Thursday, August 31, 2006

North Carolina Beer Chicks Get Lucky

I know quite a few of you North Carolina Beer Chicks, and I have to tell you that right now I'm pretty jealous as the 11th Annual World Beer Festival is going to be held in good old downtown Durham, NC on October 7th !

I'm an All About Beer Magazine subscriber and they really know what they are talking about. On hand will be some of my favorite (and not distributed out west) breweries. You lucky NC girls will be sampling Foothills Brewing Co, from Winston-Salem, Brooklyn Brewery, from...uh..Brooklyn, Atlanta Brewing Company, from...uh..Atlanta.

FYI: Also from Atlanta will be one of the best breweries, in my opinion, in the country: Sweetwater Brewing Co. Try the Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale. Forget it.

Also cool at this festival is the cask ale tent. Ale on cask, also known as cask-conditioned beer, and often referred to as "Real Ale" are brewed from only traditional ingredients and allowed to mature naturally in the original cask in which the beer fermented.

The unfiltered, unpasteurized beer still contains live yeast, which continues conditioning the beer in the cask, known as "secondary fermentation." This process creates a gentle, natural CO2 carbonation and allows malt and hop flavors to develop, resulting in a rich, creamy ale.

Real ale is always served without any added gas, usually by manually pulling it up from the cellar with a handpump, also known as a "beer engine." This is a very traditional method of brewing and serving beer. Really, the only place in the world, besides special events like these, where cask-conditioned beer is still commonly available is Britain, so, once again, I'm jealous that I will not be there.

Described as one of the "10 great beer festivals to tap into for some suds in the summer sun," by USA Today, The World Beer Festival is the largest celebration of national and international specialty beers in the Southeast...300 beers from 130 breweries, and is a benefit for charity.

here for ticket purchase information, accommodations, entertainment beer tastings and presentations. And now, just for fun, I'm going to check on some flights to North Carolina.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Baby, You've Got Style

So, I went to The Gap the other day and was staring at their jean wall and it made me start to think about beer. Why, you might ask? Well there were some jeans that were boot cut in style, there were some jeans that were flared or straight cut style. There were jeans that were high-waisted, low-waisted, ULTRA low-waisted. There were jeans that were dark, light, distressed, and ripped. There were jeans that were adorned with extra rivets and stitching. The fact remained that all of these pants were jeans. They all had common jean qualities. But they were all different STYLES of jeans. And that's a lot like beer.

What's a beer style? Well, according to, "a beer style is simply a label given to a beer that describes its overall character and often times its origin. It's a name badge that has been achieved over many centuries of brewing, trial and error, marketing, and consumer acceptance."

Here are three popular beer styles and flavor descriptions to get you started in the right direction:

American Pale Ale:
Characterized by a copper color and medium maltiness, don't expect pale ales to all be "pale" in color. Pale in this instance is a style title, not a color descriptor. In fact, expect a beer that can be "pale" but can also extend to deep amber and to copper. These beers offer medium hop flavor and aroma and are fruity and estery. Expect low to medium maltiness and high hop bitterness. Medium bodied.

Some good American Pale Ales: Stone Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Anchor Liberty Ale, Three Floyds Brewring Co. Alpha King Pale Ale.

White Ale or Witbier:
This style comes from the Brabant town of Hoegaarden, which is known for its wheat based beers. An unfiltered Belgian style ale that is very pale and cloudy, White Ale is known to include "unbeerlike" ingredients such as orange rind, coriander and "other spices and herbs." Expect a Witbier to be twangy and dry with relatively light bodied. Mild, sweet malt and spicy character.

Some good White Ale or Witbier styles: Craftsman Biere de Blanco, Lost Coast Great White Ale, Hoegaarden Original White Ale, Allagash Brewing Company Allagash White, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Ommegang Witte.

English Brown Ale:
A "milder ale," According to, "Brown Ales tend to be maltier and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Color can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness."

Some of my favorite English style Brown Ales are: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Lost Coast Downtown Brown, Abita Turbo Dog, Troegs Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Beer for Women

New York City's Heartland Brewery has announced that it is making its first beer specifically designed for women. According to them, real women do drink beer and their brewery, which they claim is New York City's largest microbrew restuarant, has designed a new brew just for the feminine palate - Berry Champagne Ale. Made with red raspberry puree, a touch of ginger, some pomegranate oil and special Belgian yeast that creates a dry effervescent finish, this is beer with a sweet, crisp taste specially crafted for women.

"There is no doubt that more and more women and drining and enjoying beer - actually 30 percent of all beer is consumed by women - but it's still perceived as primarily a man's drink," said Jon Bloostein, owner of Heartland Brewery which has five locations all in Manhattan. "I thought it was time to focus on what most women like - a fruiter, sweeter drink with bubbly champagne-like quality and we've achieved our goal with Berry Champagne Ale."

Ladies, I like a sweet beer as much as the next person, but what I really believe is that these sweet beers are the first step in getting women to realize the vast flavors that a beer can provide beyond the mass market crap. This Berry Champagne Ale is designed for the female non-beer drinker who usually goes for the Cosmos, mixed drinks and wine. Brewmaster Kelly Taylor (don't know if Kelly is a chick), who has been designing beers for Heartland Brewery for more than eight years, believes great taste will win over the girls.

The new brew is served in an oversized custom-designed champagne flute with a wrap around illustration of ladies legs in high heel shoes and fish net stockings - in the mode of the famous Can-Can dancers from the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Noted fashion, beauty, lifestyle and Daily Candy illustrator, Suiean Rim, created the fun and sexy image.

I'm sorry left coasters, but at the moment, Berry Champagne Ale is only available at Times Square, Radio City, Union Square and Empire State Hearland Breweries.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

If Beer Were a Cocktail

If beer were a cocktail what cocktail would beer be?

There are a lot of chicks out there that come into my bar, which is only beer and wine, asking me for a cocktail. This is annoying but forgivable. After the shock and disappointment wears off, I'm usually able to coax a cocktail-o-phile into a beer that has some similar flavor qualities with the cocktail that they were initially craving, much to that guest's surprise and delight.

It got me thinking about how many different cocktails could parallel with beer. What would the beerquivalant of a Rum Runner be? There are lots of different versions of this cocktail, but the one that I like has light and dark spicy rum, brandy, banana liqueur, grenadine, orange juice and pineapple juice. I'm thinking that I would go with a Weizenbock: a strong spicy wheat beer that has pronounced banana esters and a rich malt character / high alcohol content that provides a warming rummy/brandy mouthfeel and flavor. Weizenbocks are also known to have fruity aromas and flavors as well as citrus rind qualities. It hits the Rum Runner mark pretty closely.

That's how I do it. Here are some other beer parallels I've come up with:

Martini - Orval Trappiste
Rum & Coke - Unibroue Maudite
Apple Martini - Ephemere Pomme
Lemon Drop - La Fin du Monde
Black Russian - Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Irish Coffee - Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Amaretto - Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale
Screwdriver - Craftsman Orange Grove Ale

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

NFL Draught

Although I could dedicate an entire blog to the way Tom Brady's ass looks in his uniform pants, the NFL I'm talking about here does not refer to the National Football League. I'm talking about a phrase that we women should embrace: NFL : No F*cking Lemon.

The most likely type of beer that you'll usually find a lemon perched on the edge of is a Bavarian wheat beer known as Hefeweizen (pronounced Hay-Fah-Vizen. Say it right.) Don't do this.

I know, I like the citrusy goodness of a lemon or a lime squeezed in your beer. You think it helps the beer taste better. But I'm telling you right now that if you are drinking good beer, you are most likely ruining that delicately balanced brew by adding citric acid to the beer, which kills the head and masks the flavor that was skillfully achieved by the brewer.

How the "tradition" of using citrus in beer came about is a point of contention. But the most likely reason is that many mass produced beers suffer some kind of spoilage between the brewery and the consumer, especially beers that are in clear or green bottles, which can easily allow light to "skunk" that unprotected beer.

The skunkiness is the "product of the chemical reaction that takes place in the bottle when bright light strikes the hops, creating what's technically known as "light struck" beer. The reaction is stronger with paler and hoppier beers. The resulting chemical is identical to that in a skunk's defense system, and light-struck beer puts off one of the most powerful aromas around." says that "Because many of the best known imports come in clear or green bottles consumers have come to associate a skunky aroma with imported, often more expensive beer. That doesn't mean their brewers intended them to taste that way." But that would be a reason to put a lemon in a beer: to mask the skunky poopy aroma and flavor of a light-struck beer.

Putting a lemon in a quality Hefeweizen is like putting Heinz 57 on Filet Mignon. Go ahead and do it if you like it. But, as your friend, I have to tell you that you're making a big mistake.