Jun 24, 2012

Short's Expansion!

Its no secret that on this blog, that we LOVE Michigan beer! After all, whats not to love? I mean, some of my all time favorite beers come from The Wolverine State, among them, New Hollands Dragons Milk, Founders KBS and Devil Dancer, Bells Oberon, Acadia's Ship Wreck Porter, I could go on, and on and on. While the number of breweries in Mich is still relatively small, the quality of the brewers currently residing in the mitten are nothing short of great, in my humble opinion.

Brewed in Michigan!
One of the smaller, and dare I say "quirkier" brewers is Shorts Brewing, in Bellaire, MI. Set on Main St of this small, quaint, Rockwell-esque town, this brewery is small, but daring. One look at their list of beers, and you see beers ranging from a simple brown ale, or IPA, to a slightly more strange PB & J Stout, S' More Stout, Key Lime Pie Ale, and a host of many others most brewers haven't even imagined let alone having the temerity to actually brew, and sell!

My Father in Law leaving Shorts
 Shorts has been around since the early 2000's, started by Joe Short, and group of friends. With a goal to create unique and exciting beers for local consumption. They currently operate a little pub, that is quaint, comfortable, although, to the first timer slightly confusing, but still very fun. My In Laws are lucky enough to have a summer lake cottage just a few short miles from Bellaire and Shorts, on Intermediate Lake. I had the pleasure of stopping by Shorts last summer for some wonderful pizza, and a 5 beer sampler. While with every daring, risk taking venture, not everything is going to work, as is the case with some of Shorts brews. Some fall short of being even good, while others are an absolute grand slam!

My sampler consisted of 5 Beers...
My Shorts Sampler

Beer Czar enjoying a Cornholio!

Bananarama- a sweet, (almost too sweet) fruit beer, that I think was good to try one, glad I did, wouldn't get again

Saison du Shorts - a great, flavorful, refreshing take on a great summer style!

Cornoholio - A 7% abv Baltic Porter, while not the greatest version of this style I've had, it was a very good version, I would buy this again, for a cool, winter evening around the fire pit.

Mrs Czar, and my mother in law at Shorts

Mama’s Strawberry Milk - I'm normally not a fan of fruit beers,and this beer is a great example of why that is. WAY too sweet,tasted like a light ale, with strawberry syrup in it, not a fan!

Chocolate Wheat - a great, very chocolaty American Porter! I liked this one a lot, despite the huge chocolate presence, I normally find unpleasant, this one worked well!

Before heading to shorts, I had spent the afternoon with a six pack of their Nicey Spicy, a very pleasant, drinkable herb spiced brown ale. As well as thier famous Huma-Lumpa-Licious IPA, a great IPA.
Also, a few Christmas's, my in laws sent me a bottle of their Peaches and Cream, from their very popular 2007 Imperial Series. Now, I know I said I don't normally like fruit beers, but this one was awesome! Not a ton of fruit, but enough to be obvious as to what you were drinking. A well crafted beer.

Inside Shorts Pub
Now, why am I writing about all this after almost a year or more from enjoying them? Well, like so many other Brewers in the Great Lake State, Shorts is expanding, big time! Sadly, Shorts is all about Michigan, and doesn't distribute outside the state, so we will still have to rely on loving friends and family to send us our Shorts fix, or why not just head to Bellaire and spend a few hours enjoying the many many eccentric ales this brewery offers! Expansion is always good news, even for those of us unlucky enough to live outside the small reach of this great little brewery! Congrats to Shorts, and good luck, I hope to see soon!

Read all about Shorts expansion here....
Shorts Brewing's $2 million expansion...

Jun 19, 2012

Beer at the Olympic's...

So, anyone planning on heading to London for the 2012 Olympic Games? Plan on having a beer while there? If so, bring a little extra cash, cause its going to cost you! Read this story...(click the link)

Honestly, I'm not sure why people seem at all surprised by this, I mean, its about in line with the cost of a large beer at the ball park. Still, thought it was a good read. So, a beer and a plate of fish and chips will cost you just over $20? Is that worth it? At least you get to enjoy some long jumping while you eat.....

Jun 8, 2012

Can I brag for a minute..

Just wanted to take a minute and brag! My little blog is now on the Beer Bloggers Conferences "Complete List of Beer Blogs"!! Check it out!

The blogs are listed alphabetical, and mine is listed under "the", so its near the bottom, but still, I was pretty excited to see it on there! Thanks everyone for your interest and support, it means a lot to me!

So bottoms up, have a great weekend, and lets get together and have a beer!

The Beer Czar
Cheers, and thank you everyone!

Jun 7, 2012

Aging Beer, a few things to think about...

A while ago, a friend of mine suggested I do a piece on aging beer. I thought it was a great idea, and planned on doing it, but as seems to happen so often, life sort of took over, and I set the idea aside for quite a while. However, recently, I've been seeing a lot on other beer sites about this very topic, and upon looking into my own "beer stash" I decided the time had come to revisit this topic, and offer just a few helpful tips to those thinking of, or already cellaring a "beer stash". So, thank you Lisa, this was a great idea, so here you go!
My dream cellar!!

The most common question I am asked is "what kinds of beers are the best for storage?". As with most things, there is a simple answer to this, then there is a more lengthily answer. The simple answer, almost any malty rich beer with an ABV of at least 8%, ideally 10%. Easy as that, right? well, yes, and now. Aging changes characteristic's of beer. It depletes some, deepens others. Try to avoid most "hoppy" styles, like IPA's. Hop flavor is almost always best enjoyed fresh. Some double, triple IPA's will age better the normal IPA's. Beers such as Dogfish Heads 120 Minute, Founders Devil Dancer are examples of more extreme IPA's that will age pretty well. In fact, I have a few 120 Minutes in my cellar as we speak.

If you still have a few questions, he is a general list of some styles that age well.

A great Barleywine to cella. I have a six pack from 2012 back to 2008 each in my cellar

Baltic Porter
Belgian Golden Strong
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Belgian Tripel
Berliner Weisse
Doppelbock (above 8% ABV)
Eisbock (above 8% ABV)
Flanders Red Ale
Lambic (despite a low ABV)
Old Ale
Russian Imperial Stout
Scotch Ale
Wood-Aged Beer

Look for rich, malty beers, darker ales like double or Baltic porters, wood aged brown ales, and especially barleywines.

Also, look at the label, not only for the ABV, but look for key "hints" in the description that will hint as to weather or not a particular beer will age well. Obviously, terms like "barrel aged" or "oak aged" means the beer has already aged to some extent in wooden or oak barrels, imparting the flavors of the wood in the beer. Aging the beer even longer can enhance and heighten some of those woody flavors, which to me, is always a good thing. Check out a piece on barrel aged beers I talked about earlier here, any beers in this article will age VERY well. The term "Reserve" is another indication of a beer that will age. These are normally high abv, rich beers, normally special or limited release beers. Chimay Blue is a great example of this, and a beer that ages wonderfully. Bottle Conditioned beers also age well. These beers contain live, active yeast in them. The live yeast aids in the beers ability to mature, and age. Also, look for the term "Brettanomyces". This is a strain of Belgian yeast that use to be a natural addition of the brewing process. It gives the beer a sort of "funky" or sour taste. These beers are normally best consumed after some time on the shelf.

This is a pic of my collection (does not include my 5 six packs of Bigfoot)

Once your decided what beers you want to store, you need to be able to keep these beers in "ideal" conditions if at all possible. Light and heat are enemies to beer! So you want to keep beers in a cool, dark place, preferable at a general, consistent temperature of about 50-55 degrees. Basements are good for this, however, you want to be careful that the basement is not too damp, as this will corrode and rust beers that have metal caps, so be mindful. A dehumidifier can help in this situation. If you are like me, and do not have a basement, a closet will work well, which is wear I keep mine. Even a kitchen cubboard and/or liquor cabinet will also work, although space may become an issue as your collection grows.

The most important aspect, is too keep sunlight away from the beer! Light striking (happens when beer is exposed to sunlight), and causes that sort of "skunk" funk flavor in the beers, normally associated with beers in green bottles. This is cause by a compound called "isohumulones". This happens when "When beer is exposed to light, these compounds can decompose in a reaction catalyzed by riboflavin to generate free-radical species by the homolytic cleavage of the exocyclic carbon-carbon bond." or something like that (thank you wikipedia).


You can store some styles in refrigeration as well, however, not "refrigerator" temps, more like wine cooler temps. Light lagers, IPA's, Wheat Beers and others can be stored for some time at temps about 45-50 degrees.

Wine coolers do have one distinct disadvantage however. Bottles are stored on their sides. Beer is best stored standing up. This is for a couple of reasons. One of them being flavor. If the beer has a cork, this can impart some of the corks flavor in the beer, which isn't nearly as tasty as wood/bourbon flavors of barrel aged beers! Also, laying down prevents the yeast for settling on the bottom, making the beer more susceptible to oxidation, which you do not want.

Something else you want to think about, especially as your collection grows, is how you are going to catalog and track your collection. I like to keep an excel sheet on my cellar, that tells me what beers are in it, when I put them in, and how long they have been in there for. It is important to make sure you update your list, however you decide to keep it, with every addition or subtraction to your collection.

Probably not "good" anymore!
Another question that comes up almost as frequently as what beers to store, is how long to store them for. There is really no good, or wrong answer to this. One thing to know is, you don't have to worry about the beer "going bad". It isn't like milk, or OJ. It won't spoil. It may taste like crap after 25 years on the shelf, but it won't spoil (unless the cap/cork has been compromised). There are a few things to consider. High Hop'ed beers, like IPA's, and pale ales won't age well after after just a few months, 6 tops normally. While some barelywines or Imperial Stouts can age for 10 years or more, and get better and better with each passing year. Each beer is different, even different beers of the same style. Best suggestion, ask around, ask your local beer beer guy, or use on line forums like Beer Advocate or Rate Beer These sites are full of people that store and taste beers, as well as exchange ideas and knowledge about beers.

resist the urge!!!!
My best advice, is experiment, and ask questions. Again, there is no wrong or right. If you like the taste of a 5 year old IPA, by all means, store your IPA for 5 years. This should be fun, don't take it too serious. I can tell you from experience, the hardest part of cellaring beer, is resisting the urge to drink it!!!

Jun 5, 2012

Three Floyds!

Now, if you talk to "beer geeks" around the United States, and you ask them, what is the biggest beer release there is. I would venture to guess, Three Floyds release of "Dark Lord" would be amongst the most mentioned, along with maybe Kate the Great, KBS and a handful of others. I have never had the pleasure of drinking a Dark Lord, so I have no idea if its worth the hype or not. However, Roving Beer Czar corespondent Uncle Gary had the pleasure of visiting the Three Floyds pub on his way back from his visit to Arizona and New Mexico, and he was kind enough to share it with us. Here is what he had to say.....

Well Worth the Trip

by Gary W. Morrison

Indiana's Three Floyds Brewing is statically located in just the right place: not to far from Chicago and close to the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Just off the highway that cuts through the northern part of the state and in the city of Munster, 3 Floyds, 9750 Indiana Parkway, Munster, IN 46321, is an easy-to-get-to place for people from Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.

But its location is not the reason that draws so many people to the brewery and has people willing to wait as long a 90 minutes at times to get inside. As you can guess, it has to be the beer.

Suzanne Golec and Mandy Dolliver
Friends Suzanne Golec and Mandy Dolliver found the eclectically decorated 3 Floyds to be a convenient meeting place prior to attending a play that Mandy's brother was performing in at a nearby town. Suzanne lives only 10 minutes from the brewery while Mandy is 40 minutes away. They find the brewery is a convenient meeting place.

"I like coming here, it gives me the chance to try something different all the time," she said, referencing the beer menu of 20 brews by 3 Floyds and 13 guest beers.

"My favorite is Zombie Dust," she said. "I always go back to that."

Mandy hasn't proclaimed a favorite, saying: "I'm trying something different each time until I do."

Larry and Carol O'Donnell
Larry and Carol O'Donnell "live nearby," but only have been going to 3 Floyds for a short time because Carol had a previous aversion to beer.

"Beer didn't taste good to me because I was going through menopause," she said. “About the only thing I could tolerate was Killian’s.

"Now that I'm through with that, I find that I now like good tasting beer and I stay away from that light tasting stuff."

The brewery's main stays are Alpha King, 3 Floyd’s flagship beer that is a big American pale ale that pours deep amber with a creamy head; Robert The Bruce, a complex malty brew derived from roasted and crystal malts; and Gumballhead, an American wheat ale brewed with Amarillo hops and a generous portion of American read wheat.

Aunt Linda with a glass of Gumballhead

Yet to single out just those three as mainstays is doing 3 Floyds a disservice. Believe me, they are all good. While I haven’t tasted them all, I am working my way through them. My wife, Linda, and I often take that little detour when driving from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago.

Golden Tickets
At the end of April each year 3 Floyds has a special run of Dark Lord, an imperial stout that beer aficionados say: "It's to die for." Well, if not to die for; at least to wait in a long line for after traveling great distances.

In the past, the brewery issued "Golden Tickets" to people for Dark Lord, but not anymore. People can now go on line and secure their quota and forgo a wait in line with the chance of not getting anything.

"Each ticket will be an allotment," said manager Joe Skertich. 'The amount varies from year to year. "We announce on Face book and Twitters so people can come in and buy Dark Lord without having to camp out."

A ticket safely in hand I required for entry to the event, Skertich said. If a person does not have a ticket, they cannot get in. The ticket gains entry and people exchange it for a Golden Ticket that has a scratch off portion. If lucky enough to be a winner, they will have the opportunity to purchase a version of Barrel Aged Dark Lord in a screen printed, hand numbered, was dipped bottle as a cost of $50.

And lastly, not to be forgotten is the brewery's other big attraction, which is its food that I can personally attest to. Unlike other breweries that serve typical bar room fare, 3 Floyds outshines them all. The brewery offers up a menu selection of meat and cheese plates, combination plates that include grilled baby octopus, mussels and chicken liver; sandwich plates; main course meals; pizza and desserts.

All of this comes together to make that previously described 90 minute wait to get inside (usually on the weekends) seem like nothing, nothing at all.