“OMG it’s Black Friday! Did you see that deal for the 227-inch LCD HDTV for only nineteen dollars? What about that set of 4 bath towels for three cents? There’s a place selling blenders for two dollars. We could always use another blender...”
For millions of Americans this is a day filled with ungodly early mornings and a determination to store-hop all day long, searching for the best deals that only come once a year. A much smaller crowd bucks this trend and takes a stand against consumerism and pledges to purchase absolutely nothing on what has become known as Buy Nothing Day. And everyone else seems to fall somewhere in between these two groups.
I partake in this day in the only way I know how – by finding a beer correlation. And today, it’s all about the dark beers. These pitch black ales and lagers tend to showcase more roasted flavors, heavier coatings on the tongue, typically brewed with a higher ABV, and sometimes with hints of warming ingredients like coffee, chocolate, and bourbon.
Lakefront Brewery out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is also participating in the celebration of darker colored beers today as they are releasing a special Black IPA, appropriately named, Black Friday. If you’re not one of the lucky ones and won’t be able to make it to Milwaukee today, worry not, I have you covered. Below I have listed some of my favorite Black IPAs, Stouts, and Schwarzbiers, all excellent choices for drinking on this Black Friday.
Today marks the 14th annual Learn to Homebrew Day, a day that is celebrated by some one million Americans who brew their own beer. Homebrewing is at the very core of the craft beer boom, with countless professional brewers having honed their chops years prior on a homebrew system. Several established breweries still try out their test recipes on systems not unlike those found in many basements across the country today.
One homebrewer who is in the process of taking the leap from amateur to professional, is Brian Purcell of Decatur, GA. Brian began homebrewing several years ago and is living out every homebrewers dream as he begins work on his own brick and mortar brewery, Three Taverns . I recently spoke with Brian about homebrewing and what it’s like to start a craft brewery.
The Great American Beer Festival just celebrated its 31st year as the premier beer event in the country. The festival takes place in Denver and this year, 2,700 different beers were poured from over 500 breweries - the biggest selection of American beers ever served. Tickets for the festival went on sale in August and sold out in a record 45 minutes, a true testament to the continued popularity of craft beer. (Last year, it took more than a week for the tickets to sell out.) I was one of the 49,000 lucky ones who were able to attend and drink some incredible beer amid a sea of mostly bearded dudes.
Almost every beer I tasted during the three-day festival was top-notch, and rightfully so, as breweries bring their A-game and serve their finest beers. But, a few stood out from the pack for me.
Today is National Drink Beer Day, although if you’re an avid beer drinker, you participate in the spirit of NDBD most days of the year. For everyone else, this should be a day where you put down that glass of wine or fancy cocktail, and pick up an American craft beer.
The craft beer movement is out of control right now. New breweries are popping up all over the country, archaic state laws are beginning to change that benefit the consumer and brewing community, and sales figures continue to rise by upwards of 15% year after year. It's definitely a great time to be a beer drinker in America.
So, on this National Drink Beer Day, as fall has just begun, it’s going to be "Prost!" and pumpkins for me. I’ve listed some of my favorite Oktoberfest and fall-style beers below, some of which are sure to find their way into my belly today
Certain beer styles just taste better at different times of the year. Give me a big Stout or Quadrupel in the dead of winter. I'll take a Saison or Hefeweizen on those 90+ degree summer days in Atlanta. And as college football begins and fall is on the horizon, all I want to drink are IPAs.
Beer styles tend to have hot streaks and become the must haves of the moment. Currently, sour and barrel-aged beers are all the rage, but those will someday lose their popularity and a new flash-in-the-pan style will have its moment to shine. One style though, has remained tried and true since its inception and has become the unofficial staple American craft beer: the India Pale Ale.
Summer is finally here. Skin is showing, windows are down and parks and swimming holes are crowded. It’s the time of year when I make every effort to be outside with friends sharing some beers, food and good times. Up until recently, it was hard to find good beers that were “outside approved," also known as beers in cans.
Because of safety reasons, most parks, beaches and pools have a no-bottle policy, which until recently had made enjoying a good quality beer outside next to impossible. That all changed roughly ten years ago when Oskar Blues came onto the scene with their canned beers and changed the perception that only bad beer was available in cans.
Seven years later, in 2009, there were 52 craft breweries serving their beer in cans. Today, The Brewer’s Association estimates there are more than 180 craft breweries that are canning, proving good beer is now available in cans and it’s here to stay.
Amazing beer and great food are two things near and dear to my heart, but it’s often hard to find both at the same place. I find that pub food is generally OK, maybe the best restaurant in town serves Guinness and gastropubs are headed in the right direction.
But what about those times you want olive oil poached salmon with a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA? Where are those restaurants?
If you’re a wine drinker, you cannot relate to this. Food and wine have shared an incredibly long and successful run together and it’s time to give beer the same respect. A good restaurant cannot survive, or even have relevance, without a great wine list. But as patrons we’ve largely ignored the short shrift restaurants give to beer.
Everyone has their own way of welcoming Christmas. For some, it’s putting up a tree or shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. For me, and beer nerds around the world, it’s purchasing the first of many Christmas and winter-release beers. These beers are made to please the taste buds and warm the body from the cold temperatures outside.
Traditionally, this is accomplished from adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or adding bitter ingredients like coffee and dark chocolate. Some brewers have bucked this trend and instead of brewing the more traditional Christmas-style beers, they brew their own interpretations of them, which include styles like IPAs or wheat beers. Regardless of the style, these are the beers I look most forward to coming out each year.
My beer obsession all began with a taste - a taste I didn’t even know existed or was even considered “beer.” One day several years ago, I was at my neighborhood bar, Brick Store Pub, and I tried something that would change everything. It was sour, tart, sweet, and funky all at the same time. And more importantly, it was still beer.
I don’t remember what exactly that first sour beer was, I hadn't yet become nerdy enough (as I am now) to write them down, but one thing was clear, I was hooked on sour ales.
Sour beers can be classified into their distinct styles such as Lambic, Gueuze, Flemish Red, or wild ales, each brewed differently, but with the same goal in mind – to attack the taste buds with a sour funkiness that is unlike any other beer imaginable.
The incredible thing about sour beer is how distinct its flavor profile is, dissimilar to any other beer style, while still containing the same basic ingredients found in every beer: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. It’s the unique yeast strains used in these beers that produce the sour tartness that beer nerds (and even some wine drinkers) are raving about.
Nathan Berrong works at CNN's satellite desk and this is the second installment of his beer column. Drink up.
The United States is filled with amazing breweries, but to me, you can’t begin to talk about beer in America without starting out West. Maybe it’s the climate that is ideal for growing hops, or the beautiful scenery that inspires the brewers, or the diverse culture that promotes creativity. Whatever it is, I say there’s no debating that the best region for beer in the United States is the Pacific or West Coast region.
West Coast beers, plainly put, are massive beers. Massive beers that are bursting with flavor, typically high in alcohol, and have unusual names like “Serpent’s Stout” and “Monk’s Blood”. The staple West Coast beer is the hop heavy, India Pale Ale. Commonly referred to as the IPA, it is also a very common beer style across the country, as nearly every brewery in the US has their own version of it. But, no one brews them better than Sierra Nevada in Chico, California, which has been brewing amazing IPAs for over 30 years, long before the craft beer explosion began.