Barry Warren Polley (barryp) Sun 24 May 09 16:00
Here in NZ, hop experimentation continues apace. Every craftie makes an IPA and a number of small-production variants having a blend of different hop types. The battle for maximum-IBU continues too, as Annihilator battles Armageddon for the title of 'hoppiest brew'. Prices are definitely higher to reflect higher raw material costs and frankly they are not pleasant to drink. However, Epic Pale Ale has enough bitterness to strip the enamel from your teeth, yet it still is tasty and refreshing. Maybe the hop escalation stopped in the USA because there was noplace left to go from XX, Terminator, etc. aside from selling bottles of hops labelled 'Chew this' instead of actual beer.
Andrew Alden (alden) Sun 24 May 09 17:38
In the USA we seem to have peaked at "double IPA," which ranges from a delightful experience to yer basic medicinal mouthwash. Interestingly, Dogfish Head Brewing, Brian's final stop on his cross-country road trip, is renowned for extreme beers, but in my experience so far the brewer, Sam Calagione, doesn't take hops to the extreme. His 90-Minute IPA sounds like it would: he boils a strong wort for an hour and a half, trickling hops into it the whole time. I take it the idea is to smoothly blend the hop flavors between the long-boiled bitter end and the delicate last-minute floral end. The result, to my palate, is surprisingly subdued but well worth savoring. On the 4-pack the hops are listed as "Warrior, Amarillo and Mystery Hop X." I think they must be English varieties because the result is nothing like the IPAs from Avery (Boulder CO) or Sierra Nevada. Anyway, Calagione is famous not for hops but for alternatives to hops, like tree branches and resins and herbs. He's famous for recreating ancient brews from cuneiform recipes. He takes whims seriously. Brian, I found that "Red, White, and Brew" was beautifully bookended by Dogfish Head at the end and Yuengling, the five-generation family brewery, at the beginning. I bet you planned that. How was it trying to tie the rest of the businesses into an arc conecting those two ends?
Ed Ward (captward) Mon 25 May 09 01:50
When I lived in Berlin, I knew some brewers who hemped beer instead of hopping it, using hemp with virtually no THC in it: the buds would have been thrown away in the process of getting at the fibrous stalks. It added a delightful sweetness, without being sugary, to the beer. They actually sold it for a few years, called it Turn, but of course the Reinheitsgebot folks wouldn't let them call it "beer." Anybody in the States trying this?
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 25 May 09 02:43
Andrew - I bet you would not be as fond of the 120 minute IPA from Dogfish Head. It's not on the west coast, but I've tried it back east... it's out there. And Sam has this thing called Randall the Enamel Animal, or the Randallizer...it is a filter which forces beer that is being dispensed through a cylander with a pound of hops in it. The page about it is fnny: <http://www.dogfish.com/company/tangents/randall-the-enamel-animal.htm> You may see a Russian River shirt for the very hoppy and elegantly balanced Pliny the Elder double IPA, you'll note that it states "No Randall Required."
reply to hinging0 (alden) Mon 25 May 09 10:57
Andrew Alden (alden) Mon 25 May 09 11:00
Ed, there are people who have hemped beer in the USA, but they took pains NOT to eliminate the THC; naturally they were secretive amateurs who nevertheless were found out by the wrong crowd, the ones with badges.
Ed Ward (captward) Mon 25 May 09 11:54
Oh, I had some of that in Prague right after the Velvet Revolution. Some friends of a friend offered to put me up, and so late at night one of them said "I bet you cannot drink two Czech beer." I got through about 1 1/2 before they confessed. Someone is still making Turn, but the original partnership broke up and the guy who knew the business end fell in love with a Chilean woman and now lives in Santiago. He's the one who told me that hemping beer was traditional in Brandenburg at monasteries, according to manuscripts he'd studied while getting his brewer's certification. I've seen other hemped beers coming out of Switzerland, too. You can find them in natural groceries in Germany.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 25 May 09 23:56
There are at least two legal commercial hemped beers in Northern California. Indica IPA from Lost Coast, and Hemp Ale from Humboldt (now no longer an actual brewpub, but a local brews pub, their beer contract brewed by Firestone Walker down the coast). Neither of really these stand out to me, (and I haven't tasted either for a while) but both are pleasant beers.
Brian Yaeger (brianyaeger) Tue 26 May 09 00:47
Happy belated Memorial Day everyone. OK, from the top! John, I'm the wrong person to explain "top fermented in stone Yorkshire squares," as I'm a writer not a zymurgist, but I do enjoy Samuel Smith beers and found this link that provides the answer: http://www.merchantduvin.com/pages/5_breweries/samsmith_yorkshire.html Bruce, hopefully now that I've put barrel-aging on your radar, you'll see it more. It's certainly not on supermarket shelves or on tap at regular old sports bars, but any better-beer bar or beer store will have something to offer. It's not even a regional thing! Once I saw an Oaked IPA on sale at Upstream Brewing in Omaha, Nebraska, I knew it had permeated brewing culture. During SF Beer Week, Triple Rock hosted an entire night devoted to only barrel-aged beers and it was my favorite night of sampling. As for Witbiers, yes, Blue Moon deserves a good deal of credit for its current popularity. But Texas one you mentioned is most likely Celis White. For more on this, see #8 in this discussion, linked here: https://user.well.com/engaged.cgi?&c=inkwell.vue&t=353&r=8&f=3&W=y As an aside to Texas White beers, I tried one from a brand new brewery in Austin called (512) Brewing (the parenthesis is in the brewery name as well as its area code). Their White, instead of being brewed with orange peel, uses grapefruit peel. As the grandson of a grapefruit rancher (well, citrus rancher) that really appealed to me and I intend to emulate that idea when I eventually brew a Witbier. FYI, White, Wit, Witbier, Blanche, and Weiss are all the same style, but breweries may do different things to them (like add grapefruit peel, or lavender, rose hips, ginger, crushed fennel, etc.) Andrew, as Gail pointed out, Dogfish Head does indeed do maddening things with hops and I have also tried their 120 Minute IPA. My reaction to it, not to rehash the beer community's love of erroneously pitting Calagione against Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster Garret Oliver against each other, but to paraphrase Garret's quote about overly hopped beers, "It's like a chef boasting about having the saltiest dish." While there are a great many IPAs I enjoy, I also enjoy being an opponent of beers with monstrous IBUs (International Bitterness Units, an actual measurement of how bitter a beer is. By way of comparison, DFH 120 Minute happens to clock in at 120 IBU. Russian River's Pliny the Elder Double IPA boasts 100 IBU. (I'm guessing their Pliny the Younger "Triple IPA" must have around 120). And at the low-end, Budweiser has 8.5 IBU and Bud Light has around 6. I prefer my IBUs somewhere in the middle. Now, onto your observation, which I love, about the book being bookended by Yuengling and Dogfish Head, that was both intentional and fortuitous, and I commented on that briefly at the start of the last chapter. It really does show where the industry started, where it went, where it is, and where it's going. As for the creating the arc, that was also half intention, half good fortune. As I've said, I chose each brewery for its ability to show a different aspect of the industry and a different family element. If I'd only written about breweries like Yuengling and Leinenkugels, it would've been awfully repetitive (even though those two chapters are quite different). If I'd only written about ones like Bell's and Dogfish Head, same thing. So it required a great deal of research before deciding on which breweries to visit and then sifting through the material to make sure I told unique stories. There are some themes, perhaps some chronological repetition, but I weeded out stories that too closely mirrored a previous chapter's ideas (I hope). Ed, I again thank Gail for expertly answering the question about hemp beers. It's an issue that was lightly touched in the book in the chapter on the Lexington Brewing Co., which under a previous owner had brewed a hemp ale. It stands to reason that the 2 examples Gail listed are both brewed in California, which is the largest growing state of marijuana. Surprisingly, the second largest cultivator isn't Oregon or Hawaii but Kentucky! Hence the attempt at a hemp ale. Other beers make allusions to being hemp ales. Lagunitas Censored began life as Lagunitas Kronic. Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta brews a 420 Pale Ale and one of the reasons I skirted including them in the book is because they deny it is a hemp ale or caters to those who are "420-friendly." If they weren't going to be honest with me on the record, I had no interest in writing about them in a nonfiction book. Not everyone knows that hemp (cannabis) and hops (humulus) are cousins! I blogged some thoughts on this just last week: http://beerodyssey.blogspot.com/2009/05/this-buds-for-15m-of-you.html Because of their similarity, I think it's a perfectly fine adjunct to brew with, but not mind-blowingly delicious. Then again, I've yet to try one with the THC intact. Also, here's a great story about homebrewers in Santa Cruz who cooked up an extra hoppy beer, er, make that poppy beer: http://www.scsextra.com/story.php?sid=79637 Phew.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 26 May 09 10:54
I have another question -- I've just missed being able to hear you read at several events, each convened at a very nice beer venue. I wondered what section(s) of the book you like to read live, and where else you plan to be?
Andrew Alden (alden) Tue 26 May 09 12:39
I was wondering that too. Back to hemp beers for a moment, I'm not sure we're being clear. I always understood hemp beers to contain hemp SEED, as a source of fermentables, rather than hemp LEAF, as a source of aromatics. Because who in their right mind would want beer that tastes like bongwater, and bongwater from ditch weed at that?
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 26 May 09 15:04
Brian Yaeger (brianyaeger) Tue 26 May 09 16:11
In reverse order this time, Andrew, that's a great question, one I don't know the answer to. I always understood hemp beers to be brewed with the flavor but not the THC of hemp. Not that a beer that could get you drunk and stoned simultaneously wouldn't be popular in some circles. But when you put it in terms of tasting like bongwater, that's not exactly a selling point. As for Gail's comment, there's a reason I hold most of my events at good beer venues. They attract bigger crowds than authors. And at the very least, why sit through some guy talking about his book about beer unless you can drink beer while doing so. This is also why, when I actually do events at bookstores, I've always managed to get beer from a local brewery, since nothing lures in shoppers like free beer. As for which passages I read from during events, I highlighted sections in every chapter as I was heading to Colorado for my first of about 25 book tour events, so that no matter where I went, I was able to read about the closest brewer. Having said that, there is certainly one passage that has become a staple. It's the one on page 158 that begins: After he told me the probation-officer story, I asked, 'So your coke dealer became your probation officer?" With the larger-than-life stories I heard (and witnessed), that was the easiest and hardest chapter to write. And the biggest compliment I got from my interviewees was that they usually hate doing interviews, and in Electric Dave's case, flat-out doesn't do them, but some of them told me they enjoyed mine. Another popular passage is the one from the Anchor chapter where we discover how and why Fritz Maytag came to own Anchor Steam. But that's probably because I've done so many local events around from SF to Santa Cruz to Pleasanton. As for upcoming ones, nothing is on the books right now. I attended the book signing by Tom Robbins who, in addition to writing some of my favorite novels, just published "B is for Beer" (a children's book!!) I'd love to do my first North Bay event at Book Passage in Corte Madera where Tom Robbins was. I've also been invited do one at my local homebrew supply shop, BrewCraft, which'll probably be in June around the National Homebrew Conference. But if anyone on here is an indie bookseller or wants to talk to their local bookstore, brewpub, or beer bar about having me, please drop me a line.
Ed Ward (captward) Wed 27 May 09 03:08
(I don't want to derail this discussion with the hemp issue, but the way it works is quite simple. As has been noted, hemp and hops are biologically quite close, and I made the connection when I was at a beergarden in northern California somewhere that had hops growing all around. My friend pinched off a flower, crushed it, and held it out for me to smell. "Smell familiar?" Yup: first-rate bud. And hemp flowers, or whatever you call the structures that either do or do not -- sensimilla -- have the seeds, that's what you hemp beer with.)
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 27 May 09 11:38
I notice the next discussion has launched. Thanks for visiting us here, Brian! This has been a lot of fun. I hope some of these themes can carry over to the ongoing beer discussion in <drinks.167> for example, or perhaps places in <writers.> or <cooking.> or <chow.ind.> too. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the syndicated Beer Examiner gig at http://www.examiner.com/x-11696-SF-Craft-Beer-Examiner -- you're off to a good start! I may see you at the Santa Rosa beerfest http://www.f2f.org/beerfest.html and select pre-conference events for the National Hombrewers Conference http://www.beertown.org/events/hbc/pre_conference.html Also, for anybody in the SF area, there's a really interesting beer on now at Magnolia's on Haight Street. It's brewed with really excellent Maris Otter malt from a specific farm in England, Branthill, arranged via a friend of the pub, and the flavor is indescribable. (For me, anyway!) I'd love to hear what other people think of flavor in the nice beers they are brewing with it. I hear tell that the grains themselves look plumper and prettier than usual British malted barley!
(dana) Wed 27 May 09 11:41
Thanks, Brian and Andrew, for a fun (and educational!) conversation. We're turning the spotlight to a new discussion today, but everyone is welcome to continue here as long as you all like. Viva la beer!
Brian Yaeger (brianyaeger) Thu 28 May 09 02:28
Thank you Andrew, Gail, Dana, and everyone who chimed in with great questions and comments. This really has been the next best thing to sitting in a pub with all of you, and considering the remote locations some of you chimers hail from (New Zealand...Texas...Chico, CA) that would've been a logistical nightmare. However, if you're local to the Bay and free/thirsty this Friday, you'll definitely find me here ( examiner.com/examiner/x-11696-SF-Craft-Beer-Examiner~y2009m5d27-Singleminded-H op-over-to-this-Mikkeller-tasting ). I just started a series of homebrews using only one hop per batch so I'm curious how our Danish friends succeeded. While I know it's time to move on to the next discussion, that I'm gonna go poke my head into, if anyone has anything else they'd like to say or ask, please continue to post here and at any point in the future, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Andrew Alden (alden) Thu 28 May 09 11:16
I've had a blast both reading your book and having this conversation, Brian. Long may you wave.
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