Archive for the ‘News’ Category

SOPA Blackout

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Hello, dear reader. While generally I do like to be political, I try to avoid all of that here. This is a beer blog. But on one particular issue I can no longer stay neutral.

Today, in support of the protest of SOPA and PIPA, I’ll Have a Beer will be blacked out for 24 hours.

Please contact your Senator or Congressman to ensure that this attack on civil liberties is put to a stop.

Great American Beer Festival 2011 Winners

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The country’s premiere craft beer competition, the Great American Beer Festival, was held this weekend in Denver, Colorado, as is traditional. The massive three-day affair saw over four hundred fifty breweries sampling beer to almost fifty thousand guests. The judges on the competition side rated almost four thousand beers from 526 breweries.

The festival has grown significantly each year since 1983, when the only awards given were people’s choice, and Sierra Nevada swept two of the three (their pale ale and porter beat out Anchor‘s porter).

This year’s winners list(PDF) exhibits an intriguing trend: a great shake-up in the biggest categories by several freshman and sophomore breweries.

La Cumbre Brewing CompanyThe largest category by far every year is American IPA. This year top honors were taken by Elevated IPA from newcomer La Cumbre Brewing Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. La Cumbre was started last year by Jeff Erway and wife Laura, and stormed onto the scene with golds for American IPA, their international pilsener BEER, as well as a silver for their foreign-style Malpais Stout. None of these are easy styles to brew, so due credit must be given to Jeff. Next time I’m in Phoenix perhaps I’ll make a little trip over to Albuquerque.

The silver went to Oskar Blues Brewery for Deviant Dale’s. Oskar Blues, in Longmont, Colorado, basically single-handedly started the microcanning revolution, and I’ve been a fan of their beer for a while. They won a bronze back in 1999, but finally they are getting some significant recognition. Besides the silver for Deviant Dale’s, they picked one up for Mama’s Little Yella [Bohemian] Pils, as well as a bronze for the tasty Old Chub Scotch Ale.

Head Hunter IPA from Fat Head’s Saloon, in North Olmsted, Ohio, took third, down from second last year. They’ve only been around a couple years, but besides the two medals for Head Hunter they took silver in smoked beer in 2009, and this year won gold for their Baltic porter Battle Axe.

The imperial IPA category also saw a few freshman. Kern River Brewing Company in Kernville, California won with their Citra Double IPA. I’m a big fan of citra hops (I’ve made several beers that feature them) so I see why it’s a hit. This is their first medal.

Firestone Walker took the silver for Double Jack. This Paso Robles-based brewery is no stranger to awards at the Great American Beer Festival. They’ve won numerous Mid-size Brewery of the Year awards, including this year. They’ve taken home a lot of hardware, mostly in the IPA, pale ale (two this year), and strong pale ale categories, but this is their first win for an imperial IPA.

Bronze went to Epic Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City. Epic started only in 2008, but already they’ve picked up three medals, including a silver this year for fruit beer.

The real action was around the second largest category, barrel-aged strong beers. Four-year-old Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion improved the showing of their Melange A Trois, a chardonnay-aged Belgian blonde, from an appreciable bronze to an impressive gold. They also picked up a bronze for their hefeweizen EOS. I see they have distribution in New York, so I’ll have to see if I can find them.

Bronze in the barrel-aged strong category went to Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company in Akron, Ohio. for their Barrel Aged Naked Evil BBW. If you’ve heard of a Hoppin’ Frog beer, it probably was B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, a two-gold-winning imperial stout. They also took a gold last year for their field beer.

Sun King Brewing CompanyBut the big name around the festival was Sun King Brewing Company in Indianapolis. This year they took a whopping eight medals total, four of them golds.

Sun King was founded in only mid-2009 by two Indianapolis brewers, Dave Colt and Clay Robinson. They knew each other from a number of brewpubs around the city, and then worked together for three years at The Ram. While working there they hatched a plan for the first Indianapolis production brewery since 1948.

They took top honors for Buffalo Slumber, a Belgian strong, Wee Muckle, their Scotch ale, Ring of Dingle, an Irish dry stout, and their coffee beer Java Mac. These were accompanied by silvers for BBJ (Bourbon Barrel Johan), their barrel-aged strong, Wee Pogue, a regular-strength barrel-aged beer (possibly a descendant of Wee Muckle or their regular Wee Mac), and an international-style Popcorn Pilsner. Sun King won a silver and bronze last year, but neither of those repeated.

For the moment, Sun King beer is only available on tap and in cans within Indiana. It sounds like this is somewhere definitely worth a pilgrimage: a brewer’s brewery.

Wild Patagonian Lager Yeast Ancestor Found!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

courtesy Diego Libkind, Institute for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Bariloche, Argentina

In the gall sacks of Argentinian beech trees scientists have found a strain of wild yeast believed to have provided the “missing half” of the lager yeast genome. The international group of geneticists has been on a mission to identify the wild yeast that centuries ago combined with common ale yeast to form the clean-tasting cold-fermenting superhefe we know as Saccharomyces bayanus. To celebrate I am drinking a Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest, their märzen offering.

I have two thoughts on this discovery. First, of course the press release would come from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Second, I hope Budweiser puts this in a commercial and somehow relates it to their beechwood aging process.

International IPA Day

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

And, Lo! The Wench declared that Thursday, 4 August 2011 be the first annual International IPA Day. And it was so. And the people saw that it was good, and they celebrated.
    — Gambrinus 25:17

Practically everyone in craft brewing will be drinking India Pale Ale today.
Shouldn’t you?

Kerry and Crapo suggest craft BEER

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Call your senator and tell them to support the Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act (BEER Act), sponsored by John Kerry and Mike Crapo. This bill would lower the excise tax for small breweries.

Microbreweries would see it halved, from $7 per barrel (31 gallons) to just $3.50 per barrel. The larger small brewers would see the regular rate of $18 reduced to $16 a barrel, on their production from sixty thousand to six million barrels a year. I take it that the standard $18 rate would apply above that.

Also, this source claims the bill would “incentivize states to produce crops used in beer, like barley and hops.” Though that sounds like a wonderful idea, I don’t see any such provisions in the version I found.

This article has a great picture of Kerry raising a frosty glass of amber beer in front of a Huber sign. The text of the bill is available from John Kerry’s site (PDF).

Also, I take issue with the name. It should be Brewers’.

Discovery’s Brew Masters

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Don’t forget that tonight is the premier of Sam Caglione’s TV show Brew Masters on the Discovery Channel. Sam is the force behind Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware, a brewery well known for their strange brews. They have brewed beers according to some of the oldest recorded procedures. They have constructed massive aging tanks out of the hardest wood in the world, just to see what the beer would be like.

As I understand it, the show simply documents Sam’s efforts to source such exotic ingredients and recreate the ancient recipes. Seems like it should be interesting.

The Taps Runneth

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I am tasting my first sips of freedom.


Today, at 12:00 AM, John’s Grocery officially began selling high-proof beers from Bell’s Brewery, including Two Hearted, Expedition Stout, and their Old Ale. This is the first strong beer I am aware of sold in Iowa.

The night perhaps had an atmosphere similar to an evening 77 years earlier.


They also got a number of kegs, including Hopslam that will be on tap at the Hideaway and Red’s in North Liberty, as well as a few from Peace Tree Brewing from Knoxville, Iowa.

I’ve had Two Hearted before, but never has it tasted this good.

Ein Prosit!

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Raise a glass today to brewer’s freedom! Finally the state of Iowa has normalized our Prohibition-era alcohol control laws. (Well not entirely.)

As part of an administrative reorganization bill the Alcoholic Beverages Division has lost control of high-proof beers. Interesting to note that this was a cost-cutting bill, since one of the arguments for maintaining the status quo has always been the vast sums of money the state made by having its fingers in the beer trade.

I still can’t figure out the exact nature of the change. An article from Cedar Rapids’ KCRG might indicate that the beer will still be considered liquor, and one from the Daily Iowan is not very clear. Following their recent history of stellar reporting, the Des Moines Register announces the change by reprinting a press release from Olde Main Brewing Co. in Ames.

If you feel up to it check out the text of Senate File 2088 here. The relevant section is “Division IX – Alcoholic Beverages Division – Reorganization”, however I can’t see exactly where the important change lies. Any lawyers feel free to enlighten me. Otherwise I’ll get back to you when I figure it out.

But regardless of the details, the end result is that Iowa brewers will now be able to competitively make and sell the full gamut of beer styles. And that is most definitely a good thing. Look forward to daring new offerings in the coming months from Iowa’s craft brewers.


Festival of Iowa Beers 2009

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

2009-09-06-prosI had a pretty good time at the Festival of Iowa Beers today. As always, the buzz and bustle was around the homebrewers’ tent. There were a wide range of beers on tap there: imperial this that and the other, a few sours, and several real ales served on a beer engine. The pros had a few interesting taps, but predictably most were pouring their usual fare.

There was plenty of gossip and news to be had, lots about brewery openings. The owners of Jasper Winery are apparently occupying the old Maytag factory in Newton with their new brewery. That’ll be running a copper 15 barrel two-vessel brewhouse. I also heard about a new startup that’s currently courting investors – they call themselves Grass Roots Brewing.

2009-09-06-hub-cityHub City up in Stanley is finishing the preparations on their new addition, featuring a 30 barrel brewing system. They will apparently be running double batches into 60 barrel (!) fermenters. That’s a huge increase in capacity, but apparently their distributors are working hard to keep that beer on the shelves. Hub City will also be releasing two small batch series: one of seasonals and one of high-gravity specials available only outside the state (thank you Iowa ABD!). More about those nearer to their year-end release.

I was able to try two of the beers B.J. from Hub City is developing. The first was the Russian Imperial Stout, the initial release in the out-of-state series. It was deep mahogany brown, lightly hazy, with a yellowed ring of head and a malty aroma. The taste is roasty with coffee and burnt toast. Thick and chewy, with a complex yet delicate flavor.

+Hub City Russian Imperial Stout

3.7 (4-6-8-4-15)

I also had a taste of a steam beer B.J. has been working on for the seasonal schedule. It has a light fruity nose, a pale yellow color, and almost no head. The flavor is a little sweet with a prominent yeast roughness and fruity hop character.

+Hub City Steam Beer

3.1 (2-6-7-3-13)

From the Burlington Makers of Beer (MOB) I had the cask-conditioned Mildly Interesting ale, an English-style mild. This is a near clear gamboge color with some frothy tan head. The nose is lightly malty and yeasty. It has a cider and caramel flavor, with just a bit of pomegranate.

The Ames Brewers League was one of many to bring an imperial stout aged on wood. Theirs is a Whiskey Barrel Russian Imperial Stout. It’s near black, with hints of brown and a ring of yellowed head. A sweet nose greets you initially, with prominent whiskey and rye. Thick and sweet, the flavor is toasty with a bit of roast and a strong alcohol spike. The sweetness and an astringency linger.

I had the Gruit beer from Cenosilicaphobia Brewers (a homebrew club out of Pella, Iowa). This one was labeled “NO HOPS”, and in red lettering “SOUR”. It is a hazy orange yellow with no head. The nose is lightly citric and a bit tart. The flavor is a clean lactic sour, with orange, grapefruit, and raspberry. There is just a bit of pale malt flavor. It is refreshingly tart, but not too intense.

Old Man River Brewery in McGregor, Iowa, is now bottling under the name Einfach Beer (“simple beer”). I tried both of the beers they brought to the festival (they forgot the Dunkel at home). The Oktoberfest is rich with malt flavor: toast, caramel, and bread. It is amber, almost clear, with a light malt nose. Sweet and smooth, decently authentic.

+Einfach Oktoberfest

3.0 (3-5-7-3-12)

The Helles is a clear straw with generous and creamy white head. The nose is light with corn, somewhat metallic, and a little toasty. The flavor is sulfury corn with a bit of sweetness. Actually remarkably authentic.

+/-Einfach Helles

2.8 (4-5-6-2-11)

2009-09-06-amsPowder Keggers is a women’s beer appreciation group in Des Moines, but they were able to muster up a few selections of homebrew to bring to the festival. (ed. note: this was meant to read “they’re a beer appreciation group, but they brought homebrew anyway” rather than “they’re a women’s group, but they could still figure out how to bring beer”) I tried their Lady Nessa’s Grand Cru. It was a very clear pale amber color with a little white head. The nose was malty with notes of grassy hops. The flavor is malty, with an alcohol tinge and a balancing sweetness. Some earthy hops come through. The body is thick but not cloying.

From the Raccoon River Brewers I tried an Oktoberfest. This one highlighted the difficulties brewing a good festbier. It was an opal amber with some off-white head. A lightly sweet, toast and corn nose led into a flavor of cotton candy and some bread. Sweet and cloying.

From down in Fort Madison the crew at Lost Duck Brewing Company brought a few interesting beers. The one I tried was the Duck ala Orange, an orange-infused lager. This one is light on flavor with an orange character that borders on synthetic. Very sweet, it’s a beer for those who appreciate Leinie’s Sunset Wheat. The redeeming quality is the bitter orange peel that comes through if you look for it.

+/-Lost Duck Duck ala Orange

2.6 (2-4-7-3-10)

From the MUGZ homebrew club I tried Little Brown Winkie. It claimed to be aged on sour cherries. Lightly hazy and reddish brown, the Winkie has some tan head. The nose is strong with pie cherries, I’d say montmorency. There is also just a bit of gym sock. It has a strong sharp pie cherry flavor with some malt. An astringency and sweetness linger.

Well, as usual I don’t think I was there long enough and I don’t think I had enough variety. But all in all it was a pretty good festival.

Oh yeah, and I took a look around the new brewhouse at Millstream. It’s coming along…


Welcome to!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The supercilious beer blog I’ll Have a Beer finds a new home. With the establishment of as the personal website of the blog’s author, Andrew Couch, I’ll Have a Beer is given a subdomain located at

Said Andrew, “this change will give me a good deal more control over the operation and feel of the website and also allow greater freedom in a few other projects I’m working on.”

The blog was formerly hosted at It will continue to be served with the WordPress content management system.

It would be wise to update links to the blog.