Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beer Wars Live

So a couple of weeks ago I had to go to the one-night event that was Beer Wars Live. This was to be a movie about the struggle for market share between the marcobreweries and the microbreweries, and interestingly, they decided to make this a one-night event, live across the country. As a result, you had a lot of Beer Advocates headed to the theaters with their own stash in tow (mine was a Dogfish Head Immort Ale that I had aged for 1 year -- excellent!)

I hesitate to even post about the movie since I am guessing most of my readers have not seen the movie yet and there is plenty of criticism of the movie on the other beer blogs. Nevertheless.

-- The producer of the movie was a woman named Anat Baron, whose experience in the "beer industry" was with a three year stint running Mike's Hard Lemonade. Not a good start. I think she was a real distraction to a lot of people, making the movie about Anat Baron and thrusting herself unnecessarily into the plot at every turn.

-- A focus of the movie was on the personal stories of two craft brewers heading in different directions, one succeeding wildly and the other struggling. Sam Caglione of Dogfish head played the first role spectacularly. But for some unknown reason (the need for a woman heroine?) the second was played by Rhonda Kallman, formerly of Sam Adams and now selling a gimmicky caffienated beer called MoonShot. Now for the audience of Beer Advocates who filled these movie theaters, this was a total joke. Rhonda was not a brewer, but a marketer, and a marketer of a horrible product at that. Anat would like us to feel sympathetic for Rhonda who was failing miserably, totally missing the point that Rhonda treats beer like a commodity just like the macrobrewers that this movie was railing against! I think this poorly conceived subplot ruined the movie for many serious beer people.

-- And then there was the live panel discussion that they aired immediately at the end of the movie. A neat idea, but it was pretty chaotic. Ben Stein was selected as moderator of the panel to seemingly everyone's dismay... and quickly revealed his disdain for small craft brewers. He couldn't wrap his head around the idea that anyone would enjoy making beer for any other reason than getting rich. The most memorable exchance was when Stein played a clip of Todd Alstrom of BeerAdvocate tearing apart the Moonshot product. Very called for, but without time to explain and the proper context, I think that Beer Advocates came off as lunatics to most people.

I offer these criticism's not to pile on Baron (I do appreciate what she was trying to do) but in the hope that the craft beer enthusiasts will continue to try to put their best foot forward. Even with these shortcomings, I would say the movie was probably a net gain for the craft beer movement, but it certainly wasn't the movie I would have written. In particular, it would have been nice for them to make more time for more craft brewers outside of the northeast (Deschutes, Oskar Blues, Jolly Pumpkin...) Hopefully someone in the film industry is taking note of all of this interest and criticism and we will be talking about the next beer movie soon...

Bottom-line: do check out the Beer Wars movie when you get the chance. And if you have seen it, please do weigh in on the comments section.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poll results: Favorite glassware

What is your favorite style of glassware?

Stein glass 41% (5)
Pint glass 41% (5)
Snifter glass 8% (1)
Other (Pilsner, Stange, Weizen...) 8% (1)
Tulip glass 0% (0)

Clearly, sturdy glassware won the day. Not surprising, I suppose. The tulip glass has its place, but its not exactly a glass you would drink out of every day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The future of Cadillac Mountain Stout

One of the advantages of blogging about beer is that a lot of people will think of you when they think about beer, and pass along any interesting beer related news/information. My latest thanks go to my Aunt Edie for passing along an interesting article in Maine's Bangor Daily News about possibly my very favorite beer: Cadillac Mountain Stout.

MDI brewery buys cross-town competitor
By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News, April 20, 2009

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A brewing firm that has grown steadily since its start 18 years ago in the alcove of a local restaurant just got a little bigger.

Founded in 1991, Atlantic Brewing Co. now has two production facilities in Maine and distributes its beers to multiple locations on the East Coast. And earlier this month, with its purchase of cross-town competitor Bar Harbor Brewing Co., Atlantic has added a few other well-known Maine beers to its roster of brews.

Doug Maffucci, who co-owns Atlantic Brewing with his wife, Barbara Patten, said Saturday that the purchase makes sense for his company. Bar Harbor Brewing, which was founded in the village of Otter Creek a year before he started his beer business, has established some award-winning beers that have attracted a strong following, he said...

Maffucci said he found out last fall that Bar Harbor Brewing was again for sale and that he didn’t want to see it sold to a larger company from away that wasn’t interested in maintaining the Fosters’ legacy.

“It’s good beer. It’s great beer,” Maffucci said. “I was afraid the brand was going to die, which would have been silly.”

The Atlantic Brewing owner said he wasn’t sure how his brewers would react to the prospect of taking over what had been a competing product and keeping it going, but it turned out not to be an issue. Brewers James Taylor and Jon Hill were eager to learn how to make the Bar Harbor Brewing brands, he said.

“They were super-excited about it,” Maffucci said. “They’re totally into it.”

Maffucci said he intends to resume making Bar Harbor Brewing’s three main beers, which have been out of production since October, and he hopes to keep them close to their original recipes. His company already has started making them and hopes to have Cadillac Mountain Stout, Thunder Hole Ale and Harbor Lighthouse Ale available in stores by the beginning of May. He said he also plans to make them available in draught, which none of the previous owners ever did.

As for Bar Harbor’s other beers, which include blueberry, peach and ginger-flavored ales, he said he would take a wait-and-see approach. Atlantic Brewing already has its own ginger- and blueberry-flavored beers, he said, though his blueberry ale and the one the Fosters developed are different enough that they might be able to co-exist. He said Atlantic’s nine existing beers would stay as they are.

Maffucci plans to continue making and marketing the additional beers as Bar Harbor Brewing Co. products. To help with the transition, Maffucci has hired Bar Harbor Brewing brewer Dave Kilgour to continue making the beers...

He said all beers would be produced at facilities in Town Hill or in Portland. Since 2001, Atlantic Brewing has had space at Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland, where it brews its own beer. Atlantic contracts with Shipyard to bottle some beer for out-of-state distribution...

Bar Harbor had just cracked into my Top 10 list of favorite brewers with their authentic English style ales and world-class American stout. To lose such a treasure would have been a real loss for Maine's craft beer community, so this is very welcome news. Honestly, I haven't exactly been blown away by Atlantic Brewing Co. but they are a solid brewer that appear to be taking the challenge of continuing to brew Cadillac Mountain Stout seriously.

So here is to wishing Doug and Barbara the best of luck! Thank you for saving this personal favorite (and even putting it on tap!) The new batches should be hitting stores shortly, so please go do yourself a favor and buy some of this exquisite beer next time you see it. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Canterbury Ales

Canterbury Ales
46 Audrey Ave, Oyster Bay, NY
This well-regarded beer bar is just down the street from Kelly's home in Long Island, but this was the first time that I actually made it here. Hard to judge the atmosphere since this place was empty when we arrived at 11:30pm, but I liked the rustic/outdoorsy sort of decor they were going for. They boast of having 100 world-class beers and ten taps (although most of the more exciting options were in bottles...) Beer menu's were readily available and the bottles in the refrigerator were both easily visible and even alphabetized! Brewers included, Lagunitas, Legacy, Oskar Blues, and Paper City. Service was very slow with just one bartender, but she actually knew the beers. Not sure how often they turn over those bottles though... Glassware was appropriate. Didn't try the food, but I will definitely be returning soon.
Atmosphere: 4/5, Selection: 8/10, Quality: 7/10, Service: 3/5, Overall: 13/20, Total: 35/50
Total rating: B+

Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold
Tap -- Canterbury Ales, Oyster Bay, NY
a belgian pale ale with a pretty cool name. served too cold but is a clear golden in glass. aroma is expected banana and cloves while taste is sweet, yeasty, with a few mild hops. seemed a little rudimentary to me.
Score: 7

Uinta Angler's Pale Ale
Bottle -- Canterbury Ales, Oyster Bay, NY
utah, huh? kind of thought that was a dry state or something. nice fresh hop aroma. well balanced flavor and medium-balanced. was surprised to find out after the fact that this weighs in 5.8%. i like well-balanced pale ales, and this definitely qualifies.
Score: 8

Blue Point Rastafar Rye Ale
Tap -- Il Piatto Italian Steakhouse, Oyster Bay
i was surveying some pretty dismal taps at this lounge around the corner from canterbury when i saw one tap handle with a carved lion on it. hearing it was a "rye" was good enough for me, i figured out the rest later. really sloppy pour from the barkeep... should have sent it back but wasn't in the mood. flavorful grain and light hops and definitely drinkable -- nice.
Score: 7

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beer Wars -- This Thursday!

Thanks to Beer Advocate, this email came to my attention today.


Just a last minute reminder that ... Beer Wars Live hits 440 theaters this Thursday, April 16; 8pm ET.

This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY event featuring the never seen before documentary Beer Wars followed by a live panel moderated by Ben Stein w/ Charlie Papazian, Greg Koch, Maureen Ogle, Rhonda Kallman, Sam Calagione, and Todd Alström; all featured in the film.

For more info/trailers:

For theater listings and to buy your advance tickets (recommended):

We have no idea if the film is going to be good or bad, or what it's really about (craft vs. marco? 3-tier system? who's behind that brands we drink? all of the above?), but this level of exposure could be huge for craft beer and we urge everyone to spread the word, see the film, discuss, and decide for themselves.


Respect Beer.

Jason & Todd (Alström Bros)

From watching the trailer at least it did appear that this movie would be pursuing the micro versus macro angle, which I think could be pretty awesome (if somewhat late-in-coming...) Anyways, I reserved my ticket for Thursday night and would encourage you all to do the same (and save yourself the agony of what is sure to be a Boston Bruins collapse at the hands of the hated Montreal Canadians.) Discussion to follow (about the movie, not the Bruins.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New glassware

I picked up a couple of new pieces of glassware this past weekend, which is always exciting. Now I already have pint glasses, several different steins, pilsner glasses, weizen glasses, a tulip glass, and a snifter. After a visit to Crate & Barrel, I can now add to that list, a stange glass, over-sized wine glass, and a flute.

I broke in two of these with a couple of nice beers from Founders: Red's Rye in the stange, and Curmudgeon in the over-sized wine glass. The stange did concentrate the head of Red's Rye as you would like, and the wide mouth of the wine glass did produce a big aroma from my old ale. Success! Time to pick up a Flanders to try out my flute, I suppose. Anyways, here was my take on Founders Curmudgeon.

Founders Curmudgeon
Bottle -- Cardoza's, Fall River
first beer poured into my oversized wine glass. attractive rosy/mahogany with lots of suspended particles. aggressive pour still yields minimal head. strong aroma of alcohol (to be expected at 9.8% abv) and sweet hops (50 ibu's). vanilla and oak notes too. after barleywine like appearance and aroma, i was expecting an overpowering hops and alcohol in the taste but it was much more nuanced... a good thing. piney hops and a candy sweetness in malts dominate flavor. was surprised to see the vanilla show up here too, but it works very nicely. well balanced. silky and almost light bodied. very much like a barleywine, but much more delicate than many extreme barleywines. a great beer, but not cheap if i remember correctly.
Score: 9

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beer Works

Returned to Salem Beer Works last weekend. Didn't enjoy these beers as much as the first time around, but still solid.

Beer Works Back Bay IPA
Sample -- Salem Beer Works
good hops flavor here: sweet, piney, citrusy. crowds out malts a little. almost full bodied too. solid.
Score: 7

Beer Works Smoked Porter
Sample -- Salem Beer Works
i wanted the beantown nut brown, but this was the substitute. smoke is pretty heavy. not bad, but not my favorite type of porter.
Score: 6

Beer Works Splendid Splinter
Sample -- Salem Beer Works
can't find this on beeradvocate yet, so i'm not even sure which style of beer this is. aroma of hops and... wet dog. yup, definitely wet dog. tastes like west coast hops to me, raw. warming and balanced. not bad.
Score: 6

Beer Works Terrier Scottish Ale
Sample -- Salem Beer Works
typical in appearance with muted aroma. java taste does come through. pretty light and watery though...
Score: 5

Beer Works Triple A Amber
Sample -- Salem Beer Works
dark amber, but not too dark. very hoppy aroma and taste for an amber. it is no secret that i find many of the big malt beers (browns, bocks, irish reds, ambers...) to be too heavy and one-dimensional. point being that, i love the direction they went with the strong bitterness here.
Score: 7

Best of the bunch:
Beer Works Bay State ESB
Draft -- Salem Beer Works
the beer i started the night off with, and a good choice. i was handed my friend dena's "light light" beer by mistake, and was relieved to see this much darker copper beer with good lacing was for me. dark, grainy malt (going so far as a note of coffee) is there throughout, but earthy bitterness really takes the prize.
Score: 8

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Beer 101: Proper Pour

Ah, the perfect pour! My opinions on pouring beer are very traditional in some ways, and quite different in others. Allow me to unpack that statement.

I believe in the traditional pour. As with most things, does a far better job than I ever could of walking you through how to pour a beer. But in a nutshell:

1) Select the proper glassware (more on this in my archives under Beer 101) and make sure that it is clean.

2) Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and pour into the center of the glass.

3) Half way through the pour, return the glass to 90 degrees and continue pouring into the center.

It's so eeeasy!

That said, I have had a number of people (quite proud of themselves at the time) tell me that I am pouring my beer improperly. To them, I say, go to hell.

And this is the untraditional part: I don't think that there is only one right way to pour a beer. In general, I use the traditional pour since it produces a good head for the beer (one inch in my opinion, give or take a half-inch.) If to produce this size head I have to keep the glass at an angle for most of the pour, or pour vigorously throughout, so be it! The most important thing isn't to follow the proper technique for the techniques sake, but to produce the proper head.

It is worth noting that we aren't producing the proper head for aesthetics alone (although that is an important part), but also because the head releases the aromatics of the beer and contains the volatiles that hold much of the beers flavor.

Not to mention, that most bartenders practice the proper technique, but still screw up the beer with these pet peeves:

-- The Overpour, where a huge head cheats the customer out of beer

-- The Stadium Pour, where pouring to the rim leaves no room for a head

-- The Yeasty Pour, where the bartender improperly pours the yeast from the bottom of the bottle into the glass without asking the customer. I usually enjoy the yeast, but bartenders should really default to what the brewer wants (the instructions are usually right on the bottle!) unless the customer asks otherwise.

I hesitate to give this advice, but I do think that bartenders need to learn how to properly pour beer. If they screw up, you should send it back, just try not to be more of a dick about it than you are already being.

Anyone who appreciates beer should learn the traditional technique for pouring a beer. That said, next time you see me vigorously pouring my beer to produce a bigger head, let me be.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Battleship Brewhouse, Fall River?!

I once referred to Fall River as the Saharan Desert of the microbrew world... and if I didn't, I should have. I couldn't even find the subpar local microbrew (Buzzard's Bay) anywhere on tap in town. Maddeningly, weeks after I moved out of Fall River, a beer bar with 80 plus beers opened a couple of blocks from my old apartment. Unbelievable. But I am happy for Fall River because it desperately needed a place like Battleship Brewhouse.

Battleship Brewhouse
101 Presidents Ave, Fall River, MA
this place used to host one of kelly and my favorite mexican restaurants (that was byob -- which is awesome.) they opened the place up a bit, put in some attractive metal furniture, a fireplace and spot for bands, and, of course, the bar. only fruit flavored liquors for now, but their beer selection is awesome. 16 taps with 4 more on the way. allow me to list just a few: dogfish head 90 minute ipa, allagash white, widmer hef, anchor porter, pbr. nice. 4 4oz samples are available. good bottle selection too. food is above-average too, with huge portions. they had a "hell dinner" coming up with all kinds of spicy food... which sounds pretty awesome. i probably just got the right guy, but the service was without question the best i have found yet. he seemed to actually enjoy all of my dorky questions about rotating seasonals and such, and knew their selection inside out. i know fall river is a hike for most people, but it is totally worth it. great place.
Atmosphere: 4/5, Selection: 9/10, Quality: 8/10, Service: 5/5, Overall: 14/20, Total: 40/50
Total rating: A-

Abita Purple Haze
Sample -- Battleship Brewhouse, Fall River
served too cold to pick up much of an aroma, but i certainly won't hold that against the beer. very unique appearance, that is closest in color to that of a fuzzy peach. flavor is fruity: supposedly raspberry, but seemed closer to cherry to me. or even bubblegum flavor... but not necessarily bad. light drinking as you would expect. not bad for a fruit beer.
Score: 6

Blue Point Toasted Lager
Sample -- Battleship Brewhouse
pours a light copper... minor malt aroma... you have to reach to pickup on any toastiness in the taste. dull, and very similar to one of the macro brews.
Score: 3

Legacy Midnight Wit
Bottle -- Battleship Brewhouse
very light and cloudy... yeasty nose with citrus/spice... taste is quite zesty, and probably closer to a lemon than an orange. i liked it.
Score: 7

Wachusett Green Monsta
Sample -- Battleship Brewhouse
i'll be honest, i wrote this one off as soon as i heard about it due to its stupid name. its an american strong ale weighing in at 7.3% abv, which i did not realize beforehand. translucent copper... fruity hop aroma... hops are sweet in flavor... pretty drinkable for a strong ale. balanced too.
Score: 7