31 August 2005

Beer Quotes, Part 3 - Jack Handy

"If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose."
-Deep Thought, Jack Handy

"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed - Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.'"

-Deep Thought, Jack Handy

posted by hiikeeba at 07:36 2 comments

29 August 2005

Shiner 96

For the last few years, I have volunteered at Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Texas as a beer supervisor. (Seems kind of like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop if you ask me, but the beer's free.) part of the fun of being "on the inside" is learning what beers are going to be on tap.

This year, for the first time anywhere in the nation, the Spoetzel Brewery will unveil Shiner 96, a Märzen beer, traditional at Oktoberfest.

I'm looking forward to this Oktoberfest! Hope to see you there.

posted by hiikeeba at 19:48 1 comments

27 August 2005

Beer Styles

Back in the old days, before global breweries vied for market share, each city, even each neighborhood in a city, had its own beer style. As transporting the beer got easier, the neighborhood styles merged into a city style, and the various city styles merged into regional styles, and then into national styles.

Today, there are dozens of beer styles. However, your average convenience store only carries, at best, three or four.

One of my favorite sites is Beer Advocate. Their beer styles page is one of the best resources for learning about the various types of beer.

posted by hiikeeba at 13:12 0 comments

23 August 2005

Beer Quotes, Part 2

"Oh, lager beer! It makes good cheer, And proves the poor man's worth; It cools the body through and through, and regulates the health."

"People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee alot."
-Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI

"Beer will always have a definite role in the diet of an individual and can be considered a cog in the wheel of nutritional foods."
-Bruce Carlton

"No soldier can fight unless he is properly fed on beef and beer."
-John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough

"If God had intended us to drink beer, He would have given us stomachs."
-David Daye

posted by hiikeeba at 07:32 2 comments

21 August 2005

British Beer Styles

In Britain beer, or ale, is brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of added carbon dioxide. It is also called "cask-conditioned" and "naturally conditioned" beer. There are a number of different styles and types of ale varying from malty, lightly hopped milds to dark and bitter stouts and porters. There are some 2,500 different ales available from 500 brewers in the UK.

Here's an description of the qualities of the most common British beer styles:

These are highly hopped ales, ranging from 1030 to around 1055 OG. The most common type of draft ale, low in carbonation. Best Bitters are usually over 4.1% ABV.

An ale of low gravity and hop rate, hence rounder, usually slightly sweeter, and distinctly less bitter on the palate and in aroma than more highly hopped bitters. Mild is usually (but not always) darker in colour than bitter, through use of a higher roast malt or caramel. There are considerable variations in mild styles.

A dark, slightly sweetish but ‘hoppy’ ale made with roasted barley: the successor of 'entire' and predecessor of stout. Originated in London around 1730 and by the end of 18th century was the most popular beer in England. The fashion for the pale ales of Burton-upon-Trent ended the popularity of porter in the mid 19th century. In recent years, a number of brewers have revived porter.

One of the classic types of ale, a successor in fashion to 'porter'. Usually a very dark, heavy, well-hopped bitter ale, with a dry palate, thick creamy head, and good grainy taste contributed by a proportion of dark roasted barley in the mash.

Bottle Conditioned Beer
This is real ale in a bottle and secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle as a result of yeast left in the mixture after boiling.

Local pubs used to sell only the beer of the brewery that owned them. The cask-conditioned ale was drawn directly from cool cellars, around 50F, which allows the full bouquet and aromas of a well-brewed ale to be experienced. But, sometime in the 60's, the big national breweries had gobbled up most local breweries and the whole scene changed. Local brews were replaced with national beers. Then came the imports. German lagers began to grow in popularity. British brewers at first tried to ignore the trend and lobbied Parliament to allow the import of only small amounts of the European beers. But as demand grew the breweries saw dollar signs, or pound signs in this case, dancing before their eyes. They decided that the old bitter and mild ales should be brewed like the European beers, yeast removed, and carbonated with CO2.

In the early seventies, British ale lovers came along and formed The Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA. The group regalvanized the tastebuds and traditions of the British beer-drinkers. Their success in preserving British ales should be a model for any country attempting to preserve their own traditions.

Another important change is that the breweries have been required to release their stranglehold on their own pubs (and in many cases, sell them to private owners), and offer a far wider range of ales, lagers, stouts, local micro-brews and even pub-brewed ales (which of course is where it had all begun centuries before when every inn worth its own name brewed at least some of its own individual-recipe ales).

Proper British Ale by David Yeadon
Visit Britain's Beer Styles page

posted by hiikeeba at 12:55 0 comments

19 August 2005

The German Brewing tradition

Blatantly cut and pasted from the Deustche Welle Website!

A rose is a rose is a rose -- but that doesn't hold true for beer. As a beer-drinker's paradise, the vast choice in Germany can be mind-boggling. Here's a brief guide.

While beer is beloved throughout Germany, most people associate the malt beverage with big Bavarian men wearing lederhosen and green felt hats decorated with bushy brushes served a stein of amber brew by a big woman wearing a dirndl.

That's a common picture at Germany's largest beer garden, the Octoberfest in Munich Should you make it to Bavaria and finally utter those words you spent hours learning from a beginning German cassette, "Ein Bier bitte," you will receive a large glass mug of helles, or lager beer. It isn't as hoppy as your standard pilsner, hence it can go down quickly. The mug itself is a standard feature of Munich's beer gardens and you will hardly find it anywhere north of the Main River.

If you are looking for something more unusual, go to Düsseldorf. The city on the Rhine River is about the only place you can order an alt. It's dark in color and bitter in flavor, the second attribute of which is particularly useful on a hot summer day.

The opposite of the large beer mug in Bavaria is Cologne's stange, a tall, thin glass that holds 0.2 liters (0.4 pints) of Kölsch. Ordering one of these in Düsseldorf, a mere 35 kilometers away (20 miles) could result in a small run-in with the bar staff and customers who won't take kindly to the light-colored beer from the rival city.

One of the nicer traditions of drinking in a Cologne pub is the so-called Köbes, your waiter. The Kobeses are notorious for continually replacing empty beer glass with full ones regardless of guests' requests to the contrary.

Traditionally, a Kölsch could only be called that if the 157-meter (515-foot) high spires of the city's cathedral could be seen from the brewery. Even today, the term is a registered trademark in the EU, like champagne and cognac.

One of Germany's most popular beers is not a true beer at all -- or at least not 100 percent beer. The "Berliner Weisse" is a favorite summer drink in the German capital. There are two versions, one with the addition of raspberry syrup, the other with waldmeister syrup, which comes from the woodruff plant.

Chancellor Schröder has been known to enjoy a beer In the summer especially, Germans get their refreshment by mixing beer with sodas. Radler and alsterwasser are the most popular mixes, made up of half beer and half Sprite or orange soda (Fanta). Cola mixes are also widespread.

Yet if beer to you means just a bitter tasting malt beverage that should never be tainted with sugary sodas, Bamberg's rauchbier, or smoke beer, made with smoked barley malt, may be just what you're looking for.

If all you really want is a big kick, you might try a Donnerbock, or thunder bock, with alcohol content of 13 percent.

posted by hiikeeba at 07:41 1 comments

17 August 2005

Beer Quotes, Part 1 - Dave Barry

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." - Dave Barry

"Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." - Dave Barry

"The letters in 'Brace Beemer' can be arranged to spell 'Embrace Beer.'" - Dave Barry, referring to the actor who played the Lone Ranger on radio

"All other nations are drinking Ray Charles beer and we are drinking Barry Manilow." - Dave Barry

When I heated my home with oil, I used an average of 800 gallons a year. I have found that I can keep comfortably warm for an entire winter with slightly over half that quantity of beer. --Postpetroleum Guzzler, Dave Barry

posted by hiikeeba at 07:00 7 comments

15 August 2005

Monks Sell out of the World's Best Beer

After being voted the World's Best Beer, monks at the abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in western Belgium have run out of beer. The monks have no plans to increase production as a result of this new demand. They brew the beer to support the monastary, not to make a profit.

posted by hiikeeba at 14:53 0 comments

13 August 2005

The Philosophers' Drinking Song by Monty Python

I am a big fan of Monty Python. And I love the Bruces, the Australian philosophy professors. Here's their song:

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.

David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away--
Half a crate of whisky every day.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,

And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am.'

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed.

Yes. I am a geek.

posted by hiikeeba at 20:41 1 comments

11 August 2005

Heinrich Kreische Brewery 1872-1884

Heinrich Kreisch - Date Unknown

Immortalized by the famous "Chicken House," La Grange was established in 1837. Though La Grange was untouched by fighting during the Civil War, during Reconstruction the town was torn by conflict and disorder. Local peace was disrupted in May 1865 as returning Confederate veterans robbed local German businesses and, on one occasion, threatened to burn down the town. La Grange began to grow as a trade center after the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway began service there in 1880, which helped put the local brewery out of business. In 1990 the United States census counted 3,951 people living in La Grange.

In 1846 Heinrich L. Kreische emigrated to Texas from Saxony. He settled in La Grange and worked as a stonemason, building the county jail in 1853 and the third county courthouse in 1855. He lived on the bluff overlooking the Colorado River with his wife Josephina and six children.

Bewteeen 1860 and 1870 Kreische changed his major occupation to that of brewing. He built a large brewery just down the hill from his home between 1870 and 1880, and by the late 1870s his had become the third-largest brewery and the state.

The slogan for the Brewery has traditionally been "Frisch Auf!" (Refresh! Look Alive!). The only documentation for this, aside from the traditional accounts, is a large banner with the words "Frisch Auf" now in the possession of the Parks and Wildlife Department. The banner is photographed with an undated, but probably brewery vintage gathering of people on Monument Hill. His ads also said "Bluff beer is good."

Like many other 19th-century Texas manufacturers, Kreische began his business on a small-scale and served a local market. He also retailed his product: he had a beer garden on the bluff and a beer hall in La Grange. At the time of his death, the brewery was a prosperous enterprise with good prospects; it, however, soon went out of business without Kreische's leadership. The Kreische brewery is now a ruin consisting, for the most part, of partial walls and piles of stone rubble. A large underground vaulted room is the only room intact. The state of Texas purchased 36 acres next to the Monument Hill state historic site in 1977. These acres include the ruins of the Heinrich L. Kreische family home and brewery. For information and a tour schedule, call park officials at (409) 968-5658. For state park reservations, call (512) 389-8900.

The Kreische Brewery ruins in 2003.

I wrote a book about the pioneer brewers of Texas. You can buy it here.


posted by hiikeeba at 07:17 3 comments

09 August 2005

The Fruits of Our Labors

Our homebrew, hefeweiss on the left, classic American ale on the right

We got together Sunday, my brewing partner and I, to sample or creations, and to plan for the future.

Something is wrong with the Classic American Pre-Pro Ale. My brewing partner described it as smelling like plastic. "Remember those plastic innertubes you had as a kid? Whenever you opened the package, you were hit with that plastic smell." He hit the nail right on the head. It's not the best tasting beer I've ever brewed, but it after a couple of beers you get used to it. I give this one a 3 out of 10. And in the picture above, that beer is on the right.

The Austin Hombrew Hefeweiss kit was much better, although my brewing partner insists there's something wrong with it. He says it taste kind of metallic and buttery. I didn't notice it, so much. I noticed the fruit flavors of the hefeweiss, but nothing out of the ordinary. I give it 8 out of 10.

We made our Christmas beer plans, and will brew those a lot closer together.

posted by hiikeeba at 07:10 1 comments

07 August 2005

No brewing this weekend

I had hoped to brew this weekend, but the smack pack yeast I had purchased appears to be dead. It has been almost a week since the pack was smacked, and they are still flat.

Initially, I was angry at my brewing partner because he had had some projects come up that prevented us from brewing sooner. But I got over that. It wasn't his fault. We should have scheduled the brewing time when we bought the ingredients.

Sooooo. . .

We are getting this afternoon to decide what to homebrew next. I do know that we'll will brew the Dark Lager, and at least I will brew Jul Øl. I'll let my brewing partner decide if he wants to brew Cream Ale or not.

I'll take some pictures of us sharing some beer, and I'll share the tasting notes when I post the pictures.

posted by hiikeeba at 09:43 0 comments

05 August 2005

Spuds McKenzie's BudBone

Plastic Budweiser half yard stein

While I'm waiting to brew Hookarm's Dark Ale (hopefully this weekend), I've been forced to cram this blog with other stuff. So here's some more breweriana, a real Budweiser collectible.

Back in the late 80s or early 90s, the local Budweiser distributor tried to get this "Bud Bone" into all the special events in our area. It was a neat idea, but, basically, a gimmick. (Today they are trying to push their alumnium cans, ala Iron City Beer. Can't the folks at Bud sell their beer on its own merit, without a gimmick of some kind?) I really don't know if it was connected with Spuds McKenzie, featured in a series of popular Budweiser ads and commercials, but it is called a BudBone.

This little rippah (imagine Steve Irwin saying it) is plastic, about 16 inches tall and made of plastic. Would have been nice if it was glass . . .

Probably not at an event, though.

Now, this Budweiser stein, or glass, or whatever is just a piece of my collection.

posted by hiikeeba at 06:25 0 comments

03 August 2005


Beer is liquid bread. Bakers and brewers both use grains and yeast to make their products. Brewers just use more water!

Beer's base grain is barley. The barley goes to a malting house, where it is stored until certain enzymes in the barley loosens and softens the husk which allows it to absorb moisture more readily. Then the barley is placed in steep tanks where it sits for about 48 hours. The barley is ready for germination. The moist barley is spread evenly on the floor of a large compartment up to a depth of 3 to 4 feet. The floor is perforated and warm, humid air is forced up through the grain. This duplicates the conditions in the soil where the grain germinates. The barley begins developing enzymes that will convert the barley starch into food for a young plant. Fortunately for us, the same starch will become the fermentable sugars when the grain is mashed. The grain is then dried to remove excess moisture, and is now known as malt. The malt is then roasted to various degrees of color, for use in any of dozens of recipes.

The homebrewer takes the barley malt, cracks it and cooks it at certain temperatures to mash it. The mashing process converts the starches in the malt into sugars which the yeast will use to make beer.

Some malt houses mash the grains for us, and either dry or reduce the moisture in the resulting product. The process makes Malt extract, either dry or syrup, that allows the homebrewer to bypass the time consuming, and exacting mashing process, and get straight to brewing. A full grain batch of beer can take up to 8 hours to get into the fermenter, while a partial mash or extract only recipe only takes a couple of hours (including prep and cleaning time).

posted by hiikeeba at 07:35 0 comments

01 August 2005

Beer In The News

The original Budweiser brewery, in the Czech Republic, has won regional protection in the EU, much to Anheiser-Busch's ire. A-B has been fighting the Budvar brewery for years, since the American company was the first to register the name as a tradmark. But, the story goes that Eberhard Anheuser, a German brewer who emigrated to the USA, is said to have used the name because of its reputation in his homeland. No matter who wins the legal battle, the little Czech brewery wins the PR battle, because their name is linked to the giant American brewery. There's no such thing as bad press, I guess.

Here's a link to more Deutsche Welle beer stories.

posted by hiikeeba at 07:48 0 comments