Thursday, December 31, 2009

Arizona Beer for the New Year!

I’ve always been an Arizona Booster, even when I wasn't actually in Arizona!

I read somewhere to “beware of thoughts that come in the middle of the night.” I had a flash of brilliance last night, thinking that perhaps it would be nice to pick up growlers of Arizona beer to enjoy while ringing in the New Year. Good plan, right?

So I sanitized my Old World Brewery and Brewer’s Den growlers and all day long contemplated the thrill of having the jugs filled after work. I swung by the Sun Up/Brewer’s Den location on Camelback Road and plunked down 10 bucks for a growler of what will likely be some of their last Nut Before Christmas Nut Brown Ale, then I hopped on 7th Street and tootled north to Old World Brewery where I plunked down 8 bucks for a growler of their Dark Knight Porter. But at Old World, I got something more.

First, the commentary, then the background, I guess.

Sun Up Brewing’s Nut Before Christmas Nut Brown Ale is, sadly, uninspiring. I tried their Vanilla Porter earlier this year and liked it very much, but this limited edition is best left alone. There is no discernible flavor up front and just a tiny hint of sweet nuttiness in the finish. I’ve been left wishing I’d gotten a jug of their IPA instead.

On the up side, the Sun Up brew pub/restaurant was hopping when I dropped in around 1:00 PM to get the growler topped off. There was easy, casual banter going on between the wait staff and the clientele seated at the bar and the bar tendress indicated they were nearly out of the Nut Before Christmas Nut Brown, so I can only gather that business is good. Will I be back? Hell yes, I’ll be back! Who wouldn’t buy beer from a brewer named Uwe? (I went to high school with a dude named Uwe. You think? Nah.) Listen; if I was looking for Big Mac consistency, I’d be buying the Miller/Coors/Bud products more often. You buy a seasonal beer from a craft brewer and you take your chance, right?

The Old World Dark Knight Porter is another deal altogether. Some time ago I stole a line from Edward Abbey when describing this dark devil. Dark Knight Porter “is faithful and never disappoints.” Is this to say every glass of Dark Knight has been a winner for me? Nope. (See my comment about Big Mac consistency.) But tonight, if there were to be a head to head comparison, the Old World Porter would easily trump the Sun Up Nut Brown Ale. The Dark Knight Porter poured coffee dark and opaque with a thin head. It smelled sweet and vaguely of caramel. The taste was initially a bit sour with a distinct smoky component. Certainly, the Dark Knight Porter is more flavorful than the Nut Before Christmas.

The other upside for Old World is the actual experience of visiting their shop. I rolled up to the front of the building to find what I thought were construction workers pouring over the place and for a moment I thought that perhaps they’d gone into some sort of remodeling mode (turns out they were just jazzing the place up for a party). A worker promptly pointed me to Patrick Fields who, again, recognized me. (Repeat offenders here will remember that it was Patrick Fields who greeted moviegoers as they exited the premier of the film Beer Wars at Desert Ridge, and it was Patrick Fields who handed out his business card to every swinging Richard and Regina and it was Patrick Fields who remembered yours truly as “the guy with the blog” in the midst of the dozens gathered there that night. Patrick Fields, folks, the hardest working man in Arizona craft brewing.)

Today, I wasn’t in the building more than 30 seconds before I’d been taken round back for a look at the latest operational workings and a sample of their upcoming First Anniversary ale. I got a look at the bottling machine, and the labeling machine and a sample of their new venture in root beer (more on that in a bit). Bottom line: for me it isn’t just about the beer when I visit Old World Brewery.


It’s been just over a year since I first visited Old World and though I didn’t say as much back then, I truly doubted their staying power. Today, nearly a year later, I have to say that my instincts were wrong (as usual). With a bottling and labeling line up and running, and an arrangement for Republic Distributing to proliferate their product, with a deal to sell bombers at places like Fry’s and A.J.’s Fine Foods and an up and coming root beer product, Old World looks to have dug in their heels for the long fight.

When I told Patrick about the recent “gimmick poll” here at Beer Rant and the proposed option of having Beer Rant focus only on beers from the western United States, he quickly quipped: “How about just beers from Arizona?” That’s a thought.

So, what have we got at Old World? The Dark Knight Porter is a staple in Old World’s repertoire of about half a dozen beers that run the gambit from a wit to a red to a porter. Not surprisingly, the lighter beers are the flagship brews for Old World, their Wit being a gateway brew in the same fashion as Blue Moon in the broader beer market. Patrick estimates that they are the first local brewer to have three beers in initial distribution. But there’s experimentation afoot at Old World, too. In a week, maybe two, they plan to have a first anniversary Scotch ale that will tip the scales at about 8% abv. Patrick says some of the Scotch Ale will be cask conditioned and that they’ll be switching from clear growlers to brown glass growlers. Also, there will be first anniversary glasses available. Old World seems to be coming into their own.

Don’t like beer? Fine.
I was surprised to learn that Old World is now producing a root beer line called Cole’s Old West Root Beer and the sample I tried in the taproom was first rate. I took home a growler of Cole’s Old West Root Beer for Mrs. Beer Rant and she gave it a definite thumbs up. According to Patrick, growlers of Cole's Old West are selling faster than growlers of their beer. Hmmm. There’s certainly a broader market for non-alcoholic beverages out there, I’d imagine.

My hope, my plan, at this point is to have at least one posting a month about Old World throughout 2010. That is my hope, that is my plan. Help keep me honest, folks.

In the tank:
Sun Up Brewing Nut Before Christmas Nut Brown Ale
Old World Brewing Dark Knight Porter
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2009

On the desk:
An empty glass, formerly occupied by Nut Before Christmas Nut Brown Ale.

It's time for bed. Happy New Year, folks. God’s blessing for a 2010 full of health and the promise of happiness and prosperity. See you next year!

See you tomorrow 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nogne O Winter Ale

I can’t pronounce it, but I can darned sure drink it!

I’ve already mentioned that I haven’t been tearing through the holiday beers as much as I did last year. Could be a number of reasons: (1) we’re more broke this year and I know that some of these holiday offerings will be on the sale rack in a couple weeks (2) I’ve had a houseful of women kinfolk this past week and consequently, I’ve been drinking less in an effort to keep my wits about me. (Men are generally less intelligent than wimmin and it only gets worse when the ladies congregate and a fellow gets a belly full of barley pop – I tend to say the dumbest things about six bottles into the evening!) (3) perhaps I’ve settled on a few seasonals that I know I’ll like and have wisely decided to pick only a couple of rare birds for sampling.

In any event, Mrs. Beer Rant and I stumbled upon a bottle of Nogne O in the seasonal rack at the Arrowhead outlet of Total Wine and More the week before Christmas. The bottle wasn’t pricemarked and some stooge had probably returned it to the wrong shelf but I decided to take a chance, agreeing with the Missus that we’d discard the bottle at the checkout counter if it proved to be too pricey. Well, the beeping scanner put the price at 8 bucks and change. I looked at Mrs. Beer Rant. Mrs. Beer Rant looked at me. I said something like, “I’ve never had a beer from Norway,” and that was that.

Damn. I wish I’d found a second bottle and bought that one too!

At 8.5% abv, this Nordic beauty trips the line between a hardy winter warmer and a sly seasonal session beer. It pours dark brown and opaque with a rich, robust tan head. I sampled it at slightly lower than the label recommended 53 degrees but no matter. Winter Ale smells like a porter, has a medium thick mouth feel and is literally like no beer I’ve ever tried before. It’s almost liquor like in taste but with no alcohol bite whatsoever. There is a hint of chocolate in there and I believe this beer is something like an imperial stout or porter would taste if one could get past what is often an overpowering alcohol bite. Terrific!

To top it off, I enjoyed this single bottle of Nogne O Winter Ale relaxing in the backyard while the grandkids cavorted through piles of freshly raked leaves. I may never know perfect, but I'm up to my eyeballs in good enough. Thank heaven.

Here’s what some better beer bloggers and reviewers have to say:

NY Press (I especially like this one. You think craft brewers in the U.S. have obstacles, read about what goes on in Norway for a real eye-opener!)

If you want a great laugh, if you appreciate obscure references to the band “Sexual Chocolate,” or if you just want to hear two Hawaiian dudes try to pronounce Nogne O, go to the Two Beer Queers review of Winter Ale. If you don’t save their site as a favorite, Norse raiders will pluck your nose hair while you sleep!

For an obscure reference to Bing Crosby, check out this review of Winter Ale at Spokane Food Blog.

Frequent abusers here will know that I’m no fan of Dogfish Head and their recitative attempts at uber-quirkiness. I rarely buy a full six-pack or 4-pack of their product until I’ve assured myself that the contents will be palatable; their Festina Peche is no exception. I thought the bottle I sampled was miserable and evidently the beer drinking masses agree; at least the beer drinking masses that shop at the Sunflower Market just up the road from Beer Rant HQ. If you “hurry” you can buy a 4-pack of Festina Peche for the 75% reduced price of 3 bucks and change! I say “hurry” because this same stack of beer has been in the markdown bin for the last three or four months! (For the record, I love Dogfish Head’s Pumpkin beer and their Chicory Stout.)

Schadenfreude? Perhaps. But I’m gratified to see that my beer tastes are pretty much in line with most of the drinking public, especially when it comes to fermented orange juice concentrate. If I had to make one drunken prediction for 2010, I’d have to say that Dogfish Head will finally come out of the hallway and rejoin a classroom full of well behaved, if somewhat precocious kids. Face it; you can’t continue to fool people into buying 9, 10 and 12 dollar four packs of weird beer forever!

(Fine, I’m a Beer Jerk.)

Still looking for:
More Shiner Holiday Cheer, more Nogne O, and Pyramid Snowcap

In the tank:
Deschutes Obsidian Stout
On the desk:
Nothing but an empty Deschutes bottle.

Vote the poll, people! Vote the poll!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The garage is my fridge!

In praise of….

Cooler weather! We’re a day or two into winter 2009 and I’m already reminded of something I really like about having cooler weather; I can store beer in the garage without benefit of a real refrigerator! Hey, I’m not complicated or picky. So long as the ambient temperature out there hovers between 40 and 55 degrees, I’m okay with that.

Mind you, we don’t entertain Old Man Winter here the same way they do back east, or in the high Rockies – they’re really throwing a party for that frozen bastard on the east coast! Here, it’s finally just cool enough to be pleasant, but no snow and no frostbitten fingers! And beer that's always just on the verge of being ready to decant. (Is that a beer douche word? Probably.) Nice.

I’d hoped to post something meaningful before Christmas Eve arrived, but seeing as I’m working right through tomorrow evening after which I’ll be out at the kid’s house, it just doesn’t seem likely now.

I’m not tearing through the Christmas/Holiday beers the way I did last year. I’ve settled on a couple standards and I’m still planning to pick up some favorites from last year. Perhaps I’ll try to capture the newly sampled holiday beers after the holiday blows through. In the meantime, here's a picture or two of recent holiday conquests, including Anchor's 2009 Merry Christmas and Sam Adams Winter Lager.
I have a bottle of some nice Norwegian beer that I think I'll take to the kids house for Christmas Eve. There's also some New Belgium 2 Below, some Dundee's Festive Ale and the remainder of a six-pack of Anchor 2009 Merry Christmas - all out in the garage of course.
On the wish list: More Shiner Holiday Cheer, More Gordon Biersch Winter Bock and some Deschutes Obsidian Stout, for which I've had a strange craving lately, though it isn't a holiday or winter seasonal beer! Here's hoping you find what's on your wish list too.

As it’s likely that I won’t be back on here until after Christmas Day, my very warmest Christmas wishes to you and yours.

In the tank:
Nothing. Some of us still have to get up at 3:30 tomorrow morning to go to work!
On the desk:
Nothing. Some of us still have to get up...oh, I already said that.

Be sure to vote in the “gimmick poll.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Douche" is such a harsh word...

When you mock the macrobrews and those who drink them, remember that there once was a time when we had no choice!

First, thank you so much to the bloggers who dropped by to comment about the last post. My sentiments come from the heart, truly. Please feel like you can put your feet on the coffee table here, anytime!

Now to today’s point: Since my last post about Beer Rant's 20 followers, I’ve had a new joiner who runs the blog LOST in the beer aisle. (Great title, by the way.)

A recent post there seeks to know the traits that make a “beer douche” and I made a point of adding my comment, which I’ll try to replicate here with some detail.

I consider anyone who flatly refuses to drink a macrobrew a “beer douche.” Now, before you tune me out or try to send a pipe bomb to Beer Rant HQ, let me explain.

"Back, when I was a young trooper coming up through the ranks..."
Some of you younger folk, the sort who have had craft beers and micro brews available to you all through your drinking years, don’t know what it was like to spend your early beer drinking days drinking the likes of Miller, Coors, Budweiser, A1 and Milwaukee’s Best. I do. Simply put: macrobrews don’t have the same foul, onerous baggage for those of us who were given no other option back in the day.

I drank stolen A1 beer before I was of legal drinking age. I cut my teeth on Miller High Life. I packed my belongings in empty Ranier beer 12-pack boxes when I last moved from Colorado to Arizona in 1988 (about the time the craft beer renaissance was getting off the ground, I might add). Fact is, there wasn’t anything else to drink back then and, to coin an old phrase from the poor side of the tracks: “Oatmeal is better than no meal.”

There used to be a saying to define loyalty that went something like, “you dance with the one who brought you.” Well, for better or worse, Coors and Miller (and some brewers who no longer exist) got me where I am today. I’m more than happy to toss a few bucks their way now and then and I definitely won’t turn up my nose at them if I show up at someone else’s picnic to find them in the ice chest.

One new feature going forward:
I’m going to try to let readers know what I’m drinking or have been drinking when I post. (Not that it matters, perhaps, but maybe I can clue you in on beers I’ve tried, even if I don’t get around to actually doing a post about them.) “In the tank” means I’ve sampled that particular beer that day. “In the glass” means it’s on the desk in front of me as I write.

What I’m drinking today:
In the tank: Pickled Santa
In the Glass: Dundee’s Festive Ale

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Please! A Little Recognition for the Followers Here!

A few weeks ago, when my list of “followers” stood at about 17 or 18, I mentioned that I would one day get around to mentioning all of them individually. Well, by some miracle, my list of followers has jumped to 20 and I suspect I’d better get around to sending a shout out to each of them – especially those who also blog – before the number jumps back down to 3…or spikes to 30 (yeah, right). I hope that some of you have gotten inspiration from Beer Rant in the same way that I’ve gained inspiration from your work.

Cracker is a fellow traveler on the Internet Superhighway who I first ran into on the great site Beer Reviews Online. He’s a quick wit and we orchestrated a beer trade a year or so back. He’s a recent addition to the follower’s list here at Beer Rant and I’m honored he’s chosen to do so. You can see his frequent comments at Beer Reviews Online. I think Cracker is nearly the all-time most prodigious beer reviewer on BRO. Well he’s close.

'Chipper' Dave is a widely followed beer blogger in Colorado. His work strikes me as a good deal more professional than the junk I post here at Beer Rant so I often go to his blog for newsy posts. I seem to recall it was at his site that I first became aware of the Beer Mapping Project. Some day I hope to cross paths with him when I visit Colorado, but in the meantime, it’s a pleasure to know that he drops in here from time to time.

The Beer Babe is another beer blogger that I put in the “more professional” category. If memory serves me, I think I first happened across her blog through the Aleuminati beer social network site. In any event, she’s developed into an accomplished beer writer and, while I doubt she consults Beer Rant for good, industry-related stories, I’m happy to know she follows what goes on here and drops by to visit now and then.

Kelly calls his site The Beer Bitch, though I’d say the reviews there are very level headed and not the least bit bitchy. I particularly like the consistent rating system he uses on the blog and rather wish I had the same discipline and spine to offer more than my tepid “wouldn’t buy this one again” negative comments when I sample a stinker. Another plus is the list of reviewed beers by brewery – pretty handy and a feature I’m tempted to rip off so be forewarned and know that I told everyone I was planning to do it right here!

Aaron Walton is chief cook and bottle washer at B(eer)log and easily my favorite thing about his beer blog are the photos. (Little surprise there since he also has a blog called Aaron Walton: The Photography of Aaron Walton.) In late 2008 one of my resolutions was to try to use as many of my own beer images here at Beer Rant as I could and not pirate beer pictures off the web; my photography skills are lacking but I’ve stuck to this commitment the best that I know how for better or worse. Over at B(eer)log, it’s a similar situation with the only difference being, the pictures are really, really great! If I were going to write a beer book, I’d ask Aaron Walton to shoot the photos for it. If I were a craft brewer trying to break into the business and get my product and image out there, Aaron Walker’s pictures would be in my slick promotional brochures and flyers. Okay, I’ve gushed enough. I hope he’s not just a follower here but I hope he does drop in now and then.

Mike “Mikey” Riedel scribes over at Utah Beer and he’s on the cutting edge of what goes on beer-wise in the Beehive State. (Actually, it was through his blog that I became aware of the book Beer in the Beehive, which I later managed to track down at Red Rock Brewing in Salt Lake City.) Frankly, I don’t know how he manages to keep up with all the news up there but it’s pretty clear he has really good connections or contacts in the world of brewing, especially in the greater Salt Lake City area. If numbers in the current poll continue the way they are and I’m in need of guest columnists for Beer Rant, I’ll be barking up Mikey’s tree shortly after the New Year and when I finally follow through on forming a consortium of rocky mountain beer bloggers, I’ll be asking Mikey to sign on.

Good Burp is run by another beer blogger in the Phoenix area and here you’ll get a good notion of what makes a beer drinker and blogger tick. G.B. isn’t afraid to pull any punches when pointing out poor service at a booze retailer or sampling stinky beer. G.B. is another blogger who I'll likely be asking for a guest post if the current polling numbers continue trending the way they are at the moment.

J.K. Wise runs Highway to Ale and I’ve got to confess that, up until a month or so ago, I was unable to enter the blog – computer kept giving me some odd error message. Now that I’m able to get in, I appreciate it as a terrific site and am thankful to have J.K. as a follower.

The folks at True Brew Blog are home brewers and I suspect they’re doing a lot of brewing and not a ton of blog posting. I hope they’ll come back with some hair raising tales of seasonal winter brewing to jumpstart things but for now, I just hope they’re dropping in here at Beer Rant now and then since they were kind (and brave) enough to publicly admit they are “followers” here.

I became aware of Musings of a Smartass because Virgil G posted a request that other bloggers drink and comment on beers during Smartass’s medically ordered sabbatical from the suds. I think I drank a Kona Pipeline Porter for Smartass and have since visited his blog several times. His work is often too cerebral for a lout like me but a recent post about moving a refrigerator is classic and event a knot head like me can grasp the humor! To think that someone as smart as Smartass bothers to visit Beer Rant once in awhile boggles the brain.

A Journey Through Beer is a beer blog started up by my son-in-law, the Marine. Simply put, I’d have to say that I think his Journey Through Beer has been interrupted by children. He doesn’t post as often as he’d probably like but he was gracious enough to sign on as a follower to Beer Rant, so I’m just going to have to cut him some slack. In any event, the sorts of trouble I give him on his blog are nothing compared to the grief he gets when he shows up here at Beer Rant HQ. (It’s a father-in-laws prerogative to berate the son-in-law, isn’t it?)

Rhyan and Nick run Adventures in Making Beer and it’s possible I first crossed paths with them in connection with one of my (two) attempts to brew beer using the Mr. Beer set-up but I’m not positive. Rhyan is one of those most avid of beer converts, having only just first sampled beer in January of this year! Yet in those short few months, he’s taken to brewing the stuff himself. Check out their older posts to see a rundown of their beer brewing and beer blogging goals. Lofty? I think not. Certainly doable. Sign on as a follower so they can make their goal of having 20 followers! I did.

Virgil, the trucker hat guy, runs Vbg-log, which is the site through which I became aware of Musings of a Smartass (see above). I think Vbg-log was one of the first beer blogs I encountered on the web and likely it was one reason I decided I’d like to try my hand at beer-blogging, too. To know that Virgil’s tire tracks can be found here at Beer Rant now and then is a reassuring thing to me somehow.

Whitney blogs at Whitney Thinks and more frequently at the Mother Daughter Diet Diary. I have a suspicion Whitney happened into the Beer Rant neighborhood strictly by chance. I’ve not seen many comments from her, though she did leave a very kind offer to send Shiner on my son-in-law’s blog and for that, I’m sure she ranks as good beer folk.

Steven runs a blog called Striving for the Crown but it’s only open to members. I’d lightly tap on the door to see if I could gain entrance, but I have a terrible fear of rejection. Just know that I’m happy that Steven drops in at Beer Rant from time to time and I’m happier still to know that he’s man enough to admit it by being listed as a follower here.

Of the twenty kind souls who’ve confessed to being followers of Beer Rant, five don’t list a blog of their own on their Google profile, so to Matt and Scott, to J. Tingle and David Rife and also to Brewme_SLC, I can only send my thanks and appreciation.

Strangely enough, about two weeks ago, when my follower list stood at 18 or 19 followers, I silently said to myself that it would be nice if I could sign on 20 followers before the end of 2009. Well, it happened and probably through no great feat of endeavor on my part. I just get on here now and then to blow smoke about beer or beer drinking. But know this: followers may come and go and it’s possible that as this big dizzy orb of ours continues to spin you may one day fall away as followers of Beer Rant and likely as not it’ll be because I’ve said something really stupid, but until that time, thank you for signing on for the trip.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you all.

Reminder: Vote in the Gimmick Poll to see what stupid thing ought to be the driving force behind Beer Rant in 2010. I might just follow up on the majority decision...or not.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gotta Getta Gimmick!

I've touched briefly on the gimmicky stuff the big brewers are doing to remain in the public eye (color changing cans, "smooth pour" bottles, and so forth) and I'm thinking that Beer Rant might need a gimmick going into the new year.

I've posted a poll (to the left) seeking some input. Perhaps I could try to drink only beers from the western or rocky mountain states. Maybe I could boycott a particular state altogether. Perhaps you'd like to read a serialized fictional story with beer as the primary plot line. (I haven't given this one a lot of thought but I think it could be done.) Could be you're sick of my stuff and you'd like to see some real talent come in and post guest columns now and then.

Cast your vote between now and the first part of January. If you've got some other suggestion, leave a comment for this post. I'm not sure I'll have the fortitude to carry though with a gimmicky new year's resolution but we'll see.
(I think this is the 125th post at Beer Rant....just saying.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Good Thing

This will be short.

I want to get the word out about an event called Arizona Strings, that involves buying and drinking Sierra Nevada products (in the Phoenix area) and seeing proceeds from your purchase to go benefit Operation HomeFront.

The event is only being held at certain venues in the greater Phoenix area this coming Friday but you can find a list of participating watering holes at the Arizona Strings website.
I’m proud of the folks at Sierra Nevada for doing this great thing. I’ve already sampled some of the 2009 vintage of their Celebration Ale and by golly I’ll do so again on December 4th!

Drinking great beer and helping an outstanding cause. What could be better?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Ramblin' and Happy Thanksgiving

Tip Up To Pour (Dummy).
Geez. You try to give the big brewers a break, maybe cut them a little slack now and then and how do they repay the kindness? They come out with cans that magically change color so you’ll know they’re cold. Fine. Gimmicky. Slick trick to sell beer. Whatever.

Well, thumbing through one of those upscale magazines to which my sister subscribes, I stumbled on an advertisement for Michelob Ultra, touting, get this, their bottle. More precisely, the shape of their bottle. Seems it’s more, um, bottle-like in its wonderful bottle-ness to such an extent that it’s bottle-iferous! (Madison Avenue? I’m here, waiting. Sigh.) Here’s the ad:

Hmmm. Lemme see iff’in I git this right. I simply tip up the bottom of the bottle and the juicy beer goodness flows out that little hole on the top of the bottle? That’s amazing! (Oooops. Dang it all tuh hell, I poured it on my shoes! Sum’bitch!)

Since seeing it in a magazine on my sister’s kitchen table in Denver, I’ve spied it on a billboard in Phoenix. Creeping crud.
Holiday Cheer! It's Here!
Um, on the bright side: Shiner Holiday Cheer is back on the shelves! Here’s a tacky picture I took over at the kids house this weekend.

I love this stuff! If you’re a fan of Shiner beers, you owe it to yourself to add this one to your beer life list. If you're not a fan of Shiner beers, try it anyway. If you don't like it, mail me the rest of the six pack!
Happy Thanksgiving, GI.
Finally, spare a thought for our men and women in uniform this Thanksgiving. Some may be eating MRE’s instead of the traditional turkey dinner and for every one of those fighting men and women you see in a mess hall on the television news, there’s a few more out in some dark, cold place grabbing a meal when they can and thinking how much more thankful they’d be if they could just be home this Thanksgiving. Think you’ve got it rough? At least you won’t be chowing down in Iraq or Afghanistan this week.

A long time ago, in a peacetime army seemingly long forgotten.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Craftbrewing Breaks into NASCAR!

Lagunitas Brewing #37 Truck
If you’ve browsed through Beer Rant at all, you may have come across the Inaugural Post I made back in January 2008 (gosh have I been frittering my time away with this blog that long?). One look at the picture and you’ll judge I’m something of a hillbilly. As such, I like me some NASCAR now and then. (I won’t turn this into a commentary on how NASCAR is like the Mafia, or how the series caters way too much to the RV and camper crowd, or how all the drivers are becoming way too young. I won’t.)

NASCAR blows into town a couple times a year and once upon a time, I’d attend all 3 or 4 days of racing over at Phoenix International Raceway. Now, for various reasons (some enumerated in paragraph one) I’ve pared down my attendance and usually go to the minor series races, eschewing the main events on Saturday and Sunday.

So this past week, my buddy Jon flew into town from his retirement compound in Oregon and we took in the Thursday and Friday racing events at PIR. On Thursday, drinking the usual Budweiser and Coors products mandated by the sanctioning body (See my Mafia comment in paragraph one.) I was intrigued by the letters “IPA” on the side of one of the trucks speeding around the track in preparation for the next day’s Camping World Truck Series race. (See my RV and camper comment in paragraph one.)

I used to be really up on all the team numbers in all the series, but since the advent of grandchildren at Beer Rant HQ, I don’t follow the individual teams as closely. The truck was number 37 and the more I thought about it, the more I began to look for that “IPA” truck and before long, I spied the word “Lagunitas” above the rear wheel well. Cool!
Alcohol and cigarettes used to be mainstay sponsors in every NASCAR series, but nowadays, only Budweiser, Coors and Miller seem to be interested in dumping money into stockcar racing. Consequently, the only beer product you’re likely to be able to purchase at PIR is a beer from one of the main beer sponsors. Imagine seeing the Lagunitas name on the side of a truck in NASCAR’s third-tier series! Pretty cool for someone who at least knows a little bit about NASCAR and a little bit about craft brewing.

All that evening and most of the next morning, I feverishly hatched up an idea to enjoy me some Lagunitas IPA at the track on Friday. My reliable neighborhood Sunflower Market regularly stocks Lagunitas IPA and I grabbed a six-pack of it as Jon and I headed to the track Friday afternoon. I eagerly enjoyed a bottle or two of the IPA while we tailgated in our meager fashion, chatting with a fellow from British Columbia who’d driver over from his winter quarters near Yuma (Hello to you Mr. Miller. Hope you got home safely.) Knowing that I’d be searched before entering the track, I simply carried a couple of bottles of the Lagunitas with me as we browsed through the souvenir stands outside the gates. Nobody was selling hats and t-shirts with the #37 Lagunitas truck emblazoned on them. There were no Lagunitas can coolers or stickers or bandanas or thong undies. I’d hazard a guess that I was the only race fan drinking a Lagunitas product outside the track. Had I been brazen enough to smuggle a bottle of Lagunitas IPA into the track, I suspect I’d have been the only person in the stands drinking Lagunitas, too. (I’d imagine the #37 truck team had some Lagunitas in their hauler. I hope they did.)

So what of the #37 Lagunitas IPA Ford truck and its driver? Robbie Brand seems like my kind of driver – he’s older than the current crop of barely pubescent drivers in NASCAR’s upper series. Born in 1958, Mr. Brand’s older than dirt by current NASCAR standards and for that reason, just the sort of driver an old timer should root for in the series. (See my comment about drivers being way too young in paragraph one.)

Friday’s truck race was Mr. Brand’s debut in the truck series and in the end, he did alright for himself in his first Camping World Truck Series race, finishing 27th out of 36 trucks and still running at the finish. Sadly, because the truck series is a fairly low tier series, he only garnered about $8,000 for his effort; hopefully, the Lagunitas folks also supplied the team with a hefty stock of their delicious product.

For my part, I took the remaining two bottles of Lagunitas IPA home and enjoyed them the next day, comfortably ensconced at Beer Rant HQ and not fighting traffic at PIR. The 2009 NASCAR season is just about wrapped up, but I’m going to keep an eye out for the Lagunitas sponsorship next year. (They haven’t responded to an email I sent them, but I’m hoping they will eventually.) I think it would be terrific if the craft brewing industry could step into the world of racing sponsorship and make their existence known to more of us hillbillies.

You can Google Robbie Brand, but don’t expect to find a ton of information. Information about Lagunitas is far easier to locate, though there isn’t much regarding their NASCAR involvement. (I'll let you know if I receive an email from the Lagunitas folks.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: Credit Where Credit Is Due

Yeah, I've been tough on Dogfish Head in the past but I'm the first to point out a keeper when I see one, too.

The field of pumpkin beers seems to be full of beers that come equipped with jazzy names and slick labels, but most just aren’t all that noteworthy. I think it’s important to point out the really good ones (though I’ve never had a pumpkin beer that was just a total stinker).

I first tried Dogfish Head Brewing’s Punk Punkin Ale during my trip to Colorado in 2008; I bought it as a single and liked it a lot. My notes for September 22, 2008 read:

Smells vaguely of spice/cinnamon. [Smells] Grassy with a slight alcohol bite in the glass. Amber gold, nice head. There’s an alcohol bite that isn’t off-putting. May be the best pumpkin beer I’ve tried based strictly on style. Finally a Dogfish beer that isn’t a dog. (Emphasis added.)
Based on that positive experience, I asked Mrs. Beer Rant to pick up a 4-pack of this stuff last week and was not disappointed. When they’re too quirky for me, I’m quick to call the Dogfish Head folks out (Festina peche? Really? What the hell is that?), and likewise, I’m thrilled to post positive feedback on their beers and this one remains, easily, one of the top two or three beers on my pumpkin beer list. I need to track down some more of that Lakefront Pumpkin Lager for another try.

Last year, I was a bit out of my element so the Punkin Ale ensemble shots were a bit spotty. I’ll post the few that were even remotely useful here…

This year, armed with a complete 4-pack and a stack of decommissioned jack o’ lanterns, I set up the ideal ensemble shot of bottle and glass. I’ll post all the best ones here because I love Halloween and pumpkin carving and pumpkin beer.

Now, on to November.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beer Moment & Closing The Book

Weather has taken a turn for the cool around Beer Rant HQ, Halloween is here and before we know it Thanksgiving will be here. Beer-wise, this is probably my favorite time of year.

Beer Moment: A Beer On The Rim
From recent posts you might gather that I’m something of a traveler but that’s not so; I usually manage one or two decent trips a year either for family fun or work related stuff. This year has been a bit different in that I’ve gotten to Oregon (for the first time) and to Utah and to Colorado but that’s probably going to be it for 2009. Quick on the heels of the Colorado jaunt was a one-day quick trip up to Grand Canyon to meet family members intent on celebrating a birthday by taking a helicopter ride

We did our visiting while strolling around Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim and my nephew, who is something of a beer geek in his own right bought me a glass of beer from Grand Canyon Brewing at the bar in the El Tovar Lodge. He’d gone on at some length about a Grand Canyon Porter or Stout he’d tried the night before at a bar near their hotel in Tusayan. One would have thought that we’d have spent that brief, quiet time comparing notes on all things beer related but we didn’t. We quietly downed our pints with an offhand comment about the bar d├ęcor and a brief comparison of the pilsner at hand to the stout my nephew had tried the evening before. It was as if we were meeting for a routine pint after work. I don’t see my nephew or the rest of my extended Colorado family nearly often enough but the ease with which we simply slide into a familiar routine is comforting to me in a way.
Incidently, the beer we tried at El Tovar was a pilsner from Grand Canyon Brewing. It wasn’t all that noteworthy, but the setting and circumstance more than made up for what the beer might have been lacking!

Closing The Book
I filled up my first beer notebook a week or so back. The first entry is dated May 9, 2008 and was written during a visit to the Yardhouse where I noted my first sample of Old Speckled Hen. The final note is dated October 18, 2009 and indicates I was rounding out the notes with a Deschutes 2009 Jubelale. (Excellent beer, as always.)

I’ve debated whether or not to even start a new beer notebook. Frankly it’s a bit of an obstruction to actually enjoying the beer: the sniffing, the sipping, and the rabid jotting of notes. The Brits seem to have a term for folk who do this; they’re called “tickers,” and I’d liken them to those really ate up bird watchers who let their lives go to hell while they’re out looking for yet another bird to add to their life list. I don’t want to become a ticker, but I think I have.

On the other hand, without a notebook, I won’t have any way to document what I’ve done beer-wise and thus, no way to post comments on this blog. To lose the notebook would be to lose the Beer Rant blog, which in life’s large scheme wouldn’t amount to muck (another British term, I think). But I need to write, even if I don’t write all that well, and for now, blogging is writing for me.

So, I have purchased another book for beer notes. It’s the same style Sokkia Engineer’s Field Book that I just finished up with; they’re sturdy, somewhat waterproof, brightly colored so they’re not easily misplaced and they’ve got plenty of room for notes. My dilemma now is to decide what form my notes will take this time around. I don’t believe I’m going to be going into as much detail regarding color, head, smell and taste because doing so seems to slow down my process and usually that information isn’t even used here at Beer Rant anyway. I subtitled Beer Rant as a “beer diary” so, moving forward, I’m going to try to document more of the Beer Moments in this second beer notebook. We’ll have to see how that translates to what appears here at Beer Rant.

Finally, my thanks to those silly few of you who’ve chosen to “follow” Beer Rant. I’m planning to put together a post that acknowledges as many of you as I can, with links to your blogs or websites, but in the meantime, I appreciate your stopping in from time to time and I enjoy seeing your comments posted.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Colorado Trip

Dad Gum! This Is A Long Post!
My work as a low-level government functionary provides a single perk for which I have been constantly grateful ‘lo this past decade or more: ample vacation time. I accrue damned near 8 hours of vacation time every pay period! Mrs. Beer Rant, eh, not so much. Consequently, I found myself in Colorado by myself a couple of weeks ago. My primary purpose was to attend the annual reunion of the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, but with kinfolk scattered across the state, I enjoyed family company as well. Oh, and beer, too.

Normally, a visit to Colorado is a mixed blessing for me in that I’m always thrilled to be there and sad to leave. This time around, with temperatures dipping into the teens and the roads iced up, I wasn’t so sorry to hop that plane once my nine-day visit was over. (Naturally, the weather cleared up the following week and Denver once again basked under 70 degree sun, but that’s Colorado for you.)

Of course, if you’re one of the few folks likely to even read this post, you’re not likely to care much for stories of my having scrolled through old newspapers on microfilm in the library across the street from the Tommyknocker brewery in Idaho Springs. You’re likely to scroll through any account I might post about shooting pool with my brother-in-law, even if I make mention of the pitchers of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale that we enjoyed while he systematically dismantled my sensitive billiard ego.

So, here’s the straight beer dope from Colorado:

I didn’t set foot in any breweries, though I did snap a picture of the sign painter touching up the Tommyknocker sign. The weather was so dicey during my stay; I preferred to drink at my sister’s house or in the warming environs of the local pool hall, with a few quick samplings made in a hotel room during the CCC reunion to round out the tasting notes.

By my rough count I sampled 13 new beers, mostly Colorado product and mostly singles, which doesn’t make for decent commentary. (Someone has posted a set of “rules” for beer sampling and one of them cautions against forming an opinion about a beer after only a single sample. Which is why I don’t really “rate” beers here, right.)

Haunting Baker Street
My sister and her husband weren’t home when I arrived at their place, so I ambled around the corner to the Baker Street Pub for lunch and some beer. The waitress drew my attention to a sale on Guinness 250 on draft, which was being offered for the bargain basement price of 2 bucks a pint. “Fill ‘er up says I.” I have to admit that Guinness 250 tastes better on draft, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Perhaps it was the cut-rate price, too. At any rate, I liked it enough to have another one a few days later during a follow on visit.

With the first glass of Guinness 250 gone and still facing half a plate of bangers and mash, I ordered a glass of New Belgium’s Hoptoberfest, which must be some sort of locally protected secret because when I took my seat at the pub I made a point of asking the waitress what seasonals were currently available and all she offered was Sam Adams Octoberfest. (I shouldn’t beef too much; at least my waitress clued me in to the Guinness 250 sale, right?) Lucky for me I overheard another waitress telling other patrons about the Hoptoberfest. Well, sort of lucky. I was expecting something on the order of a marzen but this one arrived lager thin and only slightly darker than a Bud or a Coors. The hop smell is right up front with this one and the taste is hoppy and sweet, reminding me of another beer that I’m still unable to recall. Hoptoberfest is decidedly unlike any other New Belgium offering I’ve had in the past.

I paid a second visit to Baker Street Pub with my brother-in-law later in my stay and as we watched the Denver/Dallas football game I enjoyed a glass of the Baker Street Nut Brown ale, which smells a bit of maple or molasses and tastes great. This one would be too sweet to pound as a session beer. During the same stop I had a glass of Paulaner Hefeweizen, which arrived a cloudy light yellow color with no citrus attached per my instructions to the bartend-ress (who very kindly asked me if I wanted an orange or lemon). This hefe tastes vaguely of Hoegaarden but not as bad.

Drinking On The Kinfolk’s Couch
For light drinking around the house, I picked up a six pack of Great Divide Brewing's Samurai Rice Ale and a six pack of Grand Lake Brewing's Stumpjumper IPA. I found myself turning to these during my short stops by the family place, usually in the evenings between 8 and 10 pm after travels up Clear Creek Canyon or to top off a day with the CCC boys at the reunion.

As for the Samurai Rice Ale, in addition to really cool label graphics, the beer had a pleasant sweet grain smell and taste with a surprisingly light mouthfeel for an unfiltered beer. I will definitely seek this one out again – especially when the weather turns hot again. The Stumpjumper IPA was also a pleasant surprise. I’d not ever heard of Grand Lake Brewing before and I considered a jaunt over Berthoud Pass to pay them a visit but glitchy weather and a full schedule dictated otherwise. (I did drive to the summit of Berthoud Pass during my visit, but only because I worked on that road back in 1988.) The Stumpjumper poured with a sweet, piney smell that seemed right for an IPA. The taste was sweet, grainy, sour and piney if a beer can be all those things at once. The taste was almost too sweet for an IPA, seeming more like a hopped up pale ale instead. Still, a great effort by an evidently small, remote brewer. It’s just unfortunate they haven’t broken into the Arizona market yet, but judging from their website, it would seem they’ve had some growing pains recently. If you’re in an area where you can buy Grand Lakes beer – BUY IT.

To round things out around the homestead, I picked up a bomber of Breckenridge Brewing's Small Batch Imperial Porter Porter, which I purposely purchased one evening as I headed home in the face of an impending storm. Knowing the weather was about to turn decidedly winter-like, I figured a nice porter or stout was definitely in order. (I ended up scraping ice off the windshield of my rental car with a Gordon Biersh card the next morning.) The Porter Porter has an alcohol bite up front and is rather acidic tasting and it definitely warms going down. Though it isn’t an outstanding porter, it does represent the imperial style well enough.

I Drink Alone, and Sometimes, Not
I hit Lucky Strike Lanes for happy hour one afternoon and, in the process sampled some 2-for-1 beers that included Odell Brewing's Easy Street Wheat. The bartend-ress compared this one to Blue Moon, but Easy Street arrived smelling slightly alcoholic, so I’d describe it as Blue Moon’s slightly more aggressive sister, tasting more of wheat without the spice of Blue Moon. They may be related somehow, but they’re distinctly different. (For the record, I’d originally ordered an Odell’s 90 Shilling, but Lucky Strike evidently doesn’t carry that product any longer.) To follow up the Easy Street Wheat, I had a glass of Sam Adam’s October fest and marveled at the beauty of its orange color and nice caramel component. Boston Brewing rarely disappoints.

In another session, with my brother-in-law, we dropped in to Las Margaritas for a bottle or two of Lakefront Brewing's Pumpkin Lager. This one has more spice than pumpkin in the taste but it’s terrific. I made note in my beer notebook (per my brother-in-law’s instructions) that I was enjoying this beer as “a prelude to getting my ass kicked at pool,” which turned out to be a fairly accurate prediction.

Love in a Plastic Cup: Hotel Room Hook Ups
My very own, dear mother was attending the CCC reunion, too and, while I was imposing on my sister and her very patient husband, mom elected to roost at the hotel where the reunion was being held – with the potential for icy roads and the busy reunion schedule, I think that was a wise move on her part.

Knowing I’d have a convenient sampling room near the center of reunion activities, I snagged a few odd beers at a huge liquor store called Tipsy's Liquor World near the hotel. Here in quick riff fashion are those beers:

Fort Collins Brewery
Chocolate Stout
Roasted tasting with only a vague hint of chocolate. Pours dark opaque with a beige-brown head, it’s okay as a stout but weak as a “chocolate stout.”

Odell Brewing
Cutthroat Porter
Smells a bit like Deschutes Porter, and pours opaque with a beige head. Unfortunately, while it may smell like Deschutes Porter it certainly doesn’t taste as good. It finishes with a faint coffee taste. The low, 4.8% abv is a plus in my book.

Boulder Beer
Planet Porter

Poured opaque coffee brown with a beige head and a vague alcohol smell. No roasted, malted or hoppy component. Slightly warming with a hint of coffee at the finish

Great Divide Brewing
Saint Bridget’s Porter
Had no significant smell – perhaps coffee. Certainly had a distinct coffee taste and pours dark coffee color but not opaque with a yellow/beige head.

Tommyknocker Brewing
Maple Nut Brown Ale
Dark tea color with a robust head and a faint but noticeable maple smell. This one offers a good taste with “just enough” maple to make it a contender.

The Civilian Conservation Corps reunion wrapped up, I enjoyed a day or two with my sisters in the Denver area and then hopped the bird to fly back to the Arizona desert. It was a nice trip with just enough of the gold and amber stuff to knock the edge off. Life’s good. Now back to work. No really!

This post has been far too verbose. I’m going to tack on some photos I took during the visit and leave it at that for the time being. If you’ve read this far, you have the patience of a saint or the curiosity of a cat. God bless you.

Up next...Grand Canyon Beer with my nephew and "Closing the Book."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old World Brewery in the News

This picture was taken in the early days...back in June.
I stumbled onto a brief but nice article on Old World Brewery posted on
Seems they may finally be getting a bit of local recognition. I’ve been in there the past two Friday afternoons, about 4PM and found the front tasting room area nearly packed (granted it’s a small space, but the crowds have been steadily larger each time I visit).

This past Friday, I only stopped in long enough to fill a growler with their Irish Red to take home. It’s nice to have them so close to Beer Rang HQ.

Perhaps of greater use than the text of the article are the comments placed by readers. Most seem to bash the genre of music – hip hop – though the last time I was there when a musician was actually playing it was a single fellow playing classic rock on a guitar. He was stumped when I asked for a Merle Haggard song, but he was still pretty good. There are a couple complaints about the quality of the beer and even a quip about the hygiene of the place. I recall from my first visit – before they’d actually opened - that they purchased their brewing apparatus from a defunct brewpub in Missouri or Mississippi. I don’t recall anything about Katrina-salvaged kettles and I’d suspect if that were the case, their beer wouldn’t have measured up from day one.

Fact is, Old World’s beers evolve. Two weeks ago Matt made a note on the beer menu indicating that the Dark Knight was now rating a higher abv percentage than originally advertised. An early attempt to brew an IPA got out of hand as I recall but it was interesting to stop in from week to week and taste how the beer was developing and changing. To those who still crave consistency, my advice is for you to go down to the corner swill house and order a Coors, Miller or Pabst – just don’t expect the barkeeper to allow you to taste a free sample before you plunk down your bucks. So far the guys at Old World will set you up with a taste of anything you fancy trying before you pay for a full glass.

Heading for the Hills

I’m heading to Colorado next Saturday and I’m feverishly trying to map out a beer strategy in order to maximize my stay while still enjoying family and a cool annual gathering of Civilian Conservation Corps veterans. Don’t know if I’ll post anything before I head out, but I’ll fashion something once I return for sure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Utah ReCap

"...shot off a flare gun in the basement...religious documents hidden in the jail time." (Snippets of conversation overheard at a neighboring table.)

I’ll not bore you with much detail regarding our Utah trip except to say we didn’t really do all that much. (Certainly not as much as some folks, judging by what passes for casual conversation in Utah's brew pubs.) The big thing for Mrs. Beer Rant and I was to see our oldest daughter and our granddaughter, who's not even a year old yet! That was the fun! Some will recall from previous posts that a lot of my “vacation” time usually involves U-Haul trucks and bonding moments with my daughters. This Utah trip was no exception and I did manage to hurt my back in the process – just a bit – but as something of a reward, I was allowed to track down six examples of Utah-brewed beers during the trip. I’ll try to “tick” them off in something of a Quick Riff format for the sake of brevity.

Place: RedRock Brewery, Salt Lake City
Beers: Bamberg Rauchbier and Oatmeal Stout
The Bamberg Rauchbier arrived with a weak head but a nice brown orange color. Smells more sweet than smoky – perhaps malty, but the smokiness builds and there is a smoky taste up front when you drink it with a dry finish. A decent example of the style but not the best smoked beer I’ve tried.

The Oatmeal Stout was opaque with a sturdy head; it looked great. It had a thin mouth feel and didn’t strike me as being as distinctive as the Rauchbier.

Place: Desert Edge Brewery, Salt Lake City
Beers: Utah Pale Ale and Happy Valley Hefeweizen

The Utah Pale Ale arrived straight from the tap, a straw-wheat color with a medium head. The smell was of pine and grapefruit for sure. The taste was slightly sweet with a decidedly strong bitter grapefruit taste. Lacing in the glass was heavy and this one was much better than the beer I tried during my quick visit last year (the Latter Day Stout).

The Happy Valley Hefeweizen showed up a cloudy, light straw color with a taste that came across somewhat weak after trying the UPA.

Place: Iggy’s, Centerville
Beers: Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale and Squatter’s IPA
Both beers arrived in the bottle so I poured them myself. The Cutthroat Pale Ale was sweet, malty smelling with heavy lacing, an orange-bronze color and a fizzy head. The taste was malty but overly light and thin; not as sweet as most pale ales I recall but definitely malty and good.

The Squatters IPA was a dark straw color and did not smell the least bit like I think an IPA should smell (but I’m not the beer expert). Frankly, it didn’t taste that much like an IPA to me either, but the 6% abv is evident as you drink it. A great beer but only a fair example of the style, I think.

If I had to pick winners from the trip, I'd have to say RedRock's Rauchbier, Desert Edge's Utah Pale Ale, and the Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale.

Politics, Religion and Beer, Oh My!

As an added bonus, I picked up a copy of Beer in the Beehive by Del Vance, a book I’ve been looking for since first seeing it mentioned at UTAH BEER. As a student of history, I like the book a great deal and the illustrations are top notch. However there’s a political/editorial bent to much of the text that I don’t much enjoy so I’ll not go into a detailed review of the book, except to say, if you’re amassing a collection of books related to the history of brewing, Beer in the Beehive is a required addition. If you’re looking for the definitive history of Utah brewing, again, this is the book you must acquire.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nein, nein, oh nein! A Retraction

I created the posting label “Beer Jerk” for a reason, people. When I apply it to one of my blog postings, I mean to say that I’m being a beer jerk. Which is to say, the posting is probably off the mark.

Back in July I posted a short piece called Hot-Weather Ramblings that dealt with, among other things, an article in the July/August issue of Beer Magazine. In that posting, I characterized a particular article in that issue as “rather inept.” Well, the author of that article somehow stumbled onto Beer Rant. (Don’t ask me how; we’re located off one of the most remote back roads on the entire Information Superhighway.) He left a comment that was far more diplomatic than necessary, asking me to explain my characterization of his article as “inept” (or “rather inept”). Frankly, he had every right to call me out in stronger terms because after re-reading the article, I can’t find much fault with the content and were I to describe the article again, I’d certainly not call it inept, but perhaps “clumsy.” Understand, the article’s clumsiness is due entirely to issues related to layout and not due to content so the blame (if there is any) should fall on the magazine editor, not the author.

So, having inaccurately described Mr. Brooks’ article as “rather inept,” I’d like to point out the high points of the piece and hopefully describe the specific attributes that made the article clumsy in my opinion. The piece is broken down into about 18 sub-sections that cover a number of aspects of beer labeling policy and practice. I especially liked the section on measurements under the heading “Required Information.” The section entitled “The Long and Winding Road to Approval" is interesting and brought to mind the hoop-lah that attended Flying Dog’s slogan “Good Beer, No Shit.” The discussion of the differences between “alcohol by weight” versus “alcohol by volume” in the section “Fat or Heavy” was especially enlightening and finally, the explanation of the terms “out of code” and “gone bad” is good information for folks who wonder just how long a six-pack is allowed to sit on the shelf before being “recalled” by the brewer.

If I praise Mr. Brooks’ work to strongly now, it may come across as patronizing. All I can say at this point is that I was mistaken to describe his article as “rather inept” or “inept’ in any fashion. Upon a second reading I find that I’m most bothered by the fact that some of the text of his piece is barely legible because of the editor’s poor choice of background photographs. This probably won’t matter one bit, if, as Mr. Brooks mentions in his comment, the article is aimed at a “younger audience.” Kids today don’t know from subtly, nuance or turn of phrase; they’re probably just looking at the pictures, which makes the illegible text immaterial.

I want to thank Mr. Brooks for having left such an even-handed comment in response to my harsh criticism of his article – he certainly had every right to use stronger language. He strikes me as an even handed fellow and nobody with such a love of the common “French Fry” could possibly be all bad, right? Don’t believe me? See Mr. Brooks’ French Fry blog HERE!

Some recent label anomalies I've found:

When is a lager, not a lager? When you're in Texas. Then it's an ale!

Guess where was when I found this "unlawful to remove" sticker on a bottle of beer.

Colorado Beer Facts

Denver Colorado Beer Facts