Friday, July 27th 2012
15 Most Cantastic Places to Grab
a Can of Craft Beer in America
Plenty of beer bars are carrying cans of craft beer these days. Bars and restaurants are featuring can nights, putting on beer dinners with courses paired with different cans and even throwing their own canned beer fests. We did our best to identify 15 different places from around the country that really showed that they embraced the canned beer revolution. We hope you enjoy and if we missed a place that totally rocks just let us know. Cheers!
15. Memphis Taproom | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Memphis Taproom is almost two drinking establshments in one. Upfront you've got a beer bar with a great tap selection and some amazing food options. Head out to the beer garden and you enter a whole new world - a more can-friendly world. This is where you'll find a stationary food truck that dishes out 10 different amazing-sounding hot dogs and a dozen different craft cans - no bottles in the beer garden. Grab a dog and a can and watch the Phillies game on the projection screen or swing by for an episode of Twin Peaks - they're showing all 29 episodes this summer with cans of Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale on special for $3.
14. Star Bar | Denver, Colorado
First opened over 50 years ago, Denver's Star Bar was renovated a couple years ago and has since been racking up awards as one of the city's most beloved dive bars. Star Bar is located close to Coors Field in an area filled with great watering holes and places to grab a bite to eat. They've got some amazing beers on tap at all times with 14 taps inside and another 4 outside. They also pride themselves on serving some of the best canned craft beers Colorado has to offer. Stop in on Wednesday's for their "$3 Fuh CAN Eh Night" when most craft cans are only $3 all night. They don't serve food but you can bring your own!
Local Cans - 20 different cans from Colorado craft breweries
Tacos and sushi on the same menu? Finally! Located northwest of Chicago, Tokio Pub offers up choices you may need to hit up 2 or 3 different restaurants to find (check out the menu). From tacos made with tortillas made in house to sushi rolls and even barbecue, this place seems to have it all and it all sounds delicious. Wash it all down with one of their twenty or so canned craft beer choices. What really makes Tokio Pub so cantastic is their canned beer dinners involving different cans from local breweries paired with some amazing sounding dishes.
12. Billy Jack's Wing & Draft Shack | Harrisonburg, Virginia
If the name alone doesn't pique your interest perhaps the look and feel if Billy Jack's Wing & Draft Shack will! Billy Jack's has all the character you could ever want from a bar and couples it nicely with a menu that features wings with a plethora of home made sauces, fried chicken and waffles, loaded french fries and dougnuts! Are you kidding us? All of that sounds awesome. Billy Jack's also boasts Virginia's largest canned craft beer selection! They've hosted several canned beer nights and are devoted to the craft beer cause. Swing by and do their wing challenge sometime or just grab a stool and have some wings and a few beers. Either way this place rocks!
11. Spenard Roadhouse | Anchorage, Alaska
If you've been following the news in the world of canned craft beer you've probably noticed a lot of action going on up in Alaska. Four different breweries are now canning their beers and one of our favorite Alaskan beer experts, Dr. Fermento, recently wrote a great piece for the Anchorage Press about the movement to cans up in the Final Frontier. Spenard Roadhouse features over a dozen different canned craft beers including those from Midnight Sun Brewing Company and Kenai River Brewing Company. Did we mention this place serves things like "super" tots, reindeer Polish sausages, s'mores, and they even have a "Bacon of the Month"? Yeah, this place is fantastic to say the least. One day Alaska, one day. I'll come and visit, I promise.
10. BAR Philadelphia | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Unpretentious is probably the best way to describe BAR. The name isn't fancy, the place isn't fancy, the website isn't fancy (probably because they don't have one), and the ambience is that of a comfortable dive bar. However, BAR has a canned beer list that is close to out of control. A mix of industrial tallboys, imports, ciders, and close to 50 different craft cans makes this place well worthy of a spot on this list. Between beers be sure to throw down one of their famouse "picklebacks" - a shot of whiskey with a pickle juice chaser.
9. Idle Hands | New York, New York
Located in the East Village, Idle Hands is one of NYC's best bars for "Bourbon, Beer and Rock". Barely a day goes by that this place doesn't have some sort of kick ass event going on (check out the calendar) - from beer tastings paired with tater tots and special sauce made from one of the beers to the occasional Emo/Post-Hardcore music night. Recently Idle Hands decided to do away with their glass bottles for the summer and made a shift to all cans. They've been rotating through 70 different options and you can definitely find one that pairs well with a burger from That Burger, which is conveniently located upstairs. This past January 24th, Idle Hands held a "Beer Can Apprecation Day" with $20 all you can drink craft cans with all empties forming a "Beeramid". We're looking forward to seeing what they do next year!
8. HD1 | Atlanta, Georgia
HD stands for Haute Dogs and that is no understatement. HD1 serves up some ridiculously delectible sounding dogs (and some "not dogs" as well) in a very cool, very hip environment. Why not wash down that "East Bound and Down" - a hot dog with Carolina pulled pork, country slaw, and mop sauce - with one of their close to 40 different craft cans? Don't forget to order some of their waffle fry poutine!
Local Cans - Georgia's first canned craft beer - Long Day Lager (Red Hare Brewing Company)
7. Jackson's Garage | St. Augustine, Florida
Instead of a mug club Jackson's Garage sports a "koozie club" that gives patrons a koozie with their name on it and 10% off their bill. They've also just started giving out punch cards that enable beer lovers to buy 5 cans/drafts and get the 6th one free! Jackson's Garage sports a substantial canned beer selection with something for everyone. They also feature some great local drafts and a menu that includes personal pizzas, sandwiches and other comfort pub food all served up in a casual atmosphere "with a home garage hangout feel".
6. Denver Bicycle Cafe | Denver, Colorado
Let's face it, Colorado has no shortage of canned craft beers. In fact, it leads the entire country with over 80 different craft beers currently offered in cans. Denver Bicycle Cafe is doing their part to showcase what the state has to offer. They have over 40 different cans and ALL of them are from Colorado - or shall we say CANorado. Oh yeah, they also serve some serious coffee and if your bike happens to have some issues they're also a full-service bicycle repair shop. So, if you happen to love riding a bike, sipping good coffee, and drinking great beer than this is the place for you. You can start and end your day at the same place, talk about efficient!
Local Cans - a lot! (over 40 different Colorado cans) Check out the list...
5. Bar of Soap | Asheville, North Carolina
It seems only fitting that one of America's top beer cities (it tied for Beer City USA this year) should posess a laundromat that also just so happens to have a pretty amazing craft beer selection. Asheville, North Carolina's Bar of Soap is also probably the only place on earth that will make you wish that you didn't have a washer and dryer at home. This place is one part laundromat, one part used book store, and all kick ass beer bar. It features a serious canned craft beer selection with over 25 different craft cans available and, oh yeah, they even make and sell their own laundry detergent and none of the books cost more than $5. We need to check this place out even if it means showing up without any dirty laundry.
4. Full Circle Bar | Brooklyn, New York
Located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Full Circle Bar is the "National Home of Brewskee-Ball". That's right, Full Circle hosts their own Skee-Ball league in the back of the bar. At the front of the bar is where you can order one of 40 or so different cans of craft beer and enjoy a hot dog or a soft pretzel - they're free on Tuesdays & Thursdays and so is the Skee-Ball. This little bar has a lot going on and is definitely a cool place to check out and relive some childhood memories by playing a little Skee-Ball - think Chuck E. Cheese when you were 8 - its even more fun with beer now that you're all grown up. Full Circle has also hosted two "Candemonium" events, one of which celebrated their first anniversary and the other, which took place this past May, coincided with the Brewskee-Ball National Championships.
3. Tasty Weasel Tap Room | Longmont, Colorado
Did you expect this place NOT to make the list? C'mon, the Tasty Weasel is attached to the Oskar Blues Brewery! That means its the place with the freshest cans of their beer in the entire country, not to mention plenty of special kegs and casks. Recently they added a big deck with plenty of outdoor seating - perfect for sipping a Dale's Pale Ale before doing the brewery tour. Hey, they've also got Brew-Skee Ball leagues (see above - Full Circle Bar)! This place is a must if you're out in Colorado for any reason whatsoever. CANsider it a pilgrimmage of sorts...
Local Cans - Oskar Blues Brewery
2. The Watering Hole (Whole Foods) | Chandler, Arizona
Recently "King" James Swann was awarded the honor of being named the "Most Beerfluential Person in Arizona" by The Brew Bros. James, who originally hails from England, is fully devoted to spreading the merits of craft beer in his adopted homeland. James is the man behind making the Whole Foods in Chandler, Arizona unlike any other you might visit. He is the bartender, beer class teacher, as well as the head beer guru at the store's Watering Hole bar. The bar, located directly inside the store, features over 30 beers on draft and is a place which allows customers to take a break from shopping and sit down and have a pint - or they can grab one to take with them as they shop! If you're like many beer-loving folks then your main destination inside the store is The Watering Whole. Plain and simple. What pushes this place close to the top of our list is not only the store's substantial offering of canned craft beers for purchase but also that James hosts a "Canned Craft Beer Night" every Thursday evening with $2.50 cans and more than 25 on offer - plenty of cans from Arizona as well.
1. Percy Street Barbecue | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Over the past couple years Aric Ferrell, Manager at Philadelphia's Percy Street Barbecue, has been on a mission. He has been on a campaign to have Percy Street feature the largest selection of canned craft beers in the country and we are proud to say that he has definitely accomplished his goal. But, its not just the vast array of craft cans available (at last count there are over 100) at this South Street eatery that put it at the top of the list. Nope, Percy Street is also home to some of the most amazing barbecue in the northeast. Two words: Turkey Tails. Everything we've had there was delicious and you can even get cans to go now! If it comes in a can and is available in Pennsylvania than Aric has done everything he can to put it on his can menu. Serving up Texas-style BBQ in a clean, modern environment with a ridicu-list of canned craft beers available as well as a serious whiskey list, Percy Street is our top choice for best place to grab a can of beer in America. They've earned it.
CONGRATS TO ALL THESE GREAT ESTABLISHMENTS!
Posted by Russ
Monday, July 23rd 2012
Ryeteous Rye IPA
(Renegade Brewing Company)
Renegade just recently began canning their Ryeteous Rye IPA. With the help of the nomadic canning crew at Mobile Canning, Renegade was able to put a bunch of their best-selling brew in bright white pint cans. Emblazoned with a big "R", they're hard to miss! Big thanks once again to our buddy Mike for making the trek down to Denver to pick some of these up for us. Cheers!
From the Renegade site:
"Hop head? Yeah, this one's for you. Crisp malt with a touch of caramel and a generous helping of rye. Oh yeah, and hops, hops and more hops. This Rye IPA is 7% ABV and 100+ IBU's."
Here we go...
Pour – bright orange with a peachy sort of glow and some great looking lacing filling up what little space is left at the top of the glass. Carbonation levels look spot on and this looks ready to enjoy!
Aroma – tropical fruit, caramel malts, some spiciness along with hints of citrus and pine needles. All of those aromas come together and form something quite appealing and very aromatic.
Taste - big brash hop flavors abound with plenty of grapefruit, oranges, lemons and some tropical flavors like mango mixing with sharp pine notes. The rye lends a spicy backbone to this bold hoppy brew. Its light on the palate, almost soft on the tongue, with a taste that is definitely more unique compared to the standard American IPA. The rye and the hops lend to a dry finish that keeps your face in the glass. Very tasty brew.
Overall - perhaps the "Rye Beer" category is a bit too broad and we need to give the Rye IPAs there own category. There seems to be more and more these days. This is a great beer and the combination of the rye and the hops really give it something special. We could definitely enjoy a few of these every week.
Note - A few months ago I was out in Denver and stopped in for a visit to Renegade Brewing. What really struck me about this new, and relatively small, craft brewery was the fact that it was truly a neighborhood place. It had a taproom with some tables and a food truck parked outside. There were bikes locked up out front that showed that a bulk of the patronage was coming from close by. To me it just seemed to represent a part of the craft beer industry that is truly taking off. Its not about being the next Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head, instead its about making a living brewing beer and supporting the community in which you operate. If you're ever out in Denver be sure to check it out.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (59) | Country (333) | Brewery (2) | Style (52)
Monday, July 23rd 2012
Two More States to Join the
Canned Craft Beer Revolution
Boise, Idado and Marietta, Georgia are over 2,000 miles apart and probably don't have a whole lot in common...that is unless you include the fact that both cities are home to the only craft breweries in their states that can their beer. By week's end both Payette Brewing Company in Idaho and Red Hare Brewing Company in Georgia will join the ranks of close to 200 America craft breweries that are canning their beers and each will be their state's first to do so.
Payette Brewing, which is canning their beers with the help of Northwest Canning as I type this, is set to release their Payette Pale and Mutton Buster Brown cans this Friday, July 27th during a "Can Party" at their brewery. Cans will then hit store shelves in the Boise area starting Monday, July 30th.
Payette Brewing Company started brewing in May of 2011. Accoding to the Payette site, the brewery...
Red Hare Brewing...
Red Hare Brewing, whose canning crew was recently very busy learning the fine art of putting beer in cans, is now busy filling and sealing loads of cans of the brewery's flagship brew, Long Day Lager. Cans will be available in Marietta and Metro Atlanta beginning Monday, July 30th.
Red Hare Brewing opened its doors for business over Labor Day weekend in 2011. According to the Red Hare site, the brewery is...
West Sixth Brewing...
One other brewery we should also mention is Kentucky's West Sixth Brewing Company. West Sixth, located in Lexington, became the Bluegrass State's first craft brewery to can their beer when they started to put their West Sixth IPA in cans this past April.
The brewery, which opened its doors the same month they began canning, was initially just selling cans of their IPA at the brewery and as of May they are now distributing cans to stores in Central Kentucky.
So, by next week only six states in the country will be without a craft brewery that cans their beer. We realize that the statistic might not mean a whole lot but it does show the steady growth and distribution of the canning movement. States that are currently without a craft brewery which cans their beer are; New Jersey, Ohio (soon to have 2), North Dakota, Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi. Cheers!
Posted by Russ
Saturday, July 14th 2012
An American Brewer in Norway
Q & A with Mike Murphy
Brewmaster at Lervig Aktiebryggeri
Mike Murphy is an expat who has found himself living on the west coast of Norway and brewing beer for a local craft brewery. A little bit of wanderlust and love of beer has given Mike a brewer's resume that is somewhat akin to a European vacation. Mike gave us a shout to let us know that Lervig Aktiebryggeri, where he brews, has recently started to put their Lucky Jack American Pale Ale in cans - making them the first craft brewery in the country to can one of their beers. We wanted to learn more about this and about Mike so we threw a bunch of questions at him. Somehow he managed to find a bit of time between batches of beer to answer our questions. Cheers Mike! Skål
(CC) Tell us a little about yourself, where you live and what you do?
(MM) I am Mike Murphy, I am originally from Philly, I have been craft brewing professionally since 1999 and I started homebrewing early 90's. I live in Stavanger, Norway, I have a 9 month old daughter, and I like to travel obviously... I am the brewmaster at a small but well equipped brewery called Lervig Aktiebryggeri we are an independently owned brewery with around 40 investors.
(CC) How did you end up where you are today?
(MM) I moved to Italy in 1999 and met a woman who owned a pub, naturally I needed a good beer to drink, which was hard to find those days in rome. So I started a small brewery then called 'Rome Brewing Co' which i closed in 2004*, I then moved to Denmark and started brewing at a brewery called Gourmet Bryggeriet and I stayed there for 5 years. During the GB days we bought a brand called Ølfabrikken and we made 3 beers on can, including a 7,5% porter which was at the time the top rated porter on ratebeer...We also made a pilsner and a pale ale. I moved to Norway in 2010 and am the brewmaster at Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger on the west cost of Norway.
*(Side note) I have recently re-brewed some Rome brewing co beers this year to relaunch the brand as it was the first IPA in Italy and today IPA is very popular in Italy...
(CC) Tell us a little about Lervig Aktiebryggeri...
(MM) Lervig was started in 2003 by a group of locals who were upset at the fact that the local brewery in stavanger (Tou) was closed and production moved to Oslo after being bought out by Ringes (Carlsberg). The brewery has a working capacity of about 3,5million liters per year making it a larger of the small breweries, we have an optimisitcly sized brewhouse with a capacity of up to 28,000L per brew thats over 7000 gallons per brew. The brewery until I came in 2010 was mainly pointed after the pilsner market in norway. I as a craft brewer have taken this brewery in a new direction as I clearly saw once I came here they could not compete with the industrial giants in the pilsner market, nor did I want to make just pilsners, so i introduced our APA (Lucky Jack) which has seen a large cult following development in the region, since then we have introduced about 12 new beers from Saison to Imperial stouts... but we are still selling a lot of pilsner.
(CC) What is the craft beer culture like in Norway? Some Norwegian craft beers do make there way to the US - but very few.
(MM) Beer culture is growing in Norway, not as strong as it should be and not anything comparable to our Danish neighbors, but it is coming, I feel that the interest in beer is on the rise and perhaps here to stay, there are some traditions in norway from the old days,for example: it was a law that if you had a farm and you did not provide beer you can loose your farm to the king. Perhaps that could be a reason why there are so many homebrewers in Norway, another theroy I have is that since the alcohol tax in Norway is around $12.50 per gallon and is the highest alc tax in the world that is a good enough reason to brew at home... People complain about the price of Norwegian beers that make it to the US the funny fact is even though the beer has been exported to the US and distributed and marked up in price to cover the export expenses, the beer is still cheaper than it is to buy it here...
We are starting to see new festivals and new brewers here in norway but there is a long way to go.
(CC) What are some of the challenges that one faces brewing in Norway?
(MM) There are a few things about Norway that bug me, first and foremost there is a sort of demonization of alcohol here, the religious right wingers here are working hard to make a sort of prohibition on alcohol therefore as a producer of aloholic beverages we are not allowed to advertise our products in any public way, we can not even legally put up photos of the beer, the label or the discriptions on our website, this is enforeced by fines up to $5,000 per day. Technically we can not even have a Facebook page, but as long as we can show that no one employeed by the brewery is doing it then it isn't our fault so we do what we can to work around it, and learn the more subtle and indirect ways to get the word out about us, so far the best way is guerrilla tactics, we are bringing in as many people to the brewery and promoting ourselves as best we can, hoping to gain a new fan and that person will spread the word to his mates. Another result of this religeous zealotry is the fact that we as a brewery can not sell any beer over 4.7% in supermarkets nor directly to customers without a license. So it must be sold exclusivly through the state controlled vinmonopolet thus we are at the mercy of the government's abilty to sell our products. Another challenge here is that Norway hasn't any immediate resources for breweries so no malt and no hops, we have to ship in everything from abroad, this is expensive making it hard for us to compete with the rest of Europe on prices...and did I mention that the taxes are not fun either?
(CC) What styles tend to be the most popular with the craft beer drinkers over there?
(MM) Suprisingly they like sour beers here, but that is still a small % of drinkers, I would tend to believe the most sought after craft beers are the hoppy ones... perhaps the RIS is a favorite as well with many. I see more and more herbal beers as well, using locally found herbs and spices, this gives some sort of 'taste of place or terroir' to the beers which would almost be impossible otherwise.
(CC) Is there much exposure to American craft beer? Are the stereotypes about our beer still prevalent?
(MM) Yes there is a good volume of American craft beers available here, and for the general uniformed yes the stereotype that American beer is water is still prevelent. I usually try to enlighten people about the US craft beer phenomenon...
(CC) What types of beers do you brew at Lervig?
(MM) We brew many types and I believe we have a huge range of beers from normal every day (perhaps a bit better) pilsners, we make an APA, Belgian Wit, brown ale, amber ale, RIS, a rye IPA, a few saisons,Belgian dubbels, barrel-aged barleywine and a barrel aged RIS. I will be working on some Flemish brown ales this winter and perhaps a sour beer as well.
(CC) You just began canning some of these beers, correct? Which ones are you canning?
(MM) We are in the can market, at our level we have to be cas ans comprise almost all of the supermarket volume sales so we have been canning our pils, summer beer and Christmas beer since 2008, with the success of our APA we thought it was a good time to offer it in a can. I for one don't like to lug around empty bottles cans are so much more convenient and just more sexy if you ask me...
(CC) Is Lervig Aktiebryggeri the first craft brewery in Norway to can their beer?
(MM) I believe that to be correct, I can't see any other example of one, and the scene is quite new here so I can safely stick the Lervig flag in that one. Some may argue that we are not a craft brewery based purely on the size of our brewhouse, but I beg to differ, I am a craft brewer and I am brewing these beers as I always have brewed, just on a bigger scale. Putting 60 kg of dry hops into a 60,000L tank is fun!
(CC) What has the response been to canned "craft" beer in Norway?
(MM) So far it's been very positive, many people like that they can choose between cans or bottles and let the beer speak for itself... of course you won't see it on the menu at a local restaurant...
(CC) Do you find some folks can't wrap there heads around good beer in a can?
(MM) Many, even some craft beer die hards I know just won't believe it can be better or even good, they actually think the beers flavor is influenced by the metal contact... I like the argument that beer in kegs / fermentation tanks are contacting metal so whats the difference? and that in reality there is a spay lining in the can that is not metal.... just because industrial brewers use them doesn't mean it is inferior.
I think cans are the future...
(CC) Where are your cans sold?
(MM) So far in a few select supermarkets, and out our door has been popular...we have yet to fully launch it as we wait for the new listing available in September for the stores. Then we will see for real, I think it will catch on and by this time next year we will have 2 other craft beers in a can..
(CC) When not brewing, where are some of your favorite places to enjoy a beer?
(MM) I love to drink at friend's houses, in a park or by the beach... with friends mainly. There is a great beer bar in town here called Cardinal, they have over 500 types of beers, including Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy and Dale's Pale Ale in cans... I often go to Rome, Italy where you can find me drinking at Ma Che Siete Venuta a Fa, world's best beer bar!
Posted by Russ
Labels: canned Q and As
Friday, July 13th 2012
Organic Hopworks IPA
(Hopworks Urban Brewery)
Portland, Oregon's Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) has just released their Hopworks IPA and their HUB Lager in 16 oz. pint cans. You've got to love the designs on the cans as this bike loving brewery has incorporated a bike chain image on the side of the cans. This portable package should make many folks happy as they can now carry a few cans on their next bike trip. Cheers!
From the Hopworks site:
"Our namesake IPA is a Northwest classic. Generous additions of Ahtanum, Centennial, and Cascade hops find their way into the kettle, hop-back and dry-hop. This judicious use of the “brewer’s spice” creates rich and resinous flavors of citrus fruit and pine. The finest organic Canadian pilsner malt and organic Munich and Caramel malts then bring balance to your new favorite beer."
Here we go...
Pour –bright golden and honey colored in appearance with a big foamy white head on top. Looks like a great brew coming out of the can. Carbonation is spot on and plenty of lacing inside the glass.
Aroma – big bouquet of floral hops, light tropical fruit aromas, lemon and lime zest and some sweet smells of fresh flowers. Very aromatic IPA, quite pleasant.
Taste - piney & citrusy with a nice bitter kick that makes you feel each and every one of those 75 IBUs. Lots of the floral hops are present on the palate with slightly sweet malty side balancing things out. This is ight and refreshing on the tongue with a crisp clean finish. Kinda scary how quickly those 16 oz. disappeared...
Overall - A very easy beer to enjoy that is for sure! Hopworks IPA is a well-built IPA that stays true to the Northwest style with big hop flavors and aromas but isn't astringent or one-sided. This is very balanced and an overall great IPA.
Note - cans of HUB's cans are available in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. HUB's brewery and Hopworks BikeBar are both sustainably built. All of their beers are certified organic and they incorporate a ton of green practices.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (8) | Country (333) | Brewery (2) | Style (52)
Friday, July 13th 2012
Top 13 Most Unique Canned Beers
It wasn't long ago that the idea of canned craft beer centered around putting very approachable and relatively unoffensive brews in cans. It was all about appealing to the masses and very few breweries were willing to take the financial risk related to canning a beer that might not sell. Well, those days are gone and today's craft brewers are filling cans with plenty of beers that are pushing the envelope when it comes to creativity. Below we give you our "Top 25 Most Unique Canned Beers" simply to let the world know that today's canned craft beers are truly something worth celebrating and very different than those of the recent past. Cheers!
Why: Bacon! Do we need to go any further? This slightly smoky, slightly briney, malty brown ale is also certified organic - yep, even the bacon is organic! Uncommon Brewers describes the beer as "not a pork fetish product but just a tasty brown ale with a smooth bacon finish."
Availability: Year-round release available in CA, MA, PA, IL, NJ, NY, OH, OR and VA.
Bourbon's Barrel Stout | Great Crescent Brewery
Why: The first, and only, bourbon barrel-aged beer that is being canned today. A terrific blend of maltiness and vanilla with subtle bourbon notes. At 8% this is a perfect candidate for a snifter and a night in.
Availability: if you can get to the brewery we highly suggest it. If not, you may find some cans on shelves in Indiana, Northern Kentucky or Great Cincinnati.
Monk's Blood | 21st Amendment Brewery
(San Francisco, California)
Why: first off the beer is called Monk's Blood, secondly its sort of one of those beers that defies categorization. Described by the brewery as a "Belgian Dark Ale", Monk's Blood is brewed with a plethora of ingredients including; six different malts, three different hops, dark Belgian candi sugar, vanilla beans, dried mission figs, and to top it off its aged on oak chips. Shaun and Nico, Founders of 21st Amendment, actually traveled to Belgium to develop the recipe. This belongs in a fancy pants glass.
Availability: Monk's Blood is a limited release and has been brewed for canning twice by 21st Amendment. It was last released this past March. Cans were distributed to CA, OR, WA, AK, ID, MN, OH, MA, NY, NJ, DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, GA and NC. You may still find some on shelves...
HGH Part Duh | Oskar Blues Brewery
Why: HGH stands for Home Grown Hops and this hopped-up American Strong Ale was brewed with plenty of them. This was dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and finished with Nuggent and Centennial hops all grown on the brewery's nearby Hops and Heifers farm. It weighs in at 8% and packs 70 IBUs.
Availability: Limited Canned Release and only available at the brewery for a short period of time. Perhaps we'll see an HGH Part Three sometime in the future.
8-Bit Pale Ale | Tallgrass Brewing Company
Why: While Tallgrass' liquid ode to the Nintendo generation definitely has one of the most unique can designs out there, that isn't entirely why it makes this list. This refreshing and extremely tasty pale is brewed with Galaxy hops. The Australian hop cross-breed is not used that often in American craft beers and has a very unique aroma - think citrus and tropical fruits.
Availability: Available year-round. Tallgrass distibutes in 13 states including; KS, IA, AL, MS, OK, AR, MO, WI, MN, NE, ND, SD and MT.
Autumnation | Sixpoint Brewery
(Brooklyn, New York)
Why: a wet-hopped pumpkin ale. That says a lot right there. It's also brewed with ginger and white pepper to boot. This year, Sixpoint took it to another level by letting their fans vote on which hop they would use for this year's batch. Getting the most votes was the recent rock star of the hop world, Citra.
Availability: Fall Seasonal availabile in NY, MA, IL, PA, NJ, CT, MD, NH, OH, RI, VT, VA and DC.
Le Mort Vivant | Southern Star Brewing Company
Why: Translating as "The Living Dead", Le Mort Vivant is the first, and only, Biere de Garde style brew to be canned. It is brewedusing traditional techniques and an extended boil with French, German, Belgian and American malts; French and Czech hops; and a French yeast. A very historic brew with quite an international array of ingredients. This was also the first beer that Southern Star put in their multi-seasonal can.
Availability: Limited Release in Texas only.
Johan the Barleywine | Sun King Brewing Company
Why: Johan the Barleywine is unique for many reasons. This is the one and only American barleywine that has been canned. It was also the first beer that Sun King ever brewed and was aged for two years before being the first brew to see the inside of their specially designed multi-style can. Only 700 cans of this beer were produced. The name was an homage to a good friend of Sun King's brewers who had passed away.
Availability: Special release at the brewery only. Long gone.
Pumpkin Ale | Wild Onion Brewery
(Lake Barrington, IL)
Why: This was the first American pumpkin ale to be canned. A pretty big risk back in 2010 especially with a style that is seasonal and one that might not appeal to all palates. Nonetheless Wild Onion went for it and this 5.4% pumpkin ale is a great option for outdoor activities in the fall.
Availability: Fall Seasonal available in Illinois
WET | Surly Brewing Company
(Brooklyn Center, Minnesota)
Why: The first wet-hopped beer to be canned. WET is quite possibly our favorite beer from the Surly crew. Brewed with close to 5,000 pounds of Citra and Simcoe hops that are harvested in Washington and immediately flown to Minnesota where they're sacrificed for the sake of this hop-laden brew less than 72 hours later. Did we mention that the can looks like a giant hop cone? Well, it does.
Availability: October release only available in Minnesota
Zaison | Brewery Vivant
(Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Why: Zaison is not a Saison, no, its a "Super Saison"! A bigger, bolder take on the traditional Belgian style, Zaison is brewed with special yeast strain that gives it a bit of funk as well as tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel. The peppercorns really come out in this 9% brew and do something very special. We loved it!
Availability: Special Release at the brewery.
Sobrehumano Palena 'Ole | Maui Brewing Company
Why: It's not often that two very well respected breweries get together and brew something altogether unique - well, maybe it is nowadays. Irregardless, Sobrehuman Palena 'Ole - which means superhuman in - is an incredible collaboration between Maui and Michigan's Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Brewed with cherries from Michigan and Hawaiian liliko'i (passionfruit). This tart and tangy red ale has an exceptional refreshing quality and is just about perfect on a hot summer's day. Also another unique brew shrouded in incredible looking can art.
Availability: Limited Release available in HI, CA, OR, WA, ID, NV, CO, MD, DE, VA and DC.
Posted by Russ
Thursday, July 12th 2012
Kodiak Brown Ale
(Midnight Sun Brewing Company)
Last summer Alaska's Midnight Sun Brewing released their Sockeye Red IPA in cans. This summer they added their Kodiak Brown Ale and Snowshoe White Ale to their canned lineup. A big thank you goes out to Jim up in Anchorage for getting some super fresh Midnight Sun cans in our hands. Cheers!
From the Midnight Sun site:
"Rugged yet smooth, Kodiak Brown Ale balances caramel and roasted malts with enticing Northwest hops. Perle and Willamette hops accent without overpowering this American brown ale's intrepid maltiness. The result is uniquely delicious.
Inspired by the adventurous spirit readily found in Alaska, Kodiak Brown Ale invites you to take the road less traveled. Kodiak has remained one of our most popular beers since we first fired up the brew kettle in 1995, proving that Alaskans are not afraid of the dark"
Here we go...
Pour - dark brown in appearance with some flashes of red and orange in the light. A coffee-colored head forms about a half inch above the liquid line. Things are looking good!
Aroma - big whiffs of roasted malt, coffee, caramel, chocolate milk and some nuttiness. Nice and aromatic which leads one to assume that some of those smells will translate well in the taste department.
Taste - like a good cup of coffee, the first sip of Kodiak Brown Ale comforts you and tells you that you're in for something good. Loads of roasted malty flavors meld with espresso and rich cocoa. There are hints of citrus from the hops which might be a sign of how fresh these cans are. All the components are there making one excellent beer.
Overall - in a world where most craft breweries brew a brown ale we can honestly say that this is one of the better ones. Full-bodied and flavorful this one stands out among the masses. For now cans are only available in Alaska - lucky Alaskans - but hopefully wider distribution will happen in the future.
Note - the Kodiak brown bear is the largest of the brown bear species. They live on the chain of islands that make up the Kodiak Archipelago in southwestern Alaska. Kodiak bears have been genetically isolated for at least 10,000 years and there is very little genetic diversity within the population. The largest Kodiak on record weighed close to 1,700 lbs and died in a Colorado zoo in the 1950's. In the bear family, only the polar bear can grow to be bigger than a Kodiak brown bear.
Posted by Russ
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Labels: Brown Ales
Wednesday, July 11th 2012
Craft Cider Makes the Move to Cans
Any beer lover who has walked the aisles of their local libations store has probably begun to notice that the cider section ain't what it used to be. Gone are the days when cider was a rather insignificant part of America's drinking culture. Last year alone, the hard cider market grew by over 25%. Today's cider drinkers have a plethora of options that include ciders brewed with different yeast strains, different types of apples, ciders aged on different woods, seasonal offerings and even ciders that have been dry-hopped. Along with the numerous varieties available, ciders come in 12 oz. bottles, caged and corked 750 mL bottles and now they're also showing up in cans.
Like beer, cider can benefit from an aluminum container and, like canning breweries, the portability, shipping costs, recyclability, and protection from oxygen and sunlight that it provides are all factors that cider companies that can are touting. One of the tiny differences between the cans used with beer and those with cider is that because of cider's acidic nature the lining inside the aluminum cans and lids actually needs to be a bit thicker to avoid breaking down and allowing the cider to have actual contact with aluminum. So, just like canned beer, no "metallic" taste unless you're drinking straight from the can. Lest we digress...
A bulk of the American "craft" cider market is made up of small, hand-pressed local ciders with a smattering of larger, national brands. One of those smaller brands hails from Biglerville, Pennsylvania (a few miles outside of Gettysburg) and is simply called Jack's Hard Cider. Jack's is brewed underground - yes, underground where the temperature is a steady 55 degrees - at the Hauer Estate Winery and is comprised entirely of native apples that are grown, pressed and fermented on-site. While undergoing a few green updates to their facility the folks at Hauer Estate decided to add a canning line. The first cans of Jack's came off that line earlier this year and are now available in a few states (PA, MD and GA) as production is limited to the apples that they grow. Makes sense. By the way, if you're wondering who "Jack" is you can find out HERE. Hauer Estate Winery also produces an oak-aged version of their Jack's Hard Cider. Sounds tasty, even if it isn't available in cans...yet.
From one of the smaller cider producers we turn our attention to perhaps one of the more nationally recognized hard cider brands in America, Middlebury, Vermont's Woodchuck Hard Cider. (For fun, go ahead and Google the word "woodchuck" and you'll see that the cider maker manages to trump any site about the actual furry rodent.) Woodchuck began canning their flagship Amber Cider just a few months ago and is in the midst of a major expansion - by major we're talking almost $25 million dollars. A bigger facility is needed to keep up with demand brought about the recent boom in the cider market.
Woodchuck, which has been around for over 20 years, now brews fifteen different types of cider including such styles as a Belgian White and a Pumpkin. The move to cans allows them to put their product in a portable container and provide another option for their consumers. Look for cans of their cider sold in 12-packs.
Possibly one of the more unique looks in the world of cider just may be the cans coming from Beanblossom Hard Cider. These Bloomington, Indiana ciders are produced by Oliver Winery - the largest and oldest winery in the state. Last year they launched the Beanblossom line of 8% ABV hard ciders in 12 oz. aluminum "bottles". This year, partially due to that ABV, they decided to begin packaging their ciders in 250 mL cans - about 100 mL less than a standard 12 oz. beer can. Winery President, Bill Oliver let us know that they chose cans because, "they are 100 percent recyclable, they chill faster, they're lighter and non-breakable, they have great graphic potential, and there's no concern that the aluminum would affect the taste of the cider."
When Oliver mentions graphic potential he really hits the nail on the head. The Beanblossom can designs were all done by local Bloomington artist, Kevin Pope. Pope's "illustrations tell stories of quirky, fictional characters, right on the can. Two farmers, a pilot, a failed politician, and a woman fending off monsters with a skillet." Each character is inspired by one of their five cider brands. Cans are sold in cubes of four, also an industry first.
The Beanblossom Hard Cider brands include; original apple, peach, strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. The fruit flavors are added naturally and we're told that "they taste more tart than sweet -- more like fresh fruit than, say, a pie or a muffin -- and are totally recognizable." Just like those cans!
As American craft cider continues its rise in popularity we'll likely continue to see more and more cider makers make the move to cans. In many ways the industry echoes the ebbs and flows of the craft beer industry and just like the craft brewing industry woos the wine drinkers, the cider industry will woo craft beer drinkers to try their products. Variety is the spice of life so, if you haven't already, get out there and give them a try. Cheers!
Also, if you know of any other American craft ciders that are being canned please let us know. We've just added cider to our can database!
Posted by Russ
Friday, July 6th 2012
Space Monkeys 101:
A Who's Who of Canned Craft Beer
Take a quick glance at the two cans shown above and you may be left wondering how two different breweries could both come up with, of all things, can designs featuring monkeys in space. Well, despite the striking similarities between 21st Amendment Brewery’s Bitter American and the more recently canned Monkeynaut IPA from Straight to Ale, these two cans are actually quite different.
Let’s first take a look at the Bitter American can. San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery initially released this “Session Style” Extra Pale Ale as a spring seasonal release in 2011. It began to appear on shelves in early January and quickly became a hit for its unique package design, as well as its tremendous drinkability. Having a relatively low ABV for a beer packing quite a lot of hop aroma and flavor, Bitter American was a huge hit with the craft beer populous - ourselves included. We found it to have a nice bitterness with pine and grapefruit flavors and some lighter malty undertones. Not too sweet, not too bitter. A nice balance and a very light body. It skips along the tongue leaving you satisfied and not weighed down.
The design for the Bitter American can was done by Joe Wilson. Wilson is the very talented artist who has done a tremendous job with all of 21st Amendment’s recent can graphics. They have now become an important part of the brewery’s overall image and are vastly different than their earlier designs.
So, who is that monkey anyway? If you’re wondering who that primate is floating around tethered in space, its actually not a monkey but a chimpanzee and his name was HAM the Chimp. HAM, the name being an acronym for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, was indeed real and he played an important role in America’s burgeoning space age. HAM was trained to do a series of simple tasks and was rewarded with a banana pellet for doing them correctly.
On January 31st, 1961 HAM was launched into space aboard a Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle – an 84 ft tall modified ballistic missile. During his sub-orbital flight, which lasted about 16 minutes, he would perform the same tasks with the results being studied upon his return. While he never did actually drift around in space like on the can, he did return to earth safe and sound and to a hero’s welcome. His seemingly small contribution was actually a huge step forward for America’s space program.
HAM would live to be 26 years old. He spent a majority of his life in Washington, DC’s National Zoo and made several TV appearances including one with Evel Knievel. He passed away in 1983 and is buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
At the 2012 Craft Brewer’s Conference in San Diego, Bitter American won a “Canny” Award for “Best Characater”. The beer itself received such a positive response from consumers that it was made a year-round offering for 2012. You can view more of Joe Wilson’s artwork on his site www.joe-wilson.com
A couple years before HAM was sent into space, a squirrel monkey by the name of Miss Baker left her mark on the American space program. It is Miss Baker’s likeness that is displayed on Huntsville, Alabama's Straight to Ale’s recently released Monkeynaut IPA cans.
Originally purchased from a Miami pet store, Miss Baker would be selected to take part in a mission to space due to her ability to handle being in a confined space. On May 28th, 1959 she, and another monkey named Miss Able, were launched into space aboard a Jupiter rocket. They would travel to an altitude of over 300 miles above the earth and at speeds greater than 10,000 miles per hour. The flight would last only about 15 minutes but would represent the first time monkeys would be recovered alive from a trip into space – a huge step for America in the space race.
A few weeks later Miss Baker would appear on the cover of Life magazine. She spent the next 12 years of her life at the Naval Aerospace Medical Center in Pensacola, Florida. After which she was moved to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She would live there until she passed away the age of 27. She is considered to be the oldest squirrel monkey on record.
Straight to Ale co-founder, and Huntsville native, Dan Perry grew up visiting Miss Baker at the nearby US Space and Rocket Center. First brewed and sold in early 2010, Monkeynaut IPA was one of the first beers the brewery released. It wasn’t until just recently that they started putting it cans. The brewery purchased a canning line earlier this year and cans of Monkeynaut IPA rolled off the line in May - becoming their first canned offering.
The striking artwork for the can was done by Florence, Alabama artist, Browan Lollar. Lollar has also done the label art for several of Straight to Ale’s bottled beers including; Wernher von Brown Ale, Lily Flagg Milk Stout and Brother Joseph Belgian Dubbel.
While both of these cans do indeed pay homage to very brave space traveling primates, and both just happen to contain hoppy, delicious beers, they are also altogether unique. Each showcases the very different talents of two very gifted artists on the outside and the skilled brewing abilities of each brewery on the inside. If you get the chance to try either of them definitely don't pass it up. Cheers!
Posted by Russ
Labels: Space Monkeys
Thursday, July 5th 2012
Snake River Lager
(Snake River Brewing Company)
Snake River Brewing did something quite impressive a few months ago. The Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery said a fond farewell to glass bottles and made the decision to start canning their entire lineup. Five of their beers are now available in cans and having had them all we can say that each is incredible in its own right. Snake River's Lager has won two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival (2001 & 2003) and won gold at the 2010 North American Brewers Festival. We're excited to share our thoughts on this brew! Cheers!
From the Snake River Brewing site:
"Snake River Lager is our most popular beer. This is an amber colored Vienna style lager. The rich, caramel flavor is balanced with the use of several hop varieties for a subtle hop note. An authentic German lager yeast strain adds to the true flavor of this beer. The malt forward profile of Snake River Lager makes it a fine complement to pizzas and red meat."
Here we go...
Pour - dark amber in appearance with some orange and red hues. Nice looking carbonation levels form a thin white head on top. Clean and clear in the glass. A great looking pour.
Aroma - brown bread, toasty and roasty malts, molasses and some faint hints of orange and other citrus. Great aromas from this lager.
Taste - one sip and we're already impressed. Snake River's Lager is something good, real good. Loads of malt flavors abound with some toasty, biscuity notes as well. This is crisp with a clean finish and leaves a lingering sweetness on the tongue. Well-rounded and practically flawless. An excellent example of this very drinkable style.
Overall - with the vast amount of beer styles confronting American craft beer drinkers the Vienna Lager might get a bit lost in the crowd. If you're looking for something to bring to a BBQ that just might convert some macro drinkers than this might be it. If you're looking for something different, or a break from all things hoppy, we definitely recommend picking up a six-pack of Snake River Lager. You can even order some online if it isn't available near you.
Note - So, what exactly is a "Vienna Lager"? Our good friends over at Wikipedia have this to say about the style:
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (3) | Country (333) | Brewery (2) | Style (3)
Wednesday, July 4th 2012
(Twisted Pine Brewing Company)
Here it is! Fresh and hoppy! Twisted Pine Brewing's first canned release. Hoppy Boy is the brewery's flagship offering and the first to get canned using the brewery's new canning line. We love the design of the can (look at all those hops!) and the fact that this is 16 oz. of hoppiness - or a Tall Hoppy Can as it reads. We're looking forward to seeing what Twisted Pine puts in cans next. Perhaps one day we'll see cans of their infamous Ghost Face Killah!
From the Twisted Pine site:
"Hoppy Boy India Pale Ale is the flagship beer of Twisted Pine. It pours a hazy pale orange and has a dry, tart taste with an earthy bitterness. Pleasant grapefruit and citrus notes are provided by the addition of Cascade hops. This classic American IPA is brewed with medium caramel malts that play off the citrus and orange rind hop flavors to make this beer most enjoyable."
Here we go...
Pour – floods the glass with a gorgeous copper colored liquid that has some nice darker amber hues and a beautiful, lacey, thick foamy head on top. A great looking pour!
Aroma – big tropical fruit aromas, fresh pine, grapefruit and sweet oranges. This has the type of aroma that makes a hophead tear up a bit.
Taste - ahhh, the familiar taste of an awesome IPA. Big grapefruit and pine notes and a juicy citrus flavor that leads into a dry finish. Nicely balanced with a sweet, caramel-like maltiness but not too sweet so as the hops aren't in control. They definitely mantain the steering wheel with this IPA. This is a refreshing beer that I'd love to have an entire shelf of in my fridge! Love it!
Overall - if you've not yet tried Hoppy Boy then you need to put it on your list. This is the type of IPA that IPA lovers are always looking for. It has the strong hop aroma that sucks you in and then once you've started drinking it you never want the experience to end. It hits all the marks for the style with the big piney flavors, the strong citrus notes and a dry, tongue numbing finish. This is an altogether excellent example of an American IPA. Cheers!
Note - this month Twisted Pine is releasing 750 mL bottles of their "Hoppy Girl" beer. The beer is an India Pale Ale infused with hibiscus and jasmine and is part of their Artisan Ale Project - a new beer is introduced during the first Saturday of each month in 2012. The labels for the beers are designed by a local Colorado artist. Pretty cool!
Posted by Russ
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Monday, July 2nd 2012
Great Crescent Dark Lager
(Great Crescent Brewery)
The CraftCans Nation won’t be surprised to hear us admit that there’s a special place reserved in our beer-marinated hearts for craft brewers who make great beer and can ALL of their beers. Great Crescent is one of those breweries. With this review of their Dark Lager we’ve crossed the halfway point and sampled seven of their dozen canned beers. Our quest to track down the final five continues.
From the Great Crescent site:
"This beer is based on the very first commercially brewed beer in the state of Indiana. The name of the brewer was George Bentel. His house is still standing in New Harmony. The Harmonist brewer and cooper, George Bentel, was born November 3, 1781 in Iptingen, the same village in the Swabian kingdom of Württemberg where George Rapp was born. Bentel lived at the northeast corner of Brewery and Grainery streets, where his house remains today, as upright as when Indiana's first brewer marched out to make his beer almost two centuries ago.
The German utopian communalists in New Harmony were Indiana's first significant brewers. Beginning in 1816, the Harmonists eventually brewed enough to sell all the way up to what is now West Virginia and down into lower Illinois. From the historical record, it appears the Harmonists brewed a porter-like dark beer. It must have been pretty good beer: An educated German, Ferdinand Ernst, stopped in New Harmony during his journey through the frontier region. “They served me a stein of beer,” Ernst wrote, “and I was not a little astonished to find here a genuine, real Bamberg beer.” He gushed that the Harmonists “must be happiest people of entire Christiandom.” A Louisville agent for the Harmonists reported, “Mr. Breeden, the most celebrated porter seller in the place says the strongest part of it would almost pass for porter and is the best beer he has ever seen in this country…”
Here we go...
Pour - Deep, dark mahogany in our glass, like caramel with a touch of chocolate mixed in. Wet but fairly sturdy tan head with bubbles of every size sits on top and recedes within a couple minutes.
Aroma - Sweet grain and grassy hops. A little bit of licorice starts to come out as it warms.
Taste - Wait a minute…this isn’t what we expected from a lager. At the cold start we get light sweet malt with some roasted grains at the finish that reminded us of a Schwarzbier. As it warms the mouthfeel becomes more full, the roasted grains offer up some chocolate flavor and combine with what we suspect are Noble hops to give a more bitter, coffee-like finish with some caramel goodness hanging around for an aftertaste. Amazing.
Overall - Every once in a while we run into a beer that is very different based on the temperature, and they’re usually lagers. And those of us who have been drinking lagers for a couple decades may have been conditioned to drink them ice cold to mask the true flavor of what is in our glass - don’t do it with Great Crescent’s Dark Lager! We liked this beer so much better when it warmed that we were convinced it could be an ale, and we wrote this review over four different samplings just to be certain we weren’t imagining the complexity that showed up at higher temperatures. The CraftCans team highly recommends this beer; just take care to not let it get too warm when what we think is the lager yeast starts to take over and some sourness coats the palate.
Note - Dark Lager was Great Crescent’s ReplicAle at the 2010 Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Based on a cursory internet search, dozens of Indiana brewers took up the challenge of recreating the state’s first commercially available brew, including our good friends at Sun King Brewing. As best as we can tell, Great Crescent is the only brewer to have canned their version inspired by a very old recipe. To learn more about this small Indiana brewer go HERE. Cheers!
Posted by Trent
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