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 walls...no 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