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)

Christmas Gift Sets

Besides Christmas beers, tis the time of year for Christmas beer gift sets. The variety, quality, and selection depends on the year and the popularity of the gift-sets. As is the case with almost anything Christmas, beers included, the most popular sell out fast.

Some in particular to look for sooner than later would be:
  • Corsendonk Geschenkdoos Gift Pack ~ 2 750ml bottles, Agnus and Pater, along with 2 Corsendonk tulip glasses
  • Corsendonk Christmas Ale Gift Tin ~ 1 750ml bottle of Corsendonk Christmas along with a Corsendonk Christmas Ale goblet
  • Historic Ales from Scotland Gift Pack ~ 1 bottle each of Fraoch, Alba, Ebulum, and Kelpier Grozet
  • Lindemans Gift Box ~ 1 bottle each Lindemans Framboise and Pomme and 1 Lindemans stemmed glass
  • Poperings Hommel Bier Gift Pack ~ 2 750ml bottles with a Hommelbier chalice
  • Full Sail Gift Box ~ 2 Brewmaster's Reserve 22oz bottles (Wreck the Halls, Old Boardhead Barleywine), 2 pint glasses, t-shirt, coasters, stickers, and keychain bottle opener
(thanks to All About Beer)

Seasonal Releases to Look For

Some new, some not so new, and some right around the corner:
  • Ayinger Weizen-Bock
  • Stone 09-09-09 Vertical Epic
  • Rodenbach 2007 Vintage Oak-Aged Beer
  • BarbaRoja Barrel-Aged Red Ale
  • Laurelwood Prevale IPA
  • Harpoon Chocolate Stout
  • Deschutes Cinder Cone Red
  • Full Sail Slipknot Imperial IPA
  • Rogue John John Dead Guy Ale
  • Rogue Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Ale
  • Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb
  • Summit Unchained 90* (90 Shilling)
  • Breckenridge Avalanche Ale (in a can)
(thanks to All About Beer )

Reading Mash

Currently Reading:
  • Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer

In the Que:
  • The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer
  • Japanese Whisky: Facts, Figures, and Taste: The Definitive Guide to Japanese Whiskies

Lost Abbey Brew News

New Online Shop
We're pleased to announce the opening of our new online shop! Now you'll be able to purchase Port Brewing and Lost Abbey merchandise -- T-shirts, workshirts, glassware, tap handles and more -- all from the convenience of your computer. Additionally, if you're a resident of the state of California, you'll also be able to make bottled beer purchases online and have them delivered right to your door. You can check out the new online shop by visiting:

Beer Releases for November/December 2009:
Here's the current new releases for the holiday season. Both of these beers have been bottled and kegged and shipped into distribution, so if you're in a region in which our beers are available (click here for a map), you should see these start to hit your favorite tap rooms and store shelves any time now.
  • Santa's Little Helper, Russian Imperial Stout
  • Gift of the Magi, Holiday Golden Ale
I would personally like to recommend THIS glass seeing as I have one and it is beautiful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shaker Pints Need Not Apply

Let me first say that I have drank many a beer out of shaker pints at bars and, every so often, at home. 'Tis a far cry better than drinking from the bottle, but in the overall indulgence of smelling and tasting your beer, they are pretty worthless.

The more aromatic and flavorful your beer is, all the more critical it is to savor her liquid pleasure in an appropriate glass. And on the other end, should she be delicate and subtle, all the better to use a glass which will bring those delicate aromatics and flavors to the forefront.

Not everyone sports an ever-growing epic glassware collection like myself and many other beer aficionados, but enjoying a brew to its utmost potential can be as easy as grabbing that red wine glass or brandy/scotch snifter in your pantry. The more bulbous they are, the better. You can use this general rule of thumb at home or at a bar should the need arise.

It would seem that as America explores the beer frontier, we are also inspiring other beer-minded individuals all the world over to let creative freedom ring. Ironically, many of those countries have understood, embraced, and nourished the enjoyment of beer in proper glassware. As we are in the cusp of a brewing evolution, it is only fitting that we should rediscover the pleasures of flavorful beers of celebrated diversity in proper glassware of a similar notion.

We will put the issue of branded glasses and marketing to the side for now because, quite frankly m'dear, that is another topic of contemplation altogether.

The reality behind proper glassware was and still is to maximize aroma and taste, and in the case of branded glasses, to proudly claim that glorious beery nectar within as your own. Enter understandable skepticism, but that's where actually smelling and tasting the beer come into play.

There is specific science involved in the details of how and why certain beer styles work in certain glass styles, but I'm here to muse over their tangible aesthetics. Besides shape, the quality and thickness of the glass as well as any potential chips, scratches, and most importantly, cleanliness, are all important factors.

Speaking of cleanliness... For goodness sake, never ever stick your precious beer glasses in the dishwasher as they can and will chip, the heat places undue stress on the glass, and the soap residue never ever wholly rinses off, thus building and building with each additional wash cycle. Brrr! Hand-washing only, please, then set said beer glasses upside down on a clean dishtowel (as lint-free as possible) to air-dry to spotlessly clean perfection. Do not hand dry as you will inevitably leave behind lint on the glass surface. If your fear is junk left on the glass, well, that's why you hand-wash them. After a slow air-drying session, an easy eye-inspection will reveal your precious glasses in all their crystal clear sparkling glory.

On another and very important side note, whomever invented the wash-rinse-sanitize sinks so often found in bars these days needs to be shot. I've gotten more dirty, lipstick encrusted, chipped, and tastes-like-sanitizer glasses from those washing abominations than I care to recall.

Let me reiterate: hand-washing is goodly.

Before I delve into some of the most commonly used styles of glass, I have one more public service announcement: do NOT chill your glasses.

8 Standard Glassware Styles:
  1. Tulip Pint - porters and stouts
  2. Nonick Pint - English ales, light session beers, cask ale
  3. Snifter (brandy/scotch) - big beers such as old ales, barleywines, and imperial stouts. quite frankly anything big and imperial does well in these.
  4. Tulip or Poco Grande - most ale ranging from sessionable to big
  5. Tapered Pilsner - any and all pilsners and lagers
  6. Weissbier - any German or German-style hefeweizen, dunkel included
  7. "Bolleke" Goblet, aka the Chalice - strong beers, especially of the Belgian and artisanal small-batch variety
  8. Thistle - scottish and scotch ales, especially any of the wee heavy variety
(thanks to Randy Mosher and his book, "Tasting Beers")

Generic unbranded glasses of the above styles are actually rather easy to acquire these days and believe you me, just a few years ago that was not the case. Specialty household stores and markets worth their mettle will have the majority of styles to choose from, often from a variety of makers. If you are looking for something a bit more classy, Riedel and a few other specialty glass makers now offer a fabulous collection of exquisite designed and produced glasses.

Once you start amassing an appropriate collection of beer supping glasses, storage is just as important. Keep them somewhere safe, preferably not in the open, resting upside down, and never ever stacked atop one-another.

I'll never have enough glasses because I am a glass whore, but that is me. Besides, enjoying different beers in their variously styled glasses is as exciting as the variety of beers there is to enjoy. It only takes one extra step to bring tasting beer to the next level, and glassware is an intricate asset of that journey.

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

Cigar City Brew News

The Response To The Response:

Let me reiterate... you guys, and especially wayne are the embodiment of sheer awesomeness. The kick ass, bulls of pamplona stampeding, paint peeling, nitroglycerin toting version... not the carebear version (from which I stoll the phrase "sheer awesomeness") Besides, creepy is like the new black. Rock on guys... happy turkey day

Try as I might, I can offer no rebuttal of the obvious statements of fact which precede my comments. And Creepy might just make a fine and nuanced Halloween Beer name. Just saying.




Wayne, Responding To An Assessment of His Physical Aesthetics.

Someone, whom I assume to be a fine upstanding member of the craft beer community, decided to single Wayne out regarding his ruggedly handsome appearance. His ruggedly SEXY appearance.

Wayne had this to say:
"This is what happens when you let a reporter from the San Diego Examiner take a picture of you with your own camera. It was a productive brew day, however. I have taken "ugly" lessons from the best. I am overjoyed that I caught your fancy. I hope that you continue to enjoy our beer in the future. We not only brew beer outside of the status quo, we also look the part. Ha! Thanks for responding."

I had this to say:
"That's my boy!"

Joey Redner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Beers

Seeing as I have yet to sup on these two lil gems from my Chicago trip, I think I'll be cracking them open tomorrow:

Baladin Xyauyu Etichetta Rame (Copper Label) 2005


Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) Abbaye de St. Bon Chien 2007

Ooh, both are over 10%ABV. Good thing I'll be stuffing my face with ham, stuffing, n veggies to soak it all up with. Dessert is the only unknown at the moment...

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

Cigar City Brew News

Wayne's Bruery/CCB Collaboration Brew Diary
What follows is Wayne's account of his trip to California where he brewed a collaboration beer with The Bruery:

I roll out of bed at 5:45 AM on a Sunday morning. Some irritating alarm that needs a good smashing has its way with me. I consider rolling back over and decide to get up instead. I grab my suitcase and my backpack, after washing my face and brushing my teeth, and throw them into the back of my girlfriend’s Element. The sun is slowly coming up as we cross the causeway, headed towards the airport. Her son is half awake in the backseat and I am trying to explain to him that I am going to be on the other side of the country by 3 PM his time. No response. I fall out of the car at 6 something. I grab my bags and scurry towards the ticketing counter, e-ticket in hand. Time to check in…so I enter my info and it directs me to the ticket counter…seems I missed my flight cut off by 5 minutes. Time to be rebooked…looks like I am going to Philly first to catch a connecting flight to Phoenix and then on to Santa Anna. Not a big deal, right? If 14 hours in terminals and on airplanes is not a big deal, then it was a perfect trip.

Patrick picked me up at the airport at 6 pm Pacific. I was ready for a beer and food to say the least. We went to a small barbecue place in Seal Beach called Beacon’s. Pliny the Elder was a treat as I tasted a California interpretation of Southeastern BBQ. It was a well deserved retreat after a long day of travel. Monday morning finds me waking at 6:15 AM at my hotel in order to get ready to brew the first half of the collaboration. I’m shifting about the hotel room listening to CNN and the Weather Channel, while constantly thinking about the percentage of dark malts that we are putting into this beer. Will the color be right? Will the roast character be harmonious or astringent? Did I bite off more than I can chew with those formulations?

Out the door…I walk up the street based upon last nights’ delivery. I end up walking the wrong way and have to turn around and walk the other way. Nope, it still doesn’t make sense so I jump the fence into the back parking lot of the brewery and head in the back door.

Tyler and Jay are standing around Tyler’s desk when I walk in.
“We still have to mill grain”.
“We were waiting for you”, Tyler says.
“Fine by me”, I said.

We went over the grist and started milling. The mill at The Bruery is fairly slow due to restrictions out of the mill and into the grist case. Two bags at a time get fed out of the hopper and through the mill, then into the grist case. I won’t get too in depth here but it takes time to mill grain. Most of the time the grist is milled the day before but they were just being extremely kind and wanted to review the grist with me before the first mash.

We start mashing in. Jay is at the helm to begin with. The smell of caramel and Cocoa Puffs starts drifting into the air. Wonderful! Thirty minutes later and we are going into vorlauf…the moment of truth. What color is it? A nice rich brown color…that works. I look at the three valved grant and smile. Time for lauter…we start to ship high gravity first runnings to the kettle. After covering the bottom of the kettle, we turn on the direct fire kettle and the caramel and toffee aromatics waft into the air. We decide on a two hour boil based upon the original volume and gravity… time to get some caramelization.

Final gravity ends up being 16.55 degrees Plato based upon an average of the first and second batch. The beer is actively fermenting after day two, which is highly unlikely with the yeast strains that we used. I think that we were all pleased. The brew went very well and I have to give a big thanks to Patrick and all the guys at The Bruery for treating me like nobility while I was there.

My favorite Bruery beer was Mischief. It is a Belgian Golden Strong that is hopped like an American IPA. I love both the styles but putting them together was just awesome! This is just the beginning. The beer has a long journey to go through. I will be anxiously awaiting the end product as well.

Drink you in the Summer of 2010…patience brings great and unique rewards.
Wayne Wambles
Head Brewer

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Choose Just One...

...when you don't have to and, ultimately, don't want to.

Ever been asked that inevitable question, the one all beer aficionados dread being asked:
"What is your favorite beer?"

Our answer is usually along the lines of none of them and all of them at the same time. Why? The answer lies in the question which is in and of itself, the dilemma.

Take three standard loaves of white bread. If those were your only bread choices, it would be easy to have a favorite; after all, the only difference is in the brand-name packaging. If the loaves were switched unawares, you would never know. Taste wise, they are all the same.

Enter macro light lager. All the big brewers have fancy names, fancy, packaging, and millions of dollars with which to drown us in their brand-name advertising. The only difference between their beers are the names, packaging, and advertising. If they were switched unawares, you would never know. Taste wise, they are all the same.

On the other hand, a beer aficionado faces a different sort of taste situation: diversity.

The reason we can't choose a favorite is because we don't have to, most importantly, and consequently, don't want to. Whether local, out-of-state, or halfway round the world, our beerverse is truly limitless. This is reflected in the ever growing variety of beer styles, flavors, and the expanding palates who enjoy them. There will always be a few duds in the mix, but otherwise it truly is all good. What we drink and enjoy relies as much on the where, when, why, and how as much as the brewer, the beer, and the drinker. Ultimately, the proof is in the beer itself.

And so the beer aficionado, myself included, resolutely and proudly declare with a long pause, lopsided grin, and thirsty gleam in our eye that we have no favorite because we have no need to differentiate our beer amidst a sea of homogenized sameness. Instead, our beer rides tall and true upon a shimmering sea of adventure, kept company by thousands of other such ships of their own fabulously eclectic design.

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

Cigar City Brew News

Special CCB Beer Dinner at NoHo Bistro December 8th

We will be hosting a special beer dinner at NoHo Bistro on December 8th, for tickets or inquiries call: 813-514-0691

I have been doing beer dinners with Jessica and Tina of the Noho Bistro off and on for about 4 years and they always create delicious and creative courses to pair with the selected beer. For this beer dinner, our first in a long time, we will be breaking out some rare CCB beers to pair with NoHo's tempting culinary offerings. If you have ever thought about attending one of our beer dinners, but just haven't had the time, this one promises to be our best NoHo event yet and not to be missed!

Cigar City Beer Dinner

Starting Beer: Vanilla Maduro Brown Ale


Wild Mushroom Spanikopita with Ricotta &Thyme and Smoked Tomato Sauce

Maduro Brown Ale

Salad Spinach & Roasted Pear Salad with Gorgonzola & Port Vinaigrette

Jai Alai India Pale Ale


Honey Roasted Chicken, Pumpkin Polenta, Sautéed Urban Oasis Greens & Walnut Pesto

Calabaza Marron Pumpkin Spice Brown Ale

Dual Dessert

Toasted Pound Cake with Seasonal Fruit Compote

Sugar Plum Fairy Brown Ale

Homemade Florida Citrus Fruitcake

Warmer Winter, Winter Warmer Old Ale

Parting Gift

Joey’s Favorite Chocolate Mayan Cookie

Bourbon Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout

Joey Redner

Beer Wars Newsletter

I’m happy to report that Beer Wars is going mainstream. I can’t make the big announcement yet but we just closed a deal to make the film available to tens of millions of people beginning February 1st. More on this when I can make a formal announcement. All I can say is that this is BIG. And I can’t wait to share.

In the meantime, we continue to have screenings far and wide. Just this month, I traveled to San Diego, Rehoboth Beach and New York City. My favorite part (because I’ve seen the movie at least a 1,000 times) is the Q&A at the end. Audiences really get that this film is about important issues and that we need to address them sooner than later. And it’s been fun to show Beer Wars not only to craft beer geeks but to a film festival audience and even scientists from around the world at Rockefeller University.

Thank you for being part of this adventure. Share this!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Anat Baron

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beer Honors ~ Centenial Fine Wines & Spirits

Ever since I was informed that my sister, Jenn, was preggie back in May, I knew something extra-special was required to commemorate this most momentous of occasions for all parties involved. Jenn and I haven't always had the best relationship, but that was then and this is now. Jenn is an older sister I am also proud to say is a friend.

Being informed I was soon going to be an Aunt delighted me far more than expecting. I've never been hot on the idea of kids in general, but this was different. This was happening to me; OK, not the labor pains and such, but still, family is family. Maybe time and age really are the great mellowers and sages of life... I don't know if I'll be a great Aunt, but I'm going to do my best, mistakes and all.

Welcoming the new bundle of joy to the family requires (as mentioned above) an appropriately special bundle of joy. For a while I was clueless as to the what; just that it had to be a once-in-a-lifetime token of my well-wishes for Mom, Dad, Lily, and the new family as a whole. I was drawing blanks until her announced due month of November.

Lighting struck and all was clear.

November soon rolled along like any other day after a long night's rest, and one early morning, I was officially an Aunt. Jenn and Josh's hard work done, it was now my turn. Turning to a trusted network of friends and connections, Florida quickly turned into a dead-end, her bounty already fully tapped.

Who should come to my rescue? Centennial Fine Wine & Spirits out of Dallas, TX. One Mr. Richard O'Neill answered my cry for help and within a few minutes of receiving his email reply, phone calls were made, card charged, and she was on her way to me. No questions asked. No hesitancy. Just good honest service, genuine cheer, and old-fashioned trust sprinkled with a dash of surprise when I requested FedEx overnight.

The next day my own little bundle of joy arrived safe and sound. I won't be able to see Lily until February, but so too do Jenn and Josh have to wait for their surprise.

In the meantime, I want Centennial Fine Wine & Spirits and Mr. Richard O'Neill to know that you are shining stars in my book of good people. May the holidays and life in general bless you as well as it has me. Whenever I am in Dallas, TX, I'll be sure to stop by and spend a few, in person this time, no less.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weyerbacher Brew News

Latest Release: Quad 11.9% ABV.
Belgian abbey-style quadruppel ale. Quad was the only US beer to make the top 10 in the New York Times panel tasting of Belgian style brews in 2005. Notes of date, fig and malt intrigue the palate with just enough hops to balance things out. Ages to perfection in 6 to 12 months.

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.

Still in the stores:
Winter Ale is plentiful in most stores but is moving fast. Grab your cases soon. If you look hard and are lucky you may also still find some pumpkin.

Mark Myers, a chef at Wegmans, is developing recipes featuring our products. Rib Roast with Caramelized Onion and Winter Ale Au Jus is on our web site and sounds delicious. You will also find other recipes such as for Bigos (Polish Pork Stew) and Pumpkin and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta made with Pumpkin Ale. As soon as we have the Quad recipe we will post it on the web site.

Comments from both Chris (es):
Chris Wilson and Chris Lampe are responsible for producing all of our wonderful beers. Chris Wilson, Head Brewer develops all of our recipes. He and Dan Hitchcock brew to very tight standards. Chris Lampe and his crew cellar and package our beer. Chris watches all of the cellaring activities closely to ensure you buy quality products.

Chris Wilson, Head Brewer:
We have installed a new 40bbl whirlpool which allows us to utilize our 40bbl boiling kettle to its maximum and doubles the volume of a single brew. Installation was not a simple endeavor, but with the help of some excellent riggers and welders it went as smoothly as possible. Make time for a visit so that you can see our new equipment. It looks like a new building..

Chris Lampe, Production Manager:
We have also been busy installing new equipment. A new 40bbl Bright Tank came in with the Whirlpool and is in place thanks to the diligent efforts of Geoff Michalski, Production Supervisor and Plumber Extraordinaire. On top of that we were able to install a number of pallet racks which (as Chris mentioned) make it look like a brand new building. Check the website in the near future for photos of all of the new equipment.

Visitor Center:
The VC is open every Saturday 12 – 3 for tasting and tours. We will be open 12-26-09 and 1-2-10. We always have every style currently available for tasting and if Chris Wilson has brewed anything special that will also generally be available. Hotel, the last 2009 one off will be bottled (for the VC only) this week.

Other News:
In PA our Big Beer Variety Pack is available at most distributors. It is a great case containing 6 each of Double Simcoe, Merry Monks, Blithering Idiot and Old Heathen. Look for them at your favorite distributor. For those of you outside of PA you have the luxury of being able to mix and match. These styles complement one another.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BEERporting ~ Waldos @ The Driftwood Resort

If you are looking for craft or import beer, speedy service, and luxury accommodations, look elsewhere. But that will be your loss, not mine.

Waldos is a Vero Beach institution that has been creating timeless memories since 1947. Personally, I've been patroning their thankfully relatively unchanged premise for longer than I can remember. Diapers and swimmers were involved in that scenario somewhere, I am sure. Now, if I can just find the pictures...

So why is a beer geek like me here at Waldos when I know their beer selection is for diddly-squat?

One thing and everything. Conch fritters come to mind, along with a postcard view of the ocean, and a local crowd that spans the staff and the sun-bathing patrons. Whereas some may travel hundreds of thousands of miles for just a momentary glimpse of this lazy tropical paradise, I get to enjoy it every day of my life.

By car = 5 minutes
By foot = 15 minutes

True paradise would involve indulging in craft and import beer at my favorite local watering hole hangout, but the bar does almost just as well. Right now I am sitting here supping on some wonderful Laphroig Quarter Cask (neat with a splash of water); salty, briny, medicinal, peaty, and earthy, she is a perfect fit for the ocean breeze currently caressing my soul. There may be no craggy shores, but the golden sand-dunes do just fine.

Should it not be apparently obvious, if I could rest these achy bones on a hammock in a shack at the beach every day... my sweet home. Earlier years saw a more restless hyperactive Kristyn, but always at the heart was a lazy laid-back beach bum. Or now, as Dad so cheekily coined, a Caribbean Aunt to honor my newly born niece, Lily Hope.

Waldos is the perfect getaway to kick up the feet, toss aside the bustle, and just R.E.L.A.X. Here flip-flops rule, bathing suits are practically required, and the long moment is where life is at.

Personally, a glass of artisanal craft and import beer fits as well in this picture as the fried-to-golden-brown conch fritters that just appeared before me. A crisp German lager, hoppy IPA, spiced Belgian, clean alt bier, or rich stout (mm... oyster stout) would be most welcome in my hand right now.

Unfortunately, Budweiser owns the bar, figuratively speaking, and so anything that resembles fermented beery bliss is a Budweiser product. The Waldos Lager? Budweiser brewed with a Waldos tap handle. Even more importantly, "resembling" is about as close to beer as it gets at Waldos. Your choice(s): standard lager, light standard lager, and even lighter standard lager. Whew! I don't know if I can handle that much "diversity" in my life... Oops. I stand corrected. They also have Shock Top, Budweiser American Ale, and Miller Lite. Joy.

~wipes sarcasm off keyboard~

As a beer geek, it makes my heart cry. As a Florida beach bum gal, I can deal with it for now because everything else is exactly as it should be: relaxed, friendly, slow, and 100% Vero Beach. If you've lived here your whole life as I have, Vero Beach is, well, Vero Beach, and those who love living here love it just for that. The beer on the other hand is desperately in need of improvement.

I doubt very much the beer choices at Waldos have changed any since I was a diaper-laden lass, but I have hope. I'm no fool to demand a total upheaval, but it sure would be nice to have at least a couple three really good choices to drink of. She doesn't even have to be draft (though if Waldos wanted to...), bottle is OK. Give me a non-frosted glass; I'll pour, and we are good to go.

And that's really all I have to say on this matter, for now. If nothing happens with the beer, you will hear from me again. But in the meantime, I have a view to soak in, breeze to revel in, the best corn fritters in all of Vero Beach to snarf, and absolutely no rush to be anywhere else doing anything else.

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

Orlando Brewing Brew News

Friday, November 20th @ 9pm: Bob "Stormcrow" Sanders

Saturday, November 21st @ 2pm
Cornhole Tournament University Challenge
There has been much talk about what University has the best Cornhole Players.
If you are interested in representing your beloved University (wear your colors) to provide the answer:
"________________ really are the best Cornhole Players!"
You may sign up and pay your entry fee at the Orlando Brewing Tap Room or e-mail
$10 Entry Fee for each team.
The more teams to sign up... the BIGGER the CASH PRIZE.
  • 1st Place Winners: will win 60% of the total entry
  • 2nd Place Winners: will win 30% of the total entry
  • 3rd Place Winners: will win 10% of the total entry
Standard American Cornhole Association Rules will be followed. These rules will be explained before the tournament begins. All entry fees must be paid at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the tournament.

Saturday November 21st @ 2pm to Midnight
FREE Latin Jazz & Art Show Event
Produced by ShowMax International & Alberto Quintero
Music starts @ 6pm: Performances by Orlando Sanchez's Akangana and Lindy Romez y Mar
(VIP in the Tanks: $25, includes Beer, Wine, & Food)

Cigar City Brew News

Wet Zoning Hearing Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 1:30 PM we go before the Tampa City Council to ask for restriction free wet zoning for the brewery. What his will allow us to do is actually sell beer on premises and to be open when most people can actually make it, evenings and weekends. If we get the wet zoning we are seeking we will have an expanded tasting room which will operate more like a pub. You'll be able to come in and buy a pint of CCB beer to drink on premises as well as buy growlers to-go. Naturally this will allow us to do more special events and themed beer events such as cask ale nights, vertical tasting events and guest taps.

How you can help Cigar City Brewing: If you can make it to the council meeting tomorrow at 1:30 PM to speak and show your support, excellent. If you can't you can still let the Tampa City Council know that you support our nascent craft brewing efforts by emailing the council members and letting them know that you'd like to see the CCB Tasting Room be open evenings and weekends. If you are a 9 to 5er who can't get by during the day expanded operational hours is the remedy you have been waiting for. So please take the time to email or phone all of the Tampa City Council members and let them know how you feel about this. If you are an out of towner, all the better.

Click On Each Member For Their Email or Phone Contact

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flavorability Is Drinkability

Whether in print, on the tellie, or out of someone's mouth, almost everyone knows the marketing catchphrase "drinkability". Specific to Bud Light, the simple yet catchy phrase (hence, catchphrase) is applicable in general terms to most standard and light lagers renowned for their homogenized sameness.

For drinkability as they mean it, unoffensive bland cold liquid refreshment does the job, but then, so does water. After all, it tastes great and is less filling (catchphrase #2), but then again, so does water. Hm, I sense a recurring trend here...

Marketing a brand instead of the actual product builds blind faith in the brand, which consumers in turn embrace as a badge of loyalty and personal identity. Blind trials have proven time and again that brand-loyal consumers of standard and light lager cannot taste the difference. This being the case, drinkability has nothing to do with the beer itself, but instead focuses entirely on marketability and branding.

So, just what is drinkability?

Quite simply, real flavorability is true drinkability, and vice-versa. As infinitely diverse and beautifully eclectic as the people who drink them, so too is the flavorability of beer and the drinkability it creates unique to the person(s). The key difference is that flavorability for drinkability doesn't focus on a homogenized demographic of millions, but instead celebrates the diversity within and the endless opportunities they offer.

Ask a random standard (light) lager drinker what their beer tastes like and the answer will usually run the gamut of crisp, light, refreshing, and, my personal favorite, beer. Bzzt! There is no "beer" flavor unless, of course, one is referring to the lack of flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, and personality, all of which has been economized out. Ask a drinker of any other beer what the beer tastes like and their answer will be as exuberantly eclectic and varied as the beer (or beers) they are drinking.

As diverse as the persons who drink them, flavor is always what determines our individual enjoyment our favorite liquid imbibement: Beer. At least, it should be, and for generations, cultures, and countries past it was, and for many, it still is.

I enjoy a good lager or pilsner as much as the next, but I enjoy them for their richly roasted, proudly hopped, and carefully lagered aromas, flavors, and differing appearances.

Marketing is a helpful tool, but it should only be a tool to effectively bolster and support a product which can also stand on its own. Drinkability for the sake of wet liquid refreshment is no different than water for the sake of wet liquid refreshment. I'd rather savor a glistening glass of water, beadlets sparkling on the outside of my glass, than a watery product that marketing is trying to pass off as beer. Water tastes better (no head-ache, no half-empty bottle abandoned for a freezing-cold fresh one), and if the argument is for inebriation, why not hit the liquor instead.

Quality will always best quantity, though fortunately and unfortunately, quantity will always be around to best. But if you take the time to step away from the false glitz and glam of shallow satisfaction, you may just find an amazing new flavor to set you aflame with life and awareness like no other. Flavorful beer warms the heart, body, and soul while soothing aches and pains, silencing the day's worries, and bringing people together in social merriment.

No cheap gimmicks, snappy marketing, or hokey fads need apply, unless, of course, the beer within is worthy of such highly heralded greatness. But then they aren't cheap or hokey, though maybe a wee bit snappy. Instead, I have just what I need: the beautiful pleasure of drinking beer that appeals to my person throughout the years and wherever in life I may be.

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

2009 The Abyss Mania

Lisa Morrison, aka The Beer Goddess, gets a sneak back-room peak at the 2009 Deschutes The Abyss release. Let the beer mania ensue...

BEERflections~ JJTaylor Trade Show 2009

There is a new event I look forward to each year almost as much as the Treasure Coast Beer Fest: the JJTaylor Trade Show. As a beer geek and retailer, it is a quintessential opportunity to explore a mighty bounty of beer from the premier beer distributor in Florida. My virgin trade show voyage was last year, 2008, at the Marriott, Hutchinson Island. This year's event was held a little closer to home (my home) at the St. Lucie Civic Center. A grand social needs a grand hall in which to take place, after all.

Running from 3pm - 7pm, an unfortunate miscommunication had the event listed as 4pm - 8pm on the Civic Center website. The hour differential appeared to matter not though as a diverse array of beer retailers, restaurateurs, and so on started arriving right around 3pm, the influx holding strong and steady until the very end. In between, 55 different breweries were properly represented under the tender stewardship of brewery reps, JJTaylor staff, and beer-minded volunteers. It was a true union of like-minded passions wrapped up in jolly good times and good people for beer enlightenment at its best.

As I am want to do, I arrived early to help in what way I could with set-up and preparation. The location immediately impressed; being my first time at the St. Lucie Civic Center, I was awestruck. Her immense size and breadth of space isn't readily apparent until one finds themselves walking ever closer to the grand entrance. In that moment you feel just a little bit smaller, more humble if you will, as you gaze up and around in wonder. Glimpsing only the area in which the trade show was hosted, it was a minute fraction of all the public and private services available there.

JJTaylor doesn't sign my paychecks, but after close to two years of getting to know many of its fine staff, I feel more like family than a customer. I count at least a good half-dozen as friends, a feeling I feel sincerely reciprocated. JJTaylor is good people, and after the festivities, I enjoyed laughing over a few shared beers, the perfect conclusion to a satisfying day.

Of course, a beer expo (trade show) is ultimately about the beer, an arena which JJTaylor excels in with care, diversity, and determination. This year also saw the pleasant addition of small batch artisanal spirits to taste and potentially retail. Perfect Vodka, Blue Head Tequila, and Rogue Spirits made a solid showing. I was excited to finally be able to taste the Rogue Spirits, and Perfect Vodka was, well, pretty damn close to perfect. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Blue Head Tequila.

Not even a month old in Florida, BrewDog was also well represented along with a few new surprise arrivals to Florida. Under the knowledged tutelage of Matt Abdoney, I reveled in what was my personal highlight of the trade show: Palm and Steenbrugge. How new are they? I can't order them for the store yet, but when I can, you better believe I will.

Palm is famous for their Palm Amber while Steenbrugge kept me occupied with their blonde, wit, dubbel, and tripel. A little known fact about Palm that folks may not be aware of is that during a trip to Belgium, a certain dynamic duo were inspired to bring that wonderfully sessionable taste home with them. They did, and Fat Tire was released upon hordes of thirsty drinkers tired of the same old boring homogenized day-to-day beer. The rest is, as they say, history.

On a personal note, seeing as Palm is about to bless my fridge, my lips, and my inventory, I hope that New Belgium isn't too far behind. There is more than enough love in this beer geek's heart to welcome both with open arms and awaiting glass.

But I digress.

My goal for the 2009 JJTaylor Trade show was to taste as many of their beers that I had yet to try. Crazy as it sounds, I haven't tasted all the beer in the world there is to taste. In fact, I've barely nicked the surface, which is just the way I like it.

While the majority of JJTaylor's readily available portfolio has crossed my thirsty lips, there are still plenty who have not. All in all, I smelled, supped, savored, and took tasting notes on 21 different beers. Sound like a lot? Not really, considering I only covered about half the floor before calling it a night. Tasting notes are useless when tainted by palate fatigue, a cramped hand (if you've read my handwriting, you understand), and exhausted mind.

Before people start to freak out over the amount of different beers I tasted, let me remind you that this was a beer TASTING expo. Each attendee (volunteers and staff included) were given a complimentary 2oz tasting glass that was cute as a button. Take the standard shape of a weizen glass, shrink, and voila. They were real glass, too; no shabby plastic disposable tasting cups like last year.

Ok. Tangent rant over.

The check-in-desk was where one acquired their glass along with a very helpful clipboard. A clipboard by itself is pretty worthless, but these came with tasting sheets where one could write the names of the beers they liked (or didn't) along with any other pertinent information they desired. While showing off their impressive portfolio was one of JJTaylors main goals, it was also readily obvious that they wanted to demonstrate and enforce their commitment to the retailer. Without both parties working together to better the diversity and quality of beer readily available, no one wins.

Four hours may seem like a long time to browse and taste beers, but let me tell you, it wasn't near enough. Or maybe it's just me... But then again, I wanted to ensure my observations and notes were precise, along with taking the time to socialize with the brewery reps, JJTaylor staff, and friendly beer peeps.

Lots of continuous beer tasting requires a hopefully impressive spread of gourmet food. The kitchen and staff of the St. Lucie Civic Center were well up to the task, far exceeding my preconceived lofty expectations and standards. Four tables offered deluxe nibblies and food such as meat and cheese platters, Swedish meatballs, a flinstone-sized hunk of roast beef (I'll have mine extra-bloody please), and individual mini-desserts to entice and thrill. The downfall to having such delicious food was it disappeared quickly, and I sadly missed out on quite a bit.

One of the goals of having quality food at a beer tasting event (besides lining the belly) is to hopefully highlight and enhance the beer food pairing experience. In having both great food and great beers on their own, it was a great success. In the actual execution and active promotion of pairing certain beers with the food, I feel JJTaylor fell short of success. As a recently born beer geek foodie, I hope this aspect receives a more direct effort next year, highlighting the sublime pleasures of beer and food.

Hm... not bad so far if that is my only real gripe...

Weaving in and out of the beery festivities was an eclectic mix of tunes provided by DJ Jon of Martin County. He also heartily carried out the task of announcing the raffle winners of various prizes throughout the trade show. Free beer swag is always a good thing, though I had a gleam on for the assortment of brewery glassware. I am a glassware whore with no shame. Learn it. Accept it. Embrace it.

Shaker pints need not apply.

Drawing an end at 21 different beers tasted, ranging from average (darn you American Standard Lager) to good and topping out at great (thank you Palm and BrewDog Paradox), my love for beer was sensationally sated.

Just as I arrived early to help set-up, so too did I stay after to help tear down, clean up, and head out. An early start deserves a late finish; after all, friends and family help each other out, no questions asked. Plus, personally, it gives me that intimate relationship with the beer I love and the community in which it thrives.

My evening wrapped up with dinner at The West End Grill, followed by beers at Vine & Barley, and concluding with eventual sleep at the Residence Inn Marriott in St. Lucie West. A new hotel, I must say their rooms are pimp and their sales executive, Natalie, was a gracious and patient soul for shuttling us to and fro. It was sometime after eve and before morn when my eyes eventually drifted shut and sleep took over. A lazy morning sans hangover sent me home to Vero after a few cups of coffee and random tellie surfing.

Until the 2010 JJTaylor Trade Show comes around, I think I shall have a beer...

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shopping: Beer vs Wine

Observing, as I am prone to do, a customer spend a better part of 15 minutes browsing for a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, my muse started to tickle the back of my head. As they left, vintage bottle in hand and their wallet much lighter, I considered what had just conspired.

I am sure (well, hopefully) that that one bottle in question will be a smashing indulgence of tasteful ecstasy. A few glasses later and the moment is over, leaving only a wonderful memory and nothing else to follow with.

So where does the beer connoisseur fit in all this?

For the same value spent, a beer connoisseur would bring home multiple bottles of smashingly indulgent tasting ecstasy, each bottle a new discovery, an old friend, an irreplaceable experience. Given the same amount of time and the same money to spend, the beer connoisseur easily emerges the more blessed victor of liquid pleasure.

As a beer geek and connoisseur myself, my opinion is of course biased, and that is OK. But let us not also forget that each moment of quaffing nirvana, beery or vinous, is an experience unique to the individual.

Being a unique experience, it can reasonably be argued then that the beer connoisseur, even the everyday quaffer, has more choice, opportunity, and quality to choose from. For one bottle of sublime wine, I can buy anywhere upwards of a dozen different bottles of beer that are equally sublime and soul-stopping. Maybe even more so...

Is one better than the other? Each have their own merits so I would have to say no. Does one have more to offer than the other? To this I would have to say yes, and the victor would be beer.

Final product is key, but beer is also every facet of recipe preparation, brewing, timing, skill, artistry, and inspiration along with a sprinkling of godisgoode. It is beer's sublime blend of human influence and Mother Nature's touch that pushes her beyond wine's burgundian reach. For all that various wine varietals offer under mankind's watchful eye and guidance, Mother Nature is still the ultimate giver of life and harbinger of death. Wine faces an impenetrable glass ceiling of fruition which beer does not, and if beer should, tis far above and beyond.

It is beer with her immense dedication to quality, diversity, complexity, ingenuity, artistry, cellerability, and taste evolution that makes beer the ultimate master of burgundian pleasures.

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

Call Me AUNT Kristyn

I would like to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to announce that on November 12th at 3:18am, I, Kristyn Lier Beer Ambassador Extraordinaire, officially became an Aunt.

Congrats out to my sis, Jenn, her husband, Josh, and to Lily Hope Miller!
Welcome to the family!

Orlando Brewing Brew News

Sunday, November 15th @ 12:30-2:30pm: Farm to Table
Ourlando is showcasing local farmers and food vendors as well as hosting a screening of Food Fight, a documetary on the American agriculture and food policy in the 2oth century, at the Enzian Theater, 1300 South Orange Ave., Maitland. Tickets are $18 and include food samplings and local organic beer from Orlando Brewing.

Wednesday, November 18th @ 5 to 7pm: Net Impact Orlando
Learn about Net Impact Orlando at this "open house" event at Orlando Brewing. Network and meet others who are interested in building sustainability into the workplace and find new ways to help make Orlando a more sustainable city.

Cigar City Brew News

(i just want to say a HUGE thanks to the guys n gals at CCB for the most amazing year of beer in Florida. you rock!!!)

Ideas For The Coming Year

Warmer Winter, Winter Warmer is nearly read to bottle and other than Hunahpu's Imperial Stout we don't have a lot else planned for the rest of the year. Which brings us to what we plan to do for 2010. At the rate we are going we'll brew pretty close to 900 to a 1,000 barrels in our first year. That is damn good for the first year and we owe a world of thanks to all of our supporters. We couldn't have done it without you guys!

And now that we have a little more tank space, and in 2010 we'll have the capacity to do 12 oz bottles, we want to start looking at some new beers we've wanted to work into the lineup. One beer I really want to tackle in 2010 is a Spanish Cedar Gruit. No herbs, no spices...just wort and Spanish Cedar. Spanish Cedar is used to make cigar boxes because it is very resistant to rot and termites. There are also studies suggesting it also has antimicrobial properties. Which would make sense. So that is definitely one we are looking to tackle in 2010.

We also want to work in some lagers in 2010. Lagers are a passion of Wayne's and he has been itching to do some since day one. In order to keep them going we would have to have one lager be a year round beer. That was going to be Patio Pils, but the beer is nearly as expensive to make as our IPA and it just wont command the necassary price point to be better than a break-even beer. So we are looking at doing a Munich Heles as our year round lager. Patio Pils would be a deep summer seasonal. This would allow us to do a true Baltic Porter along with bocks, doppelbocks, a marzen and other lagers we want to do.

Another beer we have discussed is a true English Dark Mild. Not the monster-hopped Chaveta I did as a one-off but a flavorful, sesisonable English Dark Mild with slightly higher than standard English hop levels. Naturally any Dark Mild we did would be a natural for cask conditioning. And to cater to my own personal tastes I'd like to get a Dry Stout and a Milk Stout brewed this year. Along with all of our other seasonals from 2009. We might not get to them, but you never know what the year will bring.

In addition to these projects we plan to start ramping up production of a few different sours. They will mostly be darker beers, loosely in the oud bruin style, but we may also do some funkified Saisons. We still have to plan out some logistics for all of that, but it is definitely something we want to pursue in 2010.

Getting back to the 12 oz bottles we'll be producing in 2010 we have decided to bottle condition even our 12 oz product. There are a lot of reasons why, but from my standpoint they just flat taste and feel better that way. We'll have to approach this much differently than we have our bottle conditioned 750 ml bottles, but it will be a fun project to tackle. And the result will be sixers (or possibly 4 packs we haven't decided yet) of bottle-conditioned Jai Alai India Pale Ale.

Well that's all for now, just wanted to let everyone know what was on our plate for the coming year. We'd love to get some feedback if anyone has thoughts, comments or suggestions.

Joey Redner

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tempered History

Ask any of my former teachers and they will agree that school and I were on the most straightforward terms with each other: I didn't like school, and school didn't like me. It wasn't so much the teachers (they were great) or small knit of close friends (treasured memories) so much as I don't agree very well with rigid, overbearing, and oft-times rather pointless structure.

School wasn't all bad. There were those subjects I greatly enjoyed year-in and year-out. Unsurprisingly, they were of the more independently minded orientation.

History. Sociology. Psychology.

And so on... It comes as no surprise to me now, years later, that my realized life-long passion is so conveniently packaged in a subject matter as fluid as its content: Beer.

The reason I can't pick and choose my tellie options are no less monopolistic money-mongering than the people who profit from them. But if I could have the same choice with my channels as I do my beer (the freedom to have that choice), the History Channel would be among the top percentile. On the other hand, I do have free reign of books and the internet to surf, peruse, and ponder to my hearts desire the sometimes cloudy history of beer and its relation to humankind and Life on Earth.

Knowledge is power, so my teachers used to say, and in continuing my absorption of all things beery, a conundrum has arise: Where was this facet of human history throughout my 13+ years of fine outstanding American education?

Don't mind the sarcasm. It's 100% natural.

I can't speak for other countries because, well, I don't live there. But in regards to America, that's a large chunk of our history, our culture, our social makeup, psychology, economics, politics, religion, etc... that was "accidentally" forgotten in the pages of all the official textbooks I had to read.

For history's sake, let's ponder a few of those fascinating tidbits our textbooks "forgot":
  • The Mayflower landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts because it was running dangerously low on victuals, most alarming of which was beer.
  • Our founding fathers were avid and advantageous beer drinkers, homebrewers, and some of the first beer merchants of New World record.
  • The Egyptians built their kingdom on, around, and with the vital role of beer. Beer was, life, bread, pleasure, and money. The pyramids were quite literally built on the back of beer. To this day, they remain the biggest drinkers of beer in terms of volume per person.
  • Across cultural borders and time, brewing was often the duty and responsibility of women. Not man, woman. Possibly not as glorious as it sounds, but still a position of power, wealth, independence, and status that was to be had nowhere else in their life.

The facts are as endless, storied, and fluid as the various fascinating facets of history they created. So why has America (I am American after all) tempered their own rich history, much less the rest of the world?

Temperance? Fear of moral, social, spiritual, and physical corruption? Control? Insecurity? Misguided intentions? Money?

Quite realistically all the above and even more than I can think of at the moment. But think I shall because, if one thing, thinking outside the box has been one arena in which I have always excelled.

My current conclusion?

I have grown up in an environment of tempered history, one that still perpetuates to this day and has to varying degrees throughout history. I can't speak for generations past, but I wonder... when the natural world of beer (and drink) we so pointlessly try to avoid, hide from, paint over, or desperately ignore catches up to us, what then?

I know where I will be: front and center, glass in hand, embracing the freedom of life, living, and beer in all her mashed, fermented, and conditioned glory. Not out of ignorance or excess, but because knowledge is power and beer is beautiful.

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

Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve ~ Brooklyn Backbreaker Ale


Making malt has always been hard work. The barley needs to be soaked, sprouted to exactly the right point, and then gently dried, capturing the enzymes that will convert grain starches into malt sugars. For hundreds of years this was done on a "malting floor", where workers would control the sprouting of the malt by constant raking, adjusting temperature and preventing the rootlets of the malt from weaving together into an inseparable mat. But it was backbreaking work. Men dragged 75 lb wrought iron rakes through the malt beds and then smoothed it all over by hand with specialized shovels and ploughs. Eventually maltsters created mechanized malting methods. It was much easier, but the malts weren't quite the same, their flavors not as rich. So some maltsters retained their traditional malting floors and still use them today.

In August brewmaster Garrett Oliver traveled to the Crisp Maltings in rural Great Ryburgh, England to make malt on their 150 yr old malting floor. After five days of raking, ploughing, shoveling and kilning 19 tons of malt, he gained a new appreciation for the flavors of traditional floor malts. And he took the malt back to Brooklyn. Now we bring you BackBreaker, a robust honey-colored ale bursting with the juicy flavors of our heirloom Maris Otter malt and aromatized with earthy English Fuggle hops. It's a beer that pairs wonderfully with all your autumn and winter dishes. We hope you enjoy it, and hey - don't ever say we never did nothin' for ya.

Malt: "Brewmaster's" Floor-malted Maris Otter Pale Malt, Great Ryburgh, England, English Crystal malt. Barley grower: Teddy Maufe

Hops: English Fuggle

OG: 17.0° Plato (1068)

ABV: 7.0%

Cigar City Brew News

Damn it. Bolita Infection.

Someone mentioned to me they were picking up some sourness in the second batch of Bolita bottles. I had them send me some. Definitely an infection. If I had to guess, it is brettanomyces. Very barnyard aromatics, dry finish. Very much the hallmarks of brett. But it could be something else. I also checked our stock. The stuff we have kept cold isn't showing the brett infection (but brett needs warmth to really work) but the stuff in our warmer cellar, was showing it. At this point I have to assume the whole batch is turning.

This was only the bottles from the 2nd batch and only the bottles. The draft doesn't seem to have suffered any infections. This leads me to suspect that it picked the infection up from our bottler. The run we did before Bolita was Guava Grove. The yeast for Guava Grove was from Saint Somewhere and we suspected there might be bugs in the yeast, but thought we could handle it. What I suspect happened is that the tubes that run co2 up to the filler holding tank got beer in them and being soft material the paracetic acid we use for sanitizing after we do a bottle run either didn't get far enough up the tubes or didn't penetrate the soft material enough to kill the infectious agent.

What this means is the Bolita that went out just fine in its bottles, is now very much not as was intended. If you like brett or bretty oud bruins I suspect you are going to be really tickled about this and want to lay some down for a year. But if, like me, you prefer Bolita the way it was intended I sincerely aplogize. This is my nightmare and the simple fact is we failed on this batch of beer. In way of restitution anyone who brings in a bottle of 2nd batch Bolita (flared campagne style bottles) will receive a $10 tasting room credit for any future purchase and my apologies. No questions asked. The credit can be spent on anything including future limited releases such as Capricho Oscuro #2 which will release, most likely, in January.

And in the truest "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade" fashion we will take those bottles of Bolita returned to us and put them in a barrel, add lots of additional bugs, some fruit and whatever else we think we need to add and make a small batch of some very tart and funky beer that started life as Bolita. Think of it as reform school for a beer gone bad. Only the idea is to make the beer go even worse to the point that it is good again!

Again, I sincerely do apologize. I know these things happen to the best of breweries, much less our ragtag operation, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I take the quality and integrity of our beer very seriously and this batch ended up with a noticeable infection. You have our promise we will work to remedy the situation as best we can.

Joey Redner

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reading Mash

adding to the collection and growing need for more bookshelves...

Man Walks Into A Pub ~ A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown

Good Bootled Beer Guide 2010 ~ The CAMRA Guide to Real Ale in a Bottle by Jeff Evans

In the Que:
Ambitious Brew ~ The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle

DuClaw Devils Milk

Devil's Milk
The Milkman Cometh.

Devil’s Milk is brewed in July and aged until its release in November. It is “dry-hopped” (hops are added after fermentation) nourishing the soul with an unholy alcohol content nearly double that of our other offerings while tempting unwitting patrons with its intense hop finish. Full bodied and fruity with a vicious texture and a great intensity of malt.

Style: Barleywine
Color: Dark Amber
Hop Variety: Varies each year
Grains: Pale malt, Wheat malt, Aromatic malt, Crystal malt, Special malt
Bitterness: BU's
Gravity: 25 plato
Alcohol Content: 11% abv
On Tap: Seasonal

Good Beer + Good Friends = Good Times

Sometimes it's nice to just get away, sit on the porch, take in the view, and share some good beers with good friends. Rob, Myself, and Sam did that just a week or so ago, and I tell you what, it was a welcome break indeed.

I love my beer; she is so good to me. But sometimes in the midst of all my readings, ponderings, musings, studies etc, tis nice to take a break from being serious and fall in love with beer all over again...and again...and again...and again...

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

Indian River Firefighters International Fest-of-Ale

When: Friday, November 13th, 2009
Where: Point West
1999 Point West Drive
Vero Beach, FL 32966
*use entrance where SR60 intersects 74th Ave and then follow signs*
Time: 5pm - 9pm
Cost: $25 per person in advance, $30 at door

What does your $25/$30 cover?
  • All beers being sampled and tasted from 5pm-9pm
  • A variety of gourmet food for munchies being provided by 8 different local restaurants
  • Live entertainment
  • Non-alcoholic beverages such as water and soda

All attendees will receive and subsequently get to keep their sampler mug as a souvenir.

With over 60 different domestic, craft, and import beers from Southern Eagle and JJTaylor, this is a Friday affair not to miss. The event is a non-profit with proceeds going to benefit Childcare Resources, Hibiscus Children's Center, Vero Beach Band (going to Carnegie Hall), and the Sheriffs explorer program.

I'll be there drinking beer and helping out a good cause. Will you?
And yes, if I'm going to be there, then that means there are beers that I want to and will drink most willingly.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BEERflecting ~ 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest

(better late than never...)

September 26th 2009 marked the 2nd year of the still new but extremely popular Treasure Coast Beer Fest. How popular? The 3rd year is already good to go with planning to begin with the new year, 2010. Exciting news for beer geeks all over the tri-county area, and beyond.

The Treasure Coast Beer Fest (TCBF) was the brainchild of six guys who, in their love for good beer, wanted to share the wide world of beer with the knowledged and the newbe while helping raise money for a local charity. And so, in 2008 the first TCBF kicked off to a bumpy yet successful start. The charity recipient in 2008 was Learn to Read of St. Lucie County, a nonprofit organization which helps illiterate adults grab ahold of their life and future by learning how to read and write. For the 2nd Annual TCBF, Beerworks Charitable Foundation once more chose Learn to Read along with a new recipient, Kate's Hope. Kate's Hope is a foundation created by Kate O'Connor, family, and friends to raise money for a rare procedure to treat Ewing's Sarcoma while also offering assistance to others who suffer the same affliction.

But who is Beerworks Charitable Foundation? Remember those six guys who got the idea to spread beer love through a jolly beer fest and to give back to their local community? Yup. Those six guys who saw the need and recognized the success and potential of the first TCBF formed a nonprofit organization of their own to continue the realization of their humble dream. After all, loving good beer and giving back to the community naturally go hand-in-hand.

One obviously cannot have a beer fest without beer, and the 2nd Annual 2009 TCBF easily doubled last years success in all regards: beer, attendance, and money raised. To break it down, at around 200 different beers from around 50 different participating breweries, almost 800 total attendees (not counting volunteers), and raising thousands of dollars for Learn to Read and Kate's Hope, I'd say she was a smashing success.

Big sloppy sincere thanks need to be given to a few especially generous, helpful, and passionate men, women, and businesses for giving their all, thereby ensuring success for the 2nd Annual TCBF.

(If I forget someone, it is not intentional, and everyones generosity was wholly appreciated.)

First, on the beer side of the beer fest because without beer there is no fest, many sincere thanks to: Tim Hebeler, JJTaylor Distributing and all their associated breweries who so graciously shared their beers and their time, FL Micro Bev, Lukaya Beers, Gordash Brewing, FL Beer Company, and Republic National Distributing.

To the dozens of volunteers who gave of their time to help before, during, and after the event, Thank You. Quite literally, you were the hands and feet that never stopped, thus keeping the TCBF moving from start to finish.

We live in an age of media-galore which were all valuable assets to the Beerworks Charitable Foundation cause. Word of mouth alone may travel fast in a small town (and trust you me it does), but nothing travels faster than multi-media advertising. For that, thanks must go to 99.7 JackFM, Hometown News, Fort Pierce Tribune, Vero Beach Press Journal, Channel 10, RateBeer, and the many local establishments who pimped the TCBF in all her pre-event hype.

For the generous use of their brand-spanking new parking garage behind the County Courthouse, thank you City of fort Pierce. (There will be fans next year). To the officers in blue who ensured our peace and safety, your presence was welcome. Maybe even the most important and oft-overlooked facet of an outside event such as the TCBF, I know I give my thanks to Reliable Poly John for the passel of reliable poly-johns.

Many beer geeks, professionals, and brewery reps who made the long haul to our humble yet holy event were graciously hosted by The Sandhurst Hotel. Their comfortable quarters and beds were a welcome conclusion to a long thrilling day for all, myself included. Waking up to the view of the Indian River in all her lapis-lazuli glory lazing through the Fort Pierce Inlet and out into an ocean of azure was simply breathtaking. My roommates on the other hand...

Just kidding. They were no less than the gentleman they always are.

Getting back on track, all great beer fests need a local haunt to, well, haunt after the festivities have ended. For the 2nd year in a row (I sense a trend here), Cobb's Landing offered up their bar, their food, and their patient services. If nothing else, I'm sure we were a source of great amusement that night. Personally, I greatly appreciated the special brews and the huge plate of delicious food I greedily snarfed. Hungry was I, yes indeed.

Last and certainly not least, thanks to the six beer geeks turned charitable foundation turned veteran beer fest organizers. If it wasn't for the immense passion, determination, efforts, patience, and old-fashioned hard work of Mark Carbone, Marc Boland, Will Roberts, Graig Heller, Eric Halberg, and Joe Greenberg, there wouldn't have been a first TCBF, much less a 2nd Annual TCBF, with plans for a soon-to-be 3rd Annual.

Prost! Cheers! Salud! Slante! L'Chayim! Kanpai!
Here's looking to 2010. May thy cup runneth over once more.

As for myself, I'd like to divulge some of my own personal highlights of the 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest.

Volunteer Highlights:
Arriving in the wee hours of morn to help put everything together was especially rewarding. Seeing the garage transform from an empty possibility to a bursting-at-the-seems beer oasis was magic. During the fest itself, I wandered amongst a jolly good crowd of beer geeks, brewery reps, volunteers, and all around good people while talking beer, answering questions, and sharing the love.

Beer Highlights:
As much as I find it difficult to pick and choose between beers (I love all beer, after all), the few extra anticipated quaffs that did not disappoint were the Cigar City $110K+OT Batch #2 I.R.I.S. aged in Barrels with Cacao Nibs, Hazelnuts, and Cherries; Sweetwater Brewing; and the vintage keg of 2007 Monster Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. Those special brews aside, there was nary a mediocre or bad beer to be found. It was a veritable sea of good and great beers for me to savor to my hearts content.

General Highlights:
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it for as long as it is true: good beers invite good people. The 2nd Annual TCBF was no exception. I ran into at least a dozen good friends along with many of my treasured beer peeps along with dozens more I didn't know beforehand but I do now. There was nary a single sot or bore who took the piss out of the beer fest, and I have no doubt the 2010 TCBF will be any different.

Overall, the 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest was a beery success for all parties involved, and I want them to know how much I appreciate their efforts, generosity, and participation. I may be but one beer geek among millions and our beer fest may be but one among thousands that occur almost weekly all across the USofA, but for me she is special. Florida and the Treasure Coast specifically is a thirsty sea of parched beer geeks who are looking for someone to answer their cries for good beer diversity and availability. For all the effort, passion, time, money, and work each brewery and the distributor who represents them (hopefully well), Thank You. If you brew it, I will drink it, share it, and continue my passioned mission to open more minds and palates to the oasis of good beer diversity. To this end, the Treasure Coast Beer Fest is a valuable asset and friend.

But enough of my blathering, onto the slideshow:

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

Cigar City Brew News

Wayne is in California Working On The CCB/Bruery Collaboration

Expect a full update with pics when Wayne gets back. Unfortunately I couldn't go out to participate and I am bummed about that. But daughters are turning 2 this weekend and I just didn't want to miss that.

Nothing new on the tasting room front though we do have a tiny bit of Humidor Series Zhukov's and Maduro left. Warmer WInter, WInter Warmer is coming along very nicely. Should go to package in a couple of weeks.

While Wayne is gone, Doug will be brewing his first solo batch on Wednesday. So if you aren't busy I encourage you to come by and heckle Doug mercilessly. Approved heckles include:

"This is home brewing, boy...that's real brewing equipment there!"
"Careful you don't get acid in your eyes!"
"Did you remember to add the hops?"
"Add more real cherries."

But feel free to freestyle.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

For the Fun of It

To her benefit and in respect to her proper stature, Beer is finally being taken more seriously now than she was just a few decades ago. Due to a variety of interweaving factors, Beer is eagerly shedding the baggage of greedy marketing, empty gimmicks, and homogenized blandness. Beer is rediscovering her roots and heralding in a new future where she commands a place at the dinner table as much as a glass of wine.

Arguably, all varieties of alcoholic beverages can accompany a meal, but it is wine that people think of when considering a gourmand meal with an accompanying drink. To its credit, wine has done a far better and more consistent job of promoting its positive image through sophistication, health benefits, covetousness; all while maintaining a connection with the average consumer. Beer cannot say the same, though she has always been worthy. Tis we, the brewers, marketers, and consumers who, for a while, did her injustice.

But the past is just that, the past; a window through which to ponder our fortune and folly while holding fast the present in consideration of the future.

Beer is an ingrained facet of human history, present, and future. She has evolved from a crude communal porridge to a very real oasis of seemingly infinite styles, non-styles, flavors, aromas, strengths, and so on... Beer is the drink of humankind. Never before has she encapsulated, proudly so, the rich diversity of people and cultures while encouraging universal camaraderie.

But how? Wine and many storied spirits enjoy vaunted accolades and local pride, but few can boast a genuine spirit of discovery and camaraderie beyond borders while still honoring tradition such as beer can. Beer is adventure, a trusted friend, a curious venture, a welcome stranger, ingenuity and creativity, history and tradition, diversity celebrated and quality coveted. Beer is you, me, the neighbor down the street, or a friend on the other side of the world. Finally, ultimately, and maybe most fundamentally, beer is fun.

Not to rankle the oenophiles out there, but wine is just not fun. In fact, it is rather a bore. Sure wine has its merits, but severely limited they are in comparison to beer's limitless bounty of virtues, creativity, craftsmanship, and appeal.

Beer will always be a passioned subject of my heart, body, and soul, but for my benefit and hers, I never want to lose that unadulterated thrill of celebrated and cherished fun. Life is quite often a hard, tiresome, and brutish duty through which we trudge day-in and day-out. Sure, work and effort has its rewards, but Death is rightly waiting just around the corner as much as we would love to ignore this yin-yang fact of Living: inevitable mortality.

And so hundreds of thousands of years ago we were blessed with "godisgoode" and suddenly life wasn't so grim. Sure, it was rough, tough, and downright cruel sometimes, but there was beer and when supping on her beauteous gift to you and me, life was worth living. Heck, life was sometimes even fun, and should you share a few with friends, family, and community, life turned into a jolly good show.

And so here I am now, living a momentous time for beer and the joys of life. Life is beer, beer is life, and I'll be damned if both are just plain old-fashioned fun. To each vivifying pour at a bar with friends, at home, or at the dinner table, here's looking at you, Beer.

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

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Good Times @ Corner Cafe & Brewery ~ Matt's 1 Year Anniversary Celebration

Let me begin by spreading the word that Corner Cafe & Brewery has t-shirts. Not only that, but you can also purchase their glasses. Double score! I took home The Kaizer in all his size medium, color black glory. Next trip: a glass.

I arrived around 4:15pmish, a wee bit late, but what can I say. I blame it on mom and genetics. Years of being perpetually late for pretty much everything was fated to eventually rub off. Someone has to continue the family legacy, might as well be me.

Walking through the bar entrance door into a milling crowd of multiple familiar faces, pints in hand, I knew I was home. Tis where the heart is, after all, and my heart was full. Warm fuzzies aside, my belly was empty and my throat parched.

It didn't take long to find Eric S along with Mike and Paula, whom I was especially excited to spend the evening with. Time and time again, good beer has brought good people into my life; Mike and Paula are no exception.

Along with his regular line-up, Matt had two special beers for his anniversary at Corner Cafe & Brewery in Tequesta, FL:
  • Belgian Tripel

  • Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy

**a moment please to wipe the drool off my face**

The Tripel was the first to cross my eager lips; this way I could transition smoothly into the Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy. The Tripel was neither too thick and sweet, nor too dry and light. She pleased with precise balance, a vaunted staple of Matt's brewing technique. The Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy was rich with vanillins, tannins, and soft wood esters balanced with exquisite wee heavy character: chocolate, toffee, caramel nougat, dark fruits, and spice. Seeing as the wee heavy style is Eric's favorite beer style, I know he was all over that baby like bronzing oil on a bikini model.

(If you know Eric S, it all makes sense.)

Matt's brews notwithstanding, what about the food? Matt has been home-brewing for over ten years, but has only been blessing the thirsty masses with his creations at Corner Cafe for one year. A quality gastropub is as much about the food, service, and ambiance as much as it is about the beer. As always, Lisa, Jim, and their gift-from-god chef, Juan, did not disappoint.

I would like it to be known right here, right now, that Juan is a culinary god whom I eagerly and willfully worship, his kitchen being no less than the holy kingdom in which he performs culinary miracles.

(Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, Juan, and Matt need to get together. Seriously, it could very well be the second coming of beer and food.)

But I digress, albeit it with clarity of reason in my not so humble beer geek foodie opinion.

Any patron who was there for Matt's anniversary celebration (as was about everyone there), for a mere $25 you were treated to the buffet and two pints of beer. You could drink more (I did), and the additional cost was added onto the $25, a bargain. Now, I know right now that some of you are probably thinking "buffet" with looks of cynical scorn and meager expectations. You are wrong and obviously know nothing about how Corner Cafe represents.

Rounding the corner to the buffet set-up, even I was not prepared.

Oh. My. God.

A feast fit for kings and queens was nothing less than the culinary paradise spread out before me. The whole roasted pig sealed the deal, at least until Juan brought out the silver-gilded tray with two whole salmon poached to melt-in-the-mouth perfection and dressed in paper-thin slices of cucumber. And that was just the beginning...

Pinch me.
Ouch! Ok, please stop.

I'm not dreaming; time to fill the plate and partake of another of Matt's beers. Needing some hops, I wisely went for the Gnarley Barley before descending into ecstasy. Each orgasm-inducing bite was savored as slowly as possible so as to enjoy each moment to the best of my ability. Between myself, Mike, and Paula, there was a veritably constant stream of moans, groans, and scintillating sounds emanating from our table.

November 4th 2009 will be forever be a treasured memory.

Another good friend, Eric H, arrived around 7pmish with his lovely lady-friend, Lisa, and the night continued its merry path of social lubrication. About 10:30pmish, I unwillingly wrapped-up my evening of good beer, good food, good friends, and food times, bidding a fond farewell to Matt, Lisa, and Juan.

It was a slow drive home, but my heart was aglow, my soul full, and my life just a little more complete. To many more years of Corner Cafe & Brewery precious memories, Cheers!

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

Cigar City Brew News

Cigar City Brewing's Hunahpus Imperial Stout Release Date Set.

Really. If there is one question I get asked more than any other in regards to our beer it is, "When will Hunahpus be released." Hunahpu's Imperial Stout is what we call a Mayan Choclate Imperial Stout and is brewed with Peruvian cacao, Ancho and Pasilla chiles, cinamon and vanilla beans with a nod toward the frothy cacao drink consumed by the ancient Mayans. It's a tasy concotion and as I mentioned I'm asked almost every week when it will be availible for purchase.

Since some crackpots have themselves convinced that the Maya calendar predicts the apocalypse to go down in 2012 (pro tip: it doesn't predict that at all), I've become fond of the smarmy reply, "Hunahpus will be released in early 2013." Hardly anyone ever gets it though. Ahh well, one day the world will lament not having recognized my comedic genius.

But the time has come to be serious and to announce at long last that Hunahpu's Imperial Stout, the reigning Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting 1st Place Winner will be released on March 12th of 2010 @ 7PM about 22 months shy of the end of the world! I can't offer much more information at this time other than to say, stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks and that bottles of Hunahpus will be $20 per 750 ml (25.3 oz) and there will be many rare treats rolled out of the cellar.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Let's Talk Lager

I'm not going to bore you with the history of Lager (pilsner, whathaveyou) or debate the pros and cons of mass-marketing and mass-consumerism. Everyone knows of Lager, for better and for worse, and so I am here right now to ask you this:

Where has all the Lager love gone?

I find it sadly ironic that the preservation of traditional Lager history and the exploration of its future should be so rabidly hampered and diminished by its greatest potential asset: the beer aficionado. Macro lagers are here to stay whether we like it or not and in whatever fashion the future of necessity and demand shall dictate. But should this one variant come at the price of the culturally rich Lager as a whole?

Beer and the people who drink them, myself included, are on the cusp of the next beer evolution, one that revisits beer's roots, reinforcing quality, taste, and honesty while looking to the future with diversity, innovation, and invention. Lager is as much a vital part of this new evolution now as it was back when it spurred its own beery evolution. Cask ales, wild ales, barrel-aged, sour, and everything else beer is being celebrated, resurrected, and created as far as the brewer's genius and imagination can carry them. And yet, the great Lager sits neglected on the sidelines, far from ever being considered a worthy player in this emerging beer field. The same advocates of beer quality and diversity who could be saving the traditional Lager from eternal mediocrity are contributing to its slow demise.

It is not that beer aficionados don't have just cause for scorn and derision. The overabundance of inferior lagers brewed with questionable ingredients, non-existent lagering times, and spotty bottling techniques would drive the most patient beer imbiber to exhausted disgust. But instead of turning a negative into a positive, many beer aficionados latch onto the tired yet seemingly timeless bandwagon of derision, scorn, bickering, finger pointing, and dismissive disrespect for all Lagers. Over 30 years of burgeoning beer awareness that focuses on flavor and quality, not flash and marketing, has unfortunately left Lager behind in its zeal to reclaim all that the bastardized macro lagers almost deprived them of.

Forget for a moment the vacuous cycle of commercialism, marketing, and economics and consider what Lager was, still could be, and is. Whether decked to the nines in rich malty browns, brilliant copper hues, or rays of fresh golden sunshine, Lager is a quality beer who is proud of her own distinct appearances, aromas, and flavors. Desperate we may have been for quality and diversity in our beer when Lager first emerged from caves newly reborn, people will naturally gravitate to drinking what they like and liking what they drink (when given the choice, of course). And so they did. Contrary to todays similarly produced unoffensive macro lagers of corporate brewing, the traditional Lager had not just good looks, quality, and consistency (which was a blessing during a time where "godisgoode" reigned), it also had a solid palate of aroma and flavor. In short, Lager tasted good not just as wet liquid refreshment for which water fills that part wonderfully, but because it was appealing. Whether brownish-black, copper, or golden, people were soon drinking Lager in copious quantities because, ultimately, they liked the taste and the looks of it.

I can hear the groans of cynicism as well as I can see the communal rolling of eyes in pretentious disbelief at my bold statement, and to a certain degree, I can't blame them. Macro lagers do nothing to stimulate my senses either, but a real Lager, she is a veritable treasure trove of polished looks, tantalizing aromas, and lustrous flavors all culminating in quaffing satisfaction. Is it no wonder then that the Lager captured the hearts of beer lovers everywhere looking for a refreshing tasteful beer they could enjoy whenever, wherever, and however much as they would like?

And so I ask you again, where has all the Lager love gone?

Lager or pilsner, whichever you may call her, is a beautiful beer I would be pleased to savor any day of the week. Therein lies the problem. A good Lager is growing even harder to find today than ever before. I am all for beer innovation, exploration, preservation, diversity, and especially quality, an all encompassing beertopia within which Lager fits beautifully.

But I fear that the venerable Lager has been written off as passe, blase, and below the esteemed glory of our new beer evolution. A growing dissatisfaction with the proportionately large overabundance of bland, watery, tasteless, and often skunked lagers is blinding the beer drinker to the very real joys of drinking traditionally crafted and inspired Lagers.

Europe still enjoys a decent number of breweries who brew Lagers worthy of her heritage and the discerning palate, amateur and professional. Even better, the majority of it is drank fresh just days, maybe a few weeks, from bottling and, even more spectacular, sometimes at the very source where it is brewed. Therefore, it pains me to acknowledge that in the USofA there are far fewer breweries and brewers who are willing to face the challenge of brewing a traditional Lager. Our craft beer sector is poised and more than ready to meet the challenge despite or maybe even in spite of the Big Brewers, but I feel as though we have given up without even trying.

If we can resurrect centuries old beer recipes and breathe new life into their once sleeping souls, truly we can act now to preserve and restore the Lager to her original glory. I know I am more than eager and delighted to do my part to keep the Lager love alive: pour, smell, sip, and savor.

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