Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm


06 Nov 2020
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I have been writing this column for more than three years now—and I know that because I have a nearly useless habit of numbering each column as I write it. OK, it was an entirely useless habit—until this month. This is my 40th column. (My editor has a slightly different count, but I stand by my math.) While I usually refrain from celebrating numbered things, the number 40 pertains to beer in a very real way: This is the notorious number of ounces in large bottles of malt liquor, something that has somehow become a cultural icon—a “meme,” before the term was created in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, almost as an afterthought at the end of his influential book The Selfish Gene (though it meant something different in his original definition). What is malt liquor? If you’ve tried it, you know it resembles beers brewed by the large breweries around…
14 Oct 2020
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We are more than seven months into lockdown—and my job in the taproom has changed considerably. My asthmatic taproom manager wisely self-quarantined immediately—what a strange twist of fate that I can say "self-quarantined" and have it be an unremarkable phrase—while all taproom events and parties ceased to exist. Therefore, I am often by myself behind the bar. I'm not sure how common my experience is, but my work has changed—and I want to talk about it. After Gov. Newsom's stay-at-home announcement in mid-March, the taproom changed drastically. With my taproom manager out and my cohort behind the bar, Mikki, in her own self-quarantine due to her husband having been potentially exposed at his workplace, it was up to me for a couple of weeks to hold down the fort. Beer was only available to-go at that time, so my job mainly consisted of alternately filling crowlers (to-go 32-ounce cans filled…
11 Sep 2020
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Let me tell you about a drink—a wine, technically—that is older than our species. It’s not made from grapes, and the bulk of the work to make it isn’t even done by humans, but by honey bees. Yes, I am talking about mead. The honey bee separated from its parent species around a million years ago. Worker honey bees collect pollen and, more importantly, nectar. Nectar is a sugary substance that fuels the bees, with the surplus being converted into honey via osmosis, to store and feed the entire colony. While yeast is omnipresent in the environment and is as hungry for that sugar as the bees are, the osmotic pressure of honey makes fermentation by yeasts and bacteria almost impossible: Think of honey as a desert for yeast cells. This, combined with smaller contributing factors, makes sealed honey immortal—it can be safely consumed thousands of years after it was…
13 Aug 2020
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Ours is the only language you can drink! —translated German saying about Kölsch One of the beautiful things about the American craft-beer movement over the last four decades is the reviving and re-imagining of what we refer to here as “Old World styles.” This has led to things like the now-ubiquitous American IPA, inspired by the English version that had been almost entirely ignored in its homeland, and the gose—a light, kettle-soured ale with salt and coriander added—from a town in Germany near Leipzig. The former underwent a major transformation; the latter seems to have hewed more closely to the original style (though often seeing fruit additions, among other things; for a treat, check out Modern Times’ latest version called Laser Rain, with guava, cucumber and lime). The style I want to discuss has seen fewer alterations than most, but is often difficult to re-create due to its subtleties: Kölsch.…
09 Jul 2020
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Last year, I dedicated an entire column to information and etiquette for people visiting taprooms. Part of my motivation was selfish—I work at a taproom myself, specifically the Coachella Valley Brewing taproom in Thousand Palms—but I also wanted to help people who have little to no experience in the taproom world, and might feel intimidated by it. I was not intending to follow it up at the time—but things have changed dramatically since those, dare I say, innocent times of late 2019. I want to give you the perspective of someone who is back behind the bar and happy to see his regulars back—while fully understanding that this pandemic is far from over. This brings some new things to consider when visiting your favorite brewery taproom—if it’s one of the few that remains open—and I hope this perspective can help you should you decide you absolutely have to go out…
11 Jun 2020
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All right, that’s it. I’ve had enough. I have to break free. No, you’ll still find me wearing a mask when I’m out; I am merely talking about finding things to write about related to the lockdown. I need to talk about something else—while simultaneously looking forward to the future. What better way to do that than talk about where I would love to travel when everything has settled down? Of course, beer is going to play an important part in deciding which places I choose—and I am accepting no limit to our imaginations. So grab your travel-size toiletries and your most-easily removable shoes, and come with me. I’ll begin with the country whose beers changed my perception of what beer could be: Belgium. If you haven’t experienced Belgian beer outside of the parody of it called Stella Artois, I almost envy you in a strange way. For centuries, Trappist…

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