Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Against the Grain Brewery Visit

Let's go out to the... brewery?
     This week I traveled to Louisville, KY for work and decided to visit historical Louisville Slugger Field. Home of the Minor League Baseball Team the Louisville Bats...  also Against the Grain Brewery and Smoke House.
     Upon entry into the brewery I immediately was overwhelmed by the smokehouse portion of this establishment.  Heavy charcuterie and other smoked meats are forced onto you by an airlock blower above the door.  Eventually the smoked meat aroma faded as I became acclimated to my surroundings.
      I ordered a flight of their current six beers on tap.  Agianst The Grain Brewery has a pretty unique way of deciding what will be on tap at any given time.  The beers are divided into six categories: Session, Hop, Whim, Malt, Dark, and Smoke. Each of these catagories remains the same year round but the beer placed in it changes.  I thought this was a novel scheme since you can always go in and get a certain type of beer you enjoy but it might not always be the exact same beer.  The selection that was currently on tap and in my flight was as follows:
Session - Pacific Rim Career
Hop - Hop Party #2
Whim - Deborahs Deux Helles
Malt - Meconium Falcon
Dark - We Shuck on the First Date
Smoke - Goin' H.A.M.

While eating lunch and enjoying my flight I had a chance to speak with co-owner Sam Cruz about the brewery.  I had not known this but it seems that Belmont Station in Portland caries their beer.  However,  Louisiana has some pretty strict brewing laws that make it difficult to do so.  Even the brew pub has to buy their own beer through a distributor in order to sell it on site.  If you're in the Louisville area I would definitely recommend checking out Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Base Camp Brewing Company S'more Stout Review

Brewery: Base Camp Brewing Company
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: S'more Stout
Style: American Stout
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 70

I've had this beer at Base Camp before they serve it with a toasted marshmallow as a garnish on the glass.  Unfortunately I didn't have one to complete the s'more ensemble.

A (3/3): About two fingers of dark beige head pours extremely nice but eventually fades to a few patches of bubbles floating on the surface.  Topping the beer off really reinvigorates the foamy bubble blanket but it is recedes almost as quickly as it returns.  The beer is murky black and completely opaque.

S (9/12): The aroma is that of light cocoa notes mixed with some coffee aromatics.  The bottle says there I should be detecting figs, but not without drinking it.

T (16/20): Lots of dark chocolate notes with quite a bit of coffee bitterness.  A couple of sips allow you notice the toasted character as well as the light smokiness of the beer.  No detectable fig character as stated on the bottle but not a detriment to the beer.

M (3/5): Medium to thick body with a creamy, silky texture and a light carbonation.  The beer finishes smooth, but with a slight residual malt bitterness.  The beer hides the 7.7% ABV very well,  almost no detectable alcohol character.

O (7/10): Pretty good beer I remember it being much sweeter the last time I had it.  The malt bitterness hangs on the palate a little longer than I would like but over all I would drink again.


Friday, March 14, 2014

CRAFT movie Director/Producer Craig Noble Interview

     I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Craig Noble, director and producer of the upcoming movie CRAFT. In this film Craig Noble travels around the country documenting the craft beer scene.  Below is a trailer for this movie and my interview that is sure to interest any craft beer enthusiast. 

Buffalo Theory Brewing: What inspired you to make this movie?
Craig Noble: I love Craft beer.
2 1/2 years ago I came back from an extensive working vacation in Asia and I landed in SoCal. I was either going to do a photojournalism piece on Boarder cities of the SW or do a San Diego brewery tour, I chose the latter.
After being inspired by the scene there I committed to do another feature documentary. It's been all beer all the time since.

BTB: What did you learn from making this movie about the craft beer industry that you didn't know before?
CN: Well, I got to say that I was happily surprised by the general good will within the industry as a whole and the cooperation between craft brewers is pretty special, considering how much competition there is right now. I am also taken aback by the shear growth in the industry, both in volume and number of breweries. The level of enthusiasm for brewers and consumers is amazing.

BTB: How did you choose the breweries to spotlight?
CN: It was very editorial. I wanted to get a complete spectrum of scale and style within the breweries covered, but mostly I chose these breweries for their outstanding product. I had the privilege of drinking some of the best beer on the planet the last 2 years! And when drinking that level of beer you get turned on to and poured so much more amazing brews that it really was inspiring and delicious.

BTB: What challenges did you come across in the making of the movie?
CN: I'm a one-man army, so production, logistics, post, that's all on me, so it's an incredible amount of work, and boarder-line insane. There was a lot of travel involved and a lot of ground covered so I was pretty much a gypsy most of last year.

BTB: Do you have any plans for future beer related projects (not necessarily film related)?
CN: Yes. I have taken a recipe development/brewing position with a start-up brewery in Vancouver,(my hometown) and was basically given carte blanche to design beers that I could drink a lot of, that were not available here, which is awesome. And I will be starting a more geeky bottle-conditioning program as well, which has to remain nameless at this point.

BTB: What made you choose Portland, OR as the city to premiere the movie in?
CN: I have been coming to Portland for years now, and have quite a few friends there. There are a lot of beery cities in America but when it comes to Craft beer, Portland I would say it has the most heart. The quality, number of breweries per captia and the level of support is phenomenal. Portlanders have some of the best beer and selection of anywhere in the world. Luckily for me, it's 6 hours down I5.

BTB: Was there anything that you would have liked to get into the movie that you were not able to?
CN: There are so many great brewers, breweries, scenes, cities and farmhouse breweries that it is impossible to fit them all in. There are some regions I would like to have travel to and filmed at but... there's just too much good beer!

BTB: Do you homebrew? If so how often and in what capacity?
CN: I got into homebrewing a few years ago after I produced a video series on how to make your own booze at home. I have expensive wine making experience and even do my own distilling. For my recipe development contract I build a 10 gallon three tiered system to test batch on. 2 batches per week since the beginning of November.

BTB: What was it like brewing a professional batch at Coalition Brewing?
CN: Elan and Brad are great. The brew day was flawless, and we hit all our gravities and volumes and the quality of raw ingredients were top notch. The Farmhouse Ale for Portland will be amazing. It is a little 10 bbl system with limited automation which was fun. Very crafty.

BTB: What is the story behind the first beer that got you into craft beer?
CN: I was shooting my sustainable food documentary TABLELAND and I went to Crannog Ales to shoot their organic farm brewery. I drank a lot of craft beer there, but I really must say that Brian's Backhand of God Stout is an amazing beer, and gained a full appreciation for hand crafted brews.

BTB: What is your favorite style of craft beer? Why?
CN: Depending on the weather, my mood or food... I would have to say Saison if I was only allowed one style.

BTB: What is your favorite commercial beer? Why?
CN: That’s entrapment! If I was to choose one, I will go super-classic, OG and say Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. It’s almost a perfect beer.

You can buy tickets at the Hollywood Theater website for the world premier of CRAFT on April 3rd.  The premier will be preceded by two of Noble's previous short films.  This event will also be a beer release party for the Altered State Farmhouse Ale brewed in collaboration with Coalition Brewing in Portland durring the filming.  There will also be beer on tap from The Commons, another Portland based brewery featured in the film.  I hope to see everyone at the premier.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hipsters Love Beer

I have seen this video floating around the internet, and posted on various Facebook pages for the last few weeks and I wanted to comment on it.
This video shows a bunch of pretentious hipsters ordering beers with ridiculous names like "Baby Dick Belgian White" and "Pompous A**hole" poking fun at how some breweries have got creative with beer names.  Some classic examples are Stone Brewing's "Arrogant Bastard" or Firestone Walker's "Velvet Merkin". 

 I understand the this video was supposed to be funny but it brings up a larger problem I have seen develop in the craft brew scene.  Craft beer has increasingly become associated with hipsters and a certain snootiness around beer knowledge.   This video is more of an indictment of beer snobs than hipsters.  Actually, its an indictment of a subsection of beer-snobs that are also hipsters.  

Hipsters and beers snobs do have some similarities they both proclaim their preference for things before their introduction to "the mainstream".  Also, both have been know to publicly denounce a product simply because of its ownership (i.e. Goose Island being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.)

However, their main characteristics remain very different. Hipsters usually spend their time pining over heirloom tomatoes, irony, and fixed gear bicycles. Whereas a beer snob will go on diatribes about drinking from the wrong glassware, their latest "drain pour" and judging others for enjoying a beer they have deemed unworthy.

So go out, be knowledgeable about your beer, drink what you like and above all else, don't act like a pompous asshole.