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 RateBeer.com Hop Press.
This week, my column on Ratebeer.com 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.
For my weekly column at RateBeer, I decided to forgo focusing on a single topic. Instead, I opted for a roundup of some of the interesting beer news of the week.
This week was one of those weeks where there didn’t seem to be a singular big story in the craft beer world. No Scots we bottling beer in animal carcasses. None of the United States’ biggest brewers were being purchased by foreign companies. Here in the Northeast, there wasn’t a massive beer fest to attend for some schmoozing. Despite this, there are still plenty of other stories worth rounding up. Among them; big news for craft brewers Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues and Magic Hat, a couple surprising polls and studies, and one more shot fired in the super-strong beer competition.
Check out all the news that’s fit to drink in the full Hop Press article.
Over on RateBeer’s Hop Press, I go on a bit of a ramble this week about what gives beer it’s beeriness.
Despite the range of flavors you can find in the multitudinous (over 80, according to RateBeer) styles that exist, I still expect a certain beeriness from my beers. What do I mean by that totally improvised word, you ask? Well, I expect what pretty much everyone expects – some malt sweetness, some hop bitterness, and maybe some esters from the yeast.
I’m not picky. These simple factors cover a rainbow of flavors. The malt can taste like coffee, chocolate, bread, biscuit, oatmeal, roast grain… you guys know how much the grain bill can cover. Similarly, hops range from the grassy varieties of the UK to the spicy Czech families, from citrusy Cascade hops of the American Northwest to the strawberry taste of Pacific Gem hops. Yeast, the oft-unpredictable loose cousin of the other ingredients, produces everything from buttery notes (Ringwood) to George Clinton-level funk (Brettanomyces).
Check out my full thoughts over on my weekly column.
Today, my column on the RateBeer Hop Press is about a trip I took to Germany just before my 20th birthday. Why? Because it’s the trip that turned me on to the libation known as beer.
One of my favorite terms in the world of craft brewing is “gateway beer.” The fact is, despite being beer geeks, most of us haven’t always been in love with beer. Let’s face it – a pint of Budweiser, Miller or any other readily available beer that’s typically an American kid’s first doesn’t exactly inspire love in the craft. It takes a special beer to inspire confidence in brewers and make you want to try even more of the good stuff. For me, this ended up being a little beer from Kilkenny, drank at an Irish pub in a German city by an American kid.
Read the full post over on RateBeer, and leave a comment with the beer experience that started you drinking the good stuff.
Another month, another entry in my ongoing tour of the bars, breweries and beer of the great state of Maine. This time around, the focus is on Portland Old Port stalwarts Gritty McDuff’s and Sebago – two of my favorites.
Mainers love their local beer. If there’s anything you can take from this series so far, it’s that the people of Maine – and Portland in particular – are fierce defenders and passionate imbibers of locally brewed beer. For decades (two decades for Gritty’s, one for Sebago), the two breweries I’m looking at today have been staples in local pint glasses and refrigerators. Neither has quite the distribution around the US as an Allagash or a Shipyard, but it’s almost impossible to go to a bar in Maine and not see at least one tap devoted to Sebago and another to Gritty’s. Both also operate stellar brewpubs – bars with some of the best pub fare available in Maine.
Check out the full post (and the four previous entries in my Maine beer tour) over at the RateBeer Hop Press.
The second half of my look at the American Craft Beer Fest – my reactions to the beers I tried at the event – has gone up on RateBeer’s Hop Press. If you’d like to see what worked for me and what didn’t out of the dozens of brews I tried, get with the clicky-click.
By now, you’ve seen a couple of posts from Steve and I (two a piece, actually) about the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston. We’ve covered plenty about the setup of the event, the brewers on hand, and how we felt about how it ran. However, I’ve neglected to get too deep into what you all probably care about the most – the beer.
I’m not going to cover everything I tried at the fest – it was, ahem, a lot – but I’ll mention everything that I have something to say about. With a couple of one-off exceptions, everything should be linked to the RateBeer page for the beer, so you can see how much I match up with the geek zeitgeist. A loud, populated and fluorescent-lit venue isn’t the ideal environment for tasting beer, but I’ll get across what I can.
To read all my beer capsule reviews, click on over to the original post.