The ever excellent lads at Bar Towel, Toronto's (and, as they expand, hopefully soon all of Ontario's) best resource for beer news and chat boards, have launched the voting for the best of the best in Ontario: the Golden Tap Awards. This is a great way to note the province's beery excellence that is now starting to works its way into the public's imagination.
Help defeat the powers of macro-bleck! Vote here and note that it is not just the greater Toronto area that gets nominations this time. So vote for St. Veronus, Church-key, Joe at Stratford Brewing (above right) or the good folk at the Kingston Brew Pub or any of your favorite craft brewers or suppliers of Ontario.
I picked this up at Finger Lake Beverages the other weekend and didn't twig to this being a special release by Victory as it was not in the 22 oz bottle that usually screams special release. Here is the Victory press release which provides the facts on the style.
Whereas alt beer has been the crisp hallmark ale of Dusseldorf, surrounded and outnumbered by the myriad lagers of Germany, "sticke" alts are the "secret" offerings Dusseldorf brewmasters produce for their pub patrons on an infrequent basis. Stronger and richer than the standard alt beer, their release is typically announced with a simple sign that claims "sticke."There appears to be only one other doppelsticke alt listed on the whole Beer Advocate so this is a pretty rare style, except for those in secret relationships with Dusseldorf brewmasters. I, for better or worse, am not such a person.
The beer pours a deep red amber with a tan head with a strong malty nose. In the mouth the first small sip is massively malty like a Scots Heavy but just for a second until the hops kick in framing but not quite cutting the cloy with somewhat indecisive steeliness. Lots of sherry soaked fruit, dried fig and raisin as well as grapey freshness until the heat which expands and warms as it should for 8.5%. Really quite charming and one that would serve you well in a mid-winter blizzard. 98% of BAers approve.
At first view, it looks fairly even handed. Front page items at the moment include stories about sometimes fierce competator Anheuser-Busch as well as general drinks industry news...actually quite a bit about A-B. This is from the blog's "About" page:
The site is run by Jim Arndorfer, a reporter who spent many years covering the beer industry for magazines like "Advertising Age," with occasional contributions from other folks. If you work in the beer industry, or cover it, or just watch it with interest, we hope that www.brewblog.com will be one of your daily stops on the Web. Even though "Brew" is published by the Miller Brewing Co., this is not the site for Miller press releases and the "official" word from the company. (If that's what you are looking for, click here.)I think it should be interesting to watch with any luck (and I don't say that merely as an initial position in my hope of leveraging a big buy out or anything.) Big firms in any tightening industry should reach out to the public in any way they can. On the other hand, it could just turn out to be a place for one side of a big messy handbags match between two giants - and no one said that isn't fun to watch once in a while.
As you know, I am not a lager lover. But since asking the question of myself about pilsner, like Donavan, I have been wondering more about this half of the beer world and particularly this style so I picked up two more to consider as well as another lager I should trust as a comparator.
- Victory Prima: this beer pours a very light with a slight hint of a grassy green hue under white foam and rim. The aroma is classic and for many North Americans would be immediately recognizable as "beer smell." What yeast there is to be tasted is milky and combines richly behind the hops with the French bread crust malt. But that is a supporting role as this beer is all about the hops. One aspect is an astringent drying effect. Another is both green and acidic as opposed to what is often simply steeliness. It is somewhat metallic but not overly so. The finish is bone dry. Overall with is a complex and balanced lager, yet for me not inviting. If there is fruit it is gooseberry or unripe green apple. An austere logical beer. The brewer says this and the BAers say this.
- Brooklyn Pilsner: in picture at the left, this one is more deeply golden than Victory Prima, right, also with white foam and rim. Less clinical on the nose by half a notch with a hint of seville orange. In the mouth, stoney pebbles and hints of pear juice and honey. This lager is also astringent but less so. The hops are more minerally than metallic with some juiciness in the finish. For what it is worth, if Victory Prima is sauvignon blanc, Brooklyn Pilsner is grand cru chablis. But I don't think that means much. The brewer says this and the BAers say this.
- Brooklyn Lager: this beer is smoked amber brew under an light tan rim and foam. The yeast is slightly sour in that way that Creemore Springs lager is unappealingly more so. What makes that less an issue is that the beer has at its core sweetish malt, raisin and honey notes, and the twiggy grapefruity hops are quite recessed compared to the pilsners. More of a big round hug of a lager and much easier than the others. Should a beer be easy? Can one be too much work? The brewer says this and the BAers say this.
So many questions from just one style.
This is just getting silly. Who needs ice crystals in their beer?
North American brewer Molson Coors has launched the coldest draught beer in the world which is designed to be served at minus 2.5 degrees with a layer of slushy ice crystals underneath the foamy head. Coors Sub Zero was developed by researchers at Coors in Burton upon Trent in the UK and is the result of eight years of development, costing the company GBP10 million. The company said that the beer was created in response to consumer demand, but beer enthusiasts have given the beverage a frosty reception. Spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale, Iain Loe, said: "If you serve any yellow liquid at that temperature you could probably drink it. Cynics would say that it was just a way of concealing the fact there's no taste there. And if there are any off flavors, you are not going to notice."What next? A beer-cicle frozen ale beverage treat on a stick?
Please forward reports if anyone encounters this thing.
For those of you North Americans not in the eastern third of North America, it may be hard to believe that this is the first time I have found brews from the Goose Island Beer Co. in my north-eastern travels. But such is the power of inter-state, international and inter-provincial beer regulation. I found these at Finger Lake Beverages.
Goose Island started brewing in at the tail end of the first wave of modern micro-brewing in 1988 and is now a regional mega-micro - really:
At full capacity, annual production can reach nearly 1.6 million cases. Last year, over 600,000 cases of Goose Island Beer were distributed to eight states throughout the Midwest.Bill Yenne's The American Brewery rates Goose Island as the 32nd largest brewery in the USA...at about 4.37% of the production of Anheuser-Busch. My access to these fine ales may be via a new distribution deal with AB Bud-makers announced just the other week on Beer Advocate but maybe not. Forbes may be off the mark in saying AB is buying Goose Island - but given craft brewing's 9% leap in 2005 and Bud's decline (not only in Germany) along with other macros it would be a smart move. Rather neato to see the brewery has a pub near Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs and also neato to see that they have brewed exactly two bazillion different beers over the years. Hey - there is a great interview with the brewer Greg Hall at Chicagoist from two days ago including info on that deal...and I never knew there was a "downstate" in Illinois.
In the green label is Goose Island India Pale Ale at 5.9% and in the red is Honker's Ale at 4.3%.
- Honker's Ale: This beer pours a red-tinged dark straw with white foam and rim. The taste is sweet biscuity with a clear twig hop slash through the middle. Well balanced with a nod to stock with a husky (maybe even bone dry dark cocoa) note in the end. There is a great fruitiness to the malt with cherry, apricot and apple and the yeast is creamy. The body is not as big as you might have thought going in but that befits its light strength. This would make a great session ale. Pretty good marks at 96% yea from the BAers.
- India Pale Ale: This beer pours a notch lighter in hue, orange-straw with white foam and rim. There is a clean orange blossom green hop aroma. In the mouth lots of grapefruit peel hop and husky grain and twig hops. These sit above malty sweetness. This IPA lacks that imposing heat that bigger versions foist upon the unsuspecting. This leaves some opportunity to contemplate the jangling hops while maintaining the sensation in your toes. All big beers need not push up against Belgian triple alcohol levels. More body than Honker's Ale with the yeast and malt joining to make a richness along with the hop and touch of sweet giving the BAers cause to like this one even more.
As reported last Feburary, US mega brewer Anheuser-Busch has obtained the exclusive rights to sell the beer at the World Cup in Germany. Reports from across the sea have it that the move to only sell a thin bubbly rice based fluid has not been particularly well received. Unlike German keeper Oliver Kahn after the last World Cup in 2002 and his own beer of choice, right, apparently the Germans do not like the bidding war winner much:
Most pubs don't even stock it," Walter Koenig of the Bavarian Breweries' Association told the paper. "Bavarian beer should be available in a Bavarian stadium - Munich - for the first kickoff. But what can we do? Budweiser paid $40 million for the concession even before Germany had been chosen to host the tournament." Nicholas von Hoffman wrote in The Nation that German youths mounted a Web site (www.budout.org) depicting "Teutonic youths performing extreme anti-Bud acts." Franz Maget, a Bavarian Social Democrat, was quoted as calling Budweiser "the worst beer in the world."Hmm: "[t]hey call it Spülwasser, which roughly translates as dishwater." As a compromise, I read that Bitburger brand is being sold in logoless cups at 30 percent of concessions appeased some Germans. There was no such compromise at the last minute, however, to spare the shorts of a thousand Dutchmen the other day. Hmm:
The storm of protest was particularly strong in Bavaria, where politicians joined the public discussion. One stated: "We have a duty of care, a caretaking obligation to not poison World Cup visitors with bad American beer."Oh dear. 40 million can't buy that much bad PR, can it? I suppose if you are forced to call your beer "The Official Beer of the 2006 FIFA World Cup" rather than its own name, it can.
Who can resist a micro in a can? And especially a hefeweizen. Not me - at least not since I first met Old Chub. The brewery only has a one page web site. They seem to be new as Lew says only this in an update from three months ago:
3/7/06: Just saw this on BeerAdvocate. Guess I need to check it out. They're packaging, and they're out in the midst of nowhere; I camped near there once (I usually don't include a map link, but this time I did!). Two beers so far. 4021 State Highway 51, Garrattsville, 607/263-5070. More when I get it!That places them north of Oneonta and west of Cooperstown which is pretty good beer country. This beer pours a clouded medium straw under white rim and foam. This is one of the less instrusive hefeweizens I have had but a tasty one - rich and creamy with a good banana phenol (or is it ester?) with some allspice and clove. There are only 7 reviews up at the Beer Advocate so far but all approve - and rightly so. Bought at the ever excellent Finger Lake Beverage during the great stash expansion over the weekend.