Oct 22, 2012

Halloween Mini Beer Tour at Old Chicago's!

For those of you here in the Valley of the Sun, and are familiar with Old Chicago, this Halloween season, they are offering a mini beer tour, features 8 fall brews!

The first 7 beers will be the same at both locations, and those beers will be OC Blood Orange Wheat, Newcastle Werewolf, Woodchuck Seasonal Cider, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA, Rogue Dead Guy and Wychwood Hobgoblin.

Now, for the 8th beer, the Alma School location will be offering San Tan Count Hopula. While the Superstition Springs location will be offering up Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin!

And to ad to the fun, members of OC’s World Beer Tour who complete the Halloween Mini Tour (those that sample all eight beers) will receive a special mini tour T-shirt that glows in the dark.

So check out this mini beer tour! Its a great little offering!

Oct 21, 2012

Test your Cheap Beer Slogan Knowledge...

We seem to be talking a lot lately about cheap beer on here, so I figured I would have a little fun with it. Test your knowledge of cheap beer slogans with this little quiz! (click the link below)

Let me know what your scores are. I only scored a 67%, so lets hope you do better then I do!

Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Oct 18, 2012

A beer snob flow chart!

Have you ever asked yourself "Am I a beer snob?" I know I have (read here). Well, if you have, here is a most helpful tool for you to detirmine just that! It is pretty dead on accurite from what I can see....
So, let me know, are you a snob?

Until next time my friends, bottoms up!
The Beer Czar

Oct 17, 2012

More beer related baseball news.....

I saw this little piece and had to share it! Seems Hillsboro OR has a new baseball team! The team fformally known as the Yakima Bears is moving to Hillsboro and have themselves a new name! The Hillsboro Hops! Yes, hops as in beer hops. Seems Oregon is the countries second largest hop growing state, just behind its slightly larger neighbor to the north. Oregon also has a thriving beer culture as well. Last I heard, Portland still had the most brewery per capita of any city in the country, and the rest of the state boasts some of the countries most critically acclaims brewers as well. One of them being one of my favorites, Deshutes (out of Bend). In another bit I find interesting, the team is actually the single A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks (my third favorite baseball team, behind the Red Sox, and whatever team is playing the Yankees).
I love their logo, don't be surprised if you see The Beer Czar sporting a Hillsboro Hops hat in the very near future!!!!

You can read from a local publication here....
You can see the teams website here...

Until next time, bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Oct 16, 2012

Was I disrespectful??

OK, so I got a few responses from my previous post entitled "One Gloriously bad beer" in which I tried, and gave my opinion of Walgreen's own "Big Flats 1901" Premium Lager. I was not a fan of this beer at all, in fact, I think I referred to it as "hardly beer at all" or something of that nature. The responses I got were a little surprising. I won't post them here, but I will give you a quick run down and recap. They expressed their displeasure with me, stating they felt I was disrespectful towards the brewers of this, stating that this beer, no matter how bad, represents someones passion and hard work. OK, I just say it, I think that's bullshit, for a couple of reasons. Let me explain....

not exactly a "little" operation
First off, this beer isn't brewed in someones garage, by a couple of struggling brewers trying to make it in the beer world. This was contract brewed in upstate New York by Genesse Brewing Company, which is owned by North American Breweries (the largest Independently owned brewing company in the United States, according to their own website), which is, in turn owned by the private equity firm KPS Capital Partners with total assets worth about $2.6 billion. This company brews up some "fine" little brews like LaBatts, Dundee's Honey Brown, Pyramid, Magic Hat, and even Seagram's. Not exactly a 'mom and pop' operation. There is as much passion and love that went into Big Flats as went into Bud Light Platinum. This beer, in my opinion, was whipped up, and mass produced to give people a cheap, tasteless option in something they think is a craft beer. O yeah, and don't forget, it was done mostly to make a few companies a little richer. Now, I have no problem with anyone making money. However, don't confuse passion for making money, with passion for making a fine beer.

Secondly, so what if it is someones passion, doesn't mean it can't suck. If you walk into a little mom and pop cafe, and have a horrible meal, will you tell your friends it was good, just because someone worked hard at it? I wouldn't. I think honest feedback is FAR more valuable the lying to someone to avoid hurting their feelings. How is it any different then a musician putting out an awful album, or someone putting out an absolutely horrible film? People had no problem making fun of Rebecca Black for her horrific song "Friday", even if she thought she was passionate about her music, and despite the fact that she was only a 14 year old girl. I have no problem pointing out what I see are weaknesses or flat out fails in any product, despite how much someone loves it, or how much work they put into it. Now, I am not saying its OK to be rude, but being constructive and honest in your feedback is far more respectful then telling someone that is truly awful, they are wonderful, just because you lack any sort of testicular fortitude to tell the truth. That, is what is truly disrespectful in my opinion.

Not that I think the above is even applicable in this case, as I don't think this represents any ones attempt at sharing a quality beer with the masses, but rather a few peoples attempt at making a little scratch to paid their already hefty bank account. Again, nothing wrong with that, but nothing particularly noble about it either.

This reminds me of a date I went on with my then girl friend (now wife) to a cool little outdoor bar called Pier 54 in Tempe, AZ. We were excited to see "live music" that night, since we love to listen to music, especially live. Well, the performer that night was "Dan the Music Man", and let me just say, he was fairly awful, he didn't have a very good voice, not a very extensive song list, and had zero stage presence and no clue as to how to interact, or get the audience involved, despite several attempts by some audience members to do just that. He was a decent rhythm guitar player however. Now, let me also say Dan seems like a very very nice man. Between sets we got to visit with him a little, he was genuinely very nice. Does this mean, I shouldn't have given him any feed back at all as to how to improve his show, and just tell him I thought he was awesome, because he seemed like a good guy? No, how would he ever get any better, if what he thought he was doing was great? Its not helpful. We were respectful, as was most of the crowd, but I did fill out a comment card with what I thought he could do better.

So, if you think I was disrespectful to a multi billion capital investment group, no, I'm not sorry. I think they can handle it, and I am sure the opinion of one little blogger in far away Arizona doesn't really matter to them, in either their business practices, or in their quality of life, so I make no apologies. Why should I apologize for my opinion? I don't owe them an apology, any more then they owe me one, or $2.99 for that matter.

So, raise your glass of Big Flats 1901, and give a hardy screw you to your detractors!

Until next my friends,
Bottoms Up
The Beer Czar

Oct 14, 2012

One Gloriously bad beer…

Worth every penny? Read on.....
Everyone loves a good value, right? I know I do. So when I heard Walgreens has a beer brewed just for them, at the penny pincher loving cost of just $3 a six pack (for those of you as bad at math as I am, that is .50 cents per can, or as a friend from college put it, 12 quarters for a six pack) I will admit, my curiosity was peaked, however, my hopes were not too high.

Well, you can imagine my excitement when I was at Walgreens just 3 short days ago, when I walked passed a stack of beer amid isle of this exact beer. Big Flats, and Big Flats Light! Very accurately prices at just $2.99! Well, this was an opportunity this beer lover just couldn’t pass up! So, while my wife wasn’t looking, I snuck a 6 pack of Big Flats to the checkout counter. I decided to go with the “Premium Lager” Big Flats, and not the Light version. If this beer proves too heavy for my tastes, I know where to find the watered down version I figured. I proudly brought it home, and put it in the fridge, amid the taunting and joking of my wife, and her family.

My wife’s family was in town all weekend, to celebrate the birth of our previously mentioned little daughter Kelsey, so I didn’t want to open one of these gems while they were here, or while anyone was looking for that matter, after all, I have a bit of a reputation to uphold here. This afternoon, I find myself in the living room along, watching the Cardinals game, while my wife and baby are sleeping in one room, and my 3 year old napping in the other. A perfect time to relax put my mind in its proper place, to sample and write about the cheapest beer in the world! (I’m not sure if that’s accurate, it is certainly the cheapest I have ever seen)

Not exactly dark, taken through the glass!
I sort of felt I should either just drink this right out of the can, or get a little more fancy and pour it into a red solo cup, but I wanted to remain consistent and drink it like I do all my other reviews, from the proper glass, to explore the color, and aroma of this heavy weight in proper fashion.

Well, let me just say, up front, and first off, to be perfectly honest, this beer actually slightly exceeded my expectations. That being said, that isn’t really saying much, as I had VERY low expectations for this beer. I wasn’t sure what style of glassware would have been proper for this beer, so I just used a normal old tumbler, or pub pint glass. The “color” was, well, almost colorless. A slight straw like, pale yellow. Totally see through, crystal clear beer, with just enough color, and head to tell this was something trying to look like a beer, at least play the part of one. Kind of like a fat chick trying to dress like a super model for Halloween. You can tell what she is trying to be, but just can’t pull it off. Honestly, I can say, this is a lightest color beer I have ever seen pouring into my Russian River Brewing glass. Almost fascinating at how light it was. Not even sure how they do that?

The smell, um, well, the smell. All I can think of, is that is smelled like hay. Not the wonderful smell of fresh hay you get when you drive by a hay field that is freshly cut and bailed. More the hay smell of a hay loft in an old barn. Not really unpleasant, but not really something you have an urge to put in your mouth right away. Honestly, I took some time trying to pull some other smells out of this beer, but it was like trying to put a pissed off cat in a cat carrier, I mean, you can do it, but it’s not easy. Nothing about the beer smells like beer. No hop aroma at all. Not even sure they used hops to brew this beer? A slight malty aroma can be found after pretty much snorting a line of this stuff, it’s there, but you have to hunt for it.

OK, seems to have some fans?
Now, that taste. To say the taste was awful wouldn’t be fair, because, well, there is very little flavor to speak of at all. Something with so little flavor can’t really be awful, it’s just boring. There is some flavor, and it is not entirely unpleasant, it does however, taste NOTHING like beer. Sort of malty flavored sports water, with just a little alcohol in it (4.2% abv). On their website, it says it clocks on at 12 IBU’s (international bittering units) which, well, I’ll say it, I call bull shit. There is NO hoppy bitterness at all. It tastes like it smells, like hay, that has been lightly misted with a malt flavor. The mouthfeel is pretty much all carbonation. The after taste, well, that’s pretty awful, Kind of like a foretelling of what the post hangover vomit is going to taste like tomorrow morning. Take it as a warning! The after taste (I don’t feel right even calling it a “finish” that just seems too refined for this one) made me want to just keep taking sips, so I never had to let this swill settle in my mouth. However, the actual upfront taste makes that almost impossible, so you need to come up for air at some point, which sadly means having to experience that amazingly awful after taste.

Now, I had a friend call this a good value, being as it is only $2.99 a six pack. Well, with much respect to my wife’s dear friend Lisa, I will most kindly have to disagree with her on this one. I really saw no value in this beer at all. Well, aside from the .5 and .10 can return value printed on the top for states like NH, VT and MI, there is no value. I actually believe the can this comes in is actually worth more than the beer that is holds. I really can think of any reason I would ever buy this beer again, and in fact, I am wondering what the hell I am going to do with the other 5 cans I have in my fridge. This wouldn’t even be good cooking beer, maybe make some beer can chicken out of it or something.

OK, so I am still on the look out for a good, cheap beer. Heck, I would settle for “decent” at this point, hell, even just drinkable. However, I know, beer requires a few ingredients, and those ingredients cost money. As does production, packaging, shipping etc. When all is said and done, I really don’t really mind paying $8 for a six pack, which is about what some of my decent, "go to" beers such as Sam Adams, Fat Tire, and Sierra Nevada, go for. Besides, it takes far more employees to produce a can or bottle of good craft beer, then it does to produce a can of the mass produced, mass marketed beer of the mega brewers. So look at it as investing in your community, and our economy. Keep the people in your community working, and pay a few extra bucks for a far better, more enjoyable beer.

One final thought, why the hell did they feel the need to make a "light" version of this beer? Is this beer just too "heavy" for some people? I guess, compared to Miller 64, this crap is a hearty Stout after all.

Now, anyone know any good tricks for getting this shitty taste out of my mouth?

Until next time

Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Oct 12, 2012

East Vally Growler Guide

OK, so maybe I am a little behind the eight ball on this one, but better late then never I guess. So, for those of you ever further behind than I am, this will be news to you!

As of Aug 2 (my little brother's birthday coincidentally) a law went into effect that allowed any store or restaurant with a Series 7 Liquor license to sell and fill growlers! Most places now have their own growlers available for purchase, or you can bring your own, just make sure its made of glass, and clean.

I found a great little guide to where to go to get your growlers filled for those of us in the east valley on Mouth By Southwest (a great dining and drinking guide for the east valley). the guide gives approximate prices, and number of taps available. Just remember, places may choose not to fill growlers of some limited series or harder to find beer, due to just that, there is limited availability, so, just because they may have X number of taps, doesn't mean all those beers will be available for growler fills, but most should.

So, check out the growler fill guide by clicking here....

Until next time, bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Oct 8, 2012

Another Stone/ Ken Schmidt collaberation!!!!

Great beer!
For those of you that have been following this blog since day one, first off, let me say thank you. Second, you may recall one of my first posts, titled "The Thrill of the Hunt" in which I documented my quest for find a collaboration brew from Stone Brewing in Escondido California, and Maui Brewing in Hawaii, and Ken Schmidt, a home brewing also from the Hawaiian islands. The brew was an amazing Macadamia nut, Kona Coffee coconut porter, that is, to this day, one of my favorite, most memorable beers I've had the pleasure of drinking. I bought 3 bottles at the time, and wish I had bought a case of it! It was a one time brew, and since that batch, I have yet to drink it again.

I can't wait to try this!
Well, you can imagine my excitement, when I saw the news that Stone and Ken Schmidt have hooked up once again, this time adding Iron Fist Brewing to the mix, to create another beer, that, sounds, at the very least, intriguing. They have come up with an Imperial Mint Chocolate Stout! Set to be on shelves today (Oct 8th) you can be assured, I will be hunting this one down as well! Hopefully this time I will have to for thought of either buying more than three of them, or not drinking the ones I do have do quickly!

Listed as a Double/Imperial Stout, it weighs in at a pretty hefty 9.6% abv.

Here is the video Stone has released to announce the launch of this beer.

If any of you out there happen across this beer, please let me know where!!! I'll be looking around for it this week.
Until then, bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Oct 6, 2012

New Little "Czar" in the family!

I know this is completely not beer related, but its a rather momentous occasion, and couldn't let it go without mentioning it. Yesterday, my wife, and two daughters and I welcomed one more addition to the family! Say hello to Kelsey Elizabeth Morrison, born yesterday (10/5/12) at 11:37, at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and 20 inches long!!! I may be not be very active on here for the next week or so, but I do have 3 months off for paternity leave (thank you Bank of America!) so you can bet I will be traveling the state (at least the east valley!) hitting up all the new beer spots I haven't had a chance to go yet, so check back!

Baby Kelsey

My oldest Jordan, with her new sister

MacKenzie, and Kesley
My lovely wife, with Kelsey

I am not sure there is any better reason on earth to raise a glass and say "Cheers" so bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Oct 3, 2012

100th Post!!! Friends and Fans!

Well, its hard to believe, but this marks the 100th post for The Beer Czar. I think we have maintained the purpose of this blog. To look at beer in a fun, respectful manner. I didn't want a blog that dives deep into grain bills, or hop verities, or just reviews beers 95% of the time. I wanted a blog that looks not only at the business of beer, but the life style, the effect on how we live, or at least how we enjoy ourselves. I can think of no better way to celebrate that, then to take a look at folks, as they enjoy themselves, with this wonderful beverage we call beer! Thanks to everyone that shared their photos with me! Prost my friends..

This is my very good friend from college, Becky, enjoying a Pumkinhead from Shipyard from Maine. Becky was the one that introduced me to the folks at 50 Back, something you will be hearing much more about come Veterans Day!

Here is a friend, and former co-worker, Arian. Seen hear enjoying two of her favorite things, Miller Lite, and NASCAR! This picture was taken at Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, TN

This is one of my contributions! This is a picture of my beer (I honestly forget what it was I was drinking) sitting at the bar of Big Nose Kate's, in Tombstone, Arizona. A fire in 1882 burned much of the city, only 2 bar tops survived, this one, and one at the Birdcage Theater, and this is the only one you can still drink at! So, my beer in this picture, was sitting in the same place that once held beers for Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, and the Clantons! I love history!

Here is a picture of my good friend Brad, sitting at the bar at Big Nose Kate's. Its a pretty awesome place!

This photo was sent to me by my wife's dearest friend Lisa (3rd from the left) She was actually the maid of honor in our wedding. Seen here with myself, my wife, and Lisa's husband (fiance at the time this was taken) Brookes. We were waiting for our table at the Jolly Pumpkin Brew Pub in Traverse City Michigan. (I just realized I am wearing the same shirt in this picture, as I am in the above picture! Must be my beer drinking shirt...)

Our good Canadian friend Bobby, enjoying a bucket of Corona's on a beautiful day in Alberta!

This lovely lady, is Bobby's (from the pic above) wife, our dear friend Daniell. Seen here at the Yard House enjoying a Copper Hook, from Redhook, from her home state of Washington! I can completely understand having a slight bias for the beer of your home state (I have one myself) but I think in both our cases, our states have a pretty solid beer community!

This lovely lady, is Brad's (from the Big Nose Kate picture) wife, and another dear friend of ours Roseanna. Seen here drinking a popular local brew, Orange Blossom from Papago Brewing, while on a date night with her hubby Brad.

Here is my good friend Brad, enjoying the Yard House's Honey Blonde, while on his and Roseanna's previously mentioned date night.


 OK, I debated weather or not to include this one, but I figure what the heck! This was sent to me by a friend that wished to remain anonymous. A picture he took of his girlfriend. He told me he sent me a picture of two of his favorite things. I'm wondering, isn't that 3 things in this picture? Not a very good beer, but everything else looks just great!

This picture is from fellow reader and Blogger Eric Strader seen here with Bells Brewery Founder Larry Bell, at Bells Eccentric Day.This is the day that Eccentric Ale (usually brewed the day before Eccentric Day for the following year's release) is released, normally in Dec. Eric has a great blog, check him out at Beer Nuts

These two lovely ladies are our friends Nikki (right) and Kayla at The Sandbar in Chandler. Having a few drinks at Kayla's brother Mitch's going away party, before he left to train to become a Border Patrol Agent. Good luck, and stay safe Mitch! 

This is one of the lovely Nikki, tipping back a Dos Equis, proving, she is among the most interesting people we know!
This is a submission from a high school friend Jen, taking a beer break after a much longer then expecting ordeal of trying to get the ATV into the bed of the truck. A beer well earned it seems!

Another high school friend of mine, Pete, sent me this one, a very nice pic taken at a BBQ it seems. Although we both went to high school in Maine, we both now live in Arizona, and I must say, Arizona summers are made for a beer like Corona!

One more High school friend, and Fryeburg Academy Cross Country team mate, Sean, and his wife Laura enjoying Oktoberfest at Novare Res bar, in Portland Maine. Sean assures me he took it easy that night, and only had "a couple" of those little beers. 

And finally, our only home brew submission, from my co-worker Shellie. Seen here with beer brewed by "Raymale Home Brewing", seen here drinking a "Hopblaster Pale Ale"

I just want to think everyone, for your support, and readership! Here is too 100 more posts! (an 100 more after that!)

Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Oct 2, 2012

San Tan Seasonal coming in Cans this Fall!!!!

So, great news for beer fans in Arizona! Chandlers San Tan Brewery, the fastest growing brewery in Arizona, is releasing its Rail Slide Imperial Spiced Ale in cans this fall!!! San Tan has been a leader in the craft can movement, and this is just one more step to put San Tan even further in front of the pack!

This will be the first season canning of one of their beers. Until now, San Tans staple beers were all you could get in cans, limiting the seasonal stuff to the pub, or limited locations throughout the valley. Which, for me personally, is great news, since their four core beers are pretty good, their seasonal offerings, at least the ones i have had, have been outstanding! Their Winter Warmer, Mr Pineapple, and Sex Panther are all great beers! I haven't had their Imperial Spiced Ale yet, but I will be on the look out this one for sure.

Set for a November 1st release, in both keg and cans. The Imperial Spiced Ale clocks in at a modest 8.1% abv, with 35 IBU's.

You can read more about it here

Oct 1, 2012

Win Your Wife's Weight in Beer!

I've stated before on here more then a few things, that I am very fond of the state of Maine. I grew up in that state, and still consider it "home" even though I have now lived in Arizona for almost 20 years. So, when I see a story that involved both Maine, AND beer, well then, I take notice.

I thought this little story about the North American Wife Carrying Championships, held annually in Newry Maine was worth a look (not to far north of where I grew up actually). And yes, its exactly what is sounds like it is..

Check out the article below....

Kind of a catch 22. I mean, if you have a wife that doesn't weigh a lot, you have a better chance of winning, but then, you won't win as much beer. Have to strike that balance I guess. Anyway, not really a beer story, but a funny one, and its from Maine, so I thought I would share. Here is a little taste of what it looks like..

Until then...
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

If you want more info on this event, click here...