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Brewing Session Beers

It wasn’t that long ago that if you had offered homebrewers and craft beer drinkers a low-impact, low-alcohol beer with approachable flavor, they would have scoffed. Real beer was meant to be big, bold, adventurous, and preferably have a sizable ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Oh, how times have changed. These days, beer lovers recognize that there is a welcome place at the table for flavorful, low-impact beers that can be enjoyed over a long session without worries about going overboard. Brews like this actually have a long and rich history, with the very concept of “session ales” or “session beers” springing from the British pub scene. They were popularized in the U.S. craft scene thanks in no small part to Founder’s All-Day IPA, among others, and now they are ubiquitous. But before we get into that we’ve got to answer the big question: What the heck is a session beer, anyway? Defining the Session Beer There is some debate and wiggle room on the specifics, but the basic gist...

Overview of Land Grant Brewing, Columbus OH.

Back in 2012 there were only 5 craft breweries operating in Columbus, OH. This wasn’t many for the 15th largest U.S. city during a time that craft beer was taking off. Nonetheless, a homebrewer living in Chicago and a fellow Ohio State University alum came together to try and add to Columbus’ lagging craft beer scene. Adam Benner and Walt Keys launched a Kickstarter campaign that year as a proof of concept. They wanted to know if strangers would support their efforts if they went through the trouble of opening a new brewery. In just 60 days, they managed to raise $30,000 and knew that they had chosen the right home for their budding dream. However, convincing people to hand them $30,000 turned out to be easier than finding a brewery location. The contract for the first building they chose, in nearby Grandview Heights, fell through in the final stages of an agreement. It would end up taking them two and half years to find a home for their brewery after gutting and renovating their...

Failure to Launch a Brewery

So you’ve been brewing beer for a few years and love sharing your brews with your family, friends, neighbors, and plumber? You figure, why not share my hard work with the rest of the world, and make money while working my dream job? Many others have had the same idea. A lot of the craft breweries that you know and love today, started with a passion for home brewing. You may be familiar with some of the larger success stories (Sam Adams or Dogfish Head) but you never hear about the breweries that failed to succeed. This is my (much shortened) story of failing to launch a brewery in Toledo, OH in 2014. Scratching the Itch to Start a Pro Brewery Marriage is a beautiful thing isn’t it? Not when it takes you 16 hours to reach a small island off the coast of Belize. That’s where the planning of my brewery began. I had a jet lagged wife, and a lot of spare time. Besides the 2 planes, 2 taxis, and 2 ferries it took to get to this island, the wedding was pretty exhausting too. Did I mention...

Keeping Up With Trends: The New England IPA

Whether "New England Style" (NE style) pale ales and IPAs are in fact new styles are a matter of some debate. While there are breweries outside of New England and even the northeast creating them, the style is most prevalent in New England. What isn't debatable is the impact these beers are having on the marketplace as large national and regional craft brewers are losing market share to smaller brewers. Wachusett, a venerable regional craft brewer with roots going back to 1994 is getting into the game releasing their own NE style IPA called Wally. Even more than any other IPA, freshness is key with NE IPAs. The hop aroma and flavor the style is known for can fade quickly. This gives smaller NE IPA producers have a huge advantage over larger brewers. Tree House and Trillium typically sell their beer the same day, or no more than a few days after it is canned. Customers line up, and more often than not that day's allotment of cans sells out. Producers of the style who distribute like...

What Cellaring Does for Your Beer

Wine aficionados have always been passionate about the vintage of their bottles. They often say “it was a good year,” or talk about how many years the bottle has been aged. Some people are compulsive enough to only store bottles on their sides, in a temperature and humidity controlled fridge. This is loosely accepted as the proper way to mature your fine wine. Although the majority of people believe that wine will get better with age, many still believe that beer won’t. I’ve heard people claim that a beer can’t change once it’s bottled, because nothing can get in or out. Ironically, those same people are worried that after a year of sitting in the bottle the beer will spoil. What a double standard! Time and Cellaring Your Beer As many of us know light is also the enemy of beer. There’s an old Sam Adams commercial where they brag about only using dark brown bottles and high cardboard walls on their 6 packs to block more light while their beer is sitting in a store’s cooler waiting...

New Bill Could Allow States to Add Homebrew Sales on Cottage Licenses

I have a friend who's really into politics, and more importantly, digging into what bills congress are voting on to see what they include. He found something on homebrew sales that might be pretty cool for us homebrewers. In fact, really cool. Homebrew Sales Could be Legal to Sell With a Home Cottage Production License Apparently the Bill, H J Res 59;14 has additions to the the Cottage Food Production licenses. Well technically it will legally allows amendments to be made so that states can vote to add them to their individual cottage production licenses (as each state has their own). If the bill passes, it could allow homebrew sales as early as 2018 in some states based on voting schedules. What About Red Tape? Those opposed to the "Homebrew Sales" bill have given the standard response, with concerns of consumers going blind, or catching some other rare illnesses such as botulism. Yeah, Someone said those things. Other concerns have been similar to those states which were picky...

Interview with Icarus Brewing Company

By now you know the story of most startup breweries. Someone with a passion for homebrewing gets a glimmer in their eye and starts daydreaming about doing it for a living. They take the plunge and go professional, but the road towards opening a brewery ends up being longer and rockier than expected. After some trials and tribulations the doors open, pints and flights are poured, and the world is given another great craft brewery that once again began with someone who started with nothing more than a mash paddle and a dream. Jason Goldstein’s story is a little different. The result of his blood, sweat and tears, Lakewood, NJ’s Icarus Brewing, opened in November 2016, with the tap room opening to the public two months later. Yet he wasn’t a guy stirring wort in his garage and hoping one day that that garage would turn into a professional brewery. Instead, it was science that led him to the mash tun. Homebrew Talk: Tell me a little bit about your background in homebrewing, and how...

World Beer Week 1:05 - Craft Beer Cities Across Europe

My favorite holiday is a beercation – a holiday devoted to sampling the local beers and beer culture of a city. There are so many obvious places to go to, but Europe has a rich brewing history and there are many hidden gems off the beaten beery path. Spain and Portugal Starting in Portugal and ending in Estonia, here’s my first-hand experience of some fantastic and often overlooked cities which serve up great places to drink, as well as interesting microbreweries to look out for. It should also be said, all these cities are full of history and culture which must be explored between the bar hopping! Portugal is the western most country in Europe and a good, yet surprising, place to start our journey. Known mostly for wine, beer was banned for a long time by the church which is why brewing is stunted compared to its European counterparts, but beer is making a rapid return. [/hide]

World Beer Week 1:04 - The Iberian Craft Beer Movement

The revolution sweeping Europe has blossomed in Spain and Portugal as craft breweries have flourished on the Iberian Peninsula. Home brewers who shared their beers with family and friends are being encouraged to take the next step and produce larger volumes of their craft beers so discerning beer drinkers can find delights to please their palates. The craft beer scene in the USA has played a part in the boom on this side of “the Pond”, and it appears the last few years have had the right atmosphere and conditions for people who had brewed a few gallons in a plastic bucket in their garage, on the balconies of their apartments – even a rooftop patio in Barcelona – or just on top of the stove in their kitchen, to take the brave next step. Armed with a map and a tablet or smart phone in order that we can access the excellent RateBeer website, it is perfectly possible for we craft beer fans to take the ultimate pub crawl from tap room to tap room. We can start in the Basque region...

World Beer Week 1:03 - Regional Histories of Sour Beer

The idea of sour beer is fairly simple; sweet wort undergoes a spontaneous fermentation when wild yeast is introduced into the mix. This then leads to the production of alcohol and a sour flavor (usually from lactic acid). We can announce this lovely fact today because thousands upon thousands of brewers before us have looked through microscopes, written books and published articles on the subject. But what if we were the first? What if we didn’t have electricity or a microscope or even a way to communicate with the brewers living just a few hundred miles down the road? Thankfully, the ancient peoples of the word were so damn thirsty they managed to figure sour beer out. In Egypt, a kind of yeast-heavy bread was made by the women of each household and this was used to create a grain bed on the bottom of large fermenting vessels. The brewers would add water and local fruits such as dates for flavoring, which would then promote the growth of yeast populations. The Egyptians also...

World Beer Week 1:01 - Kent, England's Garden of Beer

Editor's note: Come with us as we travel the World of beer all week long. This is the first of several articles full of rich history and great information. Enjoy! Kent is synonymous with British beer. The garden of England’s fertile ground has grown the hops that have come to define British beer for generations, such as East Kent Golding. These hops, with their floral, spicy notes, have been used for centuries in the production of British bitters and ales. Today the region accounts for around 50% of all UK hops. This heritage goes back centuries with the eponymous East Kent Golding having its roots in the Whitebine hop strain, which was introduced to Canterbury in 1737. In 1790 a Kent hop farmer named Golding identified a version of the Whitebine, which had a heavier yield and was easier to pick. This became known as the Golding, where it was called the Canterbury Golding or Old Golding, before being sold as East Kent Golding since 1838. But Kent’s place in British drinking culture...

Amateur to Professional - Craft Brewer Profile, Wade Curtis

Flying on a wing and a prayer (and a lot of marketing experience), home brewer turned professional, Wade Curtis, has revived the brewing industry in Ipswich Australia after almost a century of dormancy. Wade Curtis has a love of brewing tht started in 2001 when he tried a ‘brew on the premises’ company local to his area. He liked the idea of a ‘hands on’ approach but found the recipes on offer were all pretty much the same. He branched out, taking the usual route from Kit’n’Kilo, to Extract and finally onto All Grain brewing before his hobby expanded into an unofficial Oktoberfest in his Runcorn street every year. An increasing number of friends and hangers-on at these events caused Wade to take stock of the situation and quickly realize he had the makings of a business venture on his hands if he could stop giving the stuff away free of charge! By this time Wade had a decent recipe base, having experimented in ales, lagers, stouts, saisons, and a range of Belgian beers. It was time...

An Interview With Saint Benjamin Brewing

Succeeding in a big beer city like Philadelphia can’t be easy. This is a town that sits alongside Portland, San Diego, and Asheville as one of the great beer Meccas in the United States, after all. While that means it’s packed with beer lovers, it also means there is a lot of competition. How do you rise above the pack and get noticed in a city that is already swimming in a sea of amazing beer? For the brewers at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, it has been a combination of hard work, smart business, and tapping into the lessons they learned as homebrewers. Located in the historic Kensington section of Philly, Saint Benjamin is named after the city’s most famous denizen, Benjamin Franklin. Good ol’ Ben was known for many things, and one of them was brewing. Ben Franklin was an avid homebrewer who never actually said the beer quote famously attributed to him – “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – but who did brew an excellent spruce ale that some modern...

Anheuser-Busch InBev Acquires Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies

The rumors started days ago have ended in the last 48 hours with confirmation direct from Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies today that indeed, they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the multi-national super conglomerate that owns Budweiser and Miller. More precise the deal was announced as being completed by 'ZX Ventures', the disruptive growth unit of AB InBev. Anheuser-Busch InBev now has market share of 70% of beer sales in the United States after getting Justice Department approval of a merger.

Old British Beers

At my first Queensland Amateur Brewing Competition (QABC), I volunteered as a steward. Upon arrival I was asked to judge, which scared the hell out of me (and still does). Fortunately I was paired with a very forgiving judge who mentored me for the day. I set out to shut up and learn something, a plan I got half-right. More importantly though, on that day I fell in love with English beers. Later I found a book of old English beer recipes. I bought it expecting to be brewing what I’d tasted. It was nothing like it. What you get from a centuries old recipe is not what you’d expect from a modern beer. The evolution of British beers over the last 300 years has been a roller coaster, expanding exponentially thanks to specialty malts, studies into enzymatic activity and yeast, and then copping it in the shorts due to modernization and war. A Little History Things to Keep in Mind • Unless you were around 300 years ago, grab a recipe book. Then choose a beer with the ‘Wow!’ factor. I did...

Summer Beer Styles, Variations, and Recipes

Summer, the season of backyard barbecues and beer. Many people have their “go-to” summer beer, but with the rich history of summer beers and the plethora of options to choose from today, it can be a great time to try something new. It’s only fair to start off an article on summer beers with Germany, the country that gave birth to the lagering process that produces the majority of all beer consumed today. Before the invention of refrigeration, beer had to be lagered in the icy winter conditions and wasn’t ready to drink until the warmer months. Many of the popular styles today, such as Pilsner, are as a result of this cold treatment. Some of the most well-known styles are below: Kӧlsch Originally from Cologne, Kӧlsch is an all-barley beer fermented with an ale yeast at near freezing temperatures. Light, crisp, and clear, Kӧlsch beer is characterized by its subtle, slightly fruity flavor. Being a controlled appellation beer, only true Kӧlsch can be brewed in Cologne. Breweries in...

Tips and Tricks to Surviving A Beer Festival

You enter the festival and the fragrant aroma of hops and complexly aged beers delightfully fills the air. With oh-so-many varieties to try, you feel just like a kid in a candy store all over again… Beer fest has finally arrived! In order to survive the thirsty clusters of avid beer lovers and homebrew connoisseurs, not to mention the tantalizing array of mouth-watering liquid treats, there are some key points to take heed to, no matter the size or location of your next beer festival. Things like tasting order, cleansing your palate, small snacking, scoring beers, taking notes, eluding the crowds, and the sheer importance of a designated driver are all things to take into account and plan for. These simple yet essential tips and tricks will have you well on your way to getting the most out of your beer tasting experience. The Beer Festival Order of Operations [/hide]

Craft Beer And Homebrewing In Italy

Italy continues to be known more as an interesting beer country and a home to many popular microbreweries. Less known maybe is the fact that Italy is also home to a flourishing homebrewing community. The sudden growth of Italy's craft beer industry, and it's homebrewing community, was unheard of 20 years ago. Back then I had the chance to be part of the homebrew and craft beer movement. Since the late 1990's, at the very beginning, I had helped to start homebrewing in Italy. THE PAST Back in the early 1990's both craft beer and homebrewing were unknown concepts in Italy. Quality beer was not completely unknown, thanks to a few good Belgian and UK imports. There were only a couple of pioneering microbreweries then, which only sold their beer locally, without gaining a substantial following. Homebrewing was not legal, or more precisely, its legal status was not clear. There were some people brewing at home, just like myself, who started brewing in 1984 using pre-hopped extract that...

The Illustrated Brewer - Trappist Brewing

A beer brewed with love is drunk reasonably. A motto among the devoted monks who produce some of the most sought after and unique tasting beer in the world. Of course, Im speaking of the Trappist monks who create those delectable beers we love. [/hide]
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