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Brew Bloods: Drink Beer, Think Beer

Join Marc and Dustin each week as they pick a beer, drink a beer, and rate a beer, plus dispensing education and laughs along the way.
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Now displaying: July, 2015
Jul 29, 2015

“Without beer, life would be a mistake.” Frederick Nietzche

We investigate our first Trappist Ale with the one and only from Spencery Brewery, a brewery run by St. Joseph's Abbey, a Trappist Monastery out of Spencer, Massachusetts. Spencer's is the only United States brewery allowed to carry the Trappist logo on the beer and it was voted #1 new brewery by Huffington Post and Fox News.

In the education corner, we talk about what makes a Trappist Ale.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- How to drink all night without getting drunk
- TABC is telling Cuvee Coffee to get rid of their crowler
- The baby is gone from Founders Breakfast Stout
- A Maine brewer is making beer out of live lobsters

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What makes a Trappist Beer

Today’s episode is all about Trappist Ales, but what exactly is a Trappist Ale and why is it called Trappist?

First of all, a Trappist Ale is not a style. Rather, it’s more of an official seal of approval. That being said, most Trappist Ales follow the Belgian styles, which in a broad sense means that they’ll be a bit earthy and citrusy, retain some sweetness, you may get some spicy notes like coriander and grains of paradise, it will be effervescent some what like champagne, and it will finish dry.

All Trappist are bottle conditioned, and fall into one of four Belgian categories categories: single, double, triple or quadruple, which mostly categorizes the strength of the beer. A single, also known as a blonde ale, comes in at 5 to 6.5% ABV, a dubble comes in at  to 7% ABV, a triple at 8 to 9.5% and a quadruple, also known as a strong dark ale, is 10 to 12 percent ABV.

The name Trappist comes from the Catholic Cistercian monks of the Order of the Strict Observerance that brew the beer, who are nicknamed Trappists after La Trappe, France which is where their order originates from.

In 1664, the Abbot of La Trappe felt that Cistercians were becoming too liberal and imposed the rules known as Strict Observance. Many rules were put into place, but were eventually relaxed. However, one fundamental rule has remained: ora et labora, which in English means “prayer and work.” The Abbot meant that the Trappist monasteries should be self-sustaining and that they should work to help others.

Following the foundation of Strict Observance, Trappist monasteries began brewing beer for themselves and then to feed the community. That practice continues today, as the modern Trappist monasteries brew beer and use that money to sustain their monasteries and to fund charitable causes.

In the 20th century, the Trappist style began to grow in popularity and some brewers began using the word Trappist in their beers even though they had no connection to the monks themselves.

As a result 8 Trappist abbeys banded together in 1997 to form the International Trappist Association to secure a trademark and prevent commercial companies from using the name. They also set up criteria for the breweries to achieve the official Trappist logo:

  • The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.

  • The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life

  • The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.

  • Trappist breweries are constantly monitored to assure the irreproachable quality of their beers.

Once an application is received, the board of the ITA and the chairman begin an evaluation procedure which lasts months, which includes compiling an extensive dossier, on site visits to check the facility and of course, a taste test. Once the license is granted, it’s valid for five years.

Today, there are 11 active Trappist breweries active: six in Belgium, 2 in the Netherlands, one in Austria,one in Italy and the one we discussed today in the United States: St. Joseph’s Abbey.

If you see a so-called Trappist beer and they don’t follow the Trappist rules, the beer should be called an Abbey beer, meaning that it was produced by a non-Trappist monastery, by a commercial brewer who has slapped the name of a fake abbey on the beer, or the beer has a vaguely monastic branding without mentioning anyone specific. When this happens, don’t forget to alert your nearest Trappist abbey so that one of their monastic enforcers can destroy that brewery with his holy fire.

 

Jul 22, 2015

“Without beer, life would be a mistake.” Frederick Nietzche 

We stick with the Northwest this week as we take on the classic Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Deschutes is a craft brewery out of Bend, Oregon that produces around 105,000 barrels per year and focus on being green.

In education, we talk about the oldest active brewery: Weihenstephaner.

In news we talk about the following stories:

- Does craft beer have a sexism problem?
- The band Queen is getting their own beer
- There's a big fight brewing over Myanmar

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What is the oldest active Brewery?

While we know that beer has been brewed for thousands of years going back to the ancient Sumerians and beyond, there’s only one brewery that we know of that can claim to be the oldest active brewery at almost 1000 years old: the Weihenstephaner Monastery Brewery, a brewery that has survived many disasters.

Weihenstephaner started out as a Benedictine monastery in a small town just north of Munich German. Saint Korbinian started the monastery in 740 AD to honor Saint Steven. Tithing records of a hop garden show that the monks may have started brewing beer there in 768 but they were not yet a legal brewery. In 955, the Hungarians plundered and destroyed the monastery, forcing them to rebuild. but they didn’t officially become a legal brewery until 1040 when an abbott secured brewing rights and a brewing license.

In 1336, the Hungarians returned again under Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian and destroyed the monastery and brewery yet again. The Swedish took their turn during the 30 Years War between 1618 and 1648, and the Austrians had theirs during the Spanish War of Succession between 1701 and 1714. Each invading army destroyed the monastery, but each time the Benedictine monks rebuilt.

If that weren’t enough, the monks faced other natural disasters. Between 1085 and 1463 the monastery burned down four times, destroyed one time by a gigantic earthquake, and was depopulated three times by three plagues and several more times by an unknown number of famines.

In 1803, all monasteries were secularized by the Bavarian State and thus, Weihenstephaner Monastery was dissolved and all posessions and rights were transferred to the state. However, the state opted to continue the brewery’s operations. 

Today the brewery is known as the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan and it’s still brewing several beers including pale lagers, bocks, weissbiers and hefeweizens. The original brewery’s original buildings and rooms are still used as well; they’ve just traded wood for stainless steel. The brewery has also become a center for beer research and technology, operating in conjuncton and right across the street from the Technical University of Munich, where aspiring brewers can become brewmasters. 

 

Jul 15, 2015

13 isn't so lucky for us as we take on the worst beer we've ever had: Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Lemon Chiffon Crueller Ale. Rogue is one of the bigger craft breweries going, starting in 1998 in southern Oregon and now distributing to all 50 states and internationally. Oddly enough, they have had some heavy criticism levied against them about their employee practices and cleanliness. 

In the education corner, we talk about what makes for a good beer pour.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- The 7 most annoying things that beer snobs say

- The ongoing beer shortage in Venezuela

- AB InBev is withdrawing from Oklahoma

- New Zealand has made biofuel out of beer waste

- Denmark has a music festival where they recycle your urine to make beer

- Kroger is adding craft beer taps in Ohio

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What Makes for a Good Beer Pour?

Everyone enjoys a well poured beer. Just the right amount of head, decanted if needed, enough beer to get a full pour without over pouring, all are keys to a great tasting beer. There’s more to getting this perfect pour than some may think, and bad pours are a frequent occurrence.

The fine researchers at Beer Advocate, through many pints of research, have discovered some common bad pour techniques. Many of these you have likely run into at a local pub in your town. These can range from the Over or Under pour, one of which can waste up to half a pint of beer, and the second often indicating you're dealing with a cheap bar owner. The Stadium pour, which you will find any any sporting event you ever attend, where the bartender fills your cheap plastic cup to the rim with a nice MillerCoors or Anheuser Busch product. Another poor pour you'll see often is the incorrect glassware used for the style of beer you have ordered. Theres also the under carbonated pour, found in those bars that wish to avoid heads on beers, they will intentionally under carbonate your beer. And finally, the yeasty pour, which occurs when a beer that is bottle conditioned and contains a layer of yeast at the bottom of it, is poured entirely into your glass.

If you run into any of these scenarios, you should kindly and gently bring it to the bartender's attention. Don't be a beer snob and bully them about it, but letting the bar know the proper way to serve their product helps the drinker and the bar alike.

 

Jul 8, 2015

"God made yeast, as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Marc's dad brought us beer from Colorado: Ouray Brewing's Box Canyon Brown. Set in the San Juan mountains, Ouray is a family owned brewpub. They make 4 beers year round and have 11 seasonals.

In the education corner, we talk about what the term "real ale" means.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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Jul 1, 2015

“There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says ‘Good people drink good beer.’ Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.” - Hunter S. Thompson

Stean from Sweden (@LostInSweden) returns again to bring us our first Swedish beer: the Coppersmiths White IPA.

Coppersmiths is a craft brewery out of Vasteras, Sweden that opened its doors in 2014. The brewers Petri Karhu Korpi and Goran Carlsson wanted to take on new challenges in life and took the bronze medal at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival.

In the education corner, we talk about the origins of the name "growler."

In news, we talk about the these stories:

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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Why do we call them Growlers?

The dictionary defines the term “Growler” simply as “a vessel for carrying beer”. Any craft beer drinker these days is familiar with the term, however, its doubtful many know its origin.

While there is not definitive origin to the term growler, there are a few interesting theories as to why we now call these glass bottles full of malty suds this term.

One theory points to a reference in a Harpers issue from 1893, in which they discuss the practice of “rushing the growler”, which referred to kids delivering beer to their parents.

Another states that beer deliveries often arrived during lunch breaks before the workers had eaten, so their stomachs were making said growling noise, in beer anticipation.

Yet another points to the idea that bartenders and beer drinkers would often argue about just how much beer should be added to their not so precisely sized galvanized pails to take home with them at the end of a drinking session, resulting on the customer whining and growling like little dogs.

The last, and most accepted theory, says that in the late 1800s, fresh beer that was carried home in galvanized pails would slosh around in the container, creating a rumbling/growling type noise as the C02 escaped between the lid and pail itself.

Whichever origin story you chose to support, continue to support the growler as it is today, and the craft beer movement it assists. 

 

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