12 Best Beers

The 12 Best Beers

Charlie Blitzstein, Brewer

According to the website Paste, these are the 12 best beers;

Great Notion Brewing Ripe IPA
Offshoot Beer Co. Relax [It’s Just a Hazy IPA]
Sweetwater 420 Strain: G13
Burial Beer Co. Shadowclock Pilsner
Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. Industry Pils
Drake’s Hopocalypse Triple IPA
Fieldwork Brewing Co. Painted Gold
Monday Night Brewing Han Brolo
Fremont Brewing Co. Stone Squirrel
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
Brew Gentlemen III
Fremont Brewing Co Batch 1,000

Forget that some of these probably have limited distribution so that the only way you’ll get to taste one is to go on a road trip. But don’t forget that “the Best” is a highly subjective standard. Telling me that Drake’s Hopocalypse Triple IPA is the best IPA when I gag from to hoppy a beer makes me wonder. Tell me that it’s a great example of a Triple IPA and let me decide for myself. It wouldn’t make my top 500 list, not a super hoppy beer fan.

But, articles like these are useful in bringing to the forefront beers I might otherwise never notice. So, given that, what are your must-have brews?

It’s that time of the year

Grabbing the glass

By Brewmaster Charles Blitzstein

Fall is here. Leaves are starting to turn. And pumpkin everything is making it’s appearance.

Now I’m a guy that loves pumpkin pie, and I mean love. By pumpkin tea, cookies, donuts, coffee, ice cream, and more? Yuch! While I agree that chocolate makes everything better, the same does not go for pumpkin spice.

Please people. Let us purists have our pumpkin pie with whipped cream in peace and let us decry everything pumpkin in the other realms.

That being said, even I must brew a seasonal beer. So, no, not another pumpkin ale. This year it’s an homage to Ginger snap cookies. Hey, they are seasonal! So it’s gonna be Charlie’s Gingersnap Ale. Yes, it has pumpkin spice, but it has a full half pound of fresh ginger in the boil. It’s gonna be a big beer, with and ABV around 12.2. If that doesn’t put a little blush on those cheeks, I don’t know what will. (I’m sure we all could guess but hey, this is PG-13)

Like all things that come to pass, it will take a while. 10-14 days in the fermenter, 1-2 weeks in a secondary, then bottling conditioning and bottle aging.

So, November. Maybe I’ll open one or two by Thanksgiving. More on the flavor profile then. But if the wort flavor is any indication….wow!

David v Goliath

Once again, the fight for craft beer takes another turn as Distributers fight to keep craft breweries down. Don’t the Pols realize that the jobs craft beer produces are right there in their home state? Big beer might produce more jobs at a single plant, but the money produced goes out of state, and often out of the country. Craft beer profits stay here!


Feds lack a sense of humor.

indeed_lsd_600Recently, the Feds forced Indeed brewing to rename their brew from Lavender Sunflower Date, or LSD, Honey Ale to something more benign. Like anybody in this day and age would really think you could get beer with real LSD in it (from the brewery). Thankfully, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the agency acting as the Thought Police, don’t have dominion over everything. What would we do if they had the ability to reject names for Grateful Dead songs?

Come on, guys. Let the Big Dog eat. Let’s not get so uptight about tongue in cheek references.

More on this at http://www.citypages.com/restaurants/feds-force-indeed-to-change-their-lsd-inspired-beer-name-8191962

Winter Doldrums

6076532_01bebb5fee_zSpring cannot get here soon enough. It isn’t the worst winter we’ve had; compared to last year, it’s downright mild. But it has been a cold January and February. Hence, the garage has been too cold to brew in. Yes, the propane burners make it tolerable, but getting to that point is pretty bad.

I prefer being able to keep the garage doors open while I brew, or even move the show outdoors. There’s nothing like the feeling of brewing on a nice sunny day wearing street clothes, sans coat. Moving about with a thick outer coat on is an accident waiting to happen. I am waiting to stand near the boil kettle and start smelling charring wool. I’ve heard it can happen. (My summer grilling experience isn’t complete until I’ve singed all the hair off my arms)

Soon, real soon. The weather will break, and so will my budget as I ramp up production. I have upgraded to a Keggle setup so it’s 12 gallons at a time from now on. I plan to bottle a good deal of it, and keg some as well.

One good thing about wintertime, it gives you time to plan. I have several new recipes I’d like to brew and can’t wait.

Soon, real soon now…..

Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports

Was_soll_ich_werden_34You know you’ve arrived if you’re finally being rated in Consumer Reports

Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports.

Until now, craft beer has enjoyed modest publicity, being reviewed in mostly beer oriented publications and local media. Yes, we’ve had the occasional national article. Being rated by Consumer Reports kicks it up to a whole new level. It means we matter.

Interestingly, CR defines craft beer as beer that is produced by “small, independent, and traditional” brewers and “produces at most 6 million barrels of beer a year.” Six million barrels? I think it’s time we come up with a new definition of craft beer. I like the “small and independent” but “traditional”? I would hardly call Sam Calagione “traditional.” Let’s go with innovative. Six million barrels? Maybe in the case of Dogfish Head, but I doubt Neshaminy Creek Brewing, a Great American Beer Festival 2013 Gold Medal winner for their Churchville Lager, produces six million barrels. BeerTrotter, a website that reviews GABF winners, has Neshaminy Creek at “…around 1,100 barrels brewed in 2012, the building may be churning out as many as 7,000 barrels within a few years.”

I have some issues with the article. Shock Top being listed as a CR Best Buy? It’s inclusion as a craft beer is appalling, but that’s what you get when you define a craft as under six million barrels production. Most craft beer snobs sneer at their inclusion. To their credit, CR includes a statement that they  “…included craft beers that market themselves as such.” That explains a lot, but made me wrinkle my brow a bit. I think they should have refined their definition a bit before undertaking this type of review.

So what makes a craft beer? I think I’m going to go with a paraphrase of Justice Potter Stewart’s quote on pornography, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“Craft beer”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

What is your definition of a craft beer?

Happy New Year to you all

Happy New BeerWelcome 2015

2014 is officially in the books. No more can happen, bad or good that year. There were some high points, and some low points. But this is not where we discuss that.

One thing that has remained constant is beer. You can have one (or two) after a tough day at work to take the edge off. You can have several while celebrating a life event. What has changed over the years, is that the beer has gotten better. We are no longer tied to one of several mass-produced types of lager. We don’t have to settle for mass-produces mediocrity. The variety of beer out there, is staggering. Whether you like light beer that does have flavor, an amber with some bite to it, or a stout you can almost chew, it’s out there.

At times the choices can be daunting. Sometimes I spend more time mix and matching a six pack then I do in cooking the dinner for the beers. But I am rewarded when I take that first sip.

Lately, there has been some bantering on twitter about hops. Some consider the pro-hops faction to be beer snobs. Others want nothing but porters and stouts to be produced. All I can say is, be glad that whatever your preferences, you have a multitude of beers to choose from. We live in the Beer Days of Thunder. Breweries are opening at an incredible pace, each making a wide variety of types. If you can’t find a beer style that suits you today, you must not like beer.

Happy New Year.

In Fermentum Veritas

Charlie “Lightstone” Blitzstein

Joe Cocker – Dead at 70

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, Dead at 70.

RIP – Joe Cocker.

One of the formative musicians of my era has left us. My heart is heavy. Joe Cocker was, and is one of my favorite artists. His rendition of “The Letter” and “Unchain My Heart”

All I can think of is how to immortalize this talented man in a brew. I need to ponder this one a bit. I’m going to listen to his entire repertoire for inspiration. It’s the least I can do for such a talented man.

Any suggestions?

Pa. Agency Ruling Could Mean Home-Delivered Beer « CBS Philly

Pa. Agency Ruling Could Mean Home-Delivered Beer « CBS Philly.

Strangely enough, I remember beer deliveries to my grandparent’s house when I was very young. My grandfather received one case of Ballentine Ale every week. The beer distributor would drive down the street, stop, sling a case over his shoulder and put it in the back porch shed. He would grab the case of empties, collect payment and leave

Fifty years later, it’s now legal…..