Category: Homebrewing

Big Beers, Small Barrels

Texan homebrewers don’t mess around. While we were there we heard about a homebrew made with bacon-infused Scotch, and tried a smoky barleywine that tasted like meat and leather and was so delicious we licked off our fingers when we accidentally spilled a drop. Fort Worth’s Cap and Hare homebrewing club is hosting the biggest homebrew competition in the country this month — Bluebonnet Brew-Off — and we’d be going, and entering, (and probably losing), if we didn’t have to run the Craft Brewers Conference gauntlet that same week.

Even Rahr shares the homebrew spirit. They host Cap and Hare meetings sometimes, and a homebrew contest called Iron Mash. We saw some little, 2- or 3-gallon barrels in their barrel room — just like the ones we have from Tuthilltown. One of Rahr’s brewers, Jason Lyon, told us the little barrels are good for experimenting because they have a better ratio of volume to surface area (less beer touching more wood), so they age beer faster than regular, 53-gallon barrels. Not everything’s bigger in Texas.

We Won’t Be Making This at Home

100% Leistung.

Erdinger makes a non-alcoholic beer that they’re marketing as an energy drink. It’s apparently catching on in the American biathlon circuit. The USBA president says it’s “not bad.” This is already the #1 non-alcohol beer in Germany, which I guess is like being the best non-dairy creamer in Wisconsin. It doesn’t seem like the competition is very, er, stiff.

In the U.S., though, alcohol-free beer sales have been steadily falling since O’Doul’s came out in the ’90s. Henry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, has an interesting take on this phenomenon: “Part of the appeal of beer is the ethanol.”

SF Beer Week: Long Lines, Little Glasses

We like brunch and puns and beer, so beerunch sounded perfect. The line was long but the beerjitos (yes) were bubbly and the plates had little slots cut into them to hold a wine glass like a sidecar while you schmoozed. Our friend Jim brews Mateveza and he hosted the party. He also wrote poetic descriptions of the beer-and-food pairings on offer. These were often more satisfying than the food. We filled our glass-plate hybrids with fennel-cured salmon on mini bagels and Russian River‘s sour, currant-infused Consecration; mushroom and gruyere popovers and Moonlight‘s Toast; chocolaty bread pudding and Deschutes‘s bourbon-barrel aged Abyss. We read about “harrowing collisions of flavors.” We schmoozed. Bear Republic‘s IPA, Racer X, with a watery endive salad, made the best pairing, even though the salad was weak. Like a perfect pun, the whole was greater than its parts.

That night, sobered and cold from a change in the weather, we trekked west to the Social Kitchen to taste beer from local nano-brewers. That is, homebrewers who’ve almost outgrown their homes. We encountered the biggest line yet, and had to warm up down the street with a whiskey and (spilled) Guinness while we waited it out. Finally inside, a packed crowd and rich glasses of stout from Elizabeth Street and Local Brewing helped. An open door to the breezy upstairs balcony did not. From our perch above the fray, we were amazed we didn’t recognize anyone from previous beer week events. Especially since the fashion on display (top hats, cargo shorts-and-calf-warmers, nano-suspenders) is pretty iconic. I guess nano-brewing attracts a certain crowd. Sunday night in the Richmond, too.