Beer

Jody Gomez's picture
Submitted by Jody Gomez on Thu, 2005-12-22 03:48

Since there has been recent interest here in beer, and since I'm the leader of SOLO Thrust, I decided to search out some internet information about beer. I did not get far when I stumbled upon this website: www.beer.com Though I still have not been able to find much there to refine my knowledge about beer, I do like it's sense-of-legs philosophy.


( categories: )

Jeff is right

Kenny's picture

Local brews are best. In London, Fullers (of Chiswick) is my first choice beer, followed by Young's (of Wandsworth). The cellerman should clean the pipes regularly.

Microbreweries are rare in London. The "Firkin" chain was excellent but I have not visited one in years. The "Orange Tree" in Pimlico is worth visit.

Drink Locally Is Right

jriggenbach's picture

The main reason to drink locally is that beer is a perishable commodity. Under the best of conditions (bottles kept chilled at all times, bottles kept away from direct light at all times), most beer is good for only about three months maximum after it's bottled. And *no* beer experiences the best of conditions once it's bottled. All other things being equal (which they never are), the fresher the beer the better the beer. I seldom drink imports at all. I focus on the local and regional microbrews and patronize local multi-taps that have proved over time that they don't keep beers too long and let them go bad and continue serving them.

JR

Think globally, drink locally.

Peter Cresswell's picture

"A quick look at RateBeer indicates that Linz is going to have to get imports, perhaps even have them shipped in himself if the beer stores don't carry the KASS beers there. There are no beers brewed in the Aussie/NZ region with more than a few ratings and averaging better than a 3.7 out of 5."

I suspect this has more to do with statistical skewing: most of the rating at Real Beer is done by people not in the Aus/NZ region. The range of imported beer in New Zealand is now, happily, superb -- the range at Wellington New World, for example, (just a walk away from Linz) I'm told is superb -- but there are some very good New Zealand and Australian brewers.

Coopers, Emerson, Limburg and the Cock and Bull range are award-winning, world-class, locally-brewed beers well worth sampling.

For local (NZ) readers who want to check out good, indeed very good local beers, I do recommend a visit to some of the 'Beer O'Clock' posts at 'Not PC' -- these have been written for the blog by two of NZ's top beer writers.

As they say, think globally, drink locally.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell

'NOT PC.'
**Setting Brushfires In People's Minds**

ORGANON ARCHITECTURE
**Integrating Architecture With Your Site**

The pouring controversy

Chris Cathcart's picture

Not to fear, Jennifer. I just started up a thread on this topic at RateBeer.

Mind your manners.

Prima Donna's picture

Mr. Riggenbach, I do not claim to be a know-it-all. I was sharing information that I thought was reliable, which I have questioned, so do try to keep up. And once again, I am not talking about Budweiser -- I am talking about specialty brews that are not marketed to the mainstream, and are not even available yet to the public.

Peter, I think the head issue is an interesting one. The micro-brews we tried were on the heavier side, and did have a very large head. I'd have to look through my notes, but there was mention of protein content and allowing the head to settle in order for some of the gases to evaporate (those that make a person feel "full" when drinking beer).

For many years I avoided beer because at that time specialty beers were not widely available, and I was not a fan of the mainstream garbage, so I'm enjoying the discovery of porters, ales, lagers, etc. I do like Asahi in the summer, too. Smiling

Now we need to get to the bottom (head?) of the pouring controversy!

Jennifer

P.S. Peter, perhaps you might consider reprising your wonderful beer article from the old SOLO.

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Here you go Linz

Chris Cathcart's picture

With a little bit of searching, I found a good page for where you are.

In the name of the drooling beast within all of us

Chris Cathcart's picture

I just drink my alcohol straight (don't tell Barbara). Sometimes, when I want it diluted, I drink wine. I'm certainly not a *beer* aficionado.

Linz, Linz, Linz, you just haven't gotten to know of the right beers. (Say, I forgot to include the Barley Wine style in my listing of "big beers." Must be because it's been a while since I've had one. They'll put you down.)

The big high-alc beer that came immediately to mind was the Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, around 18% ABV. As the label says, it's brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley and hides the alc well. Two 12-oz. bottles of the stuff and most folks are done for.

A quick look at RateBeer indicates that Linz is going to have to get imports, perhaps even have them shipped in himself if the beer stores don't carry the KASS beers there. There are no beers brewed in the Aussie/NZ region with more than a few ratings and averaging better than a 3.7 out of 5. Here's a listing of the top-rated beers you might be able to readily obtain. The products from San Diego, CA, Stone Brewing Company -- the flagship beer of which is the Arrogant Bastard -- are all worthwhile. They brew a well-regarded example of every big-beer style (IPA, IIPA, American Strong [Arrogant Bastard and Double Bastard], Barley Wine, Imperial Stout) aside from Belgians.

I'd say go after the Belgian Strong Ales (Trappist or Abbey ales) right off but they do take some getting used to. They are the favorites of the experienced beer snobs, and it's often reflected in the prices.

However, I find this discussion fascinating. I'd love for the connoisseurs to list their top five beers, that I might experiment therewith (the beers, not the connoisseurs).

To best directly answer your query, here are my RateBeer ratings. Thing is, some of these may be hard for you to get. The Arrogant Bastard (click on the link to it and to Double Bastard from my ratings page to see some entertaining "reviews"), by my recollection, was my introduction to big and angry beers. It was a bit much at the very first, but I came quickly to love it. It's a most fitting beer to start out with. Read the label on it; it's a hoot. It'll spit right in your face and tell you that you probably won't like it, that it's doubtful you have the sophistication to appreciate it.

You want beers with over 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) or you're just not getting your KASS in beer. (See the comparison on the Stone Brewing page between its beers and "Major Brand" beers.) It's been said that the human tongue can't really discern beyond 100 IBUs. The biggest IBU casualty rate that I've encountered in a beer is the Devil Dancer Triple IPA, believed to be over 200 IBUs.

Not all swill

Martin's picture

I will be quick to call a lot of American brews "swill", because that's what they are. Not everything by Anheiser-Busch is swill - I will drink Amber Bock once or Michelob once in a while. There are far better beers around, but sometimes you have to go with what's available.

And until I know more of the context, I'm not going to blame the brewmeister of A-B for their products. I would not be surprised to find that it's determined by marketers as much as brewers.

Linz, I'll list 5 good beers I have tried recently:

  • Duvel, a light Belgian ale
  • Rogue American Ale
  • Lindeman's Kriek: a Belgian lambic, brewed with wild yeast and cherries. I don't make this a regular drink, it's a little too fruity, but I'll drink it once in a while.
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers - a dark Belgian-style ale.
  • My homebrew - Sorry, only one bottle left in the world until I brew more. Smiling

This is far from definitive, and I would love to hear what other people suggest.

No Quarter

jriggenbach's picture

"In a strictly limited sense, pale lagers have their place -- as a hot summer drinking beer in the context of a barbecue, for instance. Downing a weighty beer in the summer heat can be a bit tough. Likely get you dripping with sweat pretty good."

The "pale lagers" in question are in fact half-assed Pilsners which have been adulterated with vast quantities of rice and corn and chemicals designed to force the beer to foam more or less (whichever is desired). This crap isn't worth drinking anywhere - a barbecue included. If you want a Pilsner, get a decent one -- Urquell, Harp, Trumer, Warsteiner, San Miguel, there are dozens of others -- instead of drinking the swill foisted on the public by Anheuser-Busch, Coors, and Miller.

In any case, if "summer heat" is an accurate description of conditions outside, then men of reason are to be found inside, where it's air-conditioned, drinking whatever beer pleases them (in my case, stout, barleywine, or bocks and other black lagers), not sweating without, undrinkable piss-water in hand.

JR

Anheuser-Busch, for Rand's Sake?? (Image of Curled Lip)

jriggenbach's picture

Prima Donna, now a know-it-all on the subject of beer, intones:

"I'm not sure how they pour things down under, but as this was the Brew Master of the world's biggest beer company, with 14 years at the helm, I'm willing to bet she knows what she's doing."

In light of the swill she brews, that would seem to be rather a fanciful interpretation of the data.

JR

As is well known ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I just drink my alcohol straight (don't tell Barbara). Sometimes, when I want it diluted, I drink wine. I'm certainly not a *beer* aficionado. However, I find this discussion fascinating. I'd love for the connoisseurs to list their top five beers, that I might experiment therewith (the beers, not the connoisseurs).

Linz

Martin-

Chris Cathcart's picture

Of course, if you're drinking Budweiser, or other American "macroswill" (Nice term, Chris),

Oh, it's quite standard nomenclature on RateBeer. Other oft-used terms are "macropiss" or just "piss" or "fizzy yellow beer for wusses". Very KASSless stuff.

On a related note, beer raters will often refer to a beer's "malt backbone" (atop which hops do their thing, of course). A macro's "spine" is significantly softened by corn or rice adjuncts. Not completely spineless, but so weak of spine as to bespeak fear of standing out. (To a real-beer fan, the macros taste virtually all the same. Differences that may seem large to the weak of palate are hardly noticeable to the beer stud. So much conformity.)

Wow, look what I started!

Martin's picture

Peter named the issue - it depends on the beer. My original comment was about "people who pour beer down the side of the glass to avoid giving the beer a head." It's not so much about pouring technique as it is about getting the right head on the beer. In my experience, some beers have a lot of head and need a gentler pour. Others need to be agitated a bit to get a decent head. If I'm not familiar with that particular brew, I often start pouring down the side of he glass, and I'll switch to down the middle if it's needed.

Of course, if you're drinking Budweiser, or other American "macroswill" (Nice term, Chris), it doesn't really matter.

Context

Peter Cresswell's picture

"Downing a weighty beer in the summer heat can be a bit tough."

Yup, quite right. Exactly why good, dry Asian lagers were invented. Like Asahi Dry for example: The last thing you want on a hot and humid afternoon at the cricket is a porter. (A beer wench on the other hand ...)

As for the pouring question, perhaps the Annheuser-Busch beers have less of a head, and so need the more vigorous pour? Could that be the story here? I believe the size of the head (in a genuine beer) is something to do with protein content, and some NZ beers do have a little too much head to be real.

In any case, as anyone who has poured a Kilkenny or a Guinness will know, every beer needs to be poured differently. And some Asian lagers can be poured any way you like, and it will be almost impossible to ever get a decent head.

So our old friend 'context' could be in play here again.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell

'NOT PC.'
**Setting Brushfires In People's Minds**

ORGANON ARCHITECTURE
**Integrating Architecture With Your Site**

American Standard

Chris Cathcart's picture

For a while, American pale macro lagers were dubbed "American Standard." It was then observed that public urinals were from the American Standard company, and that people might mistake the style designation for a possible source.

Why would "men" drink this stuff? Good question. I think a lot of it may simply be a matter of palate -- some folks just can't take a lot of something on their palate. (Much as I like to get as spicy as possibly with Thai food, for instance, my physical limit is "medium." I can't fathom how some folks can take it "hot.") But a lot of it is just lack of adventurousness and going with what's safe and known. In a strictly limited sense, pale lagers have their place -- as a hot summer drinking beer in the context of a barbecue, for instance. Downing a weighty beer in the summer heat can be a bit tough. Likely get you dripping with sweat pretty good.

pouring & chocolate & big beers & etc.

Chris Cathcart's picture

I actually have heard about the "pour straight" idea, but when I've tried it I get about 90% head that takes a while to go down. I'm pretty sure that there are all kinds of debates and tips about pouring from time to time on the RateBeer forums.

The type (shape) of glass you pour into seems to be pretty important to beer lovers, as well. It seems to depend a lot on the style -- tulip glasses for Belgians, conical glasses for strong ales seem to be pretty popular choices. I've taken to drinking just about everything in a bulbous/tulip glass. The beer just *looks* better in a bulb -- especially a frothy tripel. Plus there's just some added nicety to cupping the bulb of the glass as you drink from it, something you can't really do with a conical. Just handles more securely that way, I guess.

Chocolate would be natural to a beer if you use what I believe are called chocolate malts. They'll often show up in porters (Fullers London Porter is a leading example) and stouts. I can't recall chocolate malts being big in Imperial Stouts (about the "biggest" beers there are); Impys are usually more renouned for coffee-type flavors.

The "big beers" -- the heavy-flavor, more expensive, higher-alc, more for sipping than chugging -- are like the opposite of a, uh, tiddlywink beer. Not "easy drinking," as it were. Gotta be in the right kind of mood for it, sorta like watching a weighty art film. The styles that fall into the "big beer" categories and tend to get high ratings are the Belgian Strong Ales (Trappist or Abbey Ales, namely -- from the monastery breweries), Imperial Stouts, and other Strong Ales, of which India Pale Ales are most visibly representative (the Imperial IPAs -- "Double IPAs" -- are particularly weighty). It's hard to strike the best balance between quality and easier-drinking if you're not in the mood for a weighty beer experience. The right kinds of Doppelbocks work well for me, and they have an added bonus of being drinkable so that the alcohol kinda catches up to you without giving you a headachy feel. (In the past year or so my consumption of the big stuff has dropped off quite a bit, just because of the associated heavy downer/depressive/headachy feel of the buzz. A good doppel gives a soft and pleasant buzz. Short of great but expensive wines, they're my drink of choice now -- I save the Rochefort 10 for the rare occasion I'm in the mood, and I have to drive some 50 miles to get Arrogant Bastard, which I'd otherwise have a lot more often! And I just don't feel like spending the money for a lot of the lighter but more watery-flavored beers. So I've pretty much got only a few doppels laying around at the moment. I'd have some of my favorite Belgian tripels around, but their supplies seem to have dried up around these parts . . . if you ever spot a St. Bernardus Tripel -- one of the most widely-distributed examples of the style -- go for it!)

For all their epistemological faults, the Euros and monks do know how to do beer well. America is diverse -- lots of macroswill-chuggers alongside a large and growing segment of beer geeks that are driving the whole micro industry. Lots of the best beers around come from American microbreweries. "We Americans," indeed! Smiling

To be clear...

Prima Donna's picture

...I have not extolled the virtues of Budweiser, thankyouverymuch. Mr. Edge can tell you *exactly* how I feel about men who would drink such swill.

And Peter, they are cocoa nibs -- quite different from chocolate, and lending more of a porter flavor. But it's pointless to argue such points with boys. Smiling

I am going to research this pouring business, however. If I've been misled I'm not going to be happy about it.

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Amstel have a rather

Ross Elliot's picture

Amstel has a rather convoluted process for the handling of its beer, but one which is practical and produces a consistently poured drink every time. Other companies go through the same wash, cleanse, pour, chop cycle as Amstel, btw.

I have a preference for what I'd call "simply brewed" beers: clean on the palate with a distinct character. That's just me. But having tasted a few brews that have had added flavors such as honey, or herbs(!), it all seems a little silly and somewhat pretentious.

I'm with Ross

Peter Cresswell's picture

"I'm not sure how they pour things down under, but as this was the Brew Master of the world's biggest beer company, with 14 years at the helm, I'm willing to bet she knows what she's doing"

To be fair, that company brews Budweiser, which is barely a beer. Sticking out tongue

I have to say too that I'm with Ross on the pouring, and also on the girly, ahem, 'flavoured' beers. You Americans. If you do want 'chocolate' in your beers, then look for it from the malting and the yeasts, but chocolate in beer! Uugh. Just the thought makes me head for the fridge. Slainte!

Cheers, Peter Cresswell -- whose blog has for your delectation a regular 'Beer O'Clock' post every Friday from two New Zealand beer experts.

'NOT PC.'
**Setting Brushfires In People's Minds**

ORGANON ARCHITECTURE
**Integrating Architecture With Your Site**

A Brewer Replies

Craig Ceely's picture

Ross, you're right on pouring, but wrong on flavoring.

Jennifer, you're right on the flavored stuff, but you've been misled on pouring.

Beer is ancient stuff -- possibly older than bread -- and flavorings of all sorts were added before brewers even knew what yeast was. Some beers even contain bacteria, deliberately. The question of the head or collar is a matter of context: try pouring a weizenbier directly into your glass and you'll have nothing but head, for about half an hour. Although that brings me back to my "tongueing, not toning" argument over on SOLO Fitness...

(I never heard of Amstel, Ross, until I saw a billboard on the drive between Beirut and Jounieh. I assumed, of course, that it was a Lebanese brand...one lives and, when necessary, one learns.)

Happy to serve as the peacemaker here. And Jennifer, you'd have killed for my Paso del Norte Pale Ale.

Cabo Fabo!

Ross Elliot's picture

"Pfft"

Wow, what sledgehammer retort Smiling

Amstel is a Heineken company, so it's not so much how we do it down under, but how the world's fourth biggest brewery does it. And InBev is the world's largest beer maker, not Bud. Bud makes lots of beer, dear, but not *great* beer.

Next you'll be telling me a ragu mustn't have bacon in it... Eye

Pfft.

Prima Donna's picture

Yes, while beer has characteristics that are prevalent from the terroir of the grapes, etc., in this case the beer mash has been enhanced with additional natural flavors -- much like is done with fruit wines (or Belgian cherry beer). I found it rather creative, and a lovely shift from most of the swill on the market. Whatever the case, you can drink what you please -- I found them to be lovely, and intend to drink more.

I'm not sure how they pour things down under, but as this was the Brew Master of the world's biggest beer company, with 14 years at the helm, I'm willing to bet she knows what she's doing. But don't let me interfere with your "fabo"-ness. Smiling

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

I am *not* incorrect about

Ross Elliot's picture

I am *not* incorrect about how to pour beer. I have had training from several brewers including Amstel and I would have been excommunicated from the ranks of fabo beer pourers if I'd poured directly into the glass.

And, the aromatics and flavorings of wine come from the character of the grapes, the terroir and the aging conditions, *not* from any additives or such like! Therefore, the taste of beer should come via the same and *not* from anything else.

Shut it.

Prima Donna's picture

Firstly, you are incorrect about how to pour, as the beer should be poured down the direct center of the glass to properly release the aromatics and provide the correct size of head (which is substantial). There are more details, but as I said I'm saving them.

Secondly, it does not taste like a milkshake, you dolt. Much as one can taste hints of vanilla, oak or chocolate in wine, so can one taste such things in beer. I said it *isn't* sweet.

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Oh, dear.

Ross Elliot's picture

Oh, dear.

Chris is correct re the pour. You want head but not too much. Beer should be poured down the side of the glass and anyone not suffering from Parkinson's should be able to judge it easily. By the way, the reason you want head in the first place is because the aromatics in beer are best appreciated from a frothy head.

Further, beer should never be consumed, unless absolutely necessary, from a bottle. As with wine and spirits, *most* of the taste is in the nose, and you can't get a decent whiff from the top of a bottle. Always breathe in the aromatics of the beer before drinking. Heaven.

Re cold glasses, were possible, you bet. Kiwis (and our Aussie cousins) as well as the Europeans (excepting, perhaps, the British) know how to drink beer, and with few exceptions, that's cold. By cold, we mean 4-5c. Not so frigid you kill the taste, but cold enough to suit the brew. Tepid *ain't* cool Cool

Lastly, I *loathe* flavored beers. You want the aromas and tastes of hops, barley, malt, *not* vanilla, etc. Buy a milkshake!!

Wonderful concoctions

Prima Donna's picture

They are premium holiday beers called "Celebrate" put out by Michelob, and their bottle looks like a large bullet. I think they might come as a gift set with glasses. The two flavors are Celebrate Chocolate and Celebrate Vanilla Oak, and I believe they become available in late October or early November.

If you were to host a holiday celebration, you could actually serve these as after-dinner drinks, much like cordials without the cloying sweetness. Yeah, they're that good.

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Thanks, Jen. What is this

JoeM's picture

Thanks, Jen. What is this wonderful concoction called, and where can I get it?

Ratebeer.com as guide

Chris Cathcart's picture

JR wrote:

I suppose. If you think listening to a bunch of ignoramuses shouting their uninformed opinions at each other is a "guide."

Hey, now, don't be confusing ratebeer with SOLO. Smiling

The site has some very experienced beer people. See here for a taste.

It's all in the numbers.

Prima Donna's picture

Martin, that's why they come in packs. Smiling

Chris, I'm quite eager to try the Arrogant Bastard ale. I had seen something about it months ago, but thanks for the reminder.

Joe, what would you like to know? I was most intrigued by the thought of creating premium ales in this way, as they have a wonderful effect on the senses. There is almost the hint of the flavor, but it comes through as more of a fragrance that coats the palate -- it is the finish that inspires your mind to think "vanilla" or "chocolate," without interfering with the flavor of the beer itself.

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

"The ratebeer.com website serves as good a guide to beer as any"

jriggenbach's picture

I suppose. If you think listening to a bunch of ignoramuses shouting their uninformed opinions at each other is a "guide."

JR

Jennifer

Martin's picture

Jennifer, I accept the challenge! I shall meet you at dawn with a fine ale and a beer-clean glass.

The only problem I see is keeping the weapons un-consumed until the appointed time. Smiling

Hmmmm...

Chris Cathcart's picture

I'm accustomed to tilt my glass when pouring, not to avoid getting a head, but to avoid getting too much of a head. I pour it so that I end up with the right amount -- enough to fit in the glass as well as have a wonderful appearance factor. You should also want and need a head to get a better sense of aroma, as aroma seems well-trapped in a head.

Belgian ales are the best. (Like many, it took me a while to get used to them and realize this.) Short of a very expensive and hard to get Westvleteren 12 (pretty much the #1 beer in the world by a good number of rating systems - individual opinions can vary, though), there is a fruit-infused Rochefort 10 which you can get at a good fine wine store. My favorite beers are this, a couple German doppelbocks (Celebrator and the Weltenburger Asam-Bock), and Stone Brewing Co.'s Arrogant Bastard Ale (a dark ruby American strong ale, quite bitter and big malts). A well-done Belgian abbey tripel will also do fine for me.

The ratebeer.com website serves as good a guide to beer as any.

(I just realized that Arrogant Bastard would be a fitting beer for Linz. Smiling "Hated by many, loved by few." Or: "You're Not Worthy." The beer's whole "advertising" campaign is delightfully off-putting to the unwashed and highly endearing to the beer snob. It's a KASS beer, contra the limp-dick weasel-word fizzy yellow macro-piss. ArrogantBastard.com.)

mmm...beer

JoeM's picture

"premium ales infused with cocoa nibs and (separately) Madagascar vanilla beans. The flavors were *incredible*.

Jen, tell me more! I need something to counter my mocha frappacinos at night.

Aha!

Prima Donna's picture

Martin, you are on the right track indeed when it comes to pouring. Well done! Another thing I learned was that the head is formally called a "collar," but due to many beer courses forgot to ask why; I'll find out. (And yes, tastings like these are the really cool part of what I do for a living. Though six beer courses is a bit much for me.) Smiling They did -- and this impressed me -- serve all beers room temperature, and some were still too chilled, so we were taught to warm the glasses with our hands as one would brandy.

When I return to Atlanta (hopefully within the next few months), I shall meet you at dawn with lager and glass.

Jennifer

(Edited to eradicate excessive smiley faces.)
-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Jennifer,

Martin's picture

Two things I hate: Frozen beer glasses, and people who pour beer down the side of the glass to avoid giving the beer a head. Good head is part of drinking beer. And frozen beer mugs are for idiots, barbarians, and Americans who have been raised on the kind of beer that has to be served cold so you don't taste how bad it is.

A beer-tasting sounds fun. I've developed a taste for some Belgian ales and lambics. Never tried cocoa or vanilla flavored ales, but they sound interesting.

When are you visiting Atlanta again? We can compare beer-pouring technique!

Ooh!

Prima Donna's picture

Martin, I just attended a beer tasting dinner in NY and was treated to something I had never tasted before: premium ales infused with cocoa nibs and (separately) Madagascar vanilla beans. The flavors were *incredible*. The ale with cocoa undertones had a rich, dark color (much like a porter), and the vanilla one was a deep honey color. Their flavor was so intriguing: rich, but with a smooth finish that was not cloying at all. They rocked my world.

I also learned how to properly pour a beer (which most people don't know how to do) from the Brew Master of Anheuser-Busch herself. She's one damn cool woman. Smiling

And no, I'm not giving away the beer pouring secrets/reasons yet -- that's show fodder for later. Smiling

Jennifer

-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Homebrew!

Martin's picture

Anyone else here make or drink homebrew? I'm in a good mood this afternoon. I was going through my homebrewing supplies, and I found two bottles of homebrewed ale that I had forgotten about. I just opened one and it's perfectly aged. Smiling A little too hoppy, but not bad - I like a strong aroma and taste of hops, just a tad less than this bottle. I need to start a new batch, it's been several months since I have done any brewing!

Chris C

jriggenbach's picture

I fear we're headed for a clash of the palates here -- into the ranges of gustatory territory that are famously non diputandum. To my palate, and therefore for my money, the Stone beers are all grossly inferior to the Rogue beers -- and to the beers from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, CA, too, for that matter. I'd also rank the beers from the Mendocino Brewing Company (originally in Hopland, CA, now in Ukiah, CA and Saratoga, NY) and the Deschutes Brewing Company of Bend, OR as consistently better than those that emanate from Stone. If things taste differently to you, I guess we really have nothing further to discuss.

I'd love to try the Expedition Stout, but I fear it would have a tough time facing off against the Shakespeare Stout and Chocolate Stout from Rogue, the Obsidian Stout from Deschutes, the Eight Ball Stout from the Lost Coast Brewing Company in Eureka, CA, the Black Hawk Stout from Mendocino, and especially the inimitable Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout from Anderson Valley. The splendid Inebriator Stout from the Sonoran Brewing Company in Arizona is no longer available except at the pub in Scottsdale -- alas! Maybe we'll stop in Phoenix on our way out to L.A. in July just to drink some.

I do think, however, that any list of "the top breweries in North America" that makes no mention of Anchor in San Francisco is laughable on its face.

I'm not that fond of Belgian ales, myself, but I've tasted quite a few because (along with Barleywine) they're a big favorite of my wife's. She and I both like the Trippel (and some of the other beers, too) from the New Belgian Brewing Company of Fort Collins, CO.

I have been to the websites you name, but I haven't spent much time at either of them. The raving of ignoramuses has never much interested me. It's too much like reading the movie reviews on the IMDB. This prejudice of mine against the blathering of idiots has long prevented me from finding the listening satisfaction I'm assured is there to be had from talk radio, as well, but I guess each of us has his or her cross to bear.

JR

Arrogant Bastard

Prima Donna's picture

I'd try it just for the name. Smiling

Chris, I am indeed speaking of reds like Cabernet and Sangiovese. I'm not terribly well-versed in wine, but have sipped enough over the years to have a good understanding of how my palate responds to different varietals. Since the elements of taste apply universally, this can be helpful in any food or beverage-related endeavor.


-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

JR

Chris Cathcart's picture

Are you familiar with websites like RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com. I hear plenty about those breweries there.

Maybe I haven't had enough exposure, but Stone is consistently among the best American micros I've found and tried. I don't think it's just about the packaging and wide distribution. The Arrogant Bastard has rightly earned its designation. I find it one heck of a beer. Rogue Ales out of Portland, OR gets plenty of distribution and packaging appeal, but their beers typically just don't match up to Stone's.

It's too bad you haven't been exposed to Kalamazoo Bell's beers, which may have limited distribution; you're missing ou much like I know I'm missing out not getting Three Floyds or AleSmith beers around here. If you can find a way to get ahold of their Expedition Stout (Imperial Stout), it's top-notch.

I'd recommend checking out this page and following the links therein:
http://www.ratebeer.com/RateBeerBest/

Unfortunately, few breweries in America are known for Belgian-style ales, aside from Unibroue.

Breweries in North America

jriggenbach's picture

"It's great being near a first-rate brewery, and Victory has a solid reputation. Here in MI we've got Bells, brewed in Kalamazoo. They do lots of grassy-hopped ales and various big stouts. They're one of the top breweries in North America, along with Stone, Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, AleSmith, and Victory."

I'm a resident of North America. I've spent the past ten years travelling all over the country (the USA) visiting brewpubs and drinking craft beer. I read two magazines about craft beer. And I've never heard of Three Floyds, Victory, or Bells. Whatever they may be, I'm quite confident they're not among "the top breweries in North America."

Nor is Stone, despite the fact that its Arrogant Bastard Ale has got it a lot of attention (mostly for its packaging, not its content).

JR

big beers

Chris Cathcart's picture

Jennifer, are the "big red" wines like the Cabernets or the Malbecs? I'm still pretty much a wine amateur, and it's such an expensive hobby to get into, especially if you want the really complex wines. But some pretty good bottles can be had for around $15. I just rarely go above that amount.

Ashley, I've had the Golden Monkey on several occasions. I love beers in the Tripel style, and there are actually quite a number of Tripels that I've preferred over the Golden Monkey. A favorite of mine is from the St. Bernardus brewery, called simply St. Bernardus Tripel. Bottles are usually only at the specialty wine/beer stores.

It's great being near a first-rate brewery, and Victory has a solid reputation. Here in MI we've got Bells, brewed in Kalamazoo. They do lots of grassy-hopped ales and various big stouts. They're one of the top breweries in North America, along with Stone, Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, AleSmith, and Victory.

The Palate

Prima Donna's picture

Chris, your remarks regarding stronger beers are interesting to me, as I developed a taste for beer (mostly pale ales and lagers) only after becoming well acquainted with wines. My palate, at that point, was better able to discern flavors, and as I am a fan of the "big reds" (the Tuscans), strong beers were a natural fit for my tastes.


-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Victory Brew

Ashley's picture

My hometown brewery is Victory. I don't know if it is availale in other places, but Victory's Golden Monkey is quite good (and lethal). After a couple of shots of Jameson, I'll drink most anything, though.

German Beer

I lean toward the German wheat beers but I do enjoy a good Belgian. The complexity in a good Belgian is hard to describe.

Schlafy's

Adam Buker's picture

Anyone from the St. Louis area will know what I'm talking about. I love their Oatmeal Stout.

Adam
www.adambuker.com

Ratebeer.com, hands down

Chris Cathcart's picture

This page is a good place to start

Note that it's going to be somewhat tough for those of "mainstream" beer taste to establish a love for the really good beers right off. Strong ales, India Pale Ales, Imperial Stouts, and especially Belgian ales are very off-putting at first to a palate accustomed to lagers and Guiness. It took me at least a year before I caught on to Belgian ales. My "segue" beer was a Double Bock, the Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock to be specific. One of my best memories from attending those Social Philosophy and Policy Center receptions was how well-stocked they were beer-wise, providing me with my gateway beer experience. The best I had had up till then was a Harp lager. Not long thereafter I was ready for the Arrogant Bastard and all the rest. From the list in the link above, I'd say that the Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock is probably the best place to start, and one you'd be likely to find at a decent beer/wine store. Doppels/Doubles are excellent gateway beers, IMO. American pale ales (Sierra Nevada, usually) aren't bad for this, either; they can help prepare your palate for extra-hopped IPAs.

My favorite beer website is

Bill Grazier's picture

My favorite beer website is http://www.beeradvocate.com ...very informative.

Another good way to learn about beer is to join a local beer group, which would possibly be the local homebrewers' club. While you don't have to homebrew, you just have to be open-minded to honestly trying the homebrew of others. Of course, you could always take up homebrewing...lots of fun, and with a bit of patience you get to enjoy your rewards!! (Maybe a Homebrewing 101 for Objectivists article would be in order.....mmm, Atlas Ale!)

McEwan's Sotch Ale is also

Robert Malcom's picture

McEwan's Scotch Ale is also good, if you like a somewhat fruity taste..

Mike, you've reminded me of

Ross Elliot's picture

Mike, you've reminded me of something we used to do a few years ago.

A bunch of us would get together and organise an international beers evening for which we'd each be assigned to purchase a dozen of a designated brew. So if you had 10 guys, you'd have 10 different beers, a dozen of each. Lots of fun.

Ahh, beer. One of my

Mike Erickson's picture

Ahh, beer. One of my Christmas presents was a 10-pack, beers from around the world. Haven't found one I didn't like yet. San Miguel was the best so far, Coopers next. The Coopers at first tasted a little strange, like burnt wood. But it sort of grows on you. I'll have to give it a more thorough try.

Still like Guiness Stout the best overall. But I don't like that strange "draught in a can" they have. What's up with that? All that foam, yuck. The Anchor Steam dark they have around here [San Francisco Bay area]is pretty good.

Mike Erickson

As I recall, there's a book

Robert Malcom's picture

As I recall, there's a book out there, quality paperback, with the title - Beer Made the World...

Beer built civilisation

Peter Cresswell's picture

Perhaps I might interest Thrusters in a short drinking history of the world, which reveals the truth that it was in fact beer that built civilisation:

'You Smell of Goat': A Complete Hiftory of Man According to Hif Divers Delightf (Part One)

'Making the Genius Quicker': A Complete Hiftory of Man According to Hif Divers Delightf (Part Two)

Smiling

Ben Franklin on Beer

jriggenbach's picture

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Beer, helping ugly people

Titan's picture

Beer, helping ugly people have sex since 3000 B.C.!

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