Archive for May, 2010

It’s a Beer Trials party

May 6, 2010

I wandered down to the Green Dragon (I go to other pubs… regularly… it’s just that the Green Dragon is where the action at. The Daily Wort has no financial interest in Rogue Brewing or any of its subsidaries. Promise) today to meet with Russ, the manager, to plan next week’s release party for The Beer Trials. It’s going to be good fun, I think. They’ll have at least 8 of our high-scoring choices from the book on draft. Co-author Robin and editor Alexis will be in town. We’ll have a bit of a reading, I think, but mostly we’ll be mixing it up, showing off the book, and enjoying some top-notch beers.

That’s my kind of party. Hopefully I’ll be fully recovered from FredFest, which is two days earlier. Also, I think, my kind of party.

The party is at 7PM next Wednesday—May 12th—so feel free to drop in. We’ll have copies of the book; if you’d already purchased one and you’d like to get it signed or have a gift copy inscribed, feel free to bring it with you.

While we chatted I enjoyed a Boulevard Maibock. Boulevard doesn’t distribute much outside of the Midwest, which is good for Midwesterners and a bit of a shame for the rest of us. You can find their Smokestack series of small-production beers in good specialty shops all over, though. But to see an everyday, have-a-pint-or-two Boulevard beer is a treat, because they do a fine job.

And there aren’t a lot of American craft brewers pushing the craft-and-lager-drinker crossover beers these days, but as weather gets warm, they’re a good call. I like the current trend towards Kölsch-style beers (like Goose Island Summertime Ale or the periodically-available Widmer Collaborator Kölsch), but that’s more of a summer style. Maibocks do a good job of straddling the conundrum described in this Baltimore Sun column: enough body for blustery April (or in Portland, May) showers, but light enough for the gorgeous summer-is-coming afternoons, too.

At any rate, one of my personal beliefs (having been there myself) is that many craft-beer drinkers give short shrift to the quality potential of well made pale lagers, and I dig the beers that can open minds to the possibilities there. And after a week of alternating sun and rain (or both simultaneously) it was lovely to get out on the bike, warm the legs up a bit, relax with an easygoing, flavorful lager, and ride home. I’m looking forward to doing that a lot more often this summer.

See you at the Dragon!


Market Moving

May 2, 2010

Last night, my household had a fire in the pit in the backyard—a regular occurrence when the weather permits—and my housemate S, working on a large pot of chili for dinner, asked me to do some beer shopping on her behalf. She wanted cheap beer to serve, which was fine by me. There is a time and a place for cheap beer, and standing around a fire in the dark, drinking spicy chili, is one of those times.

The local market has all manner of those beers. They carry Olympia and Rainier, which aren’t great beers but carry a certain nostalgia for me. I went to high school downwind of the Olympia Brewery, and growing up in the Pacific Northwest meant regular exposure to the quirky and creative television ads that Rainier ran through the ’80s. Both breweries were shuttered after Pabst sold them to Miller in the late ’90s (though Pabst still own both brands).

It struck me, though, that there was an option that might prove more satisfying than either of my erstwhile local beers. Tecate did surprisingly well in our blind tastings for The Beer Trials, garnering a very solid 7 (out of 10). It’s a beer with a dodgy reputation, which is certainly not helped by the packaging. Here’s what I wrote in the book about the design:

Everything about this can screams “Warning! Cheap beer inside!” which doesn’t really do the product justice. On the upside, the beer is cheap. If they had a nicer package, it might cost more.

However, when I eventually located the half-rack of Tecate, I found it priced at some 40% more than the rest of the comparable pale lagers. Tecate was more expensive than Full Sail Session Lager. I was flummoxed. Considering my housemate’s budget, I reversed gears and bought the Rainier. Which worked fine.

What happened, I wondered to my housemates? Did I misremember the price of the stuff? The pricing indicators in the book are largely based on prices we actually paid, and poking around on the internet it appears that my surprise was warranted. Were they jacking up the prices in anticipation of of Cinco de Mayo sales?

Or perhaps, suggested my housemates, they’ve read the book. Maybe it’s your fault the stuff is so expensive.