Monthly Archives: September 2010

Zero calorie beer

It’s in Japan.  Is it coming soon to the US market?

It has long been my belief that the more a light lager resembled water the more popular it would be.  With Bud Select 55 we are eerily close to this point in the USA.  How far will it go?  Well, if Japan is any indication of the future—and it usually is—it will go all the way down to zero.

Several firms are battling it out already, including Suntory and Asahi.  Of course they are also zero alcohol, as alcohol remains the largest source of calories in nearly all light beers.  Within one week in August, Suntory received 400,000 orders of All-Free and had to suspend sales until September due to excess demand.

In Japan, it seems like light beer can actually be about refreshment.  The only question is whether Americans actually like the taste of light beer enough to buy it when it doesn’t have any alcohol.  Somehow I doubt it.


Hops & Freshness

Part I of a series on the age of beer, freshness and cellaring.


While it is obvious that any time is a good time for beer, time and beer have a complicated but fundamental relationship in the realm of beer enjoyment. Time affects beer just as it affects any food, but its nature can be quite fickle. Most people understand that freshness is often essential when it comes to beer, and advertising from commodity beer brewers has reinforced this notion. Time can be beer’s worst enemy. On the other hand, as the well-versed beer drinker knows, age can also be a wise friend to beer. Both consumers and retailers need to understand the interaction between time and different beer styles and the organization of fridge and shelf or cellar space should be based upon this knowledge.

The complexity of beer is attributed to the variety of sources that different flavors can be derived from: different amounts and varieties of hops and grains, different yeast strains, multitudes of flavorings at the brewer’s discretion, and the level of alcohol in the end product. Time reacts with each of these elements differently. This explains why different types of beer require different methods of storage.

Victory for Freshness Dating

Hops are the top priority when it comes to beer age and freshness is tantamount. The flavor and aroma compounds that we squeeze out of the hop flower are by far the most degradable part of beer. Any beer with substantial hop flavors or aromas should be refrigerated at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, Pale Ales, single and double India Pale Ales, and real Pilseners. Any beer where hops are central to the beer is in danger of fading to flavor oblivion in a matter of weeks to months.

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Great American Beer Festival Winners

The 2010 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition winners were unveiled today, narrowing some 3,523 individual beer entries into a winner’s pool of only 80.  GABF is inarguably the most prestigious and respected competition for American beer.

The Brewer’s Association, the organization behind the event, noted a geographic widening in the winner’s circle with the Midwest and Southeast stepping up the game this year.  Despite this trend, it is immediately apparent that California largely dominated the competition.  Pizza Port smashed competitors with a ridiculous ten medals, including five gold medals.  A record-settng 142 entries were stared down by Pizza Port San Clemente in the American-style India Pale Ale category and beaten with their Pseudo IPA.  Pizza Port Carlsbad claimed Large Brewpub of the Year and Pizza Port San Clemente claimed Small Brewpub of the Year.  California continued its rampage with Firestone Walker taking six medals and TAPS Fish House & Brewery taking the Brewpub Group of the Year award along with three medals.  Eagle Rock Brewery from Los Angeles won the Pro-Am category with their Red Velvet.

Click here for the full winner’s list

Stone Total Tap Takeover Tour 2010

Stone Brewing Co. will bring forty taps to take over seven bars in seven cities in seven days the first week of October.  Not sure if this needs to be pointed out, but forty individual taps of Stone means they are pulling out all the stops and breaking out a maddening variety of rare tasty beer.  Greg Koch, Stone CEO, will personally kick off the festivities at each and every bar.

Stone will take over bars in Baltimore, Cambridge, New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, and Redondo Beach, CA.  Details can be found on Stone’s web site—except for the event at California.  Stone is prohibited by California law from promoting this event, but luckily Extol Beer is not.

Total Tap Takeover at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach

On Thursday, October 7 at 7:00 PM Stone will take over the taps at Naja’s Place, one of the original beer bars on the west coast.  Special guests will include not just Greg Koch, but also Steve Wagner (Stone President/Brewmaster), and Mitch Steele (Stone Head Brewer).  This event will also kick off LA Beer Week!

Full beer list and tour dates after the jump.

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The Great Purge – Part II

The kvass that shook the BeerAdvocate Top 100

Read Part I of this article “The elusive kvass” here

People line up to drink kvass from a tanker cart.

Reviews trickled onto the BeerAdvocate website and a peculiar trend slowly emerged. The reviews highlighted the good and bad of the beers, compliments were mixed with criticism and the humored good nature of the local craft beer community was apparent. The one thing that was consistent was the score being posted: perfect.

When this happened in June of 2010 the BeerAdvocate “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth” required a minimum of ten reviews to be listed. The exact formula was weighted in favor of consistent reviews. This means that a very controlled pool of reviews—for instance from a rare kvass that had never been reviewed before—could in effect be catapulted into the Top 100 with as little as a dozen reviews.

This is precisely what happened. As soon as eleven reviews came there it was. Just sitting there. Nobody seemed to notice at first, which gave it the chance to climb even higher. A couple days later it was sitting pretty at the #62 Top Beer on Planet Earth. Magnificently, this noble kvass shone brilliantly as a beacon of hope to the other kvasses of the world.

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