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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Lagunitas Couch Trippin’ Winner Announced

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A few weeks ago Lagunitas Brewing, my local down the street, announced a contest to win a a party in your home, Couch Trippin’ party to your home. The Couch Trippin’ Contest ended on the last day of August, and they’ve just announced the winner in a new Lagunitas video showing some of the best entries and ending with the winner’s submission.

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Congratulations to Mel Gryllz (@Gryllzlee) for emerging victorious with this wonderful shot:

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Beer In Ads #1305: The Moderation Hour


Saturday’s ad is another one from the United Brewers Industrial Foundation, this one from 1940. This was well before the “Beer Belongs” series, and just before World War II. Ah, “The Moderation Hour,” where “Good Beer and Ale in wholesome, modern taverns, offer Americans pleasant inexpensive relaxation!” In all of the 1939 ads I’ve been running, they’ve been saying annual taxes brewers pay is $400 million but now the results are in for 1939, and the new number is $411,596,780, for both state and federal.

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Anchor’s BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red Returns For Fall

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BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red, Anchor Brewing‘s fall seasonal, is back on store shelves and on draft in bars from now until the end of October. This is just the second year for the 6% a.b.v. red ale, which debuted last fall. The beer uses a “unique blend of hops — Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping — specialty malts including a combination of two caramel malts and pale malt,” with a hint of maple syrup that makes it “unlike any other red ale today.”

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First released in August 2013, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the colors of fall. The tree, known as Bigleaf maple, thrives along the banks of California’s mountain streams. Native Californians once made rope and baskets from its bark. Bigleaf maple sugaring in California dates to the 1800s; yet this tree’s unusually flavorful syrup remains the product of a small group of hobbyists. A hint of maple—including bigleaf maple—syrup in every brew perfectly complements the malty complexity, balanced hoppiness, and rich fall hue of BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red.

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Anchor also released a video about their fall seasonal.

Bagby Beer Almost Open

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A little over a week ago I was in San Diego to take part on a panel at the Beer Bloggers Conference. After my participation was over, I was keen to see the progress Jeff and Dande Bagby were making on their new brewery, Bagby Beer Co., so I drove out to Oceanside to see the new space for myself. As I drove down the main thoroughfare in Oceanside — Coast Highway — parallel to the coast, the new brewery is on your left, making it oceanside, too. The first thing you notice is that it’s massive. I knew the space had previously been used as a car dealership, but that still didn’t prepare me for the size of it. It’s on the corner of Minnesota, a block away from Wisconsin, and takes up a sizable portion of the long block. The exterior is mostly finished, and it looks amazing.

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The view from across the street.

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Signage along the front of the building, visible from any angle.

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At the corner of the Coastal Highway and Minnesota Avenue.

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Inside, the brewery is finished, up and running, with six Bagby beers in the fermenters. It’s been 18 months since any Bagby-made beers have been available, and to my way of thinking, that’s far too long.

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The brewhouse.

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The entire restaurant side of the place will seat around 350, and there are wonderful nooks and crannies everywhere, including an upstairs open-air balcony and on the ground floor there’s this quiet sitting area for four with umbrellas tucked into a corner space.

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Downstairs, there’s another outdoor seating space, and these are not including what’s inside.

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Inside, several bars are nearing completion.

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Dandelian and Jeff Bagby in the upstairs loft dining area, with a separate small bar. The plaid back of the bench seating was inspired by Jeff’s winning plaid pants that he used to wear for GABF award ceremonies, as I detailed several years ago in Jeff “Lucky Pants” Bagby Wins Big.

So when will Bagby Beer Co. be open, with Bagby beer once flowing in the San Diego area? It should be any day now. Hell, for all I know, they might be open right now. Or maybe not. But it will be soon, and it will probably be done quietly. So if you find yourself in the area, drive by and see if the lights are on. You might get lucky, and get to be one of the first to drink some Bagby beer in a year and a half. At some point in the early fall, they’ll have a big grand opening, and that will be preceded by some pomp and ceremony. But until then, they’ll take the brewpub out for a test drive, working out the kinks, getting the food just right and pouring what I can only imagine will be some incredibly tasty beer. Frankly, I can’t wait until my next trip there.

Roller Coaster Couch Trippin’ in San Diego

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I flew down to San Diego this afternoon, a quick trip to speak at the Beer Bloggers Conference tomorrow. Tonight, Lagunitas threw a party for the attendees after a dinner at Karl Strauss Brewing. One of the fun things they did for the brewhaha was a green screen couch ride for the Couch Trippin’ contest.


Here’s me, along with Emily Sauter, from Pints and Panels, and Fred Abercrombie, with Lagunitas (and he also blogs at Ünnecessary Ümlaut), riding a sofa roller coaster through the Lagunitas bottling line.
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Iowa Sinkhole May Be 150-Year Old Beer Cave

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Last month during a routine inspection, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa bridge inspector found a suspicious looking hole in the ground. At first, he thought it might be a “potentially hazardous sinkhole near an Interstate 380 access ramp,” but as he, and others looked closer, it may actually be a 150-year old beer cave, part of the Christian Magnus Eagle Brewery and Bottling Works. According to a local newspaper report in 1977, “excavators had unexpectedly pierced a beer cave during construction of this stretch of I-380 when they were digging to lay a culvert north of Eighth Street” so it’s seems that’s the likeliest explanation.

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Apparently, a archaeologist and an architectural historian,among others, are investigating, and are keeping an open mind that it could be any number of things. A local historian, on the hand, appears quite certain it’s the beer caves, and in the local newspaper, The Gazette, appears ready to go record with his belief that they’re beer caves:

Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter is a bit more certain of the findings.

“They are the Magnus beer caves. That’s exactly what they are,” Hunter said after hearing of the discovery. “This is very exciting as an historian.”

The brewery was constructed by Jacob Wetzel in 1859.

Wetzel hired an old world brewer from Germany named Christian Magnus as his brewmaster and foreman, according to The Gazette’s Time Machine. Beer caves were essential to Magnus’ vision for the beer cooling and aging process. The brewery was a five-story complex overlooking Cedar Lake, but the back ran into a hill where the caves were located.

The brewery had five cellars that could hold 2,000 barrels, two ice houses that held up to 2,300 tons of ice, and a capacity to produce 60 barrels of beer in 12 hours.

Magnus bought out Wetzel in 1868, and at the height of production, the Christian Magnus Eagle Brewery and Bottling Works put out 25,000 barrels of 4.5 percent beer in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Hunter said the brewery was possibly best known for Eagle Brewing, a popular beer with a logo of an eagle perched on a beer keg with its wings stretched wide and a man tapping the keg.

The brewery closed because of prohibition in 1915, although it operated for several more years producing soft drinks, among other items, before entirely shutting down in the 1920 and being demolished in 1937, Hunter said.

Hunter said in later years homeless people would use the caves, and they were later boarded up. However, children would break through the boards with “skull and cross bone — do not enter warning” to explore.

A neighborhood then was built on top of the beer caves, before being torn down for I-380, he said.

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The brewery from a lithograph done around 1875.

And here’s a photograph of the brewery, believed to be from 1870, from another piece in the Gazette about the Original Breweries.
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Cedar Rapids, city of. Historical Views. Little caption information available. Photo appears to show a view of the Magnus Brewery (center), looking southwest over Cedar Lake. The brewery was located near present day Quaker Oats plant. The original Eagle Brewery was established in 1859 by Christian Magnus at the corner of Ely and Van Buren, modern D Avenue (D Ave.) and Eighth Street (Eighth St) NE in Cedar Rapids. The brewery produced beer and ale in a structure made from Anamosa stone and was considered one of the best breweries in Iowa. An immigrant from Germany, Magnus originally started a brewery for Jacob Wetzel in Cedar Rapids in 1859. In 1868, Magnus bought out his former employer and continued the European tradition of aging his beer in cold cellars beneath the brewery. When prohibition threatened his local brewing empire, Magnus invested his earning in such ventures as the Magnus Hotel, a longtime downtown landmark which fell to urban renewal during the 1970s.

Couch Trippin’ Contest

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Lagunitas Brewing, my local down the street, is having a fun contest to win a a party in your home. That is, they’ll bring the Lagunitas Couch Trippin’ party to your home. What could be simpler?

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So it is pretty simple, just do the following:

  1. Snap a photo of your couch & Lagunitas
  2. Tag it #couchtrippin on IInstagram and/or Twitter

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So what can you win? Here’s how Lagunitas explains it: “We’re gonna bring the Lagunitas CouchTrippin’ party to your house … A killer band, tasty munchies, and we’ll even bring our own couch… All for you and up to 30 of your friends (sorry, we can’t have the whole town showin’ up). Follow the super simple instructions above. Or see full legal fine freakin’ print.”

Here’s mine, on our new giant sofa. It’s supposed to be a sofa bed, but we just keep it open all the time and use it as a “snuggle sofa” that fits our family of four perfectly, making it great for watching movies, playing video games, or of course, snuggling.

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Let’s see yours. You have until the end of the month, specifically “August 31, 2014 at 11:59:59 PM PST” to post or upload your own Couch Trippin’ photo. But make sure you read the rules first to make sure you don’t disqualify yourself. For example, I’m not actually “drinking or consuming an alcohol product,” because that’s one of the restrictions. I’m just holding the beer, giving it a sniff.

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We’re looking for a house to bring our CouchTrippin’ party to — so show us a pic of your couch with Lagunitas and tag #couchtrippin on Instagram or Twitter.

The Battle Over Beer Label Approval

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The Daily Beast had an interesting profile of Kent “Battle” Martin, the person responsible for approving every single beer label at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, in Meet the Beer Bottle Dictator. I’d heard of Martin — um, Battle, I mean — before, but didn’t realize he was the only person approving or denying label applications. I think I assumed he was simply part of a larger staff. I can’t say having a single person in charge of interpreting a fairly vague set of laws in a particularly good idea. There have been some very strange, seemingly nonsensical and contradictory decisions over the years, and I’d always thought that was because those were made by various people interpreting the regulations differently, the way the California ABC does, or the arbitrary way that movie ratings are given. I have to say, I don’t think that should be left to just one individual, no matter how dedicated or hard-working, as Battle apparently is, according to the article.

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Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.