Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ode to Raspberry Lambic Vinaigrette

I had an awesome time at The Broken Barrel with Mike and Paula last night, but it pains me to say that their Raspberry Lambic Vinaigrette has officially bit the dust. While she may still be on the menu in print, in spirit, she has ascended to a better place far far away from my salad where she belongs. Twice now she has failed where she had previously succeeded: tart rich sweet raspberry Lambic vinaigrette deliciousness.

So to you, oh sweet dressing of my past, I shall remember you fondly...

My pulled rib sandwich, otoh, was amazing. And just by happenstance, we were there for the tapping of a Schneider-Sohn Aventinus Eisbock Wooden Cask. After giving my glass a good 30 minutes to warm to room temperature, she flowed down across my tastebuds in liquid wonderment. The angels sang, harps rang, and beervana reigned.

Make no doubt, I will be back again, and again, and again.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

DuClaw Closes Fells Point Restaurant

You Win Some, You Lose Some...

It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of our restaurant in Fells Point on 12/31/2009. While speculation, bizarre conspiracy theories and criticism will run rampant, the simple fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, Fells Point was never quite the right fit for us and vice versa. So, with three thriving restaurants, bottled beer in liquor stores and a franchise location coming soon, now seemed like the right time to pull out of an area in which we never felt truly comfortable. For the last 5 years, we had some great, loyal customers and employees. Thank you to everyone that ate, drank and worked with us in Fells Point; we’ll miss you. You are all still more than welcome to join us in Bel Air, Arundel Mills and Bowie for the same great beer, food and wine, to use your Pint Club memberships, or redeem gift cards purchased through the Fells Point restaurant. We’re still around, so come see us! We’ll miss Fells Point, our regulars and staff, but it’s time to say goodbye. You win some, you lose some.

Dave Benfield,
DuClaw Brewing Company

Cigar City Brew News

110K+OT Batch #2 Nominated for Best Craft beer of 2009 is taking votes for the Best Craft Beer of 2009 and one of CCB's brews was nominated. Vote HERE.

Voting ends January 2nd.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

freeflow ~ Beer, Cheer, and Christmas Memories

Weeks before Christmas actually came and went, I had definitive plans that can only be summarized as “drinking all day”.

Why all day?

Because I started in the morning and didn't stop until bedtime.

Now, before anyone husses, fusses, and gets their knickers in a bunch, let me explain. I wasn't doing keg-stands or tossing back 24packs of cheap watery flavorless crap with the intention of getting sloshed out of my mind. No, I slowly drank my way through the day, savoring my Bells Two Hearted Mini Keg from breakfast till early afternoon. I then nourished my body with water and nibblies before popping the cork on my Unibroue 17 which, I must say, has aged very well. She has developed a nicely vinous and slightly tart sherry character which works wonders with her dry fall fruit skins, spice, wood, and warming character. For dessert, I delved once more into my 2009 Samuel Adams Utopias, using a port glass to savoring her beauty with Dad and Aunt Judy.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs with sausage-stuffed biscuits that were far more delicious than they had any right to be. Seeing as breakfast was more brunch than anything else, I forsook lunch to save room for afternoon cheese and crackers to be followed by dinner. Speaking of dinner, Dad cooked up an awesome meal of pot roast, baked mini potatoes, and zucchini sauteed with onions and a nice slathering of butter because, after all, butter makes everything better.

But I digress.

The Bells Two Hearted 5L mini keg was da bomb, and my first foray into mini-keg territory. After carefully reading the instructions, she popped with a hiss of Two Hearted esters before flowing into my glass with thirsty precision. I put a decent hurting on her, too, finishing about half of her beery nectar, the rest of which I finally polished off last night. It was a somber moment when I laid her remains to rest in the garbage bin this morning.

A moment of silence please...

All in all, a very relaxing holiday with the family which is exactly what I wanted and needed. I didn't get much, but I ask for much because all I want from now till whenever is help with my yearly Siebel Institute classes. I am now officially on my way to saving up and paying for next year’s class, Master of Beer Styles and Evaluation, thanks to Dad. In the meantime, I plan on a relaxing New Year's Eve (well, after work at least) and day with the family and Craig. I am going to crack open my Malheur Brut Reserve for New Year’s Eve, but I don't have New Years Day planned beer planned… yet. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a night of food, beer, and good company tomorrow night at The Broken Barrel with Mike and Paula.

To everyone who matters, here's to 365 more days of good beer, good friends, and good times.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Christmas Swaggage

The momster hooked me up with some beers from her last trip to Minneapolis to visit Jenn and my new niece, Lily Hope.

Beers from Left to Right:
  • Flat Earth Angry Planet Pale Ale
  • Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider
  • Anchor Christmas 2009
  • Brau Brothers Strawberry Wheat
  • Summit Kolsch
  • Summit 90 Shilling Scotch Ale
  • Summit Great Northern Porter

Cigar City Brew News

Barrel Aged Bolita Is Ready!

Our last barrel age release of the year is ready and to add a perfect bookend to the year it's the same beer that was our first barrel aged release of 2009. The second edition of Barrel Aged Bolita will go on sell tomorrow at 11 AM and stay on sell until all 175 bottles are gone. Price is $20 per bottle. 6 bottle limit per person.

And just as a reminder we are also selling on premise in the brewpub now so feel free to stop by for a draft if you have the week off from work.

The CCB Team
Joey, Wayne, Doug and Tim


New Years Week Tasting Room Update

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wanted to say thanks again to everyone who donated gifts for eight year old Kyleigh. She got quite the sack of gifts from CCB! We are continuing our Holiday Tasting Room hours this week. We will be open from 11 AM till 5PM this Monday thru Thursday. We will be closed Friday thru the weekend.

We hope to start hiring staff sometime in the first week of January for the tasting room in order to be open weeknights and weekends. Until then we will keep our previous Wed. thru Fri. 11AM to 5PM hours.

On Tap This Week:
  • Oak Aged Christmas in Ningxia
  • Emperor Shennong's Wolfberry Brown Ale
  • Humidor Series: Old Ale
  • Dragonfruit Aged Old Ale
  • Jai Alai India Pale
  • Maduro Brown Ale

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Maui Brew News

Now Available in Oregon!

Aloha Friends!

Just a quick note to let you know that retailers in Oregon have begun receiving deliveries of our Big Swell IPA, and Bikini Blonde LagerCoconut Porter this week. More information will come soon; but you can start asking for us at your favorite shop or restaurant today!

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau Oli Makahiki Hou!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

it demands to be asked

If spiffs are illegal in the world of retail, commercialism/capitalism, and business(es) in general, why is it then that the beer giant Anheuser-Busch/Southern Eagle is able to get away with it ALL. THE. TIME. Spiffs are illegal for many different and many valid reasons. Last I checked no one was exempt from this law.

I'm just saying...

Cigar City Brew News

Merry Christmas to all of our CCB brethren! The Tasting Room and Beer Shrine was packed today as people took a break from shopping (or stopped in to get some presents for a lucky beer geek). Tim was earning his pay today! We have slowly started to phase in selling pints on premises and that has worked out well, but it has kept us very busy.

Sometime in the new year we will announce or new operating hours for on premise consumption. Nothing is finalized yet as we still need to staff up. We'll be closed the rest of this week, but next week we will keep to our holiday schedule, meaning we'll be open starting Monday and stay open daily 11 am till 5pm through New Years Eve. We've been selling a lot of kegs for New Years parties which is very cool to see, but we just packaged both core brands (Maduro and Jai Alai) and won't have a distributor pickup till after the new year, so if you are wanting a keg for your New Years party we have plenty.

Again, Merry Christmas and thanks for making our first year a memorable and succesful one!

Joey Redner

BEERporting ~ JoJo's Raw Bar & Grille

As I sup on a draft De Ranke XX Bitter, my muse decides tis time to reflect on my recent venture to a new establishment with good beer. Yes, that’s right. Good beer and all of it draft-only from what I could tell. A later visit will reveal the truth behind this mystery, but for now let’s focus on the suds at hand. Twenty taps included the usual macros suspects along with craft beers that range from sessioning to savoring. That’s not to say good session beers aren’t savorable, but it’s the difference between a few pints to a dozen in a day of merrymaking.

After taking care of some business with Mike and Paula (good beer = good people), I convinced Mike to meet me at JoJo’s in downtown Fort Piece. The location is an old one in that other establishments have opened their doors there before, but for now, JoJo’s Raw Bar and Grille is the newest occupant. Open now about three months, Jon Nolli is the owner/proprietor in-arms.

Let’s talk a little about Downtown Fort Pierce. Being a native, I have witnessed over the years, through eyes young and old, the highs, lows, ins, and outs of Fort Pierce in general and Downtown specifically. While the majority of Fort Pierce still leaves a lot to be desired, they have firmly grasped with pride and purpose Downtown’s heritage and turned her into the place to spend a lazy afternoon, night out, or weekend getaway. Downtown Vero Beach could learn a few from her southerly neighbor; there is a reason I will drive the distance versus walk the distance to make memories.

Speaking of making memories, located on Second Street is the newest addition of native merriment: JoJo’s Raw Bar and Grille. I parked in the public lot conveniently located right behind JoJo’s. With no fear of my car being towed, I cut down the alleyway and voila, found my destination and Mike waiting patiently. Crossing their threshold, we scootched up to the bar and settled into a couple chairs located, appropriately so, by the beer taps. As I gazed at the selection, I proceeded to do something I have never done before: drink out of order. Blasphemy! You say, but let me explain. I wanted to simply vegge, drink, eat, and chitter away the afternoon with Mike about everything and nothing without placing any undue strain on my gray cells. Thankfully, JoJo’s took the undue strain out of the equation by having ample draft selections to drink from.

I jumped the gun with an Arrogant Bastard, veered off-track with a Dogfish Head 60 Minute, and hit cruise control with an Anchor Steam. For my Arrogance of 60 Minutes, my lady bartender was attentive and personable. When her time to leave came to pass, instead of raising ruckus, I released my Steam with another gentleman who may have been Mr. Jon himself. Either I didn’t get his name, or I did and already forgot, the latter of which is far more likely.

In ordering my third and final brew, Anchor Steam, a pleasant surprise arose. Grasping the tap-handle in experienced hands, he got but a sputtering response of foam and beer. What?! After a few more tries and a check on the CO2, she finally descended in a smooth flow of golden grains into my thirsty glass. Turns out their draft lines had just been cleaned earlier that day. Sweet news to my ears. Clean draft lines and taps are as important, nay, maybe even more important than the beer which flows through them. Nothing ruins a good beer quicker than dirty draft lines and gunky taps. Any bar (and their proprietor) who values their product and their customer’s satisfaction will always maintain clean draft lines and taps.

The fresh cleanliness of my beer having been irrefutably proven, let me delve deeper into JoJo’s draft selection at the time I was there:
  • Guinness
  • Arrogant Bastard
  • Shiner Black
  • Smithwicks
  • Holy Mackerel Golden
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Anchor Steam
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Abita Purple Haze
  • Samuel Adams Oktoberfest
  • Kona Firerock
  • Strongbow Cider
  • Shock Top
  • Yuengling
  • Miller Lite
  • Bud Lite
  • Budweiser
  • Bud Select

Good beer demands good food companionship, and from the majority of what I saw and the minority of what I tasted, JoJo’s had the food covered. My only regret was being unable to explore the Raw side, but that is what the next visit is for. My first morsel of choice was the conch fritters because I do love them so. Mike ordered the smoked seafood dip which came on a bed of fresh leafy greens with generous sides of chopped onion, tomatoes, jalapenos, and the prerequisite crackers. The dip itself was a nice deviation from the usual chunky dips; going more for a consistency of pureed fresh seafood and smoke essence. The smoke was a gentle presence in the background and finish, allowing the flavor of the fish and dressing (some kind of mayonnaise base) to pleasure my tastebuds.

While nibbling on dip, my conch fritters arrived in all their dark brown fried glory. In fact, these lil nuggets of conch indulgence were extra dark brown, their edges sporting a nice touch of char. A bit too long in the fryer, perhaps, but I fear not the burnt side. As my teeth sank through her crisp outer layer of fried batter heaven, her insides melted in my mouth in sublime ecstasy. Hands down, these are the moistest chunkiest conch fritters I have snarfed to date. Stuffed with huge chunks of conch, their thin outer skin snaps with each bite to reveal succulent meat inside. The fritters came with a side of dipping sauce which I dabbled in on occasion, but they almost didn’t really need it.

Popping the last conch fritter in my mouth, I settled back in my chair with a contented sigh and full stomach. While I drinking, eating, and conversing, platter after platter of gorgeous raw oysters strutted by my watchful eye.

Oh, sweet heavenly salty briny oyster delights…

Each plate that passed had those juicy oyster nibblies sitting pretty atop crushed ice and accompanied by lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and the appropriate fork. It was a fleeting moment of oyster envy, but my moment of weakness didn’t last long because:
  1. The conch fritters were awesome
  2. I will be back

Food is all well and good, but how about the beers? As we know from earlier, the draft lines were squeaky clean which did my three beers justice. On the down-side, my Arrogant Bastard, Dogfish Head 60 Minute, and Anchor Steam were served in shaker-pint glasses, an unfortunately common vessel of beer deliverance. Beats a plastic cup, though. As for JoJo’s itself, she is Old Florida casual with a dash of beach-bum kitsch. The rich old driftwood-style walls, columns, and furniture made for a pleasant casual atmosphere while the kitsch amused. I don’t know what the previous establishment looked like inside, but I like the current digs. JoJo’s is a Raw Bar and Grille, after all, and this is Florida.

Other than the pint glasses which is just one of those things that, for now, ‘it is what it is’, JoJo’s was a delightful first with definite plans for return trips. I barely scratched the surface of their menu, and with good beer to wash my munchies down, I see a raw oyster platter avec stout in my very near future.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cigar City Brew News

Tasting Room Hours for Xmas Week

I want to apologize for the lack of updates concerning the Tasting Room. There was some confusion on our end about when exactly we would be able to operate. We should have simply said, "We don't know." Rather than saying nothing.

But, we did get our new wet zoning approval. Which will allow us to operate the Tasting Room for on-premise sales as well as growlers until 9PM Sunday thru Thursday and until 11PM on Friday and Saturday. As it will take us time to staff up, we can't say exactly when we will be keeping our new hours, but when we are ready we will announce our new hours here and on the website.

For the coming week we plan to be open our normal 11 AM till 5PM. If there are any changes we'll update the blog immediately.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

freeflow ~ The Broken Barrel

My best friend of...18 years (if I remember correctly) is back in town from California, so the other night we got together, hung out, and had dinner and some drinks at The Broken Barrel in Palm Bay, FL. I have been once before, so it was a welcome revisit for me since the last time I was there, the din of merrymaking was almost overwhelming.

It was a Friday night when Craig and I went, but the atmosphere was laid back and the buzz in the air wasn't head-ache inducing. In fact, I didn't see a single person without a smile on her and his face.

The food was good, as always, though they goofed on my salad dressing. The first time I went to Broken Barrel, I made sweet-sweet love to their house salad with raspberry Lambic vinaigrette. I wished to once more revisit that exotic sensual affair, and though the salad was fresh and crisp, the dressing was not raspberry Lambic. After perusing the dressing choices, I concluded it was the Citrus Balsamic because it was all lemon and orange with a balsamic twang. My tastebuds never forget; not to mention the dressing wasn't raspberry pink in color like it was last time. In fact, it was orange/lemon/citrus in color.

But I digress, though rightfully so.

The Broken Barrel has only been around for about 6 months, and I am happy to see them thriving. It also confirms what I already know (though there still be lots of work to be done) which is that the love for, thirst for, and potential for good craft/import beer and food is alive, well, and looking to grow exponentially in the sunny state of Florida. In particular, the east coast where I live.

Craig had never been (duh) and loved it. He snapped some sweet pictures, one of them being my waiter lovingly pouring my 2008 Lindeman’s Cuvee Renee Geueze into a Boon Geueze glass (no Lindeman’s glasses, I guess). Glass etiquette aside, she was mighty tasty, and the oldest Cuvee Renee that I have supped to date. Craig has never tasted a Geueze, much less a sour beer anything, so I couldn't wait to see his reaction at tasting mine.


I chuckled, though he didn't exclaim absolute abhorrence. Craig claimed that it was most unusual and unlike anything he had tasted in beer yet. Seeing as he has never had a sour beer before, that makes perfect sense. I will say the 2008 had lost a bit of its twang, but there was still plenty of sour to go around along with a meatier palate and thicker mouthfeel than when fresh. Craig supped on a glass of St. Louis Framboise which, in afterthought, should have been the Lindeman’s Framboise for his first foray into fruit Lambics. The St. Louis was much like what I remember which is a bit too sweet and not very memorable.

Along with my salad avec wrong dressing (ok, so maybe I'm a little miffed), we shared a small platter of melt-in-your mouth sweet potato fries without all the fixings. I don't have much of a sweet tooth anymore to handle the honey and cinnamon drizzles it would have come with, though mom would have been all over it like nori on sushi. Which reminds me, when I drag her and dad up there, we'll have to get a plate and share.

Seeing as I had downed a Cigar City Brewing $110K+OT Batch #2 I.R.I.S. while chilling at Craig's before we left to go get dinner, I stuck with just the Cuvee Renee for my beer that night. It was the 750ml size bottle so more than enough. For whatever reason, I was uber hungry that night, and helped myself to their vegetable wrap which was mindblowingly awesome. So gooooood. The wrap had been basted/glazed in some kind of sweet crunchy brown sugar and maple orgasmic delight that when paired with the whole-wheat wrap and the succulently grilled fresh vegetables inside...


…my mind imploded from the sensory overload. I don't care if "carnivore" is your first, last, and middle name. Their vegetable wrap will win you over to the grassy side. I had been eyeing their pulled rib sandwich, but there is always next time. In fact, next time is going to be as soon as either this coming Monday (tomorrow) or early next week. Me like.

Whilst inquiring as to the purchase/sale of their beer glasses, I met their manager and owner (?) Kevin, in whom I found a fellow beer geek, Cigar City fanatic, and all around good guy. The particular glassware which caught my eye and led to yet another fated meeting of good people through good beer was the Belgian ale, Kwak. Not only did Broken Barrel have the Kwak stirrup glass, they also had the stirrup in which it rests inbetween quaffs. OMG. The glass is hard enough to find, much less the stirrup in which it sits! I almost walked home with one, after paying of course, but instead I went home with a mixed 6pack of mouth-watering vintage brews. Much thanks to Kevin. Twas a blast; I hope to see you again soon.

Belly full and thirst sated (for now), Craig and I headed on back to his place in Melbourne where I promptly crashed on his couch until the early morn. Scrubbing the crust out of sleepy eyes and taking in the awesome view of the Indian River from their guest house/studio, I drove home, showered, gave my kitty some loving, and headed to work.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DuClaw Brew News

DuClaw Devils Milk:
The Devil is in the House

Or rather, your local liquor store. That’s right, the Brewer’s Association of Maryland Governor’s Cup gold medal winner in 2006, 2007 and 2008 is now available everywhere in 22oz bomber bottles. The 2009 vintage of Devil’s Milk epitomizes the American Barley Wine-Style Ale. A full bodied, amber ale with a thin, persistent, off-white head and a complex flavor profile with an assertive hop bill. A backbone of Columbus hops for bittering (75 IBUs) creates a solid base for the mesmerizing citrus flavors and aromas of the palate dominating Amarillo hop finish and warming alcohol presence (10.6% alcohol by volume). One sip and you will believe.

This unholy Barley Wine-Style Ale is only the beginning. In the coming months watch for the releases of DuClaw Brewing Company’s Black Jack Russian Imperial Stout, Pax Nemesis Imperial Alt Ale, Serum Double IPA, and the biggest beer ever brewed in the state of Maryland, the 21% abv Colossus High Gravity Hybrid Ale.

Can’t find Devil’s Milk Barley Wine-Style Ale at your local liquor store? Ask for it by name!

Find a Retailer

World of Beer Westchase News

Holiday Party
Its time for the holiday party! Enjoy half-off drafts and wines by the glass from 7pm-11pm, along with complimentary food and live music. The free stuff ends at 11pm, but the party continues through the night! Happy holidays! Click here for the flyer.

New Year's Eve - Ladies Drink Free!
Yeah, you heard it right...ladies drink free from 9pm to midnight on New Year's Eve - ALL drafts, house wines, and house champagne! Live music too, of course. Let's ring in the new year with a bang at WOB. Click here for the flyer.

Toys for Tots...for Beer!
World of Beer has teamed up with the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Foundation this holiday season in an effort to help provide toys to underprivileged children. From Dec. 1st through Dec. 23rd, bring in a NEW toy valued at $5 or more to World of Beer and receive a FREE pint of Sierra Nevada Seasonal. Click here for the flyer.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Try, try, and try again.

Beer is a journey rich with the innumerable sights, sounds, smells, mysteries, and wonders of life. She cannot be taken lightly, nor should she be taken too seriously. As with all personal pleasures, we are as much a factor in the enjoyment as the beer herself. Mood, time of day, ambiance, company, palate, and countless others all culminate in our impression of the beer we are imbibing at the time of imbibement.

I’ve been on my imbibing journey for about seven years now, and in terms of serious devotion, a good half of those seven. Beer is my passion-de-la-resistance, but I am far from a one drink wonder. Classic cocktails to vintage spirits, single-malt, bourbon, rum, and beyond, I revel in each of these sensual pleasures.

An open mind is a no questions asked requirement to an open palate. One cannot exist without the other if one desires any truly profound moments of supping inspiration. I have always had a proclivity towards otherness; preferring not to be put in a box and not to put others in a box. What I enjoy today in the arts, food, spirits, and beer is not what I enjoyed just a few years ago. I enjoy more, not less. Verily, I would even go so far as to say I live more, not less.

All good beer deserves a chance because if not the first time, you may fall in love with her the second or third try. No one-time-only sips allowed. Growing intimate and looking outward demands more than a cursory slip of a taste. Beer demands all of our attention, and so all of it she shall receive.

Beer is living history.
Beer is passion, inspiration, and the human dream.
Beer is beautiful and mysterious.
Beer is you, me, and the friend down the street or halfway across the world.

The proof is in my palate, and yours, as the curious mind opens to all the amazing flavor possibilities out there in the great beyond of beervana. The palate is truly limitless once set free.

I cringed at single-malts and bitters just a few years ago, and now I can’t get enough. Anise and pastis was a foreign world, but now she feels just like home. Bigfoot sent my tastebuds screaming in fear, and now he’s a fuzzy-wuzzy cuddly bear to cuddle at night. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA… We are still in mediation, but I have faith we will come to an understanding some day.

In the meantime (excellent brewery, btw) I will never stop exploring. Never stop tasting. Never stop living. And neither should you. Don’t be afraid. All journeys have their ups and downs, the spice of adventure that gives memories limitless fortune and one’s self all that richer.

I guarantee it.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Orlando Brew News

Thursday, December 31st:

Orlando Brewing's New Year's Eve Party!
Release of Orlando Brewing's Scottish Ale, EMINENT DOMAIN!
Live Music @ 9pm by Mumpsy

Cigar City Brew News

New Website In The Works.

We are finally in the process of updating our admittedly antiquated website. The new site will incorporate many more features and will ideally not look some guy who hadn't made a website in 12 years (he hadn't) designed it. will still take you to the old site. You can check out the placeholder page here:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Samuel Adams Brew News

Winter Classics Return

Just as all the classic holiday tunes return to the radio and the classic holiday movies hit TV, the Samuel Adams Winter Classics return to retailers around the country for your drinking pleasure. While the songs and movies never change, except for the occasional digital enhancement, the Samuel Adams Winter Classics variety pack is refreshed each year with new beers.

This year's line up includes holiday favorites such as:
  • Samuel Adams Winter Lager
  • Samuel Adams Holiday Porter
  • Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic
  • Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

As well as:
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager (a classic anytime!)

And new for 2009:
  • Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat

So whether you're going to throwing a holiday party or throwing one, you can't go wrong with the Winter Classics.

Cigar City Brew News

Tasting Room Menu 12-16-09 thru 12-18-09

On draft this week:
  • Jai Alai India Pale Ale $6 per quart/ $18 per gallon
  • Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale $6 per quart/ $18 per gallon
  • Cubano Espresso Brown Ale $7 per quart/ $20 per gallon
  • Christmas Mint Brown Ale $7 per quart/ $20 per gallon
  • Vanilla Old Ale $10 per quart (not sold in gallons)
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale $7 per quart/ $20 Per gallon

As kegs kick we'll be adding these brews:
  • Xmas in Ningxia Old Ale (Old Ale aged on Coriander and Wolfberries) $10 per quart (not sold in gallons)
  • Emperor Shennong's Brown Ale (Maduro Brown Ale aged on Coriander and Wolfberries) $7 per quart/ $20 per gallon
  • Humidor Series: India Pale Ale $7 per quart/ $20 per gallon

Also effectively January 1st we will be adding sales tax to all tasting room purchases. Previously sales tax was included in the purchase price of beer and merchandise.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Year of Beer 2009

The year is pretty much over, so ending another scandalous tryst with beer in all her fermentable splendor. It may be cliché, but this year easily topped the last, and 2010 is already poised to best both.

Even if I were to try, I couldn’t count the innumerable blessings that have filled my life day-in and day-out. My life is my own to live and to give, so to all of you who have made me so rich, Thank You. I present to you just a few of the memorable moments of 2009: those friends, brewers, beers, and more that I will cherish for longer than I can remember.


Brewery: Cigar City Brewing
  • Florida finally has a brewery to shout from sand dunes on high and southerly points so warm with pride and passion

Gastropub: Corner Café & Brewery
  • my beer supping and food savoring journey is off to a fantabulous start thanks to Marr, Lisa, Jim, and Juan

Beer: Avery Brabant
  • 12ozs of beery bliss responsible for multiple orgasms of evolutionary beervana

Book: Ambitious Brew by Maureen Ogle
  • it’s easy to hate-on the macros for being the devious sleazy corporate behemoths they are, but in the process, a fascinating aspect of brewing history gets lost amidst the finger-pointing

Geekout: Jim Koch @ the Vine & Barley
  • we talked, we drank, we took pictures and made merry

Beer Fest: RBWG2009 (RateBeer Winter Gathering 2009)
  • an unofficial gathering culminated in an epic tasting the likes of which crossed state lines and has set the stage for the official RBWG2010

Beer Trip: Siebel Institute in Chicago, IL
  • a long weekend in the windy city absorbing all the beer knowledge possible while breaking bread, sharing pints, and discovering the wonderful convenience of check-out shipping


I don’t have the ink, the paper, or the hand-strength to fully offer my heartfelt wishes and love, but for all of you who I am lucky and proud to call friends, to the New Year. May it be filled to overflowing with good beer and good times.


(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Offtopic Sunday

If you have ever had a cat or currently do, then really, no more need be said:

The first of many, if you were LOL at this as I always do, check out his main page, Simon's Cat.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Victory for the Treasure Coast...Finally

After enduring months of knowing Victory Brewing of Downington, PA was coming to Florida, she has finally graced the Treasure Coast after making her way up from Palm Beach. Thanks to my sister back when she was living in Pennsylvania and thanks to my fellow ratebeerians, I've tasted about a dozen of Victory's fine beers. All are good, and many are fantastic.

While their whole portfolio isn't available yet, what can be found in bottles and kegs are:

Victory in bottles:
Prima Pils
Golden Monkey

Victory in kegs (1/2 barrel only):
Prima Pils
Golden Monkey
Donnybrook Stout

Troegs Brew News

The Mad Elf—Final Transmission for 2009
As you read this we are finishing up Mad Elf packaging for the year. All bottles and kegs have been shipped to all our markets and we are proud to say that we have completed this process earlier than ever before while still brewing and packaging 20% more Mad Elf than we brewed last year. Mad Elf inventories are beginning to dry up throughout our distribution area, so if you are still in need of the beer buy it as soon as possible. Due to federal regulations, Tröegs Brewery CANNOT ship Mad Elf in the mail. The Mad Elf is also available at the Giftshop/Tasting Room by the case, six-pack, 101-ounce bottle and growler.

An Early Christmas Present: Splinter Series Release Date Announced
The first two offerings from the Splinter Series (Red and Gold) go on sale on Wednesday, December 16, at 10 a.m. in the Tröegs Tasting Room. There is a two-bottle limit/per person for each style of beer, meaning that a single customer who wants to purchase the maximum number of bottles, can get 2 Splinter Red and 2 Splinter Gold. Bottles will be $22.95 each. This special reserve beer lives and breathes. Captured before filtration, refermented in wood and aged in the bottle with living yeast, Splinter is an experimental series that pushes the brewing boundaries and transforms our beer in new directions.

Here are some details on each beer:
Before filtering the final batch of 2008 Mad Elf we racked some beer into bourbon barrels for six weeks of tender loving care. After bottling, we aged the beer for approximately eight months. This allows the tart cherries to push to the front. Subtle vanilla, bourbon, charred wood, coconut and toasted nut endnotes emanate from Splinter Red.

The transformation of Scratch #3-2007 to Splinter Gold has been a slow rest in oak wine barrels dosed with brettanomyces. During a two-year aging period the horsy flavors of the brett combined with the Westmalle yeast used during primary fermentation to create a complex blend of flavors. Bone-dry and 12% abv, Splinter Gold is highly carbonated.

Splinter Red and Gold are both limited to 300 bottles and will only be available at the Tröegs Brewery Giftshop/Tasting Room.

November was the month of the moustache (no lie):
If you don’t believe us check out or take a look at all the scraggly caterpillars residing on the top lips of numerous Tröegs employees. In honor of the completion of the Tröegs Moustache-Growing Contest we give you Scratch #25-2009 – Magical Moustache Rye.

This mahogany ale packs a lingering, earthy hoppiness. The addition of more than 20% rye to the grain bill gives a creamy mouthfeel and hints of spice that compliment the bitterness of hops. Subtle fruitiness come through from the Bravo hops added during the boil, but the Cluster and Liberty varieties used in dry-hopping this beer are the true flavor drivers in this spicy ale. Dark in color and intense is flavor, Scratch 25-2009 finds true balance in a beer that could have easily gone way over the top. Enjoy.

Bottle Dates

I’m not going to delve into the murky quagmire of macro freshness-dating due largely in part to sub-standard brewing methods and ingredients which in turn perpetuates the meager profitability of a short shelf-life because, after all, the quicker the beer spoils, the more beer brewed to order, increasing profitability and creating more demand buoyed by a populace of ever-increasingly ignorant and dependant on another to proffer their decisions.

Wow. Long sentence, but that being said, I can move on to the real meat of my current rumination: bottle dates on craft and import beers.

By pinpointing craft and import beers exclusively, I am assuming a standard of quality, consistency, and pride in their product’s sustainability and enjoyability that for a growing majority of said brewers is a given.

Currently, there are quite a few breweries that date their bottles with either a bottled-on or best-by date. The common debate between the two is almost always over which one is better and why. Personally, I feel both have the same goal in mind, just different ways of achieving them. I am no brewing whiz so I am not going to claim an intricate understanding of the brewing process. On the other hand, I understand enough about beer in general and styles in particular to be reasonably confident in which styles are good for how long and why.

Simply put, it is all about that little factor called education. The individual matters most, but in the large scheme of bottle dates, a pervasive sense of the simple basics of beer goes a long way for all parties involved.

Of the two common dating options found on craft and import bottles, I prefer the bottled-on date. While only true in a limited sense, there can be an unfortunate habit of relying on best-by dates to produce a lesser product at a larger rate to reach more consumers and thus ensure turn-around at a busy brewery. On the flip-side, any brewery who takes personal pride in the quality and production of their beer does not want a drinker’s experience to end in ruin because they got an old bottle.

Bottled-on dates solve both these problems and, in a perfect beery world, that is all a consumer and retailer needs. Unfortunately, or fortunately, ours is anything but a perfect world, though it pleases me greatly to see a gradual improvement in the overall picture. Bottled-on dates are effective because both the consumer and retailer hold the power of knowledge how fresh the beer is through a simple understanding of beer style basics. Equally relevant is a brewer’s reputation for consistent quality in their beer.

If knowledge truly is power, at the hands of the individual no less, than there-in lays one of the great American conundrums regarding alcoholic products in general and beer specifically. There is an overbearing paranoia that revolves around the ridiculously irrational idea that the more people, Americans specifically, understand about beer, our fragile psyche and moral compass will suddenly crumble, plunging mankind (Americans) into an abyss of unbridled carnal desires, hypocrisy, destitution, decay, and bloody horrors.

Frankly my dear, I’d say we are already there, figuratively speaking, thanks in a large part to the perpetuation of willful ignorance and a blind-eye, but let’s stay on topic, shall we.

An established brewery recently stated they felt no need to bottle-date their beers because they had faith in their network of distributors and retailers to properly handle their beer and in their consumers to know what they were buying.

Hogwash and fiddlesticks. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this amazingly blind and wholly skewed mess of policies.

Remember earlier when I made it clear we don’t live in a perfect world of beer. Well, accepting perfection is but a delusion to get lost in and an aspiration to work towards; placing blind trust in a wholly separate group of entities demonstrates a lack of responsibility and pride in one’s product. As a retailer, I know better than to assume my distributor will care enough about the breweries they represent and the retailers to properly care for and sell those beers. Of the four main distributors I work with, I am graciously blessed to have even just one distributor who shares the same passion and values for the beers they carry as I do. But unfortunately, the reality is usually far less reliable, and in some cases, downright appalling. All this results in misplacing the burden of responsibility for a bad beer on the consumer, instead of the brewery, distributor, and retailer.

Let me explain.

When I walk into a store as the consumer, I am stepping into a realm of uncertainty and potential danger. What is their relationship like with their distributors? Is the staff beer friendly and knowledged? How fresh is the beer, and how will I know otherwise? As an average consumer, I would be extremely frightened of and disturbed by these significant unknowns. Personally, I enjoy an advantage because as a professional beer geek, this is what I do, what I get paid for, and what I love. Someone else may not be so lucky, and their adventure into the wonderfully wide world of beer could in an irreparable disaster.

All that being said, who in the end gets the blame?
The brewer.

And so we come full circle to that particular brewery’s willfully negligent statement towards bottled-on dates for their beer, and all good craft and import beers in general. No brewery and brewer should ever be too full-up to humbly stand behind their beer no matter what. Fraudulent claims and cheap scams would wean themselves out simply by being unsustainable in the face of a beer of consistent quality backed by a bottled-on date and, here’s the challenge, an educated retailer and consumer. But if the beer drinker has become so woefully lax and ignorant in the ways of bottled-on dates, does it really matter?


There are far more outstanding drinkers, veterans and newbies alike, who are learning how to determine beers drinkability in regards to freshness and quality. Even better, they are more than willing to share in and learn from the growing number of mediums in which to share the power of beer’s knowledge: publications, internet, word of mouth, seminars, dinners, tastings, and beyond.

Knowledge being power, it is no wonder the giants of the brewing world want the mass-marketable consumer to stay the mindlessly subservient pliable masses they have spent billions on to create. But I am digressing again.

Bottled-on dates are an easy win-win for all parties involved. It poses the easiest transition of long-lasting productive permanence with flexibility for inevitable change. A consumer armed with knowledge is not a deranged menace ready to rain ruin and despair, but a consumer made strong by a firm hold on their life and the choices being offered where-in. It is a simple matter really, as most true revelations in life are, whose process of realization is another story altogether. If, when, and how a precedence of bottled-on dates come about still remains to be seen, but craft and import beers represent a return to individual quality, diversity, and sustainability which is a natural partner to bottled-on dates.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Cigar City Brew News

Creative Loafing Auction Update/Hope Children's Home Angel Tree Update

The Creative Loafing Auction for a private CCB tasting including a rare beer care package, your very own custom blended beer and naming rights to our 30 bbl fermenter is now final and WE BEAT THE COWHEAD!!!! The Cow's "Host a Radio Show For a Day" item ended at $1,025.62 and heroes who drink Florida-made Craft Beer put CCB over the top with a winning bid of $1,250. All proceeds will benefit The Children's Home.

CCB is also sponsoring an 8 year old girl by the name of Kyleigh E. via the Hope Children's Home Angel Tree gift program. Just bring in anything on Kyleigh's wish list or any item appropriate for an 8 year old girl and receive Tasting Room credit for the amount of the item/s. This is Kyleigh's wish list:
  • 1. Beall's Gift Card
  • 2. Zip-up sweater
  • 3. Tank Tops
  • 4. Reeces Ice Cream Bars (melting issues aside if Kyleigh wants them we'll get them to her if I have to pack them in dry ice)
  • 5. Barbie Nutcracker Movie

So far Kyleigh has gotten:
  • Barbie Nutcracker DVD
  • Barbie "I Can Be" TV Chef Playset
  • 3X Assorted Beach Party Barbie Dolls
  • 2X Barbie Outfits

Thanks so much to everyone that has gotten a gift for Kyleigh!

The program ends December 15th. You can drop off any items for Kyleigh before then and receive a receipt for credit to spend in the tasting room later. So when your doing your Xmas shopping this weekend remember Kyleigh E.


Humidor Series Old Ale: SOLD OUT
We decided to prep a little more Humidor Old Ale after it sold out Friday. So we'll have more on late next week or the following week.


New 12 oz bottler arrived

Our newest arrival comes all the way from Pasco, WA. It's a brand new Meheen 6 head bottler designed for 12 oz bottles. Which means we'll finally be able to offer six packs in the Tampa Bay area market. We are still sourcing case mother cartons, six pack carrier cartons and glass, but hope to start bottling 12 oz bottles in early 2010. The challenge right now is getting all the carriers and glass down to a reasonable price so we can get on to the shelves at a reasonable price. I'm shotting for a $9.99 to $10.99 sixer on Jai Alai IPA and the new plan, for now, is to start with just the IPA and add Maduro later.

We still have Humidor Series Old Ale on Tap in the Tasting Room along with Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale and Cubano Espresso Brown Ale. And I mentioned it in a previous post but we will have altered days of operation the week of Christmas. Check the calendar at for the Holiday Tasting Room schedule. We are also prepping more Dragonfruit-aged Winter Warmer and Christmas Mint Brown Ale for those that missed it. Should be ready next week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weyerbacher Brew News

Latest Release: While we don’t have a regular December release, Blithering Idiot (a balanced Barleywine – 11.1% ABV), Merry Monks (a Belgian style bottle conditioned golden ale – 9.3% ABV) and Double Simcoe (a Double IPA brewed with Simcoe hops – 9% ABV) are our unique and interesting year round styles that are fantastic for the holidays. We released Hotel (Imperial Porter – 8.2% ABV), our last one-off series for the year, this week. Hotel will only be available in the Restaurants and Bars that pre-ordered it in certain states. We also have a limited supply of cases in the Visitor Center at the brewery (open for tours and tastings Saturdays from 12 to 3). We also want to remind those of you who live in PA that our Big Beer Variety Pack containing Blithering Idiot, Old Heathen, Merry Monks and Double Simcoe is a great addition to any holiday party.

Next Scheduled Release: Fireside Ale in January. An intricate dark ale with a touch of smokiness. The rich malt flavor, crisp bitterness and smoke reach perfect equilibrium in this brew. The first brew is in the tanks and we will be shipping it to our distributors beginning the first week in January. Still in the stores: Winter Ale and Quad are plentiful in most stores and are moving fast. You should also be able to find Double Simcoe 750s (champagne style) in outlets catering to craft styles.

Recipes: Mark Myers, a chef at Wegmans, is developing recipes that incorporate each of our products. The newest recipe to be featured on our site is the Rib Roast with Caramelized Onion and Winter Ale Au Jus and it sounds absolutely delicious. In addition, you will find other recipes such as Bigos (Polish Pork Stew) and Pumpkin and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta made with Pumpkin Ale. Mark is still working on the Quad recipe. He has had a couple of false starts but expects to have it to us shortly. You can find the recipes by clicking the link on the Weyerbacher Home Page.

Cigar City Brew News

Tasting Room Update/Holiday Hours/Creative Loafing Auction/Warmer Winter/Angel Tree Giving

This week in the Tasting Room we have the following beers available on draft:
  • Christmas Mint Brown Ale $7 per 32 oz fill / $20 per 128oz fill (limited quantity)
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale $7 per 32 oz fill / $20 per 128 oz fill
  • Dragonfruit-aged Winter Warmer $10 per 32 oz fill (32 oz fills only/limited quantity)

Warmer Winter, Warmer Ale our American hopped take on an English Old Ale has steadily been trickling out. It should be in the South Florida area by now (p.s. we are FINALLY distributing in South Florida and draft should follow in a week or two). The Tampa area should see bottles in retail accounts late this week or early next. Orlando and central Florida up north to Jacksonville should already have bottles in retail accounts. Philadelphia also got several cases which should be hitting soon. New York's allotment will ship out on Friday.

The week of Christmas we will be closed on Thursday the 24th and Friday the 25th but to make up for this we will be open Monday the 21st thru Wednesday the 23rd for last minute beer-gift shoppers!

In my previous post I wrote that the Creative Loafing's Private Cigar City Brewing Tasting Auction ended December 16th. That is incorrect. It ends December 11th! All proceeds of the auction go to The Children's Home. See posts 170 and 171 for more details.

Cigar City Brewing is also participating in an Angel Tree program being held for Hope Children's Home. Hope cares for discarded, abused, abandoned or orphaned children and come Christmas time they have a lot of gifts to get for a lot of needy kids and a small budget to do it with. So individuals and businesses are encouraged to take a name from the Angel Tree and play Santa by fulfilling the wishlist of one needy kid. Many of the items on the children's wish lists are often heartachningly basic things. Most of the commonly requested items average kids take for granted are coveted gifts for these children.

Cigar City Brewing is playing Santa to Kyleigh E. In addition to procuring some presents for Kyleigh, until the 15th of December CCB will be offering free growler refills for anyone who brings in an item from Keyleigh's list or any toy or article of clothing appropriate for a girl of Kyleigh's age. Kyleigh is 8 years old and her favorite colors are blue and pink. Kyleigh's shirt and skirt size is a 7, shoe size is a 1 and her underwear size is a 6-8. Kyleigh's wish list is as follows:
  • 1. Beall's Gift Card
  • 2. Zip-up sweater
  • 3. Tank Tops
  • 4. Reeces Ice Cream Bars (melting issues aside if Kyleigh wants them we'll get them to her if I have to pack them in dry ice)
  • 5. Barbie Nutcracker Movie

Help make 8 year old Kyleigh's Christmas a memorable one!

Joey Redner

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Reading Mash ~ Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer

I'm almost done with the book, and then it is onto Naked Pint. In the meantime, I must share my favorite line from the book which is actually a quote from Miss Mae West herself on the night of Prohibition's repeal. After slamming a mug of brew down in a celebratory drinking contest with Gary Cooper (both Miss West and Mr. Cooper were renowned drinkers, to say the least), Mae West commented to the cameraman filming the joyous fiasco:

"Now that beer is really back and we will all be drinking it why not wage a campaign for the return of the woman's natural figure?" ... "We haven't had any perfectly natural figures since the war took beer away from us."

Amen, hallelujah, and peanut butter, Miss Mae West.
To the woman's natural figure, Cheers! This one is on me.

(original written work [except for the quote] by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

BEERporting ~ The Ocean Grill

Being a Vero Beach native, there are certain establishments which have been around as long as I, 32 years so far, and longer. Many were a favorite local then as much as now, though for different reasons of interest and relaxation. All being said and done, treasured memories are just that, treasured memories.

The old adage of things only get better the older you get proves true of every experience that every day brings. For myself, at least, there is no benefit in constantly hiding in the past, and so I’ve never been one to wallow when there is so much to experience right here, right now. What will the next day bring? I can’t wait to see.

Enter The Ocean Grill.

A Vero Beach landmark of almost 70 years, I have a treasured scrapbook of eclectic memories tied to this classy yet down-to-earth local. From birthdays to business dinners to leisure, The Ocean Grill has covered all and more. She has weathered storms that left gaping holes in her floor to times that ranged from ridiculously profitable to just-getting-by. Through it all though, she has always been true to herself.

I am currently enjoying the best times in my life yet, and it’s only getting better. There is that moment in life when clarity strikes like a vision of light, clearing the cobwebs, dusting the rafters, and opening the doors of destiny to what opportunities lie in wait outside.

In beer as in life, I revel freely.

But does The Ocean Grill have beer in which I can revel freely? Against my best wishes and desires otherwise, not really. As of my most recent venture about a week ago, the draft and bottle selection left little to be desired. Thinking back over the years, their beer selection has changed little since I used to steal forbidden glances around the corners and over the bar at those fantastically fascinating tap handles and sparkling bottles of curious shapes, colors, and design.

Where I am now should come as no surprise considering my long-standing fascination with beer and spirits, but that’s a reflection for another time.

Finding myself in the mood for some Ocean Grill ambiance, I lazed my way to their bar, but not before spending a few taking in the mystically overcast ocean view. She’s not called The Ocean Grill for nothing, you know. Feet dangling comfortably from my corner stoop, ocean to my left and bar front-and-center, I set about ordering first a Makers Mark Old Fashioned (unfortunately muddled but still tasty) followed by a Johnny Walker Black Rob Roy. My wonderful bartender, Rosie, knows her cocktails, a fact made immediately evident when she correctly understood my request for a Johnny Walker Black Manhattan as, accurately speaking, a Rob Roy. Therein lays the problem with an ungodly majority of our fast-booze bars these days: no one can make a decent cocktail, much less know the names and differences between them.

No beer, you ask? No. Not when my choices are Guinness, Stella Artois, and Michelob Light on draft and, as far as I could tell, the only bottled option being Bud Light. A sorry state of affairs for a beer aficionado, indeed. Considering The Ocean Grill’s otherwise topnotch selection of affairs, the only dismal showing is in their beer selection.

I look towards life through the eyes of a beer geek, and rightfully so. It doesn’t mean that I am a one drink wonder though, as my passion for vintage spirits and classic cocktails will attest to. The more involved I become with beer and my other spirituous passions, the more I find their unfazed dedication and determination towards quality, flavor, diversity, craftsmanship, and ingenuity to be indubitably related. Now more than ever, at least in this current cycle of history, the thirst and discerning individuals are returning to these timeless standards.

For myself and millions the world over, beer encompasses this phenomenon like no other. I know that every time I walk into The Ocean Grill and leisure away the day at their bar overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, life is good. Services received are always impeccable, my drinks spot-on, the food magnificent, and the memories as everlasting as they always have been, maybe even more so.

The only way it could be better is if I had the choice of a good beer; beer as deserving of its place at the bar as the wines, single-malts, specialty liquors, and top-shelf spirits. Instead, I get the same-old same-old I can get anywhere else. Goodness knows and I’ve looked within reasonable driving distance, nowhere else is there as friendly and knowledged a bar staff to be found in as cozy a place as The Ocean Grill, so why-oh-why must I get the short end of the beer stick.

As a class-act restaurant, local hangout bordering on lounge, vacationers paradise, it is neither wholly unrealistic nor unreasonable to expect, find, and receive at the very least one or two worthwhile beers. The Christmas time of year is especially cozy at The Ocean Grill with overflowing good cheer, lights, decorations, and stockings. Nothing would sooth my soul and ease my worries more than taking in the glittering lights of red, green, blue, pink, yellow, and orange as I sup languidly from my glass of Chimay Cenq Cents, or to be fair, a host of other equally deserving beers: Blanche de Bruxelles, Brooklyn Local 1 and Local 2, Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve Series (I swoon just thinking about the food pairing possibilities), Duchess de Bourgogne, Bells Expedition, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Radeberger Pilsner, Reissdorf Kolsch (gotta give the golden and tasty some love), Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Ommegang Hennepin…

But unfortunately, I am left once again with a classic institution of my proud Vero Beach heritage that fulfills all my fantasies except the most important one: good beer. As always, I don’t expect a total upheaval; just one good beer, maybe two at a later date if I am to be so lucky. It really isn’t so much, and it is my right and duty to ask when faced with the most inexcusable of infractions: no choice in my beer.

There is an untapped market that The Ocean Grill (and others) is wholly missing out on, an insatiable passion that is a growing phenomenon awaiting its chance to blossom.

As I soak in the ambiance of holiday cheer and contagious good will, the only thing missing under my Christmas tree is good beer to savor and to share. I don’t know if the North Pole will answer this letter, but maybe, just maybe, my own little miracle will come to pass. Cheers to you, Ocean Grill. May our days continue to be merry and bright, and may we someday soon share newfound memories over a glass of fine brew.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Cigar City Brew News

CCB Beer Tasting Bid Up to $700!

Woohoo the heroes did it! The bid on the Cigar City Brewing private tasting hosted by Creative Loafing Beer Writer Bethany Sherwin and CCB Head Brewer Wayne Wambles has rocketed from a paltry $100 to $700! We sweetened the pot by throwing in a grab bag of rare goodies for each of the attendees (the tasting is for four people) to take home. And in only three days you guys increased the charity donation to The Children's Home seven times!

But, now I'm faced with two things that concern me. The first is $700 is a lot of money and we want to make the experience worth every penny of the charitable donation. The second is that we are now in sniffing distance of the current high bid which is $1,000 for the opportunity to buy the cover of Creative Loafing Magazine. Currently the Cigar City Brewing Private Tasting is tied for second highest bid with the #17 item which is to Co-Host A Radio Show For a Day with a fellow who's nom de théâtre is Cowhead. And while mass-communicating is certainly a thrilling experience, I just don't want to lose to a Cowhead. So if the bid for the CCB Tasting breaks $1000 we are going to step it up even more. Consider the pot further sweetened:

Typically wealthy philanthropists can, through their largesse, count on leaving their mark on the world. And we don't think beer lovers should be any different. So in addition to all of the aforementioned private tasting goodness the winning bidder will secure the naming rights to our newest and largest beer fermenter. This 1,000 gallon, 14 foot tall stainless monument to brewing goodness will be adorned with whatever name you wish, provided the language is kept G-Rated. The John Doe Memorial Beer Swimming Pool? That's cool. Want to name it after your dog? Works for us. Want to name it after your beer loving dad as the ultimate Christmas gift? His name will loom over our brewery for all to see.

And now that you have your own beer monument named after you, it's time to have your very own beer. That's right, we'll prepare a special batch of beer blended from our cellar stock, just for the winner. 10 gallons of a one of a kind beer that is yours and yours alone. It is even yours to name, though again there are certain restrictions as the Federal Government has a few notions about what constitutes an acceptable beer name. And since you now have your own beer and fermenter named after you, it is clear you are a luminary in the beer world. So the winning bidder will receive 4 VIP passes to our upcoming March 12 Hunahpu's Imperial Stout Release Party which will grant you early access to the release and first place in line to receive 8 gratis bottles (2 per guest) of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout as well as a cozy spot at the taps to try the many limited brews which will be on draft for the release party.

The auction closes December 16th and victory is in our grasp. Don't let the evil forces of the Cowhead prevail! All proceeds go to The Children's Home.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Maui Brew News

Mana Wheat, Truly Magical!
Truly Local, Truly No Ka Oi (Lahaina, Maui, HI) - Maui Brewing Co.

(MBC) is proud to announce a Silver Medal win for their Mana Wheat in the Beverage Tasting Institute's World Beer Championship, Flavored Wheat Beer Category. The tasting was held in Chicago on June 10th; winners were recently announced. Garrett Marrero describes this beer as "an unfiltered freshly handcrafted American-style wheat ale infused with Maui Gold Pineapple. Our crisp and refreshing wheat ale is lightly hopped to allow the fruity sweetness of the pineapple to shine. The yeast stays in suspension making the ale traditionally cloudy."

The BTI judges' notes describe this beer as "Opaque cloudy orange color with a wispy head. Aromas of honeycomb and guava follow through on a round entry to a fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body with tangy citrus peel, metal ore, and shredded wheat notes. Finishes with a crisp tangy fade." Under the direction of Jerald O'Kennard, a panel of experienced, professional guest tasters (retailers, restaurateurs, or prominent writers that are especially knowledgeable about the beverage category being reviewed) judge the beverages. The Beverage Testing Institute uses a dedicated tasting lab in Chicago which was specially designed to minimize external factors and maximize the panelists' concentration. Tasting is conducted at the same time of day practically every weekday morning, under the same ideal conditions.

Maui Brewing Co. is the only brewer and canner of craft beer in Hawaii as 100% of the beers are brewed and canned on Maui. Additionally, MBC microbrews are officially Hawaii's #1 craft beer. With a strong commitment to the local economy, and deep concern for the environment, MBC microbrews are packaged with the most eco-friendly materials. Although cans and bottles are both recyclable, bottles still break and may pose a risk at beaches. The cans are manufactured on Oahu, designed by local Maui artists and have the added bonus of protecting the beer in the best possible manner - from both light and oxygen damage which can seriously compromise the taste. Plastic rings are dangerous to marine life and therefore, a unique, recyclable plastic carrying device is used to hold the products. The spent grain from beer production is donated to local ranchers for cattle feed and composting; and any cans damaged in production are donated to the Maui Humane Society. MBC also purchased equipment from Maui Land & Pineapple to preserve a piece of Hawaii's canning history.

Founder Garrett Marrero and his wife, Melanie, run a 7-barrel brewpub at the Kahana location as well as the 25-barrel full production brewery and canning facility in Lahaina. Maui Brewing Co. is a truly local beer as 100% of their products are made in Hawaii as opposed to other "Hawaiian" beers.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The FDA Breakdown

Recently, in fact as we speak, the FDA has aggressively broached the issue of caffeine in alcoholic beverages, and vice-versa, alcohol in caffeinated beverages. Their main focus is on caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks, but it doesn’t leave beer brewed with coffee beans completely out of their target scope either.

But first, just what is the FDA? The FDA, short for Food and Drug Administration, is purportedly a nonpartisan organization that acts in the best interests of the human citizenry, and in this instance, American citizenry. I’d like to make special note of the term “nonpartisan” because in the governmental and organizational world these days, nonpartisan is usually anything but.

I understand their concern over the excessive use of alcoholic caffeinated beverages, but there-in lies the dilemma. Is alcohol+caffeine the problem or is it more about the underlying issue of excessiveness? America has always been the land of plenty from the time of our forefathers to our current economic, social, and capitalist state of everything in excess as fast as possible with no time for rest and relaxation. The potentially problematic issue of alcohol+caffeine excess is just a natural byproduct of the society which created it.

Nothing frustrates and aggravates me more than addressing a postulated problem with a solution that has nothing to do with the actual problem in the first place. It might just seem like silly common sense, but unfortunately silly common sense can be rather hard to come by. In looking beyond the surface issue to all the interweaving factors below, this recent FDA breakdown really comes across to me as a half-hearted joke that has little to do with my (and others) long-term health and well-being.

While beer is currently just a minor target, where there is a will to create smoke and fire, so to can be the desire to spread it to other unrelated button-topics. America’s duality when it comes to alcohol and leisurely pleasure is a long and arduous affair that has resulted in oft-times disastrous mistakes. I should give the FDA a benefit of the doubt, but at the same time, this stinks of misplaced priorities and pro-myopinionmattersmorethanyours interest groups.

Caffeine, a stimulant, and alcohol, a depressant, are nothing new. Enjoying them separately and in various instances over various time periods, together, is also nothing new. We haven’t flirted with extinction yet from this potentially deadly combination largely because they were enjoyed in sporadic moderation until recently. But now we are suffering from an immensely fast-paced high-strung society both in business and in pleasure to have everything right now and in spectacularly mind-boggling largesse.

For example, take the phenomenon of Red Bull and vodka, along with a slew of new cocktails that mix energy drinks with booze for the young, the hip, and the never-rests until they are face-down generation of drinkers that are as much a product of the society they live in as they have produced the society they live in. In this example, note booze, not beer. On the flip-side, a Red Bull and vodka drinker is not likely to want to savor a slow Irish Coffee late at night or a dollop of Kahlua with their morning cup-of-joe.

Since both involve caffeine and alcohol, are they not then a danger to the responsible drinker also? No, and the key reason being responsibility. The problem with responsibility is that it cannot be bought, sold, or regulated. Responsibility is taught and learned both by personal example, situation, society, culture, history, and a host of others. Responsibility is not a tool of fear and submission, or a reason for manipulation. Responsibility is a point of understanding and humility buoyed by an appreciation of life, living, and one’s place within.

Why then is alcoholic caffeinated energy drinks suddenly a danger to you and me?

In everything in life, excess will always be our downfall while moderation will always be our longevity. Granted, there are no guarantees in life, but I have yet to experience anything positive and enduring in my life that resulted from excess. If that is true, then I don’t worry so much over the FDA’s breakdown on, at this moment, energy drink companies and their caffeinated beverages so much as I worry about our currently unchained cultural affairs that have led us here.

Though beer may not be directly targeted at this moment, beer should always remain responsibly vigilant. Should I want to savor the aromatic and flavor subtleties of a beer brewed with or aged on coffee beans, I want to and should be able to do so. As I reveled in my great Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti last night over a good hour’s time, getting wired and plotzed at the same wasn’t even an inkling of an inclination. Verily, almost any real beer drinker will heartily echo my sentiments.

The sugar-soaked, artificially flavored, and chemically concocted caffeine bombs whose ingredients require a doctorate in science to understand concern and disgust me far more than a relaxing coffee stout or Irish Coffee any minute of any day of the week.

I feel for the companies under scrutiny by the FDA, but even more so, I hope that this latest crusade doesn’t detract from the real concerns that leave me standing here shaking my head in cynical disbelief and weary concern.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Cigar City Brew News

Creative Loafing Holiday Auction Item #33: Taste the best of Cigar City Brewing

So Creative Loafing is doing a charity Holiday auction and one of the items is a private tasting for four with CL Beer Writer Bethany Sherwin and CCB Head Brewer Wayne Wambles which will include the whole range of CCB beers, including all the rarities we keep stashed in the cellar....and the current high bid is only $100. Which sucks.

So I am going to sweeten the pot by offering a grab bag of bottles and growlers to take home from the private tasting. I can't give specifics because it really depends on what we happen to have at the time the winning bidder chooses to hold the tasting, but I can promise anything we have ready to growler or bottle on the day you visit for the private tasting (which can be planned for whichever date the winner chooses) will be available to take home.

To see details of the auction or to bid, go here. Remember it is for charity and beer, so go crazy.

Joey Redner

Stoudt's Brew News

As the colder weather rolls into Adamstown and winter lurks around the corner, we are pleased to offer several new beers to help keep you a bit warmer and a bit merrier during the holidays.

Our brand new Winter Ale was officially released in November. For the next two winter seasons, we are brewing a hoppy red ale as our Winter seasonal. This ale has a deep, amber to reddish color and a medium to full body. The thick creamy head effervesces with pungent aromas derived from three varieties of domestically grown hops. This beer finishes on the dry side with a subtle citrus flavor. 6.2% alcohol by volume - 55 IBU's

We are also proud to offer a very limited-edition release of Robust Porter that we have been aging in oak whiskey barrels for the last 10 months. This beer is very dark brown and has rich flavors of malt with hints of chocolate. During the barrel aging process, the beer's flavors have become more subtle and blended with oak, vanilla, and bourbon flavors derived from the barrels. Full bodied, and full flavored, this beer will only be available in cork finished 750 ml bottles. 6% alcohol by volume - 45 IBU's

Finally, we are pleased to announce the release of 1860 IPA. This beer was created by Stoudt's for McGillin's Old Ale House in Philadelphia. This special brew was hand crafted by the brewers at Stoudt's to celebrate the 150th anniversary of McGillin's Old Ale House. This unfiltered ale is dry-hopped using multiple hop varieties, which offer a crisp hop flavor and aroma. A slight maltiness and medium body help to round off this quaffable ale. This is the perfect beer for celebrating 150 years, and toasting to another 150 to come. This beer is available in limited quantity on draft and in 12 oz. bottles at Stoudt 's Brewing Co. It is also available at McGillin's Old Ale House in Center City Philadelphia. 5.5% alcohol by volume - 47 IBU's

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Dogfish Head 2009 World Wide Stout

It has come to my attention (thanks RateBeer) that a retailer or two may be misspricing their 2009 Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, WWS for short. They have been packaged in their case in unmarked white 4packs with 4 bottles per pack and a total of 6 4packs per case. This comes to a total of 24 individual 12oz bottles which is how DFH WWS has been sold for years. At least, for as long as I can remember.

Thus, a store can sell it as a 4pack if they can, but msrp should be around $36. If sold as single bottles, they should be around $9.

Someone somewhere though, is going to get lucky should they stumble across this:

Some may claim $9 pricey for one bottle of beer, but I disagree. In fact, there is a 2008 DFH WWS in my fridge awaiting a lateral tasting with a fresh bottle of 2009 DFH WWS. Can't wait!

(original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

Great Divide Brew News

Happy Holidays from the GDBC crew!

The Big News Wow, what a year. In 2009, we celebrated our fifteenth anniversary, released close to a dozen new seasonal beers, won three medals at the Great American Beer Festival (as well as several medals from other festivals - see below), and grew our fermentation capacity by 50 percent.

That's right - after adding two new 100-barrel fermenters in August, just last month we added three more, plus a new 100-barrel bright beer tank. To give you some perspective, each of those tanks will hold 200 kegs or 1,400 cases worth of beer. Our fermentation room is now packed so full that we've had to give our cellarmen acrobatics training just so they can get around, but that's the way we like it.

But none of that is nearly as important as the fact that OLD RUFFIAN IS BACK ON THE SHELVES! WOO! Our huge, hoppy, 2009 GABF bronze medal-winning barley wine works wonders on your palate with its balance of aggressive American hop character and caramely, fruity malt sweetness. This 10.2-percent-ABV, 90-IBU beast will be available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft from December 3 through March 1, so hurry up and hoard as much as you can.

We're also pleased to announce that this year's batches of Barrel-Aged Old Ruffian and Hibernation will be available this month. These (very) limited-edition beers have matured in Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey barrels for nine months, picking up notes of oak, whiskey, chocolate and dark fruit that have transformed these already delicious beers into truly special treats. Barrel-Aged Hibernation is available now, and we'll release Barrel-Aged Old Ruffian on December 14th; both beers come in 75o-milliliter bottles and will only be available in very limited quantities. Watch out for Barrel-Aged Yeti early next year...

We know you think we're awesome (and the feeling's mutual), but we can't help but mention a few more honors that Great Divide has picked up recently: At the Australian International Beer Awards, we won silver medals for Hercules Double IPA and Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout as well as a bronze medal for Hades Belgian-Style Golden Ale, and Yeti Imperial Stout, which won a silver medal at this year's Great American Beer Festival, also picked up a silver medal at the Brew New Zealand Beer Awards and a bronze medal at the European Beer Star Awards. And perhaps most exciting, Great Divide was recently named one of the "25 Best American Breweries of the Decade" by Paste magazine.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to wish a fond farewell to bartendress/Q.A. lab wizard Hilary Murphy, who will be leaving us this month after two and a half years of tending to yeast cells, mistreated beer bottles and her devoted following of Tap Room regulars with equal care and zeal. Best of luck to you, Hilary; your departure will render the brewery staff at least 25 percent less photogenic.

As we've said before, we couldn't possibly have had such a successful year without the support of all our fans and admirers, so thanks to all of you for helping us make 2009 one of our best years yet. We wish all of you a very happy holiday season, and here's to an even better 2010!

Maui Brew News

13th Annual San Diego Strong Ale Fest

Pizza Port - Carlsbad
561 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA
4pm-11pm ~ Friday December 4th &
11am-11pm ~ Saturday December 5th

Aloha Friends!
The 13th Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival 2009 is almost here! Sample over 75 beers over 8% alcohol on tap as well as some cask-conditioned ales at Pizza Port Carlsbad.

We are having some of our specialty pub beers flown in from Maui just for this fantastic event. Don't miss this rare opportunity to sample our Old Chinwig and Red Cock Doppel Bock craft beers!

  • Old Chinwig: A huge, hoppy strong ale brewed in the English style but with a lot more hops. This is the biggest beer produced to date in our production facility. Dark bronze with a big malt backbone makes this ale super-smooth; followed by a nice hop profile of five different hop varieties. We hope you enjoy this winter warmer. ABU: 8.5% ~ IBU: 70
  • Red Cock Doppelbock: Our name is inspired by the strong, proud Jungle Fowl of the Islands. We typically release this specialty dark lager in March to commemorate the tradition of monks drinking this rich brew to sustain themselves during Lent, however its popularity has led to more frequent appearances. Doppel means double, which means this beer is very complex but smooth. Our Doppel Bock is known for its low hop bitterness and intensely rich malt flavors. ABU: 8.0% ~ IBU: 20

$30 gets you admission into the festival with 8 taster tickets each good for one, 4-ounce pour (additional tastes $1 each), a commemorative logo glass, and the official Strong Ale Festival Program to guide you through BEER WONDERLAND! For more information, visit this link:

Looking forward to seeing you there!
Okole maluna!
Maui Brewing Co.

Cigar City Brew News

Capricho Oscuro Batch #3 On Sale 12-4-09

Capricho Oscuro Batch #3 will go on sale at the CCB Tasting Room on Friday December 4th at 11 AM. Batch #3's blend is:
Bolita Double Nut Brown Ale
Big Sound Scotch Ale
Improvisacion Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale

I left this one in the barrel a bit longer than normal because I wanted big barrel notes in this one and I achieved my goal. 12 oz bottles will be $5 per, reflective of the lower cost to produce the base beers. Some people have expressed surprise that this batch is $5 cheaper per bottle than the previous batch. If this is an issue for anyone we will accept any amount above $5 that you wish to pay and we will use those extra proceeds to buy presents for Florida Foster Kids (no lie).

There is no set limit on this batch, within reason. We define reason loosely as meaning: don't come in and try to buy 10 cases.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pure Cacao Indulgence

Seeing as I was in a particularly good mood last night, a little self-indulgence was in order. Life has been jolly good as of late, and I don't foresee any sudden end to current fortunes. After all, if I don't treat myself sometimes, there is no guarantee someone else will.

Cruising my local Greenwise, a little something caught my eye: Ghiradelli 90% Pure Cacao bar. Nothing else sets my heart aflutter and the mouth awatering like pure black cacao. Laying her gently in my basket as to not break her perfect form, I set once more on my way.

But why a 90% Pure Cacao bar?

My wonderful friends, that is because sitting in my fridge is a bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing. Or, as of right now, there was a bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin in my fridge.

With a twinkle in my eye and a skip in my step, I eventually lazed my way to the registers where out of the corner of my eye, what should I see...99% Pure Cacao from Lindt Chocolates.

Beerchocovana has been officially signed, sealed, and delivered.

My exchange promptly executed, I checked out and made the way home with a brief detour by the folks house. Later, after dinner was sated and the stomach rested, out came the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin. With a pop of his cork, I lovingly poured those lusciously black depths into my awaiting chalice before next focusing my attentions on the 99% Cacao Bar.

With tremulous fingers I gingerly peeled back her protective gold wrapper to reveal a vision of the utmost beauty; slim, sleek, and seductive. I broke off a few of her precisely measured squares where they then took up residence on an appropriately small square plate.

Settling back in my chair, I lavished love on the cacao first. Placing a square on the top of my tongue, I reveled in a slow meltdown of delicate burnt, brittle, roasted, woody, and bitter delights. It is simply amazing how much depth and complexity can be hidden in such an unassuming morsel of cacao. Further notes of earth and wood flitter about, and suddenly goosebumps pimple and a shiver of delight traces her fingers down my spine.


My beer is looking at me rather forlornly, his negligence bordering on heresy. Apparently, I have been ignoring him far too long, a tragedy I gladly correct. A long slow draw brings his bourbon sweetness, burnt malts, charred wood, and black chocolates to rest atop my tastebuds still reeling from their cacao revelation. Eyes close, time stops, and only slow but surely do I relinquish his liquid bliss to the rest of my body.


As the night wanes, I slowly savor each morsel and each quaff. Orgasmic, sensual, and down to earth, truly a treat I was most deserving of.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

German Brewery Tour Circa 1930

(many thanks to RateBeer for the link)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Cute

Introducing a new Sunday tradition because it can't ALL be about Beer...well, yes it can...but a break in the beerocracy once a week is a good thing. Even better, have a glass in hand while enjoying 17 seconds of eye-bulging cuteness the likes of which you have never seen before.

Beer: Anchor Summer ~ still good and it still feels like summer outside.

Beer Glass Etiquette

No, this is not going to be a litany on how to hold your glassware properly, so on and so forth. It's about being appreciated and the occasional giftage. In this particular case, it was a couple free glasses from my favorite gastropub. I don't like to advertise when receiving such a wonderfully unexpected surprise, just a quiet sincere "Thank You!" as I go on my way.

If I let slip a little white lie in the company of friends while still in the bar surrounded by other patrons, it is out of respect to the other patrons who are there enjoying, savoring, and paying their beer geek foodie respects as I just did. No hard feelings need be stirred by an unexpected flit of "that's not fair" because someone else didn't get theirs "free".

Afterwards in the privacy of friendly company will I gush about the awesomeness of said generosity, and how honored I am. Free goods are always nice, but I will always offer to pay. After all, it's my way of respecting my hosts and offering my deepest thanks for such timeless and wonderful memories.

(original written post by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)