I really enjoy schwarzbiers, but they’re definitely not a style you see all that often, even in this age of increasing craft beer enlightenment. I imagine that’s because they’re kind of a relic and caught stylistically inbetween a bunch of other places–a dark beer that is also crisp, not as powerfully flavored as your porters and stouts. It’s easy to see how a lot of drinkers getting into craft beer might go straight for bigger and badder dark beers, but there’s a certain schwarzbier quality I like very much.
The best ones combine the aspects of a continental European pilsner and a drier, roastier version of a Vienna lager. There should be fairly low sweetness, a dry, roasty character and a good charge of noble hops. I like some spiciness in them, like you would get in a Czech pils. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what I got from this particular schwarzbier. Read the rest of this entry »
A thunderstorm during a recent family trip to Hersheypark afforded me a few hours to visit the nearbyTröegs Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. Renowned amongst Aleheads for beers like Nugget Nectar (a best-in-class Imperial Amber Ale) and Mad Elf (a strong holid-ale brewed with cherries and honey), the brewery will move ten miles east in the fall to a shiny new state-of-art complex in tourist-stricken Hershey, PA. While no tours were being conducted this day, I knew it would be my last chance to see a great American ale factory and Pennsylvania brewing institution in its current incarnation.
Located just south of the Pennsylvania state capitol building and downtown Harrisburg, Tröegs is set in a gritty industrial plot among a busy network of freight train tracks and manufacturing plants. Upon entering the taproom, visitors are transported into a a cheery and inviting beer space with high ceiling and large inward-facing windows through which to view the brewery production floor. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve long felt that the role of the cow in craft brewing has been under-appreciated. The milk stouts of Britain (the most famous of which is probably Mackeson), which were once marketed to nursing mothers as nutrition supplements, come by much of their sweetness and body from lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Cream ales, on the other hand, involve cream in name only, and do not contain dairy products (though some are brewed with a certain percentage of corn in the mash, and in the U.S. cattle eat tons of corn, so they’re basically just skipping the middle man. Er, cow.). The tang in many of the sour beers we all know and love (lambics & weisse beers, to name a couple) comes in part from lactobacillus delbrueckii fermenting various sugars (primarily lactose) into lactic acid. And on the insane end of the scale, the Boston Beer Company famously brewed a beer that actually included beef hearts in the recipe. Still not enough for ya? No worries, Japan’s got you covered with their beer/milk combination beverage, dubbed (appropriately?) bilk. In fact, denizens of the North Caucasus region in Eastern Europe even go one better and produce a beverage entirely of fermented milk called kefir, though with no grain at all in the recipe I think it’s hard to argue that that’s actually beer. Read the rest of this entry »
No need to introduce San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing Co. If you’ve read our site in the past I’m sure you’re familiar with this outfit and their ridiculously well received Sculpin IPA (Picked as #1 in the land by we Aleheads). The Sculpin may very well be the definition many of us use to describe the West Coast IPA. While most San Diego breweries can produce some serious hop-bombs, they still know a thing or two about toned down, more approachable styles. As much as I like my Imperial IPA’s and other hop-forward styles, it’s nice to have a sessionable beer that offers some complexity but doesn’t challenge the palette too much. Let’s see what Ballast Point’s Calico Amber Ale has to offer. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent weeks, the series of tubes we call the Internet has been abuzz with debates over “offensive” beer names and labels. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s dubious decision to ban Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian IPA sparked a number of angry free speech diatribes. And earlier this month, Candice Alström created a firestorm when she used her husband’s influential website, BeerAdvocate.com, to personally bash Clown Shoes, a small, Massachusetts-based brewery known for their lascivious labels and names.
These discussions got me thinking…what ARE the most offensive beer labels out there? Of course, there are plenty of one-off, draft-only beers with blatantly offensive names (Dark Horse’s Busterhiman Cherry Ale anyone?). But that’s a different list…I want to know about actual, printed beer labels. After all, anyone can give a beer an offensive name, but it takes some true commitment to slap a label on your product that might piss off the very people you’re trying to sell it to. With that in mind, here are 10 of the most “offensive” beer labels on the market.* Read the rest of this entry »
Just wanted to send a quick shout-out to our friends Erik, Scott and Kevin over at BeerSoaked.com. Their little corner of the beer blogosphere was initially called Alehead.com, but after an extraordinarily amicable discussion, they agreed to “rebrand” their site to limit confusion. Considering how easily confused our visitors are, I think it was for the best. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t say I’ve had a lot of beer from Heavy Seas, nor do I quite understand their nautical theme fully, but from what I remember, I enjoyed their imperial stout Peg Leg, and their IPA, Loose Cannon has an A- on BeerAdvocate with over 1,000 votes, so it can’t be too bad either.
Grabbed this one in Decatur, as a beer off of the local liquor store’s (the one in town with the most craft beer) recently created mix-a-six rack. It’s a small liquor store that is making progress in terms of its selection, but let’s just say that the mix-a-six rack is still small enough today that I have a very difficult time picking out six beers from there that I want to drink, much less six beers that I’ve never had before. This imperial pilsner from Heavy Seas, however, is one of the rare offerings they stock that is indeed completely new to me. Read the rest of this entry »
This beautiful beer doesn’t appear on draft where I live. I’m lucky it’s here at all. The Mongo is a huge West Coast DIPA that has meandered its way to Aleheads’ new Appalachian Command here in the Berkshires (Massachusetts). I snagged this one in a bomber from my local bottle store.
The brewery says they made this prince primarily out of Columbus, Amarillo and Cascade hops, with a side of Centennial and Simcoe. I don’t know shit from shinook Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this beer on one of the ‘rotating taps’ at a decent tap house I sometimes frequent. I haven’t had much Mad River beer in the past, so I didn’t come in with any particular preconceived notions about the potential quality of the brew. I have been somewhat going out of my way lately to sample a broad selection of Cascadian Dark Ales (or, if you prefer, American Black Ales or Black IPAs), as I think it’s a style that’s beginning to come into its own. So obviously I couldn’t resist grabbing a pint to see what might be going on with this one. Incidentally, I believe this used to be Mad River’s winter seasonal, but to the best of my knowledge it’s now in year-round production.
Do not adjust your computer monitor. It’s true. A new Busch family brewery appears to be headed for St. Louis, home of the former Busch-led Anheuser-Busch Brewery. William K. Busch is looking to put the “Busch” back into St. Louis beer for the first time since the company’s 2008 acquisition by Belgian brewing giant InBev and the subsequent departure as CEO of fifth-generation leader August Busch IV, perhaps better known colloquially as “The Fourth.” Read the rest of this entry »
Some things in life are predictable to the point of inevitability: yesterday the sun rose in the east, Coors tried to sell us a way to keep High Life colder, and Brew Dog was involved in a craft beer controversy. You might remember Brew Dog from such classics as their 41% ABV Sink the Bismark or their 1.1% ABV “Imperial Mild” protest beer Nanny State with “theoretical IBU’s” of 225, or perhaps their End of History beer packaged inside the carcasses of a dead rodents. They also made headlines by offering a Viagra beer to Prince William during the buildup to the Royal Wedding. Brew Dog love to push the boundaries of brewing and engage in activity that enhances their “Punk” reputation and ethos, and are masterful at generating publicity for their company through public controversy. Their latest foil (and not for the first time) is Britain’s largest consumer advocacy group, the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).Read the rest of this entry »
The other Aleheads pretty much know by this point that when a new Avery beer comes out, they’ll probably hear from me talking about it. Good, bad, I pretty much just talk about Avery beer regardless. It’s just this thing I’m compelled to do. No use fighting it. Best to just ride it out.
I especially have kept up with Avery’s anniversary ales in the last few years. Last year, it was a dry-hopped black lager, sort of a hoppy, imperial schwarzbier that was pretty tasty. This year, A dry-hopped rye saison. When I first heard the description, I figured that sounded extremely promising. The actual brew, unfortunately, couldn’t quite live up to that promise. Read the rest of this entry »
The Black Butte “Birthday Reserve” Imperial Porter is one of Deschutes Brewing’s most anticipated releases every year. It is an imperial version of their already excellent Black Butte Porter, one of my favorite porters out there. Adding to the anticipation this year, last year’s batch was cancelled when it was discovered that the chocolate nibs had not fully dissolved, leaving a floating layer of sediment (can sediment float? anyway, you get what I mean) in each of the bottles. A very small amount was available on tap at their brewpubs, but I didn’t manage to visit on the right night so I didn’t get to sample it (though I think the Professor may have managed to get a taste). As you can imagine I was pretty excited to have a chance to grab a glass when I stopped in at the Bend brewpub this weekend. I also grabbed a few bottles to stick in my cellar, as those are recommended to age for a year before they’re at optimum awesomeness. Read the rest of this entry »
On a recent trip through Oregon’s Willamette Valley I found myself with a little extra time, and couldn’t resist making a quick side trip to the Block 15 Brewery in Corvallis. Stuck between Portland and Eugene (and a few miles off of I-5), Corvallis doesn’t often get a lot of attention as a beer Mecca, but between Block 15, Flat Tail, and the burgeoning Oregon Trail Brewing crew it deserves some attention. I’d first come across Block 15′s beer back in December at a winter brewfest in Portland, and very much enjoyed their Figgy Pudding (their winter offering, a strong ale brewed with molasses, conditioned with figs, and spiced with cinnamon and cloves). This time around I decided to go with something a bit lighter, and was not at all disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »
Five years ago, the Boston Beer Company revived their late, lamented Longshot competition. The competition, which had been held a couple of times in the late 90s, allows homebrewers to submit their best recipes to the Boston Beer Company with the hope of having their homebrewed creations scaled up to production level under the Sam Adams banner. There’s really no downside to this marketing concept. It allows Sam Adams to brew up some more “experimental” offerings. It gets homebrewers and Aleheads (and homebrewing Aleheads) excited about the Sam Adams brand. And it helps promote the craftsmanship and artistry that is inherent in homebrewing…an avocation pursued by both noble and common man throughout human history. Read the rest of this entry »
Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile may be Alabama’s biggest cities, but as far as craft beer is concerned, there’s no bigger town than Huntsville right now. The “Rocket City” has been a center for innovation in Alabama for decades and that entrepreneurial spirit is obvious in the city’s growing craft beer industry. There are currently three production breweries in Huntsville (Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, and Blue Pants) and a fourth has plans to begin distributing this Fall. The new kid on the block is the cheekily named Salty Nut Brewery. Founder Brent Cole was kind enough to answer some questions for me about his “in-the-works” ale factory…. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent years many craft breweries have been at the forefront of the green/sustainability/renewable movement. The Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR, an Aleheads favorite, has been providing spent hops and grain to, among others, the local Borlen Cattle Company for use as cattle feed, and then purchasing the beef for use in their brewpubs. This prevents about 6,200 tons of spent grain and hops from going to waste (and that doesn’t even include their Portland brewpub). Spent hops are also provided to local organic farmers for use as fertilizer, and spent yeast and other “high strength waste” go to fertilize local alfalfa growing operations (a staple grass grown for livestock feed), preventing them from going to the local waste water treatment plant and keeping a great deal of CO2 and methane out of the air. They even make their pizza crusts from their own spent grain! Read the rest of this entry »