According to the Statscan report released Wednesday, national wines sales reached $4.2-billion compared with $4-billion sold in spirits in 2004/2005. Beer still outsells both in the Canada, accounting for $8.4-billion in sales last year. But wine sales increased at much higher rate (6.5 per cent) in 2005 than either beer (3.3 per cent) or spirits (2.3 per cent).$8.4 billion in 2005 is up from $7.8 billion in 2003 - which is the figure that I used back here to consider what the things are out there that beer is actually bigger than. Along that line, it is interesting to note that the sale of beer in Ontario at $3.2 billion is roughly 125% the operating budget for the Nova Scotia's entire Department of Health of $2.56 billion.
Another great Upstate NY IPA, this one from the makers of one of my favorite green hopped even arugulan IPA, Flower Power. I noted the press release for Ithaca Beer Co's Double IPA last spring and was happy to see that it was an experiment with local hops. I was also well warned that this brew whacks a wholloping 10%.
The beer is really attractive orange-amber under a tan head. There is no great hoppy aroma, mainly sweet citrusy malt. In the mouth there is wonder - big rich round wonder. If this is actually 10%, it is the most sneakily hidden 10% brew I have had. There is twiggy malt and graininess, a hint of brown sugar, pear, orange peel and marmalade. Only at the end is there some well balanced heat. Then more. Not a hop bomb like you would find with a beer like, say, Stone's Ruination IPA, it is really delicate yet still has a strongly played hop profile that ties into the rich malt with grace suggesting green, twig and pine all at once. Soft water, cream yeast. More like what an old ale was before it got on in years. Fresh, earthy and biscuity...almost cakey.
All the BAers love it.
I picked up issue #7 of Beers of the World magazine the other day. It is a UK journal pretty much geared for the English market. This places the North American reader at a disadvantage from the get-go with the subject matter centered elsehere. The magazine has a website which has yet to update to issue #7 but which should still help give you an clear idea of what you might expect.
My first and maybe only real criticism is that the editorial tone is purely positivist. Pretty much everything is described in the "goods", "betters" or "bests" of plummy commerical writing that is maybe fine as an introduction for the newbie and will likely help the magazine with its long-term relationships in the PR and marketing world but it does leaves you wondering about what is really going on. The worst example of this is perhaps the article "Raising Cains" by Andrew Catchpole in which the revival of this Liverpudlian brewery by brothers Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj provided semi-oblique references to local distrust of these enterpreneurs as long-term partners in that City. That they are identified upfront as "Asian" in that UK way and how we learn about their rejection for membership in the Independent Family Brewers of Britian may be some sort of code used by a sympathetic author. It may be he wants to let us know that the business has faced a certain level of racism but it is couched in such polite tones, matching the rest of the magazine's tenor, that you feel there is an actual story here needing digging out but that perhaps the necessary call of advertising revenue to a year-old publication may bar that sort of degree of journalistic rigour. This is not to say the negative is the essence of criticism (there is, for example, a reason some brewers do call it "HateBeer") but too much "hooray for everything!" starts to smack of something.
Yet even with that, this magazine is a good old read. Veteran beer writer Roger Protz has submitted a good survey of the remaining producers of mild in England's West Midlands. There is a short biography of Pierre Celis, serial savior of Belgian white beer and also a short introduction to the recently vandalized Ring O' Bell's Brewery from very south-western England. Unfortunately, there are also a number of short pieces which are little more than rewritten brewery PR pieces - some with alarmingly tiny grey on white font - but the longer bits carry the day. Plus, near the end, there is a handy and honest set of thirty reviews of beers available in England ranging in ranking from 6.25 out of ten to 9 out of ten. While this is a fairly tight range and some of the Baltic lagers rated here might be more honestly in the sub-50% failing zone on a review site like Beer Advocate or RateBeer, the one thing I really like is that one reviewer - by the name Jeff Evans - has done all the work, giving you a sense of personal perspective in the ratings that all the guruiffic allegedly VIP raters you might read elsewhere might never give you. And, finally, there are the ads. This may sound odd but one thing a publication like this gives you is its local local colour and as I am so far away from the target audience of this magazine, checking out the sort of firm that places a classified is as interesting as reading the longer articles as a means of measuring the thing as a whole, not to mention they are simply informative in the way ads would be if you were reading a newspaper written for the bus and coach manufacturing industry of New Zealand or Iowa.
I would recommend this magazine to anyone interested in beer. Lots of good ale-y pr0n photographs and more than enough new information to make it worth your while. I picked up this one, the October 2006 issue, for $6.95 CND at Indigo last week.
This beer is slightly famous (if only to me) as it was so good I forgot to take notes last time I picked one up at Finger Lake Beverages. No such issues this time. There is some need to be clear about which beer sits before me as the Brasserie des Geants has two beers called Goliath or Gouyasse (after a local tradition) a 6% (reviewed here) and a 9% - but this is clearly the heftier triple according to the strength indication on the label. And I think it is my favorite triple, though there are many years of testing ahead of me to confirm the truth of that statement.
This beer pours a heavy lacing white meringue of a head over golden ale with some particulate in the first pour. On the nose there is candy floss or bubble gum as befits a triple but also a good measure of grain as well plus some nutmeg peaking around a corner. From the first sip it is startlingly good: pear juice, candi sugar, heat, French bread crust, sweet biscuit, some twiggy hop, maybe licorice, maybe apricot, maybe white pepper. Sweet, medium bodied, with a slight but balancing astringency. When you think that a beer of this quality in a 750 ml format is available for about the same price as a cheaper Ozzie table wine of almost the same strength, the value proposition that is top quality beer slaps you across the head like a frozen haddock. Yet 5% of BAers would prefer something called David apparently.
Note: as the beer opens, the twig hops do shift some way to steel but not jarringly so. And as it opens more, the white pepper establishes itself to the degree that I want to make a sauce for baked salmon with this stuff.
This is one habit I have just never fell into:
John Ahrens recalls when he was sucked into beer-can collecting. The 63-year-old suburban Philadelphia man, who was among the more than 800 people attending the 36th annual convention of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America, was a student at Yale University when his classmates began lining a ledge with cans. The CANvention started Wednesday and goes through Saturday. By graduation, Ahrens had 250 cans, and he kept adding to them. The collection eventually grew to include about 30,000 cans...Here is the story on the convention of the 36th annual convention of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America held in Kansas City this week where I learned about John of the 30,000 cans. And if you are going to be any "...Club of American" you had better have a website with a decent history, in this case of showing how the BCCA formed around 1970. Once in the club, you can buy stuff at eBay or even at places like this. The you can even entertain thoughts of joining the splinter schismists of the ABA or the ECBA. No sign of a CBA yet.
Because I am truly lazy man, I can think of no more efficient way to put more good beer links into your hands than just linking you to the links page from The Brew Site, a venerable beer blog which I first linked to almost two years ago... which, when you think of it, is very close to the big bang in the time frame of the cosmology of beer blogging.
Why can't every brewery be as good as Brooklyn? I don't mean they are the biggest, richest, most innovative or the nearest by or even the one run by people I have met and liked. I mean good. They are damn good. Solid in that plummy Colonel in the British Army circa 1890 thinks something is good kind of good. I don't think there is one I've reviewed that hasn't impressed me with its delicacy and control.
This one is no different. For a hefeweizen it is not visually impressive, just clear bright golden ale under pure white foam. Hardly the cloudy, sometimes gravy-esque grey brown of some of the greats. But as soon as you open it you can smell the clove and banana that the beer gives off. That's also there in the mouth along with a light but grainy texture that resolves to lemon, twig hops and fresh soft water. Good.
Momentary Lapse Update: swirl the bottle, the cloud forms. Last pour is visually challenged. The yeast adds creaminess.
This is shocking news from the English district of Cornwall:
A Cornish brewery is mopping up after a burglar used its forklift truck to pierce seven settling tanks containing about 5,000 pints of beer. Another 5,000 pints in other vats were contaminated with petrol at the Ring O' Bells brewery in Launceston. Founder Adrian Carter was also attacked by an intruder during the break-in at the Pennygillam industrial estate on Monday night.Even though it has been in operation since 1999, the Beer Advocate has ratings for two of the beers from Ring O' Bells. The jauntily named Oxford Bottled Beer Database has another. They also have a fairly snazzy web site (or perhaps web presence) including a snazzy darts game. Heavy on the pig theme as well with Sozzled Swine and Porkers Pride among their brands. Ring O' Bells appears also to be a very popular pub name in England if Lord Goog is to be trusted. I suspect some Morris dancing connections.
I can't find anything that gives any indication why this was done but will hope to note if there any follow-up stories.
I heard somewhere it was International Be Good To Yourself Day...so I was. I visited the fine folk at Finger Lake Beverages with Gary of Ithaca, sometimes posting author around these parts, and went on a small spree. The sort of spree you go on when you realize winter is coming and a quick zip south may be out of the question at a very inopportune moment. Belgians a plenty now in the stash: a couple of Goliath, the beer so nice I forgot to take notes last time, a couple of Fantome Saison, Kwak (with the complimentary glass that is available to those who hear the siren call of International Be Good To Yourself Day) and a whack of others that I have no idea about. Plus some big US bombs including old pals Arrogant Bastard and Dragon Slayer, two highlights of the last months of 2004 and 2005 as well as newcomer Ithaca Double IPA with local New York hops and Smuttynose Farmhouse. Suffice it to say that when the provincial liquor mark-up portion of the custom's office's take is $13.82, it was a good haul.
You know - I can't think of a nicer place to buy beer given the town, the company and the amazing 700+ beer selection. It made me think of starting a "Good Beer Blog Shield of Approval" program, with a wacked sort of plaque that I can mail places I like. I know it sounds sort of insane and slightly egotistical but I have to little to give to the shopkeepers, bartenders and brewers who give so much. Just my little plaque. Off to the hardware store...or maybe the flea market.
I read the Joe Sixpack columns that are published in the Philadelphia Daily News fairly frequently and I quite liked this one on Joe's drinking rules for freshmen entering university, including:
- Don't drink light beer. It is not real beer, and the calories you save are negligible.
- Don't drink malternatives like Bacardi Silver, either. They're alcoholic delivery devices that cynically take advantage of your unfortunate addiction to sugar. You are smarter than that.
- Drinking on a budget? Avoid heavily advertised brands. Milwaukee's Best is widely regarded as the best-tasting cheap American lager.
- No one ever drinks as much as they say they drink. Upperclassmen always brag, but they're only looking to see you get plastered.