Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Here I am starting to write this minutes away from the Brewers Showcase in Sacramento, California – the grand finale of the awesomeness that is the California Craft Beer Summit. By the time I finish this, I will likely be plenty inebriated and cooked well-done thanks to this lovely Sacramento heat. The overall experience was amazing to say the least.

The first year of California’s Beer Summit included a host of talks and classes by some of the most recognized names in the brewing industry. The guest list consisted of the past, present, and future of the California and U.S. craft beer scenes. Greg Koch, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, Tony Magee, Matt Brynildson, Dr. Charlie Bamforth, Ken Grossman, David Walker, and several others addressed craft beer industry professionals and fans alike. Many of the key points were highlighted on the California Craft Brewers twitter feed, but I will highlight a few of my own takeaways.
The main entrance to the Expo Hall

The main entrance to the Expo Hall.

Well… that lasted a whole two paragraphs… The whirlwind of a weekend didn’t stop at the end of the Summit, but instead continued through the Brewers Showcase with an outstanding showing by some of California’s finest. The hundreds of beers available and numerous cornhole games kept me preoccupied and away from the digital devices (with the exception of UnTappd checkins in the rare case you didn’t see them). But don’t worry, I’m now well rested and fully recovered!
The turnout for the Brewers' showcase.

The turnout for the Brewers’ showcase.

There was a lot going on at any given time during the summit. There were “Educational Sessions,” which took the form of a typical lecture with a powerpoint and Q&A at the end. There were also “Tap Talks” and Food & Beer demos that took place on small stages at different corners of the main expo hall – these talks gave the speaker a stool and mic with a smaller audience. I believe there was just enough information given to create a craft beer encyclopedia, so I will not do it injustice by providing summaries with potential for misinformation. Instead I will highlight each of the talk that I went to with one main idea or sentence. But enough with the talk! Beer time…
One of the entrances to the Educational Session rooms.

One of the entrances to the Educational Session rooms.

September 11th, 2015 

Moment of Silence – This was not a part of the Summit, and by the time you’re reading this it will no longer be September 11th. But in case you missed it, please share with me a moment of silence for those lives taken over 14 years ago. 

State of the Industry: Current Trends & Statistics Where the Industry is Heading – Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association.
  • Main takeaway:  While there are currently over 500 breweries in existence and in planning, there is still room for growth for another 200+ breweries! (I knew these crowded cities were good for something! California beer is awesome!)
  • Also, the next “IPA” will likely be…. an IPA.

Craft Beer “The New Top Shelf” How craft beer can increase your overall bottom line – David Macon, VP Sales & Marketing, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
  • Main takeaway (although tailored for beer retailers): Be objective in beer selection; use proper glassware; utilize Brewers Association standards for draft & refrigeration systems; try beers often; and have fun!

Value of a Cicerone – Virginia Thomas, Cicerone Certificate Program
  • Main takeaway: Knowing how to taste, describe, and experience beers will allow you to help others do the same! Cicerone Certification helps this process.

From left to right: Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.)

From left to right: Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.)

Sacramento Brewers Panel – Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.)
  • Main takeaway: Sacramento beer is awesome, and the beer scene is rapidly becoming one of the premier California beer scenes! “Drink local, go with the home team!” – Dave Gull
  • Also… Glory, glory Sacramento!
September 12th, 2015

Beer Styles: the Advanced Course – Mike “Big Mike” Moore, Beer Judge, Beer Educator & Food Specialist
  • Main takeaway: History and origin is very important to beer style and beer overall! Remember the history of what’s in your glass!

Homebrewing – Gary Glass, American Homebrewers Association
  • Main takeaway: Homebrewing is easy, fun, and better with friends…. Join the AHA!

The hop wall and  the history on hops.

The hop wall and the history on hops.

Reverence for Beer – Dr. Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis
  • Main takeaway:Use the proper glass, and treat the beer with the respect and reverence it deserves!
  • On “yellow, fizzy” beer: “Its up to you – what you like, and have reverence for it.” – Dr. Charlie Bamforth

Beers You Can Age & How to Store Them at Home – Matt Brynildson (Firestone Walker Brewing)
  • Main takeaway: 97% of the beers produced are not made to age – if the brewers wanted it aged, they would age it themselves. The 3% produced that can be aged should be stored properly and in a controlled environment.

Keynote – Greg Koch (Stone Brewing Co.)
  • Main takeaway: The craft beer industry is booming in the U.S., and there is potential for growth on the international level.
  • Stone Brewing will remain strong and independent in its own brand! “My answer is no or hell no” – Greg Koch
During the Keynote with Greg Koch. "My answer is no or hell no" - Greg Koch on Stone Brewing being sold.

During the Keynote with Greg Koch. “My answer is no or hell no” – Greg Koch on Stone Brewing being sold.

 

If you couldn’t tell, the first ever California Craft Beer Summit was worth every penny, and I enjoyed every second of it. The education alone was worth the cost.. not to mention the special releases and tastings available all weekend!

The one that got away...

The one that got away…

 

As I’ve said before, California’s Craft Beer Summit included some of the most iconic figures in today’s American craft brewing scene. While being within arms reach of many of these guys and girls, it’s easy to see that they are all still just regular people whose passion and drive led them to great success in the craft beer world. I mean, after the Summit Greg Koch threw on his backpack and sunglasses and walked a few blocks over to the brewers’ showcase! If I saw him in passing in Downtown Sacramento, I would have never looked twice. The same was the case with the Cilurzos, with Mitch Steele, and the rest of craft beer community. Unfortunately, I turned into a 13 year-old boy around Taylor Swift anytime one of these people sat or stood around me, which is why I have no pictures with them. Nevertheless, being in the same room with some of the same interests as these folks was truly an amazing experience. Time to start the countdown to next years’ summit!

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So, I’ve been missing from the Interwebs… again. Mainly because I wrapped up a 5,500 mile round trip drive from California to Georgia a couple weeks ago. That was a great time, which happened to suck the life out of my truck. Sorry, truck.

I have also been missing because not 8 hours after said trip did I separate my radius and ulna from my humorous humerus. Either way, it was not funny. And for those who have been patella deep in Brewers Association books instead of remembering the Bones song, I dislocated my elbow. The latter reference was to the knee. You’re welcome.

Now back to beer.

*****Caution: SINGLE-HANDED-TYPING RANT AHEAD*****

Speaking of Georgia, while I was there I had my first experience with a growler filling station. At Whole Foods. It was AMAZING. There I am looking for good cheese when I say to myself,  “Maybe I’ll have a beer tonight, too.” So I walk my happy little self to the cold bottles and find the selection great, but the indecision greater. Then a friend jokingly says, “Hey, maybe you should get a jug!” I look to where he’s pointing, and there it is! A beautiful, chrome five-faucet system perfectly placed between the wine/beer aisle and the bakery. Cold, kegged beer waiting in front of me. Warm, toasty goodness filling the air. Overly priced, one-time-purchase cheese in hand. It was a great moment in my life. Needless to say, I walked out with two 64 oz. growlers of Bell’s Oberon, which were eventually consumed within the following 48 hours.

That next weekend I decided I would like to try beers more local to the Georgia-Lina area (That’s Georgia-Carolina, by the way). A quick Yelp and Google search, and I find the nearest growler station, Tip Top Taps. I took my Whole Foods growlers in and added one of Tip Top Tap’s growlers to my collection. They flushed my growlers with CO2, and I walked out with a few keg-fresh gallons of local goodness. After I left Georgia, I drove into Texas and did the same thing for some DFW growlers.

Some of you reading this may be thinking, “Cool story, guy, but I get my growlers filled all the time.” Well, this is where the rant begins. According to the Brewers Association,  Georgia ranks 24th in the nation with 40 craft breweries; I found at least 3 non-brewery/retail establishments within a 10 mile radius that fill growlers. Texas ranks 8th with 117 craft breweries. Retail growler filling stations were quite common there as well. Arizona,  Florida,  New York,  and of course Oregon and Washington, all allow retailers to fill growlers. California ranks 1st in the U.S. with 431 breweries and counting. There are 1.6 breweries per Capita (100,000 21+ adults) in California. Guess where it is NOT legal for retail growler filling? And California is not alone!

Now, I get it… why have Whole Foods or independent tap houses fill growlers when I can throw a rock in any given direction and hit a brewery, which IS allowed to fill growlers (with certain guidelines, of course). The beer is fresh. The kegs are controlled. And those filling the growlers will usually know the beer almost as much as the brewers. I’ve heard some argue that breweries lose control of the product once it leaves their doors. I’ve heard others attribute a retailer’s cleanliness (or lack thereof) to a less than satisfactory experience for consumers. And I’ve had conversations with a few who believe the right to sell growlers of beer should stay with the brewers and breweries.

I certainly admire and respect the work done by the growing number of brewers and the breweries they work in. It takes a tremendous amount of work to create the fantastic product that we’ve all grown to know and love. It’s no easy feat to transform water, malt, hops, and yeast into an 8% ABV ale sought after by tens of thousands. I would never ask that the hard work done be compromised for the sake of the consumer or the almighty U.S. dollar. Still, I don’t understand the arguments against the “growler house.”

Sure, breweries have less control of the product. But what about when it’s sent around the nation in bottles? Maybe the local bottle shop will keep them in cold storage and maintain them properly. Will the local convenience store or mom and pop adult beverage store do the same? How does risk in the treatment of bottles differ from the risk in the treatment of growler filling stations? If anything, those hard-working people filling the growlers will be just as passionate as those working on the breweries’ premises. And it’s this passion that will push them to continuously serve a quality product in a clean and inviting atmosphere.

I believe there are so many advantages in allowing retailers the opportunity to pour a 16-64 oz. growler. Now, I write this strictly as a passionate consumer. I don’t work in the industry, nor do I pretend to understand the industry. If I’m incorrect in any of my statements, feel free to contact me. I’d love to have a conversation and to learn more about what I’m missing. Regardless of the reasons, craft beer should not just push the envelope on the beer itself, but it should also push the envelope on how the beer is made available to those who love it so.

Beers: Great Divide Brewing Co Yeti Imperial Stout vs. Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout

Yes, another stout vs stout tasting. The main reason is that my “variable” beer this year is currently the stout, and I am still trying to figure out if I want to stick with that or to try to brew a different darker style. I acknowledge the beers are different; yet, this will allow to point out similarities and differences in the two beers. This is my first second with written notes. Specs of each beer below:

Great Divide Brewing Co. Yeti Imperial Stout
Pkgd: 10/29/2014
ABV: 9.5%
75 IBUs
Temp: Unknown – Warmer than typical refrigerator temps.

Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout
Pkgd: Unknown
ABV: 8.3%
60 IBUs
Temp: Unknown – Slightly warmer than typical refrigerator temps.

Great Divide:
Sweet aroma (Maybe this is the roast/toffee character?). Tan-to-brown head with high SRM (Dark brown to black) body. Medium body and carbonation. Almost low carbonation, very fine bubbles. Sweet caramel toffee, with the roast and bitterness creeping up in the back.

Founders:
Much more chocolate and coffee to the nose. Light tan head with dark, opaque body. Medium to low carbonation. Light mouthfeel. Less chocolate and more coffee as the tasting progresses. Perceived bitterness is much lower.

Comparison:

The Breakfast Stout seems much lighter bodied and much less bitter than the Yeti – though, this was expected given the different styles. Still, it was unexpected for these two to be 15 IBUs and a little over 1% ABV in difference, but to taste quite different.  The Breakfast Stout (Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout) is the style that personally comes to mind when I think of the “stout” style. The Yeti surprisingly drinks like a lower ABV/IBU stout – very smooth, and on the right night I might have 2 to 3 in a session. I would like to see how this compares with the likes of a Old Rasputin’s RIS.

 

As always, feel free to reach out to discuss the tastings, or if you have tips on tasting please let me know! Cheers!

Yes, it IS April already… but we still have 8 months left of this year! Why do I bring this up? As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have been traveling for work since December. I am definitely ready to get back home and start on the year’s first batches.

So far, I have about 10 batches planned for this year, but only about 5 different recipes – I am hoping to alter them and make the batches as consistent as possible. The base recipes are from the book Brewing Classic Styles, but as I progress I will be swapping various hops and yeasts to tailor to my own tastes. The recipes will be posted on my recipe page here. Here’s the plan for 2015 (all 5.5 gallon batches or less):

May – American Wheat Batch 1, American IPA Batch 1
June – American Wheat Batch 2
July – American IPA Batch 2
August – Belgian Tripel Batch 1, American Brown Batch 1
September – American IPA Batch 3
October – American Brown Batch 2
November – American Stout (Style TBD) Batch 1
December – American IPA Batch 4

Totals:
Wheat – 2
IPA – 4
Brown – 2
Tripel – 1
Stout – 1

In other good beer news, I finally convinced the Mrs. to allow me to move forward with transitioning from bottling to kegging. The plan is to convert a chest freezer into a 4-tap keezer. I will definitely keep this blog updated with photos and my process once I get home. In the meantime, if you are looking for some info on converting your own, Northern Brewer created a great video on YouTube here. Here’s to a great 2015! Cheers!

Well, that’s what this blog seems it’s turning into… “Hello World, this is me.” 6 Months later… “Hello, I’m still here.” 3 Months later… “Hello again.. I like beer.” No post for umpteen months…

So yeah… Thanks for reading!
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Okay… It has been like that, and it all started a little after my last post. Life happened and work travel started. But the beer keeps flowing! Fortunately, I’ve been able to have some different beers traveling outside of the West Coast. For the list of those, you can find me on Untappd.com.
From Left to Right Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA,  Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

From Left to Right
Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, Rodenbach, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA, Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise
Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

While the beer flows, the brew-formation (see what I did there?) seems to be flowing even more. I’ve listened to dozens (maybe hundreds?) of podcasts and watched several videos on homebrewing and the craft beer business – everything from multiple shows on the Brewing Network, to the BeerSmith, Basic Brewing Radio, and MicroBrewr podcasts, to the several BrewBound sessions available on the Youtube.com. I’ve also read a good number of books, which you can find the updated list here. You can also find an expanded reading list at Microbrewr.com. All of it so informational and entertaining!

I know I’ve set multiple directions for this blog within its short lifespan, but now I just planning on posting stuff. Some of it will be related to the beer business. Some of it to my homebrewing and recipes. Some of it relating to tastings. Just stuff. So here we go again! Happy reading! Cheers!