Very cool new thing discovered today: the New Yorker has put together a map featuring various visualized statistics about craft beer in the United States. You can filter the map to view findings such as total breweries, annual production and production group. You can also switch to see it either by state data or brewery data.
Take a peek, play around with it. Nicely done and very informing. Looks like the South is catching up in terms of awesome brews. Maybe some day that whole map will be a dark brown? A girl can dream…
Season(al)s In A Bottle
There is one thing that beer does for me that wine and cocktails don’t. In fact, no other drink does.
Beers can make a time of year feel complete. Beers can capture the essence of any given season in one bottle. And when done right, those beers basically become my summer, winter or fall embodied in a liquid. One sip of Anchor Brewery’s yearly Christmas beer and I am ready for some ice skating and holiday parties. A taste of Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead and I can immediately envision my past Halloweens (well, most of them).
With everything that goes into one bottle of beer, and with the rise of popularity in making a seasonal beer, breweries are well poised to become part of seasonal family traditions and happenings through these specialties. It also allows for small craft breweries to develop momentum and excitement in their fan base through the anticipation surrounding the yearly return of their seasonals.
While there is nothing like curling up next to the fire with a dark Porter or Stout in the winter months, there is something about summer beer that just makes the most sense. I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the natural state of a beer: cold. Chilled. Refreshing. All of the above make for an ideal summer beverage, and given that most summer beers are light, floral, and a bit fizzier, summer beers may very well be my favorite drink ever.
With summer just ahead of us, I am thinking about the summer beer releases in anticipation. Some have already begun to surface to my great excitement. Many are being held back till the actual summer solstice (just to torture me, I am sure). There are some that I am excited to see again, and some that I will miss dearly.
I am beyond psyched to keep sipping on:
- Harpoon’s Summer Beer
- Peak Organic’s Summer Ale
- Anchor’s Summer Beer
- Deschutes’ Twilight Summer
- Pyramid’s Apricot Ale
I am super pumped to give these new and old ones a try:
- New Belgium’s Rolle Bolle
- Widmer Brothers Citra Blonde
- Victory’s Summer Love
- Lazy Magnolia’s Backwoods Belgian
I am ready to cry because I will miss this one:
- Magic Hat’s Wacko! Did not realize this one was a limited time only. I have tried their new summer seasonal, Elder Betty, but it does nothing for me compared to Wacko’s crisp, light, flavorful goodness. Plus that color! Bright red and gorgeous. Hard to beat. You will be missed Wacko. Hope to see you again soon. Magic Hat, you been messin’ up recently…
What summer beers do you enjoy?
Beer: Apricot Wheat
Brewery: Ithaca Beer Company
Location: Ithaca, NY
In Three Words: sweet, light, fizzy
I was so tempted to put “sassy” as one of the adjectives above. Held myself back because this beer is already so sweet; it’s what some jerks may call a “girly” beer, or what the people at Arrogant Bastard might say is a “fizzy yellow beer” (I mean, just look at the verify your age page of their website). But guess what? It is delicious. And with summer months, humidity and my general uncomfortableness approaching, I am all for this refreshing slice of apricot heaven.
I think any fruit beer than manages to taste like the fruit they are named after and not a soda is an achievement. I am a big fan of fruit beers, but some of them (cough Shock Top raspberry wheat) (sorry, caught something in my throat) just end up being saccharine and hard to swallow. For some people this may be a dream come true: get drunk and feel like all you’re drinking is soda. For other people, this isn’t quite the point of beer. I am of the latter.
Ithaca’s Apricot Wheat tastes like a beer. It has hints of bitterness and wheat. On top of that is a light apricot flavor that just grazes the palate. Enough to balance out the flavors and create a unique blend of all of them. It is fizzy without making me feel like I am drinking a glass of champagne.
It is a very light beer. If you are looking for strong, bold, intense beers that will make you feel like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast (minus the sexsist tendencies) this isn’t the beer for you. But I was kind of hoping you might guess that from the name of the beer.
I like this beer. I like that it does what it sets out to do. It is delicious, refreshing and not too sweet. Grab me another six pack. Yum.
Shout out to Deschutes Brewery for following me
Such good beer. Such a cool brewery. Clearly an awesome social media manager.
Beer: Mission St. Hefeweizen
Brewery: Steinhaus Brewing (aka Firestone Walker Brewing Co.)
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Type: Hefeweizen (wheat)
In Three Words: smooth, easy, standard
Yes, I got this at Trader Joe’s for a ridiculously low price. But I figured, hey. It’s been staring me in the face while I am in this ridiculously long line for weeks now.* I might as well. I want beer and this looks pretty good, so. Boom.
For a while I thought it was actually from a brewery located on Mission Street in San Francisco, which convinced me it had reached ultimate hipster status. When I learned this wasn’t true, and that the brewery “Steinhaus” was actually Firestone masquerading under a different name, I was confused but intrigued. You win, Firestone.
This beer is pretty good. For a cheap beer, it is above average compared to other cheap ones and has a bold flavor. It keeps you interested. Some compelling hints of random flavors appear, from banana to various spices. Overall very light. However it is pretty standard (as per my In Three Words above) and basically is just a good, textbook recipe for a wheat beer. Nothing surprising. Nothing to make you gasp or freak out. Just a gooooood smoooooth beer for next to nothing.
No one gets hurt via crazy experimental flavors, we get to drink beer, and we don’t have to spend too much money. Thanks, Firestone.
*this sentence, when I first wrote it, made it sound like I had been in line at Trader Joe’s for weeks. I was going to change it, but then I realized how hilarious and realistic that is, so I left it.
top: the glass they gave you to try beers in ; bottom left: some of the booths and fest goers ; bottom right: when we ended up on the floor
NYC Craft Beer Fest: Spring Seasonal proved to be just as amazing as I thought it would be. With over 150 different craft beers, I certainly did not try them all, but my friend and I were impressed at how many out of my list we got through. As you may recall, I had quite a wish list going into it. Out of all sixteen, I was able to try thirteen and a few extra. Considering my size and build, that was a lot of beer to pack into two hours.
Winners of the night were as follows: Harpoon’s White IPA, Bayou Teche’s Boucanee, Blue Mountain’s Local Species, Ithaca’s Apricot Wheat, Founders’ Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Lagunitas’ Wilco Tango Foxtrot.
Other favorites included: Cisco’s Grey Lady, Sixpoint’s Harbinger Saison, Brooklyn’s Anniversary Ale, and Ommegang’s Hennepin.
I have to point out specifically two beers. The first is Bayou Teche’s Boucanee, which I knew I had to try because I can never find their beers up north here. It was stunning. A smoked beer! Who would have thought. It was dark and smooth and tasted like it had been barbecued with the only sauce being the beer itself. A smoky rich flavor. The other beer I could not get over was Harpoon’s White IPA. Shocking, really. It was light but intense, flavorful yet subtle. Really fantastic work.
Overall, I consumed about four pints of beer in two hours. Probably sounds like nothing to you guys. Pft. Well, it was a lot for me. Which is why my friend and I ended up on the ground by the end and then went and bought a ridiculous amount of snacks to eat in bed while watching Law and Order and the Homes and Gardens channel.
Best lesson learned: train your bladder to not have to go. There’s no time! And the lines are killer.
Expect updates from NYC Craft Beer fest soon!
It was an amazing event. Found so many new beers to love.