Beer Quote

“Some of the most unimpressive beers I’ve had are from those who only graduated from professional brewing schools, and have done little else.”

-Todd Hicks: brewer and vintner, McGuires, Cannon, Santa Rosa and many others. Presently brewing professionally for Tin Roof Brewery in Baton Rouge.

Mixed Beer News and Commentary

Written Danner Kline for

“‘Blue ribbon’ USED to mean first place!”

I’m going to change gears and cover a few different items of interest this week, some related.

First up, I’d like to offer some comments on an excerpt of an interview recently highlighted at The interview was with Nate Heck, head brewer at Salem Beer Works in Massachussetts. Online readers have an advantage in that you can follow the link and get the full context of Nate’s commentary, but I’ll summarize a few points for our print readers.
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Sixpoint Craft Ale’s Hop Obama: The Fate & Story

Story from Shane Welch, below, is the owner of Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn NY. Scottish Ale yeast, 3 Pacific hops, 5 types of European grains. Sounds fascinating, such a shame to see it go for what appears to be no reason. What follows is a rather strange story, mostly in the owner’s own words, regarding the Feds and their reaction to Hop Obama.- Prof. GA

“Sixpoint was raided by the Feds and they put the kabosh on our Hop Obama. Naturally, I was infuriated by the censorship so I decided to do what I’ve done from the start – turn it into a story and allow the company to serve as a platform for delivering the story. However, this was quickly squashed by the Feds as well. Apparently, they did not want us making the beer NOR did they want me to create a story out of it.”
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Life Lessons: Jerry Gnagy, Bluegrass Brewing Brewmaster

Written by Matt Frassica for The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY

Jerry Gnagy has been brewing his own beer since he was in high school. That’s one way to get invited to parties, but now as the brewmaster for the Bluegrass Brewing Co., Gnagy caters to craft beer aficionados across the city. In the seven years since he started working in the St. Matthews brew pub, BBC has vastly expanded its offerings. He offered some reflections on a life lived in close proximity to hops and yeast.

When you start home brewing, you usually fall into recipes. I got to a point where I didn’t care for any of those, and I decided I’m just going to make what I like. There’s some trial and error throughout that. I think that’s when you really start turning the corner as a home brewer, when you start understanding your ingredients and you can start replicating things.
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Following Your Nose to a Man of His Craft

At Hill Farmstead Brewery, Shaun Hill, the brewer, offers a visitor a sample. (Joe Ray for The Boston Globe)

Written by Joe Ray for

Hill Farmstead Brewery
403 Hill Road
Greensboro Bend, Vt.
The tasting bar-retail shop is open Wed-Sat noon-5.

GREENSBORO BEND — To find the brewing world’s whiz kid, I drive the can’t-get-there-from-here east-west trek from New Hampshire to Vermont, with dubious cellphone service and dwindling roads that get smaller and narrower like a ball of unraveling string: interstate, state highway, county road, dirt road.

As a New Hampshire boy, I remember childhood trips into Vermont’s calmer rolling hills and deeper greens, and I like finding the Northeast Kingdom as I remember it.
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Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival Offers Something for Everyone (over 21)

Written by Ben Anderson for Photo Chan Anderson

The first time I tried to brew my own beer, I went down on a basic beer brewing kit from Arctic Brewing Supply with my roommates. For weeks, we diligently saved our beer bottles — this was before glass recycling was discontinued in Anchorage — in anticipation of enjoying 12 frosty ounces of our own homemade suds.

We spent one night thoroughly hand-washing about 60 bottles in preparation for our brewing session the next day. We bought a capper and plenty of bottle caps. Finally, we were ready to transfer the beer from the primary fermentation carboy into the bottles. We transferred the liquid gold into the first bottle, placed it under the capper, and pressed hard.
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Craft Beer Heads to Antarctica

Written by Claire Connell for The Marlborough Express

The team at Moa Brewery reckon a cold beer will be just as satisfying in the freezing Antarctic as it is on a hot summer day.

Their beer will get the ultimate test this year when 2000 bottles leave on a ship today for Antarctica, destined for New Zealand’s Scott Base.

Organisers of the shipment say it will be the first craft beer to hit the fridges in the base bar, called The Tatty Flag, which sells mass-produced beer including Tui, Speight’s and Heineken.

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Beer Profile

Profiled for by Ken Carman

I was amazed. I have actually found Abita to be a ghost of what it once was years ago in the late 80s/early 90s: an innovator, ahead of the craft beer curve… for the east coast at least. But over the years, and perhaps due to many changes in brewers, they seemed to have become humdrum. For a brief while, after they moved the brewery down the road and kept the neat little building under the huge magnolia tree as a brewpub that brews on the premises too, they snapped back. But it was mostly down hill, in my opinion.

Vanilla Double Dog may be signs of an awakening, a resurgence. God, I hope so, especially on their 25th anniversary. This beer celebrates that event.

Plenty of pillow head mixed with rocky. Brown, probably in the SRM 24-28 range… (I didn’t match it up with my samples of that standard, so I’m guessing.) …and good clarity, VDD delivers a very distinct malt nose, perhaps Marris Otter? The nose has that Lager sulfur sense and not much else.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a slight sweetish tinge on the tongue and decent carbonation; not dominating, just right.

Vanilla in taste isn’t dominate but asserts itself well. The malt is the slight dominant taste; again with that Marris Otter like, caramelized sense… especially as it warms. Just a tad sweet and maybe a hint of hop bitter in the background. Very well balanced.

A few reviewers I’ve read get a “metallic taste.” I don’t, but I know that Abita brews with local water that was noted for its mineral profile and used for health: as in bathing, years ago. Perhaps its the minerals they’re tasting, but I think it more likely the few I read might be mistaking vanilla for mineral.

I recommend this brew. Packaged in 22oz bottles.

Beer Profile: Big Daddy Vladdy’s Russian Imperial

Profiled by Ken Carman

Nose wise you get almost a sweet milk chocolate sense. The head is lasting pillow. 10.25% and, yes, you can sort of tell, though maybe not quite 10.25%. Deep obsidian.

This is a Russian Imperial: no doubt. The malt sense is deep, the alcohol high; though that sense could be more background and the malt/hop sense higher. More hops and a bit of a deeper roast could help to balance it out. There’s so much here. So promising. But with balance… wow.

Worth a limited quaff. Balance it out and this would be an RIS fan’s idea of pure heaven.

Beer Profile: Olde School

Profiled by Ken Carman

Dog Fish Head’s Olde School
abv 15%
Milton and Rehoboth, Delaware

Damn. I hate to do this. Dog Fish has become such an icon as of late, and I’m a big barleywine fan. In fact, despite all the hoopla that usually turns me off, I like a lot of what DF does. Their 120 is magnifico. But this is just not right. I will let the bottles in the 4 pack age, maybe that will improve the taste.

The problem here is too little malt, too much alc for that amount of malt and a cloying sense that speaks of unfermentables and hops out of whack. Essentially: out of balance. The carmelized sense I get also seems out of place.

Has the taste of raisins. Liquid raisin wine. Says on site “fermented with dates and figs.” Well, that explains the raisin-like sense. But it dominates, in my opinion. Says, as it ages, the fruit will come out more. Please, no?

Yellow, light head: very promising. But it falls down to the taste. Am I getting acetaldhyde here? Not to the nose, but maybe to the taste: sour apples… perhaps. If not apples, definitely some inappropriate sour and just a wee acidic. And I do wonder if some of this may be a hop problem. There are some hops that could exacerbate the brassy, sour, apple-raisin sense.

The 15% would also be less imposing with more of a malt sense.

I recommend Old Foghorn or Bigfoot. This one misses the mark. If I remember, I’ll do another profile with 6 months of dust or so on the bottles.