The State of American Beer

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To my fellow beer freaks and geeks - read this and remember we have a long way to go. Compare the sales figures of the top 10 domestic brands to the top 10 craft brands. #1 on the craft list - Sam Adams (the whole lineup) with $329 million in sales. #10 on the Domestic - Miller High Life (just that brand) - $476 million
We are still the freaks and the geeks and I love it.

The State of American Beer (The Atlantic) (Hat tip to Denny for finding this link).

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The Latest Experiment

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A friend who writes for the Northwest Brewing News contacted me recently about an experiment he wanted to do. It just so happens that it was an experiment we had written up for the book, so I was all for it. Since we haven't had the tasting yet, I won't give away what experiment it was, but in a couple weeks you can read the procedures and results here!

Return of the Wee Shroomy

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Here in Oregon, we had the best year for mushrooms in the last 20 years. Yummy bits of fungal goodness were popping up all over in the woods behind my house. When my wife came back from a walk in the woods with a grocery bag full of chanterelle mushrooms, it was time to brew the Wee Shroomy! If you don't know, that's a Scotch ale/wee heavy that has 2 1/2 lb. of chanterelles added to it after primary fermentation.

Coffee and Jalapenos

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For a long time I've been a proponent of a very simple method of adding coffee to your beer. My process is a long cold steep - 1 cup coarse ground coffee, 2-3 cups of filtered cold water. Mix in a French press, soak for 8 to 12 hours, press, filter and add to the beer in the keg/secondary.

I do this process a few times a week because it's a way of making coffee that my un-caffeinated brain can handle. Press, pour over ice with a little water dilute, drink, repeat until brain screams for mercy. One pot of coffee concentrate can last for several days in the fridge.

Radio Silence - No More!

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Hey, so you may have wondered what happened here - why have we gone full radio silence? Did Putin finally discover that we were going to bad mouth Russian beer? Oh, better yet - did Hitler discover all the mean things we have to say about the Reinheitsgebot and put the full might of German science into time travel so that he could stop us?

How Many Hop Varieties Are In the Best IPAs?

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Derek Dellinger, over at Bear-Flavored.com did some research by polling for information from the brewers of nationally ranked IPAs.

I'll let you discover the answer over at his site in this article.


Back? What do you think? If you had to choose a limited number of varieties to fit that "ideal" number - what would you choose?

Troubleshooting

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Over at maltosefalcons.com, I just put up the first of a series of notes about my club's "Troubleshooter's Corner." It's an old tradition that we've recently revived but think of it as a small group tasting with honest commentary and helpful advice. This happens at our monthly meeting while the main homebrew tasting is happening. A few veteran brewers step out and people who have beers or questions are free to come and go and we'll do our best to give advice and feedback and congratulations to those who are kicking ass and improving.

Facial Hair?

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An experiment that we must ponder: What is it with brewer's and facial hair? Is there an aura? A special contribution from the hair? Solar powered thinking machines?

But it can't just be solely the beard. The number of fantastic brewers of the distaff persuasion proves that. Maybe the beer is a vital substitution for something. Maybe it's a extra sensory organ amplifying a less responsive faculty. Who knows, but Denny and I are here for you, dear reader.

Another Reason Why Experimental Brewing Is Important

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As Denny and I get deeper into this book, the stronger I feel the whole enterprise depends on your favorite definition of "experimental". It means something different to lots of people. Do we mean experimental as a scientist means it? Carefully measured and designed explorations aiming to discovering an underlying objective truth? Do we mean it like an artist means it - the avant garde, the unexpected that in a brief exposure can expose a subjective truth and a deeper understanding of life?

Converting the Wicked - Pumpkin Time!

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It's pumpkin time and as sure as my name is Drew Beechum, the internet is awash in question about pumpkin beers. So to aid in answering some pumpkiny questions, I present to you a column all about the long hard slog to convert my sister to the ways of craft beer. This column first appeared in BeerAdvocate the Magazine in the fall of 2011. Since that time, my sister has gone on to brewing a ton of different beers and haunts the Tampa Bay craft beer scene better than I could. If you happen to see her say hi from her little brother.

Repeating Yourself

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Inspired by Janis Gross and her Facebook post today, I feel that its important to say a few words about repetition. So digging back through my archives, I want to present to you the unedited version of my BYOB column in BeerAdvocate Magazine. (You should subscribe - it's a damn good magazine even if I'm writing for it!) This is from around July of 2010 - "Practice Makes Perfect"

Don't You Love It When a Plan Works?

denny's picture

In this blog post http://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/denny/am-i-good-or-just-lucky , I wrote about the changes I'd made to my Rye IPA brewing process that I felt had made a huge improvement in the beer. I brewed a second batch exactly like the first in order to confirm that those changes were actually the reason I liked the beer so much more than before. Well, I kegged that second batch yesterday.

Time is Short!

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Since time is always tight, how about something quick that will impress your friends, neighbors and fellow brewers? Mary Izett of Fuhmentaboudit on the Heritage Radio Network gave a talk at this year’s AHA Homebrewer’s Conference on “Alternative Fermentations”. The talk was filled with different projects you can tackle when you have a few spare cycles. To demonstrate, she poured a Strawberry Peppercorn “Short” Mead.

A Shift in the Plan

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As I get ready to head out to Philly for the NHC, I thought I'd announce a shift in the book plan that we're engaged in, now. Feedback from y'all has been overwhelming and a sudden inspiration took over. You see, Denny and I are but two semi-techy-geeky guys who like to play with our beer. It's right there in the site's motto! When we announced the book originally, there was an incredible response of people looking for more experiments and ways to answer the strange questions you can only come up with while you're obsessed with a hobby.

Am I Good or Just Lucky?

denny's picture

I wrote a while ago about my experiments to increase sulfate levels in my Rye IPA. My latest batch, with a sulfate level of 300 ppm, is far and away the best of the many batches of this recipe that I've made over the years. So, now what I need to do is brew it again, exactly the same way, to find out if the changes in sulfate were the reason or if I just had Ninkasi looking over my shoulder when I made the last batch. That's what I'm doing today...brewing exactly the same recipe, with exactly the same ingredients, down to the same bags of malt and hops.

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