Invasion From Märzen.

September 22, 2017. It’s officially fall, and the tall trees tease the changing leaves from their tired green heads. But all good beer lovers know that the true season is Oktoberfest.
Every Jewel Tea Company liquor department is forested with square, squat stacks of OktoberCraftBiers, each pile festooned with blue and white plastic flags. Quickens my heart.

Everyone Wants Oktober-dough.
There’s no better way to carry this sleigh–Oktoberfest sells beer. Even people who are cold towards beer consider snatching up this invite to the bacchanal, the fall frolic that is Oktoberfest.
BL say, “Happiness is a good excuse.” And there is no better pistol shot to start the American version of this race than OKTBRFST writ large on a can or bottle.
Ale Asylum Oktillion, Ballast Point Dead Ringer, Bells Brewery Octoberfest Beer, Boulder Beer Dragonhosen Imperial Oktoberfest, Central Waters Octoberfest Lager , Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, Fort Collins Brewery Oktoberfest, Great Divide Brewing Co. Hoss Oktoberfest Lager, Heavy Seas Treasure Fest, Lakefront Brewery Oktoberfest Lager, Odell Oktoberfest, Point Beer Oktoberfest, Revolution Brewing OKtoberfest, Schlafly Oktoberfest, Shiner Oktoberfest, Short’s Noble Chaos, Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, Summit Oktoberfest, Surly Brewing SurlyFest, Two Brothers Brewing Co. Atom Smasher, Uinta Fest Helles, Upland Brewing Co. Oktoberfest, Victory Festbier, Wiseacre Oktoberfest: Gemutlichkeit, to name…and I mean it…just a few.

Wedding History To Beer.
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest.
Say what? Say “ein Fest für die Bevölkerung einer Stadt oder Gemeinde, bei dem man sich in einem Bierzelt und an zahlreichen Unterhaltungsbetrieben vergnügen kann”.
The short version…carnival with beer.
It’s held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, (sounds like a road-trip w/ HopKaiser) offering the brew-worthy 16+ days of Märzen madness, running from mid-ish September to the first weekend in October.

The why: This mug, Kronprinz Ludwig (Future King Ludwig I) married this dame, Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. Munich’s groundlings were invited to join in the celebration, which were held on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were…and are…named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honor of the bride, although some of the local yokels have chopped it down to the “Wiesn”. Again, for short.

Here’s A Surprise.
During the event, large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed. Or as the latest White House Tweet might say, “Huge Amounts”. 7.7 million litres amounts. Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot–meaning “purity order” (that doesn’t sound good)–and brewed within Munich, can be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. Here’s yet another surprise–beers meeting these criteria are called…wait for it…Oktoberfest Beer.
Which gets you a Bavarian maiden toting a frosty stein of Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spatenbräu, or Staatliches Hofbräu-München version of Oktoberfest Bier.

“We Märzens, We Märzen, Baby.” – Dim
Traditionally Oktoberfestbiers were lagers, clocking in around 5.5 to 6 ABV.–which were brewed in March and allowed to ferment during the summer months, and called Märzen or Märzenbier (German: March or March beer). Originally Märzens were dark lagers, but the color of Märzen Oktoberfestbier has been getting lighter since the late 20th century, with the predominance of Oktoberfest beers brewed in Munich since 1990 a shinning golden in color. Some of those sneaky Munich brewers still produce darker versions, primarily to export to “those dumb Americans”…I mean the good old US of A.
So if your thinking Märzen, think Bavaria, lager, medium to full body, malt nose and tongue, clean and bright, coming from the fan of Pantone-Color Chips–from golden through amber to dark brown.

Men From Märzen Come From Everywhere.
Many cities around the world get their German on, and hold Oktoberfest celebrations in the sorta, kinda, original Munich style. Beer. Pretzels. Brats. Rock and Roll. And they run out of brats. But the beer makes up for it all.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
ABV: 5.8%
A classic German märzen. Ayinger is a perennial favorite and a beer that plenty of craft beer’s fall weather friends think of as THE Oktoberfestbier. A bit different than other German Märzens, it’s a touch darker, and sports a viscous mouthfeel that most of the beers in this style don’t have. Smooth, toasty malt with a noticeable touch of the hops for bitterness to tame the malty heart. Nothing rough about this customer–it’s a German gentleman–one you can bump into at Guthries on Addison.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest
ABV: 5.3%
Sam Adams Octoberfest is a regular, or if you prefer, a seasonal. Straightforward, with every ounce of its caramel malt character, toasted breadiness and a touch of berry-like fruitiness–and all underwhelming, and indifferent. Had a short one and I didn’t finish it. It tasted thin. But as the man pointed out, you can probably grab a sixer at your corner gas station.

Heilemans Old Style Oktoberfest
ABV: 6.4%
The top was popped, and the cans contents distributed amongst the poor in french bistro glasses. Displaying a clear & bright, amber color, a frothy layer of off white head foam, with a curtain of foamy spray as lacing–give me a brake, it’s Old Style. But a small G. Heileman surprise–no surprise in the malt toastiness on the sniffer, but the malt in the mouth, offered a touch of maple syrup. The taste was recongnizable as a märzen, medium bodied, decent carbonation, and kinda smooth. So if your kicking it in a place that sells Swisher Sweets–you could do worse.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Oktoberfest
ABV: 6.5%
Proclaimed the Märzen of the Midwest. Great Lakes–who, them which knowz me knowz I lovez ’em–goes for big flavors in their shot at the title–but this Märzen gets a bit muddy in the going. The goodies go down smoothly enough–toasty peasant bread, a pinky-load of noble hop flowers, some redish fruitiness results in a solid German-American offering. This märzen is a little juiced with the 6.5 ABV. Hops enough to come from Great Lakes. Decent balance. It’s a really solid, yet slightly cloudy beer–like an over stuffed pillow with little room to breath. What most American Craft Kids expect when they read “Oktoberfestbier”.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
ABV: 6%
Every year a fun game of discovery. The “collaboration with whom?” game. Each year, Sierra Nevada partners with a different German brewer to wrestle with the roots of Germany’s Oktoberfest beers. This year, they collaborating with Germany’s Brauhaus Faust in Miltenberg, whose take on this classic is on SN’s yummy list, as well as mine. And it’s on sale for $8.99 at Jewel. What?
Check out this carnival beer with deep locust leave’s golden color, rich malty, bready, grain-complexity, all balanced with old school German-grown whole-cone hops. Sierra Nevada does a good job tripping the Polka Floor Fantastic with it’s German partners, so check out this Germany-German-style Märzen—from California yet.

Alarmist Brewing Fake News
7.8% ABV 53 IBU
One last Okt-entry. True, we’ve covered Fake News on other posts. But as I empty this tulip, I am put in mind of a Märzen. Keep in mind, this is an American version of a Belgium Strong Ale–with German Pilsner and Vienna Malts cooked with a heapin’ helpin’ of American Chinook hops, produces a beer that would not be out of place at an Oktober-feast. It’s those dang Viennese Malts that paint this glass a rich coppery mahogany goldeny color and add that malt-forward-iness. So check out Fake News for a real fall treat.

Oktoberfest Only Seems Like It Goes On Forever.
But quick as a whistle, this window, or door, or refrigerated case will close. So hitch-up your lederhosen and don your alpine hat, stream Heino’s Alte Kameraden–and find yourself some FEST with Capt’ Von Trapp.

Cheers. LB.

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Blow The Winds Southerly.

Hail the HopKaiser, captain of U.S.S. Jeepster for your love, and we’re headed south. South-Side of Chi-town that is, and we’ll need ‘Endurance’, as we have a goodly list of breweries–I mean chores–to finish off before turning the glass.

Our Route Is Uncharted.
Ride captain ride
Upon your mystery ship,
On your way to a world
That others might have missed.

Not because we’re in unknown waters, but because our way is obstructed by the obligatory street construction that has infected our byways. Road Closed Detour du Jour is our fair, until we circumnavigate all obstacles, arriving at our port of call.

Motor Row Brewing Starts Our Engines.
HK starts with ‘Transcontinental Wedding Ale’, listed as a 5.4% NE Pale Ale, hazy, hoppy and juicy. Hate to argue skipper, but this one isn’t juicy. It’s sessionable bitter grapefruit hoppiness that hails from New Zealand and softens as you sip–with just a hint of metallic tang. A reasonably slow starter.

I hit my hammock early, with ‘The Future Is Unclear’ Mr. Motor’s hoppy hazy bitter unfiltered IPA. A British-American IPA co-lab with English Marris-Otter malt and All–American Chinook and Centennial Hopage. At 6.8% ABV. this beer offers a roll-around the mouth bitterness, with a nip of creamy hop in the offing. Always interesting how increased amounts of hops and alcohol create bigger yet softer, smoother sailing. 80’s style bitter ships biscuit IPA.

Our cabin master Denson, shares HK’s second watch with me–with a 2 ounce taste. ‘Falconist’ is a red-wheat lager (not a red lager), on the lists as hazy grassy and fresh. This is a solid offer–which offers this mystery; wet grain taste w/o much evidence of the grain bill. Mild, pale, session lager, more golden than russet, with good carbonation and a splash of lemon.
Mo-Row offers passengers a ship’s cabin sized taproom that has earned a ‘cute’ and ‘snug’ rating.

Our Compasses Point South By Southwest.
A short passage brings us to Baderbräu.
Fair fall weather turns us toward ‘Oktoberfest’, BB’s 5.1% ABV Marzen.
BB claims autumn in a glass. HK says this Marzen hits his Germanic nose on the dot–and he’s celebrated OKTFST in Munchen Germany.
I say very good, but a little scharf around the edges.
But Baderbräu’s flagship ‘Chicago Pilsener’, a Czech Pilsener that comes in at 4.8% pairs perfectly with your slow-cooker Sauerbraten.
Word With The Crew: the service was not ship-shape. Slow, and the beer-tender was constantly talking to his mates on the not-so-smartphone.

Come Ashore For Fest Fun.
We’d love to come back to celebrate OKTOBERFEST on Sat, Sep 23, 1:00 PM – Sun, Sep 24, 12:00 AM.
For a piddling $15 for tickets (at the bar or on Eventbright https://www.eventbrite.com ):
Gene’s Sausage Shop will be selling Bader Brats, Spicy Hungarian Sausage, Leberkase with Fried Egg, Spaetzle, Braised Red Cabbage, Pretzels w/ mustard & cheese sauce, and other lo-cal German health foods. Chicago’s #1 authentic Oompah band–Jimmy’s Bavarian Quartet w/ Alphorn will be laying down sick jams (playing 4-7 PM). In addition, you’ll receive a frei glass liter stein filled and frosty to the brim.

Northeaster Blows Us Into Narrow Straights.
Our last port-of-call for the evening’s voyage is Corridor Brewing, located at 3446 N. Southport (one block south of Addison). A bluff night and soft, Corridor has it’s front ‘wall’ rolled up, so patrons can drink al fresco.
We’ve come for the NE (DDH; a.k.a. double dry-hopped) IPA. Citra, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops fill the sails, and our 6.5% ABV., 35 IBU pint of mother’s milk makes babies of us both. Pineapple, peachy’s hands, apricot nectar dream of Polynesian island maidens.
Worthy Of A Try–classic example of the NE winds that blow in craft-beerdom today.

Motor Row Brewing
http://www.motorrowbrewing.com

Baderbräu
https://www.baderbrau.com

Corridor
hello@corridorchicago.com

Make Your Own Voyage Of Discovery.
So hoist your anchor, clap on to the halyards and pull like a good’n as you set sail for the south seas of suds. Include Vice District, 5 Rabbit, Imperial Oak, Open Outcry, Flossmoor Station, One Trick Pony, and if you haven’t visited the Floyds, you should ship out today.

Cheers, BL.

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Breaking New Ground at Half Acre

The same breezes that stir the prairies, set the branches of the ancient cottonwoods that box the parking lot, to swaying. Late Summer HA flights and Fall’s long light enrichen the day with color and the celebration of life.
Edison lights strung above the 140 outdoor seats gently sway, as they twinkle and sparkle doubly due to Ol’ Sol’s fingers painting the glass globes of the bulb’s electric glow.
Indoor, outdoor, friendly employees and first comers crowd the interior while the Half Acre’s bier-garden fills with saturated reds and greens of banana leaves and coleus, elephant ears and flowering foliage.
The man is there, to see that everything is well with Half Acre’s new home–the dream that is his latest brain child.
The employees welcome you, the doors swing wide, the taps pour forth Half Acre’s wealth of flavors and generosity. A goodly two ounce sample of JOHNNY’S 1 TON (a Triple IPA ) at 12% ABV., priced at $6 (10oz pour) is mine for the asking, a brew warm with alcohol and surprisingly subtle hop presence. I net out with Deep Space and wander out into the great outer-spaces.

Opening Up New Territory.
One of the first at Half Acre’s new digs, I see twice the bar, nearly twice the taps, table service for 120, a soon to be dedicated event space for revels–all throughout the interior are hints of developing interests.
I also see a hard rock candy interior softened with wood framing for a new house construction–which shrinks the ‘Wide-Opens’ considerably and does little aesthetically–heavy heavy hangs the Decorations ‘O’ Damocles.
The good size window you’ll pass, after passing through the entrance, gives light to what is taking shape in the kitchen–helping to fire saliva glands.
Parked in the ‘secondary’ kitchen area adjacent to the big room, a convection oven– similar to that used at Charlie Trotter’s restaurants of yore–stands ready to roast crispy skinned moist and meaty animal flesh, and bake flaky golden crusts for perfect pies. Bread machines w/ industrial sized dough hooks also stand read to create European loaves and prepare dough for ‘rumored’ steamy, soft, white buns of Asian joy–please oh please!
“Où sont les toilettes?” The bathrooms offer a room with a brew–a self guided tour of the production facilities, one that leads a merry chase through a door, and another door, past two towers of barrels holding their liquid just like you are…to another door. The toilettes location is not intuitive. Good hunting.

Rush For New Land.
For me, the Bier Garden is the highlight. Deep Space fuels the 11:00 A.M. launch, glasses of water provided, kindness at every turn. Friendly folks at high-tide, and a beer trolley brings in the sheaves. There are beers offered at this Balmoral taproom that are unique to this location and the faithful respond.
Many glide in on their bicycles. I consider blog contents, and am stopped in my bike tire tracks–my comments concerning bike storage are curtailed as a fork-lift rolls in sporting a bike-rack in answer.

Share and Share Alike.
I meet new HA employees and hear renovation stories. The space came as part of the management’s philosophy– “the right space will come when the time is right, be patient and see the miracle unfold.”
It happened. Sitting in the garden, I could be anyplace–Ohio, Missouri, Cali, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Abe Lincoln’s backyard, Wisconsin, north, south, east, west–low buildings, big parking, trees and sky enough for Lewis and Clark.
I meet the children of WW2 immigrants, kind folk who help sick children in need, and who have helped build the city and the beer culture of Chicago.
I chat up a HA employee, an Italian gentleman who speaks of the classics with his SPQR wear. Perhaps we’ll buy Julius Caesar a beer and commiserate over the loss of the republic.

And Water, Cool, Clear Water.
“Say, Dan can’t you see
that big green tree
Where the water’s running free?
It’s waiting there for you and me.”

Out west, the cottonwoods grow where there is water. Small creeks, leaks and pools of water are marked by the cottonwoods great size, broadcasting relief for miles. A hard ride can find a soft ending–this is the place to drink–and find refreshment.
Well, same here.

AVAILABLE ON DRAFT TODAY: prices include tax & refer to 16oz pours. But most beer offerings are offered in a 20 oz. pour–western hospitality.
• DAISY CUTTER Pale Ale – 5.2% $6
• PONY Pilsner – 5.5% $6
• TUNA Extra Pale Ale – 4.7% $6
• VALLEJO IPA – 6.7% $6
• GONEAWAY IPA – 7% $6
• JONAH Pale Ale – 5.4% $6
• SUNKEN SHIP Belgian Wit – 4.7% $6
• DEN Kölsch – 5.2% $6
• TOP NOTCH Lager brewed in collaboration with Honey Butter Fried Chicken – 5.3% $6
• WHITE NOISE Mild Ale – 3.9% $6
• LAGERTOWN Octoberfest – 6% $6
• TOTAL SUSPENSION Pale Ale – 4.4% $7
• DEEP SPACE Double IPA – 10% $7
• THE BIG NORTH Lacto Pulsed Pale Ale with Peaches – 5.5% $6 (10oz pour) Hazy Craze.
• JOHNNY’S 1 TON Triple IPA – 12% $6 (10oz pour)
• VANILLA BIG HUGS Imperial Coffee Stout with Vanilla Bean – 10% $6 (10oz pour)
• BOURBON BARREL AGED BIG HUGS Imperial Coffee Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels 12% $11 (10oz pour)
• BENTHIC Imperial Stout with Coffee and Coconut – 12.3% $7 (5oz pour)
• PENNON – 750ml bottle Ale Aged in Oak Barrels – 6.3% $21

Check out the Half Acre Balmoral Tap: located at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. Chicago, Il.
The joint has big hugs and a big parking lot.

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: CLOSED
Thursday 4PM-11PM
Friday 11AM-12AM
Saturday 11AM-12AM
Sunday 11AM-10PM

Cheers. BL.

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Buying A WarPig In A Poke.

We walk in on a Friday, late afternoon.
Never been to the BYOB Thai restaurant, and never been in here either–purveyors of wine, beer and deli sandwiches. Deli creates the most traffic, but the wine and beer crowd will surely come, closer to suppertime.

I ask the kind and patient clerk about Foggy Geezer. She’s mostly deli-bound and thinks I’m referring to myself. Too true.

WarPigs Hide In The Can.

There was a day when the vitals appeared on the packaging–ABV, IBU, something to help us suckers choose.
This may seem a little thing–only a three letter thing–but for some brewers and most beer, this information is part of the crucial code to discerning what lives within.
There are descriptions of the elixirs on the cans:
Lazurite: A bright and juicy WarPigs IPA forged in…
Foggy Geezer: A super fruity and dank WarPigs hazy IPA forged in…

WarPigs cans are black, all black–like a moonless night. The ‘see and say’ art work appeals to the younger less-educated who enjoy banging heads on stacks of Marshals, but reflects the brewers tastes rather than the brand. Let’s face it, the Floyds were more fun back in the day. Remember cartoon ‘The Bruce’ and our un-medicated friend ‘Gumballhead’. Not sure they would choose either executions these days.
On the bright and juicy side, the can strap is clear plastic old-timey, which adds a nice dash of nostalgia. Perfect for choking water fowl and seals.

Can The Can Be Wrong?
I’ve talked about Lazurite ad nauseam on this blog–see ‘2oth Century Schizoid Can’ and ‘Lunar Phases’.
Lazurite is a bright and juicy IPA. Good start. Now mention NE style IPA, add HAZY AND 6.8% ABV., AND 70 IBUs. NOW I have a better look-see inside. This beer is one of WarPigs’ brewpub flagship offerings, so it’ll be around.
Foggy Geezer is a super fruity and dank WarPigs hazy IPA. Also a solid start. But add NOT SO HAZY, ONLY A LITTLE BIT DANK, 8.00% ABV–which is the only indicator that this is a DIPA and certainly not an Imperial (not in the hands of these two breweries–their imperials stand at attention).

Hazy Performances But Solid.
Think New England comedy drama about two brothers–Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg. Both their parents are alive and good at what they do. Matt and Mark both handle the NE accent pretty well, both are fit, and with a little art–brothers. One is a little more sophisticated, one a little friendlier. One a little smarter, one a bit more muscular.

Now you have Lazurite and Foggy Geezer, filmed and in the can. And you choose who’s who. BOTH worth trying.

Cheers. BL.

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Half Acre Is Bigger Than You Thought.

Something like a ‘SCOOP’ from the Ol’ Beerlieder, for beer enthusiasts who favor the flavor at Half Acre. “There’s new territory that’s been carved out by Half Acre.”

Half Acre’s Balmoral Taproom Opening Saturday, September the 9th, 2017.
The long-awaited Balmoral Avenue taproom, restaurant and beer garden–which has been in the works since 2014–will be open this Saturday. Huzzah times three.
It’s located at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. The entrance to the tap room is through the brewery’s parking lot on Rascher Ave.

Half Acre’s Other Half.
The lion’s share of Half Acre’s beer production shifted from its North Center location to the new Balmoral location in 2015. At the same time, they had plans to make the same massive move on the taproom, but that turned out to be slow going..well…because…you know…it’s Chi-town…but Chicago finally got it’s sh%# together and granted the permits in spring 2017.
This new location has provided the much needed space for production, but will also facilitate a beer laboratory–Founder Gabriel Magliaro says to look out for experimental and small-batch beer.
And of course, the taproom. Duh! The new taproom also makes use of the materials that made up the original tap. Concrete is softened with the tap’s focal point (after the beer of course), a massive wood trellis, built in the brewery’s on-site wood shop.

Eat and Drink Like You Mean It.
But Half Acre also wants to expand beyond craft beer fans and please every-day restaurant-goers. The restaurant is about twice the size of Half Acre’s taproom in North Center. There will be seating for 120 people, a private dining area with room for 30 and a beer garden with room for another 100. The new menu will feature roasted meats and seasonal vegetables, as well as salmon and porchetta. Food will be available as sharable plates in different sizes or as sandwiches.
In addition, staff will bake Half Acre’s bread onsite using many of the same ingredients they use in their beer–expect classic European baguettes and country loaves.
The restaurant will also serve weekend brunch.

Ready, Set…When To Go.
The Balmoral tap room and beer garden will be open Thursday through Sunday. Hours will be: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The kitchen will close an hour earlier each evening.

Twice The Acreage.
Half Acre will also continue to operate its existing taproom in North Center, at 4257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Not always the first to see it, say it or taste it–but I get there eventually.

Cheers. LB.

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Hell Of A Hellas Helles Tale.

To celebrate our 35th anniversary, we choose comfort food–Greek food. The meal begins with a cold reception, embodied in a lukewarm smile from the server. Menus, Water, Bread, Olive Oil, and Wine list follow.

It’s Greek To Me.
Do we begin with Tourkolimano, or with Taramosalata, Tiropitakia or with the familiar Melizanosalata–following the cold and (luke) warm theme of our service?
Then perhaps we move to the Chef’s special take on Horiatiki.
There’s really only one dish for the entree–as the Htapothi sti Skhara offers fire blackened flavors from the sea–allowing us the illusion of sitting under an umbrella by the seaside, with a glass of ouzo or wine, and a plate of freshly grilled octopus.

The Happy Couple.
Reminded by HopKaisers post* on beer and food pairings, I take a gander at the wine list. Red, white, rosé, Greek, European and domestic, ouzo, Manhattan…or…beer. M,m,m,m,m…BEER.
*https://hopkaiser.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/food-pairings/

Beer Lieder Truth: Over the years, I’ve discovered that I can either afford a mediocre bottle of wine or the BEST BEER THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN, on my teacher’s salary.

So I ask the waiter if my mind’s eye sees Hellenic heroes of the Bronze Age downing crushable beers on the rocky cliffs overlooking an azure sea–or do Greeks dine exclusively with Dionysus? He replies, a touch annoyed, “Everyone drinks beer. EVERYONE.” So beer it is.

The Fix Is In.
The ‘Wine List’ includes a selection of beers and soda pop (the kid’s table menu?) on its back page. The second question fields a classic Greek answer–FIX.
A famous Greek beer, Fix Helles is a Euro Pale Lager style beer that was reintroduced by the Hellenic Breweries of Atalanti in the early 2000s after 16 years absence. Production then moved to the Hellenic Microbreweries/Olympic Brewery in 2009 (Olympic Brewery S.A. in Ritsona-Evia, Greece).

Hercule in a bottle? An Asclepius Tall-boy?
No, it’s just O.K.
It poured clear golden exhibiting Jason’s fleecy head and no lace. The scent was wet grain, and the taste was slightly sweet and village bread. The mouthfeel was light, the body medium light, and demonstrated good carbonation–throughout the entire meal–tasting better as it warmed. And to those who know lager…this beer had that smidgen of Hygieia’s medicinal aftertaste. A reasonably refreshing beer that isn’t terrible, like the service.

But everything in Greece has history.
The year is 1850. As Greece struggled to recover from the ‘Turk’ occupation, Ioannis Fix–who had fled the ‘Turk’s’ kindnesses, came back from Munich to find his father and restore his faimly’s fortunes. Ioannis moved to Heraklion (Attica) after his father was shot dead in Magoufana, to start producing beer with the aid of Bavarian officers–who had moved to Greece. As a result, Ioannis Fix started making the first Greek beer–which he named after his family, FIX.
1870: Fix opened his first beer house on the Ardittos slopes. The taverna was named ‘Metz’ after the battle which took place in the French city of that name, during the Franco-Prussian war.
1900: FIX beer received the “Gold Award” at the Milan Fair, which was followed by successive awards at international competitions.
1982: Due to the Fix family’s involvement in politics and its inevitable conflicts, and adding the intense competition created by new beers in the market, the FIX plant closed and put an end to the production of Greece’s first beer.
2009: Three Greek businessmen, Yiannis Chitos and Ilias and George Grekis took over the company OLYMPIAKI ZYTHOPOIIA (Olympic Brewery) as well as the trade mark of the oldest, and most famous of Greek beer, FIX Hellas.
2014: FIX Hellas reaches its 150-year anniversary in our country!
150 years, Greece and FIX go together … and the story continues, equally exciting!

Helles Lager Beers Make Meals Better.
Munich Helles is a German lager that dates to the late 19th century. In the day across Europe–golden, well bittered Czech pilsners were very popular. In response, Munich brewers—where dark lagers were de rigueur—created the lighter-yellow hued helles lager (helles is German for “bright” or “light”). Munich-style Helles is brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast, bitter hops such as Hallertau hops, and between 4.5 and 6% ABV. The beer parodies the pilsners’ golden tint but is a touch maltier and sweeter–and has a less-pronounced hop flavor than a pilsner. Helles enjoys great popularity in the Southern German regions of Bavaria, Franconia, and Baden-Württemberg. It can be referred to as “Helles”, “Spezial”, “Landbier”, “Munich Lager”, or “Export”.

Neither boring nor bitter, Munich helles is a most delicious happy medium–that pairs well with foods ranging from sushi to gumbo.

America’s Helles Heaven; Try them mit comida.
• Surly Hell
• 3 Floyds Gorsch Fock German style Helles
• Victory Helles Lager
• Stoudt’s Gold Lager
• Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager
• Schlafly Summer Lager
• Cigar City Hotter Than Helles
• New Belgium Summer Helles

German’s Helles Himmel; Try them mit comida.
• Andechser Hell
• Augustiner Bräu Lagerbier Hell
• Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Helles
• Hofbräu München Original
• Spaten Premium Lager
• Tegernseer Hell
• Weihenstephaner Original Bayrisch Mild
• Löwenbräu Original

Which ever side of the pond you pick, pick a Helles, and enjoy a beer that isn’t a bully–these babies won’t beat up your meal.

Cheers. BL.

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Forecast: Hazy Over New England (NE).

We learn as we drink beer.

If you check out the ‘Lunar Phases’ post (directly proceeds this post), you will discover what I discovered. New beer.
For the last several decades, new brew-phases (non-lunar) have effected, pulled and pushed the craft industry into flavorful fads, that have rolled across the beer store aisles like amber waves of grain.
Think back. The Belgium IPA. The dark to black IPA. Rye IPA. IPA w/ mandarin orange, grapefruit, and guava. Wheat IPA. Sour IPA. etc.–trends that are taken up by brewers everywhere–the latest flag to fly–to demonstrate their relevance.
It was at Lunar that I received my education–the NE incorporated into the names of their two, newly packaged DIPAs, referred to New England / Northeast.

Headlines In The ‘NEws’.
Over the last 9 months, many a beer writer has broadened and softened the nomenclature for the concoction once labeled solely–NE Style IPA.
Those who love and hate this style are referring to it all as the ‘Haze Craze’; ‘Chill Haze’, ‘Hop Haze’ and even “Fuzzy IPAs” being examples of non-NE references for this type of Darby.

The ‘hazy’ is proliferation like the proverbial bunny–and intentionally hazed IPAs category population has exploded over the past years. Truth is, hazy IPAs go back well into the mid 1990s. Many of the more trustworthy origin stories indicate that The Alchemist’s ‘Heady Topper’, tops the list. Thus suggesting The Alchemist’s John Kimmich’s brew-minating with Greg Noonan at Vermont Pub & Brewery might have provided the get-go on this foggy, flavorful trend.

Early Daze Haze.
The ‘Haze Craze’ is now so visible, that it has become an object for burlesque and pasquinade. From the malty mists comes this fun Craftbeer.com post from Andy Sparhawk (Brewers Association’s craft beer web manager, brewer, and witty writer), concerning the origins of NE Style IPAs.
“On April 1, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado – CraftBeer.com officially recognized NE Style IPA as a new beer style.” True, true.
But the up-swing of Andy’s lampoon asserts that this beer is actually the Nebraska (NE) IPA Style–the grassroots of which can be traced to its 1994 birthplace in Omaha, and official recognized and named Nebraskius Ie Palius.
Allegedly, NE brewing wiz and former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne introduced his three beer types-in-one attack–creating its juice-like character, soft, over-milled corn grits mouthfeel, juicy hops and low bitterness, and that all important mystical haze, reminiscent of “a hazy Nebraska cornfield on an April spring day”.

Lunatics?
Lunar knows their stuff, and they were quite clear about the east coast, Boston, Vermont, Jersey, Harvey Keitel New Yuuuoookk thing. So has some geographic mishap, some tectonic event shifted the state of beer?
It’s generally agreed that the east coast is the author of the NE style…we are sure…pretty sure…mostly so…yet today, like the lovable IPA, there may be a number of NE styles (in the same way there were multiple IPA styles)–New England NE, Midwest NE, Cali-NE, Omaha NE to be reckoned with, I reckon.

Haze Confuses The Issue Further.
Interestingly, experts argue as to whether NE Style is in fact something unique, and not an IPA at all. In addition, these experts speculate that the NE may kick the IPA out of 1st place for ‘big-hop’ exploration.
But the ‘Haze’ (by Stephen King?) has covered and confused the beer landscape with a number of ‘haze’ strategies. Some brewers get haze from yeast strains that leave a spectral aura (even English yeasts). Other breweries use higher-protein malt bills (oats, wheat, etc.) and even flour, some add lactose for body, and late hop additions (hop breeds like Citra and Mosaic) that keeps hop polyphenols asleep to eliminate bitterness. Tired Hands Brewing Co., via its Milkshake series, eloquently demonstrate that there are at least as many methods as there are potential category names. In the end, nearly everyone seems to be aiming for greater glasses of hazy, chewy juiciness–with examples ranging from session up to imperial..

To explore that ‘big-hop’ without that western bite, check out this list of NE (New England North Eastern Omaha Nebraska USA World Solar System Universe) beers.

Search the shelves for NE (where ever its from):
Virginia’s The Answer BrewpubTriple Dry Hopped Mind Games’, St. Louis’s Narrow GaugeO.J. Run’, Michigan’s Transient Artisan Ales ‘The Juice is Loose’, Colorado’s WeldWerks Brewing ‘Juicy Bits Double Dry Hopped with Galaxy’, California’s Monkish Brewing CompanyEnter the Fog Dog’, Stockholm’s OmnipolloFatamorgana‘, to name a few non-non heinous, non New England NEs.
In addition to the folks mentioned above, you’ll find the hazy IPA at breweries like Bissell Brothers, Other Half Brewing Co., Cerebral Brewing and The Virginia Beer Co.’ Aslin Beer Co., Block 15 Brewing Co. (for years now), Alvarado Street Brewery, Fiddlehead Brewing and Fieldwork Brewing Company. Even Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, seems poised to join the haze parade, with its new Rebel Juiced IPA.

Many of the newest breweries pouring the proof of the pudding at this year’s Great American Beer Festival named Trillium Brewing Co. and/or Tree House Brewing Co. as their NE inspiration–and not surprisingly, these beers are sometimes referred to as “Vermont-style IPAs”.

The kind of heavy wet we associate with the west coast–sans the bitter blast–has happily infected both west and mid-west coasts–so now we have pan-trans-american ‘NE hop-pop nappy’ to enjoy.

Cheers. BL.

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