Category: Style

How Philly became the pilsner capital of America

(Published July 2009 in Beer Advocate Magazine.)

Did you happen to catch the New York Times a couple months ago, when writer Eric Asimov complained about the lousy beer selection (9 bucks for a single 16-ounce can of PBR!) at the new Yankee Stadium? Where, he wondered, were the authentic Pilsners?

Not those watery mainstream poseurs (I’m looking at … Read the rest

Dark lager for these dog days of summer

By now, I’m guessing you’re getting a bit tired of drinking wheat beer. Just a hunch – with the dog days of August in scorching mode, those light-body, cloudy ales are the go-to thirst quencher, judging from all the lemons I’m seeing along the bar.

For those looking to shake things up before Oktoberfest sets in, I urge you to … Read the rest

Sweet success of a sour beer

IT’S EASY TO ignore industry awards for fine beer-making. After all, someone once gave Pabst a blue ribbon.

But here’s why you should pay attention to the raft of medals area breweries brought back from the World Beer Cup in Seattle last weekend:

The variety of awards, for eclectic styles ranging from Belgian sour ale to Russian imperial stout, is … Read the rest

The real story about bock

You get used to those bouts of bewilderment that plague enthusiastic beer-drinkers; chalk ‘em up to just another hazard of our chosen profession.

You know, what happened to my pants? How come I’m sleeping on the lawn?

And then there’s bock beer.

Somehow, even when they’re stone-cold sober, many beer-drinkers are convinced this strong, malty lager is made with the … Read the rest

So many holiday brews, so little time

GOOD LORD, it’s Christmastime already. Hope Santa brings me a new bottle opener!

Every year the holiday comes faster. I say this not because I still haven’t paid off my credit card, but because I still haven’t polished off last season’s holiday brews.

If I look around enough in my basement, I’m sure I’ll find a few from the 1900s!… Read the rest

Why do you think they call it getting ‘stoned?’

FROM SAM Calagione, the exotic flavorings czar at Dogfish Head in Delaware, to Greg Koch, the “arrogant bastard” at Stone Brewing in California who dares you to choke down his intensely hopped ales, brewers can be a crazed bunch of characters.

This week, I stumbled across a brewer who has rocks in his head.

That would be Larry Horwitz, the … Read the rest

Even George Washington liked a little pumpkin ale

EVERY AUTUMN, they roll out the pumpkin ale, which is a testament, I suppose, to mankind’s genetic impulse to take anything that grows and turn it into booze.

Sugar, rice, barley, potatoes, whatever – let’s cook it, ferment it and see what happens.

But pumpkins?

We’re talking jack-o’-lanterns, Charlie Brown and Linus, over the river and through the woods to … Read the rest

It was near, but not very dear

“The man who called it ‘near beer’ was a bad judge of distance.”  – W.C. Fields

THIS autumn marks the 70th anniversary of the demise of the scourge of our favorite adult beverage:

Near beer.

Oh, the non-alcoholic brew is still around, for reasons that escape my ethyl-disoriented gourd. But 1933 – the end of Prohibition – was also the … Read the rest

Belgian wheat ale drawing a crowd

IT’S NOT exactly the hot beer of summer ’03, but Hoegaarden Witbier is popping up on tap handles everywhere.

OK, it’s still outnumbered by Coors Light, 10 to 1. But in a world where factory-made thirst-quenchers dominate the scene, the appearance of a cloudy, Belgian-made wheat ale is a certified oddity. I’m seeing it in places where the most exotic … Read the rest

Summer quenchers


Personally, Joe Sixpack’s idea of the perfect summer cocktail is a colder beer – something to wash away the sweat after mowing the lawn.

When the going gets hot, most beer-drinkers predictably reach for an icy industrial lager, a Bud, a Coors, a God-forbid Lite.

It’s easy to understand why: They’re mostly refreshing and go down easy, in a … Read the rest