Local Beer News and Events: April 30, 2015

When I taught at the University of Tennessee at Martin, I had a wonderful colleague named Barb Malinuaskas. When things weren’t going well for her, she would say, “Life is too much with me.” Well, to quote Barb, life is too much with me right now and some local beer news & events have slipped by me while I was putting out fires elsewhere. Here’s a recap of some of it:

Cincinnati Beer Week Moving to June
You may remember our post making the case to move Cincinnati Beer Week to a less weather challenged month. While the dates we proposed weren’t chosen, it’s still a good thing to see this great event moved to a time of year when snow emergencies aren’t a possibility.

Urban Artifact
The newest brewery in town opened its doors last Friday. Located at 1660 Blue Rock St, it’s actually the closest brewery to my day job and I’m hoping to stop by soon (Just wished they opened earlier on a Friday afternoon.) Concentrating on sour beers, their three flagship beers are a gose style ale, a Kentucky Common style ale and a Berliner pale ale. There is an event to celebrate the launch of their distribution tomorrow night at Arnold’s Bar and Grill. On the music side, I was thrilled to see that Urban Artifact will be the home of the Blue Wisp Big Band everything Wednesday night at 8:30 pm.

The OTR Beerfest: CANival
The same folks who bring us the Cincy Winter Beerfest and many other great area beer festivals are adding another one to their fold. It’s set for Saturday, June 27 from 1:00 – 11:00pm in beautiful Washington Park. When they go on sale, tickets will be available at BeerTickets.com.

Kings Island Beer?
Shauna Steigerwald of the Enquirer reports that the Mason based amusement park will soon be serving their own branded beers. The interesting part of this is that Kings Island doesn’t want to reveal who is brewing the beers for them. We’re guessing AB-Inbev.

AB-InBev Announces Dogfish Head Collaboration

AB-InBev announced today that its St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch division would brew a collaborative beer with Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewing. Based on Dogfish Head’s 60, 90 and 120 Minute IPAs, the new beer is to be called Bud Light 30-Second IPA.

“After years of brewing ‘off-centered beers for off-centered people'”, said AB-InBev spokesperson Anton Spargewater, “Bud Light is happy to help Dogfish Head brew its first ever all-centered and middle-of-the-road beer made especially for people who follow the herd.”

Spargewater says that AB-InBev developed a new brewing technology to make the beer. “Our normal brewing process involves showing a bag of hops to someone who will turn a valve to fill the brew kettle,” he says. “We found that for a beer this complex we needed to actually let the hops touch the wort. Luckily, we were cleaning out a storage room and came across a commemorative Budweiser tea infuser from the old Busch Gardens gift shop. It works great as long as we don’t fill it too full.”

Asked how the collaboration came about, Spargewater said it was another innovation by the multinational conglomerate. “Every time we call a small brewery about doing this, they either hang up on us or start talking about our Super Bowl commercial. After a while we just gave up,” he said. “We spill more beer in a day than most of these guys make in a year, so we just hired a few more gross of lawyers to handle the lawsuits and decided to do the collaboration without the knowledge or participation of the other brewery. It’s really a win-win for us.”

Asked to describe the flavor profile of the beer, Spargewater declined comment. “I never touch the stuff,” he said.

Reached for comment, Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione said, “What? Who is this? Are you drunk? Did [Stone Brewing’s] Greg [Koch] put you up to this”

Area Satanists Plan Craft Brewery

Beelzebub Brewery
Proposed Branding

Encouraged by the historical success of religious orders brewing beer, a Northern Kentucky Satanist congregation is planning to open a craft brewery to support its outreach missions. The Second Primitive Church of Satan (Reformed) in Campbell County has begun the permitting process with State and Federal officials. Beelzebub Brewing Company expects to release its first beers to the public later this calendar year.

“Monks have been brewing beer for centuries.” said Anton Deplume, Grand Potentate of Evil and church spokesman, “It’s really kind of embarrassing we hadn’t thought of this sooner.”

Deplume says that he and many members of his congregation are home brewers and this is the next logical step for his congregation.

“The effort it takes to start a brewery is really hellish,” said Deplume. “That means it’s right up our alley. The permits, the distribution negotiations, the equipment suppliers, really the whole process is a nightmare. It was clearly designed by the Dark One himself. It’s easy to see His hand in all of this.”

“It’s really lucky that our church appeals to lawyers,” he added with a smile, “It’s saved us a ton of money on legal fees.”

The church has tapped Anton Spargewater to be its head brewer. Spargewater says he has been a brewer at a number of different breweries, but declined to name them. “Hang around a brewery long enough and you’ll meet people willing to sell their soul to work there. That’s pretty much how I broke into the business,” he said.

Spargewater says all their beers will feature three six-row malts. “We’re really excited that the Brewer’s Association has loosened the standards on the use of adjunct ingredients,” he said, “we feel like there’s a lot to be done with sulpher and bitter herbs.” He added that their flagship will be very accessible. “We’re calling it ‘Cast Thee Into Helles’,” he said. “We want it to be very easy to start drinking our beer,” he added, “because if we do our job right you’ll be with us … well … eternally.”

According to Anton Decoction, General Manager and parishioner, area craft beer lovers shouldn’t expect to see over-the-top packaging from them. “I’m really afraid we’d run into some trademark issues with Three Floyds and Stone if we went in that direction,” he said with wry grin. “And I want to underplay the relationship between our beers and The Source of All Evil anyway. I think the greatest trick would be to convince people that there’s no real connection between the brewery and The Prince of Darkness.”

Decoction says that profits from the brewery will go Snakes Unhandled, the church’s charity that works with snakes traumatized from being handled by members of other faith communities.

“People don’t appreciate the pressure the snakes are under in that situation, he said, “Sometimes you just don’t feel bite-y no matter how much the guy deserves it. Other times it’s early on Sunday and you’re dragged from sunning on top of a perfectly good rock and waved around in front of a bunch of strangers. It doesn’t matter how Godly you are at that point. Someone’s getting bit.”

“It’s really all for the snakes,” he said emphatically.

When asked if he expected any resistance in the marketplace, Deplume shrugged and said “People don’t have any trouble buying stuff from AB-InBev or MillerCoors. You think they didn’t cut a deal with the Master of Darkness years ago?”

Satan could not be reached for comment.

Don’t Feed the Trolls: The West Sixth – Magic Hat Thing

Someone is Wrong on the Internet!
From xkcd.com

Righteous indignation is fun.

There are few things more satisfying, more self-affirming than a good spleen-cleansing rant. I get that. Heck, I’ve done that. I like to think I do righteous indignation pretty well.  My face turns red nicely and I have enough mass behind me to pound on a table with the best of them.

On the surface, the whole kerfuffle between Lexington, KY’s West Sixth Brewing and North American Brewing Company’s1 Magic Hat Brewing seems a ripe candidate for a good old David v. Goliath Old Testament rip-roaring rant.  Until you think about it for a minute and remember that there are creatures like AB-InBev and SABMillerCoors roaming the planet. Then this starts looking like more of a David v. Slightly-Larger-But-Not-Really-Huge-David kind of thing and, let’s face it, that lacks poetry.

This is just the sort of thing that gives the numbers 6 and 9 a bad reputation.

Don’t know what kerfuffle I’m talking about? Congratulations! You have a life! Rather than tediously recount the saga that broke yesterday as the Craft-Beer-Crisis-of-the-Moment™, I will direct your attention to this article and this article (hey! and now this article! And this one!) on the invaluable BeerPulse.com. Then I’ll direct you to read Tom Aguero’s yeoman2 effort to make sense of it over at Queen City Drinks.

This all just makes my head hurt.  And makes me sad.

Now, I’m not a trademark lawyer.  And, unless you’re a lawyer who’s actually interacted with the US Patent & Trademark Office, neither are you. So my opinion and your opinion on the relative merits of the conflict between the two companies are meaningless. Here are two facts that mean as much to resolving this as you signing an Internet petition or posting comments to Facebook accounts or writing your own scathing blog post about the injustices being perpetrated here: First, I’m wearing a West Sixth Brewery cap as I write this post. Second, the old Bavarian Brewery in Covington once sued Anheuser-Busch to prevent A-B from bringing a beer called Busch Bavarian into the Cincinnati market. They won in that A-B couldn’t distribute Busch beer as Busch Bavarian where Bavarian Brewing distributed, but they couldn’t prevent A-B from distributing it that way elsewhere.  You see, it came up at trial that Bavarian Brewing had allowed other breweries — notably one in Pennsylvania — distribute a beer called Bavarian because, hey, they didn’t compete directly and they were trying to be nice guys.3

And everyone knows the law rewards nice guys.

You’ll probably point out that both facts I stated — that I’m wearing a Sixth West hat and the short history lesson on Bavarian’s legal issues — are completely irrelevant.  Here’s the punchline, Sparky:  unless you own Magic Hat or West Sixth, you aren’t adding anything relevant to the conversation either.  There are only two parties that need to be talking about this right now, and you and me aren’t on the list. Whether you like or hate Magic Hat or you like or hate West Sixth doesn’t mean a damned thing.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

I don’t know what the true facts of this case are. When push comes to shove, I don’t think I want to know the true facts of this case. Do I think it’s easy to confuse the two logos? No,  but I’m continually astonished at the ways people confuse themselves.  In my day job of providing technical support for online learning, well, at the risk of sounding like Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner, I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…

So here’s my advice.  Go pay attention to something else. Anything. The people of Moore, OK could put your passion to good use right now. So could your elderly neighbor who needs a hand with taking out her garbage or the homeless guy who’s trying to get his life together.  There are veterans who’ve returned from Afghanistan and Iraq with damage to their bodies and minds who could use a bit of attention.  I hear there’s some stuff you can do for the environment. I’ll bet there’s even a petition somewhere you can sign.

You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

And West Sixth and Magic Hat?  Let them work it out.


1Which is, in turn, owned by something called Florida Ice & Farm Co. which doesn’t mean anything, but I love weird facts.
2The good type of yeoman’s effort. Not the “I’m-wearing-a-red-shirt-on-Star Trek” kind of yeoman.
3See pages 185-190 of Timothy J. Hollian’s Over the Barrel: The Brewing History and Beer Culture of Cincinnati, Vol. 2: Prohibition-2001 for a blow-by-blow account of the trial. Once it was over, things really got nuts. There came a point later that brewers in Munich, Germany got mad and nearly sued over Bavarian Brewing’s use of the word “Bavarian.” Weird factoid: the Bavarian trash handling company you see the garbage containers for in Kentucky? Essentially the same corporation that once made beer. Insert your own joke here.

Required Reading Assignment: A Good Look at AB InBev

It’s been a while, I reckon, since we’ve offered a Required Reading Assignment around these here parts.  But then, I guess that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since we have a hard enough time just keeping up with the local beer news these.  I mean, have you really looked at the Growlers and Tasting report, lately?  The term paper I had to write as the culmination of research spanning most of my junior year in high school wasn’t as long as the weekly G & T.

Anyway, since today is November 1, I imagine most of us are probably waking up with at least a small dollop of remorse about that final (dare I say, over-the-top) pumpkin ale last night when the trick-or-treating dust settled, the kids were (finally) put to bed, and it was just you, a gross of leftover fun-sized Twix bars, and the remains of that six-pack in the dark. 

In other words, there’s a potential for a slow start this morning, which means it’s probably a good day to do some reading.

Luckily, I have just the thing for you!  My brother in the tweeting of beer-related things, @BradOnBeer tweeted a link to this Business Week article the other day about the merging of Anheuser-Busch and InBev: The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer.  Honestly, I think the title of the piece is a bit melodramatic, but it’s pretty good nonetheless.  You should read it.  As usual, you can just go do that now (in a new tab, obviously) while I wait here.

All done?  Great!

Admittedly, I suppose that to a large degree, this story is largely preaching to choir, especially for a blog that includes the subtitle, "Believers in Better Beer."  But, still, there’s a point to be made here.  For me, personally, as an advocate of craft beer, the hardest thing I find myself having to deal with is that idea that I’m one of those nefarious "beer snobs."  The term itself, at least in my mind, conjures an image of a haughty fellow with a long, possibly pointed, nose – decorated ridiculously by a pencil-thin mustache, a monocle, and a sneer – who makes revolted faces and regularly waves away IPAs because everyone knows South American hops pass their floral-scented prime on Oct. 15th.

I don’t want to be that guy.  No one wants to be that guy.  At least no one I know.  But when I occasionally crinkle up my nose at the thought of drinking a Bud Light, I’m nevertheless accused a being that guy, and should just shut up and let people like what they like.

By all means, I do think people should like what they like.  But by that same token, I also think they should know what they’re getting in regards to what the like.  And paragraphs like the one below illustrate exactly the point that many of the conglomerate brands are pretty much the modern equivalent of snake oil (in that they don’t care what’s in it, so long as they can convince you to buy it with a flashy sales pitch):

A former top AB InBev executive, who declined to be identified because he didn’t want to get in trouble with his old employer, tells a different story. He says the company saved about $55 million a year substituting cheaper hops in Budweiser and other U.S. beers for more expensive ones like Hallertauer Mittelfrüh. It is hard to say whether the average Bud drinker has noticed.

In other words, the executive team at AB InBev doesn’t seem to care much about the beer it makes, so long as you still buy it.  And, in fact, if they can make it cheaper somehow and still get you to buy it, well, that’d be just downright awesome, and they’ll happily giggle and skip all the way to the Ferrari dealership.  Oh, and when they’ve squeezed every drop of precious, precious profit imaginable out of a brand, they’ll just move on to the next brand (Pepsi, anyone?) like a swarm of cost-cutting locusts, until they’ve gotten all the cars, watches, and houses they can buy.

I realize, of course, that this seems to run counter to the post I wrote earlier this year in defense of Blue Moon, an SABMiller product.  But, really, it’s not; it’s the same argument applied to a different topic in somewhat different light.  Because, see, all indications are that Blue Moon actually cares about their brewing.  They see it for both the biological science and the art that is.  At AB InBev, however, many of the brands they’ve acquired appear to be tinkered with by financial and economic scientists, often without regard to how it might effect the end product.

And that’s where the line rests for me. 

That said, by all means, I do now (and always will) encourage anyone to like what they like.  Taste, obviously, is subjective.  But if I can manage, from time to time, to help someone realize that there are brewers out there making other beers that they’d like just as much but who care much, much more about what they’re putting into it rather than just what they’re getting out of you, well, that makes me smile.

Because, at the heart of it, at least when it comes to beer, I don’t think anyone should be little more than a source of revenue.

There’re plenty of other ways to be taken advantage of in life, why not at least patronize a brewery that cares about giving its absolute best to its customers, not its share holders.


Election 2012: Craft beer and the candidates

Since we’re knee-deep in the muck and mire of election season here in the US (and doubly lucky since Ohio is not only vital, but a swing state), I figured I should maybe take a look at a topic that’s been shockingly, utterly ignored by not only both campaigns, but the media too.  Namely, where does each ticket stand, respectively, on craft beer?

Paul Ryan – As both a Catholic and a resident of Wisconsin, you kind of expect Mr. Ryan to be a beer guy.  Oh, sure, he’s got to live up the squeaky clean image the Romney/Ryan campaign is trying to project and as an apparent P90X fitness nut, you don’t figure he goes for a couple of pints with the boys too terribly often.  Still, in a speech in Wisconsin shortly after nabbing the GOP Vice Presidential nod, he said, "My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little Spotted Cow, Leiney’s, and some Miller."  Like him or not, you have to give the man props for putting New Glarus at the top of his list.

Mitt Romney – If you ask me, Mitt Romney doesn’t look much like a beer drinker.  I’d wager some 25 year-old scotch or a shaken-not-stirred Gibson is the more appropriate drink for the big cats he hobnobs with.  Wait, what?  Mormon, you say?  What do you mean?  You’re kidding!  At all?  Not AT ALL?  Ahem.  So, um, I guess Mr. Romney’s a teetotaler.  I’m suppose then that maybe homebrewing rights aren’t going to be a key tenet of his administration.  Sorry, Alabama.

Joe Biden – Now, just looking at Mr. Biden, you almost have to think of him as a party dude.  At least, I did.  I’m mean, he’s got a boisterous, all-smiles personality that’s largely reminiscent of a lifetime member of Animal House.  And not only that, but he’s Catholic too.  Everybody knows what we’re like, right?  In other words, can’t you see the Veep at a summer church festival with a tall souvenir mug, throwing money down on the Big 6 wheel and giving everyone that walks by a "thumbs up"?  Or is that just me?  Regardless, it’s way off the mark.  Our sitting Vice President also abstains from the evils spirits, and even enjoyed a "non-alcoholic" (less than 0.5% ABV) Buckler during the famous Beer Summit of 2009.  Something to keep in mind when he fires up his own, inevitable Presidential campaign in 2016.

Barack Obama – When it comes to our current Commander-In-Chief, one can see both pros and cons in his assumed beer preferences.  On the one hand, he seems positively jovial at the opportunity to engage in sharing a beer or two with his constituents.  Then again, given a choice of pretty much any beer in American to consume at the aforementioned 2009 "Beer Summit", Mr. President picked Bud Light.  All I can say for that is, well, at least at the time it was still an American company.  Either way, that’s not exactly the kind of response those of us who believe in better beer are looking from of the White House.  Then again, so what if he enjoys himself an American Light lager from time to time?  It’s not like a crime or anything.  Besides, what’s more important is that he’s turned the White House into a home brewery.  When you stop to think about White House Honey Ale and White House Honey Porter, it’s not hard to say that homebrewers, for sure, and craft beer drinkers, as well, probably haven’t enjoyed such a craft brew-friendly resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Thomas Jefferson or one of the post-Revolutionary Presidents.

So, is any of this really going to factor into your decision when your time comes in the voting booth this November?  Admittedly, probably not.  There are certainly bigger fish to fry in this election.  But, then again, when you consider that craft brewing has been a incredibly strong growth industry over the past for years, an bright spot in a sluggish economy that’s been providing solid jobs for Americans, perhaps the candidates should look at craft beer with a slightly more analytical eye.

Obviously, the US economy is the Big Issue in this year’s election, giving us contentious debates of tax policy and deficit spending.  But if you look past all that, I’m pretty sure that there’s a lesson to be learned from the humble, thriving, craft brewing industry.

Of course, I’m not a economist.  But I did drink a craft beer drink last night.


Guest Post: Gluten Free Beers Info from ourgoodfoodlife.com

Our friend Jen over at ourgoodfoodlife.com posted yesterday about a question we are getting more and more lately — are there any good gluten free beers out there? With her permission, we are reprinting her post here for our Hoperatives readers and we invite you to join in the conversation.

Monday Links: Gluten Free Beers

Can I just say that 2012 has been my best year ever so far?  I feel healthy, I have so much love, and I am filling my life with wonderful moments.  In fact, just last week when the temperature topped at 65 degrees and the sun was warm on my face, Tim and I sat on our patio, listening to a Spotify playlist that I made for him, a cold beer in front of each of us, and chatted about our days.

Welcome back to my life, Beer.  You are most welcome to keep coming around.

If you are looking for a gluten free beer for yourself or if you’d like to buy something special for when a gluten free friend or family member comes over for dinner, I recommend any of these options.

My very favorite beer is Green’s Gluten Free Amber Ale (pictured above).  I ordered it this past weekend at Brazenhead and even my husband agreed that it was a fantastic option as far as gluten free goes.  It really has a smooth, rich taste without being too heavy and no metallic aftertaste.  (Also, I’m so pleased that Brazenhead had several options for gluten free customers including a few gluten free beers and several ciders on tap.  Way to go, Brazenhead!)

I also tried Green’s Gluten Free Dark Ale at Dilly Cafe, and I was impressed that it was just as dark and thick as a Guinness.  It had a strong chocolate and coffee flavor at the first taste but finished didn’t leave a heavy or sticky mouthfeel.  I thought it was awesome to have the option of a serious dark beer, but I’d prefer it as an after dinner drink rather than something to pair with food.  

Also discovered at Dilly Cafe is DogFish Head Tweason’ale.  It’s a seasonal gluten free beer that has a lovely scent of strawberries on the nose but is not overly sweet on the palate.  Also, the strawberry flavor doesn’t last much after the first sip, and I appreciated that as I don’t usually like my beers too fruity.  It’s a medium bodied beer, very refreshing and would pair wonderfully with some simple roast chicken or a salad.  If you can find it, I’d definitely recommend seeking this out!

A big thank you to the Cincy Beer Festival for including New Planet Gluten Free Beer in their vendor list.  I discovered this beer there and all of the selections offered were wonderful.  I particularly liked their lightest beer, the Tread Lightly Ale.  It’s the perfect backyard barbeque beer, and it’s light enough that it would probably be unnoticeable to any non-gluten free beer drinks that it’s missing the gluten!  Locally, it can be found at the Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton, and trust me–it’s worth the drive to check out DLM and get this beer!  (I picked up some on Saturday and it was stacked in front of the beer coolers.)

Lastly, I might as well tell you that in just about every well stocked Kroger that I’ve been into around Cincinnati, you can find Anheuser-Busch’s gluten free beer offering, Redbridge.  It’s not my favorite–just like Bud Light was never my favorite–but in a pinch, it’s easy to find, not too expensive, and definitely drinkable.  I’ve picked some up when I just wanted a convenient choice.

I truly appreciate every single one of these companies for pioneering–or jumping on the bandwagon of–gluten free beers!  You all get a big thumbs up from me.

A-B Tries Yet Another Version of Bud Light

From Friday, November 11, 2011 edition of USA Today:

A-B to release new taste for Bud Light

Anheuser-Busch is coming out with a new version of Bud Light. Bud Light Platinum will have a slightly sweeter taste, 6% alcohol by volume and come in a cobalt-blue bottle. The brewer said the new product will hit shelves in late January. The company said the new brew is more a more upscale option for drinkers of light beer.

Is it me or does this sound like the sweet tea version of Bud Light?

Yeah, We Tried It! : Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

So what is a “Yeah, We Tried It!” post? In general it has come to be something of a running joke where we sample a beer from one of the larger brewing companies whose names shall most times not be mentioned unless I want to hotlink or tag their name in a shameless attempt to garner more hits. It oft times results in nothing more than a slam fest where I bash the beer, the company, curse fizzy yellow American lager, and invoke brand names that attempt to crush the heart of all things that are “Better Beer”.

This one is a little different, maybe not so much in conception, as it was based on a bit of Twitter goading from fellow Hoperative John Lavelle, but perhaps in outcome. It would seem that I have become the guy who will try any beer and that’s not far from the truth as it’s not hard to twist my arm into drinking a beer. In fact out of the thousand beers I have tried I would say that there is probably only one where I couldn’t finish a glass, but that’s a story or post for a different day.

Now that I’ve stated my intentions and preconceptions, let’s move on to the beer.

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Belgian-Style Wheat Ale Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices

Appearance: 2/3

It’s slightly hazy with a light orangish color. The head retention was poor despite my best efforts to froth it up.

Aroma: 3/3

The main aromas are sweet caramel malt, pumpkin, and nutmeg. It’s nice a festive but not overpowering.

Hop Malt Balance:3 /4

It’s very sweet but I guess that’s what you are aiming for when you are looking to mimic pumpkin pie in light form. The main detractor is that it’s called a Belgian style wheat but it doesn’t really hit that mark for me with any yeast and refreshing citrus tones covered up by the pie components.

Aftertaste: 3/3

The aftertaste is reminiscent of pumpkin pie with a nice faint pumpkin flavor and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: 2/3

Medium bodied and easy to drink but seems slick. Perhaps that’s the creaminess that my wife perceived when she said “It’s like they added the whipped cream too”.

Overall Impression: 3/4

It’s a decent pumpkin beer and my wife liked it, which is saying a lot considering I’ve never seen her take more than two sips of most beers and she drank almost half of one of these. It plays to the light American beer palate as you might expect but it is better than most of the big brand forays into different. If my wife will drink it and I’m willing to drink a 6 pack then “Yeah We Tried It!”, but we kind of liked it. . . this time.







What I did on my summer vacation

Between a quick glance at my calendar and several long looks at the seasonal beers parading into town lately, it’s come to my attention that Autumn officially begins on Friday.  Few things make me happier than when fall rolls around, especially when the local weather seems disposed to actually give us some fall-like conditions.  And, of course, as I made plenty clear in this Puddintopia post from last year, it’s the time of year that brings around my favorite seasonal beers: the harvest ales, the pumpkin beers, and Oktoberfests a-plenty.

2011 Summer Vacation BeerBefore we wave good-bye to another summer and dive right into the pile of multi-hued leaves, though, I figured I should give you a quick run down of what I did with my summer vacation.  Now, I’m not quite as fortunate as many of my Hoperatives cohorts.  They always seem to be travelling hither, tither, and yon, and returning with fabulous tales of exotic brew houses or world-famous brewpubs.  I, on the other hand, find that with my travelling companions, designing a road-trip focused on hitting all the major craft brewing locations in the south would probably be frowned upon.  But then, I’ve got four kids ages 8-2.  As it turns out, they’re not so interested in finding the brewpub with the best flight around or who’s got the tastiest, most well-balanced shandy.

So, instead, when that rare opportunity to go on vacation arises each year, we tend to look for slightly different sorts of places.  You know, the kind of hotels that can be reached by the reliable Family Truckster in fewer than six hours (lest the toddler lose his composure in a fit of Thomas the Train Separation Anxiety).  If we can find a place in that kind of proximity with an on-site, indoor water-park, well, there’s your Puddin Family Vacation for the summer.

And that’s exactly what we did this summer.  The only problem with vacationing that way, though, is that when it comes to craft brewing options, it’s easy to find oneself stuck somewhere between “I’m not that thirsty” and “Oh, dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’d rather drink from the waterslide”.

And we all know what happens in the waterslide, right?

We like to talk a lot about how far craft beer has come: the strides it’s made toward becoming more mainstream, the incredible recent growth of the market even in the face of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, the burgeoning celebrity of craft brewers like Greg Koch from Stone, Sam from DogFish Head, etc.  Heck, we even chortle with self-righteous glee with we see an article like this one, detailing heavy losses among well-known corporate brands. 

But then in early July, I decided it’d be nice to enjoy a cold beer as I relaxed at the pool on vacation with my family. Upon approaching the concession stand, though, I was struck dumb, horrified at the sight of the the freezer case pictured (poorly) above, stocked full of metal “bottles”, chilled to within inches of absolute zero.  Which only makes sense, I suppose, since no one wants to be able to taste the contents of those things.

Oh, you’d like a beer, sir?  Which flavor of mass marketed, tasteless macro-brewed slushy would you like?

Yes, craft beer has come a long way.  But until the day dawns when I can visit Water-Slide-O-Rama, confident in the knowledge that there’s a cold beer for me there that’ll taste better than the hot tub water, well, we’ve still got fighting to do.

Keep your powder dry, craft brewing compatriots, the war rages on.

Oh, and for the record, I had a Diet Coke.