30 June 2007

National Homebrewers Conference, Denver - Day Three

Even though we didn't have a hangover, Satan and I said we would be good, and not have beer on Saturday. We were a bit tired of beer. We had been drinking since 11 am on Thursday, and were just tired of it. We headed off for the first seminar "Practical Brewing for Better Beer" by David Houseman. What does David do at 9 am? Pass out beer samples.

It was good beer. But Satan and I exchanged glances, laughed and sipped it during the seminar. And for the record, this was the best session of the entire conference. David inspired Satan and I to enter beers in competition next year.

While Satan attended "Brewing with Unusual Adjuncts" with Coors brewer Keith Villa, I went to "Innovation in Wheat Beer Brewing" with Flying Dog Brewery founder Eric Warner. He discussed wheat beer, which is a big trend in the US. It was a great overview of the style, and inspired me to work on the peach wheat.

We skipped the last session to get some beer we can't get in Texas, and pick up a couple of souvenirs. We returned to the hotel for the Grand Banquet. It was a pretty nice chicken dish, with some Rogue beer. We sat with some folks from Missouri. One guy was complaining that he had to empty his keg to take it home, and they couldn't take it full. They offered us the beer, if we would ship it back. Satan said he would. So on our trip home, we had a case of beer we couldn't get in Texas and a five gallon keg of stout.

On our 12 hour trip back to Midland, Gary and I plotted a way to attend next year's conference in Cincinnati, and what beers we're going to brew for the contest.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:08 0 comments links to this post

28 June 2007

National Homebrewers Conference, Denver - Day Two

The most interesting seminar was Friday morning at 9 am. Tony Simmons of Pagosa Brewing Company created Poor Richard's Ale in celebration of Ben Franklin's 300th birthday. After a lot of research, he came up with a beer similar to a Scottish ale. It gave me confidence to continue refining my Kentucky Common recipe.

The next seminar was "Tricking Out Your Home Brewery" by Chris Graham of Beer, Beer and More Beer. I had hoped to learn some things about tweaking my setup. Instead, I learned about the More Beer product line. *sigh*

Satan and I skipped the rest of the day's events to check out downtown Denver. We had lunch at the 16th Street Mall, a pedestrian mall downtown, and had lunch at the Rock Bottom Brewery, where I had a brown ale and a bbq pork sandwich. Then we headed over to Wynkoop Brewery. I had a blond ale and a stout. We met up with Peter, from Australia, who was taking a five week vacation in the UK and the United States, and he was also attending the conference.

We had heard the brewery at Coors Field was good, so we headed over there to find that it was closed. Dammit. Fortunately, Breckenridge Brewery was up the street, so the three of us popped in for another beer. It was here that I discovered the second best beer in the world: Vanilla Porter! Naturally, I had another one.

By this time, I was on the verge of being ready for a nap. So we went back to the hotel. Peter warned us that if we took a nap, we'd be ruined for Club Night.

Dozens of clubs, including the Austin Zealots and Houston's Foam Rangers, go to Denver with kegs of beer to give away one night. And there are a lot of great beers, including an Eisbock! We bumped into Peter, who had taken a nap, and was miserable!

One of the running jokes in our family is that Satan knows someone everywhere. At the opening toast, he sees someone, and asks, "Were you in Afghanistan?" And the guy answers, "Yeah. With you!" Tim Sloan got out of the army and went to work for the Brewers Association. Here's a picture of Satan and Tim taken on club night.

Unfortunately, by 10 pm, I was hammered, so I went to bed. But Club Night rocked!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:50 0 comments links to this post

26 June 2007

National Homebrewers Conference, Denver - Day One

We registered for the conference at 8 am, and found ourselves with five hours to kill. We drove downtown and found the capitol building, Coors field, Mile High Stadium and Wyncoop Brewery. We returned to the hotel and went down to the hospitality room and began sampling beer.

We sampled from 11 am until 1 pm, when the opening toast began. Then we went off to the first session.

The first session was the one that I wanted to attend the most: "Brewing Sour Beers at Home Using Traditional and Alternative Methods" by Vinnie Cilurza of Russian River Brewing Company. Vinnie brews beers in the Belgian style. I was hoping the talk would help me with my Kentucky Common beer, and I did. Not as much as I'd hoped though.

Satan and I skipped the second session, and had dinner in The Lodge, had a couple more beers. At 7 pm, we went down to the Grand Ballroom for Pro Brewers Night. Breweries from all over Colorado were there pouring free beer!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 16:39 0 comments links to this post

24 June 2007

Trinidad Brewing Company, Trinidad, CO - Shamrock Brewpub, Pueblo, CO - Phantom Canyon Brewing, Colorado Springs, CO

Santa Fe

Taking a tip from my future wife, Rachel Ray, we stopped at Cafe Pasqual's in old Santa Fe for breakfast. It was delicious, but if Rachel only spent $40 on food in Santa Fe, she skipped lunch! We each spent $20 on breakfast!

Trinidad

We drove through the desert of New Mexico, across the plains of Northern New Mexico and into the mountains of Colorado. We stopped at Trinidad Brewing Company for lunch. This is the smallest brewpub I have ever seen. They only had two beers on tap. Satan and I had their Mexican Lager, a cloudy, golden beer that was light a crisp. A slice of lime dropped into the beer made it special.

At a window table, I noticed a couple using sign language. We didn't know it at the time, but, they were conference attendees, too. We met them in the hospitality room on Thursday, and compared notes about the place.

Long story short, TBC is a nice restaurant, and probably a lively night spot. And I will stop by again.

Pueblo

We stopped at Shamrock Brewery and Restaurant in Pueblo. This is a nice neighborhood pub. We were there around 2 pm, so the crowd was light, but the bartender was friendly. I chose a witbier that was nice and light (something that wouldn't weigh me down on the way to Colorado Springs. The bartender offered us a sample of their Imperial Porter. Nice. The alcohol was balanced nicely by the hops. But we declined another pint, and got back on the road.

Colorado Springs

Phantom Canyon Brewing Company is located in a 1900s building on a corner in downtown Colorado Springs. Plate glass windows wrap around the bar area, giving you a great view of Pike's Peak and downtown, as well as the hot blond in the short black skirt that worked for a local radio station.

We had two pints here. I had John's Mild Bitter and a blonde ale. Satan had two pints of Blueberry Ale. He offered me a sip. I shoulda had the blueberry!

Lyle, the bartender, was from Chicago, and we shared jokes with him. He even carded the hot blonde from the radio station, and said, handing her ID back, "I think I got all the information I need to stalk you." Then we were off to Denver.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:30 0 comments links to this post

22 June 2007

The Wellhead Brewery, Artesia, NM and Kelly's Brewery, Santa Fe, NM

Out in the middle of the oil fields of the Permian Basin in New Mexico is Artesia. It a quaint ranching town that found itself on top of a lot of oil, and is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city. Our first stop on the trip to the National Homebrewers conference was at the Wellhead Restaurant and Brewery.

It's a nice, upscale looking place. We didn't see any brewing equipment. It was clear they intended to be a restaurant first. They served us some great food, but more importantly, they have some great beer. I chose a red ale that was smooth, not as malty as other red ales. Satan had a stout. We decided this place was worth another visit. And since Satan's brother was teaching at the Border Patrol Academy, it's likely we'll be there again.

Our second stop was in Albuquerque, Kelly's Brewpub. We had several choices in Albuquerque, and we decided that a brewpub near a university would be a great place to visit. I had a nice brown ale and an interesting golden ale. We opted for an early dinner. I really liked the atmosphere. I like college areas because they're so laid back, and this place was no different.

We had planned to hit 2nd Street Brewery in Santa Fe, but the 12 hour drive, combined with the two beers at Kelly's wiped us out. We had left Midland at 8am CDT, and got a motel in Santa Fe at 7 pm MDT. We stretched out on the beds, and it was pretty much all over.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 20:07 0 comments links to this post

20 June 2007

Countries ranked by Alcohol Consusumption


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:00 0 comments links to this post

18 June 2007

It's 800 miles to Denver, we've got a tank of gas, room for lots of pint glasses, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it!

Thanks to my friend Maggie, I will be leaving tonight at 6 pm for Midland, where my cousin, Satan lives. Tomorrow, we will begin our trek to Denver for the National Hombrewers Conference in Denver. We're taking the long route, through New Mexico, to hit as many brewpubs as we can, and still make the conference.

I'll blog about the conference on the 22nd. I'll blog about the brewpubs next week.

Get thee behind me, Satan! And quit pushing!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 17:20 0 comments links to this post

16 June 2007

Shiner 98 Amber Ale

I am looking forward to Shiner's 100th anniversary, and I am also enjoying their countdown beers, Shiner 96 Marzen and Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager, which have been coming out in October. This year, Shiner 98 came out Memorial Day weekend.

Shiner 98 is an Bavarian Amber in a cool retro package. Very 50s! So I bought a 6-pack and took it home to sample.

In my opinion: Save your money.

Shiner 98 Bavarian Amber

Appearance (0-3): Amber/orange with a thin white head. Crystal clear. Looks good! 3 points.
Aroma/Bouquet (0-4): Yeasty aroma dominates. A hint of malt. No hops. 2 points.
Taste: Hop/Malt Balance (0-4): Hops overpower the malt. Hops have a "brushy" flavor. First reaction? Eww! Second taste: a hint of malt, but very slight. Where's the caramel love? 2 points.
Aftertaste (0-3): Bitter hop aftertaste is woody and somewhat piney. 2 points.
Mouthfeel (0-3): A little thin, but not bad. 2 points.
Overall Impression (0-3): Honestly? I'm not a fan. It's kind of like a Killian's red, but without the malt flavor. I probably won't buy it again. One point for the very cool retro label. 3 points.
Total: 14 points

I told my old brewing partner out at Honey Creek Brewery about my experience. He liked it and bought a case. I still think it's bland.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 16:44 2 comments links to this post

14 June 2007

Sam Adams beer and cigar pairings

If you enjoy Sam Adams beers and you enjoy cigars, the fine folks over at BlogCritics.com have created a nice list of suggestions for pairing cigars with Samual Adams beers. To recap: With a Boston Lager, they suggest "a medium-bodied cigar with a little spice, perhaps something with a Cameroon wrapper." With Black Lager, try "a full-flavored maduro." And with Boston Ale they recommend "a mild, creamy cigar." Here's the link to the full article."


posted by Jeff Holt at 13:19 0 comments links to this post

12 June 2007

Want to get more people to read? Add beer.

Stone Brewing in Escondido, California, has launched a beer book club. "Books often inspire us to great conversations, to ideas, to concepts," Stone Brewing CEO Greg Koch said. "And of course, beer does the same thing. Putting them together is just a natural. It's fostering social intercourse." The first book is The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Micheal Pollan.

Is there anything beer can't do?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:16 1 comments links to this post

10 June 2007

Wit Willie Tasting Notes

My cousin, Satan (as in "Get thee behind me. . ."), brought me a few bottles of his wit beer, Wit Wille. He handed me one and said, "Don't even try to pour it in a glass." It's incredibly over carbonated. But it's okay.

Since I know he's dieing to know what I think:

Wit Willie Belgian Wheat


Appearance (0-3): Plae gold with a thick, I say, thick creamy head that lasts forever! Slightly hazy as befits the style. 3 points.
Aroma/Bouquet (0-4): Yeast aroma dominates. A hint of citrus. Could it be the hops? No trace of spice that Satan swore was in there. 2 points.
Taste: Hop/Malt Balance (0-4): Crisp. Slightly sweet malt flavor. Leafy hops flavor in the background. But mostly it's. . .wet. 2 points.
Aftertaste (0-3): A faint piney, citrusy finish. Very subtle. Me like! 3 points.
Mouthfeel (0-3): Full-bodied. But highly over carbonated! The bubbles sting my tongue. 1 point. (Sorry, T)
Overall Impression (0-3): No spice or orange flavor. Too carbonated. Still drinkable. 2 point.
Total: 13 points

Satan is crying in his beer now, folks. But I have to admit, I like the beer. The score is low because of the carbonation problem. The lack of spice and orange flavor is troublesome, but this is a really drinkable beer.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:42 0 comments links to this post

08 June 2007

Beer Tap Fraud?

A Wisconsin bar owner was fined $172 for dispensing Coors Light from a Miller Lite tap. He was trying to empty a keg purchased for a wedding, and says he told his customers what he was doing, and no one complained.

I don't know if he's telling the truth or not. But beer tap fraud does exist, and it's not always an accident. When I was working for a local beer distributor, he often sold Carling's Black Label light for his company's light beer. (Both were brewed at a brewery in San Antonio.) Sometimes the bar owner knew, and even instigated it because carling's was cheapere), sometimes he didn't. Certainly, the customers didn't.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:29 0 comments links to this post

06 June 2007

Kentucky Common tasting notes

Despite a disappointing screw-up with the grains, the Kentucky Common 3.0 tastes pretty good.

Kentucky Common 3.0


Appearance (0-4): Black. Not apparent highlights. But it looks clear, if you know what I mean. 3 points
Aroma/Bouquet (0-4): Roasted coffee notes. Hint of sourness in beer. (Whee!) No hop aroma detected. 2 points
Taste: Hop/Malt Balance (0-4): Very low hop bitterness, accented by sour flavor. 3 points
Aftertaste (0-3): Sour, from Belgian yeast, on back of tongue. A bit of coffee-like roast malt finish, with a lingering hop taste. 2 points
Mouthfeel (0-3): I think it's perfect. I was aiming for a lower alcohol beer with some flavor. 3 points
Overall Impression (0-3): For a low alcohol beer, this has some intense flavor. It's what I was hoping for, even with the low alcohol (2.6% ABV) so I'm rating it high. 2 points
Total: 15 points

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:11 0 comments links to this post

04 June 2007

Beer Belly information

I found a website that tells us how we can lose the fuel tank for a love machine that many of us sport. To summarize: eat less, drink less and exercise more.

Don't say I never did anything for you.


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:13 2 comments links to this post

02 June 2007

A-B Beer sales rise

According to a CNN Money story, Anheuser-Busch has reported stronger sales in May after a disappointing April. Sales are up 1% across the board.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:03 0 comments links to this post