The best 10 beer cities in the world

MSNBC has a list of the “Top 10 cities for beer lovers,” which was compiled by

The cities are listed in alphabetical order so Amersterdam is first on the list and Sapporo is last (of the 10, still pretty heady terriroty).

Two American cities earned spots – Portland, Oregon, which is no surprise. And Burlington, Vermont, which is a suprise. Burlington is a delightful beer town and Magic Hat deserves the attention it gets in the story, but where is Vermont Pub & Brewery? After all, founder Greg and Nancy Noonan helped get brewpub legalized in Vermont and its impossible to overestimate how many brewer Noonan has influenced.

We’ll quit nitpicking now and leave it to you to answer questions like “If you were to pick one German city which would it be?” or “If you were to pick on Belgian city which would it be?”


Bryan the Brewer heads west

Bryan Pearson, well known in craft brewing circles for his award winning beers at Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, is headed to Colorado.

Pearson is joining Brewing Science Institute (BSI), which sells yeast to craft brewers across the country. He told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette he’s looking forward to “spending a lot more time in the mountains skiing and hiking and playing with the dogs.”


Wood and Barrel-Aged winners

Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago won best of show at 4th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer in Chicago. The festival attracted 71 different wood and barrel-aged beers. Twenty-eight different breweries, representing 14 states, participated.

Rock Bottom’s Clare’s Thirsty Ale won the experimental category, then BOS. The brewery has won Best of Show at two of the four festivals.

All the results.


Shouldn’t Dikta be a beer brand?

This is just plain wrong.

Lyke 2 Drink reports that Mike Ditkta has his own wine and that Mike Ditka Kick Ass Red and will retail at between $40-$50 per bottle.

Ditka has become a brand outside of football. His name is on a successful Chicago steakhouse and on frozen pork chops, barbecue and steak sauces, and cheese spread. He also has a brand of cigars set to debut.

All that’s fine, but his own wine? Shouldn’t it be beer?


Study Break IPA

In the breweryColorado State University students got their hands pleasantly dirty when their Brewing Science and Technology class visited Odell Brewing in Fort Collins. The students worked closely with brewery founder Doug Odell to brew Study Break IPA on the brewery’s five-barrel pilot system.

“This was so much more than a field trip tour of the Odell brewery,” said professor Jack Avens. “The students definitely enjoyed actually brewing their own ale. Doug Odell has participated in my food science courses on multiple occasions, and has always projected a professional image of the brewing industry and enhanced our teaching program in Food Science at CSU. This is a unique learning opportunity in the students’ curriculum at CSU.”

“CSU and the local breweries are an important part of our community. It was great to see the students brewing on our five-barrel system. I wish the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department offered the class when I was at CSU,” said Brendan McGivney, head of production at Odell Brewing.

Study Break IPA will be available in the Odell Brewing Tasting Room soon.


More success for smaller guys

The Denver Post profiles Jeff Coleman and Distinguished Brands, the importing company her runs.

The story reminds us of the role the big players play in the beer buisness. The three largest brewers in American bre 81% of the beer sold here. The top five importers accounted for almost 80% of the more than 25 million barrels of imported beer sold in 2005.

DBI is definitely one of the little guys (seeling comparable to 47,000 barrels), but like American craft brewers its brands see sales surging: Fuller’s is up nearly 21% in the past year, O’Hara’s is up 53%, and Czechvar is up 36%.

archives archives

Put down the mussels and pass the Duvel

Philadelphia’s Don Russell (author of the Joe Sixpack column) has the second in his series about the relationship of good beer and good food.

Today he collects suggestions from chefs and beer writers, including descriptions that will make you hungry and thirsty. For instance, chef Sanford D’Amato of Coquette Café in Milwaukee pairs St. Amaud French Country Ale with smoked, oven-dried tomato and chevre tart with fresh thyme.

“This beer has a rich, deep red, ripe fruitiness with anise licorice hints that is quite delicious, but a bit heavy and cloying with some foods. With the tart, the smoked tomatoes swallowed up a good part of the sweetness of the beer, standing right up to it, and the combination of the slightly bitter smokiness of the tomatoes and the goat cheese’s acidity brought out a mid-range of delicious flavors in the beer that were barely detectable before. The beer tasted much spicier and the tart’s flavors were brought together. For my taste, each made the other better.”

As the authors of “What to Drink with What You Eat” write: “One plus one equals three.”


A reason to stick with beer

Here’s something to think about next time you come across that rare $20 a bottle (usually 750ml) bottle of beer in the store.

The New York Sun reports that Upward Spiral Is Seen In Wine Auction Market:

For the first half of the year, for example, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 sold for an average of $63,000 a case, according to the Wine Spectator Auction Index. At the Acker Auction, however, a casually dressed man with a shaved head paid a startling $155,350 for the 12 bottles of lot 523 — a 69% increase over the 2006 first-half average. Barely a minute later, the same paddle also won lot 524, a case of six magnums (double size bottles) of the same wine. It also went for $155,350 (including a buyer’s premium of 19.5%). The next day, at Aulden Cellars–Sotheby’s New York sale, a case of Mouton-Rothschild 1945 sold for $161,325. That price, far beyond the range of most wine-buying mortals, seemed like a bargain compared to the all-time high prices fetched for the wine at the Christie’s Los Angeles auction in late September. There, a case of Mouton-Rothschild 1945 sold for $290,000, while a case of magnums of the same wine reached $345,000.

The good news, the story reports, is that the market has polarized and bargains are to be had at less than $500 a lot.

We feel better already.


Adnams brews ‘keg’ beer

British brewer Adnams has produced a keg beer for the Punch Taverns chain.

Keg beer is much different than traditional cask-conditioned ale, also known as real Ale in the UK. This beer, 5% abv, is filtered and will be served on tap rather than through a traditional handpump or by gravity.

Jonathan Adnams told The Publican the launch of the beer, called Spindrift is in no way at the expense of the company’s cask ale portfolio.

“Adnams is dedicated to great cask conditioned beer. It is our bread and butter,” he said. “But this beer is for people who have made the decision not to drink cask beer. We are seeing an increasing area of the on-trade where retailers have decided that cask is a non-existent proposition. This is a great beer brewed in the Adnams way.”


‘ Twist the Knob & Rub the Chub’

Old Chub stickBased on research Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado conducted nobody has ever made lip balm with beer and beer ingredients.

So they did.

“Chub Stick” is made with an array of natural, moisturizing goodies (sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, chocolate and others), Old Chub Scottish-Style Ale and the malts and hops used to brew Old Chub. It offers SPF-15 protection and sells for $3 a tube.

It’s available at the brewery’s website.


Beer rules

The “Brew” Blog, which is sponsored by Miller and reads like it, this week has a series about how the rules of the beer business are changing.

It features old rules and the rules that replaced them. No. 2:
Old Rule: Imports and crafts are exotic
New Rule: Imports and crafts are mainstream

Most of the attention still goes to imports, which had 6% of the market in 1995 and now command 12%, which are much like mainstream beers in taste and marketing.

Indeed, top imports Corona Extra and Heineken are taking on the characteristics of mainstream domestic brews. They spend millions on television. They’re sold in convenience stores. They’re available in large package sizes. And, bowing to U.S. consumer tastes, they’re available in light versions.

“Brew” has made all the rules available, so we don’t have to wait to read No. 4, for which the new rule is “No product, no image.” The idea is that there has to be substance behind advertising.

There’s no one path to differentiation. It can focus on the intrinsic qualities of the beer – its taste or other physical characteristics. Or it can focus on the extrinsic characteristics, such as its place of origin or the package. And of course, differentiation can be based on both.

Like, “We’re your neighborhood brewery and we make beer with more flavor.”


Anchor Brewing poster child for small businesses

The in USA Today reads Beermaker thinks small in big way, resisting urge to splurge on growth but could also have stated Anchor Brewing “thinks big in a small way.”

That would have suited Seth Godin’s, whose books Small is the New Big is a top seller at Amazon.

But new? Fritz Maytag has been doing this at Anchor for 40 years.

“Big is not always better,” Maytag told the newspaper. “Small companies like ours can still knock ’em dead.”

The point of the special section on “growing a small business” is that it’s OK to stay small. Anybody who has consumed an Anchor beer or two already knows that.

Bo Burlingham, author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, says Anchor is a rare company with real character and “corporate mojo — the business equivalent of charisma.”


Seeing red over Guinness Red

Guinness plans to test market a new beer called Guinness Red.

Stephen Beaumont doesn’t think much of the idea.

Listen, Diageo, I know that sales of Guinness are falling in Ireland and the U.K., at least according to my sources, and that you likely want to find some way to buoy them up. But believe me, this ain’t it!

His explanation at World of Beer.


Beer history vs. nostalgia

The New York Times (free registration) makes an interesting pairing today in Books of the Times, reviewing Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew and Great American Beer.

Our three-part interview with Ogle sparked chatter on various discussion boards and e-mail lists about how complicent the dominant brewers were in the “dumbing down” of American beer and the role played by advertising.

Thus, the Times writes, “The perfect visual accompaniment to Ms. Ogle’s history is Christopher O’Hara’s ‘Great American Beer,” a 21-gun salute to 50 beers that “shaped the 20th century.'” Though a rather thin 128 pages the books is packed with photos of advertisements.

Immersing ourselves fully in beer nostalgia reminds us of where we’ve been, but tell us little about where beer is headed in the 21st century. Ogle’s book, on the other hand, shows us that history may provide a better hints of what’s in the future.