I have been very neglectful of this blog lately. While I am not making any excuses, I have been *extremely* busy at work for the last 6 months or so. The credit union where I work (VSECU),continues to grow quite rapidly. As a matter fact, we are in the process of opening *THREE* new branches around the state. One in Waterbury to place the one destroyed by Hurricane Irene, a full-service branch in Rutland to replace the small branch in the downtown area and a brand new branch in Brattleboro. All three of these will likely come alive in the next couple of weeks… and certainly by the end of the year.
As some of you may know from my bio, I am the VP of the computer department there and, in order to support all of the new technology that these new branches will have (check-scanning ATMs and video teller machines), I have also been rolling out a new fiber optic Wide Area Network (WAN) to connect all of our sites together. This is a huge undertaking under normal circumstances, but the devastation of Irene across our beautiful state has made the construction of this new network a NIGHTMARE!! I’ll be very glad when this project is done…
I *will* resume my regular updates of this blog in 2012… Thanks for your patience!!
My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, April 9th.
This last week marked the anniversary of the beginning of the end of Prohibition; an event that is celebrated, nationally, in the form of New Beer’s Eve and National Beer Day. In celebration of this annual event, I think that it is worth a look back at the “whos, whys and wheres” of Prohibition, sometimes called the“Nobel Experiment”, the counterculture that it invoked and why it was such a complete and total failure.
My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, March 26th.
It’s that time of the year when men’s (and women’s) fancies turn to thoughts of Spring and all of the attention and excitement that can bring. I’m talking about basketball, of course… what were you thinking? The NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing and I have to admit, while my final pick is still in the running, my “bracket” is a little worse for wear at this point. Another sign of the season is a tournament of a different sort run by the Brewing News magazine; an intense competition between 128 IPA-style beers, called NIPAC – National IPA Competition – to see who would be this year’s best IPA beer.
The judges for this event are all brewers and beer connoisseurs, from all over the US, which meet during the tournament to grade each IPA pairing. These judges are organized in panels of 3 and are served the pair of beers to be judged without knowing what the beers are (blind tasting). Within the 3-member panel, the majority vote determines which of the beers in the judged pair wins. I don’t have any idea who you have to know (or?) to get to be one of these judges, but as a professed and acknowledged hop head, I would want/need/love to be a part of the judging for this event (hint, hint)!
My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, March 19th.
Today, March 19th, the earth’s only moon will reach its closest point to earth (221,565 miles) in nearly 19 years. For those of you lucky enough to be able to see it, this so called “supermoon” will be, according to NASA, about 18% bigger and 30% brighter than the average full moon that we are all accustomed to seeing each month. The moon travels in an elliptical orbit about the earth and each month has both a maximum distance from the earth (it’s apogee) and a minimum distance (it’s perigee). Tonight’s full moon coincides with the closest perigee of the 19-year long full moon cycle… and it is going to look spectacularly like nearly every other full moon you have ever seen. Sorry to get your hopes up…
Enough with the science lesson as the real question to be answered here today is whether or not full moons, not to mention the unusual full moon this month, can contribute to better beer? There is much folk lore about the supposed benefit and detriment of full moons; such as the benefit of planting or harvesting of crops or the supposed rise in crime or mental illness (lunacy?) that may occur during these events. Why not suppose that this lunar cycle can affect the beer as it is being brewed?
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:
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.
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.
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.