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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top 10 Weirdest Beers For 2009

Here is an article grabbed from a site called "" (by the authors of The Man Who Scared A Shark To Death and Other True Tales of Drunken Debauchery)...apparently they have found the weirdest beers that are currently out on and be amused:

"These days, there is a trend towards making alcohol-related products taste like something else – hence the rise of alcopops and various other beverages that are commonly ordered by girl drink drunks [see excellent Kids in the Hall sketch of the same name] The weirdest alcoholic beverages we’ve ever consumed—whiskey distilled with a snake in it (Laos), hot pepper paprika pálinka (Hungarian brandy derived from the Slav, ‘to burn’), pumpkin ale and that shitty fake absinthe sold all over the Czech Republic that looks like what an army barber would use to clean razors—look positively benign in comparison to these brews.

Beer manufacturers are adding ingredients to their brews to excite the Budweiser-deadened taste buds of your average guzzler, and, in some cases, to test their gag reflexes as well. Here then, is a run-down of the Top 10 Weirdest Beers we can find.

1. Pizza-flavored beer seems like the type of unorthodox brew that would do the latter, as, up until this point, the only pizza-flavored beer familiar to the recreational boozer has been the end of the night palette clearing, known in some circles as “bending and sending” (which results in “pavement pizza”). However, according to this review from the Fairfield County Weekly, Tom Seefurth’s Mamma Mia Pizza Beer is actually quite quaffable, if not actually the most authentic-tasting beer. While the brewers do include oregano, basil, tomato and garlic in the mix, it isn’t exactly a slice of pie crammed into a beer bottle. According to the reviewer, “…it resembled the taste of pizza-flavored Combos or Pringles… rather artificial, kind of like the Baco-Bits of the alcohol world.” The reviewer, a Shark Guy in spirit, scoffed at the pizza beer’s low alcohol content (4.5 percent) and said that he’d “just as soon knock back a beer-flavored beer.” [Editor's note: We should mention that we take no responsibility for sickened stomachs. Also, this next one is not meant for humans, but like those sad stories of senior citizens on fixed budgets being left to dine on the Alpo, there is nothing to stop you from trying it out for yourself].

2. Steak-flavored beer for dogs: Who among us hasn’t emptied out the odd pint into Rover’s bowl just to see what would happen when he got a little tipsy? One of our favorite tales in the animals section of our book, The Man Who Scared a Shark to Death and other True Tales of Drunken Debauchery, concerned a footman to the Queen of England who was fired for putting whiskey in the water bowls of the royal corgis [Word had it the pooches liked it 'neat' and have since straightened out] The beer we’re talking about here though, the Dutch Kwispelbier – “tail-wagging beer” is non-alcoholic, and tastes like beef. The beer has recently gone on sale in the UK. According to the distributors of the canine brew, while little Fido may not end up as hammered as his owners, he’ll at least be drinking in solidarity with them: “It means pets are even more a part of family life as they can enjoy a beer, too.”

3. Banana Beer. A garden hose and a g-string away from being a Budweiser marketing executive’s wet dream, unfortunately this brew is going to have to stay in the realm of the subconscious for now as these suds are predominantly brewed in Kenya. According to Howtopedia, which is like Wikipedia without the citations (perhaps not the best source for launching a home bootlegging business), banana beer is made using the fermented juices of sorghum and, if you haven’t guessed it by now, bananas. “Come, Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana / Daylight come and me wanna go home” (where I won’t be sipping on this)

4. Beer and Milk Makes Bilk: According to the good folks over at PETA, beer is actually better for you (not to mention poor ole’ Bessie the cow) than milk. “Beer in moderation is good for you, while even one glass of milk supports animal abuse and harms your health,” says a PETA spokesperson. But for those of us not quite ready to throw dairy out the door and embrace the joys of soy, the good news is that the salutary effects of both milk and beer can be found in one ingeniously named Japanese product: Bilk. The brewer, dealing with an oversupply of milk due to lower consumption in Japan, decided to use surplus to create a beer that is 30% milk. According to Reuters, “apart from a slight milky scent looks and tastes like ordinary beer”. Currently, Bilk is available only in the region where it’s produced, Hokkaido, and by mail order. The manufacturer said that further distribution would depend on how the initial beer fared in local markets, and we’re guessing the lack of reports following on from its introduction last year tell us pretty much all we need to know about how that went.

5. Tomato Beer / Kidsbeer. First, this perennial, grown in your front and backyard if you’re Italian [would make a great addition to those, You Know You're Italian If lists, right alongside your nono's fig tree]. Marginally more masculine than a Bloody Mary or a Caesar (though it still won’t grace any Superbowl tailgates any time soon) it’s red enough so that if it comes up after a night on the town you’ll seek admittance to the nearest ER. According to sources, “the beer seems to act as an antioxidant and has plenty of vitamin E, more than 1000 times that of regular beer”, which might be “zero”, it didn’t say. "A half pint for the little man" The tomato is actually South American in origin, specifically Peru. It is theorized that Cortez brought it back from the New World along with syphilis and it’s safe to say Europe has not been the same since.
Neither has Asia. It’s actually the Japanese who are responsible for this Sunday Gravy brew, unsurprisingly, given their penchant for
squid ice cream and Pepsi Ice Cucumber drink, not to mention a non-alcoholic beer marketed at children, Kidsbeer!. According to the New York Times, the potable, “which comes in a brown bottle and is advertised with the slogan “Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink,” (Editor’s note: probably not the best slogan to use in a country with one of the world’s highest suicide rates) is lager-colored and foams like beer, but tastes like cola.”

6. Champagne Beer: Champagne tastes? Beer budget? Willing to drink anything we suggest? Well boy do we have the beer for you. The Krait Prestige Champagne Lager, the US name for the UK Cobra Beer, claims to be the world’s first champagne lager and the only lager to be re-fermented in the bottle, a process usually reserved for Trappist ales (drinking Trappist ales, incidentally, is probably the only good thing about being a Trappist monk). The bottle is made to look like a champagne bottle, and offers a combination of the two products inside (throwing into complete chaos standard rules such as “beer after wine, you’ll do just fine”). Whether such a mix would appeal to you depends on whether you enjoy champagne. If you are of a mind with the journalist Christopher Hitchens who once said, “The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics” then this may not be the product for you.

7. Chocolate Donut Beer: Brewed by Shenandoah Brewery in Alexandria Virginia, which, we shit thou not, offers a major discount for law-enforcement officials (the discount doesn’t specifically apply to the donut beer, but still…) comes the Chocolate Donut Beer. This begging-for-a-Homer-Simpson-reference beer is in league with pizza beer in terms of giving you something to drink to remind you of the unhealthy things that you like to eat. The beer overwhelmingly positive feedback on Beer Advocate, including an A+ rating from a guy who said it smelled “Like you just opened a pack of those cheap waxy corner store chocolate gem donuts”.

8. Chipotle Beer / Chili Beer. Fully ripened smoke-dried jalapeno beer, perfect to wash down a plate of nachos at your local dive. Mixed reviews on this one:
“Starts out spicy, mellows with a very faint hint of toasty malt before developing much more heat and finishing with an intense, peppery bite”,
“Way too much black pepper”
“Roasted malt, roasted spicy pepper, very small amount of caramel sweetness”
and the always unappetizing…
“Kind of feels like its leaving a coating on my mouth”

9. Japanese Yellow Protein Beer. The less said about this the better. We’ll leave it to one reviewer, who opined: “Feels like I’ve just woken up and need to brush my teeth”. Don’t forget to floss…and finally…

10. Creme Brulee Beer. To close, as a way to cleanse the palette in dessert fashion, Crème brûlée Beer. Because when you think vanilla custard, cream and caramel…Do not light with a blowtorch, not because you could blow yourself to smithereens (we frankly don’t care), but because you need at least 100 proof to be flammable.
Bottoms up."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beer Colors and Hues Chart and Lovibond Units

Beer Hues in Lovibond Units

There are so many colors and hues of beer that can be seen...curious about how many there are and how they make a difference in a brew's appeal? Well, here ya go: I could go into great explanation on color effects but why bother when a guru has already done it for us. Below is an article by Dr George Fix that says it all:

(Article by Dr. George Fix)
Color affects the appreciation and evaluation of beer in subtle but definite ways. The "halo effect" refer to a situation where a positive (or negative) response to one attribute leads to an over evaluation (or under evaluation) of other attributes. The color of beer can be a powerful but often subconscious generator of the "halo effect."
An example is the low marks given to otherwise satisfactory beers in competitions where the entry's color is inappropriate for the category. In professional tasting, the "halo effect" is generally regarded as an unacceptable bias. However, in less formal settings it reflects the natural influence that physical appearance of a food or beverage has over sensory anticipation. For this, and other reasons, color control in brewing is important, and the goal of this chapter is to review the basic issues. Before describing the test we first review the units in which beer and wort color are measured, and then review the factors that affect color in malting and brewing.

Beer and wort color traditionally have been measured visually, and early on the Lovibond (degL) scale was adopted as a standard. This consists of a well-defined set of color samples that are used for comparison. A visual match with a beer or wort sample defines the degL of the sample. In modern brewing, photometric methods have replaced visual comparison, and the American Society of Brewing Chemists has developed the so-called Standard Reference Method (SRM), which is widely used. Results are expressed as degrees SRM, and for the purposes of this article these units can be regarded as the same as degL. Some examples are presented in the chart below.
Standard Reference Method (SRM) for Beer Color Evaluation
(See table 1 above)
It is important to know that totally different units are used in England and Europe (i.e., degrees EBC). This is because of the different analytical procedures that are used for measurement. The following formulas have been used to relate these units:
(degEBC) = 2.65 x (degL) - 1.2
(degL) = 0.377 x (degEBC) + 0.45
I have found that they give reasonable results for light-colored beers (e.g., those whose color does not exceed 4 degL); however, they are inaccurate for deeper-colored beers. Discussions with Roger Briess of Briess Malting Company indicate that these formulas are not held in high regard by professionals.


After the grain is steeped with water, it is allowed to germinate, then is dried in the kiln. It is in the kiln where coloring pigments such as melanoidins in malt are formed via the Maillard or browning reaction, a very common oxidation that occurs in many foods when they are cooked or exposed to air. By controlling the kiln temperature, the maltster can control the color of the kernels and hence their coloring potential in brewing. Typical values for various malt types are shown in Table 2.
A rule sometimes used by homebrewers is that the color contributed by a malt is equal to its concentration in pounds per gallon times its color rating in degL. For pale beers this rule can give reasonable results. For example, 10 pounds of pale malt with color 1.6 degL in five gallons should produce a beer whose color is near
1.6 x 10/5 = 3.2degL.
But for darker colored beers this rule can give erratic results. It also ignores the factors other than malt that contribute to beer color. Cereal adjuncts like rice make no contribution to beer color. Corn and unmalted barley have only a slight effect.
(See table 2 above)


Differences in brewing conditions can lead to substantial color changes in the finished beer, these effects being particularly important for beers at 5 degL or less.
Water As the alkalinity of the water increases, so does the extraction rate of the coloring pigments in malt. The mash pH I has the same effect, and increasing pH leads to worts with deeper color.
Mash Color increases with the amount of contact time with the grains. Thus, a prolonged mash will produce a deeper-colored beer than a short mash.
Kettle boil The Maillard reaction also takes place as wort is boiled; therefore, wort color increases with boil time. A fact that is sometimes overlooked is that wort simmering has the same effect. The point is that this will lead to an incomplete hot and cold break, which in turn leaves more coloring elements in the finished wort.
Hops Some color is obtained from hops both in the kettle and in storage containers when postfermentation hopping is used.
Fermentation The proteinous matter produced during the cold break is full of coloring materials and, hence, removal of these materials will reduce color. It has been reported that color changes during fermentation vary with yeast strain.
Filtration This can dramatically reduce color. It should be noted that a clear beer will appear to be lighter color than turbid beer.
At all stages of brewing, air pickup will deepen beer color. This is as true of hot wort production as it is of bottled beer with head-space air.


This is a simple test designed for homebrewers and microbrewers. Comparisons have shown that will give color readings with errors more than on percent for beer whose color is 17 degL or less. Beer whose color exceeds 17 degL will be essentially black in appearance. It is not particularly important to quantify color beyond this point. The standard for this test is Michelob Classic Dark. The reason is that it is widely available, and its color is known (17 degL). On very rare occasions one will come across old bottles of this beer where haze has developed because of mishandling by distributors. These should not be used in this test. By the same token, the sample to be tested should clear and free of haze. The test consists of diluting the standard with water until a color match with the sample is obtained. Figure 2 gives the relationship between the amount of water added and the degL of the sample.

Distilled water--Colored tap water can increase the errors in this test from I percent to 10 or 20 percent.
Blender--Dissolved CO2 in the beer will affect its color. Both the standard and the sample should be degassed. This can be done in a blender. A lot of foam will be created, but once it recedes and the beer falls clear it is ready for testing.
Light source--It is important for the visual comparison to take place in a well-lighted environment. Ideally, this consists of a lamp with a 100watt bulb against a white background. Be sure to use the reflected rather than direct light, and place the samples the same distance from the light source Also, take time in making the comparison because the difference in one or two degL is not that great.
Vessels--These are the most important components to this test. After extensive experimentation it became clear that two sets are needed. For detailed testing, two glass jars of one-inch diameter and a capacity of at least 125 milliliters are best. For samples below 10 degL the volume of these vessels is not large enough. Two white 12-ounce export (long neck returnable bottles will be needed. The Miller Brewin Co. has been using these bottles. So has Corona, but the label, which cannot be removed, is a distraction.
Syringe--This is needed to measure 10 cc = 10 ml of water.

Clean everything.
De-gas standard and then sample in blender.
Measure in 20 ml of standard beer in export bottle No. 1.
Measure in 20 ml of sample beer in export bottle No. 2.
If colors are different, measure in 10 ml of distilled water to bottle No. 1 and 10 ml of sample beer to export bottle No. 2.
Continue Step 5 until colors become close. At this point the comparisons should be made in the one-inch diameter jars. Transfer 25 to 50 ml into these from the export bottles and return after comparison. Cut the water and sample beer increment from 10 ml to 5 ml.
When a color match is obtained, record the total amount of water added. Figure 2 gives the associated degL.


At the start the 20 ml of standard beer (Michelob Classic Dark) will be discernibly darker than the sample (Bass). After adding 30 ml of water to the standard, the colors will become close, and at this point the one-inch jars are needed. A match is obtained after an additional 10 ml of water is added. Thus a total of 40 ml of water was needed, and from Figure 2, we see that Bass has a color of 10 degL. Since only 60 ml of liquid was used in each bottle, the entire test could have done in the one-inch diameter jars. Note that the relationship between degL and dilution water is not linear. For example, adding 20 ml of water to 20 ml of Michelob Classic Dark (17 degL) will not cut the color in half. In fact, instead of 17/2 = 8.5 degL the color will be higher, namely 13 degL (see Figure 2). This lack of proportionality is why the relationship between degL and degrees EBC can be in error. It also explains why beer color and malt color are not proportional. At the lower color range, on the other hand, proportionality is approximately valid. Thus, diluting 20 ml of Molson Export Ale (4 degL) with 20 ml of water will give a color very close to Budweiser (2degL). More generally for beers whose color is 4 degL or less, the curve in Figure 2 is given by degL = 4(140/VA + 20) where VA is the dilution water in ml.

(The author acknowledges the significant contributions made through conversations with Roger Briess. In fact, the simple color test described above is essentially his idea. The author's contribution was to work out the data represented in Figure 2.)

Beer Styles List And Descriptions (AHA / BJCP)

There are many different styles of beer out there in the big wide world...ever wonder what they are? Here is a list of them based on AHA (American Homebrewing Association) and the BJCP (Beer Judging Certification Program) guidelines. Click on a link below in one of the categories for a description of the style:


American Lager
Dark Lager
Classic American Pilsner

India Pale Ale
India Pale Ale

English & Scottish Strong Ale
Old Ale
Strong Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy)

European Dark Lager
Munich Dunkel

Fruit Beer
Fruit Beer



Barley Wine
English-Style Barley Wine
American-Style Barley Wine

English & Scottish Strong Ale
English Old Ale/Strong Ale
Strong Scotch Ale

German Dark Lager
Munich Dunkel


California Common Beer
California Common Beer

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chicago Beer Joint TWISTED SPOKE Features "$2.50 Tuesdays" and "Smut and Eggs Saturdays"

Stopped by the Twisted Spoke (located at 501 N. Ogden Ave. / 500N, 1300W /Chicago, IL ph#312-666-1500) the other day for dinner and a brew...suprisingly they offer a large list of beers to choose from and since I happened to be there on a Tuesday, Jay our server, pointed out that all five dollar beers on the menu are only $2.50, hence "$2.50 Tuesdays" for these selected beers. Early on Sunday mornings from Midnite to 2:30 AM "The Spoke," as locals refer to it, features "Smut & Eggs", a showing of porn films from the 1970s while you munch on an early morning breakfast after a Saturday night of partying. The bar is easily identifiable from the street as a human skeleton sits astride on a motorcycle on top of the building.
As Sean Parnell has written for The Chicago Bar Project, his review states : "...It is much more than just "biker friendly" as it is often described in many of the standard, mind-numbing reviews. At the Spoke, you'll find some of the best burgers in town, one of the few rooftop patios around, excellent Bloody Marys, and the strangely alluring "Smut & Eggs." The Twisted Spoke comes to you out of the same madness from which sprang Twisted Spoke Lakeview, Pie Hole, and the dearly departed Bone Daddy, and, by itself, has become one of the best bars in Chicago. What is "biker friendly" anyway? Twisted Spoke is located at the corner of Ogden and Grand Avenue in West Town where, up until recently, most bar owners have feared to tread. The only other bars inhabiting the area also known as River West are the Matchbox, Emmit's Pub and Richard's, so it can be a bit difficult to find a cab afterwards; the bartenders can call you one if you have trouble. Otherwise, it's pretty difficult to find parking in this part of town due to all the new condo construction (your best bet is on Ogden and don't park in the empty lot across the street or the tow trucks will get you). Bone Daddy, under the same ownership, used to be located just up the street on Ogden but shut during the summer of 2003...the Twisted Spoke sports a facade encrusted with rusted metal plating and a wall of narrow, plate-glass windows that open out in summer. This is a result of the Twisted Spoke's recent "remodeling." Considering that the previous version looked like the farmhouse in the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the new Twisted Spoke is far more inviting and much less scary. However, they did keep their skeletal Hells Angel mascot: a vintage motorcycle-riding, wheelie-poppin' skeleton, which can be seen revolving from a long black pole at the bar's helm. Four motorcycles can be found half buried within a "planter" lined with the same rusted metal as the bar itself, making what has to be the most unusual "garden" around. More motorcycles, of the unplanted variety, can usually be found lined up in a neat little row just outside the bar. A motorcycle handlebar serves as the outer door's handle and mind your step as you walk in as there's a short, fairly steep cement ramp. Once inside, you'll find the hostess's stand just beyond several framed accolades, including Top 10 rankings for Best Hamburger, Best Fries, Best Barbeque, Best Late-Night Dining, Best Outdoor Dining, Best After Work Dining, Best Neighborhood Bar, Best Place to See and Be Seen, Best Singles Bar, and Best Cheap Eats by Citysearch: Chicago in 2001. A scuffed cement floor leads to both cancerous and non-cancerous sections of the dining room, with its curving black banquette along the east wall and low-slung, galvanized metal tables and black vinyl chairs across from it. Cardboard beer six-packs contain the condiments and a corrugated metal ceiling can be found above. The wall above the banquette features track-lit, black & white photographs that look like Glamour Shots of Baby Boomers on motorcycles. Various antique motorcycle parts, including helmets, piston blocks, crankshafts, rims, license plats, sprockets, and horns dot the walls and columns around the room. Back around to the left of the hostess stand, you'll find a short hallway that leads to an exposed brick bar area in the eastern portion of the Twisted Spoke. This area features a pool table, a couple of cocktail tables, a motorcycle propped up on a brick landing, and a smallish wooden bar that runs against the southeastern wall. A very good selection of microbrews can be found behind the bar that includes
Stella Artois, Anchor Porter and Sprecher Bavarian, served from over a dozen taps and even more can be had in bottles. Each month, one of these beers is featured by "Butch" for the recession-friendly price of only $2; they don't tell you what beer it is but rather, "We have 53 good beers, 1 bad. It's best not to ask questions. What is it? What it is is $2." Most other beers are $2.50 on Tuesdays. The Spoke also serves up an excellent selection of bourbon in the spirit of brethren bar, Delilah's —you know a bar takes its bourbon seriously when they have Jim Beam on tap like they do at the Twisted Spoke (Beam cocktails are $2 every day). The bathrooms, labeled "Chicks" and "Dicks" (each with a listing, including Nixon, Daley and "Daley (again)," can be found across from the bar, down a short curving hallway...".