20100224

Alabama nears OK for homemade beer, wine

The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved legislation legalizing the making of beer and wine at home for personal use. The bill now goes to the House for a vote.

The 13-6 Senate vote passed the bill sponsored by Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery.

The bill also would permit homemade wine and beer to be transported to organized tasting and judging events, although there would be a 20-gallon limit.

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20100223

Minnesota's basement brewers can rejoice

Right now, it is illegal in Minnesota to make or bottle beverages in basements.

However, on Monday the state House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Monday that would allow brewing beverages commercially in the basements of buildings.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mindy Greiling, who called the present law obsolete, probably stemming from Prohibiton days.

She said the bill came about when a constituent who was trying to lease out a space told a potential tenant it was prohibited to brew even tea in the kitchen basement of the building. That ended the potential deal.

As in most states, it already is legal in Minnesota for home brewers to brew beer for personal use.

For a look at how creative such basement brewers can be, go to the Northern Brewer forum for some examples. The image above is one of the setups, submitted by a Westchester County, NY, homebrewer.

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20100220

BarBot 2010 mixes drinks, devices

You may not be able to get advice or a sympathetic ear from them, because they neither talk nor have ears. But the devices some enterprising young inventors for BarBot 2010, held at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco this week sure could crank out the drinks.

The event was put on by the same folks behind the RoboGames (formerly the RoboOlympics) extravaganza, which will be held in San Francisco in April.

I like to call this one "A Slow Pour." You can find several more on YouTube.com.



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20100219

Subway plans beer and wine in Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, CO -- Burger King, which recently opened in Miami the chain's first burger-and-beer bar, has nothing on Subway.

The sandwich shop chain will be offering both beer and wine at a new Subway sandwich shop under construction at the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

The Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority this week approved the franchise store's plans to serve alcohol when it opens on the airport terminal's second floor in May or April.

Kevin Kane, spokesman for Subway in its Milford, CT, headquarters, said alcohol is not served at stores that have street access, but there are exceptions when it's part of the lease agreement with the landlord. The airport will hold the liquor license.

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20100217

PA legislator pushes broader beer sales

Buying alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania can be a pain in the neck. So, State Sen. John C. Rafferty, R-Montgomery, wants to overhaul the state's beer laws.

Speaking at a rally attended by several hundred people at the Capitol building in Harrisburg today, Rafferty said, "This is about consumer choice. That's what we're trying to do by opening up the market."

Rafferty is pushing a bill that would allow beer distributors, supermarkets, convenience stores, and bars and taverns to sell everything from a six-pack to a case of beer. Presently, consumers are restricted to purchasing up to four six-packs only at distributors.

The bill also would require what Rafferty called "100% carding," under which consumers would always have to show identification when buying beer, no matter their age.

Establishments seeking a beer license would be required to pay a first-time $25,000 fee and an annual $2,500 renewal fee.

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Midwest craft brewer debuts rye-on-rye

The Midwest's largest craft brewer has released the latest in its line of barrel-aged beers.

Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, MO, on Tuesday announced its Rye-on-Rye, the fourth in a series of limited release offerings in the Smokestack Series of artisanal beers.

The word "limited" is accurate, given that production is being limited to just 10,000 750ml bottles. It is expected to be on the market later this month.

The aging barrels were acquired last year from the Templeton Rye distillery. Two kinds of malted rye are used to make the beer, which then was aged for nearly a year in the rye barrels. It is being bottled at 11% alcohol by volume.

Boulevard Brewing's seasonal and year-round are available in 12 Midwestern states, with selected offerings sold in nine other states.

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Making ultra-strong beer, because they can

A brewer in Aberdeen, Scotland, has launched what is believed to be the strongest commercial beer on the planet.

BrewDog's Sink the Bismarck ale has just been released at 41% alcohol by volume (82 proof) mere weeks after the German brewer Schorschbrau debuted a 40% abv brew called Schorschbock 40.

The new IPA costs £40 for a 330ml bottle, the equivalent of $63 US for an 11-ounce bottle.

Sink The Bismarck! will be sold only through BrewDog's website.

BrewDog is the same company that last year took flak from some corners when it unveiled its 32% abv beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

The company opened on Scotland's rugged northeast side in 2007. It has brews named Chaos, Rip, Dogma, Paradox, Hardcore, Punk and Trashy, giving you some insight into the collective mindset.

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20100216

Beer/wine-in-markets: OK in WA, No in OK

While politicians and market forces are slugging out the matter of selling wine in New York supermarkets, a measure that would have allowed grocery stores in Oklahoma to sell wine and high-alcohol beer has failed.

The Senate Business and Labor Committee killed Senate Joint Resolution 62a measure on Monday. If it had passed, it would have gone to a public vote.

Meanwhile, in Washington state the House passed a measure Saturday night, 72-22, to allow grocery stores to offer wine- and beer-tasting events. The bill now goes to the Senate, which passed a similar measure earlier in the day. A pilot project for such tastings expired last September.

The bill passed Saturday allows grocery stores to continue to offer the tastings. Under the measure, wineries and breweries can conduct pouring, bottle signing, and other similar activities in conjunction with a tasting.

In Oklahoma, the measure was introduced by Sen. Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City, the Senate Democratic minority leader-designate. He cited the potential for economic development.

He said Oklahoma's liquor laws are antiquated and predicted his bill would have been passed in a public vote. Because the measure was killed in committee, it cannot be inserted into another measure.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, said the measure had a number of problems, among them a potential increase in young people's access to alcohol. Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, said the measure was discriminatory because it was limited to Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. But, he said, he would have voted against it even if that had beem remedied.

20100215

So far, so good for new beer mag

So far so good for the Beer Connoisseur Magazine.

The majority of startup magazines quickly go out of business, some after just their inaugural issue. Beer Connoisseur has announced its second edition, dated Spring 2010, nationwide on March 9, three months after its debut.

The quarterly magazine is produced in Atlanta.

Lynn Davis, founder and publisher, said, "We’ve seen an unbelievable amount of interest from beer fans far and wide since the debut issue came out. It’s obvious that The Beer Connoisseur has struck a chord, and we can’t wait to get our new issue into readers’ hands."

The spring issue will include articles by such well-known beer writers as Stephen Beaumont, Evan Rail, Bob Townsend, Carolyn Smagalski and Martyn Cornell. Among the articles will be a profile of Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery; a search for the heart of the Czech Republic’s old beer culture; accounts of beer’s recent forays into the world of fine dining, and tours of such breweries as Dogfish Head in Milton, DE, Full Sail in Hood River, OR, and Left Hand in Longmont, CO.

Along with its print edition, The Beer Connoisseur operates a website it launched last summer.

Issue No. 2 will be available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million stores around the country.

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20100212

Beer and bones, marriage in a bottle

[Photo illustration by William M. Dowd]

Country singer-songwriter John Michael Montgomery knew the connection early. In his song "Beer & Bones" he lamented:

"I ain't nothin' but beer and bones
Honey since I lost you.
I ain't ate a bite
Since the night
That you said we're through."


Now comes scientific word of the connection between beer and bones, from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California-Davis, no less, which suggests beer is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density.

Researchers studied commercial beer production to determine the relationship between those methods and the resulting silicon content. They then concluded that beer is a rich source of dietary silicon. The study also tested 100 commercial beers for silicon content.

Pardon me while I go technical on you for a moment, or skip the next paragraph.
As I understand it, silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA) which makes beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the average Western diet. Dietary silicon, in the form of soluble OSA, may be important for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue, and beer appears to be a major contributor to its intake, according to earlier research by the National Institutes of Health. Based on this, there is growing scientific agreement that moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis.

"The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied," said lead author Charles Bamforth. "We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer."

The researchers found little change in the silicon content of barley during the malting process. The majority of the silicon in barley is in the husk, which is not affected greatly during malting. The malts with the higher silicon contents are pale colored because they have less heat stress during the malting process. The darker products, such as the chocolate, roasted barley and black malt, all have substantial roasting and much lower silicon contents than the other malts for reasons that are not yet known.

Details of the study are contained in the February issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

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20100206

NY gets its first Hops Institute

The bulk of news about locally-made alcoholic beverages in New York usually deals with wine. Now, the sudsy side of the equation has something to talk about.

A coalition of forces has created the state's first Hops Institute which will hold an ongoing series of courses aimed at educating anyone involved in the grewing industry.

The Institute's first course, "Hops 101: An introduction to growing, processing and marketing hops in News York State," is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at the Saranac Brewery, 830 Varick Street, Utica. It is expected to be attended by current and prospective hop growers, commercial brewers, home brewers, government or agricultural extension agents and hops enthusiasts.

The Institute came about after state Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-11th District (parts of Madison, Oneida and Otsego counties), last year steered funding to the Madison County Agricultural Economic Development Program to purchase a hops harvester and start the Hops Institute. The Northeast Hops Alliance, New York State Brewers Association and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County are working with the Institute.

“I am pleased to be a part of hops returning to upstate New York," Magee said. “We have a terrific opportunity in this historic hops growing region to produce hops for local micro-breweries. I believe this initiative will be an asset to the agricultural community, leading to economic development and job creation throughout Central NewYork.”

"Hops 101" will be led by Gorst Valley Hops of Wisconsin. Gorst Valley offers knowledge and services in the growth and processing of hops to all Midwest farmers, including providing drying, pelletizing and packaging capabilities for any regional hop grower. Gorst is working to re-introduce hops to the Midwest as a viable alternative crop to help ensure their region’s brewing heritage. In addition, "Hops" 101 will feature New York hops growers and commercial brewer panels.

The course costs $75 for Northeast Hops Alliance members and $95 for non-members. The fee will cover course materials, lunch, and pizza and beer after the course. Registration is limited.

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