Monday, December 12, 2016

Travelling in the Philippines

Do you have a hobby? Perhaps one that involves enjoying beer?  Obviously you are part of the beer culture, else you wouldn't be wasting your time reading this drivel.  We actually have 2 hobbies, that we manage to combine into one.  Obviously beer is the first, but we also have a love for travel, so as often as we can, we tie them together into a rolling drink-a-thon. This time we decided to try somewhere quite unique, a bit risky, a bit .... raw.
This is not the first time that we have visited a third world country, in fact there have been several, but none quite so third worldish as this.  As with many countries once ruled by the Spanish, there is a huge gap between the haves and the have nots.  Manila is a huge city of 13 million people with hordes of desperately poor people living in the shadows of shiny glass high-rises.  Even as poor as they are, they are always quite respectful, which actually is a bit disconcerting.  There is a reverse racism that we noticed after several days which took aback a bit.  "Hello, sir", "good morning, sir", will come at you from almost everyone that you meet, but they don't speak that way to each other, only to people who are obviously westerners.  Should you be one of those deluded souls who believe in white race superiority, this is the place for you as that they fall all over each other to serve you.  There are beggars, to be sure, any city with this much poverty has many, but just smile and wave while saying nothing, and walk on you way, they will leave you alone.  The child beggars are a bit more aggressive and will follow you for a few blocks with their hands out, but just keep your eyes straight ahead and keep walking.  In a country as desperately poor as this, you are a target, so leave your bright and shiny things at home (i.e. jewelry, expensive watches, etc), dress modestly and do not wave cash around.  Most people speak at least some English, and should that fail, try a bit of Spanish, after all, the Spanish ruled here for several centuries.  Money is all counted in Spanish as well.

Your first contact with hustlers will come as you leave the airport.  There will be an army of hawkers trying to convince you that the $1,800.00 Peso (about $36.00) flat rate cab is the way to go with traffic as bad as it is in Manila, and man, it is bad, stunningly bad.  However, a Taxi is also stunningly cheap, and you a typical cab ride, even in really slow traffic, will cost you less than $500.00 Pesos.  Don't bother trying to find a bus or the subway, there aren't any, just take a cab and be happy. Other than a cab, the only public transportation is the ubiquitous Jeepney.  These diesel exhaust spewing monsters are all privately owned, all competing for the same riders, all on the same routes which are printed on the sides of the vehicle. In theory the amount charged for the ride is figured by distance. You get in and pass the money forward, but for the life of me I never mastered the pricing and am quite sure that I was royally screwed.  To be completely honest, with an exchange rate of about 50:1, a royal screwing amounts to only a couple of bucks.
If you get tired of dealing with the crush of humanity or choking on the filthy air, there are options for you to get away and into a world more familiar to the average boring American.  The shopping malls in Manila are awe inspiring. These are massive temples dedicated to the gods of commerce are staffed with security guards stationed at the entrances to keep out the poor and smelly people.  One of the examples of reverse racism that you may come across is that all Filipinos will be searched as they enter, but as a westerner you will most likely get a pass.  Now I pride myself in my ability to finding my way around almost anywhere without getting lost, but the malls in Manila are maddeningly convoluted and HUGE.  The Robinson's Place Mall has everything that a homesick tourist needs to make them feel safe, secure and boring.  It is also where those without an adventurous palate can find solace with the 30+ restaurants, most with familiar choices (TGIFridays, anyone?). The Mall of Asia is one of the largest malls in the world should you need exercise in a place with slightly cleaner air.

To be sure, we have not really visited a country that doesn't have a thriving underground beer scene ... until now.  Craft beer is a luxury that a country full of desperately poor can ill afford.  San Miguel is by far the largest brewer and has little competition.  Why?  Because it is frigging cheap, that's why.  A bottle of San Miguel will set you back about a buck.  The San Miguel Cerveza Negra (5% ABV) is a quite serviceable dark lager that will do in a crunch, but the craft breweries were really scarce, in fact, we only found one simply because we were lost and took the wrong exit from the Robinson's Place Mall (like I said, confusing), and there it was. It is true that you can find a few craft brews around town in the bottle, but our goal was to find a brewery where we could sit and chat about beer with locals.  

The Tap Station on Adriatico Street was honestly the only place that we could find within several miles of our hotel serving craft beers, and luckily, it was quite fine for our needs.  Their own beers, CraftRevolt Brewing, are color coded on the board on the board by price along with a few guest beers.  You will find most of their beers are session-able brews with modest alcohol content, but with familiar flavors and at reasonable prices.

The bottled craft beers that we tried were quite sporadic in quality.  The Tarsier Wheat Beer (4.6% ABV) made by Crazy Carabao Brewing had the funky armpit foulness that you get from unclean brewing equipment, or perhaps unwashed kegs.   Brew Kettle Belgian style Wit Bier (5.3% ABV) by the Asian Brewery, Makati, Philippines, is as good as any American knockoff of a Belgian classic.  In our not so humble opinion, the best craft brewer that we found was Joe's Brew out of Manilla. The Fish Rider Pale Ale (5% ABV) has a super drinkable balance between hops and malts.

We did get to spend a bit of time on the island of Boracay, about an hour's flight south of Manila.  Here you will not find the masses of desperately poor .... poor to be sure, just not desperately poor.  You will still find the hawkers trying to sell you anything that your drunken ass will buy, but the beggars are not so prevalent.  You will see gross, fat westerners with their tiny Filipino lovers .... male or female, but try not to judge, they need money and gross, fat westerners have it to give.  You will also see gloriously blue, clear water and swaying palm trees.  Hotels range from cheap dives to shiny new resorts
with the north end of the strip more of the latter .... a bit to sanitized for our tastes.  There is no sea wall and not concrete sidewalk here, hotels and restaurants are located directly on the beach where you can stroll along underneath the shade of the coconut palms.  Our recommendation to find a good selection of craft beers in the Red Coconut hotel bar and decently priced fruity drinks with umbrellas.  For dining you must try to find the Hobbit House restaurant where all of the staff are little people, and the food is actually quite good.  Little people.

We will give you one last piece of advice that should satisfy all of your cravings for finding good beer in the Philippines, consider, if you will, that the exchange rate is about 50 Pesos to the Dollar .... do the math.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain

Cheers, Bon

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 Thanksgiving Beer Recommendations

Do you ever get stuck in a rut that you just can't (or won't) escape from? For instance, normally, our 'go to' beer for Thanksgiving is the venerable, magnificent, Saison DuPont. We drink this every year, and have for years on end. Why? Because it pairs so very well with almost every dish in the Thanksgiving feast.
This year, though, we have decided to change things up .... a bit. For this year's debauchery, we are going to recommended a few similar beers for the snobs to try, along with us, they are:
1. Straffe Hendrik Wild Belgian Tripel Ale - Brewed by Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan, Brugges, Belgium, it is funky, earthy and ... wild. This should be the perfect accompaniment to the bird
2. Dogfish Head Biere de Provence Saison - Brewed with lavender, marjoram and bay leaves it should pair well with dressing.
3. Dogfish Head Saison du Buff - Brewed with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme making it a perfect pairing for almost everything on your plate. Now try getting that song out of your head.
-Cheers, Bon

Monday, November 21, 2016

Identifying Contaminated or Infected Beer

You have almost certainly heard us bitching about infected or contaminated beers.  There are many ways to contaminate a batch of beer, each of which produces it's own distinct flavor or smell.  This article from the November issue of Draft Magazine gives you a great insight on what is funking up your beer. Cheers, Bon
beer off flavors
As beloved as beer may be, the beverage also has many enemies. Outside forces like oxygen, sunlight and time do their best to ruin beer, but even compounds found in and on malt, hops, water and yeast—the very ingredients that make beer delicious—can act as spoilers. With all the things that can go awry when making a beer, it’s a small miracle that most of them make it to the shelf free of flaws. Every now and then, however, you do run into a stinker, and it’s important to know exactly what caused the offending flavor. Here’s a baker’s dozen of those we encounter most often.
Tastes like: green apples, fresh cut grass, cucumbers
Caused by: yeast. Acetaldehyde is naturally produced in the early stages of fermentation, but is usually converted into ethanol (AKA sweet, sweet booze) later on. Too much of the green apple flavor in a beer usually means the brewer used unhealthy or inactive yeast, fermented at too-low temperatures, or packaged the beer before the yeast was finished fermenting. (Fun fact: acetaldehyde is also one of the compounds produced by our bodies when we digest alcohol. Certain groups of people have a hard time breaking the compound down further, so it accumulates—this is why some people will become flushed in the face after drinking.)
Tastes like: Not a taste so much as a sensation of dryness on the tongue
Caused by: polyphenols in malt, hops or spices. Most commonly it’s the result of poorly managed sparging—the brewing stage during which a brewer rinses malt with water to extract any residual sugar. Sparge too long or at too high a temperature and polyphenols from the grain husks will end up in the finished beer, making it astringent. An overzealous addition of spices—such as those commonly used in pumpkin ales and winter warmers—can also contribute some astringency.
Autolysed Yeast
Tastes like: meat, sulfur, vegemite, barbecue potato chips
Caused by: dead yeast. Yeast are hardy little critters, but they’re not immortal; they do eventually die, and when they do, they basically burst open (the word autolysis literally means “self-destruction”) and release their innards into the beer. This has a number of effects: It reduces the head on a beer, accelerates the creation of haze, and can even restart fermentation, resulting in overcarbonation. But the largest effect is in the flavor and aroma: The meaty bouquet of autolyzed yeast is so intense that it’s often used to add flavor to soups and barbecue potato chips. Yeast autolysis usually only occurs in very old bottles or cans, so make sure the beer you’re buying is fresh.
Tastes like: ink, an old TV, an electric fire
Caused by: contamination of brewing ingredients via packaging materials. Malt or hops packaged in recycled paper or cardboard or inside material treated with fire retardant will sometimes impart this off-flavor to a finished beer.
Butyric Acid
Tastes like: parmesan cheese, rancid butter, vomit
Caused by: bacterial infection, usually by a bug called Clostridium. The offending microorganism is sometimes found in glucose and cane sugar syrups used in brewing, but can also contaminate a beer during the long, warm stand of a sour mash, which is why butyric acid is commonly encountered in poorly made Berliner weisses.
Tastes like: duct tape, antiseptic, Band Aids, plastic
Caused by: chlorinated water or chlorine-based santizers. Brewers and homebrewers who use untreated tap water commonly run into this off-flavor, which is formed through reactions between alcohol and chlorine.
Tastes like: butter, butterscotch, buttermilk
Caused by: yeast. Dactyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation, usually created by yeast in the early stages but later reabsorbed. It can also be a sign of bacterial contamination in draft beer lines. The flavor of diacetyl is so buttery it’s also used to flavor popcorn, and though unpleasant in most beers, it is appropriate in some English-style ales.
Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS)
Tastes like: cooked corn, overcooked broccoli, dirty vegetable oil
Caused by: a compound in malted barley that’s transformed by heat. DMS usually develops during the boiling stage of the brewing process; it’s formed when temperatures reach 140 degrees but is driven off with a vigorous boil. This is part of why brewers strive to cool wort as quickly as possible after boiling: The longer the wort stays warm, the more chance there is for DMS to develop.
Tastes like: dirty sponges, halitosis, diapers
Caused by: coliform bacteria. These bugs, a family to which the dreaded E. coli belongs, are usually an indication of unsanitary food or water, but they can also thrive on improperly cleaned brewing surfaces and equipment. Brewers who make beer or store ingredients near farm pens or litter boxes have to be especially careful to avoid it.
Isovaleric Acid
Tastes like: American cheese, sweaty socks
Caused by: old or improperly stored hops. Isovaleric acid is a fatty acid found naturally in many plants, cheeses and, yes, foot sweat; it becomes a problem in hops that have been stored warm or for too long. Brettanomyces can also sometimes produce this compound.
Tastes like: iron, blood, pennies, 9-volt batteries
Caused by: metal ions in brewing water. Municipal water left untreated by the brewer may contain some metallic elements, but non-passivated brewing and serving equipment such as kegs, keg couplers or draft faucets may also leach ions into the beer.
Tastes like: wet paper, cardboard
Caused by: Oxygen. Exposure of beer to air causes the creation of a compound called trans-2-nonenal, which has a distinct papery flavor and aroma. It often occurs over time in very old packaged beers, but can also be found in fresher beers aged warm or exposed to oxygen at some point during the brewing process.
Tastes like: skunk, really bad weed
Caused by: ultraviolet light. Hops, when exposed to sunlight or some fluorescent lighting, react with other elements in beer to form an incredibly pungent compound with the telltale aroma of skunk must. If you’ve ever tasted beer packaged in a clear or green bottle, you’ve probably encountered this off-flavor. Brown bottles offer decent protection from the ultraviolet light that gets the reaction started; cans are even better. But even beer poured into a glass from an un-skunked bottle, can or keg isn’t safe—a glass exposed to sunlight can skunk in as little as 10 seconds.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beer Review - Grimm Double Negative Imperial Stout

Grimm Artisinal Ales Double Negative Imperial Stout (10% ABV)

Today's kick in the nnnnnnose is this beast from Grimm Artisanal Ales from Brooklyn, N.Y. (not to be confused with Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colorado OR Grimm Brewery from Utrech, Netherlands .... actually, that is confusing as hell). To make it even more confusing, the Double Negative Imperial Stout (10% ABV) is brewed under contract in Virginia. As a matter of fact, all of their beers are brewed under contract in various breweries around the region.

Grimm Artisanal Ales is a Brooklyn-based nomadic brewery founded in 2013 by Joe and Lauren Grimm after nearly a decade of tinkering with fermentation. The couple develops each recipe in the kitchen of their Gowanus apartment and travels to existing breweries near and far to craft their beers.  Grimm specializes in concise, elegant ales epitomizing the creative, experimental spirit of the American artisanal beer revolution. Each one is a single-batch, limited-edition release that may never come around again.

The beer is creamy and dense with a long lasting head.  The flavor of roasted malts, dark fruits, caramel and dark chocolate completely hides the high alcohol content. Even though it is a superb beer that you can easily enjoy right now, it is a bit raw and we recommend that you buy this one and let it age for a couple of years, it should turn into a diamond. They make a maple, barrel aged version of this that may be worth seeking out. Cheers, Bon.

Grimm Artisinal Ales

Friday, October 7, 2016

Oktoberfest Beer Comparison

Oktoberfest in Munich is without a doubt the largest beer event on the face of the planet with 5.6 million beer afficianado's singing, dancing and of course, drinking their asses off for 2 weeks in September and October.  And this is only at one location; think of how many celebrate worldwide.

But we don't drink just any old beer at Oktoberfest, do we?  Nein, nein, nein, only Oktoberfest Beer brewed specifically for the event will do.  The beer served at Oktoberfest in Munich is a glorious lager, with every beer tasting quite similar, and while you will see an Oktoberfest marzen sold here, you really won't find it easily over there.  Brewers here in the U.S. create versions of the famous beer to be sold to revelers during the event, but how good is it compared to the original.  Drunk minds want to know.  So we assembled a few samples so see how ours compares to the original.  The lab rats were served the beers without knowing which beer was which or even which beers were being served.

We chose Hofbräu Oktoberfest (6.3% ABV) from Munich (left) to represent the German version of the beer for obvious reasons.  First, we have a Hofbräu in St. Petersburg and second it is quite easily sourced by youse guys. It is clean, crisp and identical to the beer being served in Munich.

Highland Brewing Clawhammer Oktoberfest (5% ABV) from Ashville, N.C. (right) was chosen as an example of marzen to see if it was preferred here in the U.S. vs. the original lager.  It contains more hop than that found in Munich but is quite easy to drink.

Tent Beer Helles Lager (5.2% ABV) from Six Ten Brewing (center) in Tampa was chosen simply because Chris Johnson is a superb brewer that can create about any beer style as close to original as anyone that we have met.

The tasters were simply asked to rate the beers in order of favorite to least favorite and to provide a few tasting notes about why they chose what they chose.  The beers were given 3 points for best, 2 points for second and 1 for third.  Here are the results:

1. (tie) Six Ten Tent Beer Helles Lager - 13 points
     comments:  "Nice aroma, very balanced"
                         "More like a traditional Oktoberfest"
                         "Clean Finish"
1. (tie) Highland Clawhammer Oktoberfest and Six Ten Tent Beer.  - 13 points
     comments:  "Like the caramel flavors"
                        "This is a Marzen, not Oktoberfest"
                        "Full bodied"
3. Hofbräu Oktoberfest - 9 points.  Now let's be fair here, this beer had obviously not beer stored correctly and had oxidized, but that is what anyone buying the beer would have received.
     comment:  "Meh"
                       "Easy drink"

So let's say that even though the Marzen is not really a traditional Oktoberfest beer based on Munich standards, the Clawhammer is a fine drink and available right now here in Florida. The Tent Beer from Six Ten, from my recollection, is as close to the flavor of a traditional Oktoberfest beer as any that you will find in the States. Mr. Johnson again shows what a master brewer is.  And the Hofbräu?  Go to St. Petersburg and have a stein, it really is quite good.  Cheers, Bon

Six Ten Brewing
7052 Benjamin Road
Tampa, FL 33634

Highland Brewing Company
12 Old Charlotte Highway,
Suite 200
Asheville, NC 28803

Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg
123 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Tips for Aging Beers in Difficult Locations

If you are a true beer snob, you are most likely aging several beers in a cool, quite, tucked away space.  But what if you don't have a cool place to age your liquid gold?  Here are some hints from DRAFT magazine to help you along.

The general rules of aging beer are, by this point, pretty well-known. Focus on high-alcohol beers and intensely flavored styles like imperial stouts and barleywines; store them out of the reach of sunlight; try to keep them at a constant temperature between 55 and 65 degrees. But for many would-be cellarmen, warm climates and the lack of a beer fridge make following that last decree particularly tough. What’s a beer nerd without a basement to do? For the answer, we turned to Patrick Dawson, an expert on aging beers well. He’s the author of “Vintage Beer: A Taster’s Guide to Brews That Improve over Time” and a regular drinker of ales that are older than you—he once tasted a Bass Ratcliffe Ale bottled in 1869, which had to be poured through a cheesecloth to catch all the chunks of coagulated yeast muck and crumbled cork, but still held up well. Dawson offers several tips for laying down bottles when your environment is far from ideal.
Invest in insulation.
Because so many beers are fermented in a brewery’s tanks at temperatures lower than 70 degrees, Dawson says that’s about as warm as you ever want your cellar to get. “There are certain flavors that could come out at that temperature that the brewer never even realized would come out,” he says. But for the sweltering late-summer months when even “room temperature” nudges near 80, getting above that magic number is unavoidable; you’re going to have to take extra steps to minimize the damage. Dawson suggests using styrofoam shipping boxes (the kind you can pick up at most large liquor stores) or an insulated cooler, which will at least mitigate the temperature swings and allow the beer to age more gracefully. “The whole logic with temperature swings is that there’s an activation temperature for certain chemical processes,” says Dawson. “They’ll slow down or maybe even stop at certain temperatures, so if you’re constantly stopping and starting these processes, the beer’s not going to mature as well. You want to just have that nice, steady temperature so the processes can finish out smoothly.”

Aim for the middle.
Don’t store your beer in closets with exterior facing walls, Dawson explains: They tend to get warmer and go through larger temperature fluctuations throughout the day. Try to find a space for your insulated boxes near the center of your home or apartment, where the AC will have maximum effect and what’s going on outside will matter least.

Buy tougher beer.
“If you have a 55-degree cellar, yeah, age an 8% or 9% beer, but if you’re only able to keep it around 70 degrees, I’d say nothing below 11%,” suggests Dawson. Big, viscous beers with lots of residual sweetness and loads of alcohol flavor are your best bet in staving off the thinning of a beer’s body and reduction in its malty sweetness that naturally occur over time and will be more pronounced at higher temps. He says, “For me, a dream barleywine bound for the cellar is basically screaming hot—like, it just tastes like rubbing alcohol—and it’s thick and syrupy sweet. Over time, that’s going to develop so much more complexity and have enough body that by the time I drink it, it doesn’t feel like a Diet Coke.”

Shorten their slumber.
Higher temperatures make beers age more quickly, so if you’re on the fence about how long you want to age it, err on the shorter side. “It’s always better to have a beer a little bit too young than too old, because once those stale flavors come about, they’re always there,” Dawson says. “If you open it too young, maybe it’s still a little too boozy and all that complexity hasn’t developed yet, but it’s still drinkable and enjoyable.”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Beer Serving Temperatures

How often have you seen ads from bars bragging that they have "the coldest beer in town"?  And what is your thought when we hear this ad?  Is it "mmmmmmm, cold beer" or is it "dumbasses"?  We suppose that we could tell you that either is correct, and that temperature is a matter of personal preference, right?  Nah, we don't call ourselves beer snobs for nothing.  So rather than simply state that we believe the statement is incorrect, we will give you guidelines set for restauranteurs from - Cheers, Bon

"Most Americans are used to drinking their beer at very cold temperatures, but these icy temperatures harm the enjoyment of craft beer. While lighter-styled craft beers should be served cold, it is not necessary or wise to serve them icy cold. Just as too cold a temperature dulls a fine white wine, it has the same effect on a fine craft beer. This is especially important for beer that is served with a meal.
Some of this beer temperature confusion comes from the popular North American light beers and macro-brewed lagers that are designed to taste best at around 38–39° F. Accordingly, U.S. beer refrigeration equipment and draught dispensing systems are designed to hold beer at 34-38° F.  In contrast, even lighter styles of craft beer taste their best a bit warmer than icy cold and are also more tolerant of warmer serving temperature variations. 
Richly-flavored, fuller-bodied craft beer styles prefer to be somewhat warmer still. Like elegant red wines that are best served at cool cellar temperature, full-flavored, higher-alcohol beer styles need a chill but not a cold. At the same time, be careful not to serve full-flavored beers (or red wines for that matter) at room temperature. Typical room temperature (72° F) is much too warm for all but a couple of craft beer styles.
Since all beers will warm up once they are poured into a glass, this factor can also be accounted for in your bottle-service refrigerator temperature settings. A room-temperature, rinsed, thin-shell glass will raise the temperature of beer by about two degrees Fahrenheit. A room-temperature heavy glass chalice or mug increases the beer’s temperature by about 4° to 6° F.
Below is a discussion of handling service temperature for craft beers, first bottled, then draught.

Bottled Craft Beer Service Temperature Guidelines
Short-term storage of bottled beer at service temperature will not harm the beer. For proper craft beer service three separate bottle-temperature zones are recommended. Conveniently, these double up nicely with wine categories. The temperature recommendations are designed to assure an optimum serving temperature, accounting for a 2° F glass warming factor. The three categories are:
  1. Cold, no lower than 41° F (5° C) Lighter styles of beer — Sparkling wines/Champagne
  2. Chilled, no lower than 46° F (8° C) Most craft beers — White wines
  3. Cellar, around 53° F (12° C) Higher alcohol, richly flavored beers — Red wines
Cold – This is for your lightest styles of craft beer. These include American Pale Lagers and Pilsners,  German-style Helles Lager, lighter American Wheat Beer, lighter summer seasonal beers, sweet fruit-flavored Lambics, Belgian-style Wit (white ale), and Kölsch.
Chilled – This workhorse category works for craft-brewed Pale, Amber, Brown, Blonde, & Golden ales; IPA, Hefeweizen, Stout; Porter; Dunkel, dark Wheat Beer; Tripel; dark sour ales, Gueuze, Amber lagers, and dark lagers. This cooler doubles for your white wines.
Cellar – Cool cellar temperature (like those in a true, unheated in-ground cellar or cave) is where you keep your cask-conditioned English Ales & Bitters, double India Pale Ales, most anything labeled Imperial, dark Abbey beers, Dubbel, Barleywine, Baltic Porter, Bock and Doppelbock. This cellar-temperature cooler doubles for your red wines.
Since the so-called best temperature for drinking a specific beer is also influenced by personal preference, no easy way exists to ensure that everyone will like every beer at the temperatures recommended above. However, these recommended temperature zones are a great place to start, and they are certain to drastically improve beer service versus simply serving all beers at the same cold temperature.
Test your beer service temperatures with customers and see where your customers prefer them to be. With so many styles of craft beer available today, it is difficult to know exactly where each beer will taste its best. It may take a little trial and error to decide which of the three temperature categories is right for a specific beer.
Check the thermometer
Don’t depend solely on the cooler’s thermostat dial markings or digital read out; use an NSF calibrated refrigerator thermometer to monitor the beer cooler temperature. In this energy-waste-conscious environment, keeping your thermostat at optimum temperature, and not a degree colder, is not only good for beer service, it is good for your bank account.

Draught Beer Service Temperature Guidelines
Draught beer is quite a different animal from bottled beer. The American beer industry has standardized draught beer dispensing systems to operate at a constant 38° F for optimum performance. This means that all the beers will dispense at the same very cold temperature, whether they are Bud Light or a big Imperial IPA. This poses a challenge for any restaurant concerned about the proper service temperature requirements of craft beer. Changing the temperature can really mess up draught beer service and is not recommended. Warming draught can cause excessive foaming, waste and loss of product. 
One way to deal with this uni-temp reality for your draughts is to emphasize craft beer styles that show better at colder draught system temperatures. You then balance out the draughts with bottled-versions of the more flavorful craft beer styles, which you serve at warmer, more appropriate temperatures.
For draught, emphasizing styles such as craft-made pale lager, Pilsner, (and possibly Dunkel and Schwartz) and lighter ale versions including Wheat, Blonde, Golden, Cream, Kolsch, and Wit will help you maintain some service-temperature integrity. In restaurant use, these lighter tasting styles still provide a good range of food pairing opportunities and situational compatibilities.
Additionally, always be sure to use room-temperature beer glassware for craft draughts. The glassware will warm up the beer by 2 to 6 degrees, depending on whether it is a thin-walled glass or heavy mug.
If you do choose to offer more-fully-flavored craft beers on draught, at least you can rest assured that your competitors are serving them up at the same cold temperatures. American craft beer drinkers have learned to be fairly tolerant of draught beer served a little too cold for the style.  
What about the macro-brews?

North American macro-brewed lagers and lights, such as the familiar Bud-Miller-Coors-Corona contingent, show better at colder serving temperatures than craft beer. Should you decide to continue selling them, both kegs and bottles of these should be kept in icy cold refrigeration set to 35-38° F."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Great British Beer Festival 2016

If you have followed us in the past, you know that we are beer festival whores.  Our travels are based on, or around, attending beer festivals around the globe, but the Great British Beer Festival is one that we have managed to miss, until now.

The event is staged at the Olympia Event Center in west London, conveniently located on a tube line so that you can stagger out the door and right onto a set a rails, becoming a magnificent red smear for all of London to admire.  Or, perhaps you would have been one of the people lucky enough to actually find the train in your drunken fog, and then proceed to offend sober people from around the world while missing your stop and ending up in East Lostingham.  I'm not saying that this did happen, but it could have happened.

CAMRA (CAMpagn for Real Ale) the sponsor of the event, prides itself on supporting traditionally crafted ales.  All of the ales are hand pumped from barrels located directly behind the servers, but don't expect cold beers, they are all served at the proper temperature (about 55 degrees) for a proper ale.  The event is run quite differently from events here in the states in that you pay a small admission fee, buy the glass, then purchase all of the beers from 'bars' located within the venue.  There were several bars in the venue and seemed to be sponsored or provided by pubs located in and around London.  We much preferred this method because those attending the festival did not seem to feel the need to 'get their money's worth' of beer by power drinking all of the beer that they could shove in their face, then immediately spackle it on the sidewalk outside the venue.  Instead, you purchased a pint, a half pint, or a third pint at a normal retail prices and then took out beers to a table and chatted with the locals while enjoying our find.  By doing this, we didn't drink 116 tiny glasses of beer, 2 oz. at a time, we just bought the styles that we enjoyed.  We also didn't have to dodge nearly as many staggering idiots here as we do in festivals in the States.  The 'bar' layout was odd in the beers that each bar served was alphabetical, rather than by region or style, which would have been preferrable.  One bar specifically featured American beers only and sold out the first night, but we did see the list of beers offered and were a bit surprised that some of them sold at all as that they were quite common and not known for having much in the way of flavor.

We were also quite surprised that the British beer tastes have changed somewhat and a few of the styles that we were specifically trying to find were not available at all or were only available in a few locations.  The venerable brown ale has fallen completely out of favor and we were unable to find a single brewer producing the style.  Stouts were few and far between and we only found 2 instances of Porters.  Bitters were still fairly common, but we were told not nearly as much as in the past, and Milds were few and far between.  Lagers, pilsners and IPA's were by far the most represented at the show.  Sours also have not caught on and we found only one brewery created them.  Overall we found the selection to be quite limited and really rather boring.

I won't bore you (if I haven't already) with tasting notes of the beers we sampled, that will be your quest in the future.  The civility of the other patrons and the calm, low pressure atmosphere makes this an event to schedule in your travels.  You may even find a few true British loonies to brighten your day.  See you at the next festival, cheers, Bon.

The next Great British Beer Festival 2017 is 8 - 12 August, 2017

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Oskar Blues Latest Release - Priscilla White Wit Wheat (5.2% ABV)


Long-time draft offering now available in cans nationwide 


Longmont, CO & Brevard, NC & Austin, TX - 
Oskar Blues Brewery, the brewery that launched the 
craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse in 2002, announces the 
national launch of an AmeriCAN take on the Belgian 
Classic Wit, 
Priscilla White Wit Wheat. It's a Belgian White, Belgian 
Wit, Belgian's a White Wit Wheat (5.2% ABV, 
20 IBUs). 

The beer, which features orange peel and coriander 
spice, emanated from the basement blues music 
legacy Dave McIntyre (18 year Oskar Bluesologist) 
built at the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons, 
CO. On draft for over a decade, Priscilla's zesty 
citrus and light fresh baked bread aromas mix with 
spicy, fruity fermentation. Light bodied with a subtle 
savory spice accent and a dry, lightly tart finish you 
can nearly feel the flicker of the neon and sounds of 
the King. White Wit Wheat.

"Priscilla is a beer steeped in Oskar Blues' music 
history," said Chad Melis. "A longtime Oskar Blues 
favorite, we've decided its time to bring this amped 
up, electric brew from the basement and to the 

Oskar Blues, named "The hottest place to be on a 
Saturday night in Colorado" by Rolling Stone 
because of its roots in the Colorado music scene,
 will brew its first batch of Dale's Pale Ale at their 
new brewery and taproom in Austin, TX today. 
The brewery will continue its tradition of soul-
savin' live music with a music venue as part of 
the Austin taproom.

Priscilla White Wit Wheat will launch throughout 
the month of June in all 50 states where Oskar 
Blues is sold and will be available in 12oz. 
6-packs and draft. 
To learn more, visit and 
always find Oskar Blues beer at 

About Oskar Blues Brewery 

Founded by Dale Katechis in 1997 in Lyons, 
Colorado, Oskar Blues Brewery launched the 
craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse with hand-
canned, flagship brew Dale's Pale Ale. Today, 
Oskar Blues is one of the fastest growing 
breweries in the country and operates 
breweries in Longmont, Colorado and Brevard, 
North Carolina, while producing 192,000 barrels 
in 2015. The original canned craft brewery 
continues push innovation with the announcement 
of an Austin, TX brewery in April of 2016 and 
creations like The Crowler while it distributes 
to 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., as well as 
parts of Canada, Sweden, Australia and the U.K.  

In 2013, Oskar Blues founded the
 CAN'd Aid Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public 
charity that offers grassroots grants to those 
making a difference in the areas of community, 
the environment, music, and more. In 2015 alone, 
CAN'd Aid partnered with 52 organizations and 
raised $2 million to date. CAN'd Aid's "do-goodery" 
efforts include: 
*    Towns - building strong communities
*    Tunes - for your eyeholes and earholes
*    Treads + Trails - get outside and get after it
*    Love Yur Mama - save the blue marble
To keep up with all things Oskar Blues, visit 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Beer/Food Pairing Chart

The real snob knows (or at least pretends to know) which foods pair favorably with their favorite beers.  We had to learn somewhere, and this is a good place to start.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Beer Tripping - Jacksonville, Florida

We Snobs travel to events and destinations across the country and further abroad in the pursuit of our favorite tasty beverage.  While Tampa gets most of the press for craft brewing in Florida, we have heard whispers about Jacksonville's burgeoning beer market, so we though we would take the trip to see if the rumors were true.  We were pleasantly surprised and had a great weekend of boozing and suggest that you try Freakville as well, here are a few recommendations for you to try.

Favorite Pub - Goozlepipe and Guttyworks
Kickback's Gastropub has been open in the hipster area known as 5 Points/Riverside on King Street since 2005.  The gastropub was well known for a dandy beer selection and really decent food... and equally famous for dead slow service.  They recently expanded into the space next door which is about 6 times the size of the original pub and christened it Goozlepipe and Guttyworks.

 Goozlepipe and Guttyworks is a really cool space with a semi-steampunk feel with 3 levels of entertainment are featuring a mezzanine overlooking the pub, the main room, and a basement (purported to have a large assortment of Belgian beers) as well as a covered outdoor space for those who love to sweat. As verified snobs, our primary goal was to witness and enjoy the Belgian basement, said to have over 100,000 bottles of Belgian liquid gold ... and IT WAS FRIGGING CLOSED, for a 'private event' (Brew Bus can kiss my hairy ass). I must say, that even though we were disappointed to be denied the basement, the main dining room was cool enough to keep us entertained for several hours with their 190+ beers on tap and Gramatic playing on Pandora.  Though we did not try anything from their extensive food menu, the offerings looked quite tempting, however, the regulars that were chatting with said their service, though not as slow as before, is still not stellar.  We will happily visit this pub again ... and the basement had better be open.
910/914 King St.
Jacksonville, FL 32204

Favorite Brewery - Pinglehead Brewing/Brewers Pizza Brewpub
An exuberant fan convinced us to make the drive to Orange Park to try out this brewpub.  And ain't this an odd little place. A tiny hole in the wall pizza joint called Brewers Pizza and what the hell?  A brewery in the back?  No shit? 

Banana Pancakes (9.5% ABV) breast .... yeasty .... sweet .... yep, banana pancakes.  I feel as if though I could drink lots of this one, but at 9.5% the reality is that at 9.5%, 2 glasses would put me on the floor.

Badass BD's Dark Belgian Ale (9.0% ABV) these guys sure do like sweet beers, but damn fine. Do you like Belgian Quads?  Try this one. Dark fruits and molasses .. Smoooooooth.

Ambitious Monk Belgian Triple (8.5% ABV) again, a superb beer. This gem is a yeasty treat with a bit more sweetness that you would normally find in a triple, but not overpoweringly so. I would probably compare more to more to a Duvel than to a Belgian triple.

Redemption Brown Ale (6.9% ABV) this is a fine example of a brown. Malty and slightly dry, but a bit thin, with a coffee background ... an easy drinker.

The beers were a bit sweeter than we typicall prefer, but the flavors were quite refined, good stuff.  There was a steady parade of patrons lining up to take their pizza to go who praised their food, though we were to stuffed to try any.
14B Blanding Blvd.
Orange Park, Florida 32073

Favorite Restaurant - Blind Rabbit:  A Burger and Whiskey Bar
This hipster joint can be found directly across the street from Goozlepipe and Guttyworks and while you would thing we would go for a joint with great beers, we sometimes have other cravings.  Yeah, of course we are self described beer snobs, but we are whiskey whores as well.  No, no, don't worry, they had a pretty damn fine beer list as well, but honestly, were weren't there for the booze, we needed sustenance.  This place also had a great vibe, a kind of a relaxed sophistication that you rarely find, and with very good service. The gang jumped all over the whiskey, then immediately face first into the menu filled with southern style delights and burgers (  Once the food arrived the conversation ceased as we were busily occupied with stuffing our faces.  Delightful entrees all around and zero complaints
with the Southern Burger and Shrimp & Grits garnishing the most accolades. Dandy whiskey joint.
901 King Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32204