Three New Beer Glasses

The Spigelau Crystal Glass Company, first mentioned in 1521 and now a subsidiary of Riedel, has introduced tree new crystal glasses designed specifically for beer. The brochure describes them like this.

Throughout the world, there is a fast growing range of different beers just waiting to be discovered. In order to get most out of the characteristics of beer (appearance, aroma, taste, finish) it is essential to choose the right glass.

To cover all these aspects, we at Spiegelau used our expertise and 500 years experience in making crystal to develop three elegant, especially thin blown beer glasses matching the world‘s most common beer styles.

Spiegelau Beer Classics

According their literature, the tulip glass is designed for pilsners and Belgian style ales, saying the “open mouth allows for an intense release of flavours.” The half-liter glass is meant for pale lagers, ales, English strong ales and German Helles, further claiming that “being slightly wider at the mouth than at the foot, this glass properly presents the typical flavours and aromatics” in those styles. Finally, the “tall glass accentuates the aromas and flavours naturally found in wheat beers. It requires a slow gentle pour at the beginning and when the beer is almost full, a more direct pour to create a thick, creamy foam.” They suggest it should be used for German wheat beers, Belgian Whites (Witbier) and other wheat ales.


Hop Harvest Worth Seeing

The air was heavy with the smells of harvest as I drove north through the Willamette Valley towards Independence Oregon. The hop crop estimate for 2008 was released on August 12th and the USDA estimates a whopping 27% increase for 2008. I wanted to take a gander for myself and the Alluvial Farm, headquarters of Rogue Farms, was close by and I’m on friendly terms with the people there. I’d been to the farm before and toured the facility. Today I hoped to see it in action as hops were harvested and processed into bails of green gold, destined to satisfy the taste buds of beer enthusiasts worldwide.

Hop Field

According to the report, the Northwest is in high Hops growing gear. “Hop production in Oregon is estimated at 10.4 million pounds for 2008, up 9 percent from last year. Washington is estimating a 27 percent production increase and Idaho is estimating a 57 percent increase.” The report also mentioned “Yields are expected to be up in Idaho, but down slightly in Oregon and Washington. Growers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho expect to harvest 8,352 more acres in 2008.”

Hop Truck

I wanted to see for myself what the harvest looked like and boy did I get an eye full. I’m no farmer so don’t take my word for it, but the yield looked very good on the acreage I saw and the trucks coming in were stuffed to the top with heavily coned hop vines.

Hop Kiln

I documented the harvest process in my Flickr gallery and it looks like 2008 will be a very good year for beer.


Wildfire Brewery Name Doused

Bend, Oregon’s newest brewery is Wildfire Brewing, or at least it was, because Chicago-based restaurant chain Wildfire Steaks, Chops & Seafood recently sent a cease and desist letter to the fledgling brewery giving them six-months to change the name. And while the restaurant chain operates in only Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Georgia — and doesn’t brew beer — Wildfire Brewery owner Garret Wales decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

The Oregon brewery simply couldn’t match the cash of the well-established chain for lawyer’s fees. It’s not clear that the restaurant chain would have prevailed. The two operate in separate geographic regions with a wide gap in between the two and only the brewery makes beer, so it’s hard to see where the confusion on the part of customers might be. But the brewery might one day want to serve food, too, and decided to change its name instead.

Wildfire Brewing

According to Wales, the challenge now is finding a new name.

“Shoot, we’re going on the Internet and just typing in beer, or going to the thesaurus. Googling Oregon geography and seeing if there’s some landmarks that haven’t already been trademarked. Butte, or mountain – the river’s kinda tied up obviously. Seems like everything locally Deschutes has used already.”

So far, they’ve narrowed it down to five possibilities. But they’re also opening it up to customers, distributing fliers in their market asking the public to suggest a name. If they use on of the names submitted, Wildfire Brewery will give the winning submission a free kegerator.


Autumnal Ale from Redhook Debuts

Looking ahead to cooler weather and falling leaves, Redhook Ale Brewery will soon release its Late Harvest Autumn Ale, set to be on store shelves across the country August through October. With new packaging this year that continues to feature classic fall iconography including an owl and a full moon, Late Harvest will be available for the first time throughout the West Coast.

“Redhook seasonal craft beers are carefully blended to tie a robust, full flavor with a particular time of year. Late Harvest pairs perfectly with the crispness of autumn thanks to its rich complexity of specialty malts,” said Doug MacNair, brewmaster for Redhook Ale Brewery. “With our expanded distribution on the West Coast, craft beer fans across the country can look forward to this seasonal beer every year.”

Redhook Autumn Ale

With a roasted malt aroma, this chestnut colored brew will warm up any chilly evening. Distinct flavors cater to the craft beer lover, with two varieties of hops and four carefully selected grains, great for toasting the season alongside a grilled burger or other tailgate cuisine. Late Harvest is available in 12 oz. bottles and on draft nationwide.


Sidewalk Made Safe For Kegs

The city of Ames, Iowa, a small town in the center of the state, is also home to Iowa State University. Next to Fire Station No. 2 on Chamberlain Street in the Campustown area of town, the pavement concrete is chipped, cracked and breaking apart. That’s because it’s the traditional delivery and drop-off spot for all of the area’s kegs.

The city’s public works department knew the sidewalk needed to be replaced, but were worried that after a couple more years of kegs bouncing on the concrete that it would just have to be replaced again. So they came up with a more lasting solution. Next week Ames will install the first rubber sidewalk in town, which can take the constant pounding of full kegs. The sidewalk will consist of shredded recycled tires from a California company, Rubbersidewalks Inc..

Rubber Sidewalk

Making the world safe for kegged beer, one sidewalk at a time.


Wynkoop Names New Head Brewer

Andy Brown, a highly respected and experienced Colorado brewer, has been named the new head brewer for Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Brown served as the head brewer for Left Hand Brewing from 2003 to 2007, and was recently a brewer for Oskar Blues Brewery before joining Wynkoop.

“Wynkoop is one of the pioneers in Colorado’s craft beer history,” Brown says. “I’m really excited about setting a new standard here, and increasing people’s recognition of the Wynkoop as the oldest and biggest anchor of the Denver brewpub scene.”

Andy Brown

Brown was an avid homebrewer when he enrolled in the American Brewers Guild Craftbrewers Diploma Program in 1999. He graduated in 2000 and then trained under Dick Cantwell at Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle. He then moved back to Colorado and started his career in the state’s acclaimed craft beer trade.

Brown says he aims to boost brewing quality and efficiency at the brewpub, and add new beers and fine tune longtime house beers. All while taking advantage of the unique opportunities the brewpub’s brewing gear offers.

“Few brewpubs in the US serve as much cask-conditioned beer as we do here,” Brown says. “And the open fermenters allow a different flavor development during fermentation than the unitanks most craft brewers use. The large number of storage tanks here also allow me to make lager beers in the classic, slowly aged method.”

Mark Schiffler, a Wynkoop cofounder and current chief operating officer, says Brown’s hiring signals a rejuvenated attention to Wynkoop’s beer culture.

“Twenty years ago,” Schiffler says, “our original brewer, Russell Schehrer, set the tone for us with his focus on innovation and British-style beers. We’ve lost some of that focus over the past few years. These days we’re looking to raise the bar in all aspects of the brewpub, and Andy will help us reclaim our great reputation on the beer side of things.”

“Hiring a highly trained and experienced brewer like Andy,” Schiffler adds, “gives us the opportunity to elevate our beers and build on our legacy.”

Brown says he’s excited about the face-to-face contact brewpub brewing provides, and the location of his new employer.

“I’m really enjoying the brewpub setting and the contact with servers, bartenders and beer lovers,” Brown says. “Plus, I live just a few blocks away and can ride my bike to work every day now.”


Deschutes offers Gluten Free Golden

Deschutes Brewery is the latest to offer consumers a gluten free beer, its Gluten Free Golden Ale. A company press release explains that by using sorghum, brown rice and roasted chestnuts instead of malted barley or wheat the Deschutes brewers are able to create a flavor that is similar to the crystal malt used in many of their beers.

From the release:

Deschutes Brewery’s Gluten Free Golden Ale is a new and improved version of its Rootin’ Tootin’ Low Gluten beer, which won a Gold Medal at the prestigious Brewers Association 2008 World Beer Cup Awards in the Gluten Free Beer category, beating 12 entrants from some of the world’s best breweries. Although the brewery has produced a small batch of low gluten beer before, the Deschutes brewers were so fastidious in brewing this new gluten free beer that they not only double cleaned the brewing equipment, but also grew the yeast culture used to ferment the beer from a single cell using only sorghum as its nutritional source. The absence of wheat, barley and malt makes the brew a perfect option for individuals with celiac disease.

“We saw that there was a large group of people who weren’t able to enjoy traditional beers and we’re very excited that the release of Gluten Free Golden Ale will make great beer available to everyone,” says Deschutes Brewery president and founder Gary Fish. “The most important part about developing this beer was to make something that tasted really good – the fact that it is gluten free makes it all the more unique.”

Gluten Free Golden Ale will only be available on draft at the Deschutes Brewery and Public Houses in Bend and Portland.


The Return of Tastes Great, Less Filling

The beginning of this year’s football season will see the return of those iconic Miller Lite television commercials where sports figures, comedians and other celebrities debated whether Miller Lite tasted great or was less filling. The “Great Taste, Less Filling” tag line debuted over thirty years ago and was responsible for reviving Miller Brewing and pushing them into the second place spot, behind Anheuser-Busch.

Miller Lite

The newly created MillerCoors LLC is reintroducing the successful spots as part of a strategy to grow both Miller Light and Coors Light, both of which are behind Bud Light in the low-calorie beer sales race.


The Oregon Brewers Festival Turns 21

The 21st Annual Oregon Brewer’s Festival week started out for me on Monday with Fred’s 17th annual beer and cheese tasting at Rogue Ales Public House, and though the Brewer’s Dinner on Wednesday kinda gets the juices flowing, it really doesn’t feel FESTY until Thursday’s kickoff parade rattles the windows of downtown Portland.

21st OBF Cask

This parade of gregarious guzzlers, sanctimonious sippers, and insolent imbibers began in 2005. It started as a brewers lunch followed by an organized little stroll down to the riverfront to tap the opening keg. Enthusiasts joined in that initial procession and by the time they reached the river the numbers had swelled from a group to a parade. In 2006, due to a serious misalignment of the cosmic continuum, the parade didn’t happen, so the guys at Rogue Ales decided to put their considerable skills in organizing and loud obnoxious behavior to work to make sure 2007 would be a parade to remember. It was a well documented success and this third opening parade was Widmer’s turn to shine.

You might remember last year the parade started at Rogue Ales Public house and I got a month’s worth of exercise photographing, running, photographing, running…you get the picture…all the way down to the opening ceremonies at the waterfront. This year my wife, Bonne, joined me at the festival, adding her considerable photographic talent, and innate ability to run very quickly for short distances, to the event coverage.

As I mentioned, the host for the brunch and the parade leader for 2008 was Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. Bonne and I planned to attend the brunch at PGE Park, then photograph the parade all the way to the waterfront. We were taking pictures at the entrance when Rogue Ales Boss, Brett Joyce of and his gang of Rogue Monks approached, “Hi Banjo! Are you going to cover the parade?”

“Yes, Bonne and I plan to take pictures along the route…”

“You should take pictures from inside the parade!”

“Well I don’t know if…”

“Here! Wear this!” he said and someone tossed me a bag.”

This is how I came to embrace my inner Monk and ended up documenting the parade from the inside…inside a Rogue Monk’s frock that is.

My Inner Monk

As a writer, I enjoy a certain amount of anonymity as I stand off to the side, scribbling observations in my notebook, and snapping pictures here and there. Donning the Rogue robes opened the door to another kind of anonymity, the kind you experience when you lose yourself in a character. Though still recognizable as Banjo, mild mannered beer correspondent for, a few yards of cheap brown polyester transformed me into Rogue Monk, “watch out folks, even I don’t know what I might do.”

All 300 brunch tickets had sold out weeks before the event so there was a pretty good crowd waiting as our brown mass of monks took the field, many approached us to have pictures taken. It was a blast, and the parade hadn’t even begun yet. There were other costumed crusaders in the crowd, Widmer’s lemon wedge and glass of Hefeweizen scurried back and forth and the rest of their crew had on wrestling masks and capes, think Mexican pro wrestling. This is the team that would lead the procession, followed by the Monks. Their look actually meshed very well with ours. It was sort of like a promotional event for the Jack Black movie Nacho Libre and I was waiting for them to start yelling his signature war cry of “Nachoooooooooooooooooo!”

Masked Marauders

The breakfast was your typical egg, bacon, and sausage affair with plenty of Widmer Hefeweizen and Broken Halo IPA on tap. I’d barely finished when the drummers began to play and Art Larrance started yelling instructions. We formed up to start the procession and followed Art, the Widmer Brothers, and the Mayor of Beertown, Tom Potter, out of the stadium and onto the streets of Portland where the rest of the marchers joined the party.

Cask Leads

Somehow I ended up at the forefront of the parade, right behind the Widmer team and the cask. I was sandwiched between Rogue Nation members “The Bishop” and “Doc”. Doc and the Bishop had obviously thought long and hard about the visual statement they wanted to make during the parade. They’d created custom cat-o-nine-cap floggers with leather and beer caps for the purpose of stylized self flagellation on the parade route. What could be more natural than a little self flagellation during my religious pilgrimage to the heart of Beervana? Since I hadn’t brought my own personal flogger, I had to improvise.

The monk robe came with a rope belt, but that alone would not be harsh enough for a Rogue Monk, I attached my OBF sample mug to the end and gave myself a smack on the back. Oh yeah, that’s the ticket. I was joined by The Bishop and Doc and we slapped ourselves with the tempo of the drumming. I’m sure we made quite a picture for the smiling citizens of Portland as they filled the windows and doorways to cheer us on.


The parade was supposed to stay on the sidewalk, but, like the explosive growth of the Oregon Brewer’s Festival itself, boundaries couldn’t contain us and we spilled out onto the street to wave to the people of Portland and invite them to come see what real craft beer is all about. The Widmer masked marauders abandoned the sidewalk as well and brought the cask to the forefront of the group. The parade route distance between PGE Park and the River was quickly devoured by our eager feet as we walked towards Tom McCall Park and the official tapping of an inaugural keg of Widmer Broken Halo IPA and the opening of the 21st annual Oregon Brewers Festival where the ceremonial mallet was passed to another Oregon iconic brewery, Full Sail Ale, for the honors in 2009.


The Oregon Brewer’s Festival, founded by Portland’s earliest microbrew pioneers, Art Larrance (cofounder of Portland Brewery, now of Raccoon Lodge Brewpub), Dick and Nancy Ponzi (founders of Bridgeport brewery) and Kurt and Rob Widmer (duh!) has grown exponentially since its modest beginnings in 1988 with offerings of 16 beers from 13 breweries. That first year they expected 5000 attendee’s and received three times that. This year the OBF featured 72 breweries from all across the nation and drew a record crowd of 70,000 for 4 wonderfully mild days of beer quaffing.

Filler Up

OBF served 73 different craft beers from 18 states during the festival. The first keg to run dry from high demand was Cascade Brewing’s Raspberry Wheat. 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat wasn’t far behind. Widmer’s Full Nelson, an Imperial IPA brewed especially for OBF was also very popular.

Mustache Sally

I tried about half the beers offered at the fest over 3 days. (Hey I’ve only got a limited number of brain cells left to kill.) Here are some interesting brews I found.

Caldera Ginger Ale by Caldera Brewing Co. – Very light so the organic ginger spices and caramel malt come through. Nice summer beer.

Foggy Goggle White by Fifty Fifty Brewing Co. – Another interesting beer from Todd Ashman. A Belgian Wit that was a little tart, a little sour and all good. Clean and very drinkable

Calypso Ale by Roots Organic Brewing Co. – This self described “Hybrid” is brewed with organic red wheat, lightly hopped with German Hallertaur and inoculated with locally grown apricot and scotch bonnet peppers. Starts off as a delicious fruit ale, but beware, the hot pepper sensation comes on slowly and builds at the back of the throat. I would have enjoyed it more with the right food. I look forward to trying it again with some Mexican food soon.

Plinty the Elder Double IPA by Russian River Brewing Co. – Voted best beer by hand count at the media tasting and the beer I heard talked about the most at the fest. One of the most balanced double IPAs I’ve ever tasted. Plinty the Elder has a wonderful aroma that matches an exceptionally complex taste. Excellent balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness….neither dominated the other…but both are apparent.

Coffee Bender by Surly Brewing Co. – A favorite of everyone I spoke to and a gold medal winner at last years GABF. Eye opening and delicious, if you like the taste of good coffee you’ll love this American brown ale.


Well, a week of excellent weather matched with a fantastic lineup of beers chalks another one up in the win column for OBF. Of course great beer is always around in Portland, but nothing matches the ridiculous pageantry and just plain fun atmosphere in Beervana during the little fest we Oregonians think is best…The Oregon Brewer’s Festival.

Yea Beer

For more fest info check
To see all of the pictures from this year’s event, see my Flickr gallery.



Batemans Returns To American Market

Batemans Brewery of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, England will return to the U.S. market in September for the first time in a decade. Two of their beers will be imported initially: Batemans Triple XB (XXXB) Classic Pale Ale and Batemans Combined Harvest Multigrain Beer.

Founded in 1874, Batemans is one of the few remaining multi-generational family brewers in England. Now under the guidance of fourth-generation of family management, the Brewery has prospered not only on the strength of its flagship Triple XB (XXXB) but also by an imaginative expansion of the range of bottled ales. “Our family’s struggle to remain independent was richly rewarded as Triple XB (XXXB) was named Champion Premium Bitter at the Great British Beer Festival four consecutive years,” noted Managing Director Stuart Bateman.


According to the brewery, Batemans Triple XB (XXXB) is a classic English premium pale ale, with a deep bronze color, and a pleasing interplay between grassy hops and a solid malt backbone. Combined Harvest is a smooth golden ale brewed with wheat, rye, and oats in addition to malted barley. It has an initial sweetness that is quickly overtaken by a gentle hop bitterness and crispy fruit acidity. Both products will be sold in cases of 12-16.9 ounce (500ml) proprietary bottles, with a suggested retail price of $4.99 per bottle.


Teamsters Rally in Support of Anheuser-Busch Workers

Hundreds of St. Louis Teamsters and families rallied today in downtown St. Louis to show support for Anheuser-Busch workers nationwide in the wake of the purchase of the iconic American beer company by Belgium-based brewing giant InBev. Carrying rally signs that said “InBev: Keep Your Promises!,” rally participants, along with Teamster trucks, overflowed Kiener Plaza next to the famous St. Louis Arch.

“For more than a hundred years, Teamsters and many other hardworking union members have made Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch the great American brand that it is today,” said Jack Cipriani, Director of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Conference and International Vice President. “Good jobs like those at A-B help our local communities grow. They provide access to good health care and the promise of a secure retirement.”

The Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference represents more than 7,000 employees of Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. in the United States and Canada. Today’s rally was co-sponsored by Missouri Jobs with Justice and included speakers and participants from InBev unions worldwide, the St. Louis Labor Council and employees from all 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries in the United States.

“We are here today to honor all of the workers at Anheuser-Busch and to tell InBev that winning the loyalty of the workforce is key to the company’s success in the 21st century and beyond,” Cipriani said.

InBev has promised to keep open Anheuser’s 12 U.S. breweries and to retain St. Louis as the company’s North American headquarters. During the upcoming contract negotiations the Teamsters plan to press Anheuser Busch to agree to this commitment in the labor contract.

At the rally, Union leaders representing InBev employees worldwide including Europe, Latin America and Canada announced an agreement to form a global alliance of InBev workers through the International Union of Food Workers (IUF). Paul Garver of the IUF stated, “InBev workers worldwide are building a strong, unified voice to insure fair treatment at the breweries and in our communities.”

“Our priorities are protecting good-paying American jobs and their communities, as well as preserving health care and pension benefits for all workers,” Cipriani said. “We urge InBev to keep its promises to its workers and the great communities like St. Louis that helped build Anheuser-Busch.”

Hundreds of working men and women at the rally included long-time Anheuser-Busch employees, many of whom have spent their entire working life at the St. Louis brewery.

“I want to make sure that all of the younger employees get the same benefits I am going to get when I retire,” said Tommy Davis, a 30-year employee of the St. Louis brewery. “I just want InBev to keep their promises.”


Great Divide Drinking Liberally

The Democratic National Convention is coming to town — Denver, Colorado, that is — and local brewers are turning patriotic. Great Divide Brewing is releasing a single batch of Liberally Hopped American Pale Ale to salute the DNC.

This historic occasion calls for an equally memorable beer, and Liberally Hopped American Pale Ale easily rises to the challenge. This medium-bodied, light copper-colored beer features a truly empowering combination of Pacific Northwest hops to complement its all-American malts and ale yeast. Its moderate hop bitterness and refreshingly piney hop flavor and aroma come together with a smooth and subtle malt character to create a superbly balanced American-style pale ale.

Great Divide

“We wanted to create something special for the convention,” says head brewer Taylor Rees, “and we decided that of all possible styles, an American pale ale would be the best choice, in terms of both taste and symbolic value. It’s bold and flavorful, but still approachable and highly drinkable. It’s a populist beer that has plenty of substance; I can’t think of a better match for the Democrats in 2008.”

“Beer and Denver go hand in hand,” adds Great Divide founder and president Brian Dunn. “The convention will be a showcase for Denver, and as downtown Denver’s only packaging brewery, we felt like we should do our part to represent Denver’s world-renowned beer culture. Liberally Hopped is an excellent beer that should prove to anybody who doesn’t already know that Denver, among its many other qualities, is a world-class beer city.”

At 6.1% alcohol by volume, this classic American-style pale ale will appeal to a broad coalition of palates, and pairs well with an equally diverse array of cuisines. Liberally Hopped American Pale Ale will be available on draft only and for a very limited time at local bars and the Great Divide Tap Room.


The Beermuda Triangle

In the good beer town, Madison, Wisconsin, there’s an area on the east side with a great nickname: The Beermuda Triangle. According to a story in The Capital Times, the area is “formed by two newly refurbished bars and a popular brew pub, patrons can try a dizzying variety of draft and bottled beers.” Sounds like a fun place to go when you’re in the Madison area.


Celebrate Brother’s Day With the Widmers

By state proclamation and city proclamation, today is Brother’s Day, at least in Oregon and Portland, thanks to the most famous beer-brewing brothers, Kurt and Rob Widmer. On the Widmer Brothers website, you can upload a photo of you and/or your brother and send him an e-card. For every e-card sent, the Widmers will donate a buck to the local chapter of Big Brothers. So if you have a brother, let him know how you feel about him today. It just might help another brother or sister, too.

Widmer Brothers

The Widmer Brothers in 1984.


Tsingtao To Brew Outside China

As the Olympics begin in China, one of the most recognizable Chinese beer brands, Tsingtao, is announcing that they are planning to build a new brewery in Thailand. If that proves successful, America is likely to be the next location for a Tsingtao brewery. The reasons given for the move are to insure product freshness and to lower transportation costs. Though Tsingtao Brewery does a good job in their home market, it only has a small percentage of the international market. According to statistics provided by the company, it has an annual output of 5.05 million kl, but only 1 percent is exported, one-third of which goes to the United States.