Thursday, July 30, 2009

bottled-conditioned Belgian beers ~ to cork or to cap

I don’t have any official certifications yet, but I do have a bastion of knowledge gleaned from dozens of books and real life tasting and testing of beer. Never underestimate the power of common sense and reasoning. It’s what philosophers and scholars alike have thrived on for centuries.

“When it comes to bottle-conditioning, the cork is almost always better than the metal cap when dealing with complex bottle-conditioned Belgian beers.”

It could also be argued, based on that theory, that the larger, sturdier champagne bottles are a natural vessel for bottle-conditioning. There is a little known fact that I am sure the denizens of Champagne, France would rather not admit to: long before they were bottling their coveted bubbly, the Belgians and other European brewers were using large, thick walled dark bottles to bottle, condition, and age their beers. The use of the cork at that time is uncertain, but it is probable that corks were used. The French, recognizing the positive benefits of these bottles, decided that they would be perfect for their bubbly.

A more modern addition to the champagne style bottle is the 750ml bomber size bottle. It lacks the sexy curves of the classic champagne bottle but is just as effective in standing up to the pressure and demands of a bottle-conditioned beer.

Sturdy 750ml bottles, whether champagne or bomber style, also condition and nurture the living brew inside with grace and finesse. It’s true; I’ve tasted the difference on multiple occasions as I will continue to do so on innumerable future occasions.

My palate does not lie. Just as I immediately knew this year’s keg-only release of Brooklyn BLAST! was different than last year’s, albeit equally delicious, I too have tasted the difference between a bottle-conditioned beer which is blessed with a cork versus one blessed with a cap. That isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions; there are always exceptions, but my tastebuds land in favor of the cork.

OK, so put the money where my mouth is, right? I can, I will, and I do. I also propose this: you put my money where your mouth is by doing your own taste-testing of bottle-conditioned beer: Cork VS Cap. It’s rather easily, actually. Many Belgian beers are available in individual corked 750ml bottles and also in 4packs of bottle-conditioned 12oz metal capped bottles. There are fewer craft examples, but they can be found for our experiment at hand.

So, how do you do it? Easy. Make sure you have a ready source of information (books & internet) regarding each beer and its flavor. Sit down with a bottle of each: a corked 750ml and a capped 12oz. Be sure to have fun with it. Invite some friends over and do a mini tasting of your own. Discuss amongst each other all that you see, smell, and taste. The differences, similarities, intensity, etc. Also, make sure to have water and some neutral snacks to nibble on during each beer so as to not induce palate fatigue. Palate fatigue is real folks; trust me. Take your time. Remember, as a learning experience, it should be fun.

A few simple and effective tasting pointers:
  1. Never use a shaker pint glass for tasting beer. It will do absolutely nothing to showcase the beer’s appearance, aroma, and taste. Glassware wise, any chalice shaped beer glass, large bowled snifter, or red wine glass will work splendidly.
  2. Never use a chilled glass. A chilled glass will keep the beer too cold and as the glass warms, condensation will drip into your beer, effectively watering it down and killing any head or lace she may have showcased.
  3. For maximum tasting pleasure, make sure your beer is at cellar temperature: 13*C/55*F.
  4. Have fun!

As with all good things, you will want to perform this taste-test over a multitude of beers and years. My cork theory is one I have concluded upon after many different tastings over many years with both different and the same beers. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

Beers you can taste-test to prove, or disprove, my conclusions:
Gulden Draak
Duchess de Bourgogne

…to name a few. It may take some searching to track down the two different sized bottles, but it is worth it. Even better, if you can find one of each that are appropriately aged, even better. Then you are not only tasting the difference between a corked and capped bottle-conditioned beer, but one which has matured under said stoppage. This is, after all, why so many of us, myself included, enjoy aging bottle-conditioned beers for their matured sophistication and finesse. Time and time again, that sophistication and finesse have fizzled on the smaller capped bottles and excelled in their larger corked siblings. Could size matter? It is possible. In fact, I am sure that it indubitably boils down to a multitude of intertwined factors.

There are always exceptions, and I have come across flat beers in both corked and capped bottles. Tis part of the Russian roulette of a bottle-conditioned beer’s life. You’re usually out of harm’s reach, but there is always that lurking chance of disaster. Personally, that certain factor of risk excites me to no end and furthers my love for real beer. Beer is an adventure; live it.

But what if my beer isn’t one that is bottle-conditioned?

Then cork or cap doesn’t play as much of a key role in the longevity of your beer (infections not withstanding). There are certain styles and strengths of beers that will mature as-is with sophistication and finesse in the bottle over a period of months and years. Barleywine and Old Ales are perfect examples of such bottled magic. Don’t believe me? Buy a few bottles and store them somewhere relatively dark and cool, date them, then wait at least 1 year before contemplating supping her liquid nirvana.

But this revelation of mine isn’t about that realm of beer; it is about bottle-conditioned beers of the beautifully tasty Belgian variety which blossom under the cork and fizzle under the cap. It’s my truth and I am sticking to it for as long as my continuously maturing palate informs me. The truth is in the taste, after all.

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

the Florida beer scene just keeps getting better and better...

three fantabulous new breweries are coming to Florida in the next few months:

distributed by JJTaylor/Shank:
Hoppin Frog out of Akron, OHIO
The Bruery out of Placentia, CALIFORNIA

distributed by InBev/AnBusch:
Southern Tier out of Lakewood, NEW YORK

**The Bruery and Hoppin Frog are awaiting label approval. as for Southern Tier, no news yet as to where they stand. i'll update as i learn more.

**thanks to my peeps on RateBeer for the fantabulous news sharing


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

The Beer Sommelier & NPR

Matt Simpson, known as The Beer Sommelier on Rate Beer, spoke with NPR regarding the beer choices for the White House summit meeting with President Obama, Gates, and Crowley.


quite the interesting read, imnsho.
i especially appreciated how he kept his personal tastes out of the heart of the interview: beer and politics, not the politics of beer. in reality, beer is about socialability and people relations. what better way to relax, listen, and learn than over a convivial pint of brew.

heck, if it was good enough for our forefathers, it's certainly good enough for us now.

and on another note, it would seem that the choice of beer has sparked some rather heated opinions on whether the choices were worthy or not.
Brooklyn Brewery weighs in with their opinion.
(when you click on the link, it will ask for your birth date and name, but then redirect you to the proper page so worry not)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Huge Large rocks Vinnie Cilurzo

i know absolutely nothing of the band or their music, but they can't be all that bad. they obviously know good beer since they have a song dedicated to and about Vinnie Cilurzo, brewmaster and general genius over at Russian River Brewing.

"What's on tap" at Three Floyds Brewing

a rare set of videos from back when Three Floyds was really starting to get their boots wet in the craft beer world.
(thanks to and beermapping)

beer in a box

shoot me now.
really, miller/coors? really? is the MGD64 not working out for ya so you gotta try another marketing tactic to resell the same yellow swill you've been selling for years? really?

i know the demographic this is aimed at...and they won't buy it. if they do, the novelty will last for about as long as it takes them to try and figure out how to use it. and of course, we all have huuuuge fridges with plenty of room to stuff the box behemoth into.

um, not really. i don't know about everyone else, but my fridge is the average fridge and it aint set-up to take a box-o-beer.


that just sounds all natty ratty white and trashy -.-
(that may not exactly be PC, but PC can go fly a kite)

hm... now that i think about, demographic marketing is exactly the same as precision stereotyping. marketing is all about playing to the right people, and to have the right people to market to, you need to divide everyone up into little groups of particular demographics. then you sign them, stamp them, and consider them delivered.
delivered where?
right into their greedy marketing ploys devised just for you so you can keep mindlessly buying into whatever it is they are selling.

ah, the sweet smell of un-freedom.

now, where'd i put my chalice of fine Belgian artisinal ale...

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So You've Got A Cellar...Now What?

not too long ago i proposed the age-old question of beer geeks everywhere:

aging corked 750mls - to lay down or not to lay down?

and i had an even answer of both: upright is better and laying down at an upright angle is better.
one thing was certain: NEVER EVER lay down capped bottles of beer.

a wonderfully written tutorial on the ethics of aging beer:

i have 3 cases (and growing) of corked 750ml bottles aging so i'll be doing my own experimenting in a few years.
salud! prost! and kanpai!

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

Dregs: to pour or not to pour

Ask three different people how and whether one should fully dispense of the dregs from a bottle-conditioned beer and you are most likely to get three different answers. Personally, I enjoy dregs far more than most people. Other than not being as visually appealing, they do little to negatively alter the palate of the beer. Instead, they oft-times add a finale of intensity in both aroma and flavor. Give me a bottle-conditioned beer to share, and I am more likely to pour everyone else before I pour myself, that way I can take full advantage of the dregs left behind. Or, if I am enjoying the bottle myself, I will be sure to take note of the subtle nuances in flavor and aroma that change as I near the end of the bottle. Don’t believe me? Try it next time you are savoring your own bottle-conditioned beer.

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

Cigar City brew news

Last Friday we bottled Capricho Oscuro #2. It should be ready in about two weeks. Batch #2 is a barrel aged blend of Bolita, Big Sound and 110K+OT Batch #2. Instead of having an official release party for CO #2 we plan to just make it available at the brewery during normal business hours with a per person limit. There are about 450 bottles of batch #2.

Bolita Double Nut Brown Ale will be bottled tomorrow. Bolita has been released on draft before and the barrel aged version has been released in bottles, but this is the first time out for the bottled version of the regular Bolita. We are expecting around a 100 case yield of 12X750ml bottles. The next bottled brew will be Improvicasion Oatmeal Rye India-style Brown Ale.

After 4 months in business, CCB is expanding, both in the brewery and in distribution. We will be adding a 30 bbl fermenter and brite tank and another 15 bbl brite tank. This will expand our production capacity a great deal. We are also planning to move down to cover South Florida, as I had previously mentioned, and will be sending a limited amount of beer to New York and Denmark in the coming months. Hopefully as we add tanks we'll also be able to add more east coast states.

Weyerbacher ZOTTEN

Weyerbacher Brewing Company, announces the release of Zotten, a Belgian- style Pale Ale and a brand new addition to our seasonal line-up, debuting in June.

Zotten (rhymes with verboten) is bottle conditioned, with a small amount of yeast sediment and carries the distinctive flavors of the house abbey yeast strain that Weyerbacher uses for its Merry Monks’ Ale. At 6% abv, this is one tasty session beer. With a dry hoppiness for balance and fruity notes on the palate the bottle conditioning finishes this beer with a very nice complexity.

Available on draft on June 3, 2009 simultaneously at over 40 different bars in various states. Bottles available in 12 oz. 4-packs will be shipped to wholesalers across Weyerbacher’s market area at the same time. Head brewer Chris Wilson says, “This is a very significant release for us as well as the beer community out there. Here we have a very “sessionable” beer that has significant flavor, complexity and hops to satisfy the most discriminating palate, and its perfect for this time of year as.”

In the Lehigh Valley, PA, Weyerbacher’s home, Zotten will debut on draft at Pearly Bakers’ Ale House, Porters’ Pub, Starters Riverport, Liberty Street Tavern, Tally Ho, Blue Monkey and Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center.

In the Philly region the following pubs will be pouring Zotten: Craft Ale House, Theresa’s, Capone’s, Spinnerstown Hotel, Ortino’s Northside, The Belgian Café, South Philly Tap Room, Johnny Brenda’s, Standard Tap, Grey Lodge, Brigid’s, Hulmeville Inn, Old Eagle Tavern, and Race Street Café.

In Bucks County: The Blue Dog in Chalfont, Stephanie's in Doylestown, and Spinnerstown Hotel. In Baltimore the following pubs will be pouring Zotten: Max’s, Mahaffeys, Jack’s Bistro, Lures, Racers, Alonzo’s and Frisco’s.

In Washington, DC: Brickskeller, RFD and Pizza Paradiso M Street In Pittsburgh, all 4 Sharp Edge pubs with be pouring Zotten.

Weyerbacher, which bills itself as an “artisanal” brewery makes over 2 dozen different styles of beer throughout the year with such names as Blithering Idiot, Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and Slam Dunkel to name a few. Brewing 5500 barrels in 2008, Weyerbacher is expecting growth of 15-20% in 2009. President & Founder Dan Weirback stated, “ We prefer to grow organically, through word of mouth. We do extremely little advertising as we prefer to put our resources into developing and brewing great beers and providing a meaningful career choice for our fantastic staff.”

Zotten, which is Flemish for “fools”, fits right into the Weyerbacher stable with its jester’s cap icon. The name originates from a time several hundred years ago when an Austrian king, visiting Brugge, Belgium witnessed a parade through town to honor him. Many were dressed as court jesters and king was heard to say, “Brugge is a town full of zotten”.

Zotten release in draft and bottles is June 3 everywhere Weyerbacher is sold.

DEFEAT a proposed federal excise tax on beer

with thanks to the Clipper City website for this handy-dandy copy&paste email to send to your local congressman and congresswoman. remember, just say NO.

"Dear Sir / Madame:

I am writing to you to urge that you stand against the proposed increase in the federal excise tax on beverage alcohol. This proposal is harmful to an already ‘taxed’ economy and would be detrimental to my community. As an active voter I am very much against it.

Kristyn Lier"

as for just what the excise tax increase proposes, get a load of this:


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) held a hearing on Tuesday, May 12th on Financing Comprehensive Healthcare Reform. Senator Baucus invited healthcare policy experts, tax policy experts, and economists to join Finance Committee members to discuss the tax and savings options that the Committee should consider as it works to craft a healthcare reform bill. Senators and experts discussed a wide variety of ideas for looking for funding within and outside the healthcare system, including proposals by two of the witnesses to triple the beer tax and to find savings to pay for healthcare.

It is imperative that you call your member of Congress and your Senators, especially if they are on the Senate Finance Committee and weigh-in on the devastating impact ANY increase on the federal excise tax on beer would have on your business. "

don't know who to contact? you can find out who and how at these two government sites:

Sensory Panel Management Course

the Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy course, the Sensory Panel Management Course.

"The Siebel Institute Sensory Panel Management course was created to help you build panels that achieve these results and more. Designed & conducted by brewing industry sensory panel experts, this 3-day course instructs you in the tools & techniques used by the world’s leading brewers to assess their products, analyze resulting data, and take action to ensure the highest possible quality & consistency in your beer."

they also have a wonderful new kit out for those, such as myself, who are at-home beer afficianados. i won't be at home forever though, and whether you are new to tasting or a seasoned veteran, this is the kit you've been waiting for. i know i have been.

Bold City Brewery feels the baseball love

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well. Just a quick email to let everyone know that your hometown Brewery will now be available at your hometown baseball team, The Jacksonville Suns, stadium. Starting tonight, Bold City Killer Whale Cream Ale and Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale will be available in two places. At a kiosk above third base as well as in the Sundowner lounge. Game starts @ 7pm. Hope to see you there.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BEER WARS retrospective

I love beer. All beer. Good and bad, though obviously with a preference for the good. Why the bad? Because it’s all part and parcel of the package. I can’t and don’t have the luxury to pick and choose what I love and enjoy about the world of beer while ignoring the rest. I have to truly enjoy, explore, taste, and savor all that beer has to offer. How does the saying go… only through folly do we learn to appreciate life’s blessings.

Something like that.

Does this mean I must accept that which is bad within the beer world with nary a whisper, whimper, or growl of protest? Of course not. But that is where hypocrisy comes into play; where beer politics, bullying, and the cold hard dollar can come to rule over a most uneven playing field. At risk: passion. Passion is under constant threat of suppression in order to perpetuate one bastardized bastion of brewing so that it alone can rule from its blood-soaked kingdom over all that it perceives as a threat.

Humans have been drinking beer for millennia and are more than capable of knowing what constitutes good beer and what constitutes bad beer. This is the good fight for good beer which I am proud to be a part of.

Recently, I was able to watch the documentary Beer Wars. Supping a divine brew, I set the DVD on spin and prepared to fully engage both sides of my brain. An hour and a half later, I was left clutching an empty glass while thoughts swirled about my head much like the foam and lace had previously swirled about before I supped every last divine drop of liquid bliss.

Overall, far less biased and blindly hateful than I was expecting; this is a good thing. The purpose of the movie would have been completely lost if it had been a mash of hate, spite, and pitiable bitterness. That would have played directly into the hands of the Big3 which Anat Baron was highlighting. A veteran of the beer industry herself, she launched Mike’s Hard Lemonade into the national success it is today before branching out on her own.

The largest point of controversy for the documentary is Rhonda. There are positives and negatives to the heavy coverage her story received which I will cover in depth later. The other two heavily featured characters were Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams. Not to be outdone, other players in the movie included Charlie Papazian of the American Homebrewers Association, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, Dick Yuengling of Yuengling, Kim Jordon of New Belgium Brewing, and Carol Stoudt of Stoudts Brewing.

A particularly bright spot of the movie for me was the short interview with the affable Michael Jackson, a gentleman who brought honor and dignity to real beer. I unfortunately entered the world of beer too late to personally meet Michael Jackson at least once, but his passion for both beer and scotch will always be an inspiration. I can only hope to do honor and justice to his memory by also championing beer and scotch with equal grace, romance, and respect.

But I digress.

The nostalgia aspect of Beer Wars with its retro ads, commercials, and inside sales pitch guides on how to undercut your competition in the most politically incorrect ways was ironically amusing in a sad sort of way. At least there was once a time where the Big 3, InBev/AnBusch especially, didn’t try to hide their cold war sales tactics behind false pretenses.

Furthering my bemusement at the expense of the Big 3 was the blind tasting of Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Coors Light.
Spot. On.
Despite what many die-hard fanatics of their label will proclaim, in a blind tasting, you cannot and will not be able to taste the difference. After guessing wrong, one blind taster’s answer as to why he drank Coors Light – habit.
Habit, my friend, is a bitch to break. But, what exactly drives habit?
Simplicity? Laziness? Dullness? Boredom? Acquiescence? Subservience?
All of the above, actually, and I am just as guilty of it at times as everyone else. Habit is habit which means it involves not independent thought, but a dependence on not having to think. Defined specifically as "a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior/an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary”, at what point do we stop controlling habit and habit starts controlling us?

So what if the macro light lagers all taste the same? It’s what you like to drink, right? That’s what the commercials, advertisements, and marketers say, right? It tastes great really cold and goes down super fast. But then again, so does water and it’s free at most establishments along with being calorie free and much more refreshing. So, back to my original question then; just what is it that drives the Big 3 to success based on a similarly tasteless overly carbonated watered down alcoholic beverage that is but a pale shadow of its proud beery heritage?

Marketing, the almighty dollar, and mindless habit.

Your life is their livelihood so from childhood unto the grave, they desire nothing more than to keep your culled habits all to themselves. Marketing is what drives the bottom line; it certainly isn’t style, taste, and diversity. If that were the case, people would be more inclined to stop drinking the Big 3’s macro light lagers, choosing instead flavor and diversity to match our expanding palates.

During his Dogfish Head dinner, Sam Calagione struck this head-on by appealing to his patrons’ independence, intelligence, and freedom of choice. Only you and I can know for ourselves what we might like and want in a beer whether by itself or paired with dinner. No fancy multi-million dollar corporate ad can tell me what to drink, what to like, and what to buy.

I am my own person. Are you?

But what about the others? Do craft and import brewers want us to buy their beer? Of course. Do they want to try and actively sell it to us? Of course.

Clearly evidenced in Beer Wars, the main difference is that a little education, dedication, and diversity of flavor culminates in a quality beer. Quality beer goes a long way towards selling itself, and not the other way around. As Greg Koch of Stone commented, quite seriously, his hopped-up malty beer, Arrogant Bastard Ale, told him what its name was, not the other way around.

Beer has personality. It has moods. It wants to please. It wants to be loved. It wants to be cajoled, coveted, and aged whenever appropriately possible. Age is a blessing after all, not a curse as many purveyors of age-defying products would have us believe. Beer also doesn’t want to be dependent of others; it is very independently minded and considerate of its origins. Nature works her best wonders with harmonious cooperation, not cold sterile precision. Beer is love. Beer is beauty. Beer is nourishment and inspiration. Beer is life. Beer is culture, history, religion, ecology and economy. Fear not beer, but embrace her and she shall embrace you.

It wasn’t really addressed in the movie, but go to the InBev/AnBusch website and note their company motto: “Making friends is our business.” Personally and professionally speaking, making enemies is more their business than making friends ever was, is, and will be. If they weren’t such obnoxious jerks, I might be able to semi-respect what InBev/AnBusch has done, whether I agreed with it or not. But no, they take the cake when it comes to sheer evilness. Long before I was a beer geek, they suffered little respect from me, and these days, they suffer none.

That’s not to say that Miller and Coors are all that much better, but the overall prevailing ill will towards the Big 3 lands squarely on the shoulders of InBev/AnBusch. Suffice to say, they have the lawyers to prove it.

It was nice seeing the female side of the real beer movement with Kim Jordon of New Belgium and Carol Stoudt of Stoudts Brewing. I would have enjoyed a bit more time spent with both, especially with Kim in regards to their eco-friendly policies and employee goodwill. I also enjoyed the short-lived GABF footage which featured quips from Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster and beer spokesman for Brooklyn Brewing. Just as he said, far too many people have never enjoyed the visceral pleasures of real beer which is a damn crying shame. Obviously, I have GABF envy and must attend one sooner than later.

Seeing a little bit into the private family lives of all involved offered a much needed human touch to the movie. It is easier to relate on a personal level to the craft beer movement and real beer in general when you feel a human connection with the person brewing the beer. Knowing Sam is not a waffle master, or that Kim rides her red bicycle to work every day takes the brewer out of the world of television and places them in our home. Gathered around the dinner table, stories, laughter, and good food is shared over jolly pints of real beer. Lifelong friendships are made of moments like this.

My retrospective on Beer Wars would not be complete without my thoughts on Rhonda and Moonshot. She produces mixed feelings in pretty much everyone who watches Beer Wars. I’m not everyone though, so I have my own feelings on Rhonda and Moonshot’s role in Beer Wars which some may or may not agree with. I’m not here to be agreed with per say, and so…
Positive Side: A strong focus on Rhonda and Moonshot illuminates just how much personal sacrifice and work is involved to build a brand new beer concept into a successful business. A business venture is not an overnight accomplishment, a fairytale illusion that unfortunately pervades today’s business market. Success is not easy in a very vicious beer-eat-beer world out there where at any given moment your competition will try and crush you, which usually boils down to one of the Big 3 with InBev/AnBusch taking the largest piece of that oppressive corporate pie. It’s the David VS Goliath of the Beer Wars and Rhonda and Moonshot filled that role by showing the new guy on the block struggling against the old hardened headhunters.

Negative Side: Rhonda and Moonshot were featured too heavily, throwing off the otherwise balanced story while lessoning the impact of her personal story. Less Rhonda and Moonshot and more on Carol, Kim, Greg, Jim, or Sam would have balanced the movie’s focus on personal stories.

I wish Rhonda the greatest success with her brand and her business, but I also disagree with a few articles of interest that popped up in her many interviews and monologues. Over one hundred accounts in a very compact and competitive market area is great. Keep them. Build them. When you have a brand established in its core market, then expansion is the next natural step. I also think that her success with Samuel Adams, a huge national brand, has skewed her immediate expectations for Moonshot. (Remember, business ventures don’t succeed overnight). It is my conclusion that she is trying to build too big too fast without having a solid grounding to build from. I also wonder if Rhonda will ever be satisfied with the success of her brand, or if she is seeking that illusory position which was never open to her at Samuel Adams.

Just my two cents.

I applaud what the Alstrom Brothers have done for the online community and real-world community of beer lovers, but during the interview session, they were less than respectful in their comments regarding Moonshot and Rhonda’s objective. I’m not a big advocate of products that blur the line of what could be called beer, but beer with caffeine…how is that any different than the hundreds of coffee stouts and porters that are brewed on a very regular basis by domestic and import craft breweries? Are they two different products? Absolutely. Is one less of a beer than the other? Possibly. Does that make one better than the other? Hard to say, especially when both are meeting a demand. This is a nation of free enterprise, after all, love it or hate it. I’d be curious as to what their real issue is with Moonshot and Rhonda, but that was never addressed or discussed intelligently. Instead, I bore witness to a sad temper tantrum by a grown man who wasn’t happy with somebody’s product that didn’t meet his standards of what he thinks constitutes beer.

Moonshot isn’t my flavor, but I would at least enjoy, even demand, a chance to have a sit-down intelligent discussion with Rhonda about the who, what, when, why, and how of Moonshot.

So what does Beer Wars mean to me?

Being entrenched in the world as both a consumer and retailer, Beer Was presented further affirmation that the Big 3, InBev/AnBusch especially, are in the beer business for money. Their consumer is nothing more than a tool for them to use to make more money and money only. If beer stopped making them money, the Big 3 would just as easily find something else to spend massive amounts of marketing money on to get us to buy it. Monkey see, monkey do. My other affirmation was showing rather clearly that the floundering 3 Tier System is majorly in need of a scrap and rebuild. A system originally meant to fairly manage the big, the little, and the in-between has become yet another corporate conglomerate whose current self-interest is to protect their own self-interests. This very rarely favors the equally worthy specialty craft and import brewers. Last but certainly not least, outdated laws regarding distribution, shipping, and packaging of beer never work in the favor of the specialty brewer and their consumer.

Beer politics aside, at the heart of Beer Wars is the growing interest in real artisanal beers rich with flavor, diversity, and innovation. More and more consumers are growing tired of the same old product and are demanding flavor, diversity, and innovation. Just as in our clothes, our cars, our food, our jobs, and more, we are an ever growing community who wants the better choice for our life. We want the truth, and we’re tired of being fed the same marketing schlock which serves only to cull the already listless masses into buying their tired product. Real beer inspires real choice. Real choice inspires real beer diversity. Real beer diversity inspires real beer freedom.

We are close, but the closer we get to real beer choice, the more the Big 3 feel threatened. Real beer and real choice means that you, the consumer, may choose not to drink their beer anymore. Will the Big 3 go out of business? Hardly, but the reality that I should have a choice to drink real beer, a beer other than theirs, is a choice they don’t want me to have. If freedom of choice isn’t American, than I don’t know what is anymore. Just as in world wars past and long-standing struggles of power, those in power will always cling most desperately to their position and always at the expense of everyone else.

Beer Wars is a must see for anyone and everyone. You don’t have to be a beer geek to enjoy the movie and get at least a little self-reflection out of it.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

current BEER releases and rereleases

New beers and rereleases to look for right now.
(entries in green are available in most of Florida)

  • Victor Ale ~ Allagash
  • Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema ~ Anderson Valley Brewing
  • Peregrine Pilsner, Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale ~ Appalachian Brewing
  • Red Brick Summer Brew ~ Atlanta Brewing
  • Anniversary Ale Sixteen ~ Avery
  • HotRod Red, Devil’s Tramping Ground Tripel, Big Buck Chocolate Stout ~ Aviator Brewing
  • Single-Wide IPA, ZoN, Smokestack, Two Jokers Double Wit ~ Boulevard Brewing
  • Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale ~ Cricket Hill Brewing
  • Collaboration Ale ~ DeProef/Bell’s
  • Red Chair IPA, Black Butte XXI, Twighlight ~ Deschutes Brewing
  • Curmudgeon, Cerise ~ Founders Brewing
  • Luciernaga, Weizen Bam Biere ~ Jolly Pumpkin
  • Stegmaier Midsummer Ale ~ Lion Brewery
  • 10 Commandments, Cuvee de Tomme ~ Lost Abbey
  • Mama’s Little Yella Pils ~ Oskar Blues Brewing
  • Heiferweizen, Surfers Summer Ale ~ Pelican Brewery
  • 3rd Anniversary Double IPA, Older Viscosity ~ Port Brewing
  • Son of a Peach Wheat Ale ~ RJ Rockers Brewing
  • Dad’s Little Helper, American Amber Ale ~ Rogue Brewing
  • Mexican Logger ~ Ska Brewing
  • Incubus ~ Sly Fox Brewing
  • Nude Beach Summer Wheat ~ Stevens Point Brewery
  • Imperial Russian Stout, 13th Anniversary Ale ~ Stone Brewing
  • Blackheart, Fantabulous Resplendence ~ Three Floyds Brewing
  • Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale ~ Thomas Creek Brewery
  • Throwback Lager, Sunrise Weissbier ~ Victory Brewing
  • Maibock, Kolsch ~ Wild Rose Brewery

(thanks to the june/july 2009 issue of DRAFT for the list)

2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest

The 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Festival is fast approaching. Be sure to:
1) Attend and sample as many beers as possible
2) Have FUN!
3) As a vendor or business, buy an advertisement in their brochure which will be handed out to ALL attendees, successfully pimping out your store amongst hundreds of merry revelers.
4) Help out two wonderful charity organizations by attending the 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest and having a grande ole time.
5) and most importantly, REAL BEER!

All information can be obtained via their website: Treasure Coast Beer Fest

will read for beer

Finally finished the very painstakingly academic book Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World 1300-1600 by Judith M. Bennet. It was highly informative despite its very dry format and extensive reiteration of established facts and thesis. Truly, the book could have been half its length and been just as informative and, even more so, twice as effective. Having effectively shelved that book, I am now currently perusing the book Barleywine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell. Part of the Classic Beer Styles Series of books, I have an eye on about at least a half dozen I want to and will eventually read.

Not reading yet, but just in at my local bookstore, the Vero Beach Book Center, is the brick… er, tome All Belgian Beers/Les Bieres Belges/Alle Belgische Bieren. Weighing in at 1568 pages, it is quite literally exactly what the title says: ALL. BELGIAN. BEERS. (as close as humanly possible, at least). Written/compiled/recorded by Hilde Deweer, it was released June 15th 2008 in bilingual format (Belgian and English) by Stichting Kunstboek Bvba and documents every single beer currently available in Belgium. Suffice to say, I may not have an established favorite beer or beer style, but my favorite country should be quite obvious by now.

Waiting in the reading queue are:
The Beer Book by Sam Calagione and Tim Hampson
Imbibe! By David Wondrich
Beer in America: The Early Years 1587-1840 by Gregg Smith
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
The Ultimate Guide to Spirits and Cocktails
Whiskey by Michael Jackson

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

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cigar City Brewing bottle release notice

The first in the Humidor Series and the newest of Cigar City Brewing’s bottled releases is out and on select store shelves in the Treasure Coast. The beer itself is their Jai Alai IPA aged on humidor cedar chips, and is exquisitely delicious. Available in capped 750ml bottles, quantity is very limited and already no longer available for reordering. Grab your bottle while you can, save for yourself or share with friends and, most of all, enjoy.

Locations where Cigar City Brewing beers can be found:
Great Spirits – 824 South US1 32962 – on the corner of US1 and Oslo
Roy’s Liquor – 720 South US1 34950
Vine & Barley – 1680 SW St. Lucie West Blvd 34986
Knightly Spirits – 2603 South Hiawasse Blvd 32835
Redlight Redlight - 745 Bennet Rd 32839

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Kid Rock beer - Badass Redneck Lager

honestly, i'm not all that interested or impressed, but i will try it.

my peeve: seeing as how 'badass' and 'different' Kid Rock proposes to be, he goes for the most mainstream, dull, boring, watered-down and unimpressive beer style:

American Standard Lager, aka Macro Light Lager

pardon me if i don't start jumping up & down in excitement.

come on Mr. Kid Rock, i know you can do better than that, or are you just a sell out like the rest of them?

know what would have been impressive?

a big ole FUCK YOU to all the mainstream piss that floods the modern domestic beer market by releasing something big, crazy, and rocking with flavor.

and the name? come on. i know who you are selling to, and they aren't buying. they're sticking with the same watery macro light lagers they have drank for decades with blatant disregard and disinterest to anyone who should try to steer them otherwise. habit is a bitch to break, after all.

his drinking crowd? aka targeted demographic market?

they want foo-foo fruity drinks, jaeger-bombs, or the same ole schlock they have been drinking for years, legally and not so legally. they certainly aren't alternative or rebellious, and heaven forbid your beer should have...calories.

unsurprisingly, the craft market could have been the perfect match, but obviously Kid Rock missed that pulse of America.

i'll try it.
i'll write a review of it.
but i won't buy any more than the one bottle i need to do the above.

PS: i'm particularly disturbed by this line from an earlier SPIN article.

"Move over, President Obama -- Kid Rock has a stimulus plan that's guaranteed to save the economy: getting drunk"

{shakes head}
oh great gods of beer and rationality, please save me from the infernally perpetuating stupidity that is the modern marketing culture i am surrrounded most-unwillingly by.

on a more serious note, that is a very damning phrase for the millions of adults who choose to enjoy our beer in a mature, appreciative, artisanal fashion that does not make us look like immature drunk dumbasses. that damning little quip also does very little to educate the young and impressionable as to the many positive ways to enjoy beer, and spirits in general.

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

Beer Advocate under cyber-attack

much like Rate Beer a few months ago, Beer Advocate has been suffering a long series of hacker attacks. as a RateBeerian, during RBs hacking previous, we were able to seek refuge to hang and talk about beer at Beer Advocate, so of course RB is extending the same helping hand to BA.

the attacks have lessoned/concluded as of now, but they could as easily rear their ugly heads again.

Beer is Peace.

hackers need not apply -.-

Cigar City Brewing ~ Humidor Jai Alai IPA

having been bottled last week, it started hitting shelves last week in various parts of Florida, and for those who live on the Treasure Coast, it should be arriving this week.

i'm hoping to get 3 cases in at work, and will confirm ASAP.

2 of the 3 cases those are reserved, but 1 case will be shelved so i can start building and pimping Cigar City Brewing beers in the store and all along the Treasure Coast.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

as an empowered woman, i drink Real Beer

A well deserved thanks to the current issue of Beers of the World for bringing me the newest corporate machination, BitterSweet Partnership, from Molson/Coors. Beers of the World is a great magazine and the editor comment from Sally Toms along with the in-depth article by Melissa Cole breaks down the overwhelmingly sexist ploy of this new venture by Molson/Coors to “supposedly” empower female beer drinkers.

I am always highly amused by studies that are geared towards, about, and for my gender: Woman. Usually, I find myself an exasperated bundle of aggravation, cynicism, pessimism, irony, amusement, and disgust by just how un-female friendly the surveys actually are. Empowerment? Hah! Don’t make me laugh.

Real female empowerment would make any calculated ploys to cull our likes and dislikes through self-serving advertisement techniques absolutely worthless. Instead, women the world over would have the knowledge and freedom to make up their own minds, choose their own beer, and live by their own standards. This in turn would naturally generate a socio-economic demand for beer diversity and exploration brought about by an openly educated and informed environment which encourages exploration of all things different instead of discouraging them. Craft and import beers have been quenching this multi-gender thirst for beery adventure for generations.

But alas, it would seem that the BitterSweet Partnership by Molson/Coors, headed by an elite panel of women chosen and paid by Molson/Coors, are here to tell me exactly what I really enjoy in a beer, and woe-be-me should I disagree.

Sounds rather totalitarian and sexist to me, but what do I know, right? I’m just a lowly woman who, given the opportunity to openly explore the diverse and exciting world of beer and all its visceral pleasures, would be incapable of forming my own educated opinion of what I like and don’t like. Madness I say, madness! Surely I don’t have the capabilities, skills, and professionalism to explore in depth the history of beer, study the cultural and economical roles it has played throughout history, analyze and savor the best aromas and flavors and richness of palate that beer has to offer, and even better yet, explore the centuries old tradition of cuisine-a-la-bier.

Craziness! I mustn’t think such world-shattering thoughts. The sky shall turn to sackcloth and blood shall rain down upon thy sinful flesh.

~sarcasm OFF~

Remove the billion-dollar polish and what is left is exactly what Molson/Coors wants this panel to be: a panel of influential figures ready to cull the gullible masses into believing only what they tell them which in turn means that they will drink only what they tell them to drink.

What product would that be? Whose product would that be?

Hm… why, I do believe that would be the beer in question that these lovely ladies who have been hired by and are paid by Molson/Coors to sell to you and to me. Sounds like just another fancy sales-pitch to me that continues to perpetuate the sexist marketing of non-beer to women because we can’t handle real beer. By targeting an influential market long ignored, they can control as much of that untapped dollar through smooth-talk, marketing, and perpetuating a continual bastardization of the proud beverage, Beer.

This is no serious study of women and beer. This is just yet another shameless pitch in the great corporate game of who can sell more, brew more, and further their influence over a moldable new market: Women. Surely the BitterSweet Partnership, fellow sister’s-in-arms, must be right. They wouldn’t trick us or lie to us or perpetuate the same level of inequality where women should just be good little girls and let others handle life’s difficulties, even if those others are also women.

Are they saying that I, a female beer drinker, am too ignorant to appreciate the overall beauty of beer on my own? Why yes, I do believe that is what they are saying. Wow. I thought I left that kind of juvenile sexist tripe behind in high-school, but I guess I was wrong.

Women have quaffed beer in quantity and diversity of flavor, styles, and varying strengths for centuries. Yet, what is this expert panel’s answer: a clear fruit-flavored alcopop. It doesn’t come close to being neither beer nor deserving of the name Beer. Catherine The Great and Queen Elizabeth I are surely rolling around in their graves.

The only marketing campaign beer needs is a marketing campaign encouraging information, education, diversity, and fun.

I am as much a member of this nation of free thinkers as everyone else, and I say it is high time that women be given the proper credit and an equal place in the world of beer. In many countries where beer is a century’s old proud heritage, real beer is beloved by both men and women alike. Women drink what they like not because a flashy billion dollar advertising campaign told them to or because an on-again off-again celebrity told them to. No, they drink beer because it tastes good, having been brought up in a culture rich with diversity, pride, and fairness in regards to beer.

I hold beer tastings weekly at work along with hosting extracurricular tasting events and seminars all while sharing my love for beer every day of my life with as many people as I possibly can. We don’t talk just about hot chics, fast cars, big pick-up trucks, and fruity clear alcopops. Nay, we discuss with great enthusiasm the fun facts of beer, interesting historical tidbits, diversity and sheer variety of beer available (readily and not so readily). We enjoy the appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall achievements of the beers we drink. We explore and taste what beers go best with what foods and why. We socialize. We share pints, nonics, chalices, bollocks, tulips, pilsners, and glasses of all varieties for beers of all varieties. We share our life with beer and are the richer for it, creating memories to last a lifetime. If you brew it, I will drink it. If it is good, no matter how different wild crazy or eclectic, I will like it.

If I can do it, believe you me, every other woman can.

Beer is not exclusively a man’s beverage anymore than it is exclusively a woman’s beverage. Beer is Beer. Beer belongs to and has belonged to both men and women since the beginning of time. Man and woman alike have enjoyed the refreshing, revitalizing, and sociable aspects of beer since its discovery. Despite various attempts to subjugate women and deny them their beer rights, woman has always had a place in the world of beer, big and small.

There are billions of women, myself included, who have discovered the innumerable joys of real beer. The entire world over, we are united at all times in one purpose: the good quest for real beer. How do we do it? With the help of fellow beer friends, an open mind, a little luck, skill, adventure, and a lot of fun.

Beer is a journey. Do you want to sit back and let someone else live it for you, or do you want to grab the wheel in your own two hands and find your own way?

Once more, greedy corporations who have everything to gain by herding our beer drinking interests like sheep and everything to lose should those sheep choose to finally live on their own, have constructed another money-making scheme. The idea to make beer more woman-friendly is a good one with good intentions at heart. Molson/Coors, unfortunately, does not have good intentions at heart. That, my friends, is the difference between a good idea and a bad execution of said good idea. Beer was born woman friendly; it just needs a little help cleaning up a lot of misunderstandings.

My fellow ladies, beer is beautiful. Will you like all of it? Probably not. Is that OK? Of course. In the vein of fun, of exploration, of independence, of forming new friendships, new bonds, and creating new memories that will last a lifetime, come explore the wonderful world of beer with me and the billions of other women (and counting) who are seeing, smelling, and tasting the joys of really damn good beer the world over. Most of all, have an open mind and have fun. You may find you like the most what you thought you would like the least, and like the least what you thought you would like the most. You won’t know if you don’t try, and as adult women, we surely don’t need someone else leaning over our shoulder and telling us what we should like and why.

I know I sure don’t. I can think for myself, thankyouverymuch.

Life is short. Drink good beer.
Kristyn Lier

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