The craft beer industry is known to get creative, fearlessly going where other industries are afraid to. Usually, that means new ways of brewing or tasty and unique flavors. It can also mean things get a little weird, whether it’s infusing beer with a cereal flavor, creating a fried chicken-inspired brew, or developing a stout made with goose poop.
Admittedly, the former two sound way more enticing than the latter. That didn’t stop Ant Brew, a Finnish microbrewery, from going there anyway. The company’s Wasted Potential Imperial Stout was inspired by the city of Lahti, where the brewery is based. Ant Brew created its…innovative…new beer in celebration of Lahti being named the European Green Capital 2021 and having a “wasteless circular economy,” per a press release.
I’d passed through Traunstein several times on trains between Vienna and Munich and had always been struck by the beauty of its surroundings. The picturesque region is a place of flower-bedecked meadows, old wooden farmhouses, and cows grazing languidly in emerald fields. Situated amid rolling hills in the heart of southeastern Bavaria’s Chiemgau region, Traunstein is also just a stone’s throw from the wild and majestic Alps towering up to the south. And then there’s the beer scene: a lively market square surrounded by taverns, three breweries, and one of the more pleasant beer gardens in Bavaria.
One day I happened upon some beers from Hofbräuhaus Traunstein at a bottle shop in Vienna. Tasty, those beers were, so much so that I resolved to take a day trip to Traunstein the next time I was in Salzburg.
Just about two years ago, Larry and Cam and the other Merry Cruxters at Bend’s titanic Crux Fermentation Project set out to make a blonde ale – that happiest, friendliest, and most approachable beer of summer – but with a very edgy, Northwesty, slightly confrontational gilding of our region’s signature beer virtue and primary aesthetic: More Hops.
They wanted to inject this lovely, bright, slightly lemony, mellow, Cocker Spaniel of a beer style with some teeth: it should, as most Northwesty ales do, bite back a bit. But, for this style, love bites, nibbles, a friendly nip, with no real pain. It would be quite a balancing act; taking the most crowd pleasin’ of ales and taking it Seriously. Not easy.
I’ve spent countless hours in breweries across the United States and the world, and during that time I’ve discovered there are a few things every brewery should do or have. They may seem minor to some, but the devil is in the details, and these basic features never fail to make my experience significantly more enjoyable.
Remember, this is just my opinion, but if you disagree with me you’re completely wrong.
A well-designed chalkboard is a beautiful thing. Some breweries spend hours on these, and I’d consider a few I’ve seen works of art. Apart from the aesthetic enjoyment, when the right information is made available, it makes ordering beer much more efficient (and I tend to spend more). Here are the most important things to delineate on your chalkboard, apart from the basic beer information, of course:
On this 11th go around through the game of “Stump the Chump”, we’ve got questions about everyone’s favorite topic: beer. We even questions about brewing and we’ve got a great and nearly overwhelming answer about hops from Mr. Hop, Stan Hieronymus.
I suddenly realized, when I had reached the new redesigned BJCP web site, that I had been here before. Not this exact design. Not even in regard to beer.
Why the two are similar, why I had “been here before,” is because they both were about layout vs. content and usability. Also, in the case of the two publications, about how strict, dogmatic, rules for layout may actually ruin intent.
In the early 70’s I was one of two editors of a literary magazine in college. I was also a columnist and did an occasional news story or review for the paper. Oh, and helped with layout on both until I clashed with the graphic artist too much when doing the paper. I had hoped it would stop there. I was wrong.
Don’t get me started on that or I’ll get too far away from my topic; lost in the weeds of anal graphic arts theory (now thankfully dated) vs. what really works. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: THE Website”
I’m way late getting to this and I sorta don’t care.
See, EVERY TIME I mention “Cold IPA” to anyone, I wind up having to explain what it is. But the fact is that I don’t fully understand what it is or where the fug one of my long-ago Facebook friends, Kevin Davey, got the idea. Kevin, who worked at America’s lager wizard, Will Kemper at Chckanut Brewing, was brewmaster at the Seattle branch of Gordon Biersch Brewpubs when we met via social media, and has now gone on to the brewmaster slot at Portland’s dynamic, lager-centric Wayfinder Beer, the brainchild of Double Mountain Brewing founder, Charlie Devereux, Matt Jacobsen of Portland’s sublime Sizzle Pie Pizza, and Rodney Muirhead, honcho at Podnah’s Pit BBQ and slick Mexi joint, La Taq. They opened Wayfinder in 2016, after doing what they all regarded as Job One. As Jacobsen put it, when asked how Wayfinder hit the ground running the brewery equivalent of a Usian Bolt 9 flat, “Hire a great brewer!“. They went after Kevin Davey not in spite of his long background in making lagers, primarily, but because of it.
David Thomack looks up at the hop vines growing out from the plant out over strings at the Thomack home in Clarksville, Tenn., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Thomack uses the hops he grows in his garden in each of the beers he brews in his basement.
On the fridge he uses for his home-brews, a light stick of wood transformed into a tap signifies the lighter beer and a hockey puck from a Nashville Predators practice session accesses the dark beer at the Thomack home in Clarksville, Tenn., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
If you spend long enough in craft beer circles, you will almost certainly hear this adage, cribbed from Hunter S. Thompson and repurposed as an industry motto. (As writer Dave Infante recently recounted, you might also hear that craft beer is “99% asshole-free.”) Here, both seem to suggest, is an industry full of fine folk, doing what they love and making beer—and maybe the world—better for it. What’s not to like about that?
The self-congratulatory sentiment these sayings express has pervaded craft beer for decades, alongside the industry’s understanding of itself as a morally upright underdog. Many make the parallel between David and Goliath and craft beer’s progenitors: Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the U.S. beer market was dominated by multinational breweries, and the handful of brewers imagining an alternative to mass-produced, one-dimensional beer was an almost-literal drop in the ocean. And yet those scrappy upstarts succeeded in fighting back, in imagining a brighter future for beer, and in changing the way we drink for the better.