- Beer can also be clarified using natural ingredients. Traditional British ales, as well as many other beers, are often clarified (fined) with isinglass. This is merely collagen (protein). This collagen used for brewing is actually the ground-up swim bladders of sturgeon, and if anything is nutritious, but notvegetarian. Gelatin can also be used to clarify beer.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Dear El Treasuredete,
Manu de Landtsheer called me on my cell phone last week and what he had to say was pretty surprising. In case you don’t know, Manu is the owner of Malheur Brewery in Buggenhout, Belgium—and a key supplier to us since the first days of the club. In fact (and in the spirit of Michael Jackson himself, I digress a little here), the first time I met Manu was over a dinner in Antwerp—I think it was the spring of 2002—in the company of Ben Vinken (Bier Passion) and Michael Jackson. The Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club was just a concept then but Manu opened the conversation by telling us that he had been pondering the possibility of making a beer in exactly the same way that fine champagne is made and, if we would commit to taking it for our new club, he would commit the next eighteen months to the project. Of course, this was just an idea and there was nothing for us to taste but Michael knew Manu’s capabilities and immediately said yes. We shook hands and Manu went to work. What followed was magnificent. In the Fall of 2004, we introduced Malheur Brut Reserve to our members and, in successive years, we featured Malheur Brut Royale and Malheur Black Chocolate. Each was a brilliant champagne style beer and before we really realized it, Manu had launched an entirely new category—Bières Brut—in Belgium.
Then, in 2006, we convinced Manu to do a final champenoise style beer as a one-time special for the club—this being a version of the original Brut Reserve—but bigger than anything he had done previously. Manu agreed to name it The Michael Jackson Commemorative Selection in honor of the great man that had so much to do with the development of the category. Michael was still very much alive and wasn’t fond of the name—he said that calling it “commemorative” made it sound like he was already dead. But our argument prevailed this one time—they usually didn’t with Michael—simply because I told him that maybe it was a good idea to commemorate the living since they actually give a damn. And the rest, as they say is history. Michael loved the beer and it received massive accolades. Less than a year later, Michael sadly died. The commemorative took on the meaning Michael originally feared but I think I was also wrong—while he is no longer here, I am sure that Michael still gives a damn.
Enough digression. What Manu called to tell me was that they found 240 bottles of this famous beer at the Texas warehouse of their USA importer. Needless to say, I was absolutely amazed. Since I had consumed the last few precious bottles from my own cellar almost a year ago, my first question was with respect to how well it was ageing. I knew that the beer is date stamped with a best before of January 2008 but that really doesn’t mean a lot—many of Manu’s beers are even better after the best-before date—so the question was simply “how is this one holding up?” The answer was that there is sediment at the bottom (flakes) but when the bottle is chilled they disappear and the beer becomes a little cloudy. When it is opened, the natural carbonation is as intense as usual and all the flavors that made this beer great are intact. At this point what I can say with confidence is that the beer is still very good but that it is probably not going to get any better and, if you want it to drink rather than keep it as a memento, you should probably consume it by New Year’s just to be safe. All the same, if it fits with your plans, it is pretty compelling and a real opportunity to drink a little history. And that is the short story. Manu is honoring Michael by offering the beer to his many friends in the Rare Beer Club and we are happy to participate. To learn more about this astounding beer, go to this link to view Michael’s original tasting notes at http://rarebeerclub.beveragebistro.com/downloads/RBCNews_SE06-1.pdf . If you want to place an order (3,6 or 12 bottles), just go tohttp://beveragebistro.com/MalheurMJBeer/ and we will get this historical beer to you in time to ring in a very special New Year. Of course, you can always call us at to discuss any questions you may have. And we all know that when it is gone, it is gone. Truly a holiday miracle……
I hope this beer will help you have a great holiday season!
The Rare Beer Club
The Question Now is How many do we need. And I think it is a Need not a Strong Desire!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Eats Gourmet Marketplace <http://eatsgourmetmarketplace.com> in , Guilderland, will host a free tasting of artisanal beers and cheese from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Friday (12/5). Stephanie Pelham, owner and founder of Eats, and Chad Farrington of Tri-Valley Beverages will present pairings of artisanal beers and cheeses. Many of the offerings are locally produced; others represent classic combinations. The event is open to those age 21 and older. Attendees may purchase featured items at discounted prices during the tasting. Eats specializes in store-prepared entrees and salads, European and local cheeses, meats and sweets plus charcuterie, pantry items, beverages and gifts for food lovers. The phone number is 453-EATS.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
This may be the best Christmas present for a beer lover … ever, at least in terms of its connection to the season. Christmas Beer, or the full title, which is “Wishing You a Merry Christmas Beer, The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews, is all about beer for the holidays. Lavishly illustrated with more holiday beers than you knew even existed, author Don Russell — better known to the world as Philadelphia beer columnist “Joe Sixpack” — recounts tale after tale of the traditions and history that made holiday beers so special. There are also recipes, trivia and Russell’s list of the “World’s 50 Best Christmas Beers.”
Published by Rizzoli Books with a list price of $19.95 in the U.S.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
New York is famous for high finance, skyscrapers and the Erie Canal. But hops?
Well, yes. In the 1800s, farmers, eager to serve beer-thirsty immigrants from Ireland, Germany and other parts of Europe, started planting hops upstate. Breweries thrived. By the middle of the century, New York State was the nation’s leading producer of hops.
Then fungus arrived, killing the golden crop known as humulus lupulus. Upstate New York, it turns out, gets too much rain in the summer growing season, leading to humid conditions that fungus thrive in. In the days before effective fungicides, powdery mildew and downy mildew started killing the party.
Around the same time, irrigation systems were built in eastern Oregon and Washington, which have dry summers. Business moved west, particularly to the Yakima Valley, where it remains today.
But the sold-out New York Brewfest on Friday night at the South Street Seaport is one indication that hops may be returning to New York. Commercial growers and home brewers have been peppering Ian Merwin, a professor in the horticulture department at Cornell University, with questions about growing hops upstate.
Demand for hops has increased because of the popularity of home brewing and because some hops growers in the Yakima Valley are now growing Pinot grapes instead.
“There is the potential if the supply remains limited for hops growers,” Mr. Merwin said.
He added that home growers with just a few hops plants probably will not attract much fungus, and that commercial growers may enjoy a “honeymoon phase” before hops-specific pests start showing up.
“If you’re lucky, it could be 10 to 15 years,” he said.
By then, New York might be back on the beer-brewing map again.
By KEN BELSON The New York Times
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Cave Mountain Brewing Co. opened six weeks ago on Main Street in the Greene County village of Windham. The business is currently pouring its own beers — Oktoberfest, Highlander grog, English nut brown ale, hefeweizen, American blonde ale, Irish red ale, Centennial IPA and oatmeal stout — and will add seasonal specials like smoked porter. A half-dozen beers from other New York craft brewers are also on tap. Food highlights include tuna skewers, ale-battered onions rings and deep-fried cheesecake.
The owners are Tim Adams, a chef and former home brewer, and his wife, Amber.
Located at 5359 Main St. (Route 23), Windham, Cave Mountain Brewing is open from 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon on weekends. Call 734-9222.
I didn’t find a Web site, but there’s a note from the owner here.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Matt Baumgartner, who owned Noche from December 2005 to spring 2007 and also owns Bombers Burrito Bar on Albany’s Lark Street, tells me it will be a traditional beer-garden space with communal seating, 50 German and Belgian beers and a rustic sausages-and-schnitzels menu. Instead of table service, customers will order and pick up food from an open kitchen, equipped with grills for the sausages. Renovations are set to begin next month to turn what was once an upscale, swanky club into a comfortable, casual restaurant with more wallet-friendly prices. Baumgartner’s partners in Wolff’s Biergarten are James and Demetra Vann, who were partners in Noche; James Vann is also vice president of Bombers.
Baumgartner says the building’s garage door and expansive open space — it was where the fire truck parked — make the location, at 895 Broadway, ideal for creating the sort of convivial beer garden he’s enjoyed in New York City (Radegast Hall & Biergarten, Zum Schneider) and Munich.
“It will be significantly different from Noche — much more casual,” says Baumgartner.
Gone will be Noche’s low leather booths along the building’s south wall and the bright-red, cast-iron spiral staircase going to the building’s second floor. The gorgeous, 32-foot-long walnut bar built for Noche will remain: That’s where the beer taps are. Baumgartner envisions darts and other games, televisions and additional amenities to attract crowds seeking a fun night out or a quick bite. He expects to be open for lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch.
“I want it to be a place where big groups — eight to 10 people or more — go for great beer and sausages, hearty cooking (and) good conversation,” he says.
Baumgartner sold Noche in March 2007 to Jack Valente, whose family has owned Valente’s Restaurant in Watervliet for more than 50 years. Under its new owner the club foundered through the rest of 2007, was renamed Jack Rabbit Slims last December and made a run at becoming a venue for live music. Jack Rabbit Slims closed in May.
When Noche first opened, Baumgartner estimated he and his partners had spent about $500,000 to renovate the space. How much Valente paid for Noche was never publicly released. Baumgartner says the building’s owner approached him about leasing the space again after Jack Rabbit Slims closed.
In addition to investing in businesses in the industrial area around Broadway, about a half-mile north of Clinton Avenue, Baumgartner also lives there, having bought a former factory building and renovated it into two loft residences.
In related news, Baumgartner says he finalized financing earlier this week for the Schenectady version of Bombers. He bought a building on State Street, near the Proctors complex, and plans to begin structural work the week after Thanksgiving. Long delays on the project mean he will be renovating two restaurants simultaneously and trying to open both in the spring.
He says with a laugh, “There will be a lot of driving back and forth.”
Friday, November 7, 2008
Posted: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800
It's been 75 years since actress Jean Harlow christened the Los Angeles Brewing Co.'s first shipment of Eastside beer after the repeal of Prohibition. Beer making in L.A. has been sporadic since then, but there are signs that a craft brew revolution is brewing.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Tripel Karmeliet is a historical “3 grain” beer, using barley, wheat and oats, and is refermented in the bottle. The recipe originated in a Carmelite monastery in 1679. Today it is brewed according to the same recipe at the Bosteels Brewery in Belgium.
The were also three other big awards. Primator Exkluziv was named World’s Best Lager, Kaltenberg Konig Ludwig Weissbier was declared the World’s Best Wheat Beer, and our own Rogue Shakespeare Stout was named World’s Best Stout/Porter.
The rest of the awards are available at the World Beer Awardswebsite.
Monday, November 3, 2008
An introduction to farmhouse ales is a liberating experience for those who live by the rules of endless possibilities. InFarmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition, Phil Markowski provides a vivid literary experience by clearly defining the elusive quality that holds such allure for the beer enthusiast, whether as a brewer, historian, or beerficionado. Enhanced by a superb historical essay on Saison by Yvan DeBaets and a well-grounded foreword by Tomme Arthur, this volume stands as a comprehensive guide to the brewing traditions that so clearly define France and Belgium.
Traditional Farmhouse Ales comprise the family of beers known as Biere de Garde and Saison, although the line that separates the two styles is often blurred by traditions that have struggled to endure, despite the upheavals of changing borders and paradigms, World Wars, and industrialization that led to the closure of countless small farmhouse breweries.
My personal experience has consisted of esoteric discussions that seek to delineate the differences between Bieres de Garde and Saisons. Our conclusions echo the subtle intangibles that Markowski so clearly defines. In his observation about Saison, he states, “These vague and varied descriptions will frustrate anyone foolish or stubborn enough to try to pin down these wildly complex, deceptively simple rustic ales,” and of Biere de Garde, he says “If there is any accepted physical or sensory standard, French brewers may quietly acknowledge it, but will put their own spin on it to make it their own.”
Markowski pushes onward, however, seeking to define them by presenting their historical significance and the conditions under which they developed. He examines the terroir, including the climatic conditions that led to their development, the geology that affects the water of the region, European grain profiles, Belgian and specialty hops, adjuncts, spices, and the complex nature of yeasts that stray wildly from (or may include) the single-strain traditions of lager brewing. His discussions include technical details on decoction, infusion and step infusion mashing, and the results of storage or “garding” under a variety of conditions.
Not only does he present detailed information for the seasoned brewer, but he also encourages creativity on one’s own terms. His descriptions are so vivid that even a non-brewer can envision working in his own simple farmhouse brewery, with mash tuns and hoses, cool ships and vats, replicating the delicate nuances of these distinctive beers.
Markowski’s proficiencies in chemistry and math define the scientific art that makes the crafting of these beers possible, even for one who does not have the advantage of living in Hainaut, Nord or Pas de Calais. His descriptions present visuals for the mind’s eye and paint the palate with flavors so intense they become real. With your senses fully piqued, he stimulates action by providing sources for ingredients so you, too, can create your own magical interpretation of these beers.
He inspires by providing full details of examples that define each style, noting a full description of each brewery and technical specifications that comprise each beer: Plato readings, ingredients used, temperatures, and storage or garding. He follows each with clear tasting notes that serve to illustrate the broad range of possibilities in these refreshing beers. In the words of Markowski, “…almost anything goes.”
For more information: Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition