DRAFT is an American magazine about beer and beer culture, published since September 2006 by DRAFT Publishing. Erika Rietz is the founder and editor-in-chief. The magazine is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.
As I stood atop Peters Mountain along the Appalachian Trail taking in views of the Susquehanna River, I felt more alive than I had in a long time. I may say that I work for my beer and have grand visions of weekends spent exploring the great outdoors with a stop at a local brewery after to hoist pints and compare stories of adventure. But, if I’m being honest, most weekends are spent tossing bags with one hand and downing a well-loved IPA or three from my neighborhood brewery with the other.
Which was what led me to spend the morning hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail: to experience something new, adventurous, and, most importantly, authentic, with the journey eventually culminating at Tröegs Independent Brewing–a brewery I’ve long admired for the rebellious nature with which they brew cult classics like Mad Elf, Troegenator, and Nimble Giant. If beers this audacious are readily available throughout their distribution footprint, I couldn’t wait to try offerings held closer to home like the sour and wood-aged beers from the brewery’s Splinter Series.
But Tröegs would have to wait. First, there was plenty to explore in Hershey.
A Taste of Downtown Harrisburg
I worked up quite an appetite from my hike, so I headed to the Broad Street Market in nearby downtown Harrisburg. The sheer volume of vendors hawking everything from fresh produce and grass-fed beef to prepared foods is unlike any market I’ve experienced in much larger cities, but I have to remind myself that Hershey and Harrisburg are unlike any place I’ve been before. Locals pride themselves in the entrepreneurial spirit that has lived for generations on family farms and within Mennonite and Amish communities. This same spirit influenced John and Chris Trogner to open Tröegs in 1997.
I ordered an ice cream cone–717 Cherry made with antibiotic free dairy from a local farm and churned in small batches–from Urban Churn and began to peruse the food stalls for lunch. The variety spanned everything from Puerto Rican to Korean and Pennsylvania Dutch. I couldn’t decide, so I ordered an international buffet for one–West African okra soup from Tasty Dishes, bacon-fried cabbage pierogies from Pikowski’s Pierogi Place, and Jamaican oxtail from Porter House–and watched as families enjoyed lunch together and business men popped in for a boxed lunch to bring back to their desks.
A few blocks down the road from the Broad Street Market is the Pennsylvania State Capitol. I’m not typically one to tour state capitol buildings, but enough locals urged me to give it a shot. “It’s the most beautiful in the country,” said the passenger next to me on the plane. She was right. From the rotunda inspired by Michelangelo’s St. Peter’s Basilica to the ornately decorated Senate, Congress, and Supreme Court chambers, the building is truly the palace of art that architect Joseph Huston intended, with lifesize murals depicting Pennsylvania history and messages of just governance flanking the walls.
Pennsylvania State Capitol (Photo courtesy Bryan Richards)
I next turned my direction from the area’s past to its future at Millworks, located adjacent to the Broad Street Market. Among the rafters and creaky floors of the old mill’s second floor are a patchwork of working artist studios, where artists like weaver Jenna Carls, potter Erin Dean, and filmmaker/photographer Caleb Smith make their living.
Back downstairs in Millworks’ restaurant, I feasted on a dinner of creative ways to infuse local ingredients into modern dishes–a starter of macaroni and cheese made with local cheeses from the Lykens Valley Creamery and a main of wood-grilled trout with seasonal vegetables and a chimichurri vinaigrette–all washed down with local brews. My night is almost complete. Almost. I wrapped up the evening across the river at Grotto Pub, a hearty Midwestern dive bar where I’m greeted by friendly locals and my first taste of Tröegs on draft.
A Day at the Museum
My plan to kayak Swatara Creek was thwarted by thunderstorms. A warm cup of coffee in front of the fireplace at Cocoa Beanery and a conversation with the barista sent me museum hopping instead, starting with the National Civil War Museum.
(Photo courtesy the National Civil War Museum)
I spent a few hours contemplating the battlefields and stories of our country’s darkest days. The experience is narrated by 10 voices. Each tells a unique story from the war–a freed slave, a southern farmer, three brothers torn by the conflict, etc. I’m still chilled by the voice of the eldest brother, a soldier for the Union army, narrating a letter to his wife about how disappointed his father would be to know one of his sons cowardly fled to the West and the other was fighting in the rebellion against the federal union. The displays covered more than the strategies and battles that decided our country’s fate and the why’s from both the Confederate and Union sides; they were about people, tragedy, rebuilding, and healing.
(Photo courtesy the AACA Museum)
As awe-inspiring as the National Civil War Museum was, I needed something to lift my spirits back up and headed over to the AACA Museum in Hershey for a walk down another history lane. This one is filled with big-block engines, mag wheels, and the bus from the movie Speed. Yes, the kid in me came to life as I stared upon a 1966 Shelby GT350, like the one my dad used to own. I began to relive my own fast and furious days of souped-up Mustangs and a need for speed–you know, the days before minivans and soccer practice.
Jacked up on adolescent adrenaline, I pointed my rented Kia Soul toward Tröegs–the reason for my trip to Hershey.
The Tröegs Experience
I was greeted at Tröegs Independent Brewing with a break in the clouds. The patio and beer garden were filling up with craft beer faithful looking to soak up some rays. Already, I was thinking of joining them with a citrusy and piney Perpetual Imperial Pale Ale (the ultimate pairing for the now steamy weather), but my attention was diverted towards three towering foeders highlighted by floor to ceiling windows in the front corner of the building. I wanted to not only know what’s aging away, but to also try what they’re producing.
(Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
As I stared up at the signs identifying what each foeder housed–a Wild Elf brewed in September 2016, another from July 2017, and a soured Belgian dubbel called Splinter Bronze–I felt a little tingle down my spine thinking about what’s happening inside those 21-foot-tall oak monoliths. My daydream was interrupted by one of the tour guides, Christie, who offered a tour. While I’m not one to go on brewery tours–once you’ve seen one, you get the premise–Christie reminded me that Tröegs’ brewery tour is one of the most highly rated in the country. Plus, it starts with a welcome beer. On this particular day, that beer was a pour of the aforementioned Wild Elf, a wild cherry ale aged to perfection on oak. Sold.
(Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
Beer in hand, we headed up to the Art of Tröegs Gallery, where Christie gave a summary of the brewery’s history. We were given a few moments to peruse the gallery, where fan favorites and winners from the brewery’s annual Art of Tröegs contest are displayed. An eclectic mix of art dot the walls, like a whimsical “Renaissance” style portrait of co-founders Chris and John Trogner, a pair of Nike Dunks with a tailored upper made out of Tröegs’ beer labels, and a 3-liter bottle that’s cut to look like it’s being zipped open.
The tour continued into the brewhouse with a bit more on the brewing process than most include. Just when the talk was about to get, well, boring, Christie delivered a humorous aside about the first time the Trogners brewed Mad Elf. John arrived at the brewery on a Saturday morning to lead a tour, only to find the entire place soaked in cherry juice. The beer was rather innovative for its time, and the brothers failed to account for how rapidly the juice would ferment. Stories like this raise my respect for Tröegs. They don’t brew normal beers, but instead push the boundaries and are rewarded for their efforts with a rabid fan base.
Another highlight of the tour was the green beer sample. I beer geeked out over a pour of the First Cut Mango IPA. The hops were grassier and more abrasive than the final packaged product where the Comet and Simcoe hops complement the exotic mango notes with a bitter citrus pop.
(Photo courtesy Tröegs Independent Brewing)
After the tour, I perused the beer menu above the bar in the taproom. I wanted to order what I came here to try–Troegenator from the source. But, I also felt compelled to try something different, something I haven’t tried before. I chose a beer from Tröegs’ Scratch Beer Series–where the brew team experiments with new ideas, recipes and brewing processes. I opted for the Perpetual Darkness–a dirty blond barleywine meets double IPA–and paired the refined toffee and sticky citrus notes with a starter of poutine fries with bone gravy and cheese curds and a main of duck confit with fried gnocchi.
As I sopped up the remaining bone gravy with my last fry, I contemplated another round. I wanted to see how else Tröegs pushes the brewing envelope and ordered a bottle of Dear Peter from the brewery’s Splinter Series. The tantalizing sour is brewed with nectarines from a nearby farm bruised during a hailstorm and aged on oak. As Tröegs proves, what’s too ugly for a roadside farmstand still works perfect for beer.
The beer itself was deceiving. The aroma delivered a bouquet of ripe, juicy nectarines with hints of oaky vanilla and a slight funk. On the tongue, the beer presented a nuanced battle of funk and ripe fruit that seemed to sum up my trip to Hershey and Tröegs.
Tröegs isn’t your typical brewery experience. Like so many other establishments in Hershey, it’s authentic and shaped by makers who truly care for their craft.
Bryan M. Richards is a beer, food, and travel writer based in Charlotte. His work has appeared in All About Beer, Men’s Journal, and just about anything with the word Charlotte in it. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @brichwrites.
With a long Memorial Day weekend upon us, chances are you’re firing up the grill, and probably cracking open a few beers while you’re at it. Combine the two with our favorite grilling recipes, all made with beer:
Lambic-Lacquered Chicken: Fruity lambic reduced down to a syrup adds tang to an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce you’ll want to slather on everything. If drumsticks aren’t your thing, use breasts or thighs—or steaks or pork chops.
Bohemia-Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos: Chef Rick Bayless reinvents Mexican cuisine at his Chicago eateries Topolobampo and Frontera Grill; here, he gives steak tacos a facelift with a Bohemia marinade.
Grilled Amber-Marinated Potatoes: A sprinkle of bacon is just the beginning. These spuds glean their flavor from a beer bath that works equally well as a chicken marinade.
Grilled New York Strip Steaks with Dubbel Butter: Compound butters sound tricky, but they’re actually an easy way to boost flavor and impress guests. Melt them over steaks, lamb, baked potatoes or sautéed vegetables, or spread on a baguette.
Presented by Schlafly Beer / The Saint Louis Brewery
Though Schlafly Beer’s motto is “hand-crafted in small batches,” this time of year the brewery also turns its attention to hand-crafted art. The crafts of both beer and art have gone hand in hand at Schlafly Beer for 14 years through the Art Outside festival, the brewery’s annual Memorial Day weekend art fair at Schlafly’s Bottleworks location in Maplewood, Missouri.
“We started Art Outside as a way to showcase all of the great local artists in the St. Louis area, in a relaxed atmosphere with some great Schlafly beers,” says Wil Rogers, Schlafly’s brand manager.
It goes without saying that Schlafly brought beer to the party–and not just any beer. Each year, the two-location and 27-year-old brewery brews a new beer exclusively for the festival. This year’s limited-edition beer, Gruit Beer, a beer brewed without hops and similar to a Berliner Weisse with a tart flavor and lower ABV, will be released in April and celebrated at the May Festival.
To connect the beer more to the artist community, the brewery started an Artists Series five years ago to feature the work of local artists on the 750-mL bottle label.
“The Schlafly Art Director reached out to us to design the bottle label in the Fall of 2017,” says Paige Brubeck, co-founder of Sleepy Kitty Arts, a St. Louis-based screenprinting and artist studio. “It was hard to design a label, however, without trying the beer first.”
“We did a lot of research on Gruit beers,” adds Evan Sult, Sleepy Kitty Arts’ other co-founder. “From the descriptions, we imagined this to be a good Spring beer that you could take to a park for a jazz festival and enjoy it out in the grass with others.”
With spring and early summer on their minds, Brubeck and Sult used their screenprinting basics–color, texture, and layers–to design a label that reflected the bright taste of the beer, creating a graphic that incorporated bright colors and florals.
Finally tasting the beer in mid-March, they found a beer that implied spices, herbs, botanicals, really a bouquet of plant life full of flavor layers. They felt confident their label design was an accurate depiction of what is inside the bottle.
“We often buy beer based on the label,” Sult confesses. “We love to have our work crossover with the things we love and we specialize in cool things.” According to their website, that includes everything from posters to “screenprinted goods for bands, theater companies, venues, wedding and commitment ceremonies, and other interesting events.” This beer label, however, will be the duo’s first 3D object.
Hosting a booth, Sleepy Kitty Arts will be one of the 65 selected artists from a 120-mile radius to showcase their wares at Art Outside.
“Drawing nearly 20,000 visitors each year, Art Outside is dedicated to showcasing local art in an approachable venue and manner,” Rogers explains. “Art Outside is not an ordinary fair, but one that features quality and affordable art, music, and plenty of tasty food and drink from Schlafly Beer. The festival’s mission is to increase public knowledge and appreciation for the local art scene by creating opportunities that connect artists, musicians, and the community.”
Check out Schlafly’s Gruit Beer and the family friendly, all ages welcome 14th Annual Art Outside at the brewery’s Bottleworks location from Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27. The live local music schedule can be found on the Art Outside website.
Sara Pletcher is the conference operations manager at Zephyr Conferences, the brainchild behind beer, wine, and food conferences for bloggers and industry professionals. Sara drank her first craft beer in 2009 and, therefore, naturally wrote her master’s thesis on the Delaware craft beer industry. She’s excited to finally put her passion to good work.
With warmer weather approaching, it’s time to consider if you have the right gear for springtime beer and running.
There are telltale signs that beer drinkers and runners are serious about their craft, without having to say a word. The scientific term for this is “signaling theory.” Others may call it “showing off.”
Consider running gear. Having a pair of lightweight running shorts versus running in mesh knee-length basketball shorts separates the serious runner from the casual cross-trainer.
For beer drinkers, you know you’re really into beer if you have to have a specialty glass for every style.
Sometimes, you can get your beer and running gear from the same source. Consider the new Mikkeller Running Beer Box, a service of the global Mikkeller Running Club. The new beer box delivery is advertised as an “exclusive membership specially for all of you beer runners to stay on top of both your running and drinking game!”
The membership consists of a quarterly care package with 12 beers, running gear, runners lotions, apparel, vouchers, VIP stuff and a newsletter for members only. In other words, it sounds like a beer runner in a box.
But you can also go overboard. The person who is covered head to toe in Nike logos will probably be seen as a poseur. The beer drinker who refuses to drink Coors at a wedding on principle alone will probably be considered an insufferable beer snob.
These non-verbal cues can change over time. If you saw someone drinking out of a can a few years ago, chances are you’d think they were a college student. Today, you’d think they’re a serious craft beer connoisseur.
Similarly, if you saw someone running barefoot a few years ago, you’d think they are out of their mind. Today you’d view them as a hardcore runner.
So this week, find the right gear that fits you as a craft beer drinker and athlete. What does it say about you?
Week 14 #BeerFit CHALLENGE
Treat yourself to a new piece of gear, whether it’s a new specialty drinking glass or spring apparel. Post a photo on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #BeerFit.
Growing up in craft, Terrapin Beer Co. is utilizing its 16th Anniversary Carnival on Saturday, April 14, to celebrate its heritage as well as the curvy, and sometimes, bumpy road that led the brewery to its recent success, including a barrelage increase of 87 percent from 2008 to 2017.
Despite arriving during the non-craft beer age and battling Georgia sales and distribution laws, Terrapin Beer Co. quickly made a name for itself in the craft beer world after winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002 for its Rye Pale Ale and a silver medal at the World Beer Cup in 2004 for its Extreme Cream Ale, in the midst of the extreme trend.
“Two years, two beers and two medals,” recalls Brian “Spike” Buckowski, Terrapin’s founder and CEO. Even with these medals, however, Buckowski and his business partner, John Cochran, were contract brewing in Atlanta and then Frederick, Maryland (now the Flying Dog Brewery), still actively seeking investors, maxing out credit cards, and searching for a brick and mortar location. In 2006, Cochran and Buckowski formed a new Terrapin investment group with local investors, and purchased the old SweetWater brewery in Athens from Zuma Brewing Co. (Zuma purchased the brewery from SweetWater in 2005).
With fresh beer coming out of its new 25-barrel brewhouse in December of 2006, and after quickly expanding into more states than anticipated, Cochran, Buckowski, and Dustin Watts–Terrapin’s first employee and current vice president of marketing and sales–thought they were well on their way to a smooth path to success. Artistic differences, however, led them to separate from their newly found investors in 2008.
“Looking for cash for the buyout, we partnered with Tenth and Blake, MillerCoors craft group,” explains Buckowski. “They loaned us the money for one year, but by 2010, we decided to sell 24.4 percent of Terrapin to Tenth and Blake and were able to remain independent.”
That independence lasted until 2017 when Tenth and Blake became a majority owner. There were no descendants to take over the brewery when Buckowski and Cochran retire, and Cochran ultimately moved to Asheville, North Carolina to open UpCountry Brewing Co.
“It was time to flip the equity,” Buckowski says. “I do still own part of the company and if the Georgia beer laws changed years ago, we probably would have led a different path for our company. Growing a beer footprint today, however, is a struggle due to the cost to do so–salespeople, benefits–so it was time to let someone else take those reigns and I can go back to why I got into this business–for the love of beer.”
Buckowski’s time is now spent on projects like the ATL Brew Lab at SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. The Brew Lab is home to a pilot system five-barrel brewhouse and six ten-barrel fermenters, which produces a combination of new beers and old Terrapin favorites served at the Terrapin Taproom next door and open year-round.
“Our journey has been really unique,” comments Watts, “but we still ask ourselves what do we want to be when we grow up? A brand is like a human–as it grows, it develops–and we’re no different.”
And as the Terrapin Tribe, as they affectionately call their team and family members, celebrates its 16th year growing up, they’re looking forward to sharing their successes with their fans. Barrel aged beers, year-round favorites, beers from the ATL Brew Lab, unique casks made by their brewers, and other special brews will be available for sampling during their 16th Anniversary Carnival on Saturday, April 14. Entertainment will include Rust, Strung Like a Horse, acts from sideshow couple Captain & Maybelle, as well as local vendors, food trucks, and carnival games with proceeds benefiting Nuci’s Space, a health and resource center for musicians. Tickets are $26 and can be purchased here.
Winter often means being cooped up on the treadmill for your workouts. Spring means you can start signing up for races. The best part of warmer weather? Hanging out at the finish line beer tent. Do you have others to add to the list? Leave a link in the comments section.
The Sasquatch Scramble
When: April 22
Race notes: The 5K, 10K and half marathon participants of this trail run receive a Sasquatch Scramble tech tee, post-race beer from Standard Deviant Brewing. Sign up here
The Little Kings Mile
Race notes: The one-mile kickoff is part of a beer race trilogy that also includes Bockfest 5K and the Hudy Brewery Run. The series celebrates Cincinnati’s brewing history and benefiting the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District. The course goes around the stadium along Cincinnati’s riverfront and ends with an after party at the Moerlein Lager House. Sign up here
Salomon Trail Running Festival
Race notes: Shipyard Brewing sponsors the post-race BBQ and offers two free cans of beer for trail runners. Race distances go from 5K all the way to 50 miles, and beer is definitely part of the celebration. Sign up here
Sly Fox Brewery Fox Trot 5K
Race notes: Race starts and ends at the Sly Fox Brewery (with each runner getting a glass of the brewery’s 2015 GABF silver medal winner Grisette), plus live music, food truck and beer pairings, and lawn games at the finish. Sign up here
Bridge to Brews 8k/10k
Race notes The race starts and finishes at one of Portland’s original breweries, the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, and takes runners over one of the area’s most picturesque bridges, the Fremont Bridge. Everyone gathers after the event for music, food and beer. Sign up here
Week 12 #BeerFit CHALLENGE
Run a spring race and post on Instagram and Twitter at the beer tent with hashtag #BeerFit
Ilja Croijmans is a psychologist by training and a homebrewer in his off time. He’s a researcher in the field of psycholinguistics, which combines psychology and linguistics, obtaining his PhD at the Centre for Language Studies in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
His work is currently focused on the ways people describe the flavor and aroma of food and beverages. In this vein, Croijmans coauthored a 2015 study titled “Odor Naming Is Difficult, Even For Wine And Coffee Experts,” which found that “both wine and coffee experts were no more accurate or consistent than novices when naming odors. ”
When I read of this study via Sprudge, a coffee publication, I naturally thought, “OK, but what about beer?”
Croijmans was kind enough to answer my questions about how his research into the language of flavor and aroma could impact beer judging as well as everyday beer enjoyment. Some of his responses have been edited for clarity and length:
Why has your research until now mostly focused on wine and coffee?
It has focused primarily on wine, actually. Wine is, like coffee, an incredibly rich source of aromas, and can be experienced by smelling it, and by tasting it. In both cases, the nose is involved. Wines differ along a few dimensions–grape type, country of origin or terroir, and yet, there is so much variety. There are many wine experts available in the Netherlands, in shops (vinologists), in restaurants (sommeliers), and we even have a few wine producers now (oenologists). Additionally, wine expertise is well defined. To become a sommelier or vinologist, you have to go through intensive training and get a degree. Wine experts are interesting, because they talk and write about the smell and flavor of wines frequently–in shops, in restaurants and in reviews on the internet.
Have you considered applying your research to beer rather than wine or coffee? Beer is also incredibly interesting. Back when I started this project on flavor language, this whole “craft beer revolution” was just kicking off in the Netherlands, which is only four years ago. Back then, there were 200 breweries, already 40 more than in 2012. Right now, there are around 422 breweries in the Netherlands. While beer is an interesting and obvious choice right now, it wasn’t yet back then. There are beer expert communities in the Netherlands with incredible expertise, and at least 422 commercial brewers which I think are expert enough to participate in my studies, too. And I think beer is talked about a lot too. What you see for wines (wine menus, wine reviews online) you see for beers more often too. There now even is a Michelin-star restaurant in the Netherlands (de Librije in Zwolle) that has a beer menu to pair with their seven-course menu.
It is too bad we don’t teach our kids to talk about smells and flavors, but focus on what cows say (sound) and what color a sheep is (vision) instead. It’s speculative, but it might be possible people would be better at naming smells if they learned to pay attention to them when they were young.
What implications could your research have in terms of how we understand and value beer judging?
What we found in wine experts is that it matters how much you talk about smells and flavors in order to become better at describing it. If these beer judges talk a lot about beer, in addition to tasting and judging it, the findings for wine experts might apply to beer judges too. I think judges (for wine and beer alike) are very useful. It is hard to judge from a bottle of beer how it will taste, and some beers are quite expensive, so these pose a risk. If a beer expert has described the flavor in a way I can understand, this helps me in my decision process. I see sometimes online that people really don’t like a well rated beer, for example a Berliner weisse or a lambic or a black IPA. And it turns out they just didn’t expect the flavors in those beers, for example, in case of the Berliner weisse, they expected more of a traditional German weisse or Belgian wit. If they would have had access to a short description of the flavor, they might have given it a second thought, or not spent money on it in the first place. Expert descriptions are very useful, especially when novices struggle with finding the right words for the flavors
How can casual beer drinkers become more adept at describing aroma and flavor?
With practice, people can become better at describing aromas and flavors. A guided tasting can help: Let an expert explain what flavors they taste in a beer, and see if the casual beer-drinker can spot these too. Or a beer flavor wheel might help, seeing particular flavors occur in a beer. This is speculative, but in the beginning, it seems it is important to just get acquainted with the words that are used in beer contexts, and these wheels can help. After a while, it is more about practicing using them and applying them to new beers.
There are apps in which you can choose a few flavor descriptors for each beer you drink. This is already easier than just coming up with your own, or type in your own description. Becoming an expert in any domain, like in music or in chess, takes time, on average around 10,000 hours, so it really just needs deliberate practice and time. But even practicing it a few hours can help. It is too bad we don’t teach our kids to talk about smells and flavors, but focus on what cows say (sound) and what color a sheep is (vision) instead. It’s speculative, but it might be possible people would be better at naming smells if they learned to pay attention to them when they were young.
Do you have a favorite beer style?
I don’t have a specific favorite. It depends too much on the context. But there are types of beers I like more than others. I am quite into the sour beers: gose, Berliner weisse, lambic, gueuze. Somehow the sourness keeps being interesting, while for example for with IPAs or stouts, these seem to become more similar to each other the more I try (although I also really like IPAs). I also like the crossover-type beers, in which multiple styles are combined, e.g., a sour stout, or experimental beers in which interesting ingredients are used.
Has your research changed the way you personally experience the act of drinking beer?
I don’t think my research has changed the way I am experiencing beer. Whether it changed what types of beers I drink, I think homebrewing is more to blame for that–if you know how something is made, you may find flaws and possible ways to improve it. But I am trying to be aware of the flavors and tastes in what beers I drink, and I try to at least write a few words on each beer I drink and rate it, even if I’ve had it more than once.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
By now, it’s a given that most races offer craft beer to all finishers. But some races go above and beyond for their winners with the ultimate prize: Their weight in beer.
Sometimes it’s for special occasions. The 50th running of the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon offered the top male and female finishers their weight in Wild Rose Brewery beer for the 50K. Everybody who finished took home a beer stein. The overall winner came away with 120 bottles of beer.
Sometimes whole teams win their weight in beer. That was the case for Deschutes Brewery’s relay race. The Oregon brewery hosted the Brewers Cup Relay, a 4-kilometer race for teams of two or four runners. Participants ran and drank a Pacific Wonderland Lager before tagging a teammate to repeat the process.
Prizes include winning the team’s weight in Deschutes Brewery Pacific Wonderland Lager; Deschutes Brewery Public House gift certificates and Deschutes Brewery swag.
There was a lot of competition for Avery’s top prize among the elite athletes in Boulder, and the female winner was Kayoko Fukushi, an Olympic marathoner for Japan. Her prize translated to five cases of craft brew from Avery Brewing Co. But since the Olympian was training for Rio in August, she didn’t drink her winnings. Instead, she shared it with her agent and the Japanese team coaches.
Fukushi’s training partner, meanwhile, finished second in his age group and took home a case of beer. He gave his winnings to the owners of Twin Lakes Inn, where the team stays every year, according to Runner’s World.
So if you’re not fast enough to win your weight in beer, at least make friends someone who can. They’ll probably have more than they can drink anyway.
Week 11 #BeerFit CHALLENGE
Sign up for a race that has craft beer winnings at the end. And if you’re not likely to win, at least sign up for a race where everyone gets craft beer at the end.
Post photos on Instagram and Twitter of your post-race prizes with the hashtag #BeerFit
A Black and Tan at Broken Compass | Photo by Jamey Schwartz
On a trip earlier this year to Edmonton, Alberta, I had dinner at a brewpub just off the bustling Whyte Avenue thoroughfare in the Old Strathcona neighborhood. The brewery was a relatively new addition to the scene; young, stylishly dressed Edmontonians on date nights waited in line for tables. The tap lineup was varied: sour beers, classic pub styles, way-hoppy pale ales and more.
As we gave our beer orders to our server, my companion hemmed and hawed about whether she’d enjoy the brewery’s kettle sour.
“Just … how sour is it?” she asked the server.
“If you’re nervous about that, I could do a half-sour and half-saison mix for you,” the server readily replied. She took him up on the offer.
I don’t think my mouth fell open, but I was surprised. Mixing beer styles isn’t something servers suggest often here in the States, let alone at a brewery itself. As my friend contentedly sipped her half-saison, half-sour, I wondered whether American aversion to the practice had its roots in mere snobbery or whether other factors are at play.
To get to the way-back root of mixing beers, I turned to British beer historian and author Ron Pattinson, who said that the custom of combining beers began much before the Black and Tans and Snakebites we know.
“As far as you go back, people have always mixed beer,” he says. “It’s normally for reasons of economy, really. They had a beer they really liked but couldn’t afford to drink all the time.”
“The young people with beards who drink craft beer, they don’t mind drinking a beer that looks like orange juice but they’d never dream of mixing their beers.”
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first citation of “Black and Tan” to describe a beer that’s half darker beer, half lighter beer in a slang dictionary from 1889. Beer mixes predates World War I, though the practice is best documented from the 19th century on. Some motivations were economic, as with the mixing of half a bottle of beer with half a draft beer during World War I, when draft beer quality was middling at best but bottled beer was still expensive to drink exclusively … hence, the fifty-fifty split.
But flavor considerations were also a factor. Mixing an old ale with a bitter (called a Mother-In-Law, zing!) wouldn’t have been a price-based decision, since both styles would have been nearly equal in cost. Drinkers just liked the way it tasted.
These days, though, Pattinson said the beer-combination custom is on the wane in Britain, as the styles used to make the classics (mild, bitter, porter, etc.) are becoming less common on draft. The rise of more American styles in the British beer world and the development of a younger craft beer culture have created something of a disdain for the practice.
“The young people with beards who drink craft beer, they don’t mind drinking a beer that looks like orange juice but they’d never dream of mixing their beers,” he says.
Mixing beer isn’t super common in the States these days, though a few taprooms and bars encourage the practice. Among them is Broken Compass Brewing Co. in Breckenridge, Colorado, where “mix tapes,” as the brewery’s dubbed them, are a common order from regulars. Before the brewery had even opened, owner/brewer David “Ax” Axelrod was interested in making a mole stout, so he began roughly mixing his chili pepper pale ale and his coffee chocolate stout in various ratios until he nailed the right level of chili pepper kick. From there, a tradition was born.
Now, taproom staff and customers are in on it, too, requesting their own combinations and tinkering with the tap list. Recent favorites include a half coconut porter, half chocolate coffee stout mix invented by Axelrod’s girlfriend, Kristin, and the “chill-pah”: chile pepper pale with just a dash of IPA.
So though he’s proud of how his beers taste as-is, Axelrod certainly doesn’t mind customers and staff playing around with his creations.
“There are certainly people that get all puritanical on beers but that’s what the Reinheitsgebot is for. If you want that, go to Germany,” he says. “I certainly respect someone’s expression of a style or their vision, but we wouldn’t have the craft movement if people didn’t start playing around with different recipes and designs.”
Pub Dog, a small pizza-and-brewpub chain with locations around Baltimore, Maryland, has gone a step further: All locations, since 2003, have served a menu of “Half Breeds,” or mixes of their house-brewed beers. Options include the Bloodhound (half Irish stout, half raspberry ale), the Smooth Dog (half IPA, half nut brown) and the Beagle (half peach ale, half nut brown). Customers often make their own, too, incorporating the two seasonal beers on draft.
“We’ve had great success with it. I think people enjoy being able to make their own beers. Our environment, as opposed to some other brewpubs, we find it fun and interesting,” says Pub Dog marketing manager Caitlin Fisher. “We’ve embraced mixing the whole beer thing.”
Not everyone has. I came across a seven-year-old blog post (“screed” could also be used here) written by Michael O’Connor, who at the time was the beer manager and buyer at Bailey’s Taproom in Portland, Oregon. (He’s since left that position to work on other projects, but still bartends at Bailey’s once a week.)
In the post, titled “The Sin of Mixing,” O’Connor writes: “Sometimes, when you’ve had a few drinks, you do something you really regret… something that will haunt you until your dying days. This happened to me yesterday when I… I… mixed beers!”
The Frankenstein he created was half a North Coast Old Rasputin on nitro with half Six Rivers Raspberry Lambic.
He goes on: “Every beer snob worth their cirrhosed liver knows that you don’t take a masterpiece beer and dilute it with another. That’s the act of a vandal, a scourge, a… an Englishman.”
After bemoaning the outcome—”The lambic and stout mixture was certainly not repulsive, but nowhere near as good as the beers by themselves”—he offers a warning to others never to follow down such a dark path.
I had to know: Did he still feel this way, seven years later?
“It’s like going into the restaurant and some chef does an incredible leg of lamb and you want ketchup with it or something. I kind of wince at it still,” O’Connor says. “I want people to experience that beer the way that the brewer intended it, and the brewer probably didn’t intend for you to take his IPA and blend it with a chocolate stout.”
Sure, he’ll serve you a mix of beers if you really want it, but he’ll give you a bit of a spiel first. Unless you’ve tried a certain combination before, it might not taste all that great.
“You open up a Pandora’s box. American styles are usually aggressive, and much more complex than traditional English styles,” he says. “They’re not as ubiquitous, because we have so many craft beers. There’s no American craft beer equivalent of Guinness or Harp.”
He raises a question that Ron Pattinson also mentioned: As the variety and flavor range of beer increases, is there any future for mixing beers?
“If you’re in an American beer bar, you can find a brown ale, a Belgian beer, an imperial stout with raspberries on nitro. You’re not bored by the options so much so that you need to start putting things together and hoping it tastes good,” O’Connor says. “The brewers are already five steps ahead of you.”
So, ultimately, yes, O’Connor would still rather you just ordered your beer and drank it the way the brewer intended it to be consumed. Seven years later, and he hasn’t budged on this position. It made me wonder whether there’s a middle ground, or whether mixing beers is that divisive of a practice. Broken Compass’s David Axelrod seems to shrug at the “debate.”
“There’s something to be said for purity of vision, and there’s also something to be said for throwing all the rules out the window.”
When you visit the website for the German beer Erdinger, you find something you might not expect:
A 20-day personal training plan to get fit.
Bavarian beer Erdinger calls itself “the sports and fitness drink” — thank you Google for the translation — and explains its advantages.
Whether at work, before driving or after sports, there are certain occasions where it is wiser to avoid alcohol. For those who don’t want to miss out on the delicious taste of wheat beer, though, the solution is Erdinger Weissbier ‘non-alcoholic’.
The Huffington Post reports that Erdinger began targeting athletes in 2001 with advertising featuring triathletes, and its popularity has grown after being distributed for free at the finish area of European sporting events.
The brand has found a niche in the country famous for its thirst for beer. The nonalcoholic beer satisfies those who have a commitment to both the taste of suds and an active, healthy lifestyle.
Now nonalcoholic beer is getting more attention due to the German contingent at the Olympic winter games.
“It’s a really good drink directly after training or after competition,” said German biathlete Simon Schempp, who won a silver medal at this year’s games.
The Times’ reports that Germans often drink non-alcoholic beer in place of sports drinks after exercise, and that Johannes Scherr, the doctor for the German Olympic ski team, said nearly all of his athletes drink non-alcoholic beer during training.
The brewery Krombacher supplied about 1,000 gallons of nonalcoholic beer to the athletes’ village for German athletes.
Is it working? Well, you can’t argue with success. Right now, Germany is tied for the most gold medals.
Week 9 #BeerFit CHALLENGE.
This week, replace your Gatorade with a non-alcoholic beer. Post photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #BeerFit