Good beer and goodwill to all


Maybe it’s because beer makers feel the need to fight the occasionally negative perception of alcohol with acts of kindness.

Or maybe it’s just that brewers are good people.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t take much to find the spirit of goodwill at breweries this holiday season.

One example out in Colorado could become a model for brewers nationwide. It’s called the Brewability Lab, a pilot program to teach developmentally disabled adults how to work in a brewery.

Located at Grandma’s House collaborative ...

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Beer of the Year 2015: The Runners-Up

2SP Delco Lager – Brewer Bob Barrar is known for hop monsters and imperial stout, but this easy-drinking amber lager deserves to be the new Delaware County brewery’s flagship.

Conshohocken Harbinger of Change – It’s a solid choice on draft, but in a 16-ounce can it emerged as my go-to IPA of the year.

Forgotten Boardwalk Funnel Cake – A cream ale with a smooth vanilla flavor was a summertime treat from the Cherry Hill, N.J., brewery

Jolly Pumpkin Ursae Majoris – A ...

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Joe Sixpack’s 2015 Beer of the Year is Victory Helles Lager

Beer freaks these days remind me of Dug the Talking Dog in the animated movie, “Up,” whose attention was so easily… Squirrel!

Only it’s hops!

Or barrel-aged!

Or sour!

American brewing is thriving precisely because of its brash creativity, so there’s a lot to love in the hundreds of new, off-beat varieties that fill the shelves every week. Yet, sometimes, the Next Great Thing means we miss a perfectly good beer that’s been staring us right in the face all along.

I’m looking at you, ...

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The return of a legendary Christmas beer

NOT TO NITPICK, but if Pabst’s new holiday brew were truly an accurate replicate of the original Ballantine Burton Ale, master brewer Greg Deuhs would’ve spent a couple weeks personally autographing every one of the 144,000 bottles.

And then the sixpack they sent me would’ve been labeled with my name on it.

Because that’s what P. Ballantine & Sons did a few generations ago when it produced what Deuhs now calls “the greatest beer never sold.”

The barrel-aged barleywine was Ballantine’s annual ...

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The beer drinker’s ultimate gift guide: 2015

If you’re looking to stuff a stocking with something a little more special than a sixpack (not that there’s anything wrong with a sixpack, hint-hint), Joe Sixpack has just what you’re looking for – from bottle openers to worldwide travel.

For your dog

The gift shop at Victory Brewing (420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown) is fully stocked with glassware, apparel, and beer-infused foods. But what about Fido? Get your pooch an “I love Victory” leash. $10.

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Black Friday: Drink it up

BLACK FRIDAY isn’t just about holiday shopping anymore. It’s now the darkest day on the annual beer calendar, when bars flush the light lagers from their spigots and make room for luscious porters, stouts and other black brews.

Special brews

Founders KBS: Though this heavy-duty “breakfast” stout (11.2 percent alcohol) normally shows up in the spring, savvy bar managers often keep a keg around for Black Friday. The added aging only enhances its vanilla and coffee flavors. Pouring at City Tap House, ...

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How Thanksgiving started: With a glass of beer



DO YOU know the first words spoken by Native-Americans to the Pilgrims after they landed at Plymouth Rock? “Welcome Englishmen . . . I’ll have a beer.”

Or something to that effect, according to an account (see sidebar) of the first visit to the Pilgrims’ village by an Algonquin named Samoset.

The greeting comes to mind this season because it ...

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Yo Vegans: There are still animals swimming in your Guinness

Now that Guinness says it will no longer use isinglass, a common gelatin-like beer filtering agent made from dried fish bladders, vegans can finally enjoy a guilt-free pint of the famous Irish stout, right?

Guess again, carrot top.

Look more closely and you’ll find plenty of animals hiding in your glass of suds. Pigs, horses and even bugs are sacrificed in the beer-making process.

To be clear, there are no actual carcasses in beer.

In fact, there were never any fish bladders, either.

Isinglass, ...

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Down the drain: A brewpub fails in just 4 months

On the morning after the last night at Guild Hall, a crew of volunteers mopped floors while the owners held back the tears.

Four months. Just four lousy, four splendid, four heartbreaking months – that’s all the beautiful downtown Jenkintown brewpub lasted before Jennifer McGuire and her husband, Owen Hutchins, decided to close its doors.

With breweries opening at a rate of more than one per day, it’s rare to hear of one closing. In 2014, there were all of 23 failures ...

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