Tag Archives: Craft Beer

#beerclub’s Favorites

A few weeks ago during the weekly #beerclub chat, the topic of the American Homebrewer’s Association2012 Best Beers in America” came up. There was some discussion about if it was too west coast focused, or if they focused too much on rare beers. That’s a discussion perhaps for another post in the future, but I decided that #beerclub should give the list thing a go. We have a lot of knowledgeable beer drinkers in our ranks, there’s no reason we couldn’t come up with a list that we could call our own.

So, I’m asking for you to fill out a survey. Give me a list of your favorite beer related things and I’ll compile them for a future blog post and discussion. I’ll use your answers to compile the list. I’ll also compile a list of #beerclub’s favorite bars, Wisconsin beers, breweries, and other relevant information.

In addition to listing your favorite things, I am also giving you the opportunity to give me some feedback about #beerclub. I’m working on revitalizing the blog with the Beer 101 series I’ve started, and I have some other ideas for future posts that you should keep an eye out for. I’m putting more effort into the #beerclub, but this group is more than just me. We need your input for the group to live up to its fullest potential. This survey is your opportunity to give me feedback that will make the club a better group for everyone.

As a thanks for your assistance, I’m offering a prize. If you include your twitter handle in the survey, I’ll do a drawing for this set of Lakefront Brewery pint glasses.

That’s it. Go forth and answer some beer related questions. It might take you some time to come up with your answers, so I recommend you have a beer within reach before you start.

#beerclub’s favorites survey 

I’ll leave the survey open until August 6th. Please fill it out and have some fun doing so.

Intro to Malt – Beer 101

As complex and varied as the flavor of beer is, it is actually only made up of just four key ingredients: Malt, Hops, Water and Yeast. Each of these ingredients has a role in the final product, and we’ll be reviewing each piece as a part of Beer 101. The first ingredient we’ll be discussing is malt.

Malt plays several roles in beer, from providing the sugars that allow for fermentation, to providing a base for the flavors. Before I go into more details about what malt does, let’s talk about what malt is.

When discussing malt in beer, the most common kind you’ll find is malted barley. Though it’s not the only malt suitable for making beer, barley has become the preferred grain for several reasons. One of the primary factors that made barley the malt of choice is that it’s not very good for grinding into flour. I’ll cover this in more depth in a future post in Beer 101 where we talk some beer history. We’ll also cover other grains used in beer in a future post.


Two Row Barley

Barley is a grain member of the grass family that grows in three varieties. Two, four and six row varieties refer to the number of seeds on the stalk. Two and six row barley are the only ones that are suitable for brewing, and brewers choose which type they will use in their beer for different reasons.

Two row barley is often selected because it malts better, and because it has a higher ratio of starch to husk than six row barley. Six row barley is used because it is cheaper than two row, and it produces more enzymes for converting starch into fermentable sugar during the malting process. This extra enzyme production is key when using other ingredients that don’t produce their own enzymes or don’t produce enough for effective brewing. Two row barley is the traditional brewer’s favorite, but six row barley is very common among U.S. craft brewers.

Barley by itself is not suitable for brewing and it must be malted before it is used in beer. Malting is the process that converts the starches in the barley into soluble starch, reduces proteins and generates yeast nutrients and enzymes that are important to brewing. Barley is malted by taking the harvested grain and soaking it in water to activate the dormant kernel. The kernels are then allowed to start germinating (sprouting roots). This germination is where the seeds naturally convert starch into soluble starch which would be used as food for the new plant. Since brewers are only interested in the malted barley, it is at this point that the grain is heated in a kiln to stop the further growth and dry it out.

Roasted Malt The next step in processing the barley is to roast it. Much like coffee beans are roasted, there are varying degrees to which the grains are roasted. If the barley is simply roasted to the point that it stops the germination process, it is considered pale malt. This pale malt is the lightest form of malt in terms of color, and has the most enzymes remaining. Pale malt is used as the base malt in many beers and many breweries add pale malt to every beer they brew because it provides a solid malt sweet backbone to the beer and is much cheaper than malts that have been roasted further. The high concentration of enzymes remaining in the malt is also very important to the rest of the brewing process.

As the malt is roasted further, it becomes darker and different flavors are introduced. Amber, brown, chocolate and black malts are different varieties that are produced by heating the malt to a higher temperature. When the malt is further darkened, caramel and roast flavors come out, but the enzymes are also burned away.

After malting and roasting, the malt is ground into grist. This grist is then added to water and heated. This heating process starts the enzyme reaction and the starches in the grain are turned into sugar. This sugar is important because it is what the yeast will turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide later in the brewing process. The product of adding the grist to the water is known as sweet wort (unfermented beer).

Malt is a crucial ingredient to the flavor of the beer. It adds the sweetness of the beer and provides a balance to the bitterness introduced by the hops. Malt also provides the sugars that are used in fermenting and allow for the creation of alcohol in the beer. The malt that is used in a beer is the most obvious difference between a pale beer and a stout beer.

I hope that you learned something by reading this, and that you have a clearer understanding of one of the four main ingredients in beer. Stay tuned as my next Beer 101 post will cover another one of the main four ingredients of beer: hops. Again, if you have any questions, or clarifications, please feel free to comment, or send me a tweet.

Happy Anniversary!

I am not even going to pretend that I remember how this all came about. This is what I know to be true. I saw Joe from Blatz liquor tweeting about a beer club.  I schlepped the kids into the now deceased Blatz Liquor store (pour some out for our homie) to buy beer including the beer of the week. I followed Mitch on twitter and attended the very first #beerclub.  Anything else I remember probably isn’t true.

I have been present at each and every beer club since – whether the kids or I were sick, whether I was at home or not and I think once I didn’t even have the beer of the week but still participated. By (not my) popular demand, the beer club time was changed and since then it has been a challenge for me to be present, but I always try to at least stop in and say hi.

This is what else I know to be true.  I have had great conversations, learned a thing or two, and made life-long friends through #beerclub. I am so grateful for this group that gathers on twitter every Monday night and shares a beer.  I look forward to it every week and I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for us.  I imagine some more great (and not so great) beer, more friends and more field trips!

I am hoping we have a great turn out of old friends (@vasser40 I am looking at you) and new friends to celebrate the one year anniversary of #beerclub! See you at 8pm this Monday night!

A special shout out thank you to Mitch! Without you, none of this would have happened and I so appreciate you!

#beerclubfieldtrip Recap and Announcement

Last night we met up at Romans’ Pub for the first #beerclubfieldtrip of 2011, and the fourth field trip overall. We drank great beer, had a good time with old friends, and met some new ones. Romans’ has a wide variety of taps and there was a beer there to meet everyone’s taste. In all we had 12(?) #beerclub members at the bar, and I’m sure everyone had a good time.

This is exactly what #beerclub is all about, and that’s why I’m happy to announce that we’re doing it again (and again, and again). I’m hoping to make the #beerclubfieldtrip a monthly event on the third Saturday of the month. We’ll be going to bars and breweries around the Milwaukee area, but we also have plans to head to the beer bars of Chicago and Madison in the near future.

Mark Your Calendars:

For February’s outing we’re heading over to The Sugar Maple. Meet up with fellow beer lovers and have a brew with us. February 19th, 7:00 PM at the Sugar Maple. RSVP and more information on the event’s twtvite.

#beerclub Favorites

I am grateful for every beer that the twitter #beerclub has introduced me to. Even the gross ones (hey! that could be another blog post!). I am partial to an IPA, but I really enjoy tasting all kinds of beer.  Here is a list of my favorite beers that we have done so far in the #beerclub- in no particular order. So I’m not numbering them. (And I am sure I am leaving some out).

Ale Asylum Bedlam IPA

Ale Asylum Bedlam

Ale Asylum Bedlam

From their website:

“ALE ASYLUM is unfiltered and all natural. We use no additives, preservatives, fruit, horse hooves, fish guts, or extracts. Our ingredient list: water, malt, hops, and yeast. This is what we mean when we say our beer is FERMENTED IN SANITY. You know who makes it, you know what it’s made with. You know after having one you’ll want another.”

So, in other words, this brewery in Madison, Wisconsin kicks ass. I am a lover of (almost) all IPAs and this beer is described as a Belgian style IPA. It is a seasonal beer and was perfect for the season we drank it in- Spring.  It was fruity, hoppy, delicious.

Victory V-12

Victory V 12

Victory V 12

Admittedly, I don’t remember the exact taste of this beer that well. But I know it tasted really good.  This is called a strong ale and I was told that if I enjoyed an IPA, I would enjoy this. And I did. Very much. This beer has a very high alcohol content, 12%, and the alcohol content was cleverly disguised by a great tasting beer. Resulting in me drinking enough of it not to remember exactly how it tasted. I know it had a hoppiness I enjoyed and it came in a really cool corked bottle.


Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

An IPA (go figure) made with 18% rye malt. This gold medal winning beer has the super hoppy flavor that I just cannot get enough of. It was the first time I had tried a rye malt beer and I am glad I did! This brewery also produces another favorite IPA of mine, Racer 5- which was not a beer club pick, but has become a staple in my refrigerator.

Three Floyds Gumballhead

Three Floyds Gumballhead

Three Floyds Gumballhead

Here is a shocker- this one is not an IPA! It is actually a wheat beer, and I have to say, I do not enjoy many wheat beers.  But this is a wheat beer that has made a permanent home in my refrigerator. It is not an easy beer to describe, but it is an extremely easy and enjoyable beer to drink, with big flavor. This brewery also makes another favorite of mine that was not a beer club pick, and is also not an IPA- Alpha King is a pale ale and it is awesome.

Honorable mentions:

Left Hand Brewing Chainsaw Ale a “connoisseur version of our award winning Sawtooth Ale” Yum

Sprecher Belgian Dubbel a 25th anniversary brew and a classic. Brewed locally here in Wisconsin!

Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale A strong ale and very enjoyable

Thank you Mitch for letting me use your photos! It should be noted that Mitch is classy and drinks out of fancy glasses. I drink from the bottle.

#beerclub BOTW: Rogue Yellow Snow IPA

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA

Yellow Snow IPA

The holidays are behind us, and we’re into the heart of the winter months. It’s time to drink a seasonal beer that’s not your typical winter beer. Why not a seasonal IPA with an unconventional name. Rogue Brewery offers up Yellow Snow IPA which fits this bill perfectly.


Yellow Snow IPA was originally introduced for the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Yellow Snow is Rogue’s tribute to winter sports everywhere—downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country, ice hockey, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and even curling.

It will be available November 1st in select states where mountains and snow can be found.

Tasting Notes:

Pale golden in color with a hoppy fruity aroma. Big hop flavor up front complemented by medium body and hoppyness mid-pallet. Finishes with a characteristic lingering bitterness.

8 Ingredients:Cara Foam, Melanoiden & Rogue Micro Barley Farm Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Amarillo & Rogue Micro Hopyard Revolution Hops, Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.
Specs:15º PLATO

70 IBU

76 AA

14º Lovibond

Join us this Monday night January 10th at 8:00 PM Central time. Follow the twitter hashtag #beerclub for more details and to drink along.

#beerclub Beer of the Week: Bells Winter White

Bells Winter White Ale

Bell's Winter White Ale

Winter is in full effect and 2011 is on the door step. For our first #beerclub of 2011 we need to drink a special beer. This is where Bells Brewery Winter White Ale comes in. A Belgian style white ale, Winter White is not your typical heavy winter beer.

Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell’s Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Bell’s Winter White Ale is a beer for embracing winter.

Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%
Original Gravity: 1.052
Shelf Life: 6 months
Dates Available: Winter Seasonal
Available Packages: Bottle, draft, and 5 liter (1.32 gal.) mini-keg

Join us on Monday Night January 3rd for Bell’s Winter White.

#beerclub Beer of the Week: Sprecher Winter Brew

To keep on the theme of seasonal beers, this week the #beerclub is drinking Milwaukee’s own Sprecher Brewery Winter Brew. A Bavarian Style Dunkle, Winter Brew is a beer to warm you up during the cold winter months in Wisconsin.

This #beerclub is special because we’re going to be doing it in person. Genevieve and Craig have opened their house up to the beerclub for a nacho dinner and #beerclub in person meeting. This is an event you surely don’t want to miss. Make sure to RSVP and find out more information on the official Twitvite. It’s fitting that we’re drinking the Winter Brew at the scene of this horrendous event. Come out and celebrate the season, drink along with good friends and remember the fallen Winter Brew next Monday.

Sprecher Winter Brew

Sprecher Winter Brew

A flavorful blend of dark roasted and sweet caramel malts defines this smooth and robust lager. The rich, nourishing flavors of a full-bodied Munich bock make this Bavarian-style brew perfect for those long winter nights.

Randy’s Notes: “Winter brew is a Munich style dunkel bock of much repute among those who know us best. It has won the World Beer Cup, Gold and Bronze medals.”

Winter Brew Facts

Available Dec. through Feb.
Alcohol by Volume: 5.75%
Degrees Plato (Initial Gravity): 14.5P
Weeks Aged: 8
Bitterness Units: 0 IBU
Year First Brewed: 1986
Serving Temperature: 50°
Malts: Black Patent, Caramel, Chocolate, Pale
Hops: Cascade, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Tettnanger
Sizes: 1/4 and 1/2 Barrels, 16oz Bottles

Craft Beer-or Just Beer-and Women

At a recent beer bloggers conference one panel (rightfully) focused on Marketing Craft Beer to Women, which intrigued me because it’s something I’ve been concerned with for the past few years.  In some respects it’s a similar issue to marketing sex videos to women. Say what? Take a sip of craft beer and think about it. Porn/sex videos were originally made by men for mens’ pleasure. It took awhile to realize that many women did not enjoy the scenarios as much as guys not because they don’t like sex or sex videos but because they appreciate a different perspective.

Until recently, beer has pretty much been marketed exclusively to guys. So it’s been about men drinking and being served by luscious babes and/or guy humor, bonding over sports, grilling, etc.  Suffice it to say, a majority of beer advertising lacked many seductive notes or nuances. Now we have an increasing number of seductive beer ads, e.g., the sweaty bottle, and also ads showing brewers and people with a passion for the industry as well as the product. And that is largely due, I believe, to the influence of craft beer whose motto is best stated by Beer Advocate’s founders, Jason and Todd Alstrom: “Respect Beer.” Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, not only was a leader in bringing craft beer to the “masses,” but he is one of the most creative marketers of craft beer. So I give props to Jim who came up with the “Don’t be afraid of flavor” craft beer campaign.

Perhaps you’re wondering where I’m going with this, what’s the tie-in with women and sex videos? Body image.  Beer commercials aimed at women almost exclusively focus on the lowest calorie beers. Too many calories = fat = unattractive. And now the beer calorie terror has spread to men. Is it MGD 64 that has a frequently played ad with neurotic thin men exercising so they can drink another Mich Ultra while the savvy guy drinking MGD 64 just stands around calm and collected? So not only are women worried about becoming fat if they drink beer, men are concerned too.  Funny, because vodka cocktails have more calories per ounce than beer and yet, you won’t see a vodka ad that plays to calorie anxiety.  Instead, you see signifiers of good taste such as people relaxing and enjoying themselves among friends in pleasant surroundings.

As far as beer is concerned it gets back to “Respect Beer,” and “Don’t Be Afraid of Flavor,” whether you’re a man or a woman.  Try some craft beers with friends, in a special beer glass or wine glass, and talk about the flavors you taste.  Enjoy what you’re drinking; savor the experience. And as far as marketing beer to women, good taste always sells.

#beerclub Beer of the Week: Sierra Nevada Celebration

Sierra Nevada Celebration

Sierra Nevada Celebration

We’re heading into the holiday season and that means it’s time for holiday beers. We’ve also had a few fresh/wet hop beers. This week for #beerclub we’re combining these two and drinking Sierra Nevada Brewing Celebration Ale. This is a “fresh hop” ale

“The long, cold nights of winter are a little brighter with Celebration Ale. Wonderfully robust and rich, Celebration Ale is dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma. Brewed especially for the holidays, it is perfect for a festive gathering or for a quiet evening at home.”

Join us on Monday Night December 13th for Sierra Nevada Celebration.