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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, December 4th.
This is the second in a series of articles which highlight the wonderful variety of breweries available to us Vermonters. As I have told you before, with 21 in-state breweries and less than 650,000 people in the entire state, Vermont has the very best ratio of breweries to people in the country. In my first article in this series – Made in Vermont: Burlington Region – I included a brief review of seven of the breweries in Vermont’s northwest corner. In today’s article I will focus on the more northern central region of the state and another six breweries which can be found within this region.