Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sam's Infomercial

So I finally got around to watching Brew Masters, the new show on the Discovery Channel that's a show about Sam Calagione masquerading as a show about beer. And unfortunately I have to admit that I didn't hate it as much as I wanted to. However...

It still sucked.

The elements of the show that focused on beer production and recipe formulation were really interesting. As far as beer is concerned, there's really never been anything on TV like it (at least as far as I know of). And they didn't dumb it down too much either. I found myself wondering if the average viewer (i.e. someone who doesn't already know about brewing and the nuances of different ingredients) would really get it.

For example, as different varieties of malts were discussed, there wasn't any background information given on what malt even is. And I don't necessarily think that was a bad thing. Hopefully that element of the show inspires more folks to be inquisitive about their beer and its production.

But that's it for the positive. What really smelled rotten about this show - and what should have been no surprise at all to anyone who has been paying any kind of attention to the craft beer scene for the last few years - was that it's really not about beer. Predictably, it's just a Sam Calagione vehicle.

For the past several years, Sam has been the attention sucking black hole of the craft beer world. He's the subject of movies, he has feature articles written about him in major publications (in which other brewers are thrown under the bus at his expense), his name is dropped a dozen times in every issue of every known beer publication. We all know about his modeling, surfing, rapping, baby saving, and miracle working.

And what it comes down to is that, primarily, this show is just about following Sam and listening to him talk about his philosophies and inspirations. Brew Masters is no more about beer than Ace of Cakes is about baking cakes. It's a soap opera centered around one guy (and don't even get me started on that Duff douchebag - I'd bet that they have the same publicist).

The interesting stuff that you might actually be able to learn from takes a back seat to the Sam-centric reality show. And that's just dime-a-dozen TV these days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kegerator for sale

Here it is:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Latest stupidity from BrewDog

I hate to come across as a crotchety old grouch these days, but I couldn't help but post a link to this great article on the latest batch of nonsense released by the attention starved hype machine that is BrewDog. Big props to the author for pointing out the incredible lameness of a brewery called BrewDog and their even more ridiculous and pompous press release:

''This is the beer to end all beers. It's an audacious blend of eccentricity, artistry and rebellion; changing the general perception of beer, one stuffed animal at a time.

''The impact of The End Of History is a perfect conceptual marriage between taxidermy, art and craft brewing. The bottles are at once beautiful and disturbing - they disrupt conventions and break taboos, just like the beer they hold within them.''


I knew the first time I saw a beer on the shelf called "Punk IPA" that I didn't want to drink anything that these people were coming out with. But I'm really please to know that I can't afford to even think about tasting their latest crap. And what's that, I shouldn't judge their End Of History beer without tasting it? Who cares. They suck.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Down With The Quitness

Kudos to Great Lakes for getting a headline on today. I've definitely never seen a craft brewery get a headline on a major sports website, so good for them.

Maybe I was wrong about jumping the shark after all.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Because Saint Sam needs even more attention, right?

They could have found someone way more knowledgable about beer to host a beer show, but there's no way they would have found someone as rugged and handsome as Sam. I can only hope that there are some gratuitious shots of him surfing or rapping or modeling his Levi's.

We've jumped the shark.

Friday, June 25, 2010

NJ Craft Beer Fest is Tomorrow!

I'm headed to the NJ Craft Brewers Guild's annual festival tomorrow. We always have a good time out on the Battleship drinking the best beers that Jersey's breweries have to offer. It looks like we'll be spared the rain tomorrow, but unfortunately not the heat. Looks like a high of about 93. Yikes.

I'm not entirely sure of the lineup, but it does appear that the new New Jersey Beer Co based out of North Bergen will be in attendance. I got a chance to try their pale ale at the Iron Monkey a couple of weekends ago and it was quite nice. I'll look forward to checking out the rest of their lineup and hopefully chatting up the brewers.

Hope to see you there!!! After the Battleship it will be a quick tour around Philly of some of our favorite stops (I'm looking at you, Nodding Head, with your Berliner Weisse and White Beans and Sage appetizer).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Super Buy-Rite in JC

I've had a few friends tell me that the Super Buy-Rite in JC (down by the Holland Tunnel) has a great beer selection. Finally made the trip down there today with R and it was well worth it. They have quite a few brands there that I haven't seen at any of my other go-to spots in New Jersey (Mikkeller, New Holland, Uinta, more).

So we mixed a few sixes and picked up some fun stuff to try over the next week or two. I'm currently getting into an Otter Creek Solstice. It's an easy drinker, but doesn't completely blow me away. It's nice and balanced and has some great American hop notes (citrus, orange, peach), but also has a bit of a garlic/onion thing going on. Maybe the Amarillo hops?

I also picked up a mixed-six of the Mikkeller single hop IPA's (Amarillo, Tomahawk, Nugget, Warrior, Simcoe, one other...) which we'll do a serious tasting of later this week. Kind of weird that all of these hops get grown here on the west coast, shipped to Denmark for brewing, and then back to New Jersey for me to buy and drink. I don't really know a heck of a lot about this brewery's process and this particular project. If anyone knows whether or not all of these single hop beers are the same grain bill, I'd appreciate the heads up. Anyone know what their house yeast is?

Monday, June 7, 2010

First post in two months - Session Beers

This is my first post in two months. I apologize to those (one) of you who have been looking forward to more. My life the last few months has been all-consumed by house hunting with R, so homebrewing has been put on the back burner. I guess there's a pun in there, right? Homebrewing, back burner.....

Lew Bryson just posted a recap of last year's session beer vs extreme beer brew-ha-ha (yes, another pun!) over at his Session Beer Project blog. In retrospect the whole thing was a little silly, but it was fun while it lasted. I even tried to get in on the action by posting a nasty response to St. Sam's Ale Street piece. Unfortunately it seems that the Ale Street site dates back to the Clinton administration so the formatting and everything on my post got all jacked up. They showed me.

A while back Lew also linked to a blog post by Martyn Cornell. I found it significant because for the first time that I can recall I actually see the definition of the term "session" as used as a noun (as opposed to an adjective used to describe a particular beer):
"The “session” itself, the long night drinking down the pub with mates"
I still have yet to hear it used conversationally, and since it's a British thing I'm not really holding my breath that I will any time soon. I'm still not completely in love with the term "session beer". But it's better than "extreme beer", which as Garrett Oliver once famously stated, is "irredeemably pejorative".

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best of NJ

The Star Ledger and Inside Jersey are polling for their annual "Best of NJ" survey. Find out more here, and if you're interested in taking the survey you'll want to look for the "Click here to get started" at the bottom of the article ( always does a great job of making their site nice and easy to use, don't they?) If you register and vote you'll get a shot at a $50 gift card. Not bad.

The only reason I bring this up in this space is because they actually have a poll in the restaurant category for New Jersey's best brewpub!!! Or as they call it, a "BREWED PUB". Hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

I won't tell you who I voted for, just encourage you to vote yourself if you feel compelled.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


That's how many beers were entered in the NHC this year. Kind of a staggering number, no? I guess it's a testament to the popularity of this awesome, cool, and totally nerdy hobby, right?

I did my homebrewing thing this evening. Getting out of work early is awesome because I got home from work, brewed, and I'm completely done with cleanup before midnight. Knocked out an English style brown ale. It won't make it into the NHC, but I think it should be a worthy beer nonetheless.

Anyway, I entered four beers in the NHC. If even one advances to the national round I'll be stunned, flattered, and humbled. Everyone should homebrew.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Just a quick love note to say that I'm having a great beer right now. We were in Lambertville today and the lovely R picked out a mixed six for me, one of which is Yards Brawler. It's 4.2%, has great chocolate and caramel flavors, a little bit of fruity English ale yeast character, and finishes with just the right amount of bitterness. A little dry, not too sweet. Great stuff.

The brewery calls it an English style "s*ssion ale". I'd call this a Mild, if ever there were a bottled one from an American craft brewery.

And on a great night of boxing on HBO and Showtime, the label fits right in. (I've got Abraham in a late round TKO over Dirrell tonight, by the way... but I can see a Dirrell decision too. Can't wait.)

Wonderful Word of Wines in Lambertville is a great, great store... for beer too! Plenty of bomber selections, mix-a-six, etc... Awesome.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Good afternoon. Today I came across an interesting article on the ever-escalating ABV of the American craft beer. You may link to it here and give it a read yourself.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with the title of the article - that the American session beer has met its untimely death. I just think that the ones out there are getting absolutely no attention while everyone goes bonkers for all of the special releases and big ABV beers. I guess that in a way that's to be expected. And it's kind of hard to argue with the success since American craft beer has been hugely successful over the last few years in a tough economy and when overall beer sales are down.

I'm just really happy any time I see something in defense of session beers (even though I hate the word "session" with a passion). There seems to be a correlation between a beer's ABV and the hype that surrounds it. And I agree with a lot of the commenters on the article who say that most of the big, hyped beers aren't really that great. It seems to me that people see an ABV or a special ingredient or process and approach those beers with a different mindset. Like they're already in love with the beer before they've even sniffed a glass of it.

Me, I'm the opposite. I'm a skeptic. If everyone is talking about how cool and great it is, chances are I'm already making up my mind that I'm going to hate it. So the moral of the story is that you can't trust me or anything I say. Be skeptical of the hype, but more importantly, be skeptical of me. Don't ever accuse me of giving you bad advice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good thing I didn't wear sweatpants today

So I'm in the Hoboken train station this afternoon waiting on a train to go and meet R. From there we're on our way to Cricket Hill to claim a few bottles of their new barrel aged porter - Paymaster's Porter agen in Four Roses whiskey barrels. And it's a sin to pass up the opportunity to have a beer on the train. That's why they have a liquor store in there for crying out loud!

So I walk up to the refrigerator and what do I see? DAB. And not just any ol' DAB, DAB in cans. And not just DAB in any ol' cans, DAB in... TALLBOYS!!!

Speechless. And happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

F Yeast Starters

I've been through the paces with yeast culturing and growing a pitchable slurry of yeast up from an agar plate and all that. It's a lot of work. It's very time consuming and you have to be extremely careful with your sanitation practices. Quite frankly I just don't have that kind of time to dedicate to the hobby these days.

At the same time, I love to have a low gravity 3-4%ABV beer on hand at all times. I know it's completely counter to the direction that the whole craft beer movement is moving - big beers, huge beers, huger beers - but it's what I really enjoy more than anything. A nice, flavorful, drinkable beer that I can put away a few of without sitting down to take notes about how "complex" it is. And I haven't said the "S" word for a reason - I hate it, I think it's goofy.

And also at the same time, I like to re-pitch my yeast. I like to brew several batches in a row with the same strain instead of culturing up enough yeast for each different style I'm going for. Again, it's more time consuming and more expensive to brew with a different yeast every time.

So... where am I going with this....

With those thoughts in mind, I figured to hell with starters. Why not have my low gravity beer be my starter. Instead of making a starter I bought two vials of WLP007 and today I brewed an English bitter. The yeast slurry from the fermenter will be re-pitched for my next three or four batches. And instead of dumping a bunch of starter beer/wort I'll have five gallons of beer to show for it.

I worked off of the Jamil book for the recipe. Crisp Maris Otter is the base malt with 1/2 lb of Weyermann Cara Aroma and 1/4 lb of Briess Special Roast. The Cara Aroma is a dark crystal malt. 1/2 oz of Kent Goldings added at both 10 and 0 min remaining in the boil.

After this beer I'll be brewing a Pale Ale with Nelson Sauvin hops, an IPA with Centennial and Amarillo (thanks, Lee, I'll hook you up), and an English Brown and/or my Oatmeal Stout recipe.

I'm just glad to have the yogurt fork incident behind me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I ate yogurt today

with a fork.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homebrew Alley IV Results

I haven't really blogged much of late because I haven't really had much to blog about. Haven't brewed in about a month. Homebrew Alley IV was this past weekend, so that was something fun. I had the opportunity to judge three flights - English Pale Ales, American Ales, and Strong Ales. Lots of great homebrew. There really weren't any duds in the bunch - and that's saying something because I drank a lot of homebrew.

Results of the competition are posted here.

Lots of people are finding this blog by looking for information on the White Labs High Pressure Lager yeast strain, WLP925. Unfortunately I can't report much good news about how my beers fermented with this yeast did in the competition. There were three of them - a helles, a pilsner (really should have been entered as a Dortmunder), and a rauchbier. None of them placed. But at the same time none of them got bad feedback. They were all kind of "eh". Although, personally, I think that the rauchbier is first rate.