Thank you, my retired beer doctor, you will ever be my friend
It was quite an honor to receive this compliment from the great New Zealand assemblage artist, especially in this pandemic time. Here in the USA it seems that many folks have taken leave of their senses. Equating a global health emergency to a conspiracy loaded outrage of scientific denial. It was indeed depressing to learn that my beloved Van Morrison embraced this. A multi-millionaire song writer complaining about lock down? America’s GOP, or at least a vocal part of it, believe that the pandemic is a hoax and that former President Don John will be reinstated in August. Good luck with that.
Last Saturday I received the first of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where a portrait of Albert Sabin hung in the reception area. A gentle reminder that Dr. Sabin and Dr. Jonas Salk did not patent their vaccines. Does anybody believe that polio was a fake disease? I know about this; the oral (sugar cube) was given to me when I was in kindergarten.
Unlike others, getting the Covid-19 vaccination is not about fighting for my right to party. For myself it is all about not being a transmitter of the virus to others. I have no desire to infect somebody else through my own political religious stupidity.
Recently I learned in Washington D.C., a free beer was offered as incentive to get vaccinated. This is understandable in a country where medicine for profit is considered to be normal. When I told a friend I was being vaccinated I was told: “it’s the beast”, which has become a kind of urban legend. Strange in this digital era, where so many people are misinformed and frightened. Retired from the beer industry, I am no longer the beer seeker who went to extraordinary lengths to taste brews from across the world. These days great beer is still being produced, but my connoisseur concerns became superfluous, when sales volume became the only real data that counted. Cheers!
It has been over a year since I posted anything on my beloved web site. This is because I had health problems that resulted in the amputation of the toes on my right foot. So call me half foot as I stumble around, walking with cane assistance.
Despite difficulties, I was able to navigate through this pandemic year with the love and assistance of my surgeon, nurses, physical therapists and friends. For their countless help I am eternally grateful.
My role as Beer Doctor has changed. With the advent of alcoholic seltzer water, the mythology of craft brewing has been exposed as a marketing ploy. It is hard to imagine those crafty concerns over bottles or cans have any more meaning now that flavoured water with abv has become a best seller. As a consultant, no one needs to know the Beer Doctor’s opinion on which sparkling water has the most sparkles.
Because of health concerns I rarely consume beer these days. I can live with this. But what I do miss is the poetic passion of perusal.
This the 32nd edition of Deschutes festive winter ale. Much of the online world does not understand this ale. Again, the expression wassail and non-wassail have been forgotten so you have so-called beer experts claiming this is a spice/vegetable brew when it is not. Jubelale is a glorious example of what malts and hops combined can do. It is brewery recipe magic.
As Charles Olson once said: “An American is a complex of occasions” and this can readily be seen in the mercantile concerns of the consumer who depends upon experts to form their own opinion as to what actually tastes good.
This is the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing and Budweiser has decided to pay tribute to the July event by brewing a special reserve red lager. In fact this recipe was brewed by brewster and Air Force Captain, Karissa Norrington, using toasted Voyager malt.
And of course this reserve Budweiser is their latest edition to their Reserve Lager Collection. This is the the fourth edition. The red color of this beer is reminiscent of the next frontier–Mars.
This is an easy drinking beer that reveals the magic of a malt forward recipe. Tie this in with the FOLDS OF HONOR charitable work promoted and you have a lager well suited for the upcoming patriotic holidays.
It is an established fact that the craft beer boom has come to a halt. The return of lager has revealed that there are many thirsty Americans who do not care for, and are not interested in ale (so the so-called IPA craze, was really nothing they actually cared about).
Pabst Blue Ribbon, the so-called poor rebel’s beer has been an American icon for many decades. This year, in an attempt to appeal to a younger urban audience Pabst has produced a Cey Adams Limited Edition of the famous PBR logo:
On an 18 pack of cans it states:” Cey Adams reputation as a visionary artist first took hold in New York City’s downtown graffiti movement, became legend in the early hip hop scene and evolves to this day, as his art tackles themes of race and gender relations, culture and community, and pop culture.
As a true American icon, Cey proves that when you share truth and originality with the world, becoming an icon is never out of reach.”
What a statement on a carton of beer!
The Beer Doctor
My personal history with BASS Pale Ale goes way back. Back to a time when exotic foreign beer could be found only in what was called a hip delicatessen.
When it was made at Burton-On- Trent England, where the gypsum rich underground water provided the hard liquor support so necessary for great ale. When it was an independent company. Before it was absorbed several times, until it became a part of Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Rather than complaining about the loss of the original source, I choose to sample what is being produced under this iconic trademark today.
There were certain qualities to original BASS that can not be reproduced. This latest take on the Bass recipe was made in Merrimack New Hampshire and is very pleasant to drink. To compare this to other versions of Bass does an injustice to the fresh ingredients being used here. In other words: a great recipe remains a great recipe.
NEWCASTLE BROWN ALE has undergone quite a few changes over the years, partially due to changes of brand name ownership, which eventually landed Newcastle in the Heineken Group.
Lagunitas Brewing, part of Heineken USA, makes this new world take on Newcastle, that uses Chinook and Centennial hops, combined with roasted malt and malted barley. This Newcastle, in a brown glass bottle, is beautifully focused.
After all the years of observing what passes for American beer culture I have learned that the only reliable way to judge whether a recipe is worth consuming is to to actually taste the beer without imbibing all the packaged hype, achieved with clever graphics and all the pretension attributed to proper glassware. Only recently I read about vertical tastings from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. It seems that the wholly owned subsidiary of Kirin Brewing informs me that ageing their “Our Special Ale” will yield nuanced subtle notes through the passing years. What they do not tell you that those aged Special Ales will have lost their carbonation and the lively flavors witnessed fresh, will be obliterated. In other words, it is a bloody waste of time.
The older I get I am amazed at the stupidity of people who base their beer purchases on whether or not they agree with a brewery owner’s political opinions. I am partially to blame for this, after a writing a snarky, tongue in cheek piece about Dick Yuengling https://beerdoctor.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/concerning-dick/
For some reason there were people who assumed that I would boycott Yuengling beers because Richard L. Yuengling supported Donald Trump. Nothing could be more in error than that. Yuengling is the oldest American brewery, which is no small feat when you consider that the United States government destroyed the brewers livelihood for over a decade with that noble experiment called prohibition. Yuengling survived through the sheer tenacity of family members like Dick Yuengling and now continues with the wise supervision of his daughters, which brings me to include their latest year-round offeringA golden pilsner that is a gentle refreshing beer, that is hop forward without being bitter, using saaz and hallertau hops. Direct but quite refined.
In a similar approach Sierra Nevada’s BFD is a gentle easy drinking golden ale, designed to accommodate the hop forward sensibilities of a younger generation. Sierra Nevada BFD is presented in an unpretentious 19.2 ounce, Ball aluminum can.
It is also worth mentioning 2 very good offerings from the Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. Their autumn offering Schwarzbier is a collaboration tribute to Tim Gossack, their former head brewer, who now works at Bell’s in Michigan.
This Schwarzbier is a very fine production, with all the malty chocolate notes expected. that also manages to finish dry. I hope this one is not overlooked.
The same can be said of Deschutes holiday offering Jubelale, now in its 31th year. This ale employs 5 malts and 5 hops for celebratory strength (6.7%} that travels all the way from Bend, Oregon. A tried and true outstanding recipe.
What a gentle reminder: there are only 47 days left in this year.
The Beer Doctor
The promotion of Budweiser’s collaboration with Jim Beam is indicative of the times we find ourselves in. All you have to do to become familiar with this latest marketing promotion is to watch the You Tube video, where representatives of both companies express their pride at being a part of this historic project, which combines these two famous iconic American brands. The only part of this story that seems out of place, is the fact that neither Budweiser or Jim Beam are American owned.
Budweiser Copper Lager, aged on Jim Beam barrel staves, has a somewhat boozy nose. But that is a minor detail in a lager of flavorful complexity. Malt forward with a slight bourbon note, there is also vanilla and nut like notes that conclude in a very comfortable dry finish.
This is the third in AB-I‘s Reserve Lager Series, where each edition reflects their brewers creativity. For those who think that Macro Breweries can not produce something worth drinking, the Reserve Lager Series reveals that is not always the case. I have read complaints about Copper Lager’s foam retention. This seems to be true when poured into a tall cylindrical glass. An American mug seems a better choice.
This is also the time of year when Sierra Nevada releases their German collaboration Oktoberfest. This year. it is a wonderful recipe effort with Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery. A magnificent American take on the Fall classic
The only improvement is to drink some authentic Oktoberfest from the city of Munich, Germany. Spaten makes a fine example from the 6 official Oktoberfest biers. A very very tasty historical beer. Cheers!
The Beer Doctor
With the occurrence of an outright very hot summer, it is pleasant to discover these two locally brewed creations.
Taft’s Ale House has produced a very tasty recipe with their Culeberra Cut Brown Ale A coconut infused ale that is a pleasant change of pace to all the golden coloured summer ales found on the shelf these days. The Culeberra Cut refers to the section of water created by the building of the Panama Canal, keeping this beer loosely, in Big Bill Taft context. My only complaint about this beer is the sub par aluminum container. Or to put it more precisely, when it comes to an aluminum can, there is Ball, and then there is everybody else. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding recipe.
Back in 2013, when occupational therapist Toni first told me about the upcoming Madtree Brewing Company I could have never imagined how far this brewing operation has grown, with the canned introduction of their Mad Pils A substantial pilsner offering that is most likely one of the best made pilsners in the United States. True to its Bohemian origins, it is an absolute pleasure to drink. My only complaint about this one is I wish it was not $10 for 2 quarts, $8 would be much more to the point.
Cheers to outstanding local!
The Beer Doctor
Recently I was told by the folks at Word Press that if I wanted this web log to be more than a hobby, I need to go Pro as they say, which translates that I must give them money.
Curious about that hobby of mine that has been seen in operation now for over 10 years, I was under the misguided assumption that my brand name (The Beer Doctor) was a drawing point for the thousands of people who checked out this blog from all over the world. The good folks at Word Press placed ads on my web site, which I did not mind, accept I never received a blessed penny for any of this. So as far as my hobby is concerned, I think they have been paid in full.
Data as they say, drives the Internet. The corporate ring leaders figured out that people will give away all kinds of content simply by the enticement of being posted out there for all the world to see. Thus we have thousands of media outlets benefiting from the free content provided by the unknown public who seek some tiny celebrity recognition. With this in mind I decided to shut down my social media contacts, ending Face Book and Twitter associations because I am not interested in making the very rich even more wealthy. So my site can be found at: https://beerdoctor.wordpress.com
It is not often that a recipe comes along that can actually be called great. Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefe Weissbier is a rare example. A collaboration between the world’s oldest brewery and Sierra Nevada, this reinheitsgebot German creation extends the flavor of traditional wheat beer by using North American hops in an expertly refined way. What results is a beer of outstanding complexity that is a pleasure to experience.
Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is attempting to cash in on their hipster cache by producing Pabst American Pale Ale A golden pour with a hop spice nose. The PBR version of a hop-forward American pale ale, that uses all American hops, including Liberty and Cascade. A somewhat boring presentation, but there is at least enough malt support to keep the finish from becoming excessively dry and bitter.
The latest Budweiser Reserve Lager is Freedom Reserve Red Lager a production inspired by a George Washington recipe. Putting aside all the militaristic marketing with folds of honor charity, this is a drinkable beer but is not anywhere near the perfection of the Budweiser Reserve 1933 Repeal Lager of last year. But this is a beer worth checking out, with plenty of semi-sweet caramel malt and an agreeable quick finish. combined with the fact that this was made by US veteran brewers, just in time for Memorial day.
The return of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2018 in six packs was a welcome sight,the annual season return of this classic seems much more appropriate than those 4 packs, which gave this tremendous ale an unnecessary precious pretension. The great American original version of a barleywine-style ale. The late great writer Michael Jackson described it best:
“Bigfoot captures the imagination, and its character is as big as the name implies, with a huge hoppiness in its aroma, a chewy palate, and a great depth of flavor.”
Brooklyn Bel Air Sour Ale is somewhat a surprise from a brewery famous for modern interpretations of classic styles. Bel Air Sour Ale is a tart generous offering where a carbonated grapefruit palate develops over the initial shock to the palate, which proves to be quite refreshing. The fruit-like complexity of this beer is achieved through the ester magic combination of American 2-row, Pale Wheat, and Carafoam malts, combined with Amarillo and Simcoe hops, and their proprietary strain of Lctobacillus. No fruit juice here. This is a very well made beer.
After last year’s disastrous pilsner, I was not sure about sampling their Solid Gold Premium Lager. Brewed with corn, this low in alcohol lager is lower in price than other so-called craft offerings. But to be honest, I would rather have a Pabst Blue Ribbon or Hamm’s than this beer.
As a fan of many Great Lakes Brewing Company I was disappointed with Cloud Cutter Ale It’s not that it is bad. It is simply a style approach I do not care for. 40 IBU for an American wheat ale? No thank you.
Christian Moerlein’s Orginal Lager predates the infamous craft beer revolution. It was the first American beer to be certified reinheitsgebot back when Germany was known as West Germany. A delicious Vienna lager, this beer is worth drinking today. The only thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth is learning that Christian Moerlein is an official beer for FC Cincinnati. I understand the reason for this, a sales rep told me about the sales volume during a FC Cincinnati home game. So that serves Christian Moelein’s bottom line, but it does not erase the fact that the ultra-wealthy Carl Lindner III and associated minions. are seeking public funds to fortify their neoliberal dream of making Cincinnati a major league soccer town. Considering all the other critical needs for this city, I find this concern selfish and repulsive. For that reason, I will cease to purchase anymore Christian Moerlein products. I live here and I pay property taxes and know when I’m being run over.
The Beer Doctor
One of the advantages/disadvantages of being the Beer Doctor is that I am exposed to brewing industry information from all over the world. Unfortunately this has led to the discovery that the brotherhood of brewers suffer from the avaricious designs of egotistical owners, unscrupulous marketeers and leveraging hedge fund managers. This exposes the good beer/bad beer mythology promoted by dubious non-profit organizations like the Brewers Association who support independent craft operations. But this designation becomes as cloudy as the recently classified brewing style of New England IPA. In their zeal to demonize macro (big) brewing, many of these companies engaged in this marketing war have a very loose definition of what their beloved word craft actually means.
Then there is the ultimate greed factor to consider, where now complaints are lodged about beer not costing enough. In the world of reality, this is, as might be said, beyond the pale.
So now we have Dogfish Head creator Sam Calagione, worried about the “slippery slope” precedent of Founders Solid Gold Premium Lager selling for $19 a case. This will never do for mister Sam, a long time advocate for super high end pricing, where Dogfish Head sells for $52 a case.
This is rich for mister Sam, who markets his brand as the super high end hipster model (complete with vinyl record collection). Never mind the assumed neoliberal order which looks down upon those not economically fortunate to afford their $10 plus releases. Since I do not live in the United States of Amnesia. I do recall Dogfish’s tribute to malt liquor back in 2004, where the high end pricing concept was applied to that urban style of beer, producing a 40 ounce, twist off cap called Liquor de Malt, complete with its own brown paper bag, for $7 a bottle.
When distributors balked at the racist implications, mister Sam replied: “I told them it was their loss and if they tried the beer they would see that we nailed the style and customers would love it.”
The real question here is: what customers is he talking about? Even as a poor person I made the effort to purchase Dogfish Head beers over the years and liked a couple of them (their Witt, and their Miles Davis Stout). But reading Calagione’s revolting pontifications, I have decided to hell with Dogfish Head. I do not want to give my money to a monetized idiot who once famously said that reinheitsgebot was a censorship law. Clear the deck, life is too short to endorse idiocy, no matter how successful it appears to be.
The Beer Doctor