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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Absense, 365 days of Beer, MBG Winter Beer Fest, Curmudgeon's Better Half!

I just realized I have not used this blog since October! For Shame... I would like to claim I have been busy and holidays were hectic and all of that jazz but any of you that know me will certainly call shenanigans, as even my son knows, I get paid to drink beer... There is no excuse for me not to stay active on the blog boards.

It is true though, I have been busy. My wife and I are about to close on a house, we are averaging 3 beer events a month at the bar, the Beer Geek Club just gets bigger and bigger along with the home brew club AND I joined my son's Tang Soo Do class! But none of that matters, you deserve to be inundated with my valuable opinion and observations and I apologize for keeping you waiting for so long.

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I came across an article in the March issue of Maxim Magazine where the staff decided to drink 365 different cans of beer in a day! My kind of party! It is much less of an article than a collection of pictures of their staff getting fed beer by girls in tennis skirts, but it did raise a few good points. Can's are where it is at, no light, less oxygen and a better environment to stay true to the taste the brewer intended. Major breweries are jumping on this trend with several Michigan Breweries soon to be joining and a few leading the charge. Here are the one's I noticed where in the article:

Keweenaw Pick Axe Blonde Ale
Keweenaw Red Jacket Amber Ale
Brewery Vivant Triomphe IPA
Brewery Vivant Farm Hand Ale
Rochester Mills Cornerstone IPA
Millking It Productions Brik Red Ale
Millking It Productions AXL Pale Ale

A few Things did disturb me though, jumping out right away the tagged can of Bud Light captioned as "Still what comes to mind when we think of a 'cold one.' Quite simply, our go-to cooler staple." That simple sentence showcases again the marketing machine that is AB/INBEV. that in a crowd of some of the countries best beers they manage to get that plug into this article.

Equally annoying, the caption of the tagged Blue Moon can stating "For some reason Blue Moon is THE one great beer every crappy bar seems to have. And thank God for that." I think Maxim needs to be educated on the definition of "Great" and find something more important to thank God for.

However it is nice to see these Craft Cans getting some press even amongst the scattered swill from the big guys. I am a big fan of the canning trend and can't wait to see more products coming soon to our Great Beer State!

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So I am heading with my lovely to the Winter Beer Fest this coming Saturday in Grand Rapids. As I write this I am sitting with Victor Lambert, a long time volunteer at the front gate of the festivals, he tells me that this year there is 61 breweries with a planned 453 different beers being poured. Incredible and a far cry from the 600 people hanging out with the 10 breweries that were around when these things started. See you there!

I am looking forward to being there and considering it my next "On the Road with the Beer Geek" event. Come find me and I will give you a discount card for your next trip to the Shark Club and get credit as a tour stop towards your t-shirt commemorating my year in beer travels. Our first trip was at Wolverine State Brewing in January and the next one will be the last Saturday of March at Copper Canyon!

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Founders has been a hot subject lately. Both praise and criticism has come for their small batch beer they have been putting out recently. Praise for the quality and delightfulness of the brew itself and criticism for the lack of availability and the retailer price gouging.

The latest release in the rare 22oz series is Curmudgeon's Better Half, an 11.9% Old Ale made with Molasses then aged on Maple Syrup Bourbon Barrels. Rumor has it that you can find these online at various shady locations for upwards of $120 and find them locally, if you are lucky enough to be on someones list, anywhere from $15.99 to $49.99.

Even though it is simple supply and demand it still has always rubbed me the wrong way to see this kind of pricing on the high end of that scale. I would rather be told I was not on the list than be charged $49.99 for a beer that most likely cost the retailer no more than $12. The head ache this causes for distributors and store owners trying to explain to their customers why they can't get it or why their neighbor did but not them is unenviable.

Alas, I did pony up $30 for a bottle for myself and I must tell you, I do not regret my purchase at that price and would recommend grabbing one up if it is available near you.

I was worried at first that the beer would be way to sweet with the molasses and maple syrup but the flavors truly compliment the style adding to the malt back bone and helping to smooth out the burn of the high alcohol content. The oak and vanilla hints of the bourbon leave just the right amount of that sweetness on your tongue and lingers between sips. I shared this wife my wife and still enjoyed my half for the better part of an hour. Outstanding beer and worth the price.

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I will try not to let 4 more months go by without hearing from me and I look forward to seeing you at the Winter Beer Fest!

Cheers!

Jonathan Cole
Supreme Beer Geek


come see me anytime at:

Shark Club Howell
1140 S. Michigan Ave
Howell, MI 48843
517-540-0300
www.sharkclubhowell.com

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