Food.

In August of 2016, Oskar Blues’ brewery and live music venue opened its doors in Austin, TX while a 21,000 square foot expansion took place in its Brevard, NC brewery raising the potential capacity amongst all three breweries to 500,000 bbls and adding 43 jobs. The brand also completed its 50 state U.S. footprint with distribution in Montana and further expanded internationally with the addition of Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, totaling nine international markets.

Oskar Blues continued to push innovation through new beer offerings and packaging.  The Can gROWLER (CROWLER®) from Ball Corporation and Oskar Blues grew to over 1,000 installations to date.  Many of the last year’s installations were due to new locations choosing aluminum over glass for their growler choice and many established locations discontinued offering glass growlers altogether.  CROWLER® has quickly shown how far cans have come and how beneficial the evolution of CROWLER® cans are to the growler customer.

The brewery launched four new SKUs, including year-round offerings BEERITO Amber Mexican Lager and Priscilla White Wit Wheat, while launching limited release cans of Passion Fruit Pinner IPA and Hotbox Coffee Porter. The expansion of its barrel-aging program resulted in national distribution of Barrel-aged Ten FIDY Imperial Stout in 19.2 ounce, single-serve cans and limited taproom-only releases of rum barrel-aged Death by Coconut, rum barrel-aged Ten FIDY and Java Ten FIDY. The team at Oskar Blues didn’t stop there, recently launching Pinner Throwback IPA in new packaging – resulting in the first American craft beer 16-pack**.

Ancillary brands also saw growth, including four new flavors of B. Stiff & Sons Old Fashioned Soda Pop and the launch of new Oskar Blues Fooderies concepts in its home market of ColoRADo, which includes a CHUBurger/Hotbox Roasters Café brick and mortar location in the RiNo district of Denver.

Oskar Blues Holding Company, a strong group of craft brewers, including Wasatch Brewery, Squatters Brewery and Perrin Brewing furthered its mission to maintain symbiotic partnerships with like-minded craft brewers across the country with the addition of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. While Dales Pale Ale is the bestselling craft can 6-pack in the U.S., Cigar City has the number two spot, with Jai Alai IPA.  Oskar Blues Holdings grew collectively to nearly 350,000 barrels and is the number two overall craft can vendor and number 15 overall in total U.S. Food.  That’s a particularly good spot to be in, as craft cans have been up 55% over the last 52 weeks.

Oskar Blues continued to spread do-goodery with its nonprofit arm, CAN’d Aid Foundation. In 2016 alone, the organization raised $768,000, built & donated nearly 600 bikes to underprivileged children, put 100 instruments in budding musician’s hands, recycled 155,000 lbs. of waste through its #CrushItCrusade and donated 330,000 cans of drinking water to areas in need including Flint, Michigan during its water crisis. Soul-founder of Oskar Blues Dale Katechis founded CAN’d Aid in 2013 following the Colorado flooding that devastated Oskar Blues Brewery’s hometown in Lyons, Colorado. To date, over $2.6 million has been raised to support its efforts.

As for 2017, Oskar Blues has already set its sights on further growth, celebrating the 20th year of what started as a funky little brewpub in Lyons, CO in 1997. International markets to launch distribution in include Brazil and Japan. The brew team, not to be outdone by 2016, has announced the limited release of Hotbox Coffee IPA cans in March as well as a CANspiracy rare beer club at the North Carolina and Colorado Tasty Weasel Taprooms.  The Oskar Blues Fooderies restaurant group has already announced a Colorado Springs, CO location that will expand its footprint to over nine locations in 2017.  – stay tuned for more details at

 **Data Source & Set IRI Data, 2016 52 WEEKS TTL US FOOD.
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer News


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Sweetwater announces four new releases for spring

river-scene-blue-logoSweetwater Brewing Company, the Atlanta craft beer powerhouse has four new beers heading to market in February:  Grass Monkey (new spring seasonal), Old Man Johnson’s Farm (new Dank Tank), Mosaic IPA (the first bottle released from The Hatchery), and a 20th Anniversary Ale.  Grass Monkey and Old Man will release Thursday, January 26, Mosaic in early February, and the 20th Anniversary Ale at their 20th anniversary party on February 19.

Details on all:

New Spring Seasonal:

Grass Monkey – hoppy pale wheat with lemongrass

Get sprung this spring with this funky monkey of a wheat ale.  A big stash of Lemondrop hops were added to the kettle and the dry hop, delivering a big citrus blast.  Lemongrass herbs were added for a refreshing twist and exotic aroma.  The light malt bill lets the piney, grassy, lemony notes shine.  Light in body with bright citrus notes, this is an extremely complex but very easy drinking brew.  Available February – April on draft, in 12 oz bottles, 12 oz cans and 16 oz cans.

Malts:  2 Row, Wheat

Hops:  Lemondrop

ABV:  5.4%

IBUs:  35

New Dank Tank Brew:

Old Man Johnson’s Farm – imperial stout with raspberries

Intense aromas of roasted coffee and chocolate from the malt bill are balanced  by a subtle hop accompaniment.  A purple rain of fresh raspberries added during fermentation complement the dark chocolate with a tasty sweetness.    Dust off your beret, put her on the back of your bike, and take a ride down by Old Man’s Johnson’s Farm.  Available starting early February, on draft only.

Yeast:  London Ale

Malt Bill:  2-Row, Munich, Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Caramel

Hops:  Columbus, Willamette, US Golding

Fruit Addition:  Meeker Red Raspberries

ABV:  9.6%

IBUs:  60

First Hatchery Series Bottle Release:

*The Hatchery is SweetWater’s new pilot system, a 5-barrel brewhouse.  The majority of the Hatchery brews are only available on draft at the brewery.  The brewery plans to release one bottle per seasonal variety pack release. 

Single Hop Mosaic IPA – an India Pale Ale featuring Mosaic hops

The mind-blowing Mosaic hop and a simple grain bill were chosen, along with a hefty late hop addition and a generous dry hop schedule – all to best showcase the juicy orange, mango, citrus and passionfruit flavors, and big, tropical, biscuity aroma.  The result is a light, crushable, moderately bitter brew for hopheads.   6% ABV.   Available February – April only in spring variety packs (bottles).

New COrk and Cage Release:

20th Anniversary Ale – an imperial IPA featuring Hash on Brett

Extremely hop forward with a residual sweetness; golden in color with a haze.  The Brettanomyces used is a SweetWater house blend.  As fermentation finishes, the Brett will start to produce its associated acids and phenols, lending a slightly tart finish.   The aroma is fruity, herbal, tropical and citrusy, and the Brett gives a nice touch of funk and earthy phenolics.  Will be released at SweetWater’s 20th Anniversary Celebration:   Sunday, February 19 at the brewery, featuring live music with moe.; tickets available here:   Available in 750 mL bottles.

Malts:  Pilsner, Maris Ottler, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Midnight Wheat

Hops:  Bravo, Mosaic, Citra

Dry Hops:   Mosaic, Citra

Hash:  Fresh Citra Lupulin Blend

Yeast:  Belgian Ardennes (EDIT: House Brettanomyces)

ABV:  9%

IBUs:  81

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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Harpoon to release single hop pale ale

fresh-tracks-can-7a84Boston, MA (January 2017) – Spring in New England can be fickle; snow one day, shorts weather the next. To help equip beer drinkers for whatever spring tosses their way, Harpoon has released a single hop Spring Pale Ale that’s just right for whatever the day brings. Introducing Harpoon’s new spring seasonal Fresh Tracks, a beer brewed to embrace the season. Hibernation be damned; round up some friends, grab some beers, and get outside to make some fresh tracks of your own.

Harpoon Fresh Tracks is hop forward without being bitter. This single hop Pale Ale showcases the piney, citrusy character of Centennial hops. Bright and golden, light and drinkable, the subtle malt flavor lets the hops shine.

Fresh Tracks Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Bright gold
Aroma: Pine, citrus, floral hop
Mouth feel: Light, drinkable
Taste: Subtle malt behind piney hops
Finish: Clean with a slight bitterness

Fresh Tracks Specs:
Style: Single Hop Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBU:  38

Harpoon Fresh Tracks is now available in 12 oz. bottles, cans, and on draft. To locate Harpoon Fresh Tracks, use the Harpoon Beer Finder at, checking back periodically for new locations.

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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Founders adding new brews to barrel-aged lineup

frootwoodKicking off their 20th anniversary year, Founders will release Frootwood, a cherry ale aged in oak barrels that have previously held both bourbon and maple syrup, as the first release in their Barrel-Aged Series.

At the end of last year, Founders announced the early-2017 launch of a brand new series that celebrates their highly regarded barrel-aging program, which is responsible for popular beers like KBS and Backwoods Bastard. Throughout the year, they will be releasing six different barrel-aged beers, including KBS in April 2017 and Backwoods Bastard in November 2017. Frootwood leads off the series.

Frootwood is a cherry ale aged in oak barrels that have previously held both bourbon and maple syrup. Frootwood will be available in some states as early as January, with remaining states seeing it by February. Founders will release it in the taproom on January 13, 2017 and it will have a suggested retail price of $14.99/4-pack and $11.99/750mL bottle. The entire Barrel-Aged Series lineup will be offered in both 750mL bottles and 4-packs of 12oz bottles.

“A light-bodied cherry ale is probably not the first thing that comes to someone’s mind when they consider a barrel-aged beer,” said Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers. “We love playing with expectations and Frootwood is proof of that.”

Founders will announce the remaining three releases in the Barrel-Aged Series later in the year.

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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Botanicals add interesting flavors to Forbidden Root brews

sublime-gingerIn an ever-expanding craft beer field, uniqueness, and originality are highly-sought qualities. Chicago’s Forbidden Root Brewery certainly qualifies on all counts. Billed as Chicago’s first botanical brewery, Forbidden Root grew from an idea founder Robert Finkel had to create a true-brewed root beer to encompass the broader idea of botanic beers.

Throughout history, beer has been a beverage that was brewed with ingredients indigenous to the locale where it is brewed. Forbidden Root takes this idea of foraging for ingredients and brings it back to the brewing industry. The brewery utilizes such ingredients as bark, stems, flowers, herbs, spices, leaves, roots, and other foraged flavors as a regular part of their brewing process.

The guiding principle at Forbidden Root is to provide a new craft beer experience to beer lovers. Their beers are built around a concept or an idea that is vetted and built upon until a unique flavor profile is developed. Brewers then assemble the required botanicals – using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible – and go to work brewing a complex, layered beer that provides an authentically new experience with roots firmly in historic recipes.

The brewer’s current line-up includes three beers all brewed to refresh as well as challenge the drinker.

Sublime Ginger is, as the name implies, a ginger-infused wheat beer with an added kick of Key Lime juice to add a bit of tartness. Reviewers at give the brew a favorable rating with most noting that the hazy wheat brew is refreshing and pleasantly unique.

Money on My Rind takes advantage of the popular flavor combination of juniper berry and grapefruit. In addition, this brew is given a spicy constitution through the addition of grains of paradise. Created as a witbier, this refresher is well-reviewed on and is a welcome addition for session drinking.

Wildflower Pale Ale or WPA, infuses the herbal qualities of elderflower, marigold, and sweet osmanthus flowers in to the citrusy character of hops. Users of the popular beer-rating app Untappd give this brew a solid rating and speak highly of the beer’s funky nature.

You can taste eachof Forbidden Root’s brews Thursday, January 12, 2017 at Coastal Wine Market & Tasting Room, 641 Crosswater Parkway Suite B, Ponte Vedra from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.



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Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases, Craft Beer Brewery


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Picobrew introduces customizable packs at CES for Pico brewing system

pico_brewkeg_mdPicobrew, the company that produces the first self-contained, countertop beer-brewing appliance, is making a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. IN addition to their revolutionary beer brewing system, the company has announced their new  FreeStyle PicoPak BrewCrafter.

The FreeStyle feature is a powerful new capability that allows anyone to create custom craft beer PicoPaks for the award-winning Pico™ beer-brewing appliance.

With the Freestyle feature, brewers can create a new beer recipe by simply dragging and dropping grains, hops and yeast into a virtual PicoPak. PicoBrew then custom manufactures the PicoPak and delivers it to you fresh and ready-to-brew in just a few days.

“The new FreeStyle PicoPak capability and the FreeStyle BrewCrafter tool gives customers the ability to create their own unique craft beers, while PicoBrew does the heavy lifting of sourcing ingredients, and producing a tidy compostable brewing package, making the whole homebrewing process easier and more precise,” said Dr. Bill Mitchell, CEO, PicoBrew. “Customization has always been an important goal for us because Pico customers are craft beer aficionados.   They like to brew great beers created by the best breweries around the world, but sometimes they also want to create their own unique beers and share them with others.  We’re committed to providing both capabilities.”

Creating a custom beer begins with the brewer choosing from a list of known, good baseline beers. The brewer is then free to choose from a variety of grains, hops and yeast. The interface then makes suggestions to help the brewer choose ingredients that will result in a balanced, delicious brew. After creating the recipe, brewers can give their concoction its own unique name.

In addition, brewers that want to brew beers from some of their favorite breweries, can access a database of recipes. Brewers like 21st Amendment, Dieu du Ciel! and Rogue Ales along with more than 150 others have participated in this program.

Pico is an automated, Internet of Things (IoT), beer brewing appliance that can brew five liters of craft beer in about two hours and has a grain-to-glass serving time of just seven to 10 days, depending on the recipe.  It uses eco-friendly, award-winning compostable PicoPak ingredient packs, which contain the fresh hops and grains needed to brew fresh, brew-pub quality craft beers.  With the push of a button, Pico recognizes the PicoPak inserted and follows brewing process instructions transmitted over a local Wi-Fi connection.  The sleek, compact and modern design of the Pico fits on a kitchen or bar countertop.

The Pico brewing machine requires no previous experience with homebrewing and comes with everything needed to start the process, including:

Pico is available for purchase at and online at Bloomingdale’s, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, Best Buy, Frontgate and Amazon.  The suggested retail price for the home brewing appliance is $799USD, and additional PicoPaks are available for $18.99 to $29.99.

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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in Beer, Beer News


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