Surfing the web for beer stuff is a lot like being on YouTube or Wikipedia; you can keep clicking links until you're tired, hungry and need a shave and your loved ones become worried about you. The section of the internet given over to beer purposes is unimaginably vast. Just scrolling through this list of beer blogs takes minutes, and we're not even listed! Among our competition: 2 Beer Guys Blog (which is actually four people), A Beer in the Hand is Worth Two in the Fridge, Beer Blogging Buddies and a bajillion more. That's not to mention brewery sites, industry news, home brewing videos and on and on (I wonder if trappist monks have websites?). Anyhow, here's a few highlights I've picked up in the last week or so.
Randall the Enamel Animal
The folks at Dogfish Head really are innovators. I just discovered this contraption one of their guys invented, an "organoleptic hop transducer module." It's a tap filter that gives whatever beer its attached to more hop flavor. Imagine drinking a pint and wondering whether it might benefit from more hopiness. Now that dream can be a reality! Apparently I'm late to the party because they're already on version 3.0. Clearly the Dogfish folks are hop fans (and probably Back to the Future fans), as evidenced by their hop-centric brews: 60 Minute IPA, 75 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA, among other beers witch are still hoppy but have broader flavor profile. Hooking the 120 Minute IPA up to the Randall filter might buy them some time if anybody tries to put them out of business by inventing the 180 Minute IPA. You can buy one of these bad boys from Dogfish Head, or you can make your own (pdf). I appreciate their open-source attitude to beer tastiness.
This recipe sounds incredible, but according to the author (from the cleverly named site No Meat Athlete), the IPA flavor doesn't really come through. Huge bummer. Maybe the recipe could be adjusted to substitute more beer for stock, or perhaps a different beer would lend more flavor? I'd like to try this out as I am a big fan of home-cooked risotto. There are a lot of other tasty-looking recipes using beer on the site linked at the top, so head on over there. If cooking with beer sounds familiar to you, it might be because you read about it in 2004 in our newspaper column: Buddies cook with beer at Thanksbeergiving. Can you believe that was eight years ago?
Victory for Raging Bitch
Last up is the Michigan-to-Maryland connection. Just to get everybody up to speed, I moved to Baltimore in 2008 and have since been enjoying beers from Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, MD. This brewery apparently moved to Maryland from Colorado a few years ago. Their most popular beer is the Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA which, because of it's name, was temporarily banned in Michigan. According to the Flying Dog blog post linked above, the beer was banned by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) but the ban was lifted when the brewery took the argument to federal court. Although the ban was lifted, Flying Dog is pursuing the lawsuit in order to get MLCC's actions declared unconstitutional and for the money they would have made from beer sales during the ban. More details are here. This pissfest about getting to use the word "bitch" is ridiculous. The MLCC should not have the authority to ban an alcohol product based on whether they find the name offensive. That's government censorship, not alcohol safety. The name is clearly offensive to some folks, including me, but retailers are free not to offer it for that reason. If I ran a family restaurant that served beer, I might well choose not to put it on the menu, but if I ran a college bar like Crunchy's, I wouldn't have much concern. My criticism of Flying Dog is apparent by now. They've used their dog theme to get away with using the word "bitch". Apparently the appeal of that loophole didn't wear off after the third grade. To kick it up a notch, they added the word "raging", reminding us all to keep that sexist phrase in our lexicon. Anybody who has known me since my pre-Drinking Buddies State News days might remember that I support each citizen's freedom to be a tasteless jerk. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. That said, Raging Bitch is a delicious beer and Flying Dog has a good lineup overall. Their artwork is done by Ralph Steadman, illustrator of several Hunter S. Thompson books, which is unassailably cool.
On a more personal note, I am about to leave on a vacation to Munich and Rome. Among my other sightseeing goals are to visit a beer garden and or hall in Munich and to assess whether Italy has anything to offer beyond Peroni. If anybody reading this has any suggestions about where to visit (or avoid!) in either city, please comment on this post to let me know.