Friday, April 28, 2006

On organic beer and the great Forrest

As my dad once said, "the word organic is the best thing to ever happen to ugly food." I'd say that's a pretty safe bet for beer, too. Well overdue but still worth mentioning, this article about the new face of organic beer from the San Francisco Chronicle pretty much sums up why Forrest

Organically nazzzzzzzty.

Allen is my favorite beer buyer in the Bay Area (keyword: manure) and why the megabreweries that still dominate the market really are the "rat bastard evil empire."
Most interesting about the article is how it gingerly sidesteps the "what makes organic beer organic" question. Apparently my psychographics indicate that I like to be somewhat misled, as in order to call a beer "organic" it simply needs to include one organic ingredient (malted barley) and utilize steam over chemicals in the cleaning of the production facilities. Since organic hops are still behind in terms of the level of quality expected from the craft brewing segment and organic yeast is a little bit of a question mark, unless you were planning on adding a bunch of creepy preservatives and colorings (and you wouldn't want to do that, now, would you?) it's not like organic beer is all that different from the rest (and most folks recommend sterilizing with steam anyway).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tasting notes - Kriek de Ranke

There's something truly special about the first moment in the spring when you find yourself aching for a refreshing beverage. It usually means that it's nice and warm out, and that you've exerted some physical effort that demands liquid payback. For many, that harbinger of a pleasant season soon to come would be celebrated with a lemonade, or a Campari & soda, or (god forbid) a Bud Light. But not for me. My taste buds and olfactory memories have been pushed into strange domains over years of experimentation, and to cut me from my winter's wrap, I need something pretty special to break the spell. Wrapped in minimally decorated paper like an illicit magazine subscription, Brouwerij de Ranke's Kriek de Ranke is my type of pre-summer celebration.

This funky gem pours on like incandescently radioactive liquid ruby. Unlike many of its brethren, though, the aroma that's unleashed when the bottle is opened has very little of the horsey, wild fungal odor. Instead, it's the smell of sour - not an aged, moldy vinegar sour, but a sourness that speaks to the act of ripening itself, a sour that evokes the earliest visages of springtime fruit and prematurely tasted produce, a sour of potential energy.

The taste that follows is a wonderfully dry and tart cherry flavor that's all essence and no sweetness, like the promise of an early blossom compared to the end of harvest, nearly rotted fruit heaviness of a Hanssens. Hints of the true wildness of the character are easily buried within the odors of a day's work outdoors, and the finish is as quick as nightfall. It's truly a unique and poetic beer of the season, and worth all this gummy rhapsodizing. Sitting here admiring my first mosquito bite of the year, its a drink I find perfect to compliment that celebration of seasonal change.

Monday, April 24, 2006


My friend Gregory knows a friend of the nephew of the inventor.

From Deutsche Welle online:
"Beate Uhse has recently struck a deal with a German beer maker to produce a special brand of beer called "69," which -- in addition to offering the usual joys of intoxication -- is also aimed at increasing male potency. The beer contains an extract of Muira Puama, an aphrodisiac plant from the Amazon region. When the company announced its new product in the beginning of April, an enthusiastic German tabloid ran a story about "the first beer that even women will like." It is expected that "69" will strike the right chord with testosterone-driven soccer fans this summer."

[Note: two of my favorite writers contributed to this post. Thanks to our Berlin correspondent John Borland for the link, and Jonathan Safran Foer for the title.]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I almost forgot...

The results of this year's World Beer Cup are in, and California brewers did much to make us proud. Of course, no big awards competition is without its morning-after grousing. Come and immerse yourself in the steamy world of politics and intrigue that is professional beer judging!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On rain, taxes, and rebirth

Today was a day of firsts. It was the first day this year that the furnace hasn't kicked in. It was Des and my's first bbq of the year. It was the first day this year that the neighbors' spotlights have been adequately blocked out by blinds in our bedroom. It was the first day this year that the hot tub seemed just a little too hot. And it was the first day this year that a pilsner-esque kölsch (pictured below) seemed like the perfect pairing to an afternoon sitting in the yard. I'm not complaining. It must be an Easter thang.

visit my webcam for more
sexxxy beer action ;)

Easter itself, however, was rained out. And tax day, for many, was painful. To alleviate the suffering, and to help out the pocketbook, here's my lawnmower beer recipe for the coming long days of summer. And if you're pressed for time since those days are already here, this one can be done in just a couple weeks if you've got a fridge to do a quick bit of lagering and force carbonation in. Citrusy herbal hoppy lightness magic in a glass!

Monday, April 10, 2006

sommeliale? beereliere?

Mr. Turgeman contemplates
a 2004 Amstel Light
Regardless of what you'd like to call it - and as fakey silly as it sounds - this is a nice step up from the typical restaurant server who describes beer in terms of its color alone. And yes, I'm taking Aviram's job even though it means daily cross-country flights.
I'm all for giving the wide variety of the world of beers its due - but stoneware mugs for German bocks? And actually recommending that "cleaning the bbq with your tongue" Schlenkerla Rauchbier for pairing? I promise I would never betray my customers like that. Bacon truly goes much better with Death & Taxes. This I believe.