A Beer Judge’s Diary: War of the Wort 2015


Written by Ken Carman

The Topic: Of Homebrew Competition Conversations and The War of the Wort 2015


  This is at least the third time we’ve driven to Starkville, Mississippi to judge at the War of the Worts. It’s certainly not convenient distance-wise. WOW is almost 300 miles away, and there’s no direct way there.
  Part of the reason we keep going is obviously amenities. Judges, and stewards, who drive long distances often have to pay for pricey motel rooms, maybe even drive when they probably shouldn’t. At the War of the Worts they have free, on the property, rooms.
  But that’s not our favorite. It’s a small competition, which we seem to prefer, and time at breakfast, dinner, lunch, then breakfast again where judges from many areas compare notes. And we have been getting to know each other over the years. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: War of the Wort 2015”

Call It Beervaria


The best way to discover what beer truly means is to travel to one of its ancient homelands, then methodically sample everything in sight, as if Earth’s very survival depended on it. Sound like a plan? Since it’s unofficially “Germany month” in our office, consider this delicious approach to the historical region of Bavaria, found mainly in southern Germany. Dotted with over 600 (mostly small) breweries, Bavaria is not only insanely beautiful—think, Sound of Music beautiful—it’s also one of the world’s most important regions for brewing, home to the 16-day bacchanal that is Oktoberfest and scores of centuries-old breweries, hop farms, even world’s oldest commercial brewery, Weihenstephan (also the world’s oldest brewing school.)

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Beer Profile: Maiden the Shade by Ninkasi Brewing


Profiled by Maria Devan

Pours golden yellow with a white head.

Nose is citrusy, sweet and floral. Comes together on the palate like a spiked lemony sugar cookie blast with a strong bitter to finish it.

Forceful and well made.

I paired this with two dishes. A light salad with apples and a lemon dressing and some home made breaded chicken with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauce.



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 “perfecto.”


_____________________________________Beer HERE

mdMaria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY, is a great beer writer, rides elephants on roller skates from atop the hill where she lives and should be a beer judge. That last part is true, the one before: NOT.

How Kettle Souring is making Sour Beer Cheap and Affordable

A relatively new method of brewing called Kettle Souring is making sour beer cheap and affordable for breweries and consumers. Kettle soured beer has joined the mainstays with early examples like Bend Brewing’s Ching Ching to more recent hits like The Commons Myrtle and Biere Royale, Anderson Valley’s Gose, Breakside’s La Tormenta and many more making sours more approachable than ever.


Sour beer (more a descriptor than a style) has been one of the hottest trends in American craft brewing for some time now but the time, costliness and margin of error due to inexperience set the bar very high. Where classic sour styles like Lambic would take a year or more to develop in Belgium and then under ideal conditions where everything from the dust and cobwebs of an old brewery to the microbes and bacteria in the breeze coming off the fields was conducive to the style. American brewing had been more influenced by German industrial brewing practices than anyone where the emphasis is on producing clean, technically efficient beer with traditional ingredients in shorter periods of time was the goal. So most American breweries were unequipped to capture spontaneous yeast and bacteria in the air or to let a risky souring project sit in oak barrels for a year that may turn out badly. Even with the ideal conditions for mixed wild/sour fermentation, brewers are afraid of their brewhouse being infected by these bugs that could then cause off flavors in all beer, even those not meant to be soured. Now a new method called Kettle Souring is becoming one of the trendiest methods for brewers to bring their beers down to a low PH in a matter of days and without the risk of cross contamination. This method has made recent beers like Anderson Valley’s Blood Orange Gose and Breakside Brewery’s Passionfruit Sour affordable and in large quantities at major grocery outlets for the first time.

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James Visger’s Beer Term O’ the Day

Beer Term ‘O the Day: Chill haze. a haziness in beer caused by the precipitate formed when a beer is refrigerated. Many homebrewers let the boiling wort cool overnight in a sealed, sanitized container, then pitch yeast the next day. When this is done, the beer will always have a chill haze because the haze-forming compounds will have remained in solution. A good rule is to boil it as hard as you can, then chill it as quickly as you can. That and the use of a fining, like Irish moss, will get the proteins and tannins to drop out in the brew kettle.

11200622_10204207575965313_2069580751634047627_nJames Visger lives in Clarksville, TN. He’s a BJCP beer judge and president of The Clarksville Carboys. His wife’s name is Jami. We have no idea what the name of the gerbil is who has been stalking him.

What Does “Craft” Mean? Let Me Help You Out

TPFLately, I’ve read variations on the following a LOT:

“I don’t even know what “craft beer” means, anymore.”

“The term “craft” has simply outlived its usefulness.”

It was always stupid, “Craft” – what does that even mean?” There’s no “craft” to making Budweiser? Miller? “It’s like a clubhouse we invented so we could keep out the Big Kids.”

These are actual quotes and only a tiny fraction of what you’ll find online. For those who may not have encountered this sort of confused breast-beating, let me explain:

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Sustainable Homebrewing

Barley Field (Wiki)

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Earth Day 2015 is now receding in the rear-view mirror, but it’s worth keeping the Earth Day ethos in mind whenever we fire up our brewing systems. With the annual Big Brew festivities rapidly approaching, we may even want to challenge ourselves to put some of the following ideas into practice.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit


Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Rabbit was a rare bird on many a North American menu until relatively recently. Sure, the French had their Lapin à la moutarde and the Germans their Hasenpfeffer. But it wasn’t until European-influenced chefs on this side of the pond began wondering where all the rabbits were hiding that artisanal producers began to answer the demand for this lean and delicate meat reminiscent of chicken in taste and texture.

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