What is “Craft Beer?”

Written by Nick Brennan for chicagonow.com

There is quite a bit of contention out there regarding what is and what isn’t craft beer. Some define it based on tangibles like quality of ingredients, while others define it by looking at intangibles like the brewer’s passion for the art. Personally, I take a stand somewhere in the middle. High quality ingredients are a must and if production can be ramped up while keeping quality in check, that’s great. But there has to be more to it than quality…right?
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Hoppy 100% Brett Dark Beers Q&A with Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave

Written by Brandon Jones for embracethefunk.com

A few weeks ago Mr. Brett-man himself was in Nashville to speak/judge at the 2012 Music City Brewoff. I had the chance to sit down with Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave to talk about brewing darker wort, hoppy, 100% Brettanomyces beers.

Wild Wild Brett Blue

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Brew Biz: Werts and All

Written by Ken Carman

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

The Topic: Judging Mead

Last episode of The Brew Biz this beer judge offered up his diary of a competition in Mississippi. In that “episode” I ended up as one of three judges at the Mead table, two of us Certified. There are more than a few judges I have met who feel Meads and Ciders shouldn’t even be in a beer competition. I disagree, but as a brewer of Braggots, I admit I have my own partisan mash tun dipped into the debate. Most judges I know welcome the addition of Ciders/Cysers, Pyments, Hydromels, Melomels, Braggots (Yes!) and Meads. However, most of us are not all that comfortable judging them.

Some of the best ways to educate judges about their duties would be the BJCP test, supplemental reading and studying BJCP testing information provided on site… the order where one should start from having been reversed in that list. Yes, taking the test itself is an “education” of sorts. If for no other reason it can help encourage you to learn more and judge more. The more you judge, the more you learn, and that applies to Mead too.

While this has been an education for me, my regular readers know I have been rather critical of some aspects of the program in the past. While many of these aspects have changed, it’s still been an adventure discovering just how wrong I was, occasionally. And an adventure discovering how right I have been: occasionally. You, the reader, might be the best judge, I suppose. Judging that for myself would be as unfair, and as unethical, as judging my own entry in a competition.

But, more than anything, it has been an “adventure” discovering how helpful the education leading up to the test and, yes, the test itself, are. It helps us focus: better assess all the categories and to judge well, encourage us to judge more frequently.
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Twinkies May Survive Thanks To Pabst Brewing Co.

Written by for The Huffington Post


The owner of a hipster-approved beer company may come to the rescue of a beloved classic snack.

When Hostess announced plans to liquidate, fans of the baked-goods company feared the fate of the Twinkie. But lovers of the cream-filled sponge cake, fret not: Twinkies may survive thanks to the owner of Pabst Brewing, Co.

C. Dean Metropoulos and Co., the Connecticut-based private equity firm behind blue-collar-cum-hipster-darling beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, is considering making an offer to buy Hostess Brands, Inc., according to Bloomberg.
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Cheers for Beer … Shampoo, That Is

Courtesy kegworks.com

Written by Angela Haupt for usnews.com

Pour another—for your hair. Turns out that pumpkin ale could be exactly what it needs to look healthy and shiny. No joke: Beer hair isn’t just what happens when some drunk guy spills his Guinness on you, or when you accidently dip your locks into your drink. On the contrary, beer shampoo is trendy—intoxicatingly so, some might say—and it’s landing everywhere from high-tier salons to your neighbor’s shower.

“People put beer in lamb, in bread, in pastries,” says Francky L’Official, a celebrity hairstylist who works with clients like Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mena Suvari, and Vanessa Minnillo. “Why not use it for your hair, too? It gives it body and makes it shiny and bouncy.”

That’s because two of the basic ingredients in beer—malt and hops—are packed with protein, which acts as a nourishing and strengthening agent. Soaking, rinsing, or spritzing your hair with beer will strengthen the cuticles and help repair damage. Alcohol also contains B vitamins and natural sugars, which add a glossy shine. “Beer is great for fine or fragile hair,” says Marta Wohrle, founder of Truth in Aging, a website that reviews beauty products. “The proteins bind to the hair shaft and give it more volume,” boosting the appearance of thickness.
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Beer Profile: Southern Tier Pumking

Profiled by Ken Carman for professorgoodales.net

If this really is “imperial,” as claimed, it is well hidden.

This is probably one of the best pumpkin ales I have ever had. You have a great background of caramelized malt: in nose, mouthfeel and taste, although taste is more malt, nose is more spice, mouthfeel the slick sense of pumpkin essence. Spice is allspice-like, ginger, cinnamon: all you would expect. The balance is damn near perfect.

Nice head, mostly pillow. Color: 2-3 srm. Clarity: a light gold. excellent. Mouthfeel: a chewy pumpkin, I suspect they used some real pumpkin, though my guess is not tons. It can really screw up a mash.

Dominant spice: ginger and nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: sweet, spicy/pumpkin pie with caramelized malt giving very solid support.
There’s a sweet aftertaste that could be cloying, but they backed off enough to avoid. Hint of slick, but not diacetyl: pumpkin.

What’s nice about this is they went overboard with nothing. the hit the balance just right.

All I can say is: buy this damn beer.

Thanksgiving Beer Profile #2 SweetWater Festive Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman for professorgoodales.net

Word of advice: wax seal is fine, but make damn sure the consumer can get to the bloody cap, OK?

Sweet malt sense to the mouthfeel with darker malts that provide a nice medium body: probably caramel with brown malt-like sense.

The aroma is a hint of Allspice, cinnamon. Sweet nose: tad sugary malt sense. Appearance Stout black with some highlights on the edge of the glass and rock head that holds. Brown malt like complexity that has a sweet sense with a hint of spice. That’s the best aspect of this beer.

This is everything is should be, just needs more of what it should be. Be more aggressive! Honestly? Boring, otherwise. As a real kick your tail hefty malt, spice laden, abv push, brooding dark, complex, malt wonder, it would be sought out by beer geeks everywhere.

“Strong Ale?” Not really, SweetWater. More of a Brown Ale. Not bad for that.

You wimped out, SweetWater.

Thanksgiving Beer Profile #1: Bridgeport Hop Harvest

Staying home for the day, Ken Carman agreed to do two beer profiles while waiting for the turkey’s goose to be cooked

Profiled by Ken Carman for professorgoodales.net

Tons of rocky head that settles into a pillow, this beer is light on the srm scale: probably close to a 2. Clarity is excellent. The distinct lager yeast: ala’ hint of sulfur, is dominant with hop background, grassy. Somewhat of a DMS nose.

The bitter is somewhat harsh, but that may be exacerbated by the slight sulfur lager taste.

Mouthfeel light malt, at best, probably pilsner. Slight harshness. A bit slick.

I am guessing this is not Cascade-ish like hops, and the hops, fresh, are not all that pleasant. This goes to drinkability. A compliment: the 8 plus abv is not all that noticeable, but why would I want to drink this? It’s close to an attempt at a kick your ass lawnmower beer that will give your taste buds a chop with the blades, and not in an all that nice way.