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Jul 30, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 7
Finding that 'special' beer

Nov. 15, 2001

A day never goes by at Real Beer that we don't get questions about finding this beer or that beer, a German beer that Dad remembers from his time in the service or an African beer that somebody's brother really enjoyed. Unfortunately, many of the beers folks ask about never make it to the United States, and other beers may not be widely available.

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However, this time of year we can help people track down some of the hundreds of special seasonal beers we love to write about. Because while your local Walgreens may stock Pete's Wicked Winter Brew the manager may figure that two beers from Full Sail are enough and not bother to add Full Sail Wassail to the shelves. So before we bombard you in the coming weeks with suggestions on winter beers to look for, here are tips on how to find them:

- While the Yellow Pages are only occasionally useful, look for stores that offer a large variety of wines, for they often also feature specialty beers.

- Many retail stores advertise at least a few specialty beers along with other items on sale in weekend (Thursday or Friday) newspaper ads.

- Talk to people in beer friendly places about where they buy beer. That means both customers and staff in brewpubs, good beer bars and local homebrew shops.

- Always keep your eyes open. You might drive by a deli you've never looked in before and discover they've got a nice beer selection. Many grocery stores (from Whole Foods to Safeway) have expanded the number of beers they offer.

- If you visit a microbrewery, ask where its beers are available. Ask brewers at beer festivals the same question, and ask them where else they buy beer.

- If you really want to know if a beer -- say you live in Ohio and want Anderson Valley Winter Solstice -- consider calling the brewery. They can provide information about who distributes their beer, and the distributor should be able to tell you stores that stock Winter Solstice. If you just want to start with local distributors you'll find them under Beer & Ale-Wholesale and Wines-Wholesale in the Yellow Pages.

- You won't find Internet sites with beer store listings similar to those providing information about brewpubs. You can look here to get started (the list is far from complete, but works well if you are lucky enough to live in Bethlehem, Pa.).

Happy hunting!

Tasting notes
BLACKWATER STOUT
Brewed by West Virginia Brewing in Morgantown, W.V.

Michael Jackson writes:

Black. Creamy aroma. Smooth. Medium bodied but textured and mouth-filling. Creamy flavors. Nutty. Chocolatey. The blackcurrant is very restrained; barley perceptible at first. As the beer warms, the fruit emerges slightly, syrupy at first, then with a good balancing acidity. Very pleasant. Easily drinkable.

CANTILLON GUEUZE VIGNERONNE
Brewed in Belgium. Cantillon adds whole Italian muscat grapes to a small number of casks of lambic. The beer ferments for about three months with the fruit before being blended with other lambics.

Roger Protz writes:

This exceptionally pale liquid comes in a burgundy wine bottle stoppered with both a metal cap and a cork. Could Jean-Pierre Van Roy be telling us this is a beer-cum-wine? Champagne foam leads into a delicate, sour and almond nuts aroma. The palate is as sour as that 1960s dieters drink PLJ (Pure Lemon Juice). But stick with it: the finish is gentle, quenching and neither uncomfortably sour nor too dry. I detect more rhubarb than grapes, but it's a fascinating and remarkable beer, full of hidden depths.

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