From the HopPress: Just a little bit different…

From the HopPress: Just a little bit different...

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, February 19th.

I had a couple of things come across my desk this week that got me thinking about beer that some might consider to be a little bit to the left (or right) of center. I am talking about beer that most would consider “unusual”; not the typical hops, malt and yeast lineage that the vast majority of the beer that we all drink can be categorized as. These are beers that I would consider to be unusual because of their name, ingredients or marketing approach. I feel compelled to make the disclaimer that I have not tried very many of these beers mentioned in this article… but I would want to, just for the pure novelty of having done so.

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From the HopPress: Mmmm… Chocolate!

From the HopPress: Mmmm... Chocolate!

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, February 12th.

While I would not necessarily consider chocolate beer to be a “seasonal selection”, it does fit in quite nicely with the rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day. I thoroughly enjoy all types of chocolate… milk, dark and white… in the virtually endless ways that they can be served. So, as a bit of a celebration of of this “holiday”, I thought that I would profess my undying love for some of my favorite chocolate beers and then passionately whisper a few sweet nothings to you about some foods that I think make for nice cozy cuddling with these tasty brews. All in good fun, mind you…

Some of you might be shocked to hear that not all beer that has “chocolate” in its name actually has real chocolate as an ingredient, but there are certainly some very excellent exceptions to that, as you will see. Many of these beers, in fact, get that name from the flavor imparted by the darkly roasted malt actually called chocolate malt. Not as dark (starts at about 300ºL) as the darkest malts , like black patent, chocolate malt retains some of the nutty and/or mild coffee flavors that most beer drinkers associate with porters or stouts. In the proper proportions with other ingredients and with the right care and handling during the brewing process, this malt can definitely contribute to a quite distinct chocolate flavor in the beer that I really enjoy.

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From the HopPress: Some Bits and Pieces of Ratebeer’s Best

From the HopPress: Some Bits and Pieces of Ratebeer's Best

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, February 5th.

Like many of you, I really look forward to the Ratebeer Best lists being released every year. It gives me a chance to look at the brewing industry as a whole and see who was hot and who was not in the previous year. I have taken some time to look through the various lists released last week and have a few comments and observations about their content this year.

First of all I’d like to call to your attention the appearance of one of Vermont’s own brewers, the Hill Farmstead Brewery, on these these lists. Hill Farmstead is listed twice on Ratebeer’s Best; as the top new brewery in the world and also for his truly wonderful Edward Pale Ale. If you have followed some of my previous articles here, you know that Shaun Hill’s small brewery, located in the tiny town of Greensboro in north-central Vermont is one of several shining stars among the 21 breweries that can be currently found in this small state. The appearance of Hill Farmstead on these lists is but the latest in an already impressive accumulation of accolades and awards that this young brewer has earned over the last few years. At last year’s World Beer Cup, three of Shaun’s beers, created by Shaun when he was working for Danish brewer Nørrebro Bryghus, won medals (2 golds and a silver) at this lofty international competition. If you look through the Ratebeer ratings for Shaun’s beers you will quickly see that Vermonters are not the only ones that are in love with Shaun’s creations and I truly believe that many of his beers would stand up well against a goodly portion of the other beers on Ratebeer’s Best. For many of you, however, Hill Farmstead beers might be some of the best beers that you will have never tried, as Shaun currently only runs about a 7-barrel operation and, although I know that some of his beers have appeared in Philly and NYC, most of Shaun’s beers do not make it very far out of Vermont… and that is fine with me. Come to Vermont and find out why Hill Farmstead rightly deserves their spot among the other brewers on Ratebeer’s Best.

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