Category Archives: Imports

Five beers to enjoy with the 2012 Olympics


200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, July 27, the 2012 Olympic Games will open in London, England. . Viewers who watch the opening ceremony on television can expect oodles of pageantry and eye-popping visuals. With a bar set very high four years ago by China, there are great expectations for London’s opening festivities.  The show is to be directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle and feature appearances by Daniel Craig as James Bond 007 and Sir Paul McCartney.

If tradition holds, the broadcast is sure to be iconic and very long, which means that you will likely need some refreshing beverages to bolster your viewing stamina. In keeping with the worldly atmosphere of the Olympics, why not drink beers from the five countries with the most athletes participating in the games: Great Britain, with 541 athletes; the United States, with 530 athletes, Russia, with 436 athletes, Germany, with 391 athletes, and China, with 380 athletes.

United Kingdom

The Olympic host country is no stranger to great beer. As a matter of fact, there was great controversy over Heineken’s designation of Official Olympic Beer Sponsor. But, Londoners have nothing to worry about with so many great beers to choose from. One of those outstanding brews is Fuller’s London Pride.

Three of the beers brewed by Fuller’s have been named as Champion Beer of England, a feat that has never been matched. The Griffin Brewery, where Fuller’s is brewed in Chiswick has been in operation for over 350 years. But, it was not until 1845 when the partnership of Fuller, Smith & Turner was formed and Fuller’s came into existence.

Fuller’s London Pride is the company’s flagship brand and is a mahogany colored bitter. The beer is best known in England in its 4.1% cask conditioned form, but is also sold in the UK and worldwide in 4.7% pasteurized bottles. The brew has a sweet malty and caramel aroma with smooth, sweet malts, biscuit, and caramel flavors followed by just a hint of hops.

United States

In the past 20 years, the United States has experienced a true renaissance in its beer industry. The big boys that produce millions of barrels of macro lager have seen their market share shrink and defect to the tastier craft brew upstarts. At last count, the Brewers’ Association listed over 2,000 craft beer breweries in the U.S. One brewery has made a name for itself with off-beat brews that stretch the imagination. Recently Dogfish Head collaborated with Internet giant Google to create a “worldly beer;” the result was Urkontinent.

The brewery sent team to collect five ingredients from five different continents including; wattleseed from Australia, toasted amaranth from South America, rooibos tea from Africa, myrica gale from Europe and honey from the United States. The result of careful brewing of these ingredients is a complex and exciting Belgian Dubbel that treats the drinker to coffee and chocolate-covered cherry flavors.


In Russia vodka is definitely the king of alcoholic drinks with an average of five liters of the potent potable consumed by each adult every year. But, beer is a close second for favored alcoholic drinks in the former USSR. Beer in Russia is categorized by color rather than fermentation process: Light, Red or Semi-Dark and Dark. Light is more or less equivalent to Lager and the last two are close to Ales. Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, Baltika is the number one Russia exported beer with the second largest brewery in Europe.

Baltika #3 Classic is billed as a classic example of an American Lager and the aroma of sweet corn and low hops tends to find that statement true. The flavor is similar to the aroma, it is very crisp with a corn-like sweetness, very low hops flavor, and moderately-low hops bitterness. The overall balance is just slightly towards the bitter side with a dry finish.


If there is one country that epitomizes great beer other than Belgium, it is Germany. These folks are so serious about their beer they passed the Reinheitsgebot, sometimes called the “German Beer Purity Law.” This regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany originally allowed only water, barley, and hops to be used in the production of beer. After its discovery by Louis Pasteur, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient. The law, though obsolete, is still more or less followed by many German breweries. One beer that still adheres to the law is Gaffel Koelsch.

In 1396 Gaffels, the political arms of tradesman’s guilds, staged a peaceful revolution to bring new ideas to the city of Cologne, Germany. It is for these men Gaffel Koelsch is named. Gaffel pours like a lager clear and light golden with a white foamy head. It even tastes a bit like a German Lager with light malt characteristics, slight sweetness, and minimum hops. But, it is in the softer, creamier mouthfeel that this ale gives itself up.


The world’s most populated nation also has a thirst for German-style lagers. With over 1.3 billion citizens on mainland China alone, that is a lot of beer drinkers. One fo the most popular brews in China is Tsingtao.

The beer is produced in Qingdao in Shandong, and it gets its name from the a French transliteration of the city’s name. It is a well-hopped standard pilsner and is the breweries flagship brew. Originally, Tsingtao Beer was brewed in accordance with the German Reinheitsgebot the recipe changed. Now, like many other beers made in China, Tsingtao Beer contains less-expensive rice as an adjunct in the mash. The beer’s current logo displays an image of Zhan Qiao, a famous pier on Qingdao’s southern shore.

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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Beer, Imports


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Lola’s Burrito Joint Set to Open This Week in Riverside

Just last week Beer:30 opened on King Street in the Beer District, this week another new place is opening with an incredible array of beers and a menu to knock you socks off. Lola’s Burrito Joint will offer the name-sake burritos, but it will also offer an array of foods described by Carlos Ramirez, chef and partner, as Latin street food. The restaurant is the brainchild of Ramirez and the team responsible for Carmine’s Pie House a few blocks down King Street.

The interior of the new watering hole cum restaurant is a lively mishmash of Latin influences with a centerpiece of a mannequin astride a motorcycle. It is vibrant, exciting, and definitely outside the usual. Bright reds, and yellows adorn the walls and Latin murals, paintings and artwork abound.

But, even the best restaurant cannot survive on looks alone. Fortunately, Lola’s has an outstanding menu as well. Look for empanadas, quesadillas, tacos, and wings as well as a bevy of burritos. And don’t forget the beer. Lola’s will host over 50 taps including two very unique Unibroue towers with Blanche de Chambly, Blonde de Chambly, Maudite, and Ephemere flowing through them.

Ramirez says the name is the result of a brainstorming session, “We were looking for a name with presence; Lola’s seemed to have it.” He says that the new restaurants, “Wants to be conscious to the neighborhood. Keeping true to the legacy of Riverside.”

Ramirez plans to have the doors open later this week to welcome his new neighbors and begin making his mark.


Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Beer, Food, Imports, Restaurant


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Gnome Week Celebrated with Multiple Events in Jax

There has been a recent uptick of interest in all things gnome. From the animated movie Gnomeo & Juliet to the photos circulating the Internet of zombified gnomes attacking helpless garden flamingos, gnomes are on a roll. This week the hype comes to its pinnacle, June 6-9 is gnome week and the 6,666th anniversary of gnomes discovering the magic water that brews magical beers. And, there are a number of celebrations taking place throughout Jacksonville to commemorate the illustrious occasion.

Gnomes are widely considered mystical spirits of magic and alchemy that were first mentioned in the 16th century by Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. He described them as just two spans high (about two feet), reluctant to interact with humans, and able to move through solid rock as easily as we m,ove through air. They are often associated with mines or underground streams. According to legend, a village of gnomes discovered that the waters of Cedrogne Spring in what would become Belgium had magical properties. It was said that the water could heal numerous ailments so the gnomes soon began using the water to brew beer. Naturally, that beer held on to the magical properties of the water.

This week, come drink with Carolyn Graham of Brown Distributing, she will be hosting several events where there will be beer born of that ancient spring in Belgium from  Brassiere d’Achouffe. The fun begins Wednesday and continues through Saturday.

Wednesday, June 6
Engine 15 Brewing Company from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Tastings of several brews from Brassiere d’Achouffe.

Thursday, June 7
Cork & Keg from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
More great brew to taste.

Friday, June 8
Total Wine & More from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Brassiere d’Achouffe poured by Marc Wisdom, Jacksonville Craft Beer Examiner and I Know Jax’s the Beer Guy.

Pele’s Wood Fire
Gnome Gnights three-course dinner with beer pairings for just $30.

Saturday, June 9
Whole Foods from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
More samples and more fun!

Pele’s Wood Fire
Gnome Gnights three-course dinner with beer pairings for just $30.

So, get out your pointy hats, groom your curly white beards, and come taste several of the brews from Brassiere d’Achouffe. You are sure to leave whistling a happy tune – or was that dwarves who did that?

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Beer, Belgian, Events, Imports


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Cinco de Mayo, Was Not Always About Beer

One 4-pack and one can of the Mexican beer, Do...

One 4-pack and one can of the Mexican beer, Dos Equis (XX) ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: En 4-pakning og en boks av det meksikanske ølmerket, Dos Equis (XX) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somehow, in the mists of time, the true reason for Cinco de Mayo has morphed from a minor Mexican holiday – it celebrates a little-known Mexican victory over France in the state of Puebla — to a major American beer bash. That is not a complaint, merely an observation of the power of the American beer industry. But, what most beer lovers do not know is that many of the Mexican beers that feature red, white, and green color schemes, brightly smiling and beautiful Mexican women, and serene beach scenes, are really German styles brought to our Latin neighbor by Bavarian immigrants as far back as the middle 1500’s.

Fermented beverages are nothing new to Mexico; history provides plenty of examples of beverages being made from such familiar ingredients as maize (corn), agave, and even cocoa beans. But, the first evidence of beer comes from a short-lived brewery established by Alfonso de Herro in the 1940’s. This was well before the first breweries were established in either North America or Canada and establishes Mexico as the home of the first home to beer in the Americas.

From there the history of beer in Mexico jumps ahead to the 1800’s. The influx of Bavarian immigrants saw the beginnings of the beer industry and the birth of many of the familiar brands we now consider Mexican beer. Brews such as Corona, Negra Modelo, Dos Equis, and Sol all owe their existence to German brewers, living in Mexico.
Indeed, all are recognizable European beer styles that, for one reason or another, fell out of favor in Europe, but found great approval south of the U.S. border.

Negra Modelo

A Munich Dunkel Lager, the name simply means dark lager. This smooth and sessionable brown lager displays subtle caramel character, a sweet and malty backbone, and very faint hops character. This beer pairs very favorably with beef fajitas, enchiladas with a rich mole sauce, or other spicy Mexican fair.

Dos Equis

Long before the most interesting man in the world was born, Dos Equis began its life called as a Vienna Lager called Siglo XX. It was brewed to welcome the 20th century by German-born Wilhelm Hasse at his Moctezuma Brewery. The Ambar version of this brew is the more traditional and most closely resembles the Vienna Lager it is based on. It has a sweet, toasted malt nose with a similar, mid-palate sweet flavor. As with most brews of this style, hops are barely present and provide very little character to the beer. As a companion to Mexican dishes, serve this with spicy salsa and chips or carnitas.

Cervaza Pacifico Clara

More commonly known as Pacífico, this Pilsner-style beer was first brewed in 1900 when three Germans opened the Cerveceria del Pacífico brewery in Mazatlán. Like its cousin Corona, Pacifico is characterized by slightly skunky aroma and flavor that is enhanced by the addition of a lime. Though it may not score highly on many beer websites like Beer Advocate, this is one of the beers locals are most fond of. Drink this one while sitting at the beach on the Mexican Riviera with a plump lime wedge and forget about the world for a while.


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Monastic Brews: Doppelbock

Monks have been brewing beer since the Middle Ages. The best known of the monastic brews are the Dubbels, Tripels, and Quadrupels of the Trappist monks in Belgium. But, the brethren in Germany also had a hand in brewing ales with the Doppelbock. Most beers are brewed by the Cistercian, Benedictine, or Trappist orders.
For the most part, monks brewed weaker beers that they drank with meals since water was rarely drinkable in its pure form in Europe. But, they also brewed stronger ales that they brewed especially for holidays and then would sell to the public. But, one style of beer, brewed by Italian monks living in Munich, Germany of the Order of Saint Francis of Paula (Paulaners), brewed a strong beer for their own needs.

Doppelbock was born of need to sustain the Paulaners through the fasts of Lent. During the Lenten season, monks were forbidden to partake of solid food. So, to see to their nutritional needs a strong, grain-heavy beer was developed. This beer was so thick with grain that it was nicknamed “liquid bread.” But, because the beer was so sweet and satisfying, the monks began to wonder if they should be drinking and enjoying it so much during Lent. So, in an attempt to gain the blessing of the Holy Father for their Lenten practice, the Paulaners sent a cask of the strong brew to the Holy See in Rome. On the journey the beer was jostled and subjected to extremes in temperatures that caused it to go sour and taste vile. Upon tasting the brew, the Pope deemed it disgusting and worthy of Lenten penance. So, without hesitation, he approved the beer as a drink for Lent due to its vile nature. Little did His Holiness know that the brew was actually quite tasty when not subjected to the extremes of travel.

The Paulaners continued producing the brew they named Salvator after their Savior from the mid-1600s until 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte, under his policy of secularization, dissolved the monastery and thus the brewery.

Six years passed before the Dopplebock style re-emerged when a private brewer by the name of Franz Xaver Zacherl, the owner of the Münchener Hellerbräu, rented the old Paulaner brewery and began producing the Doppelbock for Lent again. But, again, the style came under fire with the law when villagers complained that partakers of the brew were too lively. But, Franz persisted and in 1837 King Ludwig I himself made a proclamation that Salvator should be available and the brewer left alone.
Soon other Doppelbock beers were brewed by competing breweries, but out of deference to the original, most were named with the –ator ending to their names.

Every spring, near March 19, a beer festival takes place that is less known than Oktoberfest, but is said to be better, called Starkbierfest (strong beer fest) takes place in Munich. This springtime festival is based on Doppelbock brews rather than the Marzen style at Oktoberfest. During this Lenten celebration, the weather is cooler and the tourists are more scarce. But, the Bavarian culture is alive and well.

The beer is still brewed according to the old methods by the brewery known as Paulaner after the monks who founded it over 350 years ago.

Until Next Time

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Beer, Beer Education, Beer Festival, Imports


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