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From the HopPress: Made in Vermont – The Deep South

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - The Deep South

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

This is the last article in my 4-part series on the 21 breweries that can be found within the borders of this very small state. This final chapter of the series will focus on the southern most portion of the state. Both the people population and the breweries are spread farther apart in this region than in the other 3 regions that we have discussed so far, but that takes nothing away from the availability of their beer to the rest of us. In fact, two of the breweries in this southern region are among the largest in the state and have their beer distributed state-wide as well as outside of the state’s boundaries.

The three previous articles in the series, in the order that they appeared, are:

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From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - The Deep South

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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From the HopPress: A Brewer’s Best

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - A Brewer's Best

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, January 22nd.

Like many of you, keeping up with the deluge of e-mails, RSS feed articles, Facebook pages or people, tweets and the like can be pretty overwhelming at times. I sort through hundreds and hundreds of them each week and that does not even begin to include what I see at work during the same period of time. Some of this, of course, I bring upon myself through my insistence on subscribing to as many beer-related sites, pages and newsletters as possible in order to keep my pulse on this beloved industry and I must admit that it is a “burden” that I will continue to willingly bear!

Earlier this week I received a “Friend of Harpoon” newsletter, which is distributed by the folks at Harpoon Brewery. “Friend of Harpoon” is a fan club of sorts for people who enjoy Harpoon’s fine selection of beers; which I definitely do. As a club member, you are entitled to the newsletter, of course, which contains a listing of upcoming Harpoon events and special news about just about everything else Harpoon-related. They even issue a membership card to their “Friends”, which can be used to collect member-only discounts at events and at the Harpoon company stores… but I digress. This particular edition of the newsletter also contained an announcement of the 35th beer to be released in Harpoon’s “100 Barrel Series” of beers; a rebrew/reformulation of a previously released beer, called Catamount Maple Wheat, which was also #26 in the series.

My interest in this beer was not so much its imminent release (early February), though I did like it the first time they produced it, but it really got me to thinking about other brewers that have their own special series of beers that they distribute only seasonally, at odd times (when the whim strikes them) or on an annual schedule. As I poked around on Ratebeer, I first discovered that there are, in fact, quite a number of brewers that do this and, secondly, some the beers in these “brewer’s best” series of beers are some of my favorite beers from those brewers.

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From the HopPress: Made in Vermont – The Northeast Kingdom

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - The Northeast Kingdom

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, January 8th.

This is the third in my series of four articles briefly highlighting each of the breweries that can be found in the small state of Vermont. We are truly blessed with an abundance of quality craft breweries , currently 21 of them, to be shared among the second smallest population of any of the 50 states. The combination of being able to reach any portion of this state from my house within two hours driving time (or so) and the large variety of breweries to choose from, creates for me a somewhat unique opportunity not shared by folks that live in much larger states; that being the ability to easily sample many of the fine beers brewed by all of these establishments fairly frequently.

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From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - The Northeast Kingdom
Courtesy of the Vermont Brewers Association

From the HopPress: Joyeux Noël

From the HopPress: Joyeux Noël

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, December 25th.

A very happy holiday to everyone. Hopefully you were on the “good list” and got or will get a wonderful present from someone today. It’s a cold one here in Vermont this morning; only about 6F at my house, but I am sure that there are colder places around. I am listening to the rest of my family waking up on this Christmas morning and coming down stairs to the smell of my wife, Candy, beginning to cook breakfast in the kitchen… the heavenly smell of bacon being predominant, of course, but the coffee is running a close second at the moment.

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From the HopPress: Joyeux Noël

From the HopPress: The History and Lore of Wassail

From the HopPress: The History and Lore of Wassail

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, December 18th.

Most of us, no doubt, are familiar with the holiday style of beer called Wassail. There are many excellent examples and I have sampled a number of them. I have to admit that I look forward to the annual renewing of the “winter warmer” traditions as well as the beers and other libations that come along with it. Today I will look a bit beyond the Wassail drink itself to some of the history and traditions surrounding this ancient drink of the holidays.

My fellow HopPress writer, Steph Weber, wrote an article (Wassail! Wassail!), which appeared on Christmas Day last year, about how to make a traditional wassail. I have found that there are a variety of ingredients that can be added to a wassail. The one that Steph chose (from Alton Brown at the Food Network) looks like a very good one and I may give hers a try sometime. Like most recipes, you could easily take Steph’s/Alton’s and alter it significantly to suit your own needs and tastes. If you desire something different all together, simply searching the Internet for “wassail recipes” will bring you dozens of possibilities to explore on your own.

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From the HopPress: The History and Lore of Wassail