It’s Been a Long, Long Summer

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Sometimes life just wears you down.  Beer helps, but it doesn’t help you get any of that time back.  Here’s a quick summary of my beer-related life over the summer:

  • June 15-23 – Vacation to California, where we traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles.  It was the first time I have had any Russian River beers, and I see why they score so high.  I tried the gambit of the specials, like
    • Pliny the Elder
    • Damnation
    • Supplication
    • Consecration
    • Redemption
  • July 4th weekend – brewed several beers, including two sours: a Tart of Darkness clone, and an Oud Bruin, both of which turned out great (they were put in bottles a few weeks ago)
  • July 11 – Had a Monk’s Cafe Flemish Red at Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Need I say more?
  • September 4 – Enjoyed Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewing for the first time in Washington D.C. – A peanut butter porter.  It was pretty tasty.
Dan Carey hard at work
Dan Carey hard at work
  • September 28 – Iowa City’s Northside Oktoberfest – the event was rainy, so there wasn’t a lot of room for everyone under the tent.  New rules put in place by the state made the event less fun.  The biggest issue with this year’s event was the 1 oz samples for several of the premium beers were 5 or 6 tickets (at 50 cents per ticket).  Does this mean that the entire 20 ounce bottle is worth $50?  No, it isn’t, so I would appreciate equalizing the ticket per sample price to be more reasonable based on the bottle price.
  • October 4 – Oktoberfest at Millstream Brewing – delicious beer at a cool place.
  • October 15 – Hit up a place in Santa Monica (West 4th and Jane) that earned me a Founder’s Badge on untappd.  Maybe not cool for you, but it was for me.
  • November 16 – Took the 3 hour trek with a couple friends to New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin.  We took the “tour”, and had the guide explain a bit more about the brewery.  The coolest part of the trip was we saw Dan Carey, the brewmaster, sipping on several different Thumbprint series beers in the QA Lab.  He waved at our group (since they were like fish in a fishbowl), and just a small part of me wanted him to step out for a photo op.  We creepily stalked him for a while before we packed up our beer and left.
  • And, pretty much the whole fall we tailgated with the crew, the Keg Totem at each home game.
  • Oh, and remember the Brew-B-Q?  We plan on having some of the barleywine we brewed at our upcoming holiday party.  It ended up being 12%, and has been aging since then.

How was your summer?  Any great stories to tell?  Let me know!

 

Iowa City Brewfest 2012

Brewfest 2012!
Brewfest 2012!

It’s been a couple of weeks since Iowa City Brewfest, 2012, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the event.

With the “Brewmaster” ticket, we were able to enter an hour early, and many brewers had special or limited release beers.  Some of the more memorable ones included:

Overall, I was impressed with the high quality of the unique beers, but a bit disappointed by the low number of special beers.  For example, in the past, New Belgium and Boulevard brought beers either not yet available or a special barrel-aged beer, but this year both brought their widely available beers, from their Lips of Faith (New Belgium) and Smokestack Series (Boulevard).

Overall, it was a very good experience, but with the “Brewmaster” ticket, which has been very valuable in years past, it wasn’t quite as memorable.  My only hope is that the larger breweries recognize what a great beer hotspot Iowa City is, and start saving some of those memorable beers for us!

Did you go to the Iowa City Brewfest 2012?  What was your take?

Festival of Iowa Beers 2011

Festival of Iowa Beers
Festival of Iowa Beers

Last Sunday was the 7th annual Festival of Iowa Beers, and each year it continues to grow. This year,all the Iowa breweries, including the newly-named Backpocket Brewing, and many of the Iowa homebrew clubs participated.

Overall, it was a great day, and a great day for beer, with interesting beers from the commercial breweries, including a new Extreme Series beer, a dark rye, from Millstream Brewing.

Just like the previous Festivals, the homebrew tent offered the most interesting beers, including several barrel-aged beers, including an imperial stout aged in a Templeton Rye barrel, along with several meads and ciders .  My favorites from the homebrew tent were the Templeton Rye barrel-aged stout, an Imperial Wit, a Duvel clone, and a Munich Helles.

As always, I look forward to next year’s festival.  Did you make it out to the festival?  What were your favorites?

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22

New Glarus's Riverside Brewery
New Glarus's Riverside Brewery

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22, 2011.  So this week, when you have a beer, enjoy one from one of America’s craft brewers!

It’s been a heck of a year for craft brewing, and thanks for letting me spend some of that time with you.  Be sure to try some of the beer from breweries we’ve visited in the last year:

… and to some we were close to, but couldn’t get enough time to stop by …

Have a great week!  Cheers!

Preview of Millstream Sun “Ryes” Helles Doppelbock

Sun Ryes
Sun Ryes

Last night I had the chance to sample Millstream Brewing’s next beer in the Extreme Series (after the Hop 2 Double IPA), the Sun “Ryes” Helles Doppelbock at Old Capitol Brew works in Iowa City.  It was a very nice, full bodied beer with a lot of malt sweetness and a nice crispness from the rye.  The rye crispness makes it seem a bit lighter than the 7.9% ABV, and should be in stores in the next couple of weeks.  They recently posted a photo of the bottling line.

One of the representatives from Millstream told me they were having a lot of fun with the Extreme Series, and the next one in the series after Sun Ryse was going to be a Honey Hefeweizen.

Have you tried the Sun Ryes from Millstream?  What did you think?

SF 2088 – One Year Later

A Couple of the Stronger Millstream Brews
A Couple of the Stronger Millstream Brews

Well, it’s been one year since the March 10, 2010 signing of SF 2088, which included a resolution to allow higher alcohol beers to be brewed by Iowa brewers.

So what’s changed?  In addition to brewers outside Iowa being able to more easily sell their high-gravity beers in the state, it has become much easier for the breweries in Iowa to brew these stronger beers, such as Double IPA‘s and the majority of Belgian-style beers.  This has allowed Iowa breweries to compete with those in other states, and will give Iowa breweries the chance to make almost any beer style they want without the state coming down on them for having stronger beers.

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are several of the beers in the higher-proof category that came out in the past year (this doesn’t include all the beers local breweries and brewpubs created, such as Third Base Brewery and Rock Bottom Brewing):

Millstream Brewing:

  1. Doppelbock
  2. Weizenbock
  3. Triple Raspberry
  4. Hop 2 Double IPA

Peace Tree Brewing:

  1. Double IPA
  2. Imperial Stout

So, in the past year, the beer landscape in Iowa has become more diverse and flavorful.  Even the local Iowa City paper recently wrote about the changes in the state after the law was passed.

Now is a great time to be a beer lover in Iowa, and it will only get better from here.  Have you enjoyed the change in the beer scene in Iowa?  What other changes would you like to see?