Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weyerbacher's IPA Project

It was announced earlier this month that Weyerbacher would be replacing Hops Infusion with a new and hopefully improved IPA for their year-round lineup. It was a welcome surprise when their NJ Sales Rep Natalie broke the news at the February ALEiens Homebrew Club meeting. Weyerbacher is up there among my favorite American breweries, I think they are a rock solid company with some fantastic brews but I've always found Hops Infusion to be their red-headed step child. Their Double Simcoe IPA (especially unfiltered) is top notch but their standard IPA was never up to snuff in my book so I was thrilled to see that they would be doing something about it and they are calling it their IPA Project.

They will be releasing six new experimental IPA's over the next six months to the Philly area for thirsty drinkers to sample and critique. Each new brew will be available on draft in very limited quantities, they're only doing 15 barrels per batch once a month from now until August. Participating watering holes will have comment cards available for patrons to fill out and score each IPA. You'll also be able to go to Weyerbacher's website and give them feedback that way. Once all six IPA's have been released, drunk, and pondered upon Weyerbacher will take into account what their fans felt about each and replace Hops Infusion with the most popular (and hopefully the most deserving) IPA. I for one love the idea and give them kudos for shaking things up (I'm also looking forward to their rebranding but that's a different story altogether).

The first in this series they are calling Batch #3743 has been released upon the masses. I grabbed myself a pint yesterday at The Hulmeville Inn (a full list of participating locations can be found here) who also had a pin of Old Heathen "dry-hopped" with chocolate and coffee which was pretty intense. I must say that the test IPA didn't leave as strong of an impact on me. It's a great looking beer, hazy golden straw with clean white head and pleasantly hoppy and grainy aroma. It was an enjoyable brew but lacked a hop profile that I look for in an IPA, seemed more like a standard American pale ale to me reminiscent of Yards' Philadelphia Pale Ale actually. There were some great citrusy hop flavors there with enough maltiness to balance it out taking away any sort of bite, really smooth and refreshing but not what I'd hope to see become their new IPA. I'm not saying I need something outrageous or exceptionally strong when it comes to an IPA, I love a great sessionable IPA but I think Weyerbacher can do better than this batch and I look forward to next in the series.

I'm sure this is going to be a tough experiment because a lot of IPA's would look like red-headed step children when they stand next to Double Simcoe!

The future is in our hands...get out!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Unnecessary, Stupid, & Silly Beer Laws

When our Founding Fathers were hanging out in Philly taverns discussing The Declaration of Independence, thinking about the future of this new United States of America, I highly doubt they realized that the system of law that they were establishing would one day become riddled with so many outrageous beer-related laws and regulations. I believe they would be down right ashamed of what some states are doing in this day and age that make selling, purchasing, and even enjoying a beer so damn difficult.

Working with beer in Pennsylvania has given me first hand experience with some of the absurdity that exists in the law books when it comes to everyone's favorite fermented beverage. If you want to buy more than 12 beers you should by all means be able to carry more than 12 beers out of the store but you can't. At least not at a six-pack shop, go to a distributor and you can buy all the kegs and cases your heart desires...AND carry them out to your car all by yourself. Now where is the logic in that?

A lot of these laws are simply outdated, put in place long ago by a bunch of Quaker prudes. They end up causing merchants and consumers all sorts of troubles including on occasion, fines. The state knows people need their beer and they'll find a way to squeeze a few dollars out of that need whether in taxes or fines. This is motivation for quite a few of these sorts of laws and regulations but after doing some reading and snooping I've come across a slew of beer laws that seem to come out of absolutely nowhere and are just plain old stupid. Some of these make Pennsylvania seem almost ahead of the curve. Almost.

Grab yourself a beer, you'll need it. Here are some of the worst.
  • North Dakota - It is illegal to serve beer and pretzels at the same time. FUCK YOU.
  • West Virginia - Of course it's illegal to furnish alcohol to minors...except if you're related by blood OR marriage. That would've come in handy.
  • Indiana - You can't carry your own drink from the bar to a employee is the only one legally allowed to do so.
  • Missouri - If you love sitting on a curb and drinking beer out of a bucket don't go to St Louis because that is illegal. Quite specific.
  • California - If a store sells both motor fuel and alcohol, the alcohol cannot be within 5 feet of the cash register.
  • Georgia - The sale of beer over 6% ABV is prohibited. Boo!
  • Iowa - Pay attention. If an officer of the law is having a drink in a bar and the bartender pours water down the drain the water is then considered an alcoholic beverage "intended for unlawful purposes"...?
  • Indiana - It is illegal for a bar to give you a drink on the house.
  • Texas - You can't buy beer after midnight on Sundays but you can purchase it at anytime on Mondays. Come again?
  • Hawaii - Apparently underage drinking is not exactly stated or prohibited.
  • Minnesota - They specifically state that it is in fact NOT a crime to be intoxicated in public. I like it.
  • Florida - Containers can only be sold in four sizes: 32, 24, 12, or 8 ounces. They're just missing out.
  • Indiana - Liquor stores cannot sell cold sodas or soft drinks...they have to be unrefrigerated.
  • Michigan - It is illegal for any sort of establishment to serve alcohol on Christmas Day.
  • Nebraska - A bar cannot sell beer unless they brewing a kettle of soup at the time.
  • Missouri - I would've had one less chore as a kid. If anyone underage takes out the trash and it has even one single empty container they can be charged with possession.
  • Colorado - The sale of any alcohol is prohibited by law on Election Day.
  • Utah - There is a 3.2% ABV limit on draft beer. Damn shame.
  • New Hampshire - You must be sitting down when served an alcoholic beverage.
  • Texas - They have a few. It is illegal to take more than three sips, swigs, or gulps of beer while standing.
  • Kentucky - You can go to jail for five years for just sending a bottle of any alcoholic beverage as a gift.
  • California - A brewery can't release any list of retailers that actually sell/serve their beer.
  • Virginia - If you are the passenger of a drunk driver and you yourself are also drunk you, the passenger, can be charged with a DUI.
  • New Jersey - If you get a DUI you'll have to wait 3 years before you're allowed to apply for a personalized license plate. Get a real problem.
  • Iowa - Apparently you are not allowed to run a tab there. If I ever end up there I'll probably end up not tipping because I'm just so annoyed.
  • Texas - The beloved Encyclopedia Britannica because it has what is essentially a homebrew recipe in it. Get over it.
  • Iowa - It is illegal for the fine gentlemen of Ames to have 3 sips of beer while they are in bed with their wife. I wonder if they that applies to all other women?

This is just a mere spattering of what I found to be the most appalling, there are plenty of other less-entertaining laws that paled in comparison to this list. Some are inane, some amusing, and some just simply made me quite angry. From what I've gathered here, living in Texas or Iowa is just a rough life. So if you're sitting around getting angry about your state's own beer laws take a look at this list and you'll probably feel a little bit better, I know I did.

*Texas Readers: Please make sure you're sitting down before cheers-ing. Just in case.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drink With Pride This St. Patrick's Day

"St. Patrick -- one of the few saints whose feast day presents the opportunity to get determinedly whacked and make a fool of oneself all under the guise of acting Irish."
-Charles M. Madigan

With the damn Erin Express wreaking havoc throughout The Best Beer Drinking City in America it got me thinking of better ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day for those of us who prefer just a bit of dignity while acting Irish this Thursday. Just say no to green beer and resist the urge to guzzle Guinness after Guinness. There are other options out there for the thirsty masses that would make St. Patrick proud.

I've put together a few of my favorite alternatives here for anyone in need of an escape from the same old same old this St. Patrick's Day:

Great Lakes - Conway's Irish Ale
  Sweet caramel malt and nutty/doughy flavors but still smooth and oh so drinkable.
 Cigar City - Patio Tools
 Rich and creamy yet dry and roasty with a kick of bitter chocolate thrown in there.

Sly Fox - O'Reilly's Stout
  Easy to drink without being weak. Great coffee and malt flavors with a hint of smoke.

O'Hara's - Dry Irish Stout
A bit of a sweeter stout with dry coffee overtones, surprisingly light bodied and sessionable.

Victory - Donnybrook Stout
Felt compelled to add this but my real advice would be to man up and grab a Storm King.

Sierra Nevada - Stout

A classic and underrated American Stout...dark chocolate and toasted malts dominate with a bitter backbone.

Sly Fox - Seamus' Irish Red
Sweet and malty, a great take on the style with no bitterness to be found. A little earthy and grainy.

Guinness - Foreign Extra Stout
 Much more enjoyable than their Draught which I find watery. Full, roasted, bready, with a shockingly bitter finish.

Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy
  For the ballsy St. Patty's Day drinker. I love this one but can get in a bit of trouble with it. If you're not in for a marathon on Thursday grab one of these and enjoy.

Just a few suggestions to mix it up this St. Patrick's Day. With a couple exceptions they are all pretty easy to drink so I don't want to hear any complaining and in any case...quality over quantity.

Choose wisely.