20071027

Ta da! The all-in-one beer machine

John Carnett makes his living as a staff photographer for PopSci.com. His avocational passion, however, got him notice on his employer's Web site.

The reason: His homemade microbrewery that boils, ferments, chills, and pours home-crafted ale. He calls it, simply "The Device."

As PopSci.com explains it: "In most home-brewing setups, each step in the process requires moving the beer to a new container by hand, which increases the chance of contamination and requires you to lift stuff. Carnett's machine keeps everything in the carts' closed system and requires only that he swap a few CO2-pressurized hoses to move the liquid along."

Interested? Click here for a demo.

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20071026

Canada remains a 'beer town'

Canada remains a "beer town," according to the latest statistical report on purchase of alcoholic beverages.

Canadians bought 2.2 billion liters of beer, worth $8.4 billion, last year. They also purchased 378.7 million liters of wine, worth $4.6 billion, and 202.6 million liters of spirits, worth $4.3 billion, according to Statistics Canada.

While sales of beer and spirits in liquor stores were up 2.9% by volume from 2004-05, wine sales, including those by wineries themselves, were up 5.9%. Overall, sales of wine, beer and spirits hit the $17.3 billion mark.

A few other findings:

• Red wines accounted for 60% of wine sales. Three-quarters of reds and half of all whites were imports.

• Quebec consumers bought 35% of all wine, and 42% of the reds, sold in the nation.

• White wines outsold reds in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

• Imported beer grew in popularity last year from 9.9% to 11.1%.

• Whiskies, including scotch and bourbon, accounted for nearly 30% of all spirits sales.

• Nearly 70% of spirits sold were Canadian products, although imported spirits rose 6.4%.

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20071020

This Comrade Bill Bartrams Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout's for you

The East Anglican Daily Times of England reports that Bartrams Brewery, near Bury St. Edmunds, has come up with a brew with the longest known name in the world:

The stout is called “Comrade Bill Bartrams Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout.”

Bartrams began business in 1999. The Comrade Bill won a silver medal in the regional finals of England's Society of Independent Brewers (S.I.B.A.) competition for its cask version and its bottled version won a gold medal. In the National S.I.B.A. finals, Comrade Bill won a gold and was declared "Best Bottled Beer in the Country."

Despite the honors, one suspects it might be difficult to order it if you've had a few too many.

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20071017

A twist for an autumn favorite

When autumn's chill becomes a factor in your food and drink choices, the usual suspects come to mind: stews, roasts, hot toddies, hard apple cider … hearty stuff we've known about since childhood.

But there is nothing so versatile as adult beverages for assuaging one's seasonal needs while allowing the imagination to roam beyond the limits of habit.

Creativity comes into play here, so don't be reluctant to experiment with your garnishes -- sprigs of fall thyme, blossoms of those colorful nasturtiums you might have been using to spruce up your summer salads, grated nutmeg, even a "floater'' of a lighter-density liquid layered or swirled atop the cocktail as if channeling a Starbucks barista -- to act as both an ingredient and a garnish.

For the latter, you are not limited to dense spirits mixtures. If your preference is for beers and ales, you may want to try the Black Pumpkin, a layered drink being recommended by the specialists at Anheuser-Busch.

It combines two brews popular this time of year from both major facilities and craft brewers around the country -- Irish stout and pumpkin spice ale. It's Anheuser-Busch's version of the classic Black-and-Tan from England, which is made from a blend of pale ale and a dark beer such as stout or porter, or the Half-and-Half, which uses a pale lager instead of ale.

In the Black Pumpkin, the stout -- the thicker of the two liquids -- is the base, with the ale very gently poured over it to create an interesting dynamic between the colors and the flavors. The stout should have a roasted, malty flavor and the ale provides a spicy, autumnal component.

The trick to proper creation and presentation is having a very steady hand. I'd suggest practicing with small glasses until you get the hang of it.

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20071016

20,000 beers under the seam

What can you do with 20,000 empty beer cans?

Never mind, your idea never will top this one.

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20071015

Great American competition medals 220+

More than 220 medals were awarded in the annual Great American Beer Festival, with judging conducted in Denver, CO., over the weekend to sort out the 2,793 beers entered in the competition by 473 brewers.

Beers were divided into 75 categories and awards also were given to top breweries and brewers according to the number of medals won. The top awards:

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Pabst Brewing Co. Woodridge, IL; Bob Newman.

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Paso Robles, CA; Matt Brynildson.

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA; Tomme Arthur.

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year: Redrock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT; Kevin Templin.

• Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year" Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT; Travis Zelstra.

Clikck here for the full list of medalists.

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20071011

Drinkin' good in the neighborhood

Any idea which restaurant chain leads the industry in beverage alcohol sales?

A hint: Its name puts the emphasis on the food part of its service rather than on the drinks.

If you guessed Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, you get a gold star.

Applebee's 1,942 restaurants had total alcoholic beverage sales of $567,864,000 in 2006, accounting for an average of 12.5% of each guest check. That's according to the Technomic Top 500 Report, published in Cheers magazine.

The rest of the top 10:
(2.) T.G.I. Friday's, $499,380,000.
(3.) Chili's Bar & Grill, $475,116,000.
(4.) Outback Steakhouse, $327,375,000.
(5.) Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, $252,024,000.
(6.) Olive Garden, $233,177,000.
(7.) Red Lobster, $210,103,000.
(8.) Hooters, $205,875,000.
(9.) The Cheesecake Factory, $167,310,000.
(10.) Ruby Tuesday, $157,950000.
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20071004

Chinese ale destined for U.S. market

Macau Ale is headed for the American market, scheduled to be released sometime next year in the New York metro market.

Aladdin Trading Co. will be the importer. According to its president, Theodore O'Connor:

"The popularity of ales with U.S. beer consumers, coupled with a need for a more full-bodied ale in the Asian beer segment, drove us to approach the brewery to begin production of a nice amber ale.

"After about a year and a half of trial and error, sourcing the proper ingredients and, updating the packaging, we finally hit pay dirt. I think our customers will be very happy with the end result. ... It's a beer that is part micro brew, part high end import beer."

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