May 30, 2012

Colorado Beer Vacation

Beer tourism is one of those trends picking up some steam, a way for non-professional craft beer enthusiasts to get a piece of the action.

Lately, Zephyr Adventures has been on my radar.  They put on the Beer Blogger Conference and also maintain the most comprehensive list of beer bloggers I know.  Zephyr is joining Draft Magazine, New Belgium Brewing, Untappd, and World Class Beer to give away a couple spots on their Colorado Hike, Bike, Beer and Brewpubs Adventure in October, which includes:

  • stops at Walnut Brewery, Boulder Beer Company, Coopersmith's Pub, New Belgium, Estes Park Brewery, Wynkoop Brewery
  • hikes or bike rides every day
  • tix to the Great American Beer Festival
  • all accommodations
  • most meals
  • Did I mention the Great American Beer Festival?!

Now that sound like an awesome trip (yes, this is my own attempt to win a spot and I'll be praying I win), but I want to ask you, readers, what would make an ideal beer vacation for you?  Is it the destination, the beer, the activities?  Or is it the combination of all of the above, creating an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience?

Ready, set, discuss on Facebook.  And 'Like' the Local Beer Blog if you haven't done so already.  I'd really appreciate it.

Stay tuned for something fresh, but a little crazy from Costa Rica.


May 27, 2012

Panama: La Rana Dorada

The craft beer scene in Panama remains small, but one of the major players right now is without a doubt La Rana Dorada. Run by the same people behind Colombia's hugely successful Bogota Beer Company, "The Golden Frog" has two locations that feature their four "cervezas artesanales con personalidad." That's "craft beer with personality" for all my gringo friends.

May 26, 2012

Panama: Istmo Brew Pub

Last night I visited Panama City's very first craft brewery: Istmo Brew Pub.  Established in 2005, they've got four cervezas de la casa, each named for a province in Panama: Colón, Coclé, Chiriquí, Veraguas.  I'll translate the best I can from the Istmo website:

  • Colón: Golden color with an excellent malt flavor, agreeable aroma, and a big hop flavor; traditional, but with body
  • Coclé: Dark color provided by caramel and black malts; thick body with a light coffee flavor, and balanced bitterness
  • Chiriquí: Deep golden color, refreshing, with a touch of caramel malt and a light smoky flavor
  • Veraguas: Copper in color, with a great body.  Its refined caramel and well-balanced flavor is obtained through a variety of malts and the use of fine hops.

May 19, 2012

Costa Rica: Volcano Brewing Company

[Update: On August 28, 2013, Volcano Brewing Company will close their Arenal location and relocate to Playa Tamarindo.]

One of the big players in Costa Rica's rapidly growing craft beer scene, Volcano Brewing Company offers artisanal beer and spectacular views in a relaxed atmosphere. As part of our trip to the Costa Rica Craft Beer Festival, my girlfriend and I decided to make a beer-cation of it and check it out...

May 16, 2012

The Local Beer Blog Turns 1!

A year ago today, I was sitting in a Nashville coffeeshop and wondering what to do with my life when it hit me: "Hmm, beer writing.  That sounds like a sweet gig.  Wait a minute -- that's something I can do right now."  No resumes, no job applications, just a few minutes on Blogger to set it up.  The Local Beer Blog was born and I began with a review of Yazoo Brewing Company's Dos Perros.

I look back now and see how my writing has developed over the past year.  I think about the places the blog has taken me, and that I've taken the blog.  The beer festivals, the brewery tours, the multitude of mind-blowing meals...

I've reported directly from eight states (plus D.C.) and three countries, though in my nearly 100 posts I've referenced twice as many.  I've written about more beers and beer styles than I'd care to count, but that doesn't make any of them less special.  I am thankful for the occasional guest post that helped me get through those times when I didn't feel like writing.

The beer festivals stand out in the memory bank.  Volunteering at the American Craft Beer Festival and Nova BrewFest proved to be well worth my time.  Serving my own homebrew at the Homebrew for Hunger event in North Carolina was a blast and really confirmed that my passion was in the right place.  Most recently, I had the pleasure of attending the first ever craft beer festival in Costa Rica.  Being able to participate in the birth of a movement and having my reviews quoted in the Costa Rica Star...what a thrill.

In November of 2011 I went to Chicago, IL, for "beer school" -- aka the Siebel Institute of Technology -- which really got me thinking about the business of beer.  In January of 2012 I made the big move to Panama, where I tried my hand at organizing and executing my very first beer event, laying down a foundation for more events to come.

The inevitable question that follows this line of thinking is, "Where do we go from here?"

In the coming weeks I have a variety of posts planned on craft beer culture and homebrewing in Costa Rica and Panama.  Next month, I will return the US for several weeks, so keep an eye out for articles from Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN, Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, to name a few.  Suggestions are always welcome -- leave a comment if you have anything you'd like to read about.

Lately, I've been working to improve my social media presence.  I've got some fancy social media buttons over there on the left and a new Local Beer Blog page on Facebook.  Get in there and follow, post, like, comment, and, most importantly, share with your friends.

It's hard to tell exactly where the Local Beer Blog will be a year from now, but you can count on many more festivals, tours, reviews, and beer adventures ahead.

Many thanks for reading -- now go have a beer.  Cheers!

May 14, 2012

BeerCity USA 2012: It's a tie!

Voting is closed and the winners have been chosen: Asheville, NC, and Grand Rapids, MI, will share the title of BeerCity USA 2012!

This is Asheville's fourth year in a row winning this distinction; it's the first time for Grand Rapids.  Keep an eye out for some Local Beer Blog reporting from Asheville in mid-June.

Click here for the full report from Charlie Papazian.

To my readers in the US - have an incredible American Craft Beer Week!  Be sure to check to see how your local brewery is celebrating and give them some support!


May 10, 2012

4 Easy Ways to Use Spent Grain

For everyone who celebrated National Homebrew Day on Saturday, this one's for you:

One issue that most brewers have to deal with is spent grains. After mashing your grains with water to draw out the fermentable sugars, what do you do with all that leftover grist? While some breweries are happy to give the grains away to farmers for livestock feed, others are forced to just throw it away.

After my recent brew day, I tried four different ways to reuse that spent grain:

May 7, 2012

Get your vote on: BeerCity USA 2012

The taps at organic Pisgah Brewing, a stone's throw
from Asheville, NC.
In case you haven't already done so, go ahead and get your vote in for the BeerCity USA 2012 poll.  Any beer fan can vote, with a limit of one vote per computer.

Asheville, NC, is the reigning champion and, at the time of writing, has a narrow lead over Grand Rapids, MI.

The fact that this past week's Craft Brewer's Conference and World Beer Cup were held in San Diego, CA, should be considered, though one might also want to check out Food Republic's Craft Beer Power Rankings, which include representation from ten breweries in six different states.

I just made it harder to choose, didn't I?

May 6, 2012

Announced: World Beer Cup 2012 Winners

This just in:

Winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup, a.k.a. "the Olympics of Beer Competition," have just been announced by the Brewers Association.  Brewers around the world are surely celebrating with a Sunday brew!

Special shout outs to some of the breweries from my travels:
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
    • Category 6: Herb and Spice Beer
      • Bronze Medal: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
  • Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA
    • Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale
      • Silver Medal: Blue Reserve
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
    • Category 35: Vienna-Style Lager
      • Gold Medal: Vienna Lager
  • Boscos Brewing Co., Memphis, TN
    • Category 52: German-Style Pale Wheat Ale
      • Gold Medal: Boscos Hefeweizen
  • Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL
    • Category 66: English-Style Summer Ale
      • Gold Medal: Cross of Gold
    • Category 94: American-Style Stout,
      • Gold Medal: Rise American Stout
  • The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
    • Category 79: British-Style Imperial Stout
      • Bronze Medal: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

It's a big world of beer out there!  Check out the full list of winners here.

May 2, 2012

Awesome Video of the Day

I remember traveling around Germany when I went to Oktoberfest in 2006.  Drinking a .5L Erdinger Weiss-brau in Munich, where they've been making beer for hundreds of years... it's an experience I won't soon forget.

In today's newsletter from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery, founder Shane Welch and brewmaster Jan Matysiak take us for a ride through Bavaria, which some might call the birthplace of beer as we know it -- i.e., beer made with hops.  The video celebrates the release of Apollo, a wheat ale made with a traditional Bavarian yeast and filtered for clarity.  In Deutsch, a kristalweizen.

Crank the video in HD, if you dare...

Anyone up for Oktoberfest 2013?  Hell, how about 2012?

May 1, 2012

Recyclebank: Buddhist temple built with beer bottles

I think Heineken should bring back those interlocking brick-shaped bottles.  Check it out at

VA: 5th Annual BrewRidge Music & Craft Beer Festival

In the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of my home state, this weekend is the 5th Annual BrewRidge Music & Craft Beer Festival in Pembroke, VA.  Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the Mountain Lake Conservancy with five Virginia microbreweries and live bluegrass music.  There's nothing quite like live music and craft beer in a beautiful setting.

Breweries in attendance will be Williamsburg Alewerks (Williamsburg, VA), Jefferson Street Brewery (Lynchburg, VA), The River Company (Radford, VA), Wolf Hills Brewery (Abingdon, VA), and Lost Rhino Brewing Company (Ashburn, VA).

More info on the Mountain Lake Conservancy website.

Buy your tickets here.

Now, if we could just get some bluegrass here in Panama...