November 20, 2013

It's True. I Have an Honest to Goodness Grown Up Person Beer Job.

I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere, and you know it's really hard to hold your breath
I swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, but I got me a nice little place in the stars
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the mother breast of the crowd, but when they said, "Pull down," I pulled up
Ooh... growin' up - Bruce Springsteen
If you haven't already seen it, I have accepted a full time position as the Executive Director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. I'd like to thank Jess Harter and Rob Hart for taking the time to write about it. Personally, it's a life changing event. It's odd that I have to reiterate that this is a full time paid position, but I've found myself having to tell people, "Yes, I have quit my day job. They are paying me in US currency and not beer."

It's an honest-to-goodness-grown-up-person job.

This position, signals that the Arizona beer scene is truly exploding and that craft brewers of Arizona recognize the importance of leading and shaping this growth. Another thing I've found myself having to tell people is that, "Yes, this is actually going to be very hard work." There are close to 50 organizations being represented by the guild--ones as large as the locally owned allied member, Hensley Beverage, and others as small as 3BBL producer, Granite Mountain. State breweries contribute close to $300 million in direct annual economic impact. Grown up, indeed.

I will finish my term as ASH President on December 14th at the year end Holiday Party. At that event a new President will be elected. I will taking a chair back in the back, as a member.

My writing will continue in (hopefully) larger publications with the goal of reaching more individuals. As for this blog, I will occasionally write more of the "inside baseball" stuff. Mike will carry the torch and I'll be looking for more contributors so that I can take on an editing role. There is much to write about in the beer world of Arizona.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get out of the clouded wrath of the crowd and stand up!
Ooh... growin' up

October 29, 2013

Finally. A Beer Definition Worth Fighting For

The time has come for an accurate definition in the beer world--not one defined by the industry or sales, but one that comes from tradition and standards. Of course, I could be talking about the definition of craft beer again but I am not. I am talking about the definition of a society.

I belong to the Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH) . Ray Daniels is a Member Emeritus of one the oldest beer societies, the Chicago Beer Society (CBS). Both follow the classic definition of a society in that both are organizations that are formed to support a particular activity or provide education on a particular topic generally working with people from diverse backgrounds. The CBS is, "united by a love for craft beer and the art of brewing" whereas ASH is chartered:
To preserve and promote the time-honored tradition of homebrewing, and to recognize it as a true art form through information, education, and dedicated practice.
In both cases, education, outreach and personal interaction are the mission. Both are steeped in beer culture and history. Any monetary transactions are in support of the mission. There are by-laws and boards of directors, meetings, events, social gatherings. It is face-to-face and on the street level.

I make this distinction because it seems vogue these days for breweries to call their purchasing "clubs" a society. There are barrel societies, reserve societies, bottle societies, cellar societies and preservation societies. (It seems to me the best way for a brewery to preserve a beer is not to sell it. I know, crazy.) These brewery societies or clubs are really just purchasing arrangements. In most cases, you get a set of bottles and/or discounts on future bottles. You might get a shirt. In very few cases, there is (seemingly always one and only one) "event", which I'm sure more purchasing can be done. The final "benefit" is a right of first refusal to join next year. Why is that always the last point? Hmmm. I belong to Costco. It's not the Costco Society because I guess I don't have that first refusal clause.

The singular-long term interaction with these brewery societies seems to be crashing their always failing commerce site. People spent more time on port 80 with these breweries than did at one of our Oktoberfests. I'm in no way diminishing anyone that decided to go through with for beer that you plan on drinking and enjoying. It's not about you as a consumer or a fan. No. It's about the breweries.

Please stop calling your commerce model, a society. It's not. It diminishes those that lead and participate in full fledged societies. If the craft beer industry is going to get bent on pushing a craft beer definition, then lay off my society.


October 22, 2013

A Beer Writer Reads and Writes

It's been quiet on the writing front for me, (which may warrant an eventual longer form post at some point) but I have not stopped reading. A good writer reads to write. Some quick hits.


We've probably all seen the Goblin Valley Utah video where reputed adults and leaders of young men defaced a rock formation. I seized on one line in this reaction piece which generally reflects on a divided America (emphasis mine).
Goblin Valley is in an area of Utah—the Moab/Canyonlands region generally—that sees an extreme version of the typical split between public lands users. On the one hand are dudes like this, frequently found in the Utah desert piloting 4X4s around black-stained slickrock trails, and then there's the crowd more into hiking and quietly being awed. You know, Coors versus Dales. Or whatever.  - Michael Byrne
Is that a thing? Coors vs Dales? Is there some sort of Coors/Dales litmus? The reason I ask is, well, both are NASCAR sponsors. Oskar Blues recently announced that they sponsor Landon Cassill and he piloted his #4 Chevrolet under the Dales Pale Ale colors at the Dollar General 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11th. The #40 Coors Light car is currently driven by T.J. Bell.


I've no car in this race as I'm not a race fan, however, I'm not sure if the Coors vs Dales distinction is a useful data point. It seems that Oskar Blues doesn't think so. I do understand the writer's point on the divide in land use.

No not that beer dating.
Andrew Sullivan reads and then brings us a short observational piece on how there (seemingly) is a dating site for every sub-culture. His cites an Atlantic post which details a number of such websites such as Farmers Only, a dating site for those that bail and roll in the hay.

I looked at some numbers and the google consensus seems to be that there around 2.2 million US farmers. I don't know how many US "beer drinkers" there are, but, it would seem to me that the time might be right for some sort of (dare I utter craft ) beer dating site. If you haven't heard, craft beer definitions and the debates about them are back. Ugh! Leave it to Stan to bring the arguments together. So maybe just a beer dating site with some sort of type of beer dropdown.

Here in Phoenix, The Valley Beer Drinkers Meet-Up Group may serve as a proxy for that function. As with NASCAR, I am (thankfully and blissfully) out of that race as well.

Finally, it is pumpkin beer season. Pumpkins are, as a beer ingredient, an American creation. You need to check out this long form article from the awl on the Pumpkin and its rise from hog feed to iconic American symbol of comfort and nostalgia. It's worth the click for the compelling correlation between twitter, white women and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Is there even pumpkin in that? Answer: No)

Fascinating graphic from How Did Pumpkin Become Beloved? Labor, Nostalgia, Refreshment And White Women: Google Ngrams historical mentions of pumpkin.
A word of warning, readers on Andrew Sullivan's blog were quick to point out that any reference to pumpkins or gourds in general prior to the 17th century are probably poor translations. Pumpkins, potatoes, yams, corn and tomatoes are products of the New World. Seneca and Claudius would not known of their existence. Secondly, over three thousand words and nary a mention of beer!?

Still a great read. Especially if you drink a beer while reading.



October 9, 2013

What in the Arizona Beer World.

I'm about ready to head to the airport, but I got a tip that was too good to pass up, This is an abbreviated version of our standard beer game as the embargoed news comes out at the time of this post.



Do you know what in the Arizona beer world this photo clue refers to?

The concept is simple. We post a picture that is relevant to the Arizona Phoenix area beer scene and you try and identify it. Sometimes there will be a larger story involved, but often there will not. So, for glory and a tip of the glass next time we see you. Please, no social media cheating!



Answer after the jump!

September 12, 2013

Not a Lawyer, But I Play One on This Blog

I routinely roll 3 stop signs on a daily basis. All three are on private property. That's not an excuse, just a shrewd calculation about whether my violation will be targeted and enforced. I also have a vague idea about the consequences. I won't lose my license. I may get a warning. There may be a fine that I may be able to mitigate with some driving school. Circumstances escalate if the stop sign are on the side of a bus or my actions cause physical harm or damage to property.

Relax Joe. It's an analogy with literary license.
I come to a complete stop every damn time.
Rolling a stop sign is illegal. My frequency in doing so multiple times doesn't change that. You can't throw logic at it either. Is my slow roll any less safe than a 2 second second stop? Aren't we technically always in motion? Still illegal.

In the beer world, there are plenty of laws that seem to defy logic. There are plenty that are routinely transgressed. It may be because a calculation (as above) or because of ignorance of the laws or perhaps a lack of understanding of the consequences. I think it's best to understand what the law is and have a discussion about the implications instead of just saying arguing that it's done all the time or that the law makes no sense and therefore it isn't a law.

When I communicate my opinion on what a law states, it's not necessarily my position. I believe that certain laws and policies need to be challenged, especially in cases of ambiguity or where they are counter to public good. Start with a knowledge of the law and not an opinion on what most people do. Don't be dismissive. You are part of the process. You can have a role in legislation, policy and enforcement.

For discussion, here is a partial list of things that are currently illegal in AZ that I may or may not have witnessed (or have done myself) first hand.

It is illegal to possess glass containers into municipal parks in Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa. Glass is restricted in Arizona State parks. That means no bottled beer or glass growlers.

No spirituous liquor, beer, or wine allowed in Gilbert parks or parking lots, it's illegal to possess. No glass for that matter too.

It's illegal for a bartender to buy you a drink (see 13). I bet that no one complains about that transgression of the law.
Sometimes we cross and cross hard.

Bringing a bottle of wine in a gift bag to restaurant as a birthday gift or at a co-worker's going away party at a bar or restaurant? That's not legal (see 40). This law is broken almost every Friday everywhere.

Ambitious homebrewers giving your beer to a pub owner, brewer, bartender or brethren in the confines of a license property? You're just as illegal as the wine in a gift bag scofflaws above. Perhaps more-so as that bottle tends to get cracked.

That bottle of something we can't get from out of state in your local tavern's keg cooler. Not legal.

Outdoor drinking games in the parking lot? Not without an extension of premises license.

As a beer server at a festival, not collecting a ticket for your buddy? Not legal and you can be fined. This is one of those, "but everybody does it" things. They shouldn't do it and you shouldn't ask them to. The DLLC considers this to be a liquor violation and theft. At a recent festival briefing, pourers were told they would be arrested and prosecuted for this.

Having a charitable cause does not make you less likely to be cited for a violation.
Source AZ DLLC


Nobody in craft beer has ever been overserved ever by anybody.

Another one from the I do it all the time file: Do you know which states allow you to ship wine to? Beer is even more restrictive and I know of no comprehensive source. It's probably illegal anyways because you need an adult signature. If you require an adult signature, you will need to be a licensed and contracted shipper with UPS or FedEx. USPS? No. All of this is illegal.

Driving while impaired to the slightest degree? You don't have to exceed the BAC threshold. If you are deemed impaired, your actions is illegal. How about with a 0.0% BAC? Yep.



Driving through Northeastern Arizona on the way to Durango or Denver? Want to see Canyon de Chelly and stay at the resort. Hit the hotel restaurant for a cold one? What no? No beer at the Chinle Bashas either? What the... guess I'll pop one out of the cooler... Nope. Illegal. Illegal to consume or possess in the Navajo nation. 

Ever been in a bar not drinking around closing time and they lock the doors to keep people out? Illegal.

You're in Costco and you see an establishment owner buy a lot of liquor. More liquor than seemingly reasonable personal use? Violation.

March madness pool in a bar? Depends. Do you know what makes it unlawful? Fantasy Football with cash prizes? Nope.

EDIT: Finally, If you write a blog, you must make explicit to your readers any material relationships you have with commercial entities. If you are offered free goods or services in exchange for coverage your readers should know about it. This year this includes twitter, instagram, vine or any other microblogging site. If you get free beer for reviews, YOU MUST DISCLOSE IT. This in a FTC directive.



September 5, 2013

Awards! Our Brewery is Filled With Them So We're Giving Them Away!

First off, everyone, we are all breweries. All of us. Congratulations! The media has declared that the term has no meaning. Plus, we can all vote! Get your bots ready.

Well, no. These are not awards that you can vote on. I did that for you. So here they are.

Best Place to Fill Up and Drink Up - Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company has a whopping 42 pumps on 3 of 4 corners. Circle K in the adjacent lot has 10, Shell has 12 across Arizona Avenue and The Quick Trip has 20 across Guadalupe. It's a virtual gas farm. Unfortunately, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company has the worst Walk Score of any Arizona Brewery, because only crazy people walk in metro Chandler and no one crosses 6 lanes of traffic on foot. We're a car culture here folks.

Fuel for Auto and Soul

Best Place to Shop for Western Wear Near a Brewery - Alas, the Sabas on Boston in downtown Chandler has closed so SanTan loses out on getting one of our illustrious awards. Fortunately, you can park it at Fate and then hit the Sabas on Shea. Congratulations to Fate which also wins an award for...

Best Place to Get Your Car Washed and Enjoy a Beer in the Brewery That Made the Beer - Yes, Fate! Right next door to the Genie Car Wash. Prolong your Candy Bar Stout experience by driving home with a fresh Vanilla or Amaretto air freshener. Incidentally, the closest car wash to the Fate Brewing in Boulder Colorado is... get this... 1.8 miles! Suck it, Boulder. You call yourself a beer town?

Best Place to Drink a Beer After a Hike Northern Arizona - Bring a can with you, asswipe. You're welcome.

Best Place to Drink a Beer After a Hike Southern Arizona - Bring a can with you, asswipe. You're welcome.

Best Place to Drink a Beer After an Urban Hike - Park at Brewer's Connection then hike the scrub area behind the shop. Scale the retaining wall through the gap. Walk to the front of Four Peaks. Extra points if you know the back door code.

Urban Hike
Best Brewery That Brews Beer Ironically - Angels Trumpet Ale House. How can I question the wisdom of The Phoenix New Times and the Arizona Republic! Turns out I DO question their authority.

No, not again!
Best Brewery to Catch a Train Hobo Style - Tie. Lumberyard, Mother Road, Barrio Brewing, Four Peaks Wilson and Gordon Biersch Tempe. Go to Gordon Biersch if you don't want to lose an arm trying because the light rail actually stops there.

Best Brewery Closest to a Hot Topic - BJs Brewhouse Chandler. Because I might have wanted a studded rockstar belt, that's why.
Best Beer - The one in your hand. No? Then why did you buy it? No beer in your hand? Why do you hate America?

Best Unoffical Beer City Slogan - Lake HavaBru City

Best Local Beer Rendition of, "Who's on First?"-  What's the name of That Brewery?

Best Dishwasher to Now Be Actually Getting Dishes - Zach Fowle

Best Beer Personality - Convivial. Funny. Social.

Best Place to Drop Off My Dry Cleaning So I Can Drink Beer - Moto is steps away from my dry cleaner.

Worst Beer Trend - Best of voting dominated by votebots and beer industry feeling handcuffed by them. You want to win even the most ridiculous award, but you don't want to look like you are trying too hard.

Best Future Hashtag - #TeamAndrew vs #TeamJames #stillabetterromancethantwilight
#Team Andrew #nofilter
Best Beer Blog - This one. An individual with qualities such as yours would not waste their time with anything less.

September 4, 2013

Sign of a Beer Writing Culture in Decline

With no malice toward Mat and Sharry. I'm not sure why the local media put them in this awkward position every year.


For our non-local readers, Angels Trumpet Ale House is... an ale house. It is not a brewery despite the Arizona Republic and Phoenix New Times assertions.

Hat tip to Alyssa Medina.

August 19, 2013

Praying Monk Summer Beer School Barely Makes the Grade

Before the Praying Monk faithful excommunicate me, it's important to note that my palate can't decipher every little nuance when it comes to food and beer pairings. Guess I should look into those BJCP classes. Class is now in session.

The fourth and final installment in their Summer Beer School sessions, this event was focused on unique and specialty ales. The evening's host, esteemed sommelier David Johnson, brings a plethora of wine knowledge to the Praying Monk. And while Mr. Johnson was a wonderful, affable host, beer is not his strong suit. But, he was wise enough to recruit beer aficionado Bobby Lindeman of Pitcher of Nectar Distributing to show up and share his knowledge of beers being poured.

First course: Freigeist Abraxxxas paired with an heirloom tomato in garlic cream with microgreens. The Lichtenhainer-style brew, which is essentially a smoked Berlinerweiss, gelled pretty well with the heirloom salad. The garlic cream was mild enough not to take away from the beer's subtle smoke and tart qualities. But I can't say the same for the vinaigrette,  as the dressing's acidity somewhat drowned out the smoke. I would have been okay with this if there were more smoky qualities in the beer.

Second course: Moa Brewing's Breakfast paired with croque madame with a poached egg, baguette and Mornay sauce. I get the concept of pairing a breakfast beer with a breakfast-related dish, but couldn't get past the disconnect between the awful medicinal, faux cherry qualities and the croque. After I washed away the medicine, er, beer, I tasted the dish by itself — the egg was perfectly poached and the Bechamel-style Mornay sauce worked; however, I wish the uber-crunchy toasted baguette was a bit less, well, crunchy.

Third course: Hitachino Nest XH paired with a grilled king oyster mushroom with edamame and radishes. What was easily the best beer of the night in my eyes, the strong Belgian-style brown ale is matured in Shochu barrels for three months, imparting very subtle dry sake notes in the finish. The beer and food flavor profiles played well with one another, but the king oyster mushroom may have been over-grilled, as the texture was more rubbery than expected. Perhaps braising or sauteing would have been better cooking methods. 

Fourth course: Fraoch Heather Ale paired with pork belly with a carrot confit, horseradish and microgreens. A unique beer indeed, heather ales are regarded as the oldest style still produced in the world. And Fraoch's version may be the best, as the herbal heather flower and mild honey notes hold up well to the richness of the pork belly and the just-right spiciness of the horseradish. 

Fifth course: Well, there wasn't one. I've never attended a beer dinner that didn't include dessert, and my sweet tooth was sorely disappointed. So much so that it brought this class' grade down a bit.

Overall, the evening was enjoyable and the company even better. The four beers and dishes chosen were certainly unique (vegetarian options were also available). Would I go back to the Praying Monk? Absolutely. But I would like to see the pairings tightened a bit, dessert added, and the duration of the dinner elongated, as the entire soiree clocked in at a surprisingly quick hour-and-twenty minutes.

Overall class grade: C

August 16, 2013

Which Way Does Your Beer Lean?

This MJ leans forward. I suspect the other MJ would lean back.
It's Friday afternoon, right about the time many of you are thinking about the weekend. For readers of this blog, it's a safe bet that beer will be on the menu. Probably the last thing you want to read is yet another semantic dissertation on beer taxonomy. I promise it won't mirror the lambic brewing process — sick before it gets truly sour. (I'm with you Jeff.)

Those in the craft beer movement* want us to distinguish between craft beer and crafty beer. Lew Bryson would have us draw a circle around beers under 4.5% and call it session beer. I have asked that we pay our respects to flagship beers. Others seem to have a cloudy concept of something called beer geek beers or white whales.

I just finished reading a piece on interactive media and caught a term that may or may not be useful in discussing beer — lean back vs lean forward experiences. A simple example should suffice for our purposes since I'm curious as to how you might apply it to beer. Television is defined as a lean back experience and a computer is a lean forward experience. Interactive media is blurring these lines, but that's less relevant to our discussion.

What beers would you consider lean back beers and why? What would a lean forward beer be? Is it a function of your engagement with the beer? Others? Can we draw conclusions such as lean back beers are sessionable? Or maybe they're complex and strong? I don't have an answer, but I will tell you that I'll probably be leaning back more this weekend than leaning forward. (One hopes not to lean too much in either direction lest you fall.)

_________________________________________________________
*I've moved away from distinguishing craft beers from the rest of the beers in the universe. I think that it makes more sense to talk about the craft beer movement — a social movement by brewers in a certain era who share common goals and interests. Certainly, there is a definable movement that traces back to Anchor brewing that gained momentum in the 70s and 80s and now has us in a golden age of a ridiculous amount of choice and a high water mark in terms of the number of U.S. breweries. Note that this definition says nothing about quality.

August 12, 2013

Beer School Is in Session at the Praying Monk

Okay, so it's actually been in session since June 25, but better late than never, right?

BeerPHXation was asked to attend and write about the upcoming August 13 'Unique Ales & Specialties' session a few weeks ago, and we graciously accepted their complimentary invite.

Sadly, this is the last of the four Summer School at the Monk sessions, but it sounds like they may have saved the best for last. Award-winning chef Aaron May and esteemed beverage expert David Johnson are teaming up to delight "students'"palates with eclectic tapas and unique, complementary brews. Specific food-and-beer pairings have not been released, but expect it to be delicious.

Care to join me? Thought so. Here's what you need to know to go:

When: Tuesday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $30 per person, which includes all beer samples and paired tapas.
Location: Praying Monk in Old Town Scottsdale | 7217 East First Street, Scottsdale 85251
Reservations: Required. Call 480-398-3020 or email info@scottsdalemonk.com
More info: Visit the Praying Monk's website for more details. And come back here Monday, 8/19, for a complete review.

August 2, 2013

The Session #78 | Beer's Elevator Pitch

Beer Bar Band provide this month's session topic: Your elevator pitch for beer.
You walk into an elevator and hit the button for your destination level. Already in the elevator is someone holding a beer…and it’s a beer that annoys you because, in your view, it represents all that is bad with the current state of beer.
You can’t help but say something, so you confront your lift passenger with the reason why their beer choice is bad.


Ever actually get an elevator pitch in an elevator? Here goes:

I noticed you’re a beer drinker. That bottle of beer is actually an elevator pitch for beer’s 10,000 year relationship with humanity. It started as a happy accident with wet grain. Fermentation was not understood but revered for centuries. Some say that beer is responsible for ending our nomadic past.  Agriculture provided dependable grain for beer and was much more reliable that foraging. It enabled man to create villages and towns. Animals were domesticated.  Towns grew to cities and states. When cities became crowded, beer provided hydration in days before we understood bacteria. Beer made sea voyage possible.

Beer’s yeast helped us understand genetics, mutation and evolution. Beer itself evolved. It adapted to local conditions including water, local ingredients, climate and even tax laws. This was the genesis of the hundreds of beer styles we enjoy today. Each expressing a depth of flavors of biscuit, toast, roast, chocolate, citrus, pine, fruit—thousands of flavor compounds—many we barely understand.

In America, beer became big business—an industrial process.  It survived Prohibition and massive consolidation. People forgot that it was once made at home. It became mysterious. The joy brewing left the common man. Today it is reborn as thousands of local small business ventures. It reinvigorated communities. It created community leaders, mayors and even governors.  The President appreciates homebrewing.

Like millions of other people, I find you with that bottle, or did it find you. There’s never been more choice in the world. Cheers!

July 15, 2013

Where in the Arizona Beer World? From Where in the World? What and Why? Also, What of It?

Yes, I was out of the country for a time, but this was not taken on my vacation (and yet it fits in).

Do you know where in the beer world this photo was taken? What is this? Where is it now? How does it relate to Arizona beer?
The concept is simple. We post a picture that is relevant to the Arizona Phoenix area beer scene and you try and identify it. Sometimes there will be a larger story involved, but often there will not. So, for glory and a tip of the glass next time we see you. Please, no social media cheating!

Answer after the jump!


July 9, 2013

19 Heroes. 19 Hops. Unending Admiration.

Our great state suffered a tragic loss on June 30, when 19 fearless firefighters lost their lives trying to contain the 2,000-acre Yarnell Fire just south of Prescott. Those 19 brave men, also known as the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, risked their lives trying to save the community they loved so much.

But now it's the local beer community's turn to show those firefighters' families some love with something near and dear to our hearts: beer.

In honor of the Hot Shots, the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild will be making a commemorative American Brown Ale using 19 different hop varietals aptly titled HEROES 19. All the hops were graciously donated by a plethora of Arizona breweries, and all proceeds will go directly to the families of the 19 fallen heroes. The beer will be brewed sometime next week at Prescott Brewing, a favorite Granite Mountain Hot Shots watering hole.

Only 60 barrels will be produced, with keg allocations going to breweries belonging to the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. The beer is expected to raise approximately $70K. This morning, John Nielsen of Prescott Brewing joined KTAR's Clayton Klapper for an interview about the project. You can read his interview here. Be on the lookout for more details, including special events, as they become available.

In closing, I raise my pint of Prescott's Ponderosa IPA to you, Hot Shots, and all the firefighters risking their lives for us every day. Prost, and may you rest in peace.


July 2, 2013

Craft Chat | Celebrate Craft Independence: Drink In The History

Today, July 2nd, marks the anniversary of the severing of ties with Great Britain by the Continental Congress. The action would result in the signing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th in Philadelphia. Independence Day is a holiday that we are all familiar with... or are we? I think we know the facts but we've missed some of the sentiment. It's a topic I covered for a small piece in the Four Peaks Brewsletter on local beer for the Fourth.

Instead of suggesting beers to drink on the holiday, I ask readers to make a connection with the optimism and struggle of the signers and compare it to the craft brewers in the state as they pursue their vision. I quote John Adams. By sheer chance over the weekend, 60 minutes replayed a segment with author/historian David McCullough on the signing and mentions the very Adams quote that I referenced:
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversry Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. 


The conclusion of the piece asks that you know your history and reflect upon it in your own life. In the case of Arizona breweries, "Drink it in".
You can read it here.

By way of further coincidence, I was in Philly for the 35th Annual Homebrewers Conference last week.


The Brewsletter post is the first of a series where local bloggers are asked to contribute. It's going to be exciting to see writing from local beer writers. The Brewsletter can offer a wider audience to their opinions and bolster a community of bloggers that is so needed right now. Please take a moment to read and follow the writers each month.

Cheers!

June 19, 2013

Hallmarks of Beer Culture in Ascendance | Crafting Beer Policy San Diego

This popped up in my Facebook feed today. I've decided that I will begin a small collection of these pieces and call them "Hallmarks of Beer Culture in {Ascendance | Stagnation | Declination}" depending on the situation. File this under Hallmarks of Beer Culture in Ascendance. 

Join us on Thursday, June 27th at the newly-opened Modern Times Brewery  for a wide-ranging look at San Diego’s burgeoning beer industry.
Moderated by VOSD land use reporter (and local beer partisan) Andrew Keatts, the program will feature five speakers sharing unique insights into the world of local craft beer.
Our confirmed presenters: 
Greg Koch | Munich, Napa…San Diego – The Untapped Potential of San Diego’s Beer Industry
Jacob McKean | So You Want to Start a Brewery?
Neva Parker | The Science and Nuance of Yeast
Omar Passons | Craft Beer and Community Development
Tatiana Peavey | Data, Social Media & Growing the Beer Community 
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e7l3blxp1117cfda&llr=kf5u9cdab

This is an event in San Diego. If you can make this, you will earn my eternal jealousy.

You can also flag this as an idea that I intend to steal. In July, Leah Huss of Papago | Huss Brewing, is planning a discussion called, "Back to Basics". In that talk, several invited guests will talk about a core beer and speak to it's complexity.
This might be the spring board for a few industry colleagues of David Conz  to begin to plan a series of beer lectures that will honor both Conz and Greg Fretz.

June 14, 2013

Flagship Beer Day 2013

Today, June 14th is Flag Day, a day in which we commemorate the adoption of the old Stars and Bars. Last year, I introduced the concept of blogging about local breweries top selling craft beers or flagships. The idea was to celebrate the beers that allow breweries to be successful in our communities. Flagship beers allow brewers to create beers that might be more resource or time intensive--a fair number which are loss leaders.

Face it. It may have been years since that last time that you've had a Kilt Lifter or an Orange Blossom. Your palate has changed. You have changed. You know more than you did then. Might you now have a new opinion?

This year, time has been the tyrant and I won't be able to write a post about a specific flagship beer. I'm torn between heading to lunch for a Sun Up Trooper or finding out what Fate considers it's top seller to be. (In fact, given their gangbusters out-of-the-gate popularity, their flagship may not even be on tap today.)

I'll be mentioning a bit more about flagship beers in a guest post for the Four Peaks Brewsletter that should hit your inbox around June 26th. You can subscribe here. This will be the inaugural post of a section devoted to local bloggers. More on that in a future post.

You can read a round-up of last year's Flagship Beer Day here.  Also see local beer gadfly, Hop Head Fred's Flagship Beer Month in May chronicled here. I should get him to change his month to June. What say you Fred?


June 10, 2013

Beer Ecology | More than Buildings, People and Beer


This week, I found a concept that helped me look at  the growth, health and diversity of our beer community and beer culture. It's also revelatory in how we might fill in the gaps and deal with the lack of richness and consistency in the experiences we have here in Phoenix.

Our urban landscape closely maps to the highs and lows of our beer scene. If I could drive one point home it would be on how the parking lot real estate complex has stifled the growth of new breweries (and bars, restaurants and shops) in downtown Phoenix. You can catch up on what I've written here--And An Urbanist Shall Lead Us.

Once again, Taz Looman's blog, Blooming Rock is the source of my personal revelation. This time the writer is a guest, Kirby Hoyt. In Why We Need to Think About Infrastructure as More Than Just Roads and Bridges, Hoyt talks about the concept of ecology, not in the biological or environmentalist movement sense, but anthropological:
The term ecology simply means the relationship of organisms to each other and their surroundings. When thinking of landscape as infrastructure, one should emulate the conditions of the natural environment in a conspicuously designed manner. The diversity of the landscape should meet those of the natural environment, if possible. At the very least, landscape as infrastructure should contain overlapping programs to ensure a diverse ecology.
So instead of just talking about the role of raised buildings and how public transportation fails Phoenicians for beer drinkers, we need to take a more holistic approach on all things beer.

Each of these could take up post on its own, but here are my thoughts:
  • While I think that it's important to save the buildings that we still have, there are numerous empty strip malls. Many are either too big or too small. Using these buildings could require some creativity, partnerships with other businesses and flexible landlords. We also need to encourage partnerships with architects and urban planners.
  • Most of our Arizona beer drinking places have really failed to take full advantage of our outdoor drinking spaces. This has much to do with minimum parking requirements and working with local permitting agents. A success story is OHSO taking advantage of its northern exposure creating a dog-friendly outdoor space. Natural shade and trees are an integral part of the classic biergarten. We could do better here.
  • Beer has gone from a seasonal and local enterprise to a model where any style from any city can be created anytime. Might it be to time to look at beer styles that better reflect our climate? Might it be time to re-examine the current beer market? This may come as a surprise to some craft beer enthusiasts, but compared to the rest of the country, Arizona is not pulling its craft beer weight. I've heard from a few insiders that our Symphony/IRI numbers trail other states by an embarrassingly wide margin. Arizona has far too many macro beer drinkers and there are too few craft beer breweries tapping the large Hispanic market. After all, as Alworth alludes, "People Know Less About Beer Than You Think". In Arizona, the divide seems Grand Canyon-esque. The notion of making a popular approachable beer here is essential and would take advantage of a local conditions. One can't help but think of New Glarus' top selling adjunct lager that outsells Miller in its own backyard.
  • In Arizona, we seem to equate auto transportation dollars with notions of freedom and independance and yet I can think of nothing more freeing and independent than knowing that I can hop on a bus or light rail without fear of a DUI. The opportunities in which public transportation works in conjunction with a craft beer lifestyle are essentially nil. These types of transportation expenditures are generally regarded as wasteful or give-aways. In the meantime, in 2012 there were 27,000 DUI arrests. Anecdotally, a good number of those were some of my craft beer friends. It's not uncommon to hear about 100 mile commutes in the name of "supporting" craft beer. This is not a sustainable strategy.
What are your thoughts on beer ecology?

May 24, 2013

The Magical Listical Tour | Lazy, Ass-Kissy, Effective and Odds on Bad for Beer Writing.


Roll up WE'LL RUIN EVERYTHING YOU READ, roll up for the listical tour.
Roll up TO MAKE OUR IMPRESSION RATES SUCCEED, roll up for the listical tour
The Magical Listical Tour is waiting for your clicks today,
Waiting for your clicks to pay, your clicks pay.
Yesterday a tweet of mine came full circle. (Twitter is useful.)


Bill Night went on to post at the New School Blog: PISS AND VINEGAR: 10 REASONS I HATE LISTICLES. Don't worry, there is no list, but Bill points out that it's lazy, effective and ass-kissy. On the internet, that trio is a cat pic away from having all Four Horses of the Apocalypse. 

On how the air of authority masks a lack of content:
What's wrong with making lists?  Nothing at all.  But the listicle format is so easy to churn out that many paper publications and blogs end up full of vapid, uninformed musings, conveniently shrink-wrapped into easy-to-skim numbered lists.  Slap a number on it--and a superlative like "best" or "top"--and suddenly whatever you thought of just now takes on an air of authority.  An ordered list might have some meaning if there was some data behind it, but the lists we are constantly assaulted with are nothing more than a bunch of things that happened to catch someone's attention recently.
On the proliferation of sucking up:
I think another part of the appeal is that you get to kiss a lot of asses at one time with a listicle.  In these times of social-media log-rolling, listing 186 beers will get your article 186 Facebook thumbs and Twitter retweets just from the breweries themselves.  Some percentage of the breweries' followers will go on to share the links, then you re-tweet those as they come your way, and now your listicle is bouncing off the walls of the social media echo chamber.
One thing that Bill missed and Jeff Alworth mentions in the comments is the nature of page views and impressions. Advertisers pay for number of impressions and so if you can break a piece up in 5 pieces you get five impressions instead of one. Farhad Manjoo explains all of this in a Slate article and why there is no technological reason for this type of web pagination. Slate, you will note, breaks articles across multiple pages but does have a single page link on the bottom left of page 1 on every post. Slate was also the publisher of a piece on Hops Ruining Beer. (I put that on a single page for you.) Many on the web were calling the author of that post lazy. Thirteen hundred words is not lazy. Not list lazy.

So what to do about multipage posts that are 5, 10 and 25 clicks long? I used to skip them de riguer. Enter Deslider, a webpage that parses multi-click website slideshows and presents them on one page. Now it doesn't work on The Phoenix New Times standard two page minimum click type of article but it did work for a piece on 25 Breweries to Watch. Compare the original to the deslider version.

Hat tip to Matthew Elliot for pointing out this web tool.





May 23, 2013

The Blast and the Beerious | Guest Tapping at Sleepy Dog Pub and Bistro

Just a quick note to let you all know that I am joining the beer pouring circus again tonight at the Sleepy Dog Pub and Bistro in THE GILBERT, home of beer fearing politician and AZ State Senate President, Andy Biggs. You may have seen my other pouring events documented here and here. No fancy photoshop this time, but the theme is Matt Weber's favorite movie franchise the Fast and the Furious!

Behold!






I know what you are thinking. "Butthole" does sound disparaging, but note the British spelling of theater as theatre. We are looking at a fan of the stage here and of course butthole doth disparage the grand proscenium. Matt is playing the thespian in the tradition of Vin Diesel and The Rock. He hath pulled the wool over mine own eyes and yours too! He loves that flick!

Come on down and let's talk Fast and Furious. Our cast tonight:
  • Me as Vin Diesel.
  • ASHer Greg "Happy Hour Guy" Garcia as The Rock.
  • James Swann as an explosion.
  • Hop Head Fred as another explosion in slow motion.
  • Matt Weber as The love interest.
  • Jeff Prior as Another love interest.
  • Sleepy Dog's Belgian Trippel as a car that we all desire.
  • Firestone Walker Wookie Jack as a black car we all desire.

As per tradition I will be driving in late across the entire freaking valley and I will limit my glassware breakage to 1 pint glass.


Sleepy Dog Pub & Bistro
1451 E Williams Field Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85295
Phone:(480) 963-1805


May 20, 2013

Gregory Fretz of Phoenix Ale Brewery Passes at 44.


The Arizona beer community was stunned with the news of Gregory "Fretzy" Fretz passing on Saturday. Word spread from the beer tents at the Amer-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival that Fretzy passed in his sleep after after a battle with throat cancer. It was a shock, to say the least, since Fretz had been active all during American Craft Beer Week including an open house at Phoenix Ale Brewery on Thursday. The open house announced  the operational partnership with Sonoran Brewing Company. After the festival, industry and fans gathered at the nearby Praying Monk to remember and to hear the words of others. Chuck Noll of Crescent Crown led the crowd with a moving tribute.

Fretzy had been in the beer industry since 1994 with long stints at Pyramid and Deschutes Brewery before co-founding Phoenix Ale Brewery with George Hancock. Gary Fish, President of Deschutes credits Fretzy with developing the Arizona market for brands like Black Butte Porter. Fretz was able to get Deschutes everywhere across the state and he also secured handles in some of Arizona's most iconic destinations including the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon and at (then) Bank One Ballpark.

Greg Fretz was the namesake for an unfiltered English pale ale and an unfiltered wheat with the pale ale serving as the company's flagship. Fretz was also the driving force behind the Phoenix Brewers Invitational Beer Festival held last December. It will be impossible to separate American Craft Beer Week, the Phoenix Brewers Invitational, AmeriCAN and of course Fretzy's Ales without out thinking of his gravelly voice and ebullient manner. Fretz was able to talk about his treatments with just about anyone and provided comfort to those that knew someone battling cancer. Such is the role that he played in my life.

This is a particularly difficult spring for the beer community as Arizona has lost Professor David Conz in April.

Greg is survived by his wife and two children. Arrangements and memorials have yet to be announced. Our thoughts are with them.


EDIT: Fretzy's wife Stacie has announced a fund to support the family in this dire time.
http://www.gofundme.com/2zyfhw
Greg was the kind of person that would say a few kind words, smile and buy you a beer if he saw that you were down. Please consider sending a few bucks their way.

May 15, 2013

Expand my what?

A pallet outside of a palate expansion emporium.

"Stop drinking fizzy yellow stuff. Expand your pallet!!!!" - Source, the google.

I often see "craft beer" as a rallying point to expand one's experience in terms of flavor. Seven times out of ten*, it seems that I'm being literally asked to enlarge the wooden skids in my figurative warehouse (wherehouse / were-house).

pal·let 
/?palit/
Noun
A portable platform on which goods can be moved, stacked, and stored, esp. with the aid of a forklift.
Synonyms
palette - paillasse

pal·ate 
/?palit/
Noun
The roof of the mouth, separating the cavities of the nose and the mouth in vertebrates.
A person's appreciation of taste and flavor.
Synonyms
taste - savour - savor - flavour - flavor - relish

pal·ette 
/?palit/
Noun
A thin board or slab on which an artist lays and mixes colors.
The range of colors used by a particular artist or in a particular picture.
Synonyms
pallet

There seems to be a natural tendency for this plea to be followed with hit-you-over-the-head descriptions of beers that are barrel aged, bourbon and hop bombs. Presumably, expanding your palate involves detecting the obvious.

Here's another thought. Expanding your palate could also mean improving your sensory on very subtle flavors and the language used to communicate them to others. I'm pleased to see that two valley beer writers have done just that in recent days. Alyssa is relating here experiences on the low numbered BJCP styles (1, 2, 3) brilliantly while Zach smiths out Sunbru's delicate flavors here.

Fizzy yellow stuff. Can you taste the green apple? Sulphur? Cereal? Corn? Expand it man, expand it!

*Made up stat.

May 3, 2013

The Session #75 | Business of Brewing

In this installment of The Session, Chuck Lenatti of AllBrews asks that we reflect on the Business of Brewing. He makes that observation that anyone that has brewed has probably considered going pro and he asks that we provide insight to those considering taking the leap. I facetiously tackled some of this in an April Fools post, but that was as much a poke at myself than at anyone else.

I am an observer and student of the business of beer. Let it be known, however,  that I have made in excess of $0.00 selling it or promoting it. I also have an extensive background in opening exactly 0 breweries. I am currently consulting no one on their new East Coast brewery. I will also resort to semantic trickery, leaps in logic and made-up statistics to win arguments. Here is my sage advice:
  • Decide right now if you have the aptitude and the desire for public speaking. No? Then shut up. Hire someone or find a partner that will do this for you. You are making, selling and promoting your business with everything you say, everything that you write and anything that has your name or logo on it. Everything you produce that isn't beer is also a marketing piece for your beer.
  • Have that gift for gab? Maybe also consider shutting up. You might not be as charming as you think. Get an outside evaluation.
  • Do not solicit investments on the internet. There are rules. Google it.
  • Speaking of Google, use it so that you don't run into a trademark issue. 
  • Once you are on a clear track to start up and you're adamant about social media, please note Rule 5.
  • As a start up, a social media strategy is not required. It may also be a time suck. 
  • All of the see-and-be-seen events with the craft beer world, the facebook mugging with other brewers, "the research" in a glass... These things do not write your business plan or cut your floor drains.
  • As a business owner, you are a host. You are trading in hospitality (if you are a brewpub) or your product engenders hospitality (if you are a production brewery). When someone is visiting you, they are coming to your home. Are you not that guy? Find someone to run the front of the house who is.
  • Have an elevator pitch that focuses on the role of your business in the community. Talk about employment, economic growth, sense of community and how your business will be transformative. You are the driver that takes them to the place we all want to go to. Making high quality beer is the gasoline that runs the vehicle. Hat tip to Michael Fairbrother of Moonlight Meadery for that wonderful analogy.
  • You are going to make mistakes. Some of them will be big and it may be embarrassing. You might even compound on the problem by saying or doing something defensively and hastily. Stop. The mistakes and problems are hardly ever the reason you do not succeed. It's often how you respond to the problem that makes a difference.
  • Don't read reviews. Get someone to provide you unbiased and unemotional feedback on a regular basis. If you must respond to criticism, answer directly, provide concise information and supply an opportunity to address it off line. Move on.
  • Ignore quality at your peril.
  • Treat your water. It's not olde tyme beer anymore.
  • Kickstarter. Make it a tiny portion of your business plan if you decide to use it. At best, it's a way to move some t-shirts and show that you can put together a campaign. At worst, it can look like begging.  It's better to use Kickstarter as KickFinisher. Use it as part of the run-up to you opening.
  • Your friends. Your friends are your friends whether you make barrel aged unicorn sunshine or an amber ale. You are not making beer for your friends. You are making beer to stay alive, after that you are making beer for you.
  • Hire a brewer.
  • Hire a brewer.
  • You are far better off partnering with a lawyer, an accountant or a bicycle store owner than another homebrewer.
  • Focus on local. All of your initial resources and challenges are local. Your largest regulatory issues will arise from a municipal inspector, not the state or the federal government. The ultimate hurdle in selecting a site will be gaining neighborhood support. Your customers will not be your friends or family or the beer geeks across town, they will be your new friends and family in your new neighborhood.
  • You are responsible for educating your customers, not Greg Koch, not Sam, not Vinnie. Most of your new customers never heard of these guys, nor do they care.
  • As much as you want it to be, "all about what's in the glass", it's not. In fact, what happens outside of the glass is even more important if your beers are solid. Remember, it's hospitality and differentiating your beers from everyone else.
  • Someone may tell you that your beer sucks. They may be inarticulate, imprecise and rude. They may also be right.
  • Do blind tastings of your beer versus others in the same style. Be brutally honest.
  • Is your brewpub a warm and inviting place? Is the service good? Congratulation you're better off than most other service industries and you have delicious beer. 
  • Every beer has a story. Learn how to tell it.
  • Aspire to be more than a brewer or brewery owner. Be a community leader.
  • The news media loves beer stories that don't involve drinking and b-roll of people drinking. (Really, it's true.) Remember the elevator pitch. 
  • Tired of hearing business advice from armchair brewmasters and homebrewers? Tough. Shut up and smile or hire someone that does it better than you.

April 29, 2013

Rock Bands, Taxis and the Three Fates

It turns out there is a shortage of cool rock band names according to the Wall Street Journal. It seems hard to comprehend until the facts are laid out. Think of all the commercially successful bands that you liked and wrote on your Trapper-Keeper. Now add the horribly short window of your reign of coolness. Think of all the DJs, YouTubers, Guitar Heroes and Karaoke "stars" too that now get online and publish to My Space and Apple Garageband.

Some stats:
  • A company called Rovi tracks about 1.4 Million artists names;
  • Rovi adds an average of 6,521 new names a month; 
  • Top band variant names are Bliss (keep this one in mind), Mirage, Gemini, Legacy, Paradox and Rain.
Money quotes:
"Every other name is taken," Mr. Jones explains. "Think of a great band name and Google it, and you'll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page."
The available supply of punchy one- or two-word band names is dwindling. So, many acts are resorting to the unwieldy or nonsensical.
Among more than 1,900 acts expected in March at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, are bands with the names And So I Watch You From Afar, and Everybody Was In the French Resistance...Now! The f-word is part of 100 band names in a media database maintained by Gracenote, a unit of Sony Corp. that licenses digital entertainment technology.
It's a real problem with C&D's and legal challenges coming from big companies as well as competing bands both new and old.

Scottsdale Fate
Is there reason for the beer world to take caution? With 2500 or so breweries and 1000's more in planning it seems like there is plenty of room for creativity. The Brewery Collectibles Club of America tracks 2250 or so US breweries. BeerMe lists 14,157 breweries and 41,753 beers. There are also untold thousands of homebrewers bandying about their monikers on bottles and online. So why is it then, that we have a Fate Brewing Co here in Scottsdale and there is also one in Boulder? The beer world is starting to see C&D letters from other industries. Who can forget the Monster / Vermonster controversy? Or the Santan / Sam Adams glassware bout? Will we see brewery names like strongly encrypted passwords or long phrases like those at South by Southwest?

Imagine 1337@l3Wl_lrk5 or Tortoise Brand Pot Scrubbing Cleaner's Brewing or some phrase from Ipsum Lorem Brewing. Maybe we should ask taxi drivers. From the WSJ article.
Boulder Fate
"A band name should pass the taxi-driver test: You shouldn't have to tell him twice"
Speaking of taxi cab driver advice, Stan Hieronymus re-tweeted some craft beer advice from ESPN's Darren Rovell.
Fate No More
If I'm cabbing in Phoenix, it's generally the "to home" leg. It would be uncommon for me to catch a lift from the Sky Harbor airport and say, "To Fate". Phoenix isn't much of a cab town, so I'm curious if I'd end up in Scottsdale, back at passenger departures or at Bliss at what was once formerly Johnny Chu's Fate.

April 22, 2013

Chow Bella Continues Phoning It In | Misses Top Local Stories

This is by no means the first time. We've chronicled the problem before. In a week where we lost Dr Dave Conz, the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild hosted a Springfest in Tucson, Four Peaks had its 16th Anniversary Festival and Ed Sipos announces the pre-sale of a landmark book, Brewing Arizona | A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State, here is what the New Times chooses to write about in the beer world.

The Elephant Poop Beer: This was blog fodder everywhere and passed around social media. It has no relation to anything going on in the beer world here, but if you're going to write about it why not get a take on it from Cartel since it is a beer brewed from coffee and those guy make beer and coffee. In any case, you might want to link back to your own bad selves since Zach Fowle wrote about Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. Zach, the strongest link in your chain, wrote about the civet cat poop beer in 2010.


The Bud Bowtie Can: Another non-story which you chose to make a story. Bella, you're being hipster while invoking hipster. Here's an idea. How about getting some press over to Dapper + Dash, the local bowtie purveyor. They're smack dab in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. ($1600 to go with 50 or so hours left.) They've done craft beer events with Tempe Handlebar and Four Peaks. You blew it. You could have re-directed Bud bowtie ire into local good.

Beer Brain Science: Hello? Beer For Brains? Are you guys writing for people that aren't on facebook? Another re-cycled presser and a blown opportunity.






















On a more positive track, the New Times enlisted Minerva Orduño Rincón, the founder of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food to write about Mexican Beers, "3 Tips for Avoiding Beer Tragedies of the Mexican Variety". It's a topic that needs some attention given that almost all Mexican traditional or inspired restaurants seem to feel the need to automatically include 5 or 6 Mexican macro offerings at the expense of something that actually makes sense flavor-wise.

Unfortunately, the piece relies on snark and humor. We only get hints about what the actual story should be:
I would love to be able to share more on the new crop of Mexican micro-breweries working to develop Mexican beer to include more variety than the pilsners and lagers brought by German and Polish immigrants to Mexico during the 19th century, tasty as they are. Sadly, these beers, including the awesomely named Cervecería Minerva are not readily available in the United States.
That, is in fact, the real story we want to read about. How about an actual discussion about the duopoly that is Mexican beer? Provide some insights on how the regional breweries were gobbled up by Grupo Modelo or Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma/FEMSA. There is nothing wrong with Negra Modelo, Pacifico, Corona, or Tecate in context, but please provide that context. Minerva write that piece please. We'll get you some Mexi-craft beers. We know people.

Finally, Zach continues to write cogent pieces on new releases. He provides context, history and makes reviews interesting. It's not easy work, beer reviews. Most come off as dry or pretentious in the tasting notes. As an old guy, I didn't need so many 80's references in his last piece on the Class of 88, but alas today's newest drinkers were born in the 90's. There is always a place for a Fred Eckhardt reference in a Barleywine review. Some day maybe someone at the NT will also appreciate Fred is also a Sake expert.

Update: Great sounding beer and Chinese food event. Forgets to list beer pairings in a beer pairings? Is a poop reference de rigueur for beer stories now?