We’ve Moved!

For a long time now I’ve wanted to do some more fancy things with the #beerclub blog, including getting our own domain name. The time has come and the hashtagbeerclub.net site is now live!

Join us over on that page for any future updates.

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#beerclub Survey Results

A while ago I conducted a survey of #beerclub participants. I was working on processing the results, and got busy and didn’t get back to it. Until now!

Favorite Beers

We had 179 beers that were mentioned in the survey responses. Of those 179 beers, it was a tight race for the top ten. So tight in fact, that almost every spot had a tie with at least two beers. Rather than making judgement calls, I included all of the tied beers and that’s why there are 22 beers listed in #beerclub’s top 10 list.

Tied for 10th Place
Ale Asylum – Bedlam
Bell’s Brewery – Hopslam
Central Waters – Peruvian Morning
Central Waters  - Fourteen Fourteen
Founders Brewing – Breakfast Stout
Founders Brewing – KBS
Lagunitas – Wilco Tango Foxtrot
Lakefront Brewery – Riverwest Stein
Milwaukee Brewing – Louie’s Demise
New Glarus – Moon Man
Oskar Blues Brewing – Ten Fidy
Surly Brewing – Furious
Three Floyds – Alpha King

Tied for 7th Place
Bell’s Brewery – Two Hearted Ale
Russian River Brewing – Pliny the Elder
Three Floyds – Gumballhead

Tied for 3rd Place
Bear Republic Brewing Racer 5
Left Hand Brewery Milk Stout
Oskar Blues Brewing G’Knight
Three Floyds Zombie Dust

Tied for 1st Place
Dogfish Head – 90 Minute IPA
Oskar Blues Brewing – Dales Pale Ale

Favorite Beer Bar

Tie between Roman’s Pub and The Bomb Shelter.

Demographic Information

In addition to the beers that were #beerclub’s favorites, I asked for information about the drinkers who participate in #beerclub. The results were interesting:

How much beer do you drink?

How much beer do you drink?

How many new beers do you try in a month?

How many new beers do you try in a month?

How long have you been drinking craft beer?

How long have you been drinking craft beer?

What is your favorite beer style?

What is your favorite beer style?

Have you ever homebrewed?

Have you ever homebrewed?

I’ll leave interpretation up to you, but it looks like we have beer drinkers of all stripes participating in #beerclub with us. Based on these results, we’ll be trying some new things with #beerclub in 2013. Stay tuned to this blog and the twitter handle @hashtagbeerclub for more.

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Beer Church

Milwaukee has a new beer education event that started yesterday. @BeerChurchMKE is run by Kurt Mayes (@BrewerKurt) and there were a few #beerclubbers among the congregation. Here is a recap from #beerclub’s own Jodi Wilson (@HeyJo1).

Jodi is a long time #beerclub drinker who drinks, runs and homebrews. Her homebrew has its own twitter account (@FartlekBrewing). She has been on many of the Beerclub Field Trips, and we welcome her contributions to the blog going forward.

If you have a topic that you’d like to see on the #beerclub blog, just let us know and we’ll get you access to post away. 

- Mitch

Yesterday, in addition to being a cheerleader for several friends running the Lakefront Marathon, I attended Beer Church.

It is not the traditional church service so don’t get all offended by it. But just an amusing name for an event that will be hosted on the first Sunday of the month at John Hawk’s Pub in Milwaukee.

Beer church (@beerchurchMKE) is being hosted by Kurt Mayes (aka BrewerKurt), one of the brewers at Milwaukee Brewing Co. The goal is to learn about different styles of beers from around the world in an informal and casual setting.

Yesterday’s theme was Oktoberfests. Oktobertfest is a 16 day festival held in Munich, Germany each year in Sept/Oct. (You can read the Wikipedia article for more details on the festival). Traditionally, Oktobertfest beers are a marzen style, that has more of a malty flavor with no real hop taste to it.

The beers we tried were two categories, German and American.

For the German beers we had

German beers

Warsteiner Premium Oktoberfest, Erdinger Oktoberfest Weißbier, Oktoberfest Märzen, Spaten Oktoberfestbier / Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen, Oktoberfest Märzen

My personal favorite from this group was the Warsteiner. It had a nice malty flavor. I did not care for the Erdinger which was more like a wheat version of an Oktoberfest. The Paulaner tasted a bit metallic-y for me. Like there was foil in it.

Next up was the American beers

Local Milwaukee beers

Hoptoberfest, Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest

Here my favorite was Hoptoberfest. I like hops and this had a nice hoppy flavor that complimented the sweet malty flavor. The rest of the beers were solid and I would drink all of them again.

While the inaugural meeting was small, it was still a nice group of people with different beer backgrounds. You don’t have to be a beer geek to come out. You just have to not be afraid to try something new and different. Who knows, maybe you will find your new favorite beer and a few new friends.

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#Beerclub Opens Doors

Monday night a few #beerclubbers were invited to a special Tenth and Blake tasting at Miller Brewery by our newest #beerclub member, the stunning Lisa Zimmer (I wasn’t put up to saying she’s stunning or anything ;) ). Lisa is the Digital and Consumer Outreach Manager for Tenth and Blake, a division of Miller Brewing.

First, a little background. Tenth and Blake was created three and a half years ago in as the craft and import division of Miller. They oversee brands like Blue Moon, Leinenkugels, Pilsner Urkell, AC Golden, and St. Stefanus among others. They get a lot of flak for being “Fake Craft Beer” and the corporate whores of the beer industry, but through people like Lisa, they are working on overcoming that image.

One of the ways they are overcoming this stems from some internal policies. All staff members of the Tenth and Blake division are given two weeks of intensive beer education. This education includes how to homebrew, and how to taste beer. Every employee is given a homebrew kit as part of their employment, and they are all required to pass the server level cicerone test. Lisa also said that since their offices are in Chicago, away from the brewing facilities, that they are encouraged to brew beer at work. They feel it’s important to be around the brewing process, and have beers fermenting near them while they work. This is the same company that gets constantly derided for not appreciating beer. More on Tenth and Blake in a bit, but let’s get onto the drinking stories.

Fred Miller's Pub

Fred Miller’s Pub

A few weeks ago, #beerclub drank Blue Moon to celebrate the actual blue moon. This is a beer that falls under the umbrella of Tenth and Blake, so we invited Lisa to join in on the conversation. She wasn’t able to make it that night, but she did want to reach out to us and invited a small group to meet her at Frederick Miller’s Pub. The pub is located on the brewery grounds, and it was built after the SAB Miller purchase with the intention of being a place for employees to go after work, and increase camaraderie among the staff.

Miller's Cooler

The cooler door at Miller’s Pub

The bar is gorgeous. It’s really welcoming with plush seating, bright wood on the walls, beer steins, and there’s no tacky neon. I have some pics taken by fellow #beerclubber Jodi. If I was an employee, or had access to the bar, I’d be there pretty often. The place just has a very cool atmosphere.

Genevieve and I arrived at the same time and Lisa invited us to grab a beer from the bar. Both of us had the Third Shift Marzen. poured into a tall glass while Lisa arranged to start pouring from her secret stash. Once she opened up her stash, we were off to the races.

I’m not going to give a commentary on all the drinks we had, but I will provide a list, just so you can get some idea of the variety, and quality of the beers we were trying:

  • Crispin – Ginger and Elderberry Cider
  • AC Golden – Hidden Barrel Kriek
  • Leinenkugels – Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
  • Terrapin – Free Spirit Farmhouse Ale
  • Brouwerij Van Steenberge -  St. Stefanus Blonde
  • Worthington’s White Shield - IPA from Burton upon Trent
  • Blue Moon – Caramel Apple Spiced Ale
  • Crispin – Stagger Lee
  • Fox Barrel -  Orange Peel & Corriander
  • Fox Barrel – English Perry
  • Crispin – Lansdowne
  • Leinenkugels – “Ten Miles Wide” (a special not for release version of the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout that was bourbon barrel aged over sour cherries) This one was complete with a special label:
Ten Miles Wide

Ten Miles Wide

All of these beers were really good, and we had some great discussion about where Tenth and Blake’s sees themselves in the market. 

We even had some special guests who came to talk with us.

Mike from Crispin has been the Wisconsin rep for some time, and now he’s in charge of the Midwest region. He came and brought most of the Crispin and Fox Barrel samples that we had. Unfortunately we ran out of time to try all of the ciders he brought, so he just sent them home with us. I have some ciders here that I’m really excited to try.

It was very interesting to hear the viewpoint of someone who worked for Crispin well before the Tenth and Blake acquisition, and who admitted he wasn’t sure how the company would be treated after being bought out. After the acquisition, not a single employee has left the company. That tells me that Tenth and Blake is doing this right. They’re not the big evil conglomerate that some people in the craft community make them out to be. Sure, they are a part of a large brewery, but these people are passionate about their beers and ciders.

Dick Leinenkugel and Mike Christensen

Dick Leinenkugel and Mike Christensen

Then, while we were drinking and talking, Dick Leinenkugel came and sat with us. Dick doesn’t quite understand twitter, but he does understand beer, and he’s a very personable guy who has a pretty quick wit. He stayed and talked with us for most of the time we were in the pub. It’s kind of surreal to be drinking with a member of the Leinenkugel family who is wearing a Leinenkugel’s shirt.

As if that weren’t enough, we had a quick introduction to Dr. David Ryder, head brewer at Miller, and VP in charge of Brewing and Research for MillerCoors. He had a quick sample with us, before he went back to drinking his Miller Lite. When Dick commented on the choice of a Miller Lite, Dr. Ryder responded with “What can I say?” Another very pleasant man, who really knows his beer.

Dr. David Ryder and Dick Leinenkugel

Dr. David Ryder and Dick Leinenkugel

Once we finished at the pub (it was just after 6:30 PM by this time) we took a cab over to Molly Cool’s seafood for dinner where the discussion with Lisa continued. She is a perfect person to be doing this consumer outreach. She knows her stuff, but she is also very friendly and easy to get along with.

There are more stories, but this post has gotten long, and unfortunately, you just had to be there for yourself to experience it. We may have an opportunity to do this again, I’ll keep you all posted if such an opportunity arises. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

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#beerclub BOTW: Sixpoint Brownstone

Sixpoint Brownstone

Sixpoint Brownstone

A new beer to the canned Sixpoint lineup, Brownstone is a fan favorite from the brewery since it’s been available on tap for some time.

This beer should be a little easier for many of the #beerchat folks to find, if they choose to join in with the #beerclub discussion. This Monday night at 8:00 PM Central.

http://sixpoint.com/beers/core/brownstone

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Who is #beerclub?

Over on twitter, I’ve accumulated several beer related nicknames. I’ve been called the leader of #beerclub, it’s been stated that I’m the sensei of the club, and I’ve even been called the #beerlord. I’ve been around and around with @Einley about the #beerlord title, so I’ve learned that I just have to accept that one, but I want to discuss my role in #beerclub, and the vision I have for the group.

I discussed some of the history of #beerclub on for it’s one year anniversary so I won’t rehash that story here, but I’ll give a little more history into who I am and my own beer journey, and where I’d like to see #beerclub go in the future.

I’ve never really liked the American adjunct light lagers that are mass marketed to the world. When I started drinking beer, I looked for something better. At first that meant drinking Killian’s, Blue Moon, or Leinenkugel’s instead of Miller Lite. I understood that these were beers with a little more flavor than the lite beers that commercials were telling me “tasted great.” Then, I moved to Milwaukee, and was introduced to Sprecher.

Here, in the Sprecher Amber, was a beer that didn’t taste like other beers.  It had so much flavor in comparison to even the “premium” macro brewed beers that I had been drinking up to that point. I started understanding that beer was a much bigger entity than I had experienced to that point. However, I still didn’t drink good beer on a regular basis. That transition happened a few years later.

A group of friends and I started a monthly pilgrimage to Lakefront Brewery for their tour. It was a great place where we had lots of fun, got good beers for cheap, and learned a little something to boot. Those tours turned me into a craft beer lover. I filled a dorm sized fridge in my basement with craft beers, and started my voyage to becoming a craft beer lover.

Fast forward a few years more, and I had done the Lakefront tour some 30 times, and found myself in a rut. I was drinking craft beers, but primarily beers from Sprecher, Capital, Point and Lakefront. I still love those breweries, and they make great beers, but I wasn’t actively going out and trying new beers. I remember thinking that I needed something to inspire me to go out and try new beers, little did I know that I would start something that would lead me to some of my best friends, or that I would learn so much about the world of beer in the process.

So, now that I’ve discussed my personal beerpiphony (Genevieve wrote about her own beerpiphony back in the early days of this blog), let’s talk about #beerclub. I didn’t realize when I started writing this post that I would share my own story, but it seems like it’s an important piece of the puzzle to explain the vision of #beerclub.

While I’ve learned a lot about beer, the ingredients, the history, and the culture, I know I’m no expert. I’m learning right along side of everyone, and that’s why I feel like calling me the “leader of the club” is not the right word. I prefer to think of myself as a moderator.

I strongly believe that #beerclub is US. Everyone who participates and those who don’t speak up, and yet follow the hashtag on Monday nights. You are all so important to the success of the club and the direction we take that I don’t like to think about it as being under my control.

That brings me to the inspiration for this post. A discussion on twitter about picking an “Official Beer” of #beerclub came up. It was suggested that Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale become the official beer of the club. During the discussion it was proposed that it would be my duty to decide on the official beer of the club. I balked at this idea for a few reasons:

  • I wholeheartedly disagree that it would be my call. Like I discussed this is the club’s decision to make, if the majority of club wants an official beer, then we’ll have an official beer. It’s not my place to make any proclamations like this. We are currently running a survey to pick #beerclub’s favorite beers, and if we were going to declare one beer as the official beer, I would say that it should be the result of some democratic method like picking the beer that rates as the top beer on that survey.
  • However, the idea of an “Official Beer of #Beerclub” flies right in the face of what I think #beerclub is all about. If we endorse one single beer as THE beer, we’re encouraging people to be in a rut. Beer has so many styles, breweries, and variants that I don’t know how we could limit ourselves to one single beer.
  • Finally, as @Einley tweeted, if I was to pick an official beer of #beerclub, my personal vote would be for something local. I love Dale’s Pale Ale. It’s one of my all time favorite beers, but I’ve never met the head brewer of Oskar Blues, and they aren’t as committed to me as a Wisconsin drinker as other beers we could choose. I’ve met Jim McCabe of Milwaukee Brewery, I’ve met Randy Sprecher of Sprecher Brewery, I’ve met Kirby Nelson of Capital Brewery, and I’ve met the Klisch brothers of Lakefront. These local brewers live and breathe the Wisconsin beer scene. They chose to start their breweries here, and are committed to Wisconsin first. As a primarily Wisconsin based group, I’m inclined to support these brewers first. We’ve even seen participation from the official brewery’s twitter accounts from several of the local Wisconsin breweries.

This begs the question, if we don’t have an “Official Beer of #beerclub” what are people supposed to drink when they can’t get the beer of the week? My typical answer to that question is to try to drink another beer in the style. For example, this week we’re drinking a sour, so if you can’t find the Brux, go out and find a sour beer that you have never tried. Failing that, if you can’t find a similar beer, drink a new to you beer of any style. #beerclub aims to be as inclusive as possible, and we’re not going to turn anyone away for drinking a beer that’s not “official.” I’m working on compiling a series of questions that may or may not be related to the beer of the week, so if you don’t have the beer, you can still add to the conversation.

This spirit of inclusion means that we’re not a Wisconsin only club. We’ve had participation from across the country. From Virginia, Nebraska, Minnesota, Washington, California, and other places that I don’t even remember. We’re focused mostly on Wisconsin, simply because that’s where the majority of our members reside, and since it’s very difficult to find craft beers that are distributed nationwide, we had to draw the line somewhere. If you’d like to participate from outside of Wisconsin, we welcome you. Talk to me and maybe we can work something out.

Inclusion means that we’re not even strictly speaking tied to twitter. We started on twitter, have a facebook group (mostly abandoned), and we’ve done a Google Plus hangout (check in on Monday for a #beerclub afterparty hangout). Heck, we don’t even exclude you from joining us on the #beerclubfieldtrip if you don’t have a social media account. We’ve had participation on the field trips from several people who don’t have twitter accounts, or have never participated in a single #beerclub.

In the spirit of collaboration, and the spirit of #beerclub, I want to finish this post by saying that if you have suggestions, comments, questions or even a blog post you’d like to share with the club. Just contact me and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.

Cheers! Happy Drinking! Happy International Beer Day, and don’t forget to fill out the survey. I’ll be closing the poll on Monday night, and compiling the results, so if you want your voice to be heard, now’s the time.

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Barley’s Angels

For the past year, Thursdays have been my solace. It is my weekly date with one of my closest friends. We go to a bar, where no one knows our names, and decompress over drinks. Mostly Riverwest Steins. Occasionally a social event pops up and we do that instead. This last Thursday night was one of those times.

We had the pleasure of attending the inaugural meeting of the Milwaukee chapter of Barley’s Angels. There was such an awesome variety of women there- women in the industry, home brewers, non home brewers, displaced Suds Club members and, like, one other twitter user. The one common thread was craft beer, and from the sounds of this informational meeting, we have plenty of craft beer fun in our future. Tastings, brewery tours, cheese and beer pairings and social hours are in store along with plenty of learning and meeting new friends.

Meetings are the first Thursday of the month. If you are a female and interested in craft beer, I encourage you to join us. A good sized group of women were there for the first meeting and I only see this growing into something super awesome.

Also, Happy International Beer Day!

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