The Pantone Colors Of Beer

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Anyone who does graphics or layout work knows exactly what pantone colors are. For the rest, “The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.” It’s not the only color system, of course, but it’s one of the most popular, especially for printing.

I’m something of a nut about color, and find the attempt to classify shades of color fascinating. So this is really cool. A graphic designer in Bilbao, Spain by the name of Txaber, created a series of beer packages using the pantone colors that correspond to the actual color of the beer inside. The simple, generic designs list simply the name of the beer, the type of beer, along with the pantone color code that matches it.

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He did both cans and bottles, and can see of the beer colored packaging at Txaber’s website.

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Zwanze Day 2014

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Yesterday was Zwanze Day, an annual holiday deliciously made up by Jean Van Roy of Brasserie Cantillon. Cantillon made the first Zwanze beer in 2008, which that year was a rhubarb beer. In subsequent years they’ve made beers with elderflowers, pineau d’aunis (a red wine grape) and a sour witbier, made with the traditional coriander and orange peel. This year’s beer, Cuvée Florian, is essentially Iris Grand Cru blended with cherries, a new version of a beer Van Roy made for his son to celebrate his 18th birthday.

Each year, the beer is tapped at the very same time at locations around the world, regardless of times zone. This year the Zwanze Day beer was available at 56 beer bars or breweries in sixteen countries. One of those was Russian River Brewing, one of my local breweries, so I spent the afternoon there with owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, along with Rich and Tammy Norgrove (owners of Bear Republic Brewing) and a few of their friends.

But before we get to the beer, here’s a little history of Zwanze Day. Belgium has essentially two separate regions, with the northern half known as Flanders. The language spoken there is a dialect of Dutch, known by the same name as the people of Flanders: Flemish. The word “zwanze” is unique to Flemish, has its origins in Yiddish, and essentially means a self-deprecating type of humor that’s typified by sharp-edged, playful jokes, usually good-natured. It’s said that this type of humor has become “a characteristic, defining trait” of the Flemish themselves, and for some a way of life. A “zwanze” is a joke, a “zwanzer” a joker. It was with that same playful spirit that Cantillon approached the concept of making a Zwanze beer. The goal was to create a fun beer; something a little unusual, using non-traditional ingredients.

And here’s Jean Van Roy writing his explanation of this year’s Zwanze beer:

Some of you have already had the opportunity to taste Iris Grand Cru aged 3 years in a 400-litre cask. This product was sold without having been blended with a younger beer and so there was no possibility of secondary fermentation. As a result, Iris Grand Cru is a non-sparkling beer and it is meant to be drunk like cereal wine. Without cold hopping, its fragrances tend more towards the characteristic acidity of a spontaneous fermentation product associated with a slight caramel taste.

In other news, my eldest son, Florian, turned 18 on 3 May. To duly celebrate his transition to adulthood, and as the worthy son of a lambic brewer, Flo received a rather original birthday gift: an entire cask filled with “Cuvée Florian”.

Admittedly, finding the name was easy, but it was another matter to come up with the actual beer we were going to produce on this occasion. When I first tasted the Iris Grand Cru, I immediately thought that adding a touch of fruitiness to the caramel accent could be very complementary. And since my son’s favourite beer is kriek, I based myself on a mix of these two products to create his birthday present.

As my goal was not to create some kind of kriek clone, I reduced the amount of fruit by 40% in this blend with the Iris Grand Cru. After all, the core idea was to contribute fruitiness and mellowness to the base beer, not recreate a beer that tasted like sour cherries. Although cold-hopping with the same quantities used for “traditional” Iris would probably have masked the blend’s very subtle fragrances, I still wanted to add a touch of bitterness to this birthday present and decided to opt for a small dose of superb and very delicate Bramling Cross hops. The linger on the palate is very complex while the fruity fragrances of the hops play a subtle role without throwing off balance the beer’s range of flavours and bouquet.

For this Zwanze 2014 I had originally planned on using the spontaneous fermentation stout brewed at the beginning of 2013, but despite the fact that this beer is already very good I have the feeling that another year of maturing in a cask will give it more delicateness and character. In light of this we needed another beer to replace our “wild” stout so as to be able to organise our Zwanze Day, and as you will undoubtedly have understood by now, the success of “Cuvée Florian” meant that it did not take very long for us to make a decision.

I did ask the kid if he was OK with me making a new version of his birthday present, and since this was not a problem for him, it was only logical to call this Zwanze 2014 “Cuvée Florian”!

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Natalie Cilurzo announcing that the Zwanze Day beer was tapped and explaining how each person would get their pour in an orderly fashion, in an effort to avoid the day devolving into chaos. Happily, everything ran smoothly.

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The first pour of Cuvée Florian for Zwanze Day 2014.

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In order to insure that everyone got a pour of the Cuvée Florian in the order that they arrived, Russian River handed out numbered tickets. Numbers 1 and 2 arrived at the brewpub last night, and closed the place, then waited at the door overnight to be first in line when they opened on Zwanze Day. This is customers #1 and #2 for the Zwanze Day beer, Cuvée Florian.

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My pour. After the keg emptied, about an hour after it was tapped, kegs of Cantillon Gueuze and then Rosé de Gambrinus were tapped, too. It’s always a great experience enjoying freshly tapped Cantillon. But they were also pouring aged Benediction, Russian River’s abbey double, which was tasting awesome. But I’m also really enjoying a couple of their new beers, Dribble Belt, a “hoppy session ale, and the STS Pils.

And finally, here’s a short video of the first pours of this year’s Zwanze Day beer, Cuvée Florian at Russian River. A special thanks to Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo for their hospitality. Another fun Zwanze Day.

Beer In Ads #1319: What Was Thomas Jefferson’s Attitude On Beer And Brewing?


Saturday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
What was Thomas Jefferson’s attitude on beer and brewing?

A
He brought brewers to this country because he wanted to beer to become popular here.

Jefferson also built a brewery at Monticello after his retirement from politics. Before that, his wife Martha brewed 15-gallon batches every two weeks on their Virginia estate. But in his seventies, he hired English brewer Joseph Miller and the pair built a dedicated brewing room and beer cellar at Monticello, where he malted his own grain and grew hops. Jefferson bottled most of his beer, and sealed the bottles with corks. I believe he did say the bit about beer becoming common, in 1816. The full quote is “I wish to see this beverage become common instead of the whiskey which kills one-third of our citizens and ruins their families.” But my favorite Jefferson quote is this. “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

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Beer In Ads #1318: Are Most American Breweries “Large” Or “Small” Businesses


Friday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
Are most American breweries “large” or “small” businesses?

A
Small, individually — although the Brewing Industry as a whole ranks 13th in America.

Interestingly, the way the defined “small breweries” was not barrels brewed or the amount sold, but by the number of employees. They defined a small brewery as one with less than 500 workers, saying the average was less than 200. Using that metric, 409 of the 440-then active breweries they defined as being small. I wonder how that would work out today? I suspect only 2 of the more than 3,000 breweries open today have anything close to 500 employees.

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Beer Birthday: Ken Kelley

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Today is the 54th birthday of Ken Kelley, brewer at North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Ken is the guy you see at the majority of beer festivals that North Coast participates in, as well as even some of the ones that they don’t. He’s a terrific ambassador for the brewery, and for craft beer more generally, as well as a great person to hang out with. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.

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Then-Triple Rock GM Rachaal with Ken at the Firkin Fest in 2008.

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Ken and a colleague, both sporting pink hair, at the Breastfest in 2007.

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Ken, who was responsible for the Old Rasputin X Imperial Stout, which was aged in old bourbon barrels for at least nine months, showing off a bottle along with Ruby and Tom Dalldorf at the Boonville Beer Festival 2007.

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Visiting the brewery a couple of years ago, Ken with North Coast founder Mark Ruedrich.

Beer Birthday: Justin Crossley

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Today is the 32nd birthday of Justin Crossley, the man behind the mic at The Brewing Network, one of the industry’s best voices. He’s an avid homebrewer and talker, a deadly combination, especially on radio. He also filmed Porter’s Porter Day last year and it will fun to see the result of that project. Of course, he’s been busy opening the Hop Grenade, the next piece of the growing Brewing Network empire. Join me in wishing Justin a very happy birthday.

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Justin and me showing off our injured fingers at the last Marin Breastfest held at Marin Brewing.

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Justin all thumbs at Stone Brewing during the CBC Reception in 2008.

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With Michael Ferguson, from BJ’s, at Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery during the AHA convention a couple of years ago.

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Okay, what’s with the thumbs? About to do a broadcast from GABF in 2007.

Beer In Ads #1317: I Can See My Hammock


Thursday’s ad is another one from the United Brewers Industrial Foundation, again from 1944. This was well before the “Beer Belongs” series, but after World War II began. This one is part of an award-winning series of ads they did during the war to help boost morale on the home front, under the umbrella tagline “Morale is a Lot of Little Things.” This was from a group of the morale ads that took the point of view of soldiers and sailors writing home about what they were missing from home. In this one, a sailor is telling his wife or girlfriend Hazel “I can see my hammock now hanging in the orchard—.”

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Beer Birthday: Don Barkley

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Today is the birthday of legendary brewer Don Barkley. Barkley’s first brewing job was as assistant brewer at New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, California, America’s first modern microbrewery back in the late 1970s. He went on to help found Mendocino Brewing, and created most of their iconic brands, like Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk. In 2008, Don became the brewmaster for Napa Smith Brewery in — you guessed it — Napa, and he’s been making great beer there, too, ever since. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

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Don at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala in 2010.

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Don, me and Ed Davis each with a 1979 bottle of New Albion beer, that Ed was kind enough to donate, when we did a vintage tasting of beer that Don helped brew over thirty years ago.

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Albion Don at the Toronado during the launch of the first SF Beer Week in 2009.

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Don at the Celebrator Best of the West Fest in 2009, pouring the official beer of SF Beer Week, which he created for us using the original recipe for New Albion Pale Ale.

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Me and Don at the Breastfest at Fort Mason a couple of years ago (photo by Mario Rubio).

The Chart of Brewing

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Here’s another fun infographic just published by Pop Lab Chart. They’ve done quite a few beer-themed posters and this new one, The Chart of Brewing, shows the brewing process in a great looking graph paper chart. 12 x 16 prints of the hand-illustrated poster will be available for $20 beginning on September 22, although you can preorder one now. I’m putting it on my holiday wishlist.

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Beer Birthday: Paddy Giffen

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Today is Paddy Giffen’s 64th birthday. Paddy was the original brewer at Moylan’s Brewing, did some distilling and was briefly with Bear Republic. I ran into him a few years ago at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol, and these days, as far as I know, he’s brewing at Lagunitas. Join me in wishing Paddy a very happy birthday.


Paddy and Britt Antrim, himself formerly with Anderson Valley, Kona and Great Divide, at the Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas.