BOTL is a club that was founded as a means for our members to educate themselves and others about brewing beer, ciders and meads. We are all in this hobby as like minded individuals that have a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for an enjoyable time. Most of us are from Holland, MI and the surrounding communities.
We are not accepting new members at this time.
For more information about our fine organization please email us at
We meet on the second Thursday of each month at New Holland's Brewing Facility. Start time 7 PM.

Please bring 3 bottles of this month's style homebrew that you want to share or a different style of your homebrew.
When bringing your homebrew to share, please bring your recipe too.

Styles of each month:
January – Barleywine, Winter Warmer, Strong Ales
February - Stouts and Porters
March – Cider, Cysers, Perry and Meads
April - English Milds and Browns
May – Lagers, Kolsch and Hybrids
June - Pale Ale, IPA and Ryes
July – Ambers, Reds and Alts
August – Wheat, Wit and Weizens
September – Fruit Beers,
Scottish Ales and Smoked beers
October – Oktoberfest, Pumpkin, and Spiced beers
November – Belgian/French Ales, Lambics and funky stuff
December – Saturday, Dec. Christmas party, best of cellar and potluck lunch

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Extortion For Premium Shelf Location? You Decide...

RoanokeTimes; Even the most determined shopper, with grocery list in hand, will occasionally spot something interesting on a shelf and make an impulse purchase. Few would argue that the placement of retail items in stores is not important.
 Which is why some eyebrows have been raised at a recent proposal by Kroger Co., the nation’s largest grocer and the dominant chain in the Roanoke and New River valleys, for a private distributor called Southern Wine & Spirits to oversee how much shelf space alcohol brands get in the aisles of its stores.
 Under the current system, representatives of the leading beer and wine manufacturers are in charge of assigning shelf space and displays. They use their own analyses of sales and brand popularity to determine which products get prime real estate on store shelves.
 Kroger’s proposal would shift that influential job to an outside third party, Southern Wine, which would then ask the alcohol companies to pay a voluntary fee for the service, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.
 more of kroger-proposal

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Oskar Blues Buys Tampa's Cigar City Brewing

Tampa Tribune — Rachael Starcher is a big fan of Cigar City beer.
 How big? Starcher, her husband and a friend drove down from Morgantown, West Virginia, this weekend to attend Cigar City’s annual Hunahpu’s Day release party for the revered seasonal stout.
 On Monday, the trio were seated at a table outside the Cigar City tasting room on Spruce Street, sipping “everything they have,” when they learned the Tampa craft brewer had been acquired by Oskar Blues Brewery of Longmont, Colorado.
 “I would be surprised if anything would change,” said Starcher, a medical student. “They obviously have some of the greatest beer in America. ... When you get to a certain level, you need the resources that only bigger companies have. If you want to step it up, you have to have those connections. I have no problem with it.”
 That’s an attitude Cigar City founder Joey Redner hopes will take hold as word spreads that the local institution, which produces Jai Alai India Pale Ale and other award-winning beers and is credited with making Tampa a leading center of craft brewing, has been sold.
 Fireman Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, is the financial partner in the deal, bringing Cigar City into a bullpen of craft brewers that include Oskar Blue, Perrin Brewing of Comstock Park, Michigan, and the Utah Brewers Cooperative, which includes the Wasatch and Squatters brands.
 Redner had a message Monday for loyal customers who may have panicked when they got the news.
 “Relax. Have a beer,” Redner said in an email exchange with the Tampa Tribune. “Nothing is changing. I am staying put. The brewery is staying put. I still have a lot of skin in the game via the ownership entity that has been created via the Oskar Blues holding company. I don’t own the majority of the company anymore, but I am still very significantly invested in the future of Cigar City Brewing, only now I have partners with the technical and operational know-how to sustain our growth.”  ...more

Monday, March 7, 2016

Grand Rapids Makes USA Today's Readers Choice: Beer Winners

 The United States surpassed 4,100 breweries in 2015, according to the Brewers Association. That's a lot of beer! Demand for high-quality craft beer is at an all time high, and USA TODAY 10Best set out to find the crème de la crème of the craft beer world.
 Enlisting the help of a panel of beer experts, 10 Best nominated 20 finalists in the categories of Best Beer Scene, Best New Brewery, Best Beer Bar, Best Brewpub, Best Beer Festival and Best Beer Label. For the past four weeks, readers have been voting daily for their favorites in each category, and the results are in.
The winners for the USA TODAY 10Best beer awards are as follows: 10best-readers-choice-beer-winners

Saturday, March 5, 2016

US Maltsters Cut back On Malting Barley

US maltsters have cut back on the number of acres of malting barley they will contract for this year and what will be contracted for will be at a lower price than what was issued last year, Farm and Ranch Guide reported on March 2.
 That’s the word from CHS Sunprairie grain merchandiser Kayla Burkhart. They contract acres for Rahr Malting in the north central region of North Dakota and the amount of acres contracted was cut significantly.
 “Our six-row barley malting contracts were cut in half and our two-row contracts were cut by 70 percent,” Burkhart said. “The reason is that we had such great crops last year, which resulted in a big supply so they don’t have to contract a bunch for this year.”
 The average price paid for the malting barley contracts by Rahr was around $4.50 a bushel, which pencils out on the favorable side considering the current prices of other commodities.
 “When you are talking a current price of $4.20 a bushel for spring wheat, the price being offered for the barley contracts is phenomenal,” she said.
 A reflection of the current situation of adequate malting barley supplies is the lack of a higher cash bid price for malting barley.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pssst, Hey Do You Want To Make Your Own BrewDog?

 The Ellon-based company Brew Dog announced its DIY Dog initiative today.
More than 200 complete recipes are available and can be downloaded here Brew Dog recipes.
 BD website  Martin and I (James) started home-brewing back in 2005. We could not find any beers we wanted to drink in the UK, so decided the best thing to do was to brew our own. Armed with some very old Cascade hops and a desire to recreate Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, our brewing adventure started.
 In 2007, we got a bank loan, bought some second hand equipment and turned our home-brewing hobby into our job as BrewDog officially came howling into the world. Our original brewery in Fraserburgh was basically just a giant home-brewing set up with plastic water tanks and completely manual controls.
Many of the classic BrewDog beers were developed during our home-brewing days, and we still use a 50L system to develop new beers and new recipes here at BrewDog. Home-brewing is very much ingrained in our DNA at BrewDog as so many of the world’s great craft breweries can trace their origins back to home-brewing.
 With DIY Dog we wanted to do something that has never been done before as well as paying tribute to our home-brewing roots. We wanted to take all of our recipes, every single last one, and give them all away for free, to the amazing global home-brewing community.
 We have always loved the sharing of knowledge, expertise and passion in the craft beer community and we wanted to take that spirit of collaboration to the next level.
 So here it is. The keys to our kingdom. Every single BrewDog recipe, ever. So copy them, tear them to pieces, bastardise them, adapt them, but most of all, enjoy them. They are well travelled but with plenty of miles still left on the clock. Just remember to share your brews, and share your results. Sharing is caring.
 Oh, and if you are from one of the global beer mega corporations and you are reading this, your computer will spontaneously combust, James Bond style, any second now. So leave the building immediately and seriously consider your life choices.
You can find out more about investing in BrewDog at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Brewed The Hard Way??

by GaryGlass, AHA Director  On Sunday, some 120 million viewers across the United States tuned in to this year’s Super Bowl pitting the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers. During the game, the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser Busch Inbev (ABI), the Belgian-based makers of Budweiser, ran an ad called Not Backing Down, in which they asserted that making Budweiser is “NOT A HOBBY.” I’m sure the nation’s million-plus homebrewers were shocked!
 Well, no, not really. The hobby of making beer is usually done in small batches at home by passionate beer lovers. Budweiser is made in massive automated factories (not what I would consider “brewed the hard way,” as suggested by a Budweiser ad aired during last year’s Super Bowl)—it’s actually about as far from a hobby as you can get. As homebrewers, we brew beer because we love beer with full flavor and by brewing beer ourselves we can hone in on the flavors we like most. And beyond that we can experiment and create new beer flavors that no one has tried before. Budweiser is the antithesis of homebrew: beer that’s made to be as light in flavor as possible and to never change.
 So if you are someone who wants to experience the diverse array of flavors and aromas beer has to offer, try homebrewing! If you’re interested but not quite ready to make the leap to homebrewing, try something from one of more than 4,000 small and independent American craft brewers, many of which started as homebrewers. And, if you are already a homebrewer, keep doing what you’re doing, and cheers!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Upcoming Beer Events

North American Belgian Beer Festival - Feb 13 Westland MI
Gilmore Car Museum’s annual beer-tasting - Feb 13
Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival - Feb 13
T.C. Suds & Snow at Timber Ridge Resort - March 5
Brew-Ski Festival at Boyne Highlands - Mar 12
Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival - March 12th

Monday, January 11, 2016

Why Is Craft Beer Canning Popular?

 byAngieMason  If you're not getting local craft brews direct from the tap, there's a big chance you're getting them in a can - or you will soon.
 Many local breweries are among those turning to cans as the best way to package beer to-go. They like the benefits cans offer, and locals said rumblings about a shortage of cans haven't caused them much concern.
 Crystal Ball Brewing Company, in West York, has been working with a mobile canning unit, which travels to various breweries to can their beer. But the packaging was working so well that the brewery purchased its own canning line, said Jesse James De Salvo, one of the owners.
 "It allows us to not schedule our brewing around an upcoming canning run," he said. The brewery can put out more beer in draft and can more styles without having to wait around for another mobile canning run.
 "It helps across the board," he said. "We're really excited about that."
While major beer companies tend to use 12 ounce cans, Crystal Ball, like many smaller breweries, opts for 16 ounce cans. "Our theory is that if you're drinking craft beer, then whatever container you're pouring from should hold 16 ounces because that will fill your pint glass," De Salvo said.
 Spring House Brewing Company, in Lancaster, will soon switch packaging from 22 ounce bottles to 12 ounce cans. Rob Tarves, brewer, said a can is just a "perfect vessel" for beer. It doesn't let in light or oxygen, and it helps get their beer to more people. "The consumer is starting to see craft beer in cans as standard," he said in an email.
Cans have less of an impact on their carbon footprint. Plus, the company handles its own shipping, and more cases of cans fit in its box truck than bottles.
 MORE why-craft-beers-getting-canned

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cooking With Beer

 Here are two recipes to try...

Fontina Spaetzle and Beer-Cheese Recipe

Active preparation time: 40 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serves: 2–3

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ cup (2 fl oz/59 ml) milk
2 eggs
2 Tbs (1 fl oz/30 ml) olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, and pepper. Mix well. In a separate bowl, beat the milk and eggs together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Bring to boil a gallon (3.78 l) of lightly salted water. Working in batches, with a rubber spatula, push the dough through an inverted flat cheese grater or colander with large holes into the boiling water. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the spaetzle when it floats to the top. Drop it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the water from the spaetzle, then toss the spaetzle in the olive oil (just as you would for pasta) to hold while you make the sauce.

Cheese Sauce
½ lb (227 g) Fontina cheese
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup (8 fl oz/237 ml) Belgian ale
1 Tbs butter
Cube the cheese and toss it with the cornstarch. In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer and add the butter. Turn off the heat and add the cheese to the beer stirring constantly until it comes together. Place the mixture in a blender and puree until it is creamy smooth.

2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
½ tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
Toasted breadcrumbs
In a nonstick or well-seasoned pan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the spaetzle and sauté until it is golden brown. Combine the spaetzle and cheese sauce. Stir in the chopped parsley and lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with toasted breadcrumbs.

Beer suggestions: Balance the intense flavor of the cheese with a Belgian (or Belgian-style)


Irish Stout Onion Soup Recipe

Active preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

2 large white onions
4 Tbs (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
1½ cup (12 fl oz/355 ml) dry Irish stout
1 qt (32 fl oz/946 ml) unsalted beef broth
Kosher salt
Black pepper

4 thick slices of sourdough or French bread
8 slices of Gruyère cheese

Peel and slice the onions into 1/8-inch (3-mm) slices (a julienne cut). In a large heavy-bottom pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook slowly for 25–30 minutes, stirring often until they reach a dark caramel color. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to the pan. Add the beer to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the beef broth and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the broiler to high. Arrange four ovenproof soup bowls on a sheet pan. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Lay a slice of bread on top of each bowl of soup. Top evenly with the cheese. Place the sheet pan carefully under the broiler. Broil until bubbling and browned.

Beer Suggestions: Sweet Stout

Friday, October 16, 2015

King Of Beers Buying To Be Kings Of Distribution?!

reuters - The brewer has rattled the craft beer world by striking deals for five distributors in three states. The US Justice Department is probing allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev is seeking to curb competition in the beer market by buying distributors, making it harder for fast-growing craft brewers to get their products on store shelves, according to three people familiar with the matter.
 In the past few months, the world’s largest brewer has rattled the craft beer world by striking deals for five distributors in three states. Many states require brewers to use distributors to sell their product, and once AB InBev buys a distributor, craft companies say they find that they can’t distribute their beer as easily and sales growth stalls.
 Antitrust regulators are also reviewing craft brewers’ claims that AB InBev pushes some independent distributors to only carry the company’s products and end their ties with the craft industry, two of the sources said, noting that the investigation was in its early stages. AB InBev’s purchase of several craft beer makers in recent years means that it is in a position to offer a greater variety of products itself.  ...MORE

Thursday, September 17, 2015

MillerCoors To Close North Carolina Brewery

MillerCoors is closing its brewery in Eden, North Carolina due to sales decline as there has been a visible shift in consumer preferences from mainstream beer to craft beers.
 MillerCoors brews 7.1 million barrels of beer a year there.
On another note, Greensboro restaurateur and developer Marty Kotis said he may open a small craft brewery in Eden, which was devastated by the announcement that it would cease operations and lay off all 520 workers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Apps for Craft Beer Lovers

apps-craft-beer   6 apps for craft beer lovers.

Untappd – It’s the Facebook of the beer drinking world. (It’s also the Twitter and FourSquare of the beer drinking world, but Facebook is the best comparison. ) Rather than posting pictures of your cat or quizzes determining where your soul is from, you check in with what you’re drinking – and connected friends can toast (aka like) it and leave comments.
The app also recommends other beers based on the style you’re enjoying and lets you find nearby establishments that serve craft beer. It most importantly serves as a beer journal, letting you keep track of what you like and don’t like – which is becoming more important as the options available to craft beer lovers expand dramatically (and it becomes a bit harder to remember which ones are good and which are just so-so).
(Available on iOS and Android)

Brewery Passport – In a new town for a day or two and want to seek out the local micro and nanobreweries? Brewery Passport lets you know how close they are. It’s a fairly barebones app, but it lets you know who’s nearby and offers links to their Website and Facebook page, letting you take a look at what they’re pouring before you venture out and connect with the brewery. There’s also a journal function, letting you note your favorite beers by style at each establishment.
(Available in iOS and Android)

Next Glass – You really enjoyed your last beer, but you’re either out of that brand or want to try something different. Next Glass scans the label (not the UPC code) of your bottle or can and makes recommendations for other varieties you might enjoy – and does so with a remarkable accuracy. Over time, the app learns your taste preferences – and can build a taste profile, letting it make even more accurate suggestions.
(Available on iOS and Android)

TapHunter – On the hunt for a rare whale beer? Get alerts when it goes on tap at your local watering hole with this app. TapHunter tracks when kegs are, well, tapped and can also offer personalized recommendations. The hiccup here is that the app relies on bar, restaurant, growler filler stations and other beer-related businesses to sign up with the service, so if your usual haunts don’t do so, it may not be useful for you.
(Available on iOS and Android)

iBrewMaster 2 – If you’re a home brewer, this is an absolutely essential tool. The app comes with more than 600 pre-installed recipes – and the ability to share and read recipes from other home brewers. It will guide you through the entire process of making your own beer – and provide estimates on things like alcohol content and calories. Loaded with tools and calculators, it will also help you find suppliers and let you keep a schedule of what you’re brewing at any given time.
(Available on iOS. Android version forthcoming)

Pivo – Visiting another country and forgot to bone up on key phrases? The Pivo app lets you order a beer in 59 different languages – even including phonetic pronunciations. Sure, you could just mime the gesture, or point at the tap. And “beer” is one of those words that’s generally understood in any bar in the world, but why label yourself as a tourist quite so obviously? (Plus, being able to ask for a beer in Gaelic or Serbian is a cool party trick.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Brewers State Fees Fund Wine Industry?

mibiz Michigan-based craft brewers want to change state law so the annual licensing fees they pay can go to benefit research and promotion for their industry rather than support a competing craft beverage sector.
 Under current law, every dollar that alcohol manufacturers pay in licensing fees to the state is earmarked to fund grape research for Michigan’s wine industry.
 While state officials appear to be in no hurry to change a program they believe is working, a growing number of executives in the state’s nascent craft brewing industry are calling for those licensing dollars to be put to use in ways that help foster their agricultural supply chain, namely for Michigan-grown hops and barley.  more -brewers-state-fees-

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Burning Foot Beer Festival - Aug 29 champion
 The guild, which is open to any brewery in a county bordering the Lake Michigan shoreline, is still in its infancy, but planning for its first event is already in its advanced stages. The Burning Foot Beer Festival is scheduled to take place at Pere Marquette Beach from 3-9 p.m. on Aug. 29.
 Ticket sales have been "going well," according to Brower. A total of 2,000 are available for $30 each at
 Brower, who is also an attorney specializing in liquor law and licensing, said the Michigan Liquor Control Code requires the formation of a guild in order to have a beer festival featuring brew pubs. Now that the guild is official, the multi-year dream of having a beer festival in Muskegon can be realized.
"It became apparent that the guild was the way to accomplish a beer festival," Brower said. "But, it's also a good way to solidify the communal atmosphere we have between breweries."
 The creation of the Lakeshore Brewers Guild is not meant to supplant the state's foremost beer organization, the Michigan Brewers Guild, but is meant to be more of a "supplement" for breweries along Lake Michigan, Brower said.
 In addition to hosting festivals, the Lakeshore Brewers Guild will work with its members to build the "Lakeshore Ale Trail." Membership to the guild has been steadily increasing since its creation. Current member breweries include:

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company (Muskegon)
Unruly Brewing Company (Muskegon)
Big Lake Brewing Company (Holland)
Our Brewing Company (Holland)
New Holland Brewing (Holland)
Fetch Brewing Company (Whitehall)
Trail Point Brewing Company (Allendale)
Stormcloud Brewing Company (Frankfort)
Old Boys Brewhouse (Spring Lake)
Vander Mill (Spring Lake)
Grand Armory Brewing (Grand Haven)
Pike 51 Brewery (Hudsonville)
Milwaukee Brewing Co. (Milwaukee, Wisc.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Big Lake Brewing To Increase Production And Distribution In Holland

 Big Lake Brewing, a locally-owned microbrewery in Holland, will celebrate its two-year anniversary this week with equipment upgrades, tripling production and a new focus on the business, Holland Sentinel reported on July 1.
"Our expectations are constantly shifting as we go along — two years ago there's no way I would have put us at this point," said Nic Winsemius, brewer and owner of Big Lake Brewing.
The 3,000-square-foot brewery and taproom opened in the Family Fare shopping center in Holland on July 5, 2013.
 Early success allowed reinvestment in the business after one month. Owners and brewers Nic Winsemius and Travis Prueter, and owner in charge of wine and cider Greg MacKeller remain committed to reinvestment and growing the business.
"It's a really exciting time," Winsemius said. "Our focus on quality has led us to invest in some laboratory equipment to better ensure consistency, and we will also take delivery of a new seven-barrel brewing system later this month." The equipment will allow an output of 1,000 barrels a year, or about 19-20 a week. In September 2013, the output was about three barrels a week.
"We've consistently sold all of the product we can make, and this is the fourth time we've increased our capacity," Prueter said.
 Staying just under 1,000 barrels a year will allow continued self-distribution. The goal is to stay at 1,000 for about two years, Winsemius said. The next step would be 4,000-5,000 barrels a year.
The brewery got into the business of canning and distributing early this year. Canned and draft Big Lake Brewing brews are available at the Holland taproom, nine restaurants and bars and six small retailers in West Michigan from Holland to Ludington. The increased capacity will help expand distribution.
 With sales on the rise and work to do, both Prueter and Winsemius have left their day jobs as engineers to devote themselves to brewing and business management. "It was always our goal to work at the brewery full time," Prueter said. "But we didn't expect it to happen this quickly."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Will Craft Beer Survive AB Inbev?

 byMatthewBoyleandDuaneStanford  After 19 years of running Elysian Brewing, a craft beer maker in Seattle, Chief Executive Officer Joe Bisacca was ready for a change. He was tired of worrying about making payroll, feeling guilty about the company’s miserly 401(k) plan, and trying to keep pace with the ceaseless demand for Elysian’s irreverently named beers, such as Space Dust, Superfuzz, Mens Room, and Loser Pale Ale. The last was inspired by the grunge-rock band Nirvana and carries the slogan “Corporate beer still sucks.” So he and two partners, David Buhler and Dick Cantwell, talked about selling. Before long they were in touch with Andy Goeler, CEO of craft beer for AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch division. Elysian and AB InBev might seem like a strange match. AB InBev, the world’s biggest beer company, manufactures Budweiser and its sister brand, Bud Light, the kind of corporate products that get the rhetorical middle finger from Loser Pale Ale. AB InBev is also an assiduous cost trimmer. That didn’t seem to bode well for Elysian’s 217 employees. ...more-wwwbloombergcom

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is Too Much Flavor Numbing Our Beer Palates?

  JON SUFRIN-Special to theglobeandmail
The first time I tasted a hop-forward craft beer, a door opened in my mind. I realized I had been drinking bland beer my entire life. Beer, as I knew it, was refreshing, but it was about as interesting as Evian. This craft beer was fruity, floral, citrusy and bitter, like an artfully composed cocktail. It demanded attention.
 From that moment on, I sought out only hoppy beers. I wanted that same adrenalin rush and I wanted my mind blown again and again. So I snapped up every India Pale Ale and other hop-heavy style of beer I could find: Southern Tier IPA, Red Racer IPA, Augusta Ale and then onto double IPAs.  But recently, I noticed that the beers I sought tasted more or less the same. They tasted, of course, like hops. My range of preferred beers had become disconcertingly tiny. Like an opium addict, I was chasing the dragon of that first experience and in the process I was ignoring an entire world of beer.
 I’m not the only one with this curious problem. In the United States, the obsession with hops runs deep. According to IRI, a market research firm from Chicago, sales of IPAs in the U.S. surged 50 per cent last year and accounted for a quarter of all craft beer sales. Some U.S. brewpubs serve beer with fresh hops added as a garnish. (The only way to get a more intense hop rush is to inject the stuff directly into your veins.)
 Hops have given beer drinkers an unprecedented flavour gain, but there seems to be something vaguely Faustian about it. Isn’t sensory overload one of the drawbacks of our modern world? Shouldn’t we be developing palate sensitivity rather than seeking ever greater outside stimulation? Shouldn’t appreciating good beer – or appreciating anything for that matter – be more about paying attention rather than waiting to get slapped in the face?
 Maybe we’ve reached peak hops.
 Hoppy beers have been around since at least the late 1700s, when the British Empire shipped highly hopped beer to India (hence the name, India Pale Ale). The abundance of hops aided preservation and ensured that the beer would still have flavour after the months-long journey. But this new wave of IPAs is completely its own animal.
 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. claims to have ignited the craft beer boom in the U.S. with its hop-forward Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Launched in 1980, this beer uses Cascade hops, an unusually floral American variety.
 These hops give you really grapefruity, piney notes, You can’t find those types of hops anywhere else. It’s the terroir, it’s the soil. If you have an IPA made with English hops, it won't be as popular.
 But these wonderful flavours come with a cost. Because those hops add such a low-effort flavour boost, some brewers use them carelessly, without regard for balance, just to tap into the lucrative IPA market.
 Gradually you can’t taste it any more. You get used to it. And as people have gotten used to it, you have to start putting in more hops.
 In the midst of this hop rush, other types of craft beer are often pushed to the wayside. Craft beer is not defined by hops alone and IPAs don’t have a monopoly on flavour. Complicated beer has been around for centuries, such sour beers from Belgium, slightly salty Gose beers from Germany, fruity saisons or lively Trappist-style beers such as St. Bernardus Abt 12.
 There are some brewers that still think that a hoppy beer is something that represents craft beer. To them, craft beer equals hops, but it takes a very skilled brewmaster to make a hoppy beer that’s still enjoyable to drink as opposed to just being a novelty.
 It’s natural. People have been turning away from bland lagers and getting into this new thing. And when you do that, you tend to go after something that’s very different. When I first started tasting the American IPAs, I thought, ‘this is crazy and wild.’ I like extremes, but I think if you open a brewery and it’s the only thing you go after, that’s a little over the top.
 My fear is that people will think these hoppy beers are the only style of beer. There are so many types of beer. It would be nice to see people getting into them rather than putting all their money on one horse.
Flavorful beer styles
 Herewith, four flavourful beer styles that don’t rely on hops.

Sour IPA
This is a very new style. It’s called an IPA, but it’s not really that hoppy. Sour IPAs are made with sour mash, which is what is used in Berliner Weisse [a sour wheat beer from Germany]. The mash creates lactic acid, so it’s sour, and the combination of that with the hops brings out really nice flavors.

It’s way lower in bitterness than an IPA, but it can still holds some of the same characteristics. I think that an IPA fan would appreciate saison because it has fruitiness, tropical flavors and other things that people look for in an IPA, but without the bitterness.

This is a very old style of beer, and a lot of people associate lager with crappy beers. But people are starting to make better lagers and are bringing in some of the flavors that you’d see in an IPA. And now people are even starting to make India Pale Lagers, which uses lager yeast instead of ale yeast. Lager yeast ferments a little bit cleaner, so you have something that’s more drinkable. It’s a cool style.

Amber Ale
It’s not the most popular style, but I like it because it has characteristics of both pale ale and brown ale. If you want to try something that doesn’t have crazy bitterness but has a little bit more roasted malt flavors, amber ale is a good style.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Increased Hop Consumption

 These are good times for farmers who grow hops. The beer-flavouring plant is in short supply because of the dramatic increase in the popularity of craft breweries, Newser reported on June 12.  That has growers in the Yakima Valley - which produces 75 percent of the nation's hops - rushing to expand their production.
 Mitch Steele, brewmaster for Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California, agreed that "hop usage is outpacing supply." Stone Brewing, one of the nation's largest craft breweries, typically contracts several years out for its hops.
"When beer volume projections change, we get into trouble with some varieties," Steele said. So far, Stone Brewing has been able to buy or trade for the hops it needs, he said.
 But some brewers have had to curtail production because of the shortage, he said. It's not just the hops plants that are in short supply, Steele said. More processing facilities that dry and bale the plant are also needed, he said.
 In Washington, acreage grew more than 6 percent in 2014 from the year before and is projected to rise 10 percent this year. Prices are also climbing.
Craft beers typically use four to five times more hops than blander mass-produced beers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 Siciliano's Homebrew Competition BOTL

 Congratulations to all B.O.T.L. members and their fine scores!
Scott Bouman -------American Brown 40.5 Gold
Paul Erdmans ------- Belgian Dubbel 32 Bronze
Tim Keen ------------ Hefeweizen 35.5 Silver
Brian Machiele ------ Pale Ale Citra/Mosaic 39 Gold
Joe Potratz ----------- Peanut Butter Porter 39.5 Gold
Kevin Schumacher - American Premium Lager 37 Silver
Travis Vugteveen ---English Mild 36 Silver
Ed Weller ------------Belgian Wit  Bronze

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Is The Most Overrated Beer? Hmm

by  A Deadspin writer has called Bell's Oberon "America's most overrated beer."
Will Gordon of Deadspin said in a post Wednesday good wheat beers aren't hard to find, and says it's strange that Midwesterners "go bonkers for Oberon Ale, Bell's thoroughly ordinary seasonal wheat."
 In his piece, Gordon praises Bell's Two Hearted Ale, saying the beer "rises above the pack." But Oberon, Gordon writes, is "just some beer."
 "I fully respect the way nostalgia and ritual can enhance a drinking experience, but I still think it's bonkers for people to get so damn worked up over the annual release of Oberon. Many places in Michigan and surrounding states go so far as to declare an Oberon Day, which this year fell on March 23. A holiday for a seasonal wheat beer is a hell of a thing. It's a shame the people who invent such things wasted the idea on Oberon," Gordon writes.