November 1999 Newsletter

PALE TALES NEWSLETTER
ISSUE #41
November, 1999

**** HEAVYWEIGHT BREWING TO DELIVER
ONE-TWO PUNCH AT NOV. MEETING ****

DATE: Monday, Nov. 15th
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
PLACE: Nassau Inn Tap Room, 10 Palmer Sq., Princeton, NJ
PHONE: (609) 921-7500

In this corner, weighing in at 7.7% ABV, the Belgian-style Golden Ale – LUNACY. And in this corner, the contender, weighing in at 8.3% ABV – BALTUS.

Tom Baker, owner of Heavyweight Brewing will referee this bout between his two flagship big brews – both Belgian-style products, at our Nov. 15th meeting at the Nassau Inn Tap Room.

It looks like we will be among the first in NJ to taste these brews,
which will not be on the shelves till mid to late November. In fact, Baltus, the darker of the two brews is actually a test batch, which will probably not be on the shelves until December. I know  I’m very excited to taste these beers, and I hope you all will be as well. Come place your bets on the winning heavyweight!

A note, for those of you who have brews to bring (and if you haven’t get brewing, the club’s annual AHA competition is coming Dec. 4th), Tom asked if people would be bringing homebrews to sample, and I told him – of course. So, bring em’ if you got em’.

To give you a little background, as the name implies, Heavyweight Brewing will specialize in big beers (i.e., those with more body and alcohol). Initial focus will be on Belgian-esque styles, according to owner Tom Baker.

Why brew big beers? “I like them, and I think there is a market for them. If you love these beers, you know how hard they can be to find.” he said. Baker was also inspired by the success of Hair of the Dog, a small Oregon brewery renowned for its high-gravity beers. BTW, I just picked up Hair of the Dog’s Adam beer, a Barleywine – delicious!

Heavyweight will initially produce four packs only, and will sell their beer through Hunterdon Brewing, a NJ distributor that specializes in small regional craft brews. Look for his products on the shelf this month – or get a sneak peek at the Nov. meeting.

NOTES FROM MEETINGS PAST!

Word is that Blue Point Brewing’s Barleywine was a big hit at our October meeting. Mark Burford, who has spoken at our meetings in the past, brought us a Barleywine this time from his Long Island-based brewery. (Unfortunately, I was not able to sample Blue Point’s delights, as I was suffering from jet lag, having just returned from Amsterdam on my barge, brewery, and biking trip.)

Speaking of new beers, River Horse’s Hop Hazard Pale Ale was well-received by PALE ALES members at the most recent round of the Bring Yer Homebrew (BYHB) competition this past Sunday, Oct. 24th.

Jack Bryan, co-owner of River Horse brewery in Lambertville, kicked off the event leading us on a tour of brewery. We then tried many of the River Horse products, including their new Hop Hazard Pale Ale. Hop Hazard has great hop aroma (dry hopped
with Cascade), excellent hop flavor from East Kent Golding and Fuggles, and nice bitterness balanced by some nice maltiness. In my opinion, this is there best product so far – a brew with a lot of character. Great job folks!

We were also able to sample some products still in the fermenter. For example, it was interesting to note the difference between the unfiltered (from the tank) Lager, and the finished product. Most of us preferred the character of the former! Jack also answered
many of the questions from us and other tourers. Did I mention that Jack gave me the keys to close the brewery when he left? (It being Sunday, I feel sure some higher power was trying to test my resolve!) For those of you, who didn’t come – see what you missed!

We held a brief session of the BYHB and tasted the few entries that we had at the meeting. Hopefully, we will get some more entries at the next session (which won’t be held till 2000). All in all, a good time, though.

BARGES, BREWERIES, BIKING ADDS UP TO A BLISSFUL VACATION

I recently returned from a Barge, Brewery and Biking tour of The Netherlands and Belgium. We visited approximately two breweries per day on our arduous journey. Starting off in Amsterdam, we traveled via barge through approximately eight cities. We  would then walk or bike to breweries and brewpubs from the docks.

Of course, we had to hit the local pubs in the evening as well! Did I mention the two beer dinners that we had as well? The eight-night tour is run by 4 Winds Travel (http://www.4windstours.com/). The tour will run again in the Spring. I highly recommend it!

There were so many great places we visited, I’ll try to touch on some of the highlights of the tour…

First off, Amsterdam is a great city to visit – for so many reasons:
great beer, Indonesian food, beautiful scenery (not just the red light district!), great museums, etc. I did not visit the Heineken museum, I must confess. However, I did taste Heineken many times on my journeys!

You know what, it tastes a lot better there. More malty, and creamy -and without that cursed skunkiness, which I have no doubt is due solely to exposure to sunlight, gleefully propagated by those trademark green bottles. Here’s something interesting though, I actually had Heineken in bottles a few times too, and guess what – they are BROWN in the Netherlands. Makes you wonder.. I wish I did go on that museum brewery tour – I think I would have had a few questions for the guides! Heineken also markets a Speciale (Belgian style ale), Wit beer, and an Oud Bruin in the Netherlands. I thought they were OK (although I didn’t try the brown ale).

Maximillian’s brewpub in Amsterdam is worth checking out. Interesting though, I had a Bock beer there and was expecting a German-style bock, instead it was a bock beer with a decidedly Belgian yeast. I found that many of Holland’s brewpub/brewery beers had a Belgian character to them.

On to Utrecht… We stopped at De Leckere, makers of ” biological” beers. This is equivalent to our “organic” beers made with all-natural ingredients, etc. This brewery extends its environmental practices to the process and packaging as well. They are
limited in the waste they produce, labels are from recycled paper, recycled glass, etc. A nice concept. I liked the dubbel and tripel they made. A few samples I had were somewhat infected, slight sourness was apparent. Possibly, this is due to the limited use of chemicals for sanitation, etc. Later, we biked into the heart of Utrecht to visit De Stoombier, a brewpub (or home brewery as they are called). Limited selection here. The Wit bier was quite good though after the long bike ride.

On to Rotterdam… We visited De Pilgrim brewpub. This brewpub was built next to the church that the Pilgrims left from to journey to England, and then the new world. Good beers here! They served their Trippel with a fantastic Abbey Cheese – what a great combo. NOTE: most of the beer I drank in Holland was in a Belgian style. I was a little surprised by this as most of the exports I’ve had from Holland were Lagers (Grolsch, Leuww, Heineken, etc)

Next, we journeyed into Belgium, land of beer appreciation. The Belgians are very proud of their beers. Most of the brewers I met insisted that this was of course the best beer in Belgium. I had read that each beer in Belgium was always served in its own special glass from the brewery. Although I thought it a cliché, it turned out to be true in every place I went.

Our first stop was Antwerp, and the De Koninck brewery. They were quite pleased to see us, as our guide informed us that we were the first Americans to take the tour! Hard to believe, with a brewery that has been around a hundred years or so. The De Koninck regular beer is a delicate, soft, malty brew, fairly low in alcohol. This is definitely a session beer! The trippel was excellent as well.

Then we went to a beer dinner at another brewpub Het Pakhuis (The Warehouse). Many great courses, esp. the Rabbit cooked in beer. Lest I forget, a midnight trip to De Kulminator beer bar. This is where the Belgian version of CAMRA, the Objective Beer
Tasters, regularly meets. Unfortunately, this was not one of their meeting nights. Still with a beer menu like a telephone book, I managed to make due!

In Baasrode, we visited the famous Bosteels brewery, makers of Kwak, the unusual beer in the most unusual glass. The glass looks like a beaker with a completely round bottom and narrow top, and sits in a wooden holder (otherwise it would fall over!). We also visited the newer De Landsheer brewery, where we were treated to some surprisingly hoppy (Saaz) versions of Belgian special beers. This is a traditiona vessel which was attachable to the side of a coach. We met several generations of the Bosteel family, and they were kind enough to invite us into their homestead of three hundred years. Kwak is an excellent beer, but I think their Trippel Carmaliat was even better!

I’m condensing things a little here, but… on to Ghent and Bruges, two of my favorite cities that we visited. The HopDuvel beer bar in Ghent is not to be missed. The owner treated me to a 15-year old bottle of Gouden Caroulus. We compared it to a fresh mug of the same – like day and night. The older beer was more like a leathery, plummy port wine. The tap Gouden Caroulus was good, but no contender really. In Bruges, we visited the De Gouden Boom brewery museum, a highlight of the trip. This is the brewery that makes Blanche de Bruges and Brugse Tripel. Blanche de Bruges is my favorite white beer! Also in Bruges was the Straffe-Hendrik brewery – another great tour, highlighted by a rooftop view of this beautiful city. Ending with a beer dinner in Brugs Beertje, presented by a Belgian beer expert, Daisy De Bruyne.

We also ended up visiting De Dolle Brouwers, makers of Stille Nacht, Arabier, and Ourbier – in a quaint country town whose name completely escapes me. Great brewery, great tour, led by the brewer’s mother – I hope I’m that spry when I’m 80! I don’t know if
it’s the beer or Flemish countryside, but either way they should bottle it and sell it! Well, that’s about all I can write about my trip for now. Many memories I will cherish. Perhaps, England or Germany next!

OTHER BEER NEWS
BREWING TECHNIQUES HAS CLOSED SHOP

The last few years have been tough for brewing publications – Rocky Mountain Brews, Southern Draft, and Barleycorn have closed. And now, another publication has joined that list. Brewing Techniques, considered by many to be the premiere magazine on
homebrewing and brewing has ceased publication.

The last issue was May/June. The Brewing Techniques online archives can be accessed via the Real Beer web page (www.realbeer.com). Back issues are on sale at www.brewingtechniques.com.

MILLER TO BUY BOSTON BREWING?

According to HappyHours.com’s BrewsGram (an excellent newsletter, sign up for it at http://www.happyhours.com/ ), Jim Koch, cofounder of the Boston Beer Company, Inc (BBC), has been avoiding the issue of Miller Brewing takeover reports, implying that
none of the macro brewers know how to handle or market “a high-end beer.”

HappyHours.com quoted a Reuters interview, where Koch said: “Miller bought Shipyard and AB bought Redhook and neither has really seen a boost. I think the way we grow is by continuing to appeal to those who want a quality beer.”

According to HappyHours.com, Sam Adams moles state that BBC is trying to better its bargaining position and protect itself from a possible hostile takeover bid at the same time. HappyHours.com goes on to say that worries have cropped up on how the sale of
Boston Beer to Miller would affect the brand’s positioning, pricing and marketing.

Koch, is reportedly concerned about advertising and management teams, and is “especially worried,” sources say, about the positioning of BBC’s stockholders and current employees should a hostile takeover materialize. It should be noted that neither
Boston Beer Company, nor Philip Morris’ Miller Brewing Company, will confirm or deny these reports to the press.

(The following item was featured in the REAL BEER newsletter (www.realbeer.com) …

ENGLISH CHURCH MARKETS ITS OWN BEER

The Ripon, England, Cathedral church claims to be the first in its country to launch and bless its own brand of beer, called Ripon Jewel.

The bottled beer, which is being made by Daleside Breweries inHarrogate, has been officially blessed by the Dean of Ripon in a special ceremony. A procession then carried the beer through the streets of the city for a civic toast and tasting.

The brew will be sold in presentation packs in the cathedral shop and in supermarkets throughout the country. Ripon Diocese communications officer the Rev John Carter said: “The church is against alcohol abuse, but it recognizes that a drink in moderation is a gift from God, and is in many ways central to Christian worship.”

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