Our Latest Craft Beer Posts from Twitter

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chick Beer Twitter Responses

Thank you, Citizens, for responding to our call for reactions to Chick Beer.  It seems that the marketing strategy is meeting with mixed results.  Some of our Twitter followers (@FermentNation) have a bit to say about this brew and its controversial packaging and very specific target audience.  The low calorie and carbohydrate count are certainly considerations in marketing beer to folks who are counting such things.  But flavor seems to be the focus of our readers.  The following article has been collected using Storify, and is embedded within this blog post.  Readers should investigate Chick Beer for themselves at www.chickbeer.com.  Weigh in!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chick Beer

Greetings, Citizens!
Some hullabaloo has been generated regarding Chick Premium Light Beer.  What are your reactions?  We at the Ferment Nation asked our readers and they have spoken their minds.  Some reactions are kind of funny, and some are kind of gritty.  I expected nothing less.  I will offer my thoughts as well, but the reactions will mostly speak for themselves.

Part 1 of the series will explore reactions from our the Ferment Nation's Facebook followers as well as my (Owen McCuen) personal friends.  Part 2 of this series will focus on reactions from our Twitter followers.  They were generous in providing candid commentary, and will be acknowledged by way of a post that includes a Storify collection.  Part 3 will be mostly editorial, with my views peeking through as I explore my own thoughts on the subject of Chick Beer.  As always, we welcome your input and comments however you choose to deliver them: Comment on the blog post, comment on Facebook, respond on Twitter, or email president@fermentnation.com.  Thanks and Cheers!

So I posed a question to my craft beer drinking friends who are women.  Notice the order I've placed those characteristics in, by the way: Craft beer drinking (a personal choice, indicative of good taste); friends (again, a personal choice, but in this case indicative of dubious taste); women (not exactly a choice, but they wear it with gusto).  The question that went out to my friends and Ferment Nation's readers went like this:

Attn Female Friends: What are your feelings on "chick beer," "chick flicks," and similar terms? Do you find it cute? Insulting? Neither? Does it depend on intention? Also, may I quote your answer (naming you or anonymously, please indicate) for an upcoming article? If you're wondering where we're going with this, you may want to investigate http://chickbeer.com/

I tried to allow for positive and negative reactions alike, and included a link to Chick's site that would allow readers to investigate for themselves.  Let's go to my personal friends first, and we'll start with the most visceral: 

Kelly Braidwood Froio Haven't tried it but the idea makes me want to gag

Brigita O'Riordan So, wait...all those other beers I've been drinking all my life aren't for...women? The horror! But then I've never identified as a "chick," so it's not like this is being marketed to me. 

It's for the ladies that want to do stuff "like" guys--"watch" sports, drink "beer," etc--while still maintaining a safe distance. They *aren't* guys, they're still attractive! Feminine! F*ckable! Good thing I never cared much about any of that nonsense. ;)

Maria Freiburger Eisl No no no - this is insulting. Sorry Chick Beer - I can handle a real beer. Watered down beer isn't my thing. Give me a Double Bag any day. I will run off the calories. PSEUH!

So far, the idea of "chick beer" as embodied by Chick Beer doesn't seem to sit well with enthusiastic #craftbeer drinkers.  But after some consideration, it seems as though if any beer is good, maybe it's worth a shot.  Let's look closer:

Maria Freiburger Eisl Owen - I guess my take is this ... would anyone market a "MAN BEER" with a meeelion calories? Good beer is good beer. Pretend beer is what it is. Let us all consume and enjoy.

Maribeth Rafter I agree with Maria...good beer is good beer. I don't necessarily taste a beer because of the packaging. I read the description and take a sip. I'd try this if it were in front of me, but I highly doubt I'd be going out searching for a place that sells it.

Heather Gordon I am all for a good light beer - it has its place in the market and I would drink it on a hot summer day but I think the name is ridiculous, I know as many guys who drink light crap light beer as women do. That being said - I would be more likely to buy and try if it were called "b!t@h" beer - kind of like fat bastard wine. 

Anne Niebler Reminds me of my favorite New Glarus Brewing Co. (founded by a woman) bumper sticker: "Real women don't drink light beer." But, truth be told, if someone asked me to taste test a chickbeer on a hot day with no hop-enhanced beers in sight, I wouldn't turn up my nose. But I speak for myself only.

Sounds like the saving grace of Chick Beer isn't the packaging or the marketing strategy, but it could be the beer itself.  As we'll discuss in the third installment of this series, light session brews are not unwelcome in the coolers and beer fridges of true #craftbeer aficionados.  But another brand seems to be a favorite of my friends...

Wendi Steines Marchesani ahhh no thanks...I like Magic Hat brand actually (and ironically the flavor called Circus BOY lol)....

Jeannine Olivo loves me some Magic Hat...thoroughly enjoyed the Night of the Living Dead variety pack...
Thanks, 2beerguys, for the above image.

Here is an insightful look at the carb angle:

Lynn Potenza Will it sell? Probably for the novelty of it for "Chicks" that want to "try something different", "Light", and not into beer so much. Hence MGD 64, and those types. Is it necessary? I don't think so. Not a lot of calories or carbs, but A LOT of GOOD craft beer isn't bad either. I only know as far as Weight Watchers Points for example, St. Bernardus Abt is less points than the "light" MGD 64 type beers. There is not a lot of fat if any in beer. Not saying it is good for you , but you get my point. For "Beer Ladies" I think it isn't necessary, just a novelty.

Oh, and the name... I am not easily offended so I am not. I just think the name is silly and they probably could have come up with something better. :)

That was a nifty bit of research, Lynn.  Your point is well taken; No beer really serves as a weight-control miracle shake, so why not drink something you enjoy?  And as we've previously mentioned, Chick Beer may actually be enjoyable.  At the time of this writing, it is only available in Maryland, so it may be tricky to find in my neck of the woods, namely the South Jersey/Philadelphia area.  But in the interest of fair and balanced reportage (actually fair and balanced, unlike, well, you know...) I promise to review Chick Beer just as soon as I get my hands on some.

And now let's look at some reactions from Ferment Nation's Facebook page:

Michelle Filling There's no way I would buy this beer. I can already hear the mocking comments coming from men if I had a "chick beer" in my hand. Want to drink an adult beverage that is gendered as feminine? Pick up a fruity martini. They seem to be trying to play off the Skinny Girl Margaritas and Sangria success-- but the difference is that those low-cal products are poured into glasses...you don't have to stand around with a badly labeled drink.

Thanks, Michelle.  We will see in Part 2 of this series that some Twitter responses echo this sentiment in a way that is more specific to beer, namely recommendations of sours and barleywines since they are packed with flavor.  Nevertheless, it seems that the packaging of Chick Beer isn't doing the beer's image any favors.  Isn't the presentation of a beverage important?  The label?  The glass?  The color?  The head?  The bubbles? Yes, they are important.  And Michelle seems to regard the appearance of a beverage as a factor in deciding whether or not to drink it.  Don't we all?

Rick Andrews, Crypt Keeper from Ales From the Crypt, though not a woman, has tied our discussion of marketing together with his insights:
Rick Andrews Bring on "The Most Interesting Woman in the World" quotes.

Agreed, Rick.  I actually enjoy a Dos Equis from time to time, but I really get a kick out of their spokesman.  Of course, the advertising budget may have something to do with the success of the campaign.

Thanks to all of my friends and readers who responded with their thoughts and feelings on the subject of Chick Beer and the brew's marketing strategy.  Don't forget to stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this series.  As always, the Ferment Nation values the opinions of its citizens, so drop us a line!

But before we go, let's revisit my friend Jeannine.  Her quote is absolutely priceless.  I thought about making it the title of this article, but I thought it would give the whole thing a twist that readers may not be able to recover from:

Jeannine Olivo Wait, are we supposed to douche with it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Preview

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rogue Brewery Event at The Drafting Room

Last Saturday I had the distinct pleasure of sampling some beers from Rogue Brewery and even some imported (from Oregon) cheeses from the Rogue Creamery with a lovely friend of mine and the newest recruit to The Ferment Nation, Citizen Elizabeth.  If you have never been to The Drafting Room in Exton, PA, be on the look-out, because you just might miss it.  I know I did!  It is nestled in a strip mall on Route 100 (the Pottstown Pike).  But don't let the unassuming location fool you.  They mean business.  They had a lot of great Rogue beers on tap, a nice bottled beer list, and even a full-page selection of single malt Scotch!  Yowza!
Photographs are compliments of Citizen Elizabeth
We started off the event with a flight of 5 beers of the 14 they had on tap.  The beers we sampled ranged from the uber-chocolately Double Chocolate Stout and the crisp and hoppy XS Double IPA to the cloudy yet satisfying Chatoe OREgasmic ale and Rogue's tried-and-true Shakespeare Stout (on nitro) and Double Dead Guy Ale.  I think I can name the Double Chocolate Stout and the XS 2x IPA as the winners of the day, because they were truly tasty and bold in flavor (Citizen Elizabeth does not tolerate wimpy beers!).  In fact, compared to those two beers, Double Dead Guy seemed a little washed out.  But beware!  Double Dead Guy sneaks up on you.  Don't be fooled by its smooth flavor - it packs a punch.
You can see from the photo above that the OREgasmic Ale as well as the Double Chocolate Stout were very cloudy in appearance.  That didn't stop them from being quite tasty.  Double Chocolate Stout looked and tasted like a wonderfully adult chocolate milk.
The cheeses from the Rogue Creamery were noteworthy as well.  The sampler consisted of a cheddar, an outrageously delicious blue cheese, and a chipotle cheese, which went quite nicely with Rogue Chipotle Ale (HINT: If you are looking for a nice chipotle flavor, skip the ale and dig into the cheese).  They were accompanied by an apple chutney and an apricot jam.  We rounded out the beer tasting with a glass of The Drafting Room's 17th Anniversary Lager, which was brewed by Troegs.  Tasty, but nothing spectacular.  Overall, this was a very nice event.   There were at least 5 or 6 Rogue beers we did not try that day, and we skipped on the Oregon imported oysters (shipped overnight express), but I would say that there was not a bad beer in the bunch we tried.  The food was tasty, and the service was great, too.  Drinking good beer on a sunny Saturday afternoon is always nice, but enjoying those things with a friend made it great.  Many thanks  to Citizen Elizabeth!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Laughing Dog Alpha Dog

If there is a mixed blessing in the wonderful world of aging #craftbeer, it's the imperial IPA.  Yes, the hops act as a natural preservative.  127 IBUs should do the trick.  The thing is, though, the hops will melt into the malt base as time goes by.  So the freshness of a wet-hopped or "harvest" ale disappears.  What's left, however, is a big ol' mouthful of glorious...ness.

This bottle of Laughing Dog's Alpha Dog Imperial IPA has been in my fridge for quite some time.  By that I mean, at least a year.  Actually, probably a lot longer than that.  But recently I've begun opening up some larger format bottles that had been my "rainy day" stash.  Since we here on the east coast have experienced a pretty darn rainy summer (August has been NJ's wettest month on record.  Ever.), I suppose it's okay to bust out some of those rainy day beers.
Laughing Dog calls its Alpha Dog a "hop bomb" and I'd say that I agree for the most part.  As previously noted, the hop freshness won't make your eyes spin round and round.  The maturity of the hops, however, will make your eyes roll back in your head.  I did a pretty smart thing by aging this brew.  It has a timeless smoothness that makes it feel like a cellared classic.  The bitterness has been mellowed by the malts but the piney resins seem to flourish.

Let's start at the beginning.  The aroma is pure hops, showcasing a piney nose.  Caught somewhere between bright and dank, the hops deliver bitterness with a lingering, resiny pungency.  I think I'm sensing a vanilla-ish roundness to the body, though neither vanilla nor oak seem to be involved in the aging process.  Maybe I just have a magic fridge.  Anyway, a slight alcohol warmth is present in the swallow, and then reappears in the gullet as a nice glow.
The finish of Alpha Dog is extremely complex.  The draught itself is complex, with its myriad flavors, but the finish is even moreso.  After the mouthful has been swallowed, the experience is just getting started.  It's super clean at first, but then the bitterness happens.  Way on the back of the tongue, a deep, resiny hop essence flows to the forefront.  Then the grand finale is ultimate dryness.  Wait, it's bitter again.  This brew certainly is multi-layered.

But with all these complexities and bold flavors, Alpha Dog is quite drinkable.  8% abv is no joke, and boozy warmth does factor into the drinking of this big poochie.  But if you had to split this 22oz bottle with a friend, it would result in a serious second-guessing.  Dude, I totally should have gotten another one of these!  Nah, take the bottle for you and you alone.  Then treat yourself to several small pours into a round-bottomed glass.  Somewhere between fridge-chilled and room temperature is that magic sip.

Keep in mind that my bottle was aged for quite some time, so your experience may be markedly different.  Overall, though, I'd say that Laughing Dog Alpha Dog Imperial IPA is totally worth buying.  Ever heard of Laughing Dog Cream Ale and Pale Ale?  Well, I've reviewed these Laughing Dog brews before, and you can check them out here:

Honestly, they weren't the absolute best brews I've ever had, but they were fairly well-crafted and worth a look-see.  Alpha Dog is the best offering I've had from Laughing Dog to date.  I think I have a few more stashed away for that proverbial "rainy day," however, and 'round these parts, that could very well mean tomorrow.  Cheers!
Visit Laughing Dog

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stone Brewing Co. Homebrew Collaboration: Cherry Chocolate Stout

The Beer: Stone Brewing Co.
Homebrew Collaboration: Cherry Chocolate Stout

The Date: 7/31/11

The Format: 12oz Belgian snifter

Appearance: Opaque brown/black with a moderate brown head. looks like a brownie.

Smell: Smells like a brownie! Chocolate and alcohol with  the hint of cherries. almost sickly sweet smelling; almost.

Taste: Initially, i wasn't getting much out of this beer. Then I let it warm up. *much* better. Initial light roast and dark chocolate, coming into a light cherry and more chocolate. Fades off into toffee and tart cherry.

Mouthfeel: Filling. Thickness in accordance of the beer's name, most likely derived from the lactose addition.

Overall: A good stout with a healthy dose of chocolate, but i think the cherries come in the wrong way. They offer a tartness on the finish that distracts from the rest of the beer, reminding more of cherry cough syrup than anything else. Which is crazy because they added real cherries, not a fake product! I wish I could of had the homebrew version of this to compare.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Victory Press Release!

Headwaters at Pourapalooza '11

Thanks to Karen Noonan from Victory for giving fans a heads-up on the process of making a beer.  I had the good fortune to meet Karen at this years Beer Bloggers Conference #BBC11.  Witness the interactive nature of Victory Brewing Company!  Check out the blog that chronicles the new and extremely popular Headwaters Pale Ale.  I'll let Karen tell you:

For Immediate Release                                                                Contact: Karen Noonan
Victory Brewing Company                                                                 610-514-7009  
420 Acorn Lane | Downingtown, PA 19335                    karenn@victorybeer.com

Victory Brewing Company Takes Fans Behind-the-Scenes
to Experience Headwaters Pale Ale Beer Production
VictoryBeer.com/Blog Brings Transparency to the Brewing Process

DOWNINGTOWN, PA – The fans of Victory Brewing Company are about to be rewarded for their loyalty as Victory’s blog gives them an inside look at the production of one of its most popular brands. Beginning on September 7, 2011 the Victory Beer Blog (www.victorybeer.com/blog) will be sharing details, photos and videos to let beer drinkers in on some industry insider information.

In the interest of consumer transparency, Victory Brewing Company recently blogged about the challenges they face when predicting growth and contracting hops. The newly released and overwhelmingly popular Headwaters Pale Ale is a perfect example of how brewery supply isn’t always able to keep up with consumer demand. The beer, released for the first time in 2011, was so well-received that Victory’s supply of the centerpiece Citra hops got dangerously low. Unwilling to compromise on the recipe, Victory had to slow production of the brand until now.

On Sept. 7, when the behind-the-scenes blog series launches, readers will be able to follow along as Victory travels to Washington state, selects and contracts the hops, then returns to brew and package the beer and much more.

Not only will Headwaters Pale Ale be readily available once again,but never-before-shared information will be made public.

“We know we have many fans who are passionate about Headwaters, and we were disappointed when they couldn’t easily obtain it,” said Victory Brewing Company President and Brewmaster Bill Covaleski. “By giving them a look in to the process, we hope they gain a greater understanding of the choices we made.”

The blog series titled “Behind the Scenes: Watch Headwaters Flow” can be found at www.victorybeer.com/blog beginning on Sept. 7, 2011. The behind-the-scenes batch of Headwaters Pale Ale will be hitting shelves in mid-October.

Victory Brewing Company is a privately held microbrewery located in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Started by Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, childhood friends who met on a school bus in 1973, the brewery formally began operations in February of 1996. Now, Victory beers can be found in 29 states. Victory’s full-flavored, innovative beers meld European ingredients and technology with American creativity. To learn more about Victory Brewing Company visit us on the web at www.victorybeer.com.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Unibroue Terrible

Unibroue Terrible is anything but. In my mind, it is Unibroue's best offering. Actually, I had Unibroue 17 a few years ago at the Philly Craft Beer Fest and thought it was pretty spectacular, but Terrible truly achieves what seems to be just out of reach for most of the rest of their stable.  Honestly, I've been up and down with Unibroue's beers because to my tastebuds they seem yeast heavy.  The flavors don't shine through and the body seems to be artificially inflated with yeast rather than the malts.  I tend to like their brews but not love them.  However...

Unibroue emulates Belgian style fairly flawlessly with Terrible. The 10.5% abv is barely noticeable as it dances among the dark fruit flavors and caramel sweetness. I'm also getting a hint of cream soda and a bit of cork...not like a funky wine with a rotten cork... But a slightly woody, earthy plant-like cork.

Terrible has a rich, dark, raisiny color and swirling sea-foam head like a barleywine but the yeast profile and Belgian sweetness remind me of Chimay Grande Reserve (though it would be hard to compare any beer to the 1999 Millennium edition Chimay Grande Reserve I got to sample at the BBC10 "Night of Many Bottles"). There are tons of dark fruit aromas in there, so serve this big brew in a chalice; that's my recommendation.  Stick your honker in there and really inhale the aromas before, during, and after the sip.

This broue is complex and divine.  Read more about  UNIBROUE TERRIBLE at their website.
picture "liberated" from Unibroue's site

Terrible in a Chimay chalice
One of the most important parts of enjoying a big beer like Terrible is the sharing of it.  Now, I'd done no such thing on this particular occasion.  I began my journey through the 750ml bottle on the Saturday night of Hurricane Irene.  Rather than passing out, spilling my drink, forgetting about the balance of the bottle, and hating myself in the morning, I decided to stop up the bottle after one glass and store the Terrible in the fridge for Sunday.  Those airtight stoppers work quite well.  Sunday arrived and my brew was fresh as a daisy.  Needless to say, I didn't tempt fate a second time.  I polished it off while reading a good book on a beautiful day.  Windows open, Irene gone, and Terrible in hand.  Yes, it was a good day, thank you.  Remind me to write a review of those cool little stoppers.
taken with my Blackberry

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Celebration continued