Tag: brewery tours

Past its Prime

Sumerian bappir, reborn. I began with the beginning: the world’s first beer. After baking some Mesopotamian hardtack, I steeped it in hot water, mixed in some dates, added yeast, and forgot about it for a few weeks. A few weeks too long, as it turned out. Sumerian beer is best served fresh. Or better yet, more than fresh: unfinished, even. Unpasteurized, unfiltered, unsanitized—it turned sour fast. Screechingly, cheek-sucking-ly sour. (I’m in good company: Steve Inskeep ran into the same problem in Tunisia. He let his date wine ferment too long, or too hot, or both.)

Before IO-Star, before barrels, before bottles, beer was served straight from the fermenter, sucked through bombilla-like straws to filter out the grain husks and date pits. Think of it like sauerkraut (if you, like me, are the kind of person who thinks about sauerkraut): Beer just sat out, in the open, to be enjoyed as it fermented, and finished before it got too rank. Brewers would whip up a batch and start drinking it as soon as it cooled. The unfermented beer, called wort, was sweet and nutrient-packed. The party picked up over the course of a week or so as wild yeast kicked in and turned those sugars to booze. Thirsty neighbors probably drained the dregs before lactobacteria and other micro-organisms showed up to kill the buzz.

Fresh beer is great; 12,000 years later, it still has its devotees. There’s vinho verde and British cask beer. Kellerbier (flat) and zwickelbier (fresh and foamy) fills Franconian mugs. Bohemians have kvasnicový. The best part of any brewery tour is a sip from the bright tank. The best part of homebrewing is not having to wait.

Bottling Line

Does the Cicerone program certify brewery tour connoisseurship? We’ve been on our share of walks through fermenters and bottling lines and can report with authority that the Anchor Brewery tour is by far the most entertaining. Ask for Bob, and try not to roll your eyes right out of your head.

Rahr and Sons: The Really, Truly, Honestly Official Beer of Texas

North Texas was bleak from 40,000 feet up — dirt and space and trickling, blood-red rivers — but on the ground, the beer landscape seemed bleaker.

“We have Bud Lite, Coors Lite, Miller Lite, Corona Lite…”

Then we heard about local favorites Rahr and Sons Brewing, but we also heard about their roof. Last year, a freak storm dumped 12 inches of snow on the brewery, collapsed its roof, and shut them down for seven months. This is rough country for craft beer.
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