The Tasty Privilege of Maui’s Local Variety

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Beer List at Maui Brewing (by KRoark)

We recently enjoyed a little beach vacation time in Hawaii, which meant the good fortune of checking out the Maui Brewing company facilities first-hand, (both their brewery and their brew-pub).  We heard the owner speak at a GABF event two years ago and have been intrigued by the company’s deep commitment to local production and sourcing ever since.  Maui-made is something in which the islanders have a great deal of pride and they should, especially since many “Hawaiian” products are brewed or manufactured on the mainland.

The biggest surprise though during our visit was the shear quantity of beers the brew-pub had on-tap. In took three visits, but we managed to sample all 22 of their ales, lagers, and specialty beer.  They’d organized their menu into the categories of “hoppy,” “regional releases,” “dark and malty,” and “lagers,” which made each visit and tasting flight distinct.

This diversity was astounding for the obvious reason that here in Colorado, we don’t benefit from the vast array of delicious beer that Maui Brewing Company creates; shelf space, limitations on distribution, and the volume of production make this impossible and understandably so. While we enjoy a few of their brews via can (Coconut Porter and the Big Swell IPA), their most exciting and interesting beer demands a long flight and some dedicated beer tourism. Continue reading

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American Beer Remembers Its Past

No, despite some people’s attempt to claim it as fact, beer is not an American enterprise in the way that baseball, July 4th, and the word “dude” are absolutely defined entities of the U.S.  Like it or not, the brewing process traveled the high seas from Europe to the Jersey shore. While America is certainly defining beer for the 21st century, craft beer-makers here in Colorado spend a lot of time considering, adapting and reinventing Old World styles, honoring their ancestors everyday.

Though my attendance at the Crafty Ladies Holiday Beer Event is no longer news worthy, the “Old World/New World” theme presented at the dinner by Merchant du Vin and our very own Avery Brewing Company, got me thinking, and paying even more attention to the roots of the styles I enjoy everyday.

Beer surrounds us with a living history: Continue reading

Sour What? The Rise of Sour Beer

What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Session 5

The sour flavor is our taste sense that perceives acidity.  While a sought after flavor in wines (though for different reasons and achieved by different means) such acidity/sourness in most contemporary styles of beer is avoided as it often indicates that something is wrong with the beer.  But many old world beer styles, (Germany’s Berliner Weisse and Belgian’s Oud Bruin, Flanders Red, and Lambics), which intentionally portray sour notes, are being brought back with growing popularity and quite a bit of innovation by new world brewers. Continue reading

Who’s Brett? The Phenom of Brettanomyces

What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Session 4

The yeast Brettanomyces is nothing new, not to brewers or winemakers anyway.  Yet recently, people are asking, “hey, have you had that Brett beer yet?”  So don’t be fooled, their not talking about some now famous brewer named Brett. Their speaking of an illusive beer fermented with only Brettanomyces. Continue reading

Beer School: Olympics Inspired

What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Session 3

There’s no doubt about it, the London 2012 games made me a fanatic of the Olympic Games.  For the first ten days I watched the swim meets, gymnastic finals, bike races, and track performances as much as I could. At one point, I considered researching and writing a post about a beer from every country that I saw win an event.  That soon became a very silly idea.  But I was struck with a question again and again as I saw the brilliant performances of women runners from Ethiopa and Kenya during the marathon and 10k runs: what’s beer like in Africa? I’ve enjoyed beer, and good beer at that, from the other five inhabited continents, so I assumed Africa also boasts a home brew of their own, and went to work to find out.  Here are some interesting facts I discovered: Continue reading

Out-Of-Control Yeast

Homebrew Yeast on the Rise
by Daniel Gray

What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Session 2

There are two living organisms that participate in the brewing process: humans and yeast. As a living organism, yeast has the ability and the power to eat, grow and ferment wort into alcohol. Like human brewers, yeast is volatile, picky, demanding, and sometimes, down-right rebellious. We learned this the hard way on a recent brewery tour.

Without proper sanitation and sterilization procedures after fermentation, yeast will remain alive and active, eagerly awaiting the next batch of beer to begin its tour-de-force of eating. This is sometimes a good thing, as home and commercial brewers can reuse yeast a few times before it wears out (though this is usually a heavily controlled and monitored process).

But if the brewer was not intending to use the same yeast for their next beer, problems can rapidly occur. Continue reading

Firestone’s Proprietary Yeast Propagation

Firestone Tap Room

What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Lesson 1

It seems that every time we visit a new brewery, or talk with a brewer (home or commercial), or drink with a beer aficionado, we learn something new about beer, brewing, and/or the beer industry.  We’re not intending this category of posts to cover beer news by any means (though it might on occasion).  Instead, we’ll use it as a short weekly section to discuss something new and interesting that we’ve come across that will increase the education level of craft beer enthusiasts. In this inaugural post: yeast, an ingredient that beer makers know well, but that beer drinkers often overlook. And there will surely be more than one posting about yeast, as these single lessons are definitely not intended as encyclopedias for every topic covered.

As many know, yeast is a very important variable in the fermentation process. Most breweries contract out to different companies to purchase their yeast, often collaborating to design their own individual strains that become proprietary to that specific brewery. Firestone Walker also has proprietary yeast, but they employ microbiologist to develop and monitor their unique yeast strains on site at their brewery.  They have a truly impressive lab just for these folks to work their magic so as to create even more delicious, and identifiably Firestone beer. Such an in-house lab is quite a stand out feature in the craft beer industry. Continue reading