From the Beer Bottle Collection: Old Hardhead

The Brewery: Rikenjaks

I bought one bottle of this Scottish Ale in the 90s and it was so tainted I tossed the contents. Later on I had a better bottle and found it to be about a 60… maybe closer to 80 shilling Scottish ale that needed just a little more carmelization. Master brewer for McGuire’s at the time, Steve Fried said…

“They really had a problem with that back then. A lot of customers got turned off to micros, thinking this is what a micro tasted like.”

He agreed that it was good when, well, it was good.

After reading the label I can understand why the several bottles I had seemed to vary so much. I’m guess the FG and OG’s were a little wider than claimed, from my experience.

From the label…

Starting gravity: 1.060-1.066
Final gravity: 1.008-1.012
Finishing hop: Goldings

Rikejak’s Old Hardhead is brewed in small batches using only traditional methods and ingredients. This classic Scottish Ale is dark and wonderfully malty.

Brew Biz: Werts and All

This Brew Biz- The Adventures of the Venerable Brewer Tim Rastetter and His Ever Thirsty Dog

The time: well over a decade ago.

I was interviewing Tim Rastetter, former brewer at BrewWorks, a recently deceased brewpub in Covington, KY.

I was also discussing beer with Fred Karm, the master brewer at the time for all the Thirsty Dog Brewpubs in Akron, Canton and just south of Dayton, Ohio.

I had also just visited Burkhardt Brewing just south of Akron. This was the location of their brewpub, started after the demise of their much bigger brewery that thrived during the days when Utica Club and Gerst also had big breweries that sold local. Many of these breweries died when the giants in the biz: A/B and Miller outsold what was mostly a one product market. The differences between these various beers were often minimal compare with the distant past and the micro/brewpub boom of the past 20 years.

I was also about to switch from writing under my not so secret identity and change my column to: The Brew Biz, written under my own name. I still use my “secret identity,” but for other purposes. What was it? Shhh! It’s a secret! Besides, I got tired of searching for a phone booth where I can change into that super elderly curmudgeon just so I could write about beer.

“Unkie Ken, what’s a ‘phone booth?'”


A lot has changed since Burkhardt was a large brewery.

(Burkhardt Ad from 1949 on sale at E-bay 5/22/09)
(Burkhardt Ad from 1949 on sale at E-bay 5/22/09)

A lot has changed since Thirsty was a brewpub.

(Image courtesy of
(Image courtesy of

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Ye Olde Scribe and Maiden Millie’s: HOP – ING AROUND

The original article seems to have been lost, much like the Ark in Indiana Jones, in the archives of The Score, where it was first published. This article has been reconstructed from Scribe’s fading memory… as he referred to it, a few readers we contacted and a rough/unfinished draft Scribe still had. This column was published about 1999.

-Professor Good Ales

The Death of a Brewpub

Covington, KY

What kills a brewpub? Certainly the homebrewer should support any business that promotes knowledge, taste, an appreciation for good product and intrigues potential new homebrewers. Anything which kills it is our foe. There is an added incentive. Itís quite possible these very personal horror stories can serve as warning buoys for where the monsters might be; what NOT to do as a homebrewer.
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Sam on Extreme Beer Marketig

Fish live in the water. Sam Calagione; master brewer at Dogfish, can be controversial. Statements of equal value.

I’ve met Sam. I’ve read more than a few of his rants. No matter what anyone thinks of his opinions about beer; and I admit I agree with most of his rants that I’ve read, we need brewers like Sam to keep speaking out… as much as we need those who defend brewing less extreme. Otherwise we might return to that mostly one style brewing hell we had, back when only pterosaurs drank beer; boring beer.

Yes, I am that old. I’ll skip all the drinking with Barney and Fred stories and the secret life their wives didn’t know about. I’ve typed too much already. Shhh!

Sam does a great job defending extreme brewing in this piece published in The Ale Street News. I did notice those who responded mostly used the overblown weapon used by those who unable to rationally defend their own opinions: the personal attack.


Variety is a good thing.

“In 2008 the U.S. beer industry grew 0.4 percent in barrels, the entire craft beer segment of our beer industry grew 5.8 percent. But according to the IRI study, the Ultra Premium segment of the craft category (where almost all imperial beers reside) grew 17.6 percent in 2008. Three times the growth rate of the Craft Economy segment.”


Links to a History of Hops

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Two articles on the history of hops that miss a few important points. For instance: the various versions of ale are “beer.” The basic difference is the strain of yeast and where it ferments: top or bottom. There also was a time when the church also opposed beer without hops because aphrodisiacs and psychotropics were used for gruit. Hops can tend to make some people sleepy, so lessening the chance of sin was considered a favorable outcome; at least as far as the church was concerned.

Here are two articles on hops with excerpts. We’re also going to invite a Nashville “hops-spert” (as in “expert”) to add his comments and suggestions to the mix.

“Pliny (61-113 AD) discusses hops in his study of natural history. To the Romans, it was Lupus Salictartius, from the way they originally grew. As the ancients said, hops grew ‘wild among willows, like a wolf among sheep,’ hence the name Humulus Lupulus.”

“The hop has its place in folklore. Along with the animals who are supposed to receive the gift of speech late on Christmas Eve, the hop is supposed to turn green in the same night.”


“As with all change, there were sufficient English enthusiasts on both sides to keep the debate going for more than a century. Written testimony to the beastly nature of hopped beer and the equal evil of hopped ale is available in quantity. In 1424, hopes were condemned as an adulteration, and as late as 1651, hopped beer was described in John Taylor’s Ale Ale-vated into the Ale-titude as ‘a Dutch boorish liquor… a saucy intruder.'”