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30 April 2005
I knew I forgot something...Andechs is coming!
Funny what slips your mind sometimes. One of the major scoops I picked up on the Distinguished Brands trip to the Czech Republic is that DBI expects to begin importing Andechs Doppelbock, the world's finest doppelbock, into the U.S. this year.

The brewery at the Andechs Benedictine Monastery on the Sacred Mountain in Upper Bavaria has existed since 1455. I wrote about my visit there here.

The beer being bought here, however, will come from The Brick Brewery, Canada's oldest craft brewer. Brick is the only brewery ever to be entrusted with the doppelbock recipe and I'm told the beer from there is just as good as the ones I enjoyed is sitting on the deck outside the brewery relishing the glorious view from that mountaintop. If it's even close, we're in for a real treat.

[Posted 7:20 am edt]

26 April 2005
Changes coming at O'Flaherty's Pub.
I talked extensively with Jim Young of O'Flaherty's Pub during the regularly Monday Tasting at Sly Fox Phoenixville last night and what I learned is reported as a Beer Yard news item this morning.

Jim remains very optimistic about the forthcoming changes; I find that new name a bit ominous. It, and the new owner's relationship with the local sports teams, just screams out Budweiser! to me. Let's hope he's right and I'm wrong.

[Posted 10:30 am edt]

24 April 2005 - 25 April 2005
Editorial Note
Rather than have new readers come in for the middle of the story and have to experience the Czech Republic trip backwards, I've added today's posting to the end of yesterday's, with some minor editing, so that the story stands all of a piece. Just scroll down to where you left off. Thanks.

Czech please.
You have undoubtedly noticed that there hasn't been much to notice around here lately. The thing is, I've been busy. I'd apologize, except that I've been busy, y'know?

That's a good thing, trust me. Should I get non-busy enough, I'd have little choice but to resort to visiting you people, one at a time, hang out 'til I've finished all your beer and then move on. Granted, I'm great fun to have around, kind and gentle and the sort of sweet soul who will withhold his opinions rather than offend, but the dogs, I gotta tell you, smell. A lot.

Anyway, let's see what we can do here. Would you settle for this?

We went to the Czech Republic.
We drank beer.
It was good.
Ah, I thought not.

Okay, we'll give it a shot. But I won't have time for my usual long, rambling, more-than-you-want-to-know report with incriminating pictures of people you don't know....Stop that wild applause! It's rude!


Getting there.
The eight-hour flight was relatively easy, although there was a brief and somewhat fierce tossing about which occurred roughly an hour into the flight, somewhere off Greenland I'd imagine, which brought on a Flight attendants! Take your seats! Right now! message from the captain.

That four to five minute stretch had most everyone looking about the cabin nervously, but once I'd determined that the panicked look in the eyes of the young woman across the aisle was more Oh my God, I'm going to die! than I think I'd like to have sex one last time, I concentrated my efforts, successfully, into not allowing the full glass of red wine I was holding spill all over me, a not insignificant achievement given that I could neither put it down or bring it up to my lips, given the bouncing and rolling of the plane.

Oh, I suppose I could report on how "the lovely and talented Sheryl Barto" (© 2003, Liquid Diet Online) asked to sleep with me, but that seems ungentlemanly in the extreme, although I will acknowledge that my response was an unequivocal Yes.

Oh, all right. All she wanted was to lie down on the empty seats beside me, but the story seems much more interesting if I tell it my way, dunnit? I mean, I gotta have some fun here.

I, of course, remained awake through the night, since my penchant for immediately falling asleep on planes fails me whenever it's an overnight flight and I know I'll have to stay awake for a full day when I arrive. Ain't that always the way?

Cast of characters.
We were traveling, as I've noted previously, with Distinguished Brands International, the Colorado-based distributor who brings, among other brands, Budvar (Czechvar) to these shores, and visiting the Budvar brewery was the primary purpose of the trip.

Our traveling party consisted of Jeff Coleman, president of DBI; DBI sales reps Kiff Forbush and Terry McSweeney, both of whom appeared in my October 2003 account of a previous DBI trip and have somehow still held onto their careers; DBI's Jillian Blodgett and husband Nate; four representatives from New Age Beverage in Denver (Chuck Northrup, Brian Keller, Melissa Kier & Rick Hunt); Ralph Mauriello, owner of S K I Wholesale Beer Corp. in Brooklyn; the Director of Hockey and Head Coach of the Englewood (Col.) Junior Eagles (this will makes sense eventually), and Ms. Barto and Teri Grove, a friend who was embarking on a multi-week adventure which would take her from the Colorado to the Czech Republic to Los Angeles to Amsterdam to, if I've counted correctly, Tuscany and Umbria at this very moment, plus six, count 'em six, beer writers.

Ah yes, the writers. An evil bunch, all in all, as you might imagine: some local guy named Bryson; Kerry Byrne, out of Boston, who spent the whole trip agonizing over problems with Cold, Hard Football Facts, his new website which was offline the whole time while he seethed; Ron Givens, a New Yorker who beer stories often appear in the New York Daily News; Greg Glaser, who's a regular with Yankee Brew News, All About Beer and other publications; Jim Lundstrom, of the Appleton Post-Crescent, whose "Beer Man" columns are syndicated by Gannet Newspapers, and li'l old me.

Nineteen total, not all of whom were on the plane but explaining what happened is more than can be accomplished here, I'm afraid. Here's an idea: catch me at the bar someday, buy me a beer and just say Melissa did WHAT? and I'll give you the whole story.

Or make one up.

Day One: Budvar.
We landed in Prague around 8 am their time (2 am ours) and hopped on a bus for a two hour ride to Ceske Budejovice where the brewery is located. At this point we met our regular bus driver, whose English was restricted to standing in the aisle each time we boarded, grinning evilly and saying loudly No democrats here. I dictator! and then shouting Seatbelts! Seatbelts! until everyone complied (you don't want to imagine what happened when he found our trash left behind), and our translator, a very nice lady whose technique consisted of telling us the same thing over and over in different ways in consecutive sentences. Once we stopped and bought a case or two of Budvar for the bus, none of that seemed to matter much.

We checked into Hotel Dvorak (I managed to squeeze in a shower in that scheduled ten minute process, having learned on the past DBI trip that there would be an added period of mindless milling about of which I could take advantage) and then drove to the brewery for lunch and a tour.

Since I'm in the process of writing at least two, and maybe more, stories about Budvar as a result of the trip (kinda what the DBI folks hoped would happen), I'll not give away the good stuff here. We did learn that, as of last year, Budvar began producing a Dark Lager, which quickly became a favorite among the writers and that brewmaster Josef Tolar is, shall we say, a very cautious man who is obsessed with the quality of his product. And, oh yeah, it's a very good product. Of all the best known Czech brews that we tried during this whirlwind journey, I'd say it was clearly the best tasting and most interesting (and yes, that includes Pilsner Urquell and further yes, I say that because it's true and not because we were, in a sense, guests of the brewery).

Tolar gave us a tour of his very impressive brewery, during which I, and others, tried to pin him down a bit about when draft Budvar (Czechvar in this country because of the ongoing legal battle with Anheuser-Busch over the use of the Budweiser as a brand) would begin arriving in the U.S. You can read the results of that effort in this Beer Yard news story)

That evening, we had dinner at a place called Maly Pivovar, a (surprise!) Budvar bar, where I was reminded that one of the basic questions about meals in certain parts of the world is what sort of pork do you want with your pork? and where the missing members of our party finally arrived (the ones who weren't on the plane), as did Honza Kocha.

Honza, you will recall, is a Czech I met in Washington, DC in 2002 while attending Michael Jackson's 60th Birthday Party at the famed Brickskeller. Both Givens and I had been in email communication with him and he'd promised to set us up for further beer experiences once we settled in Prague. He told us about his plans for Sunday, our free day of the four we were on the ground and there were smiles all around. You'll find out about that when we get there in this, despite my protests, long and rambling tale.

After dinner we went someplace else, a spot with various rooms and corridors, some settling up front for music and dancing, others in the rear where more drinking ensued. The only thing of note I can recall about this period (we'd been up about 30 hours now, I note in my defense) is that talk during dinner of shots of Absinthe had been mentioned as dinner ended at Maly Pivovar, but were somehow sidetrack by shots instead of Becherovka and Slivovice. That was nice, but still....a promise is a promise.

Promise fulfilled! Here came Kiff across the room, bright, almost luminous green color radiating from the glasses on the tray he carried. I reached out and took one, raised it to my lips...

And here the curtain falls (perhaps the "curtin" as well) on Day One.

Day Two. Lew dances (wait until you learn what he does on Day Three).
On Friday, the morning was devoted to a tour of the Castle of Cesky Krumlov in a town about half an hour from Cesky Budejovice. This involved a strenuous walk up a very long and very steep hill, during which it appeared that we might, well, kill Bryson. I was very worried, of course, not because I love him like a brother but because I was walking behind him and, well, if he went down, he was likely to take me with him.

Once we were up by the castle proper, we were afforded our first really striking views in the Republic, looking down over the old walled city and the new city which grew up around it and the river Vltava on which the city sits. References to the city of Krumlov appear as early as 1253 and if you use the link above to scroll about, you'll see much of what we did...without Bryson panting at your side.

We had lunch at the Gold Hotel, an event which was a bit over the top for our sort, including a martini, two wines, sherry, cognac and, thank the beer gods, Czechvar. Afterwards we were on our own for a few hours, a period which involved finding an internet cafe (203 email messages after I'd been away less than two days, only two of them of any import at all), various pubs, a brief side trip by taxi by the writers to the Eggenberg Brewery and much else lost forever in brain cells damaged by the day's activities (and possibly the previous evening's Absinthe.

In the evening (have you noticed that there is never any time for sleeping in all this?), we had dinner at Hotel Pavlac and then, well, it got confusered (© at some indeterminate time in the past by Carl Pietrantonio, who had nothing better to do ).

When we'd finished eating, the writers, who tended to hang together in a pack, accepted a vague direction by our host, that nice Mr. Coleman, to follow those guys to some place called Palm Beach (likely name, that) where we would all meet up again. But "those guys" instead were off to an Irish pub which, apparently we'd tried to go to the night before but which was closed (I kinda remember Coleman and somebody else pounding on the door). We chatted with "those guys" for a bit, during which Jim Lundstrom, whose real job at the Appleton paper is writing about music and entertainment, learned that one of them was an extra in a forthcoming movie directed by one of the Monty Python guys and that they were headed for a party where one of the directors would be in attendance and, well, abandoned us. the rest of us, having no such useful options, set out to find the rest of the group.

Which we never did. We in fact ended up stumbling into, horror of horrors, a karaoke bar where a large lady immediately grabbed Bryson and hauled him out on to the dance floor (okay, she grabbed me too, but I'm slippery and rapidly snuck away).

Karaoke and Bryson dancing? Not to mention the song YMCA in Czech? The mind reels. Can you even harbor a doubt when I say I don't recall the rest of the night? Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Day Three, Part One: Hockey. You remember hockey, right?
It's Saturday and we're up early on the bus to Prague, where we will settle at Hotel Grand Bohemia, and grand it truly is. Here I could stay for a while, except that we don't actually "settle in;" we drop off our bags since our rooms aren't yet ready and head off for lunch at Resturace & Penzion U Medvidku, a fine place which has, amazingly enough, a Budvar bar. Imagine that.

Then it's off to Pardubice, where the local hockey team is up 2-0 in the National Czech Hockey Championships and we have seats. Honza, by the way, has arranged for us to pick up a case of "the only porter brewed in the Czech Republic" at a local brewery near the arena where the game will be played if we can work it out; that, sadly, never happens.

You all remember hockey, right? White guys on skates? Lots of inept fighting? Scoring at pace below which only soccer ranks? Yeah, that game. This match starts out--how to put this?--so bad that the mind boggles. Guys are missing passes by ten feet or more. Shots on goal? It is to laugh. It's 0-0 at the end of the first period, some of which I actually slept through (get it where you can), and I offer, if need be, to throw myself on the ice late in the third period and create a distraction so one team can score if it appears we are heading for overtime. But the pace picks up, Pardubice scores twice and wins (they would take the championship in a sweep the next night) and I am spared giving up my body.

Highlights: shapely young women in increasingly skimpy outfits keep coming out onto ice in pregame ceremonies and at breaks, but this most interesting progression sadly stops when the ice-cleaning teams, two girls each, in tiny halter tops and tinier shorts, make their appearance (still, this quartet returned at every stoppage of play, so no complaints here). The crowd does the wave and chants PAR-DU-BICE over and over. And when the game ends, several members of the winning team, including the goalie, who has been spectacular, come out and dance for the crowd on the ice, still in their skates, while leading cheers. Most of them sport mohawks, orange hair and other manifestations of the 21st Century which have Coleman muttering to himself, appropriate payback for having sent us off in the darkness the night previous.

We have a fine dinner at a place called, or maybe not, Saverka, a short walk away, where I sit with the aforesaid Coleman and am reminded I have never asked the man a question to which he has not come back with a mind-boggling story to make whatever point he has to make. This night his stories are tales of one-legged hockey moms, crazed hockey parents and other matters best left unrevealed. On my other side is previously mentioned hockey guy Mike Caple, who is along because it turnes out that Coleman, who also coaches junior hockey, has insisted he come, presumably so he'd have someone to talk hockey with. Caple, as nice a person as I've met it some time, has just recently been married, so that was some strong insistence, y'know.

Back in Prague and finally checked in, the best and the brightest and the still awake gather at the hotel bar for beers and decisions. Where shall we go next and what shall we do? Bryson pulls out a map (he, by the way, though we never took advantage of it, was the only one of us to come to Prague with not only a list of good beer spots, but also of bakeries and pastry shops, and I'm not kidding) and allows as how there's a brewpub right around the corner.

With that, the beer writers are on the streets again, heading for....

Day Three, Part Two: Worst. Proposition. Ever.
It's now somewhere between 1 and 2 in the morning. We are lost, in the sense that we can't find the place we've set out to find (we learned the next day that it's closed for renovations) and determined not to retreat to the hotel in shame. The other four guys are about half a block in front of us while Lundstrom and I lag behind. Suddenly a young woman rushes out of the shadows and grabs him, but he breaks free. Now she turns her attention to me.

She grabs me--and by "grabs me" I mean "grabs ME," if you get the picture--presses herself against me and says

Sex! Sex! Two Minutes! Two Minutes!
Two minutes? Holy cow, I say to myself. She wants to have a cigarette and talk about it afterwards? Or maybe foreplay?

Okay, I don't think that. Or say that. What I do say, loudly, several times, is Gay! Gay! which I think is damned clever. And it works. Before I can even add the obligatory Not that there's anything wrong with that, she steps back and walks away.

It is then pointed out to me, when I catch up to the others, that she might have had her brother waiting there in the shadows and I could really have been, well, screwed. I shudder and we move on.

Day Three, Part Three: Lew farts.
Eventually we came across Tlusta Koala, which appeared to be a small pub and turned out to be a large one, with a much bigger back room not visible from the street. We went it and sat down and ordered beers. Next to us was a table of four women, on a platform raised about two feet above ours. That elevation and juxtaposition apparently did not serve them well as they were the prime beneficiaries when Bryson, to put this more politely than I did in the headline above, broke wind. Proficiently.

It turned out to be, in my experience at least, the most memorable, I'd have to say unique, "opening line" in barroom history. Who the bloody hell did that? yelped one of the ladies, who turned out to be from England, Scotland and Ireland. And the game was on. Glaser, who was seated closest to the women (and over whose head Lew's salvo had apparently passed harmlessly), soon became engaged in a serious conversation and Givens, whose appearance would lead one to believe he was the most angelic of the bunch, announcing my hearing is bad and I can't understand Scottish from a distance, promptly joined their table.

I didn't participate immediately, having had my quota of strange females for the evening, which was probably wise, because the topic of discussion quickly became international politics, with U.S. policy as the focus. This led to an eruption of sorts when Byrne joined in, the women's less than favorable evaluation of the Bush agenda clashing with his, um, troglodyte political perspectives. Between that and all of them casting the occasional wary glance toward Lew, it was a weird conclusion to a long day.

Day Four: In the hands of Honza.
Sunday morning we--that, is, the writers, and I guess it's about time to let you see us in all our glory, so below please find, left to right, Byrne, Bryson, Glaser, Lundstrom, some guy not smart enough to hold his stomach in when a camera is pointed his way & Givens; photo courtesy of "the lovely and talented Sheryl Barto" (© 2003, Liquid Diet Online)

--joined in the first part of a pre-arranged sightseeing tour of Prague, the Old Town part, then left the group and walked over the historic Charles Bridge to wend our way, with the help of Jiri Klang, Budvar area manager and our invaluable aide and guide during the visit whose name I should have mentioned earlier, to Pivovar U Fleku, the famed brewpub which has been pouring beers for more than 500 years.

Honza was waiting in front, having arranged a special behind-the-scenes tour for us, a good thing indeed, as the quick impression of the public face of U Fleku is that it is now mostly a tourist spot. Honza confirmed that few Czech citizens go there, but attributed that to the prices. Not that I wouldn't visit the place if I were in Prague on my own, understand--and the beer is quite good--but it's nice to be privileged now and then, and that we were.

After a brief introductory presentation--and beer--in a downstairs tasting room, we were given a complete tour. The historic brewhouse dates back to 1900 and the fermenting tanks were still oak until a more modern reconstruction went into place in 1986. This is a beautifully maintained, unique facility and tours are available to the public (for a price); I'd recommend you take one if you're ever in the city.

Our next stop was Pivovarsky Dum ("Home of the Brewer"), a brewpub which opened in 1998, which offers both a light and dark lager (sort of de rigueur in the Czech Republic) and a variety of more adventuresome brews, six of which we tasted. Among the latter, a lager made with, of all things, nettles, was the best (then again, the best soup in Ireland last time I was there was made with thistle). Other options: sour cherry, chili, coffee. banana and wheat). Brewer Jan Suran's basic lager was the best we had during the entire trip, albeit softer and smoother and more in the German style than most Czech lagers. We happily enjoyed that with lunch, along with samplers of the other brews.

Honza then brought out five cases of various Czech beers, five bottles each of roughly 20 different ones for our sampling. Bryson and Byrne abandoned us at some point during all this, I should note, just so you know who was on the case and who wasn't. Among the beers we tried, and I admit to having given up on my notes after a bit, were Ostravar, a strong beer (6% abv) from Staropremen and the strongest beers made in the Republic, Primator Knight's Lager (9% abv) and Double (10% abv), the former much more drinkable than the latter.

We ended with several beers from Pivovar Herold, a 500-year old brewery in Breznice which is currently being managed by American David Porteous, who fortuitously showed up as we were doing so. Herold is now being distributed in the U.S. and I'm planning to write more about them for, y'know, money, so no stories here. We sampled Herold Bohemian Black Lager, Herold Bohemian Wheat Lager and Herold Midnight Wheat, which has, not surprisingly (though you'll have to wait until I write that story to find out why), been featured by Michael Jackson's Rare Beer Club.

Glaser left us at that point, but Givens, Lundstrom and I pressed on with Honza to Kalsterni Pivovar & Restaurace Sv. Norbert, where we were greeted by brewmaster and Martin Matuska and enjoyed what was probably the best dark lager we had during the trip, as well as a sample of his amber lager. Very nice place, this one.

Finally, it was back to the hotel, just in time to catch up with everybody and dinner at Celnice, near the hotel. This was probably our best meal of the trip, After than, and a brief milling around at the hotel, most of us ended our adventure back at Tlusta Koala which, as we should have guessed from its name, turned out to be an "Aussie pub."

Thus endeth these chronicles. Unless I think of something else.

Coming up next.
A Craft Brewers Conference report, but lord only knows when. And tasting notes from last Monday and possibly tonight.

[Edited & Reposted 9:20 am edt]

17 April 2005
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace...
You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna take the day off, read a book, watch a movie, be nice to me. What a great concept.

I could get bored, admittedly, 'cause I'm not that much fun. If I do, posting about the adventures of the past two weeks will begin anon, as promised Friday. If I find it's good to be a layabout, said posting will likely start Tuesday, 'cause tomorrow I gots to go to the Beer Yard and pick up the pieces, then gather with the Usual Gang of Reprobates at Sly Fox Phoenixville so they can welcome me back with tears of joy and free pints...

Or something like that.

[Posted 2:00 Pm edt]

15 April 2005
Back. Beat. Busy.
Home again is the wanderer, but only for a few hours a day, what with the Craft Brewers Conference downtown. I've put up several stories about that event just where you'd expect if you want a glimpse at what's going on.

More on the Conference and our adventures in the Czech Republic will be forthcoming, but probably not before Sunday at the earliest.

Good stuff though, and worth the wait. Revelations will include Lew Bryson's, um, unique method of striking up a conversation with the next table in late night pubs and tales of bonding with beer writers who may be even stranger than those you've already encountered. Not to mention receiving the worst streetwalker pitch ever devised. Really.

Plus there were dancing hockey players, a despotic bus driver and, of course, "the lovely and talented Sheryl Barto" (© 2003, Liquid Diet Online). And, oh yeah, beer.

Each thing in its time. Bear with me. Or not.

[Posted 9:50 am edt]

4 April 2005
Dick Cantwell's 30-day beer diet.
I don't know how many of you will be able to lay hands on a copy, but the regular "What the Butler Saw" column by Elysian Brewing's Dick Cantwell in the current issue of American Brewer is fascinating.

As an experiment, Cantwell decided that for one month, I will ingest nothing but beer. He started off the first day with a Belgian ale for breakfast and then drank beers, really good beers for the most part, for all his meals for a 30-day period.

The result? I have experienced spans of lucidity and lost close to fifteen pounds.

Sounds like a success to me. I'd try it because I could stand to take off those fifteen pounds (admittedly, since Dick included a daily mile long swim in his routine, that might be a misleading parameter), but that "lucidity" thing kinda scares me.

Not sure I want to risk that. Who in the world would I talk to then?

About that Ballantine Ale experiment.
Not gonna happen. For one thing, among our array of beer folks, only Wanderin' Joe and I can recall the original and we both already agree that Sly Fox Glacier IPA did kinda sorta taste the way we remember.

Note I say "did," and that's the other thing. Glacier appears to be changing (or my taste buds are). I had a pint Friday night and it came across as hoppier and bigger, without the medicinal, quinine-like opening salvo which was what we both had reacted to. This is not a bad thing, understand, and Glacier remains a very drinkable beer. In fact, the BA crowd and other hops-centric folk will probably like it even more now. I'll buy Joe a pint tonight at the Monday Tasting and see if he agrees with my revised opinion.

[Posted 1:15 pm edt]

2 April 2005
Beer Yard April Fool's Day archive.
We had our fun with the local beer scene yesterday for the second April Fool's Day in a row. For the convenience of Beer Yard regulars who missed out, and anyone visiting here who cares, I've archived the stories here. The archived material looks a lot more like this page than the Beer Yard pages but the content is the same.

We've heard from several of our victims, as you might expect, but only one has provided us with a public statement and, as you might also expect, it was the irrepressible Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head:

I will neither confirm or deny the validity of this story. Except for the f-ed up part in the book where I recount my S & M adventures with Spuds MacKenzie. That part I'm afraid I have to confirm. Bestiality's best, boys, bestiality's best!
And you wonder why the beer world loves him.

Good stuff in the mundane press.
Yesterday's Joe Sixpack column tells a local beer story I'd never heard before about the last days of Schmidt's of Philadelphia and how the arrival of Coor's in the Philadelphia market helped them survive a bit longer.

And this Ken Wells story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal is yet another example of the ever-increasing interest in good beers in all media. Wells, you will recall, is the author of Travels with Barley and he will be the banquet speaker at the Craft Brewers Conference when it's held in Philadelphia April 13-16.

Since I've just discovered that the Wells' story, which was free yesterday, is now only available to registered members of the WSJ site, I'll give you at least a taste of it here. It's titled Dear Beer: Why Are Aged Brews Fetching $100? and opens like this:

Here's a riddle: What winemaker produces Ommegang Abbey Rare Vos? A 750-milliliter bottle had just arrived at our table with cork intact, and a retail price, according to a chalkboard above the bar, of $16.50.

Actually, Ommegang Abbey Rare Vos isn't a European wine. It's a beer. Next question: Can beer -- any beer -- be worth $16.50 a bottle?

It's possible to pay much more. At the same Manhattan bar where we tried Rare Vos, a sister beer was on the menu for $25. (Both are made by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., in a centuries-old style pioneered by Belgian Trappist monks.) Others are dearer still: One Vermont brewery sells a strong brew that's aged in old bourbon casks and retails for $20 in stores -- and more in bars.

San Diego's Stone Brewing has a vintage, barrel-aged drink it calls Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale that costs $65 in stores and $100 or more on bar and restaurant "beer menus." (Take heart: It comes in three-liter bottles.) And the maker of Samuel Adams beers now has an aged brew that costs $100 a bottle, wholesale.

The concept of "aged" beer itself flies in the face of conventional wisdom...

That's about as far as we can go in accord with "fair use" standards.

I can tell you that Wells assembled "up a small posse of willing drinkers who consider themselves to be enthusiastic amateurs but not yet full-fledged Beer Geeks" and they went to New York's great Blind Tiger Ale House and ordered the nine most expensive beers on the menu for a Big Beer sampling. Top three finishers: Cave-Aged Ommegang ($25), Brasserie des Geants Giant ($18) and Saison Dupont ($16).

Meanwhile, on the net...
Over at BeerAdvocate.com, this thread cracks me up. Eventually, on the fifth(!) page, if you make it that far, site honcho Todd Alstrom sums up the ongoing exchange right nicely: "Another dumb thread." And then, of course, Lew Bryson, who just never learns, jumps in. Such fun.

UPDATE: The thread mentioned above has disappeared from BeerAdvocate, presumably having been taken down by the management. That's the second time this week a "dumb thread" has been shut down. Geez, clueless BAs annoy the hell out of me, but if they're starting to bother the Alstrom Bros...well, I guess we'll see. I knew nothing good could come of Bryson joining the fray.
Still, that stuff was just the icing on the cake anyway, 'cause at PubCrawler.com, a certain well know Philadelphia publican goes all postal on the know-nothings in a review thread for Philly's Eulogy Belgian Tavern. Yes, it's real; I checked.

[Posted 1:10 pm edt; Updated 5:00 pm est]

1 April 2005
Breaking news.
I just put up some big, exclusive news stories (the kinda stuff you don't get from the likes of Bryson) about Victory's mind-boggling new direction, an amazing and entirely unexpected book from Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione and a startling, just-revealed secret about Troegs.

Plus I have updates on exciting new developments at Flying Fish, Sly Fox and Yards, not to mention the you'll-never-believe-this truth about one of Philadelphia's best known publicans.

All that, and more, can be found this very minute in the News section at The Beer Yard.

Read 'em while you still can. There are people who will do anything to stop these stories from seeing the light of day, trust me.

[Posted 12:05 am edt]

The complete March 2005 postings have been archived here.

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

--A. E. Houseman


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