Monday, November 24, 2008

Need something to watch Tuesday night?

Hopheads rejoice!

Tue. 11/25 - 9:00 p.m. & Wed. 11/26 - 1:00 a.m. EST - Discovery Channel

Mike Rowe and his cast of characters travel to Yakima with an episode of Dirty Jobs.

A visit to a hop farm is his job of choice. While I don't know how dirty it will be, it should be entertaining, and a great time to try my latest thanksgiving ale. I can smell it from here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Album for Beer Drinkin'

Here at the Brouha Blog, our love for beer is matched only by our love for music. Often the two go hand and hand. Some of the best nights combine the two in some way or another, whether it's a concert or just sitting around with friends listening to great music. In the same way that there can be a perfect beer to fit the circumstances, there can be a perfect song or album. We decided every once in a while, we'd try to give our recommendations for the song or album we think goes well with a night of good beer drinking!

The first album we'll talk about in this new series has to be The Doors' Morrison Hotel.

First off, the songs Roadhouse Blues and Land Ho have two of the greatest lyrics about drinking you'll ever hear. See if you can find them. The Doors are easily one of the great rock bands of all times, but it wasn't until recently that I started getting into their later work. I had been missing out. Everyone's familiar with their early stuff (Break on Through, Light My Fire), and with good reason, but some of their later songs are so much stronger. This album is the first to cut back on some of the more experimental elements in their earlier albums. It shows the band delivering straightforward, in-your-face, hard rock. I can't listen to this album without imaging sitting in a dark, dusty bar. Going along with that mood, the album makes me want to drink something dark and heavy, maybe a BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout, which is easily my favorite local beer and one of my favorite beers overall. So get a little rowdy during Peace Frogs and Ship of Fools, sit back and enjoy tunes like Waiting For the Sun and The Spy, and end the night getting down with the jam, Maggie M'Gill. And do it all with a good beer in hand.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Great Beer on a Great Night

I don't think it would be right to put a post up today without talking, at least briefly, about the election. I must admit that I had a weird feeling on the way to the voting booth yesterday. For the first time in my life I was excited about both candidates, and I was still a little unsure which way I would go. If you were able to skim through all the campaign craziness, you could see that we were truly blessed with a decision between two fine Americans. On the one hand you had a man who had dedicated his life to serving his country and wanted nothing more than to continue to do so. On the other, there was a man who had energized and inspired the American people in a way that was completely unprecedented, at least in my lifetime. Voters couldn't ask for much more. I knew that no matter how things turned out I would be proud to be an American, and I was not disappointed.

I'll leave it at that and turn to another bright spot from last night...Avery's Ale to the Chief. This is a beer worthy of the highest office in the land. A Presidential Pale Ale (Imperial would be the technical term, but as Avery points out this is a democracy!), it's an American Pale with jacked up hop and malt levels that was then dry-hopped with American Cascade hops. It poured a beautiful deep gold with a nice, creamy head that hung around until the final sip. When I poured the beer the room filled with a wonderful hop aroma. My dog even noticed something in the air. The first taste you get is a wonderfully overwhelming citrusy hop flavor that is almost immediately balanced out with a smooth, yet powerful, maltiness. There is really nothing better than a big beer that, despite the ultra high hop levels, can be completely balanced. I'm not sure if it was the perfect pairing, but I had it with some apple pie flavored ice cream (what can I say, it was a patriotic night). Just a quick warning - this comes in big bottles and packs a 8.75% abv, so don't down one of these right before giving your acceptance speech. Overall, it was a beer worthy of the night, and I think I'll have another on Inauguration Day (maybe a couple between now and then, as well).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Time to Hit the Booth!

First of all, I apologize for the fact that this post has nothing to do with beer. Occasionally, our minds wander off our favorite beverage and our attention turns to something else. It happens. We here at the Brouha Blog just wanted to encourage everyone to get out and vote tomorrow. I know we're all tired of seeing the annoying ads and the even more annoying cable news shows, but I think we often lose sight of the fact that...we get to vote! Tomorrow morning we get to go stand in a little booth and decide who we think should lead our great nation. It truly is a wonderful thing.

What's even more wonderful is that the law school decided to cancel classes for the whole day tomorrow! That means I'm going to go vote, come home, watch about five episodes of the West Wing (an Election Day must), and then watch as the ballots are counted and our new leader is chosen. Then, whoever wins, I'll hoist a cold one of these...

...and welcome in the next four years. (See we always bring it back to the beer. That's Avery Brewing Company's Ale to the Chief, by the way. I'll let you all know how it tastes later).

So, an early Happy Election Day to you, America!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We've Struck Gold in the Bluegrass!

We here at the Brouha Blog would like to congratulate Bluegrass Brewing Company on their recent victory at the Great American Beer Festival. When you think Kentucky beer, the first name that comes to mind has to be BBC. They have done so much for the Louisville community as leaders of the craft beer scene, and it's great to see them finally get the credit they deserve. BBC (the St. Matthews location - brewmaster Jerry Gnagy) won a gold medal for their Kick in the Baltic Porter (the name alone is worthy of gold). A gold medal at GABF is the dream of anyone who has ever brewed beer, and we couldn't be happier to have one in the bluegrass state. Congrats to everyone at BBC!

Check out the full list of winners from this year's GABF here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Something Election-related That Doesn't Make Me Want to Pull My Hair Out

The primaries almost ruined it before it ever started. Then came the debates, where any excitement I had for this election was sucked out by both candidate's ability to dodge questions and avoid talking to the American people like adults. Then came the 24-hour, non-stop news with story after story about a new poll or a new ad. I kept thinking that this election couldn't come soon enough. Then I discovered a new campaign. A campaign that truly excited me. A campaign I could get behind. I'm talking of course about Magic Hat's Participation 12-packs.Here's what it is - Magic Hat, a Vermont-based Brewery, together with HeadCount, a voter registration organization, has released limited edition 12-packs in an attempt to get "We the People" interested in the election and the issues of our day, and ultimately to get us out to the voting booths. I'm not sure if this 12-pack achieves that goal, but it did succeed in putting together a tasty mix of beers.

The 12-pack includes Magic Hat's flagship ale, #9, which is described as a lighter pale ale. It pours solid gold and has a nice foamy head. Lighter pale ale really is the best way to describe it. It's very crisp, a little fruity, and a lot delicious.

Also on the ticket is Circus Boy Hefeweizen. It has some good spice for a hefeweizen, along with some lemon zest flavors. It was very refreshing. If I were putting this campaign together, however, I would have added something a little bolder or darker. I like lighter refreshing beers, but there's already plenty of that with the other beers in this pack. Bottom line, it's October, I want something heavier.

The newcomer to this campaign is Participation Lager. With this beer, Magic Hat decided to take a stab at a true American Lager. They succeeded, but don't tip this expecting a PBR or a Schlitz. This has a much fuller flavor and has a decent hop character.

Finally, the beer that definitely gets my vote is Jinx, Magic Hat's Autumnal Strong Ale. This is one of my favorite ales right now. Magic Hat describes it as an ale for dancing bonfires and falling leaves. That's enough for me. It rings in at a solid 6.9% abv and pours a deep reddish brown. You get a lot of roasted, peat-smoked maltiness, but there's also a decent hop background. I got flavors ranging from raisins to cinnamon to nuts.

So the Participation 12-pack may not be perfect. If there had been a robust porter or, even better, a barley wine in the mix, it would have won in a landslide. However, in a season where we often have to choose the lesser of two evils, it's good to know that you can go to the liquor store and get a solid selection of tasty beers, all in one ballot box of ale!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Lost Art of Advertising

Before I can remember ever tasting a beer, I can remember watching beer commercials. No other commercials ever compared to the hilarity of these ads. Whether big beer company advertising is a good or bad thing is a question for another day. No matter what you thought about it though, big beer advertising was damn entertaining. Who can forget these gems...

These were classics. They were as much a part of our culture at the time as anything else on television. As played out as it may seem now, I'd like for someone to think of a word aside from "wassup" that was said more that year.

Now, however, it's all gone downhill. It's undeniable that the craft beer movement has had an effect on the big beer companies, and nowhere can that be seen more clearly than through the advertising. I heard a Budweiser ad on the radio the other day that made me cringe. It was for the American Ale, which I have not yet tried. It said, in a completely serious tone, "It's not a cherry wheat or a berry wheat, and it doesn't taste like chocolate." Well, that's good, I guess. I'm not really sure what their trying to say though, and I'm pretty sure no one else does. Even worse, Budweiser now has a campaign out focusing on the "Drinkability" of Bud Light. Really?! That's the best you could do? Drink Bud Light because it is...drinkable? That's like Applebee's advertising that the food it serves is "edible." Mmm...that sounds delicious. Budweiser has created some of the most hilarious, memorable ads of all-time. Now the ads themselves are just jokes. Whether it was Bud or Miller or Coors, they never took themselves too seriously or tried to be something they weren't. They were just beers...nice, cool, refreshing beers. In fact, the ads usually never even said anything about the beer.

There is one advertising campaign out there that is brilliant, and that approaches the craft beer movement in a way that every big beer company should. It essentially pokes fun at "beer snobs" or snobs of any kind, and it's a riot. Check this out...

"I need to smell me a hotdog!" This is what these companies should be doing. One problem I run into sometimes now that I've started drinking bigger, more complex beers is that I feel like a jackass when everyone else in my party orders a light beer and I have to look over the beer list for an hour. Everyone else is thinking, "Good Lord, it's just beer." After a while, I start thinking that as well. My grandfather drank Sterling longnecks. My uncle drinks Natty Light with a lime. Yet, here I am asking the waitress at Chile's if she has anything bolder than an Amberbock. This is where advertising should be targeted - at making me feel like a snob. No one's going to believe a Budweiser ad claiming to be a great, complex beer. And, most importantly, no one's going to laugh at it.