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Anyone catch Food Tech last night?

I will be the first to admit (and my wife will fully stand behind this) that I am a dork when it comes to seeing how stuff is made. Modern Marvels is one of the best shows ever produced as far as I am concerned. On of the History Channel’s new shows is called Food Tech and they show you how all of the components come together to make a meal. One week they will take pizza and show you everything from pizza over construction to how tomatoes are harvested and the next will be Chinese take-out.

Last night they had baseball food on there. So basically hot dogs, ice cream, cracker jacks, and of course beer. For some reason I am still fascinated by the beer making process, even though I make my own and know what is going on. Maybe it is all of the stainless steel but I just love watching it. They showed the flagship Bud plant in St. Louis as the example of how beer is made and it was just impressive. They have primary fermenters that hold 2,000 kegs, that’s 1,000 barrels or more than some breweries produce in an entire year in just on fermenter. The scary thing is, they have dozens of them.

Did anyone else catch Food Tech or are you not like me and don’t really care how it is made as long as it tastes good?

Beer Wars: Review

Last week I posted my initial impressions on the movie Beer Wars. My overall impression was that I liked it. I have since watched it another time just to make sure everything I was remembering was correct. The movie is essentially made up of three parts that are mostly woven together, but also don’t entirely have anything to do with each other. The first part is talking about prohibition and the rise again of craft beer. It tells us how we got to the point that we are now and also how the big boys made their moves.

There are a number of random interviews from craft beer industry giants along with some from the homebrewers group. The interviews are nice sound clips, but they really don’t add a ton to the story. I am sure they had a lot more to say than what was placed in the movie and I would of liked to hear a bit more from them.

The second focus of the movie was centered about two breweries/brands; Dogfish Head and Moonshot. I am partial to Dogfish Head as I love the story associated with that brewery. Basically Sam talks about the struggles of getting a distribution system setup and also how much personal risk there is in owning a brewery. He also mentions how easily the big guys could crush him if they wanted to. One of the biggest points that he makes is what he calls “identity theft” of beer. He makes the comparison how an Bud pumpkin beer vs. his DFH one stacks up. His beer is more expensive, comes in less bottles, and, while it may have more taste, a newcomer to the beer scene is going to go with the Bud product. I get the concern, but that is how business goes. Competition is going to happen and ideas are going to get used by other companies. It is just like TV’s, there are the bargain brands and the ones that are quality. It really depends on what you are willing to spend in order to get the quality you want to get. The good thing about beer is that the price for the cheap beer and the craft beer isn’t that different.

The other brand the movie focuses on is Moonshot. It is a beer that was started by a former sales manager for Sam Adams. They show her struggles with getting funding to take the business to the next level. Moonshot is beer with caffeine in it, which is supposed to be an “untapped market.” The Moonshot lady eventually goes to Bud to try and sell her product. Basically everything that she was against, she winds up trying. I guess the movie was trying to show that you have to go to the big guys to get noticed. It neglects to say that beer with caffeine (which apparently doesn’t taste very good) is just a bad idea or how thousands of other breweries have managed to make it without going to the big guys.

The final part of the movie shows us the three tier system and how much money the beer industry spends in the government. To be honest, it was the most boring part of the movie. I don’t really care to hear about government legislation or anything of the like. The movie also featured a few Micheal Moore stunts like a blind taste testing between the three big beers. People were asked to pick out each of the beers and none of the people shown were able to get it right. Does it prove anything, no, was it entertaining, hell yes. The director of the movie also tried to get an interview with the Bud executives by running up to them and asking.  The obviously did not work and the movie tried to show it as another example of the big guys ignoring the little people. Not really the case, but anyway.

Again I want to say that I did enjoy the movie. There were just a few parts that bothered me in areas where the movie completely ignored. It was entertaining but I feel like the movie didn’t have a clear direction. I suggest seeing it and let me know you thoughts about it if you have/when you do.

Beer Review #42 Winter Lager

When I first got into craft beer, Sam Adams was one of the breweries that helped bridge the gap. Sam Adams a.k.a. Boston Beer Company does a great job at making flavorful beer that is acceptable the the majority of beer drinkers out there. They may not make everything that a seasoned craft beer drinker would like, but they do a great job of opening people up to new styles and flavors.

Winter Lager was always one of my favorites so when I saw it in the store I grabbed it. It pours a nice amber, ruby color and it is perfectly clear. There is also a fluffy off-white head. The nose on the beer is toasty, malty, and some slightly fruity esters in there. The fruity part is slightly surprising being that it is a lager and generally, lagers are cleaner tasting than ales and they generally do not produce a lot of esters either.

The taste is nice an malty. The malt sweetness is upfront with toasty and bready flavors throughout. There is a slight hop on the back-end but it is not overwhelming in the slightest. Sam Adams Winter Lager comes in at 5.80% ABV as well. This is a super drinkable beer that I think most would enjoy. It is light-medium in body and has a great aftertaste. I think this is a decent introduction to seasonal beers and fits well into the winter seasonal “style.” I still want something darker and richer for winter time, but, being that this is a mass produced beer on a much larger scale than I usually talk about, I will let it slide. (more…)

Busch sues Ontario brewery over lime

09-08-02You can read the full article here, but I’ll give you the important parts. Anheuser is suing Brick Brewing Company saying that their lime beer named Red Baron Lime is infringing on their copyright and trademarks for their beloved Bud Light Lime. Busch thinks that the labeling leads people to believe that it is Bud Light Lime or associated with it, when Red Baron Lime is not at all.

According to a Anheuser spokesperson, ““Bud Light Lime is a high-quality beer, brewed in small batches in England. Brick’s activities are undermining this reputation.” Undermining a reputation? Really, Bud Light Lime tastes like Sprite with alcohol in it. It is a joke of a beer, well, to people who drink good beer anyway. It gets better.

“In comparing the two labels in the lawsuit, Bud Light Lime label shows BL, with a slice of lime underneath the letters. Red Baron Lime is spelled out in a different font, with an image of a slice of lime below. Both beers are sold in clear bottles and the labels have a green and silver color scheme. Anheuser also objected to Brick’s use of a Web site saying like its own Web site for Bud Light Lime, it used pictures of young, attractive people wearing bathing suits.”

BRICK BREWING CO. LIMITED - Red Baron LimeA lime flavored beer with a lime on the cover, and what?!? they use green! You have got to be kidding me. Green and silver color schemes seem to go pretty well, just asked my beloved Eagles. I inspected both websites and they both have attractive looking people on them once you get past the age page. I’ve never heard of a beer company doing this, so it is shocking to see two beer companies with attractive people in their advertising. Bud Light Lime has over 112,000 fans of Facebook while Red Baron Lime only has a little over 500. Not that it really matters but I think you can tell a difference in the scope of breweries we are talking about.

Enough with the sarcasm but this is just silly. There are dozens of beers that use similar color schemes and I doubt that Brick was really trying to cash in on people mistaking it for Bud Light Lime. I hate when big companies go after little ones for pointless reasons. Heck Brick has already changed their packaging once to make them happier.

Wasn’t there another lime beer that came out before both of these anyway (insert Miller Chill)? They use a green and lime color scheme as well, but don’t use the clear bottles. Anyone else have any thoughts on this matter?


Portland Breweries: Full Sail Brewing Company

07-30-01On my visit to Texas last year I saw a few six packs of Full Sail beer at the store, but decided to go with some Fat Tire instead. On my honeymoon I got to discover what I missed all that time ago. Smalls and I decided that Full Sail was one of the many breweries that we would visit during our stay. There are a ton of breweries in Portland, and Oregon for that matter. So many in fact that our hotel gave us a brewery guide to Oregon. It was like eight pages long!

Getting back to Full Sail, we hoped on the Portland Street Car (still in fairless square) and took it down to one of the last free stops. Went towards the river and found Full Sail’s tasting room in Portland. The full brewery is located about an hour outside of the city. The tasting room is also attached to a resturant that was pretty pricy, but the beer was not.

We obviously got a sampler from their many beers and made sure to get their three main brews: Amber, IPA, and Pale Ale. They had a wheat beer, a stout, a porter, and a few other IPAs. I really wanted to try their barleywine, but they were out, darn.

I’m not going to get into all of the beers becasue they tasted as they should. Very good and stuck to the standards very nicely. I did get the stout on cask as well and it was excellent. Stouts might be my favorite beer to have in a cask. The flavors combine so nicey and the warm temperature brings out a lot of hidden flavors. They also had a Pilsner which was excellent. Really crisp and light but packed with flavor.

I would visit Full Sail again the next time I get out to Portland.