Monthly Archives: June 2015

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/30/15

The beer links get a little wonky today, but it’s all good.

Growler Taste Test: Mystery Brewing Lockwood’s Retreat IPA

Mystery Brewing is one of my favorite brewers and they make some of my favorite beers to review (here and here).  The reason is simple.  While most of the rest of the craft beer world tries to find ways to make beer ever hoppier and find ingredients to blow people’s minds, Erik Lars Myers and his team go about their business making good beer.  Myers is on the leading edge of brewers who have realized that eventually you won’t be able to put anymore hops in beer and brewing beer with sriracha or scorpions or yeast from a brewer’s beard is a great gimmick.  However, that isn’t a sustainable strategy.  Instead Mystery concentrates on making flavorful beer using traditional ingredients in new and interesting ways.

20150628_215408Lockwood’s Retreat IPA may be the most traditionally American craft beer I’ve had from Mystery.  Lockwood’s Retreat is Mystery’s summer IPA offering.  The name comes from one of the narrators in Wuthering Heights, Mr. Lockwood.  Lockwood eventually retreats from the main characters’ raging emotional turmoil and Mystery developed this IPA developed as a retreat from the raging hops taste of most IPAs.

It pours a hazy dark color with an off white head. You get a lot of hops on the aroma, but it is more of a grassy and floral hoppiness that makes its hop profile more English in style while keeping the American hop intensity.  There is also a big malt aroma with bready sweetness.

The hoppiness continues with the taste.  Again, you get a grassy and floral taste as opposed to the citrusy and piney taste normally associated with the predominant West Coast IPAs.  The sweet maltiness holds up against the hoppiness creating a balanced beer.   This is the kind of beer you should give a friend trying to get into craft beer specifically IPAs.

The Spotify playlist for this beer was motivated by Mystery’s use of literature as inspiration.  Here are the songs with the corresponding literary parent.

  1. 2+2=5 by Radiohead – 1984 by George Orwell
  2. Christabel by Robert Earl Keen – Cristabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  3. Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police – Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
  4. Eveline by Nickel Creek – Eveline by James Joyce
  5. The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen – Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  6. Venus In Furs by Velvet Underground – Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
  7. The River by PJ Harvey – The River by Flannery O’Conner
  8. The Sensual World by Kate Bush – Closing of Ulysses by James Joyce
  9. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  10. Toilet Tisha by Outkast – Poor Liza by Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/29/15

This weekend saw a lot of action in the Charlotte beer scene highlighted by Wooden Robot’s soft opening and the NC Brewer’s Celebration.  Here are some links about those and other things.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/27/15

Saturday morning links are often hard to come by.  This morning was a little different.  There were lots of links, but were any worthy enough to be included in this list?  You decide.

  • I understand that some places use smaller glasses and pour lots of foam. Those places should be shamed and pilloried.  However, if you pour a beer correctly into a 16 oz. glass you should have about a half inch of foam at the top.  Two reasons for this:  it looks better and the foam helps create aroma which helps the beer taste better.  Of course, I’m talking about pouring craft beer which normally has more flavor than your average American light lager.  By the way, this is a weird thing to make your crusade.
  • Highland Brewing is sometimes forgotten in the burgeoning NC craft beer scene. Forgotten in the sense that they make consistently good/drinkable, though not spectacular, beer.  They appear to be going on the offensive go combat that perception with a new “Warrior” series. (See what I did there “combat” and “warrior”. I’m a professional, don’t try this at home.)
  • Even as NC and SC continue to have new breweries pop up seemingly in every town, craft brewers from out of state are trying to enter both markets. It will be interesting to see how the new breweries coming in and all the new breweries starting up will affect the production levels of established NC brewers in the long run.
  • Its 2015 and we are still arguing over the term craft brewery. Unfortunately it will only get worse now the federal government tax code will have a hand in partially defining the term.  The Brewer’s Association has massaged the term over the last few years to keep Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada among others in the ranks of craft beer and they will continue massaging their definition.  That will not change.  However, I’m tired of the endless hand ringing and arguments over who is or what is craft.  You know it when you taste it.
  • This is an article that makes a good point about the ubiquity of the IPA and how it is unfortunately taking over much of the craft world (at least for the general public coming into craft). It also gives a few good alternatives to IPAs.  However, and maybe because it is such a short article, shows little understanding that here in America there are lots of brewers who make beers other than IPAs and they manage to sell lots of beer too.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/26/15

The five links takes a decidedly business and law tact today.

  • There was no doubt this was going to be number one on the links list today. I don’t really know how having a legal tax designation for what is a craft brewer is going to effect the people inside the craft world.  A lot of that discussion is already taking place. The more interesting aspect is how this effects those just entering craft beer.  Will they even notice or care?
  • The “What is this craft beer thing” kind of articles are so cute. This one comes all the way from Singapore, but it has good advice for novices in craft brewing.
  • The article asks the question, “Will AB-Inbev and MillerCoors simply assimilate enough craft brewers to make the concept of craft beer meaningless?” I kind of expected one of the AB-Inbev people in the article to say, “Resistance is futile.”
  • Florida craft beer has been an enigma. On one hand they produce some really great beers and they produce a lot of it.  They are 5th in state rankings of production.  On the other hand, they had some of the strangest beer laws in the US, notably the growler law that said you could sell 32 oz. growlers or 128 oz. growlers buy not the industry standard 64 oz. growler.  That will all end on July 1 when a new set of laws goes into effect.
  • Will Gordon, reviews the new Red Spur Red IPA from Lonerider here in NC. We often get asked if we have any ambers on draft at Craft. I think it is because a lot of NC craft beer drinkers like Highland’s Gaelic Ale and without asking want to know if we have it on tap.  I also think it is because many people here craft beer terms like IPA, amber ale, pale ale, black IPA, and have no idea what they mean.  I had someone once ask me if we had any black IPAs on tap and then point to another beer description and ask, what does DIPA mean?

Growler Taste Test: D9 Southern Tea American Wheat Ale

Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass. Like Guinness in Ireland. Or ouzo in Greece. – Allison Glock, Sweet Tea:  A Love Story, Garden & Gun July/August 2008.

Sweet tea is a part of the South.  There is a line somewhere around Northern Virginia where sweet tea isn’t expected nor always offered.  That’s when you know you have left the South.  (Right now, I know the South is in the news for a history that hasn’t always been dealt with honestly.  If you want to find places that talk about that history in all its beautiful and painful glory go to Bitter Southerner or the Southern Foodways Alliance.)

There are a few tea inspired beers out on the market and at least a couple of tea inspired brews from Charlotte area breweries alone.  Unknown Brewing has Hospitali-Tea, an amber beer that tastes remarkably like a glass of sweet tea.

IMG_20150622_162528Another version of a tea inspired beer from the Charlotte area comes from D9 Brewing out of Cornelius called Southern Tea.  This is a slightly different take then the one from Unknown.  Southern Tea is an American Wheat Ale instead of a naturally sweeter amber.

First, it pours a pleasant hazy gold color giving it a nice inviting wheaty look.  Along with a sweet breadiness and yeasty fruit sweetness you also get the aroma of black and orange teas.  In other words it smells like a glass of sweet tea with lemon.

One thing it doesn’t get from sweet tea is the sugary stickiness.  A good sweet tea should coat your mouth and make your teeth hurt with sugar.  Southern Tea does not do that, thank goodness.  The alcohol taste is rather mild as is the hop taste which bends mostly towards herbal and citrus.  The malt and the yeast provide a sweet platform for the black and orange teas used in the brewing.  The tea taste is especially apparent on the backend.  Making a good refreshing summer beer that avoids being a bad imitation of a lemon infused sweat tea. Instead, tasting like a sweet tea with lemon which is perfect for porch sitting.

I could not come up with a good and interesting angle on a playlist, so I just put together ten songs I like that should be good to drink beer with.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/25/15

The links are here.  Have fun reading.

Growler Taste Test: Gibb’s Hundred Blind Man’s Holiday Pale Ale

Gibbs Hundred is a new brewery located in Greensboro, NC.  I lived in Greensboro for a few years, unfortunately that was right before the growth of downtown Greensboro into a place someone would actually want to go and visit.  This is part of a national trend for older cities with empty buildings in their central city area.  They are finding that the growing craft beer community (brewers, bars, etc.) and other craft oriented small businesses love using older buildings.  First, they are usually cheaper to buy or rent because the city is trying to get anyone they can find to use it to increase tax revenue.  Second, they often have a good worn in look that fits well with the craft beer aesthetic.

Currently, Gibbs offers only three beers:  The Guilty Party ESB, Cherchez La Femme Milk Stout, and Blind Man’s Holiday Greensboro Pale Ale.  While this may seem limiting, I actually like it.  Too many times new brewers get too caught up in producing as many different beers as they can to keep their name in front of drinkers.  They try to come up with some new and exciting tastes to shock people.  Instead, I wish more brewers would concentrate on making a core group of three or four beers and perfecting the taste and consistency across each batch.

IMG_20150622_130645The Greensboro Pale Ale pours a classic pale color with a slight haze.  It has a good foamy head with a pleasing retention.  It paints a very inviting picture.  There is a nice bready aroma accompanying the citrusy, fruity, and floral hop notes.

It feels soft on the palate and the taste lasts on the tongue long enough to make you want another sip. The alcohol taste doesn’t overwhelm and neither do the hops.  You get a distinct taste of floral, citrusy, and herbal hops but not to the point of distraction.  The malt flavor provides a sweet counterbalance to the hops.

It isn’t earth shattering and it doesn’t change the way you view beer, but that doesn’t seem to be the point.  All in all, this is a solid and very drinkable American-style Pale Ale.

Gibbs is in Greensboro, which made me think of the NC A&T Jazz Ensemble, which made me think of Duke Ellington’s Take The A-Train, which led to this playlist.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/24/15

The links are a little late today.  This will be followed by at least one growler review and probably to.

  • Here is another review from one of my favorite beer writers. The reason I like Will Gordon’s reviews is not solely because of his taste in beer (we have similar palates).  It is mostly because he is trying to tell a story and make it interesting.  He uses the reviews in a way that  allows him to comment on the entire beer world.  He doesn’t take this thing too seriously and he understands most people only want to know if they are going to like the beer.  Building the narrative helps explain to readers why they may or may not like a beer. They don’t need a long dissertation on the ways taste is translated from your tongue to the brain.
  • Having said that, here is a link that will help you learn all those pretentious words I just decried. This is a good quick primer on some of the things you may here beer judges, Cicerones, and brewers say to each other when talking about beer.
  • I wish local newspapers or magazines in every area with a lot of breweries and beer businesses would run an article like this. Mostly to remind some of the men involved in beer and brewing that women are an integral part of this endeavor.  The vast majority of breweries and brewers get that, but as in all things there are still strains of the “He-man Woman Haters Club” running through brewing.
  • This is mostly about the Oktoberfest that will be coming to Sierra Nevada’s Asheville beer palace this October, but it has a nice listing of many of the major beer events occurring in Western North Carolina this year.
  • Another brewery is coming, this time to Cabarrus County. I know I have seemed like a person waiting for the sky to fall with all the new breweries opening up almost on a monthly basis.  However, my interest is more in what is the point at which the market is saturated.  When will we hit the place where we can no longer support all the breweries and some of the breweries ambitions?  Followed by, what happens next?  Will it be like the 1990s when the herd is culled of the weak and unfocused leading to the explosion we have seen over the last few years?  Or will it just become an absorption.  By that I mean, will the larger craft brewers simply absorb the smaller failing breweries around them like amoebas?

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/23/15

The morning links are here.  From Australia to Tennessee to North Carolina, here are the links. By the way, this is the 50th version of the links.