Friday, December 29, 2006

Visitation spike

Wow, over 3500 hits in 24 hours. It's amazing what a link from Ebaum's world can do.

As long as I have all of you here, why not tell us something about the beer you like? Anything you love or hate? Any great beer travel experiences?

Come on, we're all on the edge of our seats!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The best beer under $10

I live in country.

Although I mostly write about craft beers, premium German imports, and microbrews, it's important to remember that the beer economy rides on a wave of North American megabrewery lager. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I drink it too.

For my money, the best mainstream American Lager is still Genesee. Call it regional pride if you want, but I'm all about the Genny. They'd all but given up the ghost in the national market, but the brewery is primed for a resurgence.

Plus, hipster dudes, Genesee has the virtue of being every bit as ironic as your trucker hats, '70s T-shirts, clunky glasses and oversculpted cowlicks. Next time you're out, try one instead of the PBR you're otherwise going to order.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Make a splash on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is a funny night. People celebrate a transition; a passing from the old to the new. Yet we do so with the same old, tired routines year in and year out. We go to parties. We watch the ball drop on television. We have a champagne toast at midnight. Zzzzzzz.

Why not change it up a little and really make a splash? Instead of champagne, toast with beer!

Not just any beer; what could be more depressing than a crystal flute full of Coors Light? Fortunately, the country of Belgium brings us several choices that could easily replace champagne and cast you in a very sophisticated light to the ladies. Try one of these:

These beers do not taste like beer from other nations. They're more effervescent and complex, with that Belgian floral character so many North American breweries fall short of replicating. The lambics, flavored with fruit, are especially popular with the fairer sex.

So this New Year's Eve, introduce people to a new range of tastes, score some sophistication points, and enjoy the flavor of some of the world's most unique brews. You just might spare yourself that champagne hangover in the process.

In with the old, out with the new indeed.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Michael Shea's discontinued

I hadn't realized it, but has been oficially discontinued by the High Falls Brewing Company.

Hey, Shea's wasn't a great beer, but it did have the virtue of being introduced to the market around the time of my 21st birthday. I was young and financially challenged, and a twelve of Shea's was a decent value for the money. Plus, it was tastier than (of course, so is greyhound vomit).

Of course, when Shea's was introduced, craft brews were extremely rare on store shelves. As the craft brewing industry grew, poor Michael Shea's was eclipsed by high-quality reasonably priced pale ales from brewers like F.X. Matt (Saranac), Otter Creek and Magic Hat.In bars, Guinness has been flexing its marketing muscle, throwing up Harp and taps left and right. The poor Rochester brew got squeezed out of its own market.

Maybe this weekend, we'll have a good pseudo-Irish wake for this mediocre pseudo-Irish beer. I'm sure we can still scrounge up one of the few remaining cases.

Or maybe I'll have a Smithwick's instead.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


"Europeans drink their beer warm."

How many times have you heard that statement? How many time have you uttered it? This is one of those misconceptions that drives some of the more...strident beer geeks crazy.

Some ale styles need a higher serving temperature to release all their flavors. By contrast, lagers taste better when served a little colder. American light lagers can be chilled to near freezing if you's not going to make much difference. has a brief guide to proper serving temperatures. Believe me, it makes a difference.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The naughty elf has been sampled.

My local has been carrying the "Bad Elf" series of Christmas beers that the NYS Liquor Authority tried to ban. They're excellent.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Getting the band back together

You heard it here first! There's change a brewin' at the High Falls Brewing Company.

You can expect the Rochester regional (maker of J.W. Dunedee, Honey Brown, and Genny Cream Ale) to refocus on what used to be its core brands: Genesee Beer and Genny Light.

These working-class beers built that brewery into the fifth-largest in the country, but have fallen by the wayside over the last decade as the company's sales philosophy changed. The success of Yuengling and Pabst Blue Ribbon among young, hip drinkers, however, is spurring a relaunch of these stalwart American beers.

Expect an upgraded brand image, new art and packaging styles, and the same old American adjunct lager taste. Hey, it beats the hell out of Budweiser. Remember, "Geneseeing is Believing."


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Off-topic: humor column

I was planning to post this week's newspaper column, but, since it's been bumped, we're gonna have to do something different. This is my annual Christmas column that published this week

Last-minute shopping
by Mark Tichenor

There’s nothing more galling than wandering through the refugee camp that is a shopping mall around Christmas, looking for, well, anything, really, that will relieve you of your social obligation and let you get on with your life. In this situation, it’s important to remember what the holiday spirit is all about.

You see, gift-giving isn’t just about the joy of getting, there’s also the pleasure inherent in giving a present. But sometimes we find ourselves in the awkward position of having to gifts to people we don’t care about, barely know, or dislike.

A friend of mine once received a quesadilla maker. You know, those revolting little melted-cheese tortilla sandwiches you find on the appetizer menu at Denny’s? A frying pan seems like the perfect implement, should anyone get the desire to whip a batch up in their own kitchen. But he got a specialized, hinged tool, the only possible purpose of which is to make quesadillas. Not waffles. Not pizelles (whatever those are). Just quesadillas.

Needless to say, the thing remains unopened five years later, but, like all crappy gifts, it’s still hanging around taking up space in his closet.

I took a lesson from this. When you must give gifts out of obligation, you might as well enjoy yourself.

This year, why not give the gift that says “I dare you?” I dare you to frown when you open this. I dare you not to force a smile and embrace me with a big thank-you hug. I dare you not to use this gift, but I also dare you to try and use it.

As noted above, specialty cooking appliances are a great place to start. A whole range of products are available to, theoretically, enable the creation of all kinds of wonderful foods right there in your friend’s kitchen. Why, if correctly equipped, they could create a whole delicious meal! Quesadillas as an appetizer, followed by hearty fajitas, made on the purpose-designed fajita grill.

After the main course, You can make some homemade yogurt in the yogurt maker (step 1: add yogurt) as a palate cleanser before moving on to runny, semisolid homemade ice cream or smores, made in (I swear this exists) their very own smore-making apparatus.

Following the meal, it’s time for some holiday cheer, so everyone can gather around the cascading beverage fountain (word of caution, it foams over if you fill it with beer).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No print column this week

Well, the Beercraft column has fallen victim to the crass commerce of the season. A large last-minute ad has bumped us off the page, so my fevered 6am typing was kind of in vain.

The column will be back next week, and we'll use the downtime to do some actual research and write something insightful for a change. As always, questions and column ideas are welcome.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Santa's Butt ban lifted

Local beer fan John Schmidt reported over on Beer Advocate that TV media has picked up on the banned importation of certain Christmas beers into New York State.

It's good to see that common sense has prevailed and the prohibition was lifted. Shelton bros, enjoy the sweet taste of free publicity!