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.
I love a good barleywine. Unfortunately this isn’t one.
The alcohol is harsh. I understand the abv can be quite high, but the first trick is always not harsh. The second is of minor concern: not too dark. This is probably “OK,” though perhaps a tad too. The carbonation is light: expected and not a problem. It finishes neither sweet nor dry. A firm bitter but that is minor in the balance.
The aroma is caramel, mostly. No hops. The mouthfeel is a tad slick; again not a big problem.
The head is quick and fades fast: mostly pillow. The color is light brown.
Overall I would say not that drinkable due to harshness, even somewhat hotness, of alcohol. This dominates even above obvious crystal-like caramel. It is also a tad one dimensional, but with less hotness this might be better. Fixing that would go a long way to making this a great barleywine. One expects high abv. But not harshness that dominates. Yes: barreled. But the barrel dominates so much it hurts the barleywine.
3.99 at BA.
3.9 at untapped.
94/81 at RB
Sorry. I disagree. I have to give it a 3.0, one of the lowest ratings I’ve ever given here at the Professor.
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.”
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.