Craft Beer Magazine

The craft beer revolution has been successful. The rebels have gained the sympathy of the public; the empire of macro-beers is cracking. So keep drinking craft beer, keep home brewing.

Admittedly, I have not gouged the time to brew out of my schedule. But I may as well read about it, right? The iPad restarted my reading habit, especially in connection with magazines, beer magazines.

Okay, fine, I’ve only got three right now. Whatever. Let me speak of one: Craft Beer Magazine.

Here’s what I liked about it: brevity. The articles are bare bones, succinct. If you’ve been using e-reader apps (like iBooks) for any time at all you’ll be familiar with how to use this app. Still, it opens with a one page tutorial. Then there’s the contents and then the first article which is a concise history of the Revolution (craft beer revolution that is). That’s right, no letters from editors or any other introductory material.

There are a few more articles, all very terse, that cover craft beer’s global rise, the science of canning, a beer app, beer and health, beer cooking (including a beef stew recipe) and a beer review to wrap things up. Also included is the first episode of a new web series called Brew Age, capturing craft beer makers in the San Francisco area. And there are some informative pictographs.

Its so compact it seems more like a newsletter than a magazine. In this age of blogs perhaps the content is appropriate. However, while it makes the magazine a quick read it does mean it lacks some color, some verve.  (However, the beer review did give me a beer to explore).

If you’re expecting information on formulating home brew recipes or the like, this is not your magazine. But, if you like beer appreciation, if you want to read shout outs to expanding and up and coming breweries, and maybe get a little bit of beer news, Craft Beer Magazine could work for you.

Sent from my iPad

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The Session #68 – Strange, New, Unusual, Different Beers

The theme: Novelty Beers
99 Pours gives us this theme:  “With the onslaught of even weirder beards…erm…beers…than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have.”

So, novelty.  I had to tell myself what this was.  What follows is the odd debate/investigation/whatever that went on in my head regarding this subject.  Novelty is “something that is novel.” And not the literary kind. No, novel is a thing that is “strikingly new, unusual, or different.”  In the announcement above there is also the added qualifier “strange.”

Thus, I am presented with discussing beers that are strange, new, unusual, different.  It’s the “strange” connotation that is troubling me.  I suppose the argument could be made that if something is strange it is strikingly different.  But strange isn’t necessarily strikingly new.  New and unusual is usually innovative, imagination-capturing, cool, the first time you fall in love, iPads, lightsabers.  Different can be good or bad.  But strange throws me off.  It’s like there should be a distinction here between a thing that is new and a thing that is strange.  Strange, for me, wants to be a thing that is just, well, not right.

Then there is the temporal aspect that the word novelty engenders.  It almost imbues an object with a transitory existence.  Or, at least, a short life that ends in dusty nostalgia – you know, that “novel” coffee mug that is taking up space in your cabinet.

Within those boundaries I must fit beer.  A new and unusual beer, for me, was wit beers.  They were brilliant, cloudy, spicy things.  Yet, they are anything but transitory.  They are different, but not strange.  Same with lambics, which were my first thoughts for novelty beers.  Sour, fruity … weird.  Yeah, maybe those are the beers that fit here.  They are unusual.  Even avid beer lovers will sometimes shy away from these face-curdlers.  Or some may turn up their nose because of the fruity nature.  But they intrigue me and many others.  Raspberry and cherry and other stuff.  I don’t like fruit in my beer,  but it seems so appropriate in a lambic.  Truly, I have only had a couple of easily imported or domestic made lambics.  Not the real things.  They are unusual, I want more.  Are they strange?

One beer style that stretches for a place on the strange list is chili beers.  I had a Crazy Ed’s Chili beer once, long ago.  There was an actual chili in the bottle.  It was the most horrid thing I’ve ever had.  It was, without doubt, strange.  I didn’t want to give up on them, though.  I tried Ring of Fire from Dragonmead Brewery.  It was like drinking a bowl of nachos.  That’s weird.  It was a good beer.  But definitely … different.  I might drink it again.  I love peppers, but apparently not in my beer.

At times, I think the brewing scene on the west coast of the US is all novelty, what with the idiotic amount of hops brewers will put into any style.  Ridiculous.  Does all this cover “novelty?” I just don’t know.  My experience is limited.   Other, better, brewers and bloggers will be weighing in on this subject.  Look to them for guidance!

A Glass Of Friday – Hazel Brown by Samuel Adams

What is hazel? It makes me think of eyes. I like to think that my own eye color is hazel, a conflation of brown and green and flecks of other.

Wait a tick – hold the phone – hey, they probably mean hazelnut. So, a nut flavor in a brown ale? What the hazel will brewers think of next?

In Appearance …
It’s brown, very dark tea brown. I see no green. No other. What the hazel? Good ivory collar.

But The Taste …
It is very clean, like laundry. But the aftertaste is a liquid description of dank London – sharp, moist, a blurry photograph of Kate Middleton. A resounding and lingering creaminess coats my tongue. Thats not from the white part of the hazel eyes they put in the beer, is it?

What a fascinating dichotomy I may have detected, provided I know what the word means. This beer is a brown so it doesn’t really (and shouldn’t) have a heavy mouthfeel, yet that ethereal creaminess presents the illusion of thick mouthfeel.

That Smell …
It is brandy, raisins and oranges. Or a Snickers bar. Really, one of those icky filled chocolate things from a generic box of said chocolate. In a brown ale? Is that the effect of the hazel?

Join Me For A Plate Of …
It complements rocky road ice cream by shoring up the chocolate flavor (ooh, mayhaps that is the reason I detected so much dang chocolate in the beer; ere I was eating chocolate ice cream) and verifying he dryness of the nuts.

And how brilliant it is to pair beer and ice cream, especially whence counting calories.

The Conclusion Of The Matter Is …
This really is a delightful beer. So familiar, yet twisted in a soulful manner.

Hazel Brown is a fun take on a brown ale. I’ve had two and I’m not afraid to drink it again.

Sent with Writer.

Sent from my iPad

A Glass Of Friday – Somersault by New Belgium

The imagery of summer is the most sublime. Crisp blue sky; verdant lawns dripping with cool water; children riding bikes and running and jumping, having been freed of schoolroom shackles; the list goes on.

And the geniuses at New Belgium think they can bottle the greatest season of them all. Let us see if the impossible becomes possible.

In Appearance …
It’s copper! It’s pale yellow! It’s a chameleon. Is it supposed to be changing tincture like that? Well colors do morph in summer out here in the desert. Sometimes, of course, that’s delirium. I don’t think this beer is making me delirious. It’s just more brilliant in the light.

The head is puffy and white, and , fine, right, I’ll go there – just like cumulus clouds in the summer sky. It does have great legs. If that isn’t summer I don’t know what is.

But The Taste …
Oh, it’s a pale ale. Really, that’s all? Granted, this one is slightly more intense than a normal one and slightly less intense than an IPA. Like Ranger, with water. And lemon drops.

The heft of grain is not apparent. The hops and water are mostly on display. Hmmm, lawn and water. It’s a slender bodied beer, light and refreshing, and if that ain’t summer what is?

That Smell …
Grassy. Citrusy hops. Nectarines, possibly. The perfume of one of those earther girls, the Eco-terrorist kind. Only a good looking one. Is that summer?

Join Me For A Plate Of …
Football, on TV and on iPad, since they weren’t televising my dang game, the Cowboys vs Seahawks. Oh, that isn’t food? Good call, you should all be substitute referees.

The Conclusion Of The Matter Is …
Summer is ending. Sadness always overtakes me at this realization, though respite from the heat is welcome. Still, Somersault actually seemed to capture pieces of summer. I was waiting for the soundtrack to hit me and it never did. But freedom was there. And a few other highlights of summer.

Fine. Fine. It was good. What, are those New Belgium brewers some kind of artists?

Sent with Writer.

Sent from my iPad

A Glass of Friday – Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

What brilliance drove the brewers at the Boston Beer Company to release a pumpkin spiced ale … in autumn? Its utterly amazing.

What?

Oh, it’s not officially fall yet? Oh, I see. Very well, Sam Adams has broken all boundaries by releasing their Pumpkin Ale near fall. Brilliant.

Pumpkin ales are like Star Wars books. You know exactly what the plot is going to be, you know the players, the tropes. Sometimes the covers are pretty cool, and sometimes the stories actually surprise you. And sometimes, well, they don’t.

In Appearance …
In a shocking choice of palette, this pumpkin beer is orange. Like the seeds of its muse, the head is an off white with bubbles of varying size.

But The Taste …
It tastes like a weak Cherry Coke, a tad caramelized. The burnt sugar attaches itself with gusto to the northeast corner of the tongue, waiting for the spices to come walking by. Alas, their wait may be long as the powdery layer of sweetness turns the spice away.

That Smell …
The aroma enlightens the nares, a conflation of glazed doughnut and crushed candy corn. And I’m certain there’s a hint of Bubbalicious.

Join Me For A Plate Of …
Shall this be consumed with some kind of pie? Perhaps a spinach brûlée? I chose a frozen bean burrito doused in salsa. Ah, the elegance!

The Conclusion Of The Matter Is …
It’s banal in its striking appropriateness. Those who are certain of their own higher cognitive functions will delight in drinking a concoction made with squash. They shalt revel in its tingly spiciness. Lowbrow drinkers will sing the joys of a “harvest” beer celebrating the working class.

Oh, and it comes in a brown bottle. Of course. Pure genius.

It’s a Star Wars book that pleases but surprises not.

Sent with Writer.

Sent from my iPad