Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama Beer Summit

July 30, 2009

So President Obama finally got together with the Harvard Professor and the Cambridge Cop. Beer makers and enthusiasts have been wondering who's beer would be chosen. The verdict: Bud Light, Red Stripe, and Blue Moon. It is disappointing that no real craft beers were chosen. It is unclear if any political statements were made as a result of their respective beer choices. I won't speculate.

It makes me wonder what beers are available at the White House. Obviously, whatever the current occupant wants and a number of other choices. At any rate, I would love to know, and will report if I am ever invited over to the White House for a beer.

Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company and maker of Sam Adams Boston Lager said on NPR that he would have brewed something special for the occasion, a blend of ingredients from around the world to represent the participants. This leads to the question, what would you serve or brew for the occasion?

My wife suggested Black and Tans.....which I thought was appropriate if just discussing color and indicating a separation. But, really, my thought would be to make a Porter out of American ingredients. The Porter style, is an English Ale that was favored by porters and other working class people after a hard days work. It is a beer of the common man. The Porter style also replaced the pub's practice of blending different ales. So, getting past blending beers, it is the different ingredients that are brewed together that create the beer. Integration at the inception, not at the result. That is what I would brew.

What would you brew?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great Divide Brewery

July 29, 2009

I stopped into the Great Divide for a beer. They had their Dunkelweiss on tap, which was a seasonal a couple of months ago, so I asked for one and told them it wasn't right. What it ended up being, was a super sour ale....not the dunkel I got to try a while ago. The tap handle came off, and everyone working at the brewery came to sample it.

I like is like a super sour needs some raspberry syrup like a Framboise....but it is distinctive as is.....either their dunkel went bad, or they have something experimental that got right now, they have decided to call it "sour brown ale". Apparently, their wild yeast in the keg had time to mature....and this is the result. They cracked open a dunkelweiss bomber for comparison and you can taste a slight sour to this is amplified in the keg with age. Great Divide does not pasturize their beers (neither do I). At any rate, it was a happy accident I think.

I think they need to name it Gary weiss.....since I discovered it for them. The brewers like it....I like it....I discovered their mistake....can't I get some free shit?

Great Divide is my favorite brewery in Denver right combines excellent quality, with a friendly atmosphere and great tours.....check them out online or personally at:

Great Divide Brewing Co.
2201 Arapahoe, St.
Denver, CO 80205

If you go in there, tell Jennie (red hair, can't miss her, extremely smart looking...and it ain't just looks...she was wearing glasses this day...) that you think it should be named Garyweiss. A little ball of hate turned sour. I could use a job in brewing too.....plug me.


The Origin of the Species: Beer Guy

July 30, 2009

When starting any narrative, it seems important to go back at some point and do some discovery to find the point of derivation, the origin of the subject, or species. I am a beer guy, so the point is to understand what made me a beer guy (as opposed to a car guy, or sports guy, or anything else). So, a good place to start is the beginning, unless you are obtuse like George Lucas and wait 20 years to produce a prequel. I hope my Episode I is at least less excruciating than Star Wars (by the way, I still want my $9 back from George Lucas for seeing Episode I at the theatre). Jar Jar Binks will not make an appearance in this one, but nor are there any wise old Jedi beer masters in this tale, which is too bad, really.

Most people seem to be able to recall their first beer. The cliche is that it is a rite of passage for the beer guy and a tender moment between father and son. I don't deny that such a moment may have happened in my life, be it with my father, an uncle, or somebody else, but I just don't remember it. Not at all. I do remember my exposure to Copenhagen tobacco from my paternal grandfather, but that is entirely a different subject, not a fond memory (albeit funny), and for another blog or the therapist's couch.

My dad wasn't and isn't a beer guy, so there was no direct link or nurture of the love for beer. It isn't that my father didn't drink beer, it just wasn't a staple in his diet. He may have kept a six pack of something cheap in the fridge for after mowing the lawn, or if company came over (I remember Red, White, and Blue was his cheap beer of choice, "A Honest Beer, at a Honest Price"), but it wasn't something he regularly drank.

Beer was more pervasive at extended family gatherings. I come from a hearty and mighty stock of Polish immigrants who came to Detroit specifically to work in the auto industry. Blue collar, hard working, independent, strong, but also intelligent, which lead to a strong mindedness and a basic mistrust of authority. Most men in my family, if I recall correctly, worked for the Big 3 (auto companies). Some as line workers, some as skilled tradesmen, and some as white collar folks. From my perspective, all of them to a man worked hard for a living, and I think middle class was the norm, at least between recessions. Two things affected beer choices: Price, and availability. Therefore, I remember lots of Miller, Stroh's (local to Detroit), Goebel (another Detroit Brewery until 1964 when purchased by Stroh's (Wikipedia)) (for some reason, warm Goeblel was the joke), PBR (and R,W & B mentioned earlier, a Pabst product), and Carling's Black Label (Canadian Beer). Budweiser wasn't common as I recall, and obviously, at the time Coor's wasn't available east of the Mississippi River (see the movie Smokey and the Bandit for reference).

I can remember back to about 1974 in general, but my memories of beer are a little later, perhaps 1978. By 1979, I was collecting beer cans and I loved beer (remember Billy Beer? It was promoted by Billy Carter, bumbling brother of then President Jimmy Carter). Ironically, according to Wikipedia, Jimmy Carter preferred PBR. So, by 1979, I was totally into beer. I remember my cousin (now, I understand that he is a new extract home brewer with my another cousin of mine) and I would run down the street from his father's barber shop in Detroit with my brother (and next door was the concrete Link' n Log barbecue sales place owned by other family members I think...selling barbecues and wood lawn furniture....loved that furniture....enjoyed many a beer on that swing by the lake and on our front porch, but I digress) to buy non-alcoholic beer, because we could buy it and it was supposedly like beer. I wish I could remember the brand name of that NA beer that probably came out in 1981 or was terrible, which is too bad, because I liked beer, and would have drank it more if it tasted anything like cheap beer. Michigan law now prohibits the sale of NA beer to persons less than 18 years old.....probably wise.

So, the question is, what happened before 1979 that made me a beer guy? Probably, these family gatherings provided an access to try beer, and wanting to emulate my older cousins and uncles....became a beer guy. I wish it was more dramatic, or exciting. There was never any philosophical discussions about beer or even any mention of imported beer (I am not sure Black Label was known to be an import) was an adult alcoholic drink and it was at every family gathering in an uncontrolled manner by today's standards. It was the late 70's, and I became a beer guy.

My experience at the time was limited to American Style light Lagers mostly packaged in cans. I don't think I had any inkling that there were such things as imported beers (not even like Heineken and Lowenbrau) and didn't even know that Black Label was Canadian. Since all beers were similar, I didn't know that beer was any different. My mind would have been blown to know what the discovery of the rest of the world's beer would be like.

As mentioned before, I collected beer cans. I loved my beer can collection, and would spend time reading and studying the labels. My beer knowledge at the time was limited to the fine print on a Budweiser and other cans as well as the advertising campaigns of the day.....Brewed using the choicest hops, rice and best barley malt and something about beechwood aging; tastes great, less filling; Stroh's, Fire Brewed. My can collection went into the trash can in 1988 when I left for college; too bad e-Bay didn't exist then. My can collection consisted of perhaps 100 cans, and were a pain to keep clean.

Next time....the 80's, and discovering that Canada is right next door. Real crimes were committed. I hope that there is a statute of limitations.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Beer...

July 27, 2009

It appears that I have much to say, and all day to say it, but no one to listen. So starting a blog seems just natural at this point. I will never believe that anyone will bother to read it anyway.

There are a few subjects that I know more than most people about, but only one that interests more than just myself. I wax philosophically about beer ad nauseum...just ask my friends who like to drink beer, but get sick of hearing me talk about it. Beer transcends us from Regular Joe Six Pack (don't confuse with Joe the plumber who isn't really a plumber, or say it ain't so Joe the VP, these are not Regular Joes) to the haughty beer snob. I live somewhere in between. My brother considers me a snob, he just likes good beer, but the people who make beer, judge beer, describe beer, or write about beer for a living might think me an idiot. Michael Jackson, I am not. (it doesn't matter which one we are talking about....I am neither).

I like to make it, I like to drink it, I think a lot about it, and I like to talk about it. So one more blog about beer will not hurt anyone, will it? Only time will tell.

Once upon a time, long ago, I heard the quote, "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"....a quick Internet search does not reveal any original source. I used to believe this, and used to oft quote it, but have decided that life is too short not to pass up the chance to try a beer, instead. Cheap beer (mostly mass produced lager made in America with adjunct ingredients) has its place as does any of the so-called Extreme Beers being produced by craft and home brewers today. Both push the envelopes of the art and science of brewing in separate directions. I just wish that we hadn't lost so much of our American brewing heritage due to Prohibition, subsequent regulations, marketing trends toward mass consumption, and brewery consolidation that we so needed to discover our roots.

America seems to be about discovery and creation. We never stop redefining ourselves, and trying to improve. Sadly, some believe that profit is the only motivation worthwhile and thus should define the scope of our effort and our improvements. Under that burden, we would have never sent Americans into space, and onward to the moon, and we may have never been enlightened to taste a Pliny the Elder. For those of you that haven't heard of Pliny (you may have been living in a cave or sequestered in some undisclosed location, who knows), it is a beer from the Russian River Brewery out of Santa Rosa, California. It is an extremely hoppy and strong beer (described as a Double IPA) and was voted the best beer in the United States by the American Homebrewer's Association member's survey (Zymurgy, July/August 2009). Neither experience (walking on the moon or experiencing Pliny) has necessarily changed the course of history (yet), but we are collectively indebted to modern day explorers to remind us that there are new frontiers, that many things are yet possible, and that someday dreams can become reality.