Newest Article – The Birth of Brut IPA

brut ipa craftbeer.com article featureNew CraftBeer.com Article on the Brut IPA

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Sturdavant of Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Fransisco about the development of his own beer style that has recently been gaining traction on the world beer scene for CraftBeer.com.

Brut IPA is an emerging beer style developed by Kim that focuses on ultra dry and easy drinking American IPAs that feature fruit forward hops. For more info about the style, how it’s made, and what it feels like to be solely responsible for a brand new style of beer, you can check out the full story of the Brut IPA on CraftBeer.com.

Fieldwork Brewing Co. Stars Hollow Pale Ale Beer Review

fieldwork brewing co stars hollow pale ale beer reviewFieldwork Stars Hollow-Intro to Hazy IPAs

I’m still warming up to hazy, juicy IPAs. I liked them on occasion in Colorado, because they were more of an occasional occurrence. They’re everywhere in California. They’re hard to escape here, and that’s because they’re some of the most popular beers on the market. Given that I’m now working at Fieldwork Brewing Co. (Disclosure of somewhat-bias), I have to give them a chance. So far, Stars Hollow Pale Ale stands out from the crowd.

I’ve found that I’m still pretty burned out on hazy IPAs, they’re all just so much of everything I’m not exactly looking for when I want an IPA. Hazy pale ales are a bit more subtle. They may still look a bit like orange, or in this case pineapple, juice, but the juicy profile isn’t as in your face. There’s nuance in a 5.0% pale ale where a 7.5% IPA is more overwhelming.

People love drinking beer that could be a new form of alcoholic pineapple juice and hops, and I will never hold that against anyone. It’s not for me, at least not right now. Something a bit lighter on the palate, but still with some serious late stage hopping, is more my speed. The hop selection here, amarillo and blanc, aren’t my favorites, but they play nicely together here. Light pineapple and grapefruit peel make sure the beer is refreshing, but the more subtle malt bill makes sure they don’t overwhelm your senses.

Beer Review Overview

Appearance: Super hazy, golden straw colored pale ale. Pure eggshell white head with small bubbles that don’t last.

Aroma: Light pineapple and floral honey

Taste: A bit of pineapple without the candy sweetness. Almost like a stealth pineapple extract blended with a King’s Hawaiian sweet bread malt character. Subtle grapefruit rind and herbal lemongrass start the bitter finish that ends with a vegetal bitterness that lingers on the palate and lets you know you’re still drinking a heavily hopped American pale ale.

Mouthfeel: Light and smooth body with minimal carbonation that just adds a zing to the perimeter of your tongue when combined with the mild bitterness.

Overall: A refreshing and flavorful American pale ale with a new age hazy IPA spin on it. Not as crisp as I prefer my lawn games beer to be, but that’s not what they were going for. The bitterness adds to the crisp refreshing character to the pale ale without the carbonation interfering with the hops. I’m sure that any hazy IPA enthusiast would love a glass of this to go with their cup-holder equipped lawnmower on a sunny, California afternoon. Or morning, I don’t judge.

Stone Brewing Sues MillerCoors

The “Stone” Branding Has Gone Too Far

Greg Koch announced earlier this week that Stone Brewing has issued a lawsuit against MillerCoors over their packaging and branding efforts for the Keystone Light brand of beer. Stone is asserting that Keystone is willfully confusing customers with the prominence of the word “Stone” on the cans, as “Key” is on a different line in smaller text. I remember the campaign that seemed to play a major role in the rebranding, starring none other than Keith Stone. The ever-cool everyman was designed to be a casually , mustachioed man who was cool enough to show up at any college and be the life of the party. Continue reading “Stone Brewing Sues MillerCoors”

Craft Games and Indie Beer

Independent-Craft-Brewer-seal indie megaboothIndependence in Beer and Gaming

I work in the beer industry and follow the games industry. I have passion for each, and there’s more in common with them than you might think. Craft beer is produced by small and independent breweries that want to brew good beer and build a community. Indie game makers are small teams inspired to make something that they’ve dreamed up that isn’t out there. Both are characterized by passion. While you can make money in each of these endeavors, that’s never the main drive. It’s a need to create and a passion for the craft that keeps people going. Continue reading “Craft Games and Indie Beer”

Alesmith Brewing’s Evil Dead Red Ale

alesmith-breing-evil-dead-red-ale-craft-beer-1

Beer Notes: AleSmith’s Dead On Red Ale

In celebration of Halloween, AleSmith Brewing Company has again released their Evil Dead Red Ale. I’m a sucker for a good red ale, but there’s a huge amount of variety in the style between reds and ambers, so you never really know what you’re going to get. AleSmith has hit a home run with this one though, at least for me personally. Not only is the pop culture reference spot on, but the rich flavors presented in this pint distinguish from the crowded fall seasonal landscape.

Appearance

The first thing that stands out is the rich scarlet color. It goes perfectly with the shambling zombies printed on the bomber. The rich red color is, of course, indicative of blood, but the crystal clarity reminds you it’s just a hand crafted beer.

Aroma

The aroma is killer too. The ale has a sweet malt character that is well balanced with a crisp toasted scent and a hint of black cherry, all without any of them being overwhelming. The reds I’ve had recently focus almost completely on a rich, toasted malt character, that’s not a bad thing but I prefer the Evil Dead’s diversity. The aroma is full and satisfying, but still crisp like a breath of fresh air.

Body and Taste

The body is typical of a red, dense and malty, but the hops give it a refreshing crispness on your palate. The balance between the malt build of a classic red ale and the citrus hops is spot on. This duality is well executed and the most unique quality of the beer. The toasty aroma and flavors factor heavily into the taste, until a decadent caramel flavor takes over. Then, before the caramel sweetness becomes too heavy handed, the fruity and refreshing hops kick in and give it a citrusy and pleasantly bitter finish. The bitterness does linger, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome, especially if you identify as a hop head.

The head and lacing aren’t great, but I don’t give much weight to those aspect of a beer personally. Both can be impressive, but are also characteristics that everyone except the heartiest of beer geeks ignore. I don’t attribute much significance to them for the more common craft beer enthusiast.

Final Beer Notes

The reason the AleSmith Red stands out to me is the kickass toasted malt character that defines a red ale, combined with a perfect citrusy hop bitterness. The bitterness is similar to many IPAs, but is completely different when in concert with the grains typical of a red ale. The combination of these aspects is incredibly well executed. If you’re at all into red ales or red IPAs, do yourself a favor and make one of your Halloween treats an Evil Dead Red Ale from AleSmith Brewing Co.

I can’t leave out that the ABV is calculated at 6.66%. AleSmith’s eye for detail is inspired.

I give the Evil Dead Red Ale 4 and a half homemade chainsaw hands out of 5.

An Intro to Craft Beer- The Beer List

intro craft beer list bar
The first thing you’ll probably do upon entering a new brewery is check out their beer list. Depending on the brewery, the beers on it could vary tremendously. There are some core ideas though, that you’ll probably see in most every brewery you visit.

The Information on a Beer List

Firstly, you’ll see the names of the beer. Duh, right? But give them a little thought, they will clearly showcase the atmosphere that the brewery is going for. Is there a theme? Do the beers have their style in the name? Are they funny, clever, obscure, etc.? The beer is a brewery’s business card, and they’ll want them to showcase the company’s personality and character.

craft beer list wood display

Aside from the names, you’ll probably find some other information. If the styles of the brews aren’t incorporated into the names, they’ll most likely list the style as well. This is the best guideline for new craft beer drinkers. Have you had a pale ale that you liked? Grab another pale ale from another brewery to compare. Want something a little more intense? Maybe step up to an India Pale Ale (IPA) for a bigger beer with more aggressive flavors. Want something dark? Check out the stouts, porters, and brown ales on the list. Each style provides a different take on a malt forward beer, see what you like the best and then branch out. Of course, if you want something on the lighter side, try out some lagers or a pilsner for a more crisp and refreshing beverage.

How Drunk Will it Get You?

In addition to the names and styles of a breweries offerings, it is typically required to display the Alcohol by Volume, or ABV. The amount of alcohol in a beer is crucial information for many reasons. Craft beer tends to be stronger than marco-brews to enable a larger flavor profile. You might be used to having a few Bud Lights and be unaware that beer weighs in at 4.2% ABV, so a 10% Imperial IPA might knock you right on your ass. The entire industry of alcohol advocates drinking responsibly, and consumers need to be aware that ordering a craft beer at a brewery might not entail the same effects as ordering a beer at a more typical restaurant or bar you frequent. Do your research and know your limits.

How Bitter Will it Be? (Not as much as she is…)

The last piece of information that’s becoming fairly standard to display is IBUs. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units. While they don’t correlate directly to how “hoppy” a beer is, they do tell you objectively how bitter it is. The malt and grains in a beer are there to sweeten the brew and stimulate alcohol production during fermentation. The hops balance out that sweetness. While IBUs don’t tell you how hidden the bitterness is by other flavors, they’re a good baseline to begin evaluating your options. If you know you don’t enjoy the bitter aspect of beer, keep it on the lower end, under 40 IBUs for example. If you’re curious about the hop craze, step up the IBUs on each beer to try to find your ideal interval. While IBUs don’t tell you how much hop flavor is in a beer, there’s a pretty good chance that a more hoppy beer will be higher in IBUs.

There could always be more information presented on any brewery’s beer list, but these are the tidbits that are most essential for you to scope out what might be your favorite thing on the list. Other stats like OG (Original Gravity) and specific ingredients used are more for homebrewers and beer geeks and don’t offer much to a craft beer novice. It never hurts to ask though. If you see anything else on the list, always feel free to ask the bartender, I’m sure they’ll be happy to clarify.

Have you seen anything not mentioned here listed on a breweries beer list? How crazy and detailed was it? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Beer Gaming Pairing: 3 Floyds Zombie Dust and Dark Souls 3

Beer Pair Dark Souls 3

Beer and Gaming Coming Together

I’ve been working on this one for a while, it’s an idea that I’m excited about. There are many reasons why I am so passionate about both beer and gaming, but one at the forefront is how well they go together. Pairing beer and food is all good and fun, but this idea is more me. It’s obvious that gaming is experiential, but drinking a great beer is an awesome experience as well.

As you know from several of my other posts, I love the Dark Souls series and Dark Souls 3 was the first of the games that I had the opportunity to play the moment of its release. Right around that time, I had also luckily acquired some of what would become one of my favorite beers that I’ve ever tasted, 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust. The game and the beer paired together seemed like a match made in heaven, and they proved to be such.

Dark Souls 3 beer pairing zombie dust

Two Parallel Acquired Tastes

Almost everyone that follows video games knows about the punishing difficulty that has made the Souls series of games notorious. They are a grinding and sometimes stressful experience, but for certain people, they are also the most rewarding game experiences you can have. I happen to be one of those people, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the final entry in the trilogy. I have an acquired taste for the difficulty curve at this point, I’ve finished the first Dark Souls a few times and I’m in the middle of my second play through of Dark Souls 2. Even with my seasoning, sometimes you hit a wall in these games and it can be frustrating. In those situations, the Zombie Dust was a welcome complement to the game.

Much like the Dark Souls game, aggressively hoppy beers can be overwhelming and are an acquired taste among craft beer drinkers. But, just like the game, they have a habit of hooking people who embrace them. After you’re hooked, there’s nothing else like a well hopped IPA. Zombie Dust happens to be one of the most renowned hoppy beers in the country, marketed as a pale ale, but likely actually closer to an IPA. To those imbued with an unnatural appreciation for overly bitter beverages, this one is a gem.

For anyone who likes beating up their palate while they’re getting beat up in a game, this is a great beer gaming pairing. There wasn’t anything too ridiculous in the early parts of the game within which I was partaking of these fine brews, but Dark Souls games are always hard, they just aren’t always ridiculous. Whenever “You Died” appeared on screen, a hefty swig of Zombie Dust was an awesome counter-balance. The citra hops are aggressive, but the citrus notes they add make this beer nothing but refreshing to an IPA enthusiast.

Dark Souls 3 viewpoint

A Niche Appeal, Executed Perfectly

It’s interesting that both of these products most likely weren’t going for universal appeal when they were first released, speaking specifically to the original Dark Souls or even Demon’s Souls. They both set out to stand out from the crowd to a very certain type of gamer or beer drinker, but through the undeniable quality of the experience they present, each has transcended through to the mainstream. More people probably discovered a love of hops because of how fine a beer Zombie Dust is and I know gamers started to warm up to challenging games more as Dark Souls devotees raved about the quality of the experience that the Souls games offered being above any other.

Zombie Dust -4

That all sounds a bit dramatic, but I freaking love Zombie Dust and Dark Souls.

I wanted to start this idea for a series off right with something I knew I would enjoy writing about. This pairing definitely did not let me down.

Let me know what you thought of the post and the idea for the series in the comments below. Thanks for reading!