Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Praise of...Brew Masters on Discovery Channel

Watch it!

This is just a quick post to get out ahead of Sunday night’s television lineup.

Mrs. BeerRant and I watched the first episode of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters this morning – TiVoed from a week ago or earlier.

I like it, A LOT. Mrs. BeerRant liked it too (and she’s way pickier than me when it comes to television watching. Picking husbands? Eh, not so much, I guess. Lucky for me.)

I’ve gone on at length here about my feelings regarding Dogfish Head’s brews. For my previous posts about DFH Brewing go HERE. I’ve tried one of their raisin concoctions, a peach disaster, an IPA, a chicory stout, an Indian brown ale and their pumpkin beer. I like the chicory, the brown ale and the pumpkin beer, which puts them at a 50% success rate in my book. (No reason to give up on someone at 50%, hell if that was the case Mrs. BeerRant would have left me years ago!) Bottom line: I like enough of their beers to continue trying them simply on their record alone, but factor in the personality behind the brewery and I’m always willing to give them a shot. So far, the series Brew Masters is at 100 percent.

I think you’ll find that the first episode of Brew Masters shows Sam Calagione to be a personable, fun-loving but hard-working guy; an image you probably picked up on in the documentary film Beer Wars, as well.

Now, the question that pops into my head is whether there’s just a bit of the Emperor’s New Clothes at work during the tasting session, in which all the folks gush over the release of Bitches Brew brewed in honor of the anniversary of the Mile’s Davis album of the same name from the 1970s. I’ve often tasted beer in front of the brewer and, though I didn’t think it was top notch, I’ve said it was good – that’s a weakness of mine and I rarely put myself in that position these days, preferring to spout off here where I can go all “beer jerk” if I don’t like a particular beer. Anyhow, I wonder if Sam got the same sort of feedback when he developed that travesty that is known as Festina Peche. Ugh.

Okay, back on track…

I really, really liked Brew Masters and we’ll set up the old TiVo to catch the next episode. Rather than read any more of my blather, here’s what the cool kids say about the show:

Brew Public
I especially like this write up because it mentions something I noticed when watching the first episode of Brew Masters: The Blue Moon commercials. As I’d suspected, the craft beer literati and the microbrew snobs have come out retching and kvetching about this. Never mind that in the first episode of Brew Masters, we were shown what a small percentage of the beer market is actually occupied by the likes of Dogfish Head Brewing. So you don’t like Coors. So you don’t like Blue Moon. Fine. Shut the fuck up, drink your $9/four pack beer and let the unwashed masses underwrite your beer-related television viewing entertainments through their purchases of the vastly cheaper beers made by the likes of Coors. (Cheaper and less inspiring, for sure.) Or, show some testicles and boycott the damned show, boycott Dogfish Head, boycott Coors and boycott the Discovery Channel. If not, at least shut the fuck up.

The Brew Lounge
One of the comments posted at this blog takes a swipe at the inaugural episodes rap-music fixation, perhaps having forgotten that the beer being brewed is to honor the re-release of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew by Sony Records. (Or something…)

Wall Street Journal
I don’t actually read the Wall Street Journal much.

Here’s what Beer Advocate posted about Brew Masters.

I’m bushed. Must be all the turkey I’ve eaten the last day or so….or the beer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beaver Creek and Colorado Native

Been in a bit of a funk of late – thankfully not for lack of good people around me. There’s just this sort of self-starting internal glumness that settles in now and then, accompanied by a bit of writer’s block (if I may be so bold as to call myself a “writer” for hell’s sake) and no matter whom you’re around or where you go, the pervasive gloominess hangs on for some reason.

Well, in spite of all that there are a couple of neat things to relate here at BeerRant, so I’ll be about it before this shadiness, this crankiness gets worse.


I rarely venture far outside the greater Phoenix area and when I do it’s almost always work related. A jaunt up I-17 to Flagstaff the last month of October was no exception. I spoke at a conference near the NAU campus on a Thursday afternoon and made a trip out of it, attending the conference all day Thursday and half of Friday. But what to do with my spare time on Thursday night? I did a bit of research on local brewpubs and by the time I’d arrived Thursday morning I’d pretty well determined that I would walk over to Beaver Street Brewery, just up the street from the conference center and the NAU campus.

It was dark by the time I set out from the conference center to make my way the two or three blocks to find Beaver Street Brewery’s operation. (I’d stopped to chat with other conference attendees and share an overpriced bottle of Fat Tire before heading off on my own.) I negotiated some road construction in the dark and managed to find Beaver Street with little difficulty. I was seated promptly and had menus in hand immediately. I kept one eye on the world series game while I scanned the menu to make my selections. Bowl of chili and a pint of their R&R Oatmeal Stout. I didn’t have my Beer Engineer’s Field Book during this trip, but a 3x5 index card made a nice substitute. Here’s what I jotted on that card:
R&R Stout. Dark/opaque with a sturdy head. Faint hint of chocolate in the smell and noticeable in the taste. Every bit as good as [Deschutes’] Obsidian Stout. Heavy lacing.

Every bit as good as Obsidian Stout. What higher endorsement do you need, people? The chili was darned good as well and the cornbread muffin – oh yes. I apologize there isn't a picture of this sturdy stout.

During my meal I spied a sign on the back bar advertising something called Lumberyard Red in cans. Thinking I’d likely need a beer or two back at the hotel, I asked the waitress if they had any package beers cold, when she replied in the affirmative, I had her add a 12-pack of the Lumberyard to my tab, then I settled up and made my way back to the hotel where I watched a couple more innings of the world series before changing over to a Charlie Brown classic. I sampled the Lumberyard there in the hotel and am happy to report that I can recommend it as well. I’ll give a better set of tasting notes soon.

I'll go back to Flagstaff as soon as I can, and when I do, I hope to be able to visit Beaver Street Brewery again.


When I first sampled Colorado Native Lager during my visit “back home” this summer, I wasn’t aware that it was a Coors product. I liked it then and I like it now, and perhaps I like it even more (you’ll see why in a second). You’ll see in the blog posts I made regarding the Colorado trip, I didn’t make reference to Colorado Native. Well I sampled it at a Baker Street Pub and snapped a photo with my phone camera, which I can’t download. I do have notes in this here Beer Engineer Field Book and the notes indicate I sampled CNL on two consecutive days. On July 21st I noted that it was “a bit dark for a lager” with a “faintly roasted taste…” and on July 22nd I played pool with my nephew and drank Colorado Native Lager along with some Black Butte Porter and some Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Good company.

More recently, I was chatting with my brother who was in Colorado the same time I was and he raved about a local beer he discovered in Vail or Winter Park or some such place. (I never venture any farther than Clear Creek County when I get to Colorado.) Turns out he was talking about Colorado Native Lager!

I like Colorado Native Lager just fine, I liked it before I knew it was basically a Coors product and I might actually like it more now that I do know it’s a Coors product. It kind of tickles me to get in another gulp of local product at the exclusion of those folks at Golden City Brewing.

Here’s the grading for Colorado Native at Beer Advocate. I wonder if all these folks know it’s a macro brew concoction.

Here's a cool blog post about Colorado Native’s label. Mentioned here is the fact that the ingredients for Colorado Native are 99.8% Colorado grown and that their back label includes something called a SnapTag. (Hmmm. I wonder what ingredients aren’t from Colorado and whether they might be able to do without them for the sake of a perfect 100% score.)

But that’s not the last word. Here's why I REALLY like Colorado Native Lager: I stumbled on a blog post at Mile High Beer. Seems the folks at CNL are going to distribute hop rhizomes to anyone who makes a request. I sent in my request and got a nice email reply. That’s cool. I hope to have that hop rhizome early next year. In the meantime, I’ll post a picture of a hop bud that I retrieved from a local hop plant up stream from the Coors plant, in Clear Creek County. (I’ll give you a hint; it’s not from a hop plant in Idaho Springs or Georgetown.)

Let’s hear if for all the Colorado Natives. (Now excuse me, I'm off to buy a Colorado Native Lager t-shirt.)

Colorado Beer Facts

Denver Colorado Beer Facts