Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cheers to Emma!

(The original title of this post was "What's in the box, man?")

I recently placed my first order with Northern Brewer, where I ordered a brewing kit, their homebrewing DVD set (for future review), and the obligatory shirt.

My focus is really on the kit: Emma's Ale.

A lot of you might all ready know this, but for those who don't, allow me to recap.

Chris German, of Brewers Supply Group, has a 4-year old daughter named Emma, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Chris' homebrew club, Jack of All Brews, called all around the state to organize a benefit to help their friend and his family. At the same time, the crew at Northern Brewer learned of Emma's story and created the Emma's Ale kit, where 100% of the proceeds from the sale of that kit go to pediatric cancer research at the Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota.

The outpouring of support from the community was staggering. And the update provided in October of 2011 states that, after Emma's last bone marrow transplant, Emma's cancer is in full remission!

This story touched me dearly, as I had a childhood friend who lost the battle to cancer, and anything I can do to contribute to those trying find a cure to that bitch, I'm going to do. You should too.

I love you and miss you, Anthony.

Here are all of the links for more information:

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maryland Brewers Need Your Help

(Text courtesy of Maryland Homebrew)

The Brewers Association of Maryland has requested that beer enthusiasts take action to support legislation beneficial to the state's small brewers and beer consumers.

Please read the following information provided by the Brewers Association of Maryland.
The Brewers Association of Maryland is asking for your help in supporting three bills that are the subject of committee hearings in the next couple of days.
Calling your elected officials is easy. A staffer will answer the phone. Tell the staffer your name and where you're from and tell him/her why you're calling and why the issue is important to you. he/she will thank you for your call and that's it. There's nothing to it. It will only take you a minute or two, but it makes all the difference.
- Stott Noble, Homebrewer

On Friday afternoon, February 24, the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee will hear Senate Bill 579 which creates a farm brewery license. Beer brewed under this new license would be required to contain agricultural ingredients grown on the farm and license holders would be able to offer samples of their beer and sell that beer into the distribution network, both in and out of state.

On Monday, February 27, the House Economic Matters Committee will consider House Bill 1126, which is identical to Senate Bill 579 above, and House Bill 1127 which allows a pub-brewery or a micro-brewery license holder to provide samples, operate a second location in the state and self-distribute their beer on a limited basis.

Please contact the following committee members as soon as possible and ask them to support the bills before their committees.

Let them know that these bills provide a real opportunity for Maryland’s small brewers to grow, to create more jobs in Maryland communities and to offer an increased variety of beers to consumers.

Supporting these bills supports Maryland small businesses, Maryland agriculture and tourism in the state.

Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee – Senate Bill 579
Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway --
Senator James C. Rosapepe --
Senator Karen S. Montgomery --
Senator Bill Ferguson --
Senator Bryan W. Simonaire --
Senator Edward R. Reilly --
Senator J. B. Jennings --
Senator Joanne Claybon Benson --
Senator Paul G. Pinsky --
Senator Ron Young --
Senator Roy P. Dyson --

House Economic Matters Committee, Alcoholic Beverages Subcommittee -- House Bills 1126/1127
Chairman Charles Barkley --
Delegate Brian McHale --
Delegate Dereck Davis --
Delegate Donna Stifler --
Delegate Hattie Harrison --
Delegate Joseph Minnick --
Delegate MaryAnn Love --
Delegate Rick Impallaria --
Delegate Warren Miller --

Thank you and cheers,
Mike Franklin, President
Brewers Association of Maryland

Thanks for your support of Maryland’s small brewers.
Charlie Papazian
Brewers Association

Gary Glass
American Homebrewers Association

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

High & Mighty? More like Low & Lame

First, let me caveat this post: I'm sure that the folks at High & Mighty Beer make some fine beer and they never intended their beer to be served in the condition described below.

Fault for the flaws in this beer lies with the distributor/shop--unfortunately the latter is a beer Mecca, The Perfect Pour.

Bottled on 3/24/10, this beer should not have been sold in 2012. Upon opening the bomber, I was socked with a very fruity aroma, almost like citrus garbage disposal cleaner. The pour was absolutely gorgeous: a burned orange with amber tint; with an extremely rocky foam up top. That aside I decided to take the plunge: extraordinary effervescence; solventy mouthfeel & taste (hard to see why at 5.4% ABV); closing with a very harsh, bitter finish. Just plain bad.

That then forces me to award this unfiltered lager 2/10, which again I think blame goes to poor product handling and stock rotation.

Always check your dates on lower ABV beer: they aren't meant for long term storage unless you can guarantee its always been refrigerated; even then it's suspect.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's never too late for Christmas Beer!

Local (well, Philadelphia) beer reporter & blogger, Don Russell's book, Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews, is a terrific read. In it, he reviews over 50 holiday ales and lagers, with some of my favorites for the season, a quick history of Santa, and the history of the Christmas beer style; and I am happy to report that Maryland is well represented on his list! Don's been around the block once or twice, and he certainly knows his way with the pen; the book is very well written and edited.

The actual construction of the book is solid and impressive. I loved the color photos and the paper stock was one of the most beautiful, heavy-weight that I have seen in a long time: I wish more books were published this way.

All in all, this is a timeless book. I believe that if you enjoy the occasional beery night cap, then this book deserves to be on your shelf. It would make a great gift for a beer lover you know, too.


Here's a link to Don's website: Joe Sixpack

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day

To celebrate the holiday, I found a bottle of Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale, brewed by Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia, PA.

Call me a romantic, but it's been a long time since I've seen anything so pretty. It sits amber in the glass with a short off-white head.

The first sip of this historic ale delivers a charming spiciness and monumental malt backbone. As it warms up, the beer kind of exposed a slight toffee flavor that really goes well with what this beer, I think, is going for. My guess, if it was intentional, was that it comes from some caramelization.

I am really enjoying this beer and think you would too.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Perfection, by New Glarus

Two Women is my first beer from New Glarus, and I think this bottle delivered to me (by a coworker from that part of the country) is a flawless example of a classic German dark lager. Perfect.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And now for something weird

So, on a small whim I bought some beer from Austria, and let me state the following: the Austrians aren't known for their brewing prowess.

This is Zipfer Helles. It is dark - too dark for a Helles. Also, it is surprisingly cloudy for the style.

As for aroma, there was none. As for flavor, it was like drinking melted butter (diacetyl). As for me buying it again, no.


May I present MacQueen's Nessie, imported all the way from, what the hell, Austria?

This is a "whisky malt red beer", peeking through the loch with 5% ABV.

Let's cut to the chase- she needs to remain an enigma.

Nessie has a very interesting aroma, like a sour mash with a sugary tang. It tastes like nothing. But it retains a very nice mouthfeel. I detect no whisky (where I thought there'd be some peated malt), so I have no clue what "whisky" means to Schloss Eggenberg, other than malted barley.

The color was pretty brown before it was red.

Eggenberg's Samiclaus is a classic beer. Schloss Eggenberg MacQueen's Nessie is not.

Overall, I'll give it 4/10.

Don warned me about Austrian beer, saying they are more miss than hit. Heed the advise.

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Allow me to introduce...

This is Belhaven Scottish Ale from a draught can.

YouTube Video

Don told me about this beer, claiming it was one of his new favorites, and I have to agree: it's quite smooth, malt-centric, and has an amazing pour.

This is certainly a tasty ale and earns a 7/10.

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