Flagship February/Iron Horse “Irish Death” (WTF is this beer?!?)


By Stephen Body
Iron Horse Brewery, located in painfully windy Ellensburg, Washington, brews what is arguably (it keeps winning STATE-WIDE crowd-sourced “best of” contests, pretty much every year) the most undefinable, odd, compelling beer made in the Pacific Northwest. Rivaled only by Sound Brewery’s “Monk’s Indiscretion” for inspired eccentricity, Iron Horse “Quilter’s Irish Death” chuckles – darkly – at the whole idea of “category”. Is it a Stout? Nope, although it may be a bit Stout-ISH. Is it a Wee Heavy. Getting colder? Is it an Irish Dry Stout? Again, NO. It’s a tad lighter in weight and texture than any of those but at 7.8% ABV, it’ll work just fine as a Winter Warmer. So…is it one? NO.

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Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel

Our judges: Jerry Wood, Certified BJCP and Ken Carman, Certified BJCP

  Let’s beginning, as us judges so often do, with AROMA. I noticed Jerry commented on a sweet aroma. I did not comment on sweetness either way even though I frequently do: Jerry did and I should have. Jerry found it very sweet in the aroma: honey-like, and slightly sweet in flavor. I don’t remember it that way: now I wish I had that second bottle Millie and I finished off to reassess for my own sake.
 This is why I write notes to myself on top of judging sheet when I’m practicing filling them out. I try to catch what I missed once I review what I did.
  Jerry found a mild solvent sense (“almost”) and perfume-y hop. We agreed on perfume-y but I didn’t get any sense of solvent. In fact I found the alcohol level a tad low. More on this in a moment.
 I also identified that the hops could be contributing to the pepper sense, which to me was overwhelming in the balance. Indeed my major issue was balance. We both had an 8 for AROMA. Continue reading “Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel”

Flagship February/Mac & Jack’s: #1 with a Bullet


By Stephen Body
FLAGSHIP FEBRUARY…sounds like just another contrived event, made up to make somebody some quick cash, doesn’t it?

You could not be more wrong.

Flag February was conceived by two guys named Jay R. Brooks and Stephen Beaumont and it addresses one of the things about craft beer and our buzz-seeking culture that has always concerned me the most. We as beer fans are kinda, well, trendy. I’m no better about this than anybody else. New beers get me all atwitter, especially if the “new” part is some emerging style or variation or technical approach that breaks some new ground.

But the downside of that is that true greatness in craft brewing – those beers that set a new milepost and help breweries make their mark in the craft beer culture – often get lost in our communal rush after Buzz and Novelty and staying Hip and Current.

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Global Craft Beer on a Sea of IPA: sameness masquerading as difference?

Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Franz Hofer
American-style IPA, that beloved child of the craft beer renaissance, has left the building. In recent years, IPA has become detached from its local context on the West Coast of the United States to emerge as a globalized signifier of everything exciting and novel about beer and tastes in beer. IPA in all its subsequent iterations has become so dominant that it now does double duty as an agent for craft beer in general, itself a stylized approach to the production and consumption of beer. This free-floating global style has since reterritorialized itself in local contexts the world over, sometimes threatening to displace home-grown local styles that had become mundane and less desirable through their familiarity. Local breweries and taprooms have sprung up on every urban corner and every countryside crossroad serving this global style in a local setting, introducing its enthusiastic patrons to an exciting new taste and powerful elixir.

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Rodenbach and Dogfish Head to Produce First Collaboration in Famed Belgian Brewery’s History


Brouwerij Rodenbach, the highly regarded Belgian brewing company founded in West Flanders in 1821 and known for its tart, oak-aged ales, is doing something unprecedented. For the first time in its nearly 200-year history, Rodenbach will produce a beer in partnership with another brewery. The recipe hasn’t been chosen yet, the label design is no more than a twinkle in an artist’s eye, and the sour ale won’t appear on shelves until 2020, but one key detail has already been decided: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is the other half of the collaboration.

“The goal is to bring as much taste and flavor as possible in a sessionable beer,” explains Rudi Ghequire, Rodenbach’s master brewer. “Beer is more than hops and only hops.”

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Brew Files – Episode 54 – Where’s There Smoke

In every beer lovers curve of beer love, there comes a moment when they discover the world of smoked beers. Drew sits down with Devon Randall of Imperial Western Beer Company to discuss her approach to making both subtle and in your face smoked beers!

Want to hear more? Please click… HERE!

Beer Judging Counter Points: Abita Turbo


Our judges: John Lee, Saratoga Springs, NY, Millie Carman, Nashville, TN. Both are BJCP Certified. (Summary by Ken Carman.)

 The similarities here are remarkable. They are 2 points apart on score: John 41, Millie 39. Both had a 3 on Appearance, 16 on Flavor, 4 Mouthfeel, 8 on flavor. The difference was in Aroma: Millie 8, John 10. I (Ken) remember Millie saying she was having a problem catching the aroma.
 Both sensed chocolate and caramel. Millie got nutty and toasty. Only John got coffee and pome fruit, some yeast notes, a little musty and some oxidation. In was interesting that sell by date on John’s bottle was better than Millie’s, but Millie didn’t get oxidation. (Neither did I-Ken) John’s was 1/29/19; ours was 11/27/18. I suspect the difference may be transportation and storage. Abita is a lot closer to Tennessee than Saratoga, NY, area and there may be more stops on the way. Continue reading “Beer Judging Counter Points: Abita Turbo”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Judging Forms


2019 OFBB Judging formA

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
  My apologies for the images. Yes, they’re blurry. I also understand the protosheet at the bottom is smaller. I tried to also include another way to access either one which should be more clear. So since there’s an image problem in this column I’ll try to walk you through this.
  I think I first became fascinated with alternate versions of the BJCP judging form when I judged for Amber Waves of Grain in Niagara Falls: one of the best large competitions I’ve ever judged. Most of my regular readers know I like, and have started, small competitions. It’s a personal preference. But I have a LOT of respect for, and still judge, large competitions. Running big competitions is tough and requires a lot of cooperation and volunteers, not to mention location issues, and AWOG is impressive: a lot of thought and steady improvement has gone into AWOG. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Judging Forms”

Government shutdown impacts Springfield brewery’s beer production


Mother’s Brewing Company is one of many affected by the government shutdown. The Springfield brewery is still making beer. However, it impacts their new beers that don’t yet have labels approved.

The Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is in charge of approving the licenses and labels for any new beers. Employees of the bureau are not working, so breweries like Mother’s have to wait.

The Tax and Trade Bureau’s website is still accepting electronic payments, but a message on the site reads they will not be reviewing or approving any applications until the shutdown ends.

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