Beer Styles Name Changes

Count me a fan of Em Sauter and her colorful take on beer.  She also prods conversation with pieces like this….

Makes me wonder what beer style names I think need a glow up. I would start with ESB, and in general, the British Bitters.  They need something that matches their flavor profile when compared to an actual bitter beer.  I would call them English Vintage or English Heritage Ales.  Brown Ale needs something better too.  Perhaps swarthy ale or mahogany ale, something more exciting.

Czech Hop Culture

There is a really good series of articles over at Hop Culture about Czech beer and brewing.  This link sends you to an article about tapsters but there is a really cool fresh hop Budvar piece and a piece about the Kazbek hop too.

By Appointment

I read THIS article about a pop-up by reservation only cocktail bar and was intrigued.  If I had a spare $100 on me, I would certainly be tempted to try this and not only for cocktails but for beer or cider too because I think it is a great way to create buzz and have a literal reason to tell a story as well.  And in a town such as Los Angeles, there must be good stories and tellers of stories to make this happen. And club only brewers can do well so why not reservation only.

Is Cask Ale Viable?

Here is another BSP, read THIS first, then come back to what my humble opinion is….

….OK, now that you are armed with the latest on cask ales, I would like to add my two cents (depending upon inflation) on the matter.

First, I am a fan of cask ale and I think it is is important that it does not become a museum piece.  But in 2024, looking back, even when craft beer was roaring, it was an oddity, much in the way I think side pour faucets are.  At least, here in the states, brewers are not welded to moldy cellars and no aspirators and can present a product that is consistent at whatever quality level it is at.

The U.S. problem is simply that the styles most suited or traditional in that dispense are just not best sellers and most American breweries would probably make more money buying a slushie machine or Micehelada mix instead.

The British have the extra problem of staying in traditional boundaries of CAMRA whilst also absorbing the extra cost in people power and spoilt beer.  

Not an enviable position to be in.

We can wait for the next generation of drinkers to throw off more drinking shackles of their parents and grandparents and then rediscover cask as a minor rebellion or lean into gimmicky beers in cask or get more casks into taprooms and beer bars so that they are at the very least seen as part of the beer scene.  

This will need to be driven from the brewery side though because I do not see a cask ale groundswell coming.

NAGBW – Malt Night

A couple nights ago, lucky members of the North American Guild of Beer Writers talked malt with Admiral Maltings, Headlands Brewing and Crisp Maltings,

Here are my takeaways from the night and a review of the Headlands beer too!

Hops get the headlines, yeast gets some spotlight along with malt whilst water is left out altogether. But new malts like from Haná barley could bring some more shine.

Haná is a heritage barley, the second from Crisp after Chevalier. It was a key component of pilsner way back and a landrace un-heavily modified barley. It hasn’t been malted in the UK for 100 some odd years before Crisp re-started it. And the reason Admiral Maltings was involved is that they had a relationship with Crisp and because Haná has been and now is again, grown here.

Let’s jump to the end of the chain first and describe the Headlands Brewing Munich Helles. It pours a light straw yellow color. Nice bubbly look to it. Normally for me, a Helles would have a minimal aroma. But this one was bright and reminded me of spring. It had a great balance of lightness but also very full flavored. A mix of cracker and bread dough.

Back to the malt. There are precious little malt collaboration beers and even less that count two maltsters collaborating so the fact that two maltsers from two different countries floor malted this same heritage barley is a big deal. And an even bigger deal was being able to get your hands on some of this malt. A brewery had to jump at the chance when offered.

And you may see some if you are near Russian River, Firestone Walker, Alaro, Sierra Nevada or Almanac (which is next door to Admiral). Those breweries got small allotments for R&D. Or you can head to the Bay on June 29th for the It’s the Malt a craft Malt Festival that celebrates local agriculture and craft malt.

Chevalier and Haná are first steps into reviving a host of barleys that bring with them different flavors as well as making brewers adjust how they brew to maximize them. We have seen how different hops require new ways of brewing and it is exciting to see that come into play with malts. Because that will create whole new playing fields and maybe, new beer styles.

Anchor Returns!

Big news from our neighbors to the north, San Francisco came in right at the end of May as, Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani founder and CEO, announced the purchase of the whole kit and kaboodle of Anchor Brewing.  All of Anchor’s assets, the steam beer recipes, the brewing equipment and the building and warehouses too. The yogurt business must be good.

THIS SF Gate piece has a lot of good bits to it but what struck me was this quote paragraph… “Brands like Anchor don’t come that easy. How do you value something like this? Do you value it because it’s been here 127 years?” Ulukaya said. “Do you value it because of how much love and passion goes into creating something like this? The ingredients and knowledge and tradition and yeast and secrets? Do you value it because of how much loyalty people have for it? Or do you value it for how much money it makes?”

That sounds atypical of most owners, looking at you shady Sapporo, as the focus seems to be the product and the legacy and not financials. It might be too late for beer from Anchor Brewing this year but 2025 is a possibility.

Burton Unions New Home

Brewing history is important and that history includes both the knowledge and the equipment.  And earlier this month there was some positive news on that front as Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company has announced that they are taking some old Burton Unions and given them to Thornbridge Brewery and will also help with the set-up to get them going.

Burton-on-Trent was the Portland / San Diego and Asheville of its time. Basically the brewing town. You can go HERE to read all about Burton Unions.  (Firestone Walker used a modified tiny version up in Paso Robles.) Like most bespoke items, it was not modern day efficient and thus not being used by Carlsberg.

I have a feeling that Thornbridge will be able to make good use of the Unions.

Streaming Thirst

I must be old because I have no clue as to who Shay Mitchell is or how she got herself a travel show that the penny pinching Warner Bros paid for but the topic is thirst and it might lead to some interesting beer, spirits and cider destinations around the world.