• 5 Cardinal Sins of Craft Beer Service


    1. Improperly Maintained Draught Systems

    Hidden behind each and every tap handle are beer lines that require a specific cleaning routine to prevent microbes and minerals (beer stone) forming inside the lines. If you’re ever suspect, ask the manager or owner how often they clean their draught lines. If they don’t automatically answer “every two weeks,” there are likely issues.


    Common things that you as the beer drinker may notice include flat or sour beer and excessive foaming. Every beer bar should ensure this base is covered. Period. Bottom line. No excuses. Skirting draught line maintenance is comparable to a restaurant only sometimes washing the dishes.


    2. Dirty Glassware

    Speaking of dirty dishes, a customer should never be expected to drink from a glass that has residue from a previous customer or detergent. Dirty glassware is unfortunately a common and egregious oversight by many bar owners today.


    When a beer’s bubbles cling to the sides of your glass instead of rising to the top, they are most likely stuck on some sort of residue. These dirty spots on a glass are called nucleation sites and are usually attributed to food, detergent, oils and other contaminants, which give the carbonation bubbles something to cling to.


    If you see bubbles clinging to the sides of your glass, you have every right to ask for a new glass.


    How to Test for a Beer Clean Glass
    (Source: Brewers Association Draught Quality Manual)


    Lacing Test: Fill the glass with beer. If the glass is clean, foam will adhere to the inside of the glass in parallel rings after each sip, forming a lacing pattern. If not properly cleaned, foam will adhere in a random pattern, or not at all.


    Sheeting Test: Dip the glass in water. If the glass is clean, water evenly coats the glass when lifted out of the water. If the glass still has an invisible film, water will break up into droplets on the inside surface.


    Salt Test: Salt sprinkled on the interior of a wet glass will adhere evenly to the clean surface, but will not adhere to the parts that still contain a greasy film. Poorly cleaned glasses show an uneven distribution of salt.


    3. Warm Storage

    Craft beer should be treated like food and stored cold. When beer is stored cold, the production of undesirable off-flavors and oxidation is slowed. Oxidation can produce flavors like wet cardboard, metallic, honey, almonds or unintentional souring.


    4. Frozen Glassware

    Avoid retailers who serve craft beer in frozen glassware, or be sure to ask for a room temperature glass. Sure a frozen glass is seen as a fun ritual by some, but a ritual of the past does not mean it should carry on into the future. Think about it this way: Would a restaurant allow their chef to serve meat or fish that was stored open in the freezer with no protective packaging?


    Besides off-flavors reminiscent of the ice crystals from the sides of a freezer, the colder temperatures mask craft beer’s flavors and cause excessive foaming.


    5. Only Providing Wine Pairings

    Based on tradition, lack of beer pairings is semi-understandable if it’s a dedicated French restaurant, but that is about it. It’s high time beer education and pairing becomes mainstream in American restaurants. Talk to me in ten years; I hope beer pairings will be a no-brainer for most establishments.


    Wine is not the end-all, be-all to pairing. According to 2013 Gallup® data, beer accounts for 49.2 percent of the U.S. alcohol beverage market, compared to wine with 17.8 percent. Come on retailers and beverage educators, get with the beer times!


    See more craft beer stats in “Beer Remains America’s Preferred Alcoholic Beverage.”


    Bottom line: As a fan of craft beer, and in most cases a paying customer, you have the right to expect certain care be taken with the beverage you’re being served. Now, this does not mean you should ask every bartender and waiter you encounter about their draught line cleaning schedule…but if you do encounter a problem, politely bring it to the attention of the right person

    Source: http://www.craftbeer.com/

  • Craft Beer Industry Goes Flat During Government Shutdown


    The federal government shutdown could leave America’s craft brewers with a serious hangover.


    Stores will still offer plenty of suds. But the shutdown has closed an obscure agency that quietly approves new breweries, recipes and labels, which could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal beers.


    Mike Brenner is trying to open a craft brewery in Milwaukee by December. His application to include a tasting room is now on hold, as are his plans to file paperwork for four labels over the next few weeks. He expects to lose about $8,000 for every month his opening is delayed.


    “My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery,” Brenner said. “I’ve been working so hard, and I find all these great investors. And now I can’t get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington. … This is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.”


    The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, is a little-known arm of the Treasury Department. The agency will continue to process taxes from existing permit holders, but applications for anything new are in limbo.


    “One could think of this shutdown as basically stopping business indefinitely for anyone who didn’t have certain paperwork in place back in mid-August,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, which represents more than 1,900 U.S. breweries.


    A woman who answered the phone Oct. 2 at TTB’s headquarters in Washington abruptly hung up after explaining that the government was shut down. Assistant Administrator Cheri Mitchell did not respond to telephone or email messages.


    The shutdown began Oct. 1 after a group of House Republican lawmakers blocked a budget deal in a last-ditch effort to stop funding for President Barack Obama’s health care law.


    The closing isn’t expected to have much effect on industry giants such as MillerCoors or Anheuser-Busch. They can continue to produce existing products as usual. But the shutdown poses a huge problem for craft brewers, who build their businesses by producing quirky, offbeat flavors and introducing new seasonal beers, sometimes as often as every quarter.


    Craft brewers around the country say TTB was taking as long as 75 days to approve applications before the shutdown. Now they’re bracing for even longer waits. And tempers are flaring.


    Tony Magee, owner of Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, Calif., posted messages on his Twitter account this week ripping the shutdown.


    “(Expletive) Feds are gonna shut down the already incompetent .Gov while hundreds of small breweries, including us, have labels pending. Nice.” That was followed with “Wanna regulate? Perform or get out of the way.”


    Lagunitas Chief Operating Officer Todd Stevenson called the TTB shutdown a “headache.” He said the company was planning to submit an application to package its autumn seasonal Hairy Eyeball in 22-ounce bottles instead of 12-ounce bottles but can’t move forward.


    “It’s just aggravating,” Stevenson said. “It is frustrating that government can’t do its job. Doing what they’re doing now is unprecedented.”


    Bryan Simpson, a spokesman for New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., said his brewery has three recipes and five new labels awaiting approval. The company is especially worried that the release of its new spring label, Spring Blonde, could get pushed back. More delays might force New Belgium to shell out extra money to speed up the label printing and rush the beer to market, he said.


    “Everybody is frustrated in general,” Simpson said. “The whole way this has played out has been disappointing for the entire country.”


    Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee has applications pending for new packaging of its IBA dark ale and for permission to offer a sour cherry dark lager called John, a brewery employee’s own concoction.


    The brewery hopes to launch the IBA packaging in November and John in December, but nothing is certain now. If the shutdown causes delays, the brewery will probably have to rush the beers to market, said brewery spokesman Matt Krajnak.


    “If we lose that first month, we lose out on a good chunk of money,” Krajnak said. “Right now, it’s only been a week so it’s not too bad. Two weeks, three weeks is when we’re really going to start sweating here.”


    Brenner said politicians don’t seem to care how much damage they’re causing.


    “For them it’s just another day,” he said. “They are still getting paid, but I’m losing $8,000 a month.”

    Source: http://money.msn.com/

  • This Glass Lets You Drink Two Different Beers at the Same Time


    Move over black and tan, there’s a new way to drink two beers at the same time.

    In a move part Escher, part why-didn’t-we-think-of-that, comes the Dual Beer Glass. Crafted by Matthew Cummings of The Pretentious Beer Glass Company (gotta love the honesty), the cylindrical beer glass houses two separate chambers that meet at the lip. This clever design allows amateur bartenders to pour the perfect Half and Half, eliminating the need for a bar spoon to prevent the two beers from blending.


    This opens up a whole avenue of possible brew combinations, even with those of similar viscosity. The design also allows you to simultaneously smell both beers, rather than just the predominating aroma that settles on top. Each glass measure approximately 5-6″ tall and 3″ wide, holding a total of 10-12 oz. As an ex-bartender whose mussed up my fair share of Black and Tans and (shudder) Cotton Candies, aka raspberry cider and hefeweizen, this utilitarian glassware has definitely got my interest piqued.


    Dual Beer Glass, $35 @The Pretentious Beer Glass PicThx The Pretentious Beer Glass

    Source: http://foodbeast.com via Husar

  • Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut

    Beer Belly

    A man who would get drunk out of the blue without drinking beer?  Here is how it happened.

    This medical case may give a whole new meaning to the phrase “beer gut.”


    A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.


    There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.


    “He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime,” says Barabara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas. “His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer.”

    Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to “closet drinking.” But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.


    So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.


    Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.


    That’s right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.


    The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut. Cordell and McCarthy reported the case of “auto-brewery syndrome” a few months ago in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.


    When we first read the case study, we were more than a little skeptical. It sounded crazy, a phenomenon akin to spontaneous combustion. I mean, come on: Could a person’s gut really generate that much ethanol?


    Brewer’s yeast is in a whole host of foods, including breads, wine and, of course, beer (hence, the name). The critters usually don’t do any harm. They just flow right through us. Some people even take Saccharomyces as a probiotic supplement.


    But it turns out that in rare cases, the yeasty beasts can indeed take up long-term residency in the gut and possibly cause problems, says Dr. Joseph Heitman, a microbiologist at Duke University.


    “Researchers have shown unequivocally that Saccharomyces can grow in the intestinal tract,” Heitman tells The Salt. “But it’s still unclear whether it’s associated with any disease” — or whether it could make someone drunk from the gut up.


    We dug around the scant literature on auto-brewery syndrome and uncovered a handful of cases similar to the one in Texas. Some reports in Japan date back to the 1970s. In most instances, the infections occurred after a person took antibiotics — which can wipe out the bacteria in the gut, making room for fungi like yeast to flourish — or had another illness that suppresses their immune system.


    Still, such case reports remain extremely rare. Heitman says he had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome until we called him up. “It sounds interesting,” he says. But he’s also cautious.


    “The problem with a case report,” he notes, “is that it’s just one person. It’s not a controlled clinical study.

  • Craft Beer Makes a Movie

    4.Olivia Wilde in DRINKING BUDDIES, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

    Olivia Wilde in DRINKING BUDDIES, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.


    It was the movie Beer Wars that partially helped in igniting my desire to start this website, and now there is another movie coming out about craft beer.  Drinking Buddies will be coming out August 23rd, 2013 and while the movie isn’t completely about craft beer, it is the backdrop for a story of a group of friends.  This one, if for the craft beer alone, is on my list to go see.

    Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) work together at a craft brewery. They have one of those friendships that feels like it could be something more. But Kate is with Chris (Ron Livingston), and Luke is with Jill (Anna Kendrick). And Jill wants to know if Luke is ready to talk about marriage. The answer to that question becomes crystal clear when Luke and Kate unexpectedly find themselves alone for a weekend.  DRINKING BUDDIES is written and directed by Joe Swanberg and stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston.



    7.Joe Swanberg, director of DRINKING BUDDIES, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

    Joe Swanberg, director of DRINKING BUDDIES, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.


    What was the inspiration for this project?

    The inspiration originally came from two places: The first was studio comedies of the early 1970’s, specifically BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE and Elaine May’s THE HEARTBREAK KID, which were both mainstream films (and big hits!) that portrayed complicated, interesting characters and adult points-of-view.  The most important lesson I took from these films is that they never forgot to be funny, which earned them the space to also be complex and challenging.

    The second inspiration was the craft beer world.  Craft beer is the most exciting business in America right now, if you ask me, and I wanted to get inside a world that I love.  I’m a home brewer and a craft beer advocate, and as the years passed, I realized that nobody was making a movie about it.

    I started talking to a friend of mine, Kate Thomas, who works for Half Acre Brewing in Chicago.  She told me about her job, and about being a woman in a very male dominated industry.  Through her stories, and other conversations with friends who work at breweries, I started to form the Kate character, who has learned to thrive in her surroundings.  The other main character, Luke, and his girlfriend, Jill, are modeled after my wife and I at a certain point in our relationship before we were married, when we were still trying to figure things out.

    As with all of my films, once I had the cast in place we started to work on the characters and the story together.  Olivia had great ideas about Kate, and brought a lot of her own life to it.  Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick shared their own relationship experiences with me so that we could blend them with mine to make Luke and Jill as relatable as possible.  Once we all started talking about these issues, we realized how universal they are.  Everyone struggles to balance relationships and platonic friendships with the opposite sex.  Everyone has doubts and questions about whether they’re with the right person, or whether they could be happier with someone else.  We had fun throughout the shoot talking about these subjects and working our ideas into the film.


    How did you work with the actors?

    Working with actors remains the most inspiring part of the filmmaking process for me, and DRINKING BUDDIES allowed me to devote most of my energy to this.  I was lucky to have a few days with Olivia and Jake before we started shooting, and I used this time to familiarize them with the Chicago craft beer world.  We brewed beer together in my basement, so they could see how it’s made, and then we took a trip to the Three Floyd’s brewery, where my friend Andrew Mason, who brews there, showed them around.  I knew I wasn’t going to turn either of them into beer experts in 2 days, but I wanted them to soak up the atmosphere and get a sense of the people who work in a brewery.  During this beer boot camp, we were also discussing the characters and the story and finding ways to plug Olivia and Jake’s experiences into the story.

  • Beer or Wine?


    When you have a choice between Beer and wine, which do you choose?  A new gallop poll shows that Americans who drink alcohol are about equally likely to say they drink beer (36%) or wine (35%) most often.

     Another 23% say liquor is their beverage of choice. That continues the trend in which beer has declined as the preferred beverage of U.S. drinkers, shrinking its advantage over wine from 20 percentage points in 1992 to one point today.



    The results are based on Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 10-14. The poll finds 60% of Americans saying they drink alcohol at least occasionally, in line with the historical average of 63% since 1939.


    Young adult drinkers’ alcoholic beverage preferences have changed dramatically over the past two decades. In the early 1990s, 71% of adults under age 30 said they drank beer most often; now it is 41% among that age group. There has been a much smaller decline in the percentage of 30- to 49-year-olds who say they drink beer the most, from 48% to 43%, with essentially no change in older drinkers’ beer preference.


    Younger adults’ preferences have shifted toward both liquor and wine, but more so toward liquor, over the past two decades. Those between the ages of 30 and 49 have moved exclusively toward liquor. Older Americans now increasingly say they drink wine most and are less likely to say they drink liquor most.



    Despite these changes, beer remains the preferred beverage of 18- to 29- and 30- to 49-year-olds. Wine continues to rank as the top choice of those 50 and older.

    Source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163787/drinkers-divide-beer-wine-favorite.aspx

  • Acid, Not Bubbles, Responsible for Distinctive ‘Bite’ of Carbonated Beverages


    Photo Credit: Husar

    Ever wonder about that bit of the bubbles when you sip a beer or other carbonated beverage.  I always thought it was the bubbles that gave the bite.  It turns out that the bite is caused by an acidic by-product of the bubbles.

    New research from the Monell Center reveals that bubbles are not necessary to experience the unique ‘bite’ of carbonated beverages. Bubbles do, however, enhance carbonation’s bite through the light feel of the bubbles picked up by our sense of touch.


    The refreshing bite of carbonation is an integral part of beverages consumed around the globe. Carbonated beverages are produced when carbon dioxide is dissolved in a liquid, typically under high pressure. This can happen naturally in certain spring waters or in fermented beverages like beer. Carbon dioxide also can be added to beverages through production processes.


    In either case, when pressure is reduced by opening a bottle or can of a carbonated beverage, some of the carbon dioxide is released from the solution in the form of bubbles. After a sip, enzymes in the mouth convert the remaining free carbon dioxide into carbonic acid. The acid then activates sensory nerve endings, which signal the mild irritation that we refer to as ‘bite.’


    In the study, published in the public access journal PLOS ONE, the Monell researchers examined the role that bubbles play in carbonation bite. In the first experiment, they took advantage of the fact that bubbles cannot form when atmospheric pressure is raised above a certain level.


    Twelve healthy adults were comfortably seated in a hyperbaric chamber and asked to rate the bite intensity of several concentrations of carbonated water. The ratings were collected once while under normal atmospheric pressure (with bubbles) and a second time at higher pressure (no bubbles), equivalent to diving to a depth of 33 feet in sea water.


    There was no difference in the bite reported in the two conditions, even though bubbles are physically unable to form at the higher pressure.


    “Because the subjects experienced the same bite when bubbles weren’t present, the findings clearly told us that carbonation bite is an acidic chemical sensation rather than a purely physical, tactile one,” said study author Bruce Byant, PhD, a sensory biologist at Monell.


    Although bubbles aren’t necessary for bite, they still could be contributing to the overall sensation of carbonation. Thus, a second experiment was designed to address this possibility.


    In this experiment, 11 adults rated the intensity of bite in a laboratory setting. The ratings were made for carbonated water under normal conditions and again when additional air bubbles were added to the liquid.


    The researchers were surprised to find that air bubbles enhanced the bite of the carbonated bubbles, presumably by stimulating the sense of touch.


    “We thought the touch of the bubbles would suppress the painful aspects of carbonation, much as itching a mosquito bite or rubbing a sore muscle does,” said Bryant.


    Together, the studies reveal that carbon dioxide bubbles are not directly responsible for the bite of carbonation. However, by stimulating the sense of touch inside the mouth, bubbles do enhance the bite sensation beyond the chemical irritation caused by carbonic acid.


    “Pain from some cancers also depends on acid formation in tissue,” noted study lead author Paul M. Wise, PhD, a sensory psychologist at Monell. “Because the bite from carbonation can be considered to be a mild type of pain, the fact that pain intensity can be enhanced via the sense of touch may have implications for understanding these types of cancer pain.”


    Future experiments will continue to explore the interactions between chemical and mechanical stimuli.


    Source: http://phys.org/

  • How to Open a Beer

    I found this fun video showing lots of creative ways to open a beer.  I definitely don’t recommend trying some of these at home.

  • Hydrating Beer: Researchers Create Brew That Rehydrates Drinkers By Adding Electrolytes


    Ever had a hangover from drinking beer?  Well that may be a problem of the past.

    Good news, beer lovers. You may soon be able to drink a cold one without getting too dehydrated.


    Australian researchers say they’ve created a hydrating beer by adding electrolytes — a common ingredient in sports drinks. That way drinkers can enjoy their alcoholic beverage, which is known to dehydrate, while still staying refreshed.


    However, don’t expect the hydrating beer to contain the same amount of alcohol as your average brew. In order to achieve the feat, researchers also had to reduce the alcohol content.


    The team from Griffith University’s Health Institute recently tested the idea by modifying the ingredients in four different varieties of beer: two commercial, one of average strength and one light brew. Researchers noted that the alterations did not affect the taste of any of the beers.


    “Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects,” Ben Desbrow, an associate professor who led the study, said in a released statement.


    The altered light beer was also one-third more effective at hydrating drinkers than a normal beer. As some have pointed out, this extra bit of hydration during drinking could help ward off hangovers, which are caused by a combination of factors, butprimarily dehydration.


    Desbrow published the results of his hydrating beer research in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism earlier this year, but beer fans will likely have to wait for the electrolyte-filled brews to hit shelves.


    In the meantime, there’s always the just-add-water beer concentrate from Pat’s Backcountry Beverages. Just make sure you hydrate while you enjoy the concentrated brew.


    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

  • Beer Drinkers Attract More Mosquitoes, Study Finds


    Bad news for beer drinkers; not only did studies find that brew could dull your brain, but a new study has found that it just may be the reason you’re covered in bug bites.


    A study released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information has found that people who drink beer are more attractive to mosquitoes. Just one beer could make you a target for the bugs.


    The study tested 13 volunteers as test hosts, according to the study. Researchers measured ethanol content in sweat, sweat production, and skin temperature before and after the subjects drank of 350 millileters of beer.


    And while they originally thought the attraction was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these were found to correlate with mosquito landings, according to The Smithsonian, so the attraction is a mystery.


    The study also found several other factors that affect vulnerability to mosquitoes, including exercise and metabolism, clothing color, and pregnancy.


    Source: http://www.thedailymeal.com/