<![CDATA[Craft Beer Gut...follow your gut. - Reviews, Travel, Rebuttal]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:00:50 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Rebuttal: How to Enjoy a Bud in Four Easy Steps]]>Thu, 05 Feb 2015 01:08:30 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2015/02/rebuttal-how-to-enjoy-a-bud-in-four-easy-steps.html This video How to Enjoy a Bud in Four Easy Steps represents possibly the best response to Budweiser's recent Superbowl ad, simply and brilliantly executed.  Sent to craftbeergut.com from an anonymous source.  

CAUTION: May not be suitable for all viewers.

If you haven't seen Budweiser's now-infamous Superbowl ad, you should see it:
Why did AB Inbev spend so much money just to slam craft beer?  Because the "fussy, dissecting" consumer has spoken (loudly):

Dear AB Inbev, 

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.


The Fussy, Dissecting Consumer

Tanisha Caravello started home brewing in Chicago in 1997, but primarily approaches craft beer from the reverent perspective of an enthusiast and an avid craft beer traveler, beer journalist, and student of all things beer.

In August, 2013, Tanisha quit her job as a molecular geneticist for a large corporation to test Joseph Campbell's theory of following one's bliss.  Now she is the founder and editor of Craft Beer Gut, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Program; the Oregon Chapter Leader for The Pink Boots Society, and a proud member of the  Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

<![CDATA[11/24/14: New Releases from Breakside Brewing]]>Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:41:38 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/11/112414-new-releases-from-breakside-brewing.htmlPicture
A Brief Evolution of Breakside from an Outside Perspective

If you know me or follow my writing, you know that being invited to a special preview of an upcoming brewery release is not enough to get me to do a review.  Not unless I'm blown away - and I'm one picky motherfucker.

I owned a house just down the street from Breakside when they first opened up their Dekum location.  Myself and my husband at the time, along with a huge crowd of middle-class thirty-something Woodlawn residents, flocked to Breakside, thrilled to finally have a place in the neighborhood to drink beer.  In the beginning, it was all guest taps...good ones.  Then, they started putting out their own beer.  Sadly, as they ironed out their process and learned the quirks of their new system, I quickly decided that it was worth sticking to the guest taps.

Then, as the year progressed, something changed.  Breakside started producing decent beers.  Then, before I knew what hit me, they were producing phenomenal beers.
  They started brewing a wide range of styles and doing them all well.  Experimentation expanded as they began to push the boundaries of style - and they knocked it out of the park every time.  This brings us to now: Breakside continues to astound the imagination and the palate with attention to detail and a seemingly-neurotic focus on complexity and balance.  And with this...I give you one of my rare beer reviews:

La Tormenta
A sour ale dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Equinox hops

A hoppy sour is a terrain which has rarely been tread - and for good reason, as it's pretty damn hard to pull off.  While I love both a good sour and complex, hoppy beers, the two do not always work well together.  La Tormenta is an example of one of the ways to do it right. 

La Tormenta pours a striking light golden-orange with the thin, white head characteristic of many sours.  The nose showcases the vibrant hops complexity with a lot of fragrant tangerine and lemon, cantaloupe, and a dash of passion fruit and pine.  The flavor is dominated by citrus, along with the tropical and melon notes found in the aroma, which integrates perfectly with the tart sour finish.  As the beer warms a bit, the passion fruit comes out and adds a little sweetness for an ideal balance.  A gentle carbonation and moderate body lends to a beer that is both refreshing and decadently complex.

Available for a limited time at both Breakside locations and in stores.

Breakside Country Blonde: coming December 5th
A straw-colored, wheaten saison conditioned on Gewurztraminer grapes and a blend of wild yeast and bacteria that includes three strains of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. A small batch limited edition.
7.2 % ABV 27 IBU's.

I had the incredible honor of trying Country Blonde before its release date, and although I failed to take tasting notes, I suggest you do not miss grabbing a bottle of this...and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  Many breweries attempt to do this style only to have it turn out cloyingly sweet and, at times, undrinkable (e.g. - my last home brew).  Add Gewurztraminer grapes - a type of grape often used in sweet, German wine - and you could have a recipe for an unbalanced disaster.  But if anyone can pull such a thing off, it's Breakside.  The addition of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus create a beautifully-balanced, characteristically complex, dry and slightly funky brew that cannot be passed up.

On Friday December 5th, 2014, you will be able to pick up a bottle of this limited-edition beer only at the two Breakside locations - only while they last, which won't be long (750 oz @ $15/bottle).

Thanks to Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Ben Edmunds, and Breakside Brewing for the opportunity to try these fantastic beers before the release date.
<![CDATA[8/26/14: Pumpkin Beer and the Sad End of Summer]]>Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:32:37 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/08/82614-pumpkin-beer-and-the-sad-end-of-summer.htmlPicture
Southern Tier Brewing
Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout
8.6% ABV

Brewed with 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, black malt, Munich malt, pureed pumpkin, magnum and sterling hops, and natural flavors.

It's hard to imagine but it's true.  Whether we like it or not, the pumpkin beers have arrived, signifying the reality of the upcoming fall season.  It's not the pumpkin beers' fault that summer will soon be over - and one can't shoot the messenger, after all.

That being said - one does have good reason to be skeptical of pumpkin beer.
  Sadly, there have been some which I actually dumped down the drain after taking one sip (gasp - alcohol abuse!).  In my opinion, there is no justification for sickly sweet, unbalanced and overly-spiced beer any time of the year.  At the risk of stating the obvious: if I wanted pumpkin pie, I would be eating pumpkin pie and not drinking beer.  Pumpkin pie is delicious.  Pumpkin pie beer - not so much.  And why mask the flavor of the pumpkin with sugar and spice if it's your featured ingredient? 

Thankfully, I found a couple of pumpkin beers last year which were both balanced and complex and which managed to showcase the flavor of the pumpkin itself.

One stand-out in the pumpkin category was last year's Mabon by Propolis Brewing.  Propolis normally grows their own herbs and spices - and they grew their own pumpkins as well, picking them as fresh as they could to make this aged farmhouse ale, a synergy of savory and sweet.  The result was an incredibly complex beer with a subtlety of flavor that's rarely found in pumpkin ales. 

Another great one was Pumpkin Smash by Cascade Brewing - a sour beer aged in rum barrels on "triple-roasted" pumpkins - a shit ton of them - for nearly a year.  Roasting highlights the beautiful flavor of the pumpkin and brings out the natural sugars, integrating perfectly with the flavor of rum and spices, then balanced by tartness.  Dangerously drinkable at 11.4% ABV - it may be your noggin and not your pumpkin that gets smashed.

A third pumpkin beer which did not offend me last year was Alaskan Brewing's Pumpkin Porter.  Though the pumpkin itself didn't really come out in this one, the spices integrated nicely with chocolatey malt.  Think Mexican chocolate, but without being overly-sweet - an interesting take on pumpkin beer. 

And in the same dark-chocolate-and-spice pumpkin beer category is Southern Tier's Warlock.

Warlock pours a dark brown, almost black, but with some clarity against the light - hardly the black tar body of some imperial stouts.  A beige, two-finger head mellows out to a ring around the glass, then to nothing at all, without much lacing to speak of.  The nose is nutty and spicy - allspice and nutmeg dominate.  Smooth, velvety, medium-bodied.  A spice-forward vanilla coats the tongue, with some chocolate and a subtle and creeping coriander bitterness.  While not overly sweet at first, it becomes sickly sweet as it warms and could use a bit of hop bitterness for balance.  I also find the liberal use of spices to be over-the-top.  Not a bad beer but certainly couldn't drink a whole 22-oz to myself.  Okay, I lied.  I actually did - but I don't recommend it.  

Serve chilled to keep the sweetness at bay, or drink for dessert if that's your thing.

<![CDATA[7/24/14: A Snapshot of the Oregon Brewers Festival]]>Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:06:57 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/07/72414-preview-of-the-oregon-brewers-festival.htmlPicture
When the going gets tough, the tough don their rubber boots and rain jackets and get to drinking great craft beer!  It was the Oregon Brewers Festival, after all - and there's nothing that says Oregon more than rain and great beer.  So we slipped and slid through the mud to get tasters from some of the eighty-six different breweries featured at this five-day event. 

It's tough work, but someone has to do it.

I'll be honest - I haven't been to OBF in many years.  My crowd-anxiety and dislike of drunk frat boys has kept me away.  It's understandable that the oldest and biggest Portland beer festival should draw a crowd, but...eh...not for me.  I figured, though, that if I went just after the festival opened
on Wednesday, the crowds would be bearable and the frat boys to a minimum.  Bonus that it rained, leaving only the die-hard craft beer enthusiasts, writers, and other craft beer industry folk.  My people.

Naturally, I didn't have a chance to try all the beers, otherwise I wouldn't be alive to write this.  But here's my take on a few...Keep in mind that the "Author Picks" are completely subjective and, while I love all styles if they're done well, I tend to gravitate toward the Belgians and sours.

10 Barrel Brewing Co.
Cider Weiss

10 Barrel took the gold home at GABF 2013 with their Berliner-style Weiss, German Sparkle Party.  This Cider Weiss was a blend of this award-winner and a Granny Smith and Pink Lady cider.  I'm not much of a cider drinker but I was looking forward to seeing what 10 Barrel is up to these days.  There was a nice crisp, cidery and funky nose with - thankfully - a very dry, tart finish.  Clean, crisp and refreshing - definitely has some cider character but without losing the dry, tart Berliner Weiss nature.  Not overly complex but well-done. 

Beer Valley Brewing
Heavy Sugars Honey Ale
This would not have been my first choice for beers to try because I had it in my mind that it would be too sweet for my liking but I tried a bit from a friend's glass.  Brewed with Alfalfa honey and flavored with Oregon plum, cherry and blueberry purees and containing absolutely no hops, the smell
is dominated by fresh honey and strangely reminiscent of cheese.  The flavor is nothing like that though, which is interesting in my book.  A very drinkable, surprisingly dry honey ale.  Worth a try.

Cigar City Brewing
Blood Orange/Dragon Fruit Florida Weisse
Finally - a beer by Cigar City which has been unadulterated by collaborations (mind you, I am completely pro-collaborations!  It's only that the Cigar City/Widmer collaborative series was a bit disappointing...as was the Cigar City/New Belgium Lips of Faith collaboration).  From all the buzz about Cigar City Brewing which comes rapidly through the interweb to the West Coast, I was pretty excited to try this one.  After searching for a while and not finding it, a friend told me that this super-secret beer was the one without the sign.  Naturally. 

Brewed with blood orange and dragon fruit, a type of cactus with a flavor reminiscent of kiwi and pear, pilsner and pale wheat malt, then fermented with Lactobacillus
, this beer was a tart, fruity and incredibly well-balanced Berliner-Weiss style.  Although it didn't exactly blow my mind, it's definitely worthy of competition against some of the great American wild and sour ales produced in the Great Northwest.

Keep an eye out for Cigar City's famous imperial stout scheduled to tap Friday at noon in the specialty, two-token section.  When Cigar City ran out of this beer not too long ago, there was nearly a douche bag riot!

Deschutes Brewery
Ester the Farmhouse Maiden <-- Author Pick
I'm always excited to try a Deschutes one-off, seasonal or Reserve Series beer.  While their old regulars (Mirror Pond, Black Butte Porter, etc.) are solid, their special beers can be downright mind-blowing.  A saison brewed with Vienna and spelt malts and flaked oats with the addition of pink peppercorn, lemon verbena, sumac and dried lemon; this one definitely stood out for me and managed to not disappoint despite my high expectations for it.  It was every bit as complex, spicy and herbal as one would imagine while still retaining a pretty impressive traditional and well-balanced saison style.

Ecliptic Brewing
Perihelion Crimson Saison
I'm always interested in trying the next Ecliptic beer to see how the brewing technique and style is evolving.  Brewed with pale and wheat malts, Sterling hops
and rhubarb; this was a solid, slightly spicy saison with a lingering bitter finish.  Not mind-blowing, but solid.

Ex Novo Brewing Company
Black and Wheat
Ex Novo is one of the newest breweries to open in Portland and is the only non-profit brewery there is (to the best of my knowledge).  I was excited to try my first Ex Novo beer- a black raspberry beer brewed with wheat and Pilsner malts and Amarillo hops.  I really, really wanted to like this one because these guys are so damn nice and have their hearts in the right place.  Unfortunately, based on this one beer, I think they need to hone in on their recipes a bit.  Sorry guys, it just wasn't great - or rather, not even really good.  Not yet, but give these guys some time and keep your eye on them because they've got a great business model and I hope they succeed wildly.

Heathen Brewing
Mega Dank (IPA)
Unfamiliar with Heathen Brewing thus far, I had to try it - especially with a name like this.  I have two words for this beer: HOP FORWARD.  If you are a hop head, DO IT!  Brewed with Pilsner and Vienna malt, the malt profile is subdued enough to really showcase the hops: Ella, Nugget, Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic.  An explosion of dense, resinous pine with a lingering bitterness.  Quite good.

Klamath Basin Brewing Company
Breakfast Blend IPA
This wasn't on my list of must-tries but someone I was chatting with suggested I try it.  Brewed with two-row, Munich and Vienna malts, Cascade, Chinook, Mosaic, Falconer's Flight, Simcoe and Summit hops and flavored with espresso beans, this is the IPA and coffee lover's dream.  The IPA and coffee combination has always seemed like a strange one to me, but they pulled it off very, very well - with a strong yet pleasant coffee flavor and a well-integrated lingering, bitter finish.  Well done!

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
Straffe Drieling (Belgian-style Tripel)
<-- Author Pick
I have never.  NEVER.  Had a bad beer from Logsdon.  So trying this one was a no-brainer.  And once again, this did not disappoint.  Brewed with Pilsner malt, Hallertau hops, chamomile and coriander, and using pear juice as a secondary fermentation sugar; this beer had an intense and complex flavor.  For me, there was a dominant muscat grape flavor.  Didn't really pick up too much on the pear - likely because it integrated so well with the cidery, pear notes of the Belgian yeast.  I also didn't pick up any of the chamomile but the coriander showed up a little, along with a slightly bitter, lingering finish.  So good, I had two.

Upright Brewing Company

Old News Saison  <-- Author Pick
A light amber saison brewed with Amarillo, Santiam, and Willamette hops - late in the boil to keep bitterness down and bring out the complex hop character.  I make no attempt to hide the fact that I may be one of Upright's biggest fans.  I cannot remember ever disliking a single beer I've tried of theirs, and while this saison isn't the most experimental of their beers, it certainly conforms to the incredibly high standards of quality and flavor that Upright is known for.  A very good saison, dry with a spicy finish and a nice Northwest hop character to balance it out.


Other notes:
I was told by multiple people that the GoodLife Brewing Nothing As It Seems coffee blonde was quite good.

Also on my list of beers I wanted to try: Boneyard Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale, Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale, Cascade Raspberry Wheat, Central City Brewing Red Betty Imperial IPA, Crux Fermentation Project Off Leash NW Session Ale, Elysian Perfesser (Belgian Blonde with plums and Brettanomyces), Gigantic Who Ate All the Pies Strawberry Rhubarb Gose, Mazama Rasplendent raspberry hibiscus wit, Scuttlebutt Jalapeno Tripel, and Sixpoint Barrel-Aged 3Beans.

So much beer, too little time!  Cheers!

For more info on the Oregon Brewers Festival, visit their official website

<![CDATA[6/12/14 Priceless Pairings - Upright Brewing Vintage Beer Dinner with Grain and Gristle]]>Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:54:55 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/06/61214-priceless-pairings-upright-brewing-vintage-beer-dinner-with-grain-and-gristle.htmlPicture
Beer-paired dinners - especially a seven-course meal at $75 a head - are the ultimate in decadence and gluttony.  I admit feeling guilty knowing that these dinners are also a representation of the social stratification that craft beer has fallen prey to (along with just about everything else in our society).  This income-based social stratification has an advantage for craft beer though. 

Beer - a historically egalitarian and traditionally working-class beverage of the masses - is now becoming something for which a premium must be paid and only the privileged can afford (at least the good stuff).  On the other hand, what this means is that, finally, craft beer is increasing in desirability among the elite and gaining the artistic and gastronomic credibility traditionally reserved only for wine.  And with regard to food pairings, craft beer - with its diverse color, texture, flavor and aroma profiles - has the potential to blow wine out of the water . 

I think most craft beer enthusiasts would agree that o
ur technically proficient and creative craft brewers deserve this recognition.  One also can't deny the necessity of charging more for beer that costs more money to produce and to age.  The beautiful thing about craft beer is that it hasn't abandoned its beverage-for-the-masses roots altogether in that it remains relatively affordable, compared to wine.

The Upright Barrel-aged Vintage Beer Dinner - with a seven-course menu by Grain and Gristle chef, Nathaniel Price - was more than this writer-slash-beer-slinger could really afford, and certainly more than I've ever paid for any brewer's dinner.  Still, I jumped on my ticket as soon as I heard about it.  I wasn't alone.  Despite the price, I was told that tickets sold out in less than a week. 

The portions were a perfect size each time, artistically presented with a keen eye for balance and color.  The flavors were a perfect match with each beer, providing both compliment and contrast - and all with mouth-watering complexity.  Vintage Upright beers speak for themselves and are always phenomenal.  Vertical tastings illuminated a stark contrast between the different vintages.  Both educational and explosive, each course was a synergistic experience of orgasmic proportions. 

Keep your eye out for future Upright dinner events, because experiences such as this are priceless...

Beer descriptions below are from the Upright website:

Course 1

Ham hock rillettes, graham cracker, sour cherry and mustard seed - a perfect balance of sweet and savory in the dish, the tartness of the beer bringing out the sweetness and blending with the fruit.  This was the an excellent indication of great things to come.
  • paired with 2012 and 2013 Blend Love
  • A mix of  barrel aged Four (a wheat saison) and Six (a dark rye saison) using cherry and raspberry along with souring yeasts and bacteria. It's fruit forward in the nose with a balanced flavor bringing the malts and oak together. Named for friend and colleague Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing Company.
Course 2

Strawberry, beet, chevre, fenugreek cracker, and rose - the complexity was phenomenal in this pairing, bringing together an herbal fruitiness, bitter greens balancing sweet beet and strawberry and floral tartness of the beer illuminating the same.
  • paired with 2013 Flora 
  • The Flora Rustica (saison) is a prime candidate for barrel aging and much like the Saison du Blodget, produces a historic flavor profile in this bottling. Not quite as hoppy but drawing from the botanical elements of yarrow and calendula, the Flora displays a significant lactic edge to sharpen the otherwise earthy flavors.

Course 3

Chilled almond and bread soup with chili oil - cool richness and warm richness combine to make a perfect pairing.  The aging mellows hop character and adding malt complexity.
  • paired with 2013 Sole Composition Single Cask Six
  • Six is a dark saison textured with spicy rye across layers of flavorful malts, contrasted by delicate fruit notes and finishing dry.

Course 4

Asparagus, fava, radish, fried salami, grapefruit and chile oil
  • paired with 2011 Fatali Four
  • A blend of gin and wine barrel aged Four that has fresh homegrown fatali chiles added for a couple months before bottling. It also incorporates light use of brettanomyces yeasts providing a contrasting earthy backdrop for the bright chile flavors.
Course 5

Salmon tartare, green garlic, celery and fennel juice, sea bean and pretzel - this dish screamed fresh and cool, apricot and a lot of Brett character to add a earthy tartness which brought out the subtle flavors of the dish.
  • paired with 2014 Anniversary Saison
  • Beginning with the fifth anniversary of the brewery in 2014, an anniversary saison will be released annually. It combines gin and wine barrels with light use of apricots in a Cascade hopped brew, combining elements we love to produce a dry, snappy, and complex profile.

Course 6
main, served family-style
Jerk pork, cauliflower and alliums, chicories, apricots and basil - this was certainly a rare treat as Fantasia tends to fly fast and I had yet to try it.  All three years were excellent but vastly different.  The real stand-outs for this pairing was, first, the color - of both the beer and edible flowers adorning the dish - then the amazing way tart peach complimented and contrasted the sweet pork.
  • paired with 2011, 2012 and 2013 Fantasia
  • A barrel fermented beer using fresh peaches from Baird Family Orchards. The Fantasia is firmly tart and hugely aromatic with a character not unlike Belgian fruit lambics. Minimum one year on oak before an extended bottle conditioning prior to release.

Course 7
dessert, served family-style

Senneri Hittisau Bergkase (a cheese...yes, I had to look it up), pickled green strawberry, L'Amuse aged gouda, golden raisin and carrot five spice chutney, Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen bleu, and smoked candied hazelnut - the rich sweetness of dessert was actually in the beer with this pairing, which was perfect.  Brininess of the aged cheese contrasted the rich malt character while the chutney complimented.
  • paired with 2010, 2011, and 2013 Billy the Mountain
  • Inspired by the great Prize Old Ale once brewed by Gales in England, this beer is deeply malty and full of ripe fruit, leather, wine and oak flavors. The Billy is partially barrel aged with brettanomyces yeast, lending a distinct twang and developing unique aromas over time.
<![CDATA[5/17/14: Rebuttal - Supporting Your Argument with Research?]]>Sat, 17 May 2014 20:45:56 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/05/51714-rebuttal-supporting-your-argument-with-research.html Last I looked, craft beer pioneer Sierra Nevada, and ultra marketing-geniuses, Brewdog, did not claim to be small, Agrarian, or artisanal...But sure, throw out the big names just to make a point which you're too lazy to research but will still get you attention and boost your readership - because suckers like me are sharing your stupidity...oh balls!

<![CDATA[5/16/14 - Craft Beer in Lexington, Kentucky: an Outsider's Perspective]]>Fri, 16 May 2014 21:11:03 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/05/51614-craft-beer-in-lexington-kentucky-an-outsiders-perspective.htmlIn honor of Lexington Craft Beer Week, May 10-18th... Picture
Country Boy Brewing
436 Chair Avenue

A row of regulars with strong Kentucky accents sit at a wood and rough corrugated steel bar watching one of two big-screen TVs, each with a different game on, as country music ricochets off concrete floors. There's not much about this place to indicate it's anything other than a neighborhood country bar - except for the neon hanging high on the wall, which, instead of advertising Budweiser or Coors Light as one might expect, advertises craft beer.  This is the first indication that there's something different about this place.

As it turns out, Country Boy is an indication of good things to come in Lexington - a product of an explosion of craft beer in the world today as consumers in small towns and big cities alike demand higher quality. 

In addition to flights of their own beer, Country Boy offers some excellent guest taps - for which, however, there is no need to bother with
.  In a town with only a few breweries, Country Boy not only brews the best beer in Lexington - I would argue this is some of the best craft beer I've ever had.  Period.

I visited Lexington in February, 2014 - exactly two years after Country Boy opened - so the winter seasonals I describe below are long gone, but it should give you a sense of the styles they offer and quality they represent.  I'm very sorry I discovered this place as I was on my way out of town because I would have loved to make myself a permanent fixture here for the three days I spent in Lexington.  With some damn good beer and some damn fine folks, this brewery is worth a trip to Lexington if you're anywhere nearby.

XXX Jalapeno Smoked Stout
This version of their traditional Jalapeno Smoked Stout also adds Serrano and habanero for bold heat and a fragrant chili aroma. There's just enough smokiness in the flavor to be distinct but not overpowering and it integrates well with the flavor of chili and a slight, dry chocolate to balance it out. This is the best chili beer I've had yet, without a doubt.

Peckerhead Wheat IPA

Pours a gorgeous hazy straw with an aromatic citrus nose. Just a hint of tropical fruit with a lot of citrus and a lingering bitter finish. Yet another really excellent Country Boy beer.

Lazy Rye A lot lighter in both body and color than is characteristic of other ryes – at least in my neck of the woods. It really showcases the rye's earthy spiciness, with a lingering bitter finish.

Sexual Dracula Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout
Brewed with a combination of sour and sweet cherries. The general consensus: other customers love it, but this one is a little too sweet and medicinal for me. Lighter, more mellow and less alcohol than the Rx (9% as opposed to 12.5%), but lacking any detectable booziness. It's a matter of taste, but it's really saying something that this is only one of five Country Boy beers I didn't like.

Bourbon Barrel Rx Stout
A lot of bourbon-vanilla flavor and a slight boozy sweetness. Great flavor, not hugely complex, but very enjoyable.

The Beer Trappe
811 Euclid Ave

My second pick on the list of craft beer must-sees for Lexington is The Beer Trappe - Lexington's only dedicated beer bottle shop with eight taps, over 500 bottles and growlers to go, this place has a classy vibe with dim lighting, a leather couch, and barrels for tables.

The Beer Trappe offers beer events (such as the Mikkeller vs. Evil Twin tap takeover TONIGHT, which makes me really wish I were in Lexington right now) and Beer School - an informative weekly beer tasting,
based on a different weekly style or theme and hosted by BJCP judge and Certified Cicerone®, Kevin Patterson.    

West Sixth Brewing
501 West Sixth St

West Sixth quickly became my local haunt during a brief stint in Lexington, primarily because - despite the vastness of the space, which threatens a cold vibe - the warmth of those who work at West Sixth drew me in.  In three short days, they knew my name and made me feel like a beloved regular.  One or two of the employees even nearly convinced me to stay in Lexington.

Transylvania Tripel was the first of their beers I tried, with flavors of honey and pear cider and a clove and coriander finish. The flavor was decent, characteristic of the style, but I found it far too sweet for my taste.  Their Kentucky Common, part of an experimental batch series, was nothing to write home about either.  But don't get me wrong...just because I didn't like all of their beers doesn't mean they aren't a great brewery.  West Sixth also had a great bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with all the complex flavor one could want from the style, along with a great balance and a dangerously non-boozy 13% ABV.

But of all the admirably-diverse styles that West Sixth attempts (with mixed results), their IPAs knock it out of the park, easily competing with the best of the Northwest IPAs - and blowing the mediocre ones out of the water.  One example is their flagship West Sixth IPA, which showcases all of the beautiful complexity of Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, and Citra hops while maintaining a delicate malt balance.  Their Second Fiddle Simcoe IPA had a beautiful floral nose, citrus and tropical fruit, and a pine finish. The malt, again, was really well-balanced and the beer had very little bitterness despite the 80 IBUs - a very impressive IPA with a surprisingly complex hop profile despite the single-hop variety.

Beyond the beer itself,
West Sixth exemplifies the community and sustainability which craft beer represents.

West Sixth
owns the 90,000 square foot building which houses not only the brewery and taproom but also FoodChain, a local non-profit which set up an aquaponics system for sustainable indoor food production.  Huge barrels of Talapia produce waste which bacteria convert to fertilizer to grow rows of lettuce and herbs. Fish, lettuce and herbs are then harvested by Smithtown Seafood, a restaurant next door which delivers to the taproom.

The building also houses Lexington Roller Girls of Central Kentucky, Magic Beans Coffee Roasters, Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop, The Bread Box artist studios, and Bluegrass Bouldering, a rock climbing gym; and will soon house Bluegrass Distillers, a small-scale distillery (currently under construction).  This diverse and close-knit community, combined with a natural Southern hospitality, made me feel like I, too, was part of it - right from the start.

West Sixth recently added a new forty-barrel system, with an eighty-barrel brite tank and eighty-barrel fermenters for full-fledged production and canning.  Their original fifteen-barrel brew system will still be used to produce excellent beer for the taproom.

Special thanks to
Kelly Hieronymus at West Sixth for her hospitality and for fact-checking and providing additional information.

Lexington Beerworks
213 N Limestone St

Gray-haired men hunching over their beer glasses
turned to stare as I walked in with two younger friends.  I felt as though I were walking into an English pub full of the Old Boys Club. 

As it turns out, the charming patrons of Lexington Beerworks can talk your ear off over a great beer and the most phenomenal thin-crust pizza I've EVER had.  Also a homebrew shop, and definitely worth checking out if you're in Lexington.

A charming patron of Lexington Beerworks
574 N Limestone St

A bar with one wall dedicated to old arcade video games, this is the place where beer geeks go when West Sixth stops serving. An impressive list of eleven beers on tap - which included Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, a 13% ABV tropical fruit bomb. Everyone in the room was a good fifteen years younger than me, which I guess means it's the place to be.

Wood floors and exposed brick walls and a lot of laughter and boysterous conversation that ricocheted off the walls of this historical building on the corner of a sleepy, icy street at midnight.

<![CDATA[The Origin of '420'...from the Waldos]]>Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:18:25 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/04/the-origin-of-420from-the-waldos.htmlThis video made me smile...thanks to Lagunitas Brewing and to Beerpulse for posting this on Twitter...

<![CDATA[Why Marketing Beer to Women is No Longer Relevant]]>Sun, 13 Apr 2014 13:50:52 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/04/why-marketing-beer-to-women-is-no-longer-relevant.htmlPicture
I've been stewing on this pervasive question for a long time: How do you market beer to women?  And I've finally come up with my answer. First, let's look at this question on a more general, global scale.

Marketing used to be simple.  There were tangible, quantifiable demographics you could cling to as an advertiser: men, women, Asian, African-American, White, poor, middle-class, young, old, urban and suburban, etc.  You could easily - so the advertisers thought and based their simplified marketing models on - divide these broad categories into general spending habits and go from there.

It's natural that these demographics came about.  Humans have taken our animal instincts (Is it food?  Are you a friend or enemy? Can I mate with you?) a step further - because we can.  Our brains are wired to find patterns and define our own place within those patterns.  We fit ourselves into those demographics, then we become those demographics
.  It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle.  Or so, this is how it used to be.

Rapidly changing technology and the cultural highway of social media are giving us, as individuals, greater power over how we define ourselves, and because of this our definitions of ourselves are becoming more complex and nuanced.  This, combined with ever-increasing, un
controlled population growth has inevitably created diversity within the simple demographic categories - creating further categories, multiple subcategories, and many shades of gray.  One need not be either male or female or gay or straight; one can be a youthful senior or a highly mature, globally-savvy youth; an individual can consist of many different ethnic or racial categories and can even live in two different cultures at the same time.  In short: those demographic categories which advertisers have used for so long have become painfully antiquated. Creaky. Rusted. Falling off the hinges!

Yet, some people still struggle with this.  What made me start thinking about this was a comment that my boss made the other day.  She was being interviewed by a journalist who asked her about marketing beer to women.  My boss' opinion was that you don't really market beer to women - which is part of why craft beer has been so successful in drawing women to it naturally.  For some reason, the journalist continued to push, really wanting an answer, and ended up misquoting my boss just to get one.  Why do people need an answer to a question which is so deeply submerged in an antiquated demographic system?

The truth is - still speaking on a global scale - people have
redefined these demographics to interest categories.  Instead of being defined by your age or your gender or what you look like, you can now define yourself by your interests - and that's a much more powerful marketing tool because an individual's spending habits are more easily predicted by interests - despite the fact that a single "interest category" could easily contain individuals who fit into multiple old-school demographic categories.

So how does one translate this to the beer world?

As an example, you may be able to define "interest categories" as such (this is not a comprehensive list by any means...):

  • People who drink craft beer versus people who drink American adjunct lagers
  • People who prefer strong, bold beers vs. people who prefer lighter, more subtle flavors
  • People who prefer stouts and porters
  • People who prefer IPAs and hoppier beers
  • People who love sour beers
  • People who are into traveling and tasting beers of the world

You get the idea.  And from my experience drinking with many people in many of these categories: they contain both men and women.

So how do you market beer to women?  You don't.  Get over it.  Make a great stout and market to stout-drinkers.  Make a great IPA and market to hoppy beer lovers.  But for god sake, stop asking that stupid question!
<![CDATA[It's Not Too Late to Stop Being a Douchebag]]>Thu, 13 Mar 2014 03:43:25 GMThttp://craftbeergut.com/4/post/2014/03/its-not-too-late-to-stop-being-a-douchebag.htmlIf you haven't heard yet about Cigar City's Hunahpu’s Day madness yet, I beg you to read this excellent article and learn from it.  I saw this video on that fateful day, shortly after the incident, and I couldn't help but think, "What a bunch of entitled douchebags!"  
But counterfeiting tickets takes it to a whole different level.

To those who 1)counterfeited tickets or, 2)bought counterfeit tickets: You have gone against everything that Craft Beer stands for and I hope you rot in a tub of Coors Light for the rest of your days and throughout all of eternity.  You are clearly too fucking stupid to realize you have just shot yourself in the foot by ending this event (and, likely, other events like it) and taking the rest of us well-intending, reverent and respectful craft beer enthusiasts with you.  Actually, even Coors light is too good for you.  May you drink rat piss.

I feel terrible for Cigar City - a craft brewery who put Florida on the craft beer map and inspired other breweries to follow. They've lost a ton of money in trying to provide counterfeit  "customers" with bottles of beer, then trying to compensate the loss to legitimate customers by providing free pours for a day.

I can't help but feel ashamed to be a craft beer enthusiast and it makes me SICK!

Maybe it's inevitable.  Like all great underdog movements of the past - the beats, the hippies, the punks...now the craft beer brewers and enthusiasts...all the movements that were willing to accept all who didn't quite fit in, all who went against the grain to challenge the status quo: it eventually gets ruined by entitled, douchebag opportunist fucks who start to think they're cool because they're "part" of that movement. 

My message to the counterfeiters and those who supported them:  You never were part, and you never will be - because you just don't get it.  Even if you managed to get your three bottles of
Hunahpu, you are tragically uncool, and everyone who knows you sees right through your bullshit.  But now is your opportunity to change your ways.  You made some bad decisions.  You learned from them.  You still have a chance to be cool.  But you have to commit to stop being a parasitic asshole.  Your choice.