Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slacker, I know it...

So I figured I'd missed a couple of days blogging, and I look up and BOOM! nine days have passed. Xmas shopping, homebrewing, drinking beer, and a bevy of girls in little white nurse's outfits have occupied my days as of late (congratulations, Jess!), so I've neglected the blog. Aye, 'tis many a sad thing.

But, as Gloria Gayner said, now I'm back, with an even beerier disposition. But enough about me. To the newsroom!

Apparently the Boston Globe has just now realized that craft beer is a great alternative to a $5 six-pack. Thank you, Ms. Cortissoz, for shedding light on craft beer, as it has been hidden in the dark recesses of beer-drinking culture for decades. Psssht. My problem with this article isn't its mission: it's admirable to offer consumers a better product for less money, especially when it's beer. But if you're writing to people who are buying $5 six-packs and saying things like, "A corn-silk colored, sparkly wheat beer, not as pungent as a Belgian, but with some of the same banana and clove notes," I get upset. First of all, people who buy $5 six-packs don't know what a wheat beer is. They certainly don't know what a Belgian is -- never mind the fact that it's "pungent," whatever that means. And if you told the average Bud drinker that this beer had notes of banana and clove, he'd laugh right in your face. It's counterproductive to write about beers with such advanced flavor proflies and target such an article at American Macro Lager drinkers. You'll just scare them. This article is unraveling what we're all trying so hard to accomplish -- a more global appreciation of the world beyond American Macro Lagers. Due respect, Ms. Cortissoz, but you must -- MUST -- more thoroughly consider your audience before you write down to them.

Sparks, MillerCoors's abominable beer-energy drink hybrid, will be reformulated effective immediately, according to the Chicago Tribune. As it turns out, politicos don't like the fact that MC is mixing stimulants and alcohol. Apparently MC was criticized by attorneys general from 25 states, including Illinois where it will be moving its headquarters next year. Sparks, which made a name for itself for being a cheaper alternative to vodka and Red Bull (and just as effective at getting college girls drunk enough to think I'm attractive), will have caffeine and other stimulants removed from its future incarnations. Reports from anonymous (and TOTALLY reliable) sources indicate that MillerCoors, in an effort to maintain brand loyalty in the Sparks demographic, will replace the caffeine and other stimulants with crack. Bottoms up.

Apparently the next De Proef collaboration will feature Bell's of Kalamazoo, MI. (Other notable things to come out of Kalamazoo include Derek Jeter and The Verve Pipe.) Now, I haven't had many Bell's brews -- not available on the East Coast, as so many good beers aren't -- but it seems to me that their big sellers are their stouts: Beer Advocate says they have 15 different stout variations, including the limited editions, all of which are rated highly. Expedition stout is damn tasty, a thick, silken tribute to the wonders of roasted malt. So it might make sense that the De Proef / Bell's collaboration might be a Belgian stout. Which sucks, because as much as I like stouts, I severely dislike Belgian stouts. Picobrouwerij Alvinne's Podge Belgian Imperial Stout was the best I've had, and I thought it sucked gigantic donkey balls. Anyway, I hope they don't go down this road, because if they do... oh, who the hell am I kidding? I'll still drink it. Read the press release on BA. (Update: I just got a very nice email from Alan Shapiro of SBS Imports who cautioned against assuming the collaboration would be a Belgian stout. According to Shapiro, "I think John Mallet of Bell's wants to collaborate on something unique...." This got me salivating to the point where I had to change my shirt.)

Aussies have perfected the craft of creating non-beer. Just when you thought that Michelob Ultra had died a slow, painful death, I give you BIGHEAD, a no-carb beer that's sure to bore you to death.

Former Beer Judge Certification Program President and Treasurer William B. Slack of Nashua, NH was sentenced to five years probation, $43k in restitution, and twelve weeks of imprisonment as part of a plea agreement for misappropriating funds while heading the BJCP. Good to see this dirtbag brought to justice. While the BJCP will not make public comment on this issue, their website says they are satisfied with the judgement and now consider the matter closed. My thought: imagine the kind of homebrew Gordon Strong could make with a $43k budget! I shudder to think about it.

If you're on the Cambridge Brewing Company's mailing list, you must be getting tired of getting all those emails (3 a week, it seems) about their Brew Years Eve Party. Will someone buy the rest of the tickets to that event so I can stop hearing about how they're going to run out TODAY, so buy NOW? They should have hired Billy Mays to advertise this party. It would have been just as annoying. That said, it sounds like a crazy cool event, and you should definitely check out the details.

More later.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SN's Torpedo IPA Goes Full-Time

Apparently Sierra Nevada is releasing its formerly seasonal Torpedo Extra IPA on a year-round basis beginning Jan. 15th, 2009. (Check out for the article.)
Personally, and I know I'm in the minority here, I'm not a huge fan of Sierra Nevada. I know, I know, how could I possibly not love such a wonderful craft brewery, hop-masters that they are? Well, I tell you, I'm not aversed to hoppy brews. In fact, some of my favorite brews have a strong hop backbone (i.e. Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA, Flying Dog Double Pale, Great Divide St. Bridget's Porter, etc.). But good beer -- for me, at least -- is all about balance. Almost every beer I've had from Sierra is hop-heavy without the supporting malt. I keep expecting Dogfish Head-caliber balance from these highly-rated IPAs, and I keep getting tons of citrusy hops and only mediocre malt weight.
So I'm not shaking in my boots about this one, especially considering it's a spin-off of the Celebration which I disliked more than usual. But I'll try anything once. Who knows? I might love this one and change my mind about SN. Here's hoping, right?

Monday, December 8, 2008

News Shots

Here's the latest from the world of beer:

In the wake of their takeover of Budweiser, AB/InBev cut 1,400 jobs this week. This comes on the heels of reports that AB/InBev was ordered to sell the U.S. Labatt unit. According to the CNN article, 75% of the 1,400 jobs are corporate positions in the St. Louis headquarters, more than 250 of which will not be filled. What a mess. If AB/InBev wants to save money, get rid of the Clydesdales. The sale of the horses and property alone would generate tons of immediate revenue without damaging the workforce. Meanwhile, they could afford to announce layoffs in the coming year and allow employees to find other jobs before they got the axe. So much for compassion. Oh, wait, this is the business world we're talking about, not the beer industry. I forgot.

More uplifting news: Mayflower Brewing Company is about to release growlers of a new bourbon-barrel aged Porter. The barrels, which once held Buffalo Trace bourbon, were given to the brewery by Julio's Liquors in Westborough, who had purchased the barrels for special single-barrel bottlings of the craft bourbon. Growlers will be filled at the brewery and will be available on a first-come first-served basis on 12/12 and 12/13. 35 growlers will be made available on each day, and will go for $20 a pop (including a $2 deposit). Get there early!

Heineken has decided to buy Beamish, and close the brewery. The move would cut 120 jobs, and the remaining workforce would be transferred to the Heineken-owned Murphy's brewery in Cork. This hits a particular nerve with me. One of my earliest drinking memories was enjoying a pint of Beamish, and reveling at the wonderful velvety mouthfeel of this dry Irish stout. Stock up while you can. Slainte!

Dann Paquette has created a new brand -- not a brewery, mind you, but a brand -- called Pretty Things Beer & Ale. He's renting space in the Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA. Pretty Things's first brew, "Jack D'Or," is an American Saison, and is the first Paquette brew to be sold in Massachusetts since 2005. Paquette has just recently returned from several years of brewing in North Yorkshire, England. Check out Todd Alstrom's BA writeup for more info. Here's where you can find Pretty Things on tap and in bottles. Color me crazy excited!

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend update, Pt. 2

Okay, part two. Today we'll be covering CT and RI. Here goes:


Thomas Hooker is holding its weekly beer tasting on Saturday the 13th. They're also holding an open house on Friday the 19th. Go grab a Hooker.

Carlson Craft Brewery has released its seasonal Yule Ale, and they're particularly miffed that people keep writing about tasting "winter spice" in it. For the record, there aren't any spices. None. So stop saying there are. Because there aren't any. Not a one. Zero. Honestly.

Southport Brewing Company has a lot going on in its various locations: you've got your brunch at the Southport location, Kid's Night on Fridays at the Stamford location, a DJ on Saturdays from 10:30 to close at the Branford bar, a live band on Fridays at the Milford location, and Karaoke every Thursday night at all locations, including the Hamden location. Check this site for all the updates you need.

The Olde Burnside Brewing Company, brewers of the notable Ten Penny Ale, are holding tastings all over CT this week. Check out their site for times and locations.

I didn't know this, but apparently every Monday at Bru Rm. at BAR, after 10PM, every other pint is a penny. Freakin' awesome! Or you could grab a pitcher of Damn Good Stout for $15. Delicious.

Hops Restaurant is serving Flying Squirrel Nut Brown Ale. Try it with their Jamaican Jerk Steak. TaDYEfah!

Bring in your favorite drinking vessel on Stein Day every Sunday at the Willimantic Brewing Co. for deep discounts. Bring a trash can and a firehose, if you'd like. (Just don't tell 'em I told you to.) You can get an extra 4 oz. of beer for free on Thursdays, too.

Delaney's Taproom welcomes back the C.A.S.C Club on the 20th. If you're not in, get in. You'll be glad you did.

Keep an eye out for Tara's Boulba, Dogfish Head 120 Minute, and Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence on tap at My Place Restaurant. Mmmm, delicious.

No updates from The Cabridge House, City Steam Brewery, John Harvards in Manchester, Cottrell Brewing Co., New England Brewing Co., Eli Cannon's, Prime-16, or the Race Book Brewpub.

Rhode Island:

Coastal Extreme Brewing, brewers of Newport Storm, host a tour and tasting every friday at 6:00. That way, you don't get lost.

Check out the new Draft List from Doherty's. (Free webhosting provided by Myspace.)

No updates from the Mohegan Brewery and Cafe, Coddington Brewery, Trinity Brewing Co., Union Station, Pitcher's Pub, Pour Judgement, RI Billiard, The Indian Lounge, or Track 84.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New England News and Updates

It's Saturday, and as will become tradition, I'll give you the latest run-down from every brewery in New England that has news to report. We go North to South by state, starting, of course, with Maine.


Gritty McDuff's of Bar Harbor is celebrating its 21st birthday all day on 12/21/08 with 21 IPA. Here's a run-down of what the beer will be like:

Gritty’s 21 IPA is a unique blend of American hops with a British body utilizing English 2-Row Pale malts. This IPA starts with a hoppy aroma and taste; ending with a sweet finish. Plenty of Munich and caramalts are used to give the beer that golden hue. There are fifty-six pounds of Cascade Hops used in each 50 barrel batch that is brewed! Then we finish the beer with Willamette & Warrior Hops, (Warrior is a high-alpha acid variety of hops). All this leads to an IPA that is worthy to celebrate ur 21st Anniversary!

Sebago's South Portland location is apparently moving to 201 Southborough St. in Scarborough as of Feb. 2009. If you've got any gas money leftover after your trip to the EBF, definitely swing by and check out their new restaurant which, they say, "has been designed to have an incredible cozy feel that will include a custom bar, more booth seating and an intimate dining room with fireplace!"

Shipyard has finally released their Pugsley Series Barleywine and Imperial Porter. Haven't tried either of these yet (though when I do, you'll know about them), but initial reviews have been positive.

Still waiting for Allagash to bottle that 100 percent spontaneously fermented beer. C'mon, Rob Tod. I've been salivating for almost a year now!

Geary has released their Winter Ale, which is always a nice little treat. Nothing like an IPA to warm your cockles. Provided your cockles are cold, of course.

Still waiting for the Run of the Mill Public House and Brewpub to open so I finally have a good excuse to go to Saco, ME.

No news from Sea Dog, Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Marshall Wharf, Stone Coast, The Bag and Kettle, Freeport Brewing Company, The Liberal Cup Publick House, Bray's, Bear Brewpub, Slopes Northern, Oak Pond, Kennebec River Brewery, Sheepscot Valley Brewing, or Penobscot Bay Brewery.


Long Trail announced recently that it would attend the Philly Craft Beer Festival on March 7, 2009. The event will host 50 different breweries and 120 different beers from across the country. If I had a travel budget, I'd so be there, too.

American Flatbread will host "Holidazed & Confused" On Dec. 17th at 5PM. We haven't found out much except that there will be a "very special" holiday draft lineup. Also, on Jan. 13, AF will feature Allagash, as they have done annually for the past three years.

Ambergris, an ale brewed with sage flowers, ginseng, sandalwood, and chipolte meco, is still on tap at the Vermont Pub & Brewery. Keep an eye out for Absinthe the Beer, brewed with a "psychotic yeast strain," Artemesia absinthium, lemon balm, chamomille flowers, coriander, peppermint, licorice, and ginger root. I'm a big fan of the Green Fairy, so these guys can expect a visit from me real soon.

Otter Creek, who sponsor the After Dark Music Series, are proud to welcome Michelle Shocked and Chris Smither on Jan. 16th and 17th, respectively.

Spotted: Double Smoked Porter from Rock Art Brewery at Julio's Liquors in Westborough. This was a couple of weeks ago, so call ahead to see if it's still there.

Magic Hat will be at the Dover Bar and Grill on the 10th.

No news from Madison Brewing Co., McNeill's Brewery, The Bobcat Cafe, Switchback Brewery, Three Needs Brewery & Taproom, Trout River, The Brewery at the Norwich Inn, The Shed, Lawson's Finest Liquids, The Alchemist, Scuffer Steak & Ale House, or Tom's Loft Tavern.

New Hampshire:

Join Tuckerman Brewing Company every Wednesday at Wildcat Mountain from 3-5PM for some apres-ski happy fun times. Don't drink and ski. (That means you, Kennedy family.)

Milly's Tavern in Manchester is hosting a music showcase to benefit New Horizons on Dec. 13th. Cover charge is $10, and all of the proceeds go directly to New Horizons. You can also drop off canned goods from the 13th to the 25th. Bring in four cans before the 24th, and get one free meal with the purchase of another. Give, drink, eat, drink, smile, drink. In that order. Please.

The Anheuser-Busch satellite brewery in Merrimack burned down, then the ashes were collected, put in a series of coffee cans, doused in gasoline, lit on fire, and shot into space. And the Clydesdales were cut up and melted down for label glue. Okay, that didn't really happen, but if it had, would you really have cared?

Pennichuck has their Wye Winter Wassail (Bronze Medal, 2008 GIBF) available at the brewery. According to their website, they also have a batch of 2007 Pompier English-Style Barleywine aging in oak, and Backdraft Chocolate Porter in the tank. They must all be new; I can't find reviews of them on either of the big beer-rating websites, not even the New England-based one. Still, great ratings for the RIS they put in barrels, and the regular Pompier is awesome, so I'm looking forward to this one. And Chocolate Porter -- well, you just can't screw up a chocolate porter, as far as I'm concerned.

Go see the Nick Goumas Jazz band on Thursdays from 7-10 at Martha's Exchange, and stick around for Karaoke from 10-close. You can do Jazz Karaoke if you want, but no one will think you're as cool as you think you are.

Troubadour Harvey Reid is playing the 13th annual Christmas Concert at the Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille in New London on Dec. 11th. Bring home a growler of Isle of Pines Barleywine, and another one for me.

If you're in the Loon Mountain area, check out Wassail Weekend at the Woodstock Station on Dec. 12-14. I was shocked to learn that the Woodstock Wassail clocked in at 8%. Just the thing to warm you up after a day on the mountain.

On tap at the Portsmouth Brewery, you've got yer American Mild, Black Cat Stout, Bottle Rocket IPA, Dirty Blonde Ale, Scotch Ale, Winter Rye, and Winter Wiezen. Oh, and 65 days until the release of Kate the Great. WHOO!

On Dec. 11th at 7PM, Redhook in Portsmouth is debuting TWO beers! SaturnALEia Double Red and the limited re-release of Double Black Stout. Donate two cans of non-perishable food and get a free gift!

In early January, Smuttynose will release the first beer in the 2009 Big Beer Series. To be called Gravitation Belgian Quad, the beer... well, actually we don't know anything about the beer, because no one seems to want to spill the beans yet. To guarantee your fair share of this beer and all the beers in the Big Beer Series, go here to join the Big Beer Subscription. Trust me, it's worth it.

No updates for Elm City Brewery, The Italian Oasis, Moat Mountain, or The Seven Barrel Brewery.


The Amherst Brewing Company is planning on adding 40 seats to its downstairs pub and more seating to the bar. Welcome back, college kids! We missed you! (Check the website for updates.) Currently on tap, aside from the standard styles, are Workingman's Wheat, Ryeteous Red, Wedding Witte, and Lewmeister Octoberfest. Yes, there's still Octoberfest to be had. Get it while it's... uh... malty!

Nashoba Valley is brewing a special batch of Weizenbock for the winter. Haven't had it yet; if any of you have, let a brother know. (And free samples are always appreciated.)

You have spoken, and the next Sam Adams beer to hit the shelves will be Blackberry Witbier. I voted for the coffee stout. Thanks a lot, jerks. Also, entries to the Patriot Homebrew Contest must be received by this Monday, Dec. 8, so get to it! Oh, and Chocolate Bock is out there, but if your local package store ever got any, they're probably sold out by now. Still, pick it up if you can.

Beer Works has released their December lineup. Check them out here.

Harpoon announced recently that they will be adding two locations in Albany and Philadelphia. And today, they'll be sending "Harpoon Helpers" around to area food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters to spread a little holiday cheer. Heartwarming. Like little human Winter Warmers. Only not as delicious.

Cambridge Brewing tapped Big Man Ale on Dec. 2nd, and while I couldn't be there for the cask tapping, I'm sure as hell not going to miss this wonderful beer.

John Harvard's brews are now available on the Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket ferries. Yarr!

Cody Brewing Company is working on building a website, I think. That's what they say, anyway. Could be that the feds shut down the site.

John Lennon Night. Gardner Ale House. Monday, Dec. 8th. Be there.

Cape Ann Brewery got their pouring license in August, which means Fisherman's Tea Party by the glass. Oh darlin'.

Already gave an update on Mercury/Ipswich this week. Check it out here.

Be sure to drop by Sound Bites in Somerville every Monday to play trivia with the guys from Rapscallion.

The Northampton Brewery is bringing back Scuba's Hot Saaz, made with Saaz hops and chile peppers. This never ends well.

Pittsfield Brew Works is throwing a trivia party on the 9th, and is hosting Radio Free Earth on the 10th. Go there. Because I said so.

In case you missed it, Mayflower Brewing was featured on the Travel Channel's documentary American Pilgrim.

Opa-Opa Steakhouse is throwing a New Year's bash, so clear your calendars and get ready to Auld you some Lang Syne.

Jabooda is playing the Cannery Hall next to the Honest Town Brewery on Dec. 13th. Buy tickets here. Don't know anything about the band, but the Cannery is cool, and Honest Town makes some damn tasty brews. Pre-game it at the Hop Vine Cafe.

Drink BBC's Holidale and Cabin Fever. They're both delicious.

Santa drinks beer. Don't believe me? Dec. 13th and 14th, swing by the Pioneer Brewing Company and ask him for beer. Then buy him a round. Couldn't hurt, right?

The Brewmaster's Tavern in Williamsburg is throwing a New Year's Eve gala, but details haven't been released yet. Check out the website for updates.

There's always something going on at the Sunset Grill, so swing by the website and check it out.

Check out the Blues Jam with Dave Henderson at 8PM on Dec. 7th, Irish Seisuin on the 9th at 8PM, and Taylor Made on the 12th at 9PM at Stone's Public House.

Stump Trivia returns every Tuesday at Porters Bar and Grill. But I already know I'm smarter than everyone, so...

Cambridge Common Restaurant is throwing their annual Brew Year's Eve beer dinner. $49 bucks gets you in, fed, and de-thirstified. Buy tickets here. Looks delicious.

Live band karaoke? Yes please! Check out The British Beer Company on Sunday the 7th.

Definitely want to check out Tuesday Team Trivia, 8PM at the Horseshoe Pub.

Wanna know what's on draft at The Dirty Truth? A picture's worth a thousand words.

Tuesday night is Team Trivia Night at Olde Magoun's Saloon. But again, I'm smarter than your team.

Redbones updates their beer list daily. Check out today's listing here. This week, they're featuring pins (cask-conditioned mini-kegs) of Berkshire beers. Delish!

The Union Brewhouse has some cool stuff on tap, including Sierra Celebration, Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, and Long Trail Triple Bag. Definitely worth the drive to Weymouth.

There's always something different going down at The Armsby Abbey and The Dive Bar. You'll just have to stop by to figure out what's new, because it changes daily.

No news from Rock Bottom, Barrington Brewery, The People's Pint, The Tap, Paper City, Cape Cod Beer, Sherwood Forest, Cisco, Offshore Ale Co., Watch City, Wachusett, Buzzard's Bay, The Moan and Dove, Bukowski's, Jacob Wirth, The Parish Cafe, The Publick House, The Pour Farm Tavern, Eagle Brook Saloon, The Sierra Grille, or T.J. O'Brien's. Come on, guys, step it up!

Check back tomorrow for CT and RI.

BA + DFH + EBF = WTF?!

Late-breaking news: founders Jason and Todd Alstrom (sorry, guys, can't figure out how to put the dots over the o [yeah, like they read this]) , and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery have teamed up to create a brew that is best described as... well... an Imperial Ancient Belgitalian Coffee Corn-tea Maple Nut Brown Ale.

Yeah, I know, right?

You want to tap the firkin at Night of the Barrels? You know you do. All you have to do is name the beer. That's right, if you send in a name for this wonderbeer, and the Alstrom brothers love it, they'll let you tap the barrel. They'll also give you free VIP passes to both days of the EBF, tons of schwag, a two-night stay at the Brewmaster Suite (pronounced "SWEET!") in Lewes, Deleware, a guided tour of the DFH brewer by Sam Calagione himself, and fifteen minutes of fame. Get those creative juices a-flowin'!

I can't imagine what this beer will taste like. Maybe I'll call it "Incomprehensib-ale." Or "Fut the Wuck Ale." Or "You Must Be Maple Nuts Brown Ale." Or "BADFHEBFIABICCTMNBA."

This will be fun. If only I knew how to tap a firkin...

The beer will be available at the Extreme Beer Fest, put on by BA and sponsored by DFH. Tickets to the event are being sold here. They make GREAT Christmas presents (wink wink).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Column in Worcester's Pulse Magazine

Great news: In case you can't possibly get enough of me here, I've also just sold a monthly column to The Pulse in Worcester. The column, to be called "The Beer Matt," will cover all things beer related in Worcester county. That means menu updates from The Dive Bar, Armsby Abbey, Gardner Ale House, The Brittish Beer Company in Framingham, The Horseshoe Pub, Stone's Public House, etc. and beer release updates from Wachusett, Nashoba, Owen O'Leary's, Sherwood Forest, John Harvard's of Natick, Honest Town, etc. , and the cool national and internatioal arrivals at Julio's Liquors, Yankee Spirits, and KJ Baron's. (Phew!) Oh, and the occasional blurb about Deja Brew, Barleycorn's and Strange Brew, too, for our homebrewing friends.

So keep an eye out on the first Thursday of every month at your local packey (or bookshop, supermarket, or convenience store) and pick up a copy of The Pulse. The column debuts in February, but I'll be writing for the mag between now and then, so keep your eyes peeled!

Oh, and a shameless plug for Pagio Inc., who publishes The Pulse and several other top-notch zines and websites. Good lookin' out, crew!

Stretching my writing muscles,


Convoy to Portsmouth Now Recruiting!

Hey all. If you know anything about anything concerning craft beer, you know that Portsmouth Brewing's Kate the Great is due out on February 9th. And if you want to get your hands on a couple of bottles, you'll have to show up at the brewery pretty damn early.

My desire for this beer has gone beyond longing and transferred into my unconscious mind. I now have a biological compulsion to hunt and consume this beer. And humans aren't very good at hunting by themselves, so I was looking for a few beer hunters who might want to make a road trip. I'm thinking we drum up enough beer fans and make a central Mass. convoy to Portsmouth. Deck out the cars, tailgate, the whole nine.

Anyone coming from the South of Portsmouth who is interested in making a damn fool of him- or herself is more than welcome to drop me a line.

With a beery disposition,


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Space Beer" a Galactic Disappointment

You might have heard that Japanese beer giant Sapporo recently brewed a beer which, it seemed, was brewed with barley grown in space. That's how BBC reported it, anyway:

"Japanese beer brewed from barley which was grown on the international space station orbiting the Earth, has finally been tasted. "
I was super stoked. Beer brewed from ingredients grown in space! Think of the possibilities! We'd never again have a grain or hop shortage. We could have breweries orbiting the earth. Hell, we could build entire brewing colonies on the moon! Mars, even! Space beer was here, and never mind beer; the world would never be the same.

Then I did a little more research.

According to the International Herald Tribune (a subdivision of the New York Times, whoever they are), the barley used to create the beer was actually terrestrial. In fact, the parent plants to the barley used to create Space Beer were terrestrial. It was the seeds of the grandparent plants that were cultivated in space for a grand total of five months. Which means not only is this beer not extra-terrestrial, it's three generations removed from space.

Here's the kicker, again from the IHT:

"Sapporo planted 0.14 ounce of the barley grains that returned from space at its
research farm northeast of Tokyo in March 2007."

0.14 ounces?! I've flicked boogers bigger than that! So much for bountiful space harvests. Here I thought they were hauling barley off the space shuttle by the 30-lbs. bag, and all I get is barely a handful of space kernels.

And for the record, what kind of beer can you produce with 0.14 oz. of barley? An incredibly light-bodied, barely yellow kind of piss-water that barely resembles anything remotely like beer.

Like Sapporo.

And I'm sure this quote is taken out of context, but if you watch the video, one of the big-wigs at Sapporo is quoted as saying, "There's really no beer like it, because it uses 100% barley." Say what now? Even the gigantic American macrobreweries make beer from 100% barley.

I'm sure what Mr. Morimoto (I assume that's his name; Reuters fails to name the man in the suit) meant was that there is really no Sapporo-made beer like it, as it is free of adjuncts such as rice. Unfortunately it took a five-month stay on the International Space Station and two years of harvesting to convince Sapporo that this no-rice thing is actually a pretty good idea.

I'm sure Jim Koch would have spurred a similar revelation for the price of an international phone call.

Well, maybe it's not as big a leap forward as we hoped. But it will at least be fun to try and get my hands on a bottle of the comically named "Space Barley: Special Brewing Beer".

Ipswich Shows its Age

In celebration of its hometown's 375th anniversary, Mercury Brewing Company is releasing, in 1.5-liter bottles, a series of strong ales under the Ipswich Ale label. The first such bottling, due out the beginning of 2009, is Choate Bridge Imperial Stout. Also reportedly due out are a Summer Barleywine (whatever that means), a Double IPA (great, just what we need: another IIPA), and a barrel-aged Old Ale (which, admittedly, sounds pretty tasty).

I can't tell if this is Mercury giving something back to the community that's sustained them for so long, or if they're going for broke with a mediocre beer brand in hopes of reviving it. Either way, it's good to see Ipswich Ale breaking out of its shell. Until recently the Oatmeal Stout was really the only Ipswich worth buying, which leaves me with high expectations for the Imperial Stout.

Here's what I'm worried about, though. First of all, can someone email me the definition of a Summer Barleywine? Because I can't find it in the BJCP Style Guidelines. I'm hoping for something like Smuttynose's compelling Wheat Wine, but I'm not holding my breath. After all, the last time Mercury tried to brew a barleywine (Stone Cat Barleywine, 10.2%), it came out like godawful, soulless hop juice.

Double IPA, well, whatever. It'll be like every other double IPA on the market. Compare it to Opa-Opa's Double Red Rock if you want; it'll probably turn out very similar. I'm really getting tired of brewers thinking they can put a new twist on something that even the West Coast is getting tired of twisting.

A barrel-aged Old Ale, you say? Hmmm. Well, Old Ales are rare these days, and though it may or may not be true that they're making a comeback, those that I have seen recently have been of pretty darned high quality. John Harvard's Old Man Winter, for example, was wonderful. If the base brew isn't too cloyingly sweet, the addition of barrel aging sould round out the hop edge with a good vanilla note, emphasize the roast malt with the barrel toasting, and bring everything into harmonious balance. The only thing that makes me a bit wary, however, is that, to my knowledge, Mercury has never produced an Old Ale or a barrel-aged beer of any kind for public consumption. (If I'm wrong about this, email me and I'll gladly recant.) Upside: Mercury has made a dry barleywine, the long-retired 1084, which was, if nothing else, an exercize in low finishing gravity. If they can finish the Old Ale like this before putting it in the barrels, it might come out pretty damn tasty.

We'll have to wait to find out. In the mean time, crack open an Ipswich Winter, or a Fall Harvest if you still have some, and relax. I'll let you know more when they release more info.



Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by!

So here's my new blog, dedicated to honest, intelligent, and opinionated beer news coverage. I'll update you all on things that are relevant to the beer industry, review a beer or two for you (such hard work; you're welcome), and let you know the low-down on goings on in the New England area.

If you've got any suggestions as to what you'd like to see on the site, drop me a line at the email address in my profile.

With my beer to the ground,