Quick Movie Review: Beer Wars

What’s better on a dreary Saturday night than a double feature?  For us this past weekend, the movies we picked were Beer Wars and Angels and Demons.  So they aren’t exactly related, but our new Netflix for Wii thing is so cool, we’re really playing catch up.  Angels and Demons was actually much better than I was expecting – it didn’t touch the book version, but it still kept my attention for 2 hours and 26 minutes.  Beer Wars left me with a lot of questions.

Beer Wars was made by Anat Baron, a one-time beer industry insider (aka a 3 year stint with Mike’s Hard Lemonade).  This is really her movie – she wrote it, narrated it, starred in it, directed it, produced it…you get the idea.  I got the impression that she didn’t necessarily leave the beer biz on her own terms…and maybe this documentary was a way to get back at “the man.”  As much as I learned about the battle over beer dominance, and as endearing as I found many of the film’s interviewees to be, much of the documentary was distractingly self-indulgent for my taste.

I did, however, really appreciate following the expansion of Dogfish Head BrewerySam, the founder and president, is an everyman, and gives hope to all of the homebrewers out there who dream of one day, starting their own brewing business.  Then there was one-time right-hand-woman to Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company, Rhonda, who left the New England Brewery to start her own line of caffeinated beer.  While this idea doesn’t really appeal to me, her determination to succeed does.  Rhonda and Sam represented the smaller beer companies that the biggies – Anheuser Busch and Miller-Coors – were stomping out.  David meet Goliath.

One has lots to learn about the beer business from this film. Like how much work and influence goes into setting up a story display of beers, and how the three-tiered system setup after prohibition was repealled is still going strong (with the help of a huge lobbying presence in DC).

In the end, I would recommend seeing the film.  Though very biased, I found I came away with a whole new insight into how the beer business is moving and shaking.  Do be warned, Anat Baron will not grow on you – she’s annoying and unfortunately, because of this, I think the movie does not reach the full greatness it could be.

Have you seen Beer Wars?  What did you think?  Can you stand Anat Baron?  Are you a Bud lover or are you bananas for micro-brews?

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Baking with Beer

Over Columbus Day Weekend, I was lucky enough to take a trip up to New Hampshire to do some hiking.  The challenging 4.4 mile hike up Welsh and Dickey Mountains was a perfect autumn activity, filled with cool breezes and fantastic foliage (and it brought on a huge rush of nostalgia from my camp counselor days).  Even more awesome was travelling with a New Hampshire native – my friend Katie – who, after touring us through the quaint towns of NH, then decided to take the whole group back to Mom’s for a delicious meal.

We walked into a fantastic, heart-warming feast of steak, soup, roasted veggies and risotto.  I haven’t eaten this well in a very long time!  While everything on the table tasted great, it was the bread that had me at hello.  Katie’s mom mentioned in passing that it was Beer Bread, a fact which made my heart skip a beat and then ask for the recipe.  She told me it came from a Pampered Chef-type party (I think it’s called Tastefully Simple), and all she had to do was add beer (or soda, but who wants to add soda to a beer bread).  To top it off, she told me she used Sam Adams Lager.  Brilliant.  The bread was moist, surprisingly sweet and had a finish that was reminiscent of drinking beer – not too overpowering.  We had it for dinner, but I’ve since eaten it for breakfast too – yes, I took those left-overs proudly.

Thinking of testing our a brew-tastic bread for yourself?  If your feeling like more of a challenge then a “just add beer,” I’ve found a few easy-to-bake recipes that are sure to produce some delicious results.  Here’s a bread that looks more savory.  And another that might be on the sweeter side.  And finally, one with an extra kick (green chiles).  If you decide to give these a test, let me know how it goes!  Until then, happy baking, and cheers!

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My Neighbor, Sam Adams

Some of you might know that I am blessed to live in spitting distance of the Samuel Adams Brewery Complex in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.  This comes in handy any time a friend, family member or random guy off the street visits and wants to see the sights of my ‘hood.  Lucky for us, tours are free (and the leaders are always fantastic, avid beer-enthusiasts, like myself) and each includes three small glasses of Sam Adams finest.  While I haven’t made it to a tour since the beginning of the summer, I have continued to support the local brand at bars and liquor stores all over the greater Northeast.

Of course, I’ve already had my fair share of the Octoberfest that has been out for about a month now (and is officially my favorite of Sam’s seasonal beers), but today, I decided to try something new: Sam Adams’ Brewmaster’s Collection Coastal Wheat.  It is the newest addition to this series of Sam (first announced back in July).  Similar to other wheat beers (Harpoon UFO, Blue Moon, etc.), this tangy concoction boasts lots of lemony flavor (possibly too much)…really – no need to add extra fruit.  It’s a solid, classic wheat beer…less sweet than Blue Moon, perhaps a little smoother than the UFO (which I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not).   Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think.  It’s great to be back!  Cheers!

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There’s something about the Fall

Of all the seasons, I think Fall offers the best variety of seasonal brews.  From Oktoberfests to pumpkin-infused beers, I have really been in heaven for the past month-ish of cooler temperatures and changing leaves.  After a long summer of light wheat beers and Bud Light Lime (forgive me, but I kind of dig it), the dark, nutty flavors I’ve tasted recently are more than welcome.

Inspired by these autumnal beverages, I’m determined to get back into the blogosphere.  It has been a much longer hiatus then I ever expected and then I plan to let happen again.  Apologies to those who missed me…it’s been a long couple of months (and believe me, I’ve missed you too).  But I’m back and ready to drink!

Obviously, I’ve been gone for a pretty long time, and have imbibed my fair share of adult drinks in the meantime.  Some have been beer, and some have not.  As much as this girl loves a good beer, I can also enjoy a well-made cocktail here and there.  Should I come across a fantastic, post-worthy concotion, you might get to read about it shortly there after.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  With that, I’ll leave you to go do something “fall-ish” like raking leaves or starting a pick-up football game (for me it’s watching the ALDS playoffs).  Until next time, cheers!  It’s good to be back!

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The Intersection of Bikes and Beers

Working on a charity cycling event has already started to teach me a ton about the cycling world.  There are elite cyclists who are power athletes and could easily kick my ass.  There are also the “messenger” cyclists who one sees on a day-to-day reeking havoc on the streets (aka not abiding by the rules of the road) and could easily kick my ass via running me down.  Then there are the spinners – confined to the gym on stationary bikes listening to thumping music and adjusting resistance to simulate hills etc. They could probably kick my ass too, or at least find a big weightlifter to help out.  I used to be a spinner, and have been seriously reconsidering getting back into a class.  Anyway, while the pedestrian in me will always carry some sort of a grudge towards bikes and those who ride them, I have also found that I have one thing in common with all of these cyclists: beer.

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While I do not condone riding under the influence, I do enjoy imbibing with this crazy group.  One of the first events I worked while trying to recruit riders for the Audi Best Buddies Challenge was a time trial at the Harpoon Brewery.  Basically, a time trial brings in the top cyclists to attatch their bikes to a stationary machine which also simulates a particular course, hills and all.  The cyclists race each other in various heats, and the winners qualify to ride in a special Harpoon event.  They also get to take home a glorious case o’ beer.  The spectators, riders who have finished their heat and even the Best Buddies recruiters (hehe) get to visit Harpoon’s beautiful tasting room to test some of the freshest brews one can find.  Personally, it was a Cider and a seasonal Celtic Ale for this cycling-world-newbie.

Beer is a fantastic way to strike up a conversation with people.  It is an existing connection between people who seem to have nothing else in common.  I think this might be one of my favorite things about my beverage of choice -  the promise of a good discussion or a good laugh that comes with every pour.

I am fairly certain that this is just the first of many of my intersections of brews and bikes.  Here’s a Stella Artois commercial that seems all too appropriate…Cheers!

Oh and just in case you were thinking about cycling in either of the Best Buddies Challenges, check out the Web site and we’ll get you signed up.

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And I’m Back in the Game!

This is an extremely awesome post to write. I am currently in my new office at my new (fantastic) job taking a quick break to blog about all of this newness going on.  After 3 months of lay-off induced unemployment, I was offered and accepted a position as a Rider Coach with the Audi Best Buddies Challenge.  I will be working with riders and potential riders as they commit to participating, fundraising and training, all the while dabbling in a few marketing tasks along the way.  Best Buddies is an incredible organization that I am really proud to be working with.  I am part of a truly excellent team of experts and have already learned a ton. I’ll  mainly be working on the California-based cycling event that is occurring this September, but also helping out with the Massachusetts ride which is fast approaching in May.  I encourage you all to check out the web site – to see what I’m doing, see my name as a contact (so cool), and perhaps sign up for more info on riding.

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As this is a blog about beer, I might also mention that I celebrated last night with a delicious bottle of Harpoon Brown Ale, which I think is one of my favorite varieties that Harpoon brews up.  Very simple, but very tasty.  I plan to do better with keeping up with brewnette than I did with the last job.  Nag me if I don’t.  Cheers!

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Super Beers for the Super Bowl

With just days to go before the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, I still haven’t figured out where I will be watching the big game.  The bf and I have toyed with the idea of having people over to our apartment to celebrate the end of the 2008/2009 NFL season.  In doing a little research on what throwing one of these parties takes, I went right to my favorite how-to magazine’s Web site – RealSimple.com.  I stumbled across games to play during the game, fun and easy snacks to serve that will make anyone’s mouth water, and even a decorating tip or two.  I also found a witty little list that pairs each NFL team with a beer that best represents its mascot or location.  Check out the list below…if we do wind up hosting our own football extravaganza, I will take their suggestion and provide Iron City Beer and Beermann’s Rip Roarin’ Red Ale and let guests drink to support their team.  Do you have any other (better) ideas to pair with your favorite team?  Let me know.  Enjoy the game and cheers!

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AFC Teams

Baltimore Ravens: The Raven
Buffalo Bills: Bison Brewing
Cincinnati Bengals: Tiger Beer
Cleveland Browns: Honey Brown Lager
Denver Broncos: Dark Horse Beer
Houston Texans: Alamo Golden Ale
Indianapolis Colts: Colt 45
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguar High Gravity Lager
Kansas City Chiefs: Tomahawk Pale Ale
Miami Dolphins: Hurricane Reef Lager
New England Patriots: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
New York Jets: Terminal Gravity IPA
Oakland Raiders: Rocky River Pirate Lite
Pittsburgh Steelers: Iron City Beer
San Diego Chargers: Electric Beer
Tennessee Titans: Titan IPA

NFC Teams

Arizona Cardinals: Beermann’s Rip Roarin’ Red Ale
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta Brewing Company Red Brick Ale
Carolina Panthers: Carolina Blonde
Chicago Bears: Brown Bear Brewery
Dallas Cowboys: Lonestar Beer
Detroit Lions: Lionshead Beer
Green Bay Packers: Green Man Lager
Minnesota Vikings: St. Pauli Girl Lager
New Orleans Saints: Saint Arnold Amber Ale
New York Giants: Brooklyn Lager
Philadelphia Eagles: Yuengling Traditional Lager
San Francisco 49ers: 49er Red
Seattle Seahawks: Black Hawk Stout
St. Louis Rams: Ram Pilsner
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Old Buccaneer Reserve
Washington Redskins: Indian Wells Brewing Co. Mojave Red Beer

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