A New Gruit from New Belgium

Looks like the Lips of Faith series is going strong in 2014 with a hop-LESS ale. Gruit is a seldom seen style but one that beer lovers should seek out to enjoy and round out their beer knowledge. Kudos to New Belgium for bringing this historical beer to a wider audience.

And for a quick history less the German Beer Institute website defines Gruit as, “Gruitbier was in its time, some 500 to 1,000 years ago, clearly the most common beer style in the world. Gruit is old German for herbs. Gruitbier was brewed both on the Continent and on the British Isles. Gruit (or herbs) is what most medieval brewers used to flavor their beers with before hops became a universal beer flavoring agent starting around the 15th century.

Ring in the Year with…

…the right glassware.

Beer afficianados, even the ones not into breweriana and collecting end up with pint glasses and tasting glasses and many other branded glasses but I sometimes wish that I had a complete set of craft beer glassware at the ready for every occasion.

And as much as I love promoting local and favorite breweries via their logo on a shaker pint, I do wish that I could have a set that really shows off the beer in color and aroma.

Something like this…..


…from the Red Envelope website and made in Bavaria by Spiegalau.

    • stemmed pilsner glass has 15 1/2 oz. capacity and is designed with an open mouth for intense flavor release – ideal for stouts, Belgian style ales and pilsners

FOR MY Belgian Strong Monkish ale, Anomaly

    • grand pilsner glass has 15 oz. capacity and a slim elegant shape to channel dry hop aromas – ideal for light golden color pilsners such as German or Bohemian styles

FOR MY light and big hopped Lagunitas Sucks

    • wheat beer glass with 24 2/3 oz. capacity and a tall wide shape that allows for fluffy head – ideal for German wheat beer, Belgian whites and wheat ales

FOR MY Lomaland Saison from Modern Times

    • lager beer glass with 19 3/4 oz. capacity and classic lager shape – ideal for powerful IPAs, pale lagers and English strong ales

FOR MY  Fresh Hop (and Salmon Safe) IPA from New Belgium

Ranger Station # 1


Count me as a big fan of New Belgium.  All it took was a tour of their massive brewery and I was hooked.  Now to add to their legacy which includes a coming brewery back east is a bar and eatery in Snowmass Village, near Aspen. If you are a skier, it is located at the base of the mountain.

The New Belgium Ranger Station is in a 750-square-foot space which can barely contain the flavor in their beers. Oh and they have at least three Lips of Faith beers on tap!

Firestone-Walker Invitational (the recap)


As threatened here is my recap of the Firestone-Walker Invitational that was held on Saturday……

With a beer stained shirt, I left the 2013 Firestone-Walker Invitational Beer Festival dizzy from the variety of beers and breweries on display and maybe the triple digit heat too.

The Mid-State Fairgrounds was hopping with crowds attracted by an impressive worldwide brewery list with beers that are rare within miles of their home breweries, let alone seen in California. Dark Lord from Indiana’s Three Floyds or Hunaphu from Peoples Choice winning brewery, Cigar City from Florida.

Both highly rated beers and both excellent but in my opinion, three others made my Best in Show List (plus an honorable mention in Tipo Pils from Birrificio Italiano).

#3 – Dos Osos IPA from Revolution Brewing. A collaborative hop bomb between the 3 year old Chicago brewery and Firestone-Walker. Was super fresh with a great bouquet.

#2 – Nefarious DIPA from Boneyard Brewing. For a big DIPA this (again very fresh) Double was light and nimble.

# 1 – Prickly Passion Saison aged in Peach Whiskey barrels from the venerable New Belgium. My first beer of the day and one that struck a chord that I measured all the rest of the days beers on. Had a bright fruit note that balanced with a smooth and light barrel flavor.

OK, on to my beer festival check list:
water: plentiful (they also had cool zone blowers and misters at most stations to keep things cool)

food: plentiful (and free with admission) I certainly enjoyed the cupcakes but you could really do some great beer pairings.

crowds: There were long lines but that was to be expected. You could easily move about the fairgrounds and if one line was too long another fantastic brewery was close by.

Considering the heat and the massive beer geek popularity of the beers on hand this was well-run and smooth operation. (Which was not a surprise to me)

This will be an annual pilgrimage for me.

Sean Suggests for April 2013


Since April in Los Angeles is a bit hotter than in most of the country, I have selected three beers with a little less ABV oomph to them than usual.  And all three will be good NBA playoffs choices.


Widmer Columbia Common 4.7% abv

“The Columbia Hop was near extinction when we brought it back to create this crisp, easy drinking common ale. With a rich amber hue, Columbia Common, the new Spring Seasonal Release for 2013, has a Mild grassy and spicy hop notes are complemented by a fruity character and clean finish brought on by the use of hefeweizen and lager yeasts and unique malt bill. It’s the perfect beer for Spring.”


Strand 24th Street Pale 6.1 % abv

“This is what we had intended to brew when we made Genesis. Serving as our flagship ale, 24th Street Pale contains exactly the same hops but is less malty than Genesis which leads to less masking of the hop profile. It’s a smooth little Pale with a bitter finish. Slightly floral, slightly fruity. It is dry and drinks quickly. ”


New Belgium Hoppy Bock 6.9 % abv

“Meet the first in our new Hop Kitchen series: A German-style springtime lager brewed with rye then loaded with Hallertauer, Perle and Fuggle hops for a spicy, earthy aroma. This Hoppy Bock Lager offers a medium body and slightly sweet malt character perfect for your spring hop-fling.”