Interesting to note with US beer sales falling in all areas but craft brewing that the big boys are going to try and pretend that they are making tiny batch hand crafted ales of quality. To that end I give you Anheuser-Busch's new pumpkin ale.
A small prize if anyone actually tells us what it is like.
I am not the sort to flog someone else's product just because it is beer related. I really am not. OK, Lew's books...but that is it. And people who send me stuff. That is my rule...or maybe a guideline...
So I was a little concerned when I received a nice email offering me the chance to try the Bottle Buddy from Zing Canada. I thought "should I?" Ahhh, what the hell. And I suggested a few others try, too, and here is what Gary wrote me from New Hampshire:
I have been married for almost 13 years, a happy fact which my wedding ring reminds me of daily. It is an heirloom from my wife's family. Her grandmother from the old country, actually, who must have had huge fingers, because this simple gold band is loose, even on my right hand. So, a beat up and battered packet arrives from a foreign country yesterday, well examined by Homeland Security, ATF, FBI, the Mounties and I don’t know who else, but it is a credit to the strong and durable construction of the enclosed product that even the Feds of 2 countries couldn’t scratch or dent this little gem. I said "honey, I won’t be needing this wedding ring anymore, my bottle buddy is here". I grabbed my bottle buddy, a little stainless steel ring which is also an opener, and my wife grabbed the instructions. Fortunately, the instructions are multilingual, as is my wife, so she gave the instructions to me in French. Neither the dog nor I understand French, but still I grabbed a cold beer and some chips and as it was at least 5 pm in Newfoundland, got ready to cocktail. Beer number one proved two things. The bottle buddy does work well, it easily opened my beer. It also proved that instructions should be followed, in a language you actually understand. It was not the most comfortable moment, popping open that ale. The instructions suggest that the ring should be snug, and for beer number 2 I moved the ring over to my index finger, and we had a smooth landing. I am accustomed to opening my beers with my teeth, so my dentist will be happy that I have a bottle buddy, and it is big enough that if any hockey dads challenge me in a parking lot, I will have a secret weapon on my fist. I would guess this item would be a pretty slick little item at a party, with gorgeous young chicks lining up to have their tops opened, as it were, but as I say, I am happily married.My experience was a little tougher but I have odd fingers. They are not chubby so much as...HEY! They are not chubby and we are leaving it at that. But rings do fly off my fingers and, so, it may be that I guessed at a size that was not quite my right size - they do come from sizes 9 to 14 without half sizes. When I tried to use it as directed in the write up by placing the cat's head opening so that I opened the beer with my paw over the top of it...well...it was painful in the way that scraping your knee as a kid is painful. But once I took it off and use it as an opener off the finger it is quite handy. It is also well made, hefty polished steel with a nice design.
So I think Gary gives it a big two ring fingers and I am giving it a ring finger and a pinkie. It's is handy, likely durable and fairly snazzy if Gary's vivid fantasy life is anything to go by.
According to Lew Bryson in his book New York Breweries, this is the beer that got Garrett Oliver the job as brewmaster at Brooklyn in 1994:
He'd been brewing at a brewpub, Manhattan Brewing, since 1989. He could see the writting on the wall there, and one day when no one was in, he brewed up a batch of big imperial stout. "I took it over to Brooklyn as my resume," he told me.I wonder what else has been bargained for with this beer? As far as I am concerned, it is simply amazing. Sipping beer, a big sipping beer similar in its aim to Old Rasputin from California, bigger than the version by Samuel Smith of Yorkshire. Brewed annually with some variation, the Winter 2004-2005 brew is 8.7% according to the brewery. A lace leaving fine rocky mocha head sits over inky dark mahogany. Licorice, chocolate, molasses and a thickness of coffee that you can imagine forms a half inch sludge at the bottom of the glass. There is mintiness to the hops that is in its place...but only relative to the massive attack that are the dark particles. That is what it seems to be filled with - dark particulate matter of the tastiest type. It almost has the baseball glove leather thing of some big red wines happening.
The sort of stout that makes Guinness drinkers question themselves. 99% of BAer's approve.
Slate has an interesting article on the economics of being a beer seller at a baseball game.
I've never been to one of these beer festival thingies. I wonder if I would actually like it?
Throughout the evening, which ended at 10 p.m., the atmosphere became increasingly raucous. Every time somebody dropped something, a shout went up and spread throughout the arena until the whole place was filled with cries. A group of people in lederhosen walked by arm in arm. There was an unusual number of T-shirts asserting Irish nationality and more T-shirts encouraging drunkenness. By 8 p.m., all of the more sober things like cooking demonstrations and tasting classes were over and people were losing all reserve. Some of the breweries ran out of beer and closed up shop.The weird thing about the Great American Beer Festival is that they appear to have been limited to one ounce servings despite paying 55 bucks US to get in. How much better the British beer festival format like the Scottish Traditional Beer Festival 2005 held last June where you play 3 pounds and get pints.
There is a line in a Hemingway short story where a nice European lady running a nice restaurant in the American west asks why the men drink like pigs. Paying 55 bucks for one ounce glasses seems to be one reason.
If there is one style of beer that can confuse it is brown ale. Beer, after all, is pretty much brown. There are any number of Belgian ales that can be thought of as brown but called Flemish brown or reds, quadruples or just browns. But there are also dubbles which are big and earthy and brown. There are heartily hopped US or Texas browns . There are tangy northern English browns like Samuel Smith makes. These two New Englanders, however, represent another softer type of brown - maybe like Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. They are a throwback to a style of brown from London England and are often called nut browns from the lucious taste gleaned from their combination of pale, brown and crystal malts - though the twang yeasty Samuel Smith's uses the name too.
- Wachusett Nut Brown Ale: from Westminster, Massachusetts. Slightly red oaky brown under a off white dissipating head. A very simple brown - soft, grainy with a bit of sweetness but none of the raisininess of the Shipyard. There is other autumn fruit, however, as well something of an oaky cask reference in the vanilla and twiggy hop. Maybe a note of chocolate as well. Very nice and a very quaffable. BAers mostly like.
- Shipyard Brown Ale: from Portland, Maine. One slight notch lighter in colour than the Wachussetts with a head one slight notch towards tan. As far as I am concerned one of the most moreish beers I have ever had. There is a fair amount of sweet sultana in this very soft water ale. The hops sit back on the rim of the flavour. The aroma is all Shipyard with their signiture salty, tangy yeast - the ringwood strain, I think. There malt also has grain with the sweet. It reminds me a lot of a lighter hopped version of Shipyard's Chamberlain, another favorite of mine. BAer's are a little confused by it.
Each beer will have a 6.3 percent alcohol reading and will contain three milligrams of nicotine.