MORE new beers from Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada,

On Monday, we covered a dozen new and returning brews. “So many beers, so little time [and money],” we said. Today: more beers, no extra time, and even less money….

In a recent article by Andy Crouch in Boston magazine, Sam Adams founder Jim Koch’s disdain for IPAs was clearly stated: “Until recently, the idea of Koch downing a hop-heavy Sam Adams IPA would have been unthinkable. For more than a generation, Koch steered clear of craft-beer trends — particularly West Coast IPA, a widely popular style defined by the use of pungently fragrant and bitter American hops.” Koch said: “I don’t want to make something if everyone else is doing it.” Crouch wrote, “When Koch talks about IPAs, including his own Rebel and the new Rebel Rouser, his energy level visibly flags. For a man possessed of such demonstrable passion for beer, it’s telling that he appears to view these beers as necessary evils. They are, in essence, a Hail Mary attempt to bounce back into the craft scene, where drinkers’ interest in his flagship Boston Lager is waning.” Rebel Rouser, a double IPA [8.4% ABV] made with American, Australian, and New Zealand hops, is hitting stores now. And it’s a beer with a theme song!

On January 7 we mentioned Sierra Nevada’s Nooner Pilsner and Hoppy Lager, and the new 4-Way IPA box. That variety pack just arrived, with three bottles of Ruthless Rye IPA [6.6%], Blindfold Black IPA [6.8%], which debuted in the 2013 Beer Camp sampler, the stalwart Torpedo Extra IPA [7.2%], and another new beer, Golden IPA [5.9%]. The SN folks call it “a gilded homage to mighty Cascade and the wonderful world of hop flavor it inspired.”

And here are a couple of mid-week beer reads:

Craft Beer Uses 4 Times As Much Barley As Corporate Brew, by Tom Philpott @ Mother Jones [“Which makes craft beer seem like a bit of a bargain.”]

Why Budweiser Thinks Beer Will Die In the U.S. Without Super Bowl Ads, by Jason Notte @ Main Street [“No, seriously: That’s what the company actually believes.”]

For updates and post alerts, follow Bottles & Cans at Twitter [@BottlesCansRI] and Facebook and/or sign up for e-mail alerts at the top of this page. Tell your friends!!!

AND if you have beer news and/or feedback and/or comments, please share ’em at bottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.

Tangent Tuesday: Twin Cities calling

tangent

We love music even more than we love beer [heresy!], and we’ve always loved listening to music on the radio. These days at the Bottles & Cans desk, we listen to a radio station that is located 1363 miles away from where we type: The Current, from St. Paul, MN. The station is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and we were thrilled to be asked to write about the journey that led our ears to KCMP/89.3 FM, and what it’s like to be steeped in the culture of a place that is halfway across the country.

We’ll get back to beer on Wednesday. And we encourage you to try The Current!

New beers from Heavy Seas, Sixpoint, Mayflower, Stone, and more!

xbonesdeepsix-4-400x600New beers? Check. Seasonal releases? Yep. A brew graduating from “now & then” status to year-round? Yes, please! So many beers, so little time [and money] . . . .

Heavy Seas has joined the session IPA fray with Cross Bones, a 4.5% ABV offering that has all the flavor of a more potent brew. They’re not revealing their “secret blend” of hops, but it’s a winning combination. Cross Bones is the first HS beer to join the year-round ranks since 2003. The Baltimore brewery is also introducing Deep Six, a “robust English-Style Porter” [6.2%]. It’s sweet but beautifully balanced, with the chocolate and coffee notes circling some hints of fruit. There are many layers to sip and savor here.

Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Extra is back after a seven-year absence. The Belgian-Style brown ale is made with brown sugar and raisins and weighs in at a massive 18% ABV [it‘s “little brother,” Raison D’Etre, is a more manageable 8% and is available year-round]. Dogfish notes that “plump raisins and beet sugars give the beer a similar DNA and color to red wine.” The very limited edition of 12-ounce bottles sells for about $9; it’s worth looking for, and the next batch may not hit shelves until 2022.

Let’s head north: Long Trail’s new spring seasonal, Stand Out, is an American Pale Ale [5.2%] which can further your hop education: it features the Equinox hop. The folks at Hopunion explain, “The diversified and pronounced aroma characteristics combined with extremely high oil content and a tight cone structure make this hop variety very unique” . . . The second release in Mayflower’s Cooper’s Series is Alden, an unfiltered double IPA [8%] made with Citra and Mosaic hops. The beer is named for John Alden, the cooper [who maintains a ship’s barrels] on the Mayflower. The limited edition brew will be available in four-packs and on draft . . . When Smuttynose’s Really Old Brown Dog debuted in 2007 in its Big Beer Series, it had a 7% ABV. Through the years the dog has gotten more potent, and is now a formidable 11.1% as it joins the New Hampshire brewery’s year-round lineup [in four-packs]. The Old Ale is thick and expressive . . . And we mentioned it in our January 7 beer round-up, but we urge you to get Durty, Smuttynose’s fantastic hoppy brown ale, a big [8.4%], bold, and splendiferous flavor bomb.

These double/imperial IPAs are back after a shorter hiatus: Sixpoint’s Hi-Res [10.5%], Green Flash’s Palate Wrecker [9.5%]; and Stone’s latest Enjoy By [9.4%], which should be consumed by 2.14.15  . . . And speaking of Sixpoint, the Mad Scientists at the Brooklyn brewery are unleashing a new seasonal Beast Mode, an American porter [6.4%] with a bit of red ale in the mix . . . AND speaking of Stone, its new seasonal release is Delicious IPA [7.7%], which they say “reminds many on the brewing team of a Lemon Starburst® candy” [it’s made with Lemondrop and El Dorado hops]. Stone also notes that an “enzyme added during the brewing process called Clarity-Ferm [cut] the beer’s gluten content to well below the threshold of 20 parts per million required by the FDA to label a produict ‘gluten-free.’ ” Delicious will be featured in the new Mixed 12 Pack, with Ruination IPA, Cali-Belguiqe IPA, and Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Oh, and Narragansett is releasing a new beer today. You may have read about it here and here.

A Gandhi-Bot follow-up; NH may be ready for Breakfast Stout; beer made with whale testicles; and more

The people must have something good to read on a Sunday.  — The Clash, from “The Leader

In a follow-up to the Gandhi-Bot controversy, a NBC News story reported that Connecticut legislator Prasad Srinivasan was scheduled to meet with reps at the New England Brewing Company on Wednesday [1.14]. Srinivasan said, “I think they must take it one more level — to reconsider and rename that brand of beer. I find it despicable that they should use the name of Mahatma Gandhi.” There have been no updates since Wednesday. Also, NEBCO has removed the apologies they had posted on their Facebook page on January 3 and 7; you can read those entries here. And a post on the Beer Advocate “NEBCO whats on tap thread” on Saturday [1.17] night noted, “Had sea hag and #14 on tap today. Chalkboard said coming soon: g of the b..a good sign.”

foundersstout Belly up, baby! NH mulls change to alcohol labels, by Rik Stevens of Associated Press via the Concord Monitor [“Murphy says it’s misguided to suggest a chubby baby eating breakfast would lure an underage drinker to a specialty beer that sells for a comparatively pricey $12 for four, 12-ounce bottles.”]

Do you live in beer country or wine country? These maps will tell you, by Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post [“The number of American wineries has increased by about 260 percent since 1998. Breweries are up 175 percent, with almost all of that increase happening since 2010.”]

Icelandic Brewery Debuts Beer Made With Endangered Whale Testicles, from Inquisitr [“The beer, Hvalur 2, utilizes the testicles of fin whales, which are first smoked in a traditional fashion using dried sheep dung.”]

And as a cheeky commentary on the trademark infringement flap between Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada, Stone made this post on their Facebook page on Saturday:

In light of recent news, perhaps it’s the right time for us to release a special new IPA?

stoneipa

For updates and post alerts, follow Bottles & Cans at Twitter [@BottlesCansRI] and Facebook and/or sign up for e-mail alerts at the top of this page. Tell your friends!!!

AND if you have beer news and/or feedback and/or comments, please share ’em at bottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.

Cheers to Trinity Brewhouse’s 20th anniversary

trinity1

Trinity Brewhouse is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Saturday [1.17]. They opened the doors at 186 Fountain St in Providence, on December 5, 1994, but since the holiday hecticity was in full swing last month [is A Christmas Carol still playing at Trinity Rep?!], they decided to wait a few weeks to blow out the candles.

Josh Miller had established his downtown bona fides as a co-owner of the original Met Café, a beloved mini-roadhouse-type bar which opened in 1975 in the shadow of the Route 195 overpass in the Jewelry District [in 1993, he was in on the rebirth of the Met adjacent to Lupo’s II]. When Josh unveiled Trinity Brewhouse [formerly the site of a Burger King], the restaurant-that-brews-beer concept was still a novelty, and “craft beer” was a fringe pursuit.

Digression: A Brief History of Brewpubs

The Blue Anchor in Cornwall, England, which was established in 1400, is most often cited as the first brewpub; U Fleku in Prague, which has been in business since 1499, is the “oldest continually operating brewpub in the world,” according to beer expert Charlie Papazian. In the US, “brewery taverns” were helmed by the likes of William Penn and Samuel Adams. We gleaned more recent facts from Tom Acitelli’s highly-recommended The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution: “the nation’s first brewpub since Prohibition” was Yakima Brewing and Malting Company, in Yakima WA, which opened in 1982. The first East Coast brewpub [and fourth overall] was the Manhattan Brewing Company [fall 1984 in NYC]; New England’s premier establishment, the Commonwealth Brewing Company, opened in the summer of 1986. Acitelli: “Brewpubs were very much in vogue by [the early ’90s] nationally. In 1993, 70 brewpubs opened; in 1994, 101 (only six closed); and more than 360 were in operation by the spring of 1995, besting the number of craft breweries by more than three to two.” According to stats from the Brewers Association, there are now more than 1300 brewpubs in the US.

trinity_SignTwo decades later, the local beer landscape has gone through seismic shifts: there are four other brewpubs in the state [Coddington in Middletown, Mohegan Café on Block Island, Brutopia in Cranston; and Union Station, part of the John Harvard’s chain, opened a year before Trinity] and 10 local breweries. [Josh and his wife Nancy opened Local 121 in 2007, and he has been a State Senator repping District 28 in Cranston and Warwick since 2006]. The tanks at Trinity have yielded thousands of gallons of award-winning beer; former brewmaster Sean Larkin worked there for 18 years; his mash paddle has a place of honor in the dining room, noting the1867 batches he conjured. And over the 20 years, the bartenders and waitstaff have patiently answered the question, “Do you have [Mega-Lager] or [Mega-Lager Light/Lite]?” 4,812,943 times . . . .

To commemorate the anniversary, we asked Josh a few questions about Trinity’s first two decades.

What was the inspiration for opening the place? Had you visited a similar brewpub or heard about the burgeoning popularity of brewpubs? I first became interested in the space because of its proximity to Trinity Rep. The more I learned about patterns of retail business downtown, the more I realized how event-dependent (Trinity, PPAC, RI Convention Center, Providence Civic Center/Dunkin’ Donuts Center) many restaurant/bars are. I thought it was critical to have a uniqueness that would attract customers year-round, regardless of event frequency, most importantly in the summer. I had friends involved in Hope Brewery, who were simultaneously successfully pursuing legislative changes to allow brewpubs in RI. One of these guys was Tim Morse, who eventually consulted on our brewery design/build.* We felt a brewery was the unique format that could boost business absent events downtown.

How many beers were on tap when you opened? What were they? Six, a similar range from simple to more complex, light to dark. Always had an IPA. We now have up to 10 beers at any time. We think the beers have gotten much better and more interesting through brewery experience and customer feedback. Also the beer drinker is much more willing to try something different than they were 20 years ago. Our menu has expanded to include a full line of entrees, including weekly specials. Our catering and special events participation has exploded in the last few years.

trinityfoodHave you had any celebs — say, musicians or sports figures from the big building across the street — hoist a pint at your place? Huge list. Lynyrd Skynyrd played in the basement. Foo Fighters, Beck, Brian Dennehy, Tony Kushner, half of the NFL, Steve Lillywhite, Joan Osborne. We have catered for Sting, BB King. I’m leaving out hundreds.

When did you start selling Trinity IPA in stores? 1998.

And if there’s anything else you’d like to tell my thousands of readers, have at it! We have a great crew, including some who have been there from the start. You have good taste in beer/food.

On Saturday, every purchase at Trinity Brewhouse gets you raffle tickets, with a chance to win a Mug Club membership, gift cards, merch, and more. Drop in and toast two decades of beer and food and cheer!

     

*The local beermaker emerged in 1988; Morse, their brewmaster, had worked at the pioneering Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. Hope was the first RI-based brewery since Narragansett’s closing in 1981 and the first-ever craft outfit. They quickly “carv[ed] out 4.4 percent of the Rhode Island superpremium-import beer market” — more than 1 million bottles — according to a 1989 ProJo story.

Foolproof announces second expansion

foolpThis just in from Foolproof HQ:

After two years of being in business, Foolproof  Brewing Company launched its second expansion this week. The brewery, which pairs high-quality, hand-crafted beers with a variety of life experiences, installed a new 60-barrel fermentation tank (approximately 1,900 gallons), increasing the company’s beer production capacity by 25 percent.

“It has been a whirlwind couple of years for us so far,” said Nick Garrison, president and founder of Foolproof. “This expansion will help us keep up with demand in our new and existing markets but also provide the flexibility and capacity to introduce new beer styles and packaging formats in 2015.”

With this expansion, Foolproof will have the largest beer production capability in the state of Rhode Island. Since opening in January 2013, Foolproof has expanded its distribution footprint from Rhode Island to Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Dallas, Texas. The company now employs five full-time staff members as well as a number of part-time employees.

We first toured the Foolproof brewery in November 2012, when they were intending to use the name High Jinx [and have a collector’s item pint glass]. With today’s news, we dug into the Bottles & Cans archives for our January 31, 2013 story about Foolproof, which included this line: “They’re on track for producing 2500 barrels (one barrel = 31 gallons) in their first year, and have room for expansion.” Times two!

Congrats to Nick and his crew!!

Mid-week brew news: Proclamation + Rising Tide, Bucket, and more

rising-tide-brewing-company-logoDave Witham of Proclamation Ale Company will be heading up 95 to Portland, Maine in two weeks, to do a collaboration brew with Nathan and Dave at Rising Tide Brewing. Dave met Nathan [head brewer/owner] and Heather proc[director of business ops/owner] Sanborn at the Beer Camp Across America fest in Portland in August and decided to combine their talents on a one-off brew. [We visited Rising Tide the day after the fest and particularly enjoyed the Daymark American Pale Ale, made with rye. Rising Tide beers can be found in MA.] Mr.Witham reports that they “don’t even know exactly what were brewing yet. Nathan and I just agreed ‘it won’t be an IPA.’ ”

Bucket Brewery’s monthly Friday Night Sound Check will take place on 1.16, with music by Katherine Quinn [who recently moved from VT to RI] and Jane Hesser. The $15 admission = four beer sample tickets [if you buy a souvenir glass for $5 and get more beer per sample; bring a non-perishable food item for the RI Community Food Bank you get an extra sample ticket!]. The fun runs from 6-9 pm at 100 Carver St in Pawtucket.

Undo: On Tuesday, Lagunitas Brewing Co. announced it was suing Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. over trademark infringement, claiming that the packaging for SN’s upcoming Hop Hunter IPA aped Lagunitas’ flagship IPA.

Today ’round midnight, Lagunitas founder Tony Magee said “never mind” in a series of tweets.

It’s an intriguing lesson about the power of “The Court of Public Opinion.”

UPDATE [added 1.14 @ 7:23 pm]: Magee discusses the lawsuit and the backlash with the Chicago Tribune.

[And in case you missed it, here’s a recent kinda-related NPR story, “Craft brewers are running out of names and into legal spats.”]

For updates and post alerts, follow Bottles & Cans at Twitter [@BottlesCansRI] and Facebook and/or sign up for e-mail alerts at the top of this page. Tell your friends!!!

AND if you have beer news and/or feedback and/or comments, please share ’em at bottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.