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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Oskar Blues Buys Perrin Brewing

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Oskar Blues, makers of Dale’s Pale Ale and other canned beers, has announced acquisition of the Perrin Brewing Co. of Comstock Park, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). MLive is reporting the deal, and that as part of it, Keith Klopcic, who formerly worked with nearby West Side Beer Distributing, becomes the new president at Perrin Brewing Co., replacing founder and former brewery head Randy Perrin. According to the article, “financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.” I love this quote: “Other than that, it’s the same company,” said Klopcic. “Nothing changes.” Not to second guess the deal, especially since I don’t personally know the parties involved (apart from Dale Katechis from Oskar Blues), but saying nothing changes when a brewery head and (I presume) a founder leaves a company when it’s sold doesn’t strike me as a particularly honest assessment.

Dan Perrin and Jarred Sper will continue running the brewery alongside production manager and head brewer John Stewart and his team. Sper, who will be vice president of sales and marketing at Oskar Blues-owned Perrin, said the brewery is very excited by the acquisition deal.

According to MLive, here’s what Dale had to say:

In a statement, Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis called the deal “a radical thing.”

“We at Oskar Blues love the Michigan craft beer scene and what the guys at Perrin are doing,” Katechis said. “We feel that Perrin and Oskar Blues have the same mindset toward the craft industry and this partnership will allow us to share information and innovative ideas with one another.”

In December, the breweries teamed up on a lager called “Cornlaboration” that was sold only in Michigan, a state in which Oskar Blues began distributing in 2013.

Until Oskar Blues’ canned beer sales outstripped their original brewpub, they were considered one of the country’s largest brewpubs, so it’s interesting to see them reach a point where they’re acquiring additional brands and another brewery.

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Leffe IPA?

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Here’s an odd bit of news. The Belgian brand Leffe, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has traditionally made abbey beers (though that’s certainly been changing since being acquired by ABI) and the current lineup from Leffe includes a “Blond, Brown, Ruby, Tripel, Radieuse or Vieille Cuvée,” and a few others, as listed on their website.

But according to an item on Totally Beer, a source in the French-speaking part of Belgium, La Libre, is reporting that ABI is planning on launching a new IPA under the Leffe brand, to be known as “Leffe IPA.” At least one Belgian beer source doesn’t think it’s a good idea, calling it a big mistake. It certainly seems like an odd fit to launch a hoppy beer under a label known for brewing abbey-style beers, not hop forward ones, no matter how popular IPAs might be.

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I made this up, but it doesn’t look right, does it?

UPDATE: It appears that ABI will not be calling the beer Leffe IPA after all. Much like the famous scene in “Pulp Fiction” about McDonald’s “Quarter-Pounder with cheese” being called the “Royale with cheese” in France, the Leffe IPA will also apparently be called the Leffe Royale. And take a look at the graphic below, taken from Beertime (though it appears it originally was printed in a catalog of some type), there will actually be three different Royales.

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The graphic announcement says that the beer will have “subtle aromas” and “3 different varieties of hops” (despite listing four) but I think that’s just the first beer in the series. Curiously, it also appears to say that the Cascade hops are exclusive to Leffe, which unless I’m reading that wrong is an odd statement given that Cascade hops are the most popular hop variety used by smaller brewers. Of course, they could just be saying the beer is using Cascade hops exclusively, simply meaning it’s a single hop beer.

And this is a pretty interesting claim: “New brewing process: dry hopping.” I’m sure Britain’s brewers are howling with laughter at that one. Descriptors mentioned for the beers include “red fruits, peach, apricot, spices,” a “pronounced bitterness” and “very fruity.” So I guess the first beer is using the four listed varieties (Whitbread Golding, Cascade, Challenger and Tomahawk the second is brewed with the “Mapuche” hop variety from Argentina, and the last one Cascades. It’s possible that only the Cascade IPA is the IPA of the three, and that the others aren’t meant to be, just all more hop forward beers under the umbrella of the “Royale” series. H/T to The Beer Nut for sending me the link.

Marzen Madness 2015

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I may not be college basketball’s biggest fan, but I do still enjoy March Madness every year. The tournament is usually a fun diversion for a few weeks each year, so for the fifth straight year, I’ve set up a fantasy game, similar to fantasy football. It’s a bracket game through Yahoo which I call “Märzen Madness.” It doesn’t look like there’s a limit to the number of people who can play, so sign up and make your picks starting tomorrow, but before March 19, which is when the first games take place.

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To join Märzen Madness and play the Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick’em game, just follow this instructions below. You’ll also need a Yahoo ID (which is free if you don’t already have one).

To accept the invitation, just follow this invitation link. For reference, here’s the group information.

Group ID#: 18022
Password: brookston

Good luck everybody.

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The Next Session Asks: Cans Or Bottles?

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For the 98th Session, our host is Nathan Pierce, who writes the blog for Microbrewr. He’s asking us all to weigh in on what’s better, what you prefer, and/or what’s the deal with “Cans or Bottles?” Essentially he wants to know your take on the packaging wars. Alright, maybe not a war, more like a friendly debate. Fingers crossed.

A bottling line or a canning line is a substantial financial investment. So this question is a significant consideration to anyone starting a brewery.

The answers give great insight. However, one thing I see lacking from the discussion is solid data.

Of course aluminum can manufacturers and glass bottle manufacturers each have an interest in showing their packaging is best. I have heard a lot of arguments on both sides, even data and statistics, but I haven’t heard many references from third-party studies. If you can offer this, that would be a great help.

In any case, I’m looking forward to reading the answers not only to see where the consumer trends are going, but also as research for the brewery I dream of opening.

What’s your perspective?

Will you write from the consumer point of view? From which kind of packaging do you prefer to drink beer? Why do you prefer that packaging?

Will you write from a manufacturer perspective? How do you want your brand portrayed? Which packaging suits your beer best?

Will you write from a distributors perspective? Which packaging do you prefer to transport and stock at retail locations?

Some other insight?

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So pop a cap or pull a tab, and decide which one you like better. Then to participate in the April Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, April 3.

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Anchor To Release Double Liberty IPA

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I generally don’t like revealing a new beer coming from a brewery before they’ve officially announced it, preferring to let the brewery manage how that information is made public. But since others have revealed it online, and because it’s pretty big news, I’m breaking my own rule. Anchor Brewery has apparently created a new beer called Double Liberty IPA.

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The label has been approved, drawn by their longtime label artist Jim Stitt, although no date has yet been set for its release as far as I know right now. Since they only recently released their new Flying Cloud Stout, I suspect it will be a little while before it’s officially announced. The COLA search also reveals it will be both bottled as well as available in kegs.

According to the neck label, “Double Liberty IPA is made with 2-row pale malt and whole-cone Cascade hops.” It also apparently has “double the hops and double the IBUs.” They describe it as “imparting uniquely complex flavors and dry-hop aroma to this radically traditional IPA.” I love that phrase — “radically traditional.” It also weighs in at 8.2% a.b.v.

I’m sure we’ll learn more details soon. Anchor’s brewmaster Mark Carpenter is speaking to my class at Sonoma State on Wednesday, so hopefully he’ll be able to tell me more then. But frankly, I’m pretty excited to try this new beer. Liberty Ale has long been one of my favorite beers, and is the beer I always order first, each time I visit the brewery’s tap room. So an imperial version of that beer has to be worth trying, especially if Mark had a hand it creating it, as he did with the original Liberty 40 years ago.

Next Session Coming Up For The Up And Coming

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For the 97th Session, our host is Brett Domue, who is one-half of the duo writing Our Tasty Travels, along with Erin De Santiago. He’s asking us all to opine on “Up-and-Coming Beer Locations.” Essentially he wants to know. Where are tomorrow’s beer superstars?

We all have our favorite beer locations. Some have been around for centuries. Others have made such a name for themselves in the past 25 years, they have reached beer-legend status and are ranked up there with the “old-world” beer destinations.

Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic are pretty-much synonymous with beer, especially in line with the basic styles that originated in their breweries centuries ago.

Within the United States, you have “old-world” cities such as Milwaukee, WI, as well as “new-world” cities such as [San Francisco,] San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, OR, and Asheville, NC more well-known for their experimental craft breweries.

But one thing that has become more apparent than ever in recent years, the craft beer scene is growing around the world, even faster than ever before!

What are the up-and-coming beer locations that you see as the next major players in the beer scene?

For this month’s session, I’m asking you all to share which locations you see as the beer destinations that everyone will be talking about in the next few years. Where are the beer scenes just emerging, or coming into their own? Some may be brand new locations. While others may be old-world destinations seeing a renaissance into the world of new craft beer styles. Some may even be locations where familiar names from around the world are planning on setting up shop to bring new styles to old palates.

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So come up with your own list of up-and-comers. To participate in March’s Session, just wax on and/or off about your take on the humble beer fest. Then on March 6, post your choices in the comments section to Domue’s announcement. He even has a novel approach for non-bloggers. “If you don’t have a beer blog but still want to participate, use the hashtag #session97 and I’ll try to include microblog/social media inputs with that hashtag as well.” That’s a fun idea, and if it works, one we should continue with going forward.

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Urban Chestnut To Buy German Brewery

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Here’s some interesting news, and a nice twist or role reversal of recent events. Florian Kuplent, the talented former Anheuser-Busch brewer, in 2011 opened the Urban Chestnut Brewery in St. Louis, after A-B was acquired by InBev. I first met Florian in Denver shortly after he’d brewed an excellent German-style hefeweizen at the Fort Collins A-B brewery. Kuplent was born in Bavaria, Germany, and also was trained as a brewer at Weihenstephan.

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According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Urban Chestnut “has acquired the Bürgerbräu Wolnzach brewery in Wolnzach, which is about 35 miles north of Munich.” That’s right, a small craft brewery has bought a German brewery. Apparently, Bürgerbräu Wolnzach closed down around six months ago, and Klupent saw an opportunity. The Post-Dispatch explains that the “St. Louis-based company plans to brew small batches of beer at the Bavarian facility in the second quarter of 2015. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.”

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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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Cardboard Beer Bottles?

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Well here’s a strange one. The Drinks Business is reporting that Carlsberg has created a new bottle made of “sustainably sourced wood-fiber” and “all materials used in the bottle, including the cap, will be developed using bio-based and biodegradable materials.” Known as the “Green Fiber Bottle,” it was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “as part of a three-year project with packaging company ecoXpac, and in partnership with Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark.”

From the Drinks Business article:

Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, senior vice president for corporate affairs, said: “At Carlsberg we are firm believers in the importance of a circular economy in ensuring sustainable future growth and development on our planet, and today’s announcement is excellent news. If the project comes to fruition, as we think it will, it will mark a sea-change in our options for packaging liquids, and will be another important step on our journey towards a circular, zero-waste economy.”

The article notes that “Carlsberg’s bottles are planned to be produced in one piece using an inner coating that will decompose naturally.” I can’t but help thinking this has about as much chance of catching on as the plastic bottle, something Carlsberg, along with several other larger beer companies, dabbled with over the last decade.

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