Friday, June 30, 2006

Deutschland gewinnt!

Sorry.... I'm totally amped right now! Germany has prevailed over Argentina and persevered to the next round, in which they'll beat up on the hapless Italians! This calls for Spaten!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I wound up talking to the sales rep from Cooperstown's last night. Being owned by Duvel, They're about as Belgian as a brewery located in New York State can get.

Anyway, they're hosting the annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival on the 15th of July. Now, with the Baseball Hall of Fame and two excellent breweries, Cooperstown is worth a visit all on its own. Add a Belgian beer festival with a bunch of European breweries, and you've got the best thing that'll happen all summer.

Just a little plug for the guy who was providing me with free all night.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Independent brewing for Independence Day

July 4 is almost here, and I'd like to take a moment to suggest that We as a people take this opportunity to remember the independent breweries, free from the tyranny of A-B, Miller, and Coors. Remember the small producers struggling to survive against industry giants bent on market-cornering and bland homogeny.

(cue patriotic music)

Remember the brave pioneers that first pitched yeast back in the '70s so we could truly have regional choice in our time. For, were it not for those brave souls who brewed against the grain, the beer coolers of this nation would look very different today.

Drink independent this Independence Day!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday's overrated beer- Blue Moon

You ever go out with the office crew for Friday happy hour? That one giggly chick always orders She likes the taste and thinks it's sophisticated. She's also got a boyfriend, so forget it.

Hey, you like what you like, and what you choose to drink is not a measure of sophistication. But Blue Moon is a pale imitation of Belgian witbeer. Oh, and it's also a phony microbrewery. The stuff is made by Coors. Think of it as money laundering but with beer.

I can't really lambaste anyone for enjoying this beer, just don't expect it to taste authentic; its like lasagna from the Olive Garden. If you want to try a real Belgian wit, go for You can thank me later.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm pissed off.

The US played like balls today, badly enough to get beaten by that troupe of pantomime artists, Ghana. This sets US soccer back ten years.

Anyway, I should be writing about beer, but I'm taking a break for today. I just might go have a cold one at the a working-class bar up on Ridge Rd. next to Kodak Park with an amazing beer selection. Six kinds of Scotch Ale. Whitbread, John Courage, Augustiner Edelstoff... this place has it all.

Now that Kodak tanked, patronage has been waning for the 'Haus. They could use some support. If you like great beer, let 'em know.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Off topic: Rochester soccer crucified

My friend, and long-time soccer hater Mike Cialini(KROC)finally gave in to my constant cajoling and attended a soccer game with us. Needless to say, he came away less than impressed.

His review is funny as hell though, and he's spot on about the annoying music and overpriced beer.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beercraft newspaper column #16- Beers of the World Cup

Ole, Ole, Ole. Beers of the World Cup

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

The World Cup is underway, and we are so into it. Watching from a pub, amid a crowd of Europeans, Argentinians, and fellow Yanks, you really get into the electrifying atmosphere of the tournament. Each goal is orgasmic. Every near miss is like passing a kidney stone. A loss is a catastrophe.

Obviously, this environment is perfect for drinking beer. And since this is a global tournament, it behooves the serious spectator to sample global beer. Let’s take a look at some of the offerings from World Cup countries, shall we?

Brazil is the favorite, and everybody loves them. The American commentators on ESPN2 can barely pause for breath betwixt bouts of smooching Brazilian butt. Admittedly, their team is fantastic; they run, show creativity, and make devastating plays.

We don’t know what the Brazilian players drink, but chances are it’s Xingu Black Beer. As the name would imply, it’s dark, brewed in the German Schwarzbier style. Xingu is brewed with roasted malt, so there’s a robust, toasty flavor with a lot of sweetness. Since the body is light, Xingu manages to refresh despite its sweet and strong flavor characteristics.

Poland hasn’t done so well in the Tournament, but they’re aces when it comes to dark, sweet Baltic porter. Zywiec (zee-vich) and Okocim are two locally available examples. Stronger than English and American porter, with a medium body and strong chocolate and coffee flavors, these porters hearken back to the days of the Imperial Russia, when English breweries would export to the imperial court of the Czar. The beer was made extra strong to preserve it during the lengthy journey.

The style was picked up in the English merchant ships’ ports of call all along the Baltic Sea, and today features some of the most complex and satisfying beers made in Europe today.

The Czech Republic’s soccer team completely outmatched the US team, and Czechvar Pils, from the town of Budweis, does the same to American Budweiser. A furious legal grudge match finally forced the Czech Budweiser to change its brand name to Czechvar in the USA at the behest of Anheuser-Busch. And that’s fair, since the Czechs have only owned the name since the 1300s.

Yeah, we’re bitter on this point, but fortunately so is Czechvar. Hop bitterness is a primary characteristic of the Pilsner style, as is a fresh, grassy flavor, pale golden color and foamy, lingering head. Czechvar is a most refreshing beer, wonderful on a hot summer day when you’re watching your team get destroyed by a squad from a small Central European Republic one-sixteenth the size of the USA.

And of course there’s the host country, Germany. And one of the most interesting beers available from Der Vaterland is Aecht Sclenkerla Rauchbier, from Bamberg. The dark and robust beer is made with smoked malt, giving it a strongly smoky flavor that absolutely dominates from start to finish.

Some people think it’s awesome, some think it tastes like sausage. Whether you love the Rauchbier, or hate it, you’ll have at least had the pleasure of drinking one of the most unique beers in the world.

We’ll certainly be trying more as the Tournament goes on (We’re rooting for the US and Germany, by the way). The thing runs for a month, so the last few days will be a bit of an alcoholic endurance test. Still, if anyone can manage it, it’s your favorite intrepid beer columnists. GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL!

In other beers:
Swan Market will be putting one of our favorites, Warsteiner Dunkel, back on draft soon. There was a big push for Warsteiner in the area a couple of years ago, and the Dunkel is a superior dark beer. It hasn’t been available for a while, so this is a hell of a treat. Add the Swan atmosphere, and you have a half-day of work waiting to happen.

Bruce is a certified beer judge and former commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to

Monday, June 19, 2006

Budweiser gets self-effacing

Five minutes of watching the World Cup on ESPN or ABC is all you need to realize the commentators suck to the point of national embarrassment. Budweiser, Ironically the "official beer of the 2006 World Cup," picked up on this in a series of ads running in the UK. They feature clueless American commentators butchering the game.

I haven't yet been able to find the series on the internet, but here's an example from the Bud website:


Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday's overrated beer: Heineken

It's a sad situation. Many four-star restaurants will boast a wine list that resembles the US Tax Code, and yet carry only three beers. Since these are classy restaurants, one of them will be an "import." That import is almost always Heineken.

Now Heineken isn't bad per se, but it has some, shall we say, questionable flavor characteristics. Out of the tap, it tastes like nothing. You might as well be drinking Fosters. When served from those green bottles,the UV rays of the sun break down the hop compounds, and Heineken takes on a characteristic skunky taste that some people swear is part of the flavor profile.

Love it or kinda like it, Heineken will always be that one import you get at the wedding reception's open bar. It will be the beer you order on the plane. And trust me, over the course of your life you'll order it again and again, usually because there's nothing better on that anemic index card that all to often passes as a beer menu.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursdays Beer from the Other Side of the World: Hitachino Nest Stout

Oh, how cute. There's a Pokemon on the label. Pull that shit in the USA, and 63 activist groups would foam at the mouth over the marketing of beer to children. Anyway, Hitachino Nest Stout, from Japan's Kuichi Brewery, is a real departure for people used to the Japanese Bud clones like Asahi and Sapporo.

is a pretty complex beer. There's a lot of caramel in the flavor, along with vanilla and coffee. You can taste the hops in the finish, but they aren't bitter enough to clash with the sweet malt that dominates in each sip. Whoever formulated Hitachino was not after a Guinness copy.

I didn't have high expectations for this stout from the Land of the Rising Sun, so I was very pleasantly surprised. This is a quality beer with many unique characteristics. If you can find it, order a pint. Drink enough of them, and you'll want to turn into a giant robot. Banzai.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Hot World Cup Action!

Mark and I are posting this from Monty's Korner, our home away from home during the World Cup. As I type, I'm a-swillin a from the

I have avoided this beer for an awfully long time based on the name alone. The fact that we drank the bar out of Victory's Prima Pils left me with a reason to try something new. This beer is very good, it has some of the flavors that I love about German hefe-weizen but no hefe, although it does have an unfiltered haze.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Lambics, courtesy of the marketing department

I tried something I've never had before: This is the Belgian brewery responsible for most of the fruit beers you find here. The Kriek and the Framboise are traditional, but someone in Marketing keeps diversifyng the friggin' product line. So now we also have peach, blackcurrant, and apparently apple beer.

It's tart and oversweet, and I concur with those on the forum who likened the flavor to a Jolly Rancher.

I know Belgian beer is the end all, be all or beer, blah blah blah. Still, Lindemann's product line is an example of market share killing tradition, even in a centuries-old European brewery.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The tournament goes on...

Bruce and I have caught every one of the World Cup games so far. We're both huge Germany supporters, so the tourney opener was the priority, and we went all-out. A traditional Munich breakfast of Weisswurst and Hefeweizen got us in the mood for a fantastic game, won, of course, by Germany.

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Our heroes being uber-dorky at Monty's Korner

The Krown is a great place to watch the games, but the beer list could be better. It skews heavily toward ales, being the only pilsener present. Still, the crowd is fantastic and really gets into it.

Bruce and I will be there again at 8:55 am for The Netherlands vs. Serbia & Montenegro, and we're staying for all three of Sunday's matches. Drop in. I've got the first round!


Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday's overrated beer" All beer from...


I live a litle more than an hour from the US/Canada border, and about three hours from Toronto. It's a world=class city, and my wife and I go there a lot. The Canucks are expert at spotting visiting Americans, and are usually very hospitable and friendly, but they always ask us the same retarded question: "Oh, yer from the States, eh? Bet you've never had good beer before."

No, Gord. We've never been exposed to craft beer in our desolate little research station of a city.

Thing is, Canadians think their mass-market beer is somehow better than American mass-market beer. It's not. It's exactly the same. In the case of it's much, much worse.

Sure, if you're a SUNY Buffalo frat boy, a trip to the duty-free shop in Niagara Falls will net you a case of Molson XXX, which has a very high alcohol content. But if you're over 21, the local micro probably has something equally strong, with actual flavor, on tap.

Don;t get me wrong, there are some awesome beers in Canada ( and being two of my favorites). But I don't find Molson and Labatt to be necessarily any better than Coors and Budweiser. I guess all corny, ricey lagers are created equal.

Special thanks to Nick from the for the tasting he ran at Monty's Korner last night. If you haven't tried Ithaca Cascazilla, do yourself a favor and pick some up. Absolutely fantastic.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to don my German National Team jersey and get to Monty's Korner, where they're showing the opening match of the World Cup. Ole. Ole. Ole, etc.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday's Beer from the Other Side of the World- Kingfisher

Kingfisher is the largest brewing concern in India. They're so big, they even own an

As is usually the case with gigantic breweries, Kingfisher lager teeters on the border of suckitude. As you've surmised from the pic, it's a pale, American-style lager wth a bit more of a malt character than Budweiser, Miller or Coors. The finish is kinda nice; crisp, clean and quenching.

The adjunct cereals used as a barley substitute in brewing, however, give Kingfisher a corny taste that precludes it from ever appearing next to my vindaloo. It also skunks easily. Still, it's a quencher that takes the fire out of hot foods, and that makes Kingfisher a good choice after some of the more firey Indian dishes.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Beer for the World Cup

I admit it. I am a soccer (football) fan. It's a result of having spent a decent chunk of my childhood and/or adolescense in Germany and Belgium. That being said, A couple of friends and myself are going apeshit over the World Cup.

I got DirecTV. I got the DVR. The large-screen tv will be arriving tomorrow (and my dad's going to freak out when he notices it missing). All that's left is the beer.

The idea is to stock up on the beer of each nation playing in the matches we'll be watching. First up: Germany vs. Costa Rica. Down to I go.

As it turns out, even they don't have any Costa Rican beer. Fortunately, there are 300 German brews from which to choose. I settle for a case of Dortmund's since it's on sale.

I hope Brazil gets knocked out early. I'm not particularly fond of Xingu.

Now for the stupid song: "Ole, ole, ole ole."


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beercraft newspaper column #14: Saranac Beer

A brewery’s resurgence: Saranac beer

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

From the end of prohibition until the ‘90s, the primary beer produced by the Matt Brewery was Utica Club, a fizzy, limp lager common in the blue collar taverns of Upstate New York. Like many regional staple brands, Utica Club lost market share to brewing juggernauts like Anheuser-Bush and Miller, winding up in the same financially perilous situation faced by many regional beer companies no longer in existence.

Rather than succumb, tavern by corner tavern, to the inevitable decline of their flagship brand, the Matts put Utica Club on the back burner, launching a new line of superpremium beers that totally leapfrogged the bland, watery offerings of the national brewing conglomerates. Their timing was excellent. The craft beer movement was just taking off, and drinkers across the northeast were eager for the new flavor combinations and styles that microbreweries brought to the table.

The Saranac line was a success, and the Matt Brewery stayed viable. Over time, the product range expanded. In total, there have been 16 distinctive Saranac beers, some of which have been retired, exploring styles from hefeweizen to oatmeal stout. Here our some of our favorites from the current Saranac beer range.

Every New York craft brewery needs good pale ale, and Saranac Pale Ale brings the Matt Brewery a generous portion of street cred. It’s simple and basic in both name and presentation, with a pleasant hearty malt character and dry hop finish; a perfect choice for a cool summer evening.

For those who like their beer dark and robust, Saranac Black Forest Porter is a pretty good choice. Appropriately for the porter style, Black Forest is relatively sweet and substantial in body, with a more subtle hop character that provides an agreeably dry finish.

Saranac Belgian White is excellent outdoors on a hot summer day. It does a pretty good job of reproducing the Belgian wit beer style: pale whitish amber with heavy orange and coriander flavors and the quenching bite characteristic of wheat beers. American breweries have not had the best track record in replicating Belgian niche beers, but Saranac’s example comes pretty close.

One of the best things about Saranac is its availability. You can get it in all area supermarkets as well as the beer boutiques, usually at a lower cost than many of the imports surrounding it in the display cooler. So you can entertain at a reasonable cost without looking like a complete el cheapo. Of special note are the sampler 12-packs: Winter Sampler, 12 Beers of Summer, and Adirondack Trail Mix. Many of the more ambitious beers can only be purchased in these samplers.

Utica Club still soldiers on, mostly in Utica, but the Saranac range of beers has come to epitomize the model for regional brewery success. Across the country, these former lager mills are repositioning themselves as purveyors of quality and beer craftsmanship.

As beer lovers, we have the Matt family to thank.

In other beers:
Dale’s Pale Ale, from the Oskar Blues Restaurant & Brewery in Lyons, Colorado, is now available at The Old Toad. It’s one of the few microbrews to be sold in cans, but the quality of the beer obviates the stigma of the packaging material. It’s hearty, full-boded ale with citrus aromas and a pleasant hop finish. Overall it’s a very well-balanced brew.

Now that it’s springtime, Spaten Bock is taking over the more discerning taps in town. It’s pretty much the best Bock available, and there’s no better place to enjoy one than over a German Lunch at Swan Market on Parsells Ave. Careful, Spaten Bock kills us again and again.

Bruce is a certified beer judge and former commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Brookston Beer Bulletin- Learn something today.

I'm going to use this post to pimp the which I stumbled across while checking my blog referrals. What a cool resource. This is about as close to the perfect American craft beer portal as I could imagine.

J. is an incisive and skilled beer writer, who relentlessly advocates for my beverage of choice, pointing out skewed studies, biased editorials, and vindictive voices with an axe to grind, then setting the record straight. There's so much quality content here, it's gonna take me weeks to read it all.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

No good beer in Soccertown

The of the USL 1st Division (one level below MLS) opened their brand spankin' new soccer-dedicated stadium yesterday amid sheets of rain and electrical problems.

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It was a fantastic game, and an impressive stadium, with one disturbing oversight on management's part: No craft beer. Zip. Nada. Not even good imports, unless you count Heineken and Sol.

I would've liked to see something, Saranac, Anything.

So I ordered Heineken, and they gave me the whole keg can. At a soccer match. I biefly entertained the notion of going all soccer fan on them, filling the keg can up with water, and whipping it at a player, but that's not really me. '

So, please, Rhinos management, work something out. A Bud might be fine at a baseball game, but the world's game requires world-class beer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday's Overrated Beer: Guinness Draught

Now don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about It's really pretty, silky from the nitro carbonation, and sometimes I feel like a good roasty stout.

But ask an Irish American, no matter how many generations removerd from the old sod, about Guinness, and you'll be hit with the most annoying stream of blather since Ross Perot's campaign speeches. "I don't drink anything I can see through," They quip smugly, usually employing a lilting accent painstakingly learned from Lucky Charms commercials. "It's like water from the Liffey." I've seen the Liffey. I've smelled the Liffey. That is not a selling point for Guinness.

And when the Guinness marketing juggernaut ramps up for Saint Patricks Day, friggin' forget it. Every assclown in Rochester puts on their one green T-shirt, comes out to that fake Irish pub which festers in every city, and proceeds to fill his or herself with a waterbed mattress-worth of Guiness, so they can get their once-a-year intake of Irishness before picking fights with each other and passing out in the path of the parade floats.

I guess it comes down to this. Guinness to me is like the They'd both be ok if it weren't for their fans. No wait, I take that back. That braying donkey with an accoustic guitar would suck anyway. I heard, before he hit it big, he was even a shitty bartender.

But to stay on topic, I will order Guinness, but I'd also suggest trying the other Irish stouts which are relatively widespread: and You'll find both are just as beautiful to behold as Guinness, but more robust and complex in character. And if you order them on Saint Patricks Day, the bartender likely won't know what you're talking about.

Especially if it's Dave Fucking Matthews.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Heckling, powered by beer

This hilarious post over at Don Cialini's blog reminded me how beer can make any occasion great, especially the ball game. You wouldn't talk to anyone this way unless you contained a copious quantity of

By the way, he did not check his swing. He did call the mascot a motherfucker.

Thursday's Beer from the Other Side of the World- Baltika 6

St. Petersburg's brewery has a refreshingly non-western approach to branding their beers, they number them. #1 is the light lager, #4 is the dark lager, et cetera. I like this system because the beers have to stand up for themselves, without any flashy image. It's almost like a blind taste test.

My favorite is , the porter. Dark, aromatic, and very complex, few beers are more satisfying for a nightcap. It has a chocolate-toffee character, and it finishes smooth and sweet.

Baltic porter in general is like this, and most examples from Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia rival Baltika 6 in quality. These are countries not really known as great brewing nations, but man does not live on vodka alone.

Even in Vladivostok.