Mid-December is here and Christmas and the overall holiday season is upon us. Here at Craft Beer Nation we’ve decided to do a 12 Beers Of Christmas Event.
Over on Google Plus is ourEvent Page where we will be posting pics and comments on all of the Christmas/Holiday/Winter Beers. Every day, starting with our December 12th Friday Night Hangout we will be drinking and posting a different Christmas/Holiday/Winter Beers every day for 12 days and tagging it with #12BeersOfChristmas
If you are on G+ come join the Event and share your #12BeersOfChristmas beers. Or play along on Twitter or Instagram
We are really looking forward to seeing all of the different beers that everyone can find. And now it’s time for me to figure out which beers to kick off the Event.
Thursday, October 23rd for Pints and Quarts | Craft Beer Nation (Ep.020) we interview Sean Lewis, author of We Make Beer – Inside The Spirit And Artistry Of America’s Craft Brewers. Newly published by St. Martin’s Press Sean writes of his exploration of the American Craft Beer landscape, imparting not only his own experiences diving into the technical aspects of brewing but the love and passion and camaraderie found among many brewers from small operations to the movers and shakers on the American Craft Beer scene.
We’re excited to have this opportunity to speak with Sean about his experiences that lead to We Make Beer and to where his love of craft beer might take him next.
If you don’t have Google+ Account (and why don’t you?) you can also watch the live feed on our YouTube Channel. And we will be able to see any comments you make on the YouTube page during the live show to share with the audience.
The Craft Beer Nation Spotlight is back! This time we are hosting a special Hangout on Air on Thursday, October 9th at 7:00pm Eastern. We will be joined online by Shane Welch, President of Sixpoint Brewery.
Sixpoint is celebrating the release of SENSI Harvest, their new wet-hopped copper ale. (Check out their video documenting this farm-to-table-journey) Craft Beer Nation Pints and Quarts Host Matthew Miller will be live at the new World Of Beer Charlottesville, VA as World Of Beer hosts a Tap Takeover featuring SENSEI Harvest and other outstanding Sixpoint Craft Ales. Craft Beer Nation will be broadcasting the Event on a Google+ Hangout On Air, which will be simulcast on our YouTube Channel and available on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve been Sixpoint fans for a long time and are thrilled to be able to talk with Shane Welch about SENSI Harvest and Sixpoint Brewery as a whole. And Shane will be sticking around online for our weekly Pints and Quarts Show right afterwards, also broadcast live.
And we are excited to be hosting live at the new Charlottesville, VA World of Beer. Thursday, October 9th we will be on the air with our Spotlight Interview and our Pints And Quarts show:
7:00pm – 8:00pm: Spotlight with Shane Welch 8:30pm – 9:00pm: Pints and Quarts Ep 018 featuring Shane Welch
And for those of you who will be at Charlottesville, VA World of Beer be sure and stay after our events are done for WOB’s regular festivities. There will be live music on their WOBStage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Pints and Quarts | Craft Beer Nation (Ep.017) goes live on location at George Bowers Grocery in Staunton, Virginia on Thursday, October 2nd at 9:30PM Eastern. George Brewers Grocery is the best little sandwich and craft beer place in the Shenandoah Valley (and that is saying something). We will pair some sandwiches with beer, and talk about how […]
October is nearly here and this year Craft Beer Nation is starting a new tradition we are calling #CBNOctoberChallenge
Our inaugural challenge is the #CBN31BeersOfOctober an October Beer Photo Challenge.
Over on Google Plus is our Event Page where we will be posting pics and comments on all of the Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. Every day in October Gil Melo and I will be drinking and posting our October Beer of the Day on the Event Page and tagging it with #CBN31BeersOfOctober
If you are on G+ come join the Event and share your #CBN31BeersOfOctober beers. Or play along on Twitter or Instagram
We are really looking forward to seeing all of the different Pumpkin and Oktoberfest Beers that everyone can find. And now I’m off to stare at my Pumpkin Beer collection to try and figure out which one will kick off the October for me.
Lagers suck ass. Or at least that has been my default reaction for many craft beer years. When it comes to craft beer I’m an Ale guy. From your big bold in-your-face American Imperial IPA to your deep, rich, dark fruit Belgian and Trappist Ales.
In my older, non-craft beer days I drank my fair share of Lagers. Besides your American Macro Lagers there were some good ones found overseas: Grolsch and Harp chief among them. But my favorite beer for a long time was Bass Ale.
Since my migration to craft beers my initial forays into Craft Beer Lagers were met with reactions from mild boredom to outright disgust. From what’s the point? to DRAINPOUR! And then 2014 rolled around and I was determined to expand my craft beer experience and search for the two styles that interested me the least: Brown Ales (my rare Ale dislike) and Lagers. And I have to say, after spending the first part of 2014 exploring the Lager world I’ve discovered some pretty fantastic beers.
Let me start with what I now consider the best Lager on the planet: Weihenstephaner Original, a Munich Helles Lager.
As I wrote when I tasted this for the first time: “This is a Munich Helles Lager and probably the best of it’s style in the world my opinion. Just an absolutely fantastic beer. Crisp with a nice light floral and fruit taste.”
While I had expected to find some nice Lagers I never expected to discover one I would love. And this is one of two that I have come to love.
With a quick check in Untappd here’s my breakdown of Lagers. And the list is way longer than I ever expected it would be. I don’t think of myself as drinking a Lager often but that’s due to just not thinking of certain styles as actually being in the Lager family.
American Amber / Red Lager – 1 Berliner Weisse – 2 Baltic Porter – 2 Black Lager – 2 Czech Pilsner – 2 Dopplebock – 3 Dunkelweizen – 2 Euro Lager – 2 German Pilsner – 3 Golden Lager – 2 Hefeweizen – 14 Helles Lager – 3 India Pale Lager – 1 Kristallweizen – 2 Kölsch – 3 Oktoberfest/Märzen – 2 Pale Lager – 2 Pilsner – 2 Vienna Lager – 1 Weizwenbock – 1
I tend to break Lagers down into these 3 main groups: European Lagers
And here are my personal highlights of each:
Weiihenstephaner Original (see pic and description above)
Kiwi Rising – Jack’s Abby To me this is the Great American Lager. Jack’s Abby took everything I love about a big West Coast tropical IPA and made a Lager version. In fact, when it comes to American Lagers no one is doing it better or more innovative than Jack’s Abby. All they brew is Lager beer. In every style and variation you can imagine. From big hoppy beers to smoked dark lagers to Marzens and everything in between. Hunt their beers down and enjoy. You will not be disappointed.
Anchor California Lager This beer impressed me. I am not a fan of their Steam beer and had low expectations going into this one. To my surprise and delight this was delicious. Light and crisp and refreshing.
Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Aventinus. This is a world class beer. It takes the big bold malty sweetness of the Bock and smooths it out with wheat. This is not a beer to skip over.
Weihenstephaner Dunkel While I love their Hefeweissbier, I’m sightly more partial to the Dunkel or dark version. Another world class beer. In fact, I have yet to have a beer from Weihenstephaner in any style that I don’t consider world class.
So, in the end, while taking this journey I discovered a few things. The Lager is a beer that comes in a wide variety of styles. Anyone growing up on the American Macro Lager would have no idea that the Lager was so storied and diverse. And while the Ale is still my go to realm of the craft beer world I no longer frown and sigh with resignation when it comes time to explore the world of Lagers. I’ve found a couple of beers that hold their own with anything else out there. And I still have my few drain pours. That’s the one thing I’ve found most interesting about my Lager Craft Beer Adventure. The few Lager drainpours that made me hesitant to take this journey remain drainpours for me. Which actually makes me feel better about the whole thing. At first I thought I just didn’t have an appreciation for a Lager. Instead I just got unlucky and started out with those couple of Lagers tat do indeed suck ass. Thankfully, it was just a few.
LAGER – Light/Amber/Dark – Friday Night Hangout (Ep. 156)
Craft Beer Nation BJCP Reviiew
This playlist covers many of the various Lager categories from the viewpoint of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP)
One of the fun things about the craft beer world is the diversity of styles. You can take a quick dip into a style or two you normally don’t drink or don’t even like just to see how things are going in that corner of the craft beer world. As I’ve previously written, I’m a fan of the big hoppy beers.
Last year I decided to branch out a bit and tackle a style I was quite lukewarm about: Wheat Beer. And in doing so discovered some world class beers along the way. This year I decided to tackle two categories that I have had a long dislike for (with very rare exceptions): Brown Ales and Lagers. This post is a recap of my Brown Ale Adventure.
What can I say about the Brown Ale? Boring was the first word that came to mind before starting this adventure. “Meh.” would have been my reaction. I’d much rather have a Stout or Porter if I’m going for a dark beer. Now that I’ve explored this style more I can honestly say I’ve gained an appreciation and respect for the style.
My sampling of Brown Ales overall is still small. Checking on my Untappd page here’s the breakdown (though not all as I’ve only been on Untappd a year or two):
American Brown Ale – 5
English Brown Ale – 4
Imperial/Double Brown Ale – 3
So, 12 beers in the past 18 months or so isn’t a large sampling but enough to give me a good idea of the variations of the style. I tasted some decent beers, some nice beers and a couple of outstanding beers. My favorite of the bunch was Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. This is the one Brown Ale that actually made me say: “This is a fantastic Nut Brown Ale!” Words I never expected to utter along the way. As far as the American Brown Ale goes I’d have to give the nod to Roosterfish Brewing Original Dark Nut Brown Ale out of Watkins Glen, NY as my favorite amongst the sampling I had. It hit every note I’ve come to expect from a Brown Ale and it was velvety smooth. Considering this was Roosterfish’s first beer and is celebrating its 10 year anniversary I’m not surprised they do such a great job of it.
Overall, I’ve come to appreciate the style a lot more than I had previously. Still not a favorite style of mine but no longer do I have to frown when presented with a Brown Ale.
I’m a Hop Head when it comes to Craft Beer. A big, bold, bitter, tropical Imperial IPA? Pine, resin, grapefruit, mango, pineapple, bitterness? Yes please! Talking to many other Craft Beer drinkers I seem to be in the minority in how I approached Craft Beer and where my palate has journeyed.
Most people I know started on one end of the spectrum, more on the Lager, Wheat, Brown or Stout side and worked their way over time to IPAs. Me? I dove right in. A trip to the store found me staring at shelf after shelf of beer and I reached for two: Green Flash Hop Head Red and Stone Arrogant Bastard.
I cracked each open and sipped and They Were GLORIOUS. I was worthy! To this day, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard remains in my personal Top 5 favorite beers. Since then, I spent a year or so devouring every IPA, every hoppy beer I could find, reveling in the majesty that was The Hop.
And then, thanks to beer festivals and craft beer friends I discovered Ommegang Abbey Ale and the world of Belgian Beers opened up for me.
Before I get to joining Craft Beer Nation let me jump back in time to the 1980s. I hung out in the Irish bars in the Bronx back in the days when the rest of the country had yet to discover Hip Hop. I didn’t drink back then, not until the late 1980s, on my 23rd or 24th birthday. But eventually beer found its way to my lips in the form of Rheingold in a bar on St Mark’s Place in the East Village. However, trips over to the West Village led us to an English pub that also sold, along with their English imports, what I realize now were probably homebrews made in their basement. This was my original introduction to what would be considered Craft Beer. From that moment forward my beer intake would bounce back and forth between American macro Lagers and beers from all over the world.
Fast forward to about six years ago when I relocated to the Finger Lakes region of New York State and finally left macro brews behind. Lagunitas IPA is probably the most responsible for this transformation. My trip to the store mentioned above where I discovered Stone and Green Flash came the very next day after my first Lagunitas.
As for Craft Beer Nation I got onboard in Google Plus before it was fully open to the public, by chance more than anything and dabbled there for a while. And then one day I stumbled across G+ Communities and the Craft Beer Nation. And I noticed they did these Friday Night Hangouts. So I went to their YouTube Channel and watched at least half a dozen of them. Realizing it was a really good group of people I squeezed into a hangout on my second try and have remained. And over the course of the past year I’ve had fun trying out each different style of beer picked for the week. If you are wondering about a particular style of beer look for that week’s hangout and in the midst of the camaraderie I hope we impart some tidbit of knowledge.
2013 found me finally working my way in the other direction, exploring things like the Bavarian Heffeweisen and Trappist Beers. For 2014 I’ve decided to explore the Brown Ale and the Lager, styles that make be go “meh” and “yuck”. By year’s end I hope to change those reactions to joy and excitement. Now I’m not expecting an Arrogant Bastard kind of love affair with either style but I hope to come to 2015 having added some more Go To Favorites to my list.