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Archive for November, 2007

Are you a homebrewer? Have you entered the Happy Holiday Homebrew Competition yet? If you haven’t you still have a sliver of time to enter. It’s really simple, you just register your beer here, print out the confirmation, and then drop off the beer, entry fee and confirmation at either The Tap Room, St. Louis Wine and Beermaking or Worm’s Way. Who knows, you could come away a winner? Here’s this week’s Round Up:

Stuff from around the web

Beer Releases and News

  • Andy from Whole Foods let’s us know about some new beers he has in his stock (and remember if you don’t see it on the shelf, be sure to ask for it):
    • St. Louis Brewery – Schlafly Pumpkin
    • Anchor Brewing – 2006 Our Special Ale Magnum
    • Anchor Brewing – 2007 Our Special Ale Magnum
  • Paul at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton alerts me to some new beers he has in stock:
    • Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck – Brigand Belgian Ale
    • Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV – St. Bernadus Mixed 6 Pack
    • Shmaltz Brewing Company – He’Brew Jewbelation Eleven
    • Coors Brewing Company – Blue Moon Full Moon Winter Ale
  • Paul also informed me that they’ll be tasting Blue Moon Full Moon Winter, Anchor Christmas, Harveys Christmas Ale, Delirium Noel, Sam Smiths Winter Welcome, He’Brew Jewbelation and Gouden Carolus Noel on Saturday between 11AM and 3PM.
  • Chris at Randall’s Wine & Spirits in St. Louis alerts me to some new beers sets he has in stock, just in time for the holiday season:
    • Mendocino Brewing Company – Mendocino Imperial IPA Winter Seasonal
    • Arcadia Brewing Company – Arcadia Imperial Stout (4 Pack)
    • Arcadia Brewing Company – Arcadia Shipwreck Barrel Aged Porter (22oz Bomber)
    • Arcadia Brewing Company – Arcadia Cereal Killer Barleywine (220z Bomber)
    • Barons Brewing Company – Barons Extra Special Bitter
    • Barons Brewing Company – Black Wattle Superior Wattle Seed Ale
    • Tooheys Brewing – Tooheys New
    • Anheuser-Busch – Brewmasters Private Reserve 2007
    • Anheuser-Busch – Michelob Celebrate Series
  • Chris is also has these beers in today at the Fairview Heights Randall’s:
    • Left Hand Brewing Company – Snowbound (6 packs)
    • Left Hand Brewing Company – Warrior IPA (Bombers)
    • August Schell Brewing Co – Snowstorm (6 Packs)
    • Boulder Beer – Never Summer Ale (6 Pack)
    • Breckenridge Brewery – Christmas Ale (6 Packs)
    • Sprecher Brewing Company – Winter Brew (4 Packs)
    • Sprecher Brewing Company – Dopple Bock (4 Packs)
    • Wychwood Brewery Company – Bah Humbug

Here’s a list of upcoming beer events:

stlbrewers.gifAfter the huge success of last year’s inaugural event, it seemed inevitable that this would be a festival that would occur for years to come. Well that’s looking to be the case as I’ve had a number of brewers confirm to me that the planning for the 2008 St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival has already begun. The tentative dates for this event look to be May 8, 9 & 10, with a VIP event on Thursday the 8th, a session on Friday evening (the 9th) and two sessions on the 10th.

I’m here to tell you that we have the people putting this event together viewing this blog so here’s your chance to tell them what you liked and disliked last year. Perhaps an idea for the Festival Beer? Or maybe a beer demonstration you’d be interested in?

My suggestion is more education. One of my favorite parts of the festival was having the beer style with the brewery name underneath it. This allowed people to learn about the style by taste without having to judge it on the brand name alone. But I’d love to see more beer discussion in the tents. While I enjoyed the beer and food cooking demonstrations, I’d love to see maybe a tasting demonstration. This would allow people to pick up the subtleties in the beer and understand what they’re tasting.

What are some of your ideas or suggestions?

logo190gif.png I got the opportunity to interview Mike Atwood of the blog Hoosier Beer Geek. Mike, and the rest of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable, are doing for Indiana what I’m trying do for St. Louis; promote beer and the culture surrounding it. In a bit of a cross promotional event, think Marvel/DC, he also asked me a few questions about STL Hops, feel free to read his interview with me here.

So I see there are 7 Knights of the Beer Roundtable, is there a King? Do you have a full knighting ceremony?

If there was a king, it was Chris Maples, who started the whole Hoosier Beer Geek thing. He started inviting others along pretty early on, and recently he’s been so busy with work that we never see him. We’ve all kind of taken over for him in the meantime. All decisions, from what we’re drinking on a particular evening to the design of the web site are voted on by all seven members.

The knighting ceremony is highly secretive and if I told you about it I’d have to kill you.

How does it feel to live in Three Floyds country and have the rest of the US extremely jealous of you? (Oh and who do I have to kill to get some Dark Lord?)

None of us are currently beer traders, but it’s definitely nice to know that if we were, we’ve got an ace up our sleeve.

We’re all well aware of Three Floyds (or at least you should be STL Hops readers, if you’re not already) but what other Indiana breweries are you proud to call your own?

We’re really blessed in that there’s a wide variety of brewers in Indiana doing all sort of different things. In Indianapolis and now Terre Haute we’ve got Ted Miller at Brugge Beer doing really fantastic work in a Belgian style. Also in Indy we’ve got the Broad Ripple Brewpub, which is pretty much where craft beer got its start in Indiana. Just outside of Indy in Noblesville we’ve got Barley Island, who won silver for their Black Majic Java Stout at the 2006 GABF. In Fort Wayne we’ve got Dave Holmes at Warbird doing really fantastically drinkable and wonderfully tasty “entry level” sort of craft beer. Down in Bloomington we’ve got Upland, another brewery that’s won gold and silver at GABF, and bronze at the World Beer Cup. We’ve got New Albanian down in New Albany, who currently have us head over heels in love with their Hoptimus. And that’s really just the tip of the Indiana beer iceberg.

You all call yourself “beer geeks,” how do you feel about the term “beer snob?”

Right off the bat we want to let people know we’re geeks, not snobs, hence the name Hoosier Beer Geek. I think we all consider it our mission to include as many people in this wonderful thing that is craft beer, and that’s not a snobby thing at all, is it? The way we see it, the more people that know about craft beer, the better the chances that we’ll be able to find it in restaurants and bars all over the state.

Were you aware that the term “hoosier” has a completely different connotation in St. Louis?

For the first twenty-three years of my life, I lived in a little town called Trenton Illinois, ten or so miles from Scott AFB. When I moved to Indy, I couldn’t get over how often the word Hoosier was used in everyday speech – the news reports: “Five Hoosiers Killed In An Eastside Car Crash”, the words “Hoosier Hospitality”, the IU basketball team… Hoosier this, Hoosier that…

Of course growing up just outside of St. Louis, I was thinking the same thing you are:

Peach fuzz moustache, butt cut
El Camino pick-up truck
Aerosmith, Loverboy, Motley Crue
Holding hands just me and you

We don’t need no high school
I think we’re too cool
We’ll have kids at seventeen
Getting laid at Dairy Queen

Hoosier love, Hoosier love
South Side City Hoosier love

“Hoosier Love” – St. Louis’ own MU330

After a while, Hoosier grows on you though. Like a fungus.

How far have any of you knights traveled because of your beer obsession?

Though it wasn’t a beer-only trip, Gina (my girlfriend and fellow Knight) and I recently returned from DC, where we took in the Brickskeller and one of Dogfish’s brewpubs. We’ve been to Cincinnati on a trip that was basically built around buying beer. I was just at the Tap Room in St. Louis. I think once you’re into beer, every trip becomes a beer buying opportunity.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing holiday. If you’re anything like me, your brain is completely fried and not ready to start a new work week after a lovely 4 day vacation. But here we are.

beer-293_1280×960.jpgSince we were having Thanksgiving at my parents house, I gave me an excuse (not that I need much of one) to visit Andrew at Bon Vivant on Wednesday evening. It’s always a treat to head over to Illinois and pick up beers you can’t find in St. Louis. In this case I picked up some Three Floyds Brian Boru and a single bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. I wanted more 90 minute, but it seems like I can always find only a single bottle. Andrew also recommended to us a fantastic wine (I wish I could remember what it was.) My favorite part of the trip over was when Andrew rang up 2 22oz beers and a single 12oz beer for less than a single bottle of wine. While I’m in no way trying to stir up any beer vs wine cost debate, I’ll admit it brought a smile to my face.

As for the Turkey day, everything was perfect. The turkey was moist and flavorful, the sides were enjoyable and most importantly Mr. Oliver didn’t let me down. The Schlafly Biere de Garde paired wonderfully with the meal. Having a 750ml bottle also provided the opportunity to share the beer with the table. Any excuse for me to get people to try new beers is always welcome to me.

As for the rest of the weekend, I relaxed and hung out with my family. And while this is not at all beer related, do yourself a favor and find someone who owns Rock Band. After 6 straight hours of rocking, the only thing that stopped us was my failing voice. How does Thom Yorke hit those high notes every night?

beerturkey1.gifTomorrow’s the big day. For some of us, like me, it’s a day of cooking all day and trying to get a feast on the table for everyone. It can be fun and it can be tiring, but if you can pull it off, it’s quite a feeling. But for everyone else it’s one of the best holidays of the year. I mean how can you go wrong with football, turkey, family and of course beer?

Oh sure you could go to the old stand-by and have wine with your turkey dinner. But why not give your old buddy beer a shot? It’s been your friend for a long, long time so doesn’t it deserve a place during your holiday festivities?

But you may be asking, “What beer goes with turkey?” I’ll default to Garrett Oliver for the answer to that:

“Biere de garde is brilliant with turkey. And not just with with turkey – it is also brilliant with the turnips, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the potatoes, the whole darned thing. Biere de garde is the Thansgiving beer. My sommelier friends rack their brains every year, trying to answer the constant nagging question everyone asks them – what wine is good with turkey? The answer, or course, is not wine but beer.”

Geoff from What’s on Tap also has a few suggestion as well:

Orval – This would be a perfect beer to serve pre-dinner. It’s a refreshingly bitter and herbal beer that helps to cleanse the palate between different appetizers. One of my favorite beers of all time.

Any Saison – Saison just may be the most versatile beer style and would be a great choice to match the dizzying array of sides your mom might be serving this year. A complex mixture of spices and herb flavors combine with a sharp bitterness to make this beer stand out with any dish. Saison Dupont is the classic example of this style and is widely available. The Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale is a great choice from the new-to-Seattle brewery.

Any Biere de Garde – These complex beers are perfect complitments to dishes with strong herbal components (such as stuffing) and help to refresh the pallet. Sadly, I don’t have much experience with this style. I’m going to head to a local bottle shop tomorrow and ask them to suggest something. The Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Mars is fantastic, but I am not sure that is in stores at the moment.

Elysian The Wise ESB – If you’re looking for a more hop-forward beer for dinner, this would be a good option. There is enough sweet malt to go along with the roasted flavors of the turkey. I had this last year and was happy with the pairing.

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – This would be a fantastic choice to pair with dessert, especially pumpkin pie. It has lots of roasted malt with a dry, smooth finish.

If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual or festive, I’ll throw out a few suggestions as well. If you’re looking for something fruity, may I suggest a cranberry beer? Unibroue (one of my all time favorite breweries) makes a cranberry beer called Éphémère (Cranberry.) You can also find a cranberry lambic (though it’s a pretty loose use of the word lambic) in the Samuel Adams Holiday Pack.

Or maybe you just don’t have any more room for dessert. Instead of a piece of pumpkin pie, why not that pumpkin beer that you’re still holding onto? Even after a big holiday meal, there’s always room for beer. Maybe you’ll be lucky and you’ll find some Schlafly or O’Fallon Pumpkin beer at your local grocery store.

Also, don’t be afraid to use some beer in your recipes as well. A Belgian dark strong would be absolutely fantastic in your turkey gravy. Where a recipe calls for wine, maybe give beer a shot instead. Plus, it’s always fun to have a little beer while you’re cooking dinner.

Whatever you decide to do for the holiday, make sure you have a great time and be sure to stay safe.

As fellow beer enthusiasts you may or may not be aware that hop and malt prices have sky rocketed. In fact trying to find specific types of hops right now is near impossible. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has picked up on the story of local brewers hop pinch.

For now, it’s a mad dash among small breweries to find supplies of the hops that define their brews. Brewmasters are mulling ad hoc recipes to mimic certain flavors in case they can’t get the usual varieties of hops. Suppliers are tightening payment terms, demanding faster cash.

Hops are “incredibly scarce,” said Daran Churovich, brewmaster at Kirkwood brewpub Alandale Brewing Co. “Everybody’s scrambling.”

Much of beer’s flavor and aroma is affected by hops; not being able to purchase the hops that are specific to the commercial beer you’re producing could lead to a noticeable change in the beer itself. One of the most important aspects of the brewing industry is consistency. You want every pint, every bottle and every keg to taste the same from one batch to the next. Being forced to change what hops you use puts a real crimp into your consistency.

This hop scarcity problem isn’t affecting just the big (or little) boys, but homebrewers as well. Talking to Dave a few weeks ago at St. Louis Wine and Beermaking he was pretty frustrated about the lack of hop availability. Fortunately, homebrewers are a bit luckier in this regard. We’re not selling a product, we’re brewing beer to drink for ourselves and friends. We have the luxury of experimenting and using newer or more unusual hops such as Marynka (Polish,) Pride of Ringwood (Austalian,) Progress (UK,) or Newport (US.)

I have a feeling over the next few years in the US we’re going to see the strongest craft breweries survive and those that are producing mediocre beers being to falter and close up. No matter what, we’re all going to be paying a higher price in the end.

Thanks to Jim for the Denver Post article.

I know this is a bit of a repeat post, but I want to make sure to get the word out. If you’re interested in getting some feedback on some of your beers, a homebrewing competition is the best place to get it. Lucky for you there is a local competition coming up soon.

The Happy Holiday Homebrew Competition is the St. Louis Brews annual homebrew competition. It is a fully sanctioned AHA and BJCP event. This year it will be held on December 8, 2007.

The location of the competition & banquet is the Annunciation Church in Webster Groves, located at 12 West Glendale Road, just South of Hwy. 44 on Elm Avenue. Here is a link to a map. We are proud to be the final qualifying event for the Tenth Annual Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing.

2 bottles per entry
Fee is $6.00 per entry

Please register on the web with a valid email address. The registration page will have all the details of where to send the entries. Local dropoff will be at the local homebrew shops.

Scoresheets will be scanned and emailed back to the brewer by the next day. Currently this is the only competition that I know that scans and emails scoresheets for quick feedback to the brewer.

At this point I believe I’m entering a Belgian Wit, Robust Porter, Vanilla Robust Porter and a Scottish 80. With the exception of the Belgian Wit, these are all brand new styles for me to brew. This is a perfect opportunity to see how close I came to the style.