Bay Area drinkers are sucking down local suds faster than they can be produced, and local entrepreneurs are taking the hint. Patrick Horn (co-founder of Pacific Brewing Labs), Phil Cutti (head brewer for Southpaw BBQ), and Inna Volynskaya (who has worked in operations for Lagunitas) are three such entrepreneurs. Their project, Headlands Brewing Company, launches late this June.
The Oklahoma operation has only been in existence for about a half a year, but their name and their beers seem to be on the lips of every other beer geek a half country away. I recommend just about anything you can get your hands on from Prairie Artisan Ales.
If there's one trend in craft beer that has fought hardest to beat out the hoppy-hoppier-hoppiest IPA arms race, it's the boom in popularity of sour beer. These small production, time-intensive brews offer an intriguing history (and hype-inducing rarity), but it's their unique flavor that seems to turn most drinkers into dedicated sour beer fans. The tart, puckering taste is often met with a shocked, love-it-or-hate-it type of reaction, and those with the former can't seem to get enough of the stuff. The secret ingredients that set these beers apart from the rest of the brews on the shelf are actually living creatures: yeast and bacteria.
I have this tradition. Every year, for San Francisco Beer Week, I work a preposterous amount of hours, have very little fun, and then get wildly ill for several days. It's terrible, and I love it. Here's why: beer weeks are great for the industry. But with 500+ official events, is there an element of diminishing returns? Have beer weeks gotten just too big?
Folks in the beer industry like to say that brewers don't really make beer. Brewers make wort—which is the stuff that yeast makes into beer. Yeast and its performance has a huge impact on a brewer's final product. But what does that taste like?
Alex has partnered with Jay Goodwin, former Head of Barrel-Aging at Orange County's sour-happy The Bruery, and Jay's father, Brad, to create the Rare Barrel. On the verge of licensing approval, they will produce exclusively barrel-aged sour beers. Their first stainless fermentation tank is arriving as I type this.
Adjunct: it's a dirty word to a lot of craft beer fanatics, conjuring images of cackling evil Bud/Miller/Coors brewers alternately dumping bags of corn into their beer and money into their bank accounts. But like any good curse word, it has its f#&$@n' place.
What's going on behind those smiles at the host stand? Service with a smile is the name of the game, but find out what the hosts are really thinking. I spoke with several hosts at restaurants all over the country to get inside their heads. Here's what they want to tell you.
When it comes to malt flavor in beer, it's helpful to think of your grist (the sum of all grains used in the beer's mash) as a choir. The base grain fills out the risers—the core of the choir's sound—but fades into the background as bold soloists strut their stuff. Specialty grains are those soloists. And what a delicious song they sing.
Holiday shopping for the discriminating beer lover can be a stressful prospect. Which beers should I buy? Which homebrewing supplies does she need? How many times can I get away with buying novelty beer-themed boxer shorts? (Answer: none.) But don't worry, we're here to help. Here are 9 useful gifts for the beer-obsessed person on your list.
Now that you're getting pretty darn good at identifying different hop varieties, it's time we looked at another major flavor contributor in beer: malt. You've seen how its made, and if you've ever had Grape Nuts, you've got a pretty good idea of how it tastes on its own. But how can you tell which malts you're drinking when you're drinking beer?
Careful readers may have caught my first article on how to identify the "three C" hops in beer a few weeks back. If you did, the fun must be winding down by now—there's only so many times you can call out a whiff of that Cascade grapefruit before the other regulars at your local get a little sick of you. It's time to expand your repertoire.
Malt is undeniably more important to beer production than hops—it not only provides the foundation for beer's flavor, but it also imparts the essential sugars necessary for fermentation. Without malting, there is no beer. But ask a homebrewer about his malt, and you'll probably get blank stares.
I brewed the Presidential homewbrews, following the recipes exactly, and the result was not as thrilling as I'd hoped, especially in light of Garrett Oliver's evaluation of the beer as being "perfectly balanced." If you follow the original recipe word for word, you might be disappointed. If you want to brew the President's beer yourself, read on for some advice.
These days, there seem to be more hopheads out there than uhh....human heads. And yet, not many people know what exactly goes into their bitter beers—what makes each brew different from the other. Hoppiness exists not merely as a linear scale of IBUs, but as an array of flavors, aromas, and bitterness. Each hop variety (and there are dozens) is different, and identifying them is easier than you might think. Let's start with the hope you're most likely to be sipping in your pint of American IPA: a group of hops known as the "Three C's."
I remember the moment I became interested in beer. Standing amid the ruins of the Roman Forum, the Coliseum looming ahead of me, lit up and devoid of tourists at three in the morning, I was struck with awe. For most, awe in these circumstances might be derived form the historical perspective offered by these surroundings. But I looked down, jaw slack, at the plastic cup in my hand and thought, "what the heck is this beer, and why does it taste so good?"
I don't tend to go to a new city to see the sights, I go there to expose myself to the experiences unique to a given area—to feel something rather than to see something. And as a Serious Eater and a beer geek, I feel my way around most towns mouth first. On a trip that began in the birthplace of my personal interest in beer (Rome) and ended in the birthplace of my favorite category of beer (lambic), I expected to drink a lot of beer. Let's just say my expectations were met.
Why go to Belgium? These five words pretty much sum it up: beer, waffles, french fries, chocolate. Now, I'm only certified to speak as an authority on one of these consumables, and as much as I'd like to say that I'm a card-carrying french fry expert, I'm not. I'm a beer guy. So here's my guide to the best spots for drinking beer in the city of Bruges.
Whenever someone refers to themselves as a "beer snob," my imagination takes me to a weird place. I envision a guy in a three-piece suit, monocle firmly wedged in the crinkle of his eye, daintily sipping his beer and complaining loudly about the lack of complexity in XYZ Brewery's new Kölsch. It's an exaggeration, surely, but the hyperbole forces recognition of what it was about snobbery that I so despise: the negativity.
American beer geeks have consistently worshiped the iconic hops of the Pacific Northwest: the grapefruity Cascade, the orangey Amarillo, the resinous Columbus. This obsession will likely continue into infinity, but there's a recent trend in American craft beer that bears acknowledgement: the growing popularity of Southern Hemisphere hop varieties, particularly from New Zealand and Australia.
While all beer will evolve over time in the bottle, can or keg, there are a handful of brands that will change for the better. Essentially, allowing your beer to age under ideal conditions can mellow, pleasantly oxidize, and develop the beer's flavors in a truly delicious way. Here are a few tips and a bit of advice to get your beer cellar started.
I work in a place that takes its beer glassware very seriously...in earthquake-torn San Francisco. It's a bad combination. Recently, as I nervously stood beneath my wall of geeky excess, I got thinking: do I really need all this glassware? Do these special beer glasses really deliver on their promises?
It's not that hard to find ample outdoor space or quality beer, but the two rarely meet. Here are 7 shining examples—the best places to drink good beer outdoors in San Francisco and the East Bay.
As a Serious Eater, you've mastered the art of the dinner party. Your kitchen table for six leafs out to seat twenty, the last time you hosted a potluck, everyone brought booze, and the clicking of your barbecue's ignition is followed closely by hastened footsteps and the tell-tale ring of your doorbell. You're a whiz in the kitchen, and everyone knows it. It's time to take it to the next level. The right beer, paired with your killer eats, will create satisfaction beyond the sum of their liquid and solid parts. Here's how to go about hosting an awesome beer dinner, in 8 easy steps.
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