Zwanze Day – Your Only Chance

Posted by on 09 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: links

One week from tomorrow will likely be your only chance to taste this year’s Zwanze beer from Cantillon. As craft brewing becomes more popular, rare beers are being exploited for financial gain by people not involved with the production and lacking any meaningful relationship with the brewery. People pick up the beer from the brewery for the usual cheap prices and then sell them on eBay and other similar places at grossly inflated margins. Some breweries, like Westvleteren, take down your information and limit purchasing to prevent against this. This year Cantillon is simply refusing to sell bottles of Zwanze 2011. Two-thirds of the production has been put into barrels and sent to pubs around the world. These bars will all tap the barrels on the same day, September 17th. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities listed below, next Saturday may be your only chance to enjoy this year’s rendition.

“The story behind Zwanze 2011 is one of friendship between a brewer of organic lambic and an organic winegrower, Olivier Lemasson. In 2010 we tried something new by blending lambic with Pineau d’Aunis. The result was quite surprising and wine-like with specific accents of fruit, pepper and other spices, both as regards smell and taste. With Olivier’s approval, and despite a substandard harvest due to poor weather conditions, we recreated the same beer for Zwanze 2011. I subjected it to some very limited cold hopping using Bramling Cross hops, which yields a slightly bitter fruitiness. My friend Rob Todd of the Allagash Brewing Company calls it the «kiss of the hops», and I’ve decided to use this fantastic expression. The balance struck between the lambic, the grapes and the delicate bitter fruitiness is surprising yet very pleasant.”

You can find Zwanze in one of these bars next weekend:


  • Monk’s Café in Philly
  • Spuyten Duyvil in New York
  • Lord Hobo in Boston
  • Novare Res in Maine
  • Churchkey in Washington DC
  • West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago
  • The Avenue Pub in New Orleans
  • Holy Grale in Kentucky
  • Russian River in Northern CA
  • Stone in Southern CA
  • Montréal : Dieu du Ciel


  • Belgium – Brussels : Moeder Lambic Fontainas – Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles
  • France – Paris : La Cave à Bulles
  • France – Fougères sur Bièvre : La Gardette – Les Vins Contés
  • Italy – Rome : Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà
  • Italy – Bergamo : The Dome
  • Italy – Nicorvo : Sherwood Pub
  • Finland – Helsinki : Pikkulitu
  • Denmark – Copenhagen : Olbutikken
  • Sweden – Stockholm : Akkurat


  • Japan – Itami: Konishi Brewing Restaurant

PSA: Hops Kill Dogs!

Posted by on 22 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: images, links

I was chatting with a Brewer buddy of mine about his dog and mentioned that hops can kill dogs if they ingest them. He wasn’t aware of this, so I was inspired to spread the word. Hopefully we can protect hungry canines from some pain or worse.

The only Bruer that doesn't like hops

When dogs eat hops the symptoms will likely be hyperthermia, increased and heavy breathing, and rapid heart rates. I have read that dogs generally ignore hops that are growing, but you might want to fence them so your dog can’t get at them. Dogs like to eat hops when they’ve been coated in sweet delicious wort. If you see your dog eat hops, spent hops or spent grains mixed with hops then don’t wait for signs, just take your pet to the vet. The vet will induce vomiting, so if you are unable to get to a vet try to make your dog spit up the hops somehow. A Louis CK joke leads me to believe that making them drink hydrogen peroxide does the trick. It seems that some breeds are more susceptible to this, notably greyhounds, but I wouldn’t rely on a dog as being immune. There is more to the treatment than just getting your dog to heave, as discussed in the first link below, so a professional vet is always your best bet.

While I’m all for composting, if you have a dog or if dogs might gain access to your compost pile then I think it is best that you only put spent grains in and dispose of your kettle waste elsewhere.

Good Beer Loses a Great Friend

Posted by on 01 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: images, links

Ray Deter was tragically struck by a car while riding his bike in Manhattan earlier this week. The owner of the d.b.a. bars in the East Village, Brooklyn and New Orleans was also a host of Beer Sessions Radio and a great friend to those who knew him. If you’re in the city, hit up one of the d.b.a. bars and share a drink with his spirit. This is the best way I know to celebrate his memory.

Rest in Peace Ray. I’ll always remember your stories, the laughs you bring out in people, your passion for good drink and that diacetyl isn’t always a bad thing in beer.

Jimmy Carbone and Ray Deter in 2009, with the Mayor’s Proclamation of July as Good Beer Month

A Brewday at Westbrook

Posted by on 26 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: brewery tours, images, links

Westbrook Brewing might be South Carolina’s newest brewery but it’s certainly not its smallest. With the first batch brewed on Thanksgiving, Founder Edward Westbrook and Head Brewer Smith Mathews are now crafting some tasty beers in Mount Pleasant across the bridge from Charleston. I assisted Smith on Edward’s favorite Belgian Pale Ale recipe. Other beers in their lineup currently include White Thai a Belgian Wit with some novel spices, a smooth Belgian Tripel with a nice hop character and an IPA that is sometimes American and sometimes pleasantly twisted with their Belgian yeast. Barrels just arrived at the brewery and they have exciting plans for aging all sorts of beers in them. The experimentation doesn’t stop there, currently a Lichtenhainer is in the works, a little known German beer that combines elements of wheat, smoke and sour.

Westbrook Brewhouse

Westbrook’s brewhouse is a 30-barrel system with a steam jacketed kettle. Energy efficiency is always a concern in brewing. Westbrook reclaims thermal energy by directing the outlet of the wort chiller to the hot liquor tank. The water heaters pump water through solar panels on the roof.

Healthy Yeast

Multitasking is key to getting everything done on brewday. This bucket of creamy sludge is some healthy yeast from the slurry to be tested for viability and counted to determine the pitch size.

1000 Gallon Boilover

Point of Safety: During the boil don’t lean against the kettle doors. When opening the kettle doors stand back, certainly don’t have your face near them. Boilovers will happen.

Room for Growth

Westbrook definitely has room for growth. Plenty of space for more fermentors, the lab they are building gives a brewer some nice quality control toys and the tasting room is just a few weeks away from completion.

Fermentation Vessel CIP

Fermentation Vessel 2 is being cleaned. Once it’s been sanitized the yeast pitch will be pumped from another FV into it prior to pumping the chilled wort.

Spent Grain

One business’s waste becomes supplies for another. Like many small brewers the spent grains are passed along to farmers to be used as animal feed.

Brewers Are Janitors

People think brewing is a glamorous, rock star profession. Really it’s mostly janitorial work. Most of our time is spent cleaning, but at least frequent beer tasting is a job requirement.

If you’re in the Charleston area, look for Westbrook beers wherever they serve good beer around town. Hit up the tasting room which is opening soon and has 20 taps. For food after Foster’s Pub is down the street, good food, great staff and the owner Greg loves giving people samples to promote great beer. Their jalapeños stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon are off the hook.

Westbrook Brewing:
Foster’s Pub:

More photos in the gallery: Click Here!

I Brew Beer – Liberty Bell Brown Ale

Posted by on 22 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: links, siebel

The Good Beer Seal just posted an article I wrote about how my Liberty Bell Brown Ale recipe has evolved. Here’s a preview, but click the link to read the whole thing.

Liberty Bell – American Brown Ale’s Different Leanings

Rock & Roll, Comedy, Brown Ale. The Brits often get there first, but America makes things taste better. For me brewing is about people, bringing people together and getting to know others. I like to brew beer that the drinker is going to enjoy, not just what I want to have, and doing that spurs a dialog with my friends and I come to understand their tastes better. There is a beer for everyone, even those that don’t drink alcohol. This story is about how one recipe reacted to life’s ever-changing demands and morphed 3 times to be the beer the drinker wanted.

Click here to read the whole story at the Good Beer Seal site.

Black & Tan

Posted by on 13 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: images

You can float a Black & Tan either way, with the same beers at the same temperature. These aren’t my photos, but rather from a fellow homebrewer on one of the forums.

Black & Tan layered with either Black or Tan on top.
Black & Tan with either Black or Tan on top.

Craft Beer Week Recommendations – Part II

Posted by on 27 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: links

This weekend was a great kickoff to Craft Beer Week in the city. I hope you made it to some events, I spent all day Sunday at Get Real and enjoyed every minute of serving beers to people who knew their beer, and perhaps enjoyed even more helping those who didn’t know what they wanted find a beer that suited their tastes. But we’re just getting started.

Tonight at Amity Hall they will be pouring Lagunitas beers, these guys make great IPAs, several different ways. Look for Hop Stoopid if you can get it. Dive 75 will be pouring local Blue Point beers, but maybe the winning ticket tonight is Two Brothers at Mudville9 in Tribeca. It seems difficult to find their beers in the city, but this Midwest brewery puts out some nice beers.

Tuesday the thing that catches my eye first is The Bruery at Blind Tiger. These guys are chill brewers and they pulled a gold medal for Oude Tart at GABF. That begins at 6pm, and an hour earlier Rattle N Hum is having their Victory Brewing Night. Tonight is the night for Victory it seems, as Colicchio & Sons Tap Room is hosting a Victory Brewing dinner at 7:30, reservations required. Late night, at 9:30 you can get Sixpoint’s beers paired with pizza and pasta at L’asso in Nolita.

Wednesday’s lunch should probably be paired with Stone’s beers if you are in Astoria. Sunswick 35/35 will have 7 Stone beers on tap from 11:30am to 4pm and the brewer will be there. Reservation required but it is a free event. Also on Wednesday, if you make a reservation at Jimmy’s No. 43, you can swing by anytime after 5:30 for a pre-fix 4 course meal paired with The Bruery’s beers. Firestone Walker will be featured at two bars, first a free tasting at Mudville9 at 6pm, and then at Amity Hall they’ll be featuring FW beers at least by 8pm. Firestone Walker knows hops, they took a bunch of medals at GABF, including a near sweep of the American Pale Ale category taking gold & silver in that.

Thursday is a big day. The big event that I like most is the Brewer’s Choice dinner. 15 brewers the likes of Garrett Oliver and Greg Hall will be pairing their beers with local food. Check out the link below for details. Rattle N Hum has a double event going at 5pm, Ommegang’s brewer will be there and Left Hand Brewery’s owner will be there. A rare double treat. Jimmy’s No. 43 will have Brewmaster Phil Markowski of Southampton Publik House pairing his beers with oysters. Richard Norgrove and the rest of the brewing team at Bear Republic will be at Pacific Standard in BK pairing their Cali brews with Cali cheeses, reservation required. If you’re out on Staten Island, head to the Wild Goose for a lot of rare Harpoon beers, free event and no reservation needed. At 7pm at Dive Bar on 96th, there will be 4 brewers from NY State, another great free event where you can sample beers not regularly available in the city.

That should get you going through week, a final update will be coming later to prepare for the weekend. Prost!

NY Craft Beer Week Events
NYC Brewers Choice

New York City Craft Beer Week Recommendations

Posted by on 24 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: links

Game on! I just got back from GABF and now it’s time for Craft Beer Week, heaven. I just plowed through the list of events and highlighted a few of the things that I think are truly worth going out of your way for this week. Time to take advantage of access to beer we don’t normally have.

NY Craft Beer Week

Perhaps the biggest event to kick it all off is Get Real NY Cask & Food Festival. 2 sessions each on Saturday & Sunday, this is a great way to get the week going with all the different beers that will be available in one place. Spend several hours walking around trying great cask ales and local food.

Of course the official kickoff event is Freaktoberfest at 7pm tonight at the Rock Shop in Park Slope. Open bar and 35 breweries pouring, and the release of Coney Island’s Freaktoberfest giving the event its name.

Also today Oskar Blues is featured at a couple bars, Palo Santo in Park Slope is pairing South American food with the beers from Colorado from 5pm to 7, but the beer pours till 9. Mudville9 in Tribeca has a free tasting from 6-8 of Dale’s, Gordan’s and Mama’s Little Yellow.

Otter Creek’s Brewmaster will be at Amity Hall at 8:30. Perhaps my favorite sports bar in the city. Good food, great beer. Mike’s responsible for their new line of bigger and bolder beers after moving to this brewery from DFH.

For this weekend I have already mentioned the Cask Fest, but if you can’t make that, there are other great events happening.

On Saturday Mudville9 has a free tasting of The Bruery’s Trade Winds and Autumn Maple. 3:30-5:30pm. These guys are chill and make some great brews, and if you see Oude Tart anywhere drink this gold medal winner. I’d look for their beer anywhere, but I might have to chase down some free tastes too. When that’s over, roll to The Half Pint where they will be pouring Autumn Maple and Orchard White from 6-8pm.

You have to get reservations at DBGB for either of their 6pm & 9pm Ommegang events. Three Philosophers pulled a bronze medal, and I’m sure that beer will be featured.

At Kelso in Brooklyn they’re pouring $4 pints of their beer from 9pm until you leave, the brewers are hanging out too.

Sunday I’ll be at Get Real, even so I’ll be missing The Bruery pouring at Amity Hall. I would really enjoy some football, food and alternating Trade Winds and Autumn Maple pints starting at 2pm.

Also starting at 2 and running for 6 hours is a pig roast at Sycamore Flower Shop in BK. $25 bucks a plate and 5 different Laguintas beers. A reservation is required for that, and also the dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43 which starts at 5. There you will find some very rare beers.

That’s it for this post. I’ll have another update over the weekend to get you (and myself) set for the rest of the week. Visit the link below for the complete list of events and more details.

NY Craft Beer Week Events
Get Real NY Cask & Food Festival

Installing a Tap Handle

Posted by on 31 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: video

For all my kegerator building buddies out there… I whipped up a little video for a friend realizing it is probably faster and easier to explain it than my words. So this is how you face and then secure a tap handle.

Something Went Wrong!

Brew School Highlights Reel

Posted by on 14 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: looking back, siebel, video

I’ve been putting together a lot of different videos from brewing school to build a longer video telling the whole story. In the process however, I grabbed one of my favorite tracks from this year and put it as the soundtrack to a highlights reel.

Starring in no specific order…

Lyn, Eder, Roithmeier, Alejandro, Carlos, Rodrigo, Joseba, Zanello, Smith, Hoodie, Justin, Dykstra, Berzins, Hagerty, Mezzo Mixx, Me, Shawn, Garrettson, Ryan, Ryan, Skeeter, Ben, Adrian, Montana, Sean Nobles, Robben Salzburg, Tim Foley, Craig, Paul a.k.a. Saul Schiffman, Max, Connor and Breard. If you’re in video and I missed your name, let me know and I’ll correct the list. Also, same if I spelled your name wrong… my fault.

And now, I bring to you..

WBA Brew Crew 09

Something Went Wrong!

Stay tuned for the complete video.

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