In case you weren’t aware, we are currently in the final throes of “Flagship February.”
Flagship February is an idea that sprang forth last year from the mind of professional drinks writer Stephen Beaumont to give some love to the flagship beers that we often overlook. Beaumont has written a baker’s dozen worth of books on beer and understands the beverage’s history and tradition.
I’ve seen him backhand a bartender for serving him a Kolsch that wasn’t in a stange. He once called in a bomb threat to a bar on St Patrick’s day because he knew they consistently poured pints with the tap nozzle touching the beer. It’s rumoured he once hobbled a server who had never heard of ESB. “You cut the achilles,” he told me once with fire in his eyes. “The limp will ensure he never forgets again.” He’s a man who takes beer seriously.
This February, as with last, Beaumont and a team are preaching the merits of mainstay beers with a series of essays. As Beaumont’s site explains,
a Flagship is the beer that defines a brewery. It’s the one that you immediately think of when you hear the brewery’s name, the one that most people associate with the business. In most cases, it is their best-selling beer and often the one that outsells all their other offerings by a wide margin. A good flagship also allows a brewery to be able to afford the seasonals, specialty beers and the other one-off beers in their lineup.
Continue reading “Flagship February” →
First published in 2012, The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont is a beer book about which many nice things might be said.
It might be said that it’s fairly remarkable in that it is sweeping in scope; taking you on a beer tour with brief stops in literally almost every part of the world; yet somehow manages not to be tiresome or overwrought in its aims. With excellent illustrations and photographs, one might also say that this book, billed as “the essential guide to the beers of the world,” is as interesting to look at in passing as it is to read in depth and that it would make a fitting coffee table book for lovers of beer both professional and novice.
The book touches on the history, the science, and the art of beer and features everything from basic beer definitions, to explanations of the nuances of style, to pairing, pouring, storing and cellaring beer, and so one might easily say that this is a good candidate for the only beer book you might ever need.
Of course, I’m not going to say any of those things. Continue reading “Five great uses for The World Atlas of Beer that do not involve reading” →
Despite nearly five years writing fairly regular “top [number] beers for [occasion]” posts for blogTO, I’m actually not a huge believer in the idea that you need to change your drinking habits based on the seasons.
Drink juicy IPAs in the winter if you want. Enjoy boozy, barrel-aged beasts in the throes of August. Drink Pumpkin beer never. Whatever.
That being said, I do find that I tend to crave darker beer around the time the leaves start to change and so this seems like as as good a time as any to take a look at what I feel is an oddly-overlooked category here in Ontario, namely stouts. Now I know there are plenty of brewers who make great imperial stouts, and I know that there are brewers who make seasonal, occasional, or one-off stouts, but frankly I’m not sure when we decided that that dark beer was something we only needed from time to time and when we decided stouts needed to have double digit ABV, be bourbon-barrel aged, or include chili-peppers, or vanilla.
And so with that in mind here are five well-made, widely-available, year-round stouts (and one probably-soon-to-be-year-round) that are worth checking out this fall. Or winter. Or whenever. Continue reading “Five local stouts you should drink, and why you should drink them” →
In case you’re not among the 23,405 people who stopped by my blog on September 22, you aren’t one of the visitors who are still finding Ben’s Beer Blog in numbers that put my former best traffic days to shame, or you haven’t stumbled onto one of the many outlets who picked up the story after I wrote about it, you should know that for lack of a better term, I basically exploded the internet last week with a story about Shock Top, a beer that is made by Labatt and one for which they were planning a less-than-honest advertising campaign.
Obviously the story received the level of attention that it did because most people feel upset about the news that a large brewery was attempting to pretend to be a small brewery in order to increase sales of one of their beers. Indeed, by and large, that has been virtually everyone’s reaction–with a small but notable exception: Among the comments for that post, in the responses on reddit forums, and via twitter, there has been a small but vocal minority whose response has essentially been, “Who cares?”
This minority, some of whom I’ve talked to directly and others who felt the need to comment anonymously, have made roughly the same argument with varying degrees of tact and merit and that argument is “If the beer tastes good, drink it.” Continue reading “When it comes to beer, taste isn’t all that matters” →