Sunday, September 30, 2007

Michael Jackson, Na Zdraví!

I'm not going to make it out to a pub this evening to drink a toast to the great Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson, so I'll just have recognize him here.

For those who don't know, MJ passed away last month, and his many fans have set this day aside as a day of remembrance.

In the Czech Republic, we say, Na Zdraví. That's NAHZ-drah-vee to you Mr. Jackson.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Oktoberfest & the Dirndl

Oktoberfest just would not be Oktoberfest without the ladies and their dirndls. Long ago, the dirndl was the customary dress of the working class, but by the late 19th century, dirndls had become fashionable in Bavaria and Austria. Today, dirndls are hardly everyday dress for women, but it is quite common for women to wear them not only to Oktoberfest, but for special occasions of all sorts. (A woman wearing a dirndl has been likened to a Scotsman wearing a kilt.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oktoberfest Barmaids

Oktoberfest simply would not be Oktoberfest without the dirndl clad barmaids. And I must say that these women are absolutely amazing. These women probably serve 1000s of the 1-liter sized beers every day during the course of the festival, and they are able to do it with a smiling face and pleasant attitude.

Could I carry all these glasses in one shot? Methinks not.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ludwig & Therese: Oktoberfest Royalty

Oktoberfest, of course, traces it origins to the public nuptial celebrations of the Bavarian Prince Ludwig and his bride Therese. They were wed on 12 October, 1810; and the festival that followed lasted 5 days, climaxing in a horserace, which proved to be so exciting that another festival and horserace was scheduled for the following year. (It wasn’t until 1896 that brewers became an integral part of the Oktoberfest celebration.)

But who were these people? Ludwig and Therese. Well, I can’t say how they felt about beer, but Ludwig was certainly what could be called a lover of beauty, be it in art, architecture or women. During his reign as King of Bavaria (1825-1848) he commissioned many new buildings for Munich, many of which are considered to be the most beautiful in Munich today. He was also the patron of the artist Josef Stieler. One of their more ambitious projects was the “The Gallery of Beauty,” which is comprised of portraits of Bavarian women whose beauty Ludwig considered worthy of memorializing. Ludwig is also well known for his many amorous love affairs, frequently with women in the highest reaches of Bavarian society. Personally, I’m struck by how much he reminds me of Hugh Hefner.

Without digging into the German history section of the library, I can’t report too much about Therese. Though I can guess that she was an unhappy woman. I doubt she shared her husband’s joie de vivre attitude, and she appears to me (in her portrait) to be a stern woman. I don’t think it would be much of a jump to conclude that theirs was a passionless marriage, the result of political expediency. Which, for me, makes if all the more ironic that the site of Oktoberfest, the Theresienwiese, is named in her honor. I’m pretty sure Ludwig would love the modern Oktoberfest, but I somehow think that Therese would disapprove.

A note: Ludwig should not be confused with his more famous grandson, Ludwig II, the truly eccentric king who nearly bankrupted his family by building private castles all over Bavaria and sponsoring the work of composer Richard Wagner.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oktoberfest 2007: Let the Beer Drinking Begin

The world's original Oktoberfest takes place in the Bavarian city of Munich. Technically, the tradition dates back to the very public wedding celebration held to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810. Not necessarily by design, but by happenstance, annual celebrations evolved over the years into what we now know as Oktoberfest.

The first Oktoberfest that we would recognize dates to 1896, the year in which the famed beer palaces were added to the celebration. There are 13 local breweries in Munich, and all of them host a "palace" featuring their best brews.

Friday, September 21, 2007


The Moosehead story starts back in 1867, in the town of Turtle Dove, Nova Scotia, when a housewife by the name of Susannah Oland decided she would try her hand at home-brewing in an effort to entertain some family and friends. Her first brew was a dark ale and proved to be very popular with nearly all who had an opportunity to drink it. John Oland, the husband, encouraged his wife's efforts, and soon after the couple began selling Susannah's beer commercially.

Their first real brewery was opened in 1869 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shortly there after, however, John Oland tragically died, leaving Susannah Oland to manage the brewery by herself; her eventual success would make her one of the most successful businesswomen of the 19th century.

During WWI, the Halifax brewery, which was located near a military munitions depot, was destroyed beyond repair when there was an accident at the depot, which killed 2000 and destroyed everything in the area.

In 1917, the present Moosehead brewery in St. John, New Brunswick opened. And today, the brewery is still owned and operated by the Oland family (the 6th generation), making it one of the most successful independent breweries in North America.

To read my complete review of Moosehead Lager at Helium, click HERE>>>

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Blatz from the Past

Valentin Blatz was the son of a prominent brewer in Germany, who, as a young man, decided to make his own way in the world in America. He arrived in 1848, and by 1851, he had settled in Milwaukee, WI and had married the widow of a Milwaukee brewer. The Blatz brewing empire was about to begin.

By all accounts, Blatz was an innovative and successful brewer, becoming one of America's first nationally known brands. We can only guess, but it's likely that Blatz was one of America's better beers in the 19th century.

Blatz was able to survive Prohibition, but it was clearly not the same brewery and simply could not compete in 1950s America. Blatz went out of business in 1959, and its assets, including its name, were purchased by the Pabst Brewing Company.

Today, Blatz is owned by Pabst, but brewed under contract by Miller.

Which makes one think, . . . if the Milwaukee Brewers baseball stadium, which is called Miller Park, was constructed 100 years earlier, would it have been called Blatz Park?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Molson Canadian

Molson Canadian is a lager style beer which is the flagship brand of the Montreal, Canada-based Molson Brewing Company, a division of the Molson Coors brewing group. Molson is the oldest extant brewery in North America, having been established in 1786.

The brewery's founder, John Molson, left England for Canada at the age of 18 with little more than a "how to" book about brewing, money from his inheritance (both his parents had died), and a dream of opening a brewery in Montreal. His timing could not have been more perfect. As a result of the American Revolution, the British military presence in Canada was high, and refugee Loyalists from the former 13 American colonies were flocking into Canada. And these people not only proved to be the core of his early customer base, Molson even found his bride among the Loyalist refugees.

So, from the beginning, Molson was a success, and today, the Molson Brewery carries nearly 40% of the Canadian market. In 2005, Molson merged with the American brewer Coors to create a name that only a stockholder could like, Molson Coors Brewing Company, which has also proven to be a success, at least on Wall Street. The promised cost-cutting materialized better than expected, and they have effectively taken advantage of the slumping US dollar. So, even though its stock price is at an all-time high (as of this writing), analysts still have a "buy" out on Molson Coors (as of this writing).

To read my complete review of the beer at Helium, click HERE>>>

Monday, September 17, 2007

Peach Pit in Prague

This place is no joke. It's in Prague, on a little, hard to find street in the Vinohrady district. The interior is nothing like the Peach Pit on the television show Beverly Hills 90210, but it does takes its inspiration from the show. Yellow walls, covered in those old-fashioned vinyl albums, with some Art Deco ornamentation and furniture, along with some American flags.

It's not a restaurant, it's not a pub, it's more of a small, neighborhood, theme, music club. The kind that opens at 4 in the afternoon and closes at 3 in the morning.

In regards to beer, it's what's called a "Stella pub." It Prague, pubs only display one brand sign, and if that brand is Stella Artois, that means that the pub serves the Czech beer Staropramen, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.

Check out the website of Klub Peach Pit, here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Generic Beer

This beer looks pretty tasty, eh? I purchased this small can of suds in Prague for about 15 cents. I have no idea by whom or where it was brewed, but it is marked with the brand of the Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize. In the Czech Republic, the stores were called Delvita. I use the past tense here because Delhaize recently pulled out of the CR and Slovakia. The store where I bought this beer is today a Billa, an Austrian supermarket chain.

Not that I have to say, but this beer was awful.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Great Moosehead Beer Mystery

About three years ago, 15 August to be exact, a guy by the name of Wade Haines left the Moosehead Brewery in New Brunswick, Canada with a tractor-trailer loaded with 54,000 cans of beer bound towards Toronto. Neither Haines nor the beer arrived. What exactly happened has never been fully explained. The truck was found two days later in New Brunswick, but the beer was gone, as was the Haines. About a month later, the police would eventually track Haines down; he explained that since he thought he was going to be fired, and because he was frustrated with his girlfriend, he spontaneously decided to quit his job, and so he abandoned the truck in tact in a parking lot. The police didn’t believe him, and Haines was charged with the theft of $57,000 worth of beer. In the media, the police mocked Haines as being a “dumb criminal” because the stolen cans were ultimately destined for the Mexican market and were labeled in Spanish, which according to police, would make it impossible for anybody to fence the stolen booty.

Now, there is little question that Mr Haines is a tad on the stupid side. He has a criminal record for petty theft and even started referring to himself as the “beer bandit” while awaiting trail. The larger issue however is the stupidity of the police. Haines was clearly part of a larger conspiracy, but I wonder if the cops up there in Canada ever thought to ask Haines about it, or perhaps give him a little incentive to flip on his co-conspirators. Instead, in the end, Haines was prosecuted and sentenced to the max, about a year and a half in prison. Which brings us to the larger mystery, where’s the beer?

Nearly 8000 of the 54,000 cans were found soon after the theft, apparent victims of transit accidents. Presumably, the beer, which was packaged on pallets, was transferred from the tractor-trailer to numerous smaller trailers, trucks, and vans. But what about the remaining 46,000 cans? It’s been three years and the cops still have no idea what happened to those 46,000 cans of Moosehead beer.

So, who’s really the most stupid party here? The Canadian authorities assured the public that the beer could never be sold because of the conspicuous Spanish language labels. But if the beer could not be sold, where is it? Do they really want us to believe that somebody’s got 46,000 cans of beer (which has gone bad by now) buried in his back yard?

Of course, one can only speculate as to what happened to the beer. But the fact that this case is on the books as only partially solved doesn’t speak very well about the quality of police work involved, at least by those in charge of the case. And police assurances that the beer could never be sold in Canada due to the Spanish language labels or be smuggled into America because it lacks a proper manifest is both naïve and comical.

Then there is the matter the victim of this crime, Moosehead, which actually profited from it. One can assume that the cargo was insured, but more importantly, the great Canadian beer theft was reported on internationally and gave Moosehead countless thousands of dollars worth of free advertising. Moosehead even incorporated it in their own advertising, and today, three years later, has a page on their website dedicated to the theft.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Package Store

Ah, . . . the package store! Young people today, reared on buying their beer at supermarkets and convenience stores, have been denied the classic beer drinking experience of the packie. Historically, the packie is a direct result of the 21st Amendment, which while repealing Prohibition, also allowed for all sorts of local regulation. And so, the package store was born. Created specifically to sell alcoholic beverages, they were usually located apart from general shopping districts and relegated to the less desirable areas of town. They were called package stores because the display of labels of beverages containing alcohol was not permitted in public, so these stores would "package" your wine, spirits, or beer, in accordance with local laws.

The packaging laws created in the 1930s have evolved, but they are still very much with us. Nearly all of the laws today regarding drinking in public are not concerned with the alcohol in the bottle but with the label on it. And that's why, people to this day, have been left to drinking out of paper bags.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Even Spock Drinks Heineken

I doubt that Leonard Nimoy, when he signed on to portray Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek series back in 1966, foresaw this. I also doubt he got any money for this Heineken ad.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Švejk, Barroom Philosopher

When visiting Prague, it's nearly impossible to not encounter one image or other of Josef Švejk, the hero of Jaroslav Hašek's seminal comic WWI novel The Good Soldier Švejk. The Czech people were reluctant participants in the Great War, and there was no soldier more reluctant than Hašek's Josef Švejk. Part genius, part idiot, Švejk is a barroom philosopher without equal.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mother Knows Best . . .

Above all, I think beer means having a sense of humor about life.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Black Stuff: Guinness

The Guinness brand of beer was founded by Arthur Guinness at the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland in 1759. Inspired by the porter style of beer that was popular in 18th century England, Guinness created a beer in which the malt barley is roasted in a distinctive way that gives Guinness its dark color and unique taste. Guinness began to market its beer as a stout, and today, the name Guinness is largely synonymous with the style of stout.

Guinness Draught was created in 1959, and its complex texture and creamy head would ultimately make Guinness one of the most well known beers in the world. (Guinness Draught should not be confused with Guinness Extra Stout which is far more bitter and closer in taste to what beer drinkers drank in the 19th century.) Today, there are three types of Guinness Draught: the original Guinness Draught that is served on tap, Guinness Draught Cans, and Guinness Draught Bottles.

The tap style of Guinness Draught is by far the most popular. Served up in pubs and restaurants around the world, its two-tone white creamy head and black beer base is widely considered the world's most beautiful looking glass of beer. In regards to taste, it is full-bodied, yet incredibly smooth with just the slightest hint of caramel. Guinness Draught differs from other beers in that the delivery system that pours the beer is an integral part of the process that creates the look as well as the taste. When a Guinness is pulled at a tap, the beer is infused with a special blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide and pumped through a special filter-type plate. Guinness refers to this process as the "surge" system which requires a two-part pour that takes two minutes to complete. Because of these complexities, the quality of Guinness Draught from the tap can vary from pub to pub and is dependent upon the bartender pouring your glass of Guinness properly.

To read my complete review of Guinness Draught at Helium, you can click HERE>>>

Friday, September 7, 2007

Harp Lager

Harp is a lager style beer whose home brewery is called the Great Northern Brewery and is located in Dundalk, Co. Louth in the Republic of Ireland, which is strategically located about half way between Dublin and Belfast. Harp was first introduced in 1960 as a result of the efforts of a consortium of six different breweries in Ireland and the United Kingdom. During the 1950s, lighter pale lagers from Europe, such as the Dutch Heineken and the Danish Carlsburg had made serious inroads into the markets of Ireland and the UK, nations known for their heavier, darker ales. To answer this challenge, the Dundalk brewery was purchased and a brew-master from Germany, Herman Muenster, was brought in and charged with the task of creating a "continental" style lager using Irish resources. Harp Lager was the result.

Today, there is an element of romance associated with Harp, and that is nearly entirely due to its associations, perceived or real, with the brewing legend Guinness. The fact of the matter is that Harp is less a Guinness product than an acquisition made by Guinness. It is true that Guinness was one of the original six owners that purchased the Great Northern Brewery for the purpose of creating Harp, but it was not involved in the creation of the beer or the management of the brewery. Over the course of time, Guinness did ultimately obtain sole ownership of Harp, and at least in North America, Guinness and Harp were frequently marketed together, leading many to believe that Harp was brewed by Guinness and was actually just a lager version of Guinness. Since the Diageo group purchased Guinness, Guinness and Harp are no longer marketed together, but Harp is still prominently advertised as being "from the brewers of Guinness."

You can read my complete review Harp at Helium by clicking HERE>>>

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Michelob Ultra

Michelob Ultra is a lager style beer brewed by Anheuser- Busch, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri. It was introduced in 2002 and is a variant of the high-end Michelob brand that Anheuser-Busch first introduced in 1896.

Michelob Ultra is what can be called a "niche" beer in that it specifically caters to a very narrow consumer base. And that base can best be described as active, health conscious women. (Michelob Ultra is the official sponsor of the LPGA.) Michelob Ultra is a low calorie, low carbohydrate beer, containing 95 calories per 12 oz. serving and only 2.6 carbs per serving. (On the UK bottle, the words "Low Carbohydrate" are actually emblazoned on the front label.) In regards to alcohol content, it contains 4.2% (ABV).

Fairly judging this beer is an endeavor fraught with pitfalls. Michelob Ultra has been categorically panned by proletarian beer reviewers all over the internet, but what these pundits fail to appreciate is the fact that Michelob Ultra is not intended to please them. This is not a beer for people who like beer. This is a beer for women who don't drink beer. Or more specifically, this is a beer for women who drink wine because they dont have any other viable alternative. And when considered in its proper context, Michelob Ultra tastes like a success to me.

To read the rest of my review at Helium, click HERE>>>

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor

Mickey's is a lager style beer which is part of the SABMiller brewing group and is brewed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mickey's is most well-known for its green wide-mouthed bottles and is presently an official sponsor of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Mickey's labels itself a "malt liquor," and the reasons for this have as much to do with marketing the beer as they do with the convolutions of American law regarding alcohol.

The commonly held belief is that any beer containing more than 5% (ABV) cannot call itself as a beer and must instead be labeled a "malt liquor." This is simply not true. In nearly every instance, the "malt liquor" appellation is completely voluntary. While some states have restrictions in regards to the use of the word "beer" on labels, the laws that require the "malt liquor" label are obscure and vague and basically non-applicable.

Beers that call themselves malt liquor are characterized by the use of dextrose which allows the yeast to ferment at a higher level of alcohol. So, as a rule of thumb, malt liquor contains more alcohol. But that is not always the case. Mickey's for example contains only 5.6% (ABV). While that is very strong for a lager, it is not significantly stronger than many ales, porters, or stouts. (Most malt liquors are 6% - 9%)

To read the rest of my review of Mickey's at Helium, please click HERE>>>

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Inflatable Pilsner Urquell

The culture of beer is just a little more fun in Europe. It just seems to be a more integral part of family life. It is common for breweries to sponsor small festivals in city centers aimed at the whole family; and of course, part of that is creating temporary beer gardens in urban squares.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

From Jamaica: Red Stripe

Red Stripe is a lager style beer brewed by the Desnoes & Geddes Brewery in Kingston, Jamaica. When the brewery first opened in the former British colony in 1928, Red Stripe was more of a traditional red ale, but sales of the heavy beer never gained any substantive momentum, and the ale was discontinued in favor of a lager in 1938. The new lighter lager was much better suited to the Caribbean climate and tastes, and the new Red Stripe lager became the best selling local beer in Jamaica. It is presently owned by the Diageo brewing concern and is distributed by Guinness.

Historically, Red Stripe has been bottled in a bottle known as a stubby. It is short and squat with a short neck. The Red Stripe stubby is brown and features a painted red and white label. But for some inexplicable reason, when Red Stripe was first exported to the U.S. in the 1985, the brewery switched to packaging its beer in a green long neck bottle. The results were less than satisfactory, to say the least, and it wasn't until the brewery decided to stay true to its traditional brown stubby and discard the green long neck that sales began to pick up.

Today, Red Stripe relies on aggressive advertising to maintain sales. Its motto is direct, "hooray beer!" and the brewery spends a lot of money in an effort to represent itself as an integral part of Jamaican culture, regularly sponsoring reggae festivals, the Olympic Jamaican bobsled team, and the like, generally attempting to ingratiate itself in the world-wide public perception of Jamaica as a destination of smooth, relaxed times.

To read my complete review of Red Stripe, please click HERE>>>

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Beer Tragedy

I wish I could report that this is a staged Hollywood scene, but it isn't. This is a real-life tragedy in which thousands of bottles of the Dutch beer Grolsch were scattered across a highway. I cannot say exactly where this happened; I found the photos with a brief description which placed the accident in Minnesota. After researching the subject, I found two incidents involving trucks losing their loads of beer, but neither one included bottles of Grolsch. No matter, but it does seem that the beer truck drivers in Minnesota tend to be bit careless with their prized cargo.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beer @ the Burger King

Yes, believe it or not, in many places around the world, beer is available in fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King. San Miguel is a beer brewed in Spain and is Spain's leading exported beer. This sign was spotted in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


That's Russian for beer, ПИВО. Vodka will always be the national drink of Russia, but beer is becoming more and more popular. Some have questioned the quality of the beer to be had in Russia, and this foto has obviously been inspired those questions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Girl of St. Pauli Girl

Every year, St. Pauli Girl chooses a "spokesmodel" to represent the beer on its well distributed poster art and during promotional appearances. The 2007 St. Pauli Girl is Bobbi Sue Luther, who is also a host of Junkyard Mega Wars on The Learning Channel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

St. Pauli Girl

St. Pauli Girl is an export only lager style beer brewed at the Beck's Brewery in Bremen, Germany. The primary export market for St. Pauli Girl is the US, and today, it is reportedly one of the leading-selling German beers on the American market.

The beer's original brewery, which was founded in the 17th century, was supposedly built on the site of a monastery named in honor of St. Paul, which gives the beer the first part of its name. The St. Pauli "Girl" was invented in the 19th century with the advent of bottling beer. The brewery needed a symbol to emblazon its bottles and the image of a barmaid was selected.

My complete review can be read HERE>>>

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Gambrinus is one of the leading selling beers in the Czech Republic. It's from the same town of Plzen that has given the world Pilsner Urquell and is usually sold as the "cheaper sister" at every Pilsner Urquell pub in the country. In Prague, Gambrinus is actually more popular than Pilsner Urquell. It is not only 15-20% cheaper on average, its quality is more consistent. Unfortunately, it is not exported beyond Central Europe.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lion's Bar: for Stags in Prague

The Lion's Bar is not for everybody. That is to say that The Lion's Bar in Prague specifically caters to a specific clientele, and that clientele is British Sports fans and their mates. Or, to put it another way, The Lion's Bar is considered a "stag bar," whose clientele is almost completely comprised of visiting stags.

Many pubs in Prague deny patronage to stag groups, so it is highly recommended that stag groups coming to Prague come with a full itinerary before arriving.

That said, The Lion's Bar is a highly recommended place for any stag group coming to Prague from Britain. They have 15 plasma televisions and two large projection screens on which all the important football, cricket, rugby union, and rugby league matches are shown. The Lion's Bar is, after all, a sports bar! So you won't miss any of the games from back home.

To read my complete review, click HERE>>>

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ottakringer Girls

Ottakringer is one of Austria's largest breweries, and its leading selling beer is a style called helles, which is a style that is little known outside of Bavaria and Austria. It is similar to Czech pilsner, but with less hops and more malt. Ottakringer is brewed in Vienna, and the brewery is easily accessible via public transport. Tours of the brewery feature the obligatory free samples of the product.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kozel: the Czechs' Leading Export Beer

You can walk the streets of Prague for blocks and then kilometers before finding a pub that sells Kozel. It is a brand that is well known in the Czech Republic, but it's simply not that popular with Czech beer drinkers. That said, Kozel is the Czech Republic's leading export beer, selling more beer abroad that Staropramen, Budweiser Budvar, or even Pilsner Urquell. Finland and the United Kingdom are at the top of the export list. Which I guess accounts for all those English-language web entries proclaiming Kozel as the the greatest Czech beer.

For the record, the name of the brewery is
Velkopopovický Kozel and it was opened in 1874. It is located in the city of Velké Popovice, which is located about 20 miles southeast of Prague. Kozel translates into English as a male goat or "billy goat." The brewery was purchased by Pilsner Urquell in 1999, which was later purchased by SABMiller.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Czech Pub Grub

Beer drinkers, of course, cannot live on beer alone, and the Czechs have their own way of doing pub grub. Probably the most popular beer-drinking dish is called Nakládaný hermelín. Hermelín is a soft cheese that is simiar to the French Camembert, and nakládaný means pickled. It is most commonly served with onions and peppers and is marinated in oil.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Beer Congregational Church

When I first encountered the Beer Congregational Church, I thought it was a clever homage to the beer gods and their followers, the product of a deft hand with access to photoshop software, but this is not the case. The Beer Congregational Church is a very real church located in the town of Beer, a very real-life coastal village in south-west England. According to wiki, the town of Beer takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon word "bearu," which refers to the abundance of trees in the region. The latest census counts 1381 inhabitants in the town of Beer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Negra Modelo

Negra Modelo is an excellent example of a rather obscure type of beer known as Vienna lager. It is brewed in Mexico and is part of Grupo Modelo, which is the largest brewer of beer in Mexico whose best known product is Corona Extra. Negra Modelo is one of Mexico's oldest beers, and its origins are presumed to be related to the reign of Maximilian I, the Viennese born Austrian who came to Mexico to serve as its Emperor in the 1860s.

Read my full review HERE>>>

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Beer & Fernet Stock

In the Czech Republic, they do boilermakers a little different. The spirit of choice is usually an 80 proof bitters called Fernet Stock from the Czech city of Plzen-Bozkov. Mixing the Fernet into the beer is frowned upon. Shooting the Fernet is optional. The preferred method is sipping the Fernet just before taking a drink of the beer. The Fernet prepares the palette for the beer, intensifying its taste.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Japan's Kirin Ichiban

The Kirin Brewery was established in Yokohama, Japan in 1907, and today, along with Asahi and Sapporo, Kirin is part of the "Big 3" in the Japanese brewing industry. Kirin's premium brand is called Kirin Ichiban and is considered one of the finest beers on the mass market in Japan. It has been available in America since 1990.

In English, Ichiban, means "first," and this refers to the fact that only the first pressing of the wort is used in the brewing process of Kirin Ichiban. This makes the beer less bitter, without having to sacrifice the body of the beer. And this is what gives Kirin Ichiban its distinctive taste.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

U Bulinu Serves Pilsner Urquell

If you're in Prague, and you're looking for an authentic Czech dining experience at real Czech prices, in a conveniently located area, and free from the throng of tourists, you really can't go wrong with Restaurace U Bulinu in the Vinohrady section of Prague.

Like all truly Czech restaurants, finding the dining areas is the task of an explorer. When one first walks in, one gets the impression that U Bulinu is merely a small pub with a bar counter that seats a half dozen patrons accompanied by a half dozen tables that seats maybe two and half dozen. But if you walk past the bar you'll find a dining room, and if you walk past that, you'll find yet another dining room. If you walk through the corridor where the public toilets are located, you'll find yet another dining area, this one an open-air garden. All of this is traditionally Czech.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Brazil's Brahma

Brazil's Brahma dates to 1888 and is not only one of the best selling beers in Brazil, it is one of Brazil's leading export beers. A member of the InBev brew conglomerate, Brahma's advertising has stayed true to its Brazilian roots.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Refreshing Brahma

The idea behind Brahma's award winning ad campaign is to capture the creative spirit of life in Brazil.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brahma of Brazil

Nobody does advertising quite like the Brazilians. And when it comes to beer, the Brahma Brewery has excelled at marketing their beer. In fact, it has won numerous international awards for its creative and provocative ads.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bluejays Beer

Anheuser-Busch is the official sponsor of Major League Baseball, and given that professional baseball is a billion dollar business, it's not out of line that the de-facto official beer of baseball be Bud Light, the best selling beer of a billion dollar brewery.

There's no point to complaining about it. If you think about it, Bud Light probably describes most of the teams in the National League pretty well.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Old Style Cubbie Style

Old Style, historically, is a Wisconsin beer from La Crosse. But in the 1950s, Old Style became a sponsor of the Chicago Cubs and has been associated with the Windy City ever since. There are at least two generations of Chicagoans alive today who, when they think of baseball, they think of Old Style Beer.

Founded by the G. Heileman Brewing Company in 1902, Old Style is today a part of the Pabst Brewing Company.

In regards to taste, nobody will ever confuse it with Samuel Adams. But Old Style is a great brew for the ballpark or cookout. Best served very, very cold, Old Style is refreshing summer-time beer that is more than capable when it comes to washing down brats and dogs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

70,000 Beer Cans

This is a true story. Though some of the circumstances, in my opinion, are a matter of conjecture. The photos were taken of a vacated residence in Ogden, UT in 2005. The former tenant was reported to have lived there for 8 years, and had accumulated approximately 70,000 cans of Coors Light, which he had not so ceremoniously piled up around his home.

The rest of the story, as explained at the usually reliable website Snopes, doesn't make any sense. Basically, the local Utah media reported that the resident was a raging alcoholic who drank 24 cans a beer a day for 8 years, yet somehow interpreted the man's preference for Coors Light as some kind of recognition on the man's part that he had a drinking problem. Then there are the highly questionable details; the man was the perfect tenant, always paid his rent on time and never complained. The mailman believed the home was empty because he never delivered mail there. The man had been living for some time without water and electricity. Yet, somehow, other than the beer can mess, the home was in good shape. Oh, for the truly gullible, as the story goes, the man, in the end, conquers his alcoholism, gives up beer, finds a job and a new home.

Am I the only one who doesn't believe this story? Am I the only one who looks at these photos and sees a staged scene?

Aside from the illogic of a person disposing of all garbage except beer related garbage and maintaining an otherwise clean home, all of the beer cans and cartons in the pictures look alike. Even if a person were to take brand loyalty to this kind of extreme, breweries, especially the "big boys" like Coors, do tend to noticeably vary their packaging seasonally.

To my thinking, this is a tenant's practical joke on his landlord. It's also natural to assume that he had collaborators. That said, if one does the math, if you've got 20 buddies buying beer for you, 70,000 cans, that's 145 cases per buddy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Budejovicky Budvar: a Review

Budvar is a lager brewed by Budejovicky Budvar in the Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. It is sold as Budejovicky Budvar in many countries and Budweiser Budvar in others. In the United States and Canada, it is sold as Czechvar.

Brewer, Josef Groll, is credited with having invented the Bohemian style of lager beer in the nearby city of Plzen in 1842. (Today, that beer's brand name is Pilsner Urquell.) This new "Golden Beer" with its light and refreshing taste quickly spread across Europe, eventually making its way across the Atlantic to the Americas. And along the way, this new Bohemian style of cold fermentation was adopted by thousands of different breweries across the world during the 19th century. One of the late-comers was Budejovicky Budvar, which didn't open its brewery until 1895.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Beer Drinkers Fear Sale of Budweiser Budvar

A couple of months ago, an organization called the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) held a press conference to denounce the idea of privatizing the Czech state-owned brewery, Budejovicky Budvar, brewer of the popular export beer, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in the United States).

Basically, their only argument was that they feared that the quality of the beer may suffer as a result. And why? Because the brewery will clearly be purchased by the American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, brewer of the beer that much of the world knows as Budweiser, within in the next year or two. Unfortunately, the EBCU doesn't really know what they're talking about.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

From the Land of Sky Blue Waters . . .

In the 1960s, the Hamm's brewery of St. Paul, MN created a promotional deck of playing cards, which featured their famous Hamm's Bear on the face cards. Today, a deck of the cards can fetch $25 on the breweriana market.

Hamm's may never have been the greatest beer on the market, but I can't see any of today's craft brewers coming up with anything as iconic as the Hamm's Bear.

For those who can't get enough of Hamm's breweriana, check out the website of the Hamm's Club.

Monday, August 6, 2007

20 Questions with a Pub Manager in Prague

Francis Foley is a manager at U Draka, a pub in the center of Prague, and I recently sat down with him over a beer to ask him twenty questions about what it's like being a pub manager in Prague.

You can read the interview HERE>>>