‘Running with the Devil’ kicks off Lost Abbey special series

The Lost Abbey has announced plan for a year-long series of special edition beer releases inspired by classic rock
anthems invoking Heaven and Hell. Each month the San Marcos brewery will release one new beer, culminating in December with a complete boxed gift set of all twelve. Each “track” released will be limited to a total of 450 bottles and available exclusively in the brewery’s tasting room.

The Box Set releases are divided into three collections of four titles each:
* Re-Masters – Barrel-aged spins of The Lost Abbey mainstays
* Re-Mixes – New blends created from The Lost Abbey archives
* Fresh Tracks – All new beers brewed specifically for Box Set

Beers will represent the full range of what The Lost Abbey’s brews, including fruit and spiced beers, wood-aged brews, sours, wild, and spontaneously-fermented ales.

Because of the extremely limited nature of these beers, there will be no general distribution of Box Set releases. Individual tracks, priced at $15 each, will be available exclusively in the brewery tasting room on a first come, first serve basis and will be required to be opened and consumed on premises to prevent unauthorized re-distribution. Empty bottles may be taken off premises but will include measures to prevent counterfeit re-packaging.

The first track, an ode to Van Halen’s 1978 anthem, “Runnin’ With The Devil”, is scheduled for release January 21, 2012. Details will be available on The Lost Abbey website in mid January. Subsequent tracks will be released the third Saturday of each month throughout the year, culminating in the release of the full 12-bottle packaged gift set in early December.


Texas judge gives breweries partial victory

Texas breweries won a partial victory when U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled in favor of Jester King Brewery in a First Amendment claim against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Sparks ruled that sections of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and the Texas Administrative Code are unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment. Among other things, the code prohibits breweries from letting customers know where they can find their products.

The code also required beer at 5% alcohol by volume to be called just that, while higher alcohol by volume brews had to be labeled “malt liquor” or “ale.”

However, Sparks did not overrule the TABC’s ability to prohibit craft brewers from selling beer to customers on-site, even though wineries are allowed to do that. The breweries will continue to try to get the law changed through the legislative process.

Jester King stated in a press release after the ruling:

“We were disappointed, but not too surprised, that Judge Sparks ruled against our claims that Texas’s disparate treatment of breweries and brewpubs violated the Equal Protection Clause and that its treatment of foreign breweries violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause. The TABC never gave any reason why Texas should be able to prohibit craft brewers from selling beer to customers on-site, while allowing wineries to do so, or why Texas should be able to favor foreign wineries over foreign breweries, and Judge Sparks did not speculate on why that might be. But the legal standards are different and more demanding for challenges brought under the Equal Protection Clause than the First Amendment, and we were unable to persuade Judge Sparks to strike down these discriminatory laws. We were encouraged, however, by Judge Sparks’s observation that ‘The State of Texas is lucky the burden of proof was on [the Plaintiffs] for many of its claims, or else the Alcoholic Beverage Code might have fared even worse than it has.'”

Founder Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold Brewing, the largest craft brewery in the state, added perspective.

“We are happy to see the silly definitions of ‘beer’ and ‘ale’ that the TABC unilaterally and nonsensically came up with be struck down. That has never made sense. That is really the only good news for us. The meat of the lawsuit from our perspective was denied, namely the part that said allowing wineries to retail and not giving breweries the same right is discriminatory,” he said.

“There is a hidden expense to this lawsuit for all Texas breweries. The TABC is now going to have to come up with a new way of differentiating between beers that are above and below 4% alcohol by weight (which roughly translates into 5% alcohol by volume). There are some retail licenses in the state that only allow the sale of beers below 4% ABW. In fact there are some counties and precincts that only allow beers under 4%. This part of the law is quite legal. Once the TABC comes up with its method for signifying these categories, we will have to change all of our labels. This is not an enormous expense, but will probably cost us at least a few thousand dollars. All Texas breweries are going to incur a similar expense.”


Anthony Stone wins Falconer scholarship

Anthony Stone of Boundary Bay Brewing has won the 2012 Glen Hay Falconer Foundation American Brewers Guild scholarship. This scholarship attracted a very strong group of highly qualified applicants from throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

Stone will attend the ABG’s Intensive Brewing Science & Engineering course. The course is designed for brewers and homebrewers who lack formal training in brewing science and covers all the fundamentals of beer production and quality assurance.

In making its final decision, the selection committee members were impressed by Stone’s work ethic, passion, and contributions to the broader brewing community. In the words of committee members, Stone “embraces his homebrewing roots in the truest sense, even teaching homebrewing at a local college.” Stone “continually demonstrates his hunger for knowledge” and “dedication to improving his knowledge base and to sharing this with others.”

The scholarship is a partnership between ABG and the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, a non-profit organization created to commemorate and celebrate the life, interests, and good works of Glen Hay Falconer.


‘Diary of a Part-Time Monk’ available

Diary of a Part-Time Monk, the book about J. Wilson’s beer-and-water fast last spring, has been released.

Iowan Wilson gained national exposure during his fast, after explaining his goal:

“Working to nourish their bodies through during the lengthy 46-day fast during Lent, the Paulaner monks of Neudeck ob der Au in Munich are credited with developing the doppelbock style of beer in the 17th century. Packed with carbohydrates, calories and vitamins, this unfiltered ‘liquid bread’ sustained the monks from Ash Wednesday to Easter, and over 300 years later, the rich history and quality of this beer is well-known throughout the world.With this in mind, blogger J. Wilson is embarking on a historical study, fasting on doppelbock for the same 46-day stretch that the storied German monks once endured — and live to tell the tale.”

Diary of a Part-Time Monk was published by Old Line Publishing of Hampstead, Maryland, as is available in retail outlets and online bookstores.


Search for Beer Drinker of the Year begins

Once again, Wynkoop Brewing Company is seeking beer resumes for its 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year contest. The 16th annual contest “seeks and honors America’s most passionate, knowledgeable beer lovers and ambassadors.”

The Beerdrinker of the Year wins free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing Company, a $250 tab at their local brewpub or beer bar, and has their name engraved on the Beerdrinker of the Year trophy at Wynkoop.

They also design and brew a special batch of beer at Wynkoop Brewing (with head brewer Andy Brown) as part of their winnings.

The three Beerdrinker of the Year finalists are flown to Denver at Wynkoop’s expense for an action-packed weekend that culminates with the Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on Feb. 25 at Wynkoop Brewing.

The event is open to the public and draws a standing-room-only crowd each year. At the event a panel of wigged & robed beer experts and previous Beerdrinker winners will grill the finalists with tough beery questions. They then pick the 2012 winner.

To enter the contest applicants must submit beer resumes that include the entrant’s beer philosophy and details on their passion for beer and 2011 beer experiences. Resumes should also detail the entrant’s understanding of beer and its history and importance to civilization, along with the entrant’s efforts to educate others to the joys of great beer.

Resumes for the Beerdrinker of the Year are reviewed by the nation’s beer experts and previous Beerdrinker of the Year winners.

Resumes must be sent by email to and be received by Wynkoop by no later than Dec. 31.


Nobody hurt in explosion at Otter Creek

A fermentation tank at Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont exploded Monday, but nobody was hurt.

The Addison County Independent reported that emergency personnel rushed to the scene to make sure that a second explosion did not occur.

Middlebury fire chief Rick Cole said the explosion damaged piping and knocked over two or three other tanks, but that there was no fire and the beer that spilled was mostly contained within the building. The explosion also blew a wall panel off of the side of the building between two outdoor tanks.

The company indicated it would resume full operations later this week.


Pelican Pub leads strong US showing at Beer Star

Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pelican City, Oregon, captured five medals at the European Beer Star awards. Judging was held last month and winners were announced today at Brau Beviale in Nuremberg, Germany.

“Europe is the home for much of the world’s beer culture, so it is truly an honor for Pelican beers to be recognized at the European Beer Star,” said Pelican brewmaster Darron Welch. “The many rich brewing traditions of Europe have always inspired the brews of the Pelican Pub & Brewery.”

Pelican won gold with Kiwandi Cream Ale and Tsunami Stout, silver with Surfer’s Summer Ale and India Pelican Ale, and bronze for Stormwatcher’s Winterfest.

Breweries from the United States captured 33 medals overall. American entries made up 11% of the 1,113 beers judged and won 22% of the medals awarded.

Deschutes Brewery from Oregon won two gold medals and a silver; while Boston Beer captured two golds and a bronze for Samuel Adams beers; and the Spoetzl Brewery from Texas won three medals with Shiner beers.

Brewery Ommegang, Firestone Walker Brewing and Alaskan Brewing were all double winners.

Complete list of winners.


Belgian Coast to Coast Toast in one week

Beer importer Vanberg & DeWulf has organized a national Coast to Coast Toast celebration to mark its 30th anniversary. Thirty years in, the founders note, “Ever and always our mission has been to support independent, family-run breweries and indigenous beer styles that express the spirit of a place.”

The importer is best known for the Belgian beers it brings to the United States, although its portfolio also includes “Honorary Belgian Beers.” The full lineup will be on display across the country Nov. 15, next Tuesday, as 350 or so bars, restaurants and retail outlets throw special events.

– The list of participants continues to grow and is available at Eventbrite. These include everything from fundraisers to beer dinners, tutored tastings to new beer releases,

– Mobile web app will unveil a Belgian beer badge on Nov. 15. To earn the Belgian badge Untappers need to try at least one “related” beer and share it on Untappd. Starting Nov. 15 and for a month, the Belgian badge can only be earned by checking in with Vanberg & DeWulf’s beers. Aspiring badge-earners have the option to be entered into a drawing to win a trip for two to Belgium sponsored by The Belgian Tourist Office and Delta Airlines.

– The company has designated #C2CT at the Twitter hash tag for the event.

A story at Great Brewers includes both Vanberg & Dewulf’s history and why the importer remains relevant today.


Fire interrupts brewing at New Belgium

A fire at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., interrupted production Monday but nobody was hurt and little damage was done. New Belgium is the third largest craft brewery in the United States.

The Fort Collins Coloradan reported the fire was apparently sparked by a worker cutting or welding on a spent grain silo. Brewing was shut down to ensure smoky air stayed outside the brewery.

The silo housed grain used to make beer. The spent grains are normally trucked to a nearby farm to be used as cattle feed. Simpson said the silo itself was being removed so it could be recycled and replaced.


Press release: Clips of Faith tour raises nearly $59,000

The press release:

Clips of Faith, New Belgium Brewing’s traveling philanthropic beer and film festival, recently wrapped up a record-shattering 18-city tour. The second-year festival outperformed last year, bringing out 11,000 people in cities across the U.S. for amateur short films, New Belgium’s esoteric Lips of Faith beers and food from local vendors. In total, Clips of Faith raised almost $59,000 for local non-profits. Over its two-year run, Clips of Faith has raised approximately $91,000.

At each Clips of Faith stop, all proceeds from beer sales benefitted local, sustainably focused nonprofit partners. Attendees help support local organizations while sampling hard-to-find New Belgium beers beneath the stars. Eighteen of the best Clips of Faith short film entries screen at every show. In addition, each event had a zero waste component, diverting, on average, 91 percent of the waste from landfills and encouraging alternative transportation.

“There is something extraordinary about bringing out a community to support the arts and their local nonprofit organizations,” said Christie Catania, Clips of Faith Manager-at-Large. “Watching inspired short films and sipping beer under the stars is a great way to spend a summer evening. This tour grew exponentially from last year, showing that people enjoy the concept as much as we do.”

The creative team at New Belgium Brewing reviewed and selected the films that went on tour and picked three filmmakers to visit New Belgium for the Ft. Collins screening. Those honorees were “Bottles” by Colorado resident Geoff Maddaford; “Tiny Day in Jackson Hole Backcountry” by Wyoming’s Tristan Greszko; and “Assisted Migration” by Dusan Harminc of Wisconsin. Honorable Mentions were: “BLOB,” Trevor Hawkins, Missouri; “The Millionaires Club,” Sam Nuttmann, Washington; and “Ski and Chalk,” Chris Dickey, Wyoming.


New beers: Black is back for winter season

Oakshire Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon will release its second Barrel Aged Beer under the label Hellshire on Nov. 12. Sales of Hellshire II begin at noon at the brewery in their newly remodeled tasting room and will end at 4 p.m. The second beer in the Hellshire series is an imperial stout that was 100% aged in Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels for seven months. A brewery press release describes notes of vanilla, coconut, oak and bourbon intertwine with the beer’s complex chocolate and roasted coffee character. It is 10.5% ABV sold in 22 ounce wax dipped bottles.

* Odell Brewing in Colorado will package Mountain Standard Time in four-packs this year. Named for the time zone in which the brewery resides, the Double Black IPA features hops grown on Colorado’s western slope. Cascade and Chinook varietals present a robust hop aroma and essence that complements the rich and roasty malt backbone.

Odell Brewing will host a “Mountain Standard Bash” on Saturday to kick off the brew and celebrate Colorado’s ski and snowboard season. The outdoor event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature samples of the brew, live music, food trucks, a variety of local ski and snowboard purveyors, and a screening of the Teton Gravity Research film, Under the Influence. The brewery will also raffle a custom Odell Brewing snowboard by Oz Snowboards with proceeds benefiting the CSU Snowriders.

* The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, which has only sparingly offered its Big Eddy beesr in the past, today announced the return of its Russian Imperial Stout, the first in a series of Big Eddy brews. In 2012, the brewery will release three more in the series: a Double India Pale Ale, a Baltic Porter, and a Scotch Ale.

The Russian Imperial Stout, only available November to January, is a deep mahogany brew featuring dark fruit, espresso and mocha character and finishing with toffee and molasses notes. The beer is named after the Big Eddy Spring, the lifeline of the Leinenkugel’s brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wis. since 1867,

* Narragansett Porter is back for the winter season. Narragansett Porter is brewed with Chinook hops for bitterness, Simcoe hops for aroma, black malt, pale malt, chocolate malt, Munich malt, crystal malt and roasted barley. Narragansett first brewed porter in 1916. It is 7% ABV and 28 IBUs.

Throughout 2011, Narragansett has expanded into a number of new markets beyond its home base of New England, including Southern New York, North Carolina, East and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Florida.


Weihenstephaner Vitus chosen ‘World Best’

Judges in the World Beer Awards chose Weihenstephaner Vitus as the World’s Best Wheat Beer and World’s Best Beer, it was announced today.

A strong, pale wheat beer, Vitus emerged from three rounds of international judging in the competition sponsored by Paragraph Publishing in the United Kingdom. Beers are first judged blind in Europe, the United States and Asia. Style winners from each region are then tasted against each other — again blind — to select World’s Best Style champions.

From these world winners judges later select the World’s Best Ale, Pale Ale, Lager, Stout & Porter and Wheat Beer.

Other World’s Best category winners were: Rodenbach Grand Cru (Best Ale), Samuel Adams Double Bock (Best Lager), Deschutes Hop Henge (Best Pale Ale), and Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (Best Stout & Porter).

The complete list of winners, both international and regional, is available at the World Beer Awards website. The results, with descriptions of winning beers, may also be founded in a downloadable book.

For instance, here is how Vitus — which also won the World’s Best Wheat award in 2010 — is described:

“Aroma of banana, cloves and wheat. Floral and citrusy. Palate of banana, clove and sweet fermented fruit. Fruity bubblegum, big spicy flavours. Medium bodied with a creamy texture. Full and warming. Lively carbonation and a long finish.”


Press release: Jester King sues Texas commission

The press release:

Jester King Craft brewery, maker of artisan farmhouse ales in the beautiful Texas Hill Country on the outskirts of Austin, has filed suit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). On Wednesday, attorneys representing Jester King Craft Brewery and two other co-plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in federal court asking that the case be decided in our favor.

We have sued the TABC because we believe that its Code violates our rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Under the Code, we are not allowed to tell the beer drinking public where our beer is sold. We are also not permitted to use accurate terms to describe our beers. We are often forced to choose either to label them inaccurately or not to make beers that we would like to brew. Under the bizarre, antiquated naming system mandated by the TABC Code, we have to call everything we brew over 4% alcohol by weight (ABW) “Ale” or “Malt Liquor” and everything we brew at or below 4% ABW “beer”. This results in nonsensical and somewhat comical situations where we have to call pale ale at or below 4% ABW “pale beer” and lager that is over 4% ABW “ale”. The State has arrogantly and autocratically cast aside centuries of rich brewing tradition by taking it upon itself to redefine terms that reference flavor and production method as a simple shorthand for alcoholic strength.

At the same time, the State prohibits breweries from using other terms that accurately reference alcoholic strength like “strong” or “low alcohol”. That means you will not be seeing any Belgian or American Strong Ale in Texas. Further, the State restricts the contexts in which we can communicate the actual alcohol content of our beers. We are not allowed to put the alcoholic content on anything the State considers advertising, which includes our website and social media. We are simply seeking to exercise free and truthful speech about the beer we make and strongly believe that the State has no interest in keeping you from knowing the type of beer we make, how strong it is, or where it’s sold.

Our claim under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, maintains that breweries, like wineries, should be able to sell their products directly to the public. Right now in Texas, we cannot sell our beer at our brewery. We can only sell beer through a retailer or distributor. When people visit Jester King and ask to buy our beer, we have to tell them, “Sorry, it’s illegal.” Brewpubs are faced with an equal and opposite restriction. They can sell beer on-site, but cannot sell beer through a retailer or distributor. Texas wineries on the other hand are allowed to sell on-site and through retailers and distributors. We are suing because the State has no rational interest in maintaining special restrictions aimed at limiting the sale of beer.

Finally, the lawsuit challenges the State’s requirement that every foreign brewery wishing to sell beer in Texas obtain its own separate license. Foreign wineries and distilleries are not burdened by this requirement. They may simply sell their products in Texas through an importer that has one license for all the wine and spirits it brings into our state. The result is that small, artisan beer makers often have their beer kept out of Texas by unduly burdensome fees.

When we started Jester King, part of our plan was to help other small, artisan brewers, from both the United States and abroad, sell their products in Texas. This is something that we remain interested in doing at some point, which is where our material interest in this part of the case comes into play. Our much larger interest, however, is in allowing Texas beer drinkers to have access to the beers that helped shape our desire to build an authentic farmhouse brewery in the Texas Hill Country and that have had a direct influence on the type of beers that we have set out to brew. Many of these beers are from small overseas breweries whose products are currently being sold elsewhere in the U.S., but not in Texas because of exorbitant licensing fees. We would like to have the ability to purchase these beers in our local market and would like for all Texas beer drinkers to be able to do the same.

We have chosen to pursue these matters in federal court after witnessing the lack of progress that has resulted from previous attempts to address the inequities of the TABC Code legislatively. During the last legislative session, there were bills aimed at giving breweries and brewpubs similar rights to Texas wineries, but these bills never even made it out of committee.

We cannot say how likely we are to succeed in this lawsuit. The State has only to show a rational basis for restricting our freedom and the freedom of beer drinkers in this matter. However, as long as there is a TABC Code in Texas that discriminates against and puts undue burdens on breweries both home and abroad, we will continue to do everything in our power to fight for a more just and free system for us and for beer drinkers in our state.


Trumer program supports local artists

Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, the maker of Trumer Pils, has begun a search to find the next Trumer Featured Artist. This program is rooted in Trumer’s longstanding appreciation for art, and designed to support and promote Bay Area artists.

“We are proud to produce our craft pilsner in Berkeley and appreciate being surrounded by the local art scene,” brewmaster Lars Larson said. “Our Featured Artist program allows us to give back to the community and help create awareness for local artists.”

The Trumer Featured Artist program dedicates an entire month to one local artist. Trumer Pils works to promote all aspects of the artist’s work by publicizing it in the following ways: sponsored gallery events, after parties at Trumer-partner venues, artwork on display throughout the brewery, social media awareness on Facebook and Twitter and a biography page with photos on the Trumer Pils website.

Recent Trumer Featured Artists include Adam Friedman, Brion Nuda Rosch, and Joey Piziali. December’s featured artist will be Brice Frillici. Artists interested in being featured are encouraged to contact the brewery by phone at 510-526-1160. More information is available at the Trumer website.


News beers: Session Fest, two from Dundee

Full Sail Brewing had a new addition to its Session family of beers – Session Fest. It’s a holiday beer that comes in a stubby little bottle.

“When we decided to brew a special Session for the holidays, we knew right away what color it had to be: Red (and full-bodied). Next, we considered what kind of head it should have. Bright white was the obvious answer. And as for the label? Gotta be green, right? So there you have it. A new Session all decked out for holidays, ready to spread joy and cheer. Happy Holidays to one and all! And have a good Session,” said Irene Firmat, Full Sail’s Founder and CEO.

According to Full Sail executive brewmaster Jamie Emmerson, “Session Fest is a Czech-style strong lager (gotta love the Czechs!) called polotmavé or literally ‘light dark or semi-dark.’ Brewed with 2 Row Pale malt, Munich malt, Caramel malt and Wheat malt, and hopped with a blend of Glaciers and Cascades, Session Fest has a medium-to-full body balancing candy caramel and full malt flavors that are underscored by a spicy hoppiness that provides a nice perfume with citrus and pine overtones and a long clean finish.” 6.2% ABV 26 IBU

* Dundee Ales & Lagers had added two beers, Dundee English-Style Ale and Nut Brown Ale, to its variety pack. Dundee English-Style Ale combines pale and caramel malts with Columbus and Cascade hops for a malty, slightly sweet finish. Dundee Nut Brown Ale is brewed in the traditional Yorkshire square fermentation style, with caramel and chocolate malts and Willamette hops, producing a round-bodied ale similar to those found in Northern England.

“Both English-Style Ale and Nut Brown Ale will remind craft beer drinkers of traditional tavern brews, and each has a unique flavor profile,” said lead Dundee brewer Jim McDermott. “English-Style Ale is 5.1 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and rates 17 on the International Bittering Units (IBU) scale, making it easy to drink with a classic, clean taste. The Nut Brown Ale has a 5.3 percent ABV and rates a 20 on the IBU scale. Beer drinkers will enjoy its rich taste and hints of natural hazelnut flavor.”

Making their debut with the new brews are two new Dundee label characters—a barmaid on the English-Style Ale and a squirrel on the Nut Brown Ale. “Dundee approaches craft beer in a fun, drinkable and entertaining way, which is embodied by the characters on our beer labels,” said Lisa Texido, brand manager, Dundee Ales & Lagers. “Consumers will be able to recognize Dundee on-shelf by its eye-catching packaging which features two new characters this fall.”