Yorkshire Square’s Andy Black has opinions. In the episode, Drew sits down with LA’s guardian of the cask to discuss session beers, making a beer festival worthy of attending and stretching his equipment with the strangle old method of double or reiterated mashing. Sit back with a proper pint for this episode of the Brew Files
Craft beer has a complicated relationship with pilsner. It’s the world’s most widely consumed, most widely copied and emulated beer style, but the vast majority of those beers either don’t actually qualify for the “pilsner” style guidelines or come anywhere close to the Brewers Association definition of “craft.” And yet, it’s also a style with a rich history, dating back to the famous ur-pils of 1842, Pilsner Urquell. For more detailed information on the style’s history and current role, by the way, check out our companion piece: Let’s Talk Beer Styles: Pilsner, which was published when we last blind-tasted this style back in 2016.
I get surprised quite a bit; happily surprised. “Desperately bummed“, occasionally, and those, for reasons of taste and philosophy, just go unmentioned. But actual shock, of the kind that literally makes your eyes pop open like window shades, is rare. VERY rare.
Change is the defining characteristic of the American craft brewing industry. Evolving slowly, new trends and fads appear and then solidify or transition to the next form. We started with anything-other-than-light-lagers, Ambers, and light Pale Ales, before shifting into the early ages of wonder. Increased hop levels, decidedly non-Reinheitsgebot-friendly ingredients, booming alcohol counts, and barrel aging followed. Now we’re engulfed in a fog of hazy beers. Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, the rapid transformation and mutation of American craft brewing will undoubtedly persevere. Yet one thing always remains the same: the absence of boredom.
Fermentation tanks at Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, about 20 miles north of Albany, in 2013
Astoria, Queens-based Singlecut Beersmiths has purchased Shmaltz’s brewery in Clifton Park north of Albany, greatly expanding the capacity of the five and a half year old brand. The brewery will roll out several beers year-round out of the Clifton Park facility, allowing their Queens facility to brew a wider selection of beers, including the traditional lagers that were to be the primary focus of Singlecut when it first opened.
Singlecut had been in the market for a second facility outside of New York for a while. Their Astoria brewery has been at maximum capacity for two and a half years. In 2017, it was purchased outright by Singlecut, so it was clear they would keep their roots planted in New York City. But that operation comes at a cost: a capacity that prevented the brewery from scaling up, which often kept beer hard to find in the markets where they’ve expanded and at a high cost for consumers. Expanding capacity will help reduce case limits Singlecut had on accounts in markets like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. Plus, the new facility will allow for economies of scale, Singlecut GM Dan Bronson told us, and would result in significant cost reductions for beer brewed in Clifton Park. The MSRP for a 4-pack of 18-Watt IPA will be $12.99.
Here’s something that I know is true of myself, and I assume is probably true of a lot of other beer writers: We don’t necessarily read a lot of physical books about beer these days.
Oh, perhaps we did once upon a time. I certainly read beer books voraciously in the late 2000’s, devouring information (as it existed at the time) about beer styles, beer history, homebrewing (thanks, Charlie Papazian!), beer science and the occasional forays into beer politics and economics. But once you become really invested in a subject like beer, or embedded in some niche within the brewery landscape itself, new beer books tend to lose their allure—especially books in the “here’s what’s going on in beer right now” vein. Why? Because for one, they’re likely to be out of date by the time they even reach publication. The more the pace of change within craft beer accelerates, the shorter the shelf life is of those books.
Sour and Wild Ales have become increasingly popular, both within The Beer Connoisseur community and without. While they have substantial differences, many beer drinkers use the terms “sour” and “wild” interchangeably, which does a disservice to each! We will delve into their areas of common ground, differences in flavor and other aspects that set them apart, and how production and fermentation processes yield distinct finished beers.
I have to confess that, until our trip to the East Bay area (we stayed in Dublin, CA), all I knew about Altamont Beer Works was that they had recently collaborated with Boneyard Beer on – what else? – a big IPA called “Lupulin Advisory”. (Altamont brewmaster/owner Stephen Sartori actually worked at Boneyard, for a time)
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In the burgeoning universe of sour beers, there are some that just suggest sour and some that are almost indistinguishable from those odd drinking vinegars that have been nibbling around the edges of our beverage consciousness for the past five years or so. Breweries have tended to blur the lines between these styles a bit, as their stylistic aesthetics dictate but, in general, beer fans are becoming savvy enough about Euro styles to appreciate that a Gose or a Berlinerweisse are going to land on the tart end of the scale and present less of a challenge for sour beer newbies. But, past that, navigating the murky waters of what may actually be too sour for your tastes is a crapshoot, at best.
Sit back and relax, it’s getting frosty in here! On this episode of the podcast, we breakdown the results of our Cryo/T-90 experiment. And since the results were so “weird” – we brought in some extra help in the form of some of the IGORs who helped with the podcast including Brad Macleod, Eric Pierce and Miguel Loza Brown. Together we talk what went right (and sometimes what went wrong with the brew days) and what we all thought of the Cryo beers (including some numbers courtesy of White Labs).