Archive | April 2012

Site Update

The old theme (“Connections”) that I was using for the blog has gone down over at WordPress, so I’ve switched to a new theme for the time being. Let me know if you like this one better, and I may just keep it.

(On the day I picked a Twitter-fight with Ding, no less!)


Beyond the Pour Episode 6: Beer Regionality, More on Session Beer, and Breweries Expand!

Time for another episode! I’m always excited on New Podcast Day. Ryan is back, so we’re back to our usual crew this time.

Download Episode 6: Beer Regionality.
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Check us out in iTunes!

Show Notes:

0:00 to 18:00 What We’ve Been Drinking. Ryan’s drinking a session IPA (around 5.2%) and just got back from Germany, so he’s had tons of hefeweizen, schwartzbier, and a bit of Berliner Weisse. Lots of Weihenstephaner. I’m drinking a Bell’s Two Hearted, which is a major shock to those who know me. I’ve been trying to drink beers that are not among my favorites lately, but in this episode I’m back to those favorites in a big way, as later I open up a Short’s Huma-Lupa-Licious. I mention that I would have Samuel Adams Tasman Red posted by the time this podcast went up, but I had issues with the video files and will have to re-shoot in order to upload it.

18:00 to 29:45 In our very first episode we talked about Sierra Nevada adding a second facility in Asheville, NC, and now New Belgium has picked Asheville as their location for a new facility. Since Lagunitas announced that they’re putting in a facility in Chicago, this seems to be a very real trend among the mid-sized and large-scale microbrewery market. Will the larger breweries “drown out” their smaller, more local competitors? Will there be ingredient shortages in things like malt and hops? I also mention the Beersmith Podcast 32, where Brad Smith talks about developing hop varieties.

29:45 to 33:30 We took a little break, and when we come back Ryan is cracking his last bottle of Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust. Ryan also teases us because he’s going to the Cask Ale Festival in San Diego where he’ll get to have Zombie Dust on cask. Bastard.

33:30 to 45:30 Session Beer Day! Lew Bryson founded it, and noted beer internet curmudgeonDing has some issues with it. Namely, that session beer can never be more than 4.0% ABV, despite the general American standard of 4.0%. Is a half a percent really worth this much argument? Ryan has a proposal for those Englishpersons who attack those of us who refer to beers above 4.0% as “session,” by saying that he’d like to take the term “IPA” from the Brits — if you’re not making a six or seven percent beer with huge hops, you’re not making an IPA.

45:30 to 60:01 Beer Regionality. Where you’re consuming the beer you’re consuming matters, at least in terms of what your palate is used to and what you’re most likely to enjoy. German beers, English beers, Czech beers, and various regions of the US are mentioned. Also, a shout-out to the guys at Craft Beer Radio. I think that’s three different podcasts I name-checked in this one episode; do I win a prize?

The Session Number 62: What Drives Beer Bloggers?

The Session is a beer blogging group roundup that I’ve done from time to time in the past, but seem to always miss posting for because I’m continually a week or two behind. So it goes.

This month’s topic is “What Drives Beer Bloggers?” I encourage you to read their explication in full as it’s difficult to excerpt and I don’t want to quote the whole thing.

I don’t have any particular handle on other beer bloggers, so here I’m going to have to talk about my own reasons for blogging. Besides the far-off dream of one day amassing enough of a following and establishing enough of a “name” in the field to do this for a living, it basically comes down to two reasons: communication and education. The first is easy: for most of my beer-geek life I’ve had few if any persons who were also interested in the intricacies of beer in my immediate area, and so sharing what I’m drinking online is a go-to substitute. I’d hazard to guess that through websites like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer that most budding beer geeks have some kind of hybrid of online and personal interaction about beer, especially when first starting out, and starting up a beer blog (or, at least, posting beer-related content on a personal blog, as I’ve been doing since August of 2005) is the logical next step.

Sure, as Brewpublic notes, there’s plenty of narcissism in the “let me show you what I’m drinking,” concept, and the very conceit of a blog in general tends to be self-focused and navel-gazing, but I think it’s ultimately about communicating a love for something amazing. Or not so amazing, for plenty of beers out there. It’s about reaching out and sharing with like-minded individuals.

The second reason I listed above is education. When I started getting into beer, it was in one of the most restrictive alcohol states in the country, with a six percent ABV cap on beer and a sixteen-ounce container size limit. (The former, thanks to Free the Hops has since been lifted; the latter has not.) There were maybe two hundred beers available in the entire state when I lived there, and about the most exotic were beers like Old Speckled Hen and Spaten. There was very little understanding in the culture around me that there even existed such a thing as “good” beer, what different styles were, et cetera. A common understanding of beer in that area (and among many people everywhere today) was that “better beer” just meant something like Michelob Amber Bock or Negra Modelo, i.e. that all beer is pretty much the same, but some beer is made of higher quality ingredients and more expensive. Many major beer producers Corona rely on this kind of marketing for their very existence.

So why blog? I spent so much time trying to navigate the world of craft beer with its dizzying array of styles that I decided to try to give a little back, to provide my hard-won knowledge to anyone with an internet connection who could find it. Which is why even to this day on my Youtube channel I take all the beer review requests I can from viewers, and have even read aloud viewer emails on my podcast. It’s about sharing, sure, but it’s about paying it forward, trying to share the knowledge that makes this stuff easier for those who come after me than I had it, and knowing that there’s a perfect pint out there for pretty much everyone.

Highfalutin’ words, I know, but that’s why I blog about beer.

Beyond the Pour Podcast Episode 5: Beer Hipsters and Session Beers (Special Guests! Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation and Zak Davis of Shmaltz Brewing)

Ryan had to take a last-minute trip to Germany for work, so he couldn’t join me for this podcast episode. I’m sure he’ll tell us all about it next time. In his stead, I asked my friend Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation to join me, and he brought a friend, Zak Davis from Shmaltz Brewing. It was a great time, but I’m looking forward to getting Ryan back for the next episode.


RSS link here. Psst! We’re now on iTunes!

Show Notes

0:00 to 1:10 Introductions. I’m joined today by Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation and Zak Davis from Shmaltz Brewing. Thanks to both for joining me.

1:10 to 7:00 What we’ve been drinking. Zak is drinking one of Shmaltz’s own beers, a Reunion 2011, produced in conjunction with Terrapin. Chris doesn’t have anything special at all, just a Coronado Idiot IPA. Poser. And I’m drinking a Short’s Prolonged Enjoyment Session IPA in honor of our main topic, Session Beers. Also a momentary mention of the Occupy movement, Bell’s Oberon, and a peek at some beers Chris may be reviewing on his Youtube channel shortly.

7:00 to 14:25 The incredibly confusing nature of Shmaltz Brewing. Chris and I give recommendations of Shmaltz beers to try.

14:25 to 32:22 “Beer Hipsters.” Vimeo user John Smith has created a series of videos about the newest wave of the so-called beer geeks. We’ve all seen the videos and discuss the phenomenon. I start out a bit snarky towards the newbies, but Chris sets me straight by telling me I’m just as bad as the worst of the beer hipsters, and Zak helps put the whole thing in perspective. Always great to get feedback when I’m being a dick.

32:22 to 43:14 Our feature topic: session beers. Lew Bryson is trying to set up this upcoming April 7 as “Session Beer Day.” What is a session beer, and do they have a real future in the American market. This could be a subject we cover for four hours by itself, so by necessity our conversation doesn’t cover everything, but I think we hit the high points of this topic.

43:14 to 44:57 Wrapping up, where to find our stuff on the Internet. Thanks to the guys for joining me on the podcast! Remember that you can email the podcast at if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for future episodes!

Pilsner/IPA Hybrid? — A Review of Victory Hopdevil

Victory Hopdevil
Downingtown, PA
6.7% ABV

I haven’t done a text review in awhile. Let’s see if it’s really like riding a bike.

Pour rich orange-amber color, likely all that German malt. Rich off-yellow thick creamy head that leaves a ton of lacing as I drink the beer. Aroma is strong with rich caramel malt, tons of biscuity quality. Hops are a bit subdued for an IPA, but it’s an older bottle (but still in code, so I feel it’s a fair review).

On the tongue I get a ton of the rich German malt with a nice crisp whole-hop bitterness. Victory is one of the only American breweries I know (the other is Sierra Nevada) that only use whole-cone hops, no pellets. Definitely gets a nice crisp bitterness and I’m a fan of the flavor. Some spicy notes are definitely present — I can’t find it based on a few minutes’ googling but I’d guess there are definitely some Saaz hops here, or some very similar variety.

Overall, this beer is ridiculously smooth and very enjoyable, but it’s hard to judge it as a straightforward American IPA, as it has a lot of characteristics you’d expect from a malty German or Czech Lager wrapped in an American hop profile and an ale yeast. It’s definitely something that inspires me to thoughts of homebrew, which is definitely a good sign. Very nice beer. I’d love to try a super-fresh bottle and see if the hops are more on the IPA side — for now I’m not going to let that affect my final grade.

Beyond the Pour grade: A-