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Archive for December, 2013

The Year in Beer 2013

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It was another great year for craft beer. In June, the Brewers Association reported that there were 2,483 craft breweries in the U.S., the greatest number since the 1870s, and an additional 1,605 were in the works.

But as 2013 came to a close, there were signs that sales were slowing a bit, and several financial stories warned that the craft beer building boom could be headed for a bust.

Here’s a look back on what had beer lovers buzzing in 2013 and a look forward to 2014:

Craft vs. Crafty — In late 2012, the Brewers Association wrote an editorial that attacked international giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller for being “crafty” with the marketing of beers such as Shock Top and Blue Moon. The “craft vs. crafty” fight raged on throughout 2013, with beer geeks wondering about favorites such as Goose Island, now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and questioning whether the Brewers Association’s definition of craft brewing should include its biggest craft brewer, …

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Kulers Uncorked: New Year Bubbles

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2004 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage, Champagne, France

2004 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage, Champagne, France

  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • $58

Refreshing aromas of white flowers and lemon zest with a distinct note of toasted bread, browned butter and a creamy banana note. It offers flavors similar to its aromas with lots of racy, tart fruit. As it warmed slightly, its toasted nut qualities rose up with subtle black cherry/apple/pear notes.

Bubbleheads. That’s the affectionate term for those of us who enjoy sparkling wine in general and, more than likely, harbor a special place for the titillating wines from the Champagne region of France.

I very much enjoy a glass of Champagne, but if I do have one beef with the wines from this chilly district just northeast of Paris, it’s the cost. A good bottle of Champagne will set you back $100—a great one, quite a bit more. But, oh, when a great one tipples across your palate, it’s as electrifying as your true love’s first kiss.

For the longest time, I was trapped between …

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Beer Town: Holiday Gifts for Beer Lovers

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As always, the Beer Town Holiday Gifts for Beer Lovers guide begins with beer:

If you’re looking for something big, expensive and impressive, look no further than Sam Adams Utopias 2013. Less than 15,000 bottles were made of the latest vintage of this extreme blended beer, which is a whopping 28% alcohol by volume, and sells for $199. Unfortunately, you’ll need to look for it somewhere other than Georgia, because it’s too strong according to current state law.

Closer to home and lower in price, you might put together your own mix-pack sampler. For example, a “Gold 12-pack” with a six-pack each of Sweetwater Lowryeder rye IPA and Terrapin Tree Hugger German-style altbier, both gold medal winners at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver.

Beer lovers love reading about beer, and some great beer books were published in 2013:

“Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Hub of the South” by Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle (American Palate, $19.99), …

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Kulers Uncorked: Wine Books

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Every year around this time, I share some of the books I found interesting in the past 12 months. Books are always a great gift for wine aficionados or those with grape curiosities.

No kidding, I’ve always wondered what wine was served during biblical times. Wine is mentioned many dozen times in the Old and New Testaments, but the varietal never gets a shout out. I’ve asked some pretty knowledgeable wine folk and the best they could come up with is a guess (muscat is the best speculative answer).

Turns out no real scientific sleuthing had been initiated, that is until Joel Butler and Randall Heskett set out to explore the ancient wine world in their book Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age (Palgrave Macmillan, $27). Published in late 2012, it was easily the most interesting wine book I read this year. Butler holds a Master of Wine certification and Heskett is a biblical scholar.

The two explore the ancient world’s …

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Beer Town: Drink in local beers of the season

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Winter weather blew in before Thanksgiving, with a wet, windy snap and temperatures dipping into the 20s. But the first chill in the air always means it’s time to celebrate with the special beers breweries offer this time of year to toast the holiday season and make the cold more tolerable.

We’re talking about some of most potent and distinctive styles of the brewer’s art, including winter warmers, Christmas ales, imperial stouts and barleywines. And that means classics like Anchor Christmas Ale, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Gouden Carolus Noël, Samuel Smith Winter Welcome and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.

Closer to home, Atlanta area breweries release plenty of winter seasonals, too. Here are a few to look for now and in the coming months:

Burnt Hickory Noggin Knocker — The 2013 version of this limited edition holiday imperial stout from the wild style Kennesaw nano brewery is due soon. Typically audacious at 13 percent alcohol, the 2012 version had flavors of cinnamon, …

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