I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Though it is Late in the Season...

I found a summer seasonal beer that is worth mentioning. [Again, I am not an expert, but rather a learned-student.]

Because I simply don't have the cash to buy a sixpack of everything that hits the market (and sometimes it's difficult to determine how fresh some beers are), I prefer to buy single bottles of microbrews, until I find a variety that I like, then I spring for a sixpack.

On a recent trip to Athens, GA, I visited ABC Package Store, one of the few places that allows the sale of single 12 oz. bottles of American microbrews. Among the beers I picked up was Red Brick Summer Hefe-Weizen (from Atlanta Brewing Co.) and when I tried it that evening, I was very pleased.

Not everyone likes the characteristics of Hefeweizens, which are cloudy, unfiltered wheat beers that still retain their yeast. They are not as "citrusy" and tart as many Belgian beers/ales, but I like the American ones with enough of the characteristic flavors that contrast them with "regular" wheat beers.

On the Beer Advocate website, Hefeweizens are described as such:

"...Traditional German Hefeweizen yeast-strains yield phenolic smells and flavors, which are sometimes medicinal and/or clove-like. Fruity esters, higher alcohol contents, bubble-gum, vanilla and the trademark fruity banana flavors are also by-products of the yeast's handiwork.

Traditional German Hefeweizen yeast-strains yield phenolic smells and flavors, which are sometimes medicinal and/or clove-like. Fruity esters, higher alcohol contents, bubble-gum, vanilla and the trademark fruity banana flavors are also by-products of the yeast's handiwork."

The more American-style Hefeweizens that I can think of presently include Shiner Hefeweizen, Leinenkugel Summer Wheat, Pyramid Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Harpoon UFO, Redhook Hefeweizen, and a few others.

The Red Brick Summer Hefe-Weizen had that delicate, but noticeable characteristic flavors that I like in this style of beer. I seem to remember Widmer Brothers and Pyramid used to have that flavor, but the Widmer I had last night didn't have it and I haven't had Pyramid in a few years.

An Atlanta brewpub that closed a few years ago, Atlanta Beer Garten, had an excellent Hefeweizen (in my opinion) and when still-brewed in Austin, Texas (before Miller got involved), Celis White Beer was excellent.

I bought a bottle of Blue Moon Belgian White for comparison's sake and it has been a few years since I tried this brand, so I will see if it has the flavor I am looking for.

The problem is, a number of the American Hefeweizens are brewed for the summertime, so many stores are already sold out of Red Brick Hefe-Weizen. Red Brick's winter seasonal is a dark holiday Porter, which I liked last year. In a few more days, I will give that a try.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Little Oktoberfest History...

is on tap over at Beerme Blog, which I found by way of The Right Place Blog's recent photocaption contest, where I scored an Honorable Mention. [Cross-posted over at geosciblog]

I will be linking to some of Beerme's posts, from time to time, for your reading pleasure, if you wish. And I will add a few of Beerme's links to my list over at Beer Can Blog.

Now if you enjoy a glass of fine ale or beer from time to time, doesn't the Oktoberfest Celebration (and German beer in general) seem to be something that the Germans should be standing up and defending from the Muslim cultural onslaught?

For all the criticisms that we level towards the French, they do make good wine. Isn't that worth defending from the Muslim hordes? Maybe if their pubs are sufficiently threatened, the British will rise up and defend their traditions of fine ales, porters, and stouts. During WWII, some of Sir Winston Churchill's bravado may have been partially fueled by ale, port - well, whatever works.

If Britain had not won the Battle of Britain, our liberation of Europe would have been very difficult, in not impossible without Britain as an ally and the British Isles as a staging area for the Normandy Invasion. During the 21st century cultural wars, will Britain be the sole holdout for Western values, if only to defend their booze (they don't seem to be doing a good job of defending their churches)?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Mystery is Over...Shiner 97 is on the Market

Shiner 97 is a Bohemian-style Schwarzbier (black lager), that has received some decent reviews from contributors to the Beer Advocate.

I haven't found it here in my hometown, just yet, but if I get the time, I will trundle down the road to Doraville, to Tower Liquors, where they allow the purchase of single bottles, so I can try several new varieties at one time. I am not sure if I have had the Shiner Kolsch, yet, if it is different from their Summer Stock.

I was hoping for perhaps a Doppelbock or something like that for this anniversary beer. Maybe that will be Shiner 98.

Here is a Beer Advocate listing of the various Spoetzl brands. I am not sure if I have had the Honey Wheat and I know I haven't had the Dunkelweizen.

When I used to commute between El Paso and Atlanta, I often took the slightly longer southern route so as to be able to stop off at the Spoetzl Brewery and visit the hospitality room and pick up some fresh beer. As this was before it was purchased by Gambrinus Corp., it didn't have the distribution that it now has.

One of the draft packages they tried in late 1980 was a "beer ball", a plastic sphere with a little over 2 gallons. I picked up a Bock beer ball on my way back to El Paso after Christmas vacation. In the summer of 1981, I carried a pony keg of Shiner Lager (now Shiner Blonde) back to Atlanta to my friends there. I bought a trash can to keep the keg cold in my pickup camper and I ended up spending more money on ice than I did on the beer. Then I had to haul the empty keg back to Shiner and that gave me the excuse to pick up a little more beer to carry back to El Paso.

So I have had a 25+ year relationship with the beers of the Spoetzl Brewing Co. Maybe someday I will get the chance to go visit the brewery again.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bocktoberfest in Shiner, Texas

Tomorrow is Bocktoberfest in Shiner, Texas. It is an annual music, food, and beer celebration festival.

Here is a link to read about the planned festivities. It will probably mark the debut of the expected Shiner 97 commemorative beer. Last year, the Shiner 96 was a Marzen-style German ale.

Why the interest? Shiner (actually the Spoetzl Brewing Co.) is the last of the original Texas breweries. Gone are the names like Grand Prize, Southern Select, Mitchell's, Bluebonnet, Time, and nowadays, Pearl and Lone Star are brewed by Miller in Fort Worth. Spoetzl's survival is largely because of the ownership by the company that imports Corona and other beers. Well, that is the price we have to pay to preserve a little bit of Texas brewing history.

Shiner 97 will be their celebration of their 97th anniversary in their countdown to 2009.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Beer Blatherings

A few weeks ago, I posted on the purchase of the Rolling Rock Beer label by Anheuser Busch.

Just thinking about, that A-B would spend $82 million probably means that they have some respect for the label, unless they were trying to keep a competitor from buying it. The Latrobe brewery itself was purchased by City Brewery of LaCrosse, WI (formerly the home of G. Heilemen Brewing Co.). I just hope they don't over-extend themselves.

A-B doesn't buy out other breweries' assets or properties very often. Going strictly from memory, the Anheuser Busch brewery in Syracuse (actually Baldwinsville), NY, might have once been a Schlitz brewery. Again from memory, I think the last time that A-B bought out another brewery, lock-stock-and-barrel, was the American Brewing Co. of Miami, FL, in the mid-1950s. That purchase gained them a Miami-area brewery and the Regal Ale and Regal Beer labels, but the government, in an anti-trust move, forced them to sell the brewery and the labels after a couple of years.

Another example of a large brewery buying "a label" from a small brewery and really making into something big was what is now "Miller Lite". Prior to the mid-1970s, "Lite" was a brand owned originally by the Meister Brau Brewing Co. of Chicago, which (from memory) may have been bought out by the Peter Hand Brewing Co., also of Chicago. So what has been Miller Lite since 1974 was orginally Meister Brau Lite.

[Cross-posted at geosciblog.]

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grading Cans and Other Collecting Notes

As with other collectibles, condition is an important factor in determining a beer can's value, along with rarity and other factors.

A good website on beer can collecting is rustycans.com. On this particular page is a listing of different beer can terms and on this page is a pictoral and descriptive guide to conditions Mint through Grade 5.

For all except the most excessively rare cans, the prices drop off rapidly with decreasing condition. So unless you know what you are doing, don't pay good money for a rusty can, just 'cause it looks old.

On this particular page is a listing of the different Can of the Month, below the "History" heading, wherein you can find some interesting reading on interesting cans from extinct breweries.

Of interest to Southeastern collectors is the Atlantic Brewing Co. (Charlotte, NC) "Plantation can". This particular brewery was part of a regional company with breweries in Chattanooga, TN, Norfolk, VA, Orlando, FL, Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC. Only the Atlanta and Charlotte breweries made cans.

This web site has some info on the Orlando Atlantic brewery and what became of it after it closed. It produced some extremely rare cans from the Marlin Brewing Co. and some sought-after (though not as rare) National Bohemian varieties later.

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