Thursday, August 31, 2006

Curse you, IKEA!

I wanted to post about beer today, but the wife dragged me to the closest IKEA, which happens to be in Burlington, Ontario, about three hours from my house when the threat level is orange.

Upon my return, I was promptly assigned the task of assembling the shitty particle-board furniture we'd procured.

I just finished. The only beer-related thing I can add is that the IKEA cafeteria sells which is unavailable in western New York. I would have relished this Danish beer, had I not just returned from a week in friggin' Denmark.

So cheers. I'll make a point of drinking something interesting tomorrow, and babbling about it.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Off-topic: Shitty soft rock and commerce

Soft rock of the female vocalist kind is annoying. Extremely annoying. For the past twenty years or so, we've been force-marched down the sonic trail blazed by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey et. al; a trail of third-party singers spewing second-rate songs. A trail of formula schlock that's all constructed exactly the same, has the same obligatory modulation in the same obligatory place, with the same schmaltzy saccharine lyric themes. It certainly isn't rock, nor is the high-frequency shrieking particularly "soft."

OK, if you like this shit (and incidentally, if you do, you're wrong and you have por taste), that's fine.


Why do I have to deal with this crap in office environments? Why is it more professional than classical, jazz, or for that matter, metal? Moreover, why, when I'm sitting at a small mom-and-pop diner, where the owner has complete control over what plays in his store, am I forced to try and enjoy my spinach and feta omelette while some banshee-voiced hussy vomits overproduced garbage into my ears?

I am calling a personal boycott. I will not patronize establishments that play "soothing" soft rock radio at me. Silence is preferable. Good taste is even better. Sorry, I am unable to tune it out, and I know I sound like MattD, but that's where I stand. Hey, stick it, Mariah.


Stone Brewery lives up to the hype

I haven't had much beer from the but I was always a bit leery of the hype they get in beer-geek circles.

I had several glasses of the IPA last night, and I must admit, the beer holds up. Very nicely balanced, good bitterness, and a unique, spicy finish. This is a very, very good beer.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back from Copenhagen

Having returned from moy ardurous journey, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to find a minor microbrewery revolution going on over in Copenhagen. Several "Bryghus" have opened around town.

Interestingly, microbrewing over there seems to be the providence of ex-Carlsberg brewers; I don't think it's really hit the hobbyists level yet. Still the beers these places are producing are top-notch and bang on style. They cost an arm an a leg, but then again, so does everything else in Copenhagen.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Microbrewing in Copenhagen

Batting 1.000 so far.

On our first night in Copenhagen, some friends of ours directed us to the Excellent stuff... the porter was roasty and complex, and bang on for style, and the Heveweizen was extremely authintic, reminiscent of Paulaner. I hate European keyboards.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No posting from the plane

I'll be signing off until Friday, when posting will commence from the quaint little town of

We'll be updating the blog from overseas with pictures and beer reports and stuff, all the while remaining culturally receptive and not posting any inflammatory cartoons.

So, until Friday, Sayonara! (or whatever they say for "goodbye in Denmark...why can't they learn to speak English like normal people?)


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beercraft newspaper column #20- Brooklyn Brewery

Mediocre Beer? Fugggedaboudit!

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

After prohibition, the American brewing industry was basically destroyed. Hundreds of beer producers went out of business, and huge cities that once had a brewery in every neighborhood were bereft of local beer.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the craft beer movement began to reverse the fortunes of regional brewers. Mostly, the companies that opened were small, serving the brewery/restaurant, the immediate area, and perhaps some other cities through beverage distributors.

When you’re opening a brewery in New York City, however, small just doesn’t cut it. Brooklyn Brewery thought big, and because of their availability and high quality, they’re enjoying considerable fame well beyond the isle of Manhattan.

Brooklyn’s head brewer, Garrett Oliver, is probably the only commercial beer maker who could justifiably be considered a celebrity. His book, “The Brewmaster’s Table,” demonstrates the versatility of beer as a partner to good food, and can (or at least should) be found in the kitchen of every craft beer fan.

We’ll let Mr. Oliver handle advice on the food pairing, but let’s talk about some of our favorite Brooklyn beers.

First up is Brooklyn Lager. Supposedly brewed in the style of pre-prohibition lagers, it pours a darker color than the typical American macro brew. There’s a definite sweetness in the aroma, and that carries to the flavor. The beer is balanced, though, with a distinctive hoppy finish that rounds the sweet characteristics out. a light mouthfeel and prickly carbonation make the Lager pleasantly refreshing. This would be a perfect choice for a summer night on the porch.

You’ve read our quibbles with American Hefeweizen. It’s rare that a microbrewery nails the style, or indeed brews a wheat beer that’s even palatable, so Brooklyner Weizen is a very pleasant surprise.

The trademark banana/clove aroma wafts pleasantly above the beer’s tall white head. Underneath the foam is the light, refreshing, slightly sweet flavor of a real Hefeweizen, although the color isn’t quite spot on. However, we’ve never let color get in the way of slurping down an exemplary brew, and Brooklyner is certainly that. It’s a comfortable 5.1% alcohol by volume, so you can enjoy a couple without feeling too much of an effect.

If you like your beer dark and strong, we’d recommend the Brooklyn Monster Ale. It’s a barley wine weighing in at 11% alcohol by volume, so you might not want to consume it out of 20 ounce pint glasses.
The first flavor you pick up in the Monster ale is malt sweetness, which is common in this style of beer because sweet masks the taste of the alcohol. Due to the strength of the brew, however, there’s still a noticeably warming alcohol essence. The edge is taken off by the bitter hops in the finish, which rounds the Monster out nicely.

Brooklyn Monster ale is suitable for cellaring; a year or two in cool storage, out of direct sunlight, will mellow the flavors, creating a more harmonious blend between sweet and bitter and introducing new flavor characteristics to the palate.

In Other Beers:
Hooray for the death of a blue law! A couple weeks ago, Governor Pataki signed legislation eliminating restrictions on the sales of beer on Sunday Morning in New York State. Now you can get started right away… Er, we mean you don’t have to kick yourself for forgetting to pick up a six-pack on Saturday night for the Sunday football game.

Certainly someone will complain about how this will Hurt the Children, but the ban really didn’t make any sense. It’s good to see New York’s government move progressively and decisively in improving the quality of life for its citizens! Cheers!

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

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Beer and sausages

For today's blog post, we shall gape in glee at the menu of the most famous brewery/restaurant in the world, the

I've always loved the HB beer, and it's at its best when consumed, one liter at a time, in the big beer hall on a chilly spring night. If you have any Hofbrauhaus stories, post a comment and share them.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday's Overrated Beer: Red Stripe

Ok, we're starting this again...

This beer is as overrated as a Caribbean vacation. A corny, skunky, utterly sub-average lager made popular by its sun-n'-fun connotations, Red Stripe is like Corona, but without the unique and delicious flavor.

now let's throw in the lowbrow, borderline racist ad campaign the importes of the Stripe are currently running on nationwide TV. You know, the clown in the sash mugging Jamaicanly for the camera as he hands Red Stripe to the tourist? I can't put my finger on it, but something about that ad makes my teeth grind.

Bottom line, if you're not on a cruise ship, or island paradise fenced off from the poverty and misery that surrounds it, you got no business drinking this dishwater. Do us all a favor and find a good Pils.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Milk stout, we hardly know ye,.

I had a milk stout last night, mainly for the pleasure of sampling a beer style not commonly found in the USA.

Milk stout (also called sweet stout) is a mild yet full-bodied dark ale with unfermentable sugars added (most commonly lactose) to give the beer sweetness and counteract the roasted malt character. Thought to be very nutritious, English doctors used to recommend it to nursing mothers back in the day.

It seems to be mostly a London style, although a couple of American Breweries ( of PA comes to mind) also produce a milk stout. Still, it seems the style has never really caught on among American microbrewers except as a novelty. To some extent, this reflects the current state of the style in its home country as well, since it has certainly fallen out of favor since the '50s. Kind of a shame, really.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Czech Republic gets its due

The Czech Republic is one of the most important beer nations in the world. It was there that lager was introduced and Pilsener was invented. Since the American craft beer scene is dominated by ales, many beer fans never really learn about the awesome beers of this region, or the heritage and importance of the breweries that produce them.

This article in the New York Times gives credit where credit is due. Read it and expand your horizons!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Here comes a Regular

Thought I'd take a moment to pimp one of my favorite blogs: Monroe County, NY Bars.

Snazzy title aside, it's a day-by-day journey through the varied bars of my hometown (Rochester, NY) and the surrounding area. The Bar Man's stated goal is to visit all of the bars in the area within a year; a pretty ambitious feat to say the least. No way this dude is married!

If you live in Rochester, consider this blog an essential guide to the watering holes in your area. If you're reaing from somewhere else, you get to view the settings and cast of characters almost anthropologically, or perhaps voyeuristically. Either way, it's a great exception to the self-indulgent nature of most weblogs.

Bar Man, next time I go out, I'll hoist one to you!


Beer is alive and well.

I just read today's headline post at the Brookston Beer Bulletin. This is a must-read for anyone who really likes good beer.

Newspapers across the country delight in any opportunity to make themselves seem "upscale" in their feature pages. They do this in two ways: They build up something considered sophisticated (like wine) and they tear down something lowbrow (like beer). With the exception of Eric Asimov's work in the New York Times, When's the last time you've seen decent beer coverage in a daily newspaper? But every single fish wrap in the country has a soccer mom droning on about the wonders of merlot, or whatever the hell vino she saw in "Sideways."

Newspapers know that craft beer is gaining market share at the expense of the megabreweries, and it's percisely the sophistication of beer drinkers across the nation that is driving this. People are putting down the can of Schlitz and picking up a good IPA. Customers want something that tastes good, and they're beginning to vote with their wallets. It's incredibly encouraging for the craft beer industry, and points toward a much more positive outcome than the article dissected in the Beer Bulletin would suggest; a light lager at the end of the tunnel?

But you'll never read about that in your newspaper.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beercraft goes overseas!

On August 17th, I'l be travelling to Copenhagen, Denmark in a tireless quest to discover and spotlight great beers. There will be photos and stuff, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here's a picture from Insider Magazine of Bruce and I at the Genny Cream Ale tasting.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New York State loses a blue law

Finally, Governor George Pataki has abolished the archaic law prohibiting sales of alcoholic beverages before 11am on Sunday.

I'm not saying I want to go on a Sunday morning binge or anything, but any sports fan will tell you that it's a bitch when the game starts in ten minutes, the guys are over at your house, you forgot to plan ahead for beer, so your fridge is empty except for a tub of butter-like "spread," and you can't get any brew until halftime.

Thank you, Governor Pataki, for eliminating this extra bit of bureaucratic nonsense from the books.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Beercraft newspaper column #19- High Falls Brewery

High Falls Brewery and the split personality

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

The old joke goes, “how’s American beer like having sex in a canoe? They’re both fucking close to water.” For a long time that was true. After World War 2, American tastes had shifted toward light, thin, pale beer, and this style was produced by hundreds of regional breweries.

Most of those breweries are gone now, either swallowed up or forced into insolvency by the giant conglomerates. Many of the remaining regionals, like Utica’s F.X. Matt Brewery, have survived by repositioning themselves as craft brewers.

In Rochester, the High Falls Brewery straddles the line between artisan brewery and producer of mainstream lager. The former name of the brewery is still emblazoned on what’s been the signature beer of Western New York for most of the 20th century, and for us at least, no trip to Frontier Field is complete without a liberal amount of ice cold Genesee.

Sales of Genesee and Genny Light have declined, however, thanks to the huge marketing budgets of larger American and Canadian mega breweries. So under the watchful eye of Head Brewer Dave Sclosser, the brewery is reconciling the marketing of its traditional Genesee brands with the finding of new markets for its J.W. Dundee’s brand craft beers.

Currently, the Dundee’s line consists of Honey Brown Lager, American Pale Ale, American Amber Lager, and a rotating seasonal (currently Hefe-Weizen ). As well as sin-store availability, they’re going over huge in PaeTec Park and Frontier Field.

With its distinctive aluminum bottles, widespread presence, and a major award or two, the J.W. Dundee’s line of craft beers is carving out a Saranac-like niche in the Northeast. J.W.Dundee’s IPA, which made its debut at the Flower City Brewer’s Fest last weekend, should win some major street cred for the High Falls Brewery.

“This IPA should silence more than a few people who think that we can't/won't make some really hoppy beers,” says Dave Schlosser, High Falls’ head brewer. “I think all beers should have a balance to them, and our IPA is no different. It is certainly dominated by the hop aroma, flavor and bitterness, but there is a strong malt backbone to the beer that carries the hops nicely.”

While satisfying the beer snobs, High Falls refuses to abandon the beers upon which the company was built. Greg Stacy, Vice President of Marketing, sees tons of growth potential among the young hip crowd for that staple college campus generator, Genesee Cream Ale.

Stacy is taking a grassroots approach with the Screamer, personally holding tastings in bars, brainstorming with his team to develop new drinks (anyone for a cream and tan?), and giving away tons of cool promotional stuff. As a history buff himself, he’s trying to remind consumers that Genesee isn’t just a brand name, but a part of Rochester’s character and culture.

It’s working. According to Stacy, sales of Genny Cream Ale are on the upswing. Schlosser notices it too. “The funny part about it too is where it is growing,” he points out. “It certainly has grown in some of the younger more hip bars as a retro product, but it is also available in bottles at places like 2 Vine and Black and Blue”
High Falls has just launched a Cream Ale website,

It’s heartening that, as the brewery makes its transition to craft beers, it’s still optimistically growing the “beers of Rochester.” Whether you’re drinking a Dundee’s, a Cream Ale, or straight Genesee Beer, you’re patronizing a brewery that, while quite large, remains Rochester owned and operated, and more impressively, still here. When you consider the economic battery that our area has endured in recent years, that cold Genny starts to go down pretty smoothly.

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