Iowa Senate Passes SF 2088 Overwhelmingly

I just learned tonight that the Iowa senate overwhelmingly (41-2) passed SF 2088, the government reorganization bill, a bill that includes a law that allows the definition of beer in Iowa to be raised from 5% ABW (about 6.25% ABV) to 12% ABW (about 15% ABV). This will give local Iowa Brewers, such as Millstream Brewing, Hub City Brewing, and Worth Brewing the ability to brew higher alcohol beers, such as dopplebocks and Belgian-style beers, without approval from the Iowa Alcoholic Berverages Division.  This will also give the responsibility of the distribution of higher alcohol beer to the local distributors instead of the Ankeny-based division of the government. It has now been messaged back to the Iowa House before being brought to governor Chet Culver, who has indicated his support.

Great River Brewery’s Aaaah BOCK

I just had the chance to sample Great River Brewery’s Aaaah BOCK at Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City.

I enjoy a bock very much, and I haven’t had one like this for some time, probably due to the fact they seem to be spring seasonal beers.  To compare, it is very similar in flavor to the Leinenkugel’s 1888 seasonal bock or Granite City’s Brother Benedict’s Bock, except it has a bit more body and stronger caramel and toffee notes that make it very enjoyable.  Unfortunately it won’t last long, so next time I need to bring in my growlers to take some home with me.

So, what’s your favorite spring beer?  Is it a bock, or something else?

Why Beer Wars Is Good for Craft Beer

I just read an article on New Brew Thursday that states the best way to be an advocate for craft beer is to stop being a “hater”.  I couldn’t agree more.

The main subjects of the article are the website Beer Advocate (of which I am a member, and it’s saved my sobriety many a times), and the movie Beer Wars (which I have seen and enjoyed).

Now, if you aren’t a documentary person, you may still enjoy Beer Wars because, for the most part, it’s a David v. Goliath struggle.  I remember as I was watching it how I was cheering for the little guy.  Recently this was illustrated by another similar struggle, when the maker of Monster energy drinks sued Rock Art Brewery in Vermont over the use of the name for their  barley wine, Vermonster.

So here’s the important points you may not know:

  1. The big US brewers are no longer US owned: Anheuser-Busch is owned by InBev, a Belgian company, and Miller (who merged with Coors in the past couple of years) is owned by SAB, a South African company.
  2. Even some of the “craft” you may think are craft really are made by the big guys.  For example, Michelob is fully owned by ABInBev, and Blue Moon and Killian’s Red are owned by SABMiller Coors.  In fact, these companies have continued to buy up small craft brewers from around the world.  You might ask why would one do this?  Because the small companies have issues with distribution, and the big guys have a huge distribution network with little room for non-big guy beer.
  3. It’s really about shelf space.  I noticed this myself within the past few weeks at our local Hy-Vee.  The Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light cooler section expanded a whole 8 ft overnight, while the craft beer suffered.
  4. It is very difficult to advertise the Beer Wars movie to get out the truth.  It is so difficult that Anat Baron (the filmmaker behind Beer Wars) posted a call to action to use social media to talk up the film because the big guys are major advertisers on T.V. and if they pulled their ads, it would be disastrous for the networks.

So, with that being said, don’t nitpick the movie.  It does nothing to say bad things about it to the general public when the major point of it is to inform said general public of the situation and let people know they vote with their wallet.

So, have you seen Beer Wars?  What did you think?

John’s Generation White’s Split Personality

I recently picked up a keg of John’s White Ale and while we were loading it into my car, the fellow helping me mentioned something I hadn’t thought about before.

He asked me if I had tried the kegged and bottled John’s White side-by-side before.  He said they were completely different beers because the beer in the keg had no oxygen permeation and was much more orange-y citrusy and the bottled version.  On the other hand, the bottled version was more spicy because the bottle cap allows oxygen into the bottle,and the oxygen works with the yeast to produce a completely different beer.

I had seen this before in terms of carbonation, etc. but not to this extent.  I tried it, and sure enough, he was right, and I was amazed.

Do you have any experience where two different packaging techniques create two different beers?

Brewing a Saison

Today I brewed my first Saison.  I usually use White Labs yeast, but in this case, I salvaged the yeast from the bottom of 2 Boulevard Smokestack Series Saisons.  I plan to crank the heat up on this one, to 75 for a couple of days, then to even 80.  I read from Phil Markowski in Farmhouse Ales that brewing a Saison is not like any other type – particularly in the temperature department.  It is kind of neat because in the old days, the farmers would have their own house yeasts, and sometimes swap with neighbors to “liven up” the little buggers.

Not that this is the same, but borrowing some friends from Boulevard kind of makes me feel the same way.

What’s your experience “harvesting” yeast?  Has it worked out for you?