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3 new Bold City brews you must try at downtown tap room

bold_City_DTWhen I talked to Brian Miller, co-owner of Jacksonville’s first craft brewery, Bold City Brewing Company a few months ago about the just-opened downtown brewery and tap room, he told me that his vision was to rotate his brewers through the smaller brewery and let them exercise their creativity. This weekend we will get to reap the fruits of Jeremy Baker’s, one of the Bold City brewers, labors.

Beginning at 11:00 a.m. Friday, May 26, Baker’s first brew — The George and the Dragon Oatmeal Stout — will be on tap. Then at 2:00 p.m., The Jam ESB will become available and finally, at 5:00 p.m., The Pryed of Frank and Stein Rye IPA will flow.

Inspiration for the new brews lean heavily towards Baker’s British roots. The name for his stout is drawn from visits to family in England as he grew up.

“The legal drinking age is lower there,”  Baker said in an email from Bold City. “So the first time I could legitimately drink a beer at a bar was just down the hill from my Grandparent’s house. The pub was named The George and the Dragon and George.

The combination of that early drinking experience and the fact that his grandfather’s name is George provided the inspiration for his rich, chocolate forward oatmeal stout. IN keeping with the U.K. theme of the beer, Baker utilized British Phoenix hops in this 5% ABV work of art.

For his 5.5% ABV The Jam ESB, Baker again turned to his British heritage by trying to create a traditional Engish-style pale ale. In this brew he balanced English two-row, mild malts and a touch of crystal/caramel malts with a variety English of hops.

“My goal with this one was to emulate what you would get if you were in an English pub and asked for a pint of bitter,” Baker explained. “This is one of the first styles of beer I fell in love with as a young man.”

The Pryed of Frank and Stein, Baker’s third beer to be released is an English-style IPA brewed with rye that clocks in at 7% ABV and has an American twist — he aggressively hopped the brew with a combination of spicy and earthy hops from the U.S. and Europe. Perhaps most interesting is the highlighted use of experimental hop, HBC 682 said to have a mild and pleasant aroma with herbal, floral and spicy characteristics. In addition, both English and American pale malts were sourced along with distinctive rye malt.

“The ingredients came from all over,” Baker said. “To create a Frankenstein of a beer.”

With Jazz Fest and the opening of Daily’s Place downtown this weekend, you may want to get to Bold City early to stake out a place and try all three of these new additions to the Bold City line up.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Miir introduces better, redesigned growler

blacknewgrowler_10c65d85-5517-449f-8d8d-8e3e4a50c908From time to time companies that have beer-centric products reach out to me and offer to send me samples. Whether these items are beer, accessories or books, I sometimes accept their offers when the product is of particular interest to me. That said, a few months ago I received an email from Jam Collective a public relations firm representing Miir Labs. The email introduced me to Miir’s recently updated growler.

Fast forward to this week when a box appeared on my front door step from Miir. Eagerly I opened the box to find that the beautiful matte black growler I had requested arrived.

The first thing I noticed about the growler was the construction. Made of 18/8 medical grade stainless steel, the growler was sturdy yet relatively light-weight – far lighter than a typical glass growler. Next I noticed the sturdy and convenient handle, perfect for easy pouring. Finally, the buckle seal on the mouth impressed me with how securely it held the lid closed. An added surprise was the lid lock that holds the lid open while either pouring or filling the growler. The handle, buckle closure and lid-lock are all new features over Miir’s previous product that they call the Heritage growler.

In comparison to more traditional growlers – of which I own many – the new Miir Growler has several advantages.

Wide Mouth

Anyone who has poured beer from a growler without a handle knows how awkward that can be. The mouth on most growlers is narrow causing beer to “chug” when it pours making it hard to pour beer without spills. The Miir growler has a two-inch opening that minimizes the chugging effect.

Large Handle

The typical glass growler has a tiny loop for a handle that usually can only accommodate a finger or two – that is, if it even has a handle, many do not. The Miir growler has a long, comfortable handle similar to what you would find on a pitcher. The handle makes it much easier to transport the growler and provides greater control when pouring to avoid spillage.

Buckle Closure 

Most growler have either a screw on lid or a swing-top – a looped wire that holds the lid in place – these types of closures can get lost in the case of the lid or bent in the case of the swing-top. In addition, the seal made by either of these types of closures can weaken over time allowing for carbonation to be lost or air to get in to the growler. In either case, the beer in the growler can easily be ruined. The Miir growler has a very solid buckle that hooks on to the lid and snaps in place for a tight air and leak-tight seal.

Lock Back Lid

Filling a growler with an attached lid can be a hassle. Often the lid gets in the way and the bartender has to hold it back. The Miir growler has a lid the swings back and then locks preventing it from swinging forward until intentionally moved.

In addition to these features, the Miir growler employs a double-walled vacuum insulation technology called Thermo 3D. This breakthrough insulation keeps cold liquids cold for more than 24 hours without refrigeration and hot liquids hot for 12 hours.

To test the growler, I filled it with ice water and left it sitting on my kitchen counter for a full 24 hours. When I returned, the growler had not sweat on the counter. As I picked it up I could hear that it still had ice in it. Before I opened it, I gave it a good shaking to see if it would leak. Not a drop came from the seal. When I finally did open the growler, the water inside was still ice cold after 24 hours.

Miir uses a crowd-funding model that helps determine the products to be produced. Prototypes are placed on Miir Labs, the company’s crowd-funding platform where they are discounted 25% for a limited time. If the product meets its pre-determined funding goal, it is manufactured and delivered to investors before going to retail.

Miir also guarantees a portion of every purchase is given to clean water and health initiatives worldwide. Customers can track the impact of their purchase via a “Give Code” included with each purchase. In the case of the growler, 5% of each sale goes to Splash in Kolkata, India. This initiative ensures clean water, clean hands and clean toilets for students in 10 schools.

The Miir growler holds 64 ounces (1/2 gallon) of fluid, is available in four colors (black, white, blue and stainless steel) and retails for $59 and can be purchased at: https://www.miir.com/collections/growlers.

Disclaimer: I received a growler from Miir to evaluate. I was under no obligation to write this review nor will I make a commission off any sales generated by the above link.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Beer, Products

 

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Spencer Trappist to release Belgian-style quad

smrThe first certified Trappist brewery in the United States, Spencer Trappist Brewery, has announced that they will release a Belgian-style quad ale. This announcement brings the brewery into alignment with many of its brethren breweries in Belgium. This is because quads are most closely identified with Trappist breweries like Sint Sixtus brewers of the coveted Westvleteren XII and Trappistes Rochefort 10.

Learn more from the official press release below.

Spencer Trappist Brewery announced today the forthcoming release of its new Spencer Monk’s Reserve Ale, a classic Trappist Quadrupel in the Belgian tradition.

Belgian brewing tradition developed a system of characterizing bottle-conditioned ales based on the quantity of malt and the ale’s original gravity. The resulting categories include the Single, the Dubbel, the Tripel and the Quadrupel (or Quad). Quads are “big”, strong, dark, ales that typically contain 10%+ alcohol by volume and are considered top-of-the-line products.

Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale is fragrant, robust and full bodied, mahogany in color and crowned with a dense, tan, frothy head. Its malt-forward profile yields to a warm finish, with an ABV of 10.2%.

The recipe development phase of this Quad stretched over three years and 13 experimental brews. The Spencer monks sought an alternative to the use of spices for flavor enhancement by pushing the boundaries of traditional Trappist Quad malt profiles, even incorporating some local barley grown in nearby Barre, MA, which was craft malted in Hadley, MA. The outcome is a unique product with a distinct flavor profile well situated within the Trappist family of Quadrupel ales. Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale received the approval of the International Trappist Association in March 2017.

In announcing Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale, Father Isaac Keeley, Spencer Brewery Director, notes, “It is a major event for a Trappist brewery to introduce a new Quad. We took our time developing this one and we are rather happy with the result.” This beer was well received in Brussels by the Board of the International Trappist Association to whom it was presented for sensory evaluation and a vote of approval. The monks of Spencer look forward to serving this new Quad during their Sunday supper, as well as sharing it with their friends in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale will be available for public tasting in the US at the BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on June 2-3, 2017. Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale will be available to our distributors on June 12th and at retail shortly thereafter. It will be featured at The Spencer Brewery’s Open House on June 24, 2017.

In 2013 St. Joseph’s Abbey became home to The Spencer Brewery, which is one of eleven certified Trappist breweries in the world and the only one located outside of Europe. The monks of Spencer make bottle-conditioned ales in the centuries-old tradition, as well as various American craft beers – all while living the motto “ora et labora” (pray and work). In accordance with the Trappist way of life, all proceeds from their work are used to support the monastery, with any surplus donated to charity – primarily charities that help the poor. The beers crafted by The Spencer Brewery are available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, and throughout Europe. Outside our distribution area Spencer products are available at belgianstyleales.com. The Spencer Brewery plans to start exporting to Asia later this year.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Reaction to the Wicked Weed sale to Anhueser-Busch

PubOutsideThe Internet blew up yesterday on the news of Asheville, NC brewery Wicked Weed’s sale to brewing behemoth Anhueser-Busch. The reactions ran the gamut from utter outrage to disbelief to acceptance. Put simply, it was polarizing news that caused Twitter and other social media outlets to virtually explode with opinions on the matter.

Dumping beers from breweries acquired by A-B was a common theme among craft beer bars, package stores and restaurants. Brew Studs, a Twitter account linked to a popular beer blog of the same name tweeted:

Texas sour and funky beer brewer Jester King regularly collaborated with Wicked Weed and even carried Wicked Weed beers in their taproom. But, with the news that broke yesterday, that all changed.

“This has been a difficult day for us. The news that our great friend Wicked Weed Brewing was acquired by AB In-Bev came as quite a shock,” wrote Jester King founder Jefferey Stuffings on his brewery’s website. “One of our core principles is that we do not sell beer from AB In-Bev or its affiliates…”

“Because of this core principle,” Stuffings continued. “It pains us to say that we won’t be carrying Wicked Weed anymore at Jester King. We think Wicked Weed beer is some of the best in the world. Their talent, techniques, and patience produces some of the most beautiful beer we’ve ever tasted. That, combined with their great friendship, is what makes this decision so tough for us. But like we said, our core values must be paramount at the end of the day.”

Denver, Colo. brewery Black Project also pulled out of a collaboration they were working on with WIcked Weed.

“…We will not be able to lend our name to the unfinished collaboration beer currently aging in Asheville, NC.” Black Project owners James and Sarah Howat said on their website. “Additionally, the beer we brewed with Wicked Weed here at Black Project will be blended with other existing aged beer we have on hand to make something totally different which we will not consider a Wicked Weed collaboration.”

Breweries are also pulling out of the Wicked Weed Funkatorium Invitational, a music and beer festival that benefits an Asheville charity that identifies needs in the community and works to resolve them. Both Jester King and Black Project along with Grimm Artisnal, Jackie O’s, Haw River Farmhouse, OEC, Trillium and Wooden Robot have announced they will not participate as planned.

But the shunning from fellow breweries and beer lovers are not the only consequences Wicked Weed has suffered. The North Carolina Brewer’s Guild stripped the brewery of its voting rights and relegated Wicked Weed to only having the ability to be an affiliate member of the guild.

What are your thoughts on the sale? Is it a business move or is it a sell out?

 

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Beer, Brewery Acquisitions

 

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Green beer’s dubious beginnings

Green-BeerGreen beer has become a staple of many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all across the United States. But, who came up with the original idea and why would someone take a perfectly good beer and turn it a most unnatural shade of green? By most accounts, the story of green beer goes back to New York City 102 years ago.

In the mostly Irish neighborhoods of the New York City borough the Bronx, a coroner and toastmaster by the name Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin – himself an Irish immigrant — debuted his invention at a social club during a St. Patrick’s Day feast. Guests at the feast were astonished and delighted at the wondrous beer before them.

“No, it wasn’t a green glass, but real beer in a regular colorless glass,” wrote syndicated columnist, Charles Henry Adams in his column New York Day by Day, March 26, 1914. “But the amber hue was gone from the brew and a deep green was there instead.”

When pressed for the detail of how he had created the deep green brew, Adams reported that Curtin was reserved in his response. He would only say that the effect was achieved by adding a single drop of “wash blue” – an iron-based wash additive used to whiten clothes – to a certain volume of beer. He did not divulge the exact amount of beer he added the toxic substance to change it green but it was presumably a large enough volume to dilute the poisonous effects of wash blue.

But, another newspaper, the Spokane Press, also made mention of a green beer in 1910. Under a headline proclaiming, “Green Beer Be Jabbers!” (be jabbers is apparently an excited swear) the newspaper relates an account of a local bar pouring green beer. But, the beer did not get its color artificially.

“It is a regular beer,” the paper reported. “Apparently it has not been colored locally. It tastes like beer and looks like paint, or rather like the deep green waves in mid-ocean with the sun striking them through.”

The article went on to say that the bartender was the only person that knew how the beer had turned green and he was not revealing the secret.

“All day he has been drawing from one of the regular taps,” the article said. “And no one has seen him dump in any arsenic.”

A comforting thought, that.

The idea of serving green beer itself may have come from an old Irish tradition called “drowning the shamrock.” Men were said to have dropped a shamrock into their whiskey after parades and special events. The custom was meant to bring good luck to the imbiber because of the holy meaning ascribed to shamrocks.

Legend has it that St. Patrick himself used the abundant shamrock as a prop to explain the concept of the holy trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost — to King Laoghaire of Ireland in the early days of the Catholic church. The holiday now celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day began as a holy fest day to honor Patrick’s death on March 17, 461. Because the feast day falls in the middle of Lent when Catholics are supposed to practice abstinence from meat and alcohol, the church lifted the restrictions giving rise to over-consumption since Lent had several weeks left.

Whether green beer began in New York or Spokane, one thing is certain, there will be plenty of green beer flowing from taps next week for St. Patrick’s Day. Though now beer is tinted green with food coloring rather than poison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Beer, Beer history

 

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Beer and baseball; a match made in St. Louis

browns_beerAs Spring Training hits its stride, I thought you might enjoy reading a bit about how two of America’s summertime favorites came together. Originally published in my Folio Weekly column Pint-Sized last summer, this piece explains the magical marriage of beer and baseball.

Baseball is a game steeped in nostalgia. Every crack of the bat hitting a ball evokes memories of sluggers from the past like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Lou Gehrig. The cheer of the crowd mingles with the smell of popcorn and hot dogs. And, perhaps the most important part of the experience is the shout of vendors announcing, “Cold beer here!”

Beer and baseball are a given today. The beverage is so entrenched in the game that its absence would seem odd. But, the love affair of beer and baseball was not always so fervent. In the beginning the National League did not want beer in its ballparks when it debuted in 1876. It took the American Association’s entry to bring beer to the game.

In 1882, the AA came to the realization that baseball should appeal to blue collar workers as well as the upper crust. To draw more of the working class to games, the AA lowered ticket prices, scheduled games on Sundays and offered alcohol for sale at the games. This approach appealed to the marketing gurus at breweries so much that many of the teams were backed by them. But, the AA could not sustain operations and folded after the 1891 season. Players were absorbed by the NL and, because of its popularity, alcohol sales became the norm in NL ballparks.

One of the earliest instances of a team embracing beer in the ballpark is the case of the St. Louis Brown Stockings. The team, later to be known as the Cardinals, was owned by Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Von Der Ahe a saloon owner who noticed that business in his bar increased on game days. With this information, Van Der Ahe surmised that spectators would likely enjoy a few brews during a game and he installed a beer garden at the team’s home, Sportsman’s Park. The idea was a hit.

Over the years, beer has grown to be inextricably associated with the game. Breweries took notice of the popularity of baseball and began to formulate marketing campaigns. In 1941, Falstaff began sponsoring Dizzy Dean’s radio broadcasts of Browns games and 30 years later sponsored Harry Carey’s “Holy cow!” punctuated broadcasts.

Brewers began positioning themselves with local baseball teams and formed relationships to be the official beers of teams and stadiums. In New York, the Yankees became associated with Ballantine and the Mets sidled up to Rheingold. Beer was so popular in baseball that Milwaukee, a bastion of German beer production, named their team the Brewers. The big beer producers became almost synonymous with baseball with advertising in stadiums, sponsorship of broadcasts – both radio and television – and stadiums named for brands.

Today, with the craft beer revolution in full swing, ballparks are adding locally-brewed beers to their lineup. In Jacksonville, our minor league team the Suns, serve several local brews from Intuition Ale Works, Bold City and more as well as a selection of craft beers from brewers outside the area.

As an experience, sitting in the stands of a stadium, watching the heroes of the diamond gracefully make plays would just not feel complete without a hot dog in one hand and a cold beer in the other. It’s perhaps the most perfect way to spend a balmy summer evening – and perhaps the most American.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Beer, Beer history

 

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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 http://www.harpoonbrewery.com/beer-finder, checking back periodically for new locations.

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

 

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