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Monday, October 31, 2011

Craft Beer from Mexico

The other day I was perusing my local beer store for something new and interesting and the text of a label caught my eye.  It said, "The Best Rated Mexican Craft Beer."  The beer was brewed by the Baja California Brewery in Mexicali.  The beer line is called Cucapa.

On a hot summer day, I really do like a Pacifico, Corona, or Dos XX.  Mexican beer to me was light-bodied, low hopped Pilsners that were more thirst-quencher than palate-pleasers. I had wondered why there were no local "brewpubs" in Mexico.That has apparently started to change.

I purchased three of the five Cucapa bombers that I found:  an IPA (Runaway IPA), a pale ale (Chupacabras), and an imperial stout (La Migra).

All were quite good and definitely craft beers.  I look forward to trying the rest and to having more beer options the next time I vacation at the Mayan Rivera.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beer for the Pope

Beer is synonymous with Germany.  The Germans gave us the Purity Laws, steins, Oktoberfest, and a bunch of great beers.  Dusseldorf, Munich, Cologne, and Berlin are all famous for their local beers.  Given this background, it was only a matter of time before Pope Benedict XVI, who is German, was brewed his own beer.

See the story here:

A few months ago, the Brewhouse Suedstern in Berlin brewed a pilsner called Pabst Pils Bier (which translates to Pope Pilsner Beer).  A regular pilsner, however, simply would not suffice for His Holiness.  The brewers serenaded the brew with Gregorian Chant played through a boom box " the light of a new moon."  What a great excuse for a late night party at the brewery.

There's no report on whether the Pontiff liked or even tried the beer, but I would love to sample one of the bottles.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Avery Brewing Company: Demons of Ale

Halloween is just a few weeks away, and pumpkin beers are everywhere.  Avery has an even better trio of beers that are season-appropriate:  The Demons of Ale!  These beers will assault your taste-buds and keep you warm on these chilly Fall nights.  The labels are really cool and mysterious.

The first is Samaels Oak-Aged Ale.  This beer is relatively low in bitterness (41 IBU), high in oak flavor, and 15.3% alcohol by volume.  It is only brewed once a year in limited batches.  I purchased my stash of these beauties at the brewery in the summer of 2011. I tried one and will let the rest age for a few years.

The second is The Beast, a high-gravity Grand Cru Ale.  This wonderful beer has 68 IBUs of bitterness and is 14.9% ABV.  It is brewed only once a year (on August 1st) in limited quantities.  I found one from 2005 at a local beer store.  Yum!

Finally, there is the top demon beer:  Mephistopheles' Stout.  This fallen angle is an imperial stout extraordinaire at 107 IBUs and 16% alcohol. What a treat.  The beer is also only brewed once a year on December 1st.  The bottle I found was from 2007.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

I must say that I have enjoyed the hype surrounding the release of Founders Brewing Company's Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS).  The brewery did a masterful job of creating a buzz in the craft beer world and then producing just enough to have fans calling for more and, of course, complaining.  The brewery's CEO even got in on action by posting a very sincere explanation of how they produce their Backstage Series beer, of which CBS is a part, and the beer distributing business.  The explanation, posted on the brewery's website, just added to the demand for CBS.  Well done Founders!

The controversial CBS
Allow me to address the complaints.  First, people were complaining about the low availability.  I have no problem with that--this is the whole idea of a limited release beer.  Only those who were really into the craft beer scene were likely to get a bottle.  The owner of my favorite beer store told me he would hold a bottle for me, because I'm a regular customer.  I also happened to find another bottle in a different store just sitting there waiting for someone to recognize its value, and willing to pay the steep price.

Which brings me to the second complaint: price gouging.  I admit that the two bottles I was able to find varied in price from $20 to $26.  Most stores probably only got 6-12 bottles to sell.  Why not jack up the price if it will still sell?  On the other hand, I feel cheated by the place selling CBS for 6 bucks more than what I found elsewhere.  If I were running the store, I would keep the price low with the expectation that beers like CBS will keep customers coming to my store rather than somewhere else.  It is these weekly (or more often) purchases that make a profit for a store.

The important question is:  Is the beer worth the price?  Probably not.  I haven't tried CBS yet and likely will wait a few years for a special occasion.   But in terms of hype and adding to my beer bottle collection, I'm very happy to have two bottles and to be able to talk about it.



Friday, October 7, 2011

Beer Bottle Labels: Dogs

In memory of my old English Setter that passed away this week...a selection of beer bottle labels that feature canines.  Rest in peace sweet dog.