Sunday, October 08, 2006

C.C. in N.C.

At the World Beer Festival, sampling the Creme Brulee Java Stout with Erin, representative for the Kuhnhenn Brewery of Warren, MII represented the Clipper City Brewing Company at the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC. It rained all weekend and there was a chemical plant fire 30 miles away, but things were fun. In the old Bull Durham Ballpark: several thousand attendees, 2 sessions, lots of good beer!

Friday evening was the get-together for the brewers and staff. The day before it had been 80°F. That night it was in the upper 30s and windy! I met up with several friends in the industry, including, true beer pioneers, Carol and Ed Stoudt, who didn't remember me, but who I've met several times over the years.

At our booth, on draft, we were serving our Small Craft Warning Uber Pils and Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale.

I was very thrilled with the response to our cask ale. Many who tasted our Loose Cannon from a firkin in the cask ale tent (Pop the Cap), deliberately made their way to the other end of the festival area to find our booth and congratulate us ... and have another Loose Cannon on draft!

The festival was the official kick-off of the Clipper City brand in North Carolina.

More photos here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Imperial this, Imperial that!!??

Brewmasters, l to r: Ernesto Igot of Clipper City, Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery

Brewmasters: Ernesto Igot (l) of Clipper City, Garrett Oliver (r) of Brooklyn Brewery

In 1776, nascent Americans rejected Empire and its Imperial trappings. So why are American brewers so enthusiastically re-embracing that concept when naming their quintessentially American beers (excluding the historically correct acknowledgment of Catherine the Great's penchant for extracurricular activities and London stout)?

At the Great American Beer Festival, there were many good beers and much good cheer. It was well worth the visit. Many DC/Balto folk stopped by our booth to say hello. We thank them!


With so many choices, how could one pick a favorite? But I'll pick two: the vertical tasting of Alaskan Smoked Porter (from 1994 onward .. so actually expanding my list) and the Triple Exultation from Eel River. By the way, the latter beer won 2 medals, hmmm - in its pristine form and in its aged iteration.

Here's a rant (and it truly is such, as its author does ramble) but it does speak to the issues of styles, style nabobs, and style creep.

At Falling Rock (Denver's version of Baltimore's Max's TapHouse) with 100+ taps, I enjoyed a wacky 10% abv Manhattan Project from Full Sail: inoculated with brettanomyces, extra-fermented with cherries, and aged in Pinot Noir casks.

I had time to attend only one other-than-beer session. It was Garrett Oliver doing a fantastic cooking demonstration. In the space of an hour, he whipped up omelets (paired with hefeweizen) and crab cakes (paired with his hoppy East India Pale Ale). He insisted upon Japanese bread crumbs for the crab cakes. Who knew?

It's the World Beer Festival in Durham on Saturday; hope to see you there. And the Cap City Oktoberfest in Shirlington is also on Saturday. One of our brewers will be at our booth there.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Light [lite] concerns

I had one of those puzzling and infuriating discussions about light beer yesterday while enjoying a pint of Clipper City's Red Sky at Night Saison at RFD, a restaurant and good beer emporium in downtown Washington DC.

"I'm of the age that I need to drink light beer", my elbow neighbor at the bar told me. "Why don't microbreweries recognize my demographic and brew light beers?"

I replied, "I'm older than you and I don't find any need to drink light beer. If weight control is a concern, drink less! And eat thoughtfully. The 140-180 calories from ONE glass of beer won't fatten you, but the pizza will! "

He still demurred, not convinced, "But why won't you make a light beer? Samuel Adams does."

"The market for light beer is mostly about calories and price and not about flavor. Without the economies of scale that the large breweries enjoy, we would be forced to charge significantly more for our light beer than the big boys do. We would quickly and dramatically lose sales and be in danger of going out of business."

"And anyway," I laughed, "We don't like the way light beer tastes. Would you drink light wine, would you eat steak devoid of flavor?"

He wasn't convinced. And that's one reason why the big boys have been so successful. The idea that a beer can be a diet aid is, in and of itself, absurd, and yet the large breweries have insidiously and successfully inculcated that canard into our collective psyche.

Balto/Wash breweries do well at GABF

Here's a list of local breweries (Baltimore/Washington) which received medals at this year's Great American Beer Festival.

**Category: 6 Coffee-Flavored Beer - 28 Entries
Gold: Fuel, Capitol City Brewing Company, Arlington, VA
[Brewer Mike McCarthy]

**Category: 14 Cellar or Unfiltered Beer - 18 Entries
Bronze: Wild West Fest, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA

[This is Nick Funnell and Sweetwater Tavern. Due to trademark issues with Sweetwater Brewer of Atlanta, the restaurant cannot use its name for its beers!]

**Category: 23 Vienna-Style Lager - 20 Entries
Silver: Balto Marz Hon, Clipper City Brewing Company, Baltimore, MD

**Category: 24 German-Style Marzen/Oktoberfest - 45 Entries
Bronze: Dominion Octoberfest, Old Dominion Brewing Company, Ashburn, VA

[Congratulations to the Favio, Chris, and the entire brewing staff at Old Dominion. I'm certain that it's difficult for them to remain sanguine in the face of all the uncertainties inherent in the protracted sale of their brewery. See my recent posts on that topic, and add to those the latest, unsubstantiated, rumor that Anheuser-Busch has returned to the table with a new offer.]

**Category: 28 European-Style Dark/Munchner Dunkel - 21 Entries
Bronze: Iron Horse Lager, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA
[Nick and staff, #2!]

**Category: 41 American-Style Amber/Red Ale - 62 Entries
Silver: Amber Waves Ale, Capitol City Brewing Company, Arlington, VA
[Brewer Mike McCarthy, #2!]

**Category: 43 Bitter - 33 Entries
Gold: Raccoon Red, Rock Bottom Brewery - Bethesda, Bethesda, MD
[Brewer Geoff Lively, an unsung - maybe no more - brewer of good beers in our area.]

**Category: 49 German-Style Brown Ale/Dusseldorf-Style Alt Bier - 26 Entries
Gold: Terrapin Alt, Rock Bottom Brewery - Bethesda, Bethesda, MD
[Geoff #2!]

**Category: 52 Belgian-Style White (or Wit)/Belgian-Style Wheat - 36 Entries
Silver: Wits End, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA
[Nick and staff, #3 of 3!]

**Category: 53 French- Belgian-Style Saison - 44 Entries
Silver: Saison, Capitol City Brewing Company, Arlington, VA
[Brewer Mike McCarthy, #3 of 3!]

The entire list of 2006 GABF winners is available at www.beertown.org/events/gabf/06winners.htm