Monday, August 31, 2009

Malt Madness Awesomeness

I wanted to take a quick moment to give some props to the folks in the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers club whose Malt Madness competition this past weekend was fantastic.

The compettion itself went off without a hitch. The morning session, lunch, afternoon session, BOS round, and awards all flowed in punctual fashion - no small task for a competition with some 450 entries. Absolutely great job by the competition coordinators, judge coordinators, stewards, and judges. And the folks at the Allentown Brewworks put out a really nice spread for us. I've come not to expect much for lunch at most homebrew competitions, but this was a pleasant surprise. I pigged out on salad, a cheeseburger, a pulled pork sandwich (the highlight), and some ziti.

Most importantly, I can't say enough about the homebrew I tasted this past weekend. In the first round I judged a flight of strong Belgian ales. We had a couple of very good trippels, but otherwise I found myself underwhelmed. However, in the afternoon session I was assigned to pilsners and amber lagers. I found myself completely blown away by some of the best homebrew I've ever tasted. We had a German pilsner, Oktoberfest, Vienna lager, and American pilsner that were all top notch. These were beers that I would definitely pay good money to drink a full glass of. As someone who loves to brew lagers and prides himself on their quality, I realize that I've got to step up my game. These eastern PA guys are really brewing some kick ass lagers.

I was lucky enough to place with a couple of brews and come away with a killer prize - a gift certificate to Porter's Pub in Easton! So I was able to treat R to a nice dinner at one of our favorite places. A great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"New Dry's" strike in Maine

Wow. It never ceases to amaze me what people in this country actually care about.

So this Rep. Webster character votes to pass a law basically stating that children can't see adults consuming alcohol because he's afraid of kids walking into a grocery store and seeing adults standing around drinking liquor. He's accomplished his goal. But what else has he taken a giant dump on? Does this mean that you can't have a festival in a park - like the fantastic Vermont Brewer's Festival - without putting up a giant opaque wall around the whole thing? Theoretically this would eliminate the possibility of having any kind of festival or tasting outdoors. Did he and the other legislators up there actually think about this thing or did they just pass a law that a bunch of neo-prohbitionists pressured him to pass?

Webster represents Freeport Maine. I wonder if he's heard from his constituents at Freeport Brewing Company or Gritty McDuff's?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Me and my big mouth...

Boy do I wish I hadn't come across that last article that I blogged about. Part 2 of George Lenker's series on amateur beer writers started an avalanche of crappy reading to clog up my browser windows.

First off, I finished Part 2 and couldn't believe what I was reading from a professional journalist. I was actually looking forward to reading some constructive, well-thought-out criticism of amateur beer writing - the kind of thing you'd expect from someone who is a "real" journalist. Instead the article/blog post/whatever it was turns out to be some stream of consciousness bellyaching. I mean, if you're not going to give us at least one concrete example of what you mean, who cares? What's the point? The whole thing comes off as more amateurish than the writing he's complaining about.

Of course, it looks like it took no time at all for the bloggerati to start the attack. And for Lenker to respond, blaming everyone else for mis-understanding him. If he were smart, he'd use the hereforthebeer blog post as an example of what's wrong with amateur writing. On the internet, everyone is an expert, and you can put words in someone else's mouth (never said they sucked, never called them losers) without any real repercussions. And the tone of their response was even more childish than Lenker's original piss-into-the-wind complaint.

Thanks for nothing, guys. Now where will I get those precious minutes back....

What's that you say? It gets worse?

Of course, from the hereforthebeer post, I wind up linking over to an article recapping an incredibly important moment in craft beer history that went down at the most recent Savor event in DC. I'll let you read it for yourself. I know, this is big time stuff. I hope you're sitting down....

The great Sam Calagione, the greatest brewer of all time, the most important and handsome man in craft brewing today, gave us the formal definitions of Beer Geek and Beer Snob. I'm sure that as this happened the heavens parted and Sam touched the Lord's finger like in Michaelangelo's Sistene Chapel, and the $115 that all of the attendees paid for admission (plus the additional cost of attending the Salon) were simultaneously used to wipe the ass of some yuppie event planner.

I'll spend the rest of my day trying to figure out what important piece of information was shuttled from my brain to make room for the Beer Geek and Beer Snob definitions.

Seriously - do people really care about this shit? I have to be honest, all of this garbage really got me thinking. It just seems like a funny sign to me. It made me think back to the '90's when the microbrewing scene experienced an adjustment (went bust, whatever you want to call it) because there were a bunch of people involved for all of the wrong reasons. All of this attention paid to a bunch of trivial shit feels wrong to me. That plus the recent BA numbers and some other things I've seen in the news gave me a funny feeling that maybe we're peaking here. Maybe I'll post on that later.

Sorry, now I'm getting all stream of consciousness myself. Who cares, I'm an amateur!!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This means you (or me, rather)!

George Lenker (The Beer Nut from The Massachusetts Republican) presents an interesting take on the subject of beer writing. He's taking issue with the value of the ramblings of amateur hacks, such as myself.

Professional journalists are making their way through the 21st century media landscape as best they can and it's always interesting to hear them explain their value over that of the folks who make up the blogosphere out on the internerd. Generally speaking, I agree with the notion that there's a lot of garbage out there these days and it's not always easy to separate the facts from the opinions of a bunch of blowhards. But when our "professional" media landscape is dotted by (and often dominated by) the Glenn Beck's and Rush O'Reilly's of the world, it's not hard to turn around and point a finger back at the journalists who are supposed to be "fair and balanced" <pukes in mouth a little>...

Lenker's piece is the only one I can think of that is focusing this discussion on beer writing. And I'm interested to read what else he has to say. If he takes the Beer Advocate review nerds to the woodshed, I'm all for it. However, I'm hoping that he acknowledges some of the drivel coming from his colleagues as well.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Beer Petitions

Came across this interesting new site today. And it looks very new. There's hardly anything up there for NY, and nothing for NJ or PA.

I'm curious to see if this takes off. If it does, I'll be even more interested to see if it has any impact. If I were a retail store, craft beer bar, or distributor, I'd definitely keep my eye on it to see if I'm getting any requests.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Charlie P in the Garden State

After missing BA/AHA guru Charlie Papazian at the Vermont Brewers Festival, it turns out I missed him again recently right here in Jersey. Here he is giving a few shout-outs to Krogh's and Long Valley. It's nice to see a few NJ brewpubs getting some national exposure. His next stops appear to be along the Delaware River, so lets hope he hits the Ship Inn and River Horse.

I wonder if he was at Krogh's on Saturday, the 1st? If so, he should have stopped by the Best of Show round at the NJ State Fair competition up in Sussex, not too far from Sparta. Krogh's sponsored the competition. Yours truly was lucky enough to take first place in the Specialty and Wood Aged Beer category for an oak aged olde ale.