Sunday, September 9, 2012

Monk's Cafe: A Philly Must

Recently I was on a trip to Philly.  The first thoughts that went through my mind were to get a good cheesesteak, go to DiNic's for a famous roast pork sandwich and pick up some Russian River beer.  Well I got there to late to go to DiNic's, couldn't find a good cheesesteak place near me and I needed to go somewhere to get away from the smell.  Lets just sasy that Philly smells intertesting . . . sorry Philly people.  I pulled out my trusty phone and typed beer into the google maps search menu.  After searching through options of places that only served beer for the masses I stumbled upon one called Monk's Cafe. 

This rang a bell because I remebered having a sour beer by this name before.  So my friend and I decided to give this place a try.  After walking several blocks we finally found it.  After figuring out how to get into the place, the door seemed lock but it turned out I just needed to be smarter than what I was working with, we took a seat at the bar and were greeted with a beer menu that was about 12 pages long.  In contrast the food menu was 3-4 pages long and we actually had to ask for that one.  The first beer on order was their flagship beer.  It is a flemish sour ale brewed specifically for Monk's Cafe over in Belgium.  It was absolutley amazing! Refreshing and crisp with a sour, almost vinegar, flavor to it but with a tatse sour cherries.  It pours a dark brown with only a light floating head.  This might seem like a little much for some of you beer drinkers but don't fear the sour.  On a hot summer day this is just what you need.  It is so thirst quenching that I actually had to stop my self from chugging several glasses in a row. 

Monk's Cafe Flemish Red turned out to not be the only gem that I found that night.  I am a huge fan of sour beers and think they are the most complex and interesting of all beer types.  While I could have been happy with just the one fantastic sour I couldn't pass up the chance to try Russian River Sypmosium 2011.  This is a Sour Brown ale.  It pours a little darker than the Flemish Red, with a nice white foam head that trails down the glass as you drink.  It does not have the vinegar punch of the Monk's, instead it falls more into the sour fruit category with the flavors being apple and cherry.  Simply fantastic and it makes me jealous of all you West Coast guys and those who live in an area where this is distributed. 

All I wanted to find after my early disappointment in Philly was a place to grab a beer or two.  I didn't imagine that I would find a place with a beer menu 2 or 3 times larger than their food menu, which the food is fantastic as well (I suggest the mussels), to include one of my favorite sours on tap.  If you find yourself in the city of Brotherly Love make sure you make time to stop in at Monk's for a pint.  Be sure to get there early though as we were there on a Wednesday night and by 5pm it was standing room only.  Let me know if there are any sours that you have tried and love or if you have been to Monk's Cafe yourself. 

P.S. Of course every beer place I went to after Monk's Cafe was out of Russian River . . . awesome.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Märzen Anybody?

Märzen, March in German, isn’t a word that a lot of beer drinkers in the US would associate with beer.  This is surprising because Märzen is the exact style and type of beer that we call Oktoberfest.  That’s right! Our favorite fall beer actually got its start by being brewed in March. 
Back in 1539 a Bavarian decree on beer making was issued that required beer to only be brewed between September 29th and April 23rd.  The reason for this is that when brew houses tried making beer during the summer months it was often ruined by an abundance of air borne bacteria.  In order to have enough beer to last the summer months brewers would have to work overtime in March to produce mass amounts of beer which became known as Märzen after the month in which it was brewed.  This beer would be stored in cellars, storehouses, even caves and served all summer long.  Now when it came close to September 29th when brewing could resume the kegs needed to be emptied to make space for all the new beers and what better way to empty a keg than to have a party!
Märzen or Oktoberfest beers are malty in character with just a slight amount of hop bitterness.  The original beers were actually made extra hoppy or with a higher alcohol content to make sure that they would last the long summer.  As the summer months would go on the character of the beer would change with the hop presence becoming mellower, thus letting the malt dominate, as October approached.  For a beer to be considered a true Oktoberfestbier it must be made within the Munich city limits.  All other beers must be called Oktoberfest-Style beers. 

Oktoberfest has taken place in Munich, Germany at the end of September every year for the last 200 years or so, minus a couple of years being cancelled due to wars or cholera outbreaks.   The modern festivals begin with the tapping of the keg by the Mayor of Munich along with the proclamation of “O’ zapft ist!”  or “It’s
Tapped!” with the first beer being served to Minister-President of Bavaria.  Now along with the taste of beer and brats or pretzels, Oktoberfest also gives us the pleasure of the dirndl.  For those of you who don’t know what a dirndl is I have included a picture . . . . strictly for educational purposes obviously. 

So as we come to the close of another long hot summer make sure you take some time to kick back and knock back a couple Oktoberfests! May the summer end quickly and the Oktoberfest, or Märzen, flow long. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Craft Beer Bottle Sizes

As I have said in other posts, I like to drink beer.  I also keep a beer cellar in which I store and age some higher alcohol and sour beers to let them mature. I have a bone to pick with craft brewers and it is Bottle Sizes. 

Recently I decided that I was going to break into my cellar.  When I started to look through my selection I ended up not opening anything.  The problem I faced was most of the beer in my cellar are high alcohol and/or in 22 ounce or 750 ml bottles. I understand that craft brewers feel like they need to differentiate themselves. A lot of breweries view the large format releases as a way to do this, but I seldom want to drink 22oz of a high abv beer.  I do however enjoy drinking 6-12 ounces of those beers. 

There are a few breweries that have been successful in making their beers stand out and appear special. Goose Island, for one, releases four of their "Vintage Ale" series beers in 4 packs.  The packaging makes these beers look special. 
Also Rogue releases some of their beers in small 6.4 ounce bottles. That format defiantly stands out on the shelf.  I will also mention Dogfish Head because they bottle their super high abv beers (120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout) in 12 oz bottles.  I will share one of these 12 oz bottles with someone else, if they were packaged in bombers or 750's I would be hard pressed to find a reason to open them.  

Bottom line is that if you make a great and interesting beer then craft beer drinkers will not only buy it, but seek it out.  

~ Ben 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beer Review: Allagash Curieux

Picture Credit
Today is my 26th birthday.  To celebrate the occasion I decided to look in my beer cellar and pull out something special.  I decided to go with Allagash's Curieux.  This beer is one that I was convinced to buy at my local bottle shop.  Curieux is a Belgian Triple, a portion of  it has been aged in Jim Bean bourbon barrels.  The brewers then take the barrel aged beer and blend it with fresh triple.

To be honest I am not a huge fan of most triples.  I usually find them to be too harsh with hot alcohols that make them not enjoyable to drink. I'm also very skeptical of wiskey barrel aged beers in general. Don't get me wrong I love a good whiskey, especially bourbon, but when I want whiskey I drink whiskey and when I want beer I drink beer. Some times bourbon barrel aged beers have too much bourbon and not enough beer.  None of this is the case with Curieux.  It is very well balanced and smooth.

Allagash has made a great triple and improved it with a shot stay in some Jim Bean barrels.  This beer does not scream "HEY I HAVE BOURBON IN ME!!!!"  instead it says "I have hints of vanilla and coconut that are reminiscent of a good bourbon."  It pours a beautiful straw like gold color with a thick head.  The aroma is all of the yeast character that you expect from a triple with the addition of the vanilla from the oak.  I was expecting to get more bourbon on the nose, but am pleasantly surprised with the subtle oak notes.

The flavor is very smooth.  It does not seem to be 11% abv.  Again I was expecting to be punched in the face with Bourbon.  That is just not the case.  The delicious triple is complimented with light vanilla and coconut.   There is enough alcohol in this beer that reminds you to sip it, but it is not so evident that you wouldn't be able to drink it quickly if you wanted to.  It has a nice biscuit and graham cracker grain backbone.  This helps balance some of the sweetness that is evident from the higher alcohol.  The beer is very carbonated which helps lift the alcohol sweetness off of the pallet.  Even though there is a fair amount of sweetness in this beer it still manages to finish rather dry.  All and all a very easy drinking and enjoyable beer.

I think that this beer would pair extremely well with some BBQ.  It has a nice spicy flavor and aroma that could stand up to spicy pulled pork.  It also has the bourbon flavors so I would recommend using a Jim Beam or other bourbon sauce.


~ Ben

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fullsteam Awesomeness!

I apologize for my absence, but work and travel have kept me busy. That and a wife who wants things done around the house. But what this does mean is that i have had time to visit two new breweries and try around 25 new beers. Today I'll start with one of the most interesting places I have been to in a long time. I'm talking about Fullsteam brewery in Durham NC.

To give you an idea about the feel of Fullsteam it's located in a warehouse. The inside has simple concrete floors with a bar that seats probably about 20. When the barkeep asked me what I wanted I simply told him one of everything you make starting from lightest to darkest. He obliged me and i can tell you right away that i liked their style. They don't do small tasters of each beer but 6 ounce glasses. They also had the awesome idea of a dry erase strip down the middle of their bar which I used to write my beer notes on.
To start I was given a Beasley's honey white. Now I love white beers but tend to stay away from anything with honey in it. Then I was told this white was also made with cracked black pepper . . .which they toast themselves. I took one sip and was hooked. The sweetness was perfectly balanced by the heat from the pepper. It was so good I almost considered abandoning the other beers and have a couple pints of Beasley's. I knew however I owed it to my readers, and to myself, to move on.

Next came Carver's sweet potato lager. Again I was worried that between the malt and sweet potato it would not be for my palate, or that cinnamon or some other spice would be added in. What I actually got was a well balanced lager. The sweetness of the malt was balanced by the earthiness of the sweet potato. It had a full mouth fell and would go perfect with any dinner I can think of.

Third comes their 1 hop rye IPA. I tried to get a hop and malt list but was unsuccessful. This IPA was bitter at about 64 IBU. The bitterness was right on for me and not overwhelming on the palate. This would be perfect for a summer BBQ or after mowing the lawn.

Now the former should be considered Fullsteam's more normal beers, because what I got next was weird but in an awesome way! Fourth came the Working Man's Lunch which is a chocolate brown, but the twist is that it was made with a Weihenstephan yeast strain that adds in a distinctive banana flavor. The reasoning behind this beer was to recreate an old Workman's lunch of an R.C. Cola and a Moon-pie. And they did it. If you drink between the lines you can taste this combination. Incredibly weird but surprisingly good!

Fifth came the toughest beer of the night to drink. Hogwash is their hickory smoked porter, and let me tell you you can definitely taste the hickory smoke. A sip of this beer is like a punch smoke on the mouth. I could however see a good place for this at a summer barbeque or with a nice North Carolina pulled pork sandwich.

Finally we come to the last beer offering of the night. Overtime is the imperial version of the Working Mans Lunch. It has the same interesting flavor with a little bit more bitterness and a much higher alcohol content.

While sampling these beers I had the pleasure of talking with Fullsteam owner Sean Lilly Wilson. He explained to me that Fullsteam strives to use as many local southern ingredients as possible. This is evident in the sweet potato in their lager and the corn they use in their cream ale, which wasn't on tap the night i was there, that both come from North Carolina. They also make a winter ale with persimmons from Florida. Even Chef Jose Andres has taken notice of the amazing beers produced here for he uses them in one of his restaurants. He also let me know that not only do they produce seasonal brews, but they also want to do an IPA for every season.

I can only hope to make it back to Durham soon to try more new beers from this up and coming brewery (did i mention they are only about two years old?). If you are in the area and want to try some delicious, although different, beers, then make sure to visit Fullsteam. Trust me when i say you won't be sorry.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Local Beer is Better Beer!

As beer people we tend to look for the most exotic and the rarest beers that we can get our hands on. This is a fun and a great way to enjoy craft beer.  I would like to emphasize the benefit of drinking from local brewers.  

I know that for some of you, this seems like an absurd thing to say.  Some people are lucky enough to live by a whole bunch of breweries. These people may seldom think of getting some things else.  Others don't have local breweries. For me I have one brewery close enough to me to consider it local, Star Hill Brewery, and I drink their beer often.
What most people don't consider is that as soon as the beer leaves the brewery it begins to degrade.  That is why beer nerds like me love to go to brew pubs and tap/tasting rooms at breweries.  When you drink a beer at the brewery you know that you are getting the product at its best.  When you pull a bottle off the shelf at a large grocery store you can’t be sure that beer was not mistreated.  The likelihood that a beer has degraded increases the further away that beer gets from the brewery.  This seems to be especially true for hoppy beers.  

Once a beer leaves the brewery, depending on the distributor, it may be placed onto hot trucks, end up staying in a hot warehouse, be put onto another hot truck, and then end up on a non-refrigerated shelf at the store.  All of those steps lead to a degradation of the beer.  If you drink local all of those steps are shortened.  A lot of small local breweries self-distribute.  That means that they skip the entire middle of this process; straight from the brewery to the shelf.  Bottom line the shorter the beer travels that less chance for degradation of flavor

My last point to make in this drink local rant is: Buy Beer Locally.  I realize that you can get some craft beer from large grocery stores, but the selection is never as good as a local bottle shop.  For me I shop at a small gourmet store.  They sell fine chocolate, cheese, wine and beer.  They do not have a large beer section, but what they do have is awesome.  These places should be the foundation of the craft beer movement.  I can go get a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada from my local grocer, but I will not be able to talk about the four different 30th anniversary beers that were released by Sierra Nevada with the cashier (I've tried....they don't seem to appreciate it).  I have also never been able to find Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA or a selection of sour beers at Safeway. Most of the fun of drinking new and exciting craft beer is talking about it (i.e this blog).  Shopping at a local beer store not only gives me the opportunity to grow my beer cellar, it also gives me an additional opportunity to really geek out on beer.  


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Should Session Beers be The Next Big Thing?

As I have said before, I like to drink beer. I like to drink it a lot.  The problem is.... Craft brewers have gone crazy.  It is hard to find any new and interesting beer that is not an imperial this or a double that. Don't get me wrong one of my favorite beer styles is Russian Imperial Stout; but it has its place.... In the a fire.....bear skin rug optional.  Session beers also have a place.... at a sporting event, a BBQ, or a weekly poker game. 

I think that the next big thing is craft beer should be small beers.  What makes a beer a session beer?  I think a good limit should be 5%abv.  There are some great session beers on the market (21st Amendment Bitter American and Full Sail Session Lager).  The problem with these beers is that they cost as much as a normal strength beer. 

I have no problem paying more for high alcohol beer.  The brewers justify the price by saying that the bigger beers use more raw materials.  This same logic should apply to session beers. They use less raw materials, they should cost less. In a market where total beer sales declined by 1.3% in 2011 and craft beer sales have increased by 13.2%.  I believe that if craft brewers find a way to create great low alcohol beers, and sell them at reasonable prices craft brewers will be able to take more market share from the Macro brewers.   


Beer Meal: Bacon, Pancakes and Stout (with a beer syrup)

    While it’s not JUST for breakfast; some beers make an excellent pair with breakfast food (whether or not its consumed in the morning.) One of my favorite food and beer pairings is a big roasty sweet stout and bacon. This week I've been craving some pancakes and bacon.

The Ultimate Beer Breakfast. 

   Ricotta pancakes served with a sweet Oktoberfest syrup paired with Imperial Stout and a side of bacon.  This paring works on several levels, the most obvious is the roast and bitter notes in the stout are coffee like, but it is much more subtle and complex.  The pancakes are tender and fluffy; this complements the luscious mouth-feel of the stout. The Oktoberfest syrup is malty sweet; this accentuates the residual sweetness of the beer.  The salty flavor in the bacon can cut through the stout's bold flavors that tend to linger on your pallet.  All and all it is a wonderful meal and a great way to fight off a hangover. 

Ricotta Pancakes

   2 Cup Ricotta
   4 Eggs, separated 
   1 Cup buttermilk
   1 Cup All Purpose Flour
   3 Tablespoons sugar 
   1 Teaspoon baking powder
   Pinch of Salt 

      Combine ricotta, egg yolks, and buttermilk in a large bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together and then into ricotta buttermilk mixture until fully combined.  In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks, then fold into the batter. 

Oktoberfest Syrup 
   1 22 OZ bottle Oktoberfest 

      Pour beer into a small sauce pan and whisk until it stops foaming.  Slowly bring to a boil, the beer will want to boil over so keep a close eye on it. Reduce until it reaches the same consistency to thin maple syrup (roughly by two thirds its original volume). Once its reaches the correct consistency, taste it and add sugar to taste.  

Serve pancakes and bacon with butter and drizzle the syrup on top. Pour the stout in an Irish coffee cup and enjoy.  

As for the type of stout Founders Breakfast Stout jumps to mind but any roasty sweet stout will work.  Other options include North Coast Old Rasputin, Great Divide Yeti or Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.   

  Hope You Enjoy


Monday, April 2, 2012

Is Your Beer Too Cold?

Is your beer as cold as the arctic circle? Does the bottle numb your hand so much that you have to resort to using a beer koozie? Does it have next to no taste due to that fact that it freezes your taste buds?!? Well then you are drinking some really bad beer or some good beer way to cold.

I know that it will sound crazy but your beer should not be ice cold. The macro beer companies out there tout bottles that show when beer is at the proper temperature, somewhere between around 32-34 degrees, and show images of their bottles and cans being pulled directly from banks of ice to promote the refreshing quality of their beverage (I find it hard to call it beer). This is just a ploy to cover up the fact that their beer tastes awful. If you don't believe me then go ahead and leave your preferred major beer brand out to get warm and tell me if you still think that it tastes good. They are served close to freezing cold to cover up the bitter taste and lack of real flavor.
Now this is not to say that there are not some beer types out there that shouldn't be served at a low temperature. A German Pilsner is typically served in a smaller glass to insure that the beer at the bottom of your glass is still nice and cold. However, there are many beers out there where you will miss out on much of the flavor if you serve it at the wrong temperature. Until just as recently I was just as much at fault as doing this as everybody. I would just throw the beer in the fridge and then pull one out to drink whenever, but a little research and lots of taste testing was enough to change my mind. Just the other night I was enjoying a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. I did, out of habit, keep it in the fridge. This will be reconciled as soon as I build my own beer cellar. I took the stout out about 30 minutes before I was going to drink it to let it warm up. I poured it in a glass and took a sip. I was rewarded with an amazing amount of chocolate and toasted malt flavor. As I continued to hold the glass in my hands that chocolate became even heavier and a hint of coffee entered the picture. If I had drunk this at fridge temperature I would probably have liked it, but allowing it to warm up made me love it.
Let's face it, those of you who drink beer from the major companies do so because it is cheap, cold and gets you drunk. That's not what I'm out there to do. I want my beer to be exciting and full of flavor. For those interested there are a few ways to go about having beer at the right temp. Those with some money to spend can buy a wine cooler. These allow for you to set a very specific temperature for your bottles. For those like me you can just pull it out of the fridge a little early. Pouring it into a glass will allow it to warm up faster. I know it might seem like a lot of work for a beer but trust me when I say it is worth it. Below I will list a basic guideline for different types of beer. I hope this helps to make your beer journeys long and full of flavor.
Lager beers should be kept in the refrigerator before serving at 9°C/48°F.
The light American and Australian lagers should be server at a lower temperature of 6°C/42°F.
Ales should never be over-chilled, or it will develop a haze and loose their fruity-flavors. 12-13°C/54-56°F
Very strong ales should be served at room temperature.
You can always look online for specific beers or check out the bottle, some companies will list it there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How & Why To Start A Beer Cellar


Bitter Beer Face
   Yup you read that correctly.  A beer cellar.  No, not wine....Beer.  You may wonder; Didn't those old Budweiser commercials teach me that old beer is bad beer?

   Well for the american light lagers that Budweiser produces, that may be true. For some craft beer its just not the case.  You may also ask why would you age a beer? To be honest, not more that a year ago, I would have been asking the same question.
   My fascination with aging beer started with my third batch of home-brew.  I decided to make an imperial stout.  I also decided that I could craft my own recipe. Now this may not seem like such a bad thing. It was.... Trust me, it was as if I had just learned how to cook and I decided I could make a five course meal.  When the stout had finished fermenting it tasted like bitter, over-roasted jet-fuel.  So not wanting to dump it out, and because it was 9% abv, I decided to let it age. After about 9 months I put it in bottles.  After 11 months it was a wonderfully smooth stout, with just the right amount of alcohol warmth. I still have several bottles and they are still getting better.
That was when I thought:
If age improves a bad beer, how would it affect a great beer? 

  Age can take a good beer and make it great. Just a few months can take the rough edges of a young beer and smooth them out to make a much more rounded experience. 

 Beer cellars have been around for a very long time.  It is tradition in the Belgium Trappist Abbeys.  Some of these breweries have been aging their beers for years before releasing them for sale.  They realized that the beer tasted better after a year or more of maturation.  

It is really easy to cellar beer at home. 
   The most important aspect of aging beer at home is choosing the correct beers to put in the cellar.  Some styles are not meant to age.  In fact some styles of beer begin to deteriorate as soon as they leave the brewery.  This is where the phrase "brewery fresh" comes from.  Examples of styles that should not be aged are IPA's (or any Hop Forward Beers),  American Light Lagers (or most light low alcohol, low flavor beers.  The beers that will benefit from age are generally higher alcohol, and bolder malt flavored styles.  Such as Barleywine, Old Ale, Imperial Stouts and most sour beers.  
   The next thing to consider when starting a home beer cellar is where.  The most important things to consider is temperature and light.  You do not want to cellar your beers in direct sunlight.  Ultraviolet lights will create a chemical reaction that make beer skunky.  You also do not want to store your beer in your attic.  The optimal temperature to keep beer is at around 54 degrees F and with as little temperature swings as possible.  If you don't have a room at 54F thats not a problem.  If you have a basement or a closet that is surrounded by interior walls it should work fine.  Lastly always store your bottles vertically, do not lay them on their side.  Beer will age better if stored upright, it keeps the amount of surface area of beer in contact to air to a minimum.  It will also allow for any yeast sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. 

   The last, and for me the most interesting, point to consider is Vertical Tasting.  A vertical tasting is when you take several vintages of the same beer and taste them back to back.  This will really give you an idea of how a certain beer is holding up.  When designing your beer cellar for vertical tasting the most important thing to do is buy at least two, preferably three, bottles of each beer that you want to age.  This would give you the ability to drink one bottle now (who doesn't like some instant gratification?)  one bottle to drink in a year, and one to drink once your will power fails.  The true trick to vertical tasting is to get three bottles of the same beer year after year.  

~ Ben 

P.S  In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse screw all of the above and drink the best beer you have first! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Email

The Brothers Beer now has it's own email! So if you have any questions our suggestions you can send them to us at

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Beer

Now that it is finally spring, although it has felt like this for most of the winter, it is time to pick my new spring beer. The honor goes to Dig Pale Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company. I know that this might not be new beer to some of you out there . . .those of you lucky enough to have had New Belgium beers sold in your area for more then just the last year. I have to give credit where credit is due because I didn't even buy this beer for myself. My amazing wife picked it up for me on a grocery trip because, besides being gorgeous and amazing, she knows that I like trying new beers.

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to think about it when reading about this beer. According to New Belgium's website Dig contains five separate types of hops: Target, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Nugget and Sorachi Ace. The flavors that these impart on Dig are:
Target: Used to add a bitter flavor.
Nelson Sauvin: Brings tropical tastes such as lychee and mango.
Cascade: Adds both a floral and citrus smell and taste, with the main citrus being grapefruit.
Nugget: Adds bitterness as well as a floral-spicy aroma.
Sorachi Ace: And finally . . . .another bitter hop, but this one with a very lemony quality.

Now I have had my fair share of hop filled beers . . . but five sound like a little much. I was worried I was going to be left with an overly bitter and floral beer that would simply overwhelm my palate. Boy was I wrong. It was hoppy, but not in a bad way at all.

Upon opening dig I got a instant whiff of grapefruit from the cascade hops. This to me is the strongest scent and taste in Dig. Once you get past the grapefruit, especially once the beer has a chance to warm a little bit in a glass (I always drink beer from a glass when possible), the floral scents start to play a larger role.

After having it just once I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop. This seems to me to be the perfect beer for a nice spring afternoon after either mowing the lawn, working in the garden, or just relaxing on the deck. It pairs very well with some grilled pork chops that have been in a citrus and cilantro marinade and a side or sweet grilled corn. I can see Dig being a staple in my beer supply for not only the spring but well into the summer months. So if you like a nice hoppy beer, but with a ton of flavor, go grab a 6 pack of New Belgium Dig. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know how you like it as well as what kind of tastes and scents you pick up.

May you beer journeys be good and long.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Favorite Beer

For my first real post I decided to talk about a question that I get asked all the time once people find out that I like beer. What beer is your favorite? It never fails. . . . and I can never seem to come up with a good answer. There are just to many out there, some of which are only seasonal, that I really like. I don't have a beer that I get every time I go to the store. In fact I often have to be dragged away from the beer section because I just like to walk up and down to see what I am in the mood for.

When this question comes up I often end up answering a different question. What type of beer could I drink no matter what kind of mood I am in. I have asked multiple friends, who like me prefer more than just a light generic beer, and they agree that this is a much easier answered question. So here it goes . . . . .

The type of beer I can drink, year round, no matter what mood I'm in is . . . . . . WHEAT BEER.

I love wheat beers more than any other type out there . . . .and the wonderful thing is there are so many types of wheat beers that I can never get bored because ,although they fall under the category of wheat, there are so many different variations out there.

First lets look back at a little of the history of wheat beers and what it means to be one. Wheat beers date back around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago where what is now present day Iraq. The Sumerians decided that they were tired of wandering around and settled down becoming the first recorded brewers of beer. . . . . .okay so maybe they were the first in other things too, but that's not the focus here. The wheat that they used is a very distant relative to the one that we use today. It had a firm husk that lent itself well to the beer making process. Over thousands of years of cross pollination with wild grains it slowly lost this husk which is a shame because a husk, while not absolutely needed, is wanted for the brewing process. This is why almost all wheat beers on the market are a mix of wheat and barley. Usually the mix is somewhere between 50% - 70% wheat.

Wheat beer actually all but died out in during the time that the German Beer Purity Laws came into effect. It was stated that the only ingredients that could be used to make beer were Water, Malt and Hops. Wheat beer was saved by the Degenborgers, a royal family, who were given a special degree to still make beer using wheat. Not until the 20th Century was wheat truly allowed back into brewing when less strict laws were introduced. Now many different fruits and spices are brewed with wheat beers to increase the variety available.

In fact a very small amount of wheat grown around the world is actually used for beer making. Very few farmers specialize in “beer” wheat so brewers are forced to make do with the various forms of wheat harvested for baking and other purposes. I might add though that they do a hell of a job with what they've got.

Wheat beers are characterized to have a full but soft mouth feel and a long lasting head. I myself am a fan of the unfiltered wheats that tend to, in my opinion, have a better flavor. They should not be to sweet or bitter with just a touch more of a hops taste than malt.

The main styles of Wheat Beer include Hefeweizen, Dark Wheats, Krystal, Belgian Witbiers and Sours. Each of these could have an entire article unto themselves but I will spare you the time that would take for me to write and you to read. It will suffice to say that they are all delicious.

Finally I will leave you with some tips for drinking a wheat beer.

  1. It should be poured down the side of a freshly rinsed out glass. Drinking it out of the bottle will not allow for full enjoyment.
  2. When there is about 1 to 1 ½ inches of beer left in the bottle you need to decide if you want to add in the wheat that has settled at the bottom. For me this is always a yes. To do this you can either swirl the bottle gently or roll it between your palms. Then pour the remainder of the beer directly into the center of the glass. This allows for the yeast and wheat remains to mix properly.
  3. Enjoy with anything because wheat beer has a mild enough flavor to pair well with almost all meals and snacks . . . . . or just by itself.
  4. I actually read a trick online, which I have not yet tried so if you do let me know in a comment, to put a grain of rice in the bottom of your glass. This will cause more bubbles to form resulting in a longer lasting head.

Well that is all for this post. Please comment and let me know what you think. I promise that these all won't be history lessons, but I just thought that I would get this question out of the way and thoroughly. Feel free to comment with what your favorite beer, individual or type, is currently and why.

May your beer journeys be good and long.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


To those who might one day follow this, or may be asked to post, I want to say hello and tell you a little bit about myself and why I want to start this post. The reason is actually kinda selfish. I want to write this to keep track of all the beers I try on my travels. I have a job that allows me to travel around the US and sometimes to international destinations. During these trips I like to try as many local beers as I can. I am a HUGE lover of micro brews and want to try as many as possible. But before I go any further I guess I should back up some.

When I first started drinking beer I hated it. I thought it was one of the most disgusting things that I had ever had and vowed to drink it as little as possible. This was mainly due to the fact that the only thing me and my friends could afford to drink was cheap light beer that has next to no flavor and to me seems like little more then carbonated water with a little beer flavoring. I know that this might make me sound like a beer snob . . . but I can't help it. I know what I like and that wasn't it.

It wasn't until I got a little older (and not so poor) that I was able to branch out and finally find some beers that I liked. I was still a little hesitant at first but slowly my mind started to change my mind. I started having micro brews and I haven't turned back yet. That's not to say that there aren't any good national level brewing companies out there. . . .but that will be for future posts.

I hope that this can become to a place for those of us who are lovers of beer to come and talk about our travels, either physically or through the bottle, and share our stories.