Tag Archives: local breweries

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/22/16

It is a snowy Friday. Let me take that back and explain to people not from North Carolina what is going on here. There is maybe 3 inches of snow on the ground. That isn’t the problem. The problem is the sleet and freezing rain that follows and then the fact that the melting snow will freeze again tonight.  Also, the reason we don’t plow the roads is we don’t have enough snow plows because this happens maybe twice a year in this part of the state.  Anyway, here is some beer news.

Taste Test: 2015 Up All Night and 2015 Up All Night Bourbon Barrel Aged

One of the trends that has taken hold in craft beer over the last few years is barrel ageing beers. They have become so ubiquitous that the Beer Judge Certification Program, the primary style definer of American craft beer, has two new categories for the 2015 edition of the style guide.

I find barrel aged beer interesting because they are usually a version of another beer the brewer already makes.  How the ageing changes the beer via the time spent in the barrels and the properties the barrels themselves provides the beer are both fascinating.  Depending on the type of barrel used, i.e. bourbon, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, or wine, what the barrels provide the beer is different each time. Bourbon barrels provides additional sweetness and caramel and wine barrels provide tart or buttery notes depending on the wine.

Despite the common misconception, the ageing does not provide more alcohol to the beer.  There are two reasons why this misconception persists.  The first, many times the beer aged in the barrels is a high ABV beer in order to stand up to the ageing.  The second is the beer usually takes on some of the taste characteristics of the liquid that was originally in the barrels.  The taste of bourbon often makes people think of alcohol.  I make a bourbon pound cake that people swear gets them a little drunk even though the alcohol cooks off as the cake bakes.

20160113_101339Weighing in at 10% the Triple C Up All Night and Up All Night Bourbon Barrel Aged start off big and flavorful.  Let’s begin with the Up All Night.

Up All Night is a breakfast porter, which means it is brewed with coffee.  Using a strong taste like that as your base for a bourbon barrel aged beer is important.  The bourbon tastes can overwhelm the beer taking away its unique qualities.  A

After pouring a nice dark brown with a good fluffy head, you get the clear aroma of coffee when you take a sniff.  There are also hints of vanilla and honey once it warms a bit.

When you taste it, its big coffee flavor matches the aroma with notes of honey on the back end.  As a fan of both coffee flavors and honey, I enjoy this beer immensely.  For a beer with as big an ABV and use of honey, it is still a porter which makes it comparatively light on the tongue and dangerously easy to drink.  High ABV beers often have what is termed a boozy taste, meaning the taste of the alcohol is present and honey often gives a beer a cloying heavy taste.  Neither is present in these beers.

The bourbon barrel aged version differs slightly.  As it should.  It is a little inkier and thicker in appearance.  That may be the psychological effect of knowing it is a bourbon barrel aged beer.  The aroma also changes in that the coffee is shunted to the background by bourbon and hints of caramel.  It isn’t as light on the tongue and has a more velvety feel on the tongue.  Interestingly, to my palate, the roasted nature of the coffee is more pronounced and give it a little more bite. Again, that is why coffee is a good match for barrel ageing, it is a strong flavor that stands up to the bourbon, in this case.

The bourbon barrel Up All Night does what a barrel aged beer should do:  It adds different flavors and highlights ones already present in the original version.  Both Up All Night and Up All Night Bourbon Barrel Aged are well worth your time if you can still find them.

Here is another cool thing, this time, next year, I will do a vertical tasting of 2015 and 2016 bourbon barrel aged versions.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/5/16

I’m back at home from Asheville.  There will be a blog post summarizing the trip with photos.  There was no Five Articles yesterday because I didn’t find five articles worth writing about.  Then I got back home and slept. I start my study for the Cicerone today as soon as this is posted.

  • This saddens me. I love Ska’s beer, but this is what happens when you the number of breweries in your state explode like North Carolina.  Ska isn’t one of the huge names in brewing.  The average person who is just coming to craft beer in North Carolina has not heard of Ska Brewing. Out of state breweries like Ska, Mad River, or Alpine have a hard hill to climb to just get their foot in the door right now.
  • Here is a nice beer and cider release and event calendar for western NC and Upstate SC.
  • I honestly do not understand everyone’s fascination with party bikes. I look at them and see lots of people getting seriously injured to do something wholly unnecessary and stupid.
  • I’ll be interested to see how this works because I have questions. At what level of beer sales must you get to in order to participate in this keg program? There is no way it can involve self-distribution, which means this will only involve third party distributors of mostly big brands. I think it will simplify their lives, but no one else’s.
  • Why did it take 12 years for someone to buy this place and start renovating it? I don’t understand how municipalities let huge tracts of land and abandoned building stay dormant for so long. Those spaces, sitting empty, add no value of any kind and they usually look horrible.  From seeing this happen in other places, I think one of two things delays getting the are renovated.  In a perfect situation, there are too many people with too many ideas and not enough money competing.  In the bad situation, the property owners think what they have is worth more then it actually is and make unreasonable demands.  Eventually, someone gets enough money to make something happen and/or the property owners figure out it’s better to sell then keep paying taxes on empty space.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read and Why, 12/18/15

The Friday before Christmas means many, many Christmas parties.  We had 4 at once last night.  If you’ve been to Craft, you know it’s not that big.  Anyway on to the Five Articles.  It is the end of year and writers are looking back at the year in beer.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/15/15

I had an early morning training to go to yesterday and it lasted all day, so I missed the Five Articles.  I do heartily apologize.  There are some good articles today.  No, I will not link to the 2000th story on a grandma beating her daughter in a beer mile race, because I don’t care about beer mile races.  Also, I will not link to any articles about the guy suing Fosters because his was brewed in Texas and not Australia.  Again, I don’t care.  I do have some interesting articles that keep me entertained and curious. Also, when reading the last bullet point, remember what Battlestar Galactica taught us, “All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/13/15

A slow, foggy, and sleepy Sunday is upon us.  It was the first since September not following a college football Saturday and I’m still recovering.  Anyway, here are a few articles to read during halftime of whatever football games you watch this afternoon.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/8/15

It’s Tuesday, and I’m a little late today because I stayed up to watch the worst football game I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve playing in a monsoon or a blizzard.  It was like watching a slow motion train wreck.  I couldn’t look away.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/5/15

All artistically successful creative endeavors have one thing in common: their authenticity.  That means they have a thread of the “real” running through them that the viewer/reader can feel.  That real thing isn’t some posture created simply to attract a certain demographic.  It is something deeply felt and deeply held by the artist. It is a part of the artist’s core being.  With the explosion of new breweries popping up I think this question of authenticity in craft beer will become more important. Two things are happening.  First, in order to distinguish themselves from others brewers are trying to find their thing.  That thing that sets them apart and makes them stand out from all the others.  The second thing that will happen is the consumer will figure out which brewers’ distinguishing characteristics are authentic and will drift towards the ones who actually represent something and not just some market-tested affectation.  In other words, it may take a while, but the public almost always figures out what is bullshit.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/16/15

The first cold/flu bout of the season is over. I can actually communicate verbally now.  Anyway, on to the five articles.

Ask The Beer Counselor: What Is The Future?

One thing that happens when I talk to distributor or brewery reps when they come by Craft to either sell me beer or drink beer as patrons, is the future of the American craft beer industry.  I will stipulate that I can barely tell you what my future is over the next 10 months.  So any ideas I have about American craft beer over the next 10 years should be taken with a grain of salt.  I do hope, however, you find this stimulating.

I would like to give a hat tip to The Brew Enthusiast for posting a similar piece a couple of days ago.  His piece got me thinking as I hope mine does for you. Additionally, part of my motivation was to try and find different things that he did not mention in his piece.

Beer will be really big or really small

The primary thing I see happening over the next 10 years is craft brewers will either by really big or really small.  By that I mean, the older established brewers, particularly those that survived the first craft beer boom in the 1990s, will be national breweries.  Think Sierra Nevada or Oskar Blues or a conglomerate like Craft Beer Alliance.  These breweries have large national followings as well as breweries across the country that give them the feel of local breweries.  On the other side, if you look at the Brewer’s Association statistics the explosive growth in the number of craft brewers is fed by the growth of nanobrewing and smaller local breweries serving their surrounding cities and counties.  The group of breweries in the middle, the regional sized brewers who just want to distribute to one or two states are the ones that will be in a dangerous position of trying to be both things: small and large at the same time.

Uniformity in law

The alcohol laws in this country are a messy hodgepodge created out of prohibition, regional mores, and tax burdens.  As the craft beverage industry has grown in economic clout, many of the laws in each state have come under needed attack to make them fairer for producers and easier to navigate for consumers.  Just in the last year you can see the push to make these laws more uniform across the country.  Cities and counties across the country are strapped for tax revenue and the beer business is a way to stimulate growth in failing industrial areas and create tourism.  Changing local and statewide alcohol laws are a way to stimulate the craft beer industry.  One of the things I will say is that even as craft beverage manufacturers get more flexibility with laws distributors and wholesalers will not lose any of their economic clout or political power.  The primary reason for that is many of the most powerful state politicians around the country are also some of the biggest alcohol distributors in their states.  Those with power do not let go easily.

Beer and the environment

Brewers will be forced to take a bigger role in environmental sustainability.  Many already do.  The reason for this is quite simple: At its core brewing is an agricultural business that uses lots of water. Creating brewing processes that use less water or recycle water is something that must be done.  Figuring out ways to repurpose, reuse, or recycle the other ingredients used also must be done.  As I said, many brewers are already doing that.  Many brewers are also using the farm-to-table model of using only local ingredients and other brewers are using the farmhouse brewery model to cut out any of the middlemen.  I love both of those movements and think they will both become more and more important to the craft beer world as the industry progresses.

Beer culture is more than just a fad

This is a culture with a deep vein in all of human history.  The depth of beer culture is more akin to comic books. Both have a deep and strong core of geeks who, while the minority of the people who enjoy it, will never leave and never let the culture go away.   Also, beer culture is growing because the depth and breadth of the ancillary businesses sprouting up around craft beer is amazing.  Not just bars and magazines and those types of things, but businesses that come along and try to enhance (or take advantage of) the experience of craft beer.  This is the reason I don’t think this is a fad that will disappear.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts.  They aren’t quite complete and I reserve the right to change them over the next ten years.