Friday, June 5, 2009

Ad nausea (or ad nauseum, take your pick)

Stupid things the mega brewers say via Madison Avenue (for some reason this annoys us now more than ever):

• Triple-hopped Miller Lite ...
It’s funny when the megas try to woo the mainstream with explanations of the brewing process and build an ad campaign around something as basic as ending a sentence with a period. As we know, a lot of beers – too many to count – get hops thrice: for bittering, flavor and aroma, and that doesn’t include dry-hopping. Watching their spot, you’d think Miller Lite pioneered this as a brewing technique. That is, if your mind is no more discriminating than a palate suited for Miller Lite. Beer enthusiasts on the Web have slaughtered this campaign, mocking it far and wide. And for good reason: For having three hop schedules, you’d never know bland Miller Lite has any hops at all.

• Bud Light, drinkability …
Philly's Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell had this interesting piece on "drinkability." But here's our take on it: Before Bud Light appropriated the word for use in commercials that look like they were cast with extras from Office Space, "drinkability" was tossed around by people who chose any other beer except a flavorless one like Bud Light. Now, thanks to BL’s ongoing campaign, "drinkability" is irretrievably tied to a cheap, nondescript beer from the AB-InBev portfolio. Hey Bud, here are some words you should consider: blather, twaddle and folderol.

• Coors Light ... When the mountains turn blue, it’s cold.
And if you follow the velvet rope inside the bank, you’ll reach the teller window. The mountains may turn blue and the beer may be cold, but it’s still flavorless Coors Light. Some score that is. Say, wasn’t Coors the brewer that misspelled arctic on its labels, cartons and merchandise tie-ins in the mid-1990s, as in Coors Artic Ice? Blue mountains, artic ice … Coors is still brewing up stupid.

On the radar

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's to your health(care), Part 2

An update on the possibility of beer taxes going up to pay for an overhaul of the US healthcare system.

We've said it before: beer, wine and liquor – partly to assuage the temperance leagues and become legal again those 76 years ago – were turned into vehicles for taxes, and have been paying the freight for three generations hence. The sin taxes.

Granted the spotlight is on the beverage industry right now, but why is it outside the realm of reason to ask Burger King, in addition to Coke and Pepsi, or the owners of Ben & Jerry to pony up something for their contribution toward unhealthy living, however large or small?

Obesity can be, and is, as insidiously debilitating as alcoholism. Overeating just isn't defined as a social ill like drinking to excess is. And if you want to argue that it's presumptuous to think that high-fat foods or beverages with a lot of sugar will be overconsumed, then it's equally presumptuous to assume that beer, wine and liquor will be abused; that everyone who has a drink will drive with a load on; and that everyone under 21 will scheme to get his hands on a pint of Jack Daniel's or a sixpack of beer. (Funny how that's MADD's position.)

For the record, we're not in favor of higher taxes. We're just saying that what's good for the Grey Goose is good for Burger King, so long as BK thinks cheap, fatty, starchy food is good business and what America needs more of.

Anyway, looks like the battle has been joined. Add your voice: Here's the contact info for Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez. (Just remember that Lautenberg was the one who authored the federal .08% threshold for DUI – no, we don't endorse driving with a snootful – and the federal drinking age of 21, both of which were nothing more than Uncle Sam usurping states' authority by threatening to withhold highway funding if the states didn't sign on.)

Beer from the takeout menu

Jersey's brewpubs are neighborhood bars for the folks lucky enough to live that close (imagine being so spoiled as to live within walking distance to one).

For others, especially the traveling beer geeks among us, the brewpubs are a destination, a planned trip, with maybe some local things to do: The Tun Tavern puts you within a couple of blocks of Atlantic City's casinos; the Ship Inn, near the Delaware River in Milford, is a nice weekend afternoon excursion, as is Krogh's in Sparta and Long Valley, which is located in that portion of Washington Township in Morris County that lends a name to the brewpub.

Elsewhere, JJ Bitting is an oasis in the middle of the state, not even a half block from the NJ Transit train platform in Woodbridge, while Triumph feels like a natural fit in Princeton, like some form of it was there when tricorn hats were in fashion in New Jersey.

So yeah, the brewpub experience in Jersey can translate into some distance traversed. Which ususally means justifying the trip by taking home a growler or two of beer. Which means, in this not so happy economy, you might want to know what that jug is going to set you back before you set out on the beer trail.

What follows is handy chart of current growler prices, cobbled together by calling around to the pubs this week. (Double-click the chart to open it larger in another page.)


Centennials 2009

Shots of this year's Centennial hops, their second year in the ground. Back in early spring, they really started rocketing skyward. Burs and sidearm shoots came the last full week of May. Cones will probably start taking shape by mid-June.

Monday, June 1, 2009

How to get a mention without trying

One of the things about the Internet Age is that if you're creating content, sooner or later, someone is going to appropriate it for something. Especially if YouTube is involved.

Sometimes it's stealing, copyright infringement; sometimes it truly is fair use. And sometimes it's just a pleasant surprise.

Browsing around the 'Net this evening, we came across this fair use: the video we produced (and uploaded to YouTube) of the 2008 Philly Beer Week finale, the Real Ale Festival that was held at Triumph Brewing in Old City.

It's a nice surprise because it's on, the World Wide Web's how-to handbook that went online under that banner three years ago. Of course, since it's in the wiki world, it's a collection of user-created entries from a community of folks who, by and large, like to share what they know, à la wikipedia, of course.

Still, it's rewarding, albeit on some small scale, that our video helps illustrate a "how-to" for real ale.