Archive for December, 2009

Check Your Facts

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

gThere’s a cartoon on theoatmeal that’s been making the rounds on the Internet that claims to have 20 Things Worth Knowing about beer. The problem is alot of the “facts” aren’t even correct and wouldn’t have taken much fact checking to get right. It’s been awhile since I’ve done some Beer Myth Busting so I figured it’s time to get at it again.

1) Babylonians were the first brewers

Babylonians were not the first people to brew beer. They didn’t invent it either. They did however write a poem to Ninkasi that described the process of making beer. This by no means make them the first brewers.

2) The Vikings believed a goat with magical beer producing nipples awaited them in Valhalla.

Heiðrúnis a goat with nipples that produce alcohol but it’s not beer. Both Heiðrún the goat and Eikþyrnir the hart grazed on the leaves of the tree Lærað. Heiðrún’s teats produced mead which ran into a culdron from which the Einherjar drank. The Einherjar were the warriors that died in battle and therefore recieved high honors.

3) Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock instead of Virginia because they were low on beer

The pilgrims faced many challenges that prevented them from getting to Virginia. They were low on supplies, they’d arrived far later in the year then planned, and they couldn’t get any further south safely. A decision was reached and Plymouth Rock became their home. The myth arrives from a statement from one of the colonists “We could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th of December”

4) India Pale Ale was hoppier and higher abv then all beers so it could survive the trip to India so the British troops could have their beer.

The actual wording of the myth is one of those stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy. There are multiple things wrong though so I want to really pick this one apart in a longer post at a later date. First off many beers at the time were highly hopped and high in alcohol. Secondly the British were shipping beer long before the IPA. If beer couldn’t survive ship voyages prior to the IPA then the British were just foolish for doing it. Thirdly the most likely theory for the idea of IPA is that a enterprising brewer realized that most ships returned to India empty since it was such a self sufficient colony. Seeing that profits would be higher in India due to low shipping rates and lighter alcohol taxes he jumped on the opportunity.

Holiday Ale Fest

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

large_holidaylogoWhy read another take on the ale fest? Why read yet another list of what one particular blogger will be drinking? Apparently because some people (lookin at you Beermented) think you guys want to here about it. Of course read Jeffs at Beervana since he posted his list today too.

Making my list is difficult. I won’t be able to get any work off for it so it looks like I’ll show up on Sunday afternoon. This means no special tappings for me and also the possibility of a beer or two being tapped out. Also I’ve chosen a new strategy. Normally when I go to a fest I take one of two routes. Either I look for beers that sound good regardless of availability or I take the route I took at the Spring Beer Fest this year which was make it an open to close affair and attempt to sample every beer.

This year I’m treating it more like a trade show. I tried to rule out beers that I can easily find and stock in the fridge, regardless of whether or not it’s a beer I want to try at the fest. I failed at that though. Another thing is I’m trying to limit myself to my 10 tokens this year and not purchasing extras. Beers that our one offs get priority followed by potential purchases. As a side note I talked with aformer blogger about us both tossing up our tasting notes from this fest.

Here’s my initial List of beers I want to try. Keep in mind it may change when I show up, and depending on tokens I may not try all of them.

Jim ’09

Jim is a one off festival beer every year and always seems to be worth trying for most people.


There are three baltic porters this year. Kronan is from Hopworks with Eel River and Lauralwood also bringing baltics. Of the three I trust Hopworks more to get it right. The other two are higher on the IBU’s and Lauralwoods is much higher in ABV then the other two. Hopworks it is.

Holy Herb

I’ve heard alot of great reviews of Upright, but the thing that cinches this as a certainty to try is it’s brewed with hyssop. I love herbal beers and look forward to this one.


Ninkasi can be hit and miss on quality and I’ve had a hard time with them. Their spring reign was one of my favorite beers this year though. Once again this is an herbal ale brewed with lavender, tarragon and heather.


Seven Brides is the only brewery that has really won my loyalty. Jeff is a great guy who is involved with and supports Salem’s homebrew community. Hopefully their Strong Ale is more on style then some of their other beers.

Lips of Faith

There are a couple of the series I’ve wanted to try and haven’t. Since New Belgium will be pouring them I will hit their station. I may not get a sample though depending on what’s pouring.

Sang Noir

I’ve never made a secret that I like sour beers. Sang is a Flanders Red

Barrel-Aged Old Baba Yaga

This beer just sounded intriguing since the day I first checked the regular beer list so it’s on my list

Very Ill Tempered Gnome

I’ve been on a Barleywine and Old Ale kick lately so Barleywines will be sampled. This is probably numero uno on my list of barlywines to try with the lost barrels of mirror mirror coming in second

So far these are the priorities although North III, Velvet Merkin, or Scaldis Noel may easily be subbed in