Idea of the Week: Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer


As of March, the United States was home to two thousand three hundred and sixty craft breweries, the relatively small, artisanship-oriented producers best known for India pale ales, porters, and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers. These beverages have become so popular that craft beer now represents thirty per cent of Costco’s beer sales, and this past August the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Obama would be releasing the recipe for his honey ale. He responded, joking, “I’m not aware of any plans at this time to… divulge the secret recipes.” (The formula became public several days later.)

Want to read more? Please click…


Beer Profile: Red Brick Wee Heavy

Profiled by Ken Carman for


Aroma: caramel, light… should have more. Not much else and not much of that.

Appearance: nice brown: probably in the mid=20s, srm-wise, with head fading fast… not unexpected. Pillow head with some clarity but a slight haze: probably chill since I had to put in freezer.

Mouthfeel: nice carmelized sense with a full body sense due to that, a little sweet and clings to the roof of the mouth. The mouthfeel is pretty much spot on, though maybe a hint more of abv might help.

Taste: here is where it falls. Everything is right except someone added too much hops for the style. As it warms it bounces between the hops and a more appropriate Scottish ale sense. Back and forth. Could also use a higher abv sense for the style: as I mentioned. The hops seem Centennial-ish. Malt sweet, as expected, but when the hops popthey distract from that all important Scottish Ale characteristic.

A close try at a 4. maybe a 3.8? But I can only give it a 3. That may seem unfair, but the Professor has explained to me that 1-5 rating is meant to make the reviewer come firmly down as possible when rating a beer. We can mention increments of, say .5, but it needs to be 1-5. Now, if they cut back on the hops, raised the avb a hint, and they might get close a 5.

Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “prefecto.”

Beer in Cans Keeps Stacking Up

What started as a trickle has become a torrent.

In 2002, the number of small breweries canning beer stood at one. Now, according to the Web site, that number has swelled to 290.

Lost Rhino Brewing in Ashburn rushed out 12-ounce cans of two of its beers — Rhino Chasers Pils and Face Plant IPA — in time for Memorial Day cookouts. Heavy Seas Beer in Baltimore plans this week to ship two canned brands: Loose Cannon, its American-style IPA, and Davy Jones Lager, an amber lager in the Anchor Steam mold. Devil’s Backbone Brewing in Lexington was prepping for a second canning run of its Striped Bass Pale Ale this month. And DC Brau has doubled the number of canned offerings, with Penn Quarter Porter, On the Wings of Armageddon (a super-hoppy imperial IPA) and summer seasonal El Hefe Speaks (a Bavarian-style wheat beer) joining its three pale ales.

Want to tread more? Please click…


The 10 Types of Craft Beer Drinkers



6. The Flavor Finder

This guy could be also be named “The Bullshitter.” His ability to identify flavors – many of which were not intentionally added to the brew – borders on paranormal. He’ll sniff at the settling head of an IPA and make verbal note of the subtle wafts of “raspberry, turmeric, and waffle batter.” He’ll take a sip and, swirling his tongue around his mouth, ask if you noticed the way the hops created “a dirty, rusty flavor” but “in a good way” then point out how the finish is like “molten cashews, cooked over a fire of pine needles and Brazilian rosewood.” The dude will claim to taste things humans can’t physically taste, like passion and eccentricity. If he is really tasting all of this stuff, there might be something really, really wrong with his tongue. Or maybe he’s about to have a stroke. No one knows.

Want to read more? Please click…



Beer Profile: Gorillanaut by Straight to Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman for

Beer-Profile1-258x300I finally did it. I found a Straight to Ale I’m not fond of.

Gorillanaut is a deep golden yellow. Clarity is good: no head in small glass, except what clings to the side of the glass… white pillow. In a glass with a bigger mouth, nice white head… still pillow. A hint of shimmer to the gold as light passes through the glass.

Strong hop nose with a fruity orange, lemon, grapefruit sense. Some caramelized malt in the background the lingers beneath the hop like a ghost.

All good for far, right?

Mouthfeel: harsh hop as if additions boiled too long, some astringency. Tis not pleasant. This has a nice full body but the hopping just distracts from all that should be good.

Taste: harsh and more harsh. This is as if all the hops were added at the start of an incredibly long boil. Astringent is the best description as it attempts to rip the roof of your mouth off. Malt is there but simply defeated by the overwhelming harsh hop sense.

I love highly hopped beer, well above 100 IBU. But there’s a a way to do this right, and a lot of ways to do it wrong. This is wrong.

Did I get a bad bottle? It happens.

You know, recently I judged in Starksville, Mississippi, and I will be writing about this soon… criticism was leveled that I didn’t wax eloquent on the interplay of ingredients when the specialty add pretty much blew everything else out of the taste bud ball park. But that was nothing in comparison. This is almost undrinkable. I think if the malt had been a bit more upfront, and complex, maybe this would have rated at least a 3. Also do more sophisticated, timed, hop additions and with the more complex, upfront, malt this might have been incredible.


Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “prefecto.”

A 2 is the best I can do.

3 Kinds of People You Should & Should Not Share Great Beer With

This weekend I opened a couple of really good bottles of beer at a party.

I offered to share with some of the other guests, despite not knowing them very well. One of the guys ended up talking to me about beer for over an hour and I was very happy to have shared a special saison with him.

At the same party, another guest poured a healthy serving of the AleSmith Anvil, tasted it, made a face, and grabbed a Limearita instead.

When it came to that particular individual, I really wished I could take my offer (and my beer) back.

With that, here are some guidelines for sharing the good stuff.

3 Kinds of People You Should Share Great Beer With

Want to read more? Please click here…



Beer Profile: Straight to Ale/Blue Pants/Yellowhammer Liberation Smoked Dopplebock

Profiled by Ken Carman for

Image courtesy

Beer-Profile1-258x300beer_200701Right from the start, opening the bottle, I get a nice: not too strong, whiff of smoke… like of like a smoker in a bottle. Pilsner malt in the background with some roast. The maltiness could be stronger: smoke seems to overcome. No diacetyl or DMS. No defects noted in aroma, not even the normal phenol sense one often gets with smoke.

Good clarity with nice brown highlights. No head in small glass. In glass with wider top: still small, small head: about a 1/10th of an inch. Off white.

Mouthfeel close to full, light carbonation that lightly tingles the tongue… very light. Sweet, but not cloying, as if sugars from prune sense hung in there long after fermentation. It is well attenuated, however.

Taste: a bit prune-ish with esters… not unexpected. Smoke lighter in the taste than in the aroma. Nice hop bitter that does not overwhelm other, more prune-like, taste. Alcohol firm in taste, but not harsh, or solvent. This is very rich with the prune esters and smoke. It would make a great desert beer. Malt dominates. Some raisin sense too, good carmelization of malt that adds to prune and raisin-like sense. Some Munich malt sense, but not as some Doppels seem: as if they relied too much on Munich malt.

I have to give this a 4. Could be a 4.5. Another Straight to Ale winner.

Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “prefecto.”

7 India Session Ales for Summer

7 Session Ales for Summer

All the IBUs. Half the ABV. Welcome to the India session ale (ISA). Emerging styles always generate some controversy as to their proper nomenclature. (Maybe it’s an Amero-Anglo-style bitter?) Whatever these nimbler hop bombs are, the result is a flavorful beer that won’t knock you on your keister the way a pint too many of the big IPAs or bigger Double IPAs might.

Stone Brewing brewmaster Mitch Steele, who literally wrote the book on the IPA style, IPA:Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, loves this new direction.

“[Session IPAs are] kettle hopped (for bitterness up front) and dry hopped (for flavor and aroma after the boil) using similar quantities and varieties as a standard American IPA,” said Steele. “The brewers challenge here is twofold: first is achieving a good flavor balance in a beer that is so low in alcohol that there isn’t much else to balance the hop character with, and second, ensuring that the dry hop character doesn’t become overly vegetal, due to the lower alcohol content of the beer.”

Want to read more? Please click…


Crooked Stave Will Distribute in NYC, Bring Evil Twin, Other Rare Beers to Colorado

CrookedStaveStBretta.jpgCrooked Stave Artisan Beer Project has struck up a partnership with a specialty importer in New York City that will allow the Denver brewery to sell its beers there while Crooked Stave will distribute some rare and unique beers in the Denver area.

The distributor, Brooklyn’s 12 Percent Imports, is focused on bringing a handful of boutique Belgian beers into the United States, but it also handles distribution in New York City for a limited number of small or unusual U.S. breweries.

Want to read more? Please click…