New beer Friday

Old Dominion Monk CzechDominion Brewing in Delaware and Dawson’s Liquors in Maryland have collaborated on a beer they call Monk Czech, a Czech Pilsner inspired Belgian-style Ale. A press release states there’s a legend that a beer like this was first brewed in 1840 using black market malt smuggled out of Plzeň by monks. This brewer/retailer collaboration utilizes Saaz, Tradition, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops and pilsner malt for a 5.2% ABV beer with 45 IBUs. The beer is fermented with a Belgian yeast, imparting fruity aromas and flavors, as well as a restrained spiciness.

– Kona Brewing in Hawaii has renamed Wailua Wheat, simply calling it Wailua Ale and making it available in all 36 states where Kona beers are sold. First brewed in Hawiia as Kiliko’i Wheat, the beer is made with real passion fruit. It contains 5.4% ABV and 15 IBUs.

– Full Sail Brewing made Pacific Northwest Wit using the hops it received as a partner in Ales for ALS. The Hood River brewery is one of 38 participaing in the campaign that supports of the ALS Therapy Development Institute’s mission to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Participating brewers receive a special blend of experimental hops donated by both B.T. Loftus Ranches and Hopunion. From these hops each participating brewery brewed a unique beer, donating a portion of the sales to ALS TDI. “Our brewers got creative for a great cause and brewed a Pacific Northwest Wit. It’s a mash up of different influences resulting in a delicious, complex, refreshing pint that blurs traditional style categories,” said Barney Brennan, the company’s brewery supervistor. The 6%, 65 IBU beer will be available exclusively on tap at Full Sail’s Tasting Room and Pub in Hood River, Oregon.

– Having learned a lesson in 2012, Alaskan Brewing produced plenty more of its seasona; Alaskan Raspberry Wheat Ale this year. It took the brewery’s gift shop only an hour last year to sell out of the entire initial bottling. Brewers use more than 3,000 pounds of real raspberries in making the Raspberry Wheat, which in 2010 was the inaugural release in Alaskan’s Pilot Series. “There are almost fifty types of wild berries in the state,” said Alaskan brewer Jessie Perry, “so they’ve long been a staple in the diet of both Alaskans and the many bears that live here. Brewing a beer that features some of our favorite berries is a natural fit.” With additional beer on hand, the brewery planned to celebrate the release with a pancake feed, featuring raspberry syrup and special flapjacks prepared by its Brew Crew.


3,400 homebrewers headed to Philadelphia

More than 3,400 homebrewers will descend on Philadelphia next month for the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference June 27-29.

“The AHA National Homebrewers Conference is an amazing opportunity for beer lovers and homebrewers to come together to enrich their brewing skills, learn more about the craft and socialize with others who share their passion for homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association.

Seminars and judging the final rounds of the AHA National Homebrew Competition are at the center of the conference. The world’s largest beer competition drew 8,263 entries from 2,187 participants. First round judges sent 940 of them on to the second round.

The seminars — with up to four presentations at the time because of how large the conference has grown — include topics like Yeast Culturing 101, Practical Malting,Alternative Wood Aging Techniques, and Beers of our Founding Fathers.

The conference sold out in 20 hours after tickets went on sale in February.


‘Baseball bat beer’ benefits troops

If we call a beer made by adding hops to the conditioning tank “dry hopped” does that mean we should call a beer made instead by adding maple baseball bats “dry batted”?

However you describe Homefront IPA, all proceeds from the beer will be donated to Operation Homefront, a national group that provides emergency financial assistance to military families.

Nine different brewers collaborated to create Homefront IPA, all using the same recipe, complete with orange peel and unfinished maple Louisville Sluggers. Participating breweries include Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla., Sly Fox Brewing Co. in Pottstown, Pa., Perennial Artisan Ales in St. Louis, 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, the Phoenix Ale Brewery in Phoenix, Left Hand Brewing Co. in Longmont, Colo., and Stone Brewing Co., in Escondido, Calif. The official release date is Memorial Day. The breweries will sell the beer in bottles and kegs in their areas, with all proceeds being donated to local chapters of the charity.

The Hops for Heroes project began in 2011 when Chris Ray, who since founded his own brewery, was pitching for the Seattle Mariners. A home brewer at the time, Ray wanted to partner with a local brewery to create a charity beer. Together with Fremont Brewing Co. in Seattle and his brother, Phil, they developed the recipe and chose the charity Operation Homefront.

Last year, the project helped raise $165,000. After the beer is brewed, the bats are dried and auctioned off.


New beer Friday

Shmalz Brewing has introduced the Hops In HE’BREW Hoppy Variety Pack, made up of Genesis Dry-Hopped Session Ale, Hop Manna IPA, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. and HE’BREW’s first seasonal lager — David’s Slingshot Hoppy Summer Lager.

“It’s fascinating how craft beer is surging while big beer companies are trying to catch up by marketing look-alike ‘craft’ beers,” said Shmaltz founder Jeremy Cowan. “Our first HE’BREW lager, David’s Slingshot, is our way of stepping into the action in mainstream settings — with an obvious signature Shmaltz style — our chosen shtick!”

Dominion Brewing Pinup Variety PackDominion Brewing has released a Pinup Pack, a variety 12-pack containing three of its popular Bomber Girls. The Pinup Pack contains Double D IPA, Morning Glory Espresso Stout and GiGi’s Farmhouse Ale. Originally bottled in 22-ounce bombers last year, Double D and Morning Glory made the switch to 12-ounce bottles earlier in the year. GiGi joins them in the 12-ounce format exclusively for the Pinup Pack. She will be replaced by Candi, a Belgian Tripel, in September. “Our goal with the Pinup Pack is to introduce more people to Double D, Glory and GiGi,” Jim Lutz, president of Forham and Dominion Brewing, said. The variety pack gives us a great platform to showcase each beer’s unique personality.”

Terrapin Beer Co. has packaged its first beer in cans, RecreationAle, a hopped-up session-strength beer. To emphasize how well cans go with outdoor activities, Terrapin is partnering with Osprey Packs. An online raffle (details here) offering consumers the chance to win an Osprey backpack will open in early June, coinciding with the beer’s release. Each month, four winners will take home an Osprey pack. RecreationalAle is a 4.7% ABV beer with 42 bitterness units, and made with all “new world” hops — Bravo, Centennial, Zythos, Amarillo, and Galaxy.

F.X. Matt Brewing has added two new beers to the Saranac 12 Beers of Summer package. They are Wild Hop Pils 5.2% ABV, 28 IBU), which is made with Belma hops, found growing wild on a hop farm in Washington, and Session Ale (4.5% ABV, 30 IBU).


German brewers point to dangers of fracking

German brewers say that fracking endangers the purity of their country’s beer.

They have urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to block the tapping of shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking). The Association of German Breweries said current proposals related to fracking are inadequate to protect drinking water.

“We are concerned that fracking endangers the brewing water that more than half of Germany’s breweries take from private wells,” Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, a spokesman for the group, told Bloomburg. “And that it threatens our absolutely pure beer.” The association has sent a letter voicing its concerns to six Cabinet ministers including Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, he said.

Merkel has agreed on draft legislation in her coalition that would outlaw fracking in some areas. It remains unclear whether a law can be passed before the election, Altmaier said.

Germany’s brewers point to what they say is the oldest food-safety regulation in the world to justify their concerns about fracking. The Reinheitsgebot was drafted in April 1516 at the instigation of Duke Wilhelm IV in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. The law states that only malted barley, hops and water may go into beer, with the later addition of yeast, which had not yet been discovered at the time.


Ohio’s Fat Head’s bound for Beervana

Ohio’s Fat Head’s Brewery, which makes one of America’s most celebrated India Pale Ales, plans to open a brewpub in Portland, Ore., one of America’s most celebrated beer cities.

Co-owner and brewer Matt Cole said Fat Head’s, which already has both a production brewery and a restaurants, signed a deal for a 13,000-square-foot space in the Pearl District about two blocks from Deschutes Brewery and Rogue Ales.

The brewery makes a wide range of assertive beers, led by Headhunter IPA.

“The Pearl District is a pretty hip area right in downtown Portland,” Cole told the Akron Beacon Journal’s website.

The brewpub will operate with a 10-barrel system. “We want to keep the batch size small so we can keep the beer fresh,” Cole said. He expects the new brewpub will open in the spring of 2014, offering 14 or 15 Fat Head’s beers on draft, along with about 25 beers from Portland breweries.

Fat Head’s also announced earlier this year that it’s looking to open a brewpub in Columbus.


Short hops, Alaskan Brewing drops Alaskan Pale

Alaskan Brewing announced that it will no longer offer its Alaskan Pale as a year-round release. The brewery decided to cut production because it cannot get the hops that make the golden ale unique.

“The U.S. Tettnanger hops availability, consistency and quality had started to become an ongoing issue for the past several years,” David Wilson, Quality Assurance Manager at Alaskan Brewing, said in a company press release. “With most hop varieties we are able to order based on the characteristics we are looking for in the taste and aroma, but because so few farmers are growing this hop, we have had a hard time coming up with the consistency we need to brew Alaskan Pale year-round.”

Hop geneticists have determined U.S. Tettnanger is an offspring of the English Fuggle hop, and it produces distinctly different odors than hops of American origin — such as Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo — that are currently very popular and more widely available.

Alaskan Pale is what’s generally known as a golden ale, but in 1987 was called Pale to offer a contrast to the only other year-round brew Alaskan was producing at the time, Alaskan Amber. The Alaskan Pale a loyal following, particularly in Alaska.

“We are always experimenting with different recipes, and we would love to find a similar flavor profile to the Alaskan Pale as many of us will miss this beer tremendously,” said co-founder Marcy Larson. “But we wanted to be honest in that without those specific hops, it will not be the same beer.”

Alaskan’s latest year-round release, the Freeride APA is quite different beer from Pale, with a citrusy hop-forward flavor profile.


New book: “Starting Your Own Brewery”

The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own BreweryBy the time you finish reading this two more breweries will have opened some place in the United States. (That’s only a bit of an exaggeration.)

Those who study The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery by Dick Cantwell will almost surely have a better chance of success. The second edition of the guide has been completely rewritten and covers, among other things:

– Business plans
– Financing
– Quality assurance
– Site selection
– Flooring choices
– Branding
– Raw materials
– Distribution
– Regulatory requirements
– Equipment considerations
– Sustainability practices
– Wastewater

Cantwell is co-founder of Elysian Brewing, which has three pub locations and a production brewery. Cantwell recently talked about the book with Eric Gorski of the Denver Post.


New beer Friday

Imperial Smoked Porter is the second in Deschutes Brewery’s Class of ’88 collaboration series, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of craft breweries around the country that were founded in 1988. Deschutes and Great Lakes Brewing developed the recipe together, then made versions at their respective breweries. Their year-round porters, Deschutes Black Butte and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, are among the most highly regarded in the country.

The imperial collaboration is 9.5% ABV, with 50 bitterness units (IBU). The two breweries both distribute in Minnesota and Illinois, so those are the places to go for side-by-side tastings. Meanwhile the best way learn about the beer is this video.

Firestone Walker Brewing used traditional German ingredients and West Coast dry-hopping technique to create Pivo Pils (5.3% ABV, 40 IBU). “Lighter beer styles like pilsner have been hijacked by industrial lager beer in the United States, and it’s time for craft brewers to take it back,” brewmaster Matt Brynildson said.

“A lot of pilsners have the malt element down, as well as the dryness and drinkability, and even the bitterness — but they lack hop aroma,” Brynildson said. Pivo Pils is brimming with aroma. He said he took inspiration from Birrificio Italiano’s Tipo Pils. “Ever since I first tasted it, I’ve been dreaming about making a dry-hopped pilsner.”

O’Fallon Brewery in Missouri has launched a rotating series of 4-pack 12-ounce beers this week called the Brewer’s Stash. The first beer in the series, Sticke It To The Man, is a darker, hoppier, 7.5% ABV version of the traditional Dusseldorf Alt style, according to the St. Charles County-based brewery. “The beer has a medium to full body, notes of caramel and toasted, nutty malt complemented with floral German Noble hops,” O’Fallon brewmaster Brian Owens said.

New Belgium Brewing’s newest Lips of Faith beers are now available: Paardebloem, the latest collaboration with Red Rock Brewing in Salt Lake City, and Pluot. Paardebloem brings together a diverse set of ingredients ranging from peach juice to dandelion greens. It blends Brettanomyces with New Belgium’s house Belgian ale yeast, and includes a touch of wood-aged sour beer and Grains of Paradise. Paardebloem pours a light, hazy gold and is 9% ABV. Pluot is a subtly sweet ale made from pluot juice, which is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. Pluot is light golden and 10% ABV, delivering fruity aromas and distinct esters. It is also created with house Belgian ale yeast and Brettanomyces, bringing a hint of spice and a malty backbone.


Small BREW Act reintroduced in Senate

Three months after the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act) was reintroduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 494, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) have done likewise in the Senate.

The Small BREW Act seeks to recalibrate the federal beer excise tax that small brewers pay on every barrel of beer they produce. Under current federal law, brewers making less than 2 million barrels annually pay $7 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels they produce, and $18 per barrel on every barrel thereafter. The Small BREW Act seeks to recalibrate that rate so that the smallest brewers and brewpubs would pay $3.50 on the first 60,000 barrels. For production between 60,001 and 2 million barrels the rate would be $16 per barrel. Any brewer that exceeds 2 million barrels would begin paying the full $18 rate. Breweries with an annual production of 6 million barrels or less would qualify for these tax rates.

“Small brewers have been anchors of local communities and America’s economy since the start of our history. In addition to making high-quality beers, craft brewers, including those in Maryland, create jobs and reinvest their profits back into their local economies,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance and Small Business committees. “The federal government needs to be investing in industries that invest in America and create real jobs here at home. With more than 2,400 small and independent breweries currently operating in the US, now is the time to take meaningful action to help them and our economy grow.”

“Maine is home to dozens of unique craft breweries and brewpubs that invigorate our economy by providing more than 1,000 jobs and drawing countless tourists into our state,” Senator Collins said. “In meeting with brewers across Maine, they always make clear to me how federal tax policy affects their businesses. This bill, which I support, would help reduce the tax burden placed on many small brewers across our country, allowing them to thrive, create jobs, and further grow our economy.”


Alabama last to legalize homebrewing

For the first time since the end of Prohibition it will soon be legal to homebrew in every state in the nation.

The Alabama Senate gave final approval to a bill that will allow residents to homebrew limited amounts of beer, wine, mead or cider. Gov. Robert Bentley’s office is reviewing the bill, but is expected to sign it relatively quickly.

That means Alabama likely won’t be the last state to “officially” legalize homebrew. Alabama’s law becomes effective as soon as Bentley signs it. The homebrew bill passed earlier this year in Mississippi goes into effect 90 days after Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill. So the Mississippi law isn’t official until July 1.

Although thousands of people in Alabama already homebrew, they’ve been breaking the law, in fact committing what legally a felony.

The soon-to-be Alabama law is more restrictive than many. It limits production to 60 gallons of beer, wine, cider or mead in a calendar year, compared to 200 gallons in some states. Those who live in dry counties or cities cannot homebrew at all. Small amounts (10 gallons or less) of homebrewed wine and beer may be transported to sanctioned competitions and craft beer shows.

“Homebrewing has been an integral part of the history of America, so it’s thrilling to know that soon all 50 states will support this growing hobby and long-standing tradition,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw.”


KC Pils sales will benefit Kansas City

Boulevard KC PilsBoulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City has renamed Boulevard Pilsner, put it in a new package and promised Kansas City residents it will share 10% of sales of the new KC Pils.

“From the beginning, we’ve worked hard to give back to the community,” Jeremy Ragonese, director of marketing, said for a press released. “The 10% for KC program takes these efforts to a new level, and allows us – in an even more direct and meaningful way – to express our appreciation to the people who support us and the organizations that make this city a better place to live.”

At the beginning of each calendar quarter, three charities will be selected from a pool nominated by the public. The organizations will have several weeks to help spread the word about their selection before a ten-day online public voting period determines the results. The top vote getter will receive 60% of available funds, while the two runners up will each collect 20%. The process will repeat itself every three months, meaning that 12 worthy organizations will receive funding each year. Consumers are invited to visit to submit nominations for future consideration.


A-B launches Stella Artois Cidre

Stella Artois Cidre will join the suddenly very popular U.S. cider market next week.

Adam Oakley, vice president of import, craft and specialty brands at Anheuser-Busch, said the cider category is seeing 110 percent growth in the United States.

“Stella Artois Cidre is designed to be savored and is very different from sweeter, domestic U.S. ciders,” Oakley said for a press release. “Stella Artois Cidre has the potential to change people’s perceptions of cider here, offering a refreshing alternative to white wine.”

According to the press release, “Stella Artois Cidre is a crisp, distinctive European-style cider made with apples hand-picked from wine growing regions. Initially it will be available in 26 U.S. states, with further expansion possible in 2014.” Sales to retailers begin on May 13.

Stella Artois Cidre will be fermented in Baldwinsville, New York, using apples picked from wine-growing regions in North and South America. It contains 4.5% alcohol by volume.