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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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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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Trivia Night – Putting my useless knowledge to work

For whatever reason, I have always been able to retain more useless facts than meaningful ones.  My friends used to fight over me for their Trivial Pursuit teams…gosh am I modest or what?  From pregnant pop stars to 90s TV shows and Olympic mishaps to what kinds of vegetables burn more calories than they have in them (celery, wow), I have this wealth of random details that only come in handy on Wednesday nights.  With a fairly constant roster of 4 other trivia all-stars, I head to one of JP’s finest bars, the Jeanie Johnston, to compete for weekly trivia bragging rights (and a gift certificate).  Many of Boston’s bars have weekly trivia nights hosted by Stump Trivia.  Stump staffs the evening with a host and a slew of questions in topics that range from TV to Science (SCIENCE!) to US geography to The Simpsons and beyond.  I like the Jeanie because the crowd is honest (read: they don’t use their iPhones to look up the answers…not okay for trivia!) and it’s right down the road from my apartment. Another benefit is the Seadog Hazelnut Porter on tap…deliciously nutty, dark and sweet.

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If you are a Boston-area dweller and want to get away from your typical evening routine of take out and TV shows, get a group together (no bigger than 6) and find a bar that sponsors a trivia night.  And if you show up at the Jeanie on Wednesday – the challenge is on!  Cheers!

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brewnette in 2009: New Year’s Resolutions

So the holidays have come and gone.  I reluctantly took down my Christmas tree on Saturday and have taken out the last of 2008’s recyclable bottles.  2009 is in full swing and I am eager to move forward in my professional life.  With new job opportunities popping up, my fingers are crossed that January will be a good month.  I’m also attempting to improve my own balance (physically) by taking up yoga.  Believe me, my coordination and posture need all the help they can get.  Still, I am not big on resolutions.  The ones I’ve made, I’ve broken.  I’ve just held onto the idea that I don’t need a new year to try to change my life for the better or to try new things.

New Years Eve

But I think its time to make a resolution on behalf of brewnette.  On New Years Eve, I attended a little get-together at my friends’ place (Mark and Wyatt know how to do NYE well – think karaoke, Harpoon Brown Ale and an intriguing game called 4 corners).  When discussing our mutual love for Boston beer, they discovered that I had never been to the Sam Adams factory tour.  This is particularly sad as I am a Sam fanatic, a beer blogger and I live within a mile of the factory…seriously, it’s walking distance.  Unlike me, these guys are proud tour aficionados. They know how to make the most of the tour and of the tasting the follows.  They are even exclusive participants of the brewery’s monthly tasting series.

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit now and I am resolving to take this Sam tour so I can tell you all about it.  I will also go to the Harpoon tour for comparison purposes.  Perhaps I’ll take these guys with me, to show me how it’s done.  I’ll report back on this stuff sometime soon.  Until then, enjoy the last few weeks that the winter/holiday-inspired beers will be readily available.  Happy New Year!  Cheers!

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