According to the latest analysis of the Union of Brewers in Bulgaria... [o]verall beer consumption went up by 11 per cent. Kamenitsa and Zagorka experienced a five to six per cent increase in sales.Why do I love it? Because I am convinced that someone is just making it up. Making it all up because he can and no one really cares. I bet if we added up all the increased in overall beer consumtion reported from Bulgaria, I think it would add up to 3,567.6% over the last 18 months. It represents 127% of the Bulgarian economy now. Somewhere there is a bureaucrat at a desk in a grey concrete building in Sofia, wearing an itchy suit and sitting in a chair that has made the same squeek it has squeeked for 7 years now, convinced no one will notice when he just whips up one of these reports and foists it upon an uninterested globe. But I've noticed you, buddy. I've got my eye on you.
Japan's Sapporo Breweries Ltd. plans to keep open all of Sleeman Breweries Ltd.'s operations and will retain John Sleeman as head of the company as part of a $306-million takeover offer unveiled last week. "John Sleeman appears to have a job for the future and as long as Sapporo wants me, I'll be here," said Mr. Sleeman, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, on a conference call yesterday. Mr. Sleeman, who founded the Guelph, Ont., beer maker in 1988, added: "I expect to be here for quite some time." Sapporo is offering $17.50 a share for Canada's third-largest brewer and has won the support of the company's board as well as Mr. Sleeman, who has committed to tendering his approximately 4.5-per-cent ownership stake to the all-cash bid.Cash is good and 4.5% x 300 million is a pretty good return for a guy who built up the brewery from a dream he had when he ran his bar. In that respect this is a success story. But listening to one of the interviews and reports on the transaction, it is a little sad to note that no one is recognizing that there were a few factors that created the strain forcing the sale. The only one cited is the buck-a-beer discount phenomena. No one is discussing the move into the US which has not apparently gone well as Sleeman is placing its product next to quality micros and coming up short. No one is mentioning the challenge of buying up any number of larger micros across Canada and whether that project played out well. And no one is asking whether what is in the bottle is the issue. The way Sleeman is talked about you would think you were dealing with innovators like Dogfish Head or masters of quality like Brooklyn Brewery or even a micro brewery.
In any event, it will be interesting to watch Sapporo to see what improvements or changes it can bring to the situation. It is good to see that the plan appears to be keeping the workforce in place and building upon what has been achieved to date.
An imperial pilsner. This is a sort of beer I never imagined I would need to concern myself with. Unlike stouts or pale ales with their history of bigness, surely no one would bother upping the game of brewing the steely king of lagers. No one told Dogfish Head from Delaware, however, and they went ahead and did it as they tell you about at no lack of length on their website, including this:
The big breweries are as guilty of any company in any industry of brainwashing the consumer through the sheer oppressive magnitude and breadth of their marketing efforts. They are selling a brand name and an image with such zeal that they have forgotten about the product behind all of this horseshit and hyperbole - the beer itself. Dogfish Head Golden Shower is the beer itself. A true Pilsner brewed with 100% Pilsner Barley, and impressively hopped using our self-developed continuing-hopping method. At 9% abv it's also nearly twice as strong as the American, wanna-be pilsners made by the big boys.If you have read my reivews here before you know I have questions about my relationship with pilsners. I respect the fact as much as the next guy that it is a noble and traditional style but then there is that metallic zing...or is it a zang...that fills my mouth as if I was chewing a quarter pound of four penny nails that have been laying around the shed. So I approach this beer with some trepedation. And some of the low rating BAer reviews are backing that up - like this one:
...Not drinkable at all. Really sad for such a great brewery. I dumped the remainder of my $12 bottle in the toilet, where it belongs. Don't waste your money on this golden shower...Yikes. I only paid $8.99 for mine but still. Intersting to note, however, that the highest BA raters consider many of the same elements but like them. I don't know what to expect now.
The beer pours a very attractive bright burnished gold with a white head that resolves to a rim what with the low carbonation. When you shove your nose into the glass there is plenty of sweet apple and pear concentrate. The first thing I think of when I sipped was triple. It is sort of like a Belgian triple - candy-ish sweetness and all - but also with a fall fruit aspect like calvados. It is also thickish and does not have the overly metallic hop profile I feared - the hops are tightly herbal as much as anything. In fact, it is far more pale malty than anything else. And that is a remarkably well hidden 9%. The beer is not hot in the mouth but it certainly does warm otherwise.
Where does this beer fit in? It is a near neighbour to Belgian golden strong ales like Duval or triples like Chimay Cinq Cents with the white label - but without the bubble gum or candy floss notes Belgian candi sugar provides. A beer to contemplate the coming autumn. A beer to eat apple pie and vanilla ice cream along with, oddly enough. It would be interesting to have this beer condition in a wood cask as there is that butter and/or vanilla richness that could be umphed one notch for experimental purposes.
Let’s say it is five-ish, the game is on at half-time, and you are hungry. And thirsty. You go to the fridge, grab some beer, but it is getting on, so you have the munchies and grab some cheddar next to the beer, then some chips from the cupboard. It no longer matters if your team wins, because life is good with those kind of snacks with your beer. I try to be a practical person, therefore combining beer, cheese and potato chips is what I would call a very efficient idea. A brilliant idea, and the folks at Kettle Chips of Oregon have done it.
I guess if I was experimenting with combining a snack of all 3 items, I might start with a good ale in a glass. Then I might dump a few chunks of cheese in there, and a handful of potato chips. I imagine this would be a soggy and smelly mess, so back to the drawing board. Fortunately, our friends in Oregon, BIG BEER country as we know, did the work for us, and we can enjoy a tasty crispy chip rather than a soggy mess.
The wife works in a nifty little specialty shop called Ludgate Farms of Ithaca as a book-keeper. I saw these cheddar beer Kettle Chips there the other day and the wheels started turning. I went over to Wegmans which is huge specialty grocery store in New York state, maybe the best in the world, but they didn’t have them! Sure, lots of other Kettle Chips, but no cheddar beer (hey, try anything from Kettle Chips, you won’t go wrong) so back to Ludgate Farms. The bag is yellow and covered with names. Apparently these guys did a poll of eaters and found that this taste combo was the number one pick for a new flavor. The thousands of people who chose it are listed on the bag. The ingredients (all natural, don’t you know) really do list beer and cheese.
OK, so for the tasting. Kettle Chips are rightly famous for being EXTRA THICK and crispy. Well, if you like Welsh Rarebit, that cheddar and beer dipping sauce, then you would love these babies. Massive chips in every dimension with no shortage of seasonings all over. And yes, oh joy! They taste like good beer and cheddar.
...and YES, you can be cool and buy my pots with or without piggies (dogs, frogs etc) as pictured with these chips that you can see if you click through the image above. Just write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last time I promised that I would review a new taproom that appeared here on Long Island. The place is called Bobbique and it's been open for only a couple of months. If you live here, then definitely visit this place. We need to support businesses like this that offer such a great beer selection. If you don't live here, make sure that when you visit you stop in for a pint or two. (Shameless self-promotion: If you like reading my Long Island Beer Updates, you might like listening to them also. I'm now producing a biweekly Long Island Beer Update podcast. For details, see my Long Island Beer Update page.)
Bobbique (70 W. Main St. Patchogue, New York) is a new barbecue restaurant just across the street from the Brickhouse Brewery in Patchoque. At the moment, Bobbique has 70 bottled beers to choose from, about a dozen taps---yes, they pour multiple local beers---, and they have two casks. On my first trip they had one cask serving Blue Point's ESB and the other serving Captain Lawrence Double IPA from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville, New York (which is what I drank since I never had it before). On my second pilgrimage, Hop Back Summer Lightning from the Hop Back Brewery in the UK was the only cask selection since the Blue Point ESB had just run dry.
The cellarman's name is David and he keeps an ever rotating stock of beers. What's really nice is that David knows his beer. He's tasted everything he stocks and stocks it because he likes it (except for two or three items for the less sophisticated beer palate). David is currently drafting a booklet-sized document that will be available for patrons of Bobbique. The document is a fully annotated beer menu complete with tasting notes and a glossary of terms. David gave me and sneak peek at the beer menu/guide and it's sure to help the adventurous beer enthusiasts who find their way into Bobbique.
David is from the UK so he stocks a lot of interesting beers from England that I hadn't tasted before like Monkman's Slaughter Ale from Cropton Brewery in North Yorkshire, Entire Butt English Porter from Salopian Brewing Company in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and Ridgeway IPA from South Stoke, Oxfordshire (which is on tap).
The restaurant is decent too. They serve an unostentatious menu of barbecue standards. The lunch portions are sized appropriately so you don't accidently hurt yourself while trying to squeeze in a couple of beers. I've had the Pull Pork Sandwich and the Fried Shrimp Poboy. I'd recommend both. My only complaint is that the collard greens were sweetened---I prefer mine spicy. My wife tells me that sweetened collard greens is the authentic way to serve them if you are in the South.
I saw this short but somewhat jam-packed story on beer culture in Japan today during my sweep of the entire internet¹ for new amazing tales of beer:
After-hours beer binges are a mainstay of corporate communication between salarymen, bosses and business partners. Red-faced executives, their neckties yanked open to one side, are a fixture of late night train stations. Beer girls with "backpack kegs" rush down the aisles at baseball stadiums to refill fans' cups. And though the official drinking age is 20, nearly anyone with enough spare change can buy a cold brew at beer vending machines.Sounds like a land gone mad but I wonder how a Japanese paper might sum up Canadian beer culture in a couple of paragraphs - how would a sports bar fill of people sucking on pitchers look, all staring at the same big screen TV? Or the imaginary line at the doors of bars beyond which beer cannot be carried? Or having to buy it only at the government store or other legally authorized monopoly.
¹ OK, I use Google News like everyone else but the effect is entirely the same as it I had swept of the entire internet for new amazing tales of beer.
The good guys at Beer Advocate posted this...
First, we hate blogs as much as this guy: http://mama.indstate.edu/users/bon ... bLogs.html. (Actually ... we hate blogs more.) That’s why this is not a blog....and then proceeded to announce their new blog...which isn't a blog...yet works exactly like a blog. This is good and will likely be a great read and place to comment on thoughts from the Alström brothers about beer culture. But it is a blog.
Your Long Island beat beer reporter abandoned his usual stomping ground and flew out to the Pacific Northwest---the Seattle-Tacoma area to be precise. I visited a number of breweries in that corridor extending from the southern tip of Puget Sound up to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle where a statue of Lenin casts his protecting gaze across an intersection near Dad Watson's, one in the large family of McMenamins pubs. If you want to hear more about my Washington beer adventures, you can listen to episode 8 of my podcast.
Now that I'm back on Long Island, I've been thirsty for some locally brewed beer. I had enough hops out in Washington so I was in the mood for some malt. But nothing sweet. That's my one complaint about Washington beers in general, just about everything was too sweet for my taste---you know that lingering sugary aftertaste. So I went straight over to John Harvard's over in Lake Grove and had a mug of DJ Swanson's Scottish Ale. Boy, did that hit the spot. The Scottish Ale (not to be confused with Scotch Ale---as the tasting notes warn) is a caramel malt festival all on its own. The maltiness is complex but not oppressive or thick. I get some chocolatey notes along with a rich roastiness. After a mug of Scottish I was ready for another, but I decided that 44 ounces was probably too much of a good things, especially since I did plan on returning home.
In my last Long Island beer update, I mentioned that DJ Swanson, the brewer at John Harvard's, was making a Belgian-style Tripel. Well, it's on now and you can get a 10 ounce glass for under $5. The aroma is candy sugar laced with bubble gum. It's got a good heavy mouthfeel, but doesn't come across as cloying. The alcohol content is evident, but not so hot that the Tripel isn't refreshing. You might recall that Belgian-style IPA that I mentioned back at the beginning of June. Well, the Tripel was made back then and the same strain of yeast fermented both beers.
In my next post I'll tell you about a new taproom that we have here on the Island. It's called Bobbique and it has an incredible selection of beers and a knowledgeable cellarman. More about that in a few days.