Measurements: The Pints and Quarts Wrap Up | Borderlands Brewing Co

This week on Pints and Quarts we spend some time with Mike Mallozzi of Borderlands Brewing Company. They are located in Tuscon, AZ, and if you are in their distribution area, I suggest you seek them out. A vanilla porter? A soured ale? What, what?

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Don’t forget to schedule your Thursday evening around us this week. We will have Kim Jordan from New Belgium joining us at 9:30pm EST….live!!

 

 

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Yes, Airline Attendant, I Will Have Another

Sweetwater Delta logo

SweetWater and Delta logos

 

It’s been a few years since I’ve flown on an airplane, but I remember Guinness during layovers, and, well, nothing during the flight because back then you just got Coke and pretzels.

Now, though, there is talk of our favorite phrase: “Craft beer.” Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association, mentions some of what’s being offered high in the sky. Jet Blue is offering Brooklyn, Frontier is serving Oskar Blues and New Belgium, and Delta has SweetWater (Georgia and Georgia!). These aren’t the only airlines he mentions—he goes into further detail in the video linked above.

He points out that the move to craft beer makes sense, because the demographics match. Frequent flyers tend to be employed, with disposable income, and the same goes for craft brew drinkers.

Craft brew has become more desirable to airlines also because it is increasingly becoming available in cans, which are lighter and easier to transport.

The only drag to this is that you have to be at 37,000 feet. I attempted to find out if short-range commercial flights climb that high. Unfortunately, I got some freaky stories when I Googled “flight 37,000 feet,” so perhaps I’ll leave that for a follow-up one day.

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Fruit Beer

2015-01-27

Fruit beer is a style that takes on a lot of different meanings. It also gets a pretty rough reputation from beer-to-beer and person-to-person. I’ve run into people who claim they do not like fruit beer as they are finishing pint after pint of an IPA with an apricot addition or something similar. It is another style that many people just do not fully understand.

Do we need to start by defining what goes into a fruit beer? The BJCP makes one thing pretty clear on just a quick glance at the 2008 guidelines:

THE ENTRANT MUST SPECIFY THE UNDERLYING BEER STYLE AS WELL AS THE TYPE OF FRUIT(S) USED. IF THIS BEER IS BASED ON A CLASSIC STYLE (E.G., BLONDE ALE) THEN THE SPECIFIC STYLE MUST BE SPECIFIED. CLASSIC STYLES DO NOT HAVE TO BE CITED (E.G., “PORTER” OR “WHEAT ALE” IS ACCEPTABLE). THE TYPE OF FRUIT(S) MUST ALWAYS BE SPECIFIED. (BJCP Guidelines, 2008)

To truly get a grasp on this “style,” you must really have a base understanding of all the other styles. You must understand the nuances of the listed style and see how the fruit addition either complements or contrasts the base beer. What is important to judging and brewing a fruit beer is first taking the base beer into consideration. You cannot have a good fruit beer with a bad base. One thing that should be considered with any fruit additions to a style of beer is that some combinations may work really well, while others do not make very good beer at all.

While in the 2008 BJCP guidelines, Fruit Beer was a catchall for any beer brewed with fruit that wasn’t already classically defined, the 2014 Draft Guidelines break Fruit Beer into three subcategories. Fruit Beer, Fruit and Spice Beer, and Specialty Fruit Beer essentially account for any variation of fruit additions that can be made.

Let’s take a look at each of the new subcategories and see what fits into them:

The Fruit Beer category is for beer made with any fruit or combination of fruit under the definitions of this category. The culinary, not botanical, definition of fruit is used here – fleshy, seed-associated structures of plants that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state. Examples include pomme fruit (apple, pear, quince), stone fruit (cherry, plum, peach, apricot, mango, etc.), berries (any fruit with the word ‘berry’ in it, currants), citrus fruit, dried fruit (dates, prunes, raisins, etc.), tropical fruit (banana, pineapple, guava, papaya, etc.), figs, pomegranate, prickly pear, etc. It does not mean spices, herbs, vegetables, nuts (anything with ‘nut’ in the name, including coconut), coffee, chocolate, ginger, roses, rhubarb, or botanical fruit (squash, chiles, beets, etc.) that are treated as culinary vegetables (see the definition of spices, herbs, and vegetables in Category 30 for detail). Basically, if you have to justify a fruit using the word ‘technically’ as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean. (BJCP Guidelines, 2014)

In subcategory 29A (Fruit Beer), what is really important to a fruit beer is overall balance. That is not to say you cannot have a big fruit flavor in your favorite style of beer. What it means is that the fruit should not overwhelm the character of the original beer you are trying to brew (though you need to take into consideration that certain elements of a beer will take a different form with the addition of fruit.) Your bitterness may seem different, your malt character might be a touch muted or accentuated, your hops and yeast can also become a different animal. Judging this style can be tricky based on these facts. You have to understand how the fruit addition will play in the finished product. The biggest thing that you want to avoid is the addition of fruit to where its character becomes artificial.

In 29B (Fruit and Spice Beer), we have the same characteristics of a fruit beer; the colors in lighter beers can mimic the fruit to a degree. The fruit is evident in the aroma—though the intensity of said aroma can vary or be nondescript—as well as the fruit flavor in the beer. But we also get an addition of spice to accentuate the fruit and base beer style. This can lead to a number of harmonious marriages that awaken a new sense of lust on the palate. This subcategory also shares a bit of space with 30A, SHV Beer, so take into consideration how you would differentiate a beer placed here, vs 29A or 30A.

Subcategory 29C gets a little complex. What is a Specialty Fruit Beer? Isn’t a fruit beer a specialty all in its own? Well, if your fruit beer has an additional process or ingredient added, such as the addition of honey or brown sugar, this is where your beer belongs. Though, if you cannot pull out what makes your beer fit into this category, despite what your recipe says, throw it into 29A for best results. Your addition of invert sugar may sound good on paper, but if it fails to come through in the final product, an otherwise good beer may be discounted for not living up to expectations.

Fruit can really bring out some interesting characteristics in beer. It can brighten up dull flavors and bring a new layer of complexity to already great beers. Adding fruit can prove difficult at times, and some fruits work better than others. Some fruits work well in one style but not so well in another. There is a wide range of enjoyment that can come from doing something so basic as combining a few of your favorite things, but going over all of that is better suited for another time.

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Pints and Quarts Ep. 030 | Spring House Brewing Co.

Spring House

Live on Thursday (1/22/15) night at 9:30pm EST (and available anytime afterwards right here too), we will spend some time with Rob Tarves of Spring House Brewing Co. in Lancaster, PA Area. Rob is the Head Brewer of Spring House and we will be talking about their history, their beers, and their plans for the future.  We interviewed them a few years back, and are excited to see what delicious concoctions they have come up with since.
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Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer

Whether you’ve brewed 3, 30, or 300 batches of homebrew before, you’ve probably been inclined to brew a beer that’s different than what commercial breweries often produce. Classic styles are great, but, you want to do something different, something special! Enter the Spice, Herb or Vegetable beer category! In this category, you take a classic style— say an IPA—and add a complimentary ingredient, maybe lemongrass. You choose some great flavor hops like Citra and Amarillo to pair well with the added citrus of the lemongrass. The beer still tastes like an IPA, but it also showcases the unique flavor that lemongrass imparts. There are two things to keep in mind when brewing a beer for this category in competition: 1) the base beer style needs to be obvious, and 2) any special ingredients you list need to be obvious. If you brew a beer with five herbs, but only two are really noticeable, it’s better to just list those two rather than lose points because the other three aren’t discernable.

The 2008 BJCP guidelines for this category had two subcategories: Standard Spice, Herb, Vegetable and Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced. Standard S/H/V received an update in 2014, broadening and clarifying the guidelines for aroma, flavor, and overall style. In addition, the new guidelines have added a third subcategory: Autumn Seasonal. This covers the popular pumpkin and fall spiced beers that have been showing up more often, both commercially and at homebrew competitions. Winter Specialty remained the same as far as guidelines for judging are concerned.

With standard S/H/V beer, the guidelines make it clear to keep in mind the base style when judging the beer. Note how it is affected by the S/H/V ingredients. Some key characteristics of the base style can be subdued, sometimes intentionally, to allow the S/H/V aroma and flavor to shine. Balance is key here, however. The S/H/V shouldn’t completely overwhelm the base style of the beer. Likewise, any S/H/V mentioned on the entry form needs to be noticeable. When judges have to really hunt for these ingredients, they will give the beer a lower score. There was a slight change in this subcategory. This sentence was removed from the 2014 guidelines: “If the base beer is an ale then a non-specific fruitiness and/or other fermentation by-products such as diacetyl may be present as appropriate for warmer fermentations. If the base beer is a lager, then overall less fermentation byproducts would be appropriate.” (BJCP 2008 Guidelines.) This was most likely removed to get rid of generalized assumptions that may not have been accurate. Also added to the 2014 guidelines under Overall Impressions: “The individual character of each SHV may not always be individually identifiable when used in combination.” (BJCP 2014 Guidelines.) The key here for judges is to keep in mind that adding these S/H/V components is going to change the base style of the beer. When the base style is still evident, the S/H/V component(s) is/are appropriately showcased, in balance, and brewing process flaws are not present. That’s an award winning beer in this subcategory.

With the 2014 guidelines, there is a new subcategory called Autumn Seasonal. Beers in this subcategory include any S/H/V that one might associate with fall. An obvious style here, which has taken the American Craft Beer scene by storm in recent years, is the pumpkin beer. Other beers that might fall into this subcategory (pun intended) include beers spiced like pumpkin pie (which don’t contain pumpkin), beers that use other fall squash, and beers that have overall spices reminiscent of fall and harvest. Traditionally these beers are malt forward, with the S/H/V components playing a supporting role. There are certain base beer styles that lend themselves more towards this subcategory, like ambers, stouts, browns, and porters. These beers do not typically display a complex hop profile, as the spices tend to take the place of their role. Again, like in the standard S/H/V subcategory, balance is critical in this style.

If you’re looking to make a beer that’s both unique, yet classic, a Spice/Herb/Vegetable beer may be just what you’re looking to brew. Starting with a base style that you already brew well, like a stout, and then adding a couple of ingredients that compliment it, like chocolate and mint, could be a great way to showcase to your friends what a creative brewer you are! As long as your base style is done well, and your added ingredients are in balance with it, you can brew an award winning beer!

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The Tourism Exception and Florida Breweries

Uh oh. I don’t get a good feeling when I go to one of my favorite local breweries’ websites and see an open letter. Open letters mean serious business.

However, if all we looked for were the fun aspects of beer, we wouldn’t have any beer to buy. Someone’s gotta pay attention to the business side.

The founder of Intuition Ale Works, Ben Davis, posted a letter on his breweries’ homepage. In it, he talks about a legal challenge filed by the Florida Independent Spirits Association towards the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. No, the Florida Independent Spirits Association (FISA) is not a trade group for paranormal entities. That would be cool, though. It’s a lobbying group representing alcohol retailers. Per their website, their “founding set of guidelines…is advocacy for independent alcohol retailers in the State of Florida.”

Ben considers the organizers of the petition to be “strongly opposed to the way [Intuition’s] taprooms currently operate.” He says that now they can sell beer directly to their supporters, but the opposition would have them sell their beer “to a distributor and then buy it back, at a markup, before [they] can sell it to [the consumer]. “

The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), which has also filed a petition, released a statement that they are seeking clarification regarding the tourism law and how it pertains to craft breweries. The “Tourist Exception,” which is the law that allows Anheuser-Busch to sell beer at Busch-Gardens, is the question.

The best source of legal information I’ve found regarding this issue has been at the website for Komlossy Law. Whereas I can talk for hours about what I think and feel, they have a more concise and accurate view of the issue than I could hope for.

Florida breweries, for the most part, believe that this issue affects all Florida breweries, not just start-ups. The Florida Brewers Guild has published a statement to this effect. They also have a good breakdown of the issue here. They consider the outcome to be so integral to the health of the industry, that they urge readers on their homepage to “save Florida’s craft brewers” by going to an Indiegogo campaign.

Mike Halker, president of the Florida Brewers Guild and Due South Brewing, wrote an in depth article about the situation. He goes so far as to say that this challenge is also meant to keep brewers and craft beer enthusiasts busy, so that no one pays any attention to other issues affecting the craft beer industry: “If they keep us distracted with things like keeping our tasting rooms open, they think we won’t be attempting to get things like limited self-distribution or franchise law reform.”

Per Komlassy Law’s Twitter account, the hearing is set for February 9th and 10th. Perhaps we should all clutch our growlers for good luck.

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Measurements: The Pints & Quarts Wrap Up | Alaskan Brewing

Up north, in Alaska, they are making some delicious beer. Everyone west of the Mississippi can get it, and this week on Pints and Quarts, so do some of us Easterners. Watch our conversation with Andy Kline of Alaskan Brewing Company, and see how things are going with their co-gen project, what their seasonals for 2015 are, and what Andy thinks about the Sierra Nevada-Lagunitas brouhaha this past week.

Don’t forget to tune in next week as we interview the fine crafters at Spring House Brewing!

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The Boston Beer Company – Samuel Adams Utopias

Utopias

From Sam Adams’ Website

 

Reviewer/Writer: Ricky Potts
Beer Name: Samuel Adams Utopias
Brewery: The Boston Beer Company
Style: Barley Wine
Availability: Limited
Hop Varieties: Hallertau Mittelfruh, Spalt Spalter and Tettnang Tettnager
Yeast Strains: Two proprietary types.
ABV: 29%
IBUs: 25
Glassware: Snifter

Trying this beer was special. The beer comes around every couple of years, and is fairly easy to find. But this year we were invited to share this beer with friends and did so on Christmas Day. My good friend Mickey runs Cellars Fine Wine & Spirits here in Phoenix, Arizona, and was open on Christmas Day. He was also open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but Christmas means a little more, in my opinion. When he invited us to share this bottle with him, I couldn’t tell him no. I mean… it’s Sam Adams Utopias. This is a bucket list beer, for sure.

If you do happen to find a bottle, look at spending $200+. Total Wine & More gets a case every two years, and charges $249 for it. At least the last time I saw a bottle sold at Total Wine, that is what it sold for. Plus, this is a beer you don’t want to drink all at once. The beer will age for many years to come, and more than a few ounces is plenty. It’s nearly 30% ABV, after all.

We didn’t finish the bottle on Christmas Day, and Mickey was gracious enough to gift me the remaining few ounces and the impressive bottle it came in. Oh, and he gave me the glassware, too. Just a great experience from start to finish.

Appearance: In the glass, it is seemingly thick with zero head, and a nice thick sticky lace. Oh, and Mickey served this in the appropriate glassware that The Boston Beer Company will provide when you buy a bottle of this beer. The glasses don’t come with the beer, but rather with a certificate you can mail in to claim your glasses.

Not sure if that will make the beer taste better… but it is a nice presentation.

Aroma: That is straight bourbon. I mean… wow. All I am smelling here is whiskey.

I also had the pleasure of sharing this beer with Sheryl. When we were smelling this beer, she said, “It kind of looks like maple syrup in the glass.” She’s right. It does. I didn’t realize they actually used maple syrup in the glass until after the fact.

Drinking this beer has been on my bucket list for a LONG time, and I’m honored that Mickey was willing to share with us. Cheers doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Taste: Holy. Crap. I’ve heard people say this beer isn’t good, that it is too boozy, but they are wrong. This shouldn’t be beer, but it is. So good. Almost puts me beyond words. Oh, and I got a second pour… so I shared it with friends.

Mouthfeel: For as much hype as this beer has, and as thick as it appears in the glass, the mouthfeel is thin, but so hot you can’t leave it in your mouth for long. I just want to swallow so I can enjoy the aftertaste. The finish just lingers for days.

Overall Impression: I only had a few ounces, but the flavor just blows me away. This is a sipping beer. Oh, it’s a sipping beer. I bet this would go well with a nice cigar. I wonder if Samuel Adams would be able to recommend a cigar to pair with this.

“This is the most complicated, complex liquid I have ever put in my mouth.” That’s the quote of the day. Mickey, I owe you big time, my friend. Wow. That is all. Is this the best beer I’ve ever had?

Cheers to you, Jim Koch!

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Beer Brains: The Unsocial Beer App

Berstler App Screenshot

“…no selfies, no shared ratings, no profile pics.”

Just the beer, ma’am.

While it can be fun to toast, like, comment and rage against your friends when they check in their latest beer find, sometimes you just want your beer.

I know for me, when I’m in Total Wine, I’m more overwhelmed than a toddler roaming the aisles of a big box toy store. I suddenly don’t remember what I have, what I’ve had or what I’d like to have. I just find myself grasping at labels and names that sound vaguely familiar.

“There’s an app for that,” you may say. Then I’ll say “Yeah, have you tried to use your data plan in a big box beer store?” There’s a whole bunch of “no service,” and very little actual data being transferred.

I’ve tried making notepad documents, but there’s no way to sort, and typing long/unusual names is a pain!

Turns out Justin Berstler, a classically-trained software engineer, heard the call and took up arms. (Though, currently the arms are only available via Apple’s iOS.)

He’s created an app called Beer Brains. The data stores locally on your device, so even if you have no service, you can still see your beer inventory. The only time you need internet service is when you’re searching for new beers.

The app lets you categorize your inventory, create a wish list, and rate beers. If you want to indicate to yourself that you’ve already consumed a particular beer, then rate it. That will move it to the “ratings” view.

The wish list, by default, itemizes by brewery. That is really handy if you’re traveling to a part of the country with specific distribution reach. You know, like those times when you’re in San Francisco, and you want all the Russian River you can find. (I say that as someone who has never had Russian River, and never been to San Francisco. I know—you’re thinking “cry me a Russian River, lady.)

The best part of the app? It reads bar codes! No matter how many times I hold my phone up to a beer, the notepad program is not going to read a bar code.

The information is sourced from a third-party database (unambiguously called BreweryDB), which in turns gets its information from its own administrators and community. You can submit items for approval at their website. Per Justin, the database also distinguishes different years for certain brews.

I asked Justin if the app lets you indicate whether you consumed the brew in a bottle, can, or on tap, but he said not exactly. Those aren’t categories you can choose, but there is a note section for each entry, and you can notate this for your reference.

Right now the app is intended to be a reference for each individual. There is no account to log into, so there aren’t “friends” to approve, or people to follow. In the future he might add some “light sharing” capabilities: sharing wish lists and recommendations. He might also include average ratings from popular beer sites.

Regarding badges, Justin said “…with Beer Brains I’m not really trying to create another Untappd. Beer Brains is for those craft beer lovers that just want a beautifully simple, handy way to keep track of their beers. And in that way, there is plenty of room in the world for both types of people, and both types of apps.”

He said there isn’t a limit to how many beers you can list (well, unless you have a tiny, tiny hard drive). The only limit is in searching. The cap on returns is 50, so if you search for “ale” you ain’t gonna get all the items.

Beer Brains is free (ad-supported) in the Apple app store. Eventually he’d like to offer a paid ad-free service. If there’s enough interest in an Android version, he said that he would make one. For the record, I’m on Android!

Sources:

Most information comes from a written interview with Justin, but some of it comes from Google Plus. You may send any suggestions, comments or questions to Justin.

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Ommegang – Valar Morghulis

Valar Morghulis

Photo by Lola Lariscy. Clint taught me to build the fire.

 

Beer Name: Valar Morghulis
Brewery: Ommegang
Style: Abbey Dubbel
Hops: Apollo, Hallertau Spalt (Per the website)
Malts: Secret recipe
Availability: 750ml bomber and 1/6 barrel keg
ABV: 8.0%
Glassware: Snifter

It is not readily known amongst those of Westeros, but Valar Morghulis, in the Valyrian tongue, means “All Humans (and Occasionally Trolls) Must Drink.”

It is whispered in the woods of the North, by the followers of the old gods and the new, that there is a liquid. The drops coat one’s tongue with the tastes of dark fruit and sweet caramel. A shock of spice kicks the mouth like Arya’s horse when startled by the Hound. Much like Tyrion, the booziness makes itself known (particularly at the finish), but doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The complexion is darkened by malt, with a creamy, dense head. The carbonation isn’t abundant, and dissipates quickly, but in a beer this full, you want to get straight to the gold.

The aroma is like the best cologne I wish my boyfriend would wear. It’s malty, spicy-pungent and strong enough to raise [SPOILER] from the dead. I bet this would go fabulously with non-pasteurized cheese.

At 8% ABV, I should not drink this entire bottle tonight. However, the night is long, winter is here, and there be crazy snow zombies out there.

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