The Doppelbock, a high-powered version of the German Bock, is a favorite of mine. It’s darker, chewier, heavier, sweeter, and higher in alcohol than its goat-labeled little brother. Doppelbocks originated in Munich during the late 18th Century where the Paulaner Monks brewed it as “liquid bread”, which isn’t a serious naming stretch since grain is used and it’s certainly not a watery brew. Those crazy Bavarian monastic peeps even dubbed it “Salvator”, which translates to “Savior” and many of my friends believe beer to be theirs. Paulaner owns the trademark to “Salvator” but many breweries add the “-ator” ending to their own take on the style.
Read more: Doppelbocks: Two liquid bread beers to seek
Beer maestros brew for the seasons: Light and thirst-quenching suds for summer, malt forward amber brews for autumn, and for spring-refreshing beers with some hop presence and a decent malt backbone. Winter — with the cold, snow and lack of daylight — requires a whole different kind of beverage.In winter, beer drinkers across the land reach for rich and robust brews to warm the soul. Brew masters and breweries everywhere, of course, realize this and release their cold-weather winter offerings, usually called Winter Warmers, Christmas Ales, Holiday Ales, or Winter Ales/Lagers.These solstice-celebrating suds can be of any style but are usually of the heartier variety — Old Ales, Scotch Ales, Brown Ales, Porters, Stouts. The vast majority utilize roasted and crystal malts to achieve a darker, richer flavor profile. Some of these malt-forward, substantial beers are spiced and most are well above 6% ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Speaking from years of experience, many do indeed elicit a warming feeling.
Read more: The 3rd annual cold weather seasonal brew challenge: Eight winter ales reviewed
Recently, “The Great Imperial Pumpkin Challenge” was held, a high-powered (and pricey) pumpkin beer tasting to help determine the best 8.0+ ABV gourd beers in the land (not reviewed in the 2010 challenge) and crown the triumphant, majestic “Imperial Pump-King”.
Read more: Three Imperial Pumpkin brews reviewed: Southern Tier, Shipyard, and Hoppin’ Frog
In autumn, the days get shorter and the nights get colder so the suds-loving, frothy-mouthed masses crave something substantial to keep warm. Brew masters realize this and rotate out the light, crisp, clean summer beers for darker, richer, more malt-forward offerings. It’s my favorite time of beer, and likewise for many other brew worshipers. Oktoberfest lagers and pumpkin brews dominate the local beer mart shelves but many breweries offer a separate fall seasonal in addition. These special releases fly under the radar in comparison to the lauded Okto’s and gourd brews (aka pumpkin) but many are very good.
Read more: Four fall seasonal beers worth picking up from Sierra Nevada, Abita, Southern Tier and Breckenridge
When choosing a fermented beverage to enjoy with cuisine most people think of wine — which isn’t surprising since it’s been served at upscale dinner tables for centuries. Beer, the working man’s drink, has traditionally been associated with delicious, blue collar fare like wings, burgers, brats, and pizza. Only ten years ago, the thought of ordering a tasty brew to wash down a cut of prime beef from a high-end steakhouse would elicit snickers from the staff and a snooty recommendation from the pompous server.
Read more: Pairing beer and food: It’s not for just for wings anymore
Through chemical analysis of really old jars found near Iran we now know that beer is at least 7000 years old. A thousand years later, those rascally Sumerians in Mesopotamia left a tablet behind depicting peeps drinking from a communal bowl of brew through reed straws. This was also unintentionally recreated at my last drunken party. But today, Today, mad ale scientists have a plethora of bittering and flavoring agents available to experiment with.
Read more: The history, current state, and future of beer and brewing
Independence Day celebrates the official adoption of the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776. To most Americans, this national holiday conjures up memories of fireworks, parties, and backyard cookouts with friends. Many of us patriotic citizens open up a cold one and unknowingly pay homage to our country’s ale loving and homebrewing forefathers — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and of course Sam Adams. Today’s brew-n-cue will include three courses: an appetizer, a skewered main course, and a boozy dessert. We chose a craft beer to complement each course, all from American breweries, of course.
Read more: Brew n ‘Cue: Independence Day grilling and brews
“In the summertime when the weather’s high” anything light, refreshing, and drinkable — with some flavor and character — makes an excellent choice. The aisles at the local beer mart are actually loaded with solid beach brews. Styles like the Belgian Wit, American Cream Ale, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Helles Bock, and American Pale Wheat Ale all make the grade when “School’s Out”. Many reach for a solstice-celebrating seasonal. And why not? There’s certainly an abundance of these on the shelves. Any brewery worth its salt releases a special offering, usually around the time when the “Boys of Summer” start playing for real. Traditionally a good percentage of these brews are garbage though. Thirst quenching and non-offensive perhaps, but they’re generally watery and lack any resemblance to quality. It can be a “Cruel Summer” when throwing hard-earned dough at mediocre hooch disguised as craft beer.
Read more: Three tasty craft beers for summer: Summerbright, Summer Love and Colette Farmhouse
The Strip’s always beautiful at sunset. Tall palms seductively sway from the cool evening breeze just like the gals down at the Go-Go. The large sign on the hill reminds me that this is the place where dreams come true, where fortunes are made, where stars are born. Fact is though, this town is merciless: It will break you down, chew you up, and send you back from where you came — penniless and broken. For every star that makes it, a thousand don’t and some of those end up with concrete boots and a tarry demise. Sometimes just wakin’ up with your dignity and a nickel in your pocket feels like an accomplishment. Sometimes, just wakin’ up does… I feel like I’ve been walking this boulevard of broken dreams for days. A sign reading “Craft Beer Here” draws me toward the door. I walk in. A friendly voice asks, “Hey stranger, you lookin’ for a Blonde tonight?” I tell him, “No Sam, I’m lookin’ for something with a little more personality. And make it a double.” He nods and says, “Well, in that case, I’ve got A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ just for you chief.”
Read more: Beer Noir reviews: Behind the 8 Ball Stout and A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
What was once dated and lowbrow is now new and trendy. Canned beer has traditionally gotten a bad rap. Childhood memories of tin-wrapped cheap swill still abound in my clouded head. Back in those days (the 70’s and 80’s) the shelves in the Midwest were lined with cans of Miller High Life, Schmidt (with the wildlife), PBR, Blatz, Schaefer (they actually still make that stuff), and of course the king himself — Budweiser. It was all relative though, beer was beer and it was mostly cheap swill. There was no Dogfish Head or Rogue — choices were limited. The upscale brew at that time was Michelob, and if you were suave and had the funds, the night could belong to Michelob in a bottle.
Read more: Retro brew is cool: Five canned craft beers for the patio