Apr 17, 2012

Once again, more fun Beer Quotes!

Its been a while since I've posted some beer quotes, so here you go!

"If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose." -Jack Handy

“Drinking beer doesn't make you fat, It makes you lean....Against bars, tables, chairs, and poles.” - Anonymous

I fear the man who drinks water and so remembers this morning what the rest of us said last night.” - Greek Proverb

“The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer.” - Egyptian Quote

The SS Bender
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. - Anonymous

A good local pub has much in common with a church, except that a pub is warmer, and there's more conversation. - Anonymous

"For a quart of ale is a dish for a king" - William Shakespeare ‘A Winter’s Tale’

Edgar Allan Poe

"Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today."- Edgar Allan Poe

"We could be happy if the air was as pure as beer." – Richard Von Weizsaecker, former President of the German Federal Republic

"I’m Allergic to grass. Hey, it could be worse. I could be allergic to beer." - Greg Norman

Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers. - Cliff Clavin, of Cheers

Apr 13, 2012

World Class Beer, Founders KBS

The "greatest"!!
World Class is a phrase we hear a lot these days, too often I think. Much like “hero”, “amazing”, or “hilarious”. These terms for things once held up as extraordinary, feats of great accomplishment are now used randomly to describe everyday occurrences and run of the mill mediocre-ness. World Class is just one of these phrases, especially when you work in the Corporate World like I do. It’s really hard now to imagine now when someone suggests a new restaurant to you, and they describe it as “amazing”, is it really? I mean, if a basket of chicken wings is “amazing” to you, how would you describe the Grand Canyon, or the miracle of child birth?

These are terms and phrases I try not to use, for that very reason. They become watered down, every day expressions, and when you are trying to describe something that is truly amazing, or out of this world, what do you have left? “Man, this is amazing, and I really mean it this time” just doesn’t do it justice.

The "Greatest"?
However, recently, I was treated to a beer, that I can truly say is “world class”, extraordinary, a real piece of brewing art. I am referring to Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout). Currently ranked #10 on Beeradvocates all time best list (that is World Wide, not just the states) (it also holds the distinction of having the most reviews of any beer in the top 10, making the ranking that much more impressive, at least in my opinion)

A little history of this beer. It’s listed as an Imperial/Double Stout. It’s brewed with coffee and chocolate, then put in bourbon barrels and aged almost 100 feet below the city of Grand Rapids in old tunnels. You can check out a video tour of the tunnels here!

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending Easter Sunday with my family. Including my wife and two beautiful girls, my parents, and my dad's older brother, whom you know as Roving Beer Czar reporter Uncle Gary and his wife, my Aunt Linda. Gary emailed me a week before he headed west, and asked me if I would like anything in particular from Michigan’s fine selection of outstanding brewers (that isn’t just another superfluous superlative either, there really are a number of outstanding brewing going on in Michigan). He mentioned he would try to get some KBS, I had been dying to trying it, but I also knew it is almost impossible to get your hands on these days, so I didn’t get my hopes up, till he emailed me back a few hours before he left to tell me he had a bottle!! To say I was looking forward to it would be a vast understatement.

Uncle Gary and I
So, Sunday afternoon, my dad, Uncle Gary and I retired to the back patio, for some cigars, beer and baseball. First up, was my lone bottle of KBS! I was excited! Dad handed me a glass, and Uncle Gary popped the top, and poured it out into my glass. It poured a very rich, dark (almost black) brown, into my glass, with very little, almost no carbonation at first, with a thin settling ring of almost brown, thick head rimming the glass at the end of the pour.

The smell was, to say the least, very inviting, one of the best aromas of any beer I’ve had the pleasure of entertaining! (The very best was St Bridget’s Porter, from Great Divide, which, I don’t believe they make anymore, sadly). The aroma was very complex, with lots of strong bourbon notes, vanilla, and coffee, with a strong alcohol presences right up front. I normally like to enjoy the aroma of my beer for a bit, give the beer time to breath, in this case, that was not easy!

After what can only be describe as not nearly enough time to settle, I took my first sip, and it was every bit of what I was expecting, and more from the aroma! A very strong bourbon flavor, with just a ton of coffee, and very dark roasted chocolate. You could really taste the alcohol in the beer, but it was more of that warm, inviting alcohol, not that strong, over powering alcohol you get from a sip of Jose Cuarvo. This was just so pleasant to sip, and smell, and just enjoy throughout the entire glass. Noticing the changes in the aroma and flavor as the beer warmed. From the very first smell, and sip, this beer rocketed to the top of my all time favorites list, and by the bottom of the glass, it had firmly cemented its position there!

Some of our beers we sampled Sunday
I have always loved Founders, from the very first time I tried one of their great beers. Lucky me, it happened to be a Devil Dancer, a ridiculously strong, Imperial/Double IPA we had a few days after our wedding while out with my wife’s Maid of honor and her husband. This brewery is held in very high regard, and they continue to remind me why with every one of their great beers! Their Imperial Stout is great as well!

Founders Imperial Stout is very good as well

So, for those folks lucky enough to live within the distribution of Founders Brewing Company (check out thier Beer Locator here to see if you do), please, keep a close eye out for their beers. While you may not be lucky enough to stumble upon a KBS, CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout, currently #3 on the all time best list) or Devil Dancer, you can’t go wrong with any beer in their impressive lineup (at least I haven’t yet). I did read that after somewhat of a little hysteria at the last KBS release party, Founders has promised to triple the production from now on, to soften the demand for it, thank god!

These guys (and gals)at Founders have taken to brewing as an art form, and showcase what can really be done at the hands of a master. Hat tip to them, please, keep it up!

Learn more about Founders, and thier great line up of beers on thier website here.

Founders Brewing Company is located  at

235 Grandville Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Phone Number 616.776.2182

email: mailto:info@foundersbrewing.com

Apr 7, 2012

Beer and Baseball, Spring is here!

Heading into Chase Field
Its official, spring is here! I know, the official start of spring this year was March 20th, and I would argue, us folks here in Arizona have been enjoying spring like weather since about mid January. However, there is one event that to me, says spring is here, and that my friends, is Opening Day! My mother and I have somewhat of a tradition of attending the Dbacks home opener at Chase Field every year. This year was no different, and market about our 6th or 7th home opener together. We always go with my moms friend Andrea, and sometimes here husband Rich, and for the last few years, my wife, Mrs. Czar has joined us.
Now, all my life, I have loved baseball. starting in the "farm league", up through Little League, Babe Ruth League, and High School, I played as many seasons as the short Maine spring and summer would allow. Once I discover beer, well, the two are just a natural fit. Sitting in the stands, with a hot dog, a beer, watching the greatest game on the planet is one of life's all time joys.
So yesterday, my wife and I took the day off from work, and after spending an ungodly amount of time at the Arizona DMV (that's a whole other story) we dropped our little munchkin off with her grandfather, and made our way to downtown Phoenix, to Chase Field to watch the Dbacks take on the conference rivals San Fransisco Giants.

The Fly Over
We got there plenty early to see all the opening day ceremonies. They handed out the Gold Glove award to Gerardo Parra, and the Silver Slugger Award to to Right Fielder Justin Upton and Pitcher Daniel Hudson. They also handed out the Manger of the Year Award to our beloved Manager Kirk Gibson, for taking the team from the cellar the year before, to first place in his first full season as manager. He also became only the 4th person to win an MPV Award, and a Manager of the Year (Frank Robinson, Joe Torre and Don Baylor were the others). Then we got to see them unveil the 2011 National League Champion flag in the outfield, to go with their 5 others (not bad for a club less then 15 years old). After team introductions and the National Anthem, and a fly over of F-16's from nearby Luke AFB, it was time for the game to start.

Ian Kennedy
Tim Lincecum
The nice thing about Opening Day is you always get to see two aces take each other one, which is always a treat. We were treated Ian Kennedy going up against "The Freak" Tim Lincecum, two pitchers in the top 5 vote getters for last years Cy Young Award. We didn't have to wait long for some fireworks either! After a 1,2,3 inning from Kennedy, Lincecum struggled in the first, allowing 4 hits (two of them homers by Chris Young and Paul Goldschmidt). We were also treated to a 2 rub double by "Tatman" Ryan Roberts (fast becoming one of my, and a lot of other fans favorite Dback). We then had the pleasure of watching JJ Putz rousing entrance to the 9th inning while AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" echoed throughout the ball park, accompanied by lighting bolts on all the LCD screens, and sharp thunderclaps over the P/A. I must say, with the exception of Jon Papelbon's entrance to Drop Kick Murphy's "Shipping Out to Boston" it was one of the better closer entrances I've seen! Putz was able to to close out the game and giving the Dbacks their first win of the 2012 season, only 161 more games to go (and lets hope there are a few more after the regular season)

My Cambleback IPA
 Now, this being a beer blog, and this being a post about baseball, its easy to tie beer into this topic. Chase Field actually has a pretty decent (albeit EXPENSIVE) selection of some pretty good craft beers. Arizona's new brewery The Phoenix Ale Brewery has their two flagship beers available, their Fretzy's Unfiltered Ale (which I've yet to try) and their Cambleback IPA, which I tried for the first time while there. It was a pretty good. If I didn't see IPA on the label, I would have guessed this was a pale ale. Decent hoppiness, but not what you would expect from an IPA. More of a balanced maltiness, like a pale ale. Good, not great, but for a ball park beer, it was quite enjoyable.
So, let spring begin! Baseball is year, and soon we will be well into summer, so, lets take this wonderful few weeks or warm days, chilly nights, and enjoy the crack of the bat, and roar of the crowed with a few cold brews. Spring doesn't last long, so make the most of it!

A few spring beers I would suggest....

Sam Adams Alpine Springs. Listed as a Keller Bier, this beer has a very clean, crisp flavor with some hints of lemon. Lots of carbonation as well. Its easy to find, and I've seen it in most grocery stores, making this an enjoyable, refreshing beer to enjoy at a spring BBQ on the back patio! I can see myself drinking this beer well into summer!

Bruery Saison de Lente from The Bruery. This is sort of a unique beer for spring. I will warn you, its brewed with the wild yeast (and vintner nemesis)  Brettanomyces, which gives it that funky Belgian sour taste, that I've come to really enjoy, but turns off a lot of folks that aren't expecting it. This beer has a sort of grassy flavor that just totally reminds me of spring, and the smell of the ball field. If you can find it, its a great beer to enjoy all spring, and into summer.

New Belgium Brewery's "Dig" This one surprised me. I've been a fan of New Belgium since a graduation party from college in which my dear friend brought me a bottle of this great new beer that no one had heard of called "Fat Tire". Been a beer geek ever since. This offering from them is quite nice. A lemon flavor, with some fruity notes I couldn't quite place (peach maybe?) . This is a very light beer, and if you insist on strong, heavy, high ABV beers, you won't like this. However, if you like a lighter, crisper, mild yet somewhat flavorful beer, this one quite nice. This might be a good "intro" or crossover beer for your Bud Light friends as well.


Apr 5, 2012

Schmohz Brewing, a little Brewery with a Big Heart!

Here is Roving Beer Czar Corespondant UNcle Gary's lasts visit to a Central Michigan Brewpub. This time,
it is Schmohz Brewing, so take a moment, and check it out......

Schmohz Brewery, Grand Rapids, MI
A Big Hearted Small Brewery

by Gary Morrison

Schmohz Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a small neighborhood brewery with good beer, a good reputation, and a big heart.

The brewery's stable of beers include Bone Crusher Stout (a robust aggressive ale built with five specialty malts), India Pale Ale, Zingiberene Ale (a light malt based ale using ginger rather than hops), and Kiss my Scottish Arse (a great ale guaranteed to lift your kilt).

There are several other beers they brew and keeping up with the needs of the people means that brewer Chas Thompson has more than a full time job keeping up with demand.

Schmohz Brew House
"We brew 20-barrel batches," he said. "We ferment in three 60-barrel and one 20-barrel fermenters."

Their beer is sold in about 1,000 bars and retail outlets in Michigan, Chas said. None of it is sold out of state.

“We also sell our own brand of root beer and cherry soda,” said Chas who has been a brewer for over 15 years.

Schmohz was originally the Robert Thomas Brewery before going out of business. It sat idle for several months before Jim and Laurie Schwerin bought the building and all of the equipment almost eight years ago.

Laurie (left), with customer Sarah Roberts
"I call this my husband's midlife crisis," Laurie said. "Most men go out and buy a Corvette; we bought a bar."

It then took Jim and Laurie about three months to get up to speed and open its doors to the public; which worked out because it took them three months to get their license.

"But we could make beer even though we couldn't sell it until we got our license," she said. "When we got our license we were ready to go.

"Jim is a home brewer so three of our beers are his home recipes," she said. "We have five beers on tap all of the time and have a reasonable amount of seasonals."

A very comfortable look!

The decor of the brewer can best described as "your buddy's basement rec room" equipped with a large screen TV, pool table, and dart boards. The brewer cannot sell food on premises, but people are allowed to bring in food or grill their own on an outside patio. Laurie and Jim won't have it any other way.

"We're not a yuppie bar," she said. "We don't want to be pretentious, just a laid back place where you feel like you’re at home."

That is one of the draws that attracted Sarah Roberts and here husband to Schmohz. They moved to the area from Kentucky over a year ago and felt that they would have trouble adjusting to a new life in the area.

"Then we found this place about a year ago and now we come here three to four times a week" Sarah said.

A friendly bar!

“We like it because you always find great people here, great beer, and always feel comfortable about coming here."

Now when she goes back to Kentucky it is mandatory that she brings bottles of Schmohz beer with her.

“When our relatives visit, this is the first place they like to come to,” she said. “They cannot get Schmohz in Kentucky, so they insist we bring them some when we go back home to visit.”

Chad Riley lives about twenty minutes away and can only stop in occasional, he said. However, he likes Schmohz's Scotch and pales ales and those are his beers of choice when he drops in.

Chad Riley and friend CJ Davis
"But I do drink quite a bit of their beer because it is available in bottles in a lot places in Michigan,” he said. “When I can’t get here, I don’t have to worry about getting my fill.”

And as for Schmohz's big heart; Jim and Laurie are a graduates of Michigan Technological University and both work closely on charity events with Michigan Tech's Alumni Association, Laurie said, as well as sponsor a 5K run every year for the Special Olympics.

“We’re also sponsors of Sammi Rae of Hope, an organization created to financially help families suffering with the possible loss of a family member,” Laurie said. “It helps those family members who are forced into making financial decisions while waiting for a medical miracle or for the inevitable.”

For more information on Schmohz's Charity work, check out Sammi Rae of Hope here  www.sammiraeofhope.org

For information on thier Charity race, the "Achillies Ale 5k, get more information here 

www.schmohz.com/race, or download a flyer here

Schomtz Brewery is located at

2600 Patterson S.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49546



Apr 4, 2012

Anheuser-Busch playing hardball

Just a "few" of the beers AB has to offer

It’s been a rough couple of years for beer giant AB InBev (formally known as Anheuser-Busch) for the past 3 years, they have seen their market share drop in the US. Now, before you feel bad for the makers of Bud, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Land Shark, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe, well, you get the idea, they still control about 50% of the market here in the US (48.3% as in 2011, according it AB's own website). Craft beer, by comparison, makes up about 5.8% (per Brewers Association). While AB see's its market share declining year by year, craft beer has seen a steady increase for years now. Again, up to 5% of all beer sold in America!! That’s a huge step, not long ago; it was hovering around 1%.

There, now it's cold enough!

This trend is not good news for AB. While still very much the "King" of beers, their hold on the market is starting to show signs of slipping. So AB needs to do something. You would expect someone in their position to start seeking new markets, new products, maybe redesign their old products. Which, to their credit, they are doing. With products being released like the 6% ABV Bud Light Platinum and the much anticipated (wait for it...) Bud Light Lime-a-rita! (I'm serious; this is their attempt to get back "beer drinkers", really?) However, these products are smarter than Molson Coors attempt to regain market share, by slapping stupid marketing gimmick’s on their products, like temperature sensing stickers (when the mountains are cold, that means you can't taste how shitty it is, and you are good to start drinking.....) and "vortex bottles" and other stupid crap....

However, AB is going one step further, they are playing hard ball! How do you ask? They are attempting to "persuade" distributors to stop selling so many other brands. Now, when you control half of all the beer sales, when you talk, people listen. They aren't saying what they will do if the 500 distributors don't play along, all they will say is they will "act against them". Now regardless of how you stand on principle, as a business person, if the person that controls half your business threatens you, you need to take it seriously. I actually called two of our local distributors here in Arizona, Hensley and Gold Crown. From both, I got a "we can't comment on that right now" answer, which is what I was expecting. I imagine, at least here in Arizona, and in a lot of states, there are competition laws that would prevent them from doing anything too drastic, let’s hope, but this can't be good, at least not in the short term. This is a tough guy on the beach, kick sand in the face of the skinny (but popular) kids face as he is trying to pick up chicks.

Buy Local!
Hopefully (and possibly) I can see this back firing. Recently, here in the States, there is growing impatience with "Corp America" and a growing interest in small business and local business. I don't see AB going anywhere anytime soon, but I can't imagine that such stiff arm, hard ball tactics but one of the larger corporations in the States is going to have a positive effect. If anything, it may just have the exact opposite effect, and let’s hope.

Now, I'm not a fan of boycotts, I think they end up hurting more people, and the people you don't want to hurt, i.e. the hard working fine folks that work for these companies. But please, think twice when you go to purchase your beer. I GARUNTEE you, there is at least as good a beer out there, brewed by hard working, local folks. It may cost a little more, and I know, in this economy, is a big deal, but we can't let this sort of behavior go unpunished. Less compotation means less choice, and who wants that. Do, buy local, or at least smaller when choosing your beer for the weekend!