Report from the Earthquake Zone

If mass casualties, flooding and nuclear meltdown aren’t bad enough, Japan’s beer industry is in a shambles, too.

Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo breweries have all reported extensive damage to their Destruction at Kirin Breweryplants in the weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Several breweries have closed, others have ceased beer-making operations to bottle water for survivors.

I’ve been trading emails with Toshiyuki Kiuchi, ...

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In spring, our fancy turns to…spring beers

WHAT DOES the label mean when it says “spring beer”?

I know what it used to mean: bock. Bavaria’s seasonal beer of Lent. Brewed dark, malty and strong to sustain fasting 17th-century monks, bock beer’s annual appearance on the shelves stemmed from a longstanding historic tradition.

These days? “Spring beer” means anything a crafty copywriter can come up with, which is to say it means absolutely nothing.

It could be Blue Point Spring Fling, a copper-colored ale whose “special German Otter ...</p><a class= Continue Reading →

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The rise and fall of mighty bock

IMAGE THE SCENE:

The winter has ended, the sun is shining and the sidewalks are packed with milling crowds. A stream of beer trucks parades down the avenue. Celebrities judge a beauty pageant for goats in the city park. Brass bands play Strauss in outdoor gardens.

And a quarter-million barrels of strong, dark, malty lager are about to be tapped across town.

Munich at its finest?

No, New York City, circa 1934.

It was the first spring after the end of Prohibition, and — aside ...

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This St. Patty’s day, forget green – go for Irish red

ST. PATRICK’S DAY is upon us, and you’re going to hear a lot of people insist that if you really want to be Irish for a day, you’ve got to drink black-as-ink stout. Either that, or green-dyed beer.

Here’s another color for you to consider on this holy day of beer drinking: red, as in Irish red ale.

Hundreds of years before Arthur Guinness made his famous stout, Ireland was famousSamuel Adams Irish Red for ...

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Micro malt farms join ‘localvore’ movement

There’s a reason most breweries stopped malting their own grain about 100 years ago: It’s really hard work.

Just ask Andrea Stanley, a 34-year-old mother of three from Hadley, Mass., who partnered with her husband, Christian, last year to open their own micro malt house.

“Sixty percent of what we do,” she sighed, “is seed cleaning.”

They clean the grain when it comes off the field; they separate the seeds by size; they remove the tiny rootlets that grow during germination; they hand-turn ...

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New beer springing up all over

WE’RE JUST two cold, gray months into the year, but 2011 is already showing sunny promise. Here are six signs that better days are on the horizon.

The Grainery

Center City will get a new brewpub as early as next month, at 1113 Walnut St. OK, the owners (the same folks behind East Falls’ candlelit Fork & Barrel) say it’s not really a brewpub because just four of its 26 taps will feature beer brewed on the premises.

Nonetheless, local beer fans ...

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Beer is the key to great chili – the rest is optional

SUPER BOWL Sunday is upon us, and the testosterone of championship-hungry football fans rages nowhere stronger than in the kitchen.

Armies of chefs, fortified with tongue-searing hot peppers, are trash-talking the competition, certain that this year – this year, I tell you! – they have an unbeatable game plan. They boast, they strut and they rant over the proper ingredients: beans or no beans, ground beef or sirloin, habanero or jalapeño . . . or perhaps they’ll break out the hottest ...

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Flavors flow richly at a gourmet beer swap

IT TOOK FEWER than 30 seconds for someone to hand me a bottle that I’d never heard of before: Evolution Rise Up Stout. “If you like coffee,” the guy said, “this is the stout for you.”

I no sooner had it in my mouth when someone else was handing me another: Portsmouth Winter Hefeweizen. It was dark and smooth, like a sultry Billie Holiday ballad.

The scene would repeat itself again and again over the next hour as strangers greeted me with ...

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A neighborhood says no to a brewery

SOMETHING STINKS in Fishtown.

Late last year, a 33-year-old Internet developer named Tim Patton went before the Fishtown Neighbors Association with a proposal for a small brewery in his home on Richmond Street near Marlborough. The company would produce about four kegs a week – so small that it wouldn’t qualify as a microbrewery; instead, it would be classified as a “nanobrewery.”

Patton presented plans that showed the entire operation could fit in a small room in the back of ...

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Brewers dancing with new hops

IT WASN’T ALL that long ago that if you wanted to sound semi-intelligent on the wonkish topic of hops, all you had to do was remember a few key varieties.

Hallertauer is the perfect match for the soft water of Bavaria’s lagers. Cascades gives a grapefruit flavor to West Coast ales. And EKG is not a stress test – it stands for Britain’s East Kent Goldings.

Alas, in the past 10 years, dozens of new hop varieties have cropped up, and it’s ...

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