Category Archives: Beer

Starbucks, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

This week, I use my Hop Press column to ruminate on Starbucks’ recent announcement that they’re considering serving beer and wine at select locations.

Tuesday morning, USA Today broke the news that Starbucks – your non-local local coffee joint – is experimenting with serving wine and beer at stores.

Click on through for USA Today’s full article, but the gist of the beer side of things is this; Starbucks gets almost three quarters of it’s business before 2 PM, and beer and wine (along with some sort of live entertainment) is one way to drive more people through the door. Also worth noting is that these alcohol-friendly Starbucks/Barbucks are going to focus on getting “regional” beer and wine. The rest of the article has some interesting info on the coffee giant’s attempt at evolution and changes to decor and the menu, but you’re here for thoughts on the beer.

Read the full post – and offer your comments on the news – at the Hop Press.


Wells Banana Bread Beer

wells21When I was growing up, one of the best baked treats we could have in our house was some of my Nana’s banana bread. The bread, the result of some alchemy I couldn’t understand that involved bananas that looked way past their prime, was a perennial favorite. Though Nana isn’t with us any longer, my mom still makes a mean loaf of banana-y, nutty, rich and tasty bread. I imagine that someday the recipe will be passed on to me.

I’m not trying to say that I’m some sort of Zen master of baking, or that my family’s name should be on the side of bread trucks across the country. All I’m saying is that I know from banana bread. So, of course, I was incredibly intrigued when I came across a bottle of Wells Banana Bread Beer this weekend.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the Wells name here in the US, you’re probably familiar with more than a few of their brands. Wells and Young’s Brewery, based in Bedford, brews the popular Young’s Bitter, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, and the Courage line of beers. The brewers also contract brew and import Red Stripe, Corona Extra, Negra Modelo and Kirin Ichiban. Despite the brewers’ global reach, this weekend was the first time I came across the attention-grabbing Banana Bread Beer. Continue reading

Bray’s, Sunday River Brewing and The Bag

This week, my column on focuses on three of Maine’s ski country brewpubs.

So far, my look at Maine beer has been devoted largely to the state’s coastline. Despite dalliances with Sheepscot and Hallowell, the interior of Maine has been a bit ignored. That stops today. Though a good majority of Maine’s travel destinations (and beer tour hot spots) are a short hop from the ocean, there are riches in the forests and mountains. With temperatures starting to plummet, no is as good a time as any to head for ski country. Sunday River Brewing, Bray’s Brewpub and The Bag and Kettle all offer handcrafted après ski brews when you’re far from Maine’s brew-happy coast.

Check out my full brewery profiles on Ratebeer’s Hop Press.

Book and a Beer with Phoebe Potts

Earlier this month, I raved about Pheobe Potts’ upcoming memoir, Good Eggs.

I LOVED this book. In Good Eggs, Phoebe Potts writes (and draws) candidly about her life – and specifically about her struggles to conceive and start a family with the husband Jeff. It’s now among my favorite graphic memoirs, right up there with the work of Jeffrey Brown and Alison Bechdel. Potts manages to be personal, honest and touching, yet possesses a great sense of humor that a lot of memoirs lack. Where other books are droll or drab, Good Eggs is lively. A story about fertility and trying to conceive isn’t something I’d necessarily think of for a 25-year-old guy like me, but this one proved me wrong.

I’m not the only one that loved the book, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to be available to the public on Tuesday.

With Good Eggs’ release only a day away (pick up the book at your local independent bookstore on September 21), Phoebe was kind enough to make a book and beer related comic for Brews and Books. In a single page, the comic does a great job showing the author’s cartooning style, along with Potts’ great vivacity and humor. Be sure to click on the image below for the full-size, easily-readable version.


Many thanks to Phoebe for drawing this comic! Be sure to check out Phoebe’s website and the Cape Ann Brewing page.

Book and a Beer with Steff Deschenes

Book and a Beer is a regular feature here at Brews + Books – a chance for authors, brewers and bloggers to tell you a little bit about their favorite books and beers.

Steff Deschenes is the author of The Ice Cream Theory, a charming new book about life, love and ice cream. In addition to being an author, Steff blogs at Like most of us, the author is also on Twitter at @SteffDeschenes.

In lieu of writing more about The Ice Cream Theory myself, I’ll defer to Deschenes.


book-coverThe Ice Cream Theory by Steff Deschenes (duh!)

The Ice Cream Theory is a charming “self-help” book that draws a unique parallel between ice cream flavors and human personalities, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the variety inherent in a well-lived life.

While I agree with this snapshot summary of what the book’s about, I disagree, and have from the start, with “self-help” bit of that statement.

But then again, I’m allowed to.

Because I’m the author.

I didn’t have much of a choice, though. When it came time to pick a genre for my self-published book, “Super Cool Almost True, but Somewhat Inaccurate Anecdotes from My Life” was not a viable option. So, the powers that be shuffled me into “Self Help: General.”

Which makes me feel altogether silly – because, really, what the heck does a twenty-something know about life outside of their own little world? Continue reading

An Interview with Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing

This week, my column on the Hop Press features an interview with the founder of Rising Tide, Maine’s newest craft brewery.

What were the driving factors behind you opening your own microbrewery?

I kind of fell into a job in book design and letter-press printing when I came back east in 1998. That lead to working for a publisher for a number of years, and finally to running my own graphic design and web development business after I was laid off by the publisher in 2003. The trouble was, I was never really that interested or passionate about working in design. When I started brewing again after my son was born I started mulling the idea of opening a brewery. Not in any serious way, but I did a bit of research and was constantly getting pressure from people who tried my beer. Having someone try your beer and say that they like it is one thing; having someone try your beer and ask why you haven’t opened a brewery is a little different. Combining those factors eventually led me to more serious consideration of the possibility of opening a nano-brewery. The final push came after having lunch with Dan Kleban of Maine Beer Company. He and his brother were doing pretty much exactly what I was considering and he was both positive about his experience and supportive of my loose plan. That was in, I believe, November of 2009. By February of 2010 I had my business plan well under way and I signed a lease in late March.

Ultimately, the factors that lead to the opening of the brewery were a feeling of disenchantment with what I was doing combined with a passion for craft beer. I suppose that’s not a very original sentiment, but it’s a fantastic feeling to finally be working at something that is truly personally exciting and fulfilling.

Read the complete interview over at Ratebeer.

Win Some Shipyard Swag!


This week, I’m giving away THREE wicked cool prizes, courtesy of Portland’s Shipyard Brewing Company.

The Shipyard Brewing Company was founded by Alan Pugsley and Fred Forsley. Shipyard first began in 1992 at Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in Kennebunk, which is one of Maine’s original brew pubs and working breweries. Within two years, demand for Shipyard beer outpaced the small operation and, in April 1994, Forsley and Pugsley opened the Shipyard Brewing Company in the heart of the waterfront in Portland, Maine on the site of the former Crosby Laughlin Foundry. Now, Shipyard is among the largest craft breweries in the US, and shipped 1,137,465 cases of their beer to 38 states last year.

Next Tuesday, I’ll be giving away some Shipyard gear to three randomly-selected readers. First prize is a large Shipyard Cuban Shirt, second is a ceramic stein from Grey Fox Pottery, and third is a Pumpkinhead cap. To enter, comment on this article with your favorite fall beer by 11:59 PM EST on September 20th. When you comment, please link your name to a website, Facebook page, Twitter account or e-mail address so I can track you down if you win. On the 21st, I’ll randomly select three winners from the comments.

Good luck!