Category Archives: Brewery

It’s NIPAC time again…

Brewing News National IPA Championship

Last year at about this time, Sean Lawson, owner/brewer of Lawson’s Finest Liquids (a brewery in Warren, VT) was in the midst of a epic competition that would eventually see his wonderful “Triple Play IPA” crowned as the very best IPA in the whole US. The competition entered was called NIPAC… the National IPA Championship, which has been held for at least the last 5 years. In 2011, Sean matched his Triple Play IPA against 127 IPAs from all over the US in a “bracketed” competition… a la the NCAA Men’s Basketball “March Madness”… that would see only one IPA chosen as the nation’s best for 2011.

This year Sean has, once again, chosen to enter one of his “Finest” into the NIPAC competition… Chinooker’d IPA has been chosen to challenge 127 IPAs from around the US in this epic hop battle. According to the rules of the competition, the 128 IPAs are paired up in bracket fashion in a series of 7 challenge rounds, with the winner of each round advancing to the next round in single elimination fashion. The first round was held on February 3rd and the final round, where the National Champion will be determined, is to be held on March 3rd.

You can track Chnooker’d’s progress against the 127 other competitors at http://brackets.brewingnews.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=418946. As you will see, as of 2/10, Chinooker’d won the first round against Big Sky Brewing’s Big Sky IPA and has advanced to the 2nd round (to be held tomorrow, 2/11). This bracket will be updated as the competition moves toward the 7th, and final, round.

Good Luck!!

From the HopPress: March Madness, NIPAC Style

From the HopPress: March Madness, NIPAC Style

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)!

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From the HopPress: March Madness, NIPAC Style

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: 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: Made in Vermont – The Spine of the Green Mountains

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - The Spine of the Green Mountains

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.

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Made in Vermont - The Spine of the Green Mountains

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont – Burlington Region

From the HopPress: Made in Vermont - Burlington Region

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, November 6th.

As I have said before, Vermont is Beer Country! Back in 2009 the Brewers Association declared Vermont as having the highest per capita concentration of breweries of any state in the land (Breweries Per Capita). This awesome designation was awarded based on the 2008 Vermont census and the presence of, at the time, 19 craft beer breweries within the state’s borders. That’s 19 breweries for Vermont’s 621,270 citizens or about one brewery for every 32,698 Vermonters. Breweries have come and gone since that time and, as a result, Vermont has added a net of 2 new breweries, for a current total of 21. With approximately the same population as in 2008, this means that there is now about 1 brewery for every 29,584 Vermonters. I think that it is very unlikely that any state has surpassed this outstanding people/brewery ratio since these figures were last published.

Some of my fellow HopPress writers have presented a tour of the breweries in their own states, so I thought that it would be only right that I do the same for Vermont. With there being 21 of them, I will not spend the time in this article attempting to cover all of them; that would end up being quite long and pretty boring. Instead I will talk, first, about the 7 breweies located in only one region of the state… the greater northwestern portion of the state, which I will call the “Burlington” region, named after our largest city (pop. 38,647 in 2009).

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Courtesy of Vermont Brewers Association