Mutants and Transformers: A Look into the Future of Craft Brewing


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.

So what awaits us in the year ahead?

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Singlecut buying upstate brewery, expanding availability


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.

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Beer Profile: Vermillion Barleywine

Courtesy MyBeerCollectibles

Reviewed by Ken Carman

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.

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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.”

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_______________Beer HERE

Five Things I Learned About AB-InBev While Reading Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out


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.

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HERE

The Difference Between Sour and Wild Ale


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.

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Beer Profile: Wiseacre’s Migration of the Taco Raptor

Profiled by Ken Carman


I had to take a leap on this one. It is really enjoyable, HOWEVER there’s a strong pepper sense. I found nothing that indicated Jasmine Rice would give a pepper sense, or Hallertau Blanc hops. Now Hallertau hops are described as “spicy:” non specific. Also if you’re looking for a pilsner, lager, sense, forget it. This is more ale-like.

But it’s so damn good!

The pepper sense seems to fit perfectly, and quite intentional. This would make a great Belgian Pale or Saison in THAT sense, though the fruity hops would be inappropriate. Perhaps a Belgian IPA, though that kind of bitter is missing. Experimental?

Finishes somewhat dry. The balance is perfect: pepper, malt, fruit.

But I can’t know for sure it’s not intentional and part of the profile of Jasmine Rice, or Blanc, or…

Otherwise the aroma is very passion fruit, with orange/lemon undertones. Just a little caramel to a very firm malt base that seems more pale than pils.

The head holds long and is an off white foam. The color is a hazy gold that can barely be seen through. That may be chill haze, especially since it was quickly cooled down in a freezer.

The body is low side of medium and the fruit lingers. It’s a hint carbonic and well carbonated: medium range, but the carbonation does not hold well in solution. Drink quickly if you have to have a more firm carbonation sense.

I have no choice. Yes, the pepper would normally knock it off more points than I am giving, but the quality, the tastiness, simply can’t be ignored. But I can’t go above 4 which I would have if I knew for sure it was appropriate.

Where the name comes from, who knows. Taco???

BA 3.8/RB Untappd total 187, Uniques 171, Monthly 27

4.0

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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.”

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__________________________Beer HERE

Altamont Beer Works: Love Your LiverMore

I have to confess that, until our trip to the East Bay area (we stayed in Dublin, CA), all I knew about Altamont Beer Works was that they had recently collaborated with Boneyard Beer on – what else? – a big IPA called “Lupulin Advisory”. (Altamont brewmaster/owner Stephen Sartori actually worked at Boneyard, for a time)

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HERE

Beer Profile: Saranac’s Blueberry Blonde

Profiled by Ken Carman

Very white head with frothy foam and small bubbles. Holds a long time. Slight haze in a very yellow quaff. Slight bubble rise in the quaff.

The aroma is the light sense of walking past a field of blueberries. Way behind that pale malt. No off fermentation sensed. No hops sensed. Smells slightly sweet, fruit sweetness not sugar or anything else.

The balance is slightly towards the malt. Finishes slightly dry. The malt has a hint of cracker to it, no caramel. The blueberry is almost an afterthought, and I sense some skin: pectin-like. Not enough to be problematic, just enough to set it aside from other Blondes.

Courtesy beersudsforum.com

Carbonation is tad low and has a carbonic tang to it. It makes the body: high side of light, seem low side moderate. No astringency.

Let me be honest here. I’ve had some of the classics of the style according to BJCP 2015, like Kona Big Wave, and I am not a fan. There’s not a hell of a lot to it. However that doesn’t matter. This is well made and has enough of a distinct difference to make it a worthy quaff for those who do care for the style. I would order a pint and move on, but for those who like the style this is immensely quaffable. It’s also lawnmower-ish, though I never recommend mowing laws and drinking.

If you like the style you’ll love this.

3.4BA… most reviews first page positive, rest no explanation. RB 21/39 style… what happened there? “Faint vomit?” Someone got a bad bottle. Also got sense many didn’t know the style.

4.4

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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.”

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_________________________________Beer HERE