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Archive for July, 2013

Beer Town: Writers talk trends in American brewing

L-R: DeBenedetti, Nachel, Holl, and Forder

L-R: DeBenedetti, Nachel, Holl, and Forder

It’s always a treat to travel to Boston to help judge the final round of the annual Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew contest. The winners will be announced soon and will have their beer brewed by the Boston Beer Company and distributed nationally.

Every year, it seems the quality of the homebrew gets better. This year, we tasted an outstanding beer that, the judges agreed, nailed its style category and was as good as any commercial example.

But besides getting a glimpse of the state of the art of homebrewing, Longshot gives me a chance to catch up with other beer writers from around the country who join Boston Beer founder Jim Koch in the tasting room.

The 2013 panel included: Christian DeBenedetti, author of “The Great American Ale Trail” and editor of Weekly Pint; Tony Forder, editor of Ale Street Journal; John Holl, editor of All About Beer; and Marty Nachel, author of “Beer For Dummies.”

After lunch, while we …

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Kulers Uncorked: Aveleda Vinho Verde

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2011 Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal

2011 Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal

  • $12
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Simple, refreshing aromas of lemon and lime and fresh floral note. Ever so slightly effervescent, it has crisp flavors of green apples, citrus fruit and lime zest with a note of subtle bitterness.

Willis Carrier is generally credited with the invention of modern air conditioning. His engineering breakthrough came a scant 111 years ago. Prior to that, you were on your own to stand up to the fierce face of summer.

Today, we confront summer’s evil twins, heat and humidity, with impunity.  We don’t slow down; we see no reason make any behavioral changes at all. For many of us, this includes our choice of wines.

Yes, I’m talking to you, big, alcoholic, overtly tannic, highly-extracted cabernet sauvignon drinkers out there. This is not a column this week. This is an intervention.

Before Carrier described the law of constant dew-point depression (the underlying concept of controlling heat and humidity), we …

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Three Taverns Craft Beers On Tap July 19


Brian Purcell, the founder and president of Three Taverns in Decatur, will finally be able to answer the question that people have been asking him for over a year now: “When can I get your beer?”

The new brewery isn’t quite ready to open to the public, yet. But on Friday, its flagship beers will be on tap at bars around Decatur and a few neighboring areas, as Three Taverns launches Single Intent, a Belgian-style single ale, and A Night In Brussels IPA, a Belgian-style American IPA.

The celebration will begin at 5 p.m. at the Brick Store Pub, dubbed by Purcell as the “official launch headquarters and home base.” And throughout the evening, the Three Taverns team will be traveling around to toast and celebrate with friends and neighbors.

Last week, Purcell was busy at the brewery, where the tasting room and bottling line were still under construction. But the brewhouse had been operating for weeks and there was beer in the fermenters, ready to be transferred to the …

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Kulers Uncorked:Date Night Sauvignon Blanc

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Date Night Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County/Pope Valley, Calif.

2012 Date Night Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County/Pope Valley, Calif.

  • $30
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Rich aromas of minerals, chalk and perfume-like melon fruit. Fairly complex flavors of honeydew, tangerine, white peach with a lingering note of white pepper.

The marketing engines of the wine industry love to promote the ideal that happy little winemakers make wine from around 10 a.m. until just about lunch time and spend the remainder of the day lounging on their redwood decks (or in their châteaux or villas or bodegas depending on their country of origin) looking over neat, green rows of vines.

Sorry to remove the varnish, but while the wine industry may have a kernel of love and passion deep within it, it’s about moving cases. Wines of any consequence are conceived, produced, packaged and priced to hit your dinner table in sufficient numbers to sustain the operation (and any number of intermediate businesses). If a wine can’t successfully navigate its way through …

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Beer Town: All-American hoppy beers are popular, but there’s a bitter debate

Pliny-LogoIt seems that the members of the American Homebrewers Association like their beers big and bitter.

For the fifth year in a row, they voted Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Elder the “Best Commercial Beer in America” in the annual poll conducted by Zymurgy magazine, the journal of the AHA. It’s also the fourth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

The top five beers — 1. Russian River Pliny the Elder; 2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale; 3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA; 4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale; 5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — are all in the American IPA or double IPA style category. And they all have loads of American hops, along with alcohol in the 7 percent to 10 percent by volume range.

But are these really the beers most Americans drink? Or are they just the favorites of beer geeks and hop freaks? As in most things, the answer depends on who you ask.

In May, beer writer Adrienne So penned a piece for Slate under the let’s-go-viral headline …

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