We had a hectic weekend, bouncing from wondrous beer excursion to the next. San Diego had its way with us. We will need some recovery time to get over having to leave that beautiful place.
But quickly, I wanted to check in and thank those of you that followed us during our excursions, via Facebook and Twitter. I realize that the updates trickled off by Sunday. That’s for good reason, as our energy had faded.
San Diego Beer Week was a smashing success, according to most of the bartenders, brewers and owners that we spoke with during our trip. But, I’m fairly sure the 10 day event wore them thin, and they were pleased to see it end.
We met some pretty amazing people, including Marin Brewing’s Arnie Johnson, Allagash Brewing’s Rob Todd, and the wonderful bar staff duo of Steph and Bob at Alpine Beer Co. During the next week, we hope to discuss more about where and what to do next time you visit San Diego.
For now, my favorites from our visit:
Coolest Place to Have a Pint – Hamilton’s Tavern – Awesome atmosphere, excellent grub and just an amazingly cool place.
Best Staff to Cure a Hangover – Alpine Beer Co. Brewpub – Steph and Bob helped us out of our slumber, thanks to amazing sour beer, the best IPAs and some smoked chicken wings.
Best Bar Experience – Blind Lady Alehouse – Serving flights via amazing bartenders will hook you everytime.
The Full Day – Stone World Bistro – The first place I have visited (since Water Street – RIP) where I could spend 12 hours. Not the hippest place, but a world of its own.
Best Brewery to Visit – Port Brewing/Lost Abbey – No food, little culture – all brewing. Check out the barrel room and die.
Best Place to Eat (and drink beer) – Small Bar – Something called Pork Desayuno (eh?) rocked my world.
Stay tuned for more on San Diego Beer Week 2010.
Pagans, Witches, Art and Beer are all topics that are creating the controversy surrounding Lost Abbey’s label for their Witches Wit bottle. This label, established in 2008, depicts a witch being burned at the stake. Now, its creating quite a stir.
In many countries, many years ago, women who were accused of practicing witchcraft were exiled from society, tortured and in many cases, ultimately killed. So keep in mind when reading this that the label is historically accurate.
Now, for the record, I am staying out of it. This is an intriguing topic with some heated discussions surrounding it. People think this image is offensive to the pagan community and to history past. Lost Abbey views it as original artwork, something they take great pride in, like their beer. Lost Abbey/Port Brewing is one of my personal favorites. I respect the brand and the beer.
But I’ll let you decide by giving you snapshots from the NY Times article, comments by angry people and Lost Abbey’s explanation.
First of all, the meaning behind the label. Head brewer and owner, Tomme Arthur has always done an amazing job with his Lost Abbey brand, creating a story behind each beer. The artwork on the labels are the means by which he tells these stories. The back of the bottle reads:
Whether you’re a wonder healer, a caller of spirits or a lover of black magic, they will find you. And on that day, they will boil your blood, singe your skin and make a point to burn your soul to the ground. From that lonely stake, you’ll be left to contemplate your life of spell casting, obscure texts and a world operated between the shadows of night and day.
Convicted of a dark art, the crowd will gather to watch as they raze your earthen existence. An intolerable pain is the cross you’ll bear that day as you are removed from this righteous world. No one will summon the courage to save you in fear of their life. It sucks. But such is the life of a witch. In honor of your fleeting existence, we brewed Witch’s Wit. A light and refreshing wheat beer, it’s exactly the sort of thing you might expect to find being passed around the center of town on witch burning day. Say hello to the Prince of Darkness for us.
The NY Times article simply states the facts and presents quotes from an outspoken member of the pagan and wiccan communities, a Ms. Noble:
Ms. Noble went home and wrote to her e-mail list. “Can we stop this brewer from their hate imagery?” read the subject line, in all capitals.
“Can you imagine them showing a black person being lynched or a Jewish person going to the oven?” she wrote. “Such images are simply not tolerated in our society anymore (thank the Goddess) and this one should not be, either.”
Immediately, friends and followers of Ms. Noble began sending complaints to the brewery.
In response, Lost Abbey posted a lengthy statement on their website. Unfortunately for the past 24 hours, I have not been able to access their website, so I will do my best to summarize. Essentially, Lost Abbey stated that they did not mean to offend anyone and that the label is original artwork depicting a story. This imagery has been used in artworks around the world for centuries.
The brewery stated that they will be reviewing the label and request to make a change during their November meeting. However, its reported that a decision has already been made to change the image. At the end of this long response, the writer opened the forum for discussion on the subject. I thought this was a nice touch.
The subsequent comments consisted of statements ranging from: “Lost Abbey is great. Tomme Arthur, keep doing what your doing” to “I didn’t find the imagery particularly offensive, but the description on the bottle- specifically, Say Hello to the Prince of Darkness for us very demeaning”. Some were outraged while others backed the brewery’s right to be creative with their labels.
Whats your stance?
Leave a comment or email me at email@example.com
Well, the results are in. GABF 2010 is officially over and the results have been tabulated. Thanks, Pizza Port, for not taking all of the medals.
While Washington put up a reasonable fight, the show was stolen by several Southern California brewers, who swallowed up all of the best brewpub awards this year at the GABF.
Here is what we see.
Washington shows up.
Washington appears to have turned in a respectable finish, earning a total of 7 medals (well, if you count Pyramid). Out of the total 237 Medals, Washington will take 1/34th of the medals. But, in a year where the event seems to have been dominated by San Diego brewers, its an ok finish.
Washington award winners include the following:
Hales Ales – Kolsch Ale – Gold Medal
Chuckanut Brewing – Vienna Lager – Gold Medal
RAM Tacoma – Total Disorder Porter – Gold Medal
Elysian Brewing – Dark O The Moon – Silver Medal
Pyramid Brewing – Apricot Ale – Silver Medal
Boundary Bay Imperial Oatmeal Stout – Bronze Medal
Chuckanut Brewing – Pilsner – Bronze Medal
San Diego is on fire.
This was the year for So. Cal. San Diego brewers, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey/Pizza Port, Ballast Point, Karl Strauss and Stone Brewing, took home a total of 14 medals. Los Angeles brewpub, TAPS, took home three medals, as well.
Pizza Port Carlsbad is the big winner with a total of 6 medals (almost matching Washington state). The brewpub is one of several brewpub locations for the retail line of Port Brewing/Lost Abbey. The Carlsbad location is headed by brewer Jeff Bagby, who took home the Best Large Brewpub of the Year, for the second straight year.
Pizza Port’s San Clemente pub took home the Small Brewpub of the Year, while also collecting the Gold Medals in the two most hotly-contested categories – American-Style IPA and Imperial IPA. We cannot wait to get a taste of these ales during San Diego Beer Week.
One other note: Fathead’s Brewery took home the Silver Medal in the American-Style IPA category. This is the same IPA that floored us during a recent trip to the Cleveland brewer’s pub. Try to get this if you ever visit.
Check out the complete list of winners by following this link. Start planning your trip for next year’s September event!
I was shocked to see this one yesterday; so shocked that I had to read it twice and pull the court records to believe it. Port Brewing, the business entity that sells Lost Abbey beers, has sued Moylan’s Brewing.
Port Brewing’s other business name, Lost Abbey utilizes a celtic cross symbol as its emblem. Well, Moylans Brewing (a historically irish brewer) decided to use a remarkably similar cross for their new Celts Golden Ale. You can see images of the conflicting marks by viewing this article by BeerNews.org. The two images are virtually identical.
Port’s Tomme Arthur provides, on his blog, that Port notified Moylans of concerns back in April of this year. However, after months of impasse, Port has decided to go forward with a Trademark infringement action in the US District Court for the Southern District of California. You can review the Complaint by following this link.
The gist of the suit can be found in some of the opening paragraphs:
9. Plaintiff has engaged in extensive marketing and promotion of their Celtic cross trademark and has enjoyed significant sales of their beer and merchandise, including sales of the Celtic cross beer tap handles.
10. Due to Plaintiff’s extensive use of its stylized Celtic cross image marks (collectively referred to herein as the “Port Brewing Marks”), Plaintiff has built up significant goodwill therein and its branded merchandise has been praised and recognized in the brewing industry and through various media.
11. As a result of such longstanding, substantial and continuous use, the Celtic cross- branded products have long been immediately recognized by consumers and the trade.
18. Upon information and belief, Defendant recently began using a stylized cross beer tap handle within its course of business that is strikingly similar to the Port Brewing Marks.
19. Upon information and belief, Defendant is currently using a stylized cross beer tap handle, at its brewery and at other participating restaurants, bars, taverns and breweries across the nation, including within this District, featuring marks confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s stylized Port Brewing Marks. Defendant is providing this infringing beer tap to distributors and such taps are being particularly confused with Port Brewing’s protected beer taps where both companies’ beers are being served.
Arthur is now taking a beating from craft beer enthusiasts – a beating that probably is not warranted. Unfortunately, beer is business. Businesses work hard to develop an image and when two closely competing businesses have confusing marks, someone needs to take a step back. Apparently, Port and Moylans will let the court decide who needs to take that step.
Tomme has been pretty beat up about the response from beer fans. He put together a well-written and thought out response to the negative animus. Here is a good snippet, but please read the whole thing by clicking on this link:
Please check our FAQ’s which we compiled to address this issue. At this time, we are waiting for a response from Moylan’s Brewing Company and still are open to a resolution that neither weakens nor devalues our Lost Abbey Trademark stylized Celtic Cross Tap Handle. …. The bigger and healthier the Craft Brewing business gets, the harder it is to be unique and distinctive. Intellectual Property is something that all breweries (small and big) need to value. It’s one of the biggest assets we can own.
Lastly,filing paperwork with the Federal Courts does not mean we are obligated to sue Moylan’s Brewing LLC. I can tell you that we at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey are not giddy with excitement about this filing. When I look out my office window, I know the 12 people who work at this brewery aren’t high fiving each other about their owners decision to do this. But they understand that Intellectual Property is a big part of this brewery and the beers we sell.
…at this time, it is a solely two small passionate craft breweries who happen to disagree looking to protect their intellectual property. Ultimately, a compromise that doesn’t involve the courts may be reached. And then we can all go back to focusing on doing the things we do best.
Yes, that’s right, it’s time for the third and final installment of my Top 25 Breweries to Check out at GABF. Just in case you missed the first two installments, click here for part one (first 10 choices) and here for part two (next 8 choices).
My final 7 choices begin now, and remember, these are in no particular order.
Flossmoor Station – When I think of Chicago area breweries I immediately think of Goose Island, Three Floyds and Flossmoor Station. Oddly though, I have never had a single beer from FS. I know them only by reputation. Since they are technically a brew pub, they utilize their smaller scale and constantly experiment, more often than not, with positive results. If I were going to GABF, I would be strongly inclined to check them off my list.
Stewart’s Brewing Co. – These guys are from Bear, DE which really isn’t that far outside of Philly, but oddly they don’t have a very strong distribution in the area (at least they didn’t when I lived there). If things haven’t changed in a big way, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a decent amount of Northeast residents that are unfamiliar with Stewart’s completely. They are extremely low-key to say the least. I remember seeing them at some of my first ever beer fests in PA like Kennett Brewfest and Philly Craft Beer Fest and wondering who they were and where they came from. Quite a few festivals came and went before I actually was brave enough to try their product and, once I did, I was appalled that I had missed out on so many opportunities. From then on I never passed them by, and was never once disappointed.
Odell Brewing Co. – It wasn’t until Odell started their Woodcut Series back in ’08 that my radar picked these guys up. This past May saw the 4th release in the line, an oak aged lager. All four have a 96 or higher on ratebeer.com. From what I understand, their standard offerings are pretty darn solid as well, especially the IPA. Working with wood, a lot of hops, brett…these guys might be on the trend train, but I want on board.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – You know that other massive American-based brew fest, The World Beer Cup? Yeah well it’s huge and Firestone Walker has won the Champion Mid-sized Brewery three times now. As far as I know, that’s unprecedented. It’s quite clear, these guys are one of the best around when it comes to making beer. Union Jack is probably my favorite single IPA in the world. Double Jack is easily in my top 5 favorite double IPAs in the world. Abacus is very possibly my favorite all time barleywine. Their anniversary beers are outstanding, Parabola, I mean come on… If I didn’t put these guys on the list somewhere I would have to kick my own ass.
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – I would imagine that there is a few of you out there that read Draft Magazine. You know, the Playboy of beer. Beer porn. Anyway, do you know the section called “What’s In a Name?” That is where I first heard of FiftyFifty. Though I can’t exactly recall the details of the story, I remember being intrigued. I also liked the imagery and design that they evoked through their labels and website. As it turns out, they make a killer imperial stout, or so I gather. It’s a 100 on ratebeer.com and it won bronze at last years GABF in the “Other Strong Beer” category. Obviously, Timperial Stout wants to take a stab at this one.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. – The San Diego beer scene is a force to be reckoned with. Stone, Green Flash, Alesmith, Port/Lost Abbey/Pizza Port, Alpine, Coronado…I’m out of breath. All of these breweries make amazing beer and It’s really impossible to dispute that. If you were to fish for one thing that seems to tie all of these breweries together, it would be hops. Every one of these breweries, with the exception of the Belgian style based Lost Abbey (but Tomme’s other labels pick up the slack there), make stellar IPAs. Ballast Point makes at least three and each is more stunning than the last. If you find yourself in dire need of a little IBU boost at GABF, take a gander at BPB’s booth and see if Sculpin is a flowin’.
AleSmith Brewing Co. – I shudder a little bit when I think about Alesmith, in the very best way possible. I love this brewery so much. I wish everyday that Seattle would distribute their product, though all it really takes is a trip to Portland for purposes of stocking-up. I love Alesmith so much because I very passionately enjoy a lot of their beers. I’ll never forget the first time I tried, well, most of the beers that I’ve tried by them. The IPA is, like I said above, from San Diego. There’s just something special about those SD IPAs. Horny Devil is so perfectly Belgian with its fantastic sweetness and remarkably balanced spiciness. Old Numbskull is all that you could ever ask for in a barleywine. And Speedway Stout my friends…to drink Speedway Stout is to have a religious experience. I can tell you that there was a large period of time when I was very quick to answer any brave soul willing to ask me what my number 1 favorite beer of all time was with, Speedway Stout. Now I’m a bit more cautious to answer that question but, if I was forced to at gun point, my answer would be Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Possibly if I were to get a hold of the barrel aged version of Speedway, that answer would be different.
Well that about covers it. If you are going to GABF this week, damn you, I am super jealous. Please do your very best to enjoy each and every minute of it. Visit the breweries that you know and love, but also visit the breweries that you have always wanted to try but couldn’t for whatever reason. I am very hopeful that my musings can be found valuable to you in some way. If you have other suggestions for our readers, please do not hesitate to post a comment. If you end up checking out a brewery that I recommended and you have an opinion on their product, good or bad, let us know. Safe travels to you all.
The 29th edition of the Great American Beer Festival is just 2 weeks away. Sadly, I’m not going to make it this year. Even sadder, I’ve never made it. It’s on my bucket list, I assure you, but I can only really afford one big trip a year and the last few years…well, it didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. I already took my trip this year. I went to Belgium. I think that that’s a pretty good excuse.
But, just because I’m not going doesn’t mean that I can’t pretend. I’ve decided to make a list of the 25 breweries that I would visit at the fest if I where going. Hopefully, this will be of assistance to some of our readers out there that are going. Of course, this list is strongly influenced by my beer experiences, which are most likely very different from yours. Maybe you grew up in WI and have had all the New Glarus you can handle. That’s OK, but I have had a very minimal experience with NGB and given that it is a very well-respected brewery with minimal distribution, I’d visit their booth. Just a small example of the way this will go down.
Considering that there are roughly 460 breweries pouring at the fest, one needs to develop a game plan. Otherwise, ones head would likely explode. My general rule would be to make sure that all of the brewery’s booths that I visit fit into 1 of 3 main categories.
These categories are as follows:
1) Breweries whose product I have never tasted, due to never living or visiting within the distribution area, and whose product is met with great respect in the beer community. Breweries who I may have never heard a “buzz” about before but have been big winners in past GABFs would also fit into this category.
2) Breweries whose product I have tasted before, but whose product is met with such a profound respect in the beer community that I would desire to drink said product at anytime, anywhere.
3) Breweries whose product I have tasted before in my time living and drinking in the Northeast, but are either missed greatly by me or have released new products since my departure that I have not yet tasted.
With as many breweries as are attending this year’s fest, these rules alone would by no means whittle the list down to 25. I’ll tell you right now that I will be forced, quite painfully I may add, to leave some true gems off the list, but no one ever said it was easy to make lists like this. Here’s my first 10 choices, in no particular order.
New Glarus Brewing Co. – I mentioned these guys above so I might as well put them on here first. NGB only distributes to WI. That makes it a bit of a challenge for a lot of us to get. Thanks to a good friend’s willingness to share, I was able to taste a few of the standard releases about a month ago. They were quality brews with great ratings from the community, but it’s their rarities that really put NGB up on a pedestal. If they were pouring Raspberry Tart I just might get in line twice.
Dry Dock Brewing Co. – This is a very small brewpub out of Aurora, CO but it was awarded the Small Brewery of the Year at last year’s GABF. That’s enough to pique my interest.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. – I hope to visit this Michigan brewery in December when I visit my girlfriend’s family. Their Raspberry Eisbock and 4th Dementia Old Ale are both subject to a cult following in the beer community. These are two of my favorite styles and I would have a hard time coming up with many beers in the world that I want to get my hands on more.
Foothills Brewing – This North Carolina brewery is mostly famous for their imperial stout called Sexual Chocolate. Not only is it massively hyped on the internets, but it won the bronze metal last year in the Impy Stout category. That gives it some pretty respectable cred if you ask me. Timperial wants.
Pizza Port/Port Brewing/Lost Abbey – This is Tomme Arthur’s world. Tomme is a living beer legend for a reason. I’d steer more toward the Pizza Port offerings simply because I have not tasted their particular brand of grog. There are four different Pizza Port locations that enter beer, and they all seem to do very well in the competition. I’d lean more toward the San Clemente and Calsbad locales.
McKenzie Brew House – Even the biggest beer junkies in the West may have never heard of this one. It’s actually in Glen Mills, PA which is the town that I grew up in. The “town” (no actual downtown) is so small that I very rarely tell people that I grew up there in order to combat the blank stare that I would no doubt receive. I just tell people that I grew up in West Chester, PA because there is at least a remote chance that they would have heard of that one. Anyway, this is not only on the list because it fits into category 3 above but because they have been winning a bunch of awards lately. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Iron Hill Brewery – Another small brew pub that is near and dear to my heart from back east. I’d venture to say that these guys make some of the best beer I’ve ever had. Not a single trip back home will pass without a stop here. Seattleites just may have sampled some of their product at Elysian’s Pumpkin Fest.
The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery – I couldn’t really name one particular reason to check these guys out, I just know that I have read about them for various reasons for quite some time now. Another very high quality brewer from North Carolina.
Cigar City Brewing – If you have never heard of Cigar City, you need to read more. These guys are absolutely blowing up the world of craft brewing right now, and they are still super new. If I could get a little bit personal with you for just one moment. I have a goal that I’m working toward. That goal is to open my own brewery in the next few years (I know, aren’t I just so unique). With this in mind, I am constantly analyzing breweries – learning from their positive and negative attributes. There are two American craft breweries that have opened in the past few years that exploded in popularity right from the onset. Obviously, I want my brewery to open in such a way as well. Tampa, FL’s Cigar City and the next brewery on my list are two businesses that should be analyzed by all future entrepreneurs.
The Bruery – I feel like we talk these guys up on the blog all the time. These guys are amongst the top ten breweries in America, hands down. I really shouldn’t have to go into it any deeper.
I have 15 more to choose, so check back frequently in the waning days of the pre-GABF calendar.
Week 21 of 52
5316 Ballard Ave
Seattle, WA 98119
Type of Establishment: Beer Bar with an added sophistication
Visit: Wednesday, June 23, 2010. A visit with friends for a few cocktails. Sole purpose was to catch up with friends and have a chat.
BEERS ON TAP —>Served in 20oz Imperial Pints unless otherwise noted
|Double Mountain Molten Lava (17.5 oz)||Double Mountain Brewery|
|Agate Pass Amber||Hood Canal Brewery|
|Evo IPA||Two Beers Brewing Co.|
|Boddington’s Pub Ale (Nitro)||Anheuser-Busch|
|Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (17.5oz)||Dogfish Head Brewery|
|Diamond Knot Brown Ale||Diamond Knot Brewery|
|Red Barn Saison Ale||The Lost Abbey – Port Brewing Co.|
|Fox Barrel Black Currant Cider (17.5 oz)||Fox Barrel Cider Co.|
|Victory Prima Pilsner||Victory Brewing Co.|
|Guinness Stout (Nitro)||St. James Gate Brewery|
|Double Mountain India Red Ale||Double Mountain Brewery|
|Laurelwood Organic Red||Laurelwood Brewing Co.|
|Magners Irish Cider||Magners|
|Mirror Pond Pale Ale||Deschutes Brewery|
|Eel River Organic IPA||Eel River Brewing Co.|
|Spire Mountain Dark & Dry Cider||Fish Brewing Co.|
|Terminal Gravity IPA||Terminal Gravity Brewing|
There are also plenty of wines by the bottle and the glass.
FOOD OPTIONS: This is the perfect place to grab a drink and snack on some delicious cured meats and cheeses. Pick and choose your delicious plate. Fill it with hot coppa, salami, procuitto and various artisan cheeses. Light and delicious sandwiches are available as well as a few dessert options.
BAR OPINION: Noble Fir is the new kid on the block with so many great restaurants, bars and boutiques on Ballard Ave. I glance up at the sign, a single evergreen tree. The Noble Fir is a western North American fir, native to the Cascade Range and Coast Range mountains of extreme northwest California and western Oregon and Washington in the United States. This bar was opened by Rick and Ellen, after 10 years at REI and 10 years working as an attorney respectivly, they decided to combine their love of the great outdoors with their love of food and drink. Noble Fir was born.
This bar brings the great outdoors in. Large windows welcome the sun light as it streams directly into the bar, coating the patrons. Slick wooden booths with a long wooden bar and a bookcase full of travel books, I am ready for an adventure. I immediately grab the beer list. My eyes light up, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey’s Red Barn and Port Brewing/Lost Abbey’s Wipe Out IPA (not listed above) are both ordered and savored over the course of an hour.
A pre-dinner drink and appetizer plate would be the perfect complement to a night out. This bar has a pretty damn good tap list with a range of styles and a lot of love to West coast brewers. We only had an hour of so that night, but this bar is worth a trip back and several after that.
A quote from Rick and Ellen:
Together, we hope to bring a festive approach to your enjoyment of some of the best things the Pacific Northwest has to offer – hops, barley, fermented grapes and miles of trails…
Couldn’t have said it better myself.