Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The importance of regionality

More video today

There are a couple nice things going on in that video. When Mr Stutrud says:
"Some people say that hops are the soul of beer. I couldn't disagree more... you can tell being out here that we're in barley country"

Firstly, that's a little dig at Sam Adams's slightly over simplified "hops are the soul of beer" ads, which I can appreciate. Secondly, it's just nice to actually hear someone talk about flavors other than hops in craft beer. Until now, American craft beer has been hops obsessed, largely due to the west coast brewers who got in the game early. Their hop-focussed beers make some sense being brewed very near to the largest hop growing region in the country, but here in the Midwest which, in addition to being one of (if not the) biggest supplier of grain and malt, was also historically the largest brewing region in the nation. This brewing output of course consisted mostly of lager and other beers which would have been mild in flavor (relative to the craft beer of today). Those tastes are still obviously alive and well if you look at some of the largest regional brewers (and their biggest brands): New Glarus (Spotted Cow a light farmhouse ale) Goose Island (312 Urban Wheat) and Summit (whose biggest brand I believe is Extra Pale Ale followed closely by hefeweizen which I have been told is produced year round for sale in Chicago, which drinks massive amounts of it).

So cheers to that and cheers to regionality. Craft beer continues to grow, and it's certainly matured to the point where nuance and regional tastes can have a place in the market. After all, regionality is truly the soul of beer.

Thanks to Appellation Beer on which I saw this video

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Michael and me

This clip was recently posted by Draft Magazine. I would highly encourage watching it. It's highly entertaining and stars beer writer Michael Jackson.

This clip reminded me of my first exposure to Michael Jackson when I saw him on Conan some years before that interview (based on this list I am pretty certain I saw him in 1998). I was not into good beer at that time, but the interview was amusing and Jackson was entertaining and charming as I gather he almost always was, so it stuck with me. As I started to dabble and learn more about beer, his name popped up. First on a label of Lion Stout where I thought "I've seen him, I know that name!" and later in various reviews and books that were checked out of the library. At every stage of my beer appreciation, Michael Jackson had always been there first, and was always (still is) an accessible, informative source hovering just out of sight watching over us. If you can't tell, I feel very indebted to Michael (as everyone who loves good beer should) and was completely thrown back to see an interview with him. That clip was taken the year before he died and he was still witty and quick on his feet. Like many other people, I think I did not realize that he had Parkison's Disease late in life, and I probably giggled at how sloshed he seemed right out of the gate.

This probably would have been a better post for his birthday, but anytime of the year is a good time to raise a glass to Michael.