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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 New Years Resolution - A look Back

New Year’s Resolutions of a Beer Geek

Well the New Year is here, and I’m in the mood for change. Not change for change’s sake, but change for the better. Here’s how I plan on being a better, more sensible beer nerd in 2011:

1. Spend Less

I spend a lot of money on beer. Too much, I think. So far, my spending has known no regulations, no limits, but I intend to change that in the new year (that cry you hear is a collective gasp from beer shop owners and distributors throughout Northern New Jersey). I need to think it through a bit, but the obvious place to start is setting limits and sticking to them. It’s time for a beer budget. Eww, I don’t like how those words sound together!

2. Drink Less

In order to spend less, I’ll have to drink less. It’s not that I drink a lot, but there are a number of beers I can eliminate from my diet without affecting the pleasure I get from my favorite hobby. There’s the uninspired weekday beer, the beer you actually shouldn’t have at the end of the night but you do anyway, the expensive beer you open even though you’re not in the mood, etc. Lots of areas where less may very well be more, allowing me to enjoy my beers even more when I have them. Plus the bunker is well-stocked; it’s time for a drink-down!

3. Brew More

One way to save a ton of dough is to brew your own beer. Speaking of a ton of dough, that’s what I spent on my ridiculously over-capable brew kettle, so it’d be silly not to get the pot on boil. I’m planning on brewing at least one batch a month, starting with that Two Hearted Pale Ale clone I’ve had since August…

4. Learn More

I’ve spent the last few years filling my head with all sorts of beer facts. But up to this point it has been through drinking, talking, web surfing and some light reading. But this year I want to get more structured about filling in the blanks. I’ll start with reading all those beer books I own but have only pawed through quickly. Cover to cover, so much to discover!

5. Mission GABF

Don and I went to the Great American Beer Festival last year, and I intend on returning this year. Not sure how I’m gonna swing it, but it’s the Super Bowl of beer, and where there’s a will, there has to be a way. Maybe I can use all the money I save from #1, #2, and #3 above. We shall see. But now that I know the lay of the land, there’s so much I want to do there.


So those are my resolutions for this year. We’ll see how well I do – I’m already a little tired just reading back over the list! I think if I can stick to at least half of these, I’ll be a wiser, richer and more complete geek by the end of 2011, which will be a good thing indeed.

What about you? Any beer or whiskey-related resolutions that revolve around the world’s greatest beverages (not counting that one you made New Year’s Day about NEVER drinking again)? As always, let us know below, and HAPPY NEW YEARS from Don and I!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bohemian in NOW Salt Lake

Bohemian Brewery pairs old world fare with their excellent beer.

Bohemian Brewery pairs old world fare with their excellent beer.

Amy Spencer

Published December 9th 2011 9:23 am


If you live in the downtown Salt Lake area, there is a joke that traveling past 3300 South is like crossing the state lines. My jokes of packing a lunch and stopping for a layover resurfaced when we visited Bohemian Brewery on 7200 South, but it wasn't because of the distance, merely a 15-minute drive from downtown.

The atmosphere of Bohemian Brewery reminds me of cozy pubs in Germany and the menu had enough European samplings on the menu to make me feel like I needed my passport to be here. Antler chandeliers and taxidermy animal heads dotted the rich woods of the log cabin-like brewery and restaurant. The only thing that would have enhanced the experience is polka music.

The menu featured traditional bar fare such as burgers, nachos and fries, but we wanted to be adventurous and try the "old world" offerings. We started our lunch with roasted garlic bulbs ($7.75). Two large Gilroy garlic bulbs arrived warm, still wrapped in their skin. We picked out the garlic meats and spread them, along with a tomato-basil tapenade, on toast. The roasted garlic was flavorful and this was a fun way to eat it.

For my entr?e, I ordered a poached pear salad which came with assorted greens, roasted hazelnuts, Brie cheese and blue cheese dressing ($12). The salad arrived in a bowl with large chunks of pears and Brie on top of the greens and all of this covered in a hefty layer of hazelnut crumbs. Magnificent flavors had me devouring this salad and I loved getting a hint of cinnamon every third or fourth bite. The creamy blue cheese dressing was subtle, making the Brie and poached pear flavors stand out.

Pierogies and Bratwurst ($15) was what caught my husband's eyes on the menu. In addition to the brats and pastry pockets filled with cheese and potatoes, there was sauerkraut, sauteed bacon and sour cream and mustard for dipping. He raved about each item on the plate, and especially with how amazing the flavors meshed with a pint of Bohemian Brewery's Bavarian Weiss.

With our bellies to full for Czech fruit dumplings or Moravian apple strudel, we left and vowed to come back to indulge our taste buds in desserts, more European dishes and Bohemian's famous beers.

Bohemian Brewery isn't just a nice place to warm up and escape the cold, the patio outside looks like it's also a great place to sip a beer. This restaurant is certainly worth the trek for an incredible and unique dining experience.

The only low point in this visit was the slow and not-terribly-friendly service. And as I mentioned, I would have enjoyed some polka music.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Celebrate Repeal Day

Celebrate Repeal Day: December 5

By Ginger Johnson

There’s no doubt that Prohibition had an enormous impact on American brewers. The popularity and fascination with the topic continues to be celebrated and talked about every year on December 5 (1933), the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment which repealed Prohibition. The 18th Amendment, which made Prohibition law, was arguably the only amendment in the United States Constitution to restrict rights rather than expand them.

Prohibition by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

You can now download the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film, Prohibition, which aired in October on PBS. All three parts of the series shed light on where the movement came from, why it was such a big issue for Americans, and busts some myths about this ‘noble experiment.’

Having previewed the entire series, I was astounded by many things that accompanied this era. Here are a few of the themes I walked away with from the film.

  • It was common for families to make illegal alcohol to simply feed their families.
  • Prohibition fanned the flames on an apparently impending sexual revolution.
  • The making of illegal liquor was intertwined with someones societal status and notoriety.
  • The protracted timeline of how long it took the movement to build and then the suddenness of the actual passing of the new amendment was startling and disturbing.
  • That corruption and the unfathomable wealth that accompanied it was a pivotal aspect of our nation's history.

How Brewers Reacted to Prohibition

As for the brewers affected by Prohibition, well, they had seen the writing on the wall and needed to react simply to survive. Many switched to making ‘soft drinks’ or other non-alcoholic beverages. Some chose to retrofit their breweries to make other products and some simply shuttered and closed. It was surely a gut-wrenching time for the country's small brewers who had been making their own American dream come true. Those who did rise from the smashed barrels had incredible stories to tell of how they made it through.

Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, by historian Maureen Ogle is a great resource for a more in-depth look at the growth of the Temperance Movement, Prohibition and the recovery of the country after Repeal.

Prohibition Timeline (for those of us who need a visual)

Prohibition Timeline

Savor the Flavor

One thing to always and absolutely keep in mind is that craft beer is meant to be enjoyed in moderation. Alcohol is a privilege, not a right. There are many organizations in the U.S. who work to protect craft brewers, their products and your right to enjoy them responsibly.

Whether you’re an enthusiastic consumer, homebrewer, professional brewery, distributor or retailer, there are many clever ways to savor the flavor of craft beer.

Plan Your Own Repeal Day Party

  • Prohibition Home Party: If you love a good party with craft beer, here’s your chance to be the host with the most! Invite friends over to enjoy craft beer and food to celebrate Repeal. Encourage guests to bring their favorite bomber of beer in a brown bag and dress the part. Supply some simple favors to liven it up.
  • Homebrewers Prohibition Party: Look into what kinds of beers were made pre-Prohibition and either brew a batch yourself to share, or get your local homebrew club involved in a group brew. Lining up willing volunteers to help you enjoy the brew while watching Prohibition is easier than knowing a dark alley door password.
  • Business Party: If you’re a craft beer oriented business, then it’s time to get a customer Repeal party on the map! Rename your brews just for the occasion, offer creative beer cocktails, serve beers with 1920s era snacks, have staff dress up and host a costume contest for your guests.

However you decide to celebrate Repeal, this topic is a part of our permanent national fabric, so let's celebrate legal American craft beer.

Cheers to Repeal!!

The views expressed in this Muse are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily represent those of or the Brewers Association.

Ginger Johnson

Ginger Johnson is a loud laugher, cross drinker and energetic beer enthusiast. She started Women Enjoying Beer to educate and share the great experience of beer with women everywhere. She works with consumers directly to find out what women want from their beer and beer businesses to market craft beer to women. She believes in education and being a geek and not a snob. She can be reached at, via Twitter @womenenjoybeer and on Facebook at Women Enjoying Beer.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What kind of beer drinker are you?

The Beer Drinker’s Continuum

Craft beer is the new wine, and the epic rise of the brewfan has accelerated. Which one are you?


• Your only real beer-related quandary is "Bud ... or Bud Light?"

• You get angry when people blow their money on that expensive Blue Moon crap.

• You take pride in your beer being three reliable things: yellow, fizzy, and inoffensive.

• You measure your beer intake not by the bottle, but by the case.

You drink beer ... to forget.


• You've had your mind blown by Guinness and you're wondering if other dark beers might also taste good.

• You're beginning to think that the Miller Lite Vortex bottle might just be a gimmick.

• You now look at a row of taps and order the beer you DON'T know.

• It occurs to you that you could probably pair beer with food other than pizza.

You drink beer ... because you're beginning to think it may have flavor, and furthermore, that you might like that flavor.


• You actively seek out opportunities to camp at breweries in order to buy cultish, limited-release, superintoxicating Russian imperials.

• You hear that a friend of a friend once tried Westvleteren 12 and you spend the better part of a cocktail party trying to trap them into giving you an exhaustive play-by-play.

• Your RateBeer app gets more play than your email app.

• The liquor store clerk has you pegged as a lush, but your fridge and cellar are filled with half-finished six-packs and unopened bombers.

You drink beer ... to be part of a secret club.


• You spent four hours last week trying to convince someone that a wild yeast beer that tastes like hay caked with sun-dried manure is actually totally amazing.

• You're over Westy 12, and are now searching Belgium for beers made by smaller, less accessible monasteries staffed by even grumpier monks.

• You spend hours online every night hunting down people who express incorrect opinions about beers that you care about.

• You get in heated arguments about whether the 2007 or 2009 Sam Adams Utopias had a more distinct note of burnt raisins.

You drink beer ... to feel superior to other people.


• When you have guests over, it's not a question of serving home-brew—it's whether the brew-paired dinner is four courses or five.

• Your tolerance is such that you have to remind yourself that to normal people, drinking beer counts as "drinking."

• You yell at neighborhood kids when they get too close to your hop bines.

• You're just one small-business loan away from having a brewery and/or losing your life's savings.

You drink beer ... in order to make future beers taste even better.

Image sources: Flickr members Dottie Mae, Mr.Tea, Rionda, Pierre LaScott, gotsumbeers underCreative Commons