Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Zymurgy Best Beers in America

In case you were not privvy to the latest stuff Zymurgy is a magazine put out by the American Homebrewers Assosiation.  They administered a survey requesting readers to give them a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers.  A record number of 1,306 votes were cast and here are the results of beers that should be available around our area.

2. Bell's Two Hearted Ale
3.  Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout
5.  Bell's Hopslam
6.  Stone Arrogant Bastard
7.  Sierra Nevada Celebration
T8.  Sierra Nevada Torpedo
T8.  Stone Ruination
10.  Stone Ruination
11.  Stone Sublimely Self Righteous
12.  Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
13.  Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
18.  North Coast Old Rasputin
19.  Bell's Expedition Stout
T20.  Left hand Milk Stout
T20.  Odell IPA
T20.  Samuel Adams Noble Pils
T26.  Samuel Adams Boston Lager
T26.  Rogue Dead Guy Ale
28.  Anchor Steam
T29.  Bear Republic Racer 5
T29.  Ommegang Three Philosophers
T34.  Avery Maharaja
T38.  New Belgium La Folie
T38.  New Belgium Ranger
T43.  Great Divide Yeti
T43.  New Belgium 1554
T43.  Ska Modus Hoperandi

To see the full results click here.

Sorry Dave a New Czar is in Town

We’ve already visited the point that Super Dave has undying man love for Bridgeport’s Hop Czar Imperial IPA. Well sorry Dave there’s a new Czar in town and it is damn tasty.


10.82 ABV

70 IBU

There are a couple of things I liked about the Czar right off the bat; the $5.99 price tag, and the declaration on the bottle that is was bottled in 2009. In today’s craft beer boom the imperial stout plays a prominent role in many breweries offerings. Whether it be a year round offering or an annual release, there are more imperial stouts out now than I can count. One of the beauties of these monster brews is that they age very well. They can be aged, or cellared, for a very long time. Generally speaking, the longer you age an imperial stout, the better it will taste. As it ages the harsher flavors will mellow, the heat of the alcohol will subside, and you will be left with a flavorful masterpiece. On the contrary the younger imperial stouts will have harsher flavors and more hot alcohols. I’ve run into these immature brews with Goose Island Big John and recently with Lagunitas Imperial Stout. The problem I have is there is usually no indication as to how long the imperial stout has been aged. I wish there were a universal standard in labeling requiring information to be published regarding how old the imperial stout is. The real downer is a lot of these highly sought after limited edition imperial stouts are difficult to acquire and are pricey. If you drink them too early (less than 6-12 months old), it will not be an enjoyable experience and the consumer is shortchanged. If you knew the special edition imperial stout you just purchased is only a month old, you would be able to make a decision to age it. Therefore, I applaud Avery for posting the bottling date and giving me the peace of mind that this is a properly aged imperial stout.

The Czar poured inky black with a quickly receding head. There is big malt and roast with a little booze in the nose. This imperial has a decent mouthfeel that leads you into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Deep dark chocolate notes are apparent with enough bitterness to keep The Czar from being too sweet. The brew finishes with a satisfying bittersweet farewell. This is a nicely complex imperial stout and was a pleasure to drink. Oh did I mention it’s $5.99 and widely availabe? I’m adding this to FatCat’s Epic Brews list so check it out at the top of the page.


Cheers!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Biggest Heist of My Life: Lagunitas Imperial Stout

Lagunitas Imperial Stout

9.9% ABV

72.45 IBUs

A $4.00 bomber of imperial stout? Did I just see that correctly. I stopped, turned around, and came back. I stood in front of that display for ten minutes trying to decide if it was mislabeled or not. I scanned the rest of the store, there were no cameras nor any Ashton Kutchers present, so I was sure I was not on a hidden camera TV show. I bravely reached out and grasped the bottle, hesitating to pick it up. I already planned my Indiana Jones escape route if the ceiling started caving in or a giant rock sprung from the wall and started chasing me. The moment of truth, I raised the bottle and winced in anticipation. I waited a few seconds and nothing happened. I tentatively walked to the register knowing that any minute the clerk would realize I’m attempting to buy a $4.00 bomber of imperial stout. I wondered what the penalty for shoplifting in KS was as I handed the bottle to the clerk. I paid my $4.00 and some change waiting for the clerk to get hip to my game. The transaction was complete and I sprinted out of the store to the safety of my vehicle. I did it, I completed the biggest heist west of the Mississippi. I visited the store a few days later, knowing the price had to have increased on that imperial stout. I located the display and coolly walked over to it. It was then that I realized my adventure was a hoax and the price was right, Bob!

The imperial stout poured dark black with a very brief head. Huge malt, roast, and hints of chocolate hit your nose. The taste followed suit with big malt character and a nice thick mouthfeel. The big roast character was bathed in nice burnt chocolate and faint molasses. The finish had a weird bitterness to it which I assumed was from the various roasted malts. It immediately reminded me of a less intense Goose Island Big John based on that weird bitterness. In the Big John, I assumed the bitterness was from the cocoa nibs. However, there is nothing to indicate the Lagunitas Imperial Stout was aged on any cocoa. So as with any burning question, I headed to the internet. I found a suggestion that the bitterness was actually coming from the alcohol in the brew. This apparently happens in young beers when the raw alcohol has not had a chance to mellow out and blend with the rest of the brew. Hopefully, aging will mellow this brew out because it is really good otherwise. I purchased another Lagunitas Imperial Stout and will re-review it in about 6 months. Even with the weird bitterness, this beer is very good. For the price you really can’t go wrong.

Cheers!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

They Paved the Way… The overview

A Beer advocate thread posed the question:


They paved the way, “The modern Craft beer and homebrewing scene would not exist without “_______” and why?"  Could be a name, a brewery, a philosophy, etc. You only have one choice

 
This question intrigued me and set me off on a wild historical goose chase. This will be a multi-part post covering many different subjects. See the previous posts in this series below:

They Paved the Way- Introduction

To start, let me explain how I’m interpreting the question. I look at it as what started the craft beer boom we’ve been experiencing as of late. The boom I’m referring to is the increased numbers of US breweries and our ever expanding craft brew selection. Craft breweries are still a very very small portion of total beer sales even though they have been gaining market share. The market is dominated by the three beer behemoths in the US. Craft beer is only responsible for 4.9 % of the market by volume and 7.6% in dollars for 2010. The yardstick I’m using to measure the progress and success of the craft beer boom is the number of breweries in the US through various points in history. The more breweries in operation at a time the more successful the craft beer movement is.

January 1983 issue from backissues.com
The starting point for the craft brew movement is 1983. This is the year with the lowest number of breweries (80) after prohibition. The American Lager was completely controlling the US beer market and the big 3 companies were monopolizing the industry. Since I’m using the number of breweries as the measurement of craft brew success, 1983 is rock bottom. Something around 1983 started propelling the craft beer movement forward and increasing the number of breweries in the US.

Here’s an overview of the beer industry as of 2010:
Brewery Rank based on volume of sales:

      1. Anheuser-Busch InBev
      2. MillerCoors
      3. Pabst Brewing Co.
      4. Boston Beer Co.



- (1870) 3,200 breweries in operation

- (1983) 80 breweries in operation

- (2010) 1,753 total breweries in US.

- (2010) 1,716 are craft breweries.

- (2010) US beer market is approximately 101 billion dollars

- (2010) Craft breweries account for $7.6 billion of the market

Statistics from Brewers Association.
Even with Boston Beer Co. being considered a craft brewery at number 4, the total market share for all craft breweries combined is 7.6%. You can see it is a very steep uphill battle for any craft brewery to operate in the market. This is even more reason for you to support local craft breweries.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WeightWatchers and Craft Brew Go Hand In Hand, Right?

Seems like an unlikely companion, WeightWatchers.  But craft brew is finiding recognition everywhere.  There is an article up at WeightWatchers.com outlining food pairings and 14 different craft brews.  They made some good choices in terms of the beer.  Head on over and check it out.

 
There is also an article up over at the Wall Street Journal about craft beer.  Holy Cow watch out big beer, Happy learned how to putt.

Boulevard Imperial Stout 2011 vs New Holland Dragons Milk throwdown

I was super excited about tasting the Boulevard Imperial Stout. It was Batch 2 and supposedly infected with the added complexity of brett. I got Super Dave and Greg together and we ventured forth into the bacterial infested sweet nectar of the gods. Woo Hoo!



Boulevard Imperial Stout 2011 Batch 2

11% ABV

63 IBUs

The imperial Stout poured jet-black with a huge tan head. There was a slight smell of sour in the nose with some malt and alcohol. The imperial stout had a good thick mouthfeel and gave the sensation of needing to chew before you swallow. The taste started with a twinge of oak and then...what the hell happened? The mouthfeel was stellar, the oak brings you in, and then nothing. The finish was very plain with no real roast, chocolate, brett, or anything else. We let the brew warm up further in hopes of coaxing out some malt character but to no avail. All three of us agreed we did not care for the imperial stout. So instead of being disappointed and writing a dejected review, why not make this a throwdown?



New Holland Dragon’s Milk

10% ABV

Undisclosed IBUs

Dragon’s Milk is labeled as “ale aged in oak barrels” and Beer Advocate lists it as an American Stout. With 10% ABV, BJCP classifies this as an Imperial Stout based on the ABV alone. Ratebeer and several other reviewers tag this as an American Strong Ale. The labeling of this brew seems a bit vague as “ale aged in oak barrels”. Seems to me this would hurt the sale of this brew as anyone who hasn’t heard of it before may be inclined to think it is not a form of oaked stout. And I for one would be less inclined to buy an oaked “ale” as opposed to an oak aged imperial stout. Even if this brew is considered something else due to the contents of the grain bill, it would be beneficial for the label to be more specific. I’m not sure of the logic behind New Holland’s labeling system, but if you’re reading this you are now an insider (and as lost as I am). But what’s in a name, a rose smells as sweet with any other name and some other stuff. Yep Shakespeare bitches!

The Dragon’s Milk pours an opaque black with very little head. The nose emits vanilla, whisky, and oak mixed in with sweet malt. The mouthfeel is considerably lighter than the Boulevard Imperial Stout, which I would consider a plus for the Boulevard. Oak introduces your taste buds to the party, taking you around to meet all of your new friends, whiskey, chocolate, and vanilla. The tastes hit your palate in about that order oak, whiskey, chocolate, and finishes big with vanilla and oak. This is a very complex and enjoyable brew. Again, I am confused because the bottle states “aged in oak barrels” and mentions nothing about whiskey. Typically it is a more desirable trait (at least to me) to be bourbon barrel aged as opposed to simply oak aged. So why would New Holland leave it out of the labeling? Is my brain willing me to taste bourbon that isn’t really there simply because it is so delicious? Very Possible.

Conclusion

I’ve never been as confused after a tasting as I am now with Dragon’s Milk. What are you!?!?!? I’m not even sure these two beers are the same style, but it happened. The throwdown is complete. Whatever this mutant concoction of malt, hops, yeast, water, and oak is, one thing is for sure. It is delicious. All three of us agree the winner is New Holland Dragon’s Milk.

Cheers!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Who is the Drunkest State in the US?

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed a study outlining the consumption of alcohol per person for every state in the US as of 2007.  The numbers were figured by taking the total volume of alcohol sales and dividing it by the census population in that state including everyone 14 and older.  I guess they count on the teens to start young?  Thank you big beer commercials can I have another?

Soberest State is Utah:

18.9 gallons of alcohol per person per year
16.6 gallons of beer per person per year
6.4 bottles of wine per person per year
1.0 gallons of spirits per person per year


Drunkest State is New Hampshire:

48.7 gallons of alcohol per person per year
38.6 gallons of beer per person per year
29.4 bottles of wine per person per year
4.3 gallons of spirits per person per year


Kansas is 5th Soberest:

28.7 gallons of alcohol per person per year
26 gallons of beer per person per year
5.9 bottles of wine per person per year
1.5 gallons of spirits per person per year


Missouri somewhere in the middle:

33.7 gallons of alcohol per person per year
29.5 gallons of beer per person per year
11.7 bottles of wine per person per year
1.9 gallons of spirits per person per year

Does anyone else feel like an alcoholic after reading this?  What don't look at me! 


Mainstreet.com has the summary of the information here.

NIAAA.nih.gov has the full data here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FatCat's Beer College Results

I've unlocked the key to get craft beer newbies to become instantly and hopelessly addicted to craft.  Which style is the perfect style for the craft uninitiated?  What beer is the perfect beer to convert all light lager drinkers to craft beer zombies?  Well keep reading I'll tell you but you have to promise me you'll use these powers for good and not evil. Deal? Deal.

If you are following along at home I posted yesterday about my cousin turning 21 years of age.  So for a proper orientation he enrolled in FatCat's Beer College, which turns out to be 14 beer styles sampled back to back.  We started light with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and ran the gamut all the way to dark and heavy Old Rasputin Imperial Stout.  I had Claydizzle rate how much he liked each beer 1-5, with 5 being the greatest taste he's ever tasted.  I poured the samples and he started taking notes.  Notes?  Of course you have to take notes in Beer College.


 Here are the results:
 
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
3.0
Boulevard Tank 7
3.0
Founder's Porter
3.5
North Coast Old Rasputin
3.5
FatCat's The British Are Coming Pale Ale
4.0
Schlafly Kolsch
4.0
Sam Adams Summer Ale
4.0
Spaten Franziskaner Hefe
4.0
FatCat's Big L Brown Ale
4.0
Opimator Dubblebock
4.0
FatCat's Car Bomb Stout (Dry Stout)
4.0
Founder's Centennial IPA
4.5
Sam Adams Cream Stout
4.5
Bells Third Coast Old Ale
4.5

His favorite of the whole bunch was Founders Centennial IPA.  If you were like me, you were hoping for some secret look into the mind of a craft beer newbie that could unlock the holy grail of craft brew.  The perfect combination of brew that would instantly convert anyone to a craft beer lover.  I had plans to start mass conversions of non-believers into craft beer believers with the secrets I uncovered.  Well as you can tell there is no logical sequence of like vs dislike here.  No secrets have been revealed and the non-believers are safe for a while longer.  Claydizzle had fun and asked, "When are we going to do this again?".  So I think I have a budding craft beer lover on my hands.  Score one for the good guys.

Cheers!

Homebrew gains national recognition in NY Times

An article in the New York Times gives national exposure to homebrewing.  Check it out by clicking the link below!






Schlafly Bavarian Weissbier

The other night the mood struck me to try the Schlafly Bavarian Weissbier. I was feeling a little frisky so I wanted to set the mood just right. I prepared the patio table for our little romp and lit a candle (a bug repeller) for the prefect ambiance. Now read the rest of this review as if Barry White is talking to you with retro porn music in the background. Ohhhhhhhh Yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh.


Whenever you see “Weiss” or “Weizen” in a beer name it indicates it is some variation of a German wheat beer. So in these styles you should expect spice from the wheat and a strong yeast character. Schlafly’s Bavarian Weissbier poured a pale straw color with a tall fluffy white head. There was a light nose with hints of the yeast poking through. The mouthfeel was nice and crisp. Yeast character dominated the brew and lead to a long dry finish. The yeast character was not overpowering and complemented the wheat flavor beautifully. This was a very drinkable and refreshing brew, a perfect partner for those hot summer days. I’m adding this to the FatCat’s Almost Epic brews list, so check it out at the top of the page. The taste/yeast character in this brew is on the light side. For those of you looking for a more pronounced yeast character, try Franziskaner Weissbier.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Cousin's 21st Birthday



My cousin turned 21 last week and is now fair game to my craft brew harassment.  He went to the license bureau to get his new ID and then straight to the liquor store.  His first beer purchase as a legal adult was Sam Adams Irish Red.  That's my boy.  Later that day he asked me what other beers should he get?  Well that seems like he just enrolled in FatCat's Craft Beer College.  Now we have 14 beers of various styles to cut his craft beer teeth on.   



Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
FatCat's The British are Coming Pale Ale
Schlafly Kolsch
Sam Adams Summer Ale
Spaten Franziskaner Wheat
Founders Centennial IPA
Boulevard Tank 7
FatCat's Big L Brown Ale
Optimator Doppelbock
Founders Porter
Sam Adams Cream Stout
FatCat's Car Bomb Stout
Bells Third Coast Old Ale
North Coast Old Rasputin

Estrella Damm Inedit

This was a suggested brew from my friend Adam. After searching I finally found this one at Tipsy’s. They have since moved it out on the shelf and should be easy to find. So, without further adieu.

Inedit is a craft brew dressed in wine clothing. Everything about the appearance of this bottle screams class. There are no labels that advertise this as a beer, and the lines of the bottle are distinctly not craft beery (yes it’s a word). The design of this brew’s packaging allows it to fly below the radar and be an acceptable sight in fine dining situations. No one would really question that this isn’t a wine or some other welcome accompaniment at a fancy table. On the flip side being the rugged craft brew lover that I am, I most likely would not have purchased this without Adam’s recommendation. It is not really my cup of tea, the fancy thing. I tried to join the high class one time but they wouldn’t answer the door.

Getting past the strikingly handsome packaging of this brew, does this beer deliver the goods? Inedit poured with a straw color and light fluffly white head. Yes, I know wine does not have bubbles, but even in glass this beer reminds me of a wine. Perhaps it’s just remnants of the fancy bottle playing tricks with my judgment, but the brilliantly clear brew just reminded me of a glass of wine. Inedit is very light and fruity in the nose. The taste is very light and delicate in taste with hints of grapefruit, coriander, and orange peel. These tastes intensify as the brew warms. Inedit plays the role of a mellowed out, super smooth, Belgian Wit very well.

In reading the little booklet attached to the bottle neck this beer was supposed to provide a perfect pairing with fine foods. It was specifically designed for this purpose and even pairs with “hard to pair” dishes. I found this to be marketing jibberish because I think you could probably find beers to pair with any of the “hard to pair” dishes that they mentioned. The light smooth taste of Inedit is definitely conducive to pairing with foods, but their packaging is the real reason Inedit would be considered in the fine dining realm. With that being said, I really wish I had saved Inedit to enjoy with a nice dinner. I think it would go really well with fish or alfredo pasta.

Overall, I really liked this beer and would recommend it to anyone. I will be adding it to FatCat’s Epic Brews list so check it out. Again, it is very delicate in taste but very distinctive at the same time. Perhaps I enjoyed this so much because it gave my palate a break from all the IPAs and Imperial Stouts I’ve been subjecting it to. But either way it’s delicious. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to host a classy meal for a date or a celebration at home. Inedit would fit in nicely. And remember, if anyone knows class its FatCat!

Cheers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

War On Craft Beer!


Winsconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was hard at work laying out a budget for the state.  Well what do you know, some obscure policy was inserted into the budget that would overhaul the state's regulation of the beer industry.  Well that seems like someone was trying to do something sneaky.  Why would that be?  Oh yeah because of a $22,675 campaign donation.  From who you may ask?  MillerCoors and SABMiller.  Awesome! 

See the link below for more information.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's War On Craft Beer


Boulevard Boss Tom vs FatCat’s Where’s My Socks Maibock Throwdown

Time for another good old-fashioned throwdown. Put the women and children to bed, time to go looking for dinner.



Boss Tom’s Golden Bock

6.1% ABV

22 IBUs

Boss Tom’s Golden Bock is Boulevard’s seasonal offering. The brew is named after Thomas J. Pendergast a powerful political leader active from 1925 until 1939. Pendergast ran his political actions from a two-story yellow brick building at 1908 Main Street. Some credit is given to Pendergast and the social climate he garnered for the rise of the Golden Era of Jazz. He is also linked with Harry S. Truman. To read more about Pendergast and how he maintained corrupt political power see the Wikipedia article. It is a great article involving the Kansas City area and gives significance to several local landmarks.

The Boss Tom’s poured with a straw color and a large white head. There was no detectable hop aroma in the nose. I find this common with many Boulevard beers, they are highly carbonated and seem to block a lot of the brews aroma with massive head. The Boss Tom’s had a very smooth mouthfeel and reminded me largely of a pilsner with the malt profile. There was not much in the way of hop flavor and the malt character seemed a bit flat. The brew finished very dry and refreshing for the ABV.



FatCat’s Where’s My Socks Maibock

6.8% ABV

24.5 IBUs

FatCat’s Where’s My Socks Maibock poured a much darker burnt orange color with a one finger white head. The nose was mostly malt with a small hint of fruit from the hops. The mouthfeel was a bit sharper than the Boss Tom’s. WMS Maibock had a strong malt profile with caramel and biscuit adding to its complexity. There was also a slight hint of fruit bitterness on the finish. This fruit bitterness could be considered a negative attribute according to BJCP rules but it is delicious.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed drinking the WMS Maibock more so than the Boss Tom’s. The Boss Tom’s didn’t have the malt background I was looking for. The winner of the Maibock throwdown is FatCat’s Where’s My Socks Maibock!  Another one bites the dust.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sam Adams Latitude 48 Deconstructed

I was eagerly awaiting this sampler and commend Sam Adams for putting this out. This is yet another reason I love Sam Adams. This sampler is meant to be a learning tool to help drinkers identify the distinct flavors in beer. With knowledge is power. The beauty of this sampler is you get to taste the characteristics of five different hops with the exact same malt profile for each beer. If you happened to be a homebrewer and wanted to complete this experiment, you would invest approximately $250.00 (5x5 gallon batches) and about 30hrs of brewing time. Thank you Sam Adams for my $14.00 hop lesson.


Again, I would like to reiterate this is a learning tool. These beers were not meant to be some outstanding rendition of a single hopped Hallertau IPA. I’ve seen a lot of forum responses stating these weren’t very good IPA’s and (place beer name here) is a way better IPA. That was not the purpose of this sampler, to create a superior standalone IPA, instead it was to allow people to taste 5 different hop characteristics in the exact same beer.

I chose to taste these beers back to back. I’ve recently learned the best way to taste the differences in beers is to taste them back to back. Your memory likes to play tricks on you after a few beers, so that stout with the chocolate taste isn’t as chocolaty two months from now when you drink another one. Also since these IPA’s are essentially the same beer it would be very hard to distinguish the differences if you didn’t taste them one right after the other.




Hallertau

The Hallertau version had a very earthy/grassy nose with hints of malt poking through. The Hallertau hop is a noble hop sought after for it’s clean bittering qualities and is evident in this IPA. The bittereness was very clean and crisp. It did not linger long after you swallowed and is very refreshing. The taste could be described as earthy, piney, and floral. This taste was very familiar to me from other brews, I just didn’t realize it was due to the Hallertau hop. Now I know!

Zeus

The Zeus version had big grapefruit smell in the nose. The taste followed suit and exploded with huge grapefruit taste. The Zeus had good taste character with the citrus/grapefruit flavor but did have a somewhat harsh ending. The bitterness lingered a lot longer than Hallertau and was not near as clean.

Ahtanum

The Ahtanum version was very flat smelling in terms of hop presence. The nose was very malty with no real hop aroma. The Ahtanum reminded me of the Hallertau in terms of taste. There is a small faint taste of grapefruit at the beginning followed by earthy/piney flavors very similar to Hallertau. It is like Hallertau’s rougher younger brother. It is earthy/floral with a deeper taste than Hallertau and not as clean.

East Kent Goldings

The EKG version had a very sweet candy like smell. The sweetness was not entirely from the malt but came from the hop aroma. The taste was very malty and sweet with a slight after taste of earth/pine. This was a very subdued bitterness and was more of a background flavor. There was not much in terms of hop flavor going on in this one.

Simcoe

The Simcoe version had a somewhat sweet smell with some earthy pine thrown in for good measure. This version had a very clean bitterness to it. The flavor is a resinous earthy taste and was very pleasant. If you read my review of the Latitude 48, I stated there is a whole mouth quality to the bitterness. I believe the Simcoe hop is responsible for this. This would be a very good bittering hop for homebrewing.

Latitude 48

After tasting each bitter contributor, the original Latitude 48 was sampled. The East Kent Goldings sweet smell was apparent on the nose. It had a good balance between the bitterness, the hop flavor, and maltiness. I would guess that the Simcoe is the main culprit for most of the Latitude’s bitterness. I noticed the darker earthy tones (Ahtanum) that I would not have noticed before. I was looking for the grapefruit character (Zues) but couldn’t really find it. Overall, the Latitude 48 is still one of my favorite IPA’s due to its super clean bitterness and complexity of hop flavors. FatCat was the lone taster in this event and subsequently had to drink 6 IPAs before they got warm. Well they got warm, but I finished them anyway. I was going to try to recap them but I remembered something I read the other day. What was it? Oh yeah “Go Big or Go Home”.

Cheers!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday tastings and Deschutes update

I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Deschutes Brewing Co. to Missouri and/or Kansas.  I've been prowling their website and drooling over their offerings.  When oh when are you going to bring me your delicious nectar?  Get in my belly!!!!!  But according to Beernews.org and Show-Me Beer Deschutes is being a tease.  We probably won't see Deschutes until this Fall at the earliest.  F&^K S*&T SOB, etc!

Gomer's Midtown tasting

German Bier tasting Friday
4-6 pm

Ayinger Brau Weisse
Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse
Schlenkerla Helles
Tucker Kristal Weizen
Tucker Dunkles Weizen
Schneiderer Aventinus

Gomer's South Tasting

Summer Seasonal tasting Friday
4-6pm

Shiner Summer
New Holland Full Circle
Magic Hat Circus Boy
Ska Mexican Logger
Left Hand Stranger (giggity)
Arcadia Whitsun
Rogue Somer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pitch’s "Beer Town".

As many of you have probably read, or at least heard about, there is a front-page article in the Pitch regarding Kansas City’s craft breweries. It is a very well put together article running the gamut from the 10th largest craft brewery in the US (Boulevard), to microbreweries, to brewpubs, to nano breweries, and even a story of two naked chicks making beer in their kitchen. The article covers a good variety of information and helps provide exposure to the different facets of Kansas City’s breweries.  It is a great article and I thank Jonathan Bender for writing it.


The one gripe I have with this article, and is common with the craft beer industry in general, lack of “where do you find it”. Obviously, Boulevard is readily available and most everyone in KC has at least heard of Boulevard Brewing Co. However, two nano breweries were mentioned, Stuck Truck Brews and Fountain Head Brewing Co., as well as the micro brewery Doodle Brewing Co. I am assuming the nano breweries crafts are not available to the public, but this is only my assumption. Could these brews be available publicly? For sample? This would be great information to provide in the article and could possibly provide business opportunities for the brewers.

The other day I was viewing a list of beers being offered at a local beer festival and saw Doodle Brewing Co. This is a brewery operated out of Liberty, MO of which I was completely unaware. Intrigued, I set off to discover this local brewery. I pulled up their website and was greeted with a barren wasteland of information. Nothing. No information on where to get the beer, what kinds of beer they brew, or any other relevant information for a consumer to patronize the brewery. I shot them an email and received a timely response from Nick. The brews are available in the Kansas City, MO metro area. The Pitch article mentions the Doodle Brewing Co and mentions they are available in 15 area stores. What stores you might ask? Good question.

I echo my sentiments to the local liquor stores who don’t answer their emails, how I am I supposed to buy something if you don’t tell me what you have. I digress.

A quote from the Pitch article:

“Boulevard made Kansas City a marketplace for ambitious brewers. Can craft-beer makers Capitalize on it?”

From a consumers standpoint the best advice I can give the small local breweries is tell me where to buy it. It is the information age and we have mass communication at our fingertips. The craft brew market is reliant on the consumers actively seeking information. There is a plethora of information available on the internet if craft brew enthusiasts are willing to put in the effort to search for it. Take the effort out of it on the consumers end and put that into the brewerie's/liquor store's end. There is a tremendous opportunity for craft breweries (big and small) and liquor stores selling craft to expand the craft brew market with information. The opportunity is there, it’s just a matter of telling people about it. Marketing is cheaper than ever when you consider Facebook, Twitter, and even these little things called blogs. I encourage all small breweries and local liquor stores to utilize these tools to spread the knowledge of craft beer. If you make the process of purchasing craft brew easier for the consumer, everyone will win.


A quote I heard in my college marketing class,

”Doing business without advertising is like blowing kisses to a girl/guy in the dark. Only you know what you are doing”.



Cheers!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They paved the way...

They paved the way…


A while back I ran across a Beer Advocate forum entry that asked the question, The modern craft beer and homebrewing scene would not exist without “___________” and why? The answer could be a brewery, a person, a philosophy, etc. You only have one choice.

I found this to be a very interesting question of which I wasn’t sure that I knew the answer. My initial thought was Sam Adams based on my own personal experience. But what happened before Sam Adams was on the map? What is the exact time frame of the craft brew renaissance and the subsequent surge in craft breweries? I have many questions of which I do not know the answer. So I venture forth into the vast land of infinite wisdom we like to call the internet. I will answer these questions and give you my analysis of what spawned the current craft beer movement. This segment will be much like Hop University, split up over multiple posts with each new subject. For the most part I will attempt to address the subjects in chronological order.

Before I did any research on this, my answer was Sam Adams. I’ve already professed my love for Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.) so this should be no surprise. This answer is based solely on my own experience. The first craft brew I tried was a Sam Adams Sampler, of which was that first beautiful Cream Stout. The craft brew bug had bitten me and as you should be able to tell that SOB has still got a hold of me. After that sampler, I had confidence that whatever I purchased from Sam Adams would be a good product. This confidence led to me to try pretty much every beer they had available and introduced me to tons of different styles. Styles I hadn’t heard of, nor would have purchased otherwise. My homebrewing addiction was spawned by a Sam Adams commercial advertising the Long Shot competition. I did not have any exposure to homebrewing prior to seeing that commercial. I, as I’m sure anyone who hasn’t seen it done, assumed homebrewers were mad scientist and if they weren’t careful they would kill a whole party with a bacterial infected homebrew. It was scary stuff. But on TV there it was, some regular looking people making beer on their kitchen stoves. I know you’re not supposed to believe anything you see on TV, but after that commercial it all seemed possible. Could I really make beer that tasted as good, or dare I say better, than the big boys? I didn’t think so at the time, but I was still going to give it hell. Here I am 3 years later, elbow deep in homebrewing and two refrigerators full of craft brew. Damn bug.


You can visit the Beer Advocate thread here and see everyone’s in-depth responses. Below I’ve compiled a summary of the popular responses in no particular order.

Sierra Nevada – Ken Grossman

Boston Beer Co. – Jim Koch

Anchor Brewing – Fritz Maytag

Jimmy Carter – for signing the bill to legalize homebrewing in 1978.

Michael Jackson – The author not the singer

Yuengling Brewing Co

Charlie Papzian

US military bases in Germany

Jack McCaulife – first micro brewery

Franklin Roosevelt - for repealing Prohibition


I will be posting information on a variety of these subjects in later posts so stay tuned.


Cheers!

Weekend review in a picture


It has been said that pictures are worth a thousand words, well then this is my dissertation on why I love homebrew.  This is FatCat's The English are Coming Pale Ale (ESB).  The "pale" part is a bit off, as this beer has turned to the dark side.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

FatCat brew day - WTF Roggenbier

OG:  1.045
IBU:   19.5

In my quest to brew all the styles recognized in the BJCP guide, I find myself face to face with beers I've never even heard of.  This is one of them. 

Roggenbier is a German rye beer which was originally brewed in Regensburg, Bavaria.  It was a specialty beer intended to be a more distinctive variant of a dunkelweizen with rye instead of wheat.  It's supposed to be moderate to strong in spicy rye flavor, similare to rye or pumpernickel bread.  The taste is dominated by rye grain and weizen yeast character (banana, clove, maybe citrus) with very little hop bitterness.

This is one of the styles that would be nearly impossible to find a commercial version in the US.  This is one of the few recipes I have serious doubts about whether it is actually going to taste good.  But I laugh in the face of homebrew danger and venture forth.  If I'm not back in a couple hours call the authorities.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gomer's Tasting Friday Night!

Gomer's Midtown
Founder's and Lefthand brew is up for sample in Midtown
4-6pm

Founder's Cerise
Founder's Pale Ale
Lefthand Stranger
Lefthand Polestar Pilsner


Not for sample but new in the store are:

Spilker Ales Hopluia
Widmer Pitch Black IPA
New Belgium Super Cru
New Belgium Abbey Grand Cru


Gomer's South

Tallgrass Brewing Co. from Manhattan, KS is available for tasting
4-6 pm

Brown Ale
Buffalo Sweat Stout
Oasis Ale
IPA
Halcyon Wheat

Thursday, June 9, 2011

FatCat's 2011 Imperial IPA shootout results!

The shootout is complete and everyone survived. Our palates were subjected to untold brutality, but we sent a message to our Imperial IPA’s. That message is, “This aggression will not stand, man”. So we fought back, tallied our scores, and we have a winner!


As with the other shootout, this was a blind tasting. We had no idea which beers we were drinking. The Mrs was again gracious enough to pour our brews into tasting cups and serve them to us on the back porch. We tasted each of our 7 samples and then rated them 1-5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. We are by no means beer judges and rated them simply on taste and smell. This shootout was performed in the pursuit of fun and the results should be interpreted as such. I will be detailing the reviews of some of the top performers in later posts.


And the winner is:

1. Firestone Walker Double Jack    18.5pts

2. Founder’s Double Trouble          17.5pts

3. Odell Myrcenary                         15.0pts

4. Stone Ruination                           14.0pts

5. Avery Maharaja                          10.5pts

6. Boulevard Double Wide                9.5pts

7. Moylan’s Hopsickle                      7.0pts


FatCat’s Favorites:

Firestone Walker Double Jack 5.0pts
Founder’s Double Trouble 4.5pts
Stone Ruination 4.0pts


Super Dave’s Favorites:

Stone Ruination 5.0pts
Firestone Walker Double Jack 4.5pts
Founder’s Double Trouble 4.0pts


Greg’s Favorites:

Firestone Walker Double Jack 5.0pts
Founder’s Double Trouble 4.5pts
Stone Ruination 4.0pts


Alex’s Favorites:

Odell Myrcenary 5.0pts
Founder’s Double Trouble 4.5pts
Firestone Walker Double Jack 4.0pts


Conclusion:

Prior to the shootout, I had tried the Myrcenary and Super Dave had tried the Double Wide. Other than that, we were in virgin territory (giggity). I did some research and the Double Jack was rated rather highly along with the Hopsickle rating of A+ by the bros on BeerAdvocate. In many of the forums the Maharajah was touted highly as well. So we basically had no clue who the winner was going to be.

At the conclusion of this test, I really wished we had the Stone IPA in the previous IPA shootout. The Ruination was a kick in the face. It’s like a 9v battery, you know not to put your tongue on it but eventually you know you will do it again. Awesome. Was surprised the Hopsickle took last after the bros A+ rating. This brings up the point JJSKCK mentioned in the previous shootout’s epilogue comments. IPAs and Imperial IPAs are susceptible to aging and losing their hop presence. I assume this is what happened to the Hopsickle.

I’ll give a special shoutout to Bridgeport’s The Czarr. Super Dave had a torrid love affair with the Czarr in the past and still pledges his undying love for it. It was tentatively scheduled for the shootout but was not cold enough in time. I have serious doubts it would have fared well , but Super Dave said it would have won (it wouldn’t). This is another kick in the teeth type imperial, so if you’re a hop head the Czarr could be your next mistress as well.

FatCat's Epic brews page has been updated with these results.  Check it out.

Thanks for reading and as always...
Cheers!




Where we got’em:

Founder’s Double Trouble – Gomer’s Midtown    Firestone Walker – Gomer’s Midtown
Stone Ruination – Gomer’s Midtown                     Moylan’s Hopsickle – Constentinos downtown
Odell Myrcenary – Gomer’s Midtown                   Avery Maharaja – Missy’s Discount Liquor
Boulevard Double Wide – Gomer’s North

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's up with Schlafly's 20th Anniversary Caps?


If you've been paying attention at home you've noticed some strange printing on the bottom of Schlafly's 20th Anniversary caps. What's that about?  Well apparently enough people have emailed Schlafly for them to spill the beans. They explain the mystery on the Schlafly Employee Blog. Apparently a deal with the manufacturer of the caps was too sweet for Schlafly not to print something. So what did they print, well head on over and find out.

Hop University - Extra Credit - Hop Composition Chart

If you made it all the way through Hop University here's your reward.  I compiled the composition data for some common hops and posted them in a spreadsheet.  This should make choosing your hops for your homebrew easier.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Visual graph of the rise and fall of brewing

The Beer & Whiskey Brothers have put up a very interesting graphic that illustrates a graph of the number of breweries overlaid on a graph of beer production volume.  It is from the book Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer by William Bostick and Jessi Rymil.  Check it out the brothers website by clicking the link below.

Infographic: The Worst Year in the History of American Beer




Hop University – Day 3 How to choose hops for homebrew

It is the final day and you are close to graduating. This last bit is geared exclusively towards homebrewers and how to utilize the Hop University knowledge. For those of you who are not homebrewers, I do have a reference below from a Beer Advocate thread giving you examples of commercial brews with specific hop profiles. If you want to experience specific hop flavors, this list will be a good start. The Sam Adams Deconstructed sampler was a great way to try different hops profiles, but I think it is very close to being sold out in the area.


You have a good idea of what you want your hop profile to be, now what? Well now you have to do some leg work and pick out the hops which will fit your intended profile. Luckily, I’ve done most of the leg work for you. You have two choices for the resource you can use to help define the hops you will use. If you are doing a traditional style, you can find the style guidelines in the BJCP guide and it will usually tell you what hops to use. You can also find websites or books that will explicitly tell you what hops are traditional for a style. That is the easy way out.

The other avenue you may choose is to make up your own hop profile regardless of what tradition says. Going this way is a little more tricky because there are no guides on the internet for the style in your head. You have to decide what hops to use on your own. There are several great resources for the composition of hops and their oils. Yakima Chief and Hop Union provide Hop handbooks that list information like the Alpha Acid percentage, Beta Acid percentage, Cohumulone percentage, as well as the percentage of the four essential oils (Myrcene, Humulene, etc.). It will be a good idea to look at both handbooks as each will have more information in different areas than the other. You can now narrow down the hops that will fit into your intended hop profile.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mikkeller Big Worse Barleywine

This review has been waiting on deck for a while so here goes.  I've recently been interested in Mikkeller brews but usually the sticker shock scares me off.  Regardless of price, I'm definitely glad I picked this one up.

The Big Worse poured with a very brief head.  The nose was loaded with huge malt and even bigger alcohol.  The smell really reminded me of a bourbon barrel'd imperial stout I tried from Stone when they toured through Missouri.  Interestingly enough this was not a bourbon barrel aged brew.  The taste was huge with malt character and had a very thick mouthfeel.  It was on the sweet side with minimal hop presence in the smell or taste.  This is a brew that pushes the limits of what you expect beer to be.  It almost ventures into the realm of brandy with it's boozy sweetness.  This brew would make a perfect dessert beer.  After a decadent meal this would follow perfectly as the closer.  Next time you plan a steak dinner at home, this beer will make a wonderful dessert.


This beer has been added to FatCat's Almost Epic list.  It didn't make the Epic list because it's probably a little to big for the uninitiated craft brew lover, therefore I could not recommend it to anyone.

Mikeller was formed by two homebrewers that have attained international recognition.  What is interesting is they are considered gipsy brewers.  They do not have there own facility but instead travel to different breweries in Denmark, Europe, and the United States to make their beers.  To learn more about their brew check them out here at RateBeer.com.

Flying Dog Brew is exiting stage left

If you have ever wanted to try Flying Dog Brew you better hustle to the store.  Flying Dog is pulling out of both Kansas and Missouri.  The news was broken locally by Show-Me Beer.  Click link below for more information.

Flying Dog Flying Out of Missouri

FatCat’s 2011 Imperial IPA shootout

As if we didn’t learn our lesson last time, we’re back for more. This time lets amp up the ABV to 9% and have a full on assault of our taste buds. Yeesss! One member of the tasting party was informed of the entries of our shootout and simply said, “Someone is going to die”. Now that is a proper response for a FatCat shootout.

The suspects are:
Stone Ruination

Odell Myrcenary

Boulevard Double Wide

Founder’s Double Trouble

Avery Maharaja

Moylan’s Hopsickle

Firestone Walker Double Jack

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kansas City Craft Beer Festival on Saturday

Beer KC has partnered with Aids Walk KC for a craft beer festival this weekend. 

The festival is this Saturday June 4th from 1:00PM- 4:00PM. 

There will be around 19 craft breweries, each of which bringing a seasonal or year-round beer plus one "special beer". 

Tickets are $25.00.



Here's the line up:
75th Street Brewery
Amerisports
Avery Brewing Co.
Bell's Brewery
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Brewery Ommegang
Crispin Cider
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Free State Brewing Co.
Goose Island Beer Co.
Gordon Biersch Restaurant and Brewery
Great Divide Brewing Co.
McCoy's Public House
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Odell Brewing Co.
Schlafly Beer
Ska Brewing Co.
Tallgrass Brewing Co.
The Doodle Brewing Co.
Southern Tier

Must be 21 to enter. Rain or shine event.

See Beer KC for more details

Gomer's South Tasting

Gomer's South will be offering samples from Avery Brewing Co.

Tonight from 4-6pm


White Rascal - Belgian White Ale
Ellie's - Brown Ale
IPA
The Reverend - Belgian Quadrupel Ale

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hop University - Day 2

OK homebrewers and the brave few who have made it to day 2.  Hop history is down, on to the fun stuff, how hops are used in beer making.  We’ve discussed that hops offer bitterness to beer which balances the sweet malt.  In order to get the bitterness out of the hops, they must first be boiled in the beer (wort).  The boiling causes the hop oils to isomerize and become soluble in the beer.  The hop oils contain two types of acids, Alpha acids and Beta acids.  Alpha acids provide the bittering component.  The Beta acids do not isomerize in the boil making them insoluble and provide only hop aroma to the beer.

Hops are typically rated based on their Alpha acid percentage by weight.  This rating gives the brewer a guideline for how much bitterness can be expected from a particular hop.  For example, a Cascade hop is around 4.5 Alpha acid % and a Galena hop is around 12.5 Alpha acid %.  So the brewer will need to use a lot less of the Galena hop at 12.5 AA% then they would Cascade at 4.5 AA% hop to get the same amount of bitterness.  Brewers measure the amount of expected bitterness for their beers with IBUs (International Bitterness Units).  The higher the IBUs, the higher the expected bitterness in the final beer.  Below are some typical values for certain styles of beer.

Light Lager (Bud Light, etc) – 5-10 IBU

Dry Stout (Guinness) – 30-45 IBU

American Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada) – 30-45 IBU

American IPA (Founder’s Centennial) – 40-60 IBU

Double IPA (Stone Ruination) - 60-120 IBU

Generally speaking the higher the IBU the more bitter the beer will be.  Although the Dry Stout and the American Pale Ale have the same IBUs, the stout has sweet malts which will balance the bitterness.  So even though they could have the same IBU, the stout will seem less bitter because of its sweeter malt components.

Now that we know how hops provide bitterness to beer, we need to figure out what is it going to taste like.  There are two types of Alpha acids, Humulone and Cohumulone.  Humulone is thought to provide the softer more desirable bitterness.  Cohumulone in contrast is thought to be harsher in its bitterness and therefore less desirable.  The next consideration is the four main essential oils in hops which contribute to flavor.  They are Myrcene, Humulene, Caryophyllene, and Farnesene .  The two oils that brewers are concerned with (at least I only worry about the two) are Myrcene and Humulene.  Myrcene lends a more citrusy and tropical note to the beer while Humulene has a more spicy and floral signature.   With information regarding the Cohumulone levels and the amounts of the essential oils in particular hops, brewers can get a good idea of what hop characteristics they can expect from their finished brew.  Below are some examples of hop flavor characteristics for certain styles.

IPA – Bell’s Two Hearted – uses Centennial hops which are high in Myrcene causing big citrus and grapefruit character.

Pilsner – Pilsner Urquell  - Uses Saaz hops which are high in Humulene lending a mellow spice and floral note.

American Lager – Sam Adams Boston Lager – uses Hallertau which is high in Humulene making it spicy.  It is also low in Cohumulone so the bitter is more pleasant and less aggressive.

IPA – Bridgeport The Czarr – is brewed with Chinook hops which are high in Cohumulone and give it a very aggressive, harsh bitter character.

 References:



World Beer Cup Winners available in KC




This is not breaking news, but I was perusing the winners the other day on the internet and found some surprises. These results came from the last World Beer Cup held in 2010, with the next one held in 2012.  So if you are wanting to expand your craft brew horizons, these are some of the favorites of the World Beer Cup judges.  You should be able to find these in and around KC.





Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager – Bronze

Munich Dunkles – Blind Tiger Brewpub in Topeka – Bronze

Founder’s Porter – Silver

Founder’s Dirty Bastard (Scotch Style Ale) – Silver

Founder’s Centennial IPA – Silver (see FatCatKC judges know what they are talking about)

Founder’s Imperial Stout (available in January) – Bronze

Schlafly Kolsch – Gold

Sam Adams Irish Red – Silver

Odell Red Ale – Bronze

Goose Island Nut Brown Ale – Gold

Goose Island Christmas Ale – Bronze

Gella’s Diner and LB Brewing Co. (Oatmeal Stout, out of Hays, KS) – Gold

Boulevard Brewing Co Imperial Pilsner – Gold
Boulevard beat out Mickey’s Malt Liquor (Silver) and Colt 45 (bronze). I thought that was kind of funny.

Happy hunting.




Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beer laws are set and never change, right?

OK so you went through Hop University and are now ready for civics.  One of the main gripes in the beer industry is how every state has its own set of laws.  So Kansas has different laws then Missouri regarding the distribution of alcoholic beverages.  This creates difficulty for small breweries entering the market because they have to legally navigate different rules for each state.  So there is cost associated with expanding into different state which represents another hurdle a small brewery must overcome to compete with big beer. 

Beernews.org has a great article outlining the different issues currently being considered by different state legislators.  Check out Texas, thanks Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Beer industry activity heats up in state legislatures