19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine: Texas Holdem

I’m a big fan of the new direction in wine-beer hybrids, in one tiny circle called oenobeers. So while writing a few stories about these beers co-fermented with wine grapes, a few examples from New Braunfels, TX-based New Braunfels Brewing were shipped my way. One beer, Very Seldom Naughty, employed Chenin Blanc and Viognier pomace and was aged in white wine barrels yet still was stashed in the cellar for later enjoyment.

Now IS later. And just as no wine before its time, it seems two years is the right amount of time to lay down this release. When I open these, I always offer Wifey a taste (and her own glass if she likes it). And since she tends to not pull her weight when the bottle contains a big, bourbony behemoth of a beer, I wish that tart, fruity mixed-culture beers like this would roll into her wheelhouse, but she deemed it “too funky.” Which is to show how subjective this stuff is because I found this beer quite approachable. In the vein of a sour witbier or grapey gose, it had moderate tannins and effervescence and generally tasted like something both champagne and lambic fans would both enjoy.

If you’ve never had anything from this Central Texas brewery, this is as good a place as any to start exploring. Oh sure, they’ve got some sour Pickle Juice beers, but if in a contest of funky vs approachability, my money’s on Very Seldom Naughty over the brine.

19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine: Won’t You Take Me To

I’m shit with names. Faces, too. But I’m usually elephant-like when it comes to beers. Not just if I’ve had it, but how much I liked it, where I got it, if my son was with me or not. But this bottle? I have no freaking idea how it came to exist in my beer fridge! But I know this: I’m glad it did.

By the time I’d reached for a fourth bottle out of the beer fridge, I needed something diametrically counter to the big-booze, big-barrel, big-malt bombs of the eves before. For starters, it’s a cider. For secondly, it was bottled in 2016, not nearly a decade old. For thirdsies, instead of something syrupy sweet like many modern ciders are, it was billed by its maker, Reverend Nat’s, I asked of its contents, won’t you take me to a different place than nights past? Won’t you take me to… Fuzzytown?

The funky Fuzzytown is an imperial sour cider aged in red wine barrels with kiwi and Mosaic hops. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s twice as true literally as it is figuratively/nominally. The serious acid lets you know from the get-go that this is no SOS cider. It’s exceptionally bright, and the combo of the sourness and the carbonation presents like Pop Rocks merged with Warheads. But this is no kiddy cider; it’s like a complex cocktail from outer space. Those 122 pounds of fresh kiwi fruit ride high, followed by those hops that hit like 122 pounds of fresh mango.

As much as I lean toward classic cider styles of older countries (and autonomous regions in the Fresh-Spanish Pyrenees), Rev Nat’s ciders are always an exhilarating ride straddling the future and the now of cidermaking. They never do what I feel most flavored ciders do which is hide from the fact that it’s supposed to still taste like apples. And this being made with Newtown Pippins, a favorite of the supermarket eater varieties that still serves cidermakers well, this one made me appreciative of the forgetful impulse buy I made before moving out of Portland.

19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine: Cherry Adam

The third beer is the very definition of a cellar-dweller. I’ve never once bought an entire case of a single beer. Except for one time I did and dropped, if I recall, $300 on it. No less.

Why’d I buy a case of Hair of the Dog‘s Cherry Adam From the Wood (Ftw)? It was a favor to a guy I very much doubt is reading this, but a guy who I felt I owed a beer-debt to when he’d provided a memorable (and simultaneously immemorable) experience in Kentucky a few years earlier). By that point in late 2011, I’d been living in Portland, OR for a couple years, attended my first FredFest, and fell in love with brewmaster Alan Sprints’ FTW series. These weren’t sour beers and they weren’t using every obscure fruit under the sun. They were the same strong ales HotD had become known for–beers with big personalities named for (often-four-letter)-named people who’d had a big impact on Sprints. Fred. Otto. Not that the pale ale named for his gramma Ruth was a Belgian Strong Ale, but as someone who had a Grandma Ruth myself, I could relate to his naming convention.

So I went to the dock sale early one morning, I don’t recall much of a line having formed, and dutifully bought the case for my friend. And a year later, when that case was still fully in tact in a dark, cool, crawlspace beneath our basement stairs, I asked the Kentuckian about his plans to procure his favor, which I wasn’t even going to charge interest or the increased market value since this one-of-100 case had developed quite a cult following. CAFTW became the ISO-acronym around beertrader sites.

That email thread was quite short. And fruitless. And I began treating myself to the occasional 12-ounce bottle of CAFTW.

Soon, I started popping ’em at bottle-shares. It made frequent appearance at my themed cellar-clearings, like all cherry beers. (Note: I did start an entire beer festival devoted specifically to barrel-aged sour cherry beers called Kriekfest, so you can believe I’ve gottta lotta cherry beers in my stash.)

But 24 bottles is a lot. And I still had 5 left at the start of this isolation. Not that ISO any more lation at this moment!

When I popped the top, a semi-fart of autolysed air leaked out. The liquid is less bubbly than Mike Pence on Ash Wednesday. But at the cost of roll of March-2020 Charmin per bottle, I wasn’t going to drink a fair amount without trying to pixilate out all but the silver lining: Nice, bourbon-soaked black cherry flavor.

The next day, I gave a bottle to a friend with the suggestion that he try to re-carb it first and with some life breathed into it, I think Adam could make it through another eve. But that still leaves me with 3 bottles.

19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine: Paper Edition

Yesterday’s bottle (Fifty/Fifty Eclipse) wasn’t the only bottle I’m still holding dating back to 2009. This is from Placentia, CA’s The bRUEry and the name, Papier, kicked off its ongoing series of bbl-aged anniversary beers named for traditional anniversary gifts (but in French, like the name Rue itself).

I’d discovered The Bruery right after they debuted when my friend and roommate at that year’s Great American Beer Festival, Jesse Friedman (who was still a couple years from co-founding Almanac Brewing), dragged my then-girlfriend and I to their booth on the GABF floor. Patrick Rue and his wife, Rachel, tasted me on their offerings which were pretty mind-blowing at the time. I mean, Black Orchard, a Belgian White Ale but black!? And a Belgian trippel with Thai basil in it!? Not to mention, a saison. Saison was the 2014 gose of 2008. Oh yeah, I also tried a beer the brewery would soon be bottling, a near-20% ABV bourbon-aged imperial stout called Black Tuesday.

Papier is the only beer in the ongoing anniversary series that isn’t made in the solera method (of blending newer stock into the older). Chiefly, because there was nothing older with which to blend (although it is a blend of 25% bourbon-aged Old Ale and 75% “oak-aged” though I’m not clear on whether that means old ale aged on oak chips or in some non-bourbon cask or whatnot. Papier, at this point, is an apt word since, yes, the 14.5-percenter has gone a bit papery. This is, after all, the 11th anniversary of this 1st anniversary beer and oxidation–even in a wax-dipped bottle–will do that. Still, the malt makes for a decadent after-supper sipper and the booziness does likewise. Once again, I was unable to polish off the bottle by myself and the chalice I’d rested on my nightstand perfumed my dreams. It literally made me wake up and think about last night’s beer first thing this morning.

The journey of The Bruery over the last dozen years has been, as Paul McCartney put it, a long and winding road. First the Rue family tree grew by a daughter. Then the Bruery family started selling sour beers under the Bruery Terreux label, and then non-Belgian, non-aged beers under the Offshoot imprint. Then, of course, the Rues sold a majority share to private equity, which enabled them to move from Orange County to Grape Country, Napa, where they just launched Erosion Wines. Pretty bad time to start a new business, but hey, if anything’s gonna get us through this pandemic and quarantine, it’s wine and beer.

Of course, seeing as Bruery bottles occupied an entire shelf in the beer cooler, this means I’ve got 11 more including my now-last Papier, Cuir-Bois (2nd-5th anniversaries), a couple from the 12 Days of Christmas series dating back to ’09’s Two Turtle Doves, several sours, and, of course, some variants of Black Tuesday. If the quarantine warrants a second 19-day cellar-clearning (and sadly it probably will) look for The Bruery to be featured again.

So I raised this glass to that nice young couple who branched out from beers that were the norm of the mid-aughts craft beer scene and started to make the kinds of beers they wanted to see and became quite influential in the process.

NewSeries: 19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine.

Projects. If there’s one good thing that comes out of this Novel Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is that it’ll be remembered as that time we all GSD. All the home repairs we always vowed to do “someday,” the books we’d bought but never read, the bingeable shows we meant to watch, the time we wished we had to spend with our kids, the longer walks we pretended were around the corner, now is the moment we’re actually Getting Shit Done.

One of those, for me and many a beer geek I know, is finally drinking down our beer cellars.

The bottles we’d held off for some celebration that didn’t seem to come (5 or 9 years back). The bottles that got pushed to the back and since out of sight means out of mind we’d just forgotten we even had that amazing looking thing. Whatever the reason, it’s dusty and forlorn and yet it may be brilliant still so since if there’s another thing a pandemic is good for it’s reminding us that we’re here for a good time, not a long time.

I kinda doubt this extended isolation will only last 19 days, but in honor of this COVID-19 virus that’s stopped the Earth from spinning, I’m gonna drink/document 19. Starting with this purple-wax-dipped bottle of Eclipse Imperial Stout from 2009, emanating from Fifty/Fifty Brewing in Truckee, CA in Lake Tahoe.

I bought this while living not too far from there in San Francisco, probably at City Beer Store. Furthermore, I never would’ve bought it if it wasn’t for something my then-girlfriend did for me just a year earlier. She busted through my self-imposed price ceiling on any given bottle of beer which had been $20. But, while in Chicago on my cross-country book tour promoting Red, White, & Brew, which was her last stop before flying home, we went to an awesome wine shop across the street from Barbara’s Books where I’d done my reading/signing and she bought me a bottle of Naughty Goose, a bourbon-aged imperial brown ale from the local, independent brewery Goose Island. It cost her $30. Outrageous. And also, permission to move my own cap up that high when necessitated. I don’t recall for sure, but I think I dropped $25 for this 22oz’er in ’09 and kept buying a couple bottles each year until the price tags reached over $30. And now, there are so many such barrel-aged beers in my cellar that I’ve stopped amassing them altogether. I noticed that Fifty/Fifty switched from bombers to 500ml packages, which is smart. I confess in advance I didn’t even finish this bottle, but think I got 16 ounces down.

And this barrel-aged number from Fifty/Fifty felt so necessary. In an era when next to no craft breweries had yet developed a barrel program of any note, Eclipse had debuted a couple years earlier. What I didn’t know at the time was that I’d get to write about it a year later and, more interestingly, the man-behind-the-scenes who made it possible. This profile of Tom Griffin, a man known to select brewmasters from coast-to-coast as The Barrel Guy, remains one of my most favorite stories I’ve ever written. (And frankly, since Draft Mag is long gone, I can’t believe the link still works.)

So Eclipse is in the pantheon of bourbon barrel aged beers but back in 2009, it was the first year the brewery even released various versions and used the wax color to denote which specific barrels were used for maturation. There were 3 in ’09. Last year they released 17 editions and, being ’19, one’s aged in Yaegermeister barrels while one’s a pastry stout emulating banana fritters. But this bottle I’d saved to kick off the 2020 Quarantine was aged in Elijah Craig barrels, one of my fave bourbons.

Either despite or because of the 11 years that have come and gone, the beer was a little languid but a lot lovely. Viscous and semi-flat, it oozed with a richness messieurs Penzzoil and Valvoline could only dream of and I do mean the sense of being rich, not of being crude and oily. Lava cake, Little League catcher’s mitt, and damp tobacco leaves rounded out the heady brew. It cast a shadow over most such BBA-RIS libations I’ve had in its wake.

I’m now on the lookout for some sub-$20, 500-ml variants of Eclipse 2020… if we’re around by the time it comes out.

My pick for #FlagshipFebruary? My local DBA

I was honored to be invited to write an essay for the inaugural #FlagshipFebruary campaign.  In my essay about Firestone Walker DBAclick here–I open with a quote on craftsmen and craftsmanship by legendary designer Charles Eames. But here’s his quote that served as a bookend.

In 1957 Eames declared that the title of craftsman “places a tremendous responsibility on those who claim it.” He then referenced a fellow architect named Mies van der Rohe who Eames claimed once said, “I don’t want to be interesting. I just want to be good.”

Those are fitting words for DBA’s epitaph, yet DBA will never die. Not DBA’s somewhat fierce, perhaps nostalgic, decidedly local fans (myself included) have anything to say about it.

The Session #130: Create Your Own Beerfest

3664495894_75dbf1b0bf_mWell this is fun. Writing my own entry for The Session that I’m hosting/foisting on my fellow beer bloggers. The self-imposed assignment is to write about how (I) would design (my) dream beer festival. Conceptually, I tried to take all the major facets into account: theme, beer style(s), location, attendance, ticket pricing, and my overarching-ampersand that affects the way I think about enjoying beer, writing about beer, and celebrating beer, “and,” as in “beer and.” In other words, this is a festival for beer and what-else?

The level of self-interest in this ain’t veiled. I actually throw a few beer festivals back in Portland where I got to live from 2010 to the summer of 2017. And I may take a stab at one here in SoCal (since beerfests and sun go snifter-in-hand). My first baby is Baker’s Dozen in which I invite a baker’s dozen worth of breweries to make a coffee beer using 13 roasters’ beans and attendees also get samples from 13 doughnuteries (the 4th annual fest will be March 11, 2018). There’s Kriekfest, a celebration of Belgian Kriek-inspired beers or imports from Belgium that takes place in the Columbia River Gorge surrounded by Oregon cherry orchards (mark your calendars for July 21, 2018). For a couple years I had a hoot doing The Rural Brewer, inspired both by visiting all the tiny Oregon breweries in tiny towns far from the greater beer map as well as the running gag in 30 Rock about an off-broadway musical, The Rural Juror. And, what started as and really should’ve remained just a fun what-if exercise in beerfest tomfoolery, City of Goses. (Because beer puns.)

What these tell me is that I clearly love niche beer festivals. And that, both by design in the fact that sales are capped and never would’ve sold far beyond that cap (500), I prefer settings that are cozier. It’s what the Dutch call gezellig. That was my pitch to Portland’s moribund Bazi Bierbrasserie in launching Gluhbier Night—an intimate affair of warm, mulled beers that are a way of life at European Christmas markets (along with the infinitely more popular gluhwein). Beer fests, to me, are like the perfect concerts. It’s not that I’ve never attended stadium concerts (Rolling Stones. Eric Clapton. Even Michael Jackson at Dodger Stadium supporting Thriller!). And it’s not that I don’t love OBF and GABF with their thousands and thousands of revelers. But when you’re at a smaller venue, you feel a sense of camaraderie and anyone there might become your new beer drinking buddy. I’m still friends with someone I met a decade ago at a blues and brews fest, highlighting the power of both beer and music. So for me, when the number of attendees stretches out into the triple digits but not the fours, I think you’re really mashing with steam.

Style-wise, there’s absolutely something to be said for a fest where you get to enjoy as wide a range of styles as brewers can conceive. My palate doesn’t mind bouncing around from bitter IPA to boozy BBA behemoth to puckering lambic-style and then mellow out with an approachable Continental lager. But my dream beer fest doesn’t peddle in that kind of cerveza schizophrenia. I do relish IPAs, stouts, and barrel-aged beers, but there’s no shortage of IPA fests (and IIPA and IIIPA) or dark beer fests or wood-aged ones. I’m not interested in recreating an event that’s been done before. Clearly, I really love coffee beers. And my favorite fruited beers really are cherry ones (sorry Framboise-o-philes, I rarely share your raspberry romance). One beer fest I loved conceptually was Mighty Mites, conceived and curated by session beer statesman Jeff Alworth. Nothing over 4% ABV! Imagine a fest where you can truly sample every beer and walk out on your own accord. It occurred once and then Bazi continued a watered down (I see what I did there) version of it as part of the Hawthorn Street Fair. I also was enamored with Portland Mercury’s Malt Ball, wherein Portland brewers and bands truly sat down and created a beer designed to pair with the band’s sound. They never pulled it off perfectly, but the concept was divine. So for this imaginary fest I’m scheming up, one thing I’m currently crushing on is herbal beers. (Sage beers, anyone?!) Saisons infused with Basil or thyme supplement my love of hops. This is very much in the domain of Beers Made By Walking.

herbgardenAs for my “beer and” thoughts above, since every festival is essentially a giant beer garden, naturally this one would have a giant herb garden. Picture a farmer’s market meets cooking demonstration where you get to learn about ways to use these various herbs: homemade tinctures, remedies, growing tips, and more. Keep in mind I can hardly grow a bed of mint so this is something I could really use.

As for the twin elements of festival location and region the participating breweries hail from, which I cushioned as “locavore vs. globetrotter,” I’m torn on this. Much like the best beer is, theoretically, the one in my hands, the best beer fest is the one closest to me. But in reality, neither is always or frequently true. I’ve seen some beer events championing smoked beers, and I have no clue if this is a thing, but if someone held a Rauchbierfest in Bamberg, I’d be part of that zeitgeist. Still, I’d like to see the best of smoke from breweries in and beyond Franconia. I’m still kicking myself for not getting to Night of Great Thirst, Belgium’s lambicfest, when we lived in neighboring Holland. And even that now includes great representations from breweries as far afield as the USA. So my mythical Herbal Beer Fest for anywhere from 500-999 beer fans is to be held in a gnome’s garden or a færie’s forest. And I want creatures from all around to fly or burrow their way in.

Incidentally, one of the items I put forward to participants for this exercise is to come up with the price of admission. This is something I completely struggle with IRL. As the events organizer, I confess I’d like to make money off of them. As someone who attends way more beer fests than I put on, I like to not spend a ton. I’m convinced that my events are a great value, based on how little I’ve ever made off of them. Maybe I should bring in sponsors. Maybe I should charge more. One thing I’ll never do is offer a VIP session. Unlike, say, flying somewhere where the passengers have nothing in common except a destination, concert goers and festival attendees are in it together. They should be communal and therefore egalitarian. (By way of confession, when I accept media passes to a beerfest, they sometimes include the perks of VIP admission. Perhaps that’s hypocritical, but I’d never pay extra to feel entitled to MORE of the beerfest than my anyone else. Also, I never use all my media tokens and end up sharing them with strangers.) So I don’t like to give anyone special privileges just because they could pay more than the hoi polloi. Maybe that’s just me and maybe I’m leaving money on the table as a result.

Now, am I really going to put on this beerfest? No. Well, never say never. Like I said, I do want to create something here in SoCal that we don’t already have. And despite the bi-annual release of the Stone Brewing collab saison featuring parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, I don’t believe there’s any event just for herbal beers. If anyone reading this wants to partner, you know where to find me. But first, gut check: would you buy a ticket?

Announcing The Session #130 – Create Your Own Beerfest

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The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is our–the global beer blogging community’s–monthly get-together to write from our own respective perspectives on a single topic (of the monthly host’s choosing, which for December, 2017 means me). Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. The series was created and is organized by the duo of Stan Hieronymus and Jay R. Brooks, and more information can be found on the latter’s site.

I’m honored to be hosting for the second time, first back in 2009, and not unexpectedly have landed on a topic near’n’dear to my heart: beerfests. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and please, as someone who’s come back to The Session fold, I’m pushing to get 20+ fellow beer bloggers to participate in December, and onward) is to write about how you would design your dream beer festival. Posts are due Friday, December 1.

There are actually so many regional, local, and niche beer fests these days, we’re hearing a bit about “beerfest fatigue.” And I get that. Can you really hit 52 of ’em a year if you live somewhere near Portland, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Philly, NYC, etc? As someone who attends more than my fair share, sadly not all are created equal, but one I may not care for is probably someone else’s annual favorite. Things to ponder:

  • Size matters: When building your own fest, are you striving for a crowd of Oktoberfest proportions in the millions, an epic party of many thousands, or more intimate few hundred?
  • Styles matter: From GABF where over 7,900 beers across every imaginable style (and mash-up) were available for sampling to themed events such as barrel-aged beers or holiday ales, to the plethora of IPA fests and some other single-style fests, would the event of your design be a grab-bag or exhibit razor-sharp focus?
  • Locavore vs Globe Trotter: After deciding what kind of beers to feature, or even before, think about if you’re inviting your local breweries or ones from your Brewery Fantasy League. Are attendees going to be more tempted to support local or to get a taste of beers from breweries they don’t already have access to? Let’s put aside for a second how hard it can be to bring in a brewery that’s not already licensed to distribute in your home town if that’s where this event is.
  • Location, location, and timing: The most important element of a successful event is its location. Followed by location. Followed by timing. When and where is this fantasy beerfest of yours? Is it in a city rife with events (meaning they’ve proven to be popular) or one starved for such a fest (but who’s to say if the locals will support)? And does it take place in the summer at the height of beer drinking season or a less-crowded date where it can shine on its own?
  • Etcetera. There’s a lot more that goes into organizing a beer fest. (I know from experience in producing some that have turned into annual events and some I’ve let slip away as a one- or two-off.) So if you want to opine about your favorite kind of glassware (or hated glasses you always see), ticket prices, food vendors, or anything else that you hate witnessing or wonder why we don’t see something like we should, add that, too. Finally, end with a note about why you can see trying to make this fantasy fest a reality or why you’ll never advance this idea of yours beyond the Session post!

Thanks for participating. Again, please post your blog in the comments below by or on Friday, Dec. 1. Or you can tag me @yaeger when you post on Twitter.

The Session #129: Missing Beer Styles

sessionBefore I even jump into the 129th entry in the decade-long running Beer Blogging Session, I’m happy to announce that Yours Truly will be hosting the 130th rendition of The Session! I won’t hijack my own post and spill the beans what the topic will be (stay tuned for my announcement next week), so now I can resume tackling this month’s subject as conjured up by Eoghan Walsh and hosted at his Brussels Beer City is: Missing Local Beer Styles.

In 2017 it might seem odd to think that there are beer styles missing from our local markets. We seem to be living in an era of almost ubiquitous choice – where almost every style of beer is available to us either in bars or online, and where new styles quickly break out from their local markets to be brewed by craft or independent breweries around the world. Often though, this choice feels like one between an IPA, a session IPA, a double IPA, a NEIPA, a black IPA (although, really?), West Coast IPA, fruited IPA, etc.

You get the picture.

Outside of large metropolitan areas, areas with a large craft beer culture, or regions without recourse to online shopping the spread of different or new styles can remain limited. …(As such) what beer style would you like to see being brewed in your local market that is not yet being brewed?

Posed this question one month ago, I’d have had a hard time delivering an answer. The only beer style that it seems my local or most of America’s craft breweries completely ignore of late is the English IPA (*rimshot*). But there, on the floor of this year’s GABF, Austin’s Live Oak Brewing was sampling attendees with a smoky motif: a 4.4% Heller Rauchbier, a whopper, jr. of a 3% Grodzinskie, and—voila—what I recall was my first taste of a Lichtenhainer. If you caught yourself reaction with “a what-en-heinie?!” you’re excused for never having heard of it before. In a few words, it’s a smoked German sour ale. In more than a few words, here’s Live Oak’s description from their webpage outlining their brilliant line of six rauchbiers:

Lichtenhaier is a German beer style that vanished in the 1980s. Similar in strength and tartness to Berliner Weisse, this beer adds the intriguing aroma of smoked malt. Fermentation with yeast and Lactobacillus creates an acidic profile. The low bitterness and high level of carbonation allows for full enjoyment of the subtle lemony acid and smoke flavors. Please enjoy this historical re-recreation. OG 9ºP, ABV 3.2%, IBU: 6

Now, I love me some thick, bone-toasting Aecht Schlenkerla Doppelbock at 8% or their 6.4% Hellerbock, each robust with bacony goodness that leaves me reeking as if I’ve stumbled into a bonfire, this Lichtenhainer was still big on smoke, medium on tartness, making it huge on flavor yet a featherweight in both body and alcohol. In other words: a perfect beer! And yet, the only time I’d ever come across the style name was general passages lumping German sour ales together such as goses and gratzers. As was to be expected, I found an entry about them on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins (and much of the good stuff is Ron Pattinson (mis-credited as Martyn Cornell initially because of a spirited sandwich feud taking place on Jay Brooks’s Facebook wall that gave me Martyn-on-the-brain) quoting vintage publications, beginning with this quote from Dr. Max Delbrück’s Brauerei-Lexicon of 1910:

“Lichtenhainer is made from smoked barley malt alone, it acquires its sourish taste not during primary fermentation, as does Berliner Weisse, but only through a later developing infection with lactic acid bacteria. . . .”

As for its appellation, Pattinson notes where Lichtenhainer hails or hailed from:

“Real” Lichtenahainer came from the villages of Wöllnitz, Ziegenhain, Ammerbach, Winzerla and, of course, Lichtenhain.

One thing I personally find interesting is that Lichtenhein, a village in Saxony, is exactly 330 kilometers southeast of Goslar where un-smoked goses emanated and 330 km northeast of Bamberg where non-soured rauchbiers have never gone extinct.

*Update* It only took Ron a few hours to not only see my post but make a few amendments. Not quite corrections as I don’t believe I got anything wrong, per se, about Lichtenhainer’s disapperance, but I’m sure Pattinson would like everyone to be aware that “Berliner Weisse was also smoked until the 1840’s. Grätzer/Grodziskie was never a sour style” and furthermore that “Lichtenhainer only disappeared for a few years.” I will say that, if it only disappeared for a few years, even people who were declared dead and then get their pulse back seconds or minutes later get to claim they were legally dead.

So there we have it. I don’t have much more to extrapolate after that, but I’m glad that I had an answer for this month’s Session and I’m glad the Session gave me an outlet to praise effusively Live Oak’s rendition of a Lichtenhainer as well as add another global destination on my bucketlist to hunt down an authentic iteration. Then again, if more breweries (that I have access to far from Texas) start giving a lick, I would only have to make the journey to my local watering hole.

The Session #127: Bottle Shops

sessionSo the 127th topic for The Session is, if you’ll pardon the crude analogies, akin to asking Cheech & Chong about what makes a great head shop or the late Hugh Hefner which campuses to scour for Playmates. Let’s let Jack Perdue over at Deep Beer set it up:

The theme chosen is Bottle Shops: Good, Bad & The Ugly. I find bottle shops interesting and would like to learn other perspectives on these places many of us purchase our favorite quaffs. We love our beer and have a variety of options in acquiring it. Some home brew, others like to visit their local pubs, beer tourism and beer destinations have become a trend, but the ever popular bottle shop is often the best and most reliable means for finding our next beer.

Of course, not all bottle shops are the same.

As a greenhorn, I first dipped my toes into the malted waters in the megachain BevMo. In those days, though, the modern bottle shop scarcely existed since craft beer was on the uptick and wax-dipped, corked’n’caged, coolship-fermented, foeder-aged beers had yet to dominate the glassy knolls of today’s beer geek Meccas.

From witnessing firsthand the birth of San Francisco’s revered City Beer Store where Craig & Beth curated exceptional coolers and shelves full of whalez bait and across town where Eric Cripe once converted The Jug Shop into the bomber bastion of the Bay to my most recent local retailer, the world-famous Belmont Station now helmed by Lisa Morrison, bottle shops have long served as my social hub, ear to the tracks, and source of retail therapy. I dare confess they’ve alleviated any chance my bank account has had of ever appearing bloated.

Furthermore, some of my best memories on the Open Beer Road have included the time I spent hours at Goebel Liquor talking to Rob Miller, III about his “World of Beer” where he sold self-cellared carriers of Celebration verticals and was grooming his son, Rob, IV, to manage the store where they’ve stopped counting after the 1,700th SKU. That was in Wichita, KS and I had an even more memorable–or forgetful–night in Bowling Green, KY where Blake Layne tapped for me the keg of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout he’d been hording at Chuck’s. It was also the first time I’d enjoyed Brooklyn Black Ops RIS. And several more which I can’t detail since the night ended with me checking into a room at the hotel across the road.

Bottle shops are great because–besides the obvious, which is that it’s where you go to buy good beer and get recommendations from the employees who ought to be the most credible, local experts–they’re the closest beer lovers have to treasure chests. In lieu of gold dobloons and strings of pearls, you are rewarded with shelf after shelf of bourbon-aged stouts and fruit-forward sour ales; Bohemian pilsners, German pilsners, dry-hopped pilsners, and silly imperial or black or yuzu pilsners abound. But what about the buried treasure? One of the most fun things you can do at a huge bottle shop, especially one that’s in a less populated town or even in the less trendy neighborhoods, is getting down on your hands and knees and moving bottles around to rifle through dusty, forgotten and forlorn bottles in the back that less eagle-eyed whale hunters have missed. Once, when The Bruery’s Four Calling Birds came out, I happened upon a Partridge in a Pear Tree. And long after Deschutes’s Brandy-aged The Abyss had been snatched up by the devil’s share, I received the angel’s.

I shop less at these places today than I used to (this blogger tells himself as he’s en route to Denver where he knows he’ll stop into Mr. B’s near his Airbnb pad and scour the coolers and aisles searching for American krieks, maybe a beloved CONE-IPA [that’s not an IPA made with hop cones but Colo-brewed New England-style], and even though he only buys beers from the state he’s in, he’ll make an exception if he finds anything from Missouri’s Scratch Brewing like he did last year). Partly because with a kid, I have less time for shopping as well as hosting bottle parties. But also hugely because I did so much that my cellar overfloweth and I’m on hiatus until I can drink it down to clear some room. And that’s after our recent move which necessitated depleting the stash by a solid 20%. But like I said up front, no matter how crudely, somewhere between being an addict and a connoisseur lies the layer many of today’s beer consumers and the place we get our fix or strike gold is down at the bottle shop.