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Archive of the posts written by author: Jane Smythe.
Dec
10

A Beer Tour of Europe

There’s a popular craft beer shop in New York’s East Village aptly named Good Beer. During a recent visit, I discovered an International Beer refrigerator tucked in the back of the shop, just waiting for me to purchase and then consume all of its inner contents. After painstakingly selecting five unique European beers (1 Belgian, 1 British, 1 Danish, and 2 German), I have been working tirelessly to sample each one for your reference. Check out my tasting notes below, and spend a night escaping to Europe with one of these delicious brews!

From Left to Right…

Blanche de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Orange Peel, coriander, and malty wheat give this white beer a unique sweet and sour flavor—great summer beer with substance. This one comes from the historic Lefebvre brewery in Wallonia (the French region of Belgium).

Wells Banana Bread Beer (UK)

This decadent ale tastes really does taste like dark chocolate chip banana bread. It’s fruity without being too sweet. I’d skip dessert and have this after dinner instead.

Augustiner Brau Maximator (Germany)

A wintry doppelbock, dark and velvet-smooth, with notes of caramel. Augustiner is the oldest brewery in Munich, and the Maximator brew was developed way back when it was a monastery—let’s party like it’s 1328!

Evil Twin Falco (Denmark)

A crisp IPA with plenty of citrus peel. It’s hoppy enough to satisfy even the most hardcore of IPA lovers. Perfect for enjoying the (slowly) approaching Spring weather. Take note—Danish brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is making some of the most innovative new beers on the market.

Kostrizer Schwarzbier (Germany)

This black lager tastes rich and malty, yet doesn’t weigh you down–nice bitter chocolate notes too!

Köstritzer Shwarzbier

What is your favorite international beer? Share your recommendations!

 

Nov
20

A Cautionary Tale About Beer

Everybody knows that there’s nothing more refreshing and relaxing than a beer with friends on a warm summers afternoon. Well,that’s exactly what I thought when I set about doing some basic garden maintenance with a few friends this weekend.

What a mistake that was!

You see there’s also another well-known saying that goes, ‘don’t mix alcohol with machinery’. Seems obvious enough, right?

tree-trimming-pruning-slThe plan was simple. I needed to trim a few trees in my garden that had been overhanging a neighbors fence for months. She had complained numerous times and each time I told her I would take care of it. Of course, I never did and figured I’d get to it eventually. Well, today was the day. I invited a few friends around to make the job a little more tolerable.

It all started off well and we set about the task with great gusto and it looked like we’d get it all done by noon. That was until the beer came out of the cooler and we started to loosen up and have a good time.

Thoughts of trimming trees soon took a back seat to the much more important job at hand of having fun and hanging out with my friends.

drinking-with-friendsMy neighbor was watching the sad mess unfold the whole time and she was getting madder by the minute. She thought the day had finally arrived when she would be rid of my overhanging branches and leaves, and all would be well with the world. As the time passed by though, she could see those dreams becoming a distant memory and the reality of the situation was settling in.

She would most likely have to endure the eyesore for a few more weeks, if not months.

We ended up having a great time and my friends left at a reasonable hour. My neighbor was still glaring at me over the fence. I felt bad for her and vowed that I’d take care of it in the morning.

The next morning I got up bright and early and this time, I left the beer in the fridge where it belongs. I grabbed my ladder, garden shears, and a small saw. I attacked the tree with zeal and managed to have the job done in just under a couple of hours. As it turned out, the job wasn’t too hard and I actually enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction I got from completing the task. I also got a pretty good workout which is something I’d been lacking of late.

The moral of the story is simple. If you ever find yourself having to complete a job that requires focus and concentration then leave the beer in the fridge. Keep it nice and cold so that once the job is done, you can call you buddies over to celebrate. Trust me it’s a much better way to handle things than having to endure the deathly glare of your evil neighbor!

Sep
14

Beer Festivals in the USA

Beer Festival WaitressBeer is loved all over the world, but nowhere more so than the good ole’ USA!

To celebrate the love of beer in all its varieties, and because any old excuse for a beer will do, there are now more beer festivals in the US every year than you can shake a stick at.

While the beer calendar is jam-packed, with more than 2 festivals of note happening every month across the country in 2016, we’ve decided to bring you a quick list of the very best of them.

If you love to try different beers and are looking for a good reason to indulge, look no further than these beer festivals. Each one is unique and different in its own way, just like the beers themselves.

NYC Beer Week – New York City

Featuring over 40 breweries from the state of New York, this beer festival has been going on for 8 years straight. It takes place in mid-February, and the 2015 event features more than 200 venues. There’s plenty of variety on offer here in terms of both beer offerings and venues to relax, kick back and have a sip.

Bacon and Beer Classic – Various

beer festival crowdWhat’s just as good as beer? Nothing, you say? Well, as far as beverages go we’d have to agree, but the right beer paired with bacon just takes things to a whole different level of pleasure, and that’s that this festival is all about.

This one takes place all over the country, with local and regional breweries and restaurants attending the events to serve up mouthwatering bacon with all kinds of brews to wash it down.

Which one goes best with your favorite style of bacon? We know one thing – you’ll have a great time finding out!

Opening Tap – Philadelphia

This is one of the best known and fun beer weeks in America. Using the Hammer of Glory to tap the first keg, the festivities begin and the first beer flows. This event is packed with events and live music, and all kinds of beer are available from local craft breweries.

This one isn’t to be missed. If you’re in town, make you stop by for at least a day. It’s probably a good idea to book some time off, too, as festivities can get pretty lively.

American Craft Beer Fest – Boston

beer-festivalThe biggest craft beer festival on the East coast, this one sees 140 breweries dish out all manner of beers too in and around 15,000 drinkers.

Knowing the size of this festival and the exposure it gets, breweries pull out all the stops to serve up their best. Last year there were over 600 beers on offer, but we don’t recommend drinking them all! Well, at least not on the same day, anyway.

Boulevardia – Kansas City

Beer, food, music and more beer. Where do we sign up?

Boulevardia was created by the Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas city to celebrate all of the above. It’s relatively new on the beer festival scene, having only been up and running for 4 years now, but hey, that doesn’t mean a thing and the variety and quality of beer on offer is excellent.

There are also multiple stages with live music being played, ensuring your time at Boulevardia will be a lively one.

So, there ya go! This is not an exhaustive list of beer festivals in America, but it does feature some of the highlights, and attending any one of the above will lead to an excellent time being had by all.

As craft beer continues to explode in popularity, don’t be surprised if even more beer festivals pop up all around the nation.

We fully encourage it. After all, we ask you once again, what is better than beer?

Sep
11

The Most Popular Beer in the World

Go ahead and try to guess what the world’s most popular beer in the world is.

What did you think of? Budweiser? Guinness? Miller?

Think again!

The most consumed beer, and hence popular, in the world is actually Snow, a Chinese beer, which holds a 5.4% share of the world’s beer market.

snow-beerIn fact, as if we need any more evidence that China is taking over every industry in the world, the second most popular beer in the world is also Chinese. Tsingtao currently dominates nearly 3% of the world’s market, giving just the two most popular Chinese beers a combined 8.4% stake in the global beer market.

Panic not, American readers, your much loved Bud Light is the 3rd most drunk beer in the world, with Budweiser coming in at number 4. If you combine these 2 this company alone holds a 4.8% stake in the world market, just with the Bud brand.

 

bottles-of-budweiser-and-coors-light
Where would you go next in your mind when thinking about popular beers? To the Netherlands and Heineken or to Ireland for Guinness? Again, no. Brazilian beer Skol holds a 2.2% share of the world market, putting it 5th in the world rankings for most consumed beer.

Admittedly the staggering population of China plays a role in this and skews the numbers somewhat. Brazil isn’t actually short on people either, and internal consumption does play a huge role in these numbers.

So what’s your favorite beer? Which would you reach for first if given a selection of them all? What’s the most popular brew in your home country?

Aug
3

What is Craft Beer?

craft_beer_breweryCraft beer has exploded in popularity in recent times. All across the USA and the world, beer drinkers are looking for alternatives to the big names in brewing and trying the increasing number of home-brewed beers on offer.

Craft brewing is not a tiny little home industry, either. It’s growing at breakneck pace and is beginning to come into its own, challenging established labels and becoming a serious threat in some areas.

There’s even someone who became a billionaire by brewing craft beer. Ken Grossman, who started brewing back in the 80’s, has said that the last 30 years have been a phenomenal time for the industry and he’s watched it grow into what it currently is today.

Craft beer is designed to appeal to novelty seekers, and there’s a virtually endless variety of flavors, types, and styles available. From ale’s with a tinge of blueberry to light beers that taste like lime juice, craft brewing is only just taking off but has already produced so many different kinds.

craft-beerWhat started out as a cottage industry has now become something to be reckoned with in the economy. It’s estimated that craft brewing supports nearly 500,000 jobs in the USA alone, and with news features about unique brews being brought to market everywhere from New York to Cape Town to Singapore, it’s easy to see that this is an industry with a bright future.

Starting a craft brewery doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive either. It’s possible to get started for as little as $10,000 for a small-sized microbrewery, and if brewing doesn’t appeal to you, it’s also possible to start a ‘tap house’ which allows you to serve crafts beers brought to market by others.

Have you ever tried craft beer? If so, how did you find it as compared to other beers you regularly drink? What did you find most appealing about it and what caused you to want to try it? Share your opinions in the comments below.

 

Jul
21

A Brief History of Beer

beer-mugThe history of beer goes back as far as ancient Mesopotamia, or what is modern day Iraq, in the year 3900 BC.

An ancient Sumerian poem is the first piece of evidence we encounter describing beer and its effects, dated in and around this time. Early brewing artifacts have also been found as well as recipes for how to brew beer from bread.

Babylonian records then indicate that at least 20 different forms of beer were in production by the year 2000 BC. There are even texts which describe how the Babylonian people eased the bitterness of the original brews and avoided the chunks of whatever was used to brew by using early straws.

Beer soon spread far and wide, because a look at the historical record reveals beer had made its way to China in the East and South America in the West as early as 1600 BC. There was even a document discovered which revealed 100 common ailments the ancient Egyptians treated with beer.

As early as 55BC the Roman army spread beer across Europe and by as early as 100 AD, brewing had caught on and was being practiced in multiple forms across Europe.christopher-columbus-ships

When Columbus’ ship first moored in the Americas, he found native populations brewing and drinking beer varieties of their own.

And so it goes until the modern age where we have countless varieties of beer from every corner of the earth. From San Miguel in the Philippines to Guinness in Ireland to XXXX in Australia to everything in between, beer is enjoyed by just about every culture on the planet today.

One of the most popular beers, Budweiser, holds the record for being the first variety to sell over 10 million barrels in a single year. It remains one of the most widely consumed beers on the planet today.

In the year 2016, we may have an endless variety of beer to choose from, but 89% of it is brewed by 5 major breweries. A new chapter in the history of beer is just beginning, however, with the advent and growing popularity of microbrewing.

Will the future see the giant beer companies of today lose their grip on the market as a new era in brewing begins? We’ll have to wait and see.

All we can say with certainty is that beer has had a long and colorful history, and has played a vital role in civilization itself.

Jun
7

Who is Ken Grossman?

Imagine starting a home brewery, planning to supply your own craft beer to a few local stores and bars, and 30 years later finding yourself a billionaire.

Welcome to the world of craft brewing king Ken Grossman.

ken-grossman-sierra-nevada

Grossman, now 64, founded his Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in 1978 in an effort to diversify the beer options available in America, at a time when there were only 45 indie breweries in operation in the country.

Since then, things have come a long way and craft beer has become hugely popular. Back when Grossman started, however, it was more of a hobby than an industry.

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company started with just a home brewery and shop but soon found that it had tapped into a lucrative market as sales grew rapidly and demand kept the sales charts moving upwards.

ken-grossman-sierra-nevada-torpedo-roomGrossman claims he was just a teenager when he first learned about home brewing from his father’s friend, who would often let him taste his concoctions. For Grossman, it was the beginning of a love affair that would see him go on to reach fortunes he never dreamed of.

Yet what the Sierra Nevada is today bears no resemblance to its humble beginnings. It’s now a huge brewery, with expensive equipment and policies and procedures to ensure quality and consistency. Grossman is no longer a young home brewing hobbyist, but the CEO of a huge corporation which takes in millions in revenue and on which a fair share of the 500,000 jobs the craft brewing industry creates rest.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co is also passionate about the environment and in 2010 won the ‘Green Business of the Year’ award, given out by the EPA. That’s no small feat, and companies that win it have to significantly reduce their environmental impacts.

So what about the selection on offer? There are standard beers available all year round, but there are also seasonal, flavored beer which are only available at certain times, and there are limited edition labels which are only available for a short period of time.

sierra nevada logo

Whether you’ve jumped on the craft beer bandwagon yet or not, Ken Grossman has made it big time, and as his Sierra Nevada Brewing Company goes from strength to strength, the sky seems to be the limit for the man who started out brewing bottles of suds at home.