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Weekend link-o-rama

Oops, wrong glass – not the best idea when you are promoting your beer sophistication.

Grain Belt brew bouse receives National Preservation Award – wonderful pictures.

Results from Great American “Premium” Beer Challenge

Decanting Rober Parker – (ree registration required) a balanced profile of wine’s lightning rod.

Let Us Praise the ‘Wine Snob’ – hear him out.

Cute wine labels – es, beer is guilty too.

Fun fast food facts – and scary.

Arctic temperatures near a prehistoric level when seas were 16 to 20 feet higher – no, not beer and not light-hearted.


Spring offerings, starting with an apple lambic

New beers and seasonal returnees of note:

– Anchor Brewing in San Francisco brewed Anchor Bock for the first time in 2005. It’s back as a seasonal beer, officially available through May. Anchor makes the beer, like its famous Steam, as a hybrid – fermenting it with ale yeast, then lagering it at a very cold temperature.

Pomme– Lindemans in Belgium has added an apple lambic to a lineup that previously included Framboise (Raspberry), Peche (Peach), Kriek (Cherry), and Cassis (Black Currant). With Lindemans Pomme, fresh apples are added in the form of pure juice, contributing to a light body, a glowing golden color and crisp green-apple flavor.

Importer Merchant du Vin suggests pairing it with rich cream sauces, hearty soups, aromatic cheeses and spicy cuisine.

– Boulder Beer Co. in Colorado chose a less-than-traditional-name, Sweaty Betty Blonde, for the traditional Bavarian wheat beer that returns to shelves next month. The fifth release in Boulder’s “Looking Glass Series” of specialty beers, Sweaty Betty Blonde made its debut in 2004.

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Rolling Rock on the block?

A Pittsburgh newspaper reports that InBev may be looking to sell Rolling Rock (and Latrobe Brewing, which it is made).

Harry Schumacher, publisher of Beer Business Daily, suggests that St. Louis-based brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Co. could be interested in the Rolling Rock brand, while Boston-based Boston Beer Co. Inc., brewer of Samuel Adams beers, could be interested in adding brewing capacity.


Brewing scholarships

Still time to apply for the two Glen Hay Falconer Foundation Brewing Scholarships available for the 2006 World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology, held at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago.

The Concise Course in Brewing Technology is a two-week intensive program that covers every topic critical to successful brewery operations. The program is designed for brewers pursuing a wider knowledge of professional brewing standards and techniques in order to advance their brewing careers as well as individuals planning to enter the brewing industry.

The Scholarships are open to professional brewers as well as homebrewers from the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Northern California regions (San Francisco Bay/Monterey Bay areas and north). Each Scholarship includes a $500 stipend to help offset travel and lodging expenses.

The selection committee is comprised of professional craft brewers and brewing industry experts. The full application must be received no later than April 20.

For information on how to apply, visit the Siebel Institute website at


Weekly Therapy: Five beer myths

Every once in a while it is good to revisit these beer myths and set the facts straight.

– The best beer is sold in green or clear bottles rather than “plain brown” ones.

In the years following World War II, in part because there was a shortage of brown glass, European brewers shipped beers in green bottles. It became a status symbol for imports. The color of the bottle no longer says anything about the quality of beer inside, and as we’ve written before green glass gives less protection against beer becoming light struck and developing a “skunky” taste. More on that.

– Ales are served at room temperature in the United Kingdom.

This story also goes back to World War II, when American GIs spent considerable time in England. Cask-conditioned (or “real”) ale is served at cellar temperature, which is in the low- to mid-50s.

– Wheat beers always should be served with a slice of lemon.

This is a matter of personal taste. The tartest of wheat beers, such as Berliner Weisse, are usually served with lemon, woodruff or syrups to cut the acidity. However, wheat beers, from weissbiers to Bavarian weizens to English and American wheat beers, cover a broad range. If you like lemon with your wheat beer, by all means enjoy it that way. But don’t feel obligated.

– Imported beers are stronger than American beers.

This is a function of the alcohol by volume (abv) versus alcohol by weight (abw) issue we’ve discussed here before. Many U.S. citizens think the rest of the world measures alcohol like they do (by weight) and don’t realize that 5% by volume is no stronger than 4% by weight. More on that.

– Light beers are much less likely to give you a beer belly.

A bottle of Miller Lite has 96 calories, while a bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager has 160. A brisk 20-minute walk is all that separates those two. So unless you drink your beer a case at a time …

Although beer is partially to blame for beer bellies – it contains no fat, but those calories and carbohydrates add up – the chips, pretzels, pizza, etc. that many people enjoy with beer deserve as much of the credit. A full-flavored beer with a light snack has far fewer calories than a light beer with a pile of nachos.

Want more? Beer Hunter Michael Jackson offers a dozen more.


Weekend link-o-rama

Eat: NPR cooks with beer.

Drink: How to pour the perfect Guinness. St. Patrick’s Day has passed, but the stout remains.

Drink wine: Wines with critters on labels sell like crazy.

Eat more: Pub grub gets a lift. Gastropubs head across the Atlantic.

Drink from the tap: Hot and cold running beer. Surely the most linked to beer story of the week.

Drink wine – and pay the price : Wine domain names shoot up in value. Can beer domain names be far behind?

Drink something else: Sake from space.

Steal: Beer kegs as valuable as the beer inside them. Not really.


Don’t forget the traditional Irish pubs

Slate discovers the faux Irish pub revolution. A wonderful lead begins the story: “Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991.”

It looks behind the business of exporting Irish pubs – and as much Irish-ness – as possible in fascinating detail. The story also details how St. Patrick’s Day has recently changed in Ireland:

A few decades back, St. Patrick’s Day was a relatively quiet day in Ireland. It was a religious holiday; pubs were closed, and no one dyed anything green. A typical Dubliner might attend Mass, eat a big meal with the family, and nod off early. In the ’90s, my friends who grew up in Dublin used to go to a hotel on St. Paddy’s Day to watch the American tourists sing Irish drinking songs and celebrate excess.

Where there is celebrated excess, there is a market to exploit. In 1995, the Irish government saw potential in international “Irish” revelry. They reinvented the holiday at home to kick-start the tourist season. Now thousands of partiers head to Ireland for the “St. Patrick’s Day Season” as Guinness has called this time of year. (It used to be called “March” or, for Irish Catholics, “Lent.”) In Dublin, the festival lasts for five days and adds about 60 million euros* to the economy.

All quite true, but a new book, The Parting Glass: A Toast to the Traditional Pubs of Ireland, reminds us that the real thing is alive and well in Ireland.


An essential beer reference

An e-mail similar to this arrives at least once a day here at

“I recently visited [fill in the city and/or pub] and had [fill in the name of the beer]. Since I returned home to [fill in the location] I haven’t been able to find the beer. Can you help me?

Signed, [Desperate/Thirsty/Impatient/Frustrated]

Because Michael Kuderka had a similar crisis a couple of years ago The Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands was born. (Yes, that’s a title long enough to make you as thirsty saying it as thinking about the words in it.)

“The concept for the book was the result of attending a beer festival at Waterloo Village here in New Jersey, back in 2004,” said Kuderka, who created the book. “At the festival my wife, Cathy, and I watched passionate brewers fill countless foam-topped glasses and we were able to tasted any number of fantastic beers, but when we attempted to find some of these bottled brands at our local retailers, we didn’t have a great deal of success.

“In some cases, we remembered the style of beer but not the brewery; in other cases, we knew the brewery but were not too sure about the exact brand. What was immediately certain, however, was that neither retailers nor I had a quick, easy way to satisfy my thirst for these new brands or to end my ongoing quest.”

Kuderka started by collecting data and logging it into a spreadsheet, but soon realized that compiling a list of all the domestic breweries and their bottled brands would require building a sophisticated database. The book reflects the depth of his information.

It is divided into six sections. Section I provides an alphabetical listing of all U.S. brewers. Section II features Color and Bitterness Comparison Charts, which should help retailers – sometimes as overwhelmed as consumers – understand the similarities in the appearance and in the flavor of styles. Section III opens with detailed descriptions of most of the styles from the color charts, then has a Beer Style Index that shows which breweries offer which styles.

Section IV charts what states breweries ship beer to, while Section V follows with a complete geographic index. Section VI then offers more detail on each brewery’s portfolio, complete with beer descriptions and labels.

The DBBB, and the companion web site, are designed for use by beer retailers, beer wholesalers, convenience stores, supermarkets, and restaurants, but will also be of interest to beer consumers.

Kuderka has targeted the 35,000-plus U.S. retailers of beer. “Eight-nine percent of the retailers we surveyed told us that they were looking for new brands of beer,” he said.

Kuderka quickly learned the U.S. beer landscape is still changing, so is providing updates through his web site, making additions to the database each month. A code providing one-year’s access comes with the book.

Does this mean we’ll no longer receive the “Where do I find this beer for my spouse’s birthday” e-mails? Probably not, but we expect it will improve the choice of what’s available on the local shelves for all of us.


Turn any beer into low-alcohol beer

Andrew Gordon begins this story in the Olympian with the proper disclaimer: “It might sound like blasphemy, but it’s time to talk about nonalcoholic beer. Now, now, hear me out.”

He’s talking low alchol and flavor.

All you need is an oven, a large pot (brewers already will have this), and an oven thermometer (unless you have a newer oven with precise temperature controls — it’s not unusual for an oven to vary 20 degrees to either side of the temperature setting.)

Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting — the boiling point of ethyl alcohol is 173.3 degrees, so you’re aiming for about 180 degrees. Verify that you’re in the ballpark using the thermometer. To the pot, add beer you’ve either brewed or bought, and put the pot into the oven uncovered.

You’re using the oven instead of the stovetop to provide more even, controlled heat, providing fewer changes to the overall character of your beer. In 30 minutes, the alcohol will have boiled away and the brew can be cooled.

The yeasts will have been killed off in the evaporation process, so you’ll need to go to your friendly neighborhood homebrew store to buy some yeast and priming sugar. Boil between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup of the sugar with a pint of water and add to the brew, then add yeast and mix well, using a sanitized metal spoon. (To sanitize, either put the spoon in the brewpot at the beginning of the evaporation process, or soak it in a mild bleach water solution for five minutes.)

You can then siphon the brew into sanitized bottles or a keg.

There are some other moving parts, so read the whole thing.


New: Dogfish Head, St. Arnold, Leinenkugel

More new beers or returning seasonals:

Verdi Verdi Good from Dogfish Head in Delaware. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day – A Dortmunder greened with Spirulina. The website explains:

The idea for the the Dogfish Head version actually was born of beers already being produced in Southeast Asia, namely Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Thailand. The main type of beer made in that area of the world is akin to the Dortmunder/Export type lagers of Germany. Both Myanmar and Thailand have breweries producing a beer which is their regular production lager with spirulina added. Hence, Verdi Verdi Good was born.

Summer PilsSaint Arnold Summer Pils from the Houston brewery of the same name. The Bohemian-style pilsner tends to sell out quickly, and was long gone by the time it captured silver at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival. Teh Pils has been a labor of love from the start for Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner. Back in 1998 he noted:
“One malt, two hops, but a tough beer.” The malt he uses tends to get doughy and clogs the hydrator. “It’s expensive and hell to work with, but worth the trouble,” Wagner said.

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat from Jacob Leinenkuegl Brewing in Wisconsin. Due next month and the first new year-round beer since 2002. (The company’s latest seasonal, Apple Spice, was its most successful seasonal launch ever.) sunet Wheat features features a slightly fruity and citrus character, complimented by the gentle spiciness of coriander. Brewed with malted wheat, balanced with pale barley malt and finished with Cluster hops and natural flavors.


A-B to import Tiger beer

Anheuser-Busch will become the U.S. importer of Tiger Beer from Singapore, the two brewers jointly announced.

The St. Louis Post-Disptach points out that although Tiger Beer isn’t well known in the United States, Anheuser-Busch may be eying the brand’s performance in the United Kingdom as an indicator of its potential. Sold there for more than 30 years, the brand has become the most popular Asian imported beer brand in the U.K. and Ireland.

Tiger Beer is the third new import that Anheuser-Busch plans to add to the portfolio of products sold to its wholesalers. Last month, A-B began importing beer from its Chinese subsidiary Harbin Brewery Group to Los Angeles and Honolulu. Next month, it will begin importing the beers of Dutch brewer Grolsch.


Beer keg theft growing problem

Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has a front page story about the growing of beer keg theft. The nut:

A global boom in the market price for commodities, including steel and aluminum, has sent scrap-metal prices soaring. And that has created a tempting target for criminals world-wide in everyday objects that contain metals – from light poles along highways to lowly beer kegs.

The story focuses on Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. There Neil Witte has came up with a novel way of dealing with the problem, strapping each of his kegs with a large yellow “STOP!” tag with a cartoon cop warning scrap dealers not to buy Boulevard kegs.

The story sounds funny, but it particularly serious of smaller brewers. For instance, 40,000 kegs in Boulevard’s inventory represented more than 20% of the brewer’s fixed assets in 2004.


A different sort of St. Pauli girl

StoutThe St. Pauli girl has a different look in a new advertising campaign for the German beer.

Instead of featuring the traditional St. Pauli girl in German attire the advertisements in March issues of magazines including Backpacker, Esquire, FHM, Giant, Maxim, Men’s Health, Playboy, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated show images that are part girl/part beer.

From the press release:

St. Pauli Girl’s new national print advertising campaign features sophisticated, sexy, yet recognizable female forms that morph into appetizing beer images. Each image in the campaign brings the brand “to life” with maximum stopping power in the magazines that the ads are scheduled to appear. Furthermore, the campaign’s visual treatment reflects one of the Brand’s core equities by extending the appeal of the St. Pauli Girl posters into print advertising in a new and collectible way.

“The experience consumers have with the St. Pauli Girl brand is personal,” said Bill Eisner, partner at Nonbox, the agency that developed the ads. “We wanted to create a visually and emotionally appealing page where they were allowed to fill in the blanks with their own experiences.”

The tagline for the campaign is “You Never Forget Your First Girl.”