Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mountain Sun celebrates Stout Month

Mountain SunLooking for another reason to drink dark brews in Feb-brew-ary? The Mountain Sun Brewery in Boulder is giving you plenty of reasons. The entire month of February has been declared Stout Month at the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery in Boulder and their sister pub The Vine Street Pub in Denver. Read below an excerpt from their latest newsletter about the month long event:

Sixteen years ago Jack Harris (Mountain Sun’s original brewer) had a glorious idea to put Stout on twelve of the 21 taps for the month of February. He called this Stout Month. We continue this tradition with local, regional and national versions of the rich, thick and dark ale; Stout. Today Stout Month has become one of the most anticipated events among local beer connoisseurs.

And now, for the first time ever, Stout Month will be expanding beyond Boulder as The Vine Street Pub in Denver will join us in paying homage to the almighty Stout!

Throughout February, the following Stouts will be poured as our faucet space permits. Unfortunately, we cannot pour everything at once. Feel free to come back regularly to check out the latest additions to our 2009 lineup.

Update: for 2010 Stout Month info refer to this article.

You will be able to find these stouts only at:

Mountain Sun
1535 Pearl Street
Boulder, 80203

Vine Street Pub
1700 Vine Street
Denver, 80206

Check out our website this weekend for our starting line up!

Mountain Sun Ales (Rotating Selection)

Thunderhead Stout (Robust American Stout)
Korova Cream Stout (Rich & Roasty Milk Stout)
Belgian Dip Stout (Decadent Chocolate Stout)
Cherry Dip Stout (Sweet Cherry Belgian Dip)
Old School Irish Stout (Dry Irish Stout)
Coconut Cream Stout (Silky Milk Stout w/ Toasted Coconut)
Stoked Oak Stout (Smokey Oak/Vanilla Bourbon Stout)
Yonder Mountain Stout (Robust Stout w/ British Pale Malt)
Trickster Stout (Hoppy American Stout)
Usurper Imperial Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)
Nihilist Imperial Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)
Hazelnut Latte (Crème Stout w/ hazelnut & coffee)

Guest Stouts (Rotating Selection)

Belhaven Imperial Stout (Scotland)
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (Boonville, CA)
Avery Czar 2005-2008 (Boulder, CO)
Oskar Blues 10 Fidy Imperial Stout (Lyons, CO)
Pumphouse BackDraft Imperial Stout (Longmont, CO)
Avery Out of Bounds (Boulder, CO)
Golden City Imperial Javapeno (Golden, CO)
Victory Storm King Stout (Downingtown, PA)
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (London, England)
Lefthand Oak Aged Imperial Stout (Longmont,CO)
Steamworks Backside Stout (Durango, CO
Stone Imperial 2007 and 2008 (San Diego, CO)
Great Divide Yeti Espresso Oak Aged Imperial (Denver, CO)
Great Divide Yeti Oak Age Imperial Stout (Denver, CO)

Looks like a great line-up to me! That's essentially one stout for every day of the month. So whether you visit Boulder or Denver, there is bound to be a stout on tap that catches your eye in February. Sign me up! Anyone else a stout fan like I am?

Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Cream Stout review.
- Dark beer season returns!.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

More Russian River beers heading to Colorado

Russian River Brewing CompanyGood news came out of California this week as the Russian River Brewing Company announced that it will be releasing shipments of two additional beers to Colorado and other limited states soon. Colorado - get ready for some Consecration and Pliny the Younger!

Consecration is a wonderful wild funky ale that is brewed with currants and is aged for 9 months in oak barrels. I had a taste or two of that at the 2008 GABF this year and absolutely loved it. Pliny the Younger is called a triple IPA and is hopped three separate times to give it gobs of IBUs. If you like Pliny the Elder, you'll want to try this beer.

Read the blog excerpt from Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, owners of Russian River, below for details of the release.

Russian River Consecration"Consecration will be released on February 2nd on draught and in 750ml bottles at our pub and limited distribution in No. California. Starting that week, we will also distribute bottles and kegs to Southern California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Philadelphia. We can’t tell you exactly where it will be, but it will be extremely limited. Yummy!

Russian River Pliny the YoungerPliny the Younger will also be released on February 2nd on draft only. It will be available at our pub, select accounts in the Bay Area, Southern California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Philadelphia. This beer is not bottled but is available for purchase in 1/2 gallon growlers at our pub ONLY. And we do not ship growlers. This beer may only be consumed at our pub, from growlers purchased at our pub, or by the glass at one of our accounts in the aforementioned markets."

Colorado RR lovers will be able to take Consecration home in bottles but you'll have to go to select beer destinations, like Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, to get a glass of Pliny the Younger. Still, it's good news all around for Colorado beer lovers.

Related articles:
- Russian River Blind Pig IPA review.
- Russian River Pliny the Elder review.
- 2008 GABF Tasting Notes.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ska Ten Pin Porter review

Ska Ten Pin PorterI continue to love this time of year, not for the cold, but for the dark brews that are in abundance at my local beer store. The other day while on a beer run I noticed that the store was highlighting Ska Brewing Company beers and was going to be hosting a tasting that day. I was a bit too early to stick around for the tasting but was told that all Ska brews were on sale today. How nice! I went to the cooler and found a 6-pack of their Ska Ten Pin Porter and quickly bought it at a nice 12% discount and took it home.

I'm particularly interested in porters at the moment because I've got my own porter awaiting bottling day this weekend. So any chance I get to compare a local beer versus my own is welcome.

Ten Pin Porter pours a nice dark brown color with a nice ruby edge around the glass. The pour resulted in a respectable 2-finger tall light tan head. There was a small lacing that coated the glass as I swirled it around which is always nice to see.

Ska used 6 different malts to make this brew including some caramel, chocolate and black malts. The porter had a sweet hoppy aroma from the Perle and Willamette hops. You could smell the caramel malts easily with a hint of coffee and chocolate overtones.

The mouthfeel was one of a medium body, light carbonation and a mild creaminess. Ten Pin tasted decently malted with the same coffee and chocolate notes and a distinct mild bitterness. The bitterness hits you right up front and lasts throughout the entire swallow. The brew left my tongue with a sense of a light coating.

This beer weighs in at a moderate 5.5% ABV and a slightly hoppy 45 IBUs. For you color buffs, it's measured at 36 SRM. This is a definite milder version than their big Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial version but is very worthy of the porter styling.

Ten Pin Porter is very partakable. It's easy drinking like a session brew but slightly higher in alcohol than one. I suppose if you're used to big beers like I am, anything lower than 7% ABV seems like a session brew.

While this porter won't kick you like an imperial, it is a good example of what a porter can and should be. I enjoyed this beer and will look forward to finishing the 6-pack throughout the week. This gets a Thumbs Up from me. Try it next time you find some near Colorado.

Update December 2013: Ska Brewing has decided to retire their Ten Pin Porter as of December 2013 and gave it a farewell burial at their HQ.

Related articles:
- Ska Decadent Imperial IPA review.
- Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter review.
- Boulder Beer Planet Porter review.
- Ska Modus Hoperandi Double IPA review.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Avery unleashes Brabant - part of barrel aged series

Avery BrewingThe following press release comes out of Boulder Colorado and shines a light on a new experimental series of beers now beginning to be released from Avery Brewing Company. If you liked their Fifteen ale released last year then you'll probably look forward to trying these new beers.

Boulder, CO – In May of 2007, winemaker Jim Norman of Norman Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA called Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Company. “Hey Adam, guess what?” Jim said, “I make a huge 16% Zinfandel called Mephistopheles’, and you make a huge 16% stout by that very same name.”

“Oh no! Am I getting sued?” cried Adam.

Thankfully, a lawsuit was not what was on Jim’s mind. Instead, he proposed sending 30 oak barrels direct to Avery Brewing, as soon as he had emptied them of their contents. “Maybe you can put them to good use,” he quipped. Adam Avery was up to the challenge, and the brewing minds-that-be at Avery Brewing Company sprang into action. After some consideration, it was decided that a special brew needed to be made specifically for Mr. Norman’s Zin barrels. A few months later, Brabant was born.

Avery BrabantBrabant is the first installment in a new series of Avery beers known as the Barrel-Aged Series, and features a long list of experimental techniques and ingredients in its creation. Brabant is a barrel-aged wild ale, using two strains of Brettanomyces yeast during fermentation followed by 8 months of maturation in Zinfandel wine barrels. The use of brettanomyces yeast in fermentation—though more time consuming—is known to create distinctive and complex flavors in beer and wine. Finally, similar to the techniques of traditional Belgian Geuze makers, Avery Brewers tasted each barrel individually, noting the flavor profile of each and blended barrels to achieve the perfect balance of flavor.

The result is completely unique. A reddish brown colored ale with bright, ruby corners, aromas of red wine and barnyard “funk”. The taste is nothing short of sublime, with deep, layered flavors that are reflective of the arcane brewing methods. Red-wine and smooth, sweet malt flavors dominate the front of the palate before transitioning to a dry finish, with hints of tannic oak and a distinct acidic tartness.

Avery Senior Brewer Andy Parker explained that “we decided to use a handful of dark malts, chosen specifically for their flavor and lack of astringency”. The idea was to make a beer that would highlight the unique flavors of the yeast and compliment the wine elements imparted into the beer during the aging process.

Sometime in February or early March, Brabant will be available in 12oz. bottles in select states across the country. Look for more beers in our Barrel-Aged Series to arrive in late 2009 or early 2010.


Chipper's comments: Seems like the trend of wood-aging beers and experimentation is alive and well, especially at Avery. I can see the draw of bourbon and whiskey barrels and now wine barrels. How long will it be until we see the lines blurred between wine and beer? Whatever the outcome, I look forward to trying these beers when they are released.

The Pre-release party for Brabant was held on Wed., February 18th, 2009 at the Avery Tap Room. The response to this beer was excellent.

Update: 12/6/2009 - I finally got to try Brabant. Read the review.

Related articles:
- Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA release.
- Avery taps New World Porter.
- Avery The Czar Imperial Stout review.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tommyknocker Oaked Butt Head Bock review

Tommyknocker Oaked Butt Head BockEvery so often I happen to spy something new in the local beer store cooler that I haven't seen before. And when I do it's an even better surprise when it's a local beer. Today's beer review comes from the small brewery up Interstate I-70 in Idaho Springs, Colorado called Tommyknocker Brewery and is called the Tommyknocker Oaked Butt Head Bock. This is a special edition of their regular Butt Head Doppelbock that is aged for months over oak.

Last summer I reviewed their regular Butt Head Doppelbock and enjoyed it but thought I'd see how well this beer would taste with oak. Both the regular and oaked version of this beer weigh in over 8% ABV. This one was measured at 8.2% ABV. Again, this brew is made with a ample supply of Munich, Carapils, Caramel and Chocolate malts and hopped with German Hallertau hop leaves.

The Oaked Butt Head poured a nice deep amber color and had a healthy 1.5 finger tall light tan head. The head started out tall but quickly dissolved to nearly nothing. It was only slightly carbonated but just enough to give it some bubbles. On the outside, it looked identical to the non-oaked version.

The aroma had a noticeable woody character along with a strong sweet malty scent. The oak gave it a nice aged feel that you can actually smell.

I picked up on a huge sweet malty taste upon hitting my tongue. The caramel malts dominated the taste here. There were still a lot of sugars present but blended just enough with the hop to bitter it slightly. It tasted much the same as the aroma would indicate.

For a big beer, this beer went down fairly easily. The oak added a bit of pizazz to the entire experience, however I couldn't help but think that I enjoy an oaky beer more when it is in the form of an IPA or Stout. Perhaps I'm a bit more biased to those styles. Still, the oaked Doppelbock is a nice change from the dark, dark beers that I've been hording all winter long.

Hat's off to Tommyknocker for taking the plunge with their Doppelbock into the wood category. One of these beers were plenty for me. The high ABV caught up with me by the end of the bottle. The brew comes in a 4-pack and costs around $11.99. A bit pricier than their regular beers. Does the fact that it's aged in oak warrant the higher cost? Hard to say, but it is a darn good brew.

I'll give this brew a respectable Thumbs Up and look forward to having more of these later this week.

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock review.
- Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale review.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New Belgium offers Mighty Arrow as standalone

New Belgium Mighty ArrowThe following article is a press release from the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado announcing the availability of a new seasonal spring beer - Mighty Arrow.

Ft. Collins, Colorado – New Belgium Brewing today announced that Mighty Arrow Pale Ale has been named the 2009 Spring Seasonal. Until now, Mighty Arrow has only been available in mixed 12-packs called Folly Packs, but starting in February 2009 it will be sold individually and on tap, making it easier to find. Created as a tribute to the beloved pet of New Belgium Brewing’s CEO Kim Jordan, Arrow was an Aussie/Border Collie mix that literally “ran” New Belgium for 12 years.

Mighty Arrow cuts its own course through heightened hop aroma and flavor. It provides pleasurable aromas from Cascade and Amarillo hops with a honey malt base. Staying true to the American style of pale ale, Mighty Arrow has a clear golden color, 6% alcohol by volume and 35 IBU’s. Balanced between floral and citrus tones, it’s a creamy ale with a hoppy finish.

“Mighty Arrow is a moderately hopped pale ale with plenty of body and a nice, clean finish,” says Assistant Brewmaster Grady Hull. “This beer pays homage to American pale ales and celebrates our old friend Arrow in a decidedly appropriate way.”

Mighty Arrow retails for approximately $7.99 and will be available in all New Belgium markets.

About New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces seven year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
For more information, visit


Update: November 1, 2011 - Mighty Arrow is reportedly going to be discontinued in the Spring of 2012 and replaced with a new beer called Dig. This is part of a continuing rotating schedule every few years with the majority of its seasonal beers. Skinny Dip and 2 Below were also retired in 2011.

Related articles:
- New Belgium expands tank farm.
- New Belgium Frambozen review.
- New Belgium's beer glass.

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Twitter pub followers share favorites

Twitter PubI enjoy hanging out in the Twitter pub. It's fun to share tweets with fellow beer enthusiasts and get to know them. With recent events starting to spring up on Twitter like "Twitter Taste Live" more and more people are now willing to drink socially online and their their thoughts.

I recently ran an informal poll on Twitter. For a period of a few weeks, I sent a direct message to every new follower I acquired and asked them a question. I received many replies to my inquiry and found that using an icebreaker question can often lead to further conversations on Twitter and on my blog.

The question I asked my new followers may seem like a simple question, but for many, including myself, this question is not always easy to answer. The question was:

What is your favorite beer?

Following is a compilation of the answers I received from 22 of my most recent Twitter followers.

From the responses received, you can see that there is a wide variety of tastes and preferences out there. For some, choosing a favorite beer is a daunting task. Not one person had the exact same preferences. Beer is a personal thing and tastes for different beers are molded over time.

No matter what the response was I learned one things, Twitter is a great resource for asking questions and getting answers. Whether it be looking for a new pub to visit, or finding out when a new beer is being released, or even getting info on that next beer fest - there are always people out there willing to share information.

Related articles:
- Twitter Taste Live adds to the Twitter pub.
- The Session #21 - can we really choose a favorite beer?
- Twitter is the new beer pub.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blog reconstruction underway

Under ConstructionExcuse my dust! This old beer blog is currently going through some major renovations over the course of the next week or so. I got tired of the old blog template and thought it was time to bring the blog up to a more modern look. I'm attempting to bring you more information at a glance while trying to make the site a bit more interactive and social at the same time.

This entire process is making me realize that there is a lot more to Blogger than meets the eye. I'm finding out that it can be tweaked to work like any other blogging site you see out there. While my main profession is supporting web sites for other customers, I find that I've spent far too less time supporting my own. So please excuse the site for a bit while I make some overhauls.

For my regular readers, I'm interested in your feedback. What do you think of the new look so far? Good, not so good, indifferent? If you've gone through your own blog site renovation in recent months, please post a comment below and share what you went through. I'd be interested in your experiences.

I've recently added Google FriendConnect to the site. It allows people to join the site with a common shared Google interface, interact with each other on multiple member sites and also let's readers post messages to each other on their sites. Scroll down a bit on the right side near the bottom and sign-up. Would love to know what everyone is up to.

I plan on adding additional navigation to the top part of the blog including ways to get in touch with me and highlighting special topics on the blog. It's fun to tweak the look and feel, but at the same time I'm hoping to get it done so that I can get back to writing and doing more homebrewing!

Related articles:
- Who is @ChipperDave? (twitter)
- Can we really choose a favorite beer?
- How did you get into good beer?

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout review

Great Divide Yeti Imperial StoutOne night while going through my beer cellar, I spotted a left over bottle of Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. Late last summer when I stocked up during the big beer run I grabbed both the Yeti Imperial Stout and the Oak Aged Yeti. I had previously reviewed the oaked version, but forgot to review this one. I'm glad I found an extra one laying around. The bonus for me is that it had aged an extra 5 months.

Appearance: Great Divide Yeti poured as black as the night I opened it on and was rather thick. This beer left a finger high brown head at a 56 degree temperature. I deliberately kept this beer at basement temperature as I like my stouts a bit warmed.

Aroma: Being a big 9.5% ABV brew and a hefty 75 IBUs, I expected this to have a bit of an alcohol bite to it in both the aroma and the taste. But to my surprise and delight, the brew had mellowed a bit since I first tried it in September. Yeti had a nice roasty malt aroma and just a trace of hop. Quite a change in 5 months, but how would it taste?

Taste: The first sip left little doubt - wow! This beer had improved noticeably. The big brew had mellowed over time, one of the benefits of aging. The Yeti had a rich coffee, chocolate and caramel flavor. Sipping the beer gave a nice warming sensation. It had a subtle dry finish.

It wasn't until late in the sampling that I began to notice the alcohol. The ABV's snuck up on me. One 12oz bottle was plenty for a session. I suggest if you try this brew that you pour just a half a glass first and swirl it around a bit. A half a glass allows a bit more movement in the glass and can help bring out the full aroma. The aroma and flavor is best when it warms a bit.

Great Divide Yeti 2009 labelGreat Divide has made me a fan of the Yeti. Both the oaked version and the regular offering are similar yet different in many ways. Try both. I give them both a big Thumbs Up.

Update: During the summer of '09, Great Divide went through a re-imaging of it's beer label brand. Gone is the blue mountain scene and in comes the earth-tone yeti-walking classic label look. Here's another pic of the updated brew during a late fall session in December 2009.

As you can see, this time, Yeti poured with a HUGE multi-finger tall head. Temperature and conditions often vary the quality of the head on the beer. The mid-year batch of Yeti was just as tasty as it was last year.

Related articles:
- Great Divide Hades Ale review.
- Great Divide St. Bridget's Porter review.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout review.
- Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager review.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oskar Blues beer dinner planned

Get your appetite ready because there's going to be another big Northern Colorado beer dinner planned for the end of January hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery of Lyons at the Empire Restaurant in Louisville. The following is a bulletin released today about the upcoming beer dinner.

On January 31 at 6 PM, we’re hosting a special beer dinner at the Empire Restaurant & Lounge in Louisville, CO.

The dinner will feature a one-night-only menu of four courses of luscious Empire food matched with five courses of Oskar Blues’ liquid art. (Including a couple special OB beers). The fun-filled night will also include beery edutainment, proof of why beer is the ultimate beverage with a great meal, and a dose of live music from host and Oskar Blues frontman Marty Jones.

Seats for this limited-seating affair are $50 and can be obtained by calling the Empire at 303-665-2521. Learn more about the Empire at

Been to Empire yet? The recently opened Louisville eatery is headed up by co-founder Brendan McManus. He’s a 25-year veteran of the local culinary scene, his pedigree includes stints at such revered Boulder establishments as Zolo Grill, Jax Fish House and Laudisio, and Denver’s revered Lola.

Jim Cohen is his partner and executive chef. Cohen’s efforts at Denver’s legendary Tante Louise led Julia Child to name him one of the nation’s top chefs in 1983. Child also featured Jim on her first "Dining with Julia" television program. The James Beard Foundation nominated Cohen for "Best Chef in the Southwest" in 1991.

Cohen has also been the culinary wizard for Wildflower Restaurant at The Lodge at Vail, Vail’s Cucina Rustic, The Phoenician (in Scottsdale, Arizona) and Terrazza at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Empire specializes in what it calls “serious campfire cuisine,” regional-minded cooking focusing on local ingredients and elegant-but-simple flavors. We hope you foodies and locavores will join us for this unique and very tasty night of local beer and food.

You can bet one of their special brews will be limited offerings from their experimental batches or whiskey-barrel aged beers. Should be a dinner to remember.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues celebrates 6 years of canning.
- Oskar Blues taps Smoke on the Water.
- Oskar Blues ships to California.
- The breweries of Longmont part 3 - Oskar Blues

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Avery touts return of the Maharaja Imperial IPA

Avery Maharaja Imperial IPATHE MAHARAJA RETURNS!!


[PRESS RELEASE] Boulder, CO – It is with much anticipation and excitement that we announce the release of Batch #9 of The Maharaja Imperial IPA on February 21st, 2009 at the AVERY TAP ROOM. The three-hour long release party will feature Maharaja paired with various types of Indian food, along with tunes from Search and Rescue DJ’s. The party will run from 4 to 7 PM and will cost $15 (includes two 12oz. Maharaja pours, 5 tasters and Indian cuisine).

The Maharaja Imperial IPA has developed a cult-like following since its creation four years ago by Avery Brewing Company, as evidenced by the 300 attendees who braved the February cold to attend last years release at the brewery in Boulder. Certainly much ado for a beer that is commercially available in liquor stores and on tap at fine bars in select states around the country. People seem to crave this hop bomb of a brew, along with all of the 5.25lbs per barrel of hops that are used to brew it!

The Maharaja will be available starting on 2/21/2009 from the brewery, located on the East end of Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, and beginning March 1st around Colorado and the rest of the country.

[Read a review of this beer]

Related articles:
- Avery taps New World Porter.
- Avery The Reverend review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Ale to the Chief review.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Odell drops, adds beer

Odell Brewing
A month ago it was only speculation, now this month it has been confirmed. Odell Brewing has announced their new seasonal line-up for 2009. And with this new line-up of beer announcements also comes word that their old Single Batch Series has been discontinued.

Two of the three official Odell seasonals have been revealed with one beer yet to be announced. Their January through May seasonal will be the new Red Ale. This brew replaces the Extra Special Red from the Single Batch Series. Odell will throw the official Tapping Party for Red Ale on Thursday, January 29th from 4-6pm at the Odell tap room. Doug Odell will be on hand to personally launch this new seasonal.

The official Brewer's toast will be given at 5:00pm.

The second new summer seasonal brew has yet to be named, however we do know that it is already being tested on their 5-barrel pilot system. Rumor has it that it will be light and refreshing. Expect this brew to be tapped by the end of May and in stores from June through September.

The third beer is already one of their established beers but now has an official season. Odell's Isolation Ale will be their 3rd seasonal and will be offered from October through December. It's their winter warmer ale that already has quite a following.

Fans of their old single batch series will have to mourn the passing of those brews. The Extra Special Red, the Imperial Stout, and the Double Pilsener are no more. Perhaps I should save my last bottle of ESR for old times sake. I miss 'em already.

You can bet Odell won't just sit still with 3 seasonals. They are constantly experimenting and putting out test brews to their tap room. Odell's next batch in their Woodcut series is due out in a few months. Currently on tap Odell offers beers from their experimental batches: Nitro Oatmeal Stout, Nitro Cutthroat Porter, Dougweiser, Departure Pilsner, Buffalo Bourbon Stout and their High Voltage Malt Liquor along with their regular line-up of flagship brews.

Related articles:
- Odell to discontinue Single Batch Series.
- Odell taps their Woodcut Series.
- Odell 2008 Small Batch Beer Festival.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Homebrew batch transferred to secondary

Secondary FermenterIt's been 9 days since I created Batch 001 of my homebrew beer and put it into the fermenter. Today was the day I decided to rack my beer into a secondary fermenter for final conditioning before bottling day.

The beer, a modified robust porter recipe, had been in a sealed 7 gallon fermenting bucket with an airlock for nine days now. It's been about 4 days since I've seen any activity in the airlock. When opened, I found a light layer of "crust" just above the top of the beer as expected. The brew seemed to be a bit darker than I recall yet still appears to be slightly lighter in color than a typical porter.

I spent a good hour cleaning and sanitizing my equipment before the transfer. I had an auto-siphon and hose, a thief for taking a sample, and a 5-gallon Better Bottle and airlock to prepare for the transfer.

Once I was satisfied I had everything sanitized, I opened the fermenter, inserted the auto-siphon and got the flow working into the secondary (Better Bottle). The entire transfer process took about 5-7 minutes. I was careful not to disturb the yeast bed at the bottom of the fermenter.

Hopefully, the transfer process didn't get too much oxygen onto the beer, but I know the layer of CO2 that once covered it is now gone. The secondary was nearly full and minimizing head space in your secondary is a good thing.

Once the Better Bottle was full, I dropped in the "thief" to take a sample for measuring the gravity of the beer. The reading I got was 1.020 at 66 degrees F. Comparing that measurement and calculating the ABV of the beer using a calculator web site, I calculated the ABV of this beer to be about 6.3% ABV. It's about 0.4% lower than I expected but still, 6.3% was actually a bit higher than the recipe's estimate of 5.9% ABV. This may be the result of the substitution of dry malt extract for cane sugar in the recipe.

The yeast seem to have done it's job. I put a new sanitized airlock on top of the Better Bottle and put the beer back into the dark basement bathroom where it fermented. I'll wrap the bottle with a dark towel to keep the light off the beer. That basement room stays a constant 65 degrees. I'll let the brew settle out for several days before priming it for bottling. I'll target next weekend for bottling day.

These days, racking to secondary may be considered "too 1990's" to expert homebrewers. You run the risk of oxygenating the beer and introducing infection. In general, if you're looking to clear your beer before bottling, you might want to consider it, particularly in pilsners and other clearer beers. It's less important for darker beers. I did it primarily because my recipe called for it and I wanted practice in doing this step. You might also want to do this is you got a LOT of trub and hops from your boil kettle into your fermenter and don't wish to set the beer sit on that for too long. Generally, it's OK to let your beer sit in your fermenter for up to a month or so without issue.

While I didn't taste the beer at this point, I could get a good whiff of it's aroma. It had a nice sweet malty aroma. It was difficult to pick up the hops, but then again, I only had a small amount of aroma hops added at 5 minutes left in the boil. The brew is a shade lighters than standard porters and that is due to using a lighter base malt than called for.

I haven't named the brew yet. I think I will wait until I sample the first bottle before naming it. I want to be sure it tastes OK before giving it a name. It's still about 3+ weeks away from the first tasting. I can hardly wait.

Continue reading: The trials and tribulations of bottling beer.

Related articles:
- Pitching the yeast into your homebrew.
- Brewing the first batch of the year.
- Creating a yeast starter.
- Choosing a fermenter for your homebrew.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twitter Taste Live adds to the Twitter pub

Taste Live
Last night, Saturday, January 17, 2009 was the inaugural evening for Taste Live. It was an informal virtual gathering of people using technology to host a tasting of four Trappist ales. There were anywhere between 20 to 30 participants. Each participant where asked to purchase between 1 to 4 different Trappist ales, taste them simultaneously from where they were at, and post "tweets" about their reactions to the brews.

The host site, Taste Live (TL), started out as a virtual tasting social media site for wine enthusiasts, but quickly expanded to include groups for beer and cigars as well. People who joined TL could sign into their Twitter account on the web site and send 140 character messages (or tweets) with a special #ttl tag included. Those messages were captured and displayed on the TL web site in nearly real time so as to make the virtual tasting appear in one "room".

There were four beers being sampled during the event: 1) Chimay Red , 2) Chimay White, 3) Westmalle Dubbel, 4) Westmalle Tripel.

The event lasted nearly 2 hours with participants coming and going as they were able to join in. I was able to join in for the better part of the 2nd hour. I had a couple of the beers and had to rely on notes from previous tastings to chime in for some of the beers.

I believe this virtual tasting session was a success for the most part. The participants seemed to be having a great time. Many even shared pictures via Twitpic of their experience while tasting. Several new friends and followers were made at the same time.

Other sites are starting to chime in on their opinion of TL., A Good Beer Blog, Beer Babe, techcommdood and had interesting views of this event, not all of them positive.

While I had a good time and felt that TL was a nice application of the Twitter Pub, I couldn't help but think that the non-participants who were followers of the TL participants got flooded with tweets that they knew little about. It may have made using twitter for them a bit annoying and difficult to follow their other friends tweets that night.

There is also the anti-social aspect of using computers as a replacement for meeting up with people face to face. While Twitter will never replace the need to have actual encounters in person, it can help get you "out" there when traveling around just isn't in your interests for that point in time. I'm not advocating that we all turn into cave dwellers and drink "alone", but for those times that when all of your "friends" that you want to mingle with are scattered across the globe, Twitter at least gives you a chance to touch base and share a virtual drink.

If Twitter is going to blossom into a service that can host events like TL, it will have to evolve and offer better ways to isolate topical conversations or offer filters so that the rest of the world won't be inundated with banter that holds little interest for them. This was a fun experiment, one that I'm sure will continue to change as the need sees fit.

There are more Twitter Taste Live sessions being planned now. The next tasting will include beers from Dogfish Head and Southampton Ales in early February. Check the official TL web site for details. Sign up to be a member if you haven't done so already.

Related articles:
- Twitter is the new beer pub. (
- 2009 Colorado Beer Festivals.
- Who is @ChipperDave?

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Crabtree Brewing taps their Braggot

Crabtree BraggotBack in October, I had received word that Crabtree Brewing Company of Greeley, Colorado was coming out with a new seasonal brew that was going to be in the style of a braggot. I reported then that the brew was going to be out in December. Today, I got a new email from Crabtree Brewing that today, January 17th, 2009 was their official tapping day of their new "Crabtree Braggot".

I drove across town to the brewery right before lunch and found them to be open. The owners, Jeff and Stephanie Crabtree were there opening up the brewery for the day and invited me in. I told them that I had just read their email announcement about the Braggot and couldn't wait to try it. Jeff had just set up the first of the only 4 spare kegs they had made of this special seasonal brew and told me that I had the honor of being the first customer to be served a glass of their brew. Wow nice!

I plan to do a formal review of this beer soon as they are just about to release their limited run of 200 cases of Crabtree Braggot to liquor stores in the next week or so. They still have to put on the labels and dip the tops of the 22 oz bottles in hot colored wax before sending them off to the stores.

Here is a transcript of the email message that was sent out today describing their new brew:

Today is a wonderful day to visit the brewery! For the past three months I have closely monitored the newest, premium ale with anticipation. Today only the newest beer will be added to our lineup for your enjoyment.

So what is a Braggot? A Braggot is a honey ale brewed with a large sum of natural honey. Don't let the honey fool you, it's based upon the first and second runnings of an Imperial Stout and an English Mild. The nose is softly sweet with rich roasted barley and a thick, sticky head. The palate is bombarded with flavors of fresh honey, malt, tones of coffee, and finishes with a mild bitterness. Each time I sampled this beer a smile from ear to ear promptly arrived!

Crabtree is one of only a handful of breweries in the United States that makes a commercial version. Several key features of our Braggot is it's the first to be made with 100% Colorado grown hops and a unique blend of Clover and Orange Blossom honey from a local honey farm.

This is the best ale I have ever made and today I'm sharing this wonderful creation with you. I'm so proud of this ale it will only be served in glass! Stop by and visit with me about this wonderful ale and be the first to sample a Colorado grown Braggot!

Cheers, Jeff Crabtree.

Jeff handed me a fresh glass of their Braggot for me to try. All I can say is - WOW! This is going to be their best beer yet. It's dark and rich and has a nice blend of roasted malts and sweet honey. I can see why Jeff thinks this is going to be his best beer. It didn't take me long to finish off this glass.

I loved the braggot so much that I bought a full growler of it to take home and savor. The brew weighs in at 7.65% ABV and will be offered as a once a year seasonal offering. Jeff mentioned that after this batch is all gone, the next one would be offered up in the late fall.

Crabtree plans on offering up some new seasonal beers this year to compliment their line of flagship brews. Crabtree beers are currently in a limited distribution here in Colorado. If you are visiting Colorado and have already been to all of the other breweries in Northern Colorado, it is well worth your time to come to Greeley and find this hidden gem of a brewery on the east side of town.

I'll post more about this beer once it's released. Look for it within the next few weeks in selected Colorado stores.

Related articles:
- A braggot worth boasting about.
- Supporting my local brewery.
- Two brews from Crabtree Brewing.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Pitching yeast into your homebrew

Yeast StarterHere are some tips about getting the most out of your ale yeast. After boiling, once your wort is cooled down to about 70 degrees it's time to take the batch to a cool location and pitch the yeast. In most cases, it's a good idea to make a yeast start ahead of time (1-2 days earlier) to help ensure there are plenty of yeast that are ready to go to work immediately. (See Making a Yeast Starter.) Having lots of "awake" yeast can help prevent infection from getting into your beer.

If you are using a yeast starter, gently swirl the starter to get the yeast separated a bit then pour it into your cooled wort. If you are using a pouch or vial, ensure it's been warmed to pitching temperature first and is activated before pitching. I'm a big believer in giving my beer a healthy dose of as much yeast as possible to ensure a strong and quicker start to fermentation.

Aeration: One of the most important steps to ensure a good fermentation is providing for an adequate aeration (oxygenating your wort). You can do this in many ways. One simple way is to shake up your wort for several minutes to aerate the wort. Boiling takes out most of the oxygen in your wort and yeast need a lot of oxygen to survive. If you happen to have an oxygen tank and a bubbler (for an aquarium) you can put a sanitized air hose into the wort and bubble it full of oxygen for about 30 minutes.

Once aeration is complete, then add an airlock and/or sanitized blow-off tube to your fermenter. In this example below, I used a food-grade plastic container and a 3-piece airlock. Be sure to sanitize every piece of equipment you use ahead of time to help prevent unwanted bacteria from getting into your beer.

After a half a day after pitching your yeast, your airlock or blow-off tube should be going nuts with activity. If so, your brew is fermenting strong! If you don't see much activity after a day or so you may have under-pitched your yeast or perhaps had your wort at a too high or low temperature.

Ale yeasts tend to do well between 65 to 74 degrees. Any higher and your yeast may produce esters that can give off flavors or aromas. Any lower and fermentation may go very slowly or perhaps make the yeast dormant. Lagers work at colder temperatures around 45 to 50 degrees and take much longer to ferment. Refer to your homebrewing guides for details on lagers as we are dealing primarily with ales in this example.

In my most recent batch example, the fermentation was strong within 10 hours after pitching and went nuts for about 3 days after that. It then seemed to be complete by the end of the 4th day. Note, however, that just because you don't see much activity in your airlock or blow off tube doesn't mean it's done fermenting. Sometimes it's good to gently agitate the fermenter periodically to get some of the yeast off the bottom and into the middle. Your ales will probably be fermenting for at least 10 days. When in doubt, take periodic gravity readings and after a day or two the readings stay the same then you can assume the fermentation is complete.

Typically, you should let your brew sit in the primary fermenter for at least 1 to 2 weeks and then optionally rack it into a secondary fermenter for settling a few days and then I'll get ready for bottling / kegging day. Don't worry, letting your beer sit on the yeast cake for several weeks shouldn't affect your beer. Racking to a secondary does risk putting oxygen into your finished beer and that can lead to off flavors. Remember, you only want to aerate / oxygenate unfermented wort, and not after it has finished fermenting.

Here's a video of a yeast pitching session. You might wish to aerate a lot longer than I did in this example. The more oxygen mixed in up front the better.

It's OK to aerate either before or right after pitching your yeast. The yeasties don't mind getting shook up provided the wort is at a good temperature. My yeast survived just fine being pitched before aerating.

Be sure to read all of the comments below from other homebrewers. They have a lot of good tips to add. Feel free to add your own comments on this subject.

Continue reading: Homebrew batch transferred to secondary.

Related articles:
- Creating a yeast starter for homebrewing.
- Making an extract homebrew - 1st of the year.
- Testing a Blichmann Boilermaker brew kettle.
- The trials and tribulations of bottling beer.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Visions of beer throughout the year 2008

I've taken a lot of pictures over the last year or so and have compiled them into a slide show. I've uploaded these to the Aleuminati web site where you can see these full size but have also included them here in a smaller compact form. These images include many of the beer festivals and events I've attended, plus dozens of shots of the beers I have tried during the course of the last year. Take a look into my wonderful world of beer.

Find more photos like this on The Aleuminati.

Related articles:
- Highlights of the All Colorado Beer Festival.
- Highlights of the Great American Beer Festival.
- Highlights of the Rocky Mountain Brewfest.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock review

I tend to read a lot of beer blogs these days and every so often I see a particular beer talked about across many sites that peaks my interest. I was warned that this particular beer was relatively expensive for it's size but was worth trying. So, when I saw this bottle at my local store I couldn't resist. This is the Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock from the Boston Beer Company.

This beer comes in a tall 25.4oz bottle and looks to have an engraved pewter label on it. The bottle also has an information card attached to it. The $14.99 cost of this bottle made me step back a bit before buying but I was bound and determined to try it.

The brew poured very dark, near black with slight mahogany edges. There was a nice tall tan head that quickly grew in the glass that had excellent lacing. So far, the look of this beer was very nice.

What a remarkable aroma. There was a sweetness in the hops used here that I can't explain. As expected, there was an abundance of chocolate in the smell of this beer along with traces of vanilla and possibly honey. I guess I was expecting to be overpowered by chocolate here but there was much more to this beer.

The taste? It had a nice smooth, creamy texture to it. It glided easily over the tongue. The sweetness hit my tongue up front and finished with a mild bitterness. The chocolate taste in this beer was surprisingly subtle. It was a refreshingly lighter beer than I expected. This beer isn't going to hit you like a high ABV big brew. This beer had just 5.5% ABV but looked like a beer that should have had more.

There was a decent balance between the malt and hops. The Noble hops is what made this beer work for me, truly distinctive.

The brew was aged on a bed of dark cocoa nibs. It was very drinkable. It's relatively low in alcohol and different enough to separate this brew from other Sam Adams beers I've tried. I liked it. It reminded me slightly of New Belgium's 1554 Black Ale but with a bit more cocoa in it.

While I enjoyed drinking the entire bottle in one session, I couldn't help but think that I paid too much for this beer. It was roughly $7.50 per 12oz beer for this specialty brew. It certainly didn't taste like an expensive brew however. While tasty, I don't think I'd want to spend that much for that low alcohol style of beer again. I've had other brews with a much bigger and bolder taste for less money.

In these tough economic times with people having to squeeze every last penny to get their beer money together, I doubt too many people would want to spend money like that all too often. Best to save this kind of beer for a special occasion should you choose. It was good, no doubt, but not great for the money.

I'll give this beer a Thumbs Up but with a warning to buy only for curiosity's sake but not for a rebuy. Nice job Sam Adams, but I suggest you stick to producing less expensive but tasty brews.

Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Cream Stout review.
- Samuel Adams Honey Porter review.
- Samuel Adams beer dinner recap.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Beer bottle cap photo fun

I thought I'd post these bottle cap photos just for fun. I was going through my bottle cap collection and thought it would be nice to scatter them around and take a few photos. Here are four 1024x768 pixel shots of what I'll call the start of my free beer art photos. Click on each photo, right click and save. Then use as your screen background. Enjoy!

I'm a bit of a pack rat. I save 1-2 caps from each new 6-pack, all the corks from special beer bottles, the sides of a 6-pack carton with the artwork, and not to mention all of my beer bottles to re-use in homebrewing or recycling. It's fun to keep memorabilia but at the same time my wife is beginning to think I'm just keeping a lot of junk. Sooner or later I do something with all this stuff, like take photos like the ones above. Taking photos and using them in articles is both fun and useful. Do any of you horde your beer stuff?

Related articles:
- 100+ Beer Photos.
- Photos from the Flying Dog FBAG Party (2009).
- Photos from the Falling Rock Tap House.
- Photos from the 2009 Colorado Brewers' Festival.

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First batch of homebrew for the year

Getting back into homebrewingWoot! It finally happened. I brewed beer again for the first time in over a decade last weekend! And man, I am glad to be back brewing. It was a PERFECT day for brewing outside in Colorado. For an early January day the conditions were prime. It started out just above freezing but it was sunny and hardly any wind at all. I set up my homebrew gear, sanitized my equipment and set the water to boil.

For my first brew, I decided to go with a robust porter extract recipe that I found in Brew Your Own magazine but decided to deviate a bit just to mix things up a bit. Here's the recipe I used:

7.1 lbs Golden Light LME
8 oz Caramel Malt 60L
4 oz Extra Special Malt
4 oz Dark Chocolate Malt
1 tsp Irish Moss
1.25 oz Goldings Pelletized Hops - 60 min.
0.50 oz Goldings Pelletized Hops - 5 min.
1 vial White Labs Bedford British Ale yeast

I steeped the cracked Caramel, ESM and Dark Choc malt in a grain bag in 160 degree water for 20 minutes. Then I brought up the wort to a boil and added the 7.1 pounds of malt extract and threw in the 1.25 oz of Goldings hops for a 60 minute boil. I substituted dry malt extract in place of liquid malt extract and decided to go with a lighter base malt just to mix things up a bit. The original recipe called for Fuggles hops for 60 minutes but the brewshop was out. So I substituted Goldings for that part.

After 45 minutes of boiling, I added 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss to help settle out the wort later. With 5 minutes left in the boil, I added the last of the Goldings hops, 0.5 oz, for aroma. Mmmmm. This recipe was smelling good.

Once the boil was done, I dropped in my wort chiller into the kettle and let some nice 40 degree water cool down the wort. It took roughly 25 minutes to cool down to a 70 degree pitching temperature.

Once cooled I drained the brew into my plastic fermenter tub. I took the wort inside at that point and added my yeast starter that I had made a few days earlier. I wanted to use a starter to help ensure a good active fermentation in just a few hours. Once pitched, I closed up the fermenter and shook it up vigorously for a few minutes to help aerate the wort.

After about 6 hours, the airlock started coming alive with bubbles. The yeast was feasting on the sugars with a passion!

The following is a 9:30 minute video highlighting this inaugural brew day for 2009. If you can't see the video below you can always watch it directly on YouTube.

It's good to be back brewing again! I can't wait to bottle this one up and carbonate it. More on this batch later next week when I plan to rack the beer into a secondary.

Continue reading: Pitching the yeast into your homebrew

Related articles:
- Creating a yeast starter.
- Bottle washing day.
- Testing the Blichmann Boilermaker kettle.
- Putting together the home brewery Part I.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Creating a yeast starter for homebrewing

Yeast StarterGetting ready for a homebrewing day begins a day or so prior to the actual brew day. There is a lot of cleaning and sanitizing to do. There is also one task that you may want to do to help ensure a good fermentation later on, and that's making a yeast starter. It's simple, quick and will speed up the fermentation process. It can also help reduce the risk of other bacteria getting a foothold first in your wort.

I found a nice simple recipe for a yeast starter while watching James Spencer's Basic Brewing: Introduction to Extract Home Brewing video. All you need is a quart of water in a small pot, about a 1/2 cup of dry malt extract, a couple of hop pellets and a vial of the yeast you'll be using for your homebrew recipe. Just a quick 15 minute boil then a rapid cool-off and your ready to pitch the yeast into your starter.

I made a short video of preparing the yeast starter. It shows the equipment you'll need and discusses some tips on how to get a starter going. While there are other methods out there, this one is simple enough for any homebrew to try.

It's best to create a yeast starter a day before you homebrew, that way the yeast will be ready in abundance, and your fermentation of your homebrew beer will kick off much sooner than if you had just pitched in a small vial or smack pack.

Take a look at the video and let me know if you've got a different method to create a yeast starter that's worked well for you.

Creating a yeast starter (video):

If you can't view the video via RSS or email, please visit the blog.

Continue reading: Pitching the yeast into your homebrew

Related articles:
- Testing the Blichmann Boilermaker.
- Choosing a brew kettle.
- Getting back into homebrewing.
- Brewing an extract homebrew.
- Choosing a fermenter for your homebrew.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Flying Dog to throw Twitter party in Denver

Here's the official word from Flying Dog Brewery about a party they are hosting for all their beer fans. Here's the news release:

The Flying Dog crew wants to invite everyone in Colorado to come drink some beers with us! They are hosting a “Tweet-Up” at the Blake Street Tavern on Tuesday, January 13th from 6-8pm! This is a great opportunity to drink some Flying Dog beers you may not have had a chance to try or your all time favorite brew for FREE! Blake Street Tavern carries all of their “pack” brews on draft and all of their Canis Major beers in bottles. They will be buying the People’s Republic of Flying Dog brews and appetizers and you get a free pint glass if you say a secret code. Check out their twitter page for that code!
Once your done, check out my Twitter page as well! I might just see you there.

Related articles:
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter review.
- Revisiting beers and changing tastes.
- Who let the dogs out? Reviewing Flying Dog's samplers.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oskar Blues to open new Longmont tap room

Oskar Blues recently expanded their brewing operations in Longmont, Colorado but now they will also be expanding their restaurant and tap room facilities into Longmont as well.

According to an article in the Longmont Times-Call on January 7th, 2009, Oskar Blues has selected a site in Longmont to build another restaurant and tap room. The site is located near the streets of Ken Pratt (Hwy 119) and Hover where the old Silo Bar & Grill used to be.

Not only will all of the Oskar Blues fine beers be featured but also selected beers from around the area. The food will once again feature a Cajun flavor as well as some classic American food.

Marty Jones, spokesman for Oskar Blues, says Oskar Blues wants to build upon the growing beer culture of Longmont. According to fan reactions, Longmont residents are eager to have another original restaurant come to town.

Opening a new restaurant and tap room is these tough economic times is taking a big risk, but Oskar Blues feels that the time was right for them to expand. They feel Longmont was ready for it. Besides, when they decided to put all their beer in cans 6 years ago, many thought they were nuts. But time has proven the skeptics wrong as Oskar Blues beer in a can is shipped to nearly half the states in the USA now.

No official word on when the new restaurant and tap room will open other than to say it will be coming soon.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues celebrates 6 years in a can.
- Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout review.
- Breweries of Longmont Part III - Oskar Blues.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What does the future hold for beer in 2009?

I had mixed feelings about 2008. For many, it was a year of a tough economy, too many political ads, high gas prices during the summer and another stock market crash. Even in the beer world we saw the rising price of a 6-pack, the hop and malt shortages and a huge cop out, er I mean buy out of Anheuser-Busch to a foreign company InBev. Perhaps it is best to say "good riddance" to last year. 2009 is already here and while I hate to make new year resolutions, I do like to look forward to what the new year may have in store for our beloved beer.

Homebrewing rekindled

Even in a recession, beer drinkers love their suds. While higher costs at the liquor store may force some to choose a cheaper brand, you'll probably not find too many people who are willing to give up beer altogether. In fact, higher costs are creating a new resurgence in the hobby of homebrewing. Craft beer may be getting expensive at the store and the lure of enjoying your own homebrewed beer for less than at the store is an attractive proposition again. I venture that 2009 will be another banner year for homebrewers and homebrew supply stores.

Better hop outlook

It sounds like the hop crop in 2008 turned out pretty good and more and more acreage was planted. It will take a few years for the newest hop fields to come into fruition but the fact that hops are on the comeback will be great news for brewers and homebrewers. Let's just hope Mother Nature sees fit to give us a good growing season this year. The number of acres of hops should continue to grow in 2009.

Mergers will continue

First of all, I see the trend of brewery mergers continuing this year. While we might not see the blockbuster mergers like MillerCoors or A-B-InBev, we may see a trend of medium sized breweries buying up smaller sized breweries in an effort to gain some economies of scale and to broaden distribution on some of the up and coming brand names. In this economy, bigger isn't necessarily better and usually leads to lay-offs, but getting bigger may mean you've got more clout to stay alive.

Beer styles continue to evolve

As craft beer continues to grow in popularity, so will the numbers of different beer styles will continue to grow and evolve. Experimentation in brewing beer is becoming quite popular now. You'll probably see beers this year made with ingredients you never would have thought of. Just how far will it go before beer turns into something completely different? No need to worry. The old styles of brew will continue to remain popular, but you may start seeing new styles on the shelves that could draw you to try something new. Just look to brewers like Sam Calagione from Dog Fish Head. His innovative brews keep rolling off the production line.

Personal outlook for 2009

As for this beer writer, I see 2009 having several changes in store. 2009 will mark the return for me to homebrewing. I spent the last couple months of 2008 acquiring brewing equipment and now am ready to brew some of my own once again.

I will continue to seek out new brews to taste and new breweries to visit. There are constantly new breweries starting to distribute here in Colorado and it's been wonderful getting new opportunities to try new beers. I will, however, continue to support and help promote my local breweries as I want to help ensure they do well and will continue to produce great beer. High gas prices will return again later this year and cutting shipping costs by buying local will become more important.

I may also try my hand at growing my own hops this year. I debated about growing my own last year but I decide to put it off until I began homebrewing again. Well, this is the year I believe to make that happen. I've got the perfect spot picked out on the south side of my house to grow a few hop vines. Wish me luck.

I've got a lot of vacation time stored up for this year and I plan to take advantage of it by doing some beer traveling around the state. I'd like to hit up as many Colorado breweries as possible this year and eventually visit them all. I certainly won't visit them all this year, but that's OK. It'll give me more to do next year as well.

There will be plenty of beer fests returning again in 2009 and I'm going to try to attend as many of them as I can. You can bet that I'll be back at the Great American Beer Festival again this year in September. I'm going to make an entire week of it and do more video, both behind the scenes and in front of the tables.

I'm excited about 2009. What do the rest of you have planned for this year in beer?

Related articles:
- All Colorado Beer Fest.
- Great American Beer Festival.
- Odell Small Batch Beer Festival.

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