Beer Festivals Around the World in 2018

If you like to travel there are great places to visit all over the world with unique cultures and customs. There are often things to be seen and experienced in these places that can be found nowhere else. Experiencing local culture can broaden your horizons, open your mind to new possibilities and give you deeper understanding of yourself and your place in the world. And what better way is there than to experience a culture than during a craft beer festival.

If you’re planning to travel this year but haven’t decided where to go, I have some suggestions.

The Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular, Sydney, Australia (June 2, 2018)

Created in 2011, the Great Australian Beers SpecTAPular (GABS) is held in cities across Australia, but the festival in Sydney stands out. It features hundreds of beers and ciders from the best Australian and New Zealand craft breweries and cider producers, including nearly 180 beers and ciders made just for this event. There will be a wide variety of exceptional local foods, interactive exhibitions, food and drink educational seminars, along with exciting entertainment and activities.

With so many of Australia’s finest craft breweries releasing a brand-new beer on the same day and in the same place, this should definitely be on your must-do list.

North Sea Beer Festival, Oostende, Belgium (August 24-26, 2018)

Belgium is known for good beer. And while you may normally think of Brussels when you think of Belgian beer, the North Sea Beer Festival in Oostende Belgium is the place to sample the finest beers in Belgium. This festival takes place the last weekend in August from the 24th to the 26th and features the best of Belgian beer.

There will be over 200 different beers from more than 30 breweries, as well as a wide variety of local foods to sample. The event will take place in Leopold Park, in the heart of Oostende. If you enjoy a good Belgian style beer, this is a festival you won’t want to miss.

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland (May 25-27, 2018)

The Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival is no ordinary beer festival, it is an international event featuring both world class Scottish and international beers poured by a crew of brewers who take great pride in their work. In addition to these finely crafted brews there will be an array of Edinburgh’s finest street food vendors and an incredible set of headline DJ acts.

This year’s Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival will be held at The Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh, so if you are t planning to visit Edinburgh, and you love craft beer, good food, and live music, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got tickets for this event well in advance, because it will sell out.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week, Vancouver, Canada (May 25, thru June 3, 2018)

Established in 2010, Vancouver Craft Beer Week has grown to a week-long beer extravaganza of events that pair beers with delicious food and great music, competitions and awards celebrations, as well as showcasing rare brews and interesting imports.

The festival culminates at the fairgrounds in the Pacific National Exhibition where beer enthusiasts can sample 400 beers from over 100 breweries and enjoy timbersports (a modern version of a lumberjack challenge and with power tools and logs). The festival also includes art installations, food trucks, market stalls, brewing demonstrations, and a games area with pinball and foosball.

Irish Craft Beer Festival, Dublin, Ireland (September 6-7, 2018)

Ireland’s largest and best craft beer festival takes place Sep 6-7 this year and you won’t want to miss it. The Irish Craft Beer Festival will be held just outside of Dublin and is expected to include over 40 brewers with over 200 different Irish beers, and  a wide variety of local food venders.

You think Disney World is the happiest place on earth? This beer festival in Dublin will change your mind!

Great Japan Beer Festival, Yokohama 15th – 17th September 2018 in  Osanbashi Hall at Yokohama Port

Japan may be known for sake, but things are changing. Started in 2006, the Great Japan Beer Festival in Yokohama Japan is expecting over 9,500 participants this year. Craft beer has taken Japan by storm as craft breweries spread across the country, and this event will highlight some of the best craft beers in japan, as well as some of the finest beers from around the world.

This indoor festival consists of three sessions of three and a half hours each over a two day period, and is an all-you-care-to-drink event. Whether you are new to craft beer, or a veteran, this event is a great way to be introduced to some of the best beers of Japan.

The Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO, USA (20-22 September, 2018)

The Great American Beer Festival is a three-day event started in 1982 and has grown bigger with each passing year. The event takes place at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver CO, and with over 800 breweries in attendance and 3,800 beers to sample, this event boasts the largest amount of beer served in a public tasting event.

The Great American Beer Festival is the largest beer festivals in America, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records there is no place on earth that has more beer on tap. Brewers from all over the country come together here to compete against each other, and to show off their finest brews. The beer is arranged geographically in the festival hall by region.

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany (September 22, thru October 7, 2018)

Octoberfest is known world wide as the finical of beer festivals, and there is no better place than Munich to celebrate.  Six Munich breweries anticipate that over 6 million liters of beer will be consumed during this festival.

Beer and food will be sold in the tents around Munich from 10 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Most companies hand out beer tokens to their guests, which can then be exchanged for beer in the respective tents, but tokens can also be purchased.

Every beer lover owes it to themselves to make the pilgrimage least once in their life to experience October Fest in Germany. And there is no better place in Germany to do that than Munich.

 

 

 

 

I see men, but where are the women?

Women drink beer. This shouldn’t surprise you since there’s a pretty good chance you know a woman, or even several, who drink beer, or you are a beer-drinking woman yourself. Women also brew, package, sell and market beer. This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has been on a brewery tour, attended a beer festival, or have heard of beer industry big names like Irene Firmat- founder of Full Sail Brewing, Kim Jordan- co-founder of New Belgium Brewing, or even craft beer pioneer Carol Stoudt- founder of Stoudt Brewing.

While women brewers are becoming more and more common in the modern craft brewing movement, there are still relatively few. Historically, brewing was done by women. Yet today brewing is seen mostly as the domain of young bearded men.

Beer is genderless and there is nothing strange about a woman drinking a beer. However, there is a significant difference in the number women and men who prefer beer or brew beer. Based on combined data from Gallup polls conducted from 2010 through 2016 about 54% of men preferred beer as opposed to 23% of women.  50% of women preferred wine where only 18% of men.

So why do more than twice as many men prefer beer than women? And why do nearly 3 time more women prefer wine than men?  I believe that the answer may be a combination of marketing, and stereo typing.

There has been a lot of criticism recently directed at the way beer is marketed and labeled. TV commercials and print adds usually depict men enjoying a beer, and when women appear in beer commercials or adds they are usually scantily clad women and serving beer to men.

Additionally, beer labels and beer names are often offensive to women and degrade women by objectifying them or playing on negative stereo types. Here are some examples of beer names: Leg-Spreader brewed by Route 2 Brews, Hoppy Bitch brewed by Northwest Brewing, Bitch Slap brewed by Pig Minds Brewing Co, Panty Peeler brewed by Midnight Sun Brewing, Thong Remover brewed by Village Idiot Brewing,  Naughty Girl brewed by Right Brain Brewery, Double D brewed by Dominion Brewing, Bare Ass Blonde brewed by DuClaw Brewing, and Tramp Stamp brewed by Clown Shoes Beer. The pictures that accompany these beer names depict women as promiscuous, scantily clad, or just plain crazy.

These types of beer names and depictions might very well be part of the reason some women prefer not to drink beer. Imagine if the tables were turned. Sound silly or over sensitive? Would your average guy reach for a beer called Woody Ale with a picture of a guy with his legs wrapped around a tree on the label? I can tell you that I personally wouldn’t be too excited to put my lips on a bottle depicting a guy dry humping a tree.

Of course, on television and in movies women are nearly always drinking wine while the men around them are drinking beer, reinforcing the stereotype that women drink wine and men drink beer. Have you ever watched Cougar Town, Sex and the City, or even The Big Bang Theory?

If women are being discouraged from drinking beer through advertising, beer names, beer labels, television shows, and movies, is it any wonder that not only do fewer women drink beer and even fewer women decide to go into brewing?

Women may not be intentionally discouraged from drinking and brewing beer, but the results are the same. About 77% of women prefer to drink something other than beer, and as a result would not likely consider a career in brewing. That is a lot of potential customers and a lot of potential brewers.

Perhaps before we name our beer and print the label, we should ask ourselves if we would feel comfortable serving it to our mothers or daughters.  I know I would be a little embarrassed to serve my mother Leg-Spreader, no matter how good the beer.

Make Your Own Beer at Home. Really!

Have you ever thought about brewing your own beer at home?  It is not as hard as some people make it sound.  It is actually a lot of fun to create and make great tasting beer that you can drink and be proud of.  There are lots of different brewing kits available online and at your local Home Brewing store that can help you with the process every step of the way.

But what does it cost? Depending on the type of beer and ingredients, you can then make 5 gallons (about 2 cases) of craft beer for about $25. At a minimum price of $10 per six-pack, the same amount of craft beer would cost you at least $80. So $25 for more than $80 of beer. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

When you brew your own beer at home, you are going to need at the minimum malt, water, hops, and brewers yeast.

When it comes to malt, you have some choices.  First, you could use malted grain. This is grain that has been allowed to begin to germinate or sprout, then dried and roasted. Depending on the temperature and the amount of time it is roasted, the sugars in the grain are developed and made more complex. Lighter roasts are used to supply most of the sugars needed for fermentation. Darker roasts contain more complex sugars and stronger flavors that range anywhere from caramel to chocolate and coffee. The grain has to be ground and steeped in hot water for a period of time, then drained and rinsed to extract the sugars need for the beer. The wort (which is what this liquid is called) is then boiled to make the unfermented beer.

You could also use a malt extract. Extract is created by extracting sugars from the grain, then concentrating them. Malt extracts can be liquid or dry. All you have to do is add the extract to boiling water and presto! You have unfermented beer. Both liquid and dry work well and are easy to use however dry extracts can be stored longer than the liquid form.  You will also find that there are many different extracts to choose from.  If there isn’t a home brewing supply store near you, you can order what you need online. For the beginner brewer, extracts are easy to use and can make some great beer.

One thing that people do not know is that making beer requires a lot of water.  It is best to use spring water even though some people get good results with tap water as well. The quality and characteristics of the water used in brewing will have a huge impact in the taste of the beer.

Yeast is another big part of making beer.  Yeast is what ferments the malts and the sugars into the alcohol, and also produces carbon dioxide.  The type of yeast used is important since it not only produces alcohol, but it can impart a variety of subtle flavors into the beer. Brewers yeast comes either in liquid or dry form.

While you can make beer without hops, it is an important ingredient in many popular beers. Depending on the type, amount added, and when it is added during the brewing process, hops can also impart a wide variety of flavors and aromas to the beer, as well as bitterness.

As far as what equipment you will need, the basics are a pot to boil your beer, a bucket with a lid or a large bottle called a carboy with some sort of airlock to use as a fermenter, bottles to put your beer in, a hose to transfer the beer to the bottles and caps as well as a capping tool. You can get a starter kit with nearly everything you need to brew your first 5 gallon batch of beer for about $60.

It is also very important to be clean and sanitary.  You need to make sure that all the equipment that you use is not only clean, but sterile.  Contamination from wild yeasts and bacteria can cause unpleasant flavors in your brew.

There are thousands of free beer recipes available on the Internet, including clones of some of your favorite commercial beers. A quick search and you should have no problem finding a recipe that you like.  You will see that there are certain beers that take longer than others to brew, and others that will take no time at all. settle on a style or flavor that sounds best to you and start brewing.

Making your own beer is a great way to explore your creative side, impress your friends, and to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  It is something that you will only get better at over time and all of your pals and buddies will enjoy the fact that you can make them good tasting beer.  Go forth my friend, and brew.

Barleywine Fest at Mad Fox Brewing

This past weekend, Feb 24th and 25th, Mad Fox hosted its 8th Annual Barleywine Fest at their brewery in Falls Church, VA.  There were wide variety of barleywines on hand. Several were produced right there at Mad Fox, while others were there from local and regional breweries and still more from craft breweries across the country. And there was more than beer. Mad Fox Brewing has a kitchen and a full menu with lots of tasty options to choose from. I had the smoked salmon, and it was fantastic.

For those who don’t know, a barley wines is essentially an old ale style beer with a higher than usual alcohol content. While most beers are meant to be consumed within a few months of being brewed, barley wines are often aged for a number of years.  American barleywines, as with most American styles, tend to be hoppy, while English styles tend to be less bitter, and darker in color.

Most of the barleywines on hand were produced in 2017, but there were also several from 2016, 2015, 2014, and even 2013! Mad Fox Brewing’s 2013 oak aged Slobberknocker was an amazing example of an aged barleywine which had a rich and slightly hoppy flavor with a strong roasted malt character and a wonderful depth of flavor in no small part due to aging in rye whiskey barrels. However it was not to be out done by 2013 Olde Scoutters brewed by Bear Republic Brewing out of California.

Star Hill Brewery was represented by its Debut Barlywine which had a caramel malt and toffee smell and a rich malt sweetness with a hint of fruitiness, and Fairwinds Brewing’s 2017 All Hands Anniversary Ale with its sweet rich caramel notes and hop bitterness balanced with hints of fruit and citrus.

Some of the other notable barleywines present were the 2014 Old Crustacean Barleywine brewed by Rogue Brewery out of Oregon, 2014 Devil’s Milk brewed by DuClaw Brewing out of Maryland, 2015 Barleywine Ale brewed by Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewing in North Carolina, and 2016 Bigfoot brewed by Sierra Nevada out of California, and many more. Between the large selection and higher alcohol content, it would be extremely difficult to sample everything and still remember who was supposed to take you home, but the options were so good, it was also difficult not to try.

If you managed to stop by Mad Fox last weekend, you probably enjoyed yourself as much as I did. And if you missed it? Well, there’s always next year.

Self Serve Beer Taps?

So you’re in a brewery with some friends having a good time when you realize your glass is inexplicably empty. What do you do? There is nothing more frustrating than waiting to order another beer. You get the server’s attention and order another draft, but the server has to order it from the bartender. The bar could have 4 taps or 20 taps, it doesn’t matter.  If there is only one bartender, your beer will have to wait to be poured, then wait again for the server to pick up your beer to bring it to you. What if you could just walk over to the taps and pour yourself another beer? In your dreams, right? Well, not any more.

Not only is this real, but Ono Brewing in Chantilly, VA has self serve beer taps ready and waiting for you!

You’re probably wondering how that would work, so let me explain.  You walk into Ono Brewing and see a host or hostess and either start a tab with your credit card or load a card with any cash amount. You are now set. Walk over to the wall of beer, pick the beer of your choice, tap your card on the tap and fill your glass.

Don’t want a full glass? No problem. Get just a taste or a half glass. You only pay for what you pour. It’s that simple.

Ono Brewing is using a system designed by PourMyBeer, which is currently being used in over 200 establishments (including a beer wall in Chicago’s O’Hare airport) in 28 states and parts of Canada.

So raise a pint and make a toast.  To craft beer, and not having to wait to be served!

What a glorious age we live in.

The growth of craft breweries: How many is too many?

Look around your city. Head out to your favorite bar. There’s a common theme emerging: craft beer is America’s new obsession.

From lagers to porters to ambers and beyond, craft breweries are offering up tasty alternatives to the nation’s 11 national breweries that own up to 90 percent of the beer in the US.

Let’s take a brief look at when this obsession started and whether or not this is a good thing for those of us who love beer.

The Explosion of Craft Breweries

According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft breweries in the United States in 1942 reached about 500. By the year 2000, that number had risen to 1,500. Seventeen years later and we have now reached the all-time high for craft breweries weighing in at over 5,300 independent breweries throughout the states.

The only other time we even came close to that number was in the late 1800s, which was long before prohibition and the monopolization of the industry. And even though the number of breweries might be relatively close now to what it was back then, you have to keep in mind that the population of the United States was much smaller back then.

In the 1870s there was approximately 1 brewery for every 11,000 people. To do that today we’d have to have some 30,000 breweries, a heck of a lot more than the 5,000 we have today.

And that number continues to rise. Independent brewers take their craft seriously and are absorbing ancient recipes and modern technology to create new species of beer.

Craft Beer Diversity- Why It Matters

Despite the growing number of craft breweries, over 90 percent of the beer available is still brewed by just 11 companies as we mentioned earlier. What does that mean for beer lovers? It means less variety and lower quality.

However, the good news is that this is beginning to change, little by little, and with each new brewery new flavors of beer emerge, giving beer lovers more options to choose from. The growing number of brewers are discovering new ways to brew, reviving lost or forgotten styles, and putting new twists on classic styles.  And it’s not just beer. Local brewers are using local ingredients and brewing beer with true local favor!

So the next time someone says to you there are too many breweries, let them know we still need another 25,000 just to catch up with the 1800s.