Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reno International Canned Beer Festival

Here's another article that I came across and thought was pretty cool. A festival celebrating canned craft beer is a pretty cool idea whose time has definitely come.

I've been of the belief that cans are the way of the future for the craft beer industry and the tide is (very) slowly shifting. More and more craft brewers are taking advantage of the can and I've been trying to make a point of picking them up when I see them in local stores. As a matter of fact, 21st Amendment is now being distributed in NYC and NJ, and I picked up a sixer of 21st Amendment IPA a couple of weeks ago at The Palisade in JC Heights.

By the way, The Palisade is the best beer store in Hudson County. Don't know if I've pointed that out in this space before...

From a beer quality perspective, cans have an advantage over bottles in that they are completely impervious to light. Cans also now have a thin lining (some kind of a ceramic, I believe) that prevents the beer from reacting with the aluminum in the can, so forget about any idea that you have about a tinny or metallic taste coming from canned beer. Get over it.

From the brewer's perspective, the relatively recent availability of the small scale canning line is the big development. Small canning lines are relatively inexpensive (relative to a bottling line), less complicated, and easier to operate. Some canning lines can successfully be operated by one person - think about how heavy a pallet of empty bottles is vs. a pallet of empty cans.

The problem for a brewer using cans is that they're pre-printed, meaning that you have to order a ton of them up front, which is a significant investment. You can't just slap a new label on when you come out with a new beer. But then again, ask any brewer running a bottling line and 9 out of 10 will tell you that the labeler is the biggest pain in the neck on the bottling line.

So buy some canned beer. If you have "a thing" against canned beer, get over it. It's all in your head. Besides, when you're done with it you can crush it in your fist or against your head. Or you can shotgun one. Try that with a bottle.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Support Rock Art Brewery vs. Bullshit

I've been following this story for a few days now. The long and the short of it is that the makers of Monster energy drinks are suing Rock Art in Vermont over their Vermonster Barleywine. Check out this video to hear Matt Nadeau from Rock Art tell the story himself.

You can really hear the frustration in Matt's voice in this interview. He's genuinely hurt by this action, and who can blame him? I can only imagine how I'd feel in his shoes right now. If I ever realize my dream and manage to open a brewery, I don't think I'd be able to react in the kind of composed fashion that Matt is, so I give him a ton of credit. I'd either go all ninja on the Hansen headquarters - penetrate the CEO's office through an air duct and pee all over his keyboard - or drop dead of a brain hemorrhage as soon as I got the cease and desist order.

You know what to do. Support Rock Art. Don't buy anything made by Hansen. Better yet, contact Hansen and let them know what you think here.

I would also note that I had the Vermonster at the Vermont Brewer's Festival last July. Matt was there to lead a very informative beer and cheese pairing. If you see the Vermonster out on the shelves, pick it up. It's a great barleywine.

And another note - Rock Art has a Save the Vermonster page set up on their site. It states:

"Rally cry for Rock Art by rockers:danzig "mother""
No idea what that means, but I love it. Get pumped!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Greg Noonan passes

I browsed over to the BJCP site just a few minutes ago and was completely stunned to see the news of Greg Noonan's passing on the front page of the site.

For those who don't know, Greg was the founder and brewer at one of the best brewpubs around - if not the best brewpub around - the Vermont Pub and Brewery. When I went to the Vermont Brewer's Festival in July with R, we hit the VPB several times and I posted about how great it was shortly after our visit. He was also the author of several brewing books, notably Brewing Lager Beer and the Scotch Ale volume of the Classic Styles Series.

I also met Greg after completing the American Brewers Guild course a couple of years ago. At the conclusion of the course, Greg gave us a tour of the VPB and spent some time chatting with the graduates of the class over a beer. He couldn't have been more friendly and accomodating. He also left us with really great advice for the future.

Cheers, Greg. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stumbling across some beer press

I'm used to actively pursuing my beer coverage. I have my blogs that I read, my magazines that I subscribe to, and the regional beer rags that I pick up whenever I'm at a bar or restaurant that has them around. Also, the AHA's Tech Talk forum has just started sending out a daily compilation of headlines and links to interesting articles from around the world. Yet another reason to sign up for your AHA membership.

The Tech Talk forum recently hipped me to this article about a dude who's set up a small scale hop farm in upstate New York. New York State was at one time the premier hop growing region in the states until disease wiped out the farms (downy mildew, I believe - don't quote me on that). So I was pretty psyched when I read about someone who's not a brewer by trade bringing hop farming back to the region. Even if it is in a very limited and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants capacity.

I'm not used to just randomly stumbling across beer coverage, however. That's why I was surprised when I browsed to one of my favorite recipe sites and saw a big colorful spot for an article on beer and food pairing - complete with a big Ommegang bottle right smack in the middle. This article doesn't cover any new territory for those of us in the know, but it is pretty cool to see something like this getting front page coverage on a very reputable cooking site. And they do tell the truth:

"Beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine is."