Thursday, 25 December 2008

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas from Shanghai!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Review: McSorley's Ale

McSorley's Ale from Unknown Brewery in Hong Kong
Rating: C+

Obviously contract brewed, but by whom? Should add that this is definitely not the same as the McSorley's Ale listed on BeerAdvocate, even though it appears there may be some business relationship between the locations in New York and Hong Kong.

Appearance: Red-tinted gold color, very clear. Some lace.

Smell: Light aroma, but including more roast than you would think judging from the appearance.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Flavor more reminiscent of a mild than anything else. Slightly incongruous continental hops finish and aftertaste, but grain and light roast dominate the palate. Fairly light body and carbonation.

Drinkability: Roast character keeps this 3.9% abv brew from being too light. Moderately drinkable. Anyone know who makes this?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Celebrity Homebrewer Revealed!

How's that for a sensationalist headline? Apparently, Friends actress Aisha Tyler has a hobby - brewing beer with her husband, Jeff. The couple has been brewing for more than a decade:

"We actually brewed all the beer for our wedding, which was really cool. It was like a peach-honey beer. It was a very girlie beer - I had to fight for that one. He was like, 'Let's make something that's made with coffee and dirt!' We put a little label on it with our wedding day and everything. It was fun."

Thanks to Admiral for the link. Incidentally, the site's automatic image selection for the story produced some bizarre results for me. "Friends" as a keyword is a little vague, I suppose.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Big Move

Apologies for the light posting lately, I've been packing in preparation for the big move.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be flying to Hong Kong, and then on to Shanghai on the 20th. Once I find a place to live and get settled in Shanghai, posting should be a little more regular again, although with more of a focus on reviews of Chinese beers, the brewing industry in China, and the beer scene in Shanghai. Cheers and 干杯!

Experimenting With Miracle Fruit

Yesterday, I experimented with miracle fruit, an African berry which masks your tastebuds' ability to perceive bitterness and sourness. I had read about the berry in a New York Times article earlier this year, and ordered my berries (in tablet form) from ThinkGeek.

I discovered that it is better to let it slowly dissolve on your tongue, rather than sucking or chewing on the tablet, and it is probably best to take two at a time. Once your tastebuds have been thoroughly befuddled, it's time to try tasting random things around the kitchen and see how different (if at all) they taste.

The best results (unsurprisingly) come from foods which are quite bitter or sour to begin with. Grapefruit tastes great, orange juice tastes like orange creamsicle and red wine tastes like super-sweet grape juice. Tomato sauce tasted very strange, and for some reason homemade vanilla and cinnamon mead tasted just horrible (it's usually very nice, really).

Of course, I also sampled a beer - Key West Sunset Ale. The hops nearly disappear, and the way the malt sweetness came out reminded me of a Double IPA, which may sound strange, considering it was impossible to taste bitterness. I would have liked to have tried more varieties of beer, but I have been slowly emptying my refrigerator in preparation for the big move tomorrow and had quite limited options.

It was an interesting and memorable experience, although next time I may spring for fresh berries rather than tablets.

UPDATE: For your viewing pleasure, a video from the "flavor tripping" party visited by The New York Times:

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Beer Drought Ends in Sudan

Twenty-five years of drought in Southern Sudan is about to end. After a quarter of a century of brewing being banned by sharia-following Khartoum, the semi-autonomous Christian southern region is about to get its own lager:
...the international brewing group SABMiller says it will launch a new lager in Juba in the south of the country in February.

"We will not only be consuming but producing alcohol. It's a serious political message of one country, two systems," South Sudan's Agriculture Minister Samson Kwaje told Reuters news agency.

The new Sudanese beer should in large part replace expensive lagers imported from Uganda, and compete with traditional sorghum beer (which I tried once in South Africa and will not be seeking out any time soon, to put it gently). Thanks to "Leedy" for emailing me the story.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Review: Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat from Boston Beer Company
Rating: C+

Despite its ubiquity, this is the first time I've tried this beer. Mostly, this is because we always gave a friend of mine grief for ordering it while the rest of us were drinking Double IPAs. Luckily, I'm drinking this in the privacy of my own home, with no one (but you, the reader) the wiser.

Appearance: Golden amber in color, with a big white head. Lots of small particles floating around. Some lacing.

Smell: Aroma is overwhelmingly of maraschino cherry. Nothing else has a chance. Not encouraging.

Taste: Much better than the aroma, anyway. Cherry in a big way, but more black cherry on the palate than maraschino, thankfully. Crisp wheat finish. Avoids being overly sweet, despite the overwhelming fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, appropriate carbonation.

Drinkability: As far as fruit beers go, this is pretty drinkable. Not my favorite style, nor my favorite fruit. Finishing the glass says something. This exceeded my expectations (granted, they were low).

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Beer Photo of the Day

The double take-inducing Fidel Murphy's pub in Grand Cayman:

(photo from Instapundit)

Friday, 5 December 2008

What to Drink on Repeal Day

Rob Kasper asks what to drink today, in honor of the repeal of Prohibition. My suggestion? If it was available in my area, I would be drinking Great Lakes Eliot Ness, a superb Vienna lager.

Unfortunately, since it isn't available in South Florida, I'll have to scramble for a substitute.

Happy Repeal Day!

Today is Repeal Day, the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. As you lift your glass tonight, give thanks for your right to do so.

To mark the occasion, historian Maureen Ogle has written two columns. One, in The Philadelphia Inquirer, focuses on how repeal was achieved. The other, in U.S. News & World Report, points out that the battle for individual liberty remains far from won:
[W]hen repeal came in December 1933, lawmakers celebrated with an orgy of regulations designed less to generate revenue than to maximize the barriers between Americans and alcohol. States, counties, and municipalities burdened manufacturers and retailers with complicated licensing requirements. Lawmakers separated manufacturers from the public by inserting distributors between the two. A welter of laws restricted the hours and days that people could buy drink.
Those restrictions persist to this day perhaps most invidiously in the form of the three tier distribution system, which surely must be the best way to explain rent seeking behavior to college students in way that is personally relevant. Far from protecting the consumer, the system raises prices, erects entry barriers for new brewers seeking markets, and perpetuates itself through the sale of political influence (financed by those rents).

Prohibition profoundly changed the nation's attitude toward alcohol, and its effects and echoes have not yet dissipated:
Per capita alcohol consumption did not reach pre-Prohibition levels until the 1970s and then only because the sheer number of baby boomers temporarily elevated it. In the 1980s, the national appetite for drink drifted downward again, prodded in part by a new generation of dry agencies and activists, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the federally funded National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Why not further the fight for freedom on Repeal Day? Support the Pop the Cap or Free the Hops organization in the state nearest you, sign a petition to allow competition in alcohol sales, or contact your state representative. The battle against Prohibition was eventually won, but the war is far from over.

BA and DFH Collaborate to Name Beer

The Alstrom Brothers and Dogfish Head are undertaking a collaborative effort to name a new DFH beer, set to debut at the Extreme Beer Fest next February:
...the Alström Brothers are scheduled to brew a limited release beer on December 9 with Sam Calagione and Lead Brewer Bryan Selders at the original Dogfish Head brewpub on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. The beer's creation and progress will be tracked and discussed online, named by members via a competition, served exclusively at the Extreme Beer Fest, and discussed during an education seminar.
This follows up on their earlier collaboration with Harpoon. The beer, typical to DFH's extreme style, will include maple syrup, chestnuts, green peppercorns and Korean corn tea. The first two seem like a natural pairing, though I'm less sure how the latter flavors will work out. I had given thought to using Korean barley tea, which is delicious, in brewing, but I have to admit I've never tried corn tea.

The brothers are now accepting name suggestions, which will later be voted on. The BA member who thought of the winning name will receive free fest tickets, two nights at the DFH "Brewmaster's Suite," and assorted other booty. I, for one, am putting on my thinking cap.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Review: Samuel Adams Boston Ale

Samuel Adams Boston Ale from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Rating: B+

Appearance: A pleasing amber/honey color, with a two finger head. Decent retention, sheets of lacing.

Smell: Very clean aroma, with some grain and sweet malts coming through. Continental hops in the background.

Taste: Very balanced and smooth. Grainy malts and a solid bitter backbone. Reminds me a bit of cross between an altbier and an English pale ale.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, appropriately carbonated.

Drinkability: This is an underrated beer. Sessionable at 5% abv, tasty, and well-balanced.

Welcoming Zima's Demise

"Leedy" passes along this article on Zima, with the comment "beer technology gone wrong:"
The brand was then hailed as a marketing coup, an ingenious way to sell beer—or rather, a clear, beerlike solution—to consumers who eschewed traditional suds. But virtually overnight, Zima was done in by its medicinal taste and girly-man rep: After selling an astounding 1.3 million barrels in 1994, the year it went national, Zima's sales fell to just 403,000 barrels in 1996.Many drinkers assume that Zima vanished shortly thereafter and has since existed solely as a punch line. But Zima actually survived for more than another decade, until MillerCoors pulled the plug on Oct. 10.
Good riddance. But how did Zima actually come to be?
Zima debuted in the midst of the "clear craze" of the early 1990s, when products ranging from Crystal Pepsi to Mennen Crystal Clean deodorant sought to take advantage of a vogue for (literal) transparency. Coors, then the nation's No. 3 beer-maker, hopped on the bandwagon by devising a simple process for making a clear brew—just filter your lowest-grade lager through charcoal (a process that strips away both color and taste), then make the liquid palatable by adding citrusy flavorings.
Amazingly, Zima lasted for fourteen years. If you were a fan, you can add your name to the 53 others who have signed a petition for its return.

Beer in Space

Barley cultivated on the International Space Station has been used to brew beer, in a joint project between Sapporo, Okayama University and the Russian Academy of Science. Only 100 liters of the 5.5% abv beer have been brewed, and they will be meted out "a few milliliters" at a time to lucky lottery-selected Japanese. A telling remark from the brewer:

Junichi Ichikawa a Managing Director at Sapporo Breweries says, "There's really no beer like it because it uses 100% barley. Our top seller is the Black Label brand, using additional ingredients such as rice. This one doesn't and is really a special beer."

That's what they focus on? This beer is made from space barley and yet the key point is that it has no adjuncts? American craft brewers, German Reinheitsgebot-compliant brewers - your beer is just as special as space beer!

Regardless, I'd love to try it, though I think I'd need more than a few milliliters to form an informed opinion.

Flocculation Shines Light on Origins of Life

Hugh sends in a Popular Science article on flocculation, a topic familiar to homebrewers. Apparently, yeast flocculation may provide a window into the origins of multicellular life:

A team of scientists at Harvard University reported last week that they isolated the single gene that allows yeast to stick together. That gene allows the normally solitary yeast cells to shield themselves from toxins in their environment by banding together in protective balls. Since one of those toxins is the ethanol that the yeast themselves produce, grouping together allows the yeast to survive in the alcohol-rich environment that results from brewing.

What's more, the gene has a built in social value system that prevents yeast cells without the gene from taking advantage of the yeast flock's protective sphere. That social control mechanism is an example of how single cells can regulate function in larger units.

"It does show that when these clump together, they do things they can't do as single cells," said Kevin Verstrepen, the lead scientist on the study. "You can look at it as a model of how single-cellular organisms can cooperate, taking a small step toward multicellular life."

Pretty interesting stuff. Also, flocculation is a pretty fun word.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Review: St. Peter's Old-Style Porter

St. Peter's Old-Style Porter from St. Peter's Brewery Co Ltd
Rating: B+

According to the label, this is an old style porter, resulting from a blend of "old mature ale" and a "younger light beer."

Appearance: Rich garnet color, quite clear. Big, very nice off-white head, with good retention and lots of attractive lacing.

Smell: Round aroma with nuts, roast coffee and caramel coming into play.

Taste: Coffee and toast at the front. Bitter dark chocolate at the finish. Slightly acidic. Hop flavors are typically understated, but bitterness is solid.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, a little too carbonated in my opinion.

Drinkability: Quite decent, sessionable at 5.1% abv. Jason Alstrom notes it would pair well with cheese and crackers. I hear that in a big way. Smoked gouda, maybe?

Great Shirt at ThinkGeek

Here's a shirt for the beer lover in your life this holiday season:

Saussure refers to this chap.

Beer Tasting in Shanghai

Some pictures of Saturday's beer tasting from Shanghaiist. Looks like everyone had a great time.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Homage to Homebrew

Boingboing celebrates DIY virtues with a homage to homebrewing, and amateur enthusiasm across the board:
As an amateur, you get to enjoy these small but noticeable differences. Homebrew has its own design goals, mainly exploring lots of variations that allow you to see how different beers can be. For instance, we've used fresh hops that I've grown when they're in season; we can dry the hops for use later in the year...

More serious home-brewers try to perfect a recipe and repeat it each time, especially those who enter competitions. But not everyone needs to have that goal. To cite a phrase made popular by Perl programmers, there's more than one way to do it. That's what makes homebrew so interesting.
I am proud to say that I have never brewed using the same recipe twice. It's just too much fun to try something different.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Review: Full Sail Amber

Full Sail Amber from Full Sail Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Quite fond of this style, let's see what Full Sail has done with it.

Appearance: Red tinted honey in color, one-finger head that fades fairly quickly, but leaves lots of lacing.

Smell: Appealing aromas of toast, ale fruitiness, and a very round hops notes. Really quite fruity.

Taste: Reminiscent of English cask ale in its fruitiness and balance. A little caramel, floral hops, and a crisp finish. Hints of toast toward the end, but not as much as I prefer in the style.

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel, light-medium body, appropriately carbonated.

Drinkability: Who says American beers can be balanced and sessionable? 5.5% abv and smooth, very drinkable.

Al Qaeda Wants You to Stop Drinking Beer

Remember, drink beer or the terrorists win. (via Instapundit)

Jet Powered Beer Cooling

I thought my counter-flow wort chiller for homebrewing was pretty cool, but Simon Jansen has harnessed jet power to cool down his beer:

Jansen set out to make the holy grail of many a maker: the homemade jet engine. In his Auckland garage, he welded his own combustor, bolted it to an old turbocharger, and added a leaf blower for air flow and a propane tank (sans regulator) for fuel...

Jansen's jet burned propane so fast that the tank rapidly iced up, dropping the fuel pressure. So he stood the tank in a tub of warm water. When a colleague remarked that the iced water could then chill beverages -- eureka!

If the same process could be used for cooling wort, he'd get double maker street cred. (via MAKE)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sybeeritic Readers are Over-educated

The erudition of regular Sybeeritic readers has now been empirically confirmed:

blog readability test

Movie Reviews


Mulled Beer for the Holidays

Via Lifehacker, some instructions on mulling beer during this holiday season:
You may have tasted mulled wine before, especially around winter holidays, but if you're an American reader you've most likely never drank anything but ice cold beer. For the better part of history people drank beer at ambient temperatures, and from the 15th to 18th centuries it was wildly popular to drink beer hot and steeped with spices and sugar.
This may seem like sacrilege, but don't knock it until you've tried it. While traveling in Bavaria, I visited a Weihnachtsmarkt where hot, mulled cherry lambic was being served. I was skeptical, but it turned out to be delicious:

UPDATE: I stand corrected. My Bavarian friend reminds me that the particular Christmas market in question was in Dresden - Bavarians would not put up with such foolishness.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Beer Crime Update

Time for another beer crime update, this time with tidbits of wisdom gleaned from each story:
(all links via Fark)

Guardian on Snow's Ascendance

Back in September, we noted that Snow had become the world's largest beer brand in terms of volume. The Guardian now has a story up on the subject, in which BeerAdvocate gets a mention:
Since it was founded in 1994, CR Snow, has grown from a regional brewer with a single plant, in Shenyang in the north-eastern Liaoning province, to one of China's biggest drinks companies.

CR Snow is a joint venture between China Resources Enterprise and UK-based brewer SABMiller, owner of Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell in the UK. It now has more than 30 brands and more than 60 breweries in China.

It remains to be seen, however, how much of an export market there is for Snow. Reviewers at the monthly beer magazine Beeradvocate gave it a D describing it as "unimpressive" and "extremely drinkable, like water".

Why couldn't they have quoted my review? (Via the MCLC listserv)

Shanghai Beer Tasting List

The full beer list for Saturday's beer tasting in Shanghai is now available in handy table form complete with BA ratings, thanks to Shanghaiist.

Glad to see the beer scene of my soon-to-be-adopted home thriving.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lolcats Love Beer Too

Via Hop Talk, a beer-related lolcat:

Reviving Conservatism With Beer

In the aftermath of the 2008 election and two terms of an administration which for many did not represent conservative or classically liberal values, there has been lots of discussion on how best to revive or reforge a conservative movement. What better way to debate the issues and the future than over a pint (or several) of craft beer?
The best idea I have heard so far is having lectures on conservative thought and conservative perspectives at a bar with great beer, and tomorrow night there's a particularly good one for folks in the DC area featuring Ed Whelan at the District Chophouse (I recommend the stouts, by the way). RSVP required, if you're interested.
I sincerely hope others follow suit - the brewpub as the new salon. I've had dealings with the ISI and have enjoyed the beer and food at District Chophouse. If my separate experiences with each are any indication, this promises to be a great event.

What beers might be specially brewed for such an occasion? Here are my own suggestions, feel free to offer your own in the comments:

Map of Beer Taxes by State

"Sammy" sends in this instructive map from The Tax Foundation illustrating state-by-state variation in beer excise taxes levied:

As a Floridian, I can confirm that excise taxes are just as high for other alcoholic beverages. Maybe I should consider a move to Wyoming.

UPDATE: Somewhat related, here's a fascinating heat map of gasoline prices, broken down by county, showing that most of the variation is attributable to state taxes, even more so than differences in regional blending requirements.

Monday, 24 November 2008

The New Yorker on Extreme Beer

The New Yorker has a piece up on extreme brewing. Sifting through the Sam Calagione hagiography, there are a few interesting things to share:
  • DFH now has a giant barrel made of palo santo, an intriguing wood "so heavy that it sank in water, so hard and oily that it was sometimes made into ball bearings or self-lubricating bushings... smelled as sweet as sandalwood and was said to impart its fragrance to food and drink."
  • A few choice quotes from beer historian Maureen Ogle, including this on craft brewers preaching to the converted: “When I talk to people like Sam, I’m constantly amazed at how persuaded they are that everyone drinks craft beer... If that’s true, why are they still sitting at four per cent?”
  • Garrett Oliver, the evangelist of session beers: “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life—are you man enough to drink it?,’ it’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had—are you man enough to eat it?’ ”
  • A pun-tastic sample lyric from Calagione's band The Pain Relievaz: “You’re the barley virgin that my malt mill will deflour”
  • And the head brewer of Orval stirring the pot: “Tell them that the brewer at Orval likes Budweiser!”
If that has whet your appetite, head over to The New Yorker and read the rest.

Review: Blue Fin Stout

Blue Fin Stout from Shipyard Brewing Co.
Rating: B

Appearance: Completely opaque, with a full light brown head which exhibits very good retention. Nice lacing.

Smell: Cocoa powder, with a bit of a burnt edge. Not a particularly aromatic beer.

Taste: Quite dry, roasted barley being the most prominent flavor. A little too burnt for my taste. More day old coffee than chocolate in the middle. Lingering aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, perhaps a bit overcarbonated.

Drinkability: Fairly average for the style. Turning the second glass into an ice cream float.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Random Beer Quote of the Day

"Therefore, by persistently tipping the stale barrel, Janos tapped the last mug of beer and then, with a show of strength, tore the barrel away from the tap, letting the remains drip through the hole into a dish, so as to save something for the enemy porter."

Review: Michelob Amber Bock

Michelob Amber Bock from Anheuser-Busch, Inc
Rating: C

Found one of these in my fridge today and was surprised to find that I'd never reviewed one, despite their availability as a dollar drafts at Tijuana Flats in Gainesville. Here goes:

Appearance: Pours a rich, honey/amber color, with a two finger head with moderate retention and little lacing.

Smell: Light, uninspiring aroma. Weak malt notes (caramel?) with an artificial air about it, somehow.

Taste: Not too dissimilar from Budweiser, despite the amber color. A touch more depth, but the aftertaste is so eerily similar, one suspects the same strain of yeast is used. Bitterness is moderate and appropriate for the style, however distinct hop and malt notes are difficult to discern.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, rather spritzy, sharp carbonation.

Drinkability: Light and easy to drink, even if you don't particularly want to. A marginal improvement over the big lagers, the high point of this beer is its wide availability and its role as a stepping stone for those who need to be disillusioned from their preconceptions regarding "dark" beer.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Tis the Season for Holiday Beers

My local Sun-Sentinel ran an AP story on seasonal beers this morning, which notes that seasonals are a growth category for brewers:
About a year ago, seasonals passed pale ales as the No. 1 growth in craft beers, says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, a trade association in Boulder, Colo.

"'What can I try that I haven't tried before?' is really driving a lot of the sales in the category," Gatza says.
So now that the holidays are just around the corner, what seasonals are hitting the shelves, to be snapped up by variety-craving craft beer consumers?
Winter: Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale are good bets. From across the pond, Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer is a stellar example.

From Belgium, try Corsendonk's Christmas beer, one of Russell's favorites. And if you can get it, Troeg's the Mad Elf, Russell's favorite Christmas beer, a potent offering brewed with cherries and balanced with spicy yeast.
Personally, I am not a fan of Anchor's Christmas offering, and I view Celebration as a year-round beer. De Ranke's Père Noël is a nice one, though I can't recall seeing it available in the U.S.

Beer Travels in the Capital

I have been traveling through the DC and Baltimore areas for the past week (which explains the light posting) visiting old friends who live and work in the area. Unsurprisingly, beer (as well as ridiculous quantities of good food) were common features of these reunions. Beer hot-spots visited included:
  • Brickskeller, near Dupont Circle in DC, where the selection remains unsurpassed, although service is spotty and "actually, we're out of that" is a common enough utterance
  • Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe, also on Dupont, a brilliant combination of bookshop, coffee shop, and bar, although the beer list seemed shorter than my last visit
  • Rustico, in Alexandria, although I did not see hopsicles on the menu and forgot to ask
  • and DuClaw Brewing Company, at Fells Point in Baltimore, where they have overhauled their beer list since my last visit in response to the hops shortage
No review notes were taken, I'm afraid - the company was far too good to be so pedantic.

Send Real Beer Over Facebook

Graduating from sending virtual gifts, you can increasingly send real gifts via social networking sites like Facebook - including, of course, beer!
An assortment of wine, beer, champagne, spirits and specialty drinks are available through GetThemIn from brands including Heineken, Newcastle Brown, Blossom Hill, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Courvoisier; also available are a variety of complementary snacks. (via Springwise)
I'll take analog over digital beer any day.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Getting Into the Spirit with Baijiu in China

On the heels of a tour of the Tsingtao brewery, a video showing on China's indigenous spirit baijiu:

Baijiu is rough stuff, clocking in at about 50% abv, and tasting like jet fuel. At corner markets you can get cheap baijiu in plastic squeeze bottles, best used as lighter fluid. The much more expensive Maotai and Wuliangye are "drinkable" but often counterfeit.

My stomach is turning just thinking of it - overindulging at a banquet with frequent toasting is a bad bad idea, as the guy in the video learns at the end... (via Shanghaiist)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Review: Sleeman Honey Brown Lager

Sleeman Honey Brown Lager from Sleeman Brewing and Malting
Rating: B-

Recommended by the guy behind the counter at the shop.

Appearance: Attractive amber/honey in color, with a one finger head. Little lacing.

Smell: Light malt aroma, with hints of brown bread and honey. Aroma falls a little "flat."

Taste: Calls toast with honey to mind. Overly sweet, but not as bad as the reviews on BA would indicate. Underhopped, but this is obviously a malt-focused beer so no one should be surprised.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Sweetness does become cloying half way through the glass. Not for hopheads, but if you're looking for an easy-drinking malt-focused beer, you could do a lot worse.

A-B Moving into Long Tail of Spirits

Just as large brewers have recognized the value of craft beer's "long tail" market, alcohol giant A-B is also making moves into the long tail of the spirits market as well:

The division's products include "Purus," an organic wheat vodka, and "Jekyll & Hyde," berry and anise liqueurs which come in nested bottles: niche market, low volume, high profit margin. Points deducted for slick but annoying flash website.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Nanny State Madness

Politicians are already bad enough, but what is it that makes them even less rational whenever alcohol policy comes up? In the UK, members of parliament are now calling for all sorts of statist intervention in the alcoholic beverages market in the name of public health and safety:

Pub happy hours should be banned and supermarkets stopped from selling alcohol at a loss in order to combat drink-fuelled disorder, MPs have said...

One possible solution for England and Wales, MPs said, would be legislation setting a minimum price on alcohol

Even the homeland of Adam Smith isn't safe:

In Scotland, new licensing laws include powers to fix alcohol prices to stop cut-price promotions and happy hours, and ministers in Edinburgh say they might seek to set minimum prices for drink.

Please vote these idiots out of office, especially chairman of the committee that issued the report, Labour MP Keith Vaz. (Via Fark)

The Folly of Picking a "Favorite" Beer

Lew Bryson has some poignant thoughts on why he doesn't have a "favorite" beer:
Say I had a favorite movie [beer]. I'd own [stock] that movie [beer] on DVD [in a kegerator], and I'd watch [drink] it, what? Three times a week [day]? Good God, how soon would I be bored senseless [bored senseless] by it. No, instead, we joined Netflix [go to the local beer bar] and we watch [drink] different movies [beers] all the time. And sometimes we watch [drink] an old favorite again -- like The Quiet Man [Augustiner Maximator] or Big Trouble in Little China [Tröegs Nugget Nectar] -- but not that often.
Exactly. I've always responded to this question with "which is your favorite child?" although that may be a tad hyperbolic. I would say it's much easier to pick a "favorite" beer within a particular style, say a favorite tripel, a favorite doppelbock, a favorite old ale, etc.

Craft Beer Tasting in Shanghai

What: Shanghaiist's Beer Saturday: Craft Brew Tasting at Southern Barbarian, presented by American Craft Beer Partners

When: Saturday, November 29, 2-6pm

Where: Southern Barbarian 南蛮子, 2/F, Area E, Ju'Roshine Life Art Space, 56 Maoming Nan Lu, near Changle Lu, 茂名南路56号,生活艺术空间E区2楼,近长乐路. Tel: 5157-5510

Entry: RMB 150

Includes: Unlimited tastings of select craft beers from America and select Yunnan finger foods from Southern Barbarian's menu.

The list of beers available includes some I haven't previously seen being offered by ACBP - perhaps they're trying to gauge what their next round of imports should include. Can't wait to get there in December, guys, save some beer for me!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Beer Photo of the Day

Today's beer photo, via Instapundit, of the Northshore Brasserie in Knoxville:

Beer Bottle Endtable

Via MAKE: Blog, a creative use for empty beer bottles:

Surprisingly, the table can support up to 200 pounds.

The Next Level: 100 Man Beer Bong

Brock, a fellow Gator, sends in this innovation in inebriation, the "100 man beer bong:"
The 100ManBeerBong is a party favorite at colleges, universities, sporting events, tailgate parties and large parties. You can buy or rent our beer bongs. We can also offer setup and delivery. If you have a party coming up or are always planning a party, we can make the party better with our 100ManBeerBong.
Good luck with the business! The advertising imagery is, err, very compelling.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Floppy Disk Coasters for Your Inner Geek

Hugo sends in these geek-tastic hand sewn floppy disk coasters, via Gizmodo:

This may be an appropriate time to point out that according to Google Analytics, 2.09% of visitors to Sybeeritic are Linux-users and only 40.52% use Internet Explorer, while 44.7% use Firefox and 11.55% use Safari.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Beer Bottle Bricks for Building

Via PSFK, stackable brick shaped beer bottles:

The glass bottle was designed so it could be reused as a building material - a building block to create walls, or other structures. Heineken initially came up with the idea after visiting the Caribbean, and witnessing tons of bottles littering the beaches.
The monk from the photoshop contest linked to yesterday would be thrilled.

World's Biggest Bottle Opener?

Is it just me, or does Shanghai's World Financial Center look a bit like a giant bottle opener?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Beer Photo of the Day

Thanks to M@ for today's beer photo:

"The moment before the boil over when making homebrew."

"Oh crap" is right - at least you're doing it outside, when I get a boil over on my stove top it takes forever to scrub off.

Beer Bottle Photoshop

A fun Photoshop contest on Fark involving a Buddhist monk in a beer bottle temple. My favorite entry:

UPDATE: More on this temple of bottles via MAKE:
Fifty years ago the Heineken Beer company looked at reshaping its beer bottle to be useful as a building block. It never happened, so Buddhist monks from Thailand's Sisaket province took matters into their own hands and collected a million bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

Lasko Club in this final photo of this Dubrovnik series of beer photos:

Thanks again to Admiral for all these great photos.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Review: Michelob Irish Red

Michelob Irish Red from Anheuser Busch, Inc.
Rating: B-

From a Michelob Craft Sampler pack.

Appearance: True to the name, a deep red garnet color, with a two finger head. Moderate retention, nice lacing.

Smell: Malt dominant, with caramel and maybe burnt toast. Slightly metallic.

Taste: A fairly well balanced beer - malty, but dry. Roast, caramel, moderately bitter. Not bad.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, lightened by fairly spritzy carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite a decent beer. Lots of roasty flavor in a beer that is still "light" and fairly easy to drink. Worthy effort.

Soju's Popularity on the Rise

My favorite Korean libation (surely better than Hite beer) is apparently slipping through some regulatory cracks in the U.S.:
Korean-American communities in California and New York somehow convinced state lawmakers that classifying soju as a “hard liquor,” as opposed to a “beer & wine,” would be a serious impediment to their traditional culture (that is if “traditional” culture means getting piss drunk as quickly and as cheaply as possible). Not wanting to appear as culturally insensitive, CA and NY state legislatures (the two most populous states in the Union) agreed, opening the way for soju to be as ubiquitous in Korean American ethnic enclaves as it is in the old country. At the end of the day, classifying soju as a “beer & wine” means that a business can serve it with just a beer & wine license...
At ~20% abv, soju is no more potent than port although it is admittedly intended to be taken shot after shot rather than sipped. In Florida, selling soju unfortunately still requires a liquor license as a particular Gainesville ethnic grocery store I'm thinking of found out the hard way.

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

A nice picture of a Leffe, taken at the "Hole in the Wall" bar, on the old city walls in Dubrovnik:

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Beer Pouring Robots

Beer pouring robots seem to be all the rage lately on Gizmodo. First, one made from Lego Mindstorms and Pownce and now a more advanced model, which looks almost ready for a bar near you:

Don't forget to tip!

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

Admiral's favorite beer of his visit to Croatia, Karlovacko:

Friday, 31 October 2008

Happy Halloween from Sybeeritic!

A happy Halloween to all, especially those who are passing out candy and drinking beer. Here are my beer mug and munchies for the evening:

UPDATE: A Halloween beer haiku from Beer Haiku Daily:

A terrible fright
As a Halloween blackout
cuts the fridge power

So far so good, no blackouts here.

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

Croatian Tomislav and Ozujsko beer, in Dubrovnik:

Thanks to Admiral for the photo.

"USB" Fortified Wine, Very Punny

A slight but amusing detour from beer:

By law, American producers of fortified wine cannot call their product "port" because it's not actually made in Portugal. Instead, they chose to call their wine "USB," with a stylized label showing the symbol for that particular (computer) port. And for extra geeky goodness:
The label maker, 6 West Design, also reveals that the USB-tree on the front is composed of binary code that translates to "Peltier Station."

Homebrewed "Superjuice" in Canada

A scary homebrewing related story sent in by "M@" tells of a viciously strong (and probably horrible tasting) beverage reminiscent of prison hooch running rampant among the people of Canada's "First Nations:"

Moonshine beverages such as fermented "bean juice" have long been common in the ostensibly "dry" communities, but superjuice, which first started appearing about four years ago, raises intoxication to new, dizzily dangerous heights.

The main ingredient is SuperYeast, a fast-acting yeast available in home-brewing stores. Mixed in a pail with sugar and water, one pouch can make 25 litres of superjuice in just a couple of days. The standard price of a two-litre bottle of superjuice is $80.

People drunk on superjuice are prone to violence, wild emotional outbursts, suicidal thoughts and frequent blackouts, Wood said. "With regular alcohol you can know what you are doing up to a point, but with superjuice you can't control yourself," he said.

This raises a couple of eyebrows. First of all, anyone paying $80 for this swill is getting seriously ripped off. They could set up their own operation for far less. You can get champagne yeast (good up to about 12-15% abv) or distilling yeast (even higher, but more than likely will max out around 15-18% abv) at many homebrew shops, usually for less than $3. Secondly, assuming this "superjuice" weighs in at around 20% abv, two liters of the stuff would be equivalent to roughly a handle of cheap liquor - which would taste far better, and cost far less than $80. Maybe it's a typo and they meant $8?

Whatever the economics of the particulars, it's pretty clear from the story that alcoholism is causing a lot of damage in this community. There's no question that the backward ghettoization referred to as "reserves" contributes to this, despite the good intentions of those who perpetuate it.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

Lasko Zlatorog (a Slovenian brew) and Ukrainian Kaltenberg Pils in a Dubrovnik refrigerator:

Thanks to Admiral for the photo.

Review: Michelob Porter

Michelob Porter from Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Rating: C+

Came out of a Michelob Craft Sampler pack. Poured into a SA pint glass - a confusion understandable given Michelob's recent ads...

Appearance: Quite a dark garnet/brown in color. Two finger sand-colored head with decent retention and nice lacing.

Smell: Fairly light roasty aroma. Hops come through more so than typical in the style. Hints of dark chocolate in the background.

Taste: Bitter chocolate and three-day old coffee.... but not in a bad way. Avoids the dreaded porter trap of tasting like Coca Cola.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body. Perhaps over-carbonated.

Drinkability: Moderate. Pursued the porter style while refusing to sacrifice the "drinkability" so important to A-B. Of course, anyone choosing this beer wasn't intent on slamming a twelve-pack of them anyway, so the merit of this decision is open to question.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Realizing One's Dreams Through Beer

Man realizes dream, builds beer bar:

"That's where I realized I wanted to open up a beer bar," Zepp said. "All of a sudden, I saw that there were 500 to 600 beers out there and I wanted to create a place where people would come and enjoy beer..."

"I am absolutely happy and there has been a 100 percent increase in my quality of life," LaFon said. "To be able to work side by side with my best friend and able to take something you believe in and make it grow, it doesn't get any better."

(via Fark)

Craft Breweries Per Capita

Hugh points out this great map of the U.S. on Wikipedia, showing the number of craft breweries per capita:

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont stand out. I'm ashamed to say my home state of Florida is embarrassingly far behind. Restrictive laws have a lot to do with this, throughout the Bible Belt. Anyone know what gives in North Dakota?

Student Brews Morphine Beer

A friend sent me this amusing story of innovation in homebrewing:

Chad Renzelman pleaded no contest to heroin possession, saying he used "a handful" of dried poppy pods to flavor a batch of home-made beer. Police found the batch of beer in his garage during the summer.

The organic chemistry student says he extracted opium from the poppies, which he then converted to morphine.

The 28-year-old Renzelman says the beer was for home consumption and he didn't know his actions were illegal.

Thanks for the link, Eric.

Video on Beer in Qingdao

Via Shanghaiist, a Current video showcasing Qingdao, that cradle of Chinese beer culture midwifed by German colonialism:

Beer Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik

A friend recently visited Dubrovnik, and took some beer photos featuring local beers which I'll be sharing over the next few days:

Thanks to Admiral for the photo.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Pushing the Boundaries of "Personal Use"

If you live in Sweden, you might manage to have 24,000 cans of beer declared "for personal use" by the authorities:
The couple has detained back in August 2006 when customs officials in Malmö stopped their minivan on the way back from a trip to Germany, reports the Pitea-Tidning newspaper.

An inspection of the van uncovered 2,692 litres of beer, 27 litres of wine, and 4.2 litres of hard liquor. In a subsequent search of the couple’s home in Piteå, police discovered an additional stash of alcohol, as well as a journal which included people’s names, along with different sums and types of beer...

During the trial, the pair openly admitted to having transporting the alcohol from Germany into Sweden, but denied they had committed any crime since the beer, wine, and liquor was meant for personal use.

Specifically, the booze was meant to supply partygoers at their son’s upcoming 40th birthday party, the wife’s 60th birthday party, their daughter’s wedding, a friend’s 70th birthday party, and for a New Year’s party.
The judge agreed. Bravo. (via Fark)

Beer Now Cheaper Than Gas

From the Freakonomics blog:

"Beer now cheaper than gas; Drink don't drive"

Monday, 27 October 2008

Beer Crime Update

A new crop of beer-related crimes this week:

Florida Bar Trades Beer for Votes

A Florida bar is giving free beer in exchange for "I Voted" stickers:
The HandleBar in Pensacola is offering a free beer to anyone who votes. Customers must trade their “I Voted” stickers for the free drinks.

The offer is good for early voters and those who vote on Nov. 4.

This is the third year that the HandleBar has offered free beers to voters.
A somewhat related story: at my university fraternities and sororities would require their membership to turn its "I Voted" stickers on the day of student government elections, forming a formidable voting bloc. One year, an enterprising agent of the "non-Greek" party simply passed out "I Voted" stickers on the fraternity and sorority row buses all day long. (via Fark)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Limits of Facebook Friendship

From The New York Times, drowning one's disappointment in the shallowness of social networking with beer:
The beer arrived, a British import: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I raised my glass in a solitary toast and promised myself I’d spend less time online. Then I took a gulp: the beer was delicious but bittersweet. Seven hundred friends, and I was drinking alone.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Review: Michelob Pale Ale

Michelob Pale Ale from Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Rating: B-

The second beer I'm trying from this Michelob Craft Sampler.

Appearance: Honey colored, with a nice two-finger head which exhibits excellent retention and lacing. Quite clear.

Smell: Very light aroma, disappointingly so. Seems to be a toned down version of a pale ale. I see on Beer Advocate it's classified as an English Pale Ale rather than an APA - for good reason.

Taste: Clean and crisp, but non-descript. Moderately bitter, smooth finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, carbonation a tad light.

Drinkability: False advertising - I can see this is an English cask ale, but as an ostensible American Pale Ale, it doesn't fly.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Review: Michelob Marzen

Michelob Marzen from Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Rating: B

From a Michelob Craft Sampler pack.

Appearance: Fairly dark amber, bordering on brown. Clear, with a nice two finger head with good retention.

Smell: Appealing toasted grains, spicy Continental hops. Clean and actually refreshing.

Taste: Lightly toasted malts, lightly bitter. Grainy finish. Aftertaste calls Budweiser to mind - same yeast, same hops, or both?

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a nice texture and smooth carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite drinkable, perhaps more so than the heavier Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Many craft beer fans will turn their nose up at anything from A-B, but I'll be honest, this beats the Hofbrau Oktoberfest I had recently.

Local Beer Tasting Results

This past Saturday, I attended a free beer tasting at my local Whole Foods billed as the "World Series of Beer." It proceeded tournament-style, two beers at a time, and those present would cast their vote for which beer of the two would move on in the tournament.

The beers included in the tasting were:
The overall champion was Dead Guy, beating Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale. Locally contract-brewed Holy Mackerel Golden Ale and Mac in Black were eliminated early. The women in the group seemed to like the two pumpkin beers and Old Chub, while men favored Dale's and the Rogue offerings.

Glad to see a local grocery holding this sort of event. It was obviously profitable for them - many of the participants could be found at the beer case afterwards, and it gave valuable information on consumer preferences. One quibble: larger sample sizes next time!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Review: Red Seal Ale

Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Rating: B+

Appearance: Reddish orange in color, attractive two finger head with good retention and plenty of lace.

Smell: Citrusy aroma, over some caramel.

Taste: Decently bitter, citrusy, and a bit of biscuit/bread. A little acid.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable, but seems a bit heavy. Good example of an American Amber.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Little Creatures Expands

I think I might need to plan a visit Down Under:
Little Creatures has been microbrewing for years, but last December it expanded its Fremantle brewery site to include the Creatures Loft, a cozy hideaway overlooking the water. Part supper club, part bar and part eclectic performance space, Creatures Loft offers customers an ample supply of comfy chairs from which to watch the old boats in Fishing Boat Harbour while staff serve up wines, classic cocktails and a wide variety of beers along with toasted sandwiches, oysters, prawns and cheeses. This summer the brewery furthered its expansion into being space terrain with a brand-new, 260-seat dining hall in a converted warehouse space in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Featuring long, communal wooden tables, large comfy booths and exposed pipes and beams, the barnlike Fitzroy Dining Hall offers all of Little Creatures’ beers and Pipsqueak Cider fresh on tap as well as a selection of wines and beer-friendly foods. A bottle department at the front, meanwhile, sells beer, wine, coffee and a selection of t-shirts and merchandise.
Little Creatures makes a great pale ale, and that sounds like a great environment to enjoy one in. (via Springwise)

Arcade Game Comes With Kegerator

Drinking and driving is dangerous and irresponsible, but drinking and playing a racing video game should at most result in merely a lower score:

This, my friends, is what you call asking for trouble: the new arcade driving cabinet Octane 120, from Dream Arcades, comes with a built-in keg-o-rator, with the beer tap placed conveniently on the dash next to the steering wheel. (via Gizmodo)
In fact, maybe seeing the deterioration in their playing ability may serve to demonstrate dangers of drunk driving.

Battle Between Good and Evil (Beer)

In perhaps the most amusing wrap-up column of the GABF, the AP's religion writer sees a cosmic struggle between the beers:

"It's the oldest story ever told — the struggle between good and evil," said Arthur, 35, a product of Catholic schools in his native San Diego. "There is a battle being waged between those who make good beer and those who make evil beer."

Without question, unholy excess is in evidence anytime 18,000 gallons of alcohol is served to 46,000 people over three days. See: women in Bavarian maid outfits and "Beer Pong" tables.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, God could be found at last week's Great American Beer Festival — in the crassly commercial, in homage to religion's long history in brewing, in needling faiths that turn a suspect eye on drinking, and (if the prophet of home-brewing is to be believed) at the bottom of every glass.

From Belgian ales brewed by monks and all the beer culture they have inspired, to Schmaltz Brewing Co.'s He'Brew, brewers have certainly embraced religious themes and imagery. They say not to talk about religion, politics or money at the dinner table - at the bar stool, the rules for one of those, at least, are relaxed.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Take a Cab to Oktoberfest

While there may be better ways to get there, it's somehow reassuring to know that you can just hop into a cab in the U.K. and be driven to Oktoberfest:
Hogan, 54, was sitting at a rank when the customer called Dave ran up and jumped in the back of his cab.

He explained he had to get to the Munich beer fest as soon as possible as he had missed a flight for his friend's stag night.

The trip wound up costing £1,950 - that, apparently, is the price of friendship! It's unclear if the cabbie was able to get a fare for the trip back to Portsmouth... (via Fark)

Beer Coming to Burger King?

Burger King may soon be selling beer at scaled-down "Whopper Bar" locations:
Whopper Bars are going to be smaller than regular Burger Kings and only sell Whoppers, "grab-and-go" products, and possibly beer.
Seems along the same lines as McDonald's attempt to get into the sit-down coffee shop business, though I'd imagine this roll-out will be rather more limited by local regulations. (via Insapundit)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Beer Bar Opening in Shanghai

In a piece of news that is near and dear to my heart, Shanghai is about to get its first Belgian beer bar:

Kaiba, part of the new 528 Kangding Lu crowd has also chosen Saturday 18th for their big opening bash.

When we last visited this place, word hadn't gotten around about their selection of 65 different beers- now we're told that Shanghai's Belgian community have taken up permanant residence so you'll have to get there early to claim one of the 100 beers they're giving away to early birds.

After the initial rush, a bottle of Duvel and 600ml of Stella Artois will be 30RMB each.

528 Kangding Lu

I can't wait to visit when I move out there in December, I suspect I might become a loyal customer.

Controversy Over iPhone "Beer" Apps

Earlier, I was surprised that two very similar "beer" applications for the iPhone came out in such quick succession. As it turns out, foul play may have been involved:
Coors faces a $12.5 million lawsuit for allegedly copying a $3 beer-drinking novelty application that allows users to virtually drink a pint by tilting their iPhone.

Hottrix, a small company that develops "tricks" for mobile devices, filed a lawsuit alleging that Coors commited copyright infringement by copying its iPhone application iBeer. Both Hottrix's application and Coors' iPint display the image of a glass of beer on the iPhone's screen, which is emptied when a user tilts the handset about 90 degrees. Both apps launched in the App Store on July 11 -- the major difference being that iBeer cost $3 and iPint was free.

Coors has yet to comment on the suit.

Christmas Lights Show Canceled

The music-synchronized Christmas lights show made famous by the internet and a Miller commercial will not be produced this year:
The Christmas light display that grabbed international interest over the last few years will not be produced this winter in Heritage Oak Park, though organizers hope a sponsor will pick up the popular lights show.
At $80,000/yr, I can't blame the municipality - maybe Miller will step up to the plate again?

Beer Cocktail for Oregon

A beer cocktail including IPA recently won an Oregon contest by a tourism promotion agency:
The "Hike, Fish & Go Camping Punch" created by Cheryl Meloy of Portland pairs Pendleton Whiskey with Terminal Gravity IPA from Enterprise, Ore., and huckleberry syrup.
Entries were to include local ingredients and represent an Oregon region. I have to admit I'm not quite sure what a huckleberry is supposed to taste like, so I'll have to reserve judgment. Any Oregon readers want to give this a try? (via Fark)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Final Presidential Debate Sponsored by A-B

Drudge is reporting that the final presidential debate of the campaign season will be sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. No link yet, but I'll update this post when more information is available:

What better way for them to shore up their credentials as an American beer before the InBev acquisition goes through? "This presidential debate has been brought to you by beer..."

UPDATE: Here's the story:

By far the most prominent backer is Anheuser-Busch, a debate sponsor since 1992. Not only does the beer company donate directly to the commission, but it also sponsors a hospitality tent at each debate, where members of the news media and others who are working can receive free food, beer and other refreshments.

“We hope our hospitality area will provide a welcome opportunity to relax with some great food and ice-cold beverages,” said an Anheuser-Busch invitation to the tent. “If you’re looking for a little entertainment, you’ll be able to watch some of our latest television spots and enter a drawing for a chance to win a Budweiser fire pit, perfect for outdoor gatherings this fall.”
Of course there are whiners:
“We are very concerned,” said George Farah, executive director at Open Debates, a nonpartisan group critical of the commission. “We don’t think that this most sacred forum should be brought to you by Anheuser-Busch.”

Oktoberfest in Iraq

In his own attempt to bring the peace-bringing powers of beer to bear in Iraq, a German entrepreneur in Irbil is hosting Oktoberfest celebrations at his German restaurant:

A beer hall in Iraq has held its own version of Munich's famous Oktoberfest party - complete with frothy steins, sausages, an oom-pah band and dirndl-clad waitresses.

German-born Gunter Voelker, owner of the Deutscher Hof Erbil restaurant in Irbil, in Kurdish controlled Northern Iraq, says he wants to dispel the notion that Iraq isn't a holiday destination and insists beer is bringing people together.

While I'm not quite ready to book my trip today, this certainly seems a step in the right direction!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Review: Otter Creek Pale Ale

Otter Creek Pale Ale from Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
Rating: B

Appearance: Quite orange, clear, with a big foamy head.

Smell: Citrusy (cascade according to the label), with a grain background.

Taste: Pretty good balance of malt and bitterness. Finishes a little soapy.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Fairly average, on the whole.