Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Beers of 2008

Here are the best beers I had in 2008, in no particular order...

  • Sierra Nevada 12th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale
  • Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic
  • Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale
  • Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • Avery Out of Bounds Stout
  • Mendocino Special Edition Imperial IPA
  • Anchor Summer Beer
  • Three Floyd's Alpha King Pale Ale
  • Abita 20th Anniversary Pilsner
  • Empire Brewing Company India Pale Ale
  • Rogue Smoke Ale
  • Troegs Rugged Trail Nut Brown
  • Anchor Christmas Ale 2008 (Our Special Ale #34)
  • Stoudt's Fat Dog Oatmal Stout
  • Sierra Nevada 2008 Anniversary Ale
  • Thomas Hooker Hop Meadow IPA
  • Berkshire Cabin Fever Ale
  • Shipyard Prelude (Special Ale)
  • Custom Brewcrafters Canandaigua Lake Ale
  • Gemini Imperial IPA
  • Middle Ages Boxing Day Bitter
To all our readers: may the best of your 2008 be the worst of your 2009. We look forward to reading all of what you all have to say in the coming year. We also will be announcing a change to our site, for both of you that are interested. We look forward to providing flawed insight and ill-informed opinions -- and lots more of it than ever -- in the next year.

Cheers! From BeerJanglin'

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Cans! My Antique Cans!

It wasn't long ago that drinking beer that came from cans was considered something far too gauche for the drinker of finer beers. But brewers such as Saranac, Sly Fox and Oskar Blues have been scoffed at such constraints. Now, rather than being ignoble, canned beer is considered just as acceptable as bottled beer. In some cases, it may even be better for transport and storage purposes.

Plus, we all pour them into a glass anyway, don't we?

Long gone is the metallic taste that used to creep into the Miller Lites and Coorses of our youth. Since the "can liner" was pioneered by Keystone*, we have not had to add aluminum to our tasting notes.
With this stigma now removed, I felt little guilt about purchasing a twelve pack of four canned beers by Butternuts Beer and Ale in Garrattsville, New York. Butternuts' website describes their mission thusly:

It's a place where common men brew approachable beers for other common men. Translation? No pretentious eight dollar a bottle Weenieweissers allowed. Here, the ingredients are simple and natural. The brewer's art is practiced with creativity and reverence to the old code. The beers are eminently drinkable.

And farting is funny.
(Believe it or not, none of us at BeerJanglin' added that last line.)

So there is a clear -- some might say belabored -- credo to appeal to the "just plain folks" demographic; in fact, the site often takes irreverent potshots at the classic English and German styles. But will they apply the same irreverent whimsy to their beers?

The first beer I tried from the four options was the Porkslap, a pale ale that is also curiously labeled a Farmhouse Ale. (I later realized that all four of the beers were misleadingly labeled "Farmhouse Ale," being that they are apparently brewed in a rustic area.)

Porkslap pours a big fluffy head. There is a massive amount of carbonation climbing up the yellow-orange-amber colors. There is a decent amount of haze in the glass, but still remains somewhat clear. The aroma is spicy, with some crystallish pale malts. There is a touch of some orange peel and citrus. The curious earthiness that I might expect in a hefeweizen. Is it really a farmhouse ale?

The taste is a pretty typical pale malt taste, but with almost zero hops. There is a slight citrus taste that could be attributed to a hop but little more. It's not bad, but it's crystal malts or bust. The feel is fizzy and bubbly. It's not a great beer but for the right price it's not a bad one.

My second selection was the traffic-light yellow Snapperhead IPA. It pours a nice finger of fluffy white head. Not exactly clear, but not what you would call cloudy either. It resembles a bright pilsner.

The aroma is of a pale ale, or an English pale ale; certainly not your typical American IPA. Some citrusy hops do come in, but they are sweet and very very mild. The smell is weak -- not bad, just weak. And another oddly earthy tobacco in the malt.

The taste is more heavily toasted malt than anything. It's a surprise. It ends up being bitter on the back of the tongue. The hops are citrusy but very sharp; tart, astringent, almost acidic. There are two bitters: the burnt kind and the grapefruity kind. It actually could use more of that earthy balance in the malt that it had in the aroma.

The beer feels fizzy on the tongue like ginger ale. It is a very sharp drink, lots of bitter flavors and not enough balance for my liking. It's average.

Third on the list was the thick and milky Moo Thunder Stout. It isn't the most impressive beer I've ever had because of the lack of head; instead it has a brown film that floats atop. It is a black color with a brown tinge at the edges. It's about average to look at.

But the rest of it gets a heckuva lot better.

The smell is sweet raisin and black licorice. Granted, I hate black licorice, but it fits here. It's not burnt or bitter. It's sweet, and even just a bit sour in a good way. The first sip is slighly roasted stout flavors. More of that sour raisin to balance the roasted malts, which are very nice. It's tart because of that sweet raisiny taste, and really pleasant because of it. Comes in as it warms with toffee, caramel and molasses. The feel is milky smooth --appropriately -- and just a tad bubbly. It's quite good.

The fourth beer in the pack, the Weissbier, really surprised me. It pours a cloudy-as-hell banana yellow. There is no head, but it doesn't seem to move. Appears slightly illuminated.

The Weissbier has a pungent and spicy Belgian-ish ale aroma. Also, it has the sweetness and wheat base of a hefeweizen. Mostly it's orange peel and a hint of banana. Very strong and very pleasant.

The taste is citrusy and orange. It has the flavor of Belgian spice, which is subdued but acts as a nice accent. Sweet in an appropriate way. It's puckery at the end. It feels milky and bubbly, dry at the swallow. This is a surprisingly nice wheat beer. It has the sweetness of a hefeweizen, with the wheaty mildness of a witbier.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, the Weissbier and the Moo Thunder are the class of the pack, although the Porkslap is their flagship beer. Here's hoping that if cans are truly the superior method of beer transport, that some of our finer breweries begin making the move so maybe our beers will stay out of the light, and last longer.
*I have no idea if this is actually true.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ithaca Excelsior! White Gold

With all the fast-moving happenings in the craft brewing world, we have been remiss in being slow to ignore some of the good things that the Ithaca Brewing Company has been doing lately. I first took notice on Thanksgiving weekend, when I noticed that their seasonal twelve-pack was absent the previously ubiquitous Apricot Wheat beer (a popular beer of which I am not particularly fond).

Instead, the twelver has four solid offerings: the decent Pale Ale, the gloriously hoppy Cascazilla, the surprisingly nice Oaked Nut Brown and my favorite winter offering, Gorges Porter.

Ithaca has also thrown their hat into the Big Beer movement, by offering 22-ounce bottles of new beers, in their Excelsior! series. They have just announced the release of their new αlpHαlpHα Double Honey Bitter and it has become clear that we are way behind in getting in on the Ithaca action.

[Note: It is going to be hard to find information about the Excelsior! series on Ithaca Beer's own website since it's not listed among their beers. They may want to get on that.]

Ithaca has released a beer in the series called White Gold, which is labelled as a "Strong Pale Wheat Ale." The label describes the beer thusly:

A Belgo-American Ale brewed with domestic barley and French wheat malts, the finest Continental and U.S. grown hops, and fermented with Belgian, English and Wild yeasts.

Here's what I thought about it:

The look is a very clear straw-yellow color. It has a massive puffy head when poured into a tulip glass. The liquid is anything but static; quite the contrary, it looks like champagne on the interior, with throngs of upfloating bubbles rushing to the surface. Other than that, it is very clear, appropriately so. With each sip, it leaves a thick and frothy lace.

The aroma is of the typical wheat vardiety, with only a mild spiciness that comes more from the mild hop than from any possible Belgian yeasts. There are fruit flavors that come through like a light accent, mostly lemon, orange peel and apple. The malts are estery and crystalline, a little spicy.

The flavor is primarily apples: the sweet red kind and the sour green kind. All this is balanced by a dry wheaty base. The beer is both sweet and spicy; you could call it Franco-Belgian. Surprising taste of pineapple, as well as a mild leafy hop. The pale malts mix well with that wheaty "twang" (as the kids are calling it these days). At the end of the sip, it turns slightly more sour, probably due to warmth. All these sweetish/spicy/sour flavors blend nicely with a frosty thickness on the tongue, lending themselves to a feel that is both bubbly and creamy.

White Gold is sweeter than most beers of its ilk, but it's balanced enough on the other ends of the spectrum to make it very drinkable. While there is a hint of sour and lots of other tree fruits that make it a good beer for girls and boys.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Beerjanglin'

NPR had a solid little story on Christmas beers yesterday. Solid mostly because it featured Don "Joe Sixpack" Russel and his considerable knowledge on the subject. You can give it a read or listen here. And check out Joe Sixpack's top 10 Christmas beers, it's about as sound a list as you'll find:

10 Christmas Beers, From Soup To Nuts

Mad Elf Beer Bottle and glass.

"Think fruitcake, but not the awful one made by your Aunt Bertha," Russell says of Troegs Mad Elf. "This beer tastes like it's been aged in an apple cider cask." Courtesy Don Russell

Samichlaus bottle and glass.

Advertised as "The Strongest Lager Beer In The World," Samichlaus has 14 percent alcohol — that's three times as strong as the average beer. Make sure you have a designated sleigh driver. Courtesy Don Russell

Smuttynose Winter Ale (New Hampshire), a sweet dark beer with notes of cherry and chocolate. Pair with snapper soup.

Stille Nacht (Belgium), a sweet, very strong pale ale. Pair with a washed-rind cheese such as Limburger.

Troegs Mad Elf (Pennsylvania), a strong dark ale brewed with cherries and honey. Pair with bacon quiche.

Mahr's Christmas Bock (Germany), a classic, malty Bavarian bock. Pair with a sausage plate.

Anchor Our Special Ale (California), a spiced winter warmer with a spruce aroma. Pair with cranberry salad.

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome (England), a classic unspiced winter warmer with mellow roasted malt. Pair with roasted turkey.

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice (California), a spiced winter warmer with warming vanilla notes. Pair with pumpkin pie.

Baladin Noel (Italy), a Belgian-style strong dark ale with a vibrant, spicy yeast character. Pair with those red-and-green-wrapped Hershey kisses.

Samichlaus (Austria), a smooth, brandylike triple bock. Pair with a cigar next to the fireplace.

Gouden Carolus Noel (Belgium), a strong dark ale spiced with herbs. Pair with salted pecans.

Merry Christmas, whatever you're drinking.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


At the risk of eschewing actual content for cheapie YouTube posts, this one caught me during the first half of today's Bills-Broncos game.

We all know that the "Drinkability" concept/campaign is laughable at best and audience-insulting at worst. All beverages are drinkable. This would be akin to McDonald's starting a campaign proudly trumpeting that their food is "Edible." It's a silly campaign, although not as desperate as their "It's so clear you can't hide its flaws" campaign with The Daily Show's usually amusing Rob Riggle. [Note: I cannot find any of these Riggle-laden commercials anywhere. I'm wondering if Bud realized how insipid and ridiculous they were and removed them from all existence.]

What struck me about this commercial though -- and it might be harder to see on the YouTube clip than it is on TV -- is the James Spader lookalike to the right of the screen who has just taken a sip of his Bud Light and proclaims "Man, that's good." See below.

The look on his face tells me that the beer is actually anything BUT good. His face resembles that of a person who had to ingest barium sulfate before a medical test. If that isn't the textbook definition of "choking it down," I don't know what is.

I think Bud is losing it.

If your goal is to make a drink that's "easy to swallow," as the commercial would indicate, then maybe you should get out of the goddamn beer business and into the iced tea business. Is beer really that hard to swallow? Have beer drinkers been reporting this as a problem? Are we gagging on our ales?

Some might think that BeerJanglin' is anti-Budweiser. And some might not be completely wrong. But we are getting very tired of the trend of this Belgian-owned company spreading blatant falsehoods, especially while claiming themselves to be the "Great American Lager." Drinkability. Clarity. Patriotism. All reasons that you should shun the craft brewing industry and drink Bud.


[Update: I was searching for Beer Ad articles online, and came up with this 2004 NPR/Slate spot by Seth Stevenson that talked about the battle between Miller's "President of Beers" and Bud's "disproportionate response" (their words). Interestingly, it's notable that one of Bud's main contentions of its superiority over Miller was that Miller was bought about by "a South African company" and therefore were somehow less patriotic. Oops!]

Friday, December 19, 2008

ECP Approved

Wow, it's been over a year since I twice posted. No, I have not stopped drinking beer. And yes, I have moved from Schenectady. I just felt now was the time for us to catch up.

So here is a list of recently approved beers, breweries, or bars:

Chatham Brewing

Located in lovely Columbia County (my new home), they produce some quality beers. I really enjoy the Porter. Great place to enjoy one? Peint o Gwrw in Chatham.

Yuengling Black and Tan

The economy isn't good. But this beer is. $8.99 for a 12 pack? Yes, please!

Pittsfield Brew Works

A favorite of the Beerjanglin' staff. This a great staff, and the Sampler is awesome.

Southport Brewing Company

I don't remember much about my trip to Milford. It rained. A lot. I drank. A lot. But I do remember this spot. It had its own beer, which I am sure was good. But they had pitchers. Of Genny Cream. God bless 'em.

King Authur's Brewpub

This gem in Oswego is of course ECP approved. Try the Red Dragon ale.

Southern Tier Pumking

Is it the fall yet Yet?

Schultz and Dooley

In the ECP hall of fame!

I am glad we could catch up!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beer Review - Southern Tier Cuvee: Series One

When stumbling upon what appeared to be a nondescript convenience store -- Stafford Convenience Store, corner of Stafford and Sunnycrest in Eastwood, Syracuse, NY -- I was surprised to see, for the first time, Series One of Southern Tier Cuvee.

Apparently, Southern Tier will be putting out three separate series of oak-aged beers. The first series, released in October, will be in French oak; the second series, released in February, will use American oak; the third series, available when the last of the snow will finally have melted in June, will likely be a combination of the two.

And spoiler alert, because the label gives away some of the beer's secrets:

ALE IMPRESSIONS: Light copper color, slight malt flavor with mild bitterness, dry finish with subtle hop aroma.
FRENCH OAK IMPRESSIONS: Qualities of toasted coconut, almond biscotti and toasted almonds with a taste of honeysuckle.
11.0% abv. • individually boxed, foil labeled 22 oz bottle
But more importantly, what did I think? I broke out a tulip glass and my notebook and took a crack at it.

This beer is very attractive, worthy of its provocative French moniker. The color is honey and copper. Though the head starts puffy (possibly due to a suspect pour), it disappears pretty quickly. It's not a clear beer, but puts out a hazy glow like a lava lamp. The carbonation is infinitesimal.

When hoisting this unwieldy glass toward the nasal cavity, the first smell -- naturally -- is of oak. The oak masks a second wave of heavy Belgian ale spice. The caramel malts come through to add both another level of flavor and another level of balance. It smells woody, roasted and dry.

The taste opens up a veritable pandora's box of flavor, a menagerie of disparate flavors. I was able to taste: oak, vanilla accents, Belgian ale spices, raisin, strong alcohol, caramel, molasses, a nutty malt and coconut. (To be fair, I'm not sure I would have detected the coconut if I hadn't read it on the label first. Ah the power of suggestion.)

The label mentions that there is creme brulee in the flavor, but to me that comes out much more like vanilla, caramel and molasses, and not the strong sense of Southern Tier's recent Creme Brulee Milk Stout. The beer is creamy and fizzy, and leaves a nice little remnant on the tongue.

It's a beer that's actually greater than the sum of it's parts. As far as drinkability goes, it's superior. At 11% alcohol by volume, there wasn't a moment at which I was choking it down. In fact, I was surprised to find it was gone before I was finished writing everything down about it. Which meant I had to pour another glass. And fast.

According to the Southern Tier website, Series Two will feature a more roasted, possibly more bitter, flavor. It should be more oaky, but with "a creamy intensity." Series Three will ... ah who the hell knows. I'm just glad I got to try this one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Governor

Now that we are "officially" in a recession, it is no secret that many state governments are in a bit of a negative cash flow situation. Given that New York State depends on Wall Street for roughly 20% of revenues, it shouldn't be shocking that we are in a bit more of a fiscal bind than most. Governor David Paterson today released his sure-to-be-popular proposed budget, which is designed to spread the pain around to, apparently, everyone who has ever lived in, visited, or heard of New York.** One unpleasant "revenue action" (how's that for a euphemism?) that happened to catch my eye: a more than 100% increase in the excise on beer.

Increase Beer and Wine Tax Rates. Increases the excise tax on wine and beer to approximately the average of surrounding states. The tax on wine would increase from 18.9 cents per gallon to 51 cents per gallon, and the beer tax would increase from 11 cents per gallon to 24 cents per gallon. Alcohol excise taxes were last increased in 1991.
Ouch. It's not as ugly as the excise increase on wine, but he is proposing allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores. Oh, yeah, there would also be an "obesity tax" on the sale of non-diet soda (or pop, depending on from whence in the state you hail). Times are tough all over.

** It should be noted that I think Governor Paterson is doing, to this point, a fairly credible job in a rather untenable situation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wine Snobs Become Bud Geeks!

A Hat Tip to Brookston Beer Bulletin for inspiration...

Let's break down this Budweiser commercial for a moment. Two wine snobs sit at an upscale tavern where the chesty Christine Scott Bennett is tending bar. They are debating as to where their wine comes from. One says, "It tastes like Sonoma Valley," to which the other rebukes, "These grapes are VERY Sierra foothills."

At which point, our dreamy tavern maid jumps in with, "Idaho!"

No, she is not saying that "She [is] da hoe," nor does she have Tourette's. Rather, she begins to explain where the hops in Budweiser -- the Belgian beer company -- are harvested. Idaho, as all beer aficianados can tell you, is the home of "fields of the finest hops known to man." This fact is irrefutable.

But what better way to empirically prove the superiority of Idaho hops than by pouring -- unsolicited, mind you -- two large pilsner glasses filled with Budweiser. (It's an American-style macro lager, for those of you unfamiliar with this Belgian company.)

So dumbstruck and embarrassed are these two pseudo-sommeliers, that they are shamed into purchasing Budweisers for everyone in the bar! Clearly, these men -- because of their appreciation for wine -- are men of class and taste, and probably have high-paying jobs in the private sector which would allow them to afford such an outrageous bar tab. Apparently, they took one look at this exotic yellow beer and decided that it was time to say "enough" to all this stuffy wine talk and get down to a real workingman's drink! (One question, however: why is it that these men would argue about the origins of the grapes in the wine they are drinking, when they could just as easily look on the bottle's label or Google the answer via their BlackBerries?)

A quick cut to the Budweiser logo, with the words "The Great American Lager (Please Drink Responsibly)" and the Rock and/or Roll sounds of Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" This song represents that the buttoned-up world that these two stagnant males were living in has just been rocked! (Or possibly rolled.)

But just knowing that these men are going on to better drinking isn't enough. You have to watch ... the process. When we return to our wine connois-snores, they are practically obsessed with this stuff! Mr. Sierra Foothills asks Mr. Sonoma Valley if he's "feeling the hops?" Mr. Sonoma replies, "I'm SO-O-O feelin' the hops!" as he wafts the aroma of those bitter hops into his nasal cavity. You know, just like real beer geeks do. Oh, and suddenly there are two comely young blonde lasses who have just sidled up to them. Apparently buying $2.50 beers for the house make a woman swoon. Cut and print!

Thanks Budweiser, for capturing what it's like to be a real beer drinker.

Friday, December 12, 2008

21 Things About Prohibition

We would be remiss if we didn't give a quick shout to our man and FotB (Friend of the Blog) Lew Bryson for his really excellent breakdown of 21 points about prohibition and repeal. I can't even begin to do the piece justice so just check it out yourself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beer O' the Moment - Sierra Nevada Harvest

Sunday, October 15th 2006 was a watershed day for yours truly, for it was the first time I tried the 2006 version of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale. Our Albany bureau chief Bojangles had secured a large, fancy growler of it -- and not the screw-cap kind, mind you, but the kind with the rubber stopper flip-top and an ornate silver handle. I was visiting Bojangles for the weekend and on Sunday morning -- before the Bills lost to the previously-winless Detroit Lions -- he offered me a pour.

This was in the early years of beer geekdom, and to me, Sierra Nevada was far too mainstream a brewery for my liking. Basically, if I had heard of it, I didn't want to try it. And I was sure that a brewery like Sierra Nevada had sold out to the American populace and dumbed down its recipe. Don't try to sell it to me, cuz I'm not buyin', maaaaan.

In short, I was an asshole.

Suffice it to say that the 2006 version of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale was -- and I have repeated this many time since -- the single greatest pint of beer that I had ever had. It was my first experience with the "wet hops" of a harvest ale, and brought the idea of an IPA to a completely new place. It actually changed my life. I never doubted Sierra Nevada's brewing chops again. In fact, Mr. Bojangles once had a long and virulent discussion

The problem is, as with that first hit of heroin [secondhand knowledge], you are always chasing that high again. I had looked for the Sierra Nevada Harvest ale, and though it wasn't particularly hard to find, I had always ended up just missing it. I had had the Southern Hemisphere version -- which ostensibly was created to react to the hop shortage -- but it wasn't quite the same. I found the 2007 version at a local watering hole, but it didn't match up. This year, I called several local beer stores, all of whom said they would have it; they all lied.

Finally, on a fateful trip to Beers of the World on Thanksgiving weekend, I serendipitously found a twenty-two ounce bottle of the cumbersomely titled Sierra Nevada 12th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale. Being that I already was spending an embarrassing amount of money on all the other beer I was lugging to the register, I gladly took a flier on this one.

And folks, I have finally caught the elusive dragon.

There is nothing I don't love about this beer. First -- and maybe I'm just biased or using revisionist history -- it looks amazing. It's a clear copper orange. Infinitesimal little bubbles shoot up like little glass elevators. The head is huge: three chunky fingers worth, fluffy and white, like an ice cream float. The rings of lace around the top of the glass resemble a redwood more than a red-ale.

Take one whiff and prepare to be hooked. The hops in the nose are simply magnificent. They are a complex blend of major oily citrus, and a hint of resiny pine. It's a sweet, flowery perfume. All that sweet-n-spicy is balanced out by what I can only describe is burnt firewood.

The sip was a reward for two years of patience. Again, a bitter perfume. It's sweet and citrusy, but with a real bite on the back end. Some crucial roasted malts come through in the taste, without which this beer would collapse under its own hoppy weight. It's nearly the perfect IPA, and I don't know that I've had a better one. That triumphant triumverate of sweet estery hops, bitter citrus/pine hops and roasted malts make this an all-timer.

Combine the strangely bubbly, fizzy feel with these strong flavors and you got yourself a drink right there! It's bitter, yes, but it's balanced. And it's superior.

It must be said that this beer is closest in style to Stone Ruination and Flying Dog Double Dog, at least as far as my humble palate was able to ascertain. I would give the ever-so-slight edge, however, to the Sierra, only because of those inimitable "wet" hops.

My beer-drinkin' buddies are glad that I finally found this beer so that I would stop talking about, and bitching about how I can't find it anywhere. Pound for pound it's probably my favorite beer in the world. So go grab some, email me your address and expect a self-addressed stamped box within three business days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brewing in Sudan

According to Reuters, SABMiller is creating the first brewery in Sudan in a quarter of a century. Alcohol was banned in the Islamic-run country in 1983, but beer has been allowed in the region since the south of the country achieved semi-autonomous rule three years ago. And though alcohol has been known to cause some problems in the region, here's hoping that the initial issues are simply a reaction to strict government restrictions and they will learn to "drink responsibly."

By creating a South Sudanese brand, Miller will hopefully help start the process of giving the people of that war-torn region some added regional pride -- hopefully in a "hometown spirit" sense, rather than more jingoism. Previously, the region had been importing all their beer from Uganda; Bell Beer is Uganda's most highly-regarded beer. (For an interesting read, check out this BBC article about the Ugandan tradition of communal drinking from a straw.)

According to the Reuters article, the new brewery will employ 250 workers, brewing beer and soft drinks. SABMiller is also reportedly interested in using the region's local cereal grains for the beer's barley.

In the wake of InBev laying off over 2000 workers, the Sudan story is a nice development.

What's In My Fridge?

You can tell a lot about someone by the items with which they surround themselves: a record collection, a DVD library, their wardrobe. I judge people by these things, and judge them harshly. Should I see a Hinder CD, a Uwe Boll movie or a trucker hat in anyone's residence, that person shall hear my very strong and very correct opinions.

But should I apply the same stringent and high-minded snobbery to what someone keeps in their refrigerator? Of course, I'm not referring to Hellman's mayonnaise, Diet Coca-Cola, Heinz's Extra Fancy Tomato catsup, or Hungry Man microwaveable dinners (I have one of these items in my fridge, can you guess which one?). Rather, I'm referring to the libations, spirits, lagers and ales of the world. Now that good beer is becoming easier and easier to get, there is no excuse -- save for dearth of funds or lack of taste buds -- to be slumming it on the beer front.

So what DO I have in my refrigerator, indeed! you ask. Nothing fancy, but here is a partial list:
22-ounce bottles of:

  1. Rogue Double Dead Guy
  2. Ithaca TEN (Excelsior! Series)
  3. Ithaca White Gold (Excelsior! Series)
  4. Rogue Smoke Ale
  5. Rogue Chipotle Ale
  6. Stone Arrogant Bastard
  7. Stone IPA
  8. Rogue Shakespeare Stout
  9. Green Flash Stout
Out of these, the only ones I have had before are the two Stone beers, half of the Double Dead Guy and the Chipotle Ale. Any suggestions where I should go next?

12-ounce bottles of:
  1. Sam Adams Boston Lager
  2. Sam Adams Winter Lager
  3. Sam Adams Cream Stout
  4. Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
  5. Sam Adams Holiday Porter
  6. Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic
  7. Ithaca Cascazilla
  8. Mendocino Double IPA
  9. Magic Hat Roxy Rolles
  10. Magic Hat Jinx
  11. Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA
  12. Victory Festbier
  13. Ithaca Pale Ale

Our good friend Willie Moe, Boston's favorite prodigal son, has chimed in with the contents of his icebox:

  1. Southampton Pumpkin
  2. Southern Tier Krampus
  3. New England Atlantic Amber
  4. Sam Adams Winter Lager
  5. Victory Festbier
  6. spoiled cheese*
  7. rotten tomatoes*
  8. Ipswitch Harvest
  9. mustard*
  10. mayo*
  11. spicy brown mustard*
  12. Shipyard Brewer's Special
(*not clever beer names)

I have more out on my enclosed porch but it's too goddamn cold to go look to see what they are. What you got?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Need To Visit Vermont

I grew up near Buffalo. We have never been shy about a little wintry weather, to say the least. Eight years of living in Syracuse, New York (aka the snowiest city in the world!) did little to dispel this notion. The discovery of the myriad seasonal ales that accompany this time of year only serves to further reinforce it.

Don't get me wrong - I don't enjoy skiing or snowmobiling. Or hunting, snow shoeing, sub-freezing temps, commuting in inclement weather, flu season, Ebeneezer Scrooge-types, wassailing, etc. You get the picture. I guess I like this time of year in spite of itself. I oddly romanticize it (at least until Ground Hog day or so) and that works for me.

All of that nonsense has little to do with this article in the Boston Globe:

There may or may not be a craft beer heaven, but this vibrant city wedged between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains is close. Located at the epicenter of Vermont's microbrewery scene, Burlington is bustling with pubs and taprooms. Finding one that serves craft on draft is not only easy, it's the rule.

To prove it, we set out on our own pub crawl to see how many bars serving local brews on tap we could find before we ran out of steam. (Yeah, it's a tough job.)

The rules were simple. The crawl had to stay within walking distance of the intersection of Main and Church streets. Burlington beer aficionados readily provided a list of places to check out, but this crawl, as they so often do, progressed randomly.

This piece doesn't even begin give it justice, but just picture the scene with me: a snowy winter's night in Burlington. The wind is whipping in off of Lake Champlain, and fat flakes dance in the air. 'Tis not a fit night for man nor beast, but the cheery glow of the many pubs off the pedestrian mall in the city's downtown are calling. There are three brewpubs within walking distance and plenty of other likely destinations betwixt and between...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brewpoint with Willie Moe

Its time for another edition of Brewpoint with Willie Moe! Yes folks its time for Willie Moe to dole out his opinions on something in the world of beer. Mmmmm, world of beer, aaaaaaggghh! In this edition we go into the seedy underbelly of Bud, dum, dum, dum, dah. But more specifically Bud Light and their "Drinkability" campaign.

It probably comes as no surprise that there is not one Beerjangler' who is an avid drinker of Bud or Bud Light. Yes, even Dunford, the self proclaimed huguenot (whatever that means), parted ways with the self proclaimed "King of Beers" after he could no longer readily find BudDry, the only beer to this day that matches his unique wit and style. Is it because we are, what the world outside Brewtopia commonly refers to as "Beer Snobs"? Well, maybe partially. But I can guarantee that every single Beerjangler' has, in the last year, partook of a Pabst Blue Ribbon (and we were drinkning it long before it was trendy), or a Strohs, or a Gennessee Cream Ale, or a Schaeffer's, or any number of other comparable beers. Well, alright, I realize there is nothing comparable to a sweet, sweet PBR, but you get the point. If you ever see us voluntarily forcing down one of Heir Wieser's mainstays, it's probably a good day for curling in "h-e-double hockey sticks", if you catch my draught. If you don't, it means Hell froze over, because us drinking Bud by choice is that far fetched. So, needless to say, we do not like Budweiser, as opposed to Bud Wiser, whom we love. But if there's one thing, and there probably is only one thing, I could always count on from the Bud Empire, was clever and funny commercials.

This makes sense because they certainly aren't putting all those thousands of dollars they make into making a better beer. From Spuds Mackenzie to the WAZZZZZZUP?! Guys to the Tree Frogs to any number of hilarious ads they have produced over the years, Bud has been the King of Advertising. Which is why I have been so distraught lately. These Drinkability ads are about as good as the product they are selling, which is to say they are not. The premise of these ads is to say that Bud Light has what all those other light beers are missing. Yep, you guessed it, "drinkability". "Drinkability"?! Are you effin kidding me?! There point is that all light beers are not the same, which is, I guess slightly true, but are they trying to imply that Bud Light goes down easier than say, Coors Light? Because I'm pretty sure that is untrue. What they are equating "drinkability" to is how easy it goes down by more or less saying beer is only drinkable if it goes down like water. Which may be true for Joe Nascar Fan, but not for this guy! This guys wants something called "flavorability"! Yes, the ability to have flavor in my mouth, whilst getting drunk. I know it's an "out there" concept, but it could just catch on! But the Budheads idea of "drinkability" is not even the thing making me the most mad! No, it isn't! Keep reading.

You see in these ads, someone will ask for any light beer because, "they all taste the same." This then cues the random dude who has the Zack Morris ability of freezing time to go over the inaccuracy of this statement. Now if this were actually Zack Morris, that would be funny! But I digress. Joe or Josephine Time Freezer proceeds to move through the backyard barbecue, asking us if eating ground beef is the same as eating beef off the ground, or if drinking regular water is the same as drinking birdbath water, or eating a carrot stick is the same as eating a stick, stick. My first question is how do these people get the ability to freeze time, when they clearly didn't even have the ability to do well on the analogy portion of their SATs? Even Zack Morris got a 1502 on his SATs. Okay, I suppose freezing time would be more indicative of their math portion, not their verbal, but anyways. The fact remains that not one of these comparisons is relevant or funny. I mean basically the comparisons would be more like Light Beer in a can is not like licking light beer off the ground. Maybe if they were like, "is eating a hamburger from McDonald's the same as a eating hamburger from Ruby Tuesday's? Is taking a dump at home the same as taking a dump at a gas station? Is poking a bear behind bars at the zoo, the same as poking a bear out in the woods, unprotected?" I don't know if they mean for these to be ironical or something, but what I do know is they do not make me laugh and that is about all I have ever got from the King of Beers. The commercial where there's a creepy hitchhiker with an axe and a twelver of Bud Light, and the guy in the car dismisses his lady friend's comment about not picking him up because he has an axe, with, '"but he's got Bud Light."? That's funny! But it even gets funnier than that. When asked what the axe is for, the stranger's reply is, "To open the Bud Light?" Come on?! You kidding me? I'm giggling just thinking about it! So please Anheuser-Busch, I implore you, stick to what you know, making crappy beer and funny commercials. It's all I ask. And this has been Willie Moe's Brewpoint!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Europeans Are Turning Into A Bunch Of Beer Guzzlers?

Say what? Europe is known as a continent full of enlightened sophisticates who enjoy socialized health care, responsible consumption of fine vintages of wine and long walks along the Seine and the Danube. Still mostly true, but part of that image may be due for a change, according to a survey commissioned by the Wall Street Journal:

Europeans are supposed to sip wine in sidewalk cafés, not guzzle beer like American college students.

But Europe's relationship with alcohol is changing. Countries like France and Italy, where good wine is considered a birthright, are seeing a surge in beer drinking among young people. In many countries, the traditional glass or two at mealtimes is giving way to a new culture of binge drinking.

To study the issue, the Wall Street Journal asked market-research firm GfK to poll Europeans about their drinking habits. In 13 European Union countries, plus the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Switzerland, GfK asked more than 17,000 people to describe how often they drink, what they drink and how alcohol affects their lives. Many of the results were surprising. (Read the rest here...)

While this seems like an incredibly silly, inaccurate survey in which many of the participants are obviously lying (53% of Italians don't drink at all, really?), it does make for an interesting read. A surprising trend of younger Euro's preferring beer over wine clearly emerges, and (coincidentally?) binge drinking seems to be becoming more prevalent among that set as well. I'm not sure what exactly can be gleaned from all this, but it's worth a quick look.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


If you guessed Brahma, you'd be correct! That's right folks, I decided to grab the bull by the horns, not literally of course, and take in this Brazilian concoction. Now I know many Bud drinkers right now are wondering where they've heard that name before. No, not concoction, InBev. Well InBev, in your mind, added Budweiser into its brewing axis of evil. Now before you Budheads get all riled up and call me unpatriotistic, for drinking un-Americaned beer, hear me out. You're idiots, plain and simple. Okay, now that that's settled, onto the brew.

Brahma was created by Joseph Villager in 1888. Ever since has has flowed through Brasil, adding to the energy, passion and creative spirit called "Ginga". A Brasilian philosophy and approach to life fusing creativity and ingenuity,and living life with effortless flare.

Brahma has a nice curvaceous bottle, with no label, but rather its name raised up on the sides of the bottle. Not as eye-catching as say, Tiger, but then again what is? The curved script is displayed wonderfully, but it also gives you the feeling that you're getting a typical Brazilian macro. But enough about the bottle, we're not gonna drink out of there for crying out loud! Lets pour!

Now we try not to go into drinking any beer with preconceived notions, but to be honest we do it a lot. Is it fair to the beer? No. But life's not always fair, so deal with it! But I digress. Pouring it into my pint glass, it seemed to come out as expected. Oh, did you want to know what that was? Okay, fine! It poured a thin yellow color, with medium carbonation and a thin, quickly dissolving head with no trace of lace. Did not look atrocious, but also did not look to be packing too much in the way of, well, anything. But how does it smell?

Upon plunging your nose into this one you are not met with much. The smell is weak, with mild grains, and the ever so slight hint of fruit, possibly lemon. About what you would expect from your run of the mill macro. The smell is not necessarily bad, just bland. Your socks will remain on when you give it a whiff. Think Corona, but far weaker. But could the mildness pass over to the taste as well?

Yes and yes! Actually not half bad! It was all bad! Hahahaha! I kid, I kid. It really was not terrible, especially considering I heard from a very unreliable source, that the people of Brahma literally put their blood, sweat and tears into their product. Sounds gross, but what you don't know is that a Brazilian's sweat tastes like corn bread. And not that store bought crud, homemade cornbread! For those of you worried about it, the blood, sweat, and tears only make up about 23% of each bottle, rather than the rumored 72%. Hardly anything to get all up in arms about. I mean that sweet Brazilian sweat accounts for the slight grainy corn taste in every sip and the tears help give it just enough water to overpower both it and the alcohol. This is actually fairly refreshing. If I had been chased out of Uruguay with heavy gunfire, and had finally ended up in Brazil taking on odd jobs, possibly in the cane fields, there would be nothing better after a long day of working in that hot South American sun than an iced cold Brahma. And that's the truth!

If you want to get international and try something exciting and new, then I would wholeheartedly recommend an ice cold Brahma. Goes down as smooth and easy as a head cheerleader on prom night. In fact if you're ever in Sao Paolo, it would be an insult to order anything else! Is it a typical macro? Sure, but that's not always bad. Brahma scores slightly higher than Pacifico on the alcoholic water spectrum. So if you see it, give it a whirl, raise your glass to "Ginga" and enjoy!

Bottoms Up!
Willie 3:16