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: