Beer Review: Stiegl Ferdinand Imperial Alt Barrel Aged

Stiegl Ferdinand is a new beer from the Stiegl brewery in Salzburg, Austria that’s been brewing beer since Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Damn, and I thought Mt. Carmel had been around a long time. They are moving into the craft market and away from their classic German traditions. Stiegl-Ferdinand_Flasche075_201409Though they’re sticking with some traditions like the Reinheitsgebot, which defines what can go into a beer, but doesn’t say anything about what a beer can go into!

Stiegl brewed Ferdinand brewed in early summer 2014. It then spent 6 weeks of maturing in tanks and 4 more months in Caribbean (Martinique) Rum barrels which were originally used for Cognac.

The marketing folks reached out to me and offered a sample. Once I read the description of the beer I knew I wanted to try it. Then I noticed it was from Stiegl and my first thought was “you mean those radler cans they have in 4-packs at Kroger?” Yes, indeed it’s one in the same.  Ok, on to the beer, here’s the marketing blurb:

Copper-colored specialty with wonderful Rum flavors from the first sip well into a long lasting finish. A dense texture with a subtle mousseux and flavors of toffee, coconut, vanilla and caramel. Honey palate with an incredibly well-balanced alcohol aroma.

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Craft Beer on a Budget

No one is going to argue with you that craft beer is an expensive hobby to get into, it is, and there are not many ways around it. Craft beers are artisanal products using prime ingredients handcrafted in the state of the art machinery. All that stuff costs plenty of money. So how can you enjoy craft beer on a budget? I’m working on doing this myself and am sharing my ways; please share yours in the comments!

Craft Beer on a budget

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What's Your Whalez Name?

If you use Facebook, you’ve likely encountered a plethora of quizzes cluttering your wall. If you’ve hung out in the beer scene for a while, you’ve probably caught wind of some rarer beers with crazy ingredients. Those rare beers are referred to as whales, like white whales, which has mockingly devolved into Whalez.

What started as a joke on these two things between Brent Osborn of Osborn Brewing and myself has evolved into What’s Your Whalez Name?

To find out what your rare beer whalez name is, take the month you were born in for the barrel. The first letter of your first name gets you your style of beer. The last letter of your last name gets you the first adjunct and the first letter of your mother’s maiden name gets you the other adjunct. We couldn’t make it too easy to figure out could we!

What's Your Whalez Name

Remember, sharing is caring!

Learning About Beer Allocations (AKA 5 Steps to Buying Zombie Dust)

Edit 4 years later: Some of this info is slightly out of date, like Ohio’s ABV cap, but the vast majority is still highly relevant.

When I talked to bottle shop and bar owners about my series on the 3 tier system one of their concerns and challenges was dealing with beer allocations. Each store generally only gets so much of each beer. Craft breweries are just too popular and too small to fulfill every demand for their beer in every store in every state. So read on to learn more about beer allocations and, most importantly, for the master magician (that’s me) to reveal his secrets on getting those rarer beers!

Zombie Dust, KBS, Beer Allocations
Safety First!

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Beer Review: Sam Adam’s Utopias

I avoid reviewing rare beers on the site as I don’t want to  tease people with what I’m drinking, that’s what Untappd and Twitter are for.  However, I’m making two exceptions this week since both Founders CBS and Sam Adam’s Utopias are mind blowingly expensive, hard to get, and highly hyped. I also wanted to get more value out of these beers and help people know what to expect and whether they should pull the trigger and buy it.

If you’ve hung around craft beer nerds for a while you may have heard whispers about this or seen empty bottles around. If you’ve never heard of it’s a 28% ABV monster “beer” by Sam Adams. I say “beer” because at 28% it’s a beer in the loosest sense of being made from barley, hops, water, and yeast. The other thing you may have heard about this alcoholic beverage is its hefty price tag. Ever feel like $15 for a bomber is too high? How about $188 (including tax) for 22 ounces? Yeah, and that’s just this years cost, I’ve seen it as high as $220 in the past. When it came out this year (it’s always in the fall of odd-numbered years) I gathered a group of 5 friends to split the cost and the Utopias. Between 5 people it was still $36 for 4.4 ounces each. Enough background, on to the beer! But first here is Sam Adam’s long-winded blurbs about this beast of a “beer”:

THE TOOLS Truly the epitome of brewing’s two thousand year evolution, Utopias® is a blend of batches, some having been aged up to 19 years in  our Boston Brewery, in a variety of barrels. For this brew, the barrels are quite literally an ingredient, with different barrels producing intense layers of flavor that continue to unfold with each sip.  We began by using Jack Daniels barrels, but have continued to add to the array with Port pipes, bourbon barrels, congnac casks, sherry barrels, and most recently rum barrels.

THE TRADE Samuel Adams® Utopias® is brewed in small limited batches, each their own blend of different vintages. We brew Utopias® at a very high gravity using a wide variety of malted barley and a touch of maple syrup.  It is then aged in a blend of scotch, bourbon, port and cognac casks from the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery.

THE LEGACY Samuel Adams® Utopias® actually began with our first experiments with aging and blending in barrels with the creation of  Triple Bock® followed by Millenium®. It was with these brews that we began testing aging beer in barrels from various origins like bourbon, port, and cognac to discover each of their flavor contributions. Inspired by whiskey makers, we took the barrel aging process for Utopias® to another level by utilizing a variety of barrels and blending different vintages  to create a truly unique taste experience.

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Blogger Bottle Share

A few of the other local Cincinnati beer bloggers and I are happy to announce the first, perhaps annual, Blogger Bottle Share! Brew Professor had the idea a month or two pack to get together and share some beers from our cellars. Instead of being selfish we decided to invite all of you to the party!

Blogger Bottle Share

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“Rare” has gotten out of control in the craft beer scene

It seems that many Cincinnati-area bars and beer stores need to do a little vocabulary work. Per good ‘ol Merriam-Webster, rare is:

1: marked by wide separation of component particles :thin<rare air>
2a : marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal : distinctive
b : superlative or extreme of its kind
3: seldom occurring or found : uncommon

For our purposes, definition three is what we will be examining, though two does factor in.

Nearly every week, there are numerous cases of the “rare beer tasting”, “rare bottle release”, or, my personal favorite, “the first/last/only keg of xxx in the State of Ohio/City of Cincinnati.” Any of these increasingly-encountered phenomena would be much, much less irritating if they used the word (or at least concept) of rare correctly. If I can buy the “rare” beers at your tasting or at any reputable beer store in the area ALL YEAR LONG, those beers aren’t rare.

If you have the only keg of such and such that has ever been made in the history of mankind, but I can buy the same beer in bottle format anytime I please, who gives a crap? And that’s without even considering the fact that actual rarity has nothing to do with how good a beer actually is. Give me a Bell’s Two Hearted that I can buy any day of the week from the gas station down the street over your one-hundred bottles ever created of triple-dry-hopped-barrel-aged-wild sextuple stout.

The Store Who Cried Rare!

Words have meanings and when those meanings are detached, the words become pointless. Just as in the case of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, if you’re a beer store who bombards me on email/Facebook/Twitter with a critical mass of hyperbole regarding the rarity of your stock, I’m going to stop listening. I realize it’s a marketing ploy and I know that we craft beer lovers have largely brought this upon ourselves in over-valuing the latest “White Whale” and riding the hype train on certain beer traits (barrel-aged, sour, and, yes, rare).

I’m just asking this: the next time you need to market an event or product as “rare”, take a step back for a second and think about whether or not it’s 1) true and 2) necessary. If you’re going to sell a good product, it doesn’t have to be rare.