Some things are great. Then there are things that are especially great. Then there’s what the guys from Choc are doing — something that will kick you in the face with its greatness. Choc has put out a call to all home brewers for Brew at Choc’s Home: A Homebrew Competition. We’ve all heard of home brew competitions before, but Choc’s contest really raises the stakes. Not only will the winning beer be brewed by Choc, it will be sold alongside the brewery’s award-winning Brewmaster’s Signature Series. And not only that: The winning beer will be entered in the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in Denver! This is a potential shot at beer greatness, folks. More information – including rules and entry deadlines – is available by e-mailing Choc’s Zach Prichard at email@example.com. Good luck to all home brewers!
But, alas, he’s drinking Bud Light by the looks of it.
And now, here’s the latest in the beer world:
-Sierra Nevada will celebrate the brewery’s 30th anniversary with a special craft brewing partnership and several commemorative beers.
-You may or may not be ticketed if you drive in Washington state with an open can of O’Douls.
-Planning a Caribbean vacation any time soon? You’ll be more likely to score a Coors Light.
-And leave it up to those crazy Canadians to start a Christmas-Santa-beer controversy.
-Here’s a list of the top 10 haunted pubs in England. Kind of makes me wish we had 300-year-old pubs here in Oklahoma.
-Be sure not to leave an empty bottle of beer behind when you burglarize a house. Police could find your DNA that way.
-An ingredient in beer is being eyed in the fight against prostate cancer.
-Sapporo is making beer from barley that spent five months in space.
-And finally, the Sacramento Kings have announced a $1 beer night. Can someone put their people on the phone with the Oklahoma City Thunder people?
My latest LOOKatOKC column hit the news racks yesterday. You can pick up a copy and give it a read. Or you can go to www.LOOKatOKC.com to read it. Or, you can take the easy way out and read it right here:
Do you like to throw holiday parties? Do you enjoy beer? Do you have young children?
You need to throw a GingerAle party.
What, you ask, is a GingerAle party? For starters, while the serving of actual ginger ale is not frowned upon, it is not a requirement, either.
What is required? Gingerbread cookies and beer.
I threw my first GingerAle party last year. My wife and I enjoy entertaining, especially so around Christmastime. We wanted to do something fun with our friends; naturally beer would need to be involved.
At the same time, we have a 4-year-old son and all the friends we were inviting have children as well. You can throw a party without children, but your attendance figures would depend on everyone being able to find a baby sitter. You would risk the chance of some people not showing up.
So what to do? Find something fun for the kids. It being the Christmas season, and all, we came up with a gingerbread cookie decorating contest. Now we had the main elements of the party in place. The next step was a title for the party. Any party worth its weight has a catchy name.
And so the GingerAle — Ginger for the cookies, Ale for the beer — party was born.
Pulling off a GingerAle party is a snap. Turn on some Christmas music. Provide the gingerbread cookies and various icing and sprinkles options. Provide some food as a base for the beer. And of course, provide the beer.
Beer experts recommend pairing sweet food with sweet beer, food with spices with beer with spices, etc. COOP Ale Works chief brewer Chase Healey suggests Anchor Christmas Ale. Wes Alexander of Marshall Brewing Co. recommends Hoegaarden White Ale or his own Marshall Sundown Wheat. I suggest you can’t go wrong with any of those choices!
But just remember, when you raise your glass at your very own GingerAle party, give a tip of the cap to The Thirsty Beagle.
Got the latest Mustang Brewing Co. newsletter in my e-mail. Here it is. Couple interesting tidbits in there, including:
-They’ve narrowed their search for a brewery down to a few locations.
-They’ll be launching a third beer early next year.
I haven’t heard anything on the new beer, but I’ll pass along any information if/when I get it.
A couple beer videos were passed my way recently by Oklahoman business writer and fantasy football office league commissioner extraordinaire Don Mecoy.
First, we have a celebration in Shiner, Texas, to mark 100 years of brewing at the Spoetzl Brewery. While this is pretty cool visually, it’s also pretty clear that it is massively and insanely dangerous. Word is no Texans were hurt in the making of this video:
Our next video is a rejected Miller Lite commercial. The ad was turned down by Miller execs, but survived on the Internet and surfaced on YouTube. There’s also an interesting description of the process here.
Maybe it’s for the best that never aired for real.
Today I present another volume in my continuing series “Five Questions With…” In the series, I shoot five questions to movers and shakers in the local and national beer scene, then pass the answers along to you. Today, we have Choc Beer brewmaster Michael Lalli and sales/marketing director Zach Prichard.
1. The Thirsty Beagle: Let’s start by talking about the Signature Dubbel. The beer took the top spot in the Belgian-Style Abbey Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival in September. How big of a thrill was it for you guys to win a gold medal?
Michael Lalli: Winning anything at the GABF is certainly something to celebrate and we were quite surprised to win Gold, especially in one of the big Belgian categories. The Dubbel was certainly a team effort, anytime you brew one batch of anything you have to make it count so there was quite a bit of planning done by my whole team. Of course we all really like Belgian beers so that made this effort all the better.
2. TTB: Talk about the Dubbel a little bit. What should someone who hasn’t tried it expect?
ML: When we set out to make a Belgian Dubbel it was important to us to make the beer instantly recognizable as a Belgian Dubbel, but to put our own stamp on it as well. Deceivingly drinkable is a term we throw around quite a bit around here and I think for a beer (with) 8% ABV that would be the case. The flavor profile is going to be definitely heavy on the Belgian yeast, but with enough malt flavors for balance. We also use a candy sugar that we make here at the brewery that lends a very unique character to this beer.
3. TTB: Do you guys offer tours of the brewery? Have you found traffic there has increased with all your recent success?
Zach Prichard: Anyone can get a tour just about any day of the week until 9 p.m. Actual traffic at the brewery is hard to measure … but we are planning a beer dinner at the brewery with a special menu prepared by Pete’s Place on January 21st, so we are going to show off the facility then.
4. TTB: You don’t have to reveal any secrets if you don’t want to, but are there any new recipes on the horizon Choc fans can look for in the new year?
ZP: There are some new beers coming out we are very excited about. It is already out in bottles, but the first week in January we will be releasing a very limited supply of our Brewmaster’s Signature Belgian Dubbel on draft. To follow that up we are re-releasing our Brewmaster’s Signature Biere de Garde in late January. The Biere de Garde will be available in draft first with bottles to follow shortly after. We produced this beer once before almost three years ago and are excited to have it back on the market. You can also look forward to our Belgian Quad in the first few months of next year. One more thing, we are organizing a Choc Homebrewer Competition which should be really exciting.
5. TTB: You guys are like the godfather of craft beer in Oklahoma. What’s your take on the recent emergence of craft brewers like Marshall and COOP on the state’s beer scene? Are we in a new era of beer in Oklahoma?
ZP: The biggest thing the newer breweries have done to the beer scene in Oklahoma is to raise awareness. A lot of people who most likely had never tried craft beer before have discovered some great beers. We only hope the growth continues and I think there are some good signs. All of our beers, particularly the Brewmaster’s Signature Series, are better than they have ever been, Marshall’s just released six packs, COOP is producing good beer in OKC, Mustang just released a new beer, and Battered Boar is still cranking out beer; these are all good signs. In addition to these in-state beers, you can tell that craft is being taken more seriously in Oklahoma by the increasing number of offerings from out-of-state. To answer your question, yes we are definitely in a new era of Oklahoma beer and a significantly better era at that.
Have you ever wanted to know more about beer? Like, what’s the difference between ale and lager? Why are some beers darker than others? What are the ingredients in beer? What type of glass goes with what type of beer? There are plenty of resources out there to find this information, but there’s also this great link — A quick guide to the World of Beer by the Seattle Times. I found this link several months ago and meant to share it on the blog. Alas, it was lost in my e-mail for some time. But now, it’s here for your perusal. I think this is one of the best interactive graphics I’ve seen for basic beer information. The only thing I don’t like is that it makes me feel like a chump because I only have three different types of beer glasses at my house. Now I at least have something to aspire to, right?
My dedicated researcher and field agent — Mrs. Beagle — forwarded this article to me. Sam Adams Utopias — released only every two years — are out now. The beers are 27 percent ABV and cost $150 per bottle, so this isn’t your ordinary beer-with-dinner-on-a-weeknight type of drink. Sam Adams recommends the beers are to be sipped in small quantities like champagne. Have you tried a Utopia? If so, share your experience in the comments section. One thing that I thought was interesting about the article is that it mentions there are 13 states where Utopias are illegal because the drink exceeds the limit on alcohol content for beer. Surprisingly enough, Oklahoma is not one of those states. Good for us!
In honor of my pick-up basketball teammate Luke (a big-time soccer fan who said he’d look at my blog more if there was more soccer here) and my allegiance to Greece, I provide this 2010 World Cup report.
The World Cup draw was announced just minutes ago. Here’s what it looks like (with FIFA world rankings in parentheses):
Group A: South Africa (86), Mexico (15), Uruguay (19) and France (7)
Group B: Argentina (8), Nigeria (22), South Korea (52) and Greece (12)
Group C: England (9), United States (14), Algeria (28) and Slovenia (33)
Group D: Germany (6), Australia (21), Serbia (20) and Ghana (37)
Group E: Netherlands (3), Denmark (26), Japan (43) and Cameroon (11)
Group F: Italy (4), Paraguay (30), New Zealand (77) and Slovakia (34)
Group G: Brazil (2), North Korea (84), Ivory Coast (16) and Portugal (5)
Group H: Spain (1), Switzerland (18), Honduras (38) and Chile (17)
-You have to feel sorry for North Korea and Ivory Coast, who have to play in a group with Brazil and Portugal. It’s mandatory to proclaim one World Cup group the “Group of Death,” and Group G is that group.
-Speaking of Group G, Portugal won’t be sending any Christmas cards to the South African side; because the host country was granted one of the top seeds, the Portuguese got stuck with Brazil in their group.
-The United States got a reasonable draw. Not advancing out of Group C would be viewed as a disappointment.
-Greece, my father’s home country, has a solid chance to advance in Group B. Although not if you ask my dad. Here’s the conversation we had over the phone after Greece qualified for the draw:
Me: How about those Greeks!
Dad (in his thick Greek accent): They need new players.
Me: What about the players that qualified?
Dad: They’re old and they’re no good.
OK, maybe don’t put all your money on the Greeks.
-So who comes out of the groups? Here are my fearless predictions:
Group A: Uruguay and France
Group B: Argentina and Greece
Group C: England and United States
Group D: Germany and Ghana
Group E: Netherlands and Cameroon
Group F: Italy and Slovakia
Group G: Brazil and Portugal
Group H: Spain and Switzerland
-My quarterfinalists: France, Argentina, Ghana, Germany, Netherlands, Cameroon, Brazil and Spain.
-Semifinalists: France, Germany, Brazil and Spain.
-Finals: Brazil vs. Spain.
So there you have it. 188 days, 17 hours and 21 minutes early, your Thirsty Beagle World Cup predictions!