New CAMRA site

CAMRA redesigns its website. Although the organization has always been politically active, that purpose is even clearer no.

CAMRA Head of Marketing Louise Ashworth said in the press release: “One of the main aims of the new site is to have more of a campaigning focus and enable consumers to get involved in some key CAMRA campaigns.

“This ranges from protesting about the closure of a brewery, lobbying for an honest full pint or showing disappointment in the Chancellor’s recent budget decision to increase duty on a pint of beer whilst freezing it on champagne. You can email the Chancellor from our home page to show what you think of his decision!

“We wanted to make it clear what CAMRA stands for, and that we campaign for quality real ale, good pubs and consumer rights in relation to the drink’s industry.

“We hope that visitors to our site will be able to gain more of an understanding of why our 80,000 members feel real ale is superior to other beers.”


New beers: American style

Dad’s Little Helper Malt Liquor. The Rogue press release points out “this ain’t your Dad’s malt liquor. Brewmaster John Maier has Roguerized the recipe by adding 40% Midwest corn, lightly hopping it with Oregon Crystal Hops, and then lagering it at a warmer temperature to help bring out the sweet, crisp flavors of the corn.” Sold in 22-ounce seriographed bottles with a label honoring Sonora Smart Dodd, who organized the first Father’s Day Celebration in 1910. 7% abv, 25 IBU.

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. The brewery on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain used Louisiana strawberries to brew this seasonal. From the press release: “Ripe, red Louisiana strawberries are harvested at the peak of the season for Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. Creating Abita Strawberry Harvest is a balancing act. We craft it carefully so that the fruit and beer flavors work together. You get the aroma and taste of the strawberry, while at the same time allowing the underlying beer to refresh and satisfy the palate the way it should. The sweetness and acidity of the berries adds to the crispness of the lager.”

Buzzsaw BrownBuzzSaw Brown. Deschutes Brewery calls its newest seasonal “an easy-drinking beer that is refreshing after a hard day’s work.” A modest 4.8%, it qualifies as something of a session beer but has a soothing restorative quality. Packed with a full range of deep rich flavors and brimming with nutty roastiness. Gentle bitterness nicely balances the caramel sweetness. 4.8%, 30 IBU.

Inversion IPA. Deschutes Brewery in Oregon has replaced Quail Springs IPA with this unapologetically Northwest-style IPA. Starting with plenty of floral/citrus character – dry hopped for seven days – it’s weighted toward hops end of the spectrum. Crystal and carastan malts keep it in balance, offering plenty of caramel character before a drying hop bitterness returns at the finish. 6.8% abv, 75 IBU.

Skinny Dip. New Belgium Brewing’s latest qualifies as a low calorie beer with 110 calories (7 grams of carbs) and recently won a taste test of similar beers in Men’s Health magazine. Spiced with Cascade hops and a touch of kaffir lime leaf. NBB calls it “a most revealing beverage.” Much like the previously released seasonal, Loft, including the kaffir lime.

Skinny Dip

Sea Dog Apricot Wheat Beer. Due from Sea Dog Brewing (a subsidiary of Shipyard Brewing) in May. “Fruit flavored beer and spirits are popular nationally and consumers are looking for innovative, refreshing flavors,” said Bruce Forsley, director of sales and marketing. 4.6% abv.

Broken Halo IPA. Widmer Brothers in Oregon launched its India Pale Ale the same week in history when Prohibition was repealed for beer on April 7, 1933. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 73 years of the freedom to enjoy beer than with our new Broken Halo IPA,” said Kurt Widmer. Hopped with Cascade and Columbus hops, the IPA was first offered as a seasonal, then a Brewmaster’s Release and now become a year-round beer. 6% abv, 45 IBU.


Dogfish offers ‘Off-centered Films’

Dogfish Head in Delaware has announced a film competition. Like everything else from Dogfish it will be a little different.

We heartily believe in the DIY-grassroots-david- beats-goliath approach. And now we want to give independent-minded, aspiring filmmakers the chance to let their own freak-flags fly by making their own films that celebrate the perseverance of the underdog!

We want to incorporate as many different, individual, vignettes of the ‘little engines that could’ into the world of Dogfish Head and we want to celebrate filmmakers whose visions jibe with our own. In addition to the copious booty we will lay on first-through-third place annual winners, we will show many of the competition submissions online and in our pubs and breweries as well. Our goal is to build a short film competition that is as far from the mainstream as our 90 Minute I.P.A. is from Bud Light. So what are you waiting for? Crack open a cold on, pour it into a nice snifter, and let it come up to cellar temperature while you storyboard. Sip. Brainstorm. Sip again. Write dialogue. Sip again. Cast. Sip. Make that film. Good luck. Cheers.

Dogfish already has “Off-centered Films for Off-centered People,” properly described “as anti-ads lampooning the macho, misogynistic posturing of the big breweries and their commitment to drinking everything ICE COLD!”

The brewery can’t afford to show them anywhere but its brewpubs and the Internet, but the downloads are easy and it’s equally handy to e-mail the spots to your friends.

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Stone’s Bastard Oxide

Catching up on this one, since we were away on April Fool’s Day. Even though Stone Brewing can be counted on for something outlandish on April 1 every year the brewery apparently still fooled a few folks with an announcement it is entering the energy drink market with a drink called Bastard Oxide.

According to the press release it contains a special compound called X-Metal Complex. There are many more ingredients on the mock label the brewery created.

And then there is the warning not to drink Bastard Oxide “in an open space during an electric storm.”

Great fun.


They didn’t like the beer

Anheuser-Busch recently and quietly – we haven’t seen a press release – rolled out a beer called Wild Hop.

The San Francisco Chronicle invited two representatives from Whole Foods to join in a blind tasting, given that Whole Foods is the kind of store Anheuser-Busch hopes will sell Wild Hop.

Wild Hop finished last in the tasting, while Caledonian Golden Promise was first.

(Cyrus) Kayvan, who correctly identified it though he’d never tasted it before, called it “bitter, malty and watery.” (Forrest) Allen’s notes read “manure, very weak.” (Linda) Murphy detected “marzipan, fruity, piney” notes, and said the lager was “thin on entry and shallow on palate.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.


The Beer Hunter holds his own

Jay Brooks reviews Michael Jackson’s appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

Jay gets it somewhat right when he notes, “Conan and the two previous guests were, I thought, quite rude at times to Michael and the entire segment could be seen as a metaphor for the general ignorance of the public about beer.”

Actually, it seemed that Lucy Liu was mostly putting up with Jon Lovitz, who was a jerk. Conan could have posed better questions but was civil – particularly compared to the audience, which takes us back to the point of the attitude toward beer by the general public. Jackson last appeared on O’Brien’s show more than seven years ago and you wonder how much progress thas been made in the interim.

On the other hand, if it weren’t beer then Jackson likely would not have been there. Correct us if we’re wrong, but do food writers go on this show or wine writers? Jackson was invited because he is a professional beer drinker, and who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Did O’Brien even mention that the Beer Hunter was in town to sign books at Whisky Live New York? Or that Jackson has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for his book Whiskey?

Three books in the world were nominated, but Jackson was on Late Night with five beers in front of him and reminding people to visit because of beer. Yes, beer deserves more respect – but it has appeal, and there’s much to be said for that.


Beer Hunter and Conan, Round II

Great Beers of BelgiumIt’s been more than seven years since Michael Jackson, aka The Beer Hunter, appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien but we still remember how much fun that was and look forward to an appearance tomorrow (April 5) night.

Jackson will be discussing beer (of course), perhaps whisky and certainly the release of the latest version of “The Great Beers of Belgium,” the fifth fully revised and expanded edition of the book, including more than 300 new photographs.

As the last time he appeared on Late Night, Jackson will be taking beers for O’Brien to taste. Look closely and you might catch a glimpse of the first labels for the Lost Abbey brand from Port Brewing, including one for Avant Garde.