Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Re: Does it matter who makes the beer you buy?

I think the quality of the beer needs to speak for it's self. I will often pass on a beer when my only choice is one of the Light Lager's, it's just not a style that I prefer. I try to put my support for the local brewers first, we have a great bar here in NH, Strange Brew Tavern, that offers a $2 draft night on Tuesdays, and a small group of us homebrewers, from Brew Free or Die, meet rather regularly to have a pint or two and talk. The selection is about as good as it gets here in the state, is $2 a fair price, likely NOT but it sure does help give people a chance to try a beer for a good price.

I understand the dynamics of trying to run a business and generating a profit. It would appear to me that business people, for the most part, haven't pulled the plug on some traditional beers/brands that I enjoy. However the opportunity exists and I think isn't far from happening where classic examples will get canned by the bean counters. However I think the void is rapidly being filled with the exceptional craft brewers in this country and others.

So for me, brewing my own, supporting local brewers and craft brewers (with exceptional product), and then mass produced brewers with a beverage that I enjoy is where I put my beer dollars.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nothing like a wonderful shot of tequila

While taking my wife out for her birthday... I was feeling very pleased with a recent investment... so I splurged.

I ordered a shot of Gran Patron Burdeos... I know it's not beer. However it's one of those things in life where it's worth it.



A while back, I was out in California on business, I was on the advisory board of a company, that had lots of money and it was time to spend some... the CEO ordered not 1 but 2 bottles of 1790 Madeira, my guesstimate these were $10,000 a bottle and he shared them with the room.

Ever since that time, I have taken opportunities as they approached to enjoy the finer things in life, well as long as I wasn't going to go broke in the process.

So last night, it was the most expensive shot of Tequila I have had, but the enjoyment was exceptional. I asked for a brandy snifter, none to be had... I did get a glass where I could slowly enjoy the magnificent aroma, with hints of vanilla from the oak, tobacco, leather... hmm I could enjoy this all night. The flavor was smooth, no hot alcoholic notes. It clearly is an exceptional tequila.

So the price tag is steep, but so is the tequila!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beer... who dreams of beer?

After spending the last several months, studying for the Beer Judge Certification Program, exam. I can now say I dream about beer. The test is this Saturday...

I have been drinking beer for a long time... took me until my mid-20's to appreciate that beer had more to offer than just a buzz, who knew... Well some 20 years later, I have been to various parts of the globe for the sole purpose to enjoy locally brewed beer. Trips to Canada, Belgium, Scotland, England, Germany, and while I was in France on work, I did enjoy a beer or two, but if you are going to France, the wine is pretty hard to beat. I wrote the first Google beer mashup, based on my desire to find good beer when travling.

Anyway I digress... so last February several members of Brew Free or Die, a homebrewing club to which I belong, talked long time member Dan Hall, who's a Grand Master at judging, to organize an exam. I hate taking tests, have put off taking this exam for well over 10 years. I have flown about the country to judge beer, and mead on numerous occasions.

I think I know my way around the pint glass... you found this blog... see for your self.

So I joined a study group, we met for several weeks to talk about making beer, and to of course sample and discuss various beer styles. Very enjoyable and quite a learning experience. While the study sessions have ended, I have really ramped up my own studying for the exam.

My goal, to get a B or higher. It's going to be difficult, I speak about beer all the time, but now I have to know facts, and prove it with my ability to communicate with pencil and paper. Like... what's a traditional example of a American Light Lager... easy: Bud Light, ok what's the style range... OG: 1.020 - 1.040, FG: 0.998 - 1.008, IBU: 8 - 12, SRM: 2 - 3,
wow I have that to memory, only 70 more... and it gets harder, LOTS harder than this.

Thankfully I have sampled quite a number of the beers that are on the list over the year. Many of which aren't surprising are favorite examples of the style. That's why they are considered classic examples by the BJCP after all.

My beer library is fairly exhaustive, I subscribe to 3 different beer magazines. Other than increasing my natural ability to exceed on tests... I think I have this one as prepared for as possible. So bring it on.

And a special thanks to Dan Hall for all he's done to get this exam put together!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

3rd New England Regional Homebrew Competition

Fellow brewers,

I would like to take a moment of your time to talk about the 3rd Annual New England Regional Homebrew Competition, to be held on October 25th in Acton Maine. This competition isn't limited to New England residents, as last year we had over 250 entries from 18 states. This competition is a AHA/BJCP sanctioned and registered homebrewing competition.

Brew Free or Die and Southern Maine Homebrewers use this competition as a fund raiser for charities... last year we raised $2000 for the American Cancer Society, and we are trying to do it again this year. This year we are working to raise money for American Cancer Society, and The Good Shepard Food Bank of Maine.

We have a very impressive list of sponsors, currently at 38, who have donated prizes valued over $3000. Special thanks to Gritty's for their continued competition level sponsorship. For a complete list of sponsors, and to register for the competition please see our web site... http://www.bfd.org/NERHBC/

Hope you consider entering!

BJCP Judges... needed.

Michael Fairbrother
NERHBC Organizer
AHA Lifetime Member
Londonderry, NH