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Monday, August 31, 2009

Pints for Prostates Marks National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month with Nine Events Across the U.S.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and the Pints for Prostates campaign will salute survivors of the disease at nine events taking place across the country.

The events, ranging from fundraisers at taverns to participation in beer festivals, are scheduled to take place in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio.

“The mission of Pints for Prostates is to reach men in a friendly and non-threatening way when they may be willing to listen to a message about prostate health screening and PSA testing,” said Rick Lyke, a 48-year-old Charlotte, N.C., marketing executive and drinks journalist who had successful prostate cancer surgery in April 2008. “Pints for Prostates uses the universal language of beer to encourage men to take charge of their health.”

Each week 4,000 men in the U.S. hear the words: “You have prostate cancer.” The key for these men is detecting the disease in the early stages when treatment is nearly 100 percent successful. The grassroots Pints for Prostates campaign is focused on building awareness among men of the importance of regular health screenings and PSA testing.

“All men should start getting screened for prostate cancer when they reach 40 years old,” Lyke said. “The death rate from prostate cancer has declined in the last two decades because of improvements in testing and treatment. Still, thousands of men die needlessly each year because there is a lack of information sharing. Prostate cancer occupies the same social standing as breast cancer did in this country 30 years ago. Thanks to the pink ribbon campaign’s impact on early detection, scores of women have survived breast cancer. Men need to talk to other men and shake off the stigma of prostate cancer.”

As part of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Pints for Prostates is participating in the following events around the United States:

• Pints for Prostates at E.B. Flatts at 245 W. Main St., East Brookfield, Mass., from Sept. 1-30. A portion of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the Pints for Prostates campaign.

• North Star Craft Brewery at 3501 Iron Ct. in Shasta Lake, Calif., on Sept. 12 from 3:30-11 p.m. Live bands, food and beer. http://www.northstarbrew.com/homepage/NorthStarBreweryFestivals.html

• Foothills Oktoberfest at 638 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem, N.C., on Sept. 12th from Noon to 2 a.m. German food, a costume contest, games and raffle.

• Rocco’s CafĂ© & Pizzeria at 1925 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 13 from 2:00-6:00 p.m. celebrating the success of the SEA Blue Walk, a joint venture between two 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network and Wellness Place, Cancer Education and Support. http://www.ustooevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=2009_Chgo_Splash

• Men’s Night Out for Pints for Prostates at The Pub in Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Parkway, Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 17th from 5:00-9:00 p.m. Beer, Scotch and Bourbon tastings, live music, food, silent auction and raffles. www.pubs4prostates.com.

• Pints for Prostates benefit at the Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Ave. in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 20th from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight. A portion of the day’s sales and donations to a raffle for some great prizes will be donated to the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network.

• Great American Beer Festival at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo., from Sept. 24-26. http://www.beertown.org/events/gabf/.

• Denver Rare Beer Tasting to benefit Pints for Prostates presented by All About Beer Magazine in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com at the Wynkoop Brewery at 1634 18th St. in Denver, Colo., on Sept. 25 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. www.allaboutbeer.com/pints.

• Pints for Prostates benefit at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery at 215 Southside Dr. in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 30th from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Beer sampling, brewery tours, food and live music.

About Pints for Prostates

Pints for Prostates, a campaign that uses the universal language of beer to encourage men to take charge of their health, was founded by prostate cancer survivor Rick Lyke in 2008. The grassroots effort raises awareness among men of the importance of regular health screenings and PSA testing by making appearances at beer festivals, social networking and pro bono advertising. All funds generated by Pints for Prostates benefit the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, a 501(c)3 charity that works to support, educate and advocate for men with prostate cancer and their families. More information is available at www.ustoo.org/pints. Pints for Prostates also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pub Crawl in Dublin

When I arrived in Ireland last Sunday I had a day to fill before the opening reception of the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit, so I decided to meet up with John Duffy, who writes The Beer Nut blog and is a fellow contributor to the upcoming book "1001 Beers to Try Before You Die" due out in the Spring 2010. John was good enough to take me on a pub crawl of some of his favorite spots in Dublin.

Our first stop was the Bull & Castle, located across the street from Christchurch Cathedral. Two fine beers at this stop were a cask conditioned O'Hara's Stout that was rich and Whitewater Brewery's Clotworthy Dobbin, a Belfast porter with a very nice caramel note.

We headed to the Porterhouse, a multiple location Dublin microbrewery founded in 1996. I founded the Wrasslers XXXX Full Stout at the Temple Bar location to be a rich classic dry stout. I then had an Oyster Stout to wash down an order of fish and chips. It was thick and creamy with hints of coffee. Later during my time in Dublin I made a stop at Porterhouse Central and enjoyed a rich Chocolate Truffle Stout that gave an immediate hit of 70 percent pure cocoa. Also the Porterhouse Plain Porter looks like a stout at first, but it gives off an amber glow. It has a rich roasted quality. This is a seriously good brewpub that should be on your itinerary if you are lucky to get to Dublin.

At our next stop, the Palace, we had a Franciscan Well Rebel Red, which was one of the better Irish reds I can recall having. Since we were in Ireland, I would kind of expect it to be a great example of the beer style. This Cork brewery did not disappoint.

Over a pint of Galway Hooker Pale Ale John tried to explain to me some of the rules of Gaelic football. I understood some of the rules, but frankly was lost on others. I was amazed that these skilled and fearless players don't get paid for getting smacked around on the weekend. There is certainly enough money flowing through this game between the full stadiums, television rights and jersey sales to pay the players handsomely. The scoring system, 3 points for a ball kicked into the goal and one point for one kicked through the uprights was easy to understand, but the way it is displayed on television is designed to confuse foreigners. The pale ale was fairly straight forward. No flaws, but compared to what you can get from dozens of U.S. micros, nothing outstanding. This brewery is about to expand and I'm sure it will add some interesting brews to its line up.

We hit Messrs. Maguire after a brisk walk and I had a half pint of the Plain. I was kind of amazed that the bar was pretty empty on a Sunday afternoon with both Gaelic football and soccer matches available on television. The beer was good and this place is worth a stop.

I enjoyed having John guide me to some of the better spots in Dublin on my first day. I went back to the Bull & Castle later that night for dinner and found the Guinness stew to be very tasty.

While attending the Livestrong Summit, a dinner one night took place at the Guinness Brewery. The Stout was obviously fresh and it was great to be able to enjoy one at the source. I also tried tastes two ales and a cider at the event, but the Guinness was my favorite, delivering a rich, smooth and roasty flavor.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Livestrong Global Cancer Summit

I’ve just returned from Ireland where I took part in the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit. Held at the Royal Dublin Society, the event attracted 500 delegates from 65 countries around the global. In attendance were government leaders, the heads of some of the leading cancer fighting organizations, chief executives of major corporations and individuals that are active in everything from early detection to assisting those diagnosed with the disease. There were also a large number of cancer survivors among the delegates.

Sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the summit was aimed at creating a clear call for action to address the global epidemic of cancer. By 2010, cancer will be the leading cause of death around the world. People diagnosed with cancer still face stigma and myths about the disease. The drain on personal finances and the broader economy is frightening. In a World Bank study commissioned by Livestrong, the annual economic impact of newly diagnosed cancer cases was pegged at $305 billion. Beyond the dollar impact, in many parts of the world the lack of medical facilities, equipment and health insurance means cancer goes undetected and untreated until it is too late. Then, many of the people with the disease are unable to get medications we all take for granted that can help make their remaining days less painful.

The Livestrong Global Cancer Summit opened on Sunday night with a reception at Dublin Castle that featured a welcome by Irish Minister of Health and Children Mary Harney and remarks by U.S. Ambassador Dan Rooney.

On Monday, the program was focused around the growing cancer burden and what needs to be done to get governments to focus on the issue. Some of the speakers included Dr. John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society; Lynn Faulds Wood, president of the European Cancer Patient Coalition; Faisal A. Al-Fayez, former Prime Minister of Jordan; Olusegun Obansanjo, former President of Nigeria; Alojz Peterle, former Prime Minister of Slovenia; Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos, Secretary of Health for Mexico; Professor Jim Bishop, Chief Medical Officer for Australia; Mark Parker, CEO of Nike; Jonathan Thomas, president and CEO of American Century Companies; and Caroline Roan, president of the Pfizer Foundation.

On Tuesday, there were a series of working sessions on leadership, reach and innovation that featured a wide range of interesting work taking place around the world to help people with the disease. The panelists includedSamir Khleif of the King Hussein Cancer Center; Felicia Knaul, chief economist with the Mexican Health Foundation; Brother Charles Anothony of The Ormylia Foundation; Gabriel Madiye of The Shepherd’s Hospice Sierra Leone; Ian Garbett of the University of Papua New Guinea; and Dr. Lawrence Shulman, Chief Medical Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. That evening a reception was held at the Guinness Brewery where the dramatic story of how Lance Armstrong got involved in fighting cancer and Livestrong was formed was told by cycling broadcaster Paul Sherwen, Nike executive Scott MacEachern and Lance Armstrong.

On Wednesday morning Pints for Prostates was featured as part of a breakfast briefing session on overcoming the stigma of cancer. Greg Donaldson, national vice president of corporate communications for the American Cancer Society moderated a panel discussion on cancer stigma featuring Dr. Xishan Hao, president of the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association; Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, founder and chairman of Pallium India; Dr. Alejandro Mohar, director of the National Cancer Institute of Mexico; Rick Lyke, cancer survivor and founder of Pints for Prostates; and Molebatsi Pooe-Shongwe, a cancer survivor and founder of BreastSens, a nonprofit breast health and health care rights initiative in South Africa.

Doug Ulman, president and CEO of Livestrong, and the entire Livestrong staff can be congratulated on running an impressive conference that was packed with information and energy. Lance Armstrong’s willingness to go public with his own cancer fight and then show the world that cancer can be defeated is an inspiration for anyone facing the illness.

Now comes the important part. Pressure needs to be applied to world governments to spend money to meet this rising threat. One of the statistics displayed during the meeting is that if the current trends continue that one in two people will face cancer during the next generation. We need research on a cure and more programs that help people diagnosed. In some parts of the world, cancers that can be treated and cured still kill because of the lack of care. This needs to change. We also need to have the courage to spend money to fight cancer at a time when the economy is struggling and there are so many other demands on resources.

The Livestrong Global Cancer Summit created the atmosphere for this to take place. Now the work begins to mobilize this energy.

You can see more about the event in Dublin at http://livestrongblog.org/.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great American Beer Festival Medals Roll in for California, Colorado and Wisconsin Brewers

If you are a beer drinker in California, Colorado or Wisconsin there is pretty good chance that there is gold in your glass. Great American Beer Festival gold that is.

The three states have combined for a total of 1,116 medals since the Great American Beer Festival started handing out gold, silver and bronze awards in 1987. That's 37.6 percent of the medals handed out over the years by the professional judging panels.

Mike Wirth has worked with me during the last couple of months to pull together an interesting new infographic that helps paint a clear a picture of where the best beers and breweries are based across the United States. Mike happens to be my son-in-law and creates some interesting infographics that you can check out on his website.

Beer is a $101 billion business in the U.S. and GABF medals have been used as a marketing tool by brewers large and Receiving a GABF medal can help build a brand's reputation among beer fans.

Alaskan Smoked Porter with 17 GABF medals (7 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze) is the most decorated American beer of all-time at the GABF, followed by New Belgium Abbey Style Ale (10) Genesee Cream Ale (10)and Samuel Adams Double Bock (9). Anheuser-Busch has won the most medals among American brewers.

While some states pile up the medals each year, West Virginia still has not had a brewery win a GABF honor. Oklahoma and North Dakota breweries have received just a single medal over the years.

The 2009 GABF kicks off exactly a month from today. It will be interesting to see if there are any breakout performances or if previous trends hold solid.

Denver Rare Beer Tasting is Sold Out

The Denver Rare Beer Tasting scheduled for Sept. 25th at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. is sold out more than a month in advance of the event.

Beer fans have gobbled up the 450 tickets to the inaugural event to get the chance to sample some rare and exotic beers. Presented by All About Beer Magazine in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com, the event will raise money for the Pints for Prostates campaign. The Denver Rare Beer Tasting was announced in June as an addition to beer happenings in the city during the Great American Beer Festival and part of the new Denver Beer Fest observance.

The preliminary beer list for the event includes Allagash Fluxus ’09, Alaskan 1999 Vintage Smoked Porter, Brooklyn Wild 1, Deschutes Black Butte Porter XX, Dogfish Head 2006 Raison D’Extra, Foothills Barrel Aged Total Eclipse Stout, Great Divide 2008 Old Ruffian Barley Wine, Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Glacier Harvest ’09 Wet Hop Ale, Highland Big Butte Smoked Porter, Lost Abbey Angel’s Share 2009 Brandy Barrel Finished, Mich Brett, New Glarus Golden Ale, Odell Brett Barrel Crimson Strong Ale, Reunion – A Beer of Hope, Rogue John-John Hazelnut Dead Guy, Samuel Adams Utopias, Saranac Imperial IPA, Stone 2008 Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Red Wine Barrels,
Stoudt 2007 Barrel-Aged Reserve Old Abominable Barleywine and Wynkoop 2008 Barrel Aged Berserker Mead.

Money raised by the Pints for Prostates campaign benefits the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Day in Dusseldorf: Altbier and Schweinehaxen

Today I left Cologne and spent about six hours walking the Altstadt (old town)of Dusseldorf. This cosmopolitan city has been around since 1288 and is a major North Rhine-Westphalia center.

Dusseldorf is also the home of Altbier. Altbier or old beer is Dusseldorf's gift to the beer world. These beers are copper colored, well-hopped with a malty touch. Like Kolsch, Altbier is top fermented. The alt houses of Dusseldorf pour the beer on gravity from kegs into 0.25 glasses that are just a little more hefty than the ones you will find in Cologne.

My first stop was at Zum Uerige, which pretty much owns a block of a street in Altstadt. On a warm August afternoon the place becomes Dusseldorf's backyard. Uerige's Altbier is a deep amber color with a malty nose. Priced at 1.70 Euros for a 0.25 liter glass, it is refreshing and soft.

A short walk away Zum Schlussel serves up a slightly lighter amber colored alt that has a nice solid hop character. This alt was typical in that the head thoroughly laces your glass. Schlussel has a very good kitchen that set what had to be a record for the largest schweinehaxen ever served to a visiting American. This was truly the knuckle of some super pig and could have easily been a meal for two hungry people.

IM Fuchschen serves up an alt that is a tarnished copper color. The flavor is classic alt style, with just a hint more of the roasted grain than some of the others.

Braueri Schumacher is located just a few blocks from the main rail station and outside of the Altstadt. Schumacher was busy from a constant flow of regulars buying small kegs and crates of large bottles. The beer had a nice crisp hop up front to go along with a malty base. Pretty refreshing stuff.

I also sipped two other altbiers before settling in for the night. Auberge Alt was slightly darker and a little sweeter than most of the others I sampled, while Diebels Alt was smooth and mellow. It had a nice warm brown color, but the head on this beer faded faster than the other alts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

No Compassion for the Victims of Pan Am 103

I try not to let politics enter my blog, but tonight it must.

I am watching CNN International from a hotel in Germany as Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan terrorist, is welcomed home as a hero by hundred throwing flower peddles and chanting slogans.

What did this hero do to deserve this welcome? He served eight years for killing 270 people by blowing a jumbo jet out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland. The people he killed were not in the military and did not represent any government. All they did was board Pan Am 103 or go to their homes in Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.

This thug ended up serving a year for every 33.75 lives he took. It comes down to cold hard math. While having him in jail cannot bring these people back or grant peace to their families, clearly having him released to spend his final days with his family as a hero in his country is a final insult to the victims' families.

I get upset at gutless thugs when they do these sort of things, but this is a little personal. There were 35 students from Syracuse Univeristy’s London Department of International Programs Abroad on that flight. I had been a part of that program in 1980 and it really changed my life for the better. I know these 35 young people would have made a difference in their communities and the world. Instead, this murdering miscreant planted a bomb in a suitcase in Malta that ended up on Pam Am 103. Now he is a hero in Tripoli.

The Libyans have been playing a long political game. They have paid damages to the families, but don’t admit responsibility. Today, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son welcomed home the murderer of 270 people and gave him a hug. Later Gaddafi hugged the mass murderer himself. That says enough for me, but the Libyans are now claiming the release was part of a trade deal with Great Britain.

The Scottish government released this convicted killer of 270 people on what it calls compassionate grounds. He is believed to be dying of prostate cancer. Since when does a mass murder deserve any compassion? He is now a hero in Libya. The Scottish government and the British ministers who must have approved of this release have to be cringing at the video from Tripoli. But what did they expect? This murdering thug is a hero in his country and the dictator Gaddafi gets to laugh at the United States.

I expected this from the Libyans. And I don’t know any possible way of signaling my displeasure to a government that kills innocent people and then treats the killers as heroes. But the Scottish did have the killer and had sentenced him after a just trial. The United Kingdom had this killer in their custody. They decided that a year in jail for every 33.75 lives was enough.

While I don’t believe in letting politics enter my blog, I also don’t believe I’m going to be ordering any Scotch whisky or British ale for a good long period of time. Let’s just say it’s my way of expressing compassion for the victims of this terrorist act.

A Quick Visit to Cologne: Kolsch Anyone?

Cologne (Koln) is located along the Rhine River in western Germany. It is a major river town that was pretty much leveled in World War II, but has been rebuilt into a great city. I am passing through the region this evening enjoying a couple of nights of relaxation before heading to Dublin for the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit.

I decided tonight to try to hit as many Kolsch breweries as possible. It is a fairly easy thing to do since the brauhaus locations are packed together near the Koln Dom cathedral and the Rhine River. Add to this the fact the beers are served in 0.2 liter sizes and you realize that as long as you keep moving you can hit a bunch of spots.

The Koln Guild of Brewers was established in 1396 and it set standards for beers made in the city. Today's Kolsch first appeared in the 1800s and in 1986 the breweries established an appelation under which only about 20 breweries are allowed to us the term Kolsch. Kolsch is a golden colored top fermenting beer. Unlike other ales, Kolsch is fermented in cold temperatures similar to lager beers. The results are worth the work.

I started off at Fruh au Dom. It took me longer than I expected to find the place because you cannot really see the place from the eastern side, where I was trying to make my approach. After building up a thirst, I had the kolsch, priced at 1.80 Euros per 0.2 liters. It is a light, crisp drink that leaves you wanting more. The bartenders serve the beer via gravity at the tap. I also quickly realized the glassware is as delicate as the beer. I watched three come back to the bar broken after a nearby toast.

My next stop was Brauhau Sion. I watched in near amazement as the bartenders filled kranz after kranz (the name they give to the trays that have twelve slots and can actually accommodate 20 of the kolsch pipes.) Sion at 1.55 Euros was more malty than most of the kolsch beers I had on this visit. I watched after a keg ran dry while a bartender grabbed what looked like a Jiffy Lube filling system to replenish the empty keg.

At Peters Kolsch I was able to talk for a couple of minutes with a waiter who told me they are constantly moving because of the small portion sizes. The restaurant was bustling, which is a great sign for a German beer hall. This beer had a good level of hop bitterness, but like the others the portion sizes meant you beer was always cold and being replenished.

My next stop was at the Dom Kolsch outlet along the Rhine. I was impressed by the amazing continuous flow of raw materials up and down the river. Coal, freight containers, liquid natural gas and dozens of barges with unknown cargo passed by while I had a single beer. Dom is a clean beer, but lacks the crispness of some of the other hoppier brews. It still leaves you wanting more.

Outside I walked by a place called the “Bier Museum” that bragged on an overhead sign at having 18 taps. The place was empty, telling me the locals value freshness over variety.

I had a Gaffel Kolsch at Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten with my dinner. It was served in a 0.4 liter glass and just did not have the same sense of freshness offered by the others. It felt more like a regular beer than a treat.

My next stop was a the Paffgen Bierhaus, which felt like the place most 30+ single office workers in Cologne had decided to try their luck. Still, the service was prompt and the kolsch was crisp and on the hoppy side.

The final stop of the evening was for a taste at Gilden Kolsch. This beer was a subtle and soft kolsch that ended on a dry note. It was more complex than most of the others and I wished I had really tasted it earlier to judge it closely against a couple of my other favorites.

In preparing for the trip I had reads several comments about the waiters in kolsch brauhaus being rude and unfriendly. I have to say that was not my experience as a single traveler. In fact, the service is almost too good if you want to have just a single beer and move on. The efficiency of the operations on a busy Friday was impressive.

This has been a quick stop in Cologne and I hope to get back here again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Gluten Free Beers

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we go barley free.

What would you do if you could not drink beer?

I’m not talking about finding yourself in a dry county on a Sunday afternoon or in the “family section” at a minor league baseball park. I mean, what if having a beer would cause you to have an almost immediate negative physical reaction?

I've received a crash course in this issue because my son-in-law, Mike Wirth, has Celiac Disease. Basically, it means he cannot enjoy anything made with grains. No pasta. No bread. And, sadly, no beer. His body does not tolerate gluten, a protein found in grains. Exposure to wheat, rye, barley and triticale in food and beverages causes a severe allergic reaction in people with celiac disease.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, exposure to gluten creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Estimates are that 3 million people in the U.S. have celiac disease, even though more than 90 percent have not been correctly diagnosed.

My son-in-law is a good guy. Mike is the kind of guy you'd enjoy having a beer with at your local. Mike is interested in beer. In fact, Mike was the artistic mind behind the popular GABF medal map that ran here during last year's festival (yes, there will be a new one out shortly). The good news is that some brewers see people who cannot tolerate gluten as an underserved market. Where there is an opportunity to make money, corporate America will usually step up.

For the "Next Beer" column in the current issue of All About Beer magazine I tasted a number of gluten free beers. Most gluten free beer is brewed using sorghum, a cereal grass traditionally used for brewing in many African countries. Sorghum beers tend to have a slightly sweet taste. If your taste in beer favors doppelbocks, gluten free beers are worth a try. If you lean towards imperial IPAs, the gluten free beers we tasted will be too far towards the sweet side.

So, do gluten free beers give Celiac sufferers a real beer experience? Well, on one hand not quite. On the other hand, who is to say? Do wheat beers give barley beer fans a “real beer” experience? Switch the grain bill and any homebrewer will tell you that you are going to taste a difference. Remove the grain altogether and the brewer needs to find balance between sweetness and bitterness.

Bard’s Gold: Amber colored with a thin, but persistent head. This sorghum beer beer was on the sweet side with some balancing hops.

Green’s Discovery Amber Ale: This ale is made with millet, rice, buckwheat and sorghum. The head looked a bit like soap suds at first pour. Dark amber color, with a medium level of hops that balance the ale overall.

Green’s Endeavour Dubbel Dark: This Belgian ale is also made with millet, rice, buckwheat and sorghum. The head lasted throughout and laced the glass. The amber brown color and sweet nose matches nicely to the Belgian style. Nice body and depth of flavor, with some fig and fruit notes in the finish.

Hambleton Toleration: This English brew has a thin head and amber color. The brewery uses challenger, liberty and cascade hops. Overall, the flavor is on the sweet side with some fruity, almost wine-like characteristics in the finish.

New Grist Beer: This Wisconsin-made beer uses a combination of sorghum and rice. Light golden straw color and a clean aroma. The beer starts off with a nice thick head that dissipates gradually. Overall a low hop profile and a sweet flavor.

Redbridge Gluten-Free Beer: This Anheuser-Busch beer was launched in 2006 and won the gold medal in the gluten free category at last year's GABF. The head on this beer goes away pretty quickly. Nice amber color and decent hop bite. Overall balanced flavor that has a refreshing crispness.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Golden Age of American Brewing?: There Are Now More U.S. Breweries Operating Than at Any Time in a Century

The Brewers Association has just reported mid-year figures on the performance of craft breweries in the U.S. and also noted a major milestone.

There are now 1,525 breweries producing beer in the United States, the highest number in 100 years. In 1910, there were 1,498 breweries as consolidation and the run up to Prohibition were factors in reducing the total brewery count across the country.

"The U.S. has more breweries than any other nation and produces a greater diversity of beer styles than anywhere else, thanks to craft brewer innovation," said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association.

The Brewers Association also reported America's small and independent craft brewers continue to do well even with the slump in the U.S. economy. Dollar sales from craft brewers during the first half of 2009 increased 9 percent, while the volume of craft brewed beer sold was up 5 percent. These numbers were off slightly from the growth reported a year earlier, but still represent health performance.

The Brewers Association estimates 4.2 million barrels of craft beer sold in the first half of 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

BeerPetitions.com Looks to Give Beer Fans a Voice

If you have ever been frustrated by an amazingly narrow selection of brews at a local retailer, a new website might hold the answer. BeerPetitions.com aims to empower craft beer drinkers to organize their demands so retail establishments know what their patrons want to purchase.

This could be very useful, especially if your local tavern's idea of a great beer selection is Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Bud Light Lime and Corona. Not long ago I had a waitress proudly declare "We have everything," only to find out what she really meant was, "We have everything you have spent your life trying to avoid having to drink."

Beer Petitions allows any registered user to create an online petition for a beer brand and brewery to be carried at a specific retail establishment. Registered users can then add their digital signatures to petitions. The organizers of the new site recognize that the only way for it to be effective is for beer fans to start using it and flexing their muscles to influence beer selections.

Anyone up for trying to get T.G.I. Fridays to stock Westvleteren 12?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Denver Rare Beer Tasting Announces Unique Beer Line Up

Tickets Moving Briskly for Exclusive Event During GABF Week to
Support the Pints for Prostates Campaign

The inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting has commitments from more than 20 of America’s leading craft brewers to pour rare, limited edition and hard to find brews during the Sept. 25th event at the Wynkoop Brewery in Denver.

The event, presented by All About Beer Magazine, in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com, will benefit Pints for Prostates, an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging men to have regular prostate health screenings and PSA tests. Breweries that have accepted invitations to the event include Allagash, Alaskan, Avery, Boston Beer, Bison, Brooklyn, Deschutes, Dogfish Head, Foothills, Founders, Harpoon, Highland, Jolly Pumpkin, Lost Abbey, Michelob, New Belgium, New Glarus, Odell, Rogue, Saranac, Stone, Stoudt, Victory and Wynkoop.

“This is a phenomenal collection of the best craft breweries in America. They have a real passion for great beer and the special beers they are bringing to this event are some of the hardest to find in the world,” said Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer Magazine, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “The Denver Rare Beer Tasting is going to truly live up to its name and support a great cause: prostate cancer awareness.”

Each brewery at the event will be pouring one unique beer, including some vintage aged beers and brews that were made in extremely limited batches as part of special projects. A partial list of beers scheduled for the event includes:

Allagash Fluxus ’09: This saison from Maine is brewed with sweet potatoes and black pepper, weighing in at 8.3 percent alcohol by volume. Jason Perkins will represent the brewery.

Alaskan 1999 Vintage Smoked Porter: The last known draught keg of the 1999 vintage of Alaskan’s much decorated Smoked Porter. This beer will be served alongside a sample of 2008 Alaskan Smoked Porter for comparison.

Brooklyn Wild 1: This beer started off as a batch of the popular bottle-conditioned Brooklyn Local 1 farmhouse ale, then spent nine months in Bourbon barrels and then it was bottle conditioned with Belgian re-fermentation yeast and a strain of Brettanomyces bruxellensis. Only 80 cases were made for consumption by Brooklyn Brewery staff. Garrett Oliver will represent the brewery.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter XX: Brewed in 2008 to celebrate Deschutes’ 20th anniversary, this 11 percent alcohol by volume beer was pulled from the brewmaster’s private library. This beer starts off as a Double Black Butte Porter, has cocoa nibs and Bellatazza Coffee Roasters’ Sumatran and Ethiopian beans added, then it is aged in ex-Bourbon barrels. Brett Porter will represent the brewery.

Dogfish Head 2006 Raison D’Extra: This is a super charged 18 percent alcohol by volume version of the popular Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre. The brewery has not made this brew for the past two years.

Foothills Barrel Aged Total Eclipse Stout: One of only 10 kegs of this beer in the world. This North Carolina brewery took its award winning stout and aged it for three to four months in ex-whiskey barrels that previously held 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Jamie Bartholomaus will represent the brewery.

Great Divide 2008 Old Ruffian Barley Wine: A hop-forward barley wine that weighs in at 10.2 alcohol by volume.

Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Glacier Harvest ’09 Wet Hop Ale: The 28th edition of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series, this deep copper colored beer is made using fresh Glacier hops. Todd Charbonneau will represent the brewery.

Highland Big Butte Smoked Porter: Winner of the Highland Cup homebrewing completion and based on a recipe created by Alex Buerckholtz, this beer is only available for a very limited time in North Carolina. Features smoked German malt and Fuggle hops. John Lyda will represent the brewery.

Lost Abbey Angel’s Share 2009 Brandy Barrel Finished: This 11.5 percent alcohol by volume English-style barleywine has spent more than 15 months in ex-brandy barrels.

Mich Brett: This is an experimental beer from Michelob Brewing so rare that only brewery insiders and a few lucky beer journalists will ever get the chance to taste the brew. Get ready to be surprised. Kristi Saviers will represent the brewery.

New Glarus Golden Ale: This Belgian-style ale is the first of the Wisconsin brewery’s R&D Series and previously was only available at the brewery. The 7 percent alcohol by volume beer is bottle fermented with Brettanomyces yeast. Dan Carey will represent the brewery.

Odell Brett Barrel Crimson Strong Ale: Brewed with Munich malt and Belgian candy sugar, this ale is fermented in stainless steel and then transferred into virgin American oak barrels and pitched with Brettanomyces yeast and aged for three months. Doug Odell will represent the brewery.

Reunion – A Beer of Hope: This Double White Ale was collaboratively designed and brewed by four brewers across the U.S.: Bison Brewing and Pizza Port Brewing in California, Elysian Brewing in Washington and Terrapin Brewing in Georgia. This Belgian-style witbier uses sweet orange peel, coriander, lemongrass and rhubarb root. Sales of the beer support The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research. Daniel Del Grande and George Allen from Bison Brewery represent the brewers.

Rogue John-John Hazelnut Dead Guy: Named for Rogue Brewmaster John Maier and Rogue Master Distiller John Couchot, this brew starts off with Rogue’s famous Dead Guy Ale that is aged in Rogue Hazelnut Rum barrels. Brett Joyce will represent the brewery.

Saranac Imperial IPA: Part of the New York brewery’s limited release High Peaks Series this ale features 10 different hop varieties and 10 different malts.

Stone 2008 Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Red Wine Barrels: This 95 IBU barley wine has a massive malt character that is made even more complex thanks to the barrel aging. Greg Koch and Mitch Steele will represent the brewery.

Stoudt 2007 Barrel-Aged Reserve Old Abominable Barleywine: This vintage barleywine from Pennsylvania was aged for 10 months in oak whiskey barrels before being keg conditioned. Carol Stoudt will represent the brewery.

Wynkoop 2008 Barrel Aged Berserker Mead: This 11 percent alcohol by volume mead was made using Colorado wildflower honey and has spent about 20 months in barrels that were formally the home of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. C. Andrew Brown will represent the brewery.

“The craft brewing community has stepped forward with a truly special line up of beers and Pints for Prostates is proud to be a part of this event,” said Lyke. “The Denver Rare Beer Tasting will be the talk of this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Each week 4,000 men in this country hear the words ‘you have prostate cancer.’ The goal of Pints for Prostates is to use the universal language of beer to reach men with information about a disease that, if detected early and treated, is nearly 100 percent survivable.”

The event will be held at the Wynkoop Brewery at 1634 18th St. in Lower Denver. Only 450 tickets are available for the event and more than 80 percent have already been sold.

Admission, which includes unlimited beer samples, hors d’oeuvres, a commemorative tasting glass and the chance to meet some of America's top brewers, is $55 in advance and $65 at the door (if still available). Tickets can be purchased through Etix at www.allaboutbeer.com/pints. For information call 800-977-BEER or visit www.ustoo.org/pints.

“The growth of Pints for Prostates has been encouraging to watch,” said Thomas Kirk, President and CEO of Us TOO International, which is based in Downers Grove, Ill. “Our mission and program goal is to educate and empower men and their family members so men and their loved ones can take an active role in their health care. With Pints for Prostates we are able to reach a whole new group of men with a critical health message. The more men we reach, the more lives will be saved.”

Tuesday Tasting: The Vodka Belt

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste some vodka.

For centuries vodka kept Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Swedes and Lithuanians warm during the freezing winters in the Vodka Belt. Recently, I wrote a Drinking Buddies column for DRAFT magazine about vodka, which is now the coolest spirit on the international party circuit.

Vodka started out being distilled from grains like wheat and rye, along with potatoes. Despite an effort to keep it that way by the traditional vodka countries which resulted in a labeling compromise by the European Union in 2007, those ingredients have now been joined by new wave sources of fermentable sugars including grapes, apples and oranges.

Here are eight vodkas tasted for the column:

Blue Ice American Organic Wheat Vodka: An 80-proof spirit, it has a clean, warming base. There is a slight sweetness to the finish.

Cold River Blueberry Flavored Vodka: This 80-proof vodka opens with a clear blueberry aroma. The skins of the Maine blueberries dominate the flavor with a slight hint of spice for balance.

Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka: Infused with the only tea grown in the U.S., this 70-proof brown spirit from South Carolina delivers a classic southern sweet tea flavor. Dangerously smooth and sweet.

42 Below Vodka: Made in New Zealand and weighing in at 84 proof, this is a clean and warming shot. There is a slight hint of licorice in the finish.

Karlsson’s Gold Vodka: This Swedish vodka is made from “100% virgin new potatoes.” The 80 proof spirit has a slightly candy nose and a thin, light mouth feel. Overall clean and crisp flavor.

Svedka Clementine: A 70-proof vodka from Sweden, it has a fresh orange nose. Nice citrus flavor with almost an orange zest quality.

Three Olives Tomato Vodka: Made in England, this 70 proof vodka has a vine grown quality. The tomato base has slight hints of Italian spice in the finish.

360 Vodka: Distilled four times from American grain, this 80-proof vodka is smooth, round and warming.

Great American Beer Festival Just 44 Days Away

The Great American Beer Festival runs from Sept. 24-26 in Denver, Colo. -- just 44 days from now. Anyone who has been to the GABF will tell you that every beer fan needs to make the trip at least once, and once you have been chances are you will want to return.

This year's GABF is going to set records. The Brewers' Association is making the exhibit space at the Colorado Convention Center even larger and they expect to have in excess of 2,000 beers being poured for festival attendees -- the largest collection of American beer in any one location ever. Tickets for the sessions are going relatively quickly, which is good to see in this economy. The GABF reports that 49 percent of the tickets for the Thursday night session are already sold; 68 percent for the Friday night session; 87 percent from the Saturday afternoon "members-only" session; and 45 percent for Saturday night. Tickets for the evening sessions are $55 and the members-only affair is priced at $83.

Since all of the sessions sold out in advance during the last two years, your best bet is to order tickets now.

Booking airfare this year from Charlotte was slightly more expensive than last year, but hotel deals were plentiful when I reserved my room a couple of months back. I was able to secure a room at a nice hotel just three blocks from the GABF site for about half of what I paid last year for a location that was more than a mile away.

A couple of new events are adding some buzz to this year's GABF. The inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting, which raises funds for the Pints for Prostates campaign, is taking place on Sept. 25th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Wynkoop Brewery. All About Beer Magazine is organizing the event in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com and the list of rare, limited edition and exotic beers is quite impressive. Tickets for the event are $55 in advance and selling very quickly.

Visit Denver has declared Sept. 18-27 to be "Denver Beer Fest." They are still finalizing the list of events for this celebration, but Denver is one of America's great beer cities so you can expect a pretty packed schedule. One benefit of the involvement of the Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau is that the average beer fan will now have a place to go to access a comprehensive list of public events.

Lyke2Drink plans to offer up daily reports and commentary from the GABF.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rudgate Ruby Mild Named Champion Beer of Britain for 2009

Rudgate Ruby Mild has been named the 2009 Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival taking place in London.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) selected Ruby Mild, which is made at a micro brewery started in the town of Tockwith, North Yorkshire, in 1992. The brewery has a production capacity of 60 barrels a week.

The competition featured 60 finalists from small and large breweries spread across in seven categories.