Brew Biz: Werts and All

Written by Ken Carman for

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

The Topic: Is “Small” Better?

Can’t say I didn’t enjoy, though it’s annoying as all hell when we pay well over $100 for some hotsy totsy Dallas hotel and they demand more money just to go web surfing. Hell, I’ve stayed in $26 motels in northern Georgia and gotten “free” internet. If they can include it in the price at $26, you know damn well it can’t be that hard at well over $100.

Beer? Yes, this is about beer. We were at Bluebonnet, a competition in Dallas, Texas. This was a few years ago. This is a huge competition: well over 2,000 entries and they want three bottles per entry. That’s well over 6,000 bottles to check in, register, take off the labels, hopefully not break while you relabel them and sort them into categories and then off to each respective table.

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Beer Profile: Unibroue’s Quelque Chose

Profiled by Ken Carman for

I’m going to have to do this from memory since I tasted it right in the middle of a big beer tasting I was doing: 30 beers.

On first sip I tilted my head and went, “Wow!” You know I’m impressed when I do that. The cherry was up front, tad sour and an odd oaky sense, thought the bottle doesn’t indicated it’s been oaked. The brown ale/dark ale base is firm, yet background. Mouthfeel: cherry, some carbonation… light on the palate… some dark malt but very very subtle.

Appearance nice deep ruby highlighted brown with a creamy, small head. Quite the complex nose: it’s been almost a week and the tart cherry nose lingers in the glass, even some of the brown malt sense.

Very easy to drink and you’d never know it’s 8%.

I recommend for those who can appreciate a blended Kriek-ish brown ale with light carbonation. Those looking for more spritzy, cold, typical American beer of the unenlightened masses should probably just buy another six of Bud.

I pity you for what you’re missing.

Crooked Stave is Brewing in Denver and Readying a Separate Barrel Cellar

Written by Johnathan Shikes for

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, the one-man brewery that primarily makes wild and sour ales, has officially moved its barrel-aging and fermenting to north Denver and plans to announce a plan for where it will brew beers sometime in August.

Brewery owner Chad Yakobson has been planning the move for quite a while, but has been taking his time to work out the details. Crooked Stave had been doing all of its brewing and fermenting at Funkwerks Brewing in Fort Collins since its inception in 2011.
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From the Bottle Collection: Bock to the 70s

Note: this is an archive edition from The Professor, featuring some of the best from PGA.

Written by Ken Carman

Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with… The Bottle Collection.

My first experience with true dark beer was in Montreal; a little second story Irish pub called Finnegans; probably named after the Irish song most notably made famous by Tom Makem and the Clancy Brothers before they broke up and followed another cliche’d Irish tradition… had a brawl over the rights to songs that in many cases were odes to drunkenness. Common guys, great way to confirm our often wrong preconceived notions about certain heritages.

That was Guinness Foreign Export.

But I was headed that way already. You see: I thought I hated beer. Pretty much all that was available at the timm in Upstate was the lighter fare: lager clones of Bud, or Bud itself. Same style, ever so slight variations. Even Cream Ale… as in Genny Cream for example, while being an ale, is a stylistic attempt to create a more lager-like beverage out of an ale yeast.

I didn’t know at the time that not all Bocks were dark. That’s just all that was sold locally. Never heard of Blonde Bock back then; or Eisbock, or Doppelbock. But Bock; even the only Bock we could buy in the early 70s, while still a lager, has a bit of a more complex malt bill hiding a sulfur-like lager yeast tang that annoys me. It also seems to limit the DMS taste that’s a bit like drinking water out of a can of unsweetened/”low sodium” corn. In almost every other style it’s called a defect at the high levels that especially corn-adjunct brewed lagers have. Rice is problematic too, in my opinion. Body suffers where there was little body to begin with. Make it thinner? Oh boy. Like going out of your way to make Twiggy-like creatures seem voluptuous.

While I drank a lot of these back when we were closer to the days of Marilyn Monroe than Marilyn Manson, I’m not sure they were real Bocks. I suspect these days I’d be repelled because what was available in Upstate NY was probably more food coloring-driven than a beverage brewed with a more complex, malt bill. But at the time it actually made beer worth drinking as long as “other” was occasionally available too. Previous to that I spent more time in a place I never visit anymore: mixed drink land.

Bocks that I remember were available to mid-Upstaters at the time include…
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Beaver River Beer Tasting #2

Saturday, September 1st, second Beaver River Beer Tasting @ Beaver River Lodge. We had about 50-60 tasters over a 3-4 hour period and about 30 different beers. One of the best we had was a Belgian-style Cherry that had been oaked, and I must admit a lot of folks liked my new brew, a cyser called Crabby Patty. Brewed at the “Brewed Anywhere but Beaver River Brewery.” It’s a LONG story. Berkshire Brewing in Mass. was represented by a “Sour Mash” IPA that had been kept in a “famous Tennessee” whiskey barrel. Gee, wonder who THAT could have been, maybe you, Mr. Daniels? And we had Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero. Salt City Brewers, out of Syracuse, were represented by one “I don’t wear NOTHIN under my kilt” Mark Franey: minus kilt/with pants THIS TIME… and K.T.. He brought a GREAT Brown Porter, better that the Schlafly Porter we also tasted.

I kept the pictures as big as I could so you might be able to see the labels. On to September 22nd in Stillwater on the western side of the reservoir! And, yes, you CAN drive there, unlike Beaver River. Starts at 12. If you so desire Riverboat to Beaver River leaves at 12:30. So if only interested in a little “tasting,” you’re certainly welcome!
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Beer Profile: High Peaks Saranac Chocolate Orange (Baltic) Porter

profiled by Ken Carman for

Nose: orange, chocolate, deep roasted grain sense, hint of alcohol.
Appearance: Obsidian, dense, no light shines through, big brown head.
Mouthfeel: a bit chewy, alcohol accentuated by what may be a lager yeast: not inappropriate for the style but a tad out of balance. High gravity with hint of unfermented: mostly roasted, malts. (They tend not to “ferment,” sugars less accessible.)
Taste: other than the slight out of balance a very impressive brew. Multiple roasted malts blend into a fine symphony of flavor. Not a beer one would want to drink a lot of, unless one has no need to go anywhere and doesn’t mind the morning headache. Chocolate obvious, not as much orange… but this is blood orange peel: which is more likely to add to the bitter than any actual orange taste. That also affects balance a bit to the negative, though not much.

I really enjoyed this beer. Of all the High Peaks series this may be one of the best. I really hope they bring it back. I lucked out: I found a few stores that still had it.
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