• With Legal Weed Comes Hemp Beer

    Producers of Joint Effort covered their label in references to marijuana and made their pull handles out of bongs.

    Producers of Joint Effort covered their label in references to marijuana and made their pull handles out of bongs.


    Marijuana’s legalization in Colorado and Washington has led to a boom market of growers, sellers and investors seeking to cash in as the long-illicit drug goes legit. And then there’s the ancillary market. Cannabis swag has been flourishing in each state, with the leaf appearing on everything from throw pillows to key fobs.  So it should come as little surprise that breweries are riding the green wave.


    As Washington processes its first applications for pot-related business licenses, local store shelves are being stocked with 22 oz. bottles of Joint Effort, a hemp beer crafted by two local breweries to evoke the aroma of weed. The name is a double entendre about their collaboration and the drug that was legalized there last November. It’s also part of the reason that the brew can be sold only in the Evergreen State.


    Beer brewed with hemp, a botanical cousin to hops, can be (and has been) sold elsewhere in the U.S., so long as it tests negative for mind-altering THC. But a hemp brew’s label can’t contain any slang or graphics “implying or referencing the presence of … marijuana” if it’s going to be approved by the federal government for sales across state lines. Joint Effort, made by Redhook Ale Brewery and Hilliard’s Beer, is decorated with the tag line “a dubious collaboration between two buds.” And those puns, a company spokesman says, were enough for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to reject their label application. That left the brewers to sell their resiny ale at home, where the state liquor board approved.


    The beer’s presence in bars makes the labels seem subtle by comparison. Pull handles that barkeeps yank to serve drafts of the brew are made out of actual bongs, purchased straight from local head shops. “We’re taking the whole passage of the law and celebrating the fact that we can do something legally that other states can’t,” says Matt Licklider, Redhook’s senior director of brewing and quality. Yes, they could sell their THC-free beer in other places if they toned down the look, but that would defeat the point, he says.


    Joint Effort was first sold on tap in July 2013, with bottles following in late October. So far, it’s available at 85 locations, including stores such as Safeway and restaurants like Red Robin. Redhook brand manager Karmen Olson says they plan to sell it through March 2014 and may extend the run if there’s popular demand.


    Though Redhook is now part of the larger Craft Brew Alliance, both that brewery and Hilliard’s were founded in Washington. The two companies were brainstorming on ways to collaborate soon after Initiative 502 passed in November 2012. Throwing ideas around over beers, they decided an ode to marijuana was in order. It certainly didn’t hurt to capitalize on the buzz of passing historic legislation either. The 22 oz. bottles are being sold at a price only novelty could justify: $3.99 to $5.99 a piece.


    This isn’t the first time Redhook has run a campaign to “acknowledge that we live in a cool progressive state where stuff like this happens,” as Olson says. Last November, voters also passed a referendum that made gay marriage legal. The company, which sells a Long Hammer IPA, put out a celebratory ad with a giant equals sign. “Redhook supports equality,” it read. “Because two Long Hammers are better than one.”

    Source: http://nation.time.com/2013/11/21/with-legal-weed-comes-hemp-beer/

  • 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/

  • Taste Testing the Beer From the White House

    After a request to release the recipe to the public for a home brew made by White House, the Obama administration published it on Sept. 1, 2012.

    White House Honey Ale, a beer brewed by the chefs at the White House, grabbed the national spotlight over the summer when President Barack Obama was seen drinking the brew, touting that he travels with bottles of it ready to open on his campaign bus.  At one stop, he even gave a bottle to a supporter.

    When its recipe was released, brewers at Brooklyn Brewery started brewing their own batch of the beer. The brew was ready to be tasted on Monday, and New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov was on hand for the tasting.


    The president said the beer was good. Was it? The Dining section truth squad leaped into action, enlisting Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, to make a batch to assess.


    After steeping, boiling, cooling, fermenting and settling, Mr. Oliver stowed away 38 750-milliliter corked bottles to mature in a conditioning room kept at 77 degrees. One month later, the beer was ready to be tasted. On Monday, Mr. Oliver and I uncorked one chilled bottle.


    Mr. Oliver had expressed concern that the beer might not be ready, but our patience had reached its limit. The potential problem? Brewers carbonate most mass-market beers by injecting them with carbon dioxide, but home brewers generally rely on the ancient technique of initiating a small second fermentation in the bottle before capping it. With nowhere to escape, the carbon dioxide produced by this fermentation turns into the bubbles that animate the beer.


    If the second fermentation had gone wrong, or simply wasn’t finished, we’d know. The uncorking would be accompanied by a wimpy sigh, or worse, silence. We hoped for the best as Mr. Oliver removed the wire cage imprisoning the cork. He pulled it out, and with it came a stately, resounding pop.


    “Ladies and gentlemen, we have beer,” he said.


    Methodically, he filled a couple of goblets. The beer poured out a lovely auburn brown with touches of red glinting in the midday sunlight. It was hazy, indicating that dead yeast cells had not completed their journey downward to the bottom of the bottle. A rocky head of foam was textured and held its form nicely. We drank, tentatively at first, then deeply.

    So how was the beer?

    The verdict: It was good. Very good.


    The aromas were floral with a touch of orange and a metallic note that I sometimes find in honey. On the palate, it was breezy, fresh, tangy and lightly bitter, not bone dry but not at all sweet. I could sense the honey in the round, rich texture of the beer: thickness without weight, like a chenin blanc wine. The soft carbonation enhanced the texture. It didn’t have the insistent rush of bubbles that you would find in a mass-produced beer, or the snappy twang of a pilsner, but rather the soft fizz of a British hand-cranked cask ale.


    “It’s not without complexity,” Mr. Oliver said, “and it’s an interesting, broad sort of bitterness, a British type of bitterness, which fits the sort of hops they used.”


    The White House brewers chose classic British hops, Kent Goldings and Fuggles, which yield a gentle, more generalized sort of bitterness than the sharper grapefruit and pine of American hops familiar in American craft beers. They had taken another British-style step, adding mineral salts to the water, a process intended to mimic the famous waters of Burton-on-Trent, a British town renowned for its brewing heritage. Burtonizing is a long American tradition as well. Mr. Oliver has found advertisements in century-old brewing magazines for the American Burtonizing Company in New York.


    For me, the biggest surprise was how powerfully the honey influenced the beer in almost every aspect — texture, aroma, flavor — except sweetness. It was a reminder of how extraordinary honey can be both as an ingredient and as a reflection of its particular origins.

    The secret ingredient in the beer, of course, is the the honey made on the grounds of the white house.  This ensures that no matter how close a brewer comes to duplicating the recipe it could never be exact without that key ingredient.

    Mr. Oliver said a request to the White House for a jar of its own honey went unanswered, so he used local wildflower honey, thinking that White House bees would have little motivation to rove beyond the flowers on the grounds.


    In analyzing the beer as it was brewed, Mr. Oliver was surprised by how much sugar went unfermented and feared it might be a tad sweet. He pondered whether, on a second try, he would take steps to make the beer drier.


    “Now that I’ve tasted it, I don’t think I would,” he said. “It’s perfectly balanced.”

    This beer, while good at a young age, is predicted to age well, but should most likely be enjoyed fresh.

    The beer is still young. With time, the yeast particles should settle, clarifying the brew, and Mr. Oliver suggested it might carbonate a little more. Six months from now, it might develop some nutty, sherry-like characteristics as the beer begins to oxidize. Aside from curiosity, I’d prefer to drink it fresh.


    In the end, the White House beer is easy drinking at 4.89 percent alcohol. It is rich, round and not terribly bitter. It’s a people’s beer that ought to please a wide spectrum of drinkers, from novices to aficionados.


    “It has character, but it’s also crowd-pleasing,” Mr. Oliver said. “It’s a politically friendly beer in that regard, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?


  • U.S. Explodes Atomic Bombs Near Beers To See If They Are Safe To Drink


    Is your beer safe to drink after it has been close to an atmoic bomb explosion?  It turns out in 1957 the US govenment asked just that question in their study “The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages”.

    Written by three executives from Can Manufacturers Institute and the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute for the Federal Civil Defense Administration, the study says that after placing cans and bottles of soda and beer next to an actual atomic explosion, after measuring subsequent radioactivity and after actual taste tests, go ahead: Grab that can, pop it open and drink away.


    “These beverages could be used as potable water sources for immediate emergency purposes as soon as the storage area is safe to enter after a nuclear explosion.”


    … in 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs, one “with an energy release equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT,” the other 30 kilotons, at a test site in Nevada. Bottles and cans were carefully placed various distances from ground zero.   The closest containers were placed “less than a quarter-mile away, a mere 1,056 feet,” the outliers a couple of miles off. Some were buried, some left in batches, others were placed side by side.  Lots of bottles survived, too. Some were shattered by flying debris, fell off shelves, or got crushed by collapsing materials, but a surprising number stayed intact.


    Will the beer be radioactive?

    As for radiation, they checked, and found that bottles closest to ground zero were indeed radioactive, but only mildly so. Exposure, the authors say, “did not carry over to the contents.” The sodas and beer were “well within the permissible limits for emergency use,” which means… “It won’t hurt you in the short term.”


    Will it taste good?

    But what about taste? Post-bomb beer might not poison you, but will it keep its flavor?


    The report says, “Immediate taste tests [gotta wonder who got that job] indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change in some of the products exposed at 1,270 feet from Ground Zero.” The most blasted beers were “definitely off.”


    The first tasters then passed samples to selected laboratories for further testing, and this time the contents were rated “acceptable.” So here’s your government’s considered advice: Should you find yourself near an atomic blast and run short of potable water, you can chug a Coke or a beer, but don’t expect it to taste great.


    So there you have it.  If you’ve near an atomic bomb explosion and you’re wondering if you can drink the nearby beer, go for it.   With the world coming to an end, why not enjoying a great craft beer.


    Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/09/18/161338723/u-s-explodes-atomic-bombs-near-beers-to-see-if-they-are-safe-to-drink

  • Presidential Beer to Soon Be Available from Commercial Breweries and in Kits for Home Brewers


     It has been interesting watching this story develop of the past few weeks.  It has gone from a petition to get the recipe to the recipe being released to now, the beer is being made.  First up is a commercial brewery that is going to make the beer.

    At least one Utah brewery plans to pour the White House beer from its taps before Election Day in a nod to President Barack Obama’s signature home brew.


    “We’re going to call it El Presidente Honey Ale,” says Greg Schirf, Wasatch Brewing founder and head of the Utah Brewers Cooperative that makes Wasatch and Squatters beer.

    Schirf, whose company bottles Polygamy Porter, Brigham’s Brew (a nod to LDS Church prophet Brigham Young) and Provo Girl Pilsner, says the White House beer is just the right fit for his brewery and he wants to get it flowing at their pubs in Salt Lake City and Park City soon.


    “We’re definitely going to do it,” Schirf said. “We just think it’s really fun. We think it’s terrific that we have a president who is not just a beer drinker but a beer maker.”


    Wasatch and Squatters are likely to find instant consumers in Utah’s Democrats.


    Glenn Wright, chairman of the Summit County Democrats, enjoys craft beers. If you couple that with his support for Obama, he may find a locally produced version of the White House Honey Ale irresistible.


    “I’d buy it just because it came from the White House … this White House,” he said.


    And of course, if you want to brew the beer yourself, Northern Brewer has a kit for sale with all the ingredients you need.  The kit ranges from $31.75 – $36.99 depending on the options chosen. The kit can be found here:


    Source: http://www.sltrib.com/

  • The Bureaucratic Brewing Bandwagon

    Photo Credit: Reuters

     With all the hubbub recently over the President brewing his own beer at the White House, it seems that home brewing is becoming the new method to connect with the common man during a campaign period.  In a recent interview by Amy Walter and Rick Klein (ABC News) with Brewer-Turned-Governor John Hickenlooper (Governor of the great state of Colorado) shared his thoughts on the President’s recipe and  his brewing experiences.

    “Of course, I’ve memorized that recipe,” Hickenlooper told Klein. “So much of it is science and recipe, but part of it is art.”


    Klein asked what about the recipe surprised the governor, and Hickenlooper honed in on the honey.


    “Well, they’re using their own honey, and certainly honey is a great way to kind of lighten a beer, especially in the summer, make it more refreshing,” he said. “They’re raising their own honey. They’re using it to make their own beer. It’s almost like a victory garden in a glass.”


    Hickenlooper said he used to own the country’s 110th highest-grossing brewery, although he does not brew anymore suds these days. Still, he touted the industry’s ability to create jobs.


    “Now there are over 2100 breweries, right? And they make about 5.7 percent of the total beer [in the world] but they create more than 50 percent of the jobs in the entire brewing industry,” he said. “So a small volume, but huge job creator, and I mean what’s not to love about that?”


    He also suggested breweries should develop higher-quality beer at a premium to encourage beer enthusiasts to drink less volume.


    “You look at beer – one beer, two beers a night – that’s kind of good for you. Most people think that’s kind of healthy,” he said. “Charge more for it. Make a really high-quality beer and it creates an economic incentive to just have one or two.”


    The custom ales are the first alcoholic beverages ever brewed on White House grounds, leading the governor to pitch a story to Klein and Walter.


    “They’ve got the White House chefs doing this, which is incredible,” Hickenlooper gushed. “I mean the question really you should be reporting on is how hard did the president have to lobby the chefs? Did they jump to the opportunity or was this kind of a twisting of the arm?”

    Source: http://abcnews.go.com/

  • White House Releases its Home Brew Recipe

    If you want to drink the same brew the President drinks, you now can.  The White House has finally released the recipe to the public.


    With public excitement about White House beer fermenting such a buzz, we decided we better hop right to it.


    Inspired by home brewers from across the country, last year President Obama bought a home brewing kit for the kitchen. After the few first drafts we landed on some great recipes that came from a local brew shop. We received some tips from a couple of home brewers who work in the White House who helped us amend it and make it our own. To be honest, we were surprised that the beer turned out so well since none of us had brewed beer before.


    As far as we know the White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcohol brewed or distilled on the White House grounds. George Washington brewed beer and distilled whiskey at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson made wine but there’s no evidence that any beer has been brewed in the White House. (Although we do know there was some drinking during prohibition…)


    Since our first batch of White House Honey Brown Ale, we’ve added the Honey Porter and have gone even further to add a Honey Blonde this past summer. Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first ever bee-hive on the South Lawn. The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn’t sweeten it.


    If you want a behind the scenes look at our home-brewing process, this video offers some proof.


    Download a printable PDF of both recipes.



    • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
    • 3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
    • 1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
    • 6 oz black malt (cracked)
    • 3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
    • 1 lb White House Honey
    • 10 HBUs bittering hops
    • 1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
    • 1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
    • 3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling


    1. In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water. Let liquid drain through. Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
    2. Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
    3. Boil for an hour. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.
    4. Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
    5. Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
    6. Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
    7. Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
    8. To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.



    • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
    • 1 lb light dried malt extract
    • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
    • 8 oz Biscuit Malt
    • 1 lb White House Honey
    • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
    • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
    • 2 tsp gypsum
    • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
    • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming


    1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
    2. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
    3. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
    4. For the second flavoring, add the 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
    5. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
    6. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
    7. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
    8. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
    9. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
    10. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.

    Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

  • Petition to Release the White House Homebrew Recipe

    Last week we reported that President Obama had gone public with the fact that beer was being brewed in the White House.  Now there is a petition on https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ to have the recipe released.

     Following in the footsteps of great men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, Barack Obama has reportedly been enjoying the rewards of home brewed beer. Recent reports from news outlets like the Washington Post (August 15th, 2012) have stated that Obama has been drinking a White House home brew Honey Ale while on the campaign trail.


    In keeping with the brewing traditions of the founding fathers, homebrewers across America call on the Obama Administration to release the recipe for the White House home brew so that it may be enjoyed by all.


    “I think it’s time for beer” -Franklin D. Roosevelt (March 12, 1933)

    So if you’re a home brewer and want to try brewing the White House Honey Ale, make sure to check the link below and sign the petition.

    Source: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/

  • Obama Beer

    While there are plenty of breweries out there that may make a gimmicky beer during election, this is not one of those beers.  Instead, this is the beer brewered by the president himself (or more likely his staff for him).

     …it was revealed Tuesday that the White House brews its own beer, and that the presidential bus is stocked with bottles of that beer.


    The revelation came incidentally, when a man at the Knoxville coffee shop where Obama stopped today somehow got the president onto the subject of beer, and Obama noted that a sample of the White House’s home brew was just outside.


    Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that Obama gave the man a full bottle of said beer, retrieved from the bus.


    In a press gaggle a short time later, White House Spokesman Jay Carney took several questions about the beer, some which he could answer, others he could not.


    The beer comes in two varieties, light and dark, Carney said. He has personally sampled the lighter brew, and declared it “refreshing.”


    “It is superb,” he said. “It is quite good.”


    Does the president himself drink the beer? Indeed he does, Carney said.


    And why wasn’t the ultra-local ale served at the famed beer summit at the White House in 2009? Because that was before the brewing began he said.


    And who, finally, is the beermeister in charge of brewing it all up?


    “I have exhausted my knowledge of this subject,” Carney said. “When someone hands me a beer I don’t ask how it was made, I just drink it.”

    While it might not be a deciding factor in the vote this Fall, it’s still cool to know that even The President is into home brewing.

    Source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/