Tag Archives: Beer O’Clock

Beer O’Clock: Tasting through the brewery

Occasionally, I’ll be at a brewery or brewpub with the chance to do some tasting flights. This tends to fill my Twitter feed with a variety of Untappd mentions, leaving the occasional follower to wonder….

Yeah…sorry about that. I’ll turn off the notifications when I’m settling down for a tasting flight.

For those unaware, a tasting flight is anywhere from four to six (or even eight) small tastes of various beers, usually 2-4 oz. each. They’re a little more expensive than a single pint, but there’s obvious benefit to tasting flights. Primarily, you can find beers you like, while avoiding paying for a full pint you end up hating. You get to see what’s on offer and even what might go well with the food you ordered.

Personally, I like getting tasting menus from breweries and brewpubs where all the beers come from the same place. Not only do you get to sample most or all of the beers from that brewery, but you get to see how a single brewer or brew team approaches the brewing process and how they see themselves in the bigger brewing world.

That sounds more pretentious than I wanted it to. Lemme explain.  Continue reading

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Beer O’Clock: Which beers should Barnes & Noble serve?

There were a few jokes made at Barnes & Noble’s expense when it announced last month it would begin serving beer and wine at four select stores around the country. Personally, I think this is fantastic on a number of fronts.

One, it can reaffirm a bookstore’s place as a community gathering space. Once upon a time, before Amazon, bookstores were the place to be for many people. Barnes & Noble and the late, great Borders had plenty of seating, cafes and a generally welcoming atmosphere. Stay a while, linger over books, talk with friends, attend events — and yes, walk out with a few books.

This move reaffirms that notion of the bookstore as gathering place. If there were ever a bookstore near me with a bar like that, you bet I’d be hanging out a lot more often, and likely buying more books. I’d probably get more interested in events there, too.

Second, think about the potential sales! Go for happy hour after work, kick back a few beers, and lo and behold, you’re walking out of there with the next Brandon Sanderson book, a bargain-rack treatise on Roman infantry tactics and copies of both Tattoo magazine and the Utne Reader. Nothing like a higher blood-alcohol content to open the wallet, amirite?

So this naturally leads me to a very important question: What beers should Barnes & Noble offer?

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Beer O’Clock: Southwestern adventures

When I think about craft beer meccas, I tend to focus on California, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and parts of New England. That said, there’s a ton of great beer being made all over the country. New York State has great breweries like Brooklyn and Ommegang. Sweetwater down in Georgia does fine brews. I recently had The Temptress, an imperial stout from Lakewood Brewing Co. in Texas, and it’s one of the best stouts I’ve ever had.

So whenever I land in a different city, I do my best to explore what the locals are drinking. And Phoenix — home to one of my favorite conventions — is where I can get one of the most interesting and refreshing beers I’ve ever had, the Papago Orange Blossom.

Papago Brewing is right in Scottsdale, and Orange Blossom is one of their flagship brews. It’s a wheat ale flavored with vanilla and mandarin orange, and while purists might decry this as heretical, this sucker works. The brewer describes it as something like “a liquid old-fashioned creamsicle,” but that sounds gross, and Orange Blossom is the opposite of gross.

Instead, you get a very drinkable beer — think of it as a pilsner without that hoppy bite and less carbonation — with a mellow vanilla taste and just a hint of orange. Not enough to make it tart or overly sweet, but enough so that it works well with everything else. Really refreshing as a starter beer, and doesn’t clash with food, either. In fact, it complimented spicy tacos quite well.

So now, basically, I can’t go to Phoenix without having at least one Papago Orange Blossom. Worth seeking out.

The other Arizona brews I had were pretty good, too. SanTan’s LimeLeaf is billed as a cream ale, but really it’s just a drinkable ale spiked with a hint of lime — not a Lime-A-Rita or anything, and far better than, say, a Cornoa with a lime wedge in it. Great on a hot day. The Arizona Trail Ale from THAT Brewing Co. and the 8th Street Pale Ale from Four Peaks were both perfectly fine pale ales — hoppy, but not as much as an IPA. Nice middle ground, very drinkable.

I thought the Red Ale from Lumberyard Brewing was good, but there are more interesting reds out there. And the Grooving With A Pict from North Mountain was really lacking in the peaty flavor you’d expect in a Scottish ale, though it was still a pretty good beer. Finally, the Scottsdale Blonde is not strictly a blonde ale; it’s a kolsch, but a decent one.

So my beer-ventures in Arizona were, overall, pretty great. Plus, the wonderful Beth Cato gifted me with a couple more brews to take home — keep an eye on my Untappd feed for those!

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Beer O’Clock: An introduction

Who says SF/F and beer don’t go together? Ommegang’s Seven Kingdoms from its Game of Thrones series.

Beer O’Clock is a new thing I’m trying on the blog, because I do happen to like a good pint now and then, and because the Venn diagram between SF/F fans and beer aficionados is bigger than you think. Every now and then, I’ll blog about different styles of beer, homebrewing, stuff I’ve liked, whatever I think is fun and educational. Enjoy!

As of this writing, my Untappd account tells me I’ve sampled 608 distinct beers since I signed up in January of 2014. I’ve always liked a quality pint, but it’s really only since adopting Untappd that I started spreading my wings more, trying new things.

Yet even before then, I imagine I’ve tried at least 300+ more than that since I became of legal drinking age. I’m also an occasional homebrewer, I’ve taken classes with Garrett Oliver — the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and the editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer — and I was on the homebrewing panel at DragonCon last year. If I already didn’t have too many hobbies, I’d consider getting my Cicerone certification just for kicks.

But why, you might ask? Why all this enthusiasm for something that comes in a can and is most commonly associated with rowdy sports fans and public intoxication?

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