Beer – er, water – cooler fodder

  • Bill Howell — a Sterling, Alaska college administrator, retired Navy officer, homebrewer, and beer educator — was crowned the 2010 Wynkoop Beerdrinker of the Year on Saturday. One of three national finalists in Denver competing for the 2010 title, Howell withstood 2 hours of difficult beer-related questions from a panel of national beer experts to win the 14th annual title. He wins free beer for life at Wynkoop, a $250 bar tab at his favorite brewpub (Elias Brewing Company in Soldotna, Alaska) and other prizes for winning the title.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing made its first batch of beer Saturday at its new downtown brewery. The brewery opened to the public months ago while work continued on its brewhouse. The new brewery has an initial capacity of 40,000 barrels. “I tell people who think we are getting big that it takes Anheuser-Busch two hours to make as much beer as we produce in an entire year,” co-founder Brock Wagner said. “The sign of our growth is that it used to take A-B just one hour.”
  • After 25 years as president of Sprecher Brewing, which he founded, Randal Sprecher is giving up the job of president. Jeff Hamilton, who’s been vice president and general manager since 2005, is the new president. Sprecher, 63, said in an interview that he’s delegating more work to Hamilton. Sprecher, who lives part time in California, said he devoting more time to developing the West Coast market. He also said he has no plans to retire soon. “I’ve got a ways to go yet, although I’m getting up there,” he said.
  • Left Hand Brewing in Colorado has a released an India Pale Ale it calls 400 Pound Monkey IPA. “Just when you thought that the world needs another IPA like it needs another virus, we’ve started to brew a year-round IPA. But this one ain’t like them others,” explained Joe Schiraldi, vice president of brewing operations. “It’s an English-style IPA that separates itself from the ubiquitous bunch. Any monkey can throw 400 pounds of hops in a kettle.” The beer is 6.8% abv. Bittering units? From the press release: “Well, it depends on perception versus reality, but a polite monkey never tells.”
  • Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA will be the next entry in Flying Fish Brewing’s “Exit Series.” Exit 16 bottles will be available by mid-March and will also on be on draft in limited quantities throughout the region. “Exit 16 is a fun, flavorful tribute to one of the Meadowlands’ indigenous food sources: wild rice,” said Flying Fish founder Gene Muller. Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA is named for the exit that leads travelers across the salt-marsh of the Meadowlands to the Sportsplex and Lincoln Tunnel. The beer is brewed with wild, organic brown and white rice, and five varieties of hops. It is later dry-hopped with Chinook and Citra hops.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co. has expanded distribution into southern Oregon, including Eugene, Bend, Burns, Coos Bay, Roseburg, Klamath Falls, Medford, and Newport. “We’ve had great success already in the Portland market and look forward to bringing our beer to new areas in the rest of Beer Nirvana,” said David Walker, Firestone Walker’s co-founder.
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