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The Visual Art of Craft Beer Part 1 – My Top 5

March 25th, 2011 3 comments

New and...improved?

There have been quite a few stories in the beer press lately that have really got me thinking about beer artwork.  There’s the new look of Red Hook (check out this post on Washington Beer blog), a new label design for one of my favorite beers of all time – Stone Imperial Russian Stout (see this post at beernews.org), the North Coast Brewing logo upgrade (the old logo has always been a favorite of mine) and most notably the new Upright Brewing Four Play label that has been subject to much controversy (please check out this article on Beervana).

When I first started thinking about it I was leaning toward the fact that there really aren’t that many labels/logos out there that are especially noteworthy.  There’s a few that really jumped out at me right way, but for the most part…far too many exist that fail to catch my attention.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I discussed it with friends, the more epiphanies I had and the more I realized just how wrong I was.

The Classic. Is is better?

There’s actually a lot of breweries out there that are putting serious attention toward their image.  Clearly, this isn’t surprising.  Anyone possessing even the slightest bit of entrepreneurial savvy knows how important branding can be to creating a successful business.  Here, in my Visual Art of Craft Beer Series, I plan to discuss some of my favorites.  Hopefully, in doing so, I will open up the floor for debate.  I’m sure there are a bunch out there that I either don’t know about or have simply overlooked.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to present them all in this initial article, so the debate just may have to wait.  Start thinking about your choices now and see if I end up agreeing with you.

The following is my top 5.  This is not limited to logo alone.  I feel that if it were, the scope of this exercise would be drastically diminished.  This includes not only the straight forward logo of a brewery but the labels of all, most, or some of their bottles/cans/mini-kegs/what-have-you.

5) Three Floyds Brewing – FFF does not mess around.  They make some of the most unique beers in the country and their labels follow suit.  In may ways, they remind me of Garbage Pail Kids.  All have a comic book/cartoon like quality.  Some are lighthearted and humorous, others are dark and disturbing, all are well designed and fun to look at.  I’m not sure whether I like the Clockwork Orange themed Moloko Stout, Zombie Dust, or the Dark Lord (above) the best.  No matter how you look at it, they are all undeniably bad ass.

 

4) Southern Tier Brewing – The logo above isn’t very glamorous, and it by no means is the sole reason why I have put STB in the number 4 position, but I must say that I’m a very big fan of it.  I find it to be very slick, clean and simple, yet highly effective.  The tools of the trade encircled by the ingredients of the trade.  Classic.  I’ve often thought of having a variation of that logo tattooed on myself.  Good logo aside, the continuity and simplicity of all of STB’s label designs is so well done that I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to find them being celebrated in HOW Magazine (or something similar).

 

 

3) New Belgium Brewing Lips of Faith Series – Take a minute to gaze upon the above image.  Tell me you wouldn’t want a full size print of that framed and mounted in your living room.  It’s beautiful…and it’s just a beer label.  I could have posted a picture of almost any LoF label and it would be equally stunning.  Whomever is behind this is really doing fabulous work.  Give them a raise.

 

 

2) Stone Brewing Co. – This logo is absolutely unmistakable.  It may not be number one on my list but it’s very possibly the number one most recognizable beer logo in craft brewing.  It’s bold, like Stone beers and the attitude of the owners/brewers.  If you’ve ever taken the time to read the lengthy, screen printed text on any of Stone’s 22oz bottles, you know just what I mean.  Stone is hard fucking core and their dark, devious mascot exemplifies that to the t.

 

1)  Flying Dog Brewery – Can someone please explain to me how FDB got Ralph Steadman to illustrate all of their imagery?!?!  Whether you like his style or not, this has to be the most lauded, continual collaborative effort between a brewery and a world-famous artist of all time.

Yeah, I guess I do sort of get how FDB pulled this off.  Supposedly the owners of the brewery were friends with Hunter S. Thompson.  It’s quite clear that his influence is felt throughout much of FDB’s advertising and marketing campaign.  Since Ralph Steadman is most famous for his work with Hunter S. Thompson, in lies the connection.  God knows how much money they must dish out for his work, but I for one thing it’s worth every penny.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s Creme Brulee

November 3rd, 2010 No comments

Hmm...I wonder why they call it Creme Brulee...

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 11/2/2010

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Location: Lakewood, New York

Beer: Creme Brulee

Web: http://www.southerntierbrewing.com

Presentation: 22oz – Blown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2009

Style: Imperial Milk Stout

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 10.0%

IBU: N/A

Hops: Columbus, Horizon

Malt: 2-row pale malt, dark caramel malt

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 42 degrees, as per the bottle

Commercial Description:

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.

Food Pairings: Oysters, Cheesecake, Chocolate

Cheese Pairings: Brie, Gouda

Music Pairing: Cream or Vanilla Ice

Beer Advocate: B+ (3.95)

Rate Beer: 97 (3.69)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

I’ve never met a Southern Tier beer that I didn’t like.  Though that may not mean much to some (especially my Beer Blotter brethren, who are staunch in their stance that I think every beer is good), I assure you that it is not meaningless, as least in my mind.  For me, there is only a handful of American breweries that I would say that about, and it must be noted that I wouldn’t even consider publishing such a statement about a brewery that is anything less than prolific in their releases.  Some breweries that immediately come to mind are Avery Brewing, Brooklyn Brewing and Clipper City Brewing, all of which have extremely solid year round releases as well as stunning seasonals and special releases.

In the Seattle market, STB’s 12oz year round releases are often harder to find than the 22oz imperial ones.  We have discussed this phenomenon before on the blog and it continues to be true, most recently with the entrance of Uinta Brewing to the local market.  In a nutshell, it is a common marketing scheme for breweries entering a new market to send their most hotly desired beers first, to build hype and excitement, and hopefully market share, and then further expand from there.  For nerds like me, this is a pretty successful game plan.

This particular brand of marketing is especially advantageous for STB considering that they have 16 beers in their “Imperial Series”.  Yes, I said 16.  That is way more than their non-imperial releases.  Now that is a quality that I can’t help but respect in a brewery.  Long live Southern Tier!

Appearance.

My liquid dessert this evening has a fairly small crown of tan bubbles.  As the head approaches the rim of the glass it appears to be more of a brownish rust color.   With time, it settles to a wisp and ring.  Each and every sip brings a foamy wash of lace across the nearest face of the glass, but only small splotches remain affixed.  One could say that the “legs” are impressive on this one.  Yet again, Timperial Stout’s favorite style pours completely opaque.  Though impenetrable to all light, it brightens my eyes with its gorgeous roasted malt depth.

Odor.

Sweet Fancy Moses this beer cannot possibly be anything other than liquefied Creme Brulee! All the sweetness of heaven was impossibly condensed into the fermented concoction before me.  This solution stands so supersaturated in sucrose, lactose and fructose that any honest scientist would be frozen, googly-eyed in dismay.  I have a sudden urge to make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned.  Yowee!

I hope I’ve successfully put a bit of weight behind my words.  From an odor standpoint, this beer is the absolute epitome of desert.  I have always thought that all of STB’s beers were crazy sweet, in a good way, but this is above and beyond, in a better way.  The scent is pretty much exactly of creme brulee.  The vanilla is so prevalent here that I can only assume that the entire planet’s reserves of vanilla beans were swiftly depleted in the days leading up to the brew.  I can’t even carve through the non-beer scents that are at play here.  Other than the onslaught of creamy vanilla, there is a milky and a caramelized sugar sweetness that plays perfectly to the inclination that this beer is not only called creme brulee but that it tastes like creme brulee.  The custard, the jagged edges of splintered, solidified caramel, the eggy creaminess, it’s all there in the smell.  Mind blowing!  I feel as though I should be sipping this one out of a ramekin rather than a snifter.

Mouthfeel.

This is an imperial milk stout with a dump truck’s load of sugary goodness in it.  To say that this is smooth in the mouth is probably the biggest understatement of my life.  Yes, there is a faint pop of carbonation that tickles the back of the tongue right before the swallow, but what prefaces it has a smoothness that I thought could only be exuded by a spirit.  If this was my Hop Brief column and there were ratings to pair with each section, Creme Brulee’s mouthfeel would be a perfect 10.

Flavor.

I initially found it odd that the brewer suggested drinking this beer cold, since I almost always prefer my imperial stouts when they warm up to around 55 degrees, but after my experience with it I see why.  The main result of allowing this beer to warm is that it becomes more like the 10% beer that it actually is and less like the scientific spectacle that it maybe should remain as.  Out comes the alcohol burn, the grain, the bitterness.  My goodness, that sounds ridiculous coming from me, I know.

Allow me to explain.  When cold(er) this beer tastes like it smells, pretty much to a T.  There is no booziness to be found.  There is oodles of desert sweetness that, seemingly, could never be the result of commonly used brewing malts.  Some may call it a ploy, but in my world, the flavor of something is why you drink that something.  If you like Mike’s Hard Lemonade because you like the way it tastes and you get a pleasant buzz from it, I will NEVER give you shit about it.  Life is short, drink what you like…have fun.  If I were to tell someone that was typically apposed to imbibing a beer the same color as motor oil that it tasted like bitter baker’s chocolate, tobacco and wood, I’m not at all confident that that would settle their nerves.  On the other hand, if I told then that it tastes EXACTLY like one of the most delicious, sweet deserts you can buy, I may be able to tip the scale.  Are the STB brewer’s a bunch of panty peeling bitches for going that route, I say hell no, but I guess that’s up to you to decide.

Aftertaste.

This is precisely where I expected it to be considering all of the predecessor characteristics.  There is no dryness when cold and just a hair when warmer.  The Flan like qualities linger for ever and ever.  The mouth remains completely coated in syrupy sweetness and its truly a delight.  Though it may result in a boat load of cavities, I’m pretty sure that it would be sickly sweet (very pleasurable) to have one of these for desert everyday.

Summation.

You may have gotten the feeling that I like STB.  It’s true, they are in my top 10 in the world.  The fact that they have 5 different imperial stouts doesn’t have anything to do with it, err…wait…I’m Timperial Stout…yeah…maybe top 5.

If you like Southern Tier Creme Brulee, you should try…

Three Floyds Brewing‘s Moloko Milk Stout; Dark Horse Brewing‘s Too Cream Stout; Bell’s Brewing‘s Special Double Cream Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Nothing To Do in Seattle Tonight? Hit The Bev For Pumpkin Beer, While You Still Can

October 28th, 2010 No comments

Drink, but not that much.

October is nearly over, and you know what that means right?  It is pretty depressing, so I’m not surprised if you are having a hard time answering.  Yeah, it means that we will soon be saying goodbye to the fall seasonals until next year.  Oktoberfests are pretty much already gone.  Fresh Hops, you still might be able to find some, if your really search, but they are nearly gone.  Pumpkin Ales…oh good god, please don’t say it…sorry but, almost gone.

Sure, if pumpkin ales were all of a sudden available year round, they would probably lose their luster after a while.  I kind of like it the way it is, though I wouldn’t mind if I could hoard some bottles and crack them open at some other time in the year, where the mood to strike.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s really hard to find bottles of the good stuff.  It seems like the moment they hit the shelves, you blink and they’re gone.  This element seems to add to the excitement around finding pumpkin ales on tap.  You really have to keep your eyes and ears open and pounce when the opportunity presents itself to sip on that nectar of the great gourd.

Lucky for us here in the Seattle area, we have Elysian Brewing, kings of pumpkin mashing, right in our backyard.  We get to attend The Great Pumpkin Beer Fest at their Capitol Hill location (read our review here), which is indeed great.  But, it still doesn’t fulfill my unrelenting hunger for pumpkin and spice.  I even made a batch at home this year…still want more.

In steps Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle, to provide that one last dance of the season.  Tonight they will be tapping five pumpkin beers for their Plethora of Pumpkin celebration: Elysian Night Owl and Dark o the Moon, Southern Tier Pumpking, Schooner Exact Gutter Punkin, and Snipes Mountain Pumpkin Death.  These gems will be available all day and night, and they’re happy to pour taster trays of all 5.

If you are like me, and your hunger for pumpkin is not unlike a zombie’s hunger for brains, lurch and groan, with arms outstretched in front of you, over to West Seattle’s finest beer bar and feed on the flesh (of a pumpkin please).

Events for Week of October 11, 2010

October 12th, 2010 No comments

 

Home of the Great Pumpkin Beer Fest- T minus 5 days.

 

Written by Jess R.

A low key weekend began with a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale at Whisk(e)y Bar (my new favorite, local watering hole), several Firestone Walker Union Jack IPAs, a New Belgium/Elysian Trip III and several Fresh Hop beers (it was a rough week at work, ok). Other beer highlights include Port Brewing’s Old Viscosity, an imperial stout worth a moment of silence and a couple of tall boys of Rainier. And now for your week in beer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

” I Love New York” Beer Week Begins: New York, New York

All week @ the Spring Lounge

Start spreading the news, its All New York, all week, with beer from Brooklyn, Ommegang, Captain Lawrence, Ithaca Brewing Co., Greenport Harbor, Coney Island, Sixpoint, Southern Tier, and more. Check out www.beermenus.com for details on the special events this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Green Flash Night: Whittier, California

7:00PM-9:00PM @ The Bottle Room

Not only will all patrons receive discounts on beer, the first 36 guests will receive a complimentary Green Flash Brewing Co. pint glass with the purchase of a regularly priced draft (minus $1 for LA Beer Week). From there, bring your pint glass in and receive a $1 off Green Flash drafts until the kegs are kicked. Green Flash flights will be available–4-4 ounce pours for $11. Expect some special Green Flash beers not available elsewhere to the public.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Avery Rumpkin Release: Boulder, Colorado

6:00PM-9:00PM @ Avery Brewing Co.

AN IMPERIAL PUMPKIN ALE AGED IN RUM BARRELS. Stop by Avery Brewing Co. (where the magic happens) and experience the release of what sounds like am amazing, seasonal brew. Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with pumpkin puree and a blend of five spices. Aged in extremely fresh Gosling’s Rum barrels for six months. Consume fresh and often, preferably with a pumpkin pie and/or s’mores.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unibroue Beer Tasting: Cincinnati, Ohio

6:00PM-8:00PM @ Catskeller

Just $10.00 and you get beer from Unibroue paired with small plates. What a deal! The menu reads as follows:

Maudite: with bruchetta
La Fin Du Monde: with bacon scallops
Ephemere: with brie and apricot phylo
Don de Dieu: with smoked turkey club with feta cut in fourths
Terrible: with sharp cheddar quiche
Trois Pistoles: with rich chocolate brownies

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cleveland Beer Week Begins: Cleveland, Ohio

From the website:

The second annual CLEVELAND BEER WEEK will take place from October 15-23, 2010. A celebration of craft and import beers, CLEVELAND BEER WEEK features plenty of tastings, dinners, activities and more at more than 100 venues throughout Cuyahoga County and beyond. We hope you will join us as we celebrate the world of craft and imported brews at CLEVELAND BEER WEEK.

This beer week will not disapoint with participating breweries such as Hoppin’ Frog, Thirsty Dog, Great Lakes Brewing Co. and more. As if you weren’t excited enough, 12 breweries who participated in the largest known collaboration of its kind in the world, creating six brews. Family members have already agreed to mail us a six pack. Oh man! For more information, visit the event site.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great Pumpkin Beer Fest: Seattle, Washington

(Saturday and Sunday) 12:00PM – the beers get tapped and the place shuts down @ Elysian Brewing Co., Capital Hill Location

I know we already did a write up about this event, but I am so damn excited, I had to mention it here- click here for details about the event from bb.com. Expect a crowd, a well-deserved crowd of people thirsty for pumpkin beers from Elysian, Russian River, Jolly Pumpkin and so many more. Sour pumpkin beers, pumpkin stouts, spiced ales and possibly beer brewed in a pumpkin. Also, get there early and you might get a sweet little taster glass (at least we did last year).

Sunday, October, 17, 2010

Farmhouse Ale Dinner: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

5:00PM-9:00PM @ The South Philadelphia Taproom

All you can eat harvest foods and beers for $50.00 (includes tax and tip). Featured beers include: Ommegang Hennepin, Sly Fox Saison Vos, Saison Dupont, St. Feuillien and more!

If you go to an event, want to talk about an event or a beer you had at an event, leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com. Cheers!

Events for Week of September 13, 2010

September 13th, 2010 1 comment

Stop by Boneyard Bistro and experience Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast Bacon Stout

As you all know, we indulged in and celebrated all that is Humulus lupulus at Brouwer’s Cafe this past weekend. Highlights include Black Raven Wisdom Seeker, Dogfish Head Burton Baton and Skagit River’s Barrel Aged IPA (the only barrel aged beer on the list). We continued our hop adventure at home by cracking Dark Horse’s Imperial IPA. On Sunday, we enjoyed the weather on our roof, while drinking kegs of Lazy Boy Oktoberfest and IPA, finishing the weekend with a present from some friends who just got back from Hawaii, Maui’s Coconut Porter. My god.  Although this beer, as well as their IPA, Big Swell and their Hefe are available at Whole Foods, they got a hell of a deal purchasing this beer on the motherland. But now for your week in beer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Goose Island Invasion: Chesterfield, Missouri

7:00PM-9:00PM @ International Tap House

This tap list is outrageous. Goose Island features: 312, Honkers, their IPA, Harvest Ale, Sofie, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Stout VANILLA,  Bourbon County Stout COFFEE and Pepe Nero. My god. Get Matilda, all the Bourbon County Stouts and Pere Jacques.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Double Bacon Event: Sherman Oaks, California

5:30PM-9:30PM @ Boneyard Bistro

Sip on Mikkeller Beer Geek Bacon and feast on a special tasting plate composed of about seven bacon themed bites that will compliment the smoky/salty richness of the beer. There will be a set price for the tasting plate and a glass of the beer. Sounds damn good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New York State IPA Fest: Peekskill, New York

6:00PM-12:00AM @ Birdshall House

An evening featuring IPAs exclusively from the Empire State. Participating breweries include but are not limited to Brooklyn Brewery, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Sixpoint Craft Ales, Southern Tier, Blue Point Brewing Co plus a few surprises.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boulevard Beer and Food Tasting: Lawrence, Kansas

6:00PM-9:00PM @ Genovese

Cost- $35 bones gets you four courses of delicious foods and Kansas’ very own Boulevard beers!

First course: ZON paired with Wakarusa Valley Mesculan Salad with Grilled Pineapple, Local Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
Second course: Tank 7 paired wit…h Crostini with Caponata, Sliced Steve’s Meats Beef and Mustard Aioli
Third course: Lunar Ale paired with Bucatini with Lobster, Calabrian Chilies and Toasted Pistachios
Fourth course: Bully! Porter paired with Broken Arrow Ranch Braised Wild Boar in Boulevard Beer with Roasted Squash and Shaved Pecorino

Friday, September 17, 2010

2nd Annual Saisonfest: Emmaus, Pennsylvania

7:00PM-9:00PM @ Tap & Table

What a great idea- a festival dedicated to the under appreciated (by Americans anyway) style of beer- Saisons. This draft list is to die for- check out all of the amazing breweries: *jolly pumpkin es bam, *st. somewhere saison athene, jandrain iv, jandrain v, nuova mattina, blaugies la moneuse, *dupont avec les bons voeux, bruery saison de lente, glazen toren d’erpe mere, *cigar city guava groove, *lost abbey red barn ale, hopfenstark saison de repos, bullfrog fran-tastique, hop ten dormaal blonde, *nogne-o saison, pretty things jack d’or, *saison dupont. Seriously – one of the best events this fall season. So if you have been waiting for an excuse to visit Emmaus, PA- here it is!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Iron Horse WABL Event: Ellensburg, Washington

6:00PM-10:00PM @ Iron Horse Brewery

Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg is inviting WABL members to their Pint and Potato Fest. The event will feature 6 varieties of Irish Eyes, freshly harvested local potatoes with unique dipping sauces, plus 6 Iron Horse beers on tap. Music by Abby Mae and the Homeschool Boys. $9 entry fee includes taters and dips but WABL members will receive $2 off admission. While you are in town make sure to visit Iron Horse’s new micropub in downtown Ellensburg!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arcadia Brewing Co. Shipwreck Release Party: Grand Rapids, Michigan

7:00PM-2:00AM @ HopCat

This venue always has amazing beer events and this is no exception! Come for the relase of Arcadia Brewing Co.’s Shipwreck Porter. There will be beer specials, best pirate costume prizes and other great things. I mean, beer AND pirates- how could you not go?

As always, if you go to an event, want us to post about an event or just want to speak your mind, leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com. Cheers!