Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

25 Best Beers in America??

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I was just given a copy of the February issue of Maxim magazine yesterday. The person who handed it to me told me there was an article I needed to see. The Article? The 25 Best Beers In America. The verdict? Fail.

In order to understand the fail you need to know the 25 best. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Porkslap Pale Ale
2. Drifter Pale Ale
3. Hass Rye Lager
4. Hoptober Golden Ale
5. Haywire Hefeweisen
6. Helios Ale Saison
7. Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout
8. Samual Adams Nobel Pils
9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo
10. März Hon Märzen
11. Brew Free Or Die IPA
12. Indian Brown Brown Ale
13. Old Stock Ale
14. Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
15. Green Lakes Organic Ale
16. Upslope Pale Ale
17. Blue Ball Porter
18. Calico Amber Ale
19.Fat Squirrel Brown Ale
20. Local 1 Pale Ale
21. Tumble Off Pale Ale
22. UFO White Wheat
23. Union Jack IPA
24. Phoenix Pale Ale
25. Bud Light Wheat

First off, Haywire and  Bud Light wheat as 2 of the best 25??  And if you needed more proof that the writer has no clue about beer 8/25 are pale ales. Also of the 25 beers only three are from Oregon, where as five are from CA and we CO has four. So much for Oregon being lightyears ahead in the beer scene. Looks like if we go bye numbers alone CA is Beervana…. Hmmm Maybe the Doc was right. Wait, scratch that. According to Maxim Philidalphia has stolen the best beer city crown. Oh look, only two beers on the list come from the city of brotherly love, and one of them is called intercourse. Wonder if it made it in the mag because of the name.

Anyways, who buys into these beer lists that mens magazines are constantly putting out? Let’s see if we can do better?? It shouldn’t be hard after all. So together let’s come up with 25 regularly available beers that one could find distributed at least regionaly. Up for the challenge?

Blue Pepper

Thursday, January 14th, 2010


When I started this whole idea of listing Salem’s best beer places I never thought it would be this hard. I figured I’d put out feelers, especially to the bar hoppers, and just review the results. The problem was everyone submitted the same results. Every single time I got a combination of Venti’s, Browns Towne, F-Stop, and Capitol Market for purchasing beer. Normally I would have decided I was wrong about Salem’s beer selection and givin up, but consistantly La Capitale was missing, and I know Browns Towne sucks (a rotation of Widmer and Ninkasi only doesn’t equal a true rotating tap). With this knowledge I was certain there were more places hidden away outside the scope of Salem’s art crowd (Salem’s art crowd makes up a large chunk of it’s beer crowd).

This was confirmed when Rachel and I swung by the Blue Pepper for coffee last week. I’d known the Blue Pepper had a bar, but had always assumed they served wine and a traditional import beer selection. This idea fit with the vibe of the place and the fact that their bar isn’t open that late. However this day the comfy seats up front were taken so we decided to go goof off in the computer chairs while we drank our coffee. While we were back there I decided to check out the bar.

To my surprise they had a decent bottle selection with some variety to it. There were some imports, but also some decent domestics. Granted they only had beer in the bottle, but still, this got me excited. A new beer place to visit in the evenings I thought. I was all set to go try it one of these nights and then rant and rave. I called up the Blue Pepper to get the bars hours and was stopped cold in my plans. The bar is open from 6am-3pm on weekdays only. What the heck???

So while Blue Pepper may have a decent bottled beer selection it’s a fail on the best beer in Salem list. What place seriously keeps those hours?

Bottom Of The Belgian

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009


There are some beers that are supposed to be crystal clear with low yeast flavors, and there are others that should be be loaded with some strong funky yeast esthers. The problem is though that many great beers are bottled in 22oz bombers and the slightly larger 750ml bottles. While writing my review of Long strange tripel I was reminded of this problem. One of my complaints was not enough yeast flavor. By the time I hit the bottom of the bottle where the yeast was in suspension though the beer was fairly opaque and funky. The problem with this is that the first drink lacked a strong yeast flavor, and the last to much.

Therefor I hereby submit that contrary to the American fad of 22oz bombers, good beer should be bottled in 12oz bottles. This allows the drinker to swirl the yeast back into suspension before drinking if they choose, and also allows the drinker to taste multiple bottles in a single session. Another side effect of good beer being bottled in 12oz would be that a beer like a imperial stout or Belgian saison could easily be consumed during a lunch break without a worry. Sadly though more and more breweries are releasing their unique beers in only 750ml and 22oz. Can anyone explain why breweries do this??? It makes absolutley no sense to me other then a marketing standpoint.

The Great Myth

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009


I’ll be up front and honost. I’ve never fully understood the local businesses first mindset that seems to plague people these days. I’ve always thought of myself as someone that ascribes to the “what is good to me at the moment” mentality. So it should come as no surprise that I’d assert that the idea of little breweries fighting the big bad BMC is all a myth. How can I say this with certainty? Well let’s examine it.

First off, what is BMC? Beer right? But what kind of beer? Light American Lager. Now for someone who thinks all beer is the same this part won’t matter, but if you read this blog I’m assuming your not of that mindset right? Ok, let’s continue then. Now if BMC makes light American lagers what kind off beer do their consumers generally prefer? Who else makes the kind of beer those people consume? Prior to the last 10 years how many craft breweries can you name that made light lager? Generally craft breweries make IPA’s, Hefeweizens, Porters, Stouts… The list goes on. How many corporate breweries in America prior to the last 10 years made these styles?

The realtiy of the situation is that when craft beer came on the scene the only beer available that tasted similar were imports. It stands to reason then that craft beers battle was for imports share of the market. Granted craft beer had to make inroads into the market that consumed light lagers, but for a long time those consumers shunned craft beer. So why all the talk about a great battle between David and Goliath? Because it sells beer and strokes egos.

Granted it’s true that corporations eventually battled through advertising (remember the bitter beer face and less filling commercials?), and to a lesser extant litigation, but the damage inflicted by these tactics mostly served to slow craft beers initial inroads into the beer market. Where do craft brewers get off whining then about how we’re in a battle? Why do they shout from the mountain tops about how it’s a little guy with quality vs a stranger in the park with a trenchcoat, candy, and a van with no windows?

Interestingly enough we live in a time of merging craft breweries. Also just the other day I finally saw Widmers commercials for Brrrr, and it reminds me of the admen accusations leveled at BMC. Why in the face of all this do craft beer drinkers act like loyal little soldiers, affraid to call an expensive average beer for what it really is? It’s high time craft beer drinkers became consumers who were truly concerned about quality rather then brewery clicks. Average beer is average beer, wether it comes from a small brewery or from Anhauser.

You’ve Got Me Covered???

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Salem recently got a Cinebarre downtown, and from some of the reactions that were filmed at the opening you’ld think that Northern Lights Theatre Pub never existed. Interestingly enough is how someone described what Cinebarre brings to the scene beer wise. The guy announced that they were “carrying Rogue Dead Guy and 4 Deschutes handles, so for people who like their local beer we’ve got you covered.” Last time I checked Deschutes and Rogue weren’t the only local beers Oregon has, but when someone wants to serve local beer it’s what makes it on tap. The least they could do to make sure they had me covered beer wise is get in some more quality taps from around Oregon.

So is it economical to serve rotating taps of high quality beer? Absolutely! I mean we’re not talking about a tap room, or a gastro pub here. I mean you’ld at least think that more businesses would be copying Venti’s model if they wanted to make their bar a destination. Venti’s rotating taps keep things interesting, and considering that they generally tap as many kegs as days their open in a month (usually 26 tappings over 26 days) people are obviously buying it up. This makes me wonder why more bars aren’t doing this. Why is it that we’re so stuck on the PBR, Widmer, Deschutes, Dead Guy tap model?

While I’m at it anyone notice the varieties of Oregon wine bars will carry compared with varieties of Oregon beer?

Undue Influence

Monday, October 26th, 2009


I tried not to head the words being whispered to me about the new FTC endorsement rules (it’s an interesting read), but I did. I have decided to excitedly embrace these new rules. Here’s a basic rundown of my thoughts on it.

Basically the new rules say if a blogger decides to comment on a product they received complementary then they need to disclose it. When I first read it I was all for it. Later though as I considered the implications on my writing I began to waver. After all, if I go to a bar where I’m friends with the bartender and get a comp drink am I supposed to disclose that when I talk about how great the bar is? The more I thought about it, the more I hated it. I even said something to this effect on Beervana when Jeff posted on it. After all, I consider myself smart enough to not try something just because a blog or review tells me it’s good. Others should be then. (Yet I still will use recommendations from brewing forums, go figure.)

Lately though I’ve been pondering whether or not I should full on love or hate these new rules (an email I received yesterday didn’t help me stay negative either). I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried a beer, thought it was horrible, logged on to see if others thought so too, and found a gushing review. You guys probably know the ones I’m talking about. They usually say something about how the brewery just sent them a new release to try. They’ll follow this with a basic taste description that focus’ on the beers highlights (but not it’s lowlights), and then end it with a positive endorsement of, “It’s a very drinkable beer.”

70%-80% of the time I read these reviews they’re of beers that may be drinkable, but really fall in the mediocre to ok category. The annoying part of this is that many of these bloggers don’t have the guts to say so. Are they honest? Yes, but they tend to sugar coat or skip over the bad parts. These well intentioned bloggers also tend to be what the ex DR Wort used to call “beer cheerleaders“. They will put their thumbs up on almost any beer that’s just better then average. If they get it free they even will leave out a few of the slightly more negative parts. After all, if a brewery I liked sent me a free beer to try I’d be honored. Heck, I know I’d be tempted to be more positive about the beer too. So all you bloggers please stop whining. I no longer care if your integrity will be questioned when you give a free beer a positive review. With the kinda beers that get positive reviews in our state someones credibility needs questioned.

As a side note the only free beer I recieve is when I drink with friends and they buy, or visit breweries and try samples. Since I don’t really review beers though I guess this doesn’t apply

David vs Goliath??

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

from theweeklybrew


David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:26

In a nice little twist I wrote this post over a few days and finally finished it today whereupon I uploaded it. While doing some further reading on the Oregonians blog though I found out I am alas to late as Monster has dropped the issue publicly as of this week. It still remains to be seen if Rock Art will take off their David costume though.

Since September there has been a mass twitter campaign aimed at a boycott of Monster Energy Drinks.

On September 14, 2009 Rock Art Brewery received a cease and desist order over their beer called Vermonster. Hansen Beverages claims that Rock Arts use of Vermonster for a beer may negatively impact their beverage called Monster. More specifically the law firm representing Hansen’s feels this way. Within a month of receiving this letter Matt Nadeau had posted an interview online where he portrayed himself as a little guy living the American dream and being forced out of business by big bad corporations. Almost immediately twitter exploded with calls to boycott Monster and Nadeau became the new David, and darling, of the beer world.

So why am I posting on this? Because I’m tired of this David vs Goliath mentality in craft brewing. Is what happened to Matt wrong? Yes.  Is he going to go out of business if you buy Monster energy drinks? No. It was a cease and desist order people. Matt isn’t being sued for copyright infringement yet. Sadly it is common for companies to issue these orders in order to “protect” their brand. Heck, Anchor Brewing does it all the time when any brewery releases a beer with steam in the name. I don’t see a mass boycott of one of our own. All this has done is put Rock Art Brewing on the map and drive more business to Matt. Is Monster thinking twice about what happened? Yes, but have you guys really changed anything? Probably not. The great part is this isn’t even really over an energy drink. Apparently from the talk on the blogs Hansen wants to enter the beer market and use the Monster name to back their brew.

Now what if Hansen Beverages does sue? Well then boycott the hell out of em. Once Hansen makes that commitment to take the case to court they will have to keep appealing till Rock Art changes the name. If Nadeau decides to fight them in that instance then it will bankrupt him, and then it will be up to us to fight on his behalf. Until then though I suggest Matt take a look at working out a legal compromise with Hansen. Offer to retire the name at the end of this years run, or when current packaging runs out. Until there are more developments though I recommend all you boycotters take a chill pill. If you still need a reason to not drink Monster then how about because it tastes like crap? And next time you boycott do your research and boycott the company rather then a specific product, you’ll make a bigger impact that way.

The Barrel Aged/Dry Hopped Cop Out

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009


liftarn_large_barrelI was just checking the list for the Holiday Ale Festival and it reminded me of something I’ve noticed cropping up at festivals all over the US. When I first noticed it I began calling it the barrel cop out, but I’ve decided dry hop falls under this too.

In Oregons beer market there is an expectation of breweries to constantly bring something new to our festivals. Breweries who bring the “something different” every year recieve more press from bloggers, beer reviewers, and beer magazines then the ones that show up with the same beer every year, regardless of quality. This should theoreticly create a system where brewers are constantly innovating, making one off festival batches, and trying to bring something new to the table. Instead we’re seeing variations on the same beers and hearing them hailed as innovative and new.

Look at some of these beers from the list for this years Holiday Ale Festival.

Dry Hopped Wassail
Bourban Barrel Arrogant Bastard
Papa Noel’s Oak Aged

We’ve somehow collectivly bought into this idea that barrel aging or dry hopping a beer not only makes that beer inffinatly better, but that it also makes a “new” and “unique” beer. I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a fan of the barrel aging craze. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some good barrel aged beers, but I’ve had more average ones. While there’s only 3 listed so far that meet my discription I have no doubt that those special tappings will include alot more.

I guess my gripe is that brewers should treat beer drinkers as more intelligent then a flock of sheep that follow obediantly behind them lapping up their beers. On the flip side beer drinkers need to be more discerning and not act like sheep praising every barrel aged and dry hopped beer that rolls out.


Sunday, October 4th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

pelican Bridal 2005

A couple months ago I went out with my family to Pelican Brewery. My cousin was in from Iowa for a softball game, and we thought a day at the beach and lunch at Pelican sounded good. I’ve complained in the past about the prices Pelican charges, but I went in knowing the prices, and telling myself I wouldn’t complain.

On the way out I decided to get a bottle of one of Pelicans seasonals. The only one that sounded interesting to me was “Bridal”. Apparently Bridal was designed for a wedding between two Pelican workers. The problem is I encountered an obstacle that is sadly not uncommon in Oregon. Not one of the ladies at the register knew exactly what Bridal was. The closest any of them got to an explanation was, “it’s French, I think”. Then she told me the story behind it’s design. Worse yet is neither of them bothered to go ask someone and educate themselves.

The others available were some Belgian styles, and a hefe. Having 5 gal of saison at home, and not wanting a hefe or a Belgian (can’t remember exactly what it was) I went against my common sense I bought a bottle for $15. If there’s something I’ve learned it’s that price doesn’t = tasty beer. That lesson would have served me well.

Saturday I was brewing up a batch of beer from some mystery hops a hippy named Echo gave me. While the wort was boiling we thought it would be fun to try some beers, and that bottle of Bridal I’d been saving for a couple months came out. It was a disappointing beer all around. This got me wondering, is it ever justifiable to charge $15 a bottle for beer?

Dealing With Teatotalers

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

from theweeklybrew


Recently I started dating again for the first time in over a year. Ironically I, a homebrewer and beer geek, am dating a girl who cant drink, not one drop. Now Rachel isn’t a teetotaler, she is just under contract, and not aloud to drink while under contract. Not drinking while with her has reminded me of something though. There are people out there who don’t drink, either because of beliefs, or for personal reasons they choose not to imbibe in alcohol.

Living with these people in our day to day lives can be a challenge. There are some people out there who see us drinkers at bars, out on the lawn, or around town and automatically assume we are of a shady character. The truth is though many of us drinkers are just as bad. We group people who don’t drink as religious nuts. We chalk up their feelings towards alcohol as ignorance. The reality is everyone has their personal reasons for not drinking.

Personally I grew up with alcoholics scattered throughout my family. Luckily none of these people are in my direct bloodline, yet still, I have seen lives torn apart by alcohol. I’ve watched as even beer kedpt a family member mired in alcoholism and destroyed their relationship with their daughter. I saw first hand my cousin have a strong allergic reaction to a beer. The reality is we live in a world of people with their own demons, their own beliefs, and their own health issues.

More then usual I’ve been paying attention to the people around me and how they tie in with my brewing, and my passion for beer. Also I’ve kept a lookout for peoples reactions to others. Living in a country that is fond of the word “rights”, and seeing the way people act I can’t help but think that we may be helping foster a society that doesn’t view beer like you and I do. I watch beer snobs belittle people who don’t share their sense of taste. I watch as beer lovers get togther and drink themselves to stupidity, and all in the name of good beer (Oktoberfest anyone? Or most beer festivals for that matter?).

Personally I think some brewers and beer drinkers need to wake up and realize life is not all about beer.

I’m not exactly sure why I felt like I needed to write this. Perhaps a little sanity needs to be injected in to an industry run purely on hype, rights, and an idea that somehow your opinion supersedes others.

Anyway take this how you will. I’ll get back in the groove tomorrow. I just needed to type this out so that it was no longer nagging at me. Amazing the effect one rediculous drunk and his comments can have.