Beer Tasting on the Water and the Year in Beer (USA)

The final beer tasting results for the year come from the session I ran for Jeff Gray BMW:

December 2009 was the busiest month I have ever had for beer tastings. At the final count, I did ten tastings and two tours over a fifteen day stretch. While many of the locations were familiar (Mac’s Brewery viewing platform, the lounge at Malthouse), others were new and spectacular. The venue for the Jeff Gray BMW Christmas function was the Mana Cruising Club up the coast and I ran a beer appreciation session on the spacious balcony overlooking the ocean (and totally sheltered from the rather boisterous wind thankfully).

An interesting perspective on the “Year in Beer” in America was provided by Joshua M Bernstein from Slash Food:

During the first half of 2009, craft brewing grew 5 percent by volume and 9 percent by dollars, numbers made more astounding when you consider that overall beer sales nose-dived 1.3 percent.

Why are microbreweries bucking the economic trend? It’s a matter of taste. Increasingly, brew drinkers “are attracted to flavor and variety, new and different products and beers made by small, local and independent companies,” says Brewers Association director Paul Gatza.

Glass Tip – Rach from Yellow Brick Road food company (best seafood in the country!)

Beer Haiku Friday and A Long Hard Dispassionate Look At the Craft Beer Scene

Today’s Beer Haiku is called “A Frickin Miracle” and sums up the Friday mindset for many nicely:

He left for the bar
At exactly 5 o’clock
Against all the odds

In the latest Malthouse blog, I debate revolution versus evolution, quote Mao, Lloyd George and Michael Jackson, mix metaphors, present a thought-provoking piece from a Kiwi working in a US craft brewery and identify one of my beer finds of the year. It is titled simply “A Long Hard Dispassionate Look at the Craft Beer Scene

the same debate rages today around lifting beer appreciation. Should elevating a drinker from Tui quaffer to Tuatara connoisseur take a single big sip or a thousand little tastes? The simple fact is that few Heineken fans or Steinlager followers or Radler lovers are going to be instantly converted to a bottle-conditioned American Pale Ale, a wild-fermented sour raspberry beer or a 32% double barrelled imperial stout which has spent three weeks at -20 degrees to help increase its alcoholic strength. * These drinkers need be encouraged and supported to work up to better beers step by step.

Glass Tip – Those wonderful chaps at Beer Haiku Daily and the fine folks at the Malthouse site

Beer Haiku Friday and Fizzy Yellow Beer Drinking Ninnies

A clever little poem for today called “The Perfect Hobby“:

The perfect hobby
For people that like to clean
Must be homebrewing

Over at the Malthouse blog, my latest post covers the worst beer slogan in the world, Bud Light, geat American craft beers, a beer which gets in your face, a beer which gets 90 additions of hops and a bear fighting a lion. It is called “‘Fizzy yellow beer drinking ninnies’ need not read on“:

The Dogfish Head crew make “off-centred beers for off-centred people” and Malthouse is now offering their 60 Minute and 90 Minute ales. The 60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped. There are over 60 hop additions during the sixty minute boil – a hint, perhaps, about the name. Terrifyingly, they describe this 6%, 60 IBU hop-rocket as a “session” IPA.

Which it actually is when compared to the Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial Pale Ale. The brewers here use both the continuous hopping process and a device they call “Me so Hoppy” (basically an inert gas fired closed loop dry hopping system – watch the video below) to create this 9% 90 IBU beast of a beer. There is also an even bigger 120 Minute ale out there but it is unclear whether it can safely travel across international waters without spontaneous hop explosions.

Glass Tips – Those wonderful tipplers at Beer Haiku Daily and the Malthouse Blog

Beer Haiku Friday and Making Love in a Canoe

Today’s haiku combines three of my favourite topics (beer, poetry and Homer Simpson) into just 17 glorious syllables. It is called “Homer Haiku“:

Cause and solution
Of life’s infinite problems
Poured in a pint glass

The latest Malthouse blog also covers more of my favourite subjects – American pale ale, US foreign policy, Sierra Nevada – and some of my less favourite topics – Bud Light, Urkel and Oprah – in just one post “American beer is like making love in a canoe“:

American beers have an appalling reputation internationally based on the fact that 80% of them are, in fact, nonsense on stilts. This was certainly the reputation that Monty Python was lampooning in the line which now serves as the title of this blog post. However, that same accusation of mainstream mediocrity can be levelled at a number of countries around the world. Often a nation’s most popular or most famous beer is hardly their best offering. Both those generalisations apply fully to New Zealand.

Glass Tip – Beer Haiku Daily and Malthouse Blog

Beer Haiku Friday and American Craft Brewers Ponder

The weather in Wellington and indeed most of New Zealand in the last week has been, to use a meteorological term, “utter pants.” There was sunshine yesterday which I note began at almost exactly the same time Manchester United lost the big match. I’m just saying people. Anyway, the outlook for the weekend is the subject of this lovely poem “Rain“:

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again some other day.
My beer is outside.

Glass Tip – Beer Haiku Daily

Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer magazine, has a very interesting piece on the recent craft brewers conference in America. There are a lot of parallels to the New Zealand market and some hints about trends we might be seeing soon. It is called “America’s craft brewers pondering the future“:

A subtext that continued to ripple through the conference was the ubiquitous presence of the domestic specialty brands, derisively called faux craft by the more vituperative members of the audience. These are craft type beers originating from major breweries. Blue Moon comes to mind. These beers, some are quite good actually, beg the fundamental question of the world of craft brewers and craft beer. If it’s really all about what’s in the glass, what’s the problem here. However, if it’s all about the crushing logic of capitalism, a preemptive strike by filling wholesalers’ warehouse and vital shelf space with another brand from a major brewery instead of a local craft, well then that’s an ale of a different hop.

Finally for this week, one of New Zealand’s most famous new brewing icons is getting his own webpage. Exclusive previews are available here and suggestions for future content are welcome.

Getting back into it

The last beer column in the Wellingtonian newspaper for 2007 profiled the Moa range of beers:

It is perhaps fitting that the son of a famous winemaker heads a brewery which blurs the line between wine and beer. Moa beer is the brainchild of Josh Scott, son of Allan Scott, the founder of Allan Scott Wines. An accomplished wine maker himself, the implausibly youthful Josh has incorporated several wine making techniques into his range of beer including elements of the “methode traditionelle” used in making Champagne.

Glass Tip – The Wellingtonian for kind permission to republish

From the latest edition of the Free Radical, an article reviewing the results of the BrewNZ 2007 Beer Awards:

Beer awards are a bit like boxing tournaments. Just as a heavyweight fighting a flyweight would be a gross mismatch, it is hard to objectively judge the respective merits of a chocolately London Porter against a hoppy New World Pale Ale. Accordingly, beers are entered into one of ten classes (each with numerous sub-classes) so that like can be assessed against like.

There is an excellent article in the NY Times called Brews that go to Extremes:

“If one is good, then two is better!”

Such is the ethos of extreme beers, an all-American genre in which brewers are engaged in a constant game of “Can you top this?” Whether using an inordinate amount of traditional ingredients like malt or hops, or adding flavorings undreamed of by Old World brewers, American brewers have created a signature style that beer enthusiasts seem both to love and hate.

Mmmm… Unearthly IPAs… Sessionable…

Glass Tip – South East Asian Correspondent Belinda

Finally, for the hordes of people who wrote in clamouring for the return of Beer Haiku Fridays, rest assured this popular feature will resume tomorrow!

Beerly Writing: Salient

This is the 600th post on the Real Beer blog and it contains two more beer columns from Salient.

The first is a report on the Brew NZ Beer Awards 2007:

The lovely city of Wellington recently hosted what is possibly the world’s most important awards ceremony. It had more artistic merit than the MTV Awards because Britney Spears did not attend, far less “perform”, and while there was all the pomp and ceremony of the Oscars, this event was thankfully a full 11 hours shorter. For many in attendance, the evening’s urbane Master of Ceremonies reminded them of a young Ryan Seacrest – if Ryan Seacrest had any talent.

The second is on American Beers:

The flavour is almost invisible, though as the beer warms up the taste becomes slightly chemical. There is so much rice in Bud that it is hard to know if you have bought a six pack or sushi box. Sure, if you can put a man on the moon I guess it is relatively simple to take all the flavour out of beer, but I’d question the point.

Beerly Writing

From the Free Radical, I have the invididual freedom to reproduce this article about American beers:

This is not what I expect or want from the greatest nation on the planet. The country which invented muscle cars, cheese burgers, smart missiles and Pamela Anderson’s red swimsuit should not be represented by such timid brews. These are beers designed by committees with recipes written by accountants.

And from the Wellingtonian newspaper, I have permission to post this article on the Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge:

That said, the pillow of potatoes still stole the show. They were rich, light and fluffy. It was like snogging an angel. Sure, the butter needed to get such a marvelous texture was probably peeling days off my life but it was completely worth it. As a card-carrying carnivore, I don’t usually talk about mashed potatoes in such a way.