Monday, April 20, 2009

Beer Wars Recap

I saw Beer Wars last Thursday. My son-in-law graciously served as my designated driver; he was on call as duty NCO at his unit and I suspect we were both silently praying that his duty phone didn’t ring during the movie! We were joined by one of my co-workers and his wife and, based on comments following the screening, it seems that everyone enjoyed the movie just fine.

I have a new appreciation for Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head Brewing. Even if I can’t say I like most of his beers, I do appreciate his work and what he’s trying to accomplish. Let’s face it, there’s something of the huckster in old Sam. I’ve sampled about half a dozen Dogfish Head beers and have only settled on two that I’d ever buy again with certainty (their Punkin’ Ale and their Chicory Stout) – I poured one of his raisin abominations down the drain and could barely finish something that was brewed with peaches. So what? I bought the beers at an inflated price because of their novelty and I’ll probably purchase other Dogfish Head beers in the future – again at a higher than usual price – and that will keep Sam and his folks forging along, so long as thousands of others buy into the same game that I’m buying into.

I was expecting more of a hatchet job on the Coors/Miller/Budweiser cabal, but the conspiracy theory in the movie seems to revolve around something called the “three tier system” and honestly, I drink too much to ever understand the intricacies of this monster, save to say that it props up the big breweries and makes it damned near impossible for smaller brewers to ever gain a foothold in the market.

I do think it’s worth pointing out that the giant brewers started out as microbreweries oh so many years ago. This point was touched upon during the panel discussion (that might just as well have been left off the schedule as far as I’m concerned) by author Maureen Ogle.

Here’s a real review of Beer Wars, which was posted by Chipper Dave over at Fermentedly Challenged.

My primary criticism is probably aimed at the local venue – perhaps it’s telling that I don’t even know whom to blame (maybe it’s that three tier system keeping the little man down). Marketing for this film seemed nearly nonexistent in the Phoenix area. I made a point of attending the Desert Ridge screening because I know that there are at least three brewpubs within walking distance of the theater. We stopped at Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner and I mentioned to our server that we were headed to see Beer Wars; he hadn’t heard of it and was shocked to hear that it was a one-night showing. Having finished our dinner and a beer, we walked over to Yardhouse which is literally within a stone’s throw of the theater’s front door (we could see the ticket window from our seats on the patio) and again, our server knew nothing about the screening of Beer Wars.

Just as I was about to give up on my local beer purveyors and their ability to get the word out about a decent enough beer movie, my hopes were raised as we walked out of the theatre. There, handing out business cards was Patrick Fields of the newly hatched Old World Brewery located just north of Beer Rant Headquarters. Recognizing him, I shouted “Old World Brewery” even before taking the card from his outstretched hand. He replied, “I remember you.”

I’ve posted something here about Old World Brewery recently (Click here to see it.) and you have my solemn vow, I won’t post another thing until I’ve visited Old World Brewery. He seems to be the only person hereabouts who managed to work in a local beer connection to coincide with the screening of the movie. The least I can do is go buy a couple pints at his establishment.

For the record, here’s a list of what I tried that was new last Thursday:

Desert Trail Pale Ale (Rock Bottom Brewery)
Orange-amber in color, this one smells as hoppy as some IPA’s. It has a slightly roasted taste with a hint of citrus like an IPA but more orange than grapefruit and not as dry as an IPA.

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA
Arrived with a weak head and smelling of candy and definitely hoppy in the glass. This one tastes like a sweet breakfast cereal. Worth a second try when things are a little less hectic.

Avery White Rascal
Light yellow color with a fishy, smoky smell, this one reminds me too much of Hoegaarden – tasted like sausage. Why do I even bother with these white beers?

Stone IPA
I sampled this one at the Yardhouse after the movie because the movie included segments with the chief cook and bottle washer at Stone. Frankly I’ve always been put off by their “better than you deserve, too good for you” marketing jive, but I have liked what they produce and this IPA is no exception (I recall that I’ve had it before in bottles). It smelled like grapefruit and sawdust and tasted just fine to me. I’ll buy another some time.

Okay, that's it. Suppose I'd better get myself up to Old World Brewery for a taste now that they're up and running.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beer Wars Coming To A Theater...Near Me!

I purchased my tickets to see Beer Wars Thursday night at the Desert Ridge venue. Since there is a Rock Bottom Brewery, Yardhouse and a BJ’s brew pub all within walking distance of the theater, I’m going to arrange to take Friday off as a vacation day. Perhaps one of the smarter things I’ve done lately. It doesn’t hurt that my son-in-law has also graciously offered to be a designated driver (because he’s on call ).

Here's a link to the Beer Wars Movie website:
Beer Wars: The Movie

I owe a big tip of the trucker hat to Virgil over at Vbg-log for making me aware of this movie’s existence in the first place. If I have a crappy time, it’ll be my fault and not his.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Bobcat Walks Into a Bar…

Yeah, it’s a bad joke that probably ends up with Marlin Perkins and “Jim” arguing over who’s going to buy the next round.

In the real world, in the real Wild West, wild animals do still belly up to the bar I guess. In Cottonwood, Arizona, right up the road from Beer Rant HQ a rabid bobcat attacked some local saloon patrons. You can read the story here. I also see that a couple of news stories have already made the YouTube circuit and they include camera footage from the incident. Cool.

When A-1 Wasn’t Just a Steak Sauce…

I happened to snap a photo of a neat old beer sign while visiting another remote Arizona town a week or two back. A-1 beer has been out of circulation for years but this sign looks to be fully functional and in great condition, atop a pole outside a building in Aguila, Arizona.

I posted a piece about the A-1 women’s baseball team awhile back. You can see it here. You can also visit A-1 Beer Prints for a great history of A-1 beer. My last recollection of A-1, is drinking it warm out of cans that sported images of famous figures in western history. I think the mountain man Bill Williams was on the can I last had – wish I’d saved that can.

Four Peaks Brewing evidently offers their Sunbru Kolsch as an homage to A-1 beer but you’d be hard pressed to figure that out in looking at their literature. (Not much of an homage if you don’t tell people!) Maybe I just dreamt up that whole homage thing. Here’s my earlier take on Sunbru. I didn’t know of its link to A-1 at the time I wrote this post, so I’m more inclined to try Sunbru again and will next time I visit the Four Peaks outlet near me. (Probably should quiz the server to see what he or she knows about Sunbru’s connection to A-1. Probably get a blank stare…I’m used to that, I have kids and grandkids.)

But while we’re on the topic of Arizona sites, here’s a picture of the original Four Peaks covered in a dusting of snow.

(More) Last of the Winter Wine
As I compose this, I’m drinking what will likely be the last glass of Gordon Biersch Winter Bock until much later this year. The label indicates it was bottled on November 5th, 2008 and it has held up well these few months, squirreled away in a cabinet out in the garage. But, with temperatures here starting to climb, I’m not eager to let this one weather the elements for too long so the option was bring it inside or drink it now. I’ve been busy with a lot of things – not this blog, that’s for sure – and as a bit of a wind down, I’ve decided to drink it today.

Watch out for them bobcats.

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