Monday, November 30, 2009

In Praise Of 6-Row Barley


Six-Row barley.

The Brewer's Handbook: "Generally, six-row barley has a higher enzyme content for converting starch into fermentable sugars, more protein, less starch, and a thicker husk than two-row barley. ... The husk of the malt is high in polyphenols (tannins) that contribute not only to haze, but also imparts an astringent taste."

Brewer's Market Guide: " outside North America most of the world's brewing nations exclusively use two-row barley for malt. Six-row barleys, if produced overseas at all, are largely used only for feed. ... Modern American brewing practices have relied on six-row barleys, partly because they were better adapted to many regions. ... The historical preference for two-row barley is based on the fact that two-row barley yields malts with 1-2% greater theoretical extract, meaning that brewers can brew more beer. ... Today, North Dakota and Minnesota produce the majority of the six-row malting barley in the United States, with lesser amounts produced in South Dakota and Idaho. Two-row barley production predominates in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, and Wyoming. Both climatic and qualitative differences contribute to the split. ... When western or European two-row cultivars are grown in the Midwest, they generally yield less and have fewer plump kernels than adapted six-row varieties. This is because the western two-row varieties were developed for areas that may get hot during the day, but that have cool nighttime temperatures that allow the plants to "recover"; the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures is not as great in the Midwest as it is in the West. ... Disease pressure in the Midwest also limits the yield of many two-row cultivars. ... Before the breeding breakthroughs of the 1970s, the extract from six-row malts was as much as 4% below those of two-row malts. The release of the cultivar Morex (so-named because it has "more extract") in 1978 marked a trend toward higher extract levels for six-row barley. Currently, six-row malts are only 1-2% lower. ... A high protein level often indicates a thinner kernel with less starch available for conversion to malt extract. Acceptable six-row malting barleys may range from 12 to 13.5% protein, whereas two-row cultivars range from 11 to 13%; barleys with greater than 13.5% protein are rarely used for malt. ... Six-row barleys are generally believed to have a higher husk content because they tend toward thinner kernels, but husk content varies with growth environment. High husk content barley can mean more phenolics end up in the wort, thereby contributing an astringent flavor to beer. Oxidizable polyphenolic substances react with proteins and may contribute to haze formation. ... Because the protein in corn or rice adjuncts is largely insoluble, it is possible to replace a portion of the malt with adjunct and thus dilute the overall level of wort-soluble nitrogen. Cereal adjuncts can be used to replace up to 40% of six-row malt grist without adversely affecting fermentation performance. ... Six-row malts contain higher levels of the DMS precursor SMM, presumably because of their higher protein content. ... The high protein and enzyme content of six-row barley makes it unlikely that a brewer producing an all-malt beer would wish to use exclusively six-row malt."

6-Row Barley Varieties

Brew Your Own: "The interesting fact about 6-row barley is that it is only grown in North America. ... The other thing about 6-row barley is that it has become a symbol of what the European brewers don’t use."

Central Waters Hop Harvest

Lakefront Local Acre

South Shore All-Wisconsin

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here

Lew Bryson links to an interview with SABMiller head Graham Mackay. The general gist is that industry consolidation is, for the most part, over. There simply aren't any more pieces to buy. There are a couple still out there, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA for example. The big guys, AB-InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, and Carlsberg, are not likely to be purchased - they are, for the most part, "family owned" (!HAH!). So, now what?

Well, I want to take up the "now what" question because I think the "now what" question will affect the craft beer industry more than consolidation has. Over the past decade, market share here in the United States, proportionally, has been moderately stable. Anheuser-Busch has been number one, floating between about 45% and 60% or so, and Miller number two, between 20% and 30%, with Coors and a variety of imports and regional macros making up the difference between the remaining percentage, with micros/craft at 4% and growing rapidly. It doesn't seem like micro/craft growth is affecting any one category more disproportionately than others. Imports have been taking a hit, but I would doubt that this is because of crafts specifically, but a more general domestic/protectionist/pro-USA trend.

Consolidation with global powers like InBev, SAB, and Molson have allowed American macros to increase production and gain revenue and profits despite the meteoric rise of American crafts. The past few years have seen growth by the American macros in places like Asia, South America, Russia and particularly Africa; markets that are more than off-setting American losses. These places, largely vast wastelands of quality beer, are where concentration will be focused. South Africa will host the World Cup and Africa, as a continent, is growing rapidly where countries are stable enough to support it. There is plenty of opportunity for market growth in these regions.

In general, I think these macros will let the US market settle out over the next 10 years. There is a lot of growth and uncertainty over the American market. Who will shake out as major players? How will up-and-comers handle their growth? How will regional brewers respond? What will the market look like? For the most part (Blue Moon and Leinenkugel excepted for reasons I'm not really going to go into), the macro attempts to tap into and participate in this market have failed.

Frankly, it seems to me, that the macros, AB-InBev/SABMiller/MolsonCoors, are happy to ply their trade elsewhere, take their proportional share here and let the market settle out. All the while keeping an eye on the market until the craft market actually starts making a dent. And, while 10% market share is a nice goal for crafts, both AB and Miller crap 10% market shares. They won't even perk their ears until crafts hit 15-20%.

So, what does this mean for American craft brewers? There's plenty of market for the taking and the big-boys aren't really going to put up much of a fight. The real battle, though, is going to take place in the distribution tier. Already distributors are acquiring significant craft portfolios with a "collect them all" attitude. Distributors view crafts, largely, as a commodity. They never know which one will hit, and they don't really care - they just want to be owning the one that does.

Unfortunately for brewers, this means that they shouldn't expect significant marketing efforts by the distributors. It will be up to the breweries to do their own marketing and push their own product. A problem only exacerbated by the fact that the distributors are indifferent and, in fact, are encouraging competition in places where your brand might otherwise succeed. Of course, competition is never a bad thing, but it means that you'll have to fight for every sale with not only other crafts your own size, but larger regional and national crafts, and young, smaller up-starts as well. "Partnering" with a distributor will be largely meaningless because they only have incentive to help those that will bring them the most money.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

On today's podcast we have news in 60 seconds, including info on the most expensive bottle of beer ever sold.

Here's the mp3


Monday, November 23, 2009

PorterPalooza - Roundup

So, what did I learn about Porters that I didn't know before?

Well, I really like proper "English Porters." And, say what you will about New Glarus' Old English Porter, it undoubtedly fits into the mix with Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter and St. Peter's. There is a brightness to these British-style Porters, a lightness of palate, a tang, and a cleanness of finish to them.

Moreover, this British-style is almost exactly the opposite of the American-style, of which Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald is probably a classic and the O'So Nighttrain is a darn good runner-up. The American style is more full-bodied, if not truly a full mouthfeel, and a compound of roasted and coffee flavors and aroma. Any bitterness or bite comes from roasted malts and a more generous handful of hops. There can be some that are over the top, like Dark Horse's Black Bier with its huge chocolate and roasted malt profile, and some that are more reserved like Sand Creek's Badger Porter.

So, what are the dangers of the Porter? To my mind, the porter is an easy beer to make, but a difficult beer to make really well. The emphasis is on ease of drinking, but it can't sacrifice flavor - the porter is primarily a flavorful beer. To that end, many American porters can veer very, very close to being a stout; especially with the "heavying" of the stout. Finally, the emphasis here is on malts, though hops can make nice complimentary notes, particularly to help provide a clean finish.

To that end, much like the "Imperial Pilsner", an "Imperial Porter" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. An "Imperial Porter" would be a stout, and mostly defeats the purpose of the porter - with its focus on easy-drinking working man roots.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Things That You Should Read

Why Dave's BrewFarm is releasing a pale lager, BrewFarm Select, as its flagship. It's gotten some good reviews in places like BeerAdvocate (it hasn't been reviewed on RateBeer, yet), and there's not really any doubt that it's a quality product. For now it is contract brewed and canned at Stevens Point. It does present an interesting challenge though, because it will need to compete with other "macro"-ish lagers that are much more entrenched - e.g., Spotted Cow, Point, Leinie's, etc. It's not currently available here in Madison, though I understand that the BrewFarm is looking for local distribution.

Shut Up About Barclay Perkins uncovers evidence of Yogurt Beer. It's not nearly as disgusting or strange as it might appear. It is beer (wort) that has been soured with yogurt cultures and then ale-fermented. Crazy, crazy stuff. Bets on first Wisconsin brewery to attempt this? Who wants the over-under on Furthermore? Who wants O'So? Damn hippies.

MADD Virgin Drinks. They're delicious AND socially responsible. Chardonnay, Merlot, Sparkling Wine, Margarita, Mojito, Pina Colada, and Lager with Lime. All 100% alcohol free. Does it really make sense to be training kids to acquire the taste for alcohol-filled drinks if you are against kids drinking? And, what tool would show up at a party with this stuff?! DUDE!!! LET'S BONG THIS MADD LAGER WITH LIME! CEMENT MIXER WITH THE MADD MOJITO AND PINA COLADA!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

On the first part of this week's podcast we explore what time does to a pumpkin beer, tasting a five-year-old bottle of Dogfish Head's heavily spiced Punk.

the mp3


Monday, November 16, 2009

Press Release Monday - Lakefront Beer Dinner at Kil@wat

Very excited about this one. Sorry for the late notice, but Lakefront is going to be releasing its Local Acre Lager, made with 100% Wisconsin ingredients. We will talk about this in much, much more detail. But, in the meantime, get a taste at what looks to be a phenomenal event on Wednesday.

----------START PRESS RELEASE-----------------
Autumn's Elegant Beer Pairing Dinner
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Join Kil@wat and Lakefront Brewery for a five-course, locally sourced and organic-infused dinner created by Chef Robert Ash. Each selection will be paired with a complementing Lakefront Brewery beer choice. It's a celebration of our shared dedication to local, organic delights.

Guests are treated to an exclusive preview of the not yet released Lakefront Brewery Local Acre Lager. 100% Wisconsin grown, this true Wisconsin Lager boasts ample amounts of 6-row organic malted barley to give a hearty body and hazy straw color. Malty sweetness is balanced with an elegant finish.

Appetizers at 6:00 pm | Dinner at 6:30 pm | Cost is $45.

To reserve your dinner, please contact:
Gregory Banach

View the menu:

Register Online:

Beer and Music, vol 1

I like beer. I love music. The two often go hand-in-hand. But expressing the relationship between beer and music can be difficult, at best. How do you expound on the similarities between Bruce Springsteen and Lakefront? Or the Three Floyds and The Transplants? Or Brooklyn Beer and Neil Diamond?

The only way I know how is to just let you listen to what I think a brewery sounds like. Or, perhaps stated in the alternative, here's some music that reminds me of a brewery.

In this case, the music is stylish, poppy, up-beat and easy on the ears. But if you really listen, there's a lot going on: a ton of lush instrumentation, complex and/or humorous lyrics, time changes and vocalization.

Take a listen to these songs and tell me what brewery YOU think of. I'll post mine eventually, but I'll give you a hint that it is a Wisconsin brewery or brewpub.

ps. I want to make this a regular feature, so let me know what you think.

Allo' Darlin' - Henry Rollins Don't Dance

Andrew Bird - Imitosis

I'm From Barcelona - Mingus

You'll have to click through for this one, sorry.
Miniature Tigers - Giraffe

So, what brewery does that music remind you of?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beer Wars! MBR, Dane101 and Futhermore Beer Present ...

In the coming weeks we'll talk more about Beer Wars - The Movie. There is a lot of debate and interest around this movie. But, first, I wanted to simply make the announcement that Madison Beer Review has teamed up with Dane101 and Furthermore Beer to present Beer Wars - The Movie on December 2, 2009 at The Majestic Theater here in Madison.

A convenient Facebook Event has been set up for your easy-rememberance here.

Here's some more info about this event:

Dane101Madison Beer Review, and Furthermore Beer are excited to present the first Madison screening of the documentary Beer Wars. The film is described as "a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries." It explores what it takes to be an independent microbrewery in the shadow of the beer industry big dogs and what those smaller companies are doing to fight for a market share.
This December 2 screening at theMajestic Theater will feature a tasting with Furthermore Beer with a Q&A following the film with brew master Aran Madden and marketing master Chris Staples. We will finish off the night with a rousing and beer lifting performance from Madison's very own Pale Young Gentlemen. Watch a trailer for the film below the fold.
Doors will open at 8 p.m. so people can get a taste of what's on tap at Furthermore.
The film will start at 9 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session with Chris and Aran. Pale Young Gentlemen will take the stage shortly after 11 p.m. Admission is $7 for a fun night of libation and film.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

Continuing with this week's sort-of-theme of tasting beers from breweries we've talked about but never tried, we taste Lost Abbey's Avant Garde. Also, some sidetracks about carbonation and food pairings.

Here's the mp3


Press Release Thursday - Tyranena Turns 10!

Saturday night. 3pm to 10pm. $2.50 pints. Big party. Lake Mills. Be there or be square.

--------------START PRESS RELEASE---------

Our Tasting Room opened its doors Friday, November 12, 1999…
Ten long, arduous, heartbreaking, fulfilling & successful years ago!

Old friends and new are welcome to join us this Saturday, November 14, for a night of remembrance and celebration, both of the last ten years and those surely yet to come.

~ 3:00 to 5:00 pm - Rewind to '99 ~
Enjoy a legendary Wisconsin beer for just $2.50 per pint, the price we charged back in 1999 when the Tasting Room first opened! And get your CLEAR Tyranena growlers filled for just $5.00 each.

~ 5:30 pm - An Evening Tour ~
Congregate in the lobby for an evening tour of our not-quite-as-modern-as-it-used-to-be brewing facility.

~ 7:00 to 10:00 pm - Party Like It’s 1999 ~
Beer & Cheese Pairing, Special Tappings & Live Music by Greg Boerner
Our friends at Roth Kase in Monroe have paired some of their fantastic, specialty cheeses with some very special Tyranena beers we've been saving for this occasion. Enjoy these pairings and the blues & rock ‘n roll stylings of one of our long-time and favorite performers, “GB” Greg Boerner.

Here's a list of what we plan to have on tap this Saturday for the Anniversary party; some beers will be on tap all day, others only from 7:00 to 10:00 pm.

*Paradise by the Dashboard Lights - Black as the back seat of a car parked in the deep dark night. A soft roasted and fruity perfume entices. The firm, full-body seduces. The tartness of freshly plucked cherries finishes it off. Tingling with anticipation? Open up your eyes, I got a big surprise.

*Imperial Oatmeal Porter brewed with Cocoa Nibbs - A variation of our base Imperial Porter brewed with oatmeal and roasted cacao beans (nibs). Nibs add a subtle chocolate flavor and a slight nuttiness, without added sweetness.

*Benji's Smoked Chipotle Imperial Porter - Brewed by the recently departed Benji. (He's alive, he just moved to California!) This variation of our highly reviewed Imperial Porter features a rich, smoky flavor and subtle heat from fiery chipotle peppers. Something to keep you warm on cold, Wisconsin nights!

Dirty Old Man Barrel-Aged Imperial Rye Porter - Dark black with a cappuccino head. Full-bodied with modest carbonation. Spicy rye, chocolaty malt and balanced oak barrel flavors.

*Painted Ladies Pumpkin Ladies - Painted Ladies is a pumpkin and spice-infused amber ale. Expect hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice and ginger and a rich body from pureed pumpkin.

*Bourbon-barrel Aged Spank Me Baby Barley Wine 2006 - Ruby appearance. Fruity nose. Rich, thick malty body. Stiff hop backbone. Thank you ma'am, may I have another? Oh yeah, baby! (The original release non-barrel-aged beer while this version is straight from the bourbon barrel!)

*Bourbon-barrel Aged Scotch Ale 2008 - Last year's Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale aged for nearly a year in oak bourbon barrels.

*Bitter Woman in the Rye - Brewed with an orgy of hops to satisfy the cravings of the most indulgent of hop heads. Hop flavors, aromas and bitterness dominate. Balanced with rich caramel malts and enhanced with the spiciness of rye. Catch a Bitter Woman in the rye.

Deb & Glenn's Barrel-Aged Blueberry Kinda Lambic - Post-fermentation brown ale, added to once-used bourbon barrels with hand-macerated blueberries and inoculated with Lambic yeast/bacteria blend. A wonderfully complex beer with hints of wood, berry and sour twist.

Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale - The Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale is another variation of our Peated Wee Heavy. A smaller percentage of the malt is peated, which means it is kilned while a peat-fire is burning nearby. From the burning peat this beer has a subtle, smoky flavor.

We will also have our 6-year-round beers on tap:

Three Beaches Honey Blonde - Three Beaches Honey Blonde Ale is a light-bodied beer with a sweet citrus flavor from orange-blossom honey and cascade hops.

Headless Man Amber Alt - The Headless Man is brewed in the "old way" of a Düsseldorf-style Altbier. This beer boasts a deep copper color, aromatic hops and Wisconsin caramel malt for a remarkably smooth and delicious taste.

Stone Tepee Pale Ale - Stone Tepee Pale Ale is brewed in the tradition of an American pale ale. This beer celebrates the American hop, with its characteristic bitterness, flavor and aroma.

Bitter Woman IPA - Bitter Woman IPA is our Wisconsin variation of an India Pale Ale. This beer is intensely bitter, almost grapefruit-like, with a mighty hop flavor and aroma.

Rocky's Revenge - Rocky's Revenge is an American brown ale with a portion aged in bourbon barrels. Each bourbon barrel will contribute its own unique character to this rich, satisfying ale.

Chief BlackHawk Porter - Chief BlackHawk Porter is a robust black and sharply bittersweet ale. This full-bodied beer is complimented by chocolate, caramel and roasty flavors.

*Indicates that the beer will be on tap ONLY from 7 to 10 pm... or until the keg blows!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PorterPalooza #8 - Samuel Smith Taddy Porter

Ok, this is the end of the porter tastings, I promise. I've had probably double the number of porters that I've actually written about, and I imagine, you're probably sick of reading about porters. Either later this week or next week, I'll do a recap of what I've learned during this Porterpalooza. But, let's just say it was surprising in some respects, not so surprising in others.

But before we get to the conclusion, let's look at a beer that is considered a classic in the style, the Samuel Smith Taddy Porter.
The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Samuel Smith is one of the few remaining independent breweries in England, and further is the last to utilize the classic Yorkshire Square system of fermentation solely in stone squares.
Just this one paragraph of the importer's description of Samuel Smith raises some pretty interesting issues. First, Samuel Smith's Tadcaster brewery was founded before the advent of porter in the late-1800s. Tadcaster is 20 minutes southwest of York, UK in Central England.

Although the statement that Samuel Smith's is one of the few independent breweries in the UK is a bit of an understatement, it's still important to note that despite (or perhaps because of) its success, it remains unassociated with Diageo, Heineken, AB-InBev, SABMiller, and all of the other brewing giants. Indeed, the Society of Independent Brewers, of which Samuel Smith's is not a member, shows dozens of independent brewers just in the Northern counties of the UK.

But most interesting is the reference to the Yorkshire Square system of fermentation. A Yorkshire Square is a unique system of quasi-open fermentation. An open vessel is constructed out of 5 slabs of local, Yorkshire, stone (4 sides and the bottom). Heat is maintained from the existence of a second, outer, square that is a little lower and about 2 inches bigger all the way around. In this outer square, water of the correct temperature is kept to keep the inner square at the appropriate temperatures. There is a second square above the first square with a series of ramps and pipes.

The beer is added to the inner vessel and long-fermenting yeast is added. This particular strain of yeast takes a long time to fully ferment (about 6 days), but its fermentation is very active. The yeast overflows from the bottom vessel into the top vessel and wort is frequently pumped out of the bottom vessel into the top to reincorporate the yeast. Thus, the process is (was) high manual in that it required frequent skimming of the top and rousing and aerating of the yeast to keep it active. After primary fermentation, residual yeast is often used for cask conditioning.

Beers of this system tend to be very smooth and fuller bodied.

Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
Appearance: A huge tan, almost brown, head; dark, dark brown body; almost black; crystal clear
Aroma: roasted and tangy with almost a sour note or two (is this a blended porter?!); a bit of a coffee aroma underneath, and a pretty strong earthy, grassy hoppiness is present
Flavor: Something like sourness is the first thing that I notice, then a pretty strong roastiness comes rushing in; hoppy bitterness remains in the finish, as does the metallic tanginess of the sourness - while it's going to sound worse than it is, imagine the taste in your mouth after biting down on tin foil when you had braces - you know the part that you liked about it, the excitement, the tingle, the strangeness? That's sort of what is present here.
Body: the body thickens up as it warms up, but it is still thinner than I might have expected
Drinkability: See the summary, because this beer changes completely as it warms up; but I really like this beer at all temperatures and it would do well for those that like stout, but don't like the huge fullness
Summary: As mentioned above, this beer does a 180 as it warms up; from an aggressive, sour bite, to warm, smooth and chocolately; I love the complexity here and keep drinking it if only to see what flavor will come next. I suspect that this beer is exactly what people had in mind when Dan Carey said he was going to brew an "Old English Porter" - and it is very, very similar. Except New Glarus amped up the sour to reflect Dan's taste for sour beers, and included some more historically accurate smoke that brought a more pronounced dryness in the finish. Otherwise these are very, very similar beers and an appropriate end to a journey that began with the New Glarus Old English Porter.

ps. This beer paired perfectly with the sweet dry-rub beef ribs and squash and sweet potato in coconut milk that I had this evening.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Press Release Tuesday - IndieHops

OK, normally I don't use press releases for non-Wisconsin stuff, but these guys seem genuine (they included a picture of themselves with the press release - how can they not be genuine?). Plus, given the craziness of the hop crops the past few years, it probably makes sense to add another supplier to your Rolodex.

------------START PRESS RELEASE------------------
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new business, Indie Hops, LLC.

Our mission is to supply 100% Oregon grown aroma hops to the craft beer industry. Everything we do will be driven by the need to serve craft brewers exclusively.

100% of our hops will be grown from acreage in the heart of the Willamette Valley, the finest terroir for aroma hops in the U.S. We will be working with heritage Oregon farmers who have a reputation for growing premium hops in a certified sustainable, Salmon Safe fashion. We are Oregon's first and only hop pellet milling operation.

We are dedicated to learning from you, no matter how big or small your brewery, the varieties hops you need and want. The craft beer movement today is strong, thanks to the relentless pursuit of quality beer by craft brewers. To insure further gains in market share, that spirit needs to carry through to suppliers of key brewing ingredients as well.

We at Indie Hops are committed to coaxing peak quality out of existing hop varieties, and investing in the future to introduce new aroma hops for craft brewers to further showcase your skills. And we'll do this using a sustainable, transparent and fair pricing structure.

Indie Hops is looking ahead. In our quest to bring to you new aroma hop cultivars, we are investing in collaborative breeding and fermentation research. We have pledged $1 million to establish the "OSU Aroma Hops Breeding Program Sponsored by Indie Hops" in Corvallis, Oregon. We are optimistic that in the next five years, we can deliver even more flavorful and aromatic hop varieties to your brew kettle.

We are also committed to organic hop production. In 2010, our farming partner Goschie Farms will be planting for us 20 acres of organic aroma hops. We are investing in the future to make organic hops a more viable option than they are today

We are mindful that most of you are locked into long term supply contracts. We hope that if new needs arise, or you're looking for a fresh start, you will consider Indie Hops - we are in it for the long haul. In the meantime, we'll be calling from time to time to learn more about your particular needs, as well as to keep you abreast of new developments on our research front.

Please take a look at our website at Our phone number in Portland, Oregon is 503.452.4677 and our toll free number is 877.719.4677. We are excited to have a chance to earn your trust.

In Hop Pursuit,
Jim & Roger, Co-founders
Indie Hops, LLC &

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

We're back! Now that we've gotten the swine flu out of our systems, we got a chance to sit down and chat about recent craft beer related experiences and to taste a beer by a brewery that has come up many times on the podcast, but whose beer none of us had ever had, Brewdog. Today we get to try Brewdog's Riptide Stout.

Here's the mp3

Bonus clip: Kyle talks about brewing bum wine and his offensive costume choices:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When In Chicago...

I'll warn you ahead of time, that I have no pictures. But I've been asked for more beer and food related posts, so here you go.

I was in Chicago for a Halloween Party and Mrs. MBR and I stayed at a friend's place. This friend is a bit of a bachelor and his culinary skills are a bit ... limited. But, we like to show him that cooking isn't really that hard, and it's a great way to get the ladies. So, when we go down there, I like to make meals that look much more impressive than they actually are. This weekend:

Beef Roulade with spinach, goat cheese and roasted red peppers
Roasted Carrots in maple syrup glaze
Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I know, you're wondering: "What does this have to do with beer"? Well, as you'll see the braising sauce for the roulade was Goose Island Harvest Ale. The Harvest Ale lends a nice malty profile that compliments nicely the red pepper and goat cheese.

Here's some recipes that I made up on the spot to the best I can recall them. I made the Sweet Potato Fries first and we ate them as an appetizer because we were hungry. If I'd thought about it, I would have made a lemon-pepper aoli for a dipping sauce. This made enough for 3 people with not much left over

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
5 medium bakedsweet potatoes, peeled, cut into fries [ed note: duh, you haven't baked them yet]
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cover potato fries in olive oil and salt and pepper
bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring and turning frequently

Maple Syrup Carrots
1/2-3/4 lb small carrots (I just cut the tips and tails off, didn't peel them and only cut the larger ones in half length-wise)
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Combine carrots with maple syrup in small casserole, cover in aluminum foil
Bake for 25-30 minutes

Goose Island Harvest Roulade
1 largish red pepper, roasted, peeled, sliced into thin strips
1 large (or 2 small) red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1 tsp thyme
1.5 tbsp butter
.5 lb spinach (I think it was about 1/2 lb, it was a small-ish "container" of pre-washed organic spinach), stems removed
5 oz goat cheese
2.5-3 lb round steak (my friend didn't get a round, though and we had 3 top sirloins totaling around 2.5 lbs or so - worked pretty darn well)
1/2 c Goose Island Harvest Ale
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Sweat onion and garlic in butter and a dash of salt and pepper, approx 10 mins; add red pepper and thyme, cook an additional 3-5 mins; Add spinach, and continue to sautee until wilted; remove from heat, add to bowl and mix with cheese

Pound beef into thin, flat steaks (I used the bottom of a bottle of wine, because I didn't have a meat tenderizer); spread thin layer of spinach and cheese onto top of steak; roll steak loosely, tie with string

Add olive oil to same pan and bring to med-high heat; sear roulade on each side, about 2 mins per side; add beer, cover and put into oven for 25-30 mins

Remove beef from pan, remove string and let sit while making pan sauce

Bring remaining juices to boil and scrape bottom of pan, reduce to 1/4 c or so, add 1 tbsp butter

Slice beef into 1/4 inch rounds, cover with sauce and serve

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Press Release Tuesday - Hop-A-Tui

A pretty awesome event going down in Racine on Saturday, the 21st. From the guys that brought you Great Lakes Beer Fest ... is ... Hop-A-Tui

--------------Start Press Release---------

The Ultimate Beer Social

Sip ~ Taste ~ Share
Sat. November 21

Memorial Hall (basement bowels cir. 1932)

Racine, WI
7-9 pm Sampling From Six Secret Brewers

9-11 pm Hop-A-Tui Sampling (participant shared beer)

Tickets (Limited to 400)

Advanced: $25 plus two bottles of craft beer or equivalent or home brewed beer to share $10 Designated Driver (complimentary soda)

Live Reggae Music by King Solomon
Sponsored by the Great Lakes Brew Fest and Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps.

Brewers Featured as of 10-28


Central Waters


Left Hand

More to be added
Food Available for purchase

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Business Geek Strikes Again

Wanted to point out an article over at Wine and Spirits Daily from last week because a) the article has some really interesting things to say, and b) to give some link love to a pretty darn cool virtual rag.

The 2010 Census will show that "the concept of an 'average American' is gone, probably forever," says demographics expert Peter Francese. ... Peter said results will likely find that "no household type neatly describes even one-third of households. The iconic American family -- married couple with children -- will account for a mere 22% of households." The most prevalent type of U.S. household? Married couples with no kids, followed closely by single-person households. There will be more "blended families, single-parent families and multigenerational families, as well as multiple families doubling up in one household."

In one respect: duh. But, it is interesting to see these things being spelled out explicitly. I think there are couple things at work here to change these family units. First, people are marrying and having kids later. My super-scientific survey of "people I know" reveals that all were married after the age of 25. And the one who wasn't is now divorced. My survey group also reveals that people are having kids later - mostly in late-20s and early-30s. Third, people are moving out of the house and becoming independent earlier. For the most part, 21 year olds are not living at home, like they might have in the past, but are out on their own - often living with roommates.

So, aside from the interesting demographics, what does that mean? Well, it means that people have significant piles of disposable income from the ages of 21-29. They aren't supporting families at a young age (like their parents probably were), they aren't living at home if they are single, and they are employed in jobs that allow them to pay rent. This also happens to be a group that likes beer, as opposed to wine. So, if these consumers can be shown that beer is "respectable" and "dignified" I would't be surprised to see the 40-70 demographic (typically wine drinkers) change to a greater percentage of beer drinkers in the coming years.

While 80% of people age 65-plus will be white non-Hispanics, just 54% of children under age 18 will be white non-Hispanics, and will account for fewer than half of births by 2015. Hispanics will be both the nation's fastest-growing and largest minority. ... And in the nation's 10 largest cities, Peter says, "no racial or ethnic category describes a majority of the population....with the younger population substantially more diverse than the old."

Wow. Just. Wow. So beer for rich white kids will be a bad idea. More importantly, though, is that trends in Hispanic and non-white cultures are going to become even more important. A bad omen for those of us that don't like clam juice anywhere near our beer, but a good omen for breweries that play with convention and attract a wide audience.