Nov 29, 2011

Growing popularity of "Ancient" Beers...

The Washington Post had this interesting read on the growing popularity of "ancient" or historic beers in the beer community. I've had the pleasure of sampling a few of these beers offered from Dogfish Head. Midas Touch is one of my wife's all time favorites. Theobrama is, I feel, the best of their ancient ale's line. Sah'tea is also a solid offering from Sam and the bunch of Dogfish Head.

Sam C hosting a tasting I attended at
Whole Foods in Chandler, Az

                   (click the link to read the story, it will open a new window)

When you take chances like this, and go way out where most other "sane" folks wouldn't dream, then you are going to have flops, and some of these, some people may feel are just that. However, if for every flop, you get a solid gem of a beer, then my hats off to brewers like Sam Calagione for having the passion and drive to give us all something a little more exciting (and historic) to fill our beer glass.

Bottoms up my friends.

Nov 26, 2011


Just a quick house keeping update. The Beer Czar Blog can now be accessed directly at

I enjoyed a "little" Anchors Our Special Ale for Thanksgiving Dinner!

Nov 24, 2011

The search (and wait) is over….

A few months back, I wrote about my seemingly never ending quest to get a glass of Dogfish Heads 120 Minute IPA on tap. We have tried on numerous occasions to make it to keg tapings of said beer, only to arrive a little late, and find the keg has been emptied (sometimes in just a matter of minutes). Why do you ask? Well, if you recall, I bestowed the virtues of this beer in a previous post (120 Minutes and a Hungry Monk), but to recap, what I said about it was…..

The Elusive 120 Minute
“Now, 120 Minute IPA is a pretty special, very unique beer. This is unlike any IPA I have ever had. To produce this beer, it is boiled for a full 2 hours (hence the 120 minute designation) while being continuously hopped throughout the entire boil. It is then dry hopped in the fermentor for a month, and if that wasn’t enough, it is then aged for an additional month with whole leaf hops.”

Now, due to cost, copious amounts of ingredients and the labor this beer requires, Dogfish Head does not produce much of this beer every year. Then, a few years back, due to quality control issues and problems with the yeast, the brewery was forced to dump a whole batch down the drain. This created somewhat of a shortage of this beer, and the problem with “beer people” is, when a beer because harder to find, it becomes more desirable. So, that lack of supply seems to over exaggerate demand, which, in all honesty, sort of adds to fun of it all. My wife and I have been on a search for this beer for the better part of the last few years, so you could imagine my elation when my co-worker Chris, came to me on Monday morning and told me they were not only tapping a keg of it at “"The Watering Hole"”, they would also be selling bottles of it as well!

Cheers! Toasting at The Watering Hole
So, we got ourselves a babysitter very last minute (Thank you Christi!) and made our way to Whole Foods to hope and pray we got there in time to get a glass. Well, lucky for me, my wife, my aforementioned co worker Chris and his girlfriend Julie were able to make it there before I could, and got a table, and waited in line for a glass of this liquid gold. The tapping commenced at 5:00 sharp, and the last drop was drained from said keg exactly 20 minutes later. Luckily, upon my arrival (about 5:15), I found my wife and friends waiting patiently at a table with 3 full glasses of 120 Minute! (Julie was not nearly as excited as we were for this beer, and instead opted for a glass of Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew instead). So, with great anticipation, I raised my glass, took two quick sniffs, savoring the rich aroma of this beer, before putting the glass to my lips, and taking an intense, flavorful first sip…..

My empty glass of 120 Minute, and newly acquired bottle!
Now this is a pretty unique beer in all aspects. This beer drinks more like an after dinner liquor rather than a beer. Certainly not a beer you chug (at 18% abv, there is no need too!). It pours a rich, golden dark strew color, with a thin lacing of head rimming the glass. This is a surprisingly balanced beer for such a hop bomb. As you would expect, the character is made up chiefly of a strong, citrus hop character, however, there is a nice caramelly, almost molasses taste that lingers on your tongue for quite a while after you’ve taken your last sip. Again, this is not a beer you will sit down a throw 2 or 3 back. IN fact, I am not sure I could, or would even want to drink more than one of these gems at a time!

Line for CBS at Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MI
Sometimes, the thrill of the “hunt and capture” (The Thrill of the Hunt) makes a beer far more enjoyable then you might normally find it. Now, this might very well be the case with 120 Minute, and if so, well, so be it. The thrill of finding and tasting a long sought after goal is very pleasing to anyone, and makes for a far more enjoyable experience, more so then if you could get this beer by the caseload at any Circle K or 7-11 for a few bucks. Maybe the $10 a bottle price tag (that’s for a 12 oz bottle btw) contributes to that well, but again, so what if it does. This is a spectacular beer in any case, and gives us beer geeks something to look forward to, and talk about. Like hunters around a campfire, we can now sit around our table at The Watering Hole, and tell stories of “that time” we stood in line for 25 minutes for a single glass of beer, and try and convince all the sceptics at the table how worth while it was, and how we would do it again tomorrow if we could, because, honestly, I would.

Bottoms up my friends!

Nov 23, 2011

120 Minute tapping....

So, I hear that they are tapping a keg of Dogfish Heads 120 Minute IPA at 5:00 at Whole Foods in Chandler. Got myself a sitter, and will be making my way over there shortly! Come join me! They will also have bottles for sale, so if you don't get there in time for the keg tapping, at least maybe you can get a couple of bottles to take home with you.

Nov 19, 2011

Event Review: 2nd Annual "Exceptional" Beer and Wine Tasting.

So, last night, my wife and I made our way to Viewpoint Golf Resort in Mesa for the 2nd Annual "Exceptional" Beer and Wine Tasting fund raiser for the Foundation for Exceptional Kids and SEEK Arizona. As previously mentioned, SEEK is the company my wife use to work for, so this is a cause that is very near and dear to both us.

Checking out the silent auction
While this was not a serious tasting for hardened, experienced beer or wine folks, I think this event was not only for a great cause, but also a great intro to craft beer for people that otherwise had no interest, or even knowledge of Arizona's growing craft beer industry. I will admit, I never even approached the wine table, but my wife made several trips there, and said their selection was quite decent. To no ones surprise, I spent most (all) of my time at the beer table. There was only one brewery represented there, San Tan Brewing. They had a half dozen of their beer's available to taste. There was the handful of their standard line up, as well as their brand new seasonal, "12 Daze" a spiced amber ale for the fast approaching Christmas season. They also had a couple of their beers being served by the glass (and for only $4!!). I was able to taste their Epicenter Amber Ale, Hefewiezen Wheat, Devil's Ale (pale ale), HopShock IPA, and the aforementioned 12 Daze. All in all, a small, but pretty solid line up. Their Amber Ale, is a pretty flavorful, spicy Amber Ale, not being a big fan of amber's, I did however, find this one to be a little more exciting then most. More complex then the normal amber, which was good, because normally, I find this style to be a little one dimensional, and boring.
Their Hefeweizen Wheat, is very good. Again, a little different then most hefe's, this one has a more well rounded, exciting flavor profile. A very unique, banana flavor comes right out, with a spicy, sort of clove flavor following it up.Their Devils Ale to me is a solid Pale Ale. Much like Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, this is a pretty hoppy PA. A very drinkable beer, this is one that has been finding its way into my fridge more and more often.
Their Hopshock IPA was great! This is a great beer for any Hop Head!
I was most impressed with the 12 Daze. A spicy Amber Ale that would be a pretty nice addition to any holiday party. This would be a great beer for both the beginning beer fan, and seasoned expert alike. Not a strong beer, but with a lot of flavor, without any strong over powering flavors that might offend the less experience palette.

The Patio
 After using up our tasting tickets, my wife and I made our way out to the outdoor patio, and sat by the fire pit, and enjoyed the company of some old friends whom we hadn't seen in quite sometime, in some case, a year or more. We enjoyed some friendly conversation ranging  from the dismal state of the Arizona budget, to music, all while enjoying some great cigars, and a few glasses of my new favorite San Tan Brew, 12 Daze. I even scored a cool t-shirt supporting Crown Distributing "Drink Local" program!

My cool new shirt!

Like I said before, this event, while not a serious beer tasting for serious beer drinkers (or wine drinkers for that matter) this was a solid event. More importantly, an event for a great cause, and a ton of fun to boot.

My wife and I both want to thank Jessica, Brian and the rest of the folks at SEEK and The Foundation for Exceptional Kids, not only for putting on such a great a event, but for all the wonderful work they do (mostly unnoticed by many of us) for so many special kids in need of their help.

If you would like more information about SEEK, the Foundation, and the wonderful work they do, click here, or to contribute to their cause, and help fund their Camp Runamuk, click here.

Bottoms up my friends

Nov 16, 2011

2nd Annual 'Exceptional' Beer and Wine Fund Raiser...

Some of you may know, my wife is a licenced Music Therapist. Not too long ago, she worked for a wonderful company, Seek Arizona. Working with music to promote emotional, cognitive, psychological and physiological functioning in children with various learning and cognitive disabilities. In fact, just this morning I was reading an article regarding Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford's rehab using Music Therapy as part of recovery from a gunshot wound she suffered to her head back in January. When the economy crashed, funding for her discipline, as well as many others was cut so dramatically, that we were no longer able to absorb all the pay cuts that the music therapist had to take (more then 50% of their pay) and she was forced to seek out other employment, something she really hated to do. Sadly, my wife's story is not unique, and unfortunately all to common in today's economy. Money for music therapy and so many other therapies is seriously lacking, and in need of help. So SEEK Arizona is having is 2nd Annual 'Exception' Beer and Wine tasting this Friday Evening, at the Viewport Golf Resort in East Mesa. This is a very affordable, and even more worth while event that I hope you will take the time to attend. Tickets are just $25 when pre-ordered, and only $30 at the door. To pre-order tickets, please call 480-902-0771, or email Allie here. Or feel free to drop me a line (Email the Beer Czar) and I will be happy to get you any info. I hope to see you there!
Look forward in the near future for my write up on this event!

(Click the picture to enlarge)

Nov 14, 2011

Tis the Season.....

Well, we are rapidly approaching that time of year again! Christmas is almost upon us, and with it comes the rapid secession of holiday parties, midnight shopping sprees, and the inevitable lengthy children’s wish lists! I’ve read studies that say drinking increases around the holidays, they say because of the stress, and the fact that some people do get depressed around the holidays. Well, that may be one of the reasons; but I say drinking increases because, well, let’s face it, Christmas beer is the greatest season for beer and beer lovers! Seems obvious to me!

Over the next few weeks, I plan to write a fair amount on the topic of Holiday Beer. It is, like I said, the best season for beers, at least in mine and many other beer minded people I knows opinion. I think one of the reasons is because “Christmas Beer” range in styles, from Porters, Fruit Beers, Barelywines, Winter Warmers and a few others. Most have a few things in common however, such as dark, rich flavors, normally high(er) ABV, and a mild to strong spice note that normally consists of nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice and some others. Making this family of beers perfect for those cold (or for us in Arizona, mildly brisk) winter evenings gathered with friends and family.

Again, I plan to write about some of my favorite Christmas Brews in the very near future, and I thought I would start with a few of the ones I look forward to every year, those being the Samuel Adams Winter Classic’s Variety Pack. This 12 pack consists of 6 different beers (2 of each). They rotate some of the offerings every year, and I have to say, I think this year’s lineup is the best there has been in the last 4 or 5 years at least. As with any Sam Adams variety pack, Boston Lager makes up 2 of the beers, that is standard. However, two other beers in the pack every year are their Holiday Porter, and one of my all time favorite Christmas Beers, Old Fezziwig, their Winter Warmer. This year’s mix of beers also contains their Winter Lager, Chocolate Bock, and Black and Brew, a rich Chocolate Stout.

Since most everyone has had the Boston and Winter Lagers, I won’t write about them here (if you want my opinion on these beers, or any questions, feel free to drop me a line, I’ll be happy to share with you), I did want to take some time to mention the other beers in this pack however, so here goes.

The Chocolate Bock, a beer I’ve heard many mixed reviews on, (seems people either love it or hate it), was one I haven’t had before. I wasn’t expecting much, given the reviews I read, and the fact that Bock’s are among my least favorite beer styles. This however, surprised me, it drinks more like a chocolate stout, just not as bitter, with a slight bock funk to it, for lack of a better word. A very drinkable, quite chocolaty enjoyable beer that I enjoyed greatly it while sitting outside by our fire.

The Black and Brew was another one that I had never had before, and was very much looking forward to it. While not an “exciting” beer, it certainly is a very good one. The flavor isn’t strong, but it is very noticeable. A rich, roasted espresso flavor comes clearly through in both the nose, and the first taste, and has a creamy, rich flavor that finishes with an almost fruity cheery taste. All in all, and very enjoyable beer, and a nice stout for someone that isn’t accustom to drinking stronger, heavy beers. A good “gateway” stout!

What a GREAT Label!
The Holiday Porter is a great beer! While not a holiday beer in the traditional sense, it is a classic sort of British Style Porter, even though it is listed as an American Porter. This has a strong hop note for a Porter in the aroma, and the flavor has some great chocolate notes. Other flavors you may find are malts, nutty flavors, even some caramel. A very fine, drinkable, silky Porter! Not to mention, it has one of the greatest labels of any Holiday beer as well!

Now, for my favorite of this pack, and probably my favorite beer that Samuel Adams makes. Old Fezziwig, their Winter Warmer. This beer is solid! A fine example of a drinkable, enjoyable, but not an over the top winter beer. The flavors are pronounced, but not over powering. The look is a nice, dark brown beer, with nice fluffy head. The beer smells of winter spices, and pine (doesn’t get much more Christmas like than that!) malt and even some alcohol, which I didn’t expect from a beer that is only 5.9% ABV. The taste is actually quite complex, hints of pine and citrus, with more cinnamon spice and malty caramel that follow. This is a very smooth, drinkable, yet very flavorful beer, that will go nicely at any holiday party, or other Christmas gathering.

This 12 pack is a great, affordable (I found it on sale for just $9.99!) way to get a taste of the beers this season has to offer, and all the beers are very drinkable, and easy for even the beginner beer drinker to drink and enjoy. So have some friends over, put on your favorite Christmas music, and really take your time, and drink and savor these beers. With the range of flavors in this pack, you are bound to find a few that you enjoy, and in some cases, you may even love.

Keep an eye out for more Christmas Beer ideas in the days and weeks to come, and in the mean time….

Bottoms Up my friends!

Nov 8, 2011

Arizona's Growing Craft Beer Scene...

This past Thursday, (Nov. 3rd) was the first annual International Stout Day. One of the local establishments I have written about recently, "The Watering Hole", at Whole Foods, was very involved. They had an amazing line up of stouts to offer, and they were promoting it heavily on various social networks. Sadly, due to last minute babysitter complications, I was unable to attend, but I did know a few that did, and from what I heard, not only was the line up of stouts amazing, but the turn was amazing as well. Proof of this? A beer blog "Untapped" tracked "check in's" around the country, and I am happy to report, "The Water Hole" ranked 3rd in the country for total check ins. Also, coming in 5th was Trophy's Steakhouse in Queen Creek, AZ. Oddly, I live right in between both these places! Location, Location, Location! (Trophy's is less than 2 miles from my house!). I just wanted to take a moment and say congrats to James Swann and the crew at Whole Foods for what I hear was a fabulous event, and thanks for being such an advocate for the growing Arizona Beer scene!!!

List of top 5 check ins
1. Lizardville - Bedford, OH
2. The Flying Saucer - Kansas City, MO
3. "The Watering Hole" - Chandler, AZ
4. "The Flying Saucer" - Austin, TX
5. Trophy's Steakhouse - Queen Creek, AZ

Nov 3, 2011

The Changing Face of the Beer Industry

So, Miller Brewing Company (MillerCoors) is in trouble. Ok, maybe they aren’t in trouble per say, they are however, experiencing a decline in sales. Miller Lite, in the 3rd quarter of this year, saw sales drop “somewhere in the mid single digits” according to CEO Tom Long. Revenue dropped a more series 14.1%. “"It's been our toughest quarter as a company," Long stated. He later promised to take aggressive steps to turn sales around. So, you’re the CEO of a Beer Company, and you just went through the toughest quarter in your company’s history, so what do you do? Well, what MillerCoors plans on doing is, well, redesigning the can! Coming out with the “taste flow” can., whatever the hell that is. The new can will make its debut next summer. This can promise to increase air flow into the can, and reduce “glug”, which, I guess is a major concern to beer drinkers? Plan B, they are redesigning their labels, in hopes to draw attention to some other brands of theirs, mainly “Miller 64”, their ass kicking 64 calorie beer. At 2.8% ABV, its makes Bud Light look like a full flavored, powerful stout! All these improvements to help that wonderful “triple hops brewed” taste. Maybe they should “frost brew” their beer, and make it change colors so you can tell when the beer is cold enough to mask the horrible flavor.

What I think MillerCoors fails to realize, is the beer industry is changing, much like a lot of American industries. People are no longer happy with the boring, or mundane. Miller blames the recession, and in part, I think that plays a part. I think people are looking for more value for the hard earn dollar, and spending that money on a beer that is light, less flavorful and just not very exciting is no longer an option for people. They want something with a bolder, heavier flavor that they can sip and enjoy and savor, rather than chug and belch. This is not just my opinion however. According to statics from the Brewers Association, beer sales in America have been declining by about 1% every year for the last 5 years or so, while sales of craft beer are up 15% in the last year alone. Sales of import beers is down 10% since 2009 as well. People are looking for value for their dollar now. They are going for less of a better beer, as opposed for more of a lesser beer. This is evident by the fact that total craft beer consists of just 4.5% of beer sales by volume in America, but accounts for almost 10% of the dollars spent.

Vortex Bottle
Vortex "flow"!
I think Americans are just either getting tired of or catching on to stupid catchy slogans and marketing gimmicks. The bottle equivalent of the taste flow can, is Miller’s space age “Vortex bottle” with special groves designed to deliver your beer to your mouth more efficiently and quicker? After some independent study, the very qualified Beer Czar staff determined that there is NO noticeable difference in the amount of time it takes to pour out the contents of a Vortex bottle versus a normal, boring old plan bottle without its own commercial. This Vortex bottle to me is just plain stupid, and should insult the intelligence of anyone that has ever or will ever enjoy a Miller Lite. Why doesn’t MillerCoors spend more time improving the contents of their packaging, rather than the package itself? I am under no allusion that everyone in America is going to stop drinking light American Lagers, and suddenly switch to craft beer, but it certainly seems obvious that many people are doing just that. MillerCoors should be spending more time developing a more flavorful line up, not a lineup of unexciting beer, in what they think is exciting packaging. These big beer companies have their place here in America, and they most likely always will. They sell more than 90% of the beer in the States, so obviously a lot of people like their products. However, craft beer has grown every year for more than a decade, and show no signs of stopping anytime soon.

I have to admit, I do think this ad for the Vortex bottle is pretty good.

Brew Kettle at New Holland Brewery
Another great stat I want to throw out, the craft beer industry accounts for an estimated 100,000 jobs in America, (including Brewpub staffs). It takes far more people to brew a glass of craft beer then in does a can of Bud. So keep American working, drink local. The largest American owned brewing company in the States now is Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams. Budweiser is now owned by InBev, a Belgian Beer conglomerate. A friend recently told me Bud is still technically American beer, because it is made here. Well, I would argue Toyotas are made here in the States, and I don’t hear anyone calling them American made.

So, why not give your local brew pub a try, or grab a six pack of a locally or regionally brewed beer. You may just find something you love! The only problem, they don’t come in a fancy taste flow can, or the scientifically enhanced Vortex bottle, but if you can look past these imperfections, there is a lot of tasty, exciting beer to be had out there, and it might just come from right up the road!

Bottoms up my friends.

Nov 2, 2011

A little more Beer Trivia....

According to The Code of Hammurabi of ancient Babylonia (c. 1750 B.C.) a merchant could be put to death for diluting beer. ~I have no problem with this…..~

Beer Ice Cream?
In Germany there is a beer ice cream in Popsicle form. Its alcohol content is lower than that of classic beer.

In Medieval Europe, brewing and baking went together. Thus women were the first European brewers and were often called ale wives.

King Frederick the Great
King Frederick the Great once banned coffee to bolster sagging beer sales.

In Bavaria, beer is legally defined as a staple food. ~Again, I have no problem with this!~

The first US lager was brewed in 1840 by John Wagner, who had a small brewery in the back of his house on St. John Street in Philadelphia. Wagner brought the first lager yeast to the United States from a brewery in Bavaria.

Scandinavian toast sköl
The familiar Scandinavian toast sköl derives from scole, the drinking bowl shaped like the upper half of a human skull. Originally, these bowls were fashioned from the actual skulls of enemy killed in battle.

Assyrian tablets from 2000 BC stated that Noah was carrying beer aboard the ark.

The United States two-dollar bill features three brewers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams. In fact, George Washington installed a brewhouse on his grounds at Mount Vernon.

Beer wasn't sold in bottles until 1850. Beer lovers would visit their local tavern with a special bucket, have it filled and then begin the merry journey home.

Universities in Europe and America from the 1300s through the 1700s had in-house breweries to provide beer to the students. Harvard had its own brew house in 1674 and five beer halls, each burned down by rioting divinity students.

The first six-pack of beer was produced by the Pabst Brewery in the 1940s. The brewery conducted numerous studies, which found six cans were the ideal weight for the average housewife to carry home from the store.

1888: Citizens of Munich took to the streets and rioted after a beer price increase was announced. ~ Occupy Munich!~

American beer is predominately made from rice. That is why it tastes so light compared to foreign beers. This is purely an American invention to increase profits as they hoped a lighter beer would also draw women to purchase. ~ but wait, what about all those people that call the beer I drink “girly beer”?~

Breakfast Beer?
Beer was often served for breakfast in medieval England. ~Beer, so much more than a breakfast drink!

Nov 1, 2011

Draft Magazines top 25 Beers of 2011!

Draft Magazine just came out with there top 25 beers of 2011. I am sad to say, I haven't had all of them, but I have had a few!!! Take a look, agree, disagree? Let me know if you have had any, and it so, what did you think?

(just click the link below to open the article)

Draft Magazine's Top 25 Beers of 2011