With the expansion of beer blog HQ into new quarters comes the additional benefit of proper sub-surface cold storage. Some work needs to be done raising the corked bottle necks - and a few cases of vintage port would not go amiss - but suffice it to say staff morale is very high. Perhaps a McGivered cube fridge cooling unit may be added.
I have no idea why the laws were called the blue laws but they are history:
You can now buy beer at breakfast time on Sundays, as New York says bye-bye to the blue laws. Gov. George Pataki signed into law Thursday a bill allowing beer sales to start at 8 a.m., superseding the former start time of noon. The midday law was part of the decades-old blue laws to regulate Sunday activities. Calling the old blue laws archaic, the justification for the new law noted that "(It) will make it easier for people traveling and families picnicking to stop at the store in the morning to get their groceries for the day."I have had the experience of waiting in a grocery line-up at 11:43 am only to be told I had to go back and check out the cereal aisle a few more times. Nice to see a Republican leader who appreciates that beer is a proper part of a Sunday picnic.
Four really western pale ales and one of my favorites, Southern Tier IPA, from western New York...that counts, right? I don't know what I am expecting to find from this selection. The Rouge Seahorse as well as both Mojo and Hazed & Infused are new to me. But it is time to do another random cross section like I have in the past just to find out what there is to find out.
- Red Seal Ale: I have had this pale ale - from North Coast Brewing of Fort Bragg, California - once before and really enjoy it. It is a orange-butterscotchy-rust sort of coloured ale with a nice tan head that resolves to a lace-leaving foam and rim. There is plenty of malt here - this is no hop bomb. Yet it is also richer, bigger than a lot of pale ales with the malt being well cut by a discrete measure of green and white pepper hop. If this were on tap it would be definitely a go to pale ale, perhaps the one you order first to sip as you contemplate the taps. Yet 2% of 340 BAers do not say good things. There is complaint of wet cardboard. You see that description from time to time when malt is not overly fruity or particularly grainy. I think it may be due to a little too much light crystal malt which gives a certain sort of roundness to an ale.
- Seahorse Pale Ale: this beauty from Rogue (apparently a limited edition that I can't find a news release about) pours a chill-hazed amber with a nice peachy tinge under a fine white foam and rim. There is a sweet malt graininess to the nose; in the mouth the ale is light and fresh. Plenty of fruit in the malt here as well as a more-ish-ness from the fresh soft water. The fruit is apricot and raspberry, light and early summerish. Underneath is a seam of light bread crust, almost biscuity malt. All framed by a well balanced but deftly placed a supporting cast of hops. The hops are delicately herbal. An extraordinarily fine restrained take on the humble pale ale. BAers all approve.
- Hazed and Infused: This ale from the Boulder Beer Company pours clear reddish light chestnut under a tan head. The structure is very interesting...by which I mean the way the taste plays out is a little unconventional. There is a good base of raisiny malt with a tiny note of cocoa. Above that there is a sorts of watery gap and then there is the arc of the hops. And, as the name would suggest, the hops are the thing. Not a bomb at all but a clever bit of work. A balance of citrus, spice and menthol that sits whispering amongst itself, a trinity of sorts. Both the selection of these hops and their placement in the overall structure of the beer ends up being somewhat cerebral, not unlike a Bordeaux in a way. The water is a little hard for my taste but this is a Colorado beer and they seem to tend to go that way. 96% of the advocatonians approve with the rest citing lack of balance...but I suspect the unusual balance was a key point for the brewmaster planning this beer. At 4.85% is it a light IPA or a highly hopped pale? There's an argument for the dullard.
- Mojo IPA: Again from Boulder Beer, this one pours light amber under a white rim. I popped this one after a day of moving and what a treat. A big hoppy mouthful of chewy green weed and orange citrus. Not hot or overwhelming but big. Under that, to add to the mouthful, the malt has a rich fruity core with pear and cherry notes. As the finish begins there is a hit of twig and grain husk which morphs back into long, lingering weedy green hoppiness. Only 1% of BAers are crappy about Mojo. A great American IPA.
- Southern Tier IPA: I reviewed this one before in 2004 and again in 2005. I also had it on tap at The Nines in Ithaca on a stinking hot evening in June. I like it. I like it a lot. More hop forward that the Mojo but clearly cousins even if it is much darker, as illustrated.
The initial aroma wafting from my Khmer smelled as if it had been created with moldy bread strained through a sock. A sock that Satan himself had been wearing on a particularly loathsome day in the sulphur mines. The rotten egg notes continue through to the flavour, where they seem to cut through the mouth-puckering sourness and overwhelm anything else in this beverage. The brew has a slight natural effervescence which only serves to make things worse. Alcohol by volume was listed as 4.5%, so there wasn't much hopes that a few swift gulps could anaesthetise my tastebuds into submission.
Actually, it was the 2006 Empire State Brewing and Music Festival down in Syracuse in central New York and I sent my pal Paul on special assignment. Click on his pictures for a better view:
Many a good sprout of inspiration hath sprung forth nurtured by the dung of a boring meeting. During one such a bout, a tangent of festivals and beer germinated and Alan let me in on a gem:Now I am really jealous. I can second that recommendation for the Marx. It has a particularly nice bar itself that always seems to have Southern Tier Porter."There's this awesome little thing in Syracuse where a bunch of craft brewers roll out their wares - I think it's in July - and there is a great hotel, too."A few clicks later and the better half and I were on our way to the Empire for the July 21 event. We were not really sure what to expect other than a festival that allows for tasting of over 120 specialty and hard to find (especially for Canadians) brews, face time with guru-brewers, some live music and good eats. After entering the gates and being handed a little 4 oz. tasting glass and some funky beads we were told to go forth and taste! We were most definitely in the right place at the right time.
With so many little beer booths sprawled out before us the only question was where to begin? Start light, end heavy, start light, end heavy - got it! Three tasty IPA's down and you didn't need to be Kreskin to figure out that this event was going to be a lot more than promised - I mean they had a specialty tent just for Belgians!! Servers were cheerful and happy to pour. Wheat beers and IPAs were present in the largest numbers followed by darker ales, stouts, lagers and assorted fruity concoctions. A minor sampling of wines and coolers were also present - presumably for the date who couldn't find the Coors Light table. While the place was not exactly crawling with brewing gurus we did manage to get in a bit of Q&A with a nice chap from Colorado who seemed to know his way around a mashtun.
It's always the details that separate the good things from the great things. Details like making sure the perfect accompaniments to beer were offered up - barbeque from the Dinosaur BBQ, some fine sausage and an eclectic mix of really good live music that had the crowd swaying and tapping and in good spirits. Even the porta-potties were above par - flowers and cup holders as standard options for crying out loud! Of course there was plenty of beer swag to be had as well. There were some awards for best beer and all that. I don't know who won. I came back across the border the next day with a case of Dogfish Head's Aprihop Pale Ale though.
Ya sure, it's hard to have a bad time at a beer festival but you just can't complain about such a smartly run and well focused beer event such as the Empire. At US$30 per ticket you get you money's worth just in the beer and music alone. Kudos to the wise sponsors of this event. If you missed it then make sure you don't miss it again in 2007 - or if you can't wait that long check out the Middle Age's Brewing Company's 11th Anniversary celebration on August 6...in Syracuse of course.
If you go, check out the Marx Hotel (also known as the beer can - you'll know why when you see it). It's about a 12-minute walk to the festival at Clinton Square. After the event wraps up I recommend 2 pints of the house pale ale and a plate of wings at the Syracuse Suds Factory - a good and tasty deal at $10.
...and it ain't that far from the Dino BBQ and a pulled pork sandwich like the one below:
Greg Clow of the Big Smoke has started a beer blog. This is a very good idea. The Weslakerians need the insight that this end of the lake has enjoyed for eons now through this my blog. Easlakerians rejoice at their cousins move into the 21st century.
If you are not aware of whom I speak, Greg is a big wheel at Bar Towel, Ontario's best source for information about the beer scene in Toronto and where I steal all my funniest observations.
This is a great community-focused idea:
The Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank’s Walnut Street Donor Center will hand out vouchers for a free pint of beer for those who donate blood today through Friday.Apparently it is a couple of fine establishments that are honouring the vouchers, Molly Brannigans or The Pep Grill in Harrisburg, PA. The bars and the CPBB are to be commended and I would think it would be a hell of a lot more attractive than the alternate iPod draw being offered over in Lebanon County. Yet - a man named Jim is appalled...or, rather, apalled:
I am apalled that the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank will be offering a free pint of beer for a pint of blood. I thought they were helping save lives, not promoting drinking and alcoholism, which leads to thousands of deaths each year.Because you know every person who has ever had one beer paid for with a voucher is an alcoholic. Sadly, the loss to society perpetrated against us all that is caused by exercising the desire to craft...err...eccentric letters to the editor has never been measured. Not clear whether Jim actually gives blood himself or just gives earfuls to anyone within range.
Ever since my pal portland came up with the phrase beer-tasting water, I have been a little too obsessed with Pabst Blue Ribbon. But then I realized I had a unique opportunity to perform my sort of science experiment: a side-by-side comparison of a PBR from the US against one brewed under license in Canada by Sleeman of Guelph. Even though any possible outcome of this project will not advance the human condition one bit, I took on the challenge.
First, I noticed the price. A six of Canadian PBR is $7.50 at the LCBO. The US version was $4.60 at a gas station on 12E, east of Watertown, NY. I knew I was getting ripped off, too, as I had seen $3.29 for the six at another place that was sold out. Then I noticed the cans. There is clearly more blue ribbon on the PBR stateside. Does this matter? I suppose not. Both also have the River Plate red sash which is quite natty.
To be honest, the beers taste pretty much the same - sort of bland, the pablum of beers yet without off flavours and somehow comforting. Like pablum, no self respecting adult would look forward to the taste but, once presented with it (like a new father feeding pablum to his little baby for the first time and scraping it off his hands knees and forehead), one is less turned off than one might expect. Yet the Canadian version, right in all pictures, is clearly a notch lighter and by the end of the glass as it warms and the bubbles die away it maybe even more watery.
What have we learned? Not much. Except I have ten more in the fridge.
A pal brought me this Unibroue seasonal after a jaunt to Quebec - you know, Quebec...that part of the country over 200 km away from here that would unleash sure destruction of the very fabric of Ontario's cultural identity were its seasonal fruit ales, among other things, released upon hapless Ontarians.
Many BAers do not approve - a full 29% being against it. My notes have it as a peachy-pinky-straw cloudy ale under a white rim giving off a clean acidic and somewhat generically fruity aroma. When you get into it it is quite effervescent and lightly cider-ish, crisp and well-balanced with light (ie not exactly bold) berry fruit and malt. Raspberry? Incidental in a way. Vineous with a sort of a watery drying finish. I could trick myself into thinking I was drinking a Spanish sparkling wine and not necessarily a very good one. Creamy yeast wraps it all well, though. Nothing to add from the brewery's drastically out of date website.
Big news today from one brewing industry analyst:
According to a report by Merrill Lynch analyst Christine Farkas, in June, No. 1 U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. volume fell 1.9 percent, brewer SABMiller plc volume fell 5.7 percent, and fifth-largest brewer Molson Coors Brewing Co. edged down 0.3 percent. The segment gaining the most volume is Micro or Craft beers, or beers that are locally produced. Volume grew 12.5 percent in June.What other industry is roaring ahead like craft beer?