Saturday, May 31, 2008

High Time They Leave the Little Guy Alone

A brewer in tiny Weed, Calif., is facing trouble from Federal regulators who object to the pot-inspired pun on his bottle caps.

"Try Legal Weed," encourage the brews from Mt. Shasta Brewing Co.

But the g-men have told Mt. Shasta owner Vaune Dillmann the drug reference and "false and misleading" nature of the message have to go, lest he face steep consequences.


OK, I know all about alcohol and special regulations and police powers and all that, but has anyone bothered to find out what the Federal Trade Commission has to say? They're the ones who have set well-defined standards for what constitutes misleading product promotion.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau claims consumers will be duped into thinking the beer actually has real ganja in it. First off, fat chance. I'd venture so far as to say 99.99 percent of Americans know pot is illegal. Thus, "legal weed" means nothing. And surely, as would suppose any right-thinking person (that is, not someone employed by the ATTTB), a sixer sitting right out in the open on a store shelf couldn't possibly have real, honest-to-god dope in it.

But fine, let's suppose someone actually sees this beer and thinks an illicit trip down mary jane lane is only a few sips away. Why should the ATTTB or anyone else care if folks are mislead into buying what they had every reason to believe to be an illegal substance, bottle caps notwithstanding? If I peddled oregano on promise of it being whacky tobbaccy, would I have consumer advocates and the FTC to answer to?

Many of the townsfolk and local politicians have voiced their support of Dillmann. Here's hoping those overzealous bureaucrats come the f around.

Friday, May 30, 2008

And I Bet He Was Given a Lecture on the Dangers of Handling Alcohol

Eighth-grader goes to archeology site in San Antonio, sees old recently discovered bottle, posits it to contain 100-year-old beer. Scientists say they plan to analyze the contents soon to test the kid's theory.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Best Beer Names

Tampa Bay Times columnist Joey Redner has come up with his list of the top ten beer names ever. Redner's selections typify what he calls, with admiration, "the working-class ethic of the craft beer community."

Here's what Redner came up with:
10. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
9. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
8. Sweetwater Happy Ending
7. Ridgeway Santa's Butt
6. Buffalo Bill's Alimony Ale
5. Dogfish Head Golden Shower
4. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Pooh Coffee
3. McQuire's I'll Have What The Gentleman On The Floor Is Having Barley Wine
2. Avery Collaboration Not Litigation
1. Wasatch Polygamy Porter

Good selections, all. Here are some more finely named brews that didn't make the list:

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale (gotta love a beer whose label outright insults consumers)
Stone Ruination IPA (it seeks to ruin your palate with its incredible bitterness)
Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine (à la #3, above)
Port Old Viscosity (see #9)
Mort Subite lambics (translation: Sudden Death)
Delirium Tremens (from the Truth in Advertising department)
Hoptown DUIPA (see above)
Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Barleywine (see above, again)
Coniston Old Man Ale
Spaten Optimator (not funny, just a cool name)
Theakston Old Peculier
Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper
Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout
Terrapin Substance Abuse (see a pattern here?)
Sweetwater 420, Donkey Punch, Dubbel D's, Hummer (irreverence runs high with these folks, it would seem)
Magic Hat Thumbsucker
Rogue Yellow Snow Ale (see #5; what's with brewers and piss?)
Nodding Head Monkey Knife Fight
Crannog Back Hand of God Stout
Orkney SkullSplitter (would that refer to the buzz or the hangover, or both?)
Broughton Old Jock (here meaning a Scotsman, not a used athletic supporter)
Duvel (inspiration for a whole host of imitators: Satan, Lucifer, Bezelbuth)
Scotch Silly (from Belgium; probably only funny to us)
Moretti Sans Souci (French for "Without a Care")
Giraf Classic, Strong, and Gold (created to honor the passing of a local zoo specimen)
Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.
Climax Brewing Co. (interestingly, not brewed in Intercourse, Penn.)
Termalni Desert (screw cake and pie)
And you gotta love Schmaltz Brewing Co., makers of the He'Brew line of Semitic ales: Messiah Bold, Genesis Ale, Jewbelation, Rejewvenator, Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. (named for the late Lenny Bruce)

This list is far from comprehensive. Some of the above entries were noted by

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Massive Deal Brewing?

Two of the world's biggest beer companies could be joining forces.

Belgium's InBev is considering making an offer to acquire U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch, The Wall Street Journal says. The price tag could be in the neighborhood of $46 billion.

It's certainly no done deal, not least of all because the Busch family are considered reluctant to sell.

While ordinarily consolidation, which has continued to sweep through the brewing industry of late, can often mean wider availability of certain brands and better prices for consumers, in this case it's hard to figure the ultimate impact of an InBev-Anheuser-Busch deal as far as Budweiser fans are concerned. A-B products are already the most widely distributed in the nation and, thanks to the company's numerous regional breweries and enormous economies of scale, Budweiser et al. are among a frugal drinker's best friends.

Yet on the other side of the equation, an alliance could strengthen the availability of imported InBev brands like Hoegaarden and Leffe.

It is often, after all, the tenacity of distributors that has as much to do with the breadth of a given market's offerings as does consumer demand. By plugging all of its products into the vast -- and aggressive -- Anheuser-Busch distribution network, some of InBev's higher-quality offerings could find new audiences. And that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Music to Anyone's Ears

An Australian orchestra plays the Victoria Bitter "theme song" using nothing but beer bottles.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Craft Beer on NPR

Beer, brewing, and homebrew were the topics of yesterday's Science Friday on NPR.

Check it out.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beer Snobs Get Mainstream Treatment

Apparently, the way many beer connoisseurs feel about cheap macro-lagers is now well documented enough to merit use as an analogy in political reporting. And in the lead paragraph, no less.

Yesterday, Time magazine's Peter Beinart had this to say in his piece "What Obama Owes the Clintons":

"Obama's backers generally feel about the Clintons the way ... beer aficionados feel about Bud Light: that by compromising core principles, they watered down the brand."

How about that?

Of course, whether Beinart's mention of beer enthusiasts was meant to highlight our discernment or our reflexive and holier-than-thou posture toward "the other side" -- or neither -- is anyone's guess.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Can You Dig It?

The humble beer can continues to receive a classy makeover. Specifically in the form of labels for high-end beers.

New Belgium Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colo., has become the latest -- and largest -- entry on a growing roster of craft brewers who have turned to the until-recently pedestrian aluminum can as a packaging option.

While traditionally, cans have not exactly been associated with high-brow, full-flavored beer, things began to trend in the other direction when Colorado's Oskar Blues in 2002 eschewed the bottle as its container of choice. Several other U.S. and Canadian microbreweries have since followed suit.

Proponents say cans are lighter, easier to transport, easier to recycle, and can go places bottles can't -- beaches, rivers, parks, for example.

As more and more beer drinkers warm to the idea of craft brew in a can, it may well be that side-by-side price comparisons of bottled vs. canned versions of the same beer (in this case, New Belgium's Fat Tire, for example) could make any buying decision less about bias and/or practicality and more about economics.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The (Other) Bass Glass

I'm not certain that this glass constitutes a particular style of glassware, but it is unique. As one might expect, Bass has slapped its logo on no small number of drinking vessels over the years. (See, for example, the tulip pint.) So it is hard – impossible, perhaps, to say what constitutes the "official" Bass glass.

Still, this glass is the only one I've seen that incorporates Bass' famous triangle logo -- the oldest registered trademark in Britain – in the construction of the glass itself. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the only glass I've seen to incorporate any beer's trademark in the physical design. It may be a little hard to tell from the picture, but the base of this glass is a thick, elegantly contoured triangle.

The rest of the glass is, admittedly, a little on the boring side. It is tall and slender, pleasant to look at and adorned prominently with the Bass name and logo, but structurally the glass doesn't offer much to the drinking experience. The walls are straight and flare outward at the top. Not the best arrangement for head and aromas.

Ah well. Any Bass drinker probably wouldn't mind giving this glass a go at least once. It's not every day you can drink out of one of the world's oldest trademarks.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Sam Adams Glass

This thingy was released with great fanfare and marketing hoopla (true to form for Jim Koch's Boston Beer Company) early in 2007. It is, the company seemed to want to say, the world's most perfect beer glass.

Well, perhaps I'm paraphrasing a bit. The Massachusetts- based brew company heralded the Sam Adams glass as the perfect container to drink Samuel Adams Boston Lager out of. I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether Jim Koch's Boston Lager advocacy means the glass for the world's most perfect beer is by extension the world's most perfect glass.

At any rate, this funky vessel -- it kind of looks like a lamp or exotic vase, doesn't it? -- is said to be more about function than fashion. Those recoiling from the sight of the glass might find that heartening. Beer-friendly features include a wide bowl for capturing aromas, an outturned lip for proper beer delivery, and etching on the bottom for a steady stream of carbonation. I won't get too deep into the details -- you can get all the skinny here.

While I admit I've yet to drink a Boston Lager from this glass, I will say this here cup provides a nice drinking experience. The features do in fact work more or less as advertised, and in keeping with its odd appearance, the glass feels pretty unique in the hand.

If the Boston Beer Company is to be believed, the Sam Adams glass is best suited for Boston Lager. But plenty of other styles will do. Just about any of your average-gravity beers, from amber lagers to American ales, on up to IPAs, Porters, and Stouts should drink fine from this glass. Just don't tell Jim Koch.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Eternally a Fan

Oh, the temptation to overdo it with death puns is almost too much to resist. You might say it's killing me.

A Chicago man has special ordered a coffin decorated to look like a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, his favorite beer.

It's nice to see someone bring a little levity to what is normally a grave subject.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Beer and Wood

Here's a brief writeup on wood-aged beers in The Washington Post. The massive Dogfish Head aging tank has me intrigued...
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