Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The HB51 Beer

To help celebrate the signing of HB51, local brewpubs in Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas have decided to create a special beer to commemorate the legalization of home brewing in Utah. As well as to salute our local home brewers, all the while having a little fun in the process.

Desert Edge, Hoppers, Red Rock, Wasatch, Bohemian and Squatters brew pubs will be brewing the same beer but with one very specific variable either altered or added. All malt, hops, water, and timing will be identical, but each brewery will integrate one different variable to show their customers, especially the local home brewers, what changing one important factor can do for a beer.

The brew is a session amber ale and will be on tap at all 6 brew pubs. The Desert Edge version will be unfiltered, Hoppers will be aging with oak, Red Rock will offer it filtered, Wasatch will dryhop, Bohemian is going to ferment it with lager yeast and Squatters is making it
with whole Amarillo hop flowers added via hopback.

The release date of the HB51 beer is May 1st. it coincides with the Big Brew National Homebrew Day, May 2nd. Those interested can pick up a recipe sheet at each of the 6 brew pub locations.

I'm not sure if the official name of the beer is HB51. I'm sure all appropriate suggestions will be considered. But one thing is certain this will be a great thing for Utah's growing beer culture. Cheers!

Photo Courtesy: Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune

Monday, March 30, 2009

Utah Brewers Coop in the Top 50 for '08

Even though we rank dead last in beer consumption around the U.S. our suds do sell pretty well. For the third year in a row, the Utah brewers Coop has been ranked as one of the top 50 craft breweries in the country by volume.

Here's a list of the top 50 (2008 sales)

  1. Boston Brewing Company, Boston MA
  2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico CA
  3. New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO
  4. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner TX
  5. Pyramid Brewries, Inc., Seattle, WA
  6. Matt Brewing Company, Utica NY
  7. Deschutes Brewing Company, Bend OR
  8. Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City MO
  9. Full Sail Brewing Company, Hood River OR
  10. Harpoon Brewery, Boston MA
  11. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Company, Juneau AL
  12. Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center, South Burlington VT
  13. Anchor Brewing Company, San Fransisco CA
  14. Bell's Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo MI
  15. Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland ME
  16. Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul MN
  17. Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs LA
  18. Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, San Jose CA
  19. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY
  20. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido CA
  21. Rogue Ales, Newport OR
  22. Long Trail Brewing Company, Bridgewater Corners VT
  23. New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus WI
  24. Kona Brewing Company, Kahlua-Kona HI
  25. Dogfish Head Brewing Company, Milton DE
  26. Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles CA
  27. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland OH
  28. The Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma CA
  29. Flying Dog Brewery, Denver CO
  30. Sweetwater Brewery, Atlanta GA
  31. Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland OR
  32. Rock Bottom Brewery, Louisville CO
  33. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO
  34. BJ's Restaurant and Brewery, Huntington Beach CA
  35. Victory Brewing Company, Downington PA
  36. Mac and Jack's Brewery, Redmond WA
  37. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe, Eureka CA
  38. Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula MT
  39. Pete's Brewing Company, San Antonio TX
  40. Otter Creek Brewing Company, Middlebury VT
  41. Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego CA
  42. Breckenridge Brewing Company, Denver CO
  43. Gordon Biersch Brewery, Chattanooga TN
  44. Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville CA
  45. Boulder Beer Company, Boulder CO
  46. North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg CA
  47. McMenamins, Portland OR
  48. Utah Brewer's Cooperative, Salt Lake City UT
  49. Capital Brewing Company, Middleton WI
  50. Blue Point Brewing Company, Patchogue NY

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Home Brewing in Utah is Finally Legal!

I mentioned this briefly yesterday, but Utah finally became the the 46th state to legalize homebrewing. Now all but four states; Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma have made homebrewing legal.

Yesterday, Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. of Utah signed into law legislation that makes homebrewing beer legal. The "Exemption for Alcoholic Beverage Manufacturing License" was sponsored by Representative Christine A. Johnson.

Squatters Pub Brewery's brewmaster Jennifer Talley says the relationship between professional and amateur brewers has always been a tight one and legalizing homebrewing will allow this relationship in Utah to evolve and grow.

"Homebrewing is truly an art and most professional brewers I know were once homebrewing in their kitchen. Utah beer enthusiast will now have the freedom to express their deepest beer desires through perfecting the craft of homebrewing in their own kitchens," says Talley.

There are currently three exciting home brew clubs in Utah, that number is expected to grow now that home brewers are no longer deviants, fraught with mischief.

So go home and celebrate with a pint of your favorite homebrew and if you have none, get ass out to your nearest homebrew supply store(links are to the right) and get it in gear. Your basic kit will run you about seventy bucks, and in a few weeks you'll be sucking down something special.

-"Give a man a beer and he can waste an hour. Teach a man to brew and he can waste a lifetime". Cheers!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bigger, Better Beer Selection

Last November I was geeked to go check out the new super-wine store in SLC. I though it would be a great beer outlet considering it's size and the fact that it was new. But alas... I was found wanting. The had three meager bottle of beer and one bottle of cider. I was a sad, sad beer dork.

Well not no more! The 300 west wine store has created a new - much larger beer selection that specializes in the higher end stuff. So if your looking to pick up a couple cans of Pacific Western Genuine Draft, you going to have to go elsewhere mon frère.

Other better beer stores are located at the "old" wine store at 300 e. 300 s. & the liquor store on Fooothill Blvd.

Alert: Governor Huntsman signed the Homebrew Bill to today! You are no longer deviants, fraught with mischief. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New From Four+ Brewing: Hive

Utah has a new beer to start-off spring. Hive is the sixth label to come out of Four+ Brewing in SLC. Hive is made with local honey and is similar in color. I wasn't able to get my hands on a bottle before writing this, but Local Beer proponent Douglas Byrd did and here's his trustworthy review.

2 oz. bottle from Smiths Marketplace. Pours a crystal clear golden color with a medium white head. The aroma is a heavy dose of honey, some sweet toasted malts also. The taste is similar; crisp and easygoing malts, some light citrus, and a nice honey flavor. Very quaffable and a nice beer for a hot Summer day. Too bad it was snowing today. Not bad. Simple and easygoing. A thin and fizzy mouthfeel.
I labeled it as a golden ale. Beer Advocate labeled it as a light lager, but it says honey ale right on the label.

Since this beer is just debuting it won't be everywhere immediately (as I found out).

Also, this is no secret but Four+ has changed the name of it's nationally successful Wildfire Organic Pale Ale to Wyld Organic Extra Pale Ale. Nothing has changed but the label. If you haven't tried this one yet, get out and grab one. They're quite yummy!

Also, in the coming months Uinta/Four+ will be debuting a new, yet to be named organic summer ale. This should be another good year for new beer labels in Utah. And thanks to Doug for helping to get the word out. Cheers!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Could "Alcops" Be Returning to Utah Store Shelves?


I don't know why I keep coming back to this subject. I guess at a fundamental level I find it draconian. Whereas you establish a set of laws then then alter them on a technicality so that they fit an individual or group agenda.

I refer to so called "alcopops". As you'll recall last summer state officials lead by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff began a state-wide cracked down on sweet and fizzy, intoxicating drinks such as Mike's Hard Lemonade that -- save for their alcohol content -- bear a remarkable resemblance to soda pop.

The sugary beverages had long been taxed as flavored beers. But state authorities reclassified them as liquor, raising the taxes on a six-pack thus moving them to state liquor stores even though they contained the state required 4.0% alcohol by volume.

The state of Utah's reasoning was this; because the the beverages in question contained flavoring extracts that were made with distilled spirits, they were in fact themselves spirituous in nature even though the beverages themselves derive their alcohol by mean of fermentation. Such as beer.

In California a similar law was passed. Substance abuse foes and lawmakers passed a law making "alcopops" liquor as well, and thus subject to higher taxes. Since the new tax rate kicked in Oct. 1. California has only collected about $9,000 in taxes, That's nothing in state of it's size and population.

Beverage makers admit they aren't paying the new taxes. They say they don't have to because they have reformulated the drinks -- more than 6,000 varieties -- to transform them into simple beers by limiting the amount of distilled spirits they contain.

They won't explain how. The formulas, they say, are trade secrets. And beverage-industry officials and federal regulators say there are no tests to determine how much distilled spirits the drinks contain versus those acquired by fermentation.

Now, I don't pretend to know the exact Utah law on these beverages, but it seems to me that if the formulation of the beverages are changed, eliminating the need for flavoring extracts these beers would revert back to being simple beers. Thus making them available to be purchased at grocery and convenience stores under Utah law.

And just to reiterate, I don't drink these beverages. In my opinion, the way the state of Utah went about abolishing them was pretty slimy and made convoluted liquor laws even more murky.

If anyone has a better grasp of this law please offer it up. Cheers!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hard Times Ale

Coming next week, Roosters in Ogden is offering up Hard Times Ale. It is a no-nonsense, no-frills, bare-bones brew to help craft brew lovers get through these tough economic times. Brewmaster Steve Kirkland, waived his salary for a day and brewed a special beer using a less expensive malt and hop bill recipe than his other beers and plan to pass the savings on to friends of Roosters. That'd be you!

Hard Times Ale is light in body (though not a "lite" beer) and very drinkable. My guess is that It'll go down much easier than the stock market. Hard Times Ale, A Brew to Get You Through!

Also on tap at Roosters in Ogden and Layton:
-Irish Stout. Brewed with a peated Malt which has the smoke of a peat fire passed through it
to impart a smoky quality to the grain and a taste of The Ol' Sod.
-Deep Powder Dortmunder. A golden lager with low hop and a dry, bread like flavor.
Cheers!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Smokestack Series Comes to Utah

Last November Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City, Missouri entered the Utah market with two of it's staples, their Unfiltered Wheat and their Lunar an American version of a Dunkel Weizen.

Now comes word that Boulevard's Smokestack Series is now on it's way.

The Smokestack Series features bold, complex beers with higher alcohol content, and
includes both traditional varieties and experimental brews. The first four releases consist of
Boulevard Saison, a “farmhouse” ale, Long Strange Tripel, a Trappist-style “abbey” beer, Double-Wide I.P.A., an India pale ale, and The Sixth Glass, a Belgian-style quadrupel ale.

The Bayou plans to introduce these ales to beer lovers in the coming months. The beers
are packaged in 750 ml champagne bottles with cork-and-cage closures. No word yet on the pricing. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Micro's

Looking for some good seasonal to drink on St. Patrick's Day that aren't green? Well here ya go.

Hibernian

A very malty, Irish style ale. Clean filtered and reddish brown in color. Low in
bitterness, however, has a slight hop finish t
o it. Up front character is caramel malt tones. The Hibernian Society is an international organization of Irish culture.

Oatmeal Stout

Our heaviest ale, medium bitterness, made with 8 different types of malt, very dark, served using a nitrogen push. This rich, full bodied brew will dazzle your tongue with many different malts, a hint of chocolate and a suggestion of coffee.


Squatters brings back Hop Rising. Now made with whole Amarillo flower instead of pellets. And special for St. Patty's Day they have McGrueh's Dry Irish Stout on nitro.

Hoppers has Bruce's 80 Scottish ale. It's an amber hued ale that's very rich, toasty, roasty, smoky and malty with hints of fig and Bourbon. East Kent hops were used and add a very slight, crisp 'n clean bitterness.

If you have an absolut hard-on for green beer there is an option at The Utah Brwewers Coop. They have a green infused Provo girl Pils called Green Girl. Slainte!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hell's Keep

With out a doubt Jennifer Talley has turned Squatters into the place in Utah for authentic Belgian style ales. Her latest offering is Hell's Keep a Belgian Style Strong Ale. Beer dorks and artist have been waiting moths for this one. Some for the beer itself and others for the "subjective" label that won the label design contest.

Personally I saw a lot of good artwork done for this label, but William Swartzfager artwork really looks nice on the bottle.

Poured into a tulip: a lightly hazy honey/orange with a dense 3 fingers of white foam, which fade into a moderate sized cap. The nose is lemony coupled with dusty-oak and a wild yeastiness.
The taste starts with dry apricot and pear followed by spicy malty grains. The end is lemony with notes of straw and wheat. The finish is nice and dry with a lite champagne like carbonation.
This beer is very crisp and refreshing. Just so easy going down and incredibly light on the palate. The the 7% ABV doesn't have any burn and is well hidden.

The only problem is I can see with this beer is it's deceptive ABV. it's so lite and unnoticeable It'll catch up with before you know it. Hell's Keep is bottle conditioed and served in a nice wax dipped champagne style bottle.

Another rock-solid offering from Squatters, probably the best to date. If this one finds an audience(which it should) we could see it distributed state-wide. But for now you will only be able to enjoy it at Squatters Downtown and Park City Pubs starting tomorrow 3/17. Cheers!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Pity Date

Damn! So close. If feel like I've been on a date over the last couple of days. I was looking really good, spent a lot of money on dinner & drinks, then when I go to "close the deal" she says "Take me home, I'm not interested".

That's how I feel about the Senate's decision to go home early and not debate HB 349.
Now, I know that this woman I speak of figuratively was way out of my league and that in some ways this was a pity-date. But I did expected her to at least let the date play out 'till midnight.
Bitch!!!

Thanks to everyone who kept the updates coming throughout the session and please send thanks to Rep. Oda (coda@utah.gov) for sponsoring the bill. And while your at it; ask if he and the Utah Beer Wholesalers Association will pursue the bill again next year.

But don't be too sad, this was a good year for adults who want to to adult things. Plus it looks like Mark Alston will be keeping his patio "as is" for another year. But if you still feel like drowning your sorrows go try Brewmaster Donovan's new Scotch ale over at Hoppers. It debuts today! Cheers!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

High ABV Beer On Tap Legislation in Limbo

Well today is the last day. If hb 349 (the high abv on tap bill) is going to pass it has to be voted on by tonight at midnight. There is one problem standing in the bill's way. It's not on the Senates calender for today. At least as noon yesterday.

I sent emails to Rep. Oda the main sponsor of the bill, and to Senator Greiner the Senate sponsor. I asked if they knew of the status of HB 349. Rep. Oda was kind enough to respond by saying "Be patient".

Now I don't know if that means "it's on the calendar" or "maybe next year". So I'll leave it up to y'all.

But the info I have as of this morning leads me to believe the bill died in the Senate.

I would be very happy to be proven wrong. I'd also like to thank Rep. Oda for taking the time to respond. I know it's very busy on the hill right now. Cross your fingers.

Also-also. Congrats go out to Utah beer lover/devotee Douglas and his wife who had a baby boy yesterday. Milk Stouts all around. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The End of an Era!!! Thank God.

Most of you have probably heard that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced a deal Monday that would make the most sweeping changes in decades to Utah's liquor laws, including an end to the state's one-of-a-kind private-club law.

The liquor-reform package was hammered out during weeks of intense negotiations with the governor's staff, legislators and representatives of the hospitality and restaurant industries and the LDS Church.


The compromise legislation would do away with private clubs, replacing them with a scanner verifying the validity of the identification presented by anyone who appears under age 35. Data would be stored on-site for a week. There would be no centralized law-enforcement database


For restaurants that serve alcohol, the bill would do away with the so-called "Zion Curtain," a glass barrier that servers must walk around to distribute drinks to patrons. Under the proposed changes, bartenders would now be able to pass a drink to a patron across the bar.


New restaurants would need a separate area for mixing drinks, away from the view of children. Existing restaurants would be grandfathered, but might qualify for $30,000 in assistance if they chose to renovate to conceal the mixing of drinks.


These demands on new restaurants will create situations in which they are treated differently than existing establishments and might discourage eateries from locating in the state.


Part of the liquor-reform package also would toughen penalties for drunken driving: Repeat offenders could forfeit their vehicles; underage drunken drivers could lose their licenses; and bar owners could face more legal liability if drunken patrons are involved in accidents.


The bill is expected to move quickly through the Legislature, starting in the Senate. If it passes and is signed by the governor, the private-club provisions would kick in July 1; the restaurant changes would take effect May.


Other Liquor related legislation to pass, the tacky and labor intensive D.A.B.C. tax stickers are going away. This will save the state over one million bucks a year. Maybe the money could go into purchasing beer coolers for liquor stores. Hint-hint...

As of this morning, there is no change on the status of HB 349 "the heavy beer on draft bill".


And of course the Utah Homebrew Bill. No longer will you feel like a deviant when making your next batch of "Bourbon Barrel aged-Triple-Imperial-Dry Hopped-Dopple IPA with Brettomyces"!

Well... maybe a little. Cheers!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bruce's 80 Scottish Ale

Donovan Steele, Secret Agent and Brewmaster at Hoppers in Midvale has a new seasonal ale available this Friday the 13th. Bruce's 80 is a Scottish ale that's been aging in the tank for several weeks.

Dono descibes this first time offering as an amber hued ale that's very rich, toasty, roasty, smoky and malty with hints of fig and Bourbon. East Kent hops were used and add a very slight, crisp 'n clean bitterness.


Dono says, he really likes working on the seasonals. "It gives me the time and freedom to do research and formulate a new batch...at the end of the day I feel a little better about my student loans".


Sounds like money well spent! Available only at Hoppers. Cheers!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

North Coast Comes to Utah

Yeah more new beers! New to area liquor stores is what looks to be quite a nice line-up from North Coast brewing out of Fort Bragg, Ca.

North Coast Brewing has entered the market with their Blue Star Wheat Beer, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale, Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale and ACME Pale Ale. Quite a diverse line-up eh?


Also on the radar is LEINENKUGEL'S Berry Wiess, GRIESKIRCHNER WEIZEN, SAMUEL ADAMS CHERRY WHEAT & FULL SAIL RESERVE 21 DOPPELBOCK.

March is looking like a great month to get your beer-on. Who knows, if the Gods are nice we could see these on tap sometime. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

No More 3.2 in Utah?

Well the cat is out of the bag. If you haven't heard there's this bill on the hill that was quietly introduced at the beginning of February that would allow beer above 4.0% abv to be sold on draft in Utah.

HB349's original intent was to make it easier for beer distributors to get a wider range of products out to costumers, by bypassing the DABC warehouse all together. The bill would also give buyers the ability to negotiate prices, instead of buying the state of Utah's set rate for high ABV beer that we all pay. This could mean better prices beer in the state.


But as I mentioned earlier, the part of this bill that has everyone in tizzy is the promise of high ABV beer on tap. This would create a whole new market for beer in Utah. Without the 4.0% restriction brands from all over the world could be making it's way into Utah. Your favorite Portland brew could be on tap a your favorite watering hole in as soon as 6 months.


There is a downside however. Local breweries that have made it their business by selling established 4.0% brands such as Cutthroat Pale Ale and Polygamy Porter will loose their state imposed monopoly on the taps. If you go to any decent be bar in town you'll notice that the majority of beers on tap are local. And frankly, that's the way it should be.


Will the local brewers tweak their recipes to make higher ABV beers to compete? Will local brewpubs be given the ability to make stronger stuff on tap for customers? The bill at this point is just too vague and convoluted to say.


For this reason many (including myself) think this bill will never make it in to law. Even though it has passed favorably in the House.


Bar owners that knew about the bill have been sitting on this hopping that it would slide beneath the radar and pass into law. That's why it's gotten so little play in the press in this unprecedented liquor reform session at the Capitol.


Hb349 is huge for Utah, what are your take on it?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Beer Wars

2008 was a big year T.V. documentaries on beer. I think there were probably four or five Docs produced by various cables channels, praising the craft brewing and the history of beer in general. Well there's a new documentary coming. This one to debut in theaters.

Beer Wars is set in the classic David and Goliath story about Sam & Wanda two small, independent brewers who are shunning the status quo while battling the might and tactics of Corporate America.

Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.
Click on the poster or the title for a link to the trailer. Cheers!