Go Mild For The Next Session

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For the 99th Session, our host is Alistair Reece, who writes the Fuggled blog. He’s also the founder of American Mild Month, which will take place for the first time this May. Intended as a companion to May is Mild Month, which is a month-long promotion of mild ale sponsored by CAMRA in Great Britain, there’s also a Facebook page and so far he’s gotten 45 breweries to commit offering a mild ale during the month. So for the May Session, the topic is “Localising Mild,” which he describes below.

Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an ‘American Mild’, which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?

The first Friday of May is also the first day of May. May Day, or International Workers Day, and it is apt that a beer style closely associated with the industrial regions of England should be the theme for the Session. Have at it folks!

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So don’t go crazy, don’t go wild, instead this May go mild. To participate in the May Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, May 1.

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Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2015

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After missing this festival for the past few years, I finally made it back to judge this year’s Bistro IPA Festival. This year’s big winner was Solana Beach IPA, from Pizza Port Solana Beach, which was chosen best in show, out of 70 IPA offerings, at the 18th annual IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full list of winners is below.

Crosby Hop Farms

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With the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland just a couple of weeks away, I’ve been receiving numerous e-mails from vendors who will be at the trade show. It happens every year. Some are of no interest whatsoever, while others are fun to see. For example, this morning one came in from Crosby Hop Farms, an Oregon hop grower. They’re doing an open house Wednesday night at the farm, which could be fun. But the e-mail included a link to a video they created about their company. No matter how many times I visit a hop farm, it’s always a spectacular sight.

This is the next best thing to being there. I think I may have to go to this one. You can also see more about the farm at Craft Brewing Business with these two stories: Hip hops: Craft beer’s impact on a growing industry and A Hop Farmer’s Diary: 30 days in the life of Oregon’s Crosby Hop Farm.

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Beer Birthday: Dave Buhler

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Today is Dave Buhler’s 56th birthday. Ironically, like Dick Cantwell, whose birthday was yesterday, Dave is also a co-founder of Elysian Brewing in Seattle, Washington. Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Fal Allen and Dave Buhler at OBF.

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Dave and Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf (at right). Neither Tom or I could identify the fellow in the middle, sorry about that. Can anybody help me out and tell me who that is?

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At the Celebrator’s best of the West Beer Festival in 2009.

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Dave with his business partner and Elyisian co-founder Dick Cantwell at GABF in 2006.

SF Beer Week Opening Gala 2015

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Friday night, the 7th annual SF Beer Week kicked off. This year’s gala was held at Fort Mason, and although I had some trepidation about the site, it actually worked fairly well. The acoustics were as bad as ever, and I think the decision to forgo live music was a good one. That also allowed two additional breweries over last year. We would have preferred to allow everyone who wanted to pour that opportunity, but the new space was much more limited than the concourse had been so we were sadly unable to accommodate every brewery. The concourse is being torn down to be replaced by a mixed use space, so we couldn’t return there this year. It’s an unfortunate truth of San Francisco that their simply aren’t a lot of spaces available to suit the needs of the opening gala, at least not and keep the price of a ticket within the reach of the average beer lover. But Brian and the San Francisco Brewers Guild did a great job of making the space work. Below are a few photos I took at this year’s gala, and for a lot more check out Gamma Nine, who took the official photos for beer week.

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The entrance at this year’s SF Beer Week opening Gala.

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Outside it was still raining, as the time to let everyone in approached.

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All of the glassware waiting for the arrival of everyone for the gala.

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Then the doors opened, and people streamed in.

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The hall filled up quickly, though it never really felt overcrowded.

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Ted Viviatson, from Eel River, and Daniel Del Grande, from Bison Brewing.

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J.J. from Petaluma Hills Brewing.

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John Martin and Kelsey Williams, sporting a six-pack hat, both from Drake’s and Triple Rock.

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San Francisco mayor Ed Lee also came to say a few words at the beginning of the gala. Before his remarks, we took him on a short tour of the hall, stopping by a couple of booths to sample a few beers. Here he’s sharing a laugh with SF Brewers Guild director Brian Stechschulte.

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Brian, mayor Lee and me at the front of the Gala. (Photo by Mike Condie.)

Time-Lapse Views Of The Double IPA Fest

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This is pretty cool. A friend of Bistro owner Vic Kralj, by the name of Graham Richards, is doing a documentary on the Bistro, and shot some time-lapse videos of the Double IPA Fest yesterday. Vic was kind enough to send me three of the short time-lapse films. The first shows the festival being set up hours before opening the doors to people so they can sample nearly 100 double and triple IPAs. The second shows people queuing in line to purchase a glass and sample tickets to the festival during one of the periods of time when it was raining fairly hard. Luckily, it only drizzled or was clear most of the day. The third shows the festival down at the other end of the block, toward the back of area of the street where the festival was held. Enjoy.

No. 1: Setup of the Fest in the morning.

No. 2: The festival opens while it’s started raining hard, but people .

No. 3: A little later in the morning, after the rain had subsided, and showing the back of the festival area.

Bistro Double IPA Winners 2015

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El Segundo‘s Hammerland DIPA was chosen best in show at the 15th annual Double IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. A total of 63 Double IPAs and 34 Triple IPAs were judged. The full winner’s list is below.

Double IPAs

Triple IPAs

Peoples Choice Awards

Congratulations to all the winners.

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The scene at today’s Double IPA Festival at The Bistro.

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Steve Sartori from Altamont Beer Works with The Bistro’s Vic Kralj accepting his 2nd place for his Triple IPA.

Wish You Were Beer: Strong Beer Month 2015

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It’s February, and that means it’s time for the 13th annual Strong Beer Month, once again with six new extreme beers each at 21st Amendment and Magnolia throughout the month. Try them all, and you get to keep the commemorative logo glass. Just collect all 12 punches in your Strong Beer Month ticket before the beer’s all gone. You can read all about it at the 21st Amendment website.

This year’s theme is the 1975 album “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. On the album from left to right are: Shaun O’Sullivan (21A co-owner) and Dave McLean (Magnolia owner).”

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Here’s the lineup for the beer this year:

21st Amendment:

  1. Hendrick’s Imperial Stout: 9.1% abv
  2. Bike Lane Hopper Imperial Black IPA: 9.5% abv
  3. Beer Revolution Imperial Rye IPA: 9% abv
  4. Red Titan Uber Imperial Red Ale Aged on American Oak: 12%
  5. Dub Step Imperial I.P.A.: 10% abv
  6. POHW Imperial Blonde with Oats and Wildflower Honey: 9.5% abv

Magnolia:

  1. Madcap Imperial Botanical Beer: 10.6% abv
  2. Promised Land Imperial IPA: 10.2% abv
  3. Tweezer Tripel Belgian-Style Tripel: 10.8% abv
  4. Old Thunderpussy Barley Wine: 11.8% abv
  5. Pride of Branthill Imperial ESB: 9.1% abv
  6. Smokestack Lightning Imperial Stout: 9.8% abv

And here’s the back cover, too, with more details about each beer:

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The Next Session Goes To A Beer Festival

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For our 96th Session, our host is Joan Villar-i-Martí, who writes Birraire, which is also his nickname. He’s asking us all to attend a beer festival, either in person or virtually, and take a position one way or the other, or even somewhere in between, on this question, which, if you haven’t guessed, is the topic. “Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?.”

The discussion at hand is “Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?” I guess it is pretty much clear, but apart from exposing whether the answer is A, B or C (the latter being “it depends”) I expect participants to give us some insight into their local beer scene to better understand the importance or irrelevance of Festivals in each area. My guess is that it can be quite different depending on the popularity of beer in different countries and cultures.

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The Great American Beer Festival in 2002.

So get thee to a beer festival, or search your memory banks for your festival experiences. To participate in February’s Session, just wax on and/or off about your take on the humble beer fest. Then on February 6, post your thoughts in the comments section to Birraire’s announcement.

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At the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2013.

Happy Burns Night

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Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:

Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.

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John Barleycorn

There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.

The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.

His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.

And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

Here’s an analysis of the poem, and below is a video of the Scottish St. Andrews Society of Greater St. Louis‘ Burns Night in 2011 and the recitation of John Barleycorn by an Allan Stewart.

And although it has little to do with Burns Night, I still love the version sung by the band Traffic, with frontman Steve Winwood, which appeared on their 1970 album John Barleycorn Must Die.