“Only in Wisconsin” reads the label on the New Glarus bottle, the six-packs, the coasters and the swag available in the gift shop.  The Octoberfest hat I found in the gift shop has the Wisconsin map and their logo, “Drink Indigenous” on the front. Even the distribution trucks have the map and logo! Want to drink New Glarus? Go to Wisconsin.

What’s so great about New Glarus beer that it merits a road trip to Wisconsin? The short answer is that their beers really are that good.

Guilty as charged. I couldn’t resist bringing a few six-packs back to Chicago on a recent visit to Wisconsin. My favorites are aged sours: —Wisconsin Belgian Red, a Wisconsin cherry ale brewed with more than a pound of Door County cherries per (22 oz.) bottle, Serendipity, and Raspberry Tart. No surprise that RateBeer.com named these among the 20 best beers in the world in 2015. I opened a bottle of Belgian Red and confirmed it was as good as it was when I tried it 3 years ago. As you can see in the picture below, it pours a deep red with balanced sour and cherry taste, no yeasty overtones. It is refreshing and drinkable, only 4.5% ABV, like their other fruit sours.

Their newest limited release, 2018 Wild Sour, is a sour brown ale fermented with wild yeasts and aged in oak casks for a year and a half before the final addition of Wisconsin-sourced malts. This is a world-class beer strongly reminiscent of the red-brown Flemish ale, Duchesse De Bourgogne, but with the terroir of Wisconsin. And don’t forget Spotted Cow, which is the most highly rated beer in Wisconsin, a low alcohol farmhouse-style ale. It never makes the national lists, probably because it’s too hard to categorize, but it is the most popular craft beer in the state.    

As you can see, New Glarus doesn’t make one flagship beer–it makes quite a few. And most of them are unique styles that are hard to produce and rare to find in a craft brewery. Clearly, New Glarus has a remarkable way with wild yeasts, sours, and barrel aging, and they can turn out these remarkably complex brews consistently, year after year. Their brewer, Dan Carey is well-trained, having studied at UC Davis and at the Seibel Institute in Chicago, and passing his Master Brewing Examination. He is also extremely talented. Each new beer that he creates is superb, while the old favorites remain consistent.

Beer lovers will go to great lengths to get good beer. The boomers among us will remember those beer runs to Colorado to pick up cases of Coors in the 70’s, when it was a Colorado brewery with a limited distribution and a cult following. This tradition was immortalized in the 1977 movie, “Smokey and the Bandit,” in which truck driver Burt Reynolds (aka Bandit) drove a truck full of Coors, trying to outrun the sheriff. Today, pilgrimages are made to such places as Stowe, VT, to get cases of Alchemist’s Heady Topper. And Pliny the Elder, by Russian River Brewing, is another draw which is produced in limited release, and distributed only in California, Oregon, Colorado and the Philadelphia area.

One little known fact that contributes to New Glarus’ out-of-state demand is that they inadvertently developed market loyalty in Illinois when they distributed there from 1998 to 2002, mostly in the Chicago area. But the brewery couldn’t make enough Spotted Cowto satisfy their Wisconsin customers, so they pulled it from Illinois shelves. They haven’t distributed out of state since then, and have no intention of doing so. But Chicagoans developed a taste for Spotted Cow, and were willing to travel to get it. It doesn’t require a trip to the brewery however, because most of the gas stations and convenience stores located at the Illinois-Wisconsin border are well-stocked with most of the seasonal and year-round New Glarus offerings.

Wisconsin is a tourist destination, with year-round outdoor and indoor activities to draw the crowds, which mostly come from the Chicago metro area, with its population of 9 million. New Glarus is only about 2 hours from Chicago, but it’s worth the trip if you have the time to spare. The Town of New Glarus, from which the brewery takes its name, is a small town set in the hills of southern Wisconsin. It was founded by immigrants from Glarus, Switzerland, which gave the town its name. We stopped in the little town with its quaint Swiss-German buildings, shops and restaurants. Oktoberfest was about to start, giving it a festive air. We shared a Swiss fondue, washed down with some New Glarus draft beer, and poked around a few shops before heading to the brewery.

Dan Carey, the brewer, and his wife Deborah, who manages the business side of things, founded the brewery in 1993. It was designed to look like a Bavarian village, and it’s a beautiful place to visit, especially the weather is nice and you can sit in the extensive gardens, overlooking the rolling hills of the area. The brewery, too, was planning a big Oktoberfest celebration.

The tasting room and gift shop are fun to visit, but the brewery tour is a little disappointing because it is self-guided. But beer depot is well-stocked, and an aficionadocan find all the standards as well as limited releases from previous years. The showpiece of this facility are the copper brewing kettles that Dan Carey procured in 1997 from a German brewery that was slated to be demolished, while the barrels and wild yeasts are at the satellite facility, also in New Glarus nearby.

Today, New Glarus produces over 200,000 barrels of beer per year, making it 16th in volume among the craft breweries of the US–out of 6,000!  In spite of this, they are still brewer-owner operated, and maintain a small town, local feel. To maintain quality and continuity, the Careys have begun an Employee Stock Ownership Plan; currently employees own 10 percent of the company and eventually will own 100 percent.

As Deb Carey explained in an interview at the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, “This brewery is part of the economy here, and we’re not going anywhere, so it was an option that works in case we get hit by a truck next week. It means that we don’t have to sell out. I want this brewery to be around for 300 years.” Clearly New Glarus loves Wisconsin, and Wisconsin loves them back.

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I recently attended a tap takeover in Chicago in support of “Bright Pink Chicago, ” one of a week-long series of breast cancer fundraisers sponsored by “Crafty Women of Chicago.”  There were many reasons this event appealed to me, a medical oncologist and beer aficionado:  it supported cancer research, it featured great beer, and it was sponsored by a group of women in the craft beer industry.  “Chug it Like a Lady,” reads their T-shirts!

What do women have to do with craft beer?  And what does beer have to do with breast cancer?

According to a recent poll, beer has supplanted white wine as the first choice of drink for 18 to 34-year-old US women. Along with this increased interest in beer comes an increased interest in craft beer brewing.  Women are increasingly finding a place in the craft beer industry, becoming brewers, brewery workers, distributors, brewery coordinators, and taproom specialists. Support groups and networking organizations are starting to appear.

In Chicago, a group of these women started Crafty Women Chicago, led by Liz Waldron, a distributor for Saugatuck Brewery. Liz is shown here with me, wearing her “Chug it Like a Lady” T-shirt. In addition to promoting women in the industry and networking, CWC collaborates with women-centered local charities and social programs to create unique fundraising opportunities.

The Tap Takeover for Breast Cancer Awareness was one of their fun charitable events, held at Centennial Crafted Beer & Eatery, in Chicago. I had a great time, met a few interesting craft women from around the Chicago area, and I even met a cancer survivor, shown below with her swag. I tasted a number of fantastic beers, brewed by women-friendly breweries associated with CWC. At the event, I tasted IPAs from Saugatuck and Metropolitan breweries, and enjoyed “Pinky,” a wheat beer brewed with cherries, created by a woman brewer, Marilee Rutherford, of Twisted Hippo Brewery in collaboration with Metropolitan Brewing Company.  Flying Hippo is in the process of opening their first brewery and brewpub this summer, where Merilee and her husband will be the brewer-owners. Their beer, Pink, was tasty, refreshing and PINK!  Just the thing for a breast cancer benefit!

What about beer and breast cancer? There has been a lot of recent press suggesting that “even one beer a day can cause breast cancer.” These allegations were based on a 2017 report from the UK Cancer Research Council that summarized a number of previously published survey studies looking at breast cancer associations. The UK report concluded that there is a slight increase in breast cancer among women who drink 1 to 3 drinks per day, with risk rising as the amount consumed increased. In the UK, the risk of breast cancer is 11.6 per 100 women, and it increases to 12.1 per 100 women with 1-3 drinks per day. This is not an alarming rise, and other lifestyle factors have a much higher impact, such as using estrogen hormones, being overweight, or not exercising; these other factors that are often ignored when pointing to alcohol as a cause of breast cancer.

Should you drink or abstain? It depends on your goals, and you’ll have to use your own judgment, because drinking alcohol has also been associated with many health benefits, including improving heart health and increasing longevity. And there is yet to be a scientific explanation for any of these associations, whether positive or negative. Someone with a high cancer risk might want to consider cutting down a bit, but I wouldn’t recommend it across the board, and not to the exclusion of exercising and losing weight.

As an oncologist, I don’t counsel that my cancer patients to give up alcohol completely, unless it interacts with their medications or they have liver disease. For a person who is used to sharing a drink with spouse or friends, continuing that tradition is so important to a cancer patient’s social life, relaxation, and the feeling of “normalcy” that is so easy to lose when you have cancer. A nice cold beer provides great hydration and mineral replacement, and stimulates feeble appetites.People receiving chemotherapy often find that their tastes have changed and they no longer can abide the bitterness of hops. One brewery has decided to address this challenge by creating a beer for women with breast cancer that is lower in hop flavor, is sweeter, and is alcohol free. It’s called Mamma Beer, and was created by Zatec Brewery for the Czech breast cancer organization, Mamma HELP. This limited-release beer was commissioned by Tereza Sverakova, CCO of the ad agency Y&R Prague, herself a breast cancer survivor. The beer was distributed by pharmacies and given out for free at oncology hospitals, and was showcased at the Prague Beer and the Prague Marathon. I’d love to see similar beer produced by a women brewer here in the US.

 

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I had followed the craft beer scene around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for 4 years, beginning with the First Electric City Craft Beer Fest of 2012. At that time, craft beer was just gaining momentum nationally. In Wilkes-Barre, a number of brewer-entrepreneurs were also getting started, from homebrewers starting in their own garage, to experienced brewers with an eye toward commercial development.

It was time to go back, to see how these craft breweries were doing since I left two years ago. Were they thriving or going under? Had they solved the inevitable problems of increasing production but keeping quality high, improving distribution channels, and keeping their business solvent, while still maintaining their original passion for good beer?

My first stop would be Breaker Brewing Company, my old go-to neighborhood brewpub.

Breaker is a true American success story. How many homebrewers actually realize their dream of taking their homebrewing into a successful commercial craft brewery? Chris Miller and Mark Lehman did.

It is an arduous process for amateurs with full-time day jobs and little capital to invest. Before applying for a brewer’s license, they would first have to locate and purchase the space for their brewery, and then pay all the fees for brewing and business licenses. Miller and Lehman’s choice of location was a stroke of genius–they purchased the former St. Joseph’s school and monastery, a vacant property high on a hill in Wilkes-Barre Township. In so doing, they spared this landmark from demolition, endearing themselves to the local residents who’ve seen many beloved churches face the bulldozer.  Further endearing themselves to the locals is the brewery’s name, “Breaker Brewing Company” which is a unique reference to the coal mine breakers, large structures which dotted the landscape of this mining area, and appears on their logo. The coal industry is long gone, but it lives on in local lore, as well as in the memorabilia that fill the brewery’s taproom. This theme continues in their beer names, such as Old King Coal Stout, Lunch Pail Ale, and 5-Whistle Wheat. It pleases their loyal followers.

Early on, the brewery would have to decide if they wanted to serve beer to drink at the brewery, or just concentrate on large scale brewing and distribution with only a small tasting room. Prior to 2016, Pennsylvania law allowed breweries to offer free tastes and growler refills, but in order to sell beer to drink on site they would have to open a brewpub. If they went in this direction, they would have to purchase a brewpub license and become restaurateurs in addition to brewers–a lot to bite off for home brewers-turned-entrepreneurs. That required additional facilities and food inspections, but for most small brewers that was the only option at the time, as large-scale production and distribution would require substantially more expense.

Mark and Chris made their own brewing equipment at the start and expanded in small steps. They went from homebrew in 5-gallon batches, to a 12-gallon system. Commercial sales began in 2009 with a 1.5 bbl system which they built themselves.  Demand increased, and they purchased a 3 bbl system when they opened the taproom in St. Joseph’s school. The tasting room turned into a brewpub, and the food and beer were so good that they expanded their restaurant into additional rooms in the school and a patio. Recently they moved their brewing operation into the renovated old abbey church, to house their new 15 bbl brewing system; this year they added their canning line, and expanded their brewpub into the church.  The gleaming stainless steel brewery is a fitting backdrop to the modern seating in the second brewpub, contrasting with the old-timey feel of the original brewpub.

I stopped by the brewpub on a Saturday in April. If their crowded parking lot at noon is any indication, they have a devoted following, especially when they are releasing a new beer from their canning line, as they were today. Dozens of cars were driving up to collect their 4-packs of I Am Thine Ice Cream Man summer cream ale. It was sold out in two hours! I was glad that I called ahead to reserve a table in the bar area. Every brewpub and bar in NEPA has good food, but Breaker’s is well above the norm, cooked from scratch with daily specials that include hearty stews, artisan pizzas, panini sandwiches and seasonal specials. Most importantly, their beer is very, very good. They love their product, and brew it with the same care and pride as their first releases.

Although they are still brewing their traditional IPAs, stouts and wheat beers, they are known for their small-batches of fruit-infused ales, sours, flavored stouts; some are better than others, and you never know what you’re going to get in the weekly releases. Their beer list is extensive, with 12 beers on draft, as well as bottle and can releases. We tried about half of these beers paired with homemade pizza for lunch. Shown are three brews that illustrate the breadth of Breaker’s offerings. Old King Coal Molé Stout, 8.5% ABV, which is partially “hopped” with jalapeno peppers; Lime Life Keylime Sour IPA, a sweetened farmhouse sour, 6.1% ABV, which is surprisingly tasty if not too sweet for my palate; and I Love PA, one of my favorite IPA’s, at 6% ABV with a perfect mixture of American hops.  The lunchtime visit with friends was fun and satisfying.

“The little brewery that could” is still doing well. And yes, they can.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Fourth Annual Beer + Oscar Pairings, in which I present my picks for Best Beer to accompany each of the films nominated for “Best Picture” by the American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

In contrast to previous years, the 2017 Oscar nominations celebrate diversity. Among this year’s selections, we find people of many colors, religions and sexual preferences, including African Americans, an American Indian, an Asian Indian, illegal aliens (of the space variety), a conscientious objector, a gay black man, and even a few intelligent women! And let’s not forget that rarest of the rare, a classical Hollywood musical with large production song-and-dance numbers of the sort we haven’t seen since the 1930’s. Truly, there is something for everyone in the 2017 Oscars.

The 89th Academy Awards Ceremony will be aired on February 26, 2017, and you’ll want to make sure you have a lot of beer on hand to get through the evening of glitz and tedium. So without further ado, let’s open the envelope and see what beers have been selected to pair with these nine nominees, while we watch their trailers.

Arrival

Twelve alien spacecraft appear around the world. What do they want? Linguistics professor Louise Banks is enlisted to ask them. To do this, she must learn their language and how to communicate with them. Amy Adams plays Dr. Banks, the professor who is charged with this challenge. Watching the process unfold is spellbinding, as are the scenes near and inside the alien ship.
What beer do you offer an alien? Do aliens drink beer? Do aliens drink alcohol? Do they even drink at all? Initially I considered recommending a sip of Earth’s best spring water, but reconsidered. We must offer them the best beer in the world! That is, the best craft IPA in the world. And that beer would be Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, brewed by Russian River Brewing Company in California. It is a strong and delightfully hoppy double IPA, redolent with West Coast hops, with an ABV of 8%.

Fences

Fences is about a working-class African-American man and his relationship with his son, based on an award winning play by August Wilson. Masterfully directed by Denzel Washington, who plays the lead character, this family drama is set in 1950s Pittsburgh.

I’ve chosen a period beer for this one that was likely to have been enjoyed by working-class Pittsburgh, which you can still get today. That beer is Iron City. I’m not saying it’s a great beer–beer rarely was in the 50’s–but it was available, and it was brewed in Pittsburgh. It’s still around today, though it is brewed elsewhere. It’s a typical, American adjunct lager, with an ABV of 4.5%. You can find it in its signature “iron” bottles (actually aluminum), but in the 1950s, Iron City would have been in a longneck glass bottle.

Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond T. Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the US Medal of Honor, for rescuing over 75 men in one of the most grueling battles of World War II, without ever firing a shot. The battle of Hacksaw Ridge took place in Okinawa, Japan, a semi-tropical island in the Sea of Japan.

Chances are that Desmond T. Doss didn’t drink; for that matter, American troops in the Pacific probably did not have any cold beer available. But today’s Japan is a different story. The Japanese craft beer industry is booming, with small breweries appearing in most prefectures throughout the country. But very little Japanese craft beer is exported to American, and Okinawa has only one brewery anyway. One brand you can find is Hitachino Nest beer, produced by Kiuchi Brewery, a long-standing producer of sake in the northeast of Tokyo

One of the best Hitachino brews, and probably the easiest to find in the US, is Hitachino Nest White Ale. It is a mild beer, in the style of a Belgian ale, with added sweetness and spice–coriander, nutmeg, orange peel and orange juice. With an ABV of only 5.5%, and almost no hoppy bitterness (IBU 13), even a teetotaler can enjoy a sip of this one. It’s a good, sweet counterpoint to the heart-rending battle scenes.

Hell or High Water

This is the closest thing to a comedy among the year’s nominees. Two bumbling, inept guys in Oklahoma, a newly-released ex-con and his brother, rob banks in order to pay off a mortgage, all for a good cause. It is reminiscent of a Western Blues Brothers, as the two are pursued by a determined cop, an entire police force, and the town citizens. There are car chases, crashes, gunfights, and all the action you might expect.

The action is graced by the stellar performance of Jeff Bridges playing a stereotyped version of himself, accompanied by a long-suffering Native American sidekick whom he treats like Tonto. It’s a great action movie with a twist.

Believe if or not, 21st Amendment Brewery released a “Hell or High Water(melon) beer to coincide with this film but c’mon, everyone in the film is drinking Shiner Bock. You should, too.

Shiner Bock is an amber lager brewed by the oldest craft brewery in Texas, and widely distributed throughout the West. This movie must be watched while drinking Shiner Bock, preferably a whole six-pack.

Hidden Figures


This is the true story of a team of very bright, African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. Although they had critical functions at NASA, as women they had to remain in second place to the male engineers, but the black women were hidden even further away. Here we see them finding their voice.

My beer pick is the Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue). This is A Belgian Strong Dark Ale, among one of the best Belgian the world. It is certainly one of the most complex and intelligent beers you will ever taste. And one of the stronger, at 9.0% ABV. It’s a good match with the intelligent and complex characters in this film.

La La Land


Two aspiring performers trying to hit the big time LA…One, a jazz pianist; the other, an aspiring actress…They fall in love, and much singing and dancing ensues. You will fall in love along with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, as they dance their way through some unlikely scenarios–including a freeway on-ramp. It’s great fun, with music and choreography that captures the spirit and the energy of youth. And what would these optimistic, enthusiastic, driven but penniless Millennials be drinking? Why PBR, of course! Pabst Blue Ribbon has become the hallmark beer of the hipster generation, though in reality it’s a mass-produced lager which tastes like any other Budweiser clone.

But if you’re like me, and you really can’t wrap your craft beer head around a mass market lager, select an excellent American Pale Ale from one of the many craft breweries of Southern California. We’re going to stick to pale ales rather than IPAs because the lower alcohol level won’t mess up your concentration for auditions and performances. There are so many Southern California breweries to choose from! My pick? Stone Pale Ale, from Stone Brewery in Escondido CA. Though the ABV is only 5.4% there are plenty of hops to make drinking this as enjoyable as dancing on the freeway.

Lion

This is a story about finding your way home. A 5-year-old boy is lost on the streets of Calcutta, and is eventually adopted by a family in Australia. His struggle to find his home at age 25, both emotionally and via Google Earth, is at least as compelling as his original journey away from home as a street waif in India.

The obvious choice for a beer is a true India Pale Ale, of the sort brewed in England to ship to India. Of course, this style has disappeared from England. Even the Indian brewery established in 1820 by the English to produce a local product–aptly named Lion beer–converted to lager in 1960. Although there are a few recent revivals of the style, I recommend instead going with the nearest relative, a good strong English Ale. When it comes to English beers, “strong” is a relative term, compared to the usual 3.5% bitter.

You can usually find bottles of Fuller’s London Pride, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale (5% ABV), or Samuel Smith’s Best Ale, 5% ABV at any good bottle store. Pour into a glass and let it warm up a bit before you drink it. You will find the taste a bit sweeter than most American beers, with the hops more subtle, less fruity and citrusy than American hops.

Manchester by the Sea


An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew when the boy’s father dies. As the film progresses, the uncle’s reluctance to take on the task become apparent as the dark secrets of the past are slowly revealed.

A good, cold beer will help stop you from plunging into a deep melancholy during the film, which takes place in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a coastal town northeast of Boston. Harpoon IPA, brewed in Boston, seems to be the beer of choice in this New England town, and is one of my favorites, too. Another great option is Ipswich Ale, brewed in Ipswich, almost next-door to Manchester-by-the-Sea. Take your pick, both great representatives of the region’s terrific IPAs.

Moonlight

Moonlight
is the story of a young black man as he goes from childhood to adulthood, while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. He struggles to find his identify as a gay man, and as a black man, and find his place in the world. The man is seamlessly portrayed across three stages of his life by three different actors, which is a testimony to the directorial skills of Barry Jenkins.

I would pair Moonlight with a Russian Imperial Stout. The beer style, like the film, is dark and bitter. An imperial stout has an ABV in the 10 – 14% range, so remember to sip it slowly, from a small glass. You will taste dark, roasted malt, with chocolate and coffee flavors, with a low hop profile (especially it if is barrel aged.) Look for Imperial Russian Stouts from Stone, Founders‘, Bells, and 3 Floyds.

Thanks for watching! I hope you get a chance to see all of these wonderful films, and taste all of the beers with which they are paired. Enjoy the show!

In addition to her fascinating essays on a variety of imagestopics to be found @ 3 Quarks Daily, also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

 

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It is January 2017, and YourBeerNetwork has been live for six years. It’s time for a look back at our website, and to look ahead to what its future will be.

Our world, and the world of craft beer, has changed so much in six years! Harvey Gold, our editor, brought us together in 2011, with little in common except the pursuit of good beer, and the desire to share it when we found it. We knew it was out there, since we had tasted it in imports and homebrews–and then we discovered American craft beer and things took off.

First, we had to understand what craft beer was; then, we had to find it. There was so much to learn! We were beer neophytes, and could barely tell the difference between an ale and a lager. We brought our expertise to this quest, as homebrewers, biologists, food and wine experts, musicians, video producers.

DryHop Brewing, Chicago

DryHop Brewing, Chicago

Craft beer, by definition, is produced in a brewery that is small, independent and traditional. A “small” brewery produces less than 6 million barrels of beer per year. “Independent” means no more than 25% is owned or controlled by a non-brewer. And a “traditional” brewery produces its major volume from malted barley, no adjuncts.

We learned how beer is made. We learned the tastes of hops, and the difference between noble hops and New World hops; we rejoiced when new hop varietals were introduced. We visited hop farms in Michigan and Bavaria. We learned how flavor comes from the grain as well as the hops, and what the yeast contributes. We became experts in beer styles–we could tell a lager from an IPA from a stout in a blind taste test. We learned how sours and are created, and what a barrel adds to the flavor. We discussed the effects of beer on health, on dieting, on cancer, and on the brain. We went from neophyte to de facto beer specialist in less than a year!

It’s hard to remember how difficult it was to find a good craft beer back then, given the ubiquity of craft beers today. In the early years we sought out craft beer in regions and restaurants, and sharing our finds with our readers. Paul Ciminero and I ate and drank our way through bacon and beer in Chicago gastropubs, and lived to tell the tale–just barely. Harvey Gold filmed his spiritual experiences at the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh. David Daugherty, always on the road, discovered crafts throughout the US.

As beer tourists, we sought craft breweries on the East Coast and the West Coast, in Boston, Hershey and Kalamazoo. We took road trips to Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Florida. We even went to Europe! We attended brewfests and sampled as many different beers as long as we could while still standing. I must have tasted hundreds of beers, and I remember many of them. We made friends of brewers, and I even wrote a book about our beer quests.

Soon, new breweries began to appear in our own backyards, from Akron OH to Northeastern PA. Some of these would eventually succeed and grow into large bottling businesses; others would expand and distribute locally; others still would remain small gastropubs, specializing in excellent food paired with beer. A few, sadly, sold out to Big Beer. Surprisingly, none of those early breweries failed; all are still around, contributing jobs and income to their local economy. What the craft revolution meant is that small breweries–which had all but disappeared because of their inability to compete with large breweries selling cheap beer–now had a fighting chance to compete. And compete they did, thanks to a growing, grass-roots demand for quality beer.

craft-beer-cansIn a few short years the rest of the world caught on. By 2014 the number of craft breweries had almost doubled, and over a dozen new hop varietals were introduced. Crafts were beginning to appear in the best restaurants, which featured draft lists alongside wine lists. This was a great victory. No longer did we have to tell the waiter that we’d rather drink water, thank you. We could now eat good food paired with good beer, and tell the rest of the world about it. Along with the craft movement came an increasing consumer demand. Imports as well as American crafts began to appear in local stores and bars. No longer did we have to travel to find good beer.

glassesAs craft beer became more available, our beer tourism was supplanted by travel for other adult beverages, taking us to Bourbon country, Scotland, the cider fields of Michigan. We delved into the history of beer, so closely interwoven with the history of Europe. We studied goses, abbeys and oyster stouts. We paired beer with food, music, weddings and Oscar nominees.

beard_beer_1After a time, brewers began to get bored, or having established wonderful beers in the more “traditional” forms, began to stretch. They experimented with unusual ingredients; they made ales with ancient grains; they seasoned brews in bourbon barrels; they made fruity and sweet beers; they added everything from bacon to hot peppers to coffee; anything to appease the non-beer-drinker. We saw watermelon ales, lemonade ales, sweetened ales seasoned with pumpkin spice or lemon grass.

While we still enjoy some, we tired of journalistically sampling new flavors and new styles; we just want to drink a good beer without having to analyze it, and now we can happily say there’s plenty of it to be had! We’ve come to realize that we liked to taste beer, but we like to drink IPAs, and we favor the classical styles.

Craft beer is no longer a hobby requiring study, travel, and resources…. at least for us. There’s still much going on, but it’s also now a mainstream business. It’s hard to walk into a new craft start-up and expect to find the owner-brewer at the bar, anxious to discuss his creations. American-style crafts are appearing throughout the world.

Craft beer has arrived, and we at YourBeerNetwork are thrilled to have played a part in it. But our time is over. We don’t have much more to say about beer. We are six years older, and no longer have the stamina –or the livers –to put down a dozen beers at a beerfest. Most of our staff have moved on to other things. Our editor and co-founder, Harvey Gold’s rock band of #geezerhipsters, Half Cleveland, has become busier and busier, streaming shows watched all over the world. Our other co-founder, Dave Daugherty changed locations and, based on lifestyle changes (no, he’s not in jail), cut back to the point that he’s no longer the wandering minstrel of craft beer discovery. Our Chicago Beat guy, Paul Ciminero hosts an acclaimed weekly music podcast, Transmusic Airwaves, and no longer lives in Chi-town, and Lane Steinberg who gave us the genius and oft hillarious Thrift Store Records/Cheap Red Wine is busy making a living and creating stunning music. As for me, I gave up home brewing and am leaving the Beer Clinic for the Medical Clinic, working on a new cancer blog, Ask-An-Oncologist.com.

Looking to the future, we will no longer be posting regularly on YourBeerNetwork. The site will stay open to maintain our unique and rich archive, for your comments, and for the occasional restaurant review, Oscar night pairings, and video. And we’ll keep it alive for nostalgia’s sake, too, so we can all look back to those early years of the craft beer movement and remember the fun we had along the way.

Thanks to our guest columnists over the years (archived under The Editor’s Desk, hope you drop back in) and our IT department, Dolli Quattrocchi Gold (the Dolli Mama).

So Stay with us, check in, browse around as long as you like and… thank you!

Cheers!

Dr. Carol Westbrook – BEER CLINIC
Harvey Gold – EDITOR

In addition to her fascinating essays on a variety of imagestopics to be found @ 3 Quarks Daily, also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

 

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St. Arnold

St. Arnold

Saint Arnold, the pious prior, is the patron saint of beer and brewers. And it is right and just, because monks and ale go together like…well, like hops and barley. It is a tradition that has lasted throughout the history of our Western civilization.

Although they may not have invented beer, the monks of northern Europe take a lot of credit for developing methods and recipes for producing large quantities of beer, that is to say, breweries. We can also thank the abbots and abbesses, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, for the introduction of hops, and for developing some of the most flavorful yeast strains.

Even today, monks still brew beer. Indeed, some of the best beers in the world — the Trappist Ales — are brewed by men of the cloth. If you have never tasted a bona fide Trappist Ale, you owe it to your beer-loving self to seek one out. You will be in for a treat. Many readers and beer aficionados do not know the difference between “Abbey Ale,” “Trappist Beer, and “Belgian Beer,” and use the terms interchangeably. But they are different. Here is the low-down and a sample tasting.

First, Trappist is a specific order of monks — the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance — who brew the beer themselves. Monks observe the Rule of St. Benedict, a guide for monastic life which originated in the 6th century, which includes a mandate to “pray and work.” Monks are expected to work in order to be self-supportive and to offer assistance to the poor by the income they generate producing and selling goods to the public. These goods are produced from their agricultural products, and include honey, jams, cheese and beer. The seven traditional Trappist breweries are in Europe: Westmalle, Chimay, Koningshoeven, Rochefort, Orval, Achel and Westvleteren. There is a new one on the scene now in the United States, Spencer Brewery, and we’ll catch up with that one.

unspecifiedAbbey Ale, on the other hand, is not made by monks. The term is a marketing tool designed to sell beer. Since 1999, however, there are a few breweries that have made special license arrangements with particular orders to brew beer in their name, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the church or abbey. These are called Recognized Belgian Abbey Beers and are usually labeled as such. The Abbey styles are traditional and tend to be malty, strong with alcohol, and redulent with yeast-derived flavors, and typically include dubbel (double), tripel (triple), strong blond and strong dark beers.

Belgian Beer refers simply to beers either made in Belgium or in the style of a Belgian Beer. This includes the true Trappist Ales as well as other styles: Flemish reds, lambics, gueze, white (blancs), sour ales and saisons — and of course, just plain ales ranging from blond to dark, weak to strong.

One prominent feature of Belgian-produced beers is that they are primarily ales rather than lagers; their yeasts impart a characteristic flavor profile and aroma ranging from spicy (clove-like, herbal) to medicinal. The fruity ester flavors from these yeasts tend toward banana, bubblegum, fresh orange or citrus, often so strong that few hops are needed for flavor. Many of these strains have been in cultivation for centuries, sometimes highly guarded, proprietary strains. Belgian beer is often bottle-conditioned, so the residual yeast in the bottle produces a slight cloudiness balanced by a stronger, champagne-like effervescence. American Belgian-style beers utilize similar strains of yeasts, but are often supplemented with coriander and orange peel to add strength to the weaker American yeast flavor. The best Belgian beers have the complexity and palatability of good wine, and of these, the Trappist Ales reign supreme.

Belgian-style ales have a following in the American craft beer scene, though nothing can yet compare with the real thing. Fortunately, you don’t have to visit Belgium, since many are available in bottles in good beer stores, and occasionally on draft. Some bars specialize in imported Belgian beers, such as Hopleaf in Chicago and Monks in Philadelphia. Draft Belgian beers tend to be high in both alcohol and in price.

unspecifiedI was pleased to find a pack of assorted St. Bernardus Ales at my local beer store. Among the Trappist breweries, St. Bernardus is one of the best. It began in the monastery of St. Sixtus in Westvleteren, whose brewing and yeast strains go back to medieval times. They began selling beer in outsiders in 1838 to raise money for the monastery. A century later, the monastery no longer wanted the bother and distraction of commercial sales, so in 1934 they licensed the production of their excellent beer, Westvleteren 12, to the nearby commercial brewery of St. Bernardus in Watou (also a former Trappist business that was allowed to keep the monastery name). The Westvleteren license to St. Bernardus expired in 1992 and the beer reverted back to the Monastery of Saint Sixtus, who are still producing the excellent Wesvleteren 12 in small amounts, and a few are imported to the US. The St. Bernardus brewery, however, continues to produce a very similar beer using the same outstanding yeast strain, and it is called Abt 12 — the name refers to the head monk, called the Abt or Abbot.

Because of their higher alcohol and heady fragrance, Trappist ales are best enjoyed sipped slowly from a chalice-shaped glass, like the one shown for Chimay (a beer that is also of Trappist origin). I began my tasting with the flagship brew, St. Bernardus Abt 12. It was as delightful as I remembered it when I first sipped it in Monk’s about twenty years ago.

The St. Bernardus calls the Abt 12 “the pride of our stable.” It is a classic dark Belgian “quadrupel,” and as such has a rather high alcohol content. It has a delicious malt mix that is well balanced with the complexity of the yeast and hops. It starts out with a beautiful nose, and ends with an extremely sweet finish. This is one of the tastiest beers you will ever drink, and you will hardly notice the 10% ABV — drink a second one with caution.

Next came Prior 8. It was one of the original recipes licensed by the monks of Wesvleteren to the Watou-based factory, and it is named for a beloved Prior. It is a dark beer, ruby to almost purple, and at 8% ABV it is a classic dubbel. Its taste is described as “a malt-fruit complexity reminiscent of coconut.” It pours a thick head, just barely off-white, that is clean and sweet. I found it both too harsh and too sweet for my (modern) tastes.

The Tripel, on the other hand, is one of my favorites now. Also at 8% alcohol, it is quite different from the Prior. Lacey, white head, lovely pale yellow color, slightly cloudy. It has a nice malt balance, and a quiet finish, not at all sweet, with a nose that is traditionally Belgian. There is minimal discernible spice, but it is very hoppy, more bitter than fruity. You will find a very delightful flavor due primarily to the yeast, which is mellow, complex, with much banana and little spice.

unspecifiedSpencer Trappist Ale is the first and only certified Trappist beer made in the United States. It is produced by the Monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts and is distributed in NH, MA and OH, and overseas in Belgium, France and Spain. It is a classic Trappist with the lower alcohol level more typical of American beers (6.5% ABV). It pours golden, slightly cloudy, with an off-white dense head and a beautiful floral or fruity nose. It is eminently drinkable. It has a strong rich yeast flavor, surprisingly sharp hop bitterness, and a dry finish; it goes great with food.

Leffe is a true Abbey beer, though not a Trappist. Leffe was originally brewed by the Premonstratensian monks of St. Norbert in 1240 at the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Leffe. It was purchased by InBev, the European arm of Anheuser-Busch, and but is faithful to the original formula. It is a pleasant, very malt-forward ale, low in hops, but still has some clove spiciness and vanilla overtones produced by the yeast. It pairs beautifully with food and is a pleasant alternative to mass-market lagers. Another plus is that it is more widely available and less expensive than other abbey ales.

abbeyFinally, I tasted a representative American Belgian style craft beer, Abita’s Abbey Ale. This ale in the style of a dubbel (8% ABV) is dark in color, clearly has tastes of Belgian yeast, with hints of caramel, fruits, cloves, spicy. It pours a beautiful tan head; it is smooth with a sweet finish. Abita sends a 25-cent donation to St. Joseph Abbey with every bottle of this heavenly brew.

If you want to further experience these outstanding beers, you might want to consider a trip to Belgium.
Give me a call —
I’d love to go, too.

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Are you getting bored with IPAs? Tired of sours and barrel-aged stouts? Just can’t love lagers? The Beer Doctor recommends the next new thing — a craft cider.

If your first thought is, “Cider? That sticky sweet, fruit-flavored, low alcohol stuff? Uggh. I’d rather drink a wine cooler,” then think again. Think dry cider. Drier than most wines, with an ABV comparable to an IPA (5 – 7%) dry ciders pair well with food, and have the complexity you expect in a good wine. It is a sophisticated, adult beverage that most beer lovers are likely to appreciate if they give it a chance.

The Barrels of Virtue Cider

The Barrels of Virtue Cider

Cider is made from juice pressed from fresh apples. It is fermented–not brewed–using either commercial yeast, or the wild yeast of the apples themselves. Flavor complexity is achieved by combining the flavor of the apple varietal with other factors including the length of time it remains in contact with pressed skin lees, the strain of yeast, secondary lacto or malic fermentation, and barrel aging.

While many American ciders rely on sugar and added fruit syrups to produce that sticky sweet, fruity stuff–because their customers expect it–the newer craft ciders are made using more traditional European styles produced by experienced cidermakers, using local farm-fresh produce, without the addition of sugars or syrups. If you have ever had the pleasure of enjoying a bowl of moule-frites in Normandy, you were probably served a pitcher of the regional cider to go along with it. It was mellow, dry, with just a hint of fruit, and a slight mustiness–a perfect match to the food that was served with it. That’s what I mean by a good cider.

Recently I had the opportunity to taste a full spectrum of craft ciders when I visited Virtue Cider in Saugatuck, Michigan. Virtue is located in the apple country of southwestern Michigan, with a climate similar to the traditional cider regions of France, England and Spain. It is a traditional farmhouse cidery, which uses old-world, environmentally friendly methods to press, ferment, and barrel age the ciders. And true to form, it is set on a small but working farm, complete with free-range chickens, pigs, sheep, vegetable beds and, of course, apple orchards.

Greg Hall, formerly the brewmaster of Goose Island Beer Company for 20 years, and co-founder Stephen Schmakel, began this cidery in 2011. InBev acquired a majority stake in Virtue in 2015, allowing them to affiliate with Goose Island‘s Chicago brewery for bottling, kegging and increased distribution. The cider continues to be produced at the farmhouse, about 150 miles away, using only Michigan apples raised on small family farms.

Missie, Ryan, and The Good Doc

Missy, Ryan, and The Good Doc

I was given a tour of the farm and cidery by long-time friend Melissa “Missy” Corey, the Culinary Director, and her partner, Ryan Beck, the Agricultural Director. (See figure 2) The cidermaker, Steve Boeve-Head, and much of the staff were on vacation, since there are no fresh apples to press in July. Missy and Ryan are minding the farm–literally. They are managing the pigs, chickens and sheep, tending the vegetable garden and landscaping, and overseeing the Thursday night market.

Missy and Ryan are not your typical farmers. Missy has an impressive culinary background including training in Portland, Maryland with James Beard Award winners Sam Hayward (Fore Street) and Rob Evans (Hugo’s/Duckfat), and she is a winner of Food Network’s “Chopped.” Missy left her previous position as Chef de Cuisine at Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats and joined Virtue, where she is developing her program of sustainable farm practices, seasonal cuisine and whole animal “nose to tail” cooking.

Ryan Beck grew up on a farm, but his true profession is urban gardening. Now back to his farming roots at Virtue Cider, Ryan is pursuing his passion for native plants and intensive vegetable farming, planning sustainability and education on herbaceous and edible plants.

Michigan Brut

Michigan Brut

Our cider tasting began with Michigan Brut, the flagship drink. It is made from heirloom apples, French and wild yeasts, and seasoned in French oak. It pours crystal clear and golden, with a mellow apple nose. It is crisp and delightfully tart, with a slight oaky finish. At ABV 6.7%, it’s a good everyday cider that I drink with food

Next, we tried the Lapinette, ABV 6.8%, a Norman style “cidre brut” similar to what I drank with my moules-frites in France. It is unfiltered, with a bit of funky farm, barrel, and oak taste. It has a dry, mineral finish. It is recommended to pair with chicken or fresh vegetables — and to that I would add seafood.

The Percheron, ABV 5.5%, is named for the big grey workhorses of the Normandy farms. It is made with early-season apples, with fermentation based on wild yeasts, French cider yeast, and a Brettomyces; the resulting strong finish is softened by the addition of fresh-pressed juice. The resulting beverage is gentle and tart, with a great apple taste and a barnyard funkiness. Pair this with strong food, such as smelly aged cheeses or hearty stews.

Next, we went on to the Orchard Series. These were my favorites as they were made from the apples of a single orchard, relying only on the wild yeasts on the apples themselves. Like single origin wines, they present their local terroir. First we tasted Spirit Springs Farms (ABV6%), a blend of three varietals producing a rich, smokey and tannic flavor–this was my pick for the afternoon’s tasting. We also tasted the delightful Overheiser Orchard (ABV 6.7%) which blends 20 different varietals from the farm of the same name, giving a classic cider with a pronounced apple aroma.

The Mitten, and its sister Cherry Mitten, are unique in that they are aged a full year in bourbon barrels, after fermentation with American and British cider yeasts. If you are familiar with bourbon-aged beer, you will know that this process imparts notes of sweetness, vanilla and oak. The extreme tartness of year-old aged cider is then mellowed by the addition of fresh fruit juice. Food pairing? Holiday rich or sweet foods (baked ham, roast beef), or sipped in front of the fireplace.

The Southerner

The Southerner

There were more ciders left to taste, but my palate was exhausted. Time for lunch. If you are ever taken to lunch by a Chef de Cuisine, you can be sure that the unpretentious diner where you are taken is no ordinary restaurant. The Southerner, on the banks of the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck, Michigan, is run by Chef Matthew Millar, himself a James Beard semi-finalist. His menu combines Southern styles with locally sourced fish, fowl and produce with specialty items from the South, including bacon from Tennessee and grits from South Carolina. Everything is cooked from scratch, and barbecue is made on site, smoked over local fruitwood. This could be the best fried chicken–or biscuits –or shrimp and grits–or yogurt pancakes–or fresh eggs–that you’ll ever have!

Returning to the farm, we toured the rest of the grounds. We met the pigs in their wooded free-range enclosure, watch timid black sheep as they watched us, and chase the chickens. Returning to the cidery store, we stocked up on bottles of our favorites. Time to go home after a delightful summer day in the Apple Coast of Michigan.

In addition to her fascinating essays on a variety of imagestopics to be found @ 3 Quarks Daily, also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

 

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The American Homebrewers’ Association 14th Annual “Best Beers in America” were recently announced in the July/August 2016 issue of Zymurgy, the AHA journal. The results were based on over 18,000 votes cast by the members of the AHA.

These listings are eagerly awaited by AHA members, brewers, and craft beer lovers throughout the world. Beer lovers can’t wait to read the results and compare notes: are there brews they haven’t tasted and MUST go out and find? Did all THEIR favorites make the lists? No doubt these lists are scrutinized by commercial craft brewers, too, who want to see how their beers fared, and look for the direction of their buyer’s tastes, and what to brew next. YourBeerNetwork readers will undoubtedly enjoy reading these lists, so I’ve included them at the bottom of this article.

Hellooooo IPAs!

Hellooooo IPAs!

When I reviewed the list, I noted that many of my favorite IPAs were at the top of the list, as expected (Pliny the Elder, Two-Hearted, Hopslam, Lagunitas IPA). As I read further down the list, though, I was immediately struck by the fact that almost the entire list was about hoppy beers–IPA or derivative styles, including Double IPAs, Imperial IPAs, American Pale Ales, Black IPAs and American Pale Wheat Ales. Of these top 50 beers, only 15 were non-IPAs–mostly dark beers (stouts, porters, imperial stouts, and barrel-aged stouts); there was only one saison and two sours:

#19. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (* saison)

#T29. Russian River Consecration (* Wild Ale / Sour Ale)

#T50. New Belgium La Folie (* Wood Aged sour beer)

NOT IPA!!!

NOT IPA!!!

Surely something was missing. Where are the excellent craft pilseners and lagers, such as Yeungling’s India Pale Lager (IPL) or Upland’s Champagne Velvet pilsener? Where are the classic American oak-aged, fruit-based beers, such as New GlarusSour Cherry? Or the delightful summer wheat beers? For that matter, where are the English and Belgian-style ales? Yes, many small breweries produce these styles, most of which are excellent and well-crafted, but somehow the members of the AHA did not see fit to rate any of them high enough to vote them into the best beers in America.

Even more perplexing were the top ten imports (see below) of which 8 were Belgians (including Unibroue’s Fin de Monde, which is a Belgian-like Canadian).

LOVE their beers, but...!

LOVE their beers, but…!

The other two were Samuel Smith‘s Oatmeal Stout (England) and Guinness Draught (Ireland). Guinness? Really? C’mon AHA members, such uninspired and pedestrian picks! Of course the Belgians make good beer. But if you want a good Irish stout, why not Murphy’s? And for English beers, what about Olde Speckled Hen or Old Peculier? Did you completely forget that Germany and Czechoslovakia have a centuries-old tradition of producing world-class lagers and pilseners, not to mention the astounding Gose made by Gosebrauerie in Leipzig, or the Heffe-Weissen wheat beers, of which Franziskaner reigns supreme?

Overall I was very disappointed by the AHA’s “Best Beers in America” listings. They told me less about the skill and creativity of American craft brewers, and more about the preferences of the members of the AHA. To be fair, the lists were compiled by vote of the AHA’s membership, representing a specialized subset of craft beer aficionados. Although I am a member I didn’t vote this year, so I am partly to blame for the uninspired lists.

For so many years craft beer aficionados have been castigating mass-market beer drinkers for their love of lagers and their dislike of American hops. Admittedly, we have an axe to grind, because it was the expansion of these large breweries which produced low-quality lagers that led to the closings of thousands of old-time local breweries many decades ago. Today, with the rise of craft beer, many of us vowed never to let a mass market beer cross our lips. (Notwithstanding the fact that Goose Island is owned by InBev, and their Bourbon County Stout made the top 10 list this year). Yet lagers are not inherently bad! Noble hops and old-world brewing styles have been perfected over centuries, have been loved by millions of people, and many are produced by breweries that are smaller than Guinness (which is owned by Diagio) or Unibroue (which is owned by Sappora). Why ignore these classic beer styles produced, especially when produced by craft breweries?

What this list shows me is that craft beer lovers can be just as narrow-minded in their apparent dislike of noble hops as they accuse the great American public to be in disliking American hops. Do I detect a note of hypocrisy? Perhaps its time for us craft-beer lovers to expand our horizons and take another look at older, more traditional beer style, rather than dismissing them offhand.

Here is the list of the AHA’s Top-Ranked Beers, as published in Zymurgy, July/August, 2016. The annotation is mine, and it indicates non-IPAs. (T = tie)

  1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
  2. Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
  3. The Alchemist Heady Topper
  4. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
  5. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
  6. Founders Breakfast Stout (* oatmeal stout)
  7. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
  8. Bell’s Hopslam
  9. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (*stout)

T10. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

T10. Stone Enjoy By IPA
index

T 12. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (*stout)

  1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  2. Lawson’d Liquids Sip of Sunshine
  3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

T16. Founders All Day IPA

T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration

  1. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

19 Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (* saison)

  1. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
    images
  2. Arrogant Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale
  3. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
  4. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (* porter)

T24. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (*stout)

T24 Troegs Nugget Nectar (*imperial amber ale)

  1. Firestone Walker Union Jack

T 27. Founders Backwoods Bastard (* Scotch Ale, bourbon barrel)

  1. 29 Lagunitas Lagunitas IPA

T29. Odell Odell IPA

T29. Russian River Consecration (* wild/sour ale)
TroegsImperialAmberNuggetNectarT34 Ballast Point Victory at Sea (*coffee Vanilla porter)

T 39 Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (*double stout)

T42 Fireston Walker Parabola (*russian oatmeal stout, barrel aged)

T 42 Surly Todd the Axe Man

  1. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (*porter)

T46 Prarie Artisan Ales Bomb (*imperial stout)

T46 Surly Furious

T 46 Victory DirtWolf Double IPA

  1. Maine Beer Lunch

T 50. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

T50 New Belgium La Folie (* wood-aged sour beer)
edfitz-fixed_2Top 10 Imports:

  1. Unibroue La Fin du Monde
    Canada

T2. St. Bernardus Abt 12
(Belgium)

T2. Guinness Guinness Draught
(Ireland)

  1. Dupont Saison Dupont
    (Belgium)
  1. Orval Brewery Orval Trappist Ale
    (Belgium)

T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru
(Belgium)

  1. Chimay Grand Reserve/Blue Label
    (Belgium)
  1. Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchess De Bourgogne
    (Belgium)
  1. Trappiste Westvleteren Westvleteren XII
    (Belgium)
  1. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
    (England)
    orval_trappist_aleIn addition to her fascinating essays on a variety of imagestopics to be found @ 3 Quarks Daily, also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

 

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK :: The Big Eating and Drinking Review – Adventures at The Valley Café at Nite

by Harvey Gold 06.07.2016

I’m sorry. We haven’t been out and about too much. The principal reason is that one of our two pups, Eddie and Debbie, both of whom we tragically (though kind of expected) lost within a week of each other, was on a couple different diuretics, so the days of the 5-7 hour held bladder had […]

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BEER CLINIC :: And The Oscar Goes To…

by Dr. Carol Westbrook 02.08.2016

It’s Oscar time again. On February 28, 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present Oscars for cinematic achievement at the eagerly-anticipated 88th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony. That means it’s also time for the eagerly-anticipated 3rd Annual Beer and Oscar Pairing, in which I recommend a beer to drink with each of […]

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