Sunday, July 30, 2006

Beerinator Pictures

If you read our comments section, then you have already seen this link here. If not, then I just made it a step easier for you!

These pictures were taken not by any Drinking Buddy (as noted that they are all in focus and are not of the ground), but by our reader Beerinator. You can check out this collection and all sorts of brewery locations clearly mapped out at I don't know if you are still reading, Beerinator, but thank you for the link! I would have told you directly, but your non-brewery-location comments page at the site is rather non-existent at the moment. Please, check back with us and let us know more about you!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

MBG summer Brewfest Festies!

Much thanks goes out to every member of the Michigan Brewer's Guild that participated in the Summer Brewfest. Everyone came with some top notch brews and managed to get me rather loopy on an 8 oz. glass! As to be expected, there were some aspects of the 'Fest that outshined the rest. We here at the Drinking Buddies never like to let a good brew go unrecognized, nor a questionable brew unpunished (here's looking at you, Samichlaus). Therefore we unleash upon our public the soon-to-be infamous, unofficial, and totally subjective Summer Brewfest "Best Of/Not So Best Of" Awards! The Festies!

Best Adapted Brew- Congrats to the American Homebrewers Association for their day-long celebration of making your own beer. when the Drinking Buddies stopped by the AHA booth, they were cooking up a Sierra Nevada IPA clone. Smell that hoppy goodness!

Most Happenin' Beer Tent- You could argue that tent 1 would take this award home due to its proximity to the band, but for reasons to be explained later, this was not the case. Tent 2 had a healthy and lively crowd, quick and polite lines, and vendors that made the DBs feel at home. Congrats!

Best Not-So-Subtle Product Placement- Did you know that Nick Lidstrom drinks Vitamin Water? Thanks to the giant conversion van ad, you do now!

Best Food- I admit that I sometimes have a beef with Grand Rapids, Mi. The backwards traffic lights where you turn left before your side turns green, the slow drivers, the Amway. But on Saturday, your sausage could not be denied. Well done Grand Rapids Brewing.

Best Surprise Brew- So often I am disappointed when someone puts the words "cream ale" on their beer. To many brewer, that phrase must be equivalent to "uninspired carbonated pee." I thank you for surprising my taste buds, Frankenmuth, by putting the cream back in cream ale!

Worst Surprise Brew- In addition to Dan-o and myself, we brought special guest DB John along for the ride. Our system was simple: everyone gets a different beer and we all sample away. Our system failed us at King Brewing. We got the Weissbeir, the IPA, and the Irish Red. If you kidnapped my future children and forced me to do a blind taste test to distinguish these three beers, my first words to my wife would be "We can always have more kids."

Best Man- Scott from Michigan Brewing Company was very helpful in our drunken inquiries. Not only did he invite us to return to his facility, which has expanded by a factor of ten since we last toured, but he also donated some beer tokens to our cause just to get us to try their Russian Imperial Stout. Wonderful stout, scott. We are definitely coming to visit.

Best Brew- This is the one category that everyone wins! Ok, ok. If you had to force me to pick just one, I was really impressed with what Grizzly Peak did with their Bear Paws Porter. Maybe it was the heat, maybe the drinks. Maybe it was the lead singer in the band who looked like a cross between Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks in the later years, yet sang like neither. I couldn't tell you. All I can say is this: stars were aligned for Grizzly Peak that day and, when asked, the band did give us MORE COWBELL!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Your Beer Trivia for the Day...

Thanks to Jacob The Badger for enlightening us with this tidbit:

"Mind your P' and Q's" comes from an old English pub phrase. When a barkeep was serving, he kept mindful watch on the drinks he gave to each patron in order to accurately asses the tab. In other words, to mind the pints and quarts of brew he was serving. Eventually this became shortened and put in a slang vernacular.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A comedy of ales

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Matt and I, along with our friend Hilary, brewed a batch of beer - our first in over a year I believe. Matt packed the necessary equipement in the trunk of his car and headed over to my place. We stopped by Things Beer in Webberville for some malt, barley, hops and yeast.

Now, brewing beer is not exactly like riding a bicycle. Just because you had it figured out before doesn't mean you'll return hitting the ground running... or, biking. Well, maybe you will if you have all the proper equipment. Part way through the process, we realized we were missing a few things. Brewing beer is not that hard, but it helps enormously to have good quality brewing gear. Otherwise, you'll end up doing what we did at my house:

In the first stage of brewing, you put all your grains in "grain bags" which are sort of a cross between a sock and a tea bag. You put these socks in a pot with a few quarts of water to get all the flavor out of them, making several quarts of what is basically a beer concentrate. In step one, we were missing a thermometer, so we used a meat thermometer. It would have been fine except we kept almost burning ourselves trying to use it. On top of that, the temperature of the wort (beer concentrate) fluctuated wildly. And when we finally thought we had it holding steady, it turned out that the temperature was only steady in the middle of the pot and it was ten degrees hotter near the edge. I don't know what happens when you let this happen to your beer, but we're gonna find out as soon as it's ready to drink.

In the second stage, we tranferred the wort to a bigger pot to boil for an hour with the hops and an extra gallon of water. No major messes here.

In the third stage, we attempted to filter the beer into the fermenting tank. At this point, there's lots of residue from the grains and hops making the beer cloudy. Having lost the funnel/filter we used to have, we were forced to use a grain sock to pour the beer through. This was a three person ordeal in my backyard with Matt and I using potholders to handle the cumbersome six gallon boiling pot and Hilary trying to steady the kitchen funnel we found with a grain sock stretched over it. It was messy.

The beer is now fermenting happily in my basement. I'm pleased to announce that on Thursday I measured its gravity and it's ready to be bottled. After that it will be roughly another week before it's ready to drink. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Summer Brewfest is HERE!

Great Singing Samson! The Michigan Brewer's Guild is holding their Summer Brewfest this weekend! Rejoice one and all! This will actually be the first time the DBs have attended this function even though this is its ninth incarnation. This year we will be on the beat examining every nook and cranny of this fermented funhouse, this lager love-a-thon. We will be visiting all three beer tents and enjoying the lovely demonstration of homebrewing by the American Hombrewers Association.

Those who would like to join in the festivities need only to show up. They spread this sudsy soiree over two days (July 21st and 22nd) in the city of Ypsilanti, but we will be in attendance only saturday (the 22nd). If you buy the tix in advance they are only $30 online.

Of course, not everyone will be able to attend. Lucky for you "pour" souls (HA!), we are going to have complete coverage on this Blog! We all hope to see you there at this pilsner party! This barley bruhaha! This... hoppy.... Sock hop....

And I'm done.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beer in the news

In the interest of timeliness, I'd like to bring your attention to an interesting article about wheat beers in the New York Times (to read NYTimes articles, you have to register, but it's free and worth it). There's a cool narrated slideshow accompanying it, reviewing beers that I assume must be available in the NY region. I haven't tried any of them as most of them are not available here in East Lansing. Not unlike our Drinking Buddies tastings, this wheat beer review judges each beer according to incongruent standards. Check out our review of locally available hefeweisens here.

As for myself, I agree completely with the author of this article: Wheat beers are wonderfully refreshing in summer. In case you're not enjoying the midwest summer, it's in the mid-90s here in Michigan and the heat index is over 100 degrees. Obviously it's important to keep hydrated (remember, beer is a diuretic), but wheat beer is a great way to keep cool. Blue Moon, available everywhere, is great in the summer, but I just can't bring myself to drink it in the winter.

Comments on your favorite wheat beer or summer refresher?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Deceit of Miller Park

Talking with my friend Jake the other day, I got into a discussion that I have wanted to have for some time. Jake is an Avid Wisconsin fan. He loves the cheese, the school, the Packers, everything. Since he is the only Wisconsin-ite I know, I decided to pick his brain at a question that has even the great beer minds pondering: Does Miller Park (home of the Milwaukee Brewers) have cheap beer for its fans?

My reasoning for yes is quite simple. The team is the Brewers. The park is owned by Miller. They might understand that most patrons want a good beer. Therefore, there is no middleman or greedy corporate raider establishing an $100 light beer price as if the park were its own nation with a beer-based economy and a horrible exchange rate. I happen to believe a beer based economy would actually make prices cheaper on everything and create peace and stability, but I digress.

Unfortuntely, Milwaukee is not the utopia everyone thinks it is. The beer is the same as everywhere else in Major League Baseball. This article I found on confirms Jake's news. Most of the decent beer is in the $6 dollar-and-up range and that is, of course, whatever beer Miller will allow into its park. The Miller light is somewhat cheap, but nowhere near the bargain I would expect from a beer themed park. Dreams...shattered....can't....carry....on.......

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mystery beer

Matt and I brewed last Friday with our friend Hilary. Details are forthcoming as to the actual brewing. What I'd like to tell you about now is our adventure in tasting. As this was the first beer we'd brewed in a while, and the first brewing session that I'd taken a lead role in, I was doing a good amount of screwing up. I'm optimistic about the outcome, but I was stressing about whether I was doing everything correctly. Luckily, Matt was able to assuage my worries by invoking the timeless wisdom of Charlie Papazian. "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew," he told me. So we did.

As I mentioned a moment ago, it's been some time since we last brewed. I found three bottles of homebrew in the basement mini-fridge. I'm not sure exactly how old they were as Matt and I do not employ born-on dating technology (don't want to be sued by Anheuser-Busch). Anyway, it's been over a year. They were unlabeled. Mystery beer no. 1 turned out to be our failed attempt at a clone of Belhaven's Best. It was sweet, uncarbonated and tasted like molasses. That one went down the drain after a few sips. The sad thing was that you could taste the potential in that beer.

Mystery beer no. 2 was one of our first attempts at brewing, dating back to 2004. It was an excellent porter, with some coffee and chocolate-roasted grains. The flavor was rich but not overly heavy - quite drinkable. Sadly, there was only one of these to split between the three of us as mystery beer no. 3 turned out to be another dud from the same batch as mystery beer no. 1.

Luckily, in a few weeks we'll have another batch of homebrew to enjoy. It's so much tastier when it's your own hard work (unless you screw it up, in which case relaxing with a homebrew is not an option).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Some Drinking Buddies history

Back in the quaint days of 2004 - way before the days of Brangelina - the Dynamic Duo of Ryan and Matt (Myan? Ratt?) decided that the best way to earn beer money was to write brilliant articles about what they knew best. While the articles were less than Pulitzer material, the pay was meager, and the area of our expertise was limited to beer, the "Drinking Buddies" became a Thursday cult phenomenon in The State News. These articles are the origins of the Drinking Buddies Blog you are perusing today. Now, on the anniversary of Nothing in Particular, we have provided the individual links to the original 20+ articles that shared our love of beer with the city of East Lansing. Soon, I'll put this up as a link in the sidebar.

Beers help keep summer spirit alive (9/2/04)
Drinking Buddies: 'Tour de bar,' part 1 (9/9/04)
Drinking Buddies: 'Tour de bar,' part 2 (9/16/04)
Buddies tour tailgating spots to interview 'U' party people (9/23/04)
Drinking buddies tour wonderful wheat beers (9/30/04)
Drinking Buddies debate state of American beer (10/7/04)
Drinking Buddies give top ten tips for home brewing success (10/14/04)
Drinking Buddies discuss favorite Halloween brews (10/21/04)
Buddies explore brewery, find new beer technology (10/28/04)
Drinking buddies explain the art of creating your own brew (11/4/04)
Drinking Buddies answer imaginary beer questions (11/11/04)
Buddies enter Bell's brewery to learn the secrets of the Oberon (11/18/04)
Buddies cook with beer at Thanksbeergiving (12/2/04)
Buddies explore winter brews (12/9/04)
Drinking buddy receives visit from beer ghosts (1/13/05)
Drinking buddies analyze affordable 40-ounce beers (1/20/05)
How to be a beer snob (1/27/05)
Buddies soak up sake, Japanese beer (2/3/05)
Weird beers test taste buds (2/10/05)
Buddies inform readers on how to woo dates with cheap wine (2/17/05)
WEB ONLY: Women and beer (2/24/05)
Non alcoholic beer tastes nasty (3/3/05)
Slainté! (3/17/05) <--Our St. Patty's day special
Drinking buddies road trip across Mich., induldge in brewpub history (3/31/05)
Buddies spew beer history, find wood chips in fermentation tanks (4/7/05)
Part deux in Drinking Buddies' tour of Mich. breweries (4/14/05)
Saying goodbye with summer brews (4/28/05)