Jun 28, 2013

The Beer Czar, the guest on a pod cast!

Beer Czar and Masked Blogster
A while ago, I was interviewed for the podcast "Maskerpiece Theater" This week, The Beer Czar was asked to to join the Masked Blogster again, as a guest on his weekly panel. Listen to the Masked Blogster, Beer Czar, along with Maser and Mr. E Marquee as they discuss not only the beer of the week (refereed to as the "Bronson of the Week" on the show) which was Oberon Ale, we also discuss Aaron Hernandez, Paula Dean, NBA draft and a few other things. Check it out here.....

Listen each week, The Beer Czar is going to be the sponsor of the "Bronson of the Week" and may even appear once in a while to discuss the beer! You can get to Maskerpiece Theaters site here to access the link to listen.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Jun 27, 2013

Guest Contributor: A short tour of breweries SE of Seattle

We hear a lot of about breweries in the Pacific NW, Oregon, and Seattle has a ton of worth while, even world class breweries. We don't hear a lot of breweries outside of Seattle however. Well, luckily, I had a good friend Daniell, take her family to her home state of Washington, and they took some time to do a little 3 brewery tour of some breweries SE of Seattle. She was kind enough to write up a quick review of her time at these breweries to share with us, so, welcome to our second Guest Contributor, Daniell, thank you!

A short tour of breweries SE of Seattle

This week our family returned from a long overdue trip to my home st
ate of Washington. We decided to try a few local breweries so we could share our experience with you.
I choose a few towns that are near and dear to my heart.

Icicle's bar
Our first visit was to Icicle Brewing Company in Leavenworth WA.

Leavenworth is an amazing town to visit. Icicle Creek runs right through town, hence the name. Deep with Bavarian culture it’s no surprise that they would have such a remarkable brewery. Being new to beers, the ambiance and presentation is important to me almost as important as the beer (wink). The staff was friendly and showed interest in the blog. They allowed us to take pictures and were wonderful at explaining the beers and what they had to offer. I was very pleased to see the actually brewing facilities and they were working that day so we could see some of the goings on.
Awesome flight holder!
Icicle's brewing system
We decided to sample all the beers they had including a guest
beer from Idaho.   The beers came on slice a tree with notches drilled in for the cups to sit on, very impressive. The beers we sampled were Khaos Kolsch (German Style Blond Ale), Cross Lager (German- style Helles Lager), Colchuck Citrus Wheat (American Wheat), Dirtyface Amber (German style Amber Lager), Bootjack IPA (India Pale Ale), Priebe Porter (Robust Porter)  My favorite was the Colchuck Citrus Wheat. Their description pretty much says it all, why rewrite perfection. Fresh, satisfying, medium bodied golden ale. Moderate wheat flavor, malty sweetness, and a bright citrus note. I found it to be a little hearty but not over powering.  My Husbands favorite was their summer beer, the Oaked Life Guard.  He’s notes read, Very good tasting smooth, nice aroma. From the looks of things they have raving reviews and awards a plenty for the following beers, The Dark Persuasion German Chocolate Ale (Winter Seasonal), Dirty Face Amber, Bootjack IPA.

Snoqualmie flight
A few days later we stopped in to Snoqualmie Brewery and Tap room. Snoqualmie Valley is known Snoqualmie Falls, The filming of the movie and show Twin Peaks and were my parents are from. Unfortunately I was not as impressed with this brewery.
Snoqualmie's bar
Their brewing facilities are not view able and though there was someone working in the back that day we were turned down when we asked to take a quick peek.  Makes me sad, as my parents are from this town. Oh well. The beer was OK, our favorite was the Haystack Hefeweizen.  The food there was pretty good. Might be a better place for a glass of beer and a meal rather than someone really wanting the full beer sampling experience. Our waitress was nice, but the overall impression was fair at best.

And last but certainly not least was Iron Horse Brewery “Micro Pub” in Ellensburg Washington. They have two locations and are currently working on opening the actual brewing location to the public. I have to say I found this to be the most drinkable beer (all of it). We got there a little before opening so we were the first ones in, within minutes the place was packed. Which is a great sign. Now there was no food here so people were coming in for the beer! The beer we liked the best happens to be highly sought after and it’s sold by the pint only, the Biere de Garde. Their description of it is “deep in copper color, with fine bubbles that contribute to a very bright mouth feel. You will find aromas of bread crumb, candied citrus fruit, and raisin, the flavor is clearly malt focused, with touches of orange peel, biscuit and dark caramel, citric, and earthy noble hops to balance”. The growler we took home was our third option Light Rail Ale.  2nd choice was High Five but the
Iron Horse flight
keg ran out. But the third choice was great never the less. I am usually not an IPA lover (sad I know) But I can tell you with all honesty that I loved theirs. The thing I am not found of with IPA’s is the after taste. I was very pleased to find an IPA I could drink. The beer they are most famous for is the Quilters Irish Death, which is also very drinkable, smooth and tasty. We drank all of the samples in our flight. To me this says a lot. We were impressed and brought a few bottles home with us for our friends to try! The name Iron Horse: Iron Horse State Park/ John Wayne Trail is a 1,612-acre park that was once part of the path of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. More than 100 miles of trail extends from Cedar Falls to the Columbia River. High trestles provide spectacular views of the valley below. This trial runs through Ellensburg.

So if ever you take a trip to Seattle and head over the Cascades here are three places to try! Cheers

Iron Horse Brewing's website
Icicle Brewing's Website
Snoqualmie Brewing Company's website

My thanks again to Daniell, great job!!! I must say, they also brought me back a bomber of Icicle's Bootjack IPA, it was VERY good, nicely done!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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Jun 25, 2013

"Beer" and Football, all 28 NFL Team Bud Light cans and bottles

This one is for all you football fans out there. This is just a quick little piece I thought I would post, that
shows all the 2013 NFL Bud Light Cans. OK, so, its Bud Light, but at least its also about football!
Click on the link below to Beer Pulse, and check out your favorite teams Bud Light can? I am wondering, do people by these just because their favorite team is on the can?

Hey, only 75 more days till the start of the 2013 NFL season! Go Patriots!!! (at least the one's that won't be in jail for the season....)

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 23, 2013

Cooking with Beer: Gorgonzola IPA Crackers

Love this stuff!
Normally when I post a recipe on here for my regular "Cooking with Beer" segments, they are main coarse, or maybe a side dish, or soup. This one is a little different. Not even an appetizer really, more like a snack. These would be great to put out at a beer dinner or something, for people mingle over while waiting for the dinner to start, or the next course. I found this recipe on "Baking with Beer", a very cool beer recipe site, check it out when you have a minute.

Today's recipe, Gorgonzola IPA Crackers! What caught my eye, on the website, they used Four Peaks Hop Knot! One of my favorites, and a great local IPA. These crackers are described as sort of high end, homemade Cheez-its, which, to me, sounds almost like heaven! "They were crunchy, salty, tangy, cheesy, and Oh so satisfying" Sounds awesome! Check it out.....

Like Homemade Cheez-its, with beer? Um, yes please!

Gorgonzola IPA Crackers


1 cup AP Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
4 tablespoons of cold butter cut into small cubes
1/4 cup of beer


1. In a food processor pulse together the flour, salt, cheese, and butter. Add the beer until the mixture comes together into a ball.

2. Put the mixture in some plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using the wonderful trick of rolling out dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll out your dough to about a 1/4 inch thick.

4. Using a pizza cutter or a pasta wheel cutter cut your cracker shapes. Put onto a silpat or parchment paper and then stab with a fork to create air holes. Add salt or any other topping to your desire. I also put the crackers in the oven for about 10-15 minutes before baking them so they kept the shape better.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. I rotated them halfway through and waited to take them out until I could see a little browning on the crackers.

6. Allow to cool completely.

Give this is a try, I might make some of these for a beer tasting we are going to this weekend (more on that later!)

If you want the full recipe and right up from "Baking with Beer", you can check it out here....

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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Jun 20, 2013

Red Robin's new "can crafted" cocktails

OK, this will most likely piss off hardened beer snobs, but I am going to post it anyway. A while back I wrote about Red Robin's "beer float", a sort of beer milk shake made with ice cream, and Sam Adams Oktoberfest beer. Looked delicious, never had a chance to try it however.
Well, they are at it again, this time, trying to cool you off this summer with a few "beer cocktails", that they dub "Can Crafted Cocktails". OK, so one of them is made with Coors Light, ginger liquor, and lemonade. Sounds ok, but not great. However, the one made with Blue Moon, SVEDKA Vodka, orange and lime juice, actually sounds to me, to be a pretty tasty cocktail!
One of the cooler aspects of these cocktails, much like most of the big brewers efforts to boast sales, is the can they come in. A sort of cup, made to look like a can of beer. Plus, you get to keep the can!
I am going to try this out I think, and I'll report back to you.

If you want more info, here is a link to the entire release on Beer Pulse.
Red Robin's website

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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Jun 18, 2013

A Beer is Born! Wolf Pack Imperial IPA has been brewed!!

What a group!
For some valley beer bar owners and employee's, yesterday was a special day. A group gathered yesterday morning at Sleepy Dog's Tempe brewing facility. Their task for the day, brew their collaboration beer, Wolf Pack Imperial IPA that they talked about a few weeks back at Sleepy Dogs Gilbert Bistro location (I wrote about that previously, you can see that here....)
Representatives from Spokes on Southern, Whole Foods Chandler, Lucky Break, Ground Control, and World of Beer Tempe were on hand to help the crew of Sleepy Dog brew up their much anticipated (at least for me, and most on hand) beer.
Rob, from Spokes on Southern
The day stated with Rob, of Sleepy Dog, going over the brew plan with all present. The grain bill consists of 3 types of grains, two row, dextrin, biscuit, as well as the use of agave nectar! The plan is to have this beer be quite light in color, about 7-8 SRM's (Standard Reference Method, a unit of measure used for the color of beer, the lower the number, the lighter the beer). The hops used were Cascade, Centennial, Summit and Amarillo hops, for a target IBU of about 80 to 85. The beer should clock in at around 8.5, to 9% ABV.
Hana, from World of Beer
I know I can't speak for everyone there, but for me, this day was quite an education. I know I have a basic understanding of the brewing process, and how it works. However, what I learned was the amount of science (an MATH!!) and the amount of work that goes into brewing and bottling a beer. Especially on the scale that they brew at Sleepy Dog. It really makes you appropriate the amount of work that goes into every bottle of beer you drink! My hat is off to all you small batch brewery's out there. You certainly do it for the love of the craft!
Matt, checking the sugar levels
While I did post a few pic's on this post, you can check out the full album on The Beer Czar Facebook page here.... If you haven't liked my page yet, please do, and feel free to tag anyone in the album, or in any specific photos you see.
Wolf Pack Imperial IPA will be released, all at once, at all participating beer bars in the valley on National IPA Day, which is Aug 1st this year. I will have a list of all the bars that will be getting this beer, so that you can make arrangements to spend IPA Day  sipping on your very own glass of Wolf Pack Imperial IPA.

Dave, adding Agave

Kyle adding hops
Last, but certainly not least, I want to personally thank Rob Sizemore, and Matt Weber of Sleepy Dog, and their staff. Not only for agreeing to brew this beer, but for your time and patience you displayed with all of us, as I am sure we slowed you down a bit. You took time to educate, demonstrate and allow us all to participate in brewing this beer, and for that, I am sure I can speak for the rest of the group when I offer our sincere gratitude for all you've done for the entire group, and this beer.
If you haven't been to Sleepy Dog, I strongly recommend you do! They have two locations. Sleepy Dog's Brew House and tap room in Tempe (no food is served there) is on University, just east of Mclintock, on the north side of the street. Their restaurant and bistro is in Gilbert, on the SW corner of Williams Field Rd and Val Vista (in the Kohl's Plaza). Go check them out, and have a few beers, and tell them the Beer Czar sent you!

And there she sleeps...
Again, you can check out the complete photo album on The Beer Czar's Facebook Page here.....

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 14, 2013

Happy Fathers Day from the Beer Czar!

I just wanted to extend a Happy Fathers Day to all my fellow Dad's out there. I am about to head up north, and do a little camping with my family, but before I went, I just wanted to recognized you dad's. Its not easy, but its worth it!

My girls, Kenzie, Jordan and Kelsey
To my girls, Jordan, MacKenzie, and Baby Kelsey, daddy loves you! To my Dad, have a great one as well, we will see you Sunday!

Lets drink to our Dad's this weekend! 

Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 13, 2013

A slice of the moon in the bottle of Corona

OK, this is pretty cool. A giant Corona billboard used the moon as a participant in a little advertising. They positioned the billboard just right, so that at a certain time, on a certain day, the moon would appear to be a wedge of lime sticking up out of the top of a giant bottle of Corona. Pretty cool, check it out!!

Pretty cool, and its happening again tomorrow night and Saturday night. So, if you are in NYC this weekend, go to 9th Ave and 15th Street and snap a pic!

I know its a marketing gimmick, and I know I'll hear a bunch of bull shit about "why don't the worry about making a good beer instead" Well, we all know that isn't happening, so, why not just enjoy what AB InBev does best, advertising!!! Calm down, don't take yourself, or beer so serious, this is pretty cool!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 12, 2013

Father's Day is coming, get Dad breakfast in bed, with BEER!!

Berliner Weiss Pancakes   (Draftmag)
OK, Father's Day is just around the corner. While it seems traditional to take Mom out for breakfast/brunch for Mother's Day, Father's Day is more about BBQ's. Why can't Dad enjoy a nice breakfast as well, one he would love, yet still maintain all the testosterone laden manliness we've come to expect from Father's Day? Well, now he can. Here are few breakfast ideas that feature beer in the recipe!!! What Dad wouldn't love that?
First off, check out this article in Draft Mag, with 5 breakfast recipes that feature beer! Everything from Berliner Weiss Pancakes, to biscuits and gravy made with Rauchbeir!!! Click the link below.

Or, how about some bacon, with a side of beer, check out this recipe for Beer-Candied Bacon!!!

Beer-Candied Bacon
1 lb thick-cut, high quality bacon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp beer

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine brown sugar and beer in a small bowl, whisking well to form a thin syrup. Set aside.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top. Place the pieces of bacon on top of the rack, overlapping if necessary. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush one side of the bacon with the beer syrup. Flip, and coat the other side with the syrup as well. Return to oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and repeat process another time or two more, until bacon is crispy and browned, and you have used all the glaze.

Cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

Oh my god, does this sound just awesome!!!

So, to all you Dad's out there, I hope you have a great, and happy Father's Day. I will be spending the weekend camping in Sedona with my family!!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 10, 2013

Drink local, its SO worth it!

OK, I know lately I've been on my proverbial soap box shouting the merits of drinking local beer. A response I get, from time to time (admittedly, and thankfully less and less these days), is that Arizona beer just isn't up to par with the likes of California, Oregon, or Michigan beers. OK, fair enough, we might not be "the best" beer state in the country (yet), does that mean we can't, or shouldn't love our local beers? My beloved Red Sox don't win the World Series every year, nor do my Patriots win the Super Bowl year after year (at least not anymore.....) yet, I still love them, even if they aren't "the best" team that particular year. Same goes with beer. We might not be the best, doesn't mean we don't have some great local beers at our disposal.

James, Greg, and Pat
There was no finer example of this recently  then at the weekly Whole Foods "Friday Night Beer Class" this passed week. James Swann had put together a line up of 4 "local" breweries. Not local as in the valley, but rather from "3 corners" of the state as they put it. Two brewery's from spring break capital of Arizona, Lake Havasu City, College Street Brewhouse, and Mudshark Brewery. Flagstaff's Mother Road Brewing Company, and Tucson's own Dragoon Brewing Company. Each Brewery bringing with them between 1 to 3 beers with them for us to sample.

 First up, Keith from College Street  had 3 beers for us to try. First, Big Blue Van, an unfiltered Wheat Beer, with Vanilla and Blueberry. A refreshing, sweet and smooth beer, that should be a favorite of fans of good fruit beers. Next, he had their Spring Fling IPA. This was probably the closest thing I've had to a "session IPA" from Arizona, It was a crisp, refreshing IPA that has a light 5.5% abv. This would be a great IPA to have with dinner! Next was a very special beer, normally only available at the brew pub in Havasu. Keith brought a growler of Lamba Lamba Lambic! A wonderful, flavorful sour beer! I've said Arizona needs a good sour beer! Well, we have one!

The Czar, and Brandon from Mudshark

Next up, Brandon from Mudshark had just one beer for us. If you are only offering up one beer, better make it a good one! Well, he did! He had a barrel aged version of their Desert Magic. Their popular IPA, that has spent the last 6 months sleeping in a barrel. Awesome beer! A very smooth, balanced IPA, with a wonderful aroma! Very nice beer!

Pat pouring some samples
OK, I will admit, the one brewery I was most excited about trying was up next. I've been hearing a ton about Tucson's Dragoon Brewing Company. Hearing it called "Arizona's best new brewery" by more then a few folks who's opinion I trust. Pat was there from Dragoon, and brought with him a few great brews. First up, was their "Daisy", Dragoons take on a Berliner-weiss. This sort of hay-strew colored, tart, refreshing beer was very enjoyable, and one I could see myself enjoying about 3 or 4 more of! A low 4% abv, this is a beer that could be taken in large amounts! OK, I guess Arizona has at least 2 great sour beers!
Next up, Sarcosuchus, their double IPA. OK, for those of you that don't love cheesy Sci-Fi original movies like I do, this beer gets its name from the "supercroc" that prowled the swamps of the early Cretaceous Period, some 112 million years ago (give or take). Like the croc, this beer is an ass kicker! 6 different hops give this beer a huge flavor, and the 10.5% abv, well, that gives it the kick! They also brew this with local honey, I guess to try and soften up this powerful, reptilian beer. Very solid beer, I will seek this out again!

Love their logo!
Last, but certainly not least, Greg was there to offer up a few beers from Flagstaff's Mother Road Brewery. Greg brought 3 beers with him.and up first, was Euro-trash, their Belgian Pale brew. Very nice beer, with oddly, a hint of cinnamon?? Was that what I tasted?? Next up was a Rosemary infused brown ale (I didn't get the name of this one, I apologize). An interesting beer, that upon the very first sip, I though this would be a GREAT beer to marinade a steak it. Sort of a liquid post roast almost.
Last beer of the evening, was their 66 Chutes, a collaboration between Deschutes, and Mother Road. A bourbon barrel aged stout. Very nice, very drinkable stout, with nice hints of smokey wood.

All an all, a great showcase of some of just a few of the great beers Arizona now has to offer! I strongly
James, Keith and Brandon
recommend you seek out a few of these brews, or brewery's. Stop in, order a sampler of their stuff, and see what they have. I have no doubt, you will have some great beers, maybe even a new favorite. And don't forget, tell them The Beer Czar sent you!

And next time someone says to you "Arizona doesn't have any "great" beers" just reply to them;
"Really? Have you tried them all?" my guess is, no, not even close.

For more information on the breweries mentioned in this post check out below the post.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

College Street Brewhouse and Pub's website
Pat, from Dragoon

1940 College Dr,
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

Phone: (928) 854-2739

Mudshark Brewing's website
210 Swanson Ave,
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

Phone: (928) 453-2981

Dragoon Brewing Company's website
1859 W Grant Rd #111,
Tucson, AZ 85745

Phone:(520) 329-3606

Mother Road Brewing Company's website

7 Mikes Pike,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Phone:(928) 774-9139

Jun 7, 2013

Craft Beer Interactive Map....

Screen shot of the interactive map
I stumbled across this map this morning while cruising Facebook (see, there is some helpful stuff on there). Its an interactive map of the Craft Beer industry in the United States. Kind of fun if you are into numbers, and pretty interesting. You can search, by state a number of categories included
total number of breweries, annual production, fastest growing breweries, and a few more.

Like I said, its pretty cool, and even kind of fun. Check it out, and see how your state ranks among the 50.

Let me know what you think of it. I'm having a lot of fun with it this morning! (to give a local shout out, our own beloved San Tan Brewery ranks among the 50 fastest growing breweries in the country!)

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Jun 5, 2013

Cooking with beer...Obsidian Stout Mac & Cheese

Gram, and all her great grand children (at the time)
OK, we all know I love Fish Tacos more then just about any other food, right? Well, if there is one food I
may love more then a good fish taco, its some good old home made mac and cheese. My grand mother use to make the most amazing Mac and Cheese, and once I moved out on my own, one of the first things I asked my mother for, was Gram's recipe for mac and cheese. I have no idea how many times in the last 20 or so years I've made it, but its a lot, each time, I tweak it so that at this point, its just about perfection. I am always looking for new ways to make it better, and, well, I am almost embarrassed to admit, I've never thought of using beer in it! Well, lucky for me (and now all of you) the fine folks at Deschutes Brewery in Bend OR have thought of it, and have come up with a pretty enticing recipe for a twist on Grandma's favorite. Using their Obsidian Stout, and some white cheddar, this recipe looks awesome, check it out!

Obsidian Stout Mac & Cheese

4 C cooked pasta
1 C Tillamook white cheddar cheese, grated (I would recommend a little more, maybe a lot more.....)
Can it get any better?

1 C bread crumbs, toasted
4 C heavy cream
1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbs peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/4 C Obsidian Stout
1/2 Tbs salt

Lightly brown leeks and shallots in oil in medium stock pot, stirring occasionally. Add peppercorns and bay leaves and stir to combine. Add cream and stir and bring to a low boil allowing liquid to simmer until reduced by half (should be thickened slightly). Turn off heat and add beer and salt.

When ready to serve, toss cheese and fresh boiled pasta into sauce (above). Sprinkle bread crumbs on a cooking sheet and bake until crispy in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 min. Put mac & cheese in a casserole-like dish, add bread crumbs to the top and bake in the hot oven for 350 degrees until browned, about 20 min. Serve with a pint of Mirror Pond Pale Ale

You can check out the recipe on Deschutes website, and get others here....

You can't go wrong with beer, and cheese if you ask me!
Enjoy, and thanks to the fine folks a Deschutes for not only making Abyss, but for coming up with this recipe as well!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Jun 4, 2013

Why I do what I do.......

Why do I do what I do? Short answer, because I love beer! Now, here's the long answer....

I love beer, and I want others to at least recognize that there is SO much more to beer then just Bud Light, Coors Lights etc. It is not my goal to get all my friends, family and readers to drink craft beer all the time. I feel, if I have done my "job" correctly, then my friends, family and readers will, at the very least, know craft beer is out there, and try it from time to time.

If there is one bit of criticism, or feedback I get on a regular basis about this blog (aside from the spelling errors), it is that I don't go in depth enough. That I tend to stick to a more high level, fly by's of the in's and outs of beer, and its make up, and spend more time making jokes, telling stories, or posting funny videos, pictures etc.That I am not a "serious" beer blogger. What do I say to this accusation? Your damn right I am not a serious beer blogger! Beer is not my job, beer is my hobby. I have a ton of fun with beer, and I decided to start this blog to share that fun with other people, so that they could have fun with it as well.

Serious about beer!
If you are coming to this blog for definitions or essays on different hop verities, in depth analysis and beer reviews, well, sorry, its not here. If you want those things, there are a ton of blogs out there that have this information. I am not knocking these blogs by any means, I read a lot of them. Why do I not involve myself in such things? Well, mainly, because I find it boring. VERY boring. Second, I am not an expert. Sure, I may know a bit more then the average person about beer, but I do not pretend to be, nor have I ever called myself an expert. There are a lot of experts writing out there, I can direct you to them if you'd like. They write serious stuff, for serious beer readers, and industry folks. The information is of coarse helpful, informative and I would argue essential in many respects for a lot of people. It is not however, what I want my blog to be about, or what I want people to take away from it.

I didn't start this blog to teach serious beer people anything. I can't. I have, however, learned a ton from these same people. For that, I am extremely grateful. However, these serious beer folks are really not my target audience either. I started this blog a few years back when, after answering a lot of questions from friends and family about beers, what is good, what I think they would like, and all that, one of them told me "you should just write a blog". So I did. I did so in the attempt to answer those sort of basic questions that the every day person might have about beer. The person that wants to expand what it is they are drinking, without having to take a class, or skim through paragraph after paragraph of details about grain bills, boil times etc.

Like I said earlier, my goal is not to "convert" everyone I know into a beer expert, or even beer geek. My goal, is for people to understand that there is so much verity, and choice when it comes to beer, you really don't have to drink the same beer twice if you don't want to. If you try a certain beer from a certain brewer, and don't like it, to understand enough that it doesn't mean that is a bad brewery, that is means that you may just not like that particular style, or that particular beer. Its that basic understanding that I want people to have. That understanding, and the willingness to try something different, or new, at least new to you. Say you really like Sam Adams Boston Lager (and who doesn't really?), next time you are at the store, ask someone to recommended something similar to that, that you've never had. Do this when you are at the store, and before you know it, you will have tried a ton of beers, and may have even found a number of beers, and new styles that you will really enjoy, and previously never knew about..

Beer IS fun, you don't see them doing this with ice tea!
That is why I do this. I always say, beer is fun, lets keep it that way. So no, I am not a serious beer blogger. It does not mean that I am not serious about beer (I take beer seriously, not myself....), just that this is not a serious blog (most of the time). There is some serious, or real information in it, but I want it to be more fun, while still informative. It is not a text book, it is not a reference tool (except for maybe some local events and releases). Its fun, because beer is fun, and I want to have fun with it. I want this blog to be a sort of "gateway" blog. One that may peak one's curiosity about beer, and start them down that road. Look at it as a sort of minor league blog. Spend some time here, learn the basics, and when you are ready, head on up to the big guys. I can refer you to a few if you would like, they are awesome guys and gals, with a great passion for beer, and just a ton of knowledge that they are very good at sharing.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, it can be intimidating
So, when your ready, you can move on, I still hope you come back and visit us here from time to time, and  have a laugh or two while you are here.

So, lets all take a step back, lets not get too serious about it, because remember, beer is fun, lets keep it that way.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

[edit- soon after I posted this, I saw this on Facebook and thought, hey, I might actually be onto something here, check this out.....People know less about beer then you think ]

Jun 1, 2013

Sam C. says it best....

Every so often I like to share my opinion on here (OK, maybe frequently). Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the craft beer community and its growth, and inevitable growing pains. A disturbing trend I've seen in recent years, is a sort of "turning up" of the nose at brewery's and beers once considered the best, or at least very respectable. Example, recently, I acquired a bottle of Westvlateren 12. A beer, that for years, was widely considered "the best in the world". For years, you could only get this beer, literally at the gates of the abbey where it was brewed, by appointment only. Well, last fall, this beer was made available, for one time only in the US. Since then, this beer, while still VERY highly rated, it started to take its jab's from the beer community, and the ratings have since fallen a bit. I was on a thread the other day, and mentioned how excited I was to try this beer. I got more then a few responses back ranging from "it wasn't that bad" "I didn't like it" to "don't get your hopes up, this is the most over rated beer in the world". OK, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that just because this beer is highly rated, you have to like. I am just saying, that for the longest time, you would never see anyone say this. It was almost "uncool" to say something bad about it, you weren't taken seriously. Now, its almost the exact opposite. You seem "cooler" if you don't like it. I don't get it? This is why I tend to stay away from Beer Advocate discussion threads, and most beer review sites.

My beloved Oberon
This is an attitude I've been seeing more and more of as of late. A highly regarded beer, or brewery see's a little (or a lot) of success, and all of a sudden the perception is that they are no longer as good as they once were, they "sold out", they changed their recipe or their quality is now  not as good as it once was. Despite the fact, that the only real thing that has changed, is the fact that beer geeks and snobs are not the only ones drinking that beer anymore. It reminds me of a piece I read (and wrote about) on my beloved summer favorite Oberon. The writer said, how he use to love the beer, how it use to be exciting, and new. Now that he goes into a bar, and see's everyone drinking it, and oh god forbid with a slice of orange in the glass, the beer is no longer "exciting and new", and he now feels its "hardly craft" anymore, and over rated. So, when he was the only one in the bar drinking it, it was awesome, now that he's not, its no longer good (or just no longer cool).

Beer geeks seem to be a bit schizophrenic about their growth. They love getting on their soap box to preach the virtues and qualities of craft beer, yet, when a craft brewery gains the success the geeks long for and talk about, they abandon that brewery for one that is newer and cooler, and leave those boring main stream popular beers to be consumed (and enjoyed) by the uninformed masses.

Recently, [edit....OK, I guess a while back...]on Beer Advocate, there was a thread about "over rated breweries" (should I say, in the weekly thread about over rated breweries....). Well, it seems Sam Calagione (founder and owner of Dogfish Head, and one of my personal favorite beer people) read this, and it struck a cord with him, because he responded to it, and he summed it up better then I think I can. This was his response.....

It’s pretty depressing to frequently visit this site and see the most negative threads among the most
Sam C at Whole Foods in Chandler
popular. This didn't happen much ten years ago when craft beer had something like a 3 percent market share. Flash forward to today, and true indie craft beer now has a still-tiny but growing market share of just over 5 percent. Yet so many folks that post here still spend their time knocking down breweries that dare to grow. It’s like that old joke: “Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded.” Except the “restaurants” that people shit on here aren't exactly juggernauts. In fact, aside from Boston Beer, none of them have anything even close to half of one percent market share  The more that retailers, distributors, and large industrial brewers consolidate the more fragile the current growth momentum of the craft segment becomes. The more often the Beer Advocate community becomes a soap box for outing breweries for daring to grow beyond its insider ranks the more it will be marginalized in the movement to support, promote, and protect independent ,American craft breweries. 

It’s interesting how many posts that refer to Dogfish being over-rated include a caveat like “except for Palo…except for Immort…etc.” We all have different palettes which is why it’s a great thing that there are so many different beers. At Dogfish we’ve been focused on making “weird” beers since we opened and have taken our lumps for being stylistically indifferent since day one. I bet a lot of folks agree that beers like Punkin Ale (since 1995) , Immort Ale (wood aged smoked beer) since 1995, Chicory Stout (coffee stout) since 1995 , Raison D’ĂȘtre (Belgian brown) since 1996, , Indian Brown Ale (dark IPA) since 1997, and 90 Minute (DIPA) since 2000 don’t seem very weird anymore. That’s in large part because so many people who have been part of this community over the years championed them and helped us put them on the map.These beers, and all of our more recent releases like Palo Santo, Burton Baton, Bitches Brew continue to grow every year. We could have taken the easy way out and just sold the bejeezus out of 60 Minute to grow but we like to experiment and create and follow our own muse. Obviously there is an audience that appreciates this as we continue to grow. We put no more “hype” or “expert marketing” behind our best selling beers than we do our occasionals. We only advertise in a few beer magazines and my wife Mariah oversees all of our twitter/Facebook/dogfish.com stuff. We have mostly grown by just sharing our beer with people who are into it (at our pub, great beer bars, beer dinners, and fests) and let them decide for themselves if they like it. If they do we hope they tell their friends about. We hope a bunch of you that are going to EBF will stop by our booth and try some of the very unique new beers we are proudly bringing to market like Tweason’ale (a champagne-esque, gluten-free beer fermented with buckwheat honey and strawberries) and Noble Rot (a sort of saison brewed with Botrytis-infected Viognier Grape must). One of these beers is on the sweeter side and one is more sour. Knowing each of your palettes is unique you will probably prefer one over the other. That doesn't mean the one you didn't prefer sucked. And the breweries you don’t prefer but are growing don’t suck either. Respect Beer. The below was my favorite post thus far. 

This thread is hilarious. Seriously, Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated?  Since I’m from Ohio, I’ll pile on and add Great Lakes, Hoppin Frog, and Brew Kettle to the list. Your welcome. 

Hopefully soon we will have every craft brewery in the US on the list.

This is why Sam continues to be one of my favorite characters in the beer community. Thank you Sam! I think I might go get some Dogfish Head to enjoy by the pool today (I just wish they were as good as they use to be, it would make it SO much better!)

Remember, beer is fun, lets keep it that way!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar