I used to be Snow White... but I drifted - Mae West
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March 20th, 2016  Little Rock, Arkansas  Issue 458

A Publication of JohnTheBeerSnob.Com

Also on Facebook as John The Beer Snob and Twitter as @JohnTheBeerSnob.
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In This Issue

  • Oskar Gets Bigger... Again.

Happnin's - See Event Highlights for more...

  • Stone Brewing Launch Week, Various Locations (details next week), March 29-April 1st
  • Stone's Throw Beer Dinner, Southern Gourmasian, March 29th
  • Rare Tapping to Benefit AR-AER, Flying Saucer, April 14th
  • American Craft Beer Week, Nationwide, May 16-22
     
  • If you know of a beer related event you'd like to see listed here, email me at JohnTheBeerSnob@Hotmail.Com.

Upcoming Festivals
  • Food & Foamfest, Dickey Stephens Park, April 1st (no foolin')
  • Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival, Hot Springs Convention Center, May 21st
  • Great Arkansas Beer Festival, aka GArBF, Summer 2016
  • Block on Rock, Rock Street Near Stone's Throw, July 30th, 2016
  • Little Rocktoberfest, Fall 2016
  • Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival, Fall 2016
        for more details on these events see Event Details below

Just a Few Thoughts


Arrogant Bastard (99/99)* and the Stone Brews lineup will be here on March the 28th. I got to taste my first Arkansas imported Arrogant Bastard this past week at Samantha's, as a few Stone intro samples made their way to the retailers in our area. We'll be able to buy them from our favorite liquor stores and bars a week from Monday. This is just too good to be true. When I wake up and realize it was all just a dream, I am going to be pissed. Next up, Bell's. Wow.

Rebel Kettle seems to be making some progress again, towards opening our next great local brewery. John didn't elaborate, but my weekly check-in produced a slightly more optimistic reply than in weeks past. Looking forward to the day, when it finally comes.

After that, we'll start tracking the progress of The Water Buffalo's quest. Nolen Buffalo has a dream to turn his home brew/gardening shop into a working brewery. He's in the earlier stages, but know that the building is really coming along (built behind the current structure). Hopefully we'll see him brewing by summer.

A new happenin' in our fair state, Diamond Bear is branching out into some new territory. There are three new beers there and all are a significant departure from their standard lineup.

The first is the Trogan Tripel (NR). This beer is a tribute to the three point prowess of our Little Rock Trojans, it is a triple malted ale, which is very solid, coming in with a big ABV of about 9%. Bright yellow, almost golden in color. Being a golden strong ale you expect and get some very sweet notes on the front end with the combination of a good zest on the back. This is a big beer, and the alcohol is well hidden. Careful!

Next, the White Rock White (NR) is a Belgian White ale. Its name was derived from a mountain in northern Arkansas, "where the hike is long but the finish is so nice". Coming in around 6.28% ABV with a mild 24.3 on the IBU’s, this is perfect for your avid beer drinkers as well as your “social” drinkers. The Trappist yeast really gives it a wonderful flavor, and there's a tartness that stirs your taste buds. There is an addition of orange peel bringing a zest that adds a nice touch. To my knowledge, this is the first time DB released a beer made with a Belgian yeast. I've urged them to for years, hopefully this won't be the last. Love it.

Third, the Black Bear Black IPA (NR), is as you might guess, dark in color (24.4 SRM) with a floral aroma and citrus undertones, the perfect contradiction. Coming in right at 6% ABV with a balanced 41 on the IBU’s it’s a pretty sessionable IPA. The nose is an important part about this beer, setting the tone for nice hoppy aroma. The body is creamy both in mouthfeel and flavor and it has a finish of citrus that satisfies the palate. This beer is perfect for the changing of the seasons.

Speaking of Arkansas breweries, I got to visit a new one recently. M and I were entertaining our nieces this past week, and were exploring NW Arkansas. Once our day was done, I set out to explore Bentonville. I had three places in mind. The first was a disaster. I sat with a friend and was completely put off with the vibe of a very stressed out bartendress, who made my one beer there as unenjoyable as possible. Since I've only been there for this one very brief visit, and only interacted with this one employee, I'll cut them a break and not mention the name. Email me if you want to know. Bottom line, I go to bars to leave my stress behind, not to spend money to take on someone else's.

Next up was Bike Rack Brewing. I asked Siri for directions, as I knew it was within walking distance. She responded by giving me directions to 'buy crack'. I quickly canceled and clarified. Arriving from the other place and entering Bike Rack, was like going from Omega to Alpha. I was greeted at the bar by a wonderful server named Erika, a smart, delightful, attractive young woman who knew all about the beer and the story of the brewery. Turns out she's one of the brewers, yet another talented female brewer in our fine state. She was about to give me the full rundown, when in walked Steve, one of the owners, who recognized me, and the gig was up. I VERY much enjoyed the evening, so much so that I did not get to make my third stop. More next week on this great little brewery.

A week from Monday the next big beer dinner at Southern Gourmasian will be happening. Have you been to one of these? They are amazing. I'll have the menu by next week, so I'll keep you posted. Always wise to make reservations...

I've been talking a lot about sampling over the past two weeks. This is the practice where you can get a small taste of a beer before committing to a pint. . Click here to read a great related article sent to me by our good man Ale E. Ron. In this article the writers espouse the benefits of giving away these small portions and showing hard evidence as to how profitable it can be to do so. A good read for those in the business.

It's been 35 years since Ken Grossman and Paul Gamusi released the venerable Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (95/98), a beer that quickly became the flagship of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. It was a day that will live in craft beer history. This beer quickly became my go-to beer early in my craft beer journey. I was so surprised by the taste. The term Pale Ale put me off. I'd seen it many a time, and avoided the beer. I thought it sounded kind of weak. The first time I tried this one, my opinion was forever changed. This beer established what a West Coast Pale Ale should taste like, landing on the very hoppiest end of the Pale Ale spectrum. It comes about as close to an IPA as you can get, without being called one. This beer took me to the next level in my quest, and will always be one of my faves. Click here to read a related article.

There's a fund raiser coming up April 14th , and all you need to do to contribute is to drink great beer. Starting at 5pm @Flying Saucer, you can drink for the Arkansas Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. AR-AER for short. There will be a rare taping from Stones Throw and Lost Forty that night. One dollar for each of those  beers sold will be donated to AR-AER. There will also will be a $2 raffle with lots of different prizes. Sounds like fun... see you there... for charity of course. Here is a link to the Facebook event page.

As a follow up to last week's story on how our local homebrewed beer ended up winning Best of Show at the Bluebonnet last week. Our man on the street, HomeBrewDoc, interviewed the winners and posted the same on his blog. This is a very interesting article, and I urge you to visit his blog and check out this very thoughtful interview. Nicely done Doc.

The 19th iteration of Food and Foamfest, is a mere 2 weeks away. The event will again be held at Dickey Stephens Park, and it looks like it will be bigger and better than ever. Click here to buy your tickets, and type 'BEERSNOB' in the discount code for your discount. I strongly recommend you buy the VIP ticket. Please get your ticket early, especially if you're going to get the VIP, as they usually sell out. Quit fartin' around and get those tickets!!!

Blues and Cigars

Oskar Blues Brewery announced the acquisition of Tampa's Cigar City Brewing this past week. According to the brewery, the decision is driven by "mutual irreverence, respect and desire to stay true to craft beer roots".
 
The combination stems from the want to take risks, sniff out bullsh*t and grow against-the-grain in an era of increasing competition within craft beer. The collaboration will match the years of large-scale growth, expansion expertise and resources of Oskar Blues with the strength of Cigar City's local following to help both breweries strengthen their future position. Similarly to Oskar Blues, Cigar City's award-winning brews are well known and respected within the craft community.
 
"Cigar City is facing next-level challenges and we needed to develop next-level skills and resources to meet them. But, we got into beer out of passion and an unwavering desire to travel our own path. We didn't want to just shove our round peg into some f*cking square hole and hope for the best. Florida craft beer drinkers want something they can proudly stand behind. These guys get that. They wrote the book on keeping it real," says Joey, founder of Cigar City Brewing.  Joey will remain as CEO of Cigar City following the transaction.
 
Since 2009, Cigar City Brewing has achieved a near constant growth pattern reaching nearly 60,000 barrels in 2015, placing the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida on the craft beer map. The partnership will provide additional investment for Cigar City's infrastructure growth within Florida. 
 
"What Cigar City has done for the community of Florida craft beer is impressive.  It's important for our culture to do business with people we want to hang out with and Joey and the gang fit," Dale Katechis, Soul Founder of Oskar Blues, stated about the new partnership.
 
Oskar Blues Brewery started brewing beer in 1999 in Lyons, CO and in 2002, with the decision to go into production for the outside world, they dedicated themselves to exclusively to using cans instead of bottles. This was very risky at the time. In 2008, the brewery expanded to a much larger facility down the street to Longmont, CO. and added an additional brewery in Brevard, NC in 2012. Oskar Blues brewed 192,000 barrels in 2015 and announced another brewery in Austin, TX scheduled to open in May of 2016.

With the trend emerging where the mega-big breweries like Bud, Miller/Coors and Heineken, buying up some of the best craft brewers in the land, it's refreshing to see those larger craft beer folks beating them to the punch. It is obvious that Oskar Blues is interested in going large. Look for more of this to come.
 
Terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.
 
Oskar Blues distributes to 49 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Canada, Sweden, and the U.K.  
 





As a post script, I've been thinking a lot about how it would feel if one of our Arkansas breweries sold out. Would we continue to think of it as one of 'ours'? Perhaps a future article is in order to explore the concept. The day is coming, mark my words.


That's all for now. See you next week, I'm off to the kegerator.

Your (self-proclaimed!) Beer Snob,


John Wells, CBS, BCoLR-CDC, MoA, OCP&SI


email: JohnTheBeerSnob@Hotmail.com
web: JohnTheBeerSnob.Com
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Twitter - @johnthebeersnob
 
 

Event Highlights in Detail...

Foamfest April 1st, is the grandaddy of them all. This is the original beer festival in Arkansas. Back at the same location, Dickey Stephens Park, look for hundreds of beers to sample, plenty of food available, all included in the admission price. Tickets are $40 for general admission, $65 for VIP (recommended), $20 for designated drivers.Click here to buy tickets, and enter BEERSNOB for a discount.
 

Comings and Growings (alphabetical order)


Asana Alehouse Brewing This new brewery will likely be either in the Park Hill, Heights, or Hillcrest area. Caleb Looney and Alisyn Reid are big fans of craft beer and yoga, and this brewery will surely be a blend of both. Planned beers include a Lavender IPA, Savasana Stout, Fiery Ginger Beer and a Summer Wheat. Methinks I may attend my first yoga class in a brewery. The goal is to be open by fall. 

Ballast Point Brewing- This company will be bringing two IPAs rated higher than any we've seen. Ballast Point Sculpin (100/100)* has at times been the top rated IPA in the world, and currently sits in the #8 position. This will be, by far, the highest rated IPA ever to grace our market. Another variation on this beer, The Grapefruit Sculpin (100/100) currently sits at #30. Had they only brought this one, it would still, by far, be the highest rated IPA in our market. Ballast Point has 6 beers rated 100, and 26 beers in the 97th percentile or higher. Their lowest rated beer is hearty 86/77. Their lowest rated beer is better than 85% of all beers made. World class, I'm excited. I'm guessing summer 2016.

Bell's Brewing is definitely coming. They've signed with Arkansas Craft. Springtime. This folks, is a bigdamdeal.

Blood Eagle Brewing Company I first met these guys at Little Rocktoberfest 2014. They brought some dang tasty brews, along with some great props to reflect their persona. Look for Blood Eagle beers to reflect a cross between Stone's Arrogance, Brew Dogs' bite... add in a little Hell's Angels, Metallica, and some Norse mythology a la Thor in between. Be brave... and ye shall be enlightened.

Call Sign, plans to open within the next year or two. All beers will be named for fallen aircraft.

Leap of Faith Brewing brewing as a gypsy so far, brick and mortar coming.

Rebel Kettle is planning for a mid-March opening didn't happen. Our newest brewery looks to be a dandy. The homebrew club got a sneak peek recently. The Central Arkansas Fermenters club met at the new location for the April meeting. The place has a wonderful vibe. It has a great combination of old building charm with modern brewery chic. We got to try a few of the beers they have in the making... very very tasty stuff. My favorite part is the outside area. It reminds me of a tailgate party. There's plenty of room to play. Break out the Frisbees but don't knock over my beer!  I can't wait to be able to hang out there. It very much reminds me of the great brewpubs of Asheville. 


Slate Rock Brewing is a concept that could become a brewery, perhaps the first in Clark County. Details as they come available. Met Shawn and Orianne recently, great folks... the kind we want in the business. The land has been purchased, so they are making progress.


* The Beer Ratings Explained:

All ratings listed in parenthesis are from RateBeer.Com.
This is a great place to read (or even write your own) reviews of any beer in the world. The ratings are designed to rate beers relative to all other beers, and then to measure them against all beers within the specific style.

At RateBeer.Com, reviewers not only describe, but also score the beer on appearance, flavor, smell, etc. Upon completion of the scales, the site converts the rating into a calculated score. Once enough scores are entered, two 'stratified' scores are displayed. I show those scores in parenthesis i.e. (55/66) If there aren't enough ratings to establish a calculated score, I'll indicate by (NR)

To understand the resulting scores, imagine stacking all the beers in the world on top of each other in order of the scores. You begin stacking the lowest ones then save the highest scores for last. You would then mark off 100 equal lines as you worked your way up the pile. The beers within each of these lines would represent that score/percentile. Those on top, down to the first mark, are the 100’s. When you get to the next line down, those are the 99’s and so on. The same number of beers are in each group. If there are 500 beers rated 100, then there will be 500 beers rated 99, and so on.

There is a significant difference in the two scores shown on the RateBeer pages. The first is a competition/comparison of all beers. The second number is actually more important in my mind. It is a competition of beers within that style. Imperial Stouts dominate the top of the pile, summer’s refreshing lagers don’t stand a chance against them. So if you want to buy a great lager, the second score is much more important.

Example: New Belgian Shift, listed as a Premium Lager, scores (74/97). In the all-beer pile it rises only to the 74th percentile. In the Premium Lager pile it rises way up to the 97th percentile, making it a World Class Premium Lager. When I come in from a bike ride, I’d much prefer the 74 rated Shift to the 100 rated Prairie Bomb!

The RateBeer.Com scores are quantative percentiles (measurable scales) which is quite different from qualitative (not measurable, but based on expert opinion) scoring. In qualitative scoring, there is no limit to how many beers are rated 100. It is a matter of subjective opinion of the small group of tasters (think Parker wine ratings). The RateBeer.Com quantified percentile rating is statistically measurable, averaged out over what a large population of beer drinkers score... geeks like you and me... The result is more of a comparison, a competition if you will, between beers. The beers are measured relative to each other using a precise scientific method. It is a much more valid and reliable way to rate beer than any other rating service I have seen.

Since it takes several folks rating a beer for a score to be established, and even then sometimes the scores are skewed from such a small sample size. In those cases the score will appear as (NR).

Write for Us!:

Report what you see. Express yourself. Find your muse. Tell us what is happening out there. Even if you don’t want to write an entire article, at least keep us posted as to what you know about activities and products coming into the market.

**Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed in this newsletter, unless directly quoted, are mine alone and do not necessarily (and often are the polar opposite) of those of the sponsors. On more than one occasion they've dusted off my britches, so please don't necessarily assume that they  agree with my ramblings.

No DWI:

If you’re out and about, and you realize you’ve had a beer or two too many, remember that there are several choices to keep you out of trouble. Call a taxi, call a friend, but please don’t ever drive drunk.

Research for articles almost always include a refresher course via Wikipedia and RateBeer.Com

 



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All references to the term Beer Snob are self-avowed and may be little more than the egotistical ramblings of John himself. It is unknown if he is highly qualified to be an expert at anything. He at least sounds like he knows what he's talking about when it comes to beer, but most people who listen to him talk about the same have been drinking, and are therefore unreliable. The term Beer Snob may not be valid in all 50 states, at the mid-point of the Gulf of Mexico, or in the most rural parts of Lonoke County (which if you don't know, is most of Lonoke County). If you have a low opinion of John, or disagree with anything he says, or have a problem with his being given any undue respect relative to his knowledge of beer, please keep it to yourself. All rights reserved. 

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