Thursday, March 27, 2008

How to Increase Voter Turnout

Columbia, S.C., will hold a ballot referendum Tuesday to let voters decide whether to allow beer and wine sales on Sundays. (Liquor will remain off-limits on the Sabbath.) Details here.

Observers are wondering what, if any, impact this will have on the "normal" votes being held that day -- a couple city council seats are up for grabs, for example.

In the midst of a presidential election season that has dragged on and on, it's refreshing to have a more ... ah ... "refreshing" candidate to vote for this time around.

Vote beer!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Foam Rangers Glass

Now here's a rather odd-shaped glass. Then again, maybe that's fitting, considering the organization whose name this vessel bears.

The Foam Rangers are the oldest homebrew club in the Houston area. They host the annual Dixie Cup, one of the country's largest homebrew competitions. Their ranks include some of the best and most decorated brewers in the U.S. Many of them are certifiably bonkers.

I say that with all the love in the world.

The irony behind this official Foam Rangers tasting glass is that rarely do the Foamies limit themselves to such modest portions. All it means is the glass has to get refilled that much more often.

Foam Ranger meetings are organized around a specific beer style or styles. Massive numbers of commercial and homebrewed examples are gathered, and these beers are then "sampled" into the wee hours. The FR tasting glass gets a good workout these nights.

I'm sort of at a loss to explain the glass' shape from a functional standpoint. The thick base gives it some measure of ruggedness, but given that the slight taper at the very top hardly makes up for the appreciable flaring of the glass up until that point, I'm not sure what -- if any -- enhancement to the drinking experience is being accomplished here.

No matter. This is a funky little glass for a funky club. If you ever find yourself in Houston, give the Rangers and their "sampling" glass a try.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

For You Texans

Details here on the acquisition of craft- and import-beer distributor CR Goodman by Dallas-based (and previously Anheuser-Busch exclusive partner) Ben E. Keith Co.

New beers to be added to the portfolio: Minnesota's Summit, Oregon's Deschutes, and New York's Brooklyn and Saranac.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Andygator Glass

We're now in the realm of what I consider to be -- if they're not in actuality -- tasting glasses. Of course, their unifying trait is small size. It can be frustrating, after all, when you're trying to sample an ounce or two out of a giant mug, and most of the beer is lost coating the inside of the glass before it ever reaches your lips.

Some tasting glasses weren't necessarily intended to serve this purpose, but nevertheless do so because of their diminutive status -- the Singha glass fits this profile. So too does the Andygator glass. Clearly, this vessel was built to house the Abita Brewing Company's high-octane Andygator. Yet, inasmuch as beers of such fortitude (this one's purported to run in the 10-10.5 percent range) are often taken in small servings, so too are their dedicated glasses correspondingly miniaturized. In the case of this fella, about 9.5 ounces will come right up to the rim.

The Andygator glass gets points first off for being stemware. This allows the drinker to hold the glass by its base or stem and not the bowl -- thus keeping warmth from the hand from prematurely heating up the precious liquid within. In addition, the glass' tapered curvature contains head and aromas for an enhanced drinking experience.

Plus, that mean ol' gator just looks cool.

As with all tasting glasses, the Andygator glass' best friend tends to be the beer tap. Unlike bottles, which essentially require a glass of corresponding capacity for optimal use and presentation, kegged beer knows no limitations on serving size. Alternately, tasting glasses are quite at home at parties or gatherings where a bottle is being shared among friends. A squirt of beer here, a smidgen there -- this is the time for the tasting glass to emerge.

Here's some interesting background on Abita's Andygator:

Years ago, Abita held a competition for homebrewers in which the winner would have his or her beer brewed by the pros. A member of the homebrew club in New Orleans (it may have
been known as the Crescent City Homebrewers at the time -- I'm hazy on the details) won the competition and handed his recipe over to Abita.

Something went wrong and the lager yeast attenuated well beyond what it was supposed to. The result was a very dry, very strong pale lager that came out somewhere between Maibock, Malt Liquor and rocket fuel. It's sometimes (erroneously) referred to as a Barleywine, though Andygator shares little beyond sheer strength with brews in that category.

So why the name "Andygator"? Simple: the winning brewer goes by the similar, though slightly less fierce, moniker "Andy Thomas." He's currently a member of Houston's Foam Rangers homebrew club, and he's always happy to tell the story of the birth of Andygator -- and in far better fashion than I just did.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sobering Science

Things are starting to get confusing.

On Monday, I boldly declared beer to be "brain food." Now, a new study from the Czech Republic dares to suggest the opposite.

According to Dr. Thomas Grim (an appropriate name for the bearer of such bleak news) of Palacky University, the amount of beer a scientist consumes is inversely proportional to the likelihood that he or she gets a paper published or has a paper cited by other researchers. In other words: drink, and watch your CV go down the crapper.

It appears this phenomenon is not limited to just the heaviest-drinking members to the scientific community; rather, the relationship holds across the board.

I should note here that the Czech Republic leads the world in per capita beer consumption. I'm not sure what, if any, implication that has for the present study, except that perhaps the curve which describes moderate to heavy drinkers is steeper there than elsewhere. Just a WAG.

Sodden scientists take heed: consider zymurgy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beer: Brain Food

So we know beer is good for your health. We now know it also makes you smarter!

Well, not quite. Perhaps more like less dumb. At least, compared to wine.

It turns out, German researchers have discovered, the hippocampus in beer-swilling alcoholics is larger than that in a habitual wino. (It's biggest in healthy adults.) Score one for beer!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Drink to Your Health

Looks like doctors and the press are finally coming around to a truth we've known for years: Beer is good for you!

This article discusses the various health benefits that beer ingredients -- from hops to yeast to dark malts -- can offer.

And as a bonus, authors Matt Allyn and Matt Bean give their suggestions as to which beers to turn to for maximum life-
sustaining effect.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Singha Glass

In Asia, space is often at a real premium. Packing large populations into dense cities has impacted the sizes of cars, apartments ... and evidently beer glasses too.

At least, that's the case with this glass, made for the Boon Rawd Brewery's Singha Beer. This Thai brand is an all-malt lager, and taste-wise it doesn't stray too far from the paradigm of what we've come to understand from Asian beers.

Bood Rawd clearly opted for efficiency over excess in selecting this glass, considering it barely holds about 11.5 ounces filled right to the brim. That leaves you with scant room for head, as Singha is typically sold in 330-mL (11.16-ounce) bottles. Odd.

Shape-wise, the glass flares from a narrow, thick base and straightens near the top. The design isn't ideal for capturing head or aromas, and with its small size it's more suited as a sampler glass -- good for drawing a little shot of beer out of the tap when you don't need a big serving.

Record Fourth Quarter for Boston Beer

The Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams and the nation's largest craft brewer, has announced record revenue and sales volume for the fourth quarter. Net revenue was $92.2 million, up 25.7 percent from the same period last year. As of 3:00 p.m., Boston Beer stocks were trading at $45.43 per share, up $9.62 from the start of trading.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Dogfish Head Glass

The tulip glass teaches us that pint glasses don't have to be boring. They can have not only aesthetic appeal, but functionality as well -- holding onto head and aromas better than the standard tumbler.

Delaware-based Dogfish Head has taken both form and function into consideration with this pint glass. Its graceful curves, gently bulging center, and heavy base make the glass not just easy on the eyes but also make it feel good in your hand. The tapered top, quite narrow compared to plenty of other glasses, holds head well and captures aromas better than glasses that flare at the top.

Dogfish Head is the only brewery I'm aware of that uses this type of glass. If they are in fact the only one, that would be fitting with Dogfish Head's core value of doing things differently -- the other side of the glass reads "Off-centered ales for off-centered people."

Interestingly, this particular glass is not for sale on the Dogfish Head Web site, while their logo tumbler is, along with a couple other interesting shapes this blogger can't count among his collection.

Sometimes the beer or occasion might not call for anything too fancy, like a snifter or Belgian-type glass; yet a regular pint glass might feel too generic. In those times, the Dogfish Head pint is at its best.

As you might expect, it only makes sense that Dogfish Head beers should be the top candidates to be drank from the Dogfish Head glass (although their higher-alcohol stuff should go in a snifter or other bowl-shaped glass). Standard-strength ales and lagers, Dogfish or otherwise, would also find a happy home in the Dogfish Head glass.

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