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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Buy Utah First!

If you live, have lived or have visited Utah in the past thirty years you've probably noticed the price we pay for our liquor and beer is beyond obnoxious. If Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price has his way consumers could pay less for spirits from small breweries and distilleries. Currently, alcohol sold at the State Liquor Store is subject to an 86 percent markup. The new bill would reduce that markup to 47 percent for liquor and wine and would drop to 30 percent for heavy beer(over 4.0% abv). Last year the state collected $53 million in liquor profits.

If the bill passes, consumers would potentially pay less for spirits produced by local companies when purchasing alcohol at the liquor store because the state markup would be lower on those than on large chains' products. The bill would not affect alcohol prices from any brewery for beer at the grocery store. In addition, the bill would still funnel 10 percent of gross sales from the liquor store going to fund the school lunch program.
Don't hold your breath folks, there's a line already forming to quash this minor tax break.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twelvth Day of Xmas: Pilsner Urquell

Well here we are. A 12 pack later and twelve days wiser. The grand holiday experiment concludes with a bad case of the narley barleys and a world-wide classic. I hope that the past dozen days have given you the opportunity to try something new, or at the very least get you out of comfort zone for the holidays.

I was thinking that the final beer would have to be something rare and special. You know, some uber-octane, malt-beast. Crafted by the heirs to some mythical European beer dynasty. But that's not what the twelve beers has been about. It's just about good beer. This may not be a beast of a beer but it does have a hallowed history. This is the Pilsner that all other Pilsners take their names. Pilsner Urquell.

Pours a nice burnt yellow with a fine fluffy white head. The nose is nice with grassy hops and malt. The flavor starts bready with a light hint of honey followed by burst of floral/grassy Saaz hop spiciness. And ends with lingering floral spiciness. Finishes crisp and clean. This would probably serve you better during the warmer months, but after days of heavy Holiday food this will be a welcome change. A great session beer. 4.4% abv. Available Statewide. Merry Christmas, be safe and thanks for checking out Utah Beer!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eleventh Day of Xmas: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Oy! I got stuck with the stomach flu kids, so day eleven is going to be brief. Sorry... So, on the Eleventh day of Xmas may barkeep served me a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.

Saving one of the best for last, this one pours a nice ruby/brown with two fingers of head which left a beautiful web of lace in the glass. The nose was of caramel sweet malts banana and vanilla bean with a nice balance of piny hops. The taste was mostly sweet carmel, vanilla and a hint of hazelnut. The finish was dry and and had a nice piny bite. They list this as an IPA but I can easily see this being a "Strong" or "Spice" ale. Either way, it’s an awesome beer. It dials in at 6.8% abv and you'd never know it. Available state-wide. Cheers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tenth Beer of Xmas: Uinta's Kings Peak Porter

The Tenth Beer of Xmas that my Barkeep gave to me, is Uinta's Kings Peak Porter. After the recent snow storm nothing sounds more satisfying than cozying-up with a fine brew to put you into your special place and keep your spirits alive. This is a multi-award winner that's been a staple in our home for years.

Pours a dark ruby-brown with a moderate tan head. The nose is huge with roasted malt and coffee, a light toffee sweetness is also notable . Taste starts with a good dose of roasted malts. Dark cocoa notes come next providing a minor sweetness. The end is cappachino-esque. The finish is similar, with some residual hop bitterness. This is a nice, medium-bodied porter. That satisfies in cold or warm weather. Kings Peak Porter is available year round at most grocery and convenient stores in and around Utah.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ninth Beer of Xmas Delirium Noel

It's day nine. At this point you should seeing pink elephants. If for some reason your not, beer number nine will cure that visually and mentally. So, with that, The Ninth beer of Xmas is Delirium Noel.

Pores a slightly hazy dark amber color with a solid head that dissipates into a thin cap of foam. The nose is of toasty malts with a boozy perfume of peach, prune, nutmeg and clove.
The tastes starts sweet with honey, dates and nutmeg. Oak and vanilla finish it out, with burnt cherry and cinnamon notes carry you into the finish. Smooth, sweet malt body with just enough of a hint of hop bitterness to keep it from becoming cloying. A very nice holiday brew that goes down as well as any high ABV Belgian brew. The 10% abv is well hidden, opening the door for the pink elephants to sneak-up and molest you with they're trunks before you even know what's happening. So stay on your bar stool and beware.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eighth Beer o' Xmas: Rogue's Santas Private Reserve

One of the most highly kept secrets about Santa is his love of beers. You don't hear many songs about the jolly ol' elf tossing back his favorite dram of ale . Or about his home brew sessions with the Heat Miser. That would throw Utah neo-cons into hissy of biblical proportions. Go ahead, take your chances. Leave him milk and cookies, but be warned your just screwing yourself in the long run.

To be assured of getting your G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip, or that blow-up doll you've had your eye on. Place a bottle of the Eighth Beer of Xmas on your table and you'll be golden in his eyes.

Pours a copper/red color with a nice pillowy two finger head. The nose is very hoppy. A perfume of Pine and florals assault your sniffer The taste starts with a slightly malty flavor, then a very strong hops prescience comes through. Piney and roasted grain flavors are present also with a nice bitter finish. This beer is huge on hops and is probably the reason Santa’s nose is red. A very good pale ale for the holidays.

And if your worried about Santa drinking and driving, don't. The reindeer do all the driving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seventh Beer o' Xmas: Bohemian Brewery's Cherney Bock

Sticking with the local brews, I thought I'd select a lager that been around for years, but may have never passes your lips. Therefore Bohemian Brewery's Cherney Bock is the seventh beer o" Xmas. Cherney Bock is part of a quartet of old school lagers made from the finest Czech & German traditions in Midvale, Utah.

Poured a very dark chocolate brown with a thick tan head. The nose was full of roasted malt, dark fruits with a pleasant nuttiness. The taste starts with a deep roasted malt taste, then a dark nuttiness with minor raspberry notes beneath. The end was nicely balanced with an easy piny hop bite at the end. If I had not been told this was a Bock I would have thought it was a schwartz beer or a Stout. Which is not a bad thing at all. Actually Bocks are a fine alternative to the traditional winter warmer crowd. This is an awesome, tasty beer. Even if it’s "Bockness" isn't textbook. I really love this stuff and with a ABV of 4.0 I could drink it all night. And maybe I will Damn-it!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sixth Beer of Xmas: RedRock's Rêve

One of the best beers to come out of Utah in years(from in fact the west) is here and you'd better snag one now because it's in very limited production. Since 2003 the crew at RedRock have been experimenting with recipes to come up with the perfect Barrel-aged, Belgian-style tripple. It's been a long hit-and-miss process. Over the past four years we've gotten a chance to sample various stages of the development of this brew from local area beer festivals. At one time; I believe it was aged in a Bourbon barrel and the result was, well.... unique. Well never fear, experimentation and diligence has paid off with a spectacular interpretation on a centuries old classic.

This has been RedRocks' year. Garnering awards left and right, it's seems they can do no wrong. And it looks like they've saved the best of '07 for last. So for the Sixth Beer of Xmas, I highly recommend Red Rock's Rêve.

Poured into a Chimay goblet a light golden honey color with with a moderate fluffy white head that dissipated to a very thin froth. The nose is a little boozy with banana, cloves malt and ripe mango. The taste is very much the same starting with candied sugar and cloves that transitions into toasted malt and banana. The end is sweet and oaky. The alcohol is warming and welcomed, masked well by Rêve's full body. It adds a whole new dimension to the beer You really get a good sense of the oak in the finish. It's barrel aged for one year. Don't get me wrong it's got a kick. It's 10.2% abv is more than enough to warm your inner beer geek.

RedRock Rêve is more proof that that Utah beers are much more than just 4.0% anomalies . Earning the bronze medal at the '06 Great American Beer Festival and the silver medal in '07, Kevin Templin and his team are proving big things can come in small packages.

RedRock Rêve is available in limited quantities at RedRock's SLC location and it's Park City Pub as well as The Bayou and Fiddler's Elbow! The special edition trippel is available in a commemorative 750mL corked bottles, so snatch 'em up while you can. Cheers!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fifth Beer of Xmas: Ayinger Dunkel

The fifth beer of Xmas that my barkeep served to me was Ayinger's Altbairisch Dunkel. Keeping in mind that "cousin love" is bad and that I'd like you to hang in there until day twelve, we'll remain on the path of lower alcohol beers for another day. This beer is pleasant and is sufficiently complex for any beer palate.

Poured a rich reddish-brown color producing a 1/2 inch thick head of rapidly dissipating foam. The aroma is incredible, fresh, dark roasted malts with a hint of cocoa. The taste started with rich roasted malts, hazelnut and a hint of molasses. Hops come next nicely balancing the malt sweetness carrying it through to the end. A subtle sting of espresso in the finish leaves you with the perfect mixture of sweet and bitterness. Don't let the photo fool you this is a creamy, light-medium bodied lager. When they coined the term liquid bread this is the style I'm sure they were referring to.

Drinking Ayinger is a no-brainer. They craft they're beers in the finest of German traditions. This isn't a holiday beer but it serves the season well. It's pleasant and sufficiently complex for any beer palate. ABV 5.0%. Available in Utah year-round.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fourth Beer of Xmas: Wasatch Christmas Ale

The first three beers of Xmas are going to put us in jail if we don't take it easy. So let's tune it down a notch and try something a little more subdued. Wasatch's Christmas Ale has been a holiday staple in Utah for quite a few years, one thing in particular I like about it is the packaging. The twelve packs are/were sold in a nice pine crate. Need one? let me know, I think I have fifty of 'em. Yet I digress

Pours a hazy light orange with an off white head that dissipates quickly. The nose is slightly spicy with nutmeg and grassy hops. The flavor starts relatively light with ginger and and other Holiday spices and transitions to a decent amount of grassy hoppiness. The finish is light and dry. As far as Holiday beers go this is pretty subdued. Not as in your face as the previous three. And it's 4.0% abv will help keep you from hitting on your cousin. Yeah, we were all watching. Your sick dude, get a girlfriend for Christ sake.

Beer Tv?

Believe it or not there are a few good television programs out there devoted to the art of beverage concoction. Off the top of my head; there's Three Sheets on Mojo, The Thirsty Traveler on The Fine Living Network and the cancelled Beer Nuts, Also on Mojo. These are all great programs and I recommend you check them out. Especially Three Sheets. (only available in HD) Zane Lamprey is riot. With the exception of Beer Nuts(only available in HD) there isn't really anything out there devoted to solely to beer. Beer Nuts Had the makings of a good show but didn't have the range of topics to make it watchable on a regular basis.

Now comes word Utah's Own Jennifer Talley of Squatter's Pub Brewery is shooting a pilot for a new program that reportedly is devoted to beer. She was apparently recruited by producer Peter Holmes who saw Talley in a video she did for her brewery and thought she’d be a good host, making the show about brewers, brewing and pairings. Things Jenny is eminently qualified to discuss. The Food Network or similar cable channel would be the likely home for a show like this.

Info provided from The Brookston Beer Bulletin has Jenny interviewing Shaun O’Sullivan at his 21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant. Then O’Sullivan and Talley visited Magnolia and sat down to talk with owner Dave McLean over some food and beer. Then on Tuesday they filmed at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. They filmed at both the new production brewery nearby and at the brewpub. Later Bruce Paton, the beer chef, cooked some food and he sat down with Talley and Russian River owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo to talk about the pairings while they enjoyed both the food and beer.

I hope this bird flies, it would be great to have a program out there devoted to beer by people who know and love it.

As I mentioned in earlier post I'm a Videographer by trade. Coincidentally I did a two-part feature on Jenny in '04 along With my colleague Sandy Riesgraf. The Story was called The Queen of Beers. And, if I can toot my own horn; we won the Beer Journalism Award for it at the '05 Great American Beer Festival. I'm not saying, that why got you the job Jenny, But... Your welcome. All kidding aside, Good luck with this project Jenny. Salt Lake has your back. Thanks to Jay Brooks from Brookston Beer Bulletin for the photo and the legwork.

Here is The Queen of Beers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Third Beer of Xmas: Wassail

For the third beer of Xmas that my barkeep gave to me(please sing along). Full Sail's Wassail! When this winter warmer comes around, you need to snatch 'em up quick. Utah only gets one frig'n pallet a year, then buh-bye. Trust me, this is one delicious beer.

Pours a dark maraschino brown with a nice bulging cap of foam. The nose is very pleasant with citrus rind, toasted malt, caramel and allspice. The flavor starts spicy with orange and clove. Toffee and a hint of chocolate round out the middle complement the spiciness. The end is all hops with sturdy grapefruit and pine notes. The finish is a little boozy; which is surprising because the label lists it at 6.5% abv.

This is one of those ales that had me raising an eye brow at the first swig, but by the fourth, I was hooked. This is yet another outstanding winter warmer that is far more than just malt and hops. Wassail is one of Full Sail's best beers and should be a no-brainer this holiday season.

It's a good thing we're spreading out our little "experiment" over twelve days. I suspect most of us would be tits-up on the Berber by day eight. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2nd Beer of Xmas: Winter Solstice

For the second beer of Xmas my barkeep gave to me, Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Winter Solstice. AVBC is on of those breweries that can do no wrong in my eyes. Everything that they have produced over the years(that I've sampled) is nothing short of delicious. Hence they must be represented. And for the holiday's they're winter seasonal is a must try.

Winter Solstice pours a beautiful reddish-brown color with a creamy, fluffy head. The aroma is mildly hoppy with delicate malt sweetness. Vanilla bean is dominant with orange peel for balance. There also seemed to be a hint of nutmeg. The Taste was of roasted malt, vanilla and carameled apple. The bitterness was mild which allowed the vanilla to finish slightly above the hops. Sweet and slightly spicy, The higher alcohol (6.9% ABV) added a nice warming affect. The balanced was perfect from start to finish. I love this beer so much I buy up all that I can, as to enjoy it year round. I find it very drinkable and I’m eagerly looking forward to this years fresh batch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Twelve Beers of Christmas

Time for a new twist on an old theme. I'm sure this is nothing new, but hopefully it will give you a chance to try something new or at the very least revisit an old favorite. Today starts the Twelve Beers of Christmas. Traditionally the Twelve Days of Christmas begins on Christmas day and goes for the proceeding twelve days. You all know the song. For our purposes we'll begin today(12 days prior to Xmas) and instead of giving a gift; gift yourself the joy of beer. Over the next twelve days I've selected a variety of beers available to those of us behind the Zion Curtain. It was tough coming up with a list of diverse beers available to the local beer faithful. But i think I've come up with some offerings that'll bring some cheer to the waining days of '07.

The first beer of Xmas that my barkeep gave to me is Uinta's XIV Anniversary Barley Wine. This Local heavy weight pores of dark chestnut/orange hue with a luscious foamy tan cap. The nose is of burnt oranges, warm caramel malts, heavy toasted breads with pungent hops that produce pine and citrusy overtones. Earthy notes cinder behind most of the hop twinge in the nose. The taste started with hops up front, bittering with pine and dark citrusy stuff of orange and highly ripe peaches, malts play second fiddle with burnt caramel and toffee, crispy biscuit toasty edging, touches of chocolate, brown sugar, and then turns back to a hoppy finish of pine and citrus orange. The bottle says it’s at 10.3% abv but it doesn’t burn like it. I have a six pack of the no. X that I’ve lay'd down to age. It's incredible! just hope I can make it last another year. This is without a doubt one of the best barley wines that I’ve ever had. Home team bias aside.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

When Passions Collide

Beer is my hobby, But it's television that pays the bills. Back in '04 I was hired to shoot a profile on Uinta Brewing Co, here in good ol' Salt Lake City, Utah. The story originally aired on The Fine Living Network's The Insider's List. This particular episode profiled ten unique breweries from around the U.S. Uinta was chosen for their environmentally conscious business practices. And of course their great beer. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Enjoying a Beer Today? Thank Utah!

If you have an uncontrollable urge to have a sip of one of your favorite adult beverages today(12/5) there's a very good reason. Today in 1933 the United States of America breathed a collective sigh of relief as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, nullifying the 18th amendment. The ink was hardly dry on Utah's vote before President Franklin Roosevelt issued an official repeal and tossed-back the first legal beer in years.
Prohibition of liquor proved to be a massive failure both socially, legally and economically. By the by the end liquor law enforcement was virtually non excitement or payed to look the other way. In 1923 Utah's attorney general claimed that drinking in the larger cities was just as popular as it was before prohibition. Huge profits from the manufacture and sale of liquor made it impossible to stop.

Problems of enforcement and the unpopularity of prohibition led to cries for its repeal. Following his 1932 election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt kept his campaign pledge and each state soon began voting on the issue in special conventions. Despite the Mormon church's efforts, Utahns voted on November 7, 1933, for repeal of national prohibition and in the same election also repealed the state's liquor law. Utah was the thirty-sixth state to vote for repeal and thus, ironically, delivered prohibition its death blow.

Legal liquor began flowing again in Utah in 1935 when the first state liquor stores in Salt Lake City and Ogden opened their doors. Business was brisk at the new stores as Utahns eagerly bought-up the once forbidden libations; in the first fifteen days of operation receipts totaled $54,866.

So, thank Utah... er... or maybe Utah should be thanking the rest of the U.S. For if we hadn't the entire United States may have collectively come together to beat the holy shit out of us. So, your welcome! I think.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cantillon Iris

Let me start out by saying that don't have much experience with true lambics. I never know what to expect from these extremely wild beers they range from the sweet to the acerbically tart. I've never had an unblended lambic before. The closest I've tried is the gueze style(blended). Iris comes from the Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels. Pours a hazy honey orange with a moderate off-white head. The nose was sour with green apple and grapes and cheese. The taste is wildly tart and funky. Starting with an assertive sour mustiness then dry oak. The end is of citrus peel and sharp cheddar cheese. The finish is old and dry. Far too tart for my taste, however, it is complex and intriguing. This an interesting lambic to reflect over.

They'd Make Carrie Proud

It's no secret that the South Salt Lake City council has a problem with beer. In '03 they officially placed into law a ban on home brewing. A ban they they had no intention of enforcing. Then they wanted to shut down bars on Sunday because, Well... why not? it's Sunday! You should be begging for your soul, not watching football and having beer. That failed.

Now the mayor and council is pursuing it's next richeous ban. According to police statistics, Salt Lake has the valley's highest crime rate and has about two dozen active Tavern licenses. A few years ago, the City Council capped those licenses at 15, hoping to trim the number of taverns. They intended as bars folded, they would not issue new permits. Well bars in the city didn't fold like they thought they would and those who did want to sell they're business simply transferred their beer licenses to bar buyers. Now the council, possibly as soon as Wednesday, hopes to prohibit such transfers and thus, over time, slash the number of bars.

This issue was addressed a few years ago and obviously didn't go over well with bar owners. It will likely happen again. But this time I believe it will pass. The council will base it's decision on the number of tavern-related crime in South Salt Lake. This will be the councils main source of ammo in the fight.

Now to play Devil's Advocate, the city has 26 bars and private clubs to serve a population of 26,000. Not a bad ratio. I think the county I live in has only 10 tops. South Salt Lake's effort to cut back on bars comes up for further discussion, and a possible vote, at Wednesday's 7 p.m. City Council meeting at City Hall, 220 E. Morris Ave. (2430 South).