30 May 2011

T Minus Eleven Days

I have started packing.


posted by hiikeeba at 18:37 0 comments

28 May 2011

In Memoriam HB660 and HB602, a Vow, and a Call to Action

I have spent a few depressed days after the deaths of HB 602 and HB 660 reflecting on the truth of Will Rogers' words: "We have the best government money can buy."  We no longer have a democracy.  We have a government for corporations.  All laws in the country are crafted to benefit corporations, and ignore the citizens.

I have read several blog posts who were more able to put those feelings into words.  They inspired me to write this post.

The Problems

I don't think it's really necessary to recount the perfidy of beer and wine distributors, AB InBev and MillerCoors.  But I'm going to do it anyway.

The National Beer Wholesalers of America is currently having their employees in Congress craft what is ironically called the CARE (Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness) Act.  Wrapped in a cloak of States Rights, this bill is intended to stop Internet sales of alcohol and put more power into the hands of distributors.  If you like California or Texas wine and live in Maine, for Example, you can order wine on the Internet for delivery to your home.  Under the "CARE" Act, ordering wine or beer from another state will become illegal.  It would also prohibit anyone from bring suit against the government, which would violate the Constitution.

Remember BrewMasters?  I watched the show, liked it in principle, but found it less a treatise on brewing that the Church of His Holiness Sam Caligione found it, and more of a "Ace of Cakes" type of show. And that is not a bad thing. Six episodes were produced, only five were aired. in five different time slots.  To me, it looked like Discovery was trying to kill the show.  Turns out, they were.  Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations, Tweeted in March that Budweiser told Discovery to cancel the show or they would pull their advertising.

This was followed by an interesting show called "How Beer Saved the World" on the Discovery Channel. This show chronicled the impact of beer on civilization in a humorous and interesting way, but appeared to be an hour long advertisement for MillerCoors, with fairly heavy handed product placement clips of Miller Lite throughout.  I'm sure AB InBev had a few choice words for Discovery after that!

Currently, AB InBev is attempting to overturn an Illinois law banning out of state breweries from self-distributing.  AB InBev does not have a brewery in Illinois but they want to buy a distributor in that state. (It probably also has something to do with their purchase of Goose Island.)  Since AB InBev has deep pockets and can buy all the votes they need, this will effectively kill independent Illinois based brewers.

Meanwhile, MillerCoors has opened a front in the Craft Beer Wars in Wisconsin, home to my beloved New Glarus.  Their corporate legislators have introduced a bill that would remove the option of a brewer to choose to self-distribute, require new distributors to have 25 accounts before they can get a license, prohibit a brewery from owning two restaurants (think BJ's or Gordon Biersch), and would prohibit a distributor from investing in a Wisconsin brewery but allow investment in an out-of-state or foreign brewery.

Here in Texas, AB InBev at first supported HB602, which would allow breweries producing under 75,000 barrels to sell a six pack of product at the conclusion of a paid tour.  The bill passed the House unanimously, and then, suddenly, AB InBev realized that they were excluded from the six pack sale.  AB InBev does not offer tours of its Houston plant (which produces 3.2 million barrels a year or 3,192,500 barrels more than the cap), but they might, perhaps, possibly, maybe, one day, be willing to want to think about doing a tour, and would be left out.  Even more galling, the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas would only support HB602 with the production cap.  They knew that their employees in the Senate, and the Lieutenant Governor's office, would kill the bill when AB InBev complained.  (For the record, I don't care for the cap.)

And HB660, which would have allowed brew pubs to sell beer to distributors for sale to retail accounts, never made it out of commitee. Nor did the bill that would allow distilleries like Garrison Brothers to sell bottles after tours, like you can do at Jack Daniels in Tennessee or Makers Mark in Kentucky.

As other bloggers have pointed out, there's a lot of blame to go around: Big Brewers, Distributors, Lobbyists, timid politicians, the small brewers, and us beer geeks.

Industry Solutions

OpenMarket.org suggested that it's time for Texas' alcohol producers to band together to defend their right to produce and market their products.  The wine lobby in Texas is stronger than WBDT.  They can sell at the winery, they can have a restaurant and sell to distributors, they are exempt from  booth fees at events, and can even sell their wine in dry counties.  They use the cudgel of the economic impact of Texas wine tourism, second only to Napa, California's.

What author Michelle Minton suggested is that Texas beer and spirit producers join with the Texas wine lobby to create a stronger organization to effect change in Texas' antiquated, Byzantine liquor laws.

Consumer Solutions

Beer Geeks like you and I have to do something too. We need to be vocal in our support of Texas Craft Beer. Barleyvine.com gave these suggestions:
  • Ask for Texas Craft Beer at every restaurant you dine at.  Write them letters.  Remind them that the customer is always right. Post on their Facebook page.  Talk to the manager.  Be polite and courteous. If they don't want to carry Texas Craft Beer, then vote with your wallet and eat elsewhere.
  • Introduce your BMC-drinking friends to Texas Craft Beer.  Encourage them to switch to locally produced beer.  (You don't have to stop being their friend if they don't, though.;) )
  • Vote.  When your local rep comes, hat in hand, asking for your vote, ask them if they will vote for Texas brewery rights.  If they try to avoid the question, pin them down.  Let them know that your vote is contingent on their answer.  Until we make our reps understand that they represent us, not large, multi-national corporations.  Find out who contributes to their campaigns.  Find out which bills they support.  Hold them accountable for their positions.  Don't just blindly assume your rep is a good guy, and that it is the other reps fault.  And if your rep supports Texas craft beer, make sure you support them as loudly and as publicly as you can.  Brewtiful.com added: Unelect those who aren't with us and shame those on the fence.
Brewtiful.com posted an eloquent three part rant about Texas Beer Laws, and suggested that Texas Beer Geeks should become evangelists for Texas Beer.  If you're going to GABF or Dark Lord Day, take Texas beer.  I am taking a dozen bottles of Texas beer to the National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego.  None of the beer is distributed outside the state. (Hell! most of it isn't distributed in the Great Texas Craft Beer Desert™.)

Another great Brewtiful.com suggestion is that we form our own PAC:
"If InBev and NBWA can lobby, so, too, can beer geeks.  Let’s start our own lobbying group and Take it to The Man. . .I’m tired of letting these yahoos in Austin dictate beer law, especially now when it is now crystal clear that Austin only cares about huge, international corporations and lobbyists, and not their Texas citizens. . .If craft beer enthusiasts remain isolated from each other, we remain weak; if we band together in furtherance of a common goal – I believe we can achieve real, meaningful change."
Mississippi has Raise Your Pints, Alabama has Free the Hops, England has CAMRA.  Maybe we could energize Texas Beer Freedom, which hasn't been updated in a few weeks.  Or maybe we could just call our group Take It To The Man!  But we have to do something, or AB InBev, MillerCoors and the WBDT will be telling us what we can drink, and what we can buy.

My Vow

It's easy to sit here and bitch.  It's harder to act.  So, in that spirit, I have taken this vow:
  1. I will only drink Texas-owned, Texas-brewed beer. (I will grant an exemption to Shiner beer.  They maybe owned by a Mexican national, but the Spoetzl Brewery is a Historic Texas Brewery.)  If I visit another state, I will only drink locally owned, locally brewed beer.
  2. I will ask for Texas-owned, Texas-brewed beer at every restaurant.  Afterwards, I will send a letter to the restaurant explaining why I won't be back if they don't carry it.
  3. I will donate regularly and volunteer my time regularly to TexasBeerFreedom.org, or any other grass roots movement with the same goal.
  4. I will encourage others to do the same.
Who will take the vow with me?

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posted by hiikeeba at 13:16 6 comments

The Beeracuda

Waaaaay back in 2005, I posted a picture of my Camel Cigarettes Beer Quiver sort of in action. It's been a collector's item for almost two decades. But now you can get you can get your own version: the Beeracuda!


posted by hiikeeba at 12:40 0 comments

26 May 2011

Growler Etiquette?

The other day, I stopped in at Freetail Brewing and had a couple of beers.  While I was sitting there, a couple came in with three growlers from the Fredericksburg Brewing Company, got them filled, and left.

Really?  Shouldn't you at least use the growlers from the brewpub?

I own three Fredericksburg Brewing Growlers, two from Freetail, one from Grape Juice, and two from Eola.  Not to mention the one I got from Russian River a couple of years ago that sits atop the china cabinet.  I would never think of taking a Grape Juice Growler to Fredericksburg Brewing or to Freetail.  What about you?  Shouldn't you support your local brew pub by buying their growlers?

What do you think?


posted by hiikeeba at 08:27 8 comments

24 May 2011

Garrison Brothers Distillery

"[Fredericksburg] Chamber Directors, Ambassadors and Staff raised a glass of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Dan Garrison in a Toast to the Hill Country this past Saturday. Dan led us on a tour, explaining the entire Distillery process..."From corn to cork...it's home-grown and handcrafted from the finest ingredients. Plump, organic yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle. Premium organic winter wheat that we grow ourselves here at the ranch and two-row barley from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. We grind our grain fresh daily and we cook our own sweet mash - one batch at a time. Then we marry the fruity distillate with fresh Hill Country rainwater that we harvest and purify ourselves."

"Garrison Brothers Distillery is now offering their "Sit and Sip Tour", Wednesday through Sunday, 10am or 2pm, for only $10.00 per person. Located in Hye, 1.7 miles out on Hye Albert Road, off of 290 East and RR 1623. For more information, please visit www.garrisonbros.com."

--From the Fredericksburg Chamber Weekly News May 17, 2011


posted by hiikeeba at 09:08 0 comments

22 May 2011

Seven Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Wine

Yet Another Damn Beer Blog has come up with a nice list of why beer is better than wine.

I don't get the hockey jokes though.


posted by hiikeeba at 06:58 0 comments

20 May 2011

Grape Juice - Kerrville, Texas

Suffering, as I do, at the edges of the Great Texas Craft Beer Desert™,  I often find succor at Grape Juice, 623 Water Street in Kerrville, Texas, just a few short minutes from Paradise.  It has the best beer selection within 30 minutes of my house.  Today, there was Maui Brewing IPA, Brooklyn Lager (Shit!  You can't get this outside a Texas city of at least a million people, but here it is in Kerrville.  I think it's because they are on the Interstate.), London Pride, Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot and Undercover Shutdown, Oskar Blues Gordon, and another dozen beers on tap.  There are beers here that, even though they are supplied by the same vendors, I can't get at Okotberfest in Fredericksburg.  I mention them and the distributors look at me like I've been smoking something very potent.  But I can drive twenty minutes and buy it on tap.

Have I mentioned I hate distributors?

Next time you are in Kerrville, stop in and see what they have on tap.  It will be an awesome selection and noting like I say today, except for London's Pride.  You can find an occasional Southern Star, usually some Jester King, and always something from Real Ale on tap.  Although, I must ask, how did Southern Star find their way here?  They're in like fourteen states, but in only four Texas cities.  How did they get to Kerrville?

Darrell, one of the bartenders, is impossibly young.  But he knows his shit.  Tell him Jeff sent you.


posted by hiikeeba at 04:20 0 comments

18 May 2011

New Texas Breweries on a Google Map

Lushtastic just published a blog post listing all the new Texas breweries on a Google Map.

posted by hiikeeba at 11:39 1 comments

17 May 2011

Untappd Craft Beer Week Badge

I am addicted to Untappd. I try to keep careful track of what I drink and curse loudly when I realize I have had four beers, and only entered one of them on the social network. And I enjoy collecting the badges for special beer acheivements.

In honor of Craft Beer Week, which is this week, if you or I check into three different craft beers, we'll get a Craft Beer Week badge!

Yes, I am that excited.

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posted by hiikeeba at 09:13 0 comments

16 May 2011

Texas Sake Company Certified as First Organic Alcohol Producer in Texas

Texas Sake Company received their Organic Certification from the State of Texas last week.  This makes them Texas' first Organic producer of alcohol.

And in their email newsletter, they announced that they would have their Grand Opening on October 1, International Sake Day.  Unfortunately, I work that day.


posted by hiikeeba at 10:58 0 comments

14 May 2011

Jester King Announces Regular Tour hours

Beginning today, Jester King Brewing Company will offer regular tours on Saturdays from 1-4 pm.  They may close every so often, but will announce the closed dates.

They are limiting attendance to 100 people.  Admission is $10 and you get a free glass to sample with.

I have nothing to do this afternoon. . .


posted by hiikeeba at 08:46 0 comments

13 May 2011

Untappd Craft Beer Week Badge

I am addicted to Untappd. I try to keep careful track of what I drink and curse loudly when I realize I have had four beers, and only entered one of them on the social network. And I enjoy collecting the badges for special beer acheivements.

In honor of Craft Beer Week, which is this week, if you or I check into three different craft beers, we'll get a Craft Beer Week badge!

Yes, I am that excited.

posted by hiikeeba at 11:04 0 comments

11 May 2011

HB 602 Dead?

On Tuesday, Scott Metzger, owner of Freetail Brewing, in San Antonio tweeted that an AB-InBev has objected to HB 602, effectively killing the bill.  According to a Beer, TX article by Ronnie Crocker:

. . .region vice president for state affairs Mark Bordas told senators that a provision limiting participation to breweries that produce less than 75,000 barrels per year unfairly “discriminates” against his company, which makes Budweiser, Bud Light, Ziegenbock and Michelob products at its brewery in east Houston.

The bill is pending in committee, making it's passage unlikely.

But if you've been following the news, this is a relatively new tactic from AB-InBev.  In Illinois, AB-InBev tried to buy a Budweiser distributor, but was blocked by Illinois law, which prohibits out-of-state brewers from self-distributing.  In state brewers can self-distribute.  When their attempt to buy the distributor was blocked, they filed suit and are attempting to stop all Illinois brewers from self-distributing their products, arguing discrimination.

I wonder how long it will before AB-InBev sues Texas to allow them to self distribute?


posted by hiikeeba at 10:09 0 comments

10 May 2011

It's about time!

A few months ago, I won a Shiron Plate Chiller in aBrewing Network drawing. I have been procrastination using it, mainly because I didn't have fittings for it. I finally bought the fittings, and put it into use yesterday.
The results were excellent.  Although it took about 30 minutes, the wort hit the fermenter at 72°F, instead of 90 that the counterflow got me.  Now I wonder why I waited so long!


posted by hiikeeba at 14:19 0 comments

08 May 2011

The Story of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico, sort of like Flag Day. It celebrates a victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. It's a major event in the United States because of beer. Check it out.


posted by hiikeeba at 11:42 0 comments

06 May 2011

NHC Score Sheets - Part One Saison du Permienne

Saison du Permienne scored a mediocre 25.  I opened one of my last two bottles, grabbed a box a tissues, and went over the score sheets.

Aroma: JUDGE 1: Light grainy, pear low spicy hop aroma.  Alcohol and Musty. 6/12
              JUDGE 2: Malty with some sharp alcohol notes an perhaps what could be some harsh hop aromas.  Some lighter (fuser) alcohol notes are also present.  Slight Citrusy character but lacking much of the complexity characteristic of the style.  Some spiciness but seems to me mostly alcohol derived. 5/12
              ME:  (I love judge 2).  Can't disagree.  Probably too old.  I might have scored it a bit higher. . .

Appearance:  JUDGE 1: Golden with slight orange hue.  Slight haze, low head.  Faded quickly. 2/3
                       JUDGE 2: Slightly hazy, golden orange.  Low white head is fleeting.  Huge legs. 2/3
                       ME:  I decanted so mine was crystal clear.  No head, no retention.  Yup! huge legs. (The decanting thing has me confused.  I guess the steward might have roused the yeast in the bottle.  But the steward in the with category didn't, which gave Satan some seriously low scores for Wit Willy.  Wouldn't a beer geek know to rouse the yeast in a wit?)  I would have scored it lower for the lack of head.

Flavor: JUDGE 1: Fruity, spicy, very light malt.  Dominate tart. Medium hop bitterness.  Spicy hop flavor finishes dry and tart.  Balance to bitter. Spicy dry tart sensation. 11/20
             JUDGE 2: Citric Tartness that extends into the finish making the finish juicy and citrusy. (Should be integrated not first.)  Bitterness is moderate high and seems to be largely alcohol derived.  No discernible hop flavor.  Lacks the long, dry finish characteristic of the style--tartness perhaps makes it seem drier that it is. 8/20
            ME:  Medium hop bitterness vs. No discernible hop flavor.  No wonder I hate competitions!  Me?  I don't get no hops.  (Judge 1 is an apprentice and Judge 2 is a National).  Otherwise I agree with both of 'em.

Mouthfeel: JUDGE 1:  Medium body, medium low carbonation, slight warmth. Moderate Creaminess.  Slight astringent from hops and spices. 3/5
                    JUDGE 2: Medium bodied with moderate-high carbonation and a juicy, tart mouthfeel.  Eventually significant alcohol warming in the back of the throat and into the chest. 3/5
                    ME:  no disagreements, except for the hop thing. . .

Overall Impression: JUDGE 1: Dry tart and refreshing.  Dry finish.  Overall pleasing but some musty.  Check hop freshness or spices if present or yeast health. 5/10
                                  JUDGE 2:  Alcohol Character is too much for style.  Seems to be at or above the high end of the ABV, and alcohol character dominates aroma and is too strong in the finish, Saison yeast can do well at high temperatures, but not too high. Other  strains will not tolerate high temperatures well and produce fusel alcohols and off aromas. Finish is surprisingly "juicy" for such an alcoholic beer - perhaps use harder water. 5/10
                                  ME:   I agree it has too much alcohol.  I was chasing ABV.  The next incarnation will have a lot less alcohol.

I will brew this version again, and it will be called "I Blame You Grand Cru"™.


posted by hiikeeba at 17:02 0 comments

04 May 2011

Kölsch I Said So - Kegging Day

On Sunday, I kegged Kölsch I Said So.  I was anticipating problems.  My last few batches of beer have been cloudy, and I was afraid this beer would be the same.  The first pour for testing purposes, at left, showed a slight haze, but as it transferred to the keg it cleared up nicely.

My original gravity was 1.052 and the final gravity was 1.000, which gives me 6.8% abv.

I took a sip.

Fairly clean, I thought, but a bit tart in the finish.  So off the the BJCP to see if I was FUBARed.

Soft, rounded palate comprising of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight pucker in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste).
So it appears that I may have accidentally fallen into the style parameters, and just might have a good beer this time.  YAY!

Although, I will have to wait until the beer has carbonated and has aged a bit.  I now have to contemplate why my beers are over-attenuating. . .


posted by hiikeeba at 10:34 0 comments

03 May 2011

Buy bloberglawp

I am a proud member of the BN Army.  I hang out in the forums under the handle Dirk McLargeHuge. A couple of years ago, another BN Army member called bloberglawp on the forums, showed up at Oakland NHC for the first BNA4.  A character in the best sende of the world, blober even has a thread on the BN Forums call "Blober the King."  In that thread, as a joke, I made a T-Shirt for him using a really creepy photo blober posted several years ago, and a slogan by codewritinfool, the BN Forum mod.

Blober is now using that design to raise money for a trip to this year's NHC.  Go order a few dozen. Everyone needs to experience bloberblawp.

Unfortunately, there is no "Phat Phuk" size.  :(

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posted by hiikeeba at 10:46 2 comments

02 May 2011

Bugeater's Rye Cream Ale 3

Brewing today.

Rye Cream Ale 3
Cream Ale


Type: All Grain
Date: 4/24/2011
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Brewer: Jeff Holt
Boil Size: 7.97 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Jeff's Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo Cooler (10 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
5.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 40.74 %
5.50 lb Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM) Grain 40.74 %
1.00 lb Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 7.41 %
1.00 lb Rye, Flaked (2.0 SRM) Grain 7.41 %
0.50 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 3.70 %
2.00 oz Saaz [3.00 %] (60 min) Hops 18.4 IBU
1.00 oz Saaz [3.30 %] (0 min) Hops -
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.048 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.010 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.66 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 0.65 %
Bitterness: 18.4 IBU Calories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 4.1 SRM Color:
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 13.50 lb
Sparge Water: 6.17 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Mash In Add 16.88 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Corn Sugar Volumes of CO2: 2.4
Pressure/Weight: 4.5 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 60.0 F Age for: 28.0 days
Storage Temperature: 52.0 F  
Created with BeerSmith


posted by hiikeeba at 15:53 0 comments