Is organic craft beer really worth drinking?

Finding a craft beer is easy. Finding an organic craft beer? Well, that’s another matter entirely.

Despite the artisanal nature of the craft beer industry, the majority of brewers have opted to forego obtaining organic certification. But those who have embraced the concept of organic brewing are quite passionate about it.

“What organic represents is the absence of carcinogenic pesticides on the ingredients,” says Arthur Lucas, founder of Charleston, SC’s Freehouse Brewery. “Getting the label lets me communicate with people. It’s about informing the public.”

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Tom Becham Reviews: Stone Imperial Russian Stout (Chai Spice Edition)

Written by Tom Becham

2015_OddIRSPoster_Thumb-398x250Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout (yes, they refer to it that way instead of Russian Imperial Stout) is a solid, solid Impy Stout. It’s also one of the older ones produced in the United States. Typically, of Stone products, it has very strong, in-your-face flavors, high ABV, and apologizes for nothing.

In odd years, Stone releases unusual versions of their IRS. I remember a licorice-flavored version one year, vanilla and oatmeal in another. This year, their variant Imperial Stout is called the Chai Spiced Edition. Continue reading “Tom Becham Reviews: Stone Imperial Russian Stout (Chai Spice Edition)”

Beer Profile: Abigale by Sixpoint

Profiled by Maria Devan for PGA

Orange and soft yellow hues. Hazy. White head of foam that falls pretty quickly but leaves a thin film on top and sheets of shimmering lace. Good stream of effervescence. Nose is wicked with sixpoint style tropical fruit. Alight touch of candi sugar and a sweet little toasty biscuit. Citrusy. Light bubblegum. Floral. taste is alight touch of fruit, a sturdy belgian dry malt . A dry cracker in the drink. Taste follows the nose except for a touch of spice. There is a tartness mid palate that is lovely and juicy. Orangey. Moderately dry finish with only a faint tickle from sweetness at the back of the throat. Finishes with a light hop bitter, a touch of pepper on a medium light body.

I think that this beer is a terrific example of a classic belgian style made with ‘different” hops. It does not ask you to suspend your disbelief at all. It is a belgian pale in every way. Drinks like a text book example. It does have a bit of an edge from the different hops. I chose that word because the fruitiness is so soft and gentle. The malt qualities in this beer they are sturdy and not shy or lacking in confidence. The edge is in the contrast between the texture that the american style hops lend to the palate and a delightful toastiness drizzled with tartness. I think they did this extremely well.



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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mdMaria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is a great beer writer. That’s Maria in the middle. The other two are not, but they are lucky to have her as a friend.

Bright, Light and Belgian

Belgium’s easy-drinking summer ales will surprise you

To the novice, Belgian beers are thought to be by turns “heavy” or “rich” and “full-bodied”, but such descriptors believe the fact that Belgium’s beer tradition—in addition to many a very big brew—includes super-refreshing, lighter styles, too. Miguel Silva, Beverage Director of Villains Chicago, a soon-to-be-opened craft-focused beer bar in the Windy City’s Printer’s Row area with 40. handles and deep bottle list, got into these full-flavored brews (among others) in the 1990s, exploring the famous lists at places like The Map Room. Ditching his career as a mortgage lender in June 2007, he was soon working in craft beer around the clock and taking trips into Michigan’s brewery- and beer bar-dotted Upper Peninsula. Smart moves.

What’s your favorite summer beer style? Tell us below.

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How Cream Ale Rose: The Birth of Genesee’s Signature

Slight over statement at one point. Yes, Genny Cream was the “standard” but with many new Creams, or even just Sleeman’s, saying “THE” and “all others” is a tad far in the professor’s opinion- PGAGenesee Cream Ale

Gary Geminn was in high school and just approaching the old New York state drinking age of 18 when his father, Clarence Geminn, is said to have declared on the floor of the Genesee Brewing Co.’s brewhouse, “I think we have a winner here.”

The winning beer in question? Genesee Cream Ale, which debuted in 1960 and became for a time the best-selling ale in the United States, with some 1 million barrels annually rolling out of the Rochester-based regional brewery—no small feat, given it was then barely distributed beyond the Northeast. The elder Geminn, Genesee’s brewmaster since 1959 and an assistant brewmaster there for eight years before that, had spearheaded the beer’s creation.

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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, Clarksvlle Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

FCCBFulton Chain Craft Brewery, 127 North Street, Old Forge, NY 13420

 Old Forge: a great Adirondack town that since I was a kid has gone from sleepy most of the time, to busy more than not. Yet, as I said when I was talking to Chip Kiefer: fellow Town of Webb grad, about what kind of brewery might work here, “I know, when I lived here, there are some days you could toss an asteroid down Main Street and hit nothing.” He responded with: “It’s still like that sometimes.”
  Yes, for that and many other reasons, starting a business here is rewarding, yet can be tough, and a brewery has special challenges, as I’m sure co-owners of the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery, Justin Staskiewicz and Richard Mathy, know. The crazy busy times are buffered by the long “I almost wish an asteroid would go down Main Street” days, if only it could stop and shop.
 The off season can be immensely enjoyable, relaxing, but without planning it can be tough on business.
  One obvious sign it’s tough is how long it took for a craft brewery to get here. While the rest of country has been having fun brewing up many barrels of craft beer other than Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, the Dacks have remained mostly untouched. Saranac is a recent addition, Lake Placid not that long ago considering the history of craft beer, nationwide.
  I’m not surprised at all by any of this. In the 1977, at my Adirondack wedding, down the road in Big Moose, NY, my father-in-law brought a seemingly endless supply of Heineken Dark for everyone at the reception. In the Adirondacks, at the time, getting any beer beyond American Lager: essentially Bud or Miller-like products, was like finding a skyscraper in downtown Old Forge filled with wookies.
  After that moment I am proud to say dark beer, and other unusual brews (for the time), slowly started to appear in the Central Adirondacks.
  Yes, you can blame me, Old Forge.
  I have actually tried myself, in the past few years, to get a small brewery, or brewpub, started in the Old Forge area. For various reasons I failed in that beery quest, but BEHOLD…. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All”

Serving Up a New Tradition at the Finger Lakes Cider House

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Twelve years off and on in Ithaca, NY, has given me plenty of time to observe the beer, wine, and food scene of the Finger Lakes region change and evolve. Wine has been going strong for the past few decades, craft beer has enjoyed an impressive growth in popularity, and the occasional craft distillery graces the landscape. Add to that all the local honey, fruit, bread, meats, cheese, and the like, and you have a veritable moveable feast to take with you as you explore the lakes of the region. FLX CiderHouse - glass

And now we have something new to add to our picnic baskets: artisanal cider. Or should I say new again. Cider was a staple of the early U.S. colonies, and enjoyed a three-hundred year run before Prohibition put a cork in the jug. Sound familiar?

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More Details on Origin of America ‘s Favorite Beer Making Microbe

Beer yeast courtesy wiki. Article from a press release via EurekaAlert and University Wisconsin-Madison


MADISON, Wis. — The crucial genetic mashup that spawned the yeast that brews the vast majority of beer occurred at least twice — and both times without human help — according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study published Aug. 11 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Lager yeast, a hybrid that thrives in cold temperatures, is used in lager beer production, which accounts for about 94 percent of the world’s beer Continue reading “More Details on Origin of America ‘s Favorite Beer Making Microbe”

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Lift Burdens on Craft Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Image courtesy, the rest is a press release-PGA

Allows farm distilleries to sell gift items, including food, craft products, and souvenirs

Authorizes tastings at retail stores without the presence of a manufacturer

Exempts micro-breweries from redundant tax filing requirements

Continue reading “Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Lift Burdens on Craft Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries”

Rough Drafts: Eats and Drinks Along the Finger Lakes

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

prisonWine has been going strong in the Finger Lakes for the past few decades, and craft beer has enjoyed an impressive growth in popularity. Add to that all the local honey, fruit, meats, and cheese, and you have a veritable moveable feast to take with you as you explore the lakes of the region.

That, and fish ’n chips –– or, as they call it in the region, fish fry. The most famous of them all is Doug’s Fish Fry, and we finally got a chance to make the pilgrimage to this seafood shrine in Skaneateles. With its stately boulevard and lakeside mansions, Skaneateles is also one of the most beautiful of the Finger Lakes towns.

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