I wrote this piece on Edinburgh’s pubs during the depths of the pandemic but didn’t post it because, well, no one was sitting in pubs back then. Now seems a better fit, not least because it’s the time of year when we’re heading indoors to ward off the chill of frigid evenings. And with the new year upon us, it’s an ideal time to start thinking about which places and pubs you’ll “resolve” to visit this year or next.
A brief note: I visited Scotland well before the pandemic. All the places I visited then are still going strong. What may have changed in the intervening years is the beer selection.
“Edinburgh, where have you been all of my life?” That was my very first thought when I stepped off the train at Haymarket Station on that sunny autumn day. The stone buildings, bustling thoroughfares, and convivial pub terraces overflowing with people reminded me of London. But the further I got from Haymarket Station, the more Edinburgh revealed its own unique charms, by turns cosmopolitan and whimsical.
ST. LOUIS, MO —Schlafly Beer, the original, independent craft brewery in St. Louis, announces today the return of its winter sampler pack, Stout Bout, which features four stouts, including two new stouts, one year-round and one returning favorite: Mexican Chocolate Stout (6% ABV), Chai Latte Stout (ABV: 6.0%), Coconut Coffee Stout (ABV: 5.7%), and Oatmeal Stout (5.7% ABV). The variety pack is now available to the public.
“The Stout Bout name is a play on the boxing term for a match, and every year, our customers wait to see what flavors or “winners” make the pack. The sampler always features one of Schlafly’s classic stouts, Oatmeal, this year, and one variety that has to make a return appearance, which was Mexican Chocolate Stout,“ says Schlafly CEO Fran Caradonna. “We’re especially excited about two new beers entering the pack this year as they were submitted by fans last year.”
Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia’s most festive brewery Evil Genius Beer Company is gives new meaning to Christmas cheer with a holiday beer inspired by Santa himself. Santa!! I Know Him! is a festive Saison, 7.2% ABV, now in cans everywhere Evil Genius is sold – including locations in ten states (CT, DE, MA, MD, MI, NJ, OH, PA, VA and RI. This holiday saison is brewed with rose hips, chamomile, black currants and dark Belgian candi syrup. Deep, complex and intriguing, this bone-dry Belgian-style ale is sure to spice up the nights spent at home during the cold winter months. Have you been naughty or nice this year – or both? During the season, stop by for beer, cheer, spiked holiday drinks, great holiday vibes, and lots of great shopping ideas for beer lovers on your list if you are in Philly or just visiting for the season. Festivities at the Evil Genius home base “The Lab” in Fishtown include a beer release party and tree lighting, Santa 0.5k charity race around the block on December 4th. Sleigh My Name Sleigh My Name Christmas Drag Brunch returns with TWO dates this year on Saturdays, December 3rd and December 10th, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Sign-ups, tickets and details for events are now posted at ww.wevilgeniusbeer.com/events/
Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volksfest is the largest beer festival you’ve never heard of. It’s similar to Oktoberfest but unique enough to merit a visit in its own right, especially if you find the crowds at Oktoberfest to be a bit much. For starters, the Cannstatter Volksfest is more of a local affair, albeit one that attracts about 4.2 million folks from across the region over the course of its seventeen-day run starting in late September. You’ll hear barely a word of English, and you might even learn a few words of the Swabian dialect after a few beers with your tent-mates.
After a few years moving sideways in the BJCP ranks: getting cider and mead endorsed, I am comfortable. I have no need or desire for National. I really wasn’t all that dedicated to going National in any sense. As I have written before, every time I take the test I learn something.
That was my goal.
Most judges I know become what rank they become and are happy to stay there: even if it was the extinct as Dino rank Apprentice. Nothing wrong with that. But I enjoy learning, and every time I took the test I learned more. Technically by now, if things were as one would think, I might be National, but one thing I have noticed is the goalpost keeps being moved.
I know there will be a lot of resistance to that framing, however I know a few Masters who admit to it. Just to provide one example; and I have no interest in exposing anyone, was one of the first to take the test. That judge admits taking the test he or she would never qualify now.
In just a few years I took the legacy test I have noticed the questions have multiplied and become more difficult. Plus, the categories keep shifting: new guidelines. Then you have odd concepts like counting the number of (I assume from what I have observed) approved adjectives to change scores. However use “good;” especially a lot, and you may not achieve whatever score you seek. (Be more descriptive: HOW is it “good?” There are words they prefer. Perhaps we need a divining rod to figure out which ones for you newbies?)
Except for that last little tidbit, mostly as it should, even must to some extent, be.
The first legacy I took was the easiest, and we all failed. Rumor is the BJCP wasn’t happy with the one of the proctors answers. Each one after seemed tougher. They picked harder categories, demanded more, and if you think I’m complaining I’m not. I think making the test more challenging is a good thing. In fact I wish they had gradations of ranks: Recognized C, B, A, or 1,2,3, for all ranks. That way it would be easier for those who grade to pop a test taker up a little, reward them for wanting to serve the BJCP better.
Yes, some do this for ego’s sake, but to assume all would be the opposite of why. I think we want to be of more service. Perhaps I am naive’ in that assumption.
I also think we should be retested every few years: not to take away ranks, but assess if a “pop up” is deserved.
Goalposts do need to be moved, but rewarding judges who seek to improve should be part of the equation. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Of Moving Goalposts and Respecting Our Cousins- Mead and Cider”
When we arrived in Nashville area: 1978, all that was left of Gerst Brewing was one of the old original buildings. Inside what they laughingly called a German Restaurant: not very good at all. Good German beer hall atmosphere and OK beer. They knocked it down for Titan’s stadium and what was left of Gerst management decided to build a newer, smaller, building. Food was no better. They closed and became a home for homeless and their tents. An ongoing Nashville situation once kicked out of lowere Broadway. Then even that new building someone should have put a brewery in was no more.
Except maybe one competition per year, a final wave goodbye to Nashville and the beer business.
Millie and I moved to Joelton, Tennessee in 1978. At first they had a few more interesting brews compared to Upstate NYS, but not many. The craft brew biz hadn’t hit yet, except mostly out west; like the origin of all sacred craft beer holy: Acme. Sierra’s divine incarnation was just around the corner. Before that the boom wasn’t even a fizzle, except homebrewers.
I started in 79 when Jimmy made it legal. If you were homebrewing before that it was like smoking pot, legally. The sentences weren’t as bad, and crackdowns far less frequent.
The first craft brewery I remember was Market Street. Founded by Lindsay Bohannon, they were like a whiff of freshly mashed in mash flowing down Market Street. Then, after a few years, they became more like sour, phenolic air; and not the complex Belgian kind. The founder seemed less interested, eventually sold the brewery. Then it disappeared faster than a ship in the Bermuda Triangle. Never to be seen again. Reviled by homebrewers, home brew judges and craft beer drinkers with a sensitive palate. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All, Goodbye Nashville, Part I”
Yeah, I feel okay about culturally misappropriating a Twin Peaks line and meme. I earned it, bucko. I put in TIME with that series and have stayed hands off for decades.
But, TODAY, on the day in 2022(!) when I have to read that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe V Wade, I also get the word that…and I can hardly believe I’m typing this…STONE BREWING, of all the American breweries – hell, businesses! – that I could imagine reading this about, has been sold to a huge JAPANESE brewing conglomerate, Saporro Breweries, Ltd.
Is it my palate or is there a trend? I have noticed it for so long I KNOW it has to be the trend is towards more and more too dry.
Should I blame the brief life span of IPAs that were very dry? Try googling the term. I’d forgotten that name and the name of very dry IPAs seems to have vanished from the web. What was it, 2 years at best?
Yet, I think it started a trend, or at least that’s where beer was going. And yeast. And maybe cider and mead made brewers think, “EVERYONE wants them drier!”
I sat at Screamen Eagle, in Inlet, NY, home to craft beer genius Matt Miller. I was next to Millie and we ordered a “Thick Mint” beer by Southern Tier. The ABV didn’t bother me: I love well done high grav. This is a stout and at 1o%, as per their site. NOT BAD! By “not bad” I mean the alcohol didn’t conquer all. I am amazed by the talent in brewing these day, though at 55% I’m be astonished if packaged in dead squirrel End of History wasn’t disgusting in every sense, especially ABV. Brewed by BrewDog.
Problem is the Thick Mint was too damn dry. Continue reading “Beer Judge’s Diary: How Dry I DON’T Want it!?”
I know I probably should have published this under Brew Biz or Beer-y Good Story, however it deals with balance. In judging that’s important.
I understand an NEIPA can have both bitter and fruity aspects to hops. But what’s the point when you already have categories where bitter is important? Other than hazy which can easily be provided without filtering, with incomplete fermentation, what makes it unique, different from an IPA, or a Double?
Fruity. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Is THIS Where Balance and Judging Divide?”
The closing of the door to Tennessee is quickly approaching. We may visit to judge in a beer competition on a rare occasion. But after 44 years of mostly grand experiences living here, we are headed back to my long term chosen home: the Adirondacks where my family has had a presence since the 1800’s. Closer to where Millie grew up: Utica area and two sisters. Despite that much will be missed, like Emerald Dawn the 26 acre little valley we sold recently. Once almost 30 before the state decided we had to have a 4 lane in our backyard.
For one of my last to this area Brew Biz columns I could have chosen one of the newer breweries, like Southern Grist, Crazy Gnome, Czann’s, or Monday Night Brewing the last which, for now, actually brews in Atlanta.
I LOVE supporting small town breweries, especially close to where I live. And I knew John BEFORE my last Brew Biz: Marrowbone Creek Brewing.
Pleasant View isn’t even Ashland City big, which reminds me of Old Forge. Old Forge is where I graduated public school: just down the road from one of our new homes we have owned for a few years now. Pleasant View is more the size of Eagle Bay even closer to one of our two places. We will wake up to even more woodland sounds in the little valley we just sold, plus Alexandria’s doughnuts. And aromas far too tempting.
John Nelson: owner of Flyte; along with his wife Trish, is a delightful study in how great brewers come to the craft from odd angles.
John helped me judge cider for Music City Brew Off last year, and we visited his brewery several times quite a while before that. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All, Flytes Brewhouse, Pleasant View, TN”