Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One more jinx from 2009

Here's an ach du lieber Gott in Himmel moment ...

Bad news about beer sales – they're down – with a little more than a month to go before Oktoberfest (Sept. 19-Oct. 4). Unfavorable weather over the summer is partly to blame, as are demographics.

Looks like folks in Deutschland have some consumption to make up. Better get cracking, shouldn't try to do it all in M√ľnchen next month.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Best of Show 2009

When you mention a beer, some folks want details. Well, here’s the profile for Andrew Meravi’s New Jersey State Fair Best of Show Russian Imperial Stout:

• Malt: Maris Otter, roasted barley, chocolate malt, munich malt (two types), crystal, Special B and flaked barley.
• Hops: Magnum for bittering, a dash of Centennial and East Kent Goldings for flavor and aroma. The brew scrapes the IBU ceiling at 100 (beneath a lot of malt, though).
• ABV: 10.25%

That profile represents a few tweaks Andrew made from a version he brewed last year that won second place in the homebrew competition's Imperial Stout category. (The stout was his sole entry then.) This year, he says, he was just trying to sharpen the stout a little to win the category. “I guess I got that and a little more.”

Andrew, who’s 34, took up homebrewing after a friend in New Hampshire helped broaden his horizons with the wide array of craft beers that are out there. (His palate was practically there, since at that time, he was enjoying beers like Bass.) A pale ale made by friend in New Jersey showed him what could be accomplished by homebrewing.

That was four years ago, and in that time he stepped up from brewing with malt extracts to all grain, turning out 10-gallon batches, unless it’s a big beer (like the imperial stout), in which case he’ll do half that volume.

Andrew took six beers to the 2009 State Fair and did rather well, even if you factor out his Best of Show title. His American pale ale won a gold medal; a breakfast stout made with oatmeal and a light-roast organic coffee took silver, and a Belgian golden ale went bronze.

And now he joins the pantheon of State Fair champs whose bragging rights include reproducing their winning ways for the taps at Krogh's.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sham, and for shame

A little off topic but here goes:

This is a big reason the New Jersey Turnpike Authority should embrace a beer series that salutes its world-famous toll highway instead of denouncing it and acting like someone threw a stinky diaper in its lap.

If the authority is going to be an event ticket broker – and the mere fact you can buy concert tickets through a toll road bureaucracy is so patently absurd – then the PNC Bank Arts Center should be selling at its concession stands beers that were made locally. (The Turnpike Authority owns the arts center; naming rights were sold to PNC years ago. Yet, the state is still broke, drowning in red ink.) The authority's bitching earlier this summer about Flying Fish and its Exit Series beers was bootless, knee-jerk whining more suited for a dumbed-down world we should have taken the exit off of long ago.

Of course, ensuring Jersey brewers enjoy a home-state advantage at those concessions would be circumventing the public bidding process for contracts. But hey, looks like the Turnpike ensures a concernt ticket advantage for insiders and its employees (because they work hard. Note to the TA: Let's just assume people paying taxes and tolls to support the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway and pay off the highway bond debt work hard, too).

But the bigger picture here is: How do you place any credence in the Turnpike's gripes about it being prima facie wrong to mention beer and a highway in the same breath, when the Turnpike's administration is running a ticket racket, selling premium concert seats to people smart enough know the Turnpike has killer seats for Dave Matthews or Incubus?

That in-the-know crowd pretty much excludes most of us, since last time we checked the E-ZPass lanes don't have signs saying "Need seats? Call (732) 750-5300." Nor do Turnpike toll tickets.

What's the next act taking the stage? Sham.

Time for a beer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

And the winner is ...

A Russian Imperial Stout claims the Best of Show title in the 13th Annual New Jersey State Fair Homebrew Competition.

That means, like Best of Show winners before him, Andrew Meravi of Boonton will get to scale up his recipe and brew it on the 5-barrel system at Krogh's brewpub with the help of Krogh’s brewmaster, David Cooper.

Krogh's puts the Best of Show beers on tap when it can squeeze them into its brew lineup, and past winners have seen their beers land tap space over the late winter and mid-spring.

Meanwhile, rounding out the winners list:

• First Runner-up was an American IPA brewed by Robert Giaquinta Jr. of Sparta.
• Second Runner-up was a doppelbock crafted by the 2008 defending champs, Pequannock brewers Mike Wenzel and Steve Moen, joined by Glen Celmer.

Congrats to all.