20070531

Denver brewer tries 'open source' beer

"Open source" is a term usually applied to computer software, meaning a program with a source code available for use or modification by anyone.

In the world of brewing, it means a recipe that will allow consumers and homebrewers, among others, to make or suggest modifications to the recipe.

It's the brainchild of Denver's Flying Dog Brewery, which today announced plans to release the Open Source Beer Project, believed to be the first such thing to hit the market in the U.S.

The starter recipe is a dopplebock, but that could change, says Matt Brophy, Flying Dog's head brewer, because the style may evolve as participants offer ideas and tweak the recipe.

“We are encouraging input on every part of the recipe, down to how what variety of hops we should use, how much we should use and when we should add them,” Brophy said.

The Open Source Beer will be the latest concoction in the brewery's Wild Dog line and will be available in stores in October. Flying Dog is Denver’s largest brewery and the second largest craft brewery in Colorado. Its products are available in 45 states.

Wild Dogs are extremely limited edition beers that come exclusively in hand filled, corked and labeled 750ml bottles. Only 5,000 bottles of the Open Source Wild Dogs will be available to the public. The current Wild Dog is a whiskey barrel-aged version of their popular Gonzo Imperial Porter.

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20070530

Not a very happy hour

If you think beer prices are too high, be glad you're not in Zimbabwe.

The price of beer in the African nation skyrocketed by 100% barely a week after drinks manufacturer Delta Beverages announced it was disposing of its non-carbonated soft drink business to concentrate purely on beer and soft drinks.

To do this, it had to raise beer prices to keep income flow level.

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Kiddie beer and drinks a Japanese trend

Sangaria, a Japanese beverage company, is doing what in most countries would be unthinkable: manufacturing pretend beer and other such beverage products for children.

Japan's drinking culture, which includes educating young people in the practices, is well known and the company says using such products allows children to more fully participate in family celebrations.

"Kodomo no nomimono," for example, comes in cans, bottles and six-packs. It looks like beer, tastes like apple juice and foams in a glass. The product line also includes fake champagne, wine and cocktails.

There's even a TV ad you can watch featuring kids downing these drinks.

Ridiculous stuff.

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20070513

Utah gets its first organic beer

Jenny Talley (right) has at least two things to her credit that no other woman has in combination. She is a brewmaster and she has created her state's first organic beer.

Talley is the brewmaster who created Squatters Organic Amber Ale, made from organic pale and caramel malted barley and aromatic hops that results in a caramel-like maltiness with a hint of sweetness. She told the Salt Lake Tribune that the barley is grown from organic seeds, using natural methods of pest control such as lady bugs and composting rather than chemical fertilizers. At the brewery, organic ingredients are stored separately and tanks must be scrupulously cleaned.

The Salt Lake Brewing Co., where Talley works, is known for its "earth-friendly philosophy." It operates three restaurants in Utah: Squatters Pub Brewery at 147 West Broadway Street, Squatters Airport Pub at Salt Lake City International Airport and Squatters Roadhouse Grill in Park City.

According to the Tribune story, "At the restaurants, bread is cooked with spent grain from the brewing process. All paper products have recycled content, light bulbs are energy efficient, napkins are cloth and a portion of the power is wind generated. The pubs also serve locally grown and organic food."

Talley's creations have paid off. Her Full Suspension Pale Ale accounts for half of all the company's beer sales. Her Squatters India Pale Ale won a gold medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup, and her Provo Girl Pilsner took gold at the 2004 Great American Beer Festival.

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20070512

Smirnoff debuts low-alcohol malt drink

Smirnoff is, by most surveys, the most recognized vodka name in the world. When it comes to malt beverages, however, it still is trying to make its mark.

Its latest product is a low-alcohol drink called Smirnoff Source that utilizes pure spring water and a citrus touch to create a 3.5% alcohol by volume liquid. That makes it lower in alcohol and calories than most domestic beers.

Smirnoff Source currently is available in New York, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It soon will be sold at high-end clubs in Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The beer alternative comes in 16-ounce bottles and 16-ounce four-packs, the latter selling at a suggested retail price in the $10 range.

Smirnoff is owned by Diageo, which has a huge portfolio of adult beverages such as Johnnie Walker, Guinness, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards.

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20070511

Abbey has a beer for its 900th birthday

England's Wymondham Abbey was founded 900 years ago by William d'Albini. That in itself is enough to stagger the imagination in this world of disposable people and things.

Wolf Brewery of Besthorpe, Norfolk, located northeast of London, is marking the anniversary with a special beer called Abbey 900.

"We have always known of the centuries-old tradition of monastic brewing and have based Abbey 900 on monks' recipes which use herbs for flavoring." said brewery spokesman Wolfe Witham. “We have used coriander, cinnamon and bog myrtle to give the beer a distinctive and, we believe, deliciously refreshing taste.”

The Rule of St. Benedict, which is adhered to by most European monks, calls for daily rations of beer for every monk, especially on fast days and during Lent.

Greg Kitsock of The Washington Post has put together a brief but fascinating history of monastic brewing from the Old World to the New World that I recommend reading.

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Oregon to host largest organic beer fest

If organic beer is your thing, Portland, OR, is your place.

The 3rd annual North American Organic Brewers Festival, being advertised as the world's largest such event, is scheduled for June 8-9 at Overlook Park in North Portland.

More than two dozen breweries from the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, Germany, England and Belgium will be represented. Perhaps chief among them will be Pinkus Mueller, a brewery in Munster, Germany, which created the world's first commercial organic beer in 1980, and now brews more than a half-million gallons of it annually.

Admission to the event is free. Sampling mugs are $5 each, taste tickets $1 each.

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Touring New York City's beer gardens

"Between 1820 and 1860, 1.5 million immigrants arrived in America from Germany, bringing with them their own cultural traditions -- among them outdoor beer gardens.

"Unlike the bars in Irish neighborhoods, the German beer gardens catered to whole families, and public drinking was just one of their attractions. Although many of New York's historic beer gardens have disappeared, this summer you can still enjoy a cold one at any of these authentic beer gardens around the city."

So reads the introduction to Daniel Lehman's story on the am New York.com site.

He takes readers on a tour of authentic beer gardens in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. A quick, informative read.

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20070501

Letters: Ireland needs gluten-free beer, too

Dear Mr. Dowd:

There is a huge gap in the worldwide market for gluten free beers.

It will be a massive success for anyone or company who is brave enough to market and distribute it worldwide.

Ireland is crying out for one!

-- DbL21, Rathcoole, Ireland

Dear DbL21 and Other Readers:

If you missed my earlier postings on the topic, try these:

A basic Nicaraguan/gluten-free/Belgian/domestic beer tasting -- and pizza party
Allergy avoidance goes national
Gluten-free brewery on the horizon

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