20 August 2008

Japanese sake brewer produces cellulosic ethanol

Tip o' the hat to Instapundit and AutoblogGreen:
One of Japan's largest sake manufacturers, Gekkeikan, has announced the development of a new "super yeast" able to produce cellulosic ethanol from non-edible parts of plants, such as paddy straw and chaff. The super yeast that produces alcohol was created with genetic engineering, by integrating koji mold genes that produce cellulolytic enzymes into sake yeast. These enzymes become densely displayed on the surfaces of the yeast cells. Since this super yeast has the functions of the standard koji mold, it achieves one-step production of ethanol from pretreated cellulose. The company claims the whole process is completed with a new easier pre-treatment at high temperature and pressure, which saves energy and uses insignificant chemical components.
see here.

Debate? Have at it!

Six college presidents in Maryland are among more than 100 college and university presidents nationwide who have signed a statement calling for a public debate on rethinking the drinking age.

Naturally, the subject has gotten a lot of media attention in the past two days, burning up talk radio and online forums.

I say that rational debate and discussion is welcome and long overdue.

Unfortunately, we're guaranteed not to get rational debate.

Discussions on this topic inevitably descend into the emotional: on one hand, the MADD crowd insisting any change would bring carnage and "if it saves just one life it's worth it," while opponents of the 21 age can trot out reams of examples of things an 18-year-old can legally do besides drink a beer--more rational than "won't someone think of the children?", but not by much. And both sides of the discussion can pull out untold numbers of studies supposedly reinforcing their talking points (as long as one doesn't attempt truly critical analysis of the data, natch), with the seemingly inevitable shouting match following shortly.

I had to shake my head at the MADD-type that accused a university representative (U of Md.-College Park?) on WBAL-AM yesterday as being driven by financial incentives--i.e. the university stood to gain financially from on-campus alcohol sales.

Looking at Lew Bryson's excellent blog, especially his posts on this very subject, reveal that this movement is hardly new, just gaining some publicity.


13 August 2008

Max's German Beer Fest (Updated 8/15)

Okay, first off, MY bad. In my Mid-Atlantic Brewing News column, I inadvertently stated that the Max's German Beer Fest was Sept. 19-21. That was the weekend originally scheduled by beer manager Casey Hard and scribbled on my calendar, but somewhere along the line he changed it to Sept. 12-14th, as correctly noted in the MABN calendar.

So change your hotel reservations.

The stated goal is 50 draft beers and 75 or more bottled German beers available. An UPDATED list of drafts and bottles from Casey, about 90% confirmed with more possibly to come:

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla Maerzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen
Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock
Allgauer Bueble
Allaguer Teutsch Pils
Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Bahnof Berliner Weisse
Bitburger Pils
Einbecker Schwartzbier
Einbecker Ur Bock Dunkel
Erdinger Kristall Weizen
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen
Erdinger Weiss dark
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse
Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest
Klsoterbrauerie Ettal Curator
Klsoterbrauerie Dunkel
Konings Ludwig Hefeweizen
Kulmbacher EKU PIls
Kulmbacher Monschrof Kellerbrau
Paulaner Hefeweizen
Paulaner Oktoberfest
Reissdorf Kolsch(Gravity Feed)
Schnieder Brookylner Hopfen Weisse
Schnieder Weisse
Schnieder Aventinus
Schneider Aventinus Eisbock
Spaten Lager
Spaten Oktoberfest
Uerige Dopplesticke (Gravity Feed)
Warsteiner Dunkel
Warsteiner Pils
Warsteiner Oktoberfest
Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest
Weltenburg Barbock Dunkel
Weltenburg Barbock Hell
Weltenburg Hefeweizen Hell
Weltenburg Wintertraum
Wurzbuger Pils
Krostizer Schwarzbier
Aktien Buronator Dopplebock
Aktien Hefeweizen Anno 25
Aktien Jubilaums Pils
Aktien St Blasius Weizenbock
Aktien Steingadner Dunkel Weisse
Aktien Kaufbeuner Tanzelfestbier
Allgauer Buble
Allaguer Bayrisch Hell
Allaguer Cambonator Dopplebock
Allgauer Furstadt Hefewezen
Allaguer Tuetsch Pils
Augustinerbrau Dark
Augustinerbrau Light
Ayinger Altbairisch
Ayinger Jahrhundert
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Ayinger Ur Weisse
Ayinger Brauweiise
Einbecker brauherren Pils
Einbecker mai Ur Bock
Erdinger Weissebier
Hacker Pschorr Munich Gold
Hacker Pschorr Weisse
Hacker Pschorr Weisse Dark
Innstadt Bock Weisse
Innstadt Dopplebock
Innstadt Edelsud
Innstadt Innsaade
Innstadt Neues Helles
Innstadt Passauer Weisse
Julius Echter Hefeweizen
Julius Echter Hefeweizen Dunkel
Klsoterbrauerie Etaller Kloster Edel Hell
Kulmbacher Eisbock
Kulmbacher Kapuziner Weisse
Kulmbacher Monchschof Schwartzbier
Mahrs Der Weisse Bock
Mahrs Leicht
Mahrs Pilsner
Mahrs Unquespundet lager
Moosbacher Kellerbier
Moosbacher Lager
Moosbacher Schwatz Weisse
Moosbacher Wheat Beer
Paulaner Salvator
Pinkus Hefeweizen
Pinkus Munster Alt
Pinkus Ur Pils
Schnieder Aventinus 2004
Schnieder Aventrius 2001
Schnieder Avenitnus 2002
Schnieder Aventinus 2003
Schnieder Weisen Edel Weisse
Spezial Rauchbier
Tucher Hefewezen Hell
Tucher Dopplebock
Uerige Classic Alt
Uerige Dopplesticke
Warsteiner Radler
Weltenburg Anno 1050
Weltenburg Asam Bock
Weltenburg Hefeweizen Dunkel
Weltenburg Urtyp Hell

The formula is the same as the outrageously successful Belgian and American Craft Brew fests also hosted by Max's: bar open 11 AM to 2 AM each day; no admission, cash bar with sample (small wine) glasses, regular servings, and liter steins and boots available, along with German food menu.

DuClaw Real Ale Festival in Bel Air Sept. 6th

From ads in today's Baltimore City Paper and posters at the Wharf Rat-Fells Point:

DuClaw Brewing Real Ale Festival 2008
at DuClaw Brewing, Bel Air, Md.

Sept. 6th, 12-4 PM rain or shine
$45, tickets on sale midnight August 20th (Aug. 18 for their Pint Club members)
Only 525 tickets available, expected to sell out far in advance
Portion of proceeds to benefit FARM (Fallston (Md.) Animal Rescue Movement

Participating breweries (apparently the final list):
Barley & Hops, Frederick
Brewer's Art, Baltimore
Clipper City, Halethorpe
Clay Pipe, Westminster/Frederick
Dog Brewing, Westminster
DuClaw Brewing, Abingdon
Flying Dog, Frederick
Franklin's Brewery, Hyattsville
Growler's Brewpub, Gaithersburg
Oliver/Wharf Rat, Baltimore
The Raven, Baltimore
White Marsh/Red Brick Station, White Marsh

Free buffet included, live music from Smooth Kentucky, games & prizes
Bottles of DuClaw's Colossus (21%) will be available for sale.
(They're also advertising a Jim Wagner Kissing Booth. You decide whether or not to take them seriously.)

05 August 2008

Japanese Beers--Just in Time for Otakon!

Max's Taphouse, in their usual Tuesday night show, is unveiling four new bottled beers from the Baird Brewery in Numazu, Japan:

Rising Sun Pale Ale 5.0% ABV- American West Coast Style
Red Rose Amber 5.4% ABV- Inspired by the steam beer style
Angry Boy Brown 6.2% ABV- Bigger, bolder and Hoppier than most
Kurofune Porter 6 0% ABV- Classic dark English Style


Casey Hard, Max's cellar-master, informs me that the company's brewer is either English or American. With a name like Bryan Baird, I would hope so.

The extra-special bonus is that Otakon, the Japanese anime convention, is in town this weekend (same time as the Virgin Music Festival, sadly for some), bringing perhaps 15,000-20,000 hard-core anime and Japanese culture fans to town for three days. It's possible one of them might even make it to Fells Point for a beer...... maybe....... I must admit that sometimes they have to remind a scant few of those fans to eat, sleep, and/or bathe..........

Okay, beer-tasting notes:

Red Rose Amber Ale 5.4%: deep amber, bright with a touch of sediment in the bottle, lovely head retention.... nose very mellow hops, but initial sip is almost an India Pale Ale in hoppiness. This is an ale beer (which uses yeast that ferments at higher temperatures) that was fermented at lager temperatures (i.e. 10 degrees F colder than ale), according to the label........... wait a minute........ Steam/California Common is lager yeast at ALE temps! (We just looked it up to be sure!) So what do we really have here? a nice, VERY malty amber, with the vaguest hint of either oak barrel aging tartness or a touch of Belgian tartness and cloudiness. A terrific woody/piney hop balance and finish. Dry, almost chalky finish, very thirst-inducing........ beware. Great flavors, but not easily categorized.

Rising Sun Pale Ale 5.0%: Classic pale ale deep yellow, rich head retention, richly bottle-conditioned with plenty of yeast sediment. Nose lightly hopped. A dry interpretation of the style, right at home for Asahi converts. Well-balanced for a dry pale ale, bitter hops coasting on what seems to be a sea-foam-laced malt surf. (Okay, kill me, I've become Joe Metaphor!) Possibly the driest pale ale I've encountered in years. Dangerously thirst-inducing.

Angry Boy Brown Ale 6.2%: classic English brown, with a bit richer head. malty nose, slightly sweet, with a hint of hops. QUITE a character-filled (translation: yeast and hop flavors) brown, this comes off the way I would expect Hitachino to do a brown: a touch chalky, nicely hopped, rich mineral and yeast flavors, the latter alluding to Belgian yeast without being funky. Dang, this is good.

Kurofune Porter 6.0%: a touch light for porter color, moderate head retention, nose smacks of yeast initially...... a rich, complex porter, initially reminding me of Alan Eames' Flag Porter from ages ago..... a good rich medium/light roast flavor balanced with a fruity ale yeast, hints of iodine/seaweed and smoke in the finish. A nice one; I want more of this.

Now, just to keep the theme of the night going, because the style I order next is so popular in Japan......... Ridgeway Bad King John English black ale 6.0%: yes, black beer is different from stout even if it doesn't look it. Most black beer in Japan is lager, but this is an ale. So? Bright (clear) but still porter brown, a lighter body than most porters, excellent roast flavors, mellow finish.

And just to add to the fun, there are three MORE "Japanese" beers worthy of your attention: Three beers made by Rogue Brewery of Newport, Oregon in partnership with a Japanese brewery--Red Fox Amber, White Crane Bitter, and Buckwheat Ale. The label artwork is silk-screened onto the bottles and are largely in Japanese, as these bottles were actually intended for the Japanese market. These 12-ounce bottles are no longer made, and these are some of THE last bottles available for retail sale anywhere. If you like the thought of a Japanese beer collectible (better than a "Beer-Chan" t-shirt by far!), here's your chance! (Fewer than a dozen bottles total as of Wednesday night!)

04 August 2008

Mallard Fillmore on InBud

Okay, maybe a tad unfair..... but no more so than any of the stuff on McCain, so..........

03 August 2008

Is this "dry-hopped" to you?

I'm hiding the identity of the subject of this discussion for now--I delayed publishing it in part to protect the possibly innocent, and perhaps in hopes of a more neutral assessment.

I was poured two cask-conditioned beer recently at a venue. One was advertised as dry-hopped.

The one on the right in the picture.

Yep. Those are fragments of pelletized hops in the glass.

Now, I hear a lot about sediment in beer now and then--people swearing by and at it. But what are we supposed to think about three-dimensional hop character of this nature? Have any of you ever seen it before? My personal guess is that a hop bag in the cask didn't do its job, or tore open, and/or the cask wasn't properly prepared or settled before the pouring.


01 August 2008

Beer and BBQ in Federal Hill

I was tipped off to a relatively new BBQ joint in South Baltimore, so far south on Light Street that it's practically underneath I-95. Importantly to us, Rub BBQ has three house beers sharing a mostly-Coors-based draft line-up: a bock-ish Red, an IPA, and a seasonal (a wheat as I type). In addition, the place features its own root beer and cream soda on draft, and also stocks a couple decent bourbons, as well as a loooong list of frozen drinks and cocktails.

The source of the house beers? Surprise: no other than the Dog Pub Brewery of Westminster, which seems to be finding a curious niche contracting house ales for more than just this place.

But how's the BBQ? I'm well-versed in Carolina and Virginia BBQ traditions, and am somewhat well-versed in Memphis and Texas versions as well. This place aims for the Texas style; my sandwiches were straight-up meats (chicken, turkey, beef brisket, or sausage) to which the patron can add mild, hot, or honey mustard sauces. I have a client who usually takes me to Red Hot & Blue for lunch if I'm working with him (it's an excuse for me to enjoy hearty meats when I'm married to a vegetarian that would starve at such places); Rub would easily satisfy a RH&B fan as long as he doesn't need to see music ephemera on the walls. It's a project of Michael Marx, the former owner of the Blue Agave Restaurant elsewhere in the area.

NOTE/EDIT: URL problems have temporarily (we hope) disrupted by what appears to be a trademark/URL/website problem between Rub Baltimore and a similarly named place in New York City. Stay tuned, or use your favorite Internet search engines.

Tough Luck, SAB/Miller!

From the Associated Press via Google:

MillerCoors LLC is ending testing of its trio of craft styles of top-seller Miller Lite so it can rethink the brand, the company told distributors this week.

The so-called Miller Lite Brewing Collection didn't perform as well as expected in test markets including Baltimore, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C., spokesman Julian Green said Thursday.

The company had high hopes for the brand, which tweaks Miller Lite into various styles of craft beers such as wheat, amber and blonde ale.

In April, it said testing was so strong it would release the collection of beers nationwide by September. But by mid-June it said the release would be delayed for more testing.

The collection aimed to latch onto the fast-paced growth of craft beers, which are rising faster than overall beer sales and also command higher prices.

More at the link.

Gee, who could have seen this coming?