Long-forgotten yeast strains are being sought out from shipwrecks, abandoned breweries and other locations in the hope they could be put to good use if resurrected.
As we head towards the end of another extraordinary year, BBC Future is taking a look back at some of our favourite stories for our “Best of 2021” collection. Discover more of our picks here.
As the diver gently eased himself through a hatch into the sunken hold, he could see the shipwreck’s treasure lying in wait for him. It had been down there for more than 100 years. But now some of it was about to be freed from its resting place.
The explorer in question, Steve Hickman, a dive technician and amateur diver, carried a small, netted bag with him. The treasure he was after was beer. Preserved in the hold of this vessel were row upon row of glass beer bottles, partly buried in silt.
Continuing my plan to write about issues rather than some droll recounting of competitions….
I started judging in the late 90’s.
I’ve seen well run competitions, poor run competitions. Most of them are between the two. I’d like to share some problems I’ve seen. Have no fear, organizers, no specific comp will be mentioned, unless it’s one I started.
Some things are so obvious: like not having spicy Italian food for lunch, and especially not placing it a few feet away from judge; especially with no cover.
Let’s pose a problem: someone leaves the staff quickly. Even if there’s no indication they might be mad, or have a grudge, change the damn passwords. Lock them out. Not meanness, just security. They may seem the nicest person in the world to you (or not), but who knows for sure what’s going inside someone else’s mind?
Play it safe. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Competition Dos and Don’ts”
This is a maple bourbon barrel Mocha Latte Imperial Stout, aged. I don’t get a lot of bourbon, the maple is obvious. Bourbon more in the nose. I really don’t care for it when brewers over declare, but this comes very, very close to what’s declared. Only critique in this regard is some of what they declared is so background might have been better if a little more, but that’s VERY subjective.
Thick, almost chewy, viscous body that no light will ever shine through. Black, obsidian, the devil couldn’t shine a light through this. Pretty much no head.
This is close to all advertised, just some more in nose, some more to taste. Bourbon more to nose. Mocha and rye more to taste.
Initial attack is rye, dark malts and obviously high abv: but not that high to taste. Compliments to the brewer. Middle is rye hangs into the finish and the aftertaste with alcohol and male: dark, deep, luxurious. Bourbon really very minor to taste.
Aroma is light bourbon, caramel malt-ish and darker malt. No roasted barley sensed.
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.”
Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Teapot
An entry from my beer notebook describes a day trip from Brussels in June 2019: “By shortly after noon, I had found my way to Het Anker, the ‘real’ reason for my visit to Mechelen. I love how beer, breweries, and their history get me out to places I wouldn’t otherwise visit!”
When you think about all those dazzling Belgian cities like Bruges, Antwerp, or Ghent, Mechelen probably isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting on a trip to Belgium. But with its magnificent St. Rumbold Cathedral, historic béguinage quarters, and vibrant squares, Mechelen is well worth the 30-minute train ride from Brussels.
Mechelen is also home to a dense concentration of classic beer cafes that exude a time-worn charm you just won’t find in many of today’s sleek but curiously anodyne establishments. And if that’s not enough, it’s also home to Het Anker, brewers of Gouden Carolus, a range of weighty beers named after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Here’s a story about a man nam…No, no, no, nobody named Brady. Don’t panic. This is a beer tale. A rather twisted beer tale and I’m going to just skim it because it’s really none of my business but…I have a brewer pal named Mark Hood, up here in The Soggy Corner of America, specifically in the small but dynamic beer hotbed of Poulsbo, Washington, who founded and helped build the first Washington state brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales, Sound Brewery. In Sound’s too-short existence, Mark created several rather amazing ales, not all of them Belgian. After initially swearing that he would not just crank out IPA after IPA (in fact, he had originally planned to do NO IPAs), his customers’ repeated requests prompted him to make a few and they became classics of the style, here in the Nanny State. Humulo Nimbus, Humonkulous, Reluctant, and anniversary editions for Town & Country Markets and Seattle’s Chuck’s Hop Shop…all resonated strongly with our PNW HopHeads.
Ye Olde has been asked to write something for the season, hoping to make this a regular feature. The Professor asked Scribe to spice up the site, and in Scribe’s usual fashion he goes for the worst. It’s where the humor often is.
For the first entry we have Abita Spring’s latest dive deep into the worst deep end of the pool, away from their too often mediocre’. They used to be incredibly good in the early years but a long line of brewers that have come and gone have had their toll.
What does Scribe get? Spices, more spices, MORE spices. Is there a damn beer here? It’s not just all spices that ruins this beer, though Scribe suspects maybe A spice like Allspice, maybe two at best. Not the number of spices that matters; more how it was spiced, and the fact that the &$# poor beer behind the raw spices provides little to no back up.
All of which could encourage barf up.
Imagine this: brew a mediocre beer that has little taste, then at the end just dump in raw spices. OR boil too long with those spices, though no overboil sense hits the nose, or your slightly downward portal. That’s it! You too can brew a 7 barf beer. Awarded 7 out of 10 in case in future editions Scribe has to go up to 8, 9 or 10: the last pure toxicity almost on a dispose of the mouth and tongue scale.
PLEASE, Mr. or Ms. Brewers, can you disappoint Scribe and not go to 10? He’d appreciate it.
NOTE: My own pictures of Jamye Naramore and Michael Wilcox were too blurry to use. Thanks to Jamye and Kansas City Bier Meisters for the pictures of the test and Jamye for her rock climbing picture. Been writing these beer columns for quite a while and FB has made getting pictures so much easier!
Something I should have said to Jamye as a joke after she said that no one had flunked the test yet…
”Oh, no, now you’ve cursed it!”
Then, after talking with a fellow judge who was also hoping to expand his usefulness to the Program (BJCP), I felt even better because it seemed we generally agreed. Seemed like we were talking about the same samples, especially the ice cider.
You may remember last tasting test (mead) episode I was worried about my Long Island Mead exam. I did pass and become a mead judge. Hopefully Kansas City will be known to me from now on as, “Cider Endorsement City.”
Long drive! Worse than NYC area from the Adirondacks for the mead tasting exam with Andrew Luberto. Why did I drive over 500 miles? Because cider tasting tests are so few. Israel? NOT an option. Seems like there was one in LA or something like that. 500 miles could have easily turned into thousands.
The journey: Tennessee to Kentucky, to Illinois, to Missouri, to Kansas for a motel, then back to Missouri to Kansas City Bier. I always make sure I can find the place the night before. Glad I did that because that night before the GPS brought me to some suburb. I did discover I had passed the brewery on the way. Wrong street number I guess.
Potential cider judges, including some weird guy with really long hair who drove over 500 miles to get here.
Rauchbier is neither cool nor easy to love. But in a world of fruited slushy sours and pastry stouts, the assertive smoked beer stands apart.
Steeped in history and tradition, yet challenging to appreciate, rauchbier (literally “smoked beer”) has, for much of the craft beer boom, resisted a revival. The style is brewed with malt or wheat that’s been smoked over beechwood or oak, resulting in a beer that’s decidedly not for everyone. But, despite its assertively smoky flavor—or perhaps because of it—rauchbier is having a moment.
The city of Bamberg, Germany, takes pride in claiming to be the birthplace of the style. One local legend tells of a cloister that caught fire and burned to the ground, sparing only the brewhouse and a reserve of malted grain which, having been exposed to smoke, subsequently gave the local beer its distinctive flavor. The tale is mostly hogwash, though; most beer made before the advent of modern malting technology likely expressed some level of smokiness from the kilning process. Nevertheless, Bamberg remains the cultural epicenter of rauchbier, though the style is gaining popularity in a number of brewing circles.
In many ways, rauchbier represents the polar opposite of the current craft beer zeitgeist, which has embraced the mass appeal of fruited slushy sours, soft and juicy New England IPAs and saccharine pastry stouts. The rising stock of rauchbier—whose flavor is divisive and anything but sweet—could be attributed, in part, to an inevitable backlash to the status quo. Paired with a certain underdog status and niche reputation, rauchbier ticks all the boxes of beer snob catnip.
Over the past going-on fifteen years of The Pour Fool, there is one thing that has never varied, never really waxed or waned at all, and that is people emailing me with complaints, insults, and "corrections" of things I've written. They email me because I refuse to allow nonsense like "You suck! You now NOTHING about beer (wine)(whiskey)(whatever)!!" onto the site and nothing goes on the site unless I approve it. Many people, improbably, have wailed about "censorship!!", as though The Pour Fool is a public utility or the airwaves.
It's not. Continue reading "The Pour Fool: A Brief History of Flaming"
A brewery owner pal of mine in Michigan messaged me this morning, with a link to the page where this message from Larry Bell, founder of Kalamazoo, Michiganâ€™s iconic Bellâ€™s Brewery. You see one of these things and you an feel it coming: Larry Bell is selling his breweryâ€¦which many readers of this website take as a definite signal that itâ€™s time to watch Steve Body go ballistic.