World’s Top Rated Beer Release!

While the rest of us are digging ourselves out of the snow and ice, the lucky so-and-so’s over on the West Coast should take a snow day themselves and head to the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA – TOMORROW, February 4th – for the release of their seasonal beer “Pliny the Younger,” which is one of the world’s top rated beers! Here are the official event details from Russian River Brewing’s Website:

We are releasing Pliny the Younger on February 4, 2011!  Due to the overwhelming turnout last year, we have made a few changes to enable more beer enthusiasts, like yourself, as well as our regular customers to enjoy some Younger!  It will be available on draft in 10oz. pours at our pub from February 4th-17th.  We will allocate a certain number of kegs each day in order to last the full 2 weeks.  Our employees will not know how many kegs they are getting each day.  And they won’t know when we might run out.  In addition, there will be NO GROWLERS. The only way to get it to go is in your tummy!

So, there you have it folks. Let us know if you get to enjoy any! Don’t worry, we’ll be right here…shoveling…sigh.

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Craft Beer: Better Brews, Better Cans

So, we were doing some research about this canned craft beer phenomenon and found that it’s not so unheard of. Oskar Blues Brewery of Longmont, Colorado has been trying to turn people over to the aluminum side since 2002 with the launch of their “Canned Beer Apocalypse.” According to their website, “the move made Oskar Blues the first US craft brewer to brew and can its own beer.”

Apparently there is a lining inside the can that protects the beer from even touching the metal, eliminating that awful tin taste for once and for all! Check out their video using the same reasoning as Baxter Brewing Co. that supports the canning of their beers:

Any of you guys have a favorite canned craft beer? Send us your pics and reviews!

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Baxter Brewing Co. can do ittttt

Driving into work this morning, Ursula heard on the radio that a small craft brewery from Maine has decided to distribute all of their beers in cans. HUH?? Isn’t it common knowledge that beer tastes much better when it comes in its brown glass counterpart? Isn’t it fresher than the tinny aftertaste you get from the canned big distributors? Well, let’s find out.

Luke Livingston, the founder and president of Baxter Brewing Company, has 3 reasons for canning all their beers, which has made Baxter Brewing the First All-Canned Craft Brewery of New England:

1. Cans are better for the environment. Our cans, which come from Ball Corp., are made of a minimum of 50% post-consumer recycled aluminum and are infinitely recyclable. Americans are also at least twice as likely to recycle aluminum as they are glass, so our packaging will continue to help the environment, even after the beer is consumed. Cans require less energy to create than glass bottles and less fuel to ship to the brewery, since empty cans weigh far less than empty bottles. Consequently, they weigh less when filled and thus require less fuel to ship to the end-user.

2. Cans are better for the beer. The beer in our cans has never seen UV light, which spells death for fresh beer. Every glass bottle, regardless of the color of the glass, will let some UV light in over time, resulting in spoiled or “skunked” beer. Anything you drink from a glass bottle will be less fresh than the same beer in a can. Our dissolved oxygen levels are much lower than similar beers in bottles (again, helping the beer maintain freshness) and our packaging cools down much faster than thick glass bottles, so you can be drinking the beer sooner!

3. Cans can go where glass cannot. How many times have you been somewhere outside where you have wanted a high-quality, flavorful craft beer but weren’t able to because glass was frowned upon or was flat out not allowed? The park, the pool, the beach, the golf course, the disc golf course, the sailboat; camping, hiking, fishing, or just lounging in the hammock. Think about it, cans can go where glass cannot.

And if you’re not completely satisfied, Livingston has also stated, “Draft beer comes out of a keg, which is just a big can.” Enough said.

Baxter Brewing Co. began distributing its beer across Maine in the 2010/11 winter season. Expect to find it popping up across northern New England in 2011/12. Let us know if you come across it in your travels and what you think of these canned brews!

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So what is a craft brewer anyway?

The Brewers Association recently made a change to the definition of a craft brewer that seems to be causing a bit of controversy. By definition, a craft brewer in the United States is “small, independent, and traditional” (http://tinyurl.com/y8sdq5m).

Independent means that “less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”

Traditional means “a brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

But what exactly does “small” mean?

Well, up until earlier this week, “small” stood for an annual production of 2 million barrels of beer or less, but the Brewers Association has made “small” a little larger, upping the annual production to 6 million barrels or less. Some people find this a bit too convenient as The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) is rapidly expanding and is expected to become the first craft brewer to produce over 2 million barrels per year in the next few years. So are the two connected or is this just coincidence?

The Brewers Association has not denied that they’re connected, stating, “loss of The Boston Beer Company’s production in craft brewing industry statistics would inaccurately reflect on the craft brewing industry’s market share.” So, obviously they’re counting on The Boston Beer Company to strengthen the craft brewing industry’s numbers. Is this necessarily a bad thing? We’re all looking to push for craft breweries’ successes and larger bite of the market, aren’t we? Or are we going to act like they’re that unknown indie band we loved but then grew to despise when they hit it big and “sold out”?

Sam Adams paved the way for so many craft breweries and really launched a renaissance in the industry, starting in its founder Jim Koch’s kitchen in the 1980’s. We should all feel proud that the craft beer industry as a whole is expanding, not jealous that one of the pioneers is making it big. Here’s what Sam Adams has to say on their website:

Samuel Adams® is proud to be an American Craft Brewer.
An American Craft Brewer is defined as being Small, Independent and Traditional. We follow the Brewers Associations definition of a Craft Brewer but include a Craft Brewer who grows beyond two million barrels and continues to brew Craft Beer. We hope to be the first Craft Brewer to reach this threshold.”

And really, in the big scheme of things, when Anheuser-Busch produced over 125 million barrels of beer in 2007 (wikinvest.com), 6 million does seem rather “small,” doesn’t it?

What do you guys think? Has The Boston Beer Company outgrown its craft brewery status, or is this a step in the right direction for the craft brewing industry?

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Mark your calendars, folks!

Joe Sixpack over at Philly.com and www.joesixpack.net has already lined up 2011’s most important beer dates so you don’t have to. See? Already lots of things to look forward to this year:

Jan. 14-15: Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival. Yes, it’s cold, but the high-proof ales (not to mention outstanding mead) will warm you right up.

Jan. 29: Release of Sexual Chocolate. Not as obscene as it sounds, it’s the much-anticipated annual debut of a cocoa-infused imperial stout by North Carolina’s Foothills Brewing.

Feb. 4: Release of Russian River Pliny the Younger. Rated the world’s top beer, it’ll debut at Russian River’s pub in Santa Rosa, Calif., then show up in a few towns in California and Colorado and in Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia.

Feb. 6: Super Bowl Sunday. It’s being held in Dallas this year, but you’ve got to watch at home to catch all the Bud commercials.

Feb. 11-20: San Francisco Beer Week. Worth the trip just for the Barleywine Festival (Feb. 19) at the city’s top beer bar, the Toronado.

March 1: Iceland Beer Day. Reykjavik’s bars are packed for the annual celebration marking the end of the nation’s 75-year beer prohibition.

March 5: Cantillon Public Brewing Session. Once a year, the Brussels lambic brewer opens its doors during brewing hours for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one the world’s most unusual beer styles.

March 5-6: Zythos. Belgium’s largest beer festival, held just outside of Antwerp. Unlike those tiny samples served at American festivals, Belgo brewers pour big and they pour strong.

March 7: Kate the Great Day. First, you’ll need to buy a scratch ticket for a chance to buy one of 900 bottles of Portsmouth Brewing’s special stout, to be released on the first Monday in March.

March 11-12: Extreme Beer Fest (Boston). Sorry, you’re too late. With so many boundary-expanding beers on tap, the festival is already sold out.

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy a perfect pour of Guinness.

April 23: Dark Lord Day. You’ll need a “Golden Ticket” (and transportation to Munster, Ind.) to attend the release of Three Floyds’ super-strong imperial stout. Info: www.darklordday.com.

May 13: Friday the Firkinteenth. Held only on Friday the 13th (there’s just one in ’11), this cask ale festival features dozens of firkins lining the bar at the Grey Lodge Pub in the Mayfair section of the city.

June 3-12: Philly Beer Week. The world’s largest beer festival of its kind, with hundreds of festivals, tastings and tours in America’s best beer-drinking city. (Of course, I’m kind of biased, since I help run the show.)

July 29-30: Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. New York’s Brewery Ommegang’s summer festival is the Woodstock of Beer. (Date not officially announced, but it’s normally the last weekend of July.)

Aug. 2-6: Great British Beer Festival. A taste for real cask ale in the heart of London.

Aug. 13: Beers from more than 100 Midwestern breweries served in a park overlooking Lake Monona in Madison, Wis.

Sept. 17-Oct. 3: Munich Oktoberfest. Mecca for the beer drinker. Prost!

Sept. 29-Oct. 1: Great American Beer Festival. More than 2,000 different beers served in one giant hall. Beer geek heaven.

Oct. 8: World Beer Festival. For one weekend, Durham, N.C., is the center of the beer universe.

Nov. 4: J-Day. The launch of Christmas beer (Juleøl) season in Denmark.

Nov. 30-Dec. 4: Portland (Oregon) Holiday Festival. This year’s festival was preceded by a terrorist bomb scare, but the Christmas beers and winter warmers helped shake off the chills.

Let us know if you’ll be attending any of the events. We’d love to have pictures or feedback on what’s happening, or who knows – maybe we’ll be there too!

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Aussies lose Ashes, but still gain Victoria Bitter

Well, it’s sad times for Australian cricket fans after the close final loss of the Ashes tournament. We reported a few weeks ago that the Australian team’s sponsor, Victoria Bitter Beer, said they would put vouchers for a free drink in 5 national newspapers if their home team won, and they’ve decided what better way to nurse a loss than give the free beer away anyway!

Paul Donaldson with the winning brew. Picture: Craig Borrow. Source: Herald Sun

VB group marketing manager Paul Donalson said, “We promised to shout the nation at the start of the Ashes campaign, and even though the boys didn’t win, that’s still what we are going to do.”

So, if anyone happens to be in Australia this weekend, let us know how the “celebrations” turn out!

Happy New Year, folks!

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Infinium: The New Champagne of Beer

If you haven’t heard the buzz about Sam Adams’ collaboration with Germany’s Weihenstephan brewery, you better run to the closest liquor store and pick up a bottle of Infinium before it’s too late. It is a champagne-like, limited edition beer for the 2010 holiday season, and they expect to be sold out not long after New Years, if not before.

The Beer Traveler gang was lucky enough to taste the final prototype before production at Weihenstephan during our Oktoberfest visit, so we eagerly picked up a nice supply last Wednesday to see if it lived up to our recollection. First, I love the packaging. We’ve decided that the logo makes it look like an old Western remedy bottle that is used to cure any and all ailments, which probably isn’t too far off from the truth. The beer itself was created under the “Reinheitsgebot,” or German Beer Purity Law, which states that the only 4 ingredients to be used to make beer are water, malt, hops, and yeast. We found that the Sam Adams version was more bitter than the sweeter, fruitier Weinhenstephan prototype we had tasted, which makes us wonder how much of a difference there is between what Sam Adams is brewing for the American consumer as opposed to the European flavor. I have to admit, I think I preferred the German counterpart, because the champagne carbonation and taste were more prominent, as opposed to a Sam Adams beer with a hint of champagne in it. Either way, we thoroughly enjoy this tasty hybrid and love the collaborative work that the breweries did. It was amazing to get to experience it while in the making, and I’m glad with my decision to stock up and have the beer much longer after they’re all sold out (unless New Years ends up being more exciting than anticipated). Has anyone tasted it? We’d love to hear your thoughts, love it or hate it!

If you’d like to learn more about it, and find out where you can purchase it, go to Sam Adams’ official website here!

written by Ursula

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A Reason to Try Understand Cricket…

Carlton and United Breweries are prepared to buy each of the 13 million Australian adults a beer if the Australian national cricket team wins the Ashes series!

One of their beers – The Victorian Bitter (VB) is an official sponsor of the team.

“We’re going to buy the biggest round in Australian history,” VB’s senior brand manager Craig Maclean said at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday. “VB is urging all Aussies to get behind the team as they fight to reclaim Aussie pride and what’s rightfully ours – the Ashes.

The series will take place in Australia over the next couple of months, and if Australia wins, a “VB Shouts the Nation” voucher will be printed in 4 newspapers on Saturday, January 8th: “The Daily Telegraph,” “Herald Sun,” “The Courier Mail,” and “The Advertiser.” The voucher will also be printed in Sunday, January 9th’s “The Sunday Times” paper.

The series is taking place in England, where the home team has won the last 2 titles, so Australia is looking to break this cycle and beat them on their own grounds. I know who I’m rootin for!

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Oktoberfest 101

We were going to write about all the great beers at Oktoberfest, and then found this article on DarkRoastedBlend.com pretty much giving the full lowdown on all the amazing things Oktoberfest has to offer – huge beers, lots of singing and dancing, and sweet traditional lederhosen and dirndls all over the place. Victoria Whyte really got the vibe down to a tee.

To go along with this article, which has some great pics of the event, old advertisements, and actress Ingrid Pitt in the movie “Where Eagles Dare,” we figured we’d post a couple of our own photos from our Oktoberfest trip too! What more could you ask for on a lovely Tuesday afternoon, besides probably being at Oktoberfest itself of course?

So we were told there were going to be thousands of people packed inside each tent, but still shocked at this site upon entering.

Try doing this after a couple of liters

Ursula & Beth enjoying the festivities

If you dress as a cow, you must be prepared for all around you to take advantage of the photo opp!

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So good, even a caveman would drink it

As reported on Wired.com it has been discovered that the Ancient Nubians of what would now be present day Sudan, were ingesting antibiotics roughly 2000 years ago, most likely from the beer they made!

Chemist Mark Nelson and anthropologist George Armelagos are among the scientists who found large quantities of the antibiotic tetracycline in their bones, and they believe it was a deliberate ingredient to their beer.

Armelagos, who specializes in reconstructing ancient diets, proposed that the Nubians made the tetracycline in their beer. There is evidence they knew how to make it, he says. Tetracycline is produced by a soil bacteria called streptomyces, which is how it was discovered by modern society in the 1940s. Streptomyces thrives in warm, arid regions such as that of ancient Nubia, and likely contaminated a batch of beer.

They must have known how to propagate the beer because they were doing it to make wine, Nelson says. There was also so much of it in their bones that it is near impossible that the tetracycline-laced beer was a fluke event.

Sooo, what you’re telling me is a beer a day keeps the doctor away?

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