Lagunitas Files and Un-Files Lawsuit Against Sierra Nevada


Fonts come from Microsoft Office. In case you’re wondering—yes, I paid for the software!


What a difference a day makes! Yesterday this was going to be an article about a potential lawsuit by Lagunitas towards Sierra Nevada for trademark infringement. Today it’s a story about…well…that, but also how Lagunitas dropped the lawsuit today.

So here we are. Back to where we all started. The circle of life.

Looking at the Twitter account for Tony Magee (Lagunitas’ founder) yesterday was liking watching a play-by-play of a very long football game. (Did I use that metaphor right? I don’t know much about sports.) Each Tweet gave a little bit more of a clue as to what was going on between the two popular breweries.

The issue was with the branding of Sierra Nevada’s new IPA, Hop Hunter. Lagunitas felt that their trademark had been violated with this packaging. The person Tweeting stated that the issue was not with the letters “IPA,” but with the layout of letters:

Sierra Nevada was quieter on its social media. There was one Tweet regarding the situation, and it pointed to this Facebook post stating that Sierra Nevada has been brewing IPAs since 1981, and that they acknowledge that there will be differences in opinion. The poster stated that “We don’t harbor any ill will toward Lagunitas Brewing and are pleased that we can get back to making great beers.” In a blog post on their site, Sierra Nevada asserted that they “have no interest in [their] products being confused with any other brand.”

So, it seems over. However, the folks over at Lagunitas won’t forget it for awhile: 

While I won’t say it’s the worst day in *my* life, I will say that I hate it when two businesses I love don’t get along. C’mon. Let’s all drink it out.



Mashed Out: The Mashing Out Wrap Up Show | Craft Beer Nation

Sour - Cropped

We all know that cleaning and sanitation are important parts of brewing beer. Often we joke that being a professional brewer is actually a glorified janitorial job. Whether you are a new brewer or you’ve been brewing for years, it’s important to evaluate your cleaning procedures from time to time. Sometimes we get into a routine and fail to be as thorough as we should be.

Cleaning can be said to be even more important than sanitation because you cannot sanitize dirt. There are a few key factors that play a part in the cleaning process: time, temperature, concentration and agitation. Regardless of what cleaning and sanitation products or procedures you use, remember, this is always a two-step process. There is no one-step method on the market that does what you need to do to brew a great beer. Even products that market themselves as “One-Step” need to be used twice to achieve the appropriate level of sanitation. If you’re using bleach, this also needs to be done twice—once for cleaning and again for sanitation. My personal preferences for cleaning and sanitation products are Five Star brand PBW (Professional Brewers Wash) and Star San. I’ve used these two products exclusively since I started brewing several years ago, and they are, in my opinion, the best option for new brewers and seasoned brewers alike. My focus today will be on these two products. That said, we all have our methods—as long as you are using what you use in a two-step process and following package directions, you’ll be great.

So what is PBW? As I said, it’s my favorite cleaner to use. It’s got a few key components that make it a great option for homebrewers and pro brewers alike. PBW is a mild alkaline, a surfactant, a chelation (pronounced key-lay-shun) and uses oxygen to clean. PBW is a mild alkaline. An alkaline cleaner is the best kind for cleaning organic deposits created by homebrewing. PBW is so mild that it won’t harm your skin! PBW also has surfactants which break down the surface tension of the water. All surfaces have microscopic pits, that water can’t always get into. While we can’t see them, dirt and bugs can find their way into these places. A surfactant essentially makes water thinner, allowing it to get into these microscopic surfaces. PBW has a chelation agent, which changes the way metal ions bond, helping to reduce these ions from binding with your brewing equipment and reducing the need to clean with a caustic to remove said ions. Simply put, if you have hard water, the chelation agent will keep those minerals off your equipment. Finally, PBW uses active oxygen to penetrate carbon or protein soils. The oxygen also helps in reducing bio oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand in wastewater, which is an added environmental benefit.

Time and temperature work hand in hand. While PBW can be used at various temperature ranges from 60 degrees to 180, it’s most effective at 120 – 140. In fact, when you use this temperature range, you can cut hours off your cleaning process. According to John from Five Star, (as heard on the Brewing Network’s Brew Strong: Cleaning show) a dirty carboy that you would normally soak for 24 hours in tap water temperatures can be cleaned in as little as 30 minutes with a 1 oz to 1 gallon ratio solution. Certainly it’s ok to continue to soak for 24 hours at room temp. I do this all the time with my kegs. It’s just easier to take them outside with hose water than it is to get them in my bathtub to achieve that temp range. Also, make sure you avoid temperatures over 180. This can make the surfactant come out of the solution, causing a crusty film to be left on the side of your container.

Concentration is also an important part. The package directions say to use 1-3 oz/gallon depending on soil level. John from Five Star says 1 oz is almost always the best concentration. In many cases, when something is extra dirty, it’s almost better to do 1 oz two times than to do 2 oz one time. Interestingly enough, 1 oz of PBW by weight is almost exactly 1 oz by volume. So whichever method you prefer to measure your PBW with, you’ll be correct in regards to concentration…just make sure you measure. If you do not have the proper concentration either you could be wasting product, or worse, you could be using a level that makes the cleaner unsafe to use.

Agitation is another important factor. PBW is made as a CIP (clean in place) cleaner, meaning it will clean with no agitation needed. But if you’re like me, on brew day, you may want to give some of your equipment a quick scrub down before you begin. It can get dusty if you aren’t brewing as often as you’d like! A quick, 1 oz concentration and a sponge does the trick at cleaning everything you need to clean. With this method, time isn’t an issue….just make sure you’re hitting every surface. If you’re using plastic, don’t use anything that would scratch the surface. For stainless or aluminum, a “green scrubby” is always a better option.

Sanitation can’t begin until you’ve got clean equipment. Once you’re there, it’s time to kill any remaining microscopic bugs (bacteria and wild yeast) that remain on your equipment. This is where Star San comes into play. Star San is phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. At proper concentrations, Star San is a no-rinse sanitizer.

Don’t fear the foam

Star San’s high-foaming action is actually a good thing. When the foam adheres to the surface it’s killing all those bugs. With only 30 seconds of contact, Star San kills a level of bugs that makes the surface safe for beer. Three minutes of contact will achieve NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) sanitary levels. You can sterilize with Star San, but, it would take a much higher concentration (rinse required), and more time. But there is no need to sterilize with brewing. As long as you kill enough of the bug population, it makes it impossible for them to compete with healthy brewer’s yeast and your beer will be saved.

Many times homebrewers will make up batches of Star San in a spray bottle, to use throughout brew day. This is a perfectly acceptable method and will make your Star San go a much longer way than continuously making 5 gallon batches. If you do choose to make 5 gallon batches, you can reuse the sanitizer as long as you’ve stored it in an airtight container. As long as the PH is below 3.5 and the solution is clear, you can still use your Star San. Star San has a tendency to react with heavy metals in tap water, and it can turn cloudy. If you were to use distilled water to make your Star San solution, and keep in an airtight container, it will not break down and can be used over and over again.

You can use Star San as a cleaner. However, it is not a good cleaner for the organic materials found in everyday beer brewing. Instead, it’s an acid, and better for those inorganic materials that build up over time, such as “beer stone” calcium oxalate.

Jon Herskovits of Five Star Chemicals , featured on The Brewing Network’s Brew Strong Cleaning and Sanitation shows.



The Old Ale

by Allen Huerta

Old Ale…what is it? A beer? Old beer? Old IPA? English Barleywine? Small Stouts? A beer at all? Dark & malty? Sweet & sour? The basis of the IPA we know today?

Some home brewers that are out there brewing this style don’t even know. The BJCP, in 2008, defined the style as:

“An ale of significant alcohol strength, bigger than strong bitters and brown porters, though usually not as strong or rich as a barleywine. Usually tilted toward a sweeter, maltier balance.”

In the 2014 BJCP Draft Guidelines, the text is cleaned up a bit, but reads essentially the same. There has been a better definition as to what characteristics are acceptable, even if they may normally be considered faults. Some of the commercial examples that are on the market today taste amazing, but they miss out on key characteristics of the style.

The Old Ale is a somewhat historic style. Ales of this magnitude were typically brewed for special occasions and used the best ingredients that brewers could get their hands on. At this time strong ales were a direct representation of the best beer a brewery could make. They were often preserved for special occasions: weddings, anniversaries, and even coronations. Some of these beers were put into casks and cellared for quite a long time. These beers came to be known as “Old”, “Stale”, “Stock”, or “Keeping” ales. Some versions were just aged Mild Ales from a time when a Mild was of considerably higher alcoholic strength. These versions of Stock Ales were often blended with young mild ale at the bar to suit individual consumer taste.

Some of these beers would pick up the character of spontaneously fermented ales; notes that are associated with other well-known styles that were wood-aged and “Lambic-like.” A way some brewers would distinguish their Old Ale from other strong ales was by the introduction of adjuncts. Higher proportions of sugars, molasses, treacle, or invert sugar would be added along with ingredients such as flaked barley, wheat, or maize to enhance the body of the beer.

There are a few out there that say you can’t make an Old Ale without treacle. Others think that it only lends a distinct flavor profile in the finished beer and it is not required for a great example of the style. The 2014 Draft Guidelines make no specific mention of treacle as a required element. However, what they do point out is that an impression of age is a key factor, regardless of how the brewer decides to interpret that.

Common characteristics of age, as listed, are: complexity, lactic, Brett, oxidation, leather, vinous quality, etc. It is also noted that, “Even if these qualities are otherwise faults, if the resulting character of the beer is still pleasantly drinkable and complex, then those characteristics are acceptable. In no way should those allowable characteristics be interpreted as making an undrinkable beer as somehow in style.”

Between the two versions of the guidelines, the Old Ale has just been better defined, not changed. The only notable difference is the OG has been adjusted a few points, and the ABV as well to stay in line. Hopefully the clarification of the style will lead everyone to further enjoy Old Ales and lead both brewers and drinkers to branch out and try something new. In the words of the late Michael Jackson, “It should be a warming beer of the type that is best drunk in half pints by a warm fire on a cold winter’s night.” Consider that the next time you are looking at bottles on the shelf or deciding what style you want to brew.




Girls’ Pint In

We had a great discussion last night regarding craft beer label art. Some of it is beautiful, some of it is effective, and some of it is baffling in its tone deaf offensiveness.

We weren’t able to crack the enigma of why some breweries think it wise to show blatantly pornographic images on their labels. In fact, most of us think that it hurts their image. Only the A-holish of the A-holes will gravitate towards that type of art, while most sensible people will stay clear of it.

We did talk about how it makes us feel, though, to see that. It’s obvious those breweries aren’t marketing to us. How do we react? Do we make a point to tell the breweries? Do we just not buy that beer?

We go over all of those options on this episode of Girls’ Pint In.

#craftbeer #labelart



Measurements: The Pints & Quarts Wrap Up | Michael Tonsmeire

What a great conversation. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to brewing beer. We thoroughly enjoyed talking with Michael Tonsmeire, and I think you will enjoy watching, too.

You can find Michael’s book, American Sour Beers, on all the good booksellers’ sites and in stores. It is so full of information, you definitely get your money’s worth. Also, you can visit his blog, The Mad Fermentationist, to keep up with all his goings-on.

As a little treat for our loyal followers, we are going to mail a signed copy of his awesome book to one lucky winner. All you have to do to win is drop a comment on the bottom of THIS POST. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a story about brewing your own sour, give it. If you just want the damn book, write “Me please!” (or, whatever). We will pick a winner from everyone who comments before noon (EST) on Thursday, January 15th. Get your comment in now!

If you missed the event, here is the YouTube version:

Don’t forget to watch for our event for next week’s interview with Alaskan Brewing. They are making some great beers, and they are an absolute HOOT to hangout with!



Girls’ Pint In – Ep24 | Craft Beer Nation

Come back to this page on Monday at 9:30 PM Eastern! We’ll be discussing label art that some might see as offensive or just plain tone deaf towards women.

Is it ok that the art made it past the label approvers?

Should we just not buy the beer, or should we actively engage the brewery regarding the artwork?

What is some of the artwork that we find offensive?



Phin & Matts Extraordinary Ale, Southern Tier

Phin and Matt's Logo

Beer Name: Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale
Brewery: Southern Tier
Style: American Pale Ale
Availability: (bottle, year-round)
5.7% ABV, 37 IBUs

Glassware: Sam Adams

I can’t review this beer fairly. Why not? Because the first time I had this beer, I was sitting across from the beach, in a sun-lit, tranquil eatery. I had woken up that morning with one mission: to go to the beach on my own and have a perfect day. I did, and Phin & Matt’s was an integral part of that experience.

Of course, its appeal can’t all be nostalgic. If I’d had a bad beer that sunny day 6 years ago, it wouldn’t have been the great day it was. So that means this must be a pretty good beer.

Sitting at the crossroads between a red ale and an IPA, the 3 different malts blend together to create a light, caramel-tinged body for the 3 different hops. The hoppiness is subdued, and well-balanced within the beer. I couldn’t find the exact hops (or malts) used, but I get a floral smell and a subtle citrus taste. I’m thinking maybe Cascade and some of the other Cs.

This beer might have been the last of its kind, too. Apparently I caught this bottle right as Southern Tier is introducing their “re-imagined” version, PMX (shortened from…well… Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary). I’ll have to update my notes when I eventually have the new version.

If you’re in the mood for a big, bold beer, then this isn’t what you want. However, if you’re sitting outside, under a blue sky, this is what you might want on the table beside you.



2014 BJCP Scottish Ale Style Changes

As the temperatures outside get cooler, a nice malty beverage in front of a fire seems like a great way to spend an evening.  There are lots of great styles to choose from, but some of my favorites for this time of year are Scottish ales.  From Scottish Light to Wee Heavy, you can choose to spend the evening having a few of the former, or sipping one of the latter, while hanging out with friends.  In recent years there has been some confusion on these styles-mostly the “shilling” styles, the style names, specific flavors, aromas and brewing processes have been in question.  The soon-to-be finalized 2014 guidelines will correct previously inaccurate information and debunk common myths about these styles.

In the 2008 guidelines, the styles of Scottish ale were as follows: Scottish Light 60/-Scottish Heavy 70/- Scottish Export 80/- and Strong Scotch Ale. The shilling categories were derived from price charged per hogshead (54 Imperial gallons) during the 1800’s; the stronger or better quality beers were more expensive. In 2014, BJCP will be moving to a Scottish ale category containing Scottish Light, Scottish Heavy and Scottish Export. Wee Heavy will move to Strong British Ales. You can read more about these guidelines here.

Speaking specifically of the Scottish ale categories, the 2014 BJCP guidelines have a note about the style name changes:  “The original meaning of ‘schilling’ (/-) ales have been described incorrectly for years. A single style of beer was never designated as a 60/-, 70/- or 80/-. The schillings only referring to the cost of the barrel of beer. Meaning there were 54/- Stouts and 86/- IPAs and so on. The Scottish ales in question were termed Light, Heavy and Export, which cover the spectrum of costs from around 60/- to 90/- and simply dark, malt-focused ales. The larger 120/- ales fall outside of this purview as well as the strongest Scotch ales (aka Wee Heavy).”  In other words, the BJCP will no longer categorize the styles of beer by what they might have cost; instead, they will focus on their increasing intensity, much like they did with English Bitters. In fact BJCP 2014 guidelines for Scottish ales will read exactly the same for each style of beer, and, as the gravity increases, so will the character of the beers in question.

Interestingly, peaty and smoky flavors were often referenced as being optional, but acceptable in the 2008 BJCP guidelines.  This no longer is the case in 2014 Scottish Ale category. It seems that this is removed because BJCP has acknowledged that these features would not be present in the more recent representation of the styles. A quote from thciprian on the American Homebrewers Association forum (here) may better explain why “by the early 19th century…brewers were doing everything they could to avoid smoky character in their beer, since it was considered to be a fault. For example, in the early 18th century (~300 years ago), one of the reasons why porter was aged was to give time for the smoke character (from ‘blown’ brown malt) to drop a bit.”  One might think the smoky peat-like character was coming from the malt. However, the 2008 BJCP indicates that the smoke wasn’t from the actual malt kilning process, but “…from the traditional yeast and from the local malt and water rather than using smoked malts.” Possibly by the late 1900s, the Scottish people had figured out a way to decrease the smoke-like character produced by their water and yeast. There is even a mention from the BJCP that “Scottish ales with smoke character should be entered as a Classic Style Smoked Beer.”  They aren’t saying it isn’t an accurate style characteristic, just not an accurate one for these new guidelines.

Finally, In the 2008 guidelines, kettle caramelization was considered a hallmark of the style, but in 2014 it has been deemed inaccurate. In both Scottish ales and Wee Heavy, the guidelines do not indicate that kettle caramelization is appropriate. In fact, for Scottish ales, The new guidelines include “malt-focused ales that gain the vast majority of their character from specialty malts, never the process. Burning malt or wort sugars via ‘kettle caramelization’ is not traditional nor is any blatantly ‘butterscotch’ character.”   Despite a bit of digging around the internet, there are no other references to this lack of kettle caramelization.  Even the Oxford Companion of Beer (2011) references it as part of the style: “Scotch ale traditionally goes through a long boil in the kettle. This was particularly the case in days when the kettles were direct fired by flame…”  By the 19th and 20th centuries, boiling wort over an open flame may not have been the preferred method, and the patent malt machine was invented. Caramelization would have come from the grains themselves, and not the pot.  It will be interesting to see if more information about this is published as we progress into 2015.

The majority of the information above focused on the new Scottish ale styles, but, some of it applies to Wee Heavy too.  While the name wasn’t changed, it was moved to a different category.  Also, per the 2014 BJCP guidelines, there’s no longer a mention of kettle caramelization. Smokiness is considered appropriate but optional in this category: “Slight smoke character may be present in some versions, but derives from roasted grains or a long, vigorous boil. Peated malt is absolutely not traditional.”  This is “more related to historical brews than the lower-strength Scottish ales, these beers have their roots in the strong ales of the 1700s and 1800s, although formulations and methods have changed. A premium product, often produced for export[…]modern versions have lower starting and finishing gravities than their historical ancestors.”

What hasn’t changed from 2008 to 2014 is the target numbers for these styles. The same gravities, IBUs, and ABVs are still appropriate.  The BJCP has simply moved to a more accurate representation of newer Scottish ales, from their names, and ingredients, to brewing process.  So next time you’re enjoying a Scottish ale or a Wee Heavy, think about how you might brew your next batch to reflect these style changes!  And good luck at your next competition!


BJCP 2008 Guidelines

BJCP 2014 Guidelines Draft

AHA Forum





Pints and Quarts – Michael Tonsmeire

Photo credit: Home Brewers Association

Yes…that Michael Tonsmeire. He wrote the book on American Sour Beers (literally), and he has been blogging at Mad Fermentationist for…well, ever. He is taking time out of his busy schedule and joining our Hangout On Air, this Thursday night at 9:30pm. You can visit our Google+ Event to comment or suggest questions/topics for our interview, or you can come right back here at show time to watch. Either way, see you Thursday night!