A Beer Judge’s Diary: 10th Annual Beaver River Beer Tasting

My other "niece," may: black hair, white blouse. This was the start. Eventually there were a LOT more. It took two buses and another vehicle to bring everyone in for the tasting and the Norridgewock.
May, my other “niece,” is in the background wearing a white blouse. This was the start. Eventually there were a LOT more. It took two buses and another vehicle to bring everyone in for the tasting and the Norridgewock.


By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 This weekend marked yet another Beaver River Beer Tasting. As I serve all kinds of exotic brews I also offered a circular providing some fun information, as well as telling visitors about the nature of what I was serving.
 I am willing to admit the list of just 10 of the brews doesn’t provide much education. As usual some of that is done while serving. Even then it’s kept on the light side. The object is to keep it fun and not get too beer geeky. It’s also to raise the knowledge level just enough to make them more curious. That requires me being entertaining rather than too technical.
To the right you see Dorothy: my niece, well 2nd cousin. Second cousin twice removed by jaws of life? Oh, WHATEVER!
To the right you see Dorothy: my niece, well 2nd cousin. Second cousin twice removed by jaws of life? Oh, WHATEVER!
 Over 30 years as a children’s entertainer? Yeah, I can do that.
 The marvelous Mark Franey brought his wine and brews that reflected the seasons, including a great strawberry light (color/srm) ale. He also brought lots of folks with him from Lowville area. Mark has been an incredible friend and is a great brewer who has helped make this tasting successful every year. He also has helped with my fall competition in Old Forge, the Old Frge BIG Beer and Odd Ale Competition, as well as won one year. My cousin Joyce and her daughters: May and Dorothy, and they brought many friends. And, of course we had plenty of fellow Beaver River-ites. This is a tradition I have been proud to start.
 I thought providing you, dear reader, with my list of only ten of the beers made sense… Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: 10th Annual Beaver River Beer Tasting”

Deschutes “Hopzeit”: Cross-Cultural Cool

tpf-e1399233317787It’s hard for me to stay in denial about the fading of summer when football starts, trees start to turn, and those fall/winter-ish beers start to hit the stands. I could just rationalize away the football thing by under-dressing for the first two games, which I do every season, and if I can get my fabulously beautiful wife to quit rhapsodizing about “the trees are so beautiful, this time of year!“, I could ignore the leaves, too. But the beers…BIG damned problem.

FACTOID: the fall-into-winter beer category is the most popular seasonal roster of styles with craft fans in the US. Been that way for years. Why? Because they are just flat-out delicious. After stripping down recipes in search of something that will sell in warm weather, breweries emit an almost audible sigh of relief – like a fat guy loosening his belt after an hour at the all-you-can-eat buffet – when they’re able to start packing new flavors IN to the upcoming beers.  And, over the past five to eight years, we’ve seen a nearly shocking tsunami of creativity out of American craft brewers, tweaking old ideas and inventing new ones, in search of that perfect cold-weather quaffer.

Readers of ThePour Fool will find it not at all surprising to discver that I think Deschutes Brewery may have just done it.

hopzeit-ingredientsFor several years now, ever since its inception, one of my favorite PNW beers to just sit and sip and enjoy has been No-Li Brewhouse’s brilliant “Spin Cycle” Red, formerly called “Crystal Bitter”, an inspired cross-cultural mash-up of ingredients and techniques from the German, British, and American brewing traditions. Using Northwest hops, German malts, and a lager-style fermentation, “Spin Cycle” has always tasted like nothing else. It vaguely reminds me of my all-time favorite fall seasonal beer, Deschutes “Jubelale”, but with less of a hops presence and a little lighter body. It took home a Gold Medal from GABF in 2012, and won golds at both the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards and 2012 Japan International Beer Competition. And it richly deserved all of those. Spin is a gorgeous, coppery, mouth-filling juggling act of lightness and intensity. It’s coming home with me about four out of every ten times I go to a beer shop and is just so flat-out satisfying and delicious that I’ve become a bit evangelical about it, buying and pouring at least two cases of it over the past few years at organized beer tastings. The ONLY thing I have even found to criticize Spin Cycle for is its hops content, which is moderate and balanced but just a tad, just a whisker, less than I would have liked. Continue reading “Deschutes “Hopzeit”: Cross-Cultural Cool”