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Category Archives: Beer

Pucker Up Butter Cup

sourThe power of sour is undeniable. For centuries, breweries have been making sour beers that range from mildly tart to toe-curling, tooth enamel-eating sour. Sour beers that go by names like gose (pronounced go-zah), lambic, Berliner Weiss and more are seeing a surge in popularity rivaled only by the IPA craze of the past few years. And, with the hot, humid summer months coming, you will see more and more of these thirst-quenching beers on local shelves.

But, why do we humans have such a craving for sour things? It all goes back to biology. Sour tastes are generally associated with acids that are found in relatively few places when it comes to food. Somewhere in our evolutionary history, we lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C meaning that we had to get it from our environment in the form of food. Acids in the form of vitamin C are key nutrients in holding off a number of deadly conditions like scurvy and also help to build our immune systems. Since sour meant acid to our ancestors and that satisfied our body’s need for vitamin C, our collective physiology made us seek out acidic foods like citrus fruits.

Now that we have an idea why some of us are inclined to enjoy sour flavors, let’s take a look at how sour beer developed.

Before yeast was discovered in the late 1800’s, most beers were at least a little sour. This was because the role of yeast was not known to brewers and beer was usually brewed using open-topped fermentation vessels. Wild yeast “infected” the sugary pre-beer liquid known as wort and caused the magical process of fermentation to occur.

Once the properties of yeast were understood, breweries began to control the amount of sour flavors in their beers. Some breweries, particularly those in Belgium continued allowing their wort to “spontaneously ferment” by withholding yeast and allowing natural yeast to inoculate the liquid. From these breweries come beers such as gueuze, an intensely sour beer created from blending one, two and three year-old lambic ales.

Other sour styles such as German goze, are produced by intentionally adding yeast strains that add sour flavors to the finished beer. This style is also characterized by the addition of salt and coriander. Yet another style is Berliner Weiss a German wheat beer made with Lactobacillus bacteria and usually, but not always, served with flavored syrup. Yet another sour beer is Flanders Red named for the area of Belgium where it is made as well as the red color and sour flavor it obtains from the red wine barrels it is aged in.

Sour beers are emerging as one of the hot trends in craft beer today. You can look forward to more and more sour beer produced by craft brewers in the coming months and years. For now, some sour beers you can find locally and try include:

 

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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Beer

 

Fruit Salad in a Glass

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Photo: Bend Bulletin

Beer is a many splendored thing, whether it is in the form of an IPA, stout, kolsch or pale ale, there is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of flavors to choose from. And craft beer lovers like it that way. All one has to do is pay attention to the weekly offerings at many of the local breweries to see that mid-week most offer a variation to one of their current brews. Be it an herb-infused saison or an IPA aged on fruit, variety is the name of the game.

One of the hottest emerging trends in the world of craft beer is the fruit-infused brew. Sure, the Belgians have had fruit in their beer for more than a century. Breweries such as Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels created Framboise (raspberry) and Kriek (cherry) lambics more than 100 years ago. Lambics are a style of ale that is not inoculated with yeast; instead it is allowed to spontaneously ferment from yeast present in the air that gets to the beer via open air cooling vessels often located on the roof or the top floor of the brewery that is open to the outside.

As a modern phenomenon, fruit beers come in several iterations; fruit additions to typical styles like IPAs and stouts, styles that have traditionally included fruit or fruit syrup additions like Berliner Weisse and hybrid styles that are created specifically to highlight fruit flavors like apple ales.

A trip to your local beer monger will reveal an ever-increasing shift towards fruit-flavors in familiar styles. The highly-rated IPA Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company of San Diego, Calif. now comes in a wide array of fruit flavors like grapefruit, pineapple and even habanero (yes, peppers are technically fruits). Another style that has had the fruit-infusion treatment is farmhouse ale. This style, akin to saison, has been refreshingly imbued with peach by Terrapin Beer Company of Athens, Ga. in their Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse. Wheat beers are also frequently amped up with fruit flavors. Traditional Belgian wheat beers often include orange peel in the brewing process, but American brewers like 21st Amendment have upped the ante by adding watermelon in their Hell or high Watermelon.

Berliner Weisse, a German sour wheat beer, was traditionally served with raspberry (Himbeersirup) syrup to balance the tartness. Today brewers create their own riffs of the style by adding fruit directly in the beer during fermentation. Locally in Jacksonville, Aardwolf Brewing Company has created several variations of their Lactic Zeppelin Berliner Weisse with guava and passionfruit.

Samuel Smith’s The Old Brewery in Tadcaster, England produces several fruit beers that defy any other style categorization. One of their best is Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry a spontaneously fermented brew with tart and sour flavors similar to a Belgian lambic. The addition of strawberry juice adds some sweetness to balance the flavors. But, perhaps the fastest growing flavor among fruit beers is apple. With the growing popularity of hard cider, companies like Redd’s (part of the Miller Brewing Company) are capitalizing on the fruit beer trend. Available in several flavors, Redd’s is an apple-flavored beverage that is brewed like a beer rather than simply fermented like a cider.

Whether you are a purist and think beer should taste like, well, beer or a progressive and accept the current flood of fruit beers hitting the market, one fact is certain; brewers are going to keep experimenting with new fruits and flavors. You may as well relax, fill a cooler with ice and add some refreshing fruit-infused brews for enjoying on back porch on the coming hot summer nights.

 

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Beer

 

Glass Houses

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Photo: Alchemy Market and Cafe

Tulips, shakers and snifters, oh my! Choosing the correct glass for serving beer can be a daunting task. 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 Flanders Red ale in a shaker glass. It’s all about presenting the beer at its best, to accentuate its characteristics and create a memorable experience for the drinker.

As craft beer drinkers become more sophisticated though, more and more they demand proper glassware. With hundreds of beer styles, each with recommended serving glassware, stocking the correct vessel is an expensive proposition for bar owners and home beer aficionados alike. But, concentrating on just a few styles of glassware and using them properly can reduce the cost and still insure a better beer-drinking experience.

In the United States, the pint – or shaker — glass is the most commonly used glass to serve beer. Walk in to any bar, tavern or tap room and you are likely to see them stacked behind the bar, emblazoned with logos from a variety of breweries. While it is not the best suited glass for all beers, it is inexpensive and holds approximately 16-ounces of beer. A variation on the glass is the “nonic” style used throughout the United Kingdom. This style features a bump out around the upper portion of the entire glass to make them easier to hold. This glassware style is most appropriate for beers like Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Porter and Stout.

In Germany, Pilsners are one of the most popular styles of beers. And, because of that distinction, 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. Other beer styles that will benefit from being poured into this glass include: Blonde Ale, Hefeweizen, Pilsner, California Common/Steam Beer, Japanese Rice Lager, Witbier.

Snifters have a large bowl area with a narrower mouth. Because og this shape, drinkers can experience highly aromatic beers as brewers intended. The bowl provides plenty of room for swirling the beer to bring aromas out while the narrower mouth serves to concentrate those aromas. Tulip glasses are very similar to snifters, but a bit taller, thinner and with a turned-out lip. Beers to try in a snifter include: Old or Strong Ale, Barleywine, Double/Imperial IPA, Double/Imperial Stout, Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Quad, Tripel. Beers that are highlighted in tulip glasses include: Goze, Geuze, Berliner Weiss and Scottish Ales.

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, Dubbel, Tripel, Quad.

With these four beer glasses in your collection, you will be able to 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 of glassware.

 

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Beer

 

For those about to ROCK, we salute you!

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Photo credit: Dogfish Head

Rock and roll is here to stay. When Danny and the Juniors sang these lyrics back in 1958 rock was still new and no one could know just how integral the medium would become around the world. Rock has become not only the soundtrack of the world, but it has also inspired many breweries to collaborate with musicians to create signature beers for the bands that carry on the rock tradition.

Undoubtedly the most prolific brewery when it comes to producing rock-inspired beers is Dogfish Head out of Milton, Del. Headed by music lover and beer genius Sam Calgione, Dogfish Head has unleashed beers that honor such legends as Miles Davis (Bitch’s Brew), Pearl Jam (Faithful Ale), The Grateful Dead (American Beauty) and most recently The Flaming Lips with Dragons and Yum Yums.

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and Calgione came together to create a beer and a song based on the dragonfruit and yumberry sour brew. Not only that, but the band released the song on a special clear vinyl disk that is actually filled with the beer. The disks were released in recognition of Record Store Day, April 21. With only 100 beer-filled disks produced, they were hotly sought by beer geeks, record collectors and Flaming Lips fans.

Another rock band with a beer carrying their name is Iron Maiden. Based on and carrying the name of the band’s seminal song, “The Trooper,” the beer is a traditional English ale created with the input of Iron Maiden’s vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. The beer is brewed by the 180-year-old Robinson’s Brewery.

“I’m a lifelong fan of traditional English ale,” said Dickinson on the beer brand’s website. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when we were asked to create our own beer. I have to say that I was very nervous: Robinsons are the only people I have had to audition for in 30 years.

Not to be outdone, down under rockers AC/DC have lent their name and logo to Australian Hardrock a German Premium Lager brewed under the mandate of the German purity law of 1516. Brewed by German brewery Karlsberg, the beer was originally commissioned as a collaboration between the band and Germany-based food store ALDI.

Marketing juggernaut and rock mega-band Kiss had its own beer too. Brewed by Krönleins Bryggeri AB in Sweden, Kiss Destroyer beer was a light Euro Lager. Unfortunately, the beer suffered abysmal reviews and never really caught on.

Despite Freddy Mercury’s apparent love for Moet Chandon, Queen partnered with British brewer RnR Brew Ltd. to produce Bohemian Lager in honor of the 40th anniversary of their much-loved “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The beer was brewed in Pilzen, the heart of Bohemia, keeping with the theme and was a Czech-style hoppy lager.

Even alternative rock band The Pixies have had their own beer. The beer named Hey, was created as an accompaniment to the exhibition “Where Is My Mind: The Work of Vaughan Oliver and the Pixies”, first shown at London’s Stephen Lawrence Gallery in 2016. Hey was a bottle-conditioned IPA brewed from a late 19th century recipe that has been described as a lightly citrus, bitter ale with a very dry finish.

With all the beers based on songs and bands available out there, any rock and roll fan with a thirst for a cold beer should have little trouble finding something that tickles their fancy.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2018 in Beer

 

That’s one small step for man, one giant gulp for mankind

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Photo credit: Forbes.com

In space no one can hear you drink. Up until recently, even the thought of being able to drink a cold brew in space was ridiculous. Not only because there is no beer in space, but because there are only a handful of people up there and beer has not been at the forefront of their minds. But, with multiple private companies developing space tourism plans and others actively working towards colonizing the moon and Mars, the idea of relaxing with a beer in space is becoming more and more attractive.

In a recent Q&A at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk quipped, “Mars should have really great bars.” The remark was in response to a question about creating culture on Mars. But, with his company, SpaceX, planning on beginning short trips back and forth to Mars in early 2019, his plan of colonizing the Red Planet with 1 million people is starting to fall into place.

That’s where an enterprising Australian company comes in. 4 Pines Brewing company of Brookvale, New South Wales has created a beer that is attuned to the extreme demands of space both on how beer tastes and how it reacts in the human body.

In 2010, the quest for a beer that was suited to zero gravity began. The brewers at 4 Pines developed a boldly flavored Irish-style stout that was made with seven different malts. The beer had to exhibit a very strong flavor because in space body fluids tend to move up into the head causing the tongue to swell along with sinus tissues and other soft tissues. The swelling results in a decreased ability to taste foods.

Another important issue the brewers had to overcome was that of the beer burp. On Earth, after you drink a beer, the carbon dioxide or nitrogen that provide carbonation often causes a drinker to belch. Because of gravity, the liquid causing the burb stays in the drinker’s stomach. But, in space there is no gravity to hold the liquid, so a burp, well, it can get messy. To combat a sticky situation, the brewers carefully measured the carbonation in the beer to leave the sensation in the mouth, but not cause excess gas in the stomach.

With the brewing issues resolved, the challenge of how to make a bottle that would allow future space traveler drink a beer in the same way someone on Earth would had to be addressed. To drink a beer on the ground, you just pick the bottle up, put it to your lips and tilt it. Beer flows from the bottle through the neck and into your mouth thanks to Newton’s law. In space, liquids do not pour. Instead, they collect in blobs that float around. So, a bottle that wicks the liquid from the bottom up through the neck and then out the top was developed. There’s a lot of high-tech science involved in the bottle, but the end result is that astronauts, space travelers and Mars explorers will be able to enjoy cold beer while they are rocketing around the universe.

With Musk speculating that SpaceX may be able to put man on Mars as early as 2024, the ability to arrive refreshed is certainly, “One giant leap for man.”

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2018 in Beer

 

A Whole New Meaning to “Beer Run”

will-run-for-beerLocal breweries have recently embraced the latest ritual in the Church of the Holy Suds—the Beer Mile. It combines two great activities: running and drinking beer. Many breweries designate a certain night of the week for a beer run; participants meet at the brewery, run a specific course, then meet back at the brewery for post-run beers. In the annals of sporting events since man moved competitively against his fellow hunter/gatherers, there’s one run that’s so brutal, so taxing, runners revere those who’ve posted the best times.

What’s a beer run? It goes like this: Runners must consume a beer, run a quarter-mile, consume another beer, run another quarter-mile-do this two more times, until four beers have been drunk and four quarter-miles have been run. Get it? Four quarter-miles equal … uh … a mile.

The origins of this phenomenon have been shrouded in the mists of time, but it’s widely accepted the sudsy sport began on college campuses in Florida and New England. Variations also appeared in England, Indonesia and Canada. The earliest recorded races were held in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when runners played fast and loose with the rules. A group of runners in Ontario, Canada set down rules that have become the accepted guidelines for most beer run enthusiasts.

Kingston Rules created a standard allowing runners everywhere to measure their performances against others’ efforts. In abbreviated form, the rules are: Each runner must drink four beers and run four quarter-miles. The entire beer must be consumed before a lap begins. The race begins when the first beer is opened. Competition beers must be 5 percent or more alcohol, canned, with a standard opening-no wide-mouths, etc. No shotgunning. You must run a penalty lap if you hurl before the race is over.

Myriad deviations  on the Kingston Rules are legion. For instance, in the U.K., runners must drink an Imperial pint-20 ounces of beer-and may do so from a glass. There’s no penalty for puking. This is called a chunder mile. There’s also a steeplechase beer mile, with 16 barriers and four water pits.

Website beermile.com publishes an extensive FAQ on the sport, along with the more-or-less accepted rules for North America. The gist of it is to run a mile while drinking four beers. You must follow a pattern: drink, quarter-mile run, drink, quarter-mile run, drink, quarter-mile run, drink, stumble to the finish line. A runner must drink the first beer before he or she begins to run and must complete each ensuing beer before continuing the run. If a runner can’t hold down the brew, they must run a penalty lap. Beer must be drunk from a standard 12-ounce can, with no alterations or “Easy Pour” mouths-“shotgunning” is strictly prohibited. Beer must be 5 percent ABV or higher to qualify as competition suitable. The entire endeavor is timed and the winner is celebrated at the end.

So far, the fastest officially recorded beer mile was run in 4:33.6 by Canadian Corey Bellemore; a seemingly miraculous feat never to be beaten. Hey, bartender … or is it coach? Draw three more!

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2018 in Beer

 

Beer Delivery? There’s an App for That.

drizlyIt’s happened to all of us. You’re all set to throw a rockin’ backyard party when you realize you forgot beer. You’re scrambling to get the yard ready and the guests will be arriving any minute. You don’t have time for a beer run. That’s when the plethora of new beer and alcohol delivery services can really save the day.

National players like Drizly, Minibar and Instacart let buyers order brews online or through an app and have purchases delivered a short time later. Even brewery giant Heineken is jumping in the fray.

Drizly got its start when then-college students Nick Rellas and Justin Robinson asked the age-old question: “Why can’t I get beer delivered?” The answer, they found after an all-night Google search, was that it was legal—except no one actually did it. A light bulb went off in their heads: Drizly was born. That was 2012; six years on, the company services more than 70 markets in the U.S. and Canada, including Jacksonville. Drizly partners with local liquor stores to deliver the brew, charging consumers a fee.

A year after Drizly’s launch, rival service Minibar hit the streets. Founders Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal launched in New York City where nearly everything is delivered, except alcohol. Identifying a potential opportunity, the two developed an app and went to market. Unlike Drizly, Minibar does not charge consumers; instead, it collects a small percentage of the sale from its retail partners. Minibar also offers bartender-booking service in a few markets.

Instacart is better known locally for its grocery shopping and delivery service through Publix supermarkets, but it’s also pleased to deliver alcohol if the need—or desire—arises.

The services work like most other online delivery services. Download an app, put in a credit card number and address and start shopping. Once you have what you want in your cart, pay and wait for delivery.

All these services require someone at least 21 years old to be present to accept delivery. For most, the delivery person will ask for a valid state ID and require the consumer to sign for the beer. (Drizly actually scans the ID with a proprietary in-app tool to check its validity.) If no one there is 21 or older to accept delivery, the items are returned to the service’s retail partner and a hefty cancellation fee is levied on the customer’s credit card.

Why have alcohol delivery services come to the forefront now? For the retailer, it’s a way to get product out the door without customers actually going to the store. And, with more than 75 million millennials now old enough to drink, the ease of using an app to buy and get delivery of booze as effortlessly as ordering an Uber is very attractive.

So the next time you find the ol’ beer fridge emptying out, consider getting a few six-packs delivered. Oh, and put some clothes on before the delivery person rings the bell.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2018 in Beer