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.

Colorado Beer Facts

Denver Colorado Beer Facts