Stoudt's experiments with a little Fourplay

HERE’S how geeky America’s passion for hops has gotten: Brewers are now using experimental varieties that are so new and untested, they haven’t even been named. Instead, the hops are known by a series of digits and letters – No. 01210, or HBC344, or whatever.

That’s not the nerdy part, though.

Hops-obsessed beer drinkers have become such wonks, they know the codes and can rattle them off like Professor Frink-wannabes in “The Simpsons.”

Blogs, online news groups and beer publications echo with chatter ...

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Back to school with a beer

BREAK OUT your beer bong, the fall semester is in full gear. College is all about frat parties and tailgaters and suitcases of Natty Light. Right?

Not so fast. For one small group of students at Temple University, beer is not just something to chug-chug-chug. The fledgling Temple Craft Beer Enthusiasts Club actually sips.

Well, not always.

“If PBR is on special and someone else is buying, I wouldn’t say no,” said the group’s president, Alyssa Montgomery, a fifth-year senior business major from Bethlehem.

“But ...

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A beer guy in Burgundy

PASCAL WAGNER looked me in the eyes and assured me: “Don’t be afraid. Just put it in your mouth.”

I paused. My companions on this weeklong expedition to the lush vineyards of Burgundy nodded with encouragement. “Go ahead,” one said. “Lick it.”

“You can actually taste the terroir,” said Pascal, a sommelier, cellarman and local wine expert who was tutoring us on the ins and outs of the local product.

I glanced down at my hand again. It held a small, dirty stone that ...

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Beer futures are bullish

A handful of rare ales that haven’t even been brewed, yet, are already so coveted that some beer drinkers are shelling out big bucks just for the right to purchase them months from now.

Yes, we’re talking about beer futures.

The beers are sold through clubs operated by small breweries known for unusual, limited-edition styles. With names like the “Reserve Society” and “Collected Works,” the clubs add another fascinating layer of exclusivity to cult beer.

In July at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa., ...

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The pumpkin patch grows wild

IT’S NO longer good enough to make a beer that tastes, crazily enough, like pumpkin pie. Heck, even “imperial” pumpkin beer, whose higher alcohol content offers a decent buzz with dessert, is beginning to blend into the background.

No, if you really want to grab the attention of fickle beer drinkers, you’ve got to come up with something like the new one from Kutztown’s Saucony Creek Brewery. Its tongue-twisting Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress Ale is an imperial pumpkin (9.5 percent alcohol) topped with ...

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A Fat Tire on I-95

SOMEDAY, Fat Tire, the enormously popular amber ale from Colorado, will be available in Pennsylvania. Not this year, and probably not next.

But soon enough, New Belgium Brewing Co.’s flagship will shoulder its way in among the 6,229 brands already registered for sale in the Keystone State.

First, it hits the shelves next door, in Delaware.

Its slow, deliberate rollout this week in one of the nation’s smallest statesFat Tire label for Delawareunderscores the challenge that the brewery ...

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Souring on beer

REMEMBER when “sour beer” was a bad thing?

These days, it’s a bona fide, mouth-puckering trend, and nowhere in Philly is it celebrated more earnestly than at the annual Sourfest, at Devil’s Den (11th and Ellsworth, South Philly).

The event, now it its fourth year, launches Saturday, when 16 tap lines begin spewing the sour stuff. Over the next seven days, at least 50 sours will pour from taps and bottles.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Why would anyone want to drink flat, week-old ...

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World peace, one beer at a time

TO THE roll call of venerable U.S. foreign diplomats, we can now add this signature name: Joe Sixpack, beer emissary.

I’ve just returned from my first mission on behalf of the U.S. State Department, a beer-soaked education and cultural exchange tour of Lithuania.

I’m happy to report that I did not ignite any international incidents.

In fact, judging from my reception throughout the Baltic countryside, I may have a future as a diplomat, spreading world peace one beer at a time:

¶In Vilnius, the ...

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What is refreshing?

Reach for a beer that calls itself Summersomethingorother, and you really don’t know what you’re going to come up with.

Victory Summer Love? It’s a blond ale.

Samuel Adams Summer Ale? It’s a spiced wheat beer.

Brooklyn Summer Ale? It’s an English-style pale ale.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest? A Bohemian pilsner.

Harpoon Summer Beer is a German-style kolsch. Breckenridge SummerBright isFrom left, Manayunk Summer Paradise, Weyerbacher White Sun, Breckenridge SummerBright, Two Brothers Dog Daysmade with lemon and orange peels. Cricket Hill Jersey Summer is a ...

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Tap this: Beer to go, or stay

THERE’S a new style of watering hole in town, and I’m really not sure what to call it.

It’s essentially a sixpack store, with a row of coolers filled to the brim with all types of beer – American craft, imports, locals, you name it, and maybe a shelf or two of BudMillerCoors – which you can take home and suck down in front of your TV while watching the Phillies lose another one.

The twist is that it also sells draft ...

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