Monday, January 30, 2012

Five Gallons At A Time: Brewhouse Efficiency Update

The content of this page was updated on 8/14/2012.

A variation of this MBR article was published in the November/December issue of The New Brewer (the journal of the Brewers Association). Before submitting the article I ran simulations of two, three, four and five batch sparges, which illustrate how the solutions convergence on a single answer as more sparges are added. It also changed the brewhouse efficiency multipliers by small amounts, which I'll get to shortly.

I recently read a thread on a professional brewers' forum about the logistics of no-sparge lautering. I was surprised to see the topic because very few commercial brewers employ the method. The reason why is because it's colossally inefficient, as shown in the chart below.

However, many homebrewers believe it results in better beer. The theory is straightforward: during the lauter, the wort in your lauter tun is always at the same gravity as the wort in your kettle. Because the wort in the lauter tun is always relatively dense, and therefore well-buffered against pH increases, fewer tannins are extracted from the husks. Now, before you decide to mash in with all of your brewing water to reduce tannin extraction, I'd like to point out that the enzymes responsible for creating complex protein-degradation products (which Jean De Clerck believes are far more important to mouthfeel than dextrins) work best in thick mashes. There's a simple solution, though: mash like you normally would for continuous sparging and mix in all of your "sparge" water shortly before vorlauf.

I won't be using the no-sparge method anytime soon because my mash/lauter tun is too small to hold the grist plus all of the water for a full-size batch. That doesn't damper my academic curiosity, though, so I created a set of no-sparge brewhouse efficiency multipliers and added them to the latest version of my chart.

Switching topics, expect a water treatment overhaul in the next few months. I'm hoping to avoid another six-part series, but we'll see.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Anniversary Central Waters

Central Waters Brewing Company is celebrating their 14th Anniversary this year. They've been brewing fine beer for you since 1998. If you don't have anything going on this Saturday (tomorrow), you should come on up to Amherst and party like a rockstar with the rest of us; all the cool kids will be there. Here's the special beer tapping schedule:

3:00 - Bourbon Barrel Stout
3:45 - Peruvian Morning
4:30 - Pilot Batches (3 five gallon kegs of experimental mini IPA's)
5:15 - FOURTEEN fourteen [ed note: not 2:14? 14:14 - missed opportunity there]
6:00 - Exodus
6:45 - Bourbon Barrel IPA
7:30 - Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale (Barleywine)
8:15 - Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

What's your favorite Central Waters beer? 

Me? That's easy - Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Barleywine. It's my go-to winter beer. I'm not sure there's a better barleywine in the universe. 

I'm not a big stout person, so much of Central Waters' oeuvre is wasted on me, unfortunately. I'm curious about those experimental IPAs and the Bourbon Barrel IPA (who didn't see that coming?).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine

At some point in the past year or so New Glarus switched the name of their quarterly, one-off special release series of beers from "Unplugged" to "Thumbprint." Disappointingly, they also changed to label, removing the superbly goofy sketch of brewmaster Dan Carey and replacing it with the company's standard "Drink Indigenous" Wisconsin logo. New Glarus President Deb Carey explains the switch this way on the company website:
"It is always flattering when less imaginative competitors copy our beers, packaging, and/or marketing. I usually accept this as a personal challenge to do something more. When our trademarked Solstice name was infringed on, I regrouped with Dancing Man. When lots of deconstructed 4 and 6 packs showed up I knew I was doing a good job. When another Midwestern brewer released a "Un*******" series. I thought I can do better."
Deb is no doubt referring to the "Unchained" series from St. Paul brewery Summit, which has been churning out excellent beers under that label for a couple of years now. I suppose "Unchained" is a bit derivative of "Unplugged," though I don't think anyone would confuse the two. Regardless, this new limited release Barley Wine is a "Thumbprint" beer. Made with Styrian Golding, Willamette, Columbia and Sterling hops.

Light copper, straw
Aroma: Tropical fruit with a spicy, floral hop note.
Flavor: Earthy hop flavor up front with just a hint of citrus, followed by a malt sweetness blending with a bracingly bitter finish. A bit of alcohol warmth in the finish as well. Enough malt flavor to tame the hops just a bit, but the bitterness is the focus. With a slightly thinner body, this could easily pass for a Double IPA.
Drinkability: One is just right for me, thank you. Not the heaviest beer I've ever had, but full bodied and with a strong bitterness. Definitely not a session beer. (No ABV is listed for this beer, but if it's south of 10 percent I'd be surprised.)
Summary: New Glarus Unplugged/Thumbprint beers can often be fascinating without being intense; that's part of the reason I still have fond memories of beers like their Bohemian Pilsner and Berliner Weiss. But as they proved last year with their stellar Double IPA, they can go big when they want to, and this is another example. In a way this rides the line between American and British style Barley Wines; it is American in the high hop flavor, aroma and bitterness, but the hop profile strikes me as more European than American. Willamette and Sterling are American hops, they don't have the citrusy quality of popular west-coast hops like Cascade and Centenial (Sterling has noble hop lineage, it should be noted). An interesting and well orchestrated take on the Barley Wine style. Though the hop flavor will die down in time, this could be a good beer for the cellar as well, though hop heads should drink it while it's fresh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Open Thread: Upcoming Events - Wisconsin

OK, I know there's a lot of stuff going on out there. I've gotten plenty of press releases that are all buried under the mountains of email that I get. So, if you know of an event happening in the next 60 days (before April 1, 2012), post it in the comments.

I know of two off the top of my head and both are at Dexter's:

The Schmaltz Brewing Co's 15th Anniversary - January 28th, 2012, 11am - closing - Schmaltz Brewing Co. will take over the taplines at Dexter's.

Breast Cancer Recovery Benefit - February 12th, 2012, 12pm - 4pm - The annual beer and chocolate event is a lot of fun and helps to raise money for the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation. Minimum donation of $20.

Oh. And, keep your calendars open the first week of May. Madison Craft Beer Week starts May 4 and will run until May 13th. More details in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Beer Weekend in Indianapolis

----Ed Note-----
This series of posts is brought to you by beer bloggers across the Midwest. Robyn, of Madison Beer Review, wrote the last article about a beer weekend in Madison. Your handy-dandy guide to Indianapolis (just in case you decide to use those Super Bowl tickets you bought when you were delusional enough to think the Packers might actually make it) was brought to you by Mike over at Hoosier Beer Geek.

----Ed Note 2-------
Jeff is Bears' fan. Tough luck Packers.

-------------------START POST-------------------

5 p.m.
Begin in the Basement

Opened in 2007, Chris and Molly Eley's Goose the Market (2503 North Delaware, (317) 924-4944) quickly became a hub in Indianapolis' growing gourmet and local food movement. In June of 2010 they opened up their basement space to create the Enoteca, "a casual place to drink wine" (and beer), featuring six ready-to-drink beer choices, as well as anything from the well-selected varieties on their store shelves. While the beer selection is nothing to blink at, it's the Enoteca's food that's the star. With selections such as duck rillette, terrine, charcuterie, or one of their highly-regarded sandwiches, there's something adventurous and tasty waiting for you.

6:30 p.m.
Welcome to Broad Ripple Meridian-Kessler

With a focus on local and regional beer selections - "(beer from) the people that I know" - Broad Ripple Brewpub brewer Kevin Matalucci's Twenty Tap (5408 North College Avenue, (317) 602-8840) is one of your best bets for getting a taste of beer from all over the state. It's worth noting that Twenty Tap offers half-pours of any of their beer selections, allowing patrons to moderate their sampling. Chef Rob Coates keeps a menu of expected bar food favorites interesting and upsale, yet remarkably affordable. The vegan bahn mi sandwich is a Hoosier Beer Geek favorite.

8:00 p.m.
But if want to try Kevin Matalucci's beer..

Despite owning Twenty Tap, Kevin Matalucci still holds down a regular job as a brewer at the Broad Ripple Brewpub (842 East 65th Street, (317) 253-2739). English expatriate John Hill opened the brewpub in 1990, in an effort to bring an authentic English pub experience to Indianapolis. He did more than that, launching the careers of more than one Indiana brewer, and creating an Indiana craft beer monument. Matalucci's English-style ales and an extensive menu help complete the effort. Order whatever is on the hand-pull.

9:30 p.m.
Belgium by way of Broad Ripple

As further proof of the influence of John Hill and the Broad Ripple Brewpub, stop in at Ted Miller (and his wife Shannon Stone's) Brugge Brasserie (1011a East Westfield Boulevard, (317) 255-0978). Miller began his brewing career at the Brewpub before traveling the world, and ultimately returning home to open this Belgian-style Gastropub. Ask your server if there are any sours on tap, and be sure to order the frites (fries), which are among Indianapolis' best.

11:00 p.m.
Topping off

When restaurateur Scott Wise finally got around to opening a brewery to support his local chain of Scotty's Brewhouse restaurants, he wasn't quite prepared for the success of his beer sales directly from his brewpub. Thr3e Wise Men (1021 Broad Ripple Avenue, (317) 255-5151) is that brewpub, and it remains the only Wise owner restaurant to carry his beer. Brewer Omar Castrellon puts his 20+ years of brewing experience to practice brewing styles that live up to Wise's vision. The pizza will come in handy after a full day of drinking.

10 a.m.
Wake Up!

Still with us? After yesterday's effort you'll probably want to wait until noon before you start drinking again. Start your day at Good Morning Mama's Cafe (1001 East 54th Street, (317) 255-3800) a former filling station turned breakfast stop. There's a menu full of the breakfast classics, as well as the Hoosier Loco Moco, a sort of KFC Famous Bowl of breakfast foods, featuring rice, cheesy grits or potatoes, an egg, a beef, sausage, or spam patty, with a biscuit top, all covered in gravy, all for just $7.99. I don't order that, but it's an option.

11:30 a.m.
Say Hi to a Farmer, and Get Drinking

Indianapolis' City Market (222 East Market Street) has gone through many changes over its recent history, but finally seems to have hit its stride with the additions of a Saturday farmer's market and the Tomlinson Tap Room (upstairs in the main hall, west wall). The former can provide produce or baked goods for snacking along the route today, while the latter can get you started on drinking by providing a full list of beer from Indiana's breweries. Partially owned by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, Tom Tap often features Indiana's harder-to-find craft beer selections. Keep an eye out for something from Three Floyds. If you're hungry, check out Papa Roux on the lower level for a po' boy.

1:00 p.m.
A Rainbow of Beer Flavors

Now that you're back to drinking, your first brewery stop today should be at Flat12 Bierworks (414 North Dorman Street, (317) 635-2337). Since opening in 2010, Flat12 has gained a dedicated local following for their "tradition with a twist" approach, leading to a myriad of variations of their house lineup, as well as an adventurous attitude towards their specialty beers.

Heavy Medals

A short trek southwest bring you to Sun King Brewing Company (135 North College Avenue, (317) 602-3702) where - if you got there in time - you can catch a 2 p.m. brewery tour. Sun King recently made big waves in craft beer community, capturing eight medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and showing the country what Hoosiers already knew: Indiana makes great beer.

Hidden in Plain Sight

After your tour, head north on College and then north east on Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave to locals), where you'll be spending the rest of your day. Just before the road turns north, you'll run into Black Market 922 Massachusetts Avenue (317) 822-6757) - but only if you know where to look. Cross the sidewalk, find a parking spot, and step into one of Indy's best restaurant spaces. The food lives up to the space, with locally sources selections that put a modern spin on traditional Hoosier favorites.

Drink your way down Mass Ave

The following list of Mass Ave establishments provides a little something for everyone, so you can pick and choose who suits you best as you work your way back towards downtown from Black Market.

Best Chocolate in Town (880 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-2800): Yes, this is a chocolate shop. But this chocolate shop offers truffles made with Sun King's Wee Mac. Definitely worth a visit.

Mass Ave Pub (745 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 974-0745, smoking permitted): Smokers in your group will appreciate the fact that they can enjoy a pint and a cigarette in this locally owned neighborhood pub. A surprisingly deep selection of craft beer rounds out the experience.

Chatham Tap (719 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 917-8425): Like soccer? We do. Chatham Tap is the default choice for fans wishing to catch a bit of English Premier League action. That tap list follows format, with the standard English selections, as well as local taps and a nice bottle list.

The Flying Cupcake (715 East Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 536-0817): No beer here, just a cooler full of cupcakes to satisfy your beer-drinking sweet tooth.

Yats (659 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 686-6380): An Indianapolis cheap food institution, Yats provides diners with a plate of something saucy and cajun in a pile of rice. Chili cheese etouffee, anyone?

The Rathskeller (401 East Michigan Street, (317) 636-0396): If you're the German beer-hall type, Rathskeller is your Indianapolis answer. A full selection of German-made styles await you, as well as a sausage-heavy menu that fits the atmosphere.

Chatterbox Jazz Club (435 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-0584, smoking permitted): The Chatterbox Jazz Club - a Mass Ave original - is the divey-est of dive bars, with a legendarily dusty interior, the most interesting stage carpet that ever existed, and bathrooms that are either scary or entertaining, depending on your outlook. Your best drink option is probably Sun King in a can. But what an atmosphere!

Old Point Tavern (401 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 634-8943, smoking permitted): Something about Old Point is just plain cool. Maybe it's the wedge shaped building, or the girl dancing on the sidewalk outside, or perhaps even the extensive beer menu. In any case, the cozy confines provide plenty of entertainment.

MacNiven's (339 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 632-7268, smoking permitted): You might be thinking that a place named MacNiven's is an Irish pub. You'd be wrong: MacNiven's is a Scottish/American Pub. It also features one of Indianapolis' most extensive beer lists, and regular and rare tapping from the likes of Sun King, Bell's, and Three Floyds. And I haven't even mentioned the giant folded cheeseburger and the awesome haggis!

Ball & Biscuit (331 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-0539): Perhaps the most polished of all the Mass Ave bars is Ball & Biscuit, a cocktail lounge with a very solid beer lineup. The cozy spaces are made even more comfortable by the lack of televisions. This is a bar built for conversation.

Bazbeaux (333 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-7662): Once again we end the night with pizza - this time from an Indianapolis institution that provides a full selection of craft bottles to keep you on even keel. Opened since 1989.

10:00 a.m.

Act like a tourist, finally.

If you've survived to straight days of drinking, today's the day to catch a few easy local tourist areas. At the center of Indianapolis lies the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1 Monument Circle), perhaps best known as the only part of Indianapolis they show during national football telecasts. If you manage to make it up to the viewing deck, keep in mind that Hoosier Beer Geeks' very own Jason Larrison is the architect responsible for those vertical windows you're looking out of.

A little bit north of Solider and Sailors lies the Indiana War Memorial (431 East Meridian Street) perhaps best known for this), the American Legion Mall, and the Central Library (40 East St. Clair Street). While I wouldn't normally recommend a library for tourists, our features one of the best views of the city, as well a pretty impressive interior.

Lastly, a visit to Indianapolis wouldn't be complete without a stop to Maxine's Chicken and Waffles (132 North East Street, (317) 423-3300) for a stomach full of fried chicken goodness for the drive home. A word of warning, though - show up early and beat the church crowd.

* * * * *

Indianapolis cab companies: All this drinking calls for either a designated driver or the services of a cab driver. To be honest, Indianapolis' cab companies don't have the best reputation, but they are still, in many cases, your best option.

Yellow Cab: (317) 487-7777
Blue Line Cab: (317) 444-1444
Prompt Cab: (317) 927-7070
Freedom Cab: (317) 244-4448

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Beer Weekend In...


Planning a weekend getaway? Chicago? St. Louis? Headed to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl? How about a stay-cation right here in Madison? Better yet, why not make it a beer weekend?

A few years back, some beer bloggers got together and did a little exchange of ideas and recommendations about how to best spend a beer weekend in each of our respective hometowns. Well we’re at it again! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting our beer weekend getaways, which I’m guessing may inspire some mischief, maybe a bit of debauchery, and definitely some good times.

I’ve tried to eliminate driving as much as possible, either through walking, public transport or by minimizing cab rides (and fares!). As always, be safe and responsible!

So let’s kick off our series with home sweet home: welcome to Madison!

Friday 5:00

There’s no better place to start off your beer weekend than the Wisconsin Memorial Union. The Union holds the prestigious position of being one of the only student unions in the country to serve beer an campus- and it just happens to have one amazing tap list! No worries about it being the student union- weekends are open to the public and Madisonians flock here every weekend to enjoy the tradition of the Rathskellar and the beauty of the terrace overlooking the lake. It really can’t be beat!

Friday Dinner

After the union, take a stroll or catch a bus up State Street to the Capitol Square for dinner at the Old Fashioned. Featuring traditional Wisconsin fare highlighting small Wisconsin producers and over 150 Wisconsin beers to choose from (the only beer on the import list? Bud Light), the Old Fashioned has become a must-do on any trip to Madison. Order up a flight, try the beer cheese soup, the best cheese curds in town and the traditional Wisconsin Friday night fish fry!

Friday Night

Since you’re already on the Capitol Square, this is the perfect opportunity for a capitol pub crawl! The square has no shortage of great craft beer bars to hit- here is a list to pick and choose from based on what suits you best:

Cooper’s Tavern: An Irish bar with a fantastic tap list. Grab the snug if you can and order your beer through a private window direct to the bar! If you’re ready for a snack, the poutine is awesome!

Genna’s: A Madison favorite with a great local tap beer list, a cozy atmosphere and one of the best jukeboxes in town. If it’s nice out, grab a seat on the patio.

Tipsy Cow: The newest addition to Madison’s craft beer scene, the Tipsy Cow is well worth a stop and the name doesn’t get much more Wisconsin.

Maduro: If you like your beer with a cigar, this is the place for you! An added plus, the bartenders are very knowledgeable about beer. Bell’s is also prominently featured here, but there are plenty of others to choose from.

Graze: Madison’s finest gastropub, serving up high-level pub fare with ingredients from local farms. As expected, the beer list is fantastic and if you have room for more food, I highly recommend the pork belly buns!

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.: One of four Madison locations just happens to be right off the square and within easy walking distance. Don’t miss one of Madison’s oldest brewpubs!

Saturday Breakfast/Brunch

You have a full day of beer drinking ahead of you, so it’s a good idea to get a nice big breakfast to serve as a base. Monty’s Blue Plate on the east side is just the ticket! Get a bloody mary with a local beer chaser while you’re here! (Yes, we drink beer with our bloody marys. Apparently other places don’t do that??)

Saturday Day- Day Trip!

So many options and so little time! But I had to narrow it down, so here are my top three choices:

1. Catch a Hop Head Beer Tour

If you’re in Madison on the right weekend, you may be able to catch one of the Hop Head Beer Tours. This is no party bus though- the boys at Hop Head treat you to a fun and educational day of brewery visits, including beer experts serving as guest hosts on the bus, brewery tours and guided tastings lead by the brewers themselves. And the best part is, you don’t have to drive!

2. Take a road trip!

The downside of this option is that driving is required, but it’s definitely worth it! Get the longest part of the drive out of the way first and head out to Potosi Brewing Company, one of the oldest breweries in the state and the site of the National Brewery Museum- definitely a must-visit. Some highlights (besides the beer, of course) include the hand-carved bar, the dining tables made from the original wooden beer vats and the beer cave.

After that, head over to Monroe for a stop at the Minhas Brewery. I can’t say that the beer is my favorite, but as the oldest brewery in the state, the brewery’s history makes it well worth a visit.

After Minhas, New Glarus Brewing is the next must-stop. One of the most acclaimed breweries in the country, this beer is only available in Wisconsin. The new brewery is brand-spanking new and beautiful. Better yet, so are the beers! (Don’t miss the Unplugged series!) The self-guided “tour” is not great: there are no signs explaining what you’re looking at, so unless you already know the brewing process and equipment, you probably won’t get much out of it. Don’t let that deter you though- there are Beer Ambassador’s on hand to answer any questions you have.

The last stop on the road trip is the Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb. Grab a flight and a pizza and enjoy!

3. The #7 Pub Crawl

If you’d like to stay in town and enjoy some more of the Madison beer scene, the #7 bus just happens to go by almost all of the best beer bars and restaurants in town! Do you think Madison Metro did that on purpose? Here’s the run down of options- if you want to hit them all, you’ll have to stick to a strict one-and-done rule though! But you may be better off just picking and choosing a few- you still have Saturday night to hit the Beermuda triangle!

Glass Nickel Pizza Co.: If you started your day at Monte’s for breakfast, you’re conveniently already on the #7 route. Head a little farther east and start the crawl at the Glass Nickel Pizza Co- the tap list is excellent.

The Harmony Bar: Head west at on the route to the Harmony Bar for the next awesome tap list!

The Alchemy: Hike it one more block west on Atwood and you’ll run right into the Alchemy. More great beer! And if you’re hungry, great food too.

Mickey’s: Head west on Williamson Street via bus or foot and continue on to the next great tap list!

The Weary Traveler: Keep heading west on the #7 for the next excellent tap list. Play some Apples to Apples, a Wisconsin favorite, or another board game while you’re here!

The Essen Haus: Hop off at E. Wilson Street to pass around a boot and get your polka on at Madison’s only traditional German beer hall!

Big Ten Pub: Ride right past the Capitol Square, since you hit those bars Friday night and continue on to Regent Street where you’ll find the Big Ten Pub, which easily has the best tap list of the Camp Randall area bars. Great food too!

Brasserie V: Next head up Monroe Street either by the #7 or by foot to Brasserie V for some awesome Belgian beers. Don’t forget- you’re in Wisconsin! Order the cheese plate while you’re here too.

Jac’s: Jac’s is up next, if you’re still with me. A great tap list and, if you get the right bartender, maybe a beer cocktail?

Vintage Brewing Company: Get off at the west side transfer point for our last stop on the #7 pub crawl and walk across the Copp’s parking lot to Vintage Brewing Company. Chosen as Wisconsin’s favorite brewpub last year by Madison Beer Review readers, you’ll find some of the best beer in town here. Also some of the most generous portion sizes from any menu in the city.

Saturday Night
If you aren’t completely beer’d out (and hopefully you’re not), head over to the Beermuda triangle Saturday night. Ale Asylum, the Malt House and Dexter’s pub make up this beer trifecta: start off at Ale Asylum, one of Madison’s most popular breweries, then get a cab over to Dexter’s Pub for another impressive tap list and some garlic chili fries (they’re so good!). The Malt House is just a short two block stroll from there and offers over 150 beers to choose from. Yummmm!

Sunday Morning

Breakfast. Stat. My pick is the Hubbard Street Diner, which has fantastic food and just happens to be within easy walking distance of Capital Brewery, the last stop on our weekend tour. Catch the brewery tour or grab a beer in the beer garden, then relax and enjoy….

Then maybe extend your stay?

Because let’s be honest: 36 hours is hardly enough time to hit all of the options I’ve listed above. On top of that, there are still more that are worth a plug, though I couldn’t quite squeeze them in (I tried!). So if you’re able to extend your stay, here are a few more options for you:

1. Go to a Mallards game!

Madison’s local semi-pro baseball team also just happens to be one of the best beer outings in town- the Duck Blind! Not only do you get to get out, enjoy the Wisconsin summer and spend a night at a ball game, a ticket to the Great Dane Duck Blind also gets you an all-you-can-eat-and-drink pass to beer brats, burgers and beer, beer, beer. And not the typical Miller/Bud/water beer list you see at most ball parks either- here you get to choose from 20 different craft beers. Once the game is over, head over to Drackenberg’s- Madison’s only northside craft beer and cigar bar. It’s the perfect way to spend a summer evening!

2. Beer festivals!

From June through September, there’s a beer festival almost every weekend- just pick a weekend! The granddaddy of them all is the Great Taste of the Midwest, easily one of the best beer festivals in the country (if not the best). Tickets can be hard to get, but they’re well worth it!

3. Madison Craft Beer Week

If you’re going to be in town to get in line for Great Taste tickets, you should probably extend your stay and plan to hit a few events from Madison’s newest beer event, Madison Craft Beer Week. With a few hundred events to choose from, the challenge you’ll face is deciding which events you’ll have to miss!

Hopefully you’ve found this guide helpful and informative. Obviously there are enough options here to make any beer geek happy, and I barely touched on the equally awesome food scene. If you’re going to be in town, let Madison Beer Review know- we’d love to know your plans and hear your feedback! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Don't Non-White People Drink Craft Beer?

Headline caught your attention? Well. I'm serious.

According to data, almost 90% of craft beer drinkers are white. IMPACT 2009 (Simmons Market Research)*. A mere 3% of craft beer drinkers are African-American, while around 5% are Hispanic or Latino.

African-Americans comprise at least 12% of the United States. 16% of the United States is Hispanic/Latino. A full 38% of African-American households would at least be classified as "middle-class", while around 10% of the African-American population would be considered "upper" or "upper-middle".

Yet very few of them are drinking craft beer. Just wondering why that might be.

* Data is referenced as part of a BeerAdvocate forum. I don't normally attach much weight to BeerAdvocate forums, but this matches with other data that I've seen in more "proprietary" formats. It's one of the few places where this kind of information is not behind a (very expensive) pay wall online.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Audience Participation: Create Your Own Beerfest!

I've been approached by a number of places around town (Madison) to hold a beer festival like thing at their location. I have some ideas of my own, but I'm curious about what you might think. So, let's call it a bit of an open-source beer festival. The following are the restrictions:

  • Venue is big but not huge (300-900 people) and both indoor and outdoor are options
  • Preferred timing for the event is anywhere from late-Winter to mid-Spring
  • In Madison, parking is not an issue, but public transport and alternative transportation aren't particularly good for these locations, either

My thoughts on this kind of event are: 
  1. It can't be a general beer fest because the space just isn't that big - 8 to 10 tables or so, maybe as many as 15 tables - which means at most 30 breweries, so I believe this has to be a "specialty" or "themed" festival - at least if you think about this in terms of typical beer fests - creativity here is an interesting thought; 
  2. The timing is difficult for me personally because of my involvement with Madison Craft Beer Week, so another issue that comes to mind is whether this event would be a Craft Beer Week event - there are enough holidays and things to focus on during this time that it could work as a stand-alone festival; and,
  3. Each venue has (very good) food, so catering and food, thankfully, isn't an issue and, in fact, could provide an interesting twist on the event

So, any ideas?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Time - Best Wisconsin Brewpub

I haven't had a chance to put together a 2011 Awards post yet. But, it is time to get voting started for Best Wisconsin Brewpub 2011. An annual tradition at Madison Beer Review, we ask you to vote for the best brewpub in the state.  (pssst. The poll is over there to the right)

You've been to them all haven't you?

Last year there were so many that stepped up their game, it's hard to pick. And there will be more opening up this year.

So, get your votes in. It's a leap year this year, so you have one extra day to vote. Voting closes at midnight on February 29th.