I’m happily easing into my misanthropic years. It helps that the world outside the walls of my Strongsville, Ohio, home seems to be in a state of pre-apocalypse. I spend most of my nights and weekends barricaded inside, watching the news on mute, hands covering my face, eyes peeking through my fingers. It’s Halloween time, and nothing seems more macabre than the reckless violence of the real world. The environmental irresponsibility. The acceptable bigotry. Those terrible Fast and Furious movies (there’s a new one, BTW).
It all makes it very, very easy to stay home. It also gives me time and sanctuary to poke my plucky little baby boy. He’s only four months old (look how cute!), but I’m already beginning to realize that I will soon have to start training him for the inevitability of a quickly approaching Armageddon (which is also a pretty metal band name). The way things are going, sooner than later he’ll be battling punk-mohawked, leather-bondage-gear-wearing biker gangs just to get fuel. He’ll probably have to step up as the reluctant leader of the worldwide human Resistance, and even before Judgement Day, I personally may need to capture and reprogram a few Terminators to help him along the way. The point is: We’re preparing, and you should too.
How much time do we have left together? Nobody really knows, but I’m finding extra time and added strength thanks to the fine craft breweries that have been stocking me up with craft beer via the mail. I don’t even have to leave the house.
So, with the end being nigh, I decided to dedicate this chapter of cool loot to my love of getting free beer and books in the mail so I never have to leave my house and can concentrate on training my scion to survive in a Road Warrior-type society. It should be noted, we are not a beer or book review site, but we do drink beer and read books, so we’re always quite tickled when craft businesses send us some of their awesome products for us to crush. In this reoccurring column, I will highlight those generous businesses, focusing on the innovative packaging techniques and cool products. I’d like to thank these business for their magnanimity. Here goes…
On the day of reckoning, take sanctuary in Garage Brewing Co.
Almost every beer nerd who’s busted open a homebrew kit has made a garage beer. In fact, I’ve already designated our garage as our family’s post-apocalyptic brewery and distillery. I took my girlfriend’s disinterested shrug as confirmation. Garage Brewing Co. has taken carports in a similar direction. Established in 2013, the California brewhouse opened in what was once an eight-bay garage at the end of Old Town Temecula. They not only make rad beer, but their fast-fired, custom-built pizzas are scandalicious. Of note: In 2016, Garage Brewing expanded with an off-site, full production brewery in Murrieta, Calif. Also of note: The kind folks behind the brewhouse sent me a handsome beer box with three of their finest IPAs.
Garage Brewing maintains six core year-round styles while also regularly rotating in seasonal creations for a total of around 15 beers on tap at all times. I’m definitely a big fan of the Inline IPA, funked up with a citrus hop aroma and a crisp finish. It’s a medium-bodied American IPA with an ABV of 7.5 percent and 75 IBUs. This was the perfect 22 ouncer for a sunny fall day in my walled-off backyard — after family parkour training, of course.
This Hatch Chile IPA is the kick in the throat I’ll need to fight banditos once society has collapsed. This unique American IPA has an aged Hatch chile flavor which causes a medium-low heat. This sucker even won a silver medal at the 2015 LA International Beer Competition. This fire water can be used to rekindle your craft spirit or blind the eyes of your enemies with chile heat. I appreciate diversity in a beer.
Rounding out the IPA trifecta for Garage Brewing is its Citrus IPA. This fruity American IPA is fermented with blood … oranges … giving it a fresh and addicting citrusy taste. This is one of Garage Brewing’s many specialty beers, which includes brands like Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, Port Burrel Saison and Cherry Top Belgian Stout. They’re all great examples of top-quality craft beer that I would not hesitate to horde come the end of the world.
This book on session beers will be worth more than gold come the crack of doom
Having already designated my garage as Debauchalypse BreweryTM, I’m super excited to start reading the newest Brewers Publications book — Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance — which just arrived in the mail. At first, I was like: When the world nears its end I will probably need to brew some powerful ABV styles of beer to ease the pain of crossbow wounds and losing loved ones to subterranean mutant dwellers. But then I thought, well, that nuclear wasteland might require something lighter and more refreshing.
So, this latest book release by Jennifer Talley is a godsend, and it explores the history behind some of the world’s greatest session beers — past and present. From the press release:
In recent years, brewers have reinvented traditionally stronger classic beer styles to something more suitable for casual drinking sessions — giving beer lovers the freedom to celebrate community while consuming less alcohol. Such beers can be challenging to brew, but they present many opportunities to showcase skill, flavor and refreshment. In Session Beers, Talley provides valuable information about the brewing processes and ingredients that can be used in development and explores popular recipes from some of the best brewmasters in America.
“A veteran of low-ABV ‘session’ brewing, Jennifer Talley brings an enormous amount of practical and technical information to this subject. It’s obvious her time at Squatters Pub Brewery in Utah fostered respect for the art and soul of brewing beers under 4.0% ABV,” said Tomme Arthur, co-founder and brewmaster, Lost Abbey and Port Brewing Co. “As someone who has been at this business of brewing for over 20 years, I can honestly say this book provided some keen insights into the thought processes and execution behind these fickle beer styles. I guess you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. I for one cannot wait to share this information with my brewers.”
Talley also has some pretty convincing street cred. She started her brewing career in Salt Lake City as brewmaster at Squatters Pub Brewery. She honed her skills through a variety of positions at Salt Lake Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, Russian River Brewing Co. and Auburn Alehouse. She is a Cicerone Examiner, craft beer industry speaker, technical committee member for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and a national and international beer judge. She has received over 20 awards from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup and was awarded the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing in 2011. Good enough?
Go out and buy this book — before people starting burning books for warmth in the world’s winter holocaust regions — it’s only $19.95.
Dead Guy Ale (barrel aged!): A beer worthy of your final moments
When I got this Dead Guy Ale in the mail via Rogue Ales and Spirits (it’s aged for six months in whiskey barrels), I instantly knew this was a special beer for a special moment. What type of moment, you ask? Say…
I’m mortally wounded but still gripping a bomb detonator, buying time for my family to escape from our end-of-the-world compound in Strongsville, Ohio. And just as my long-time girlfriend, clutching our only child, kisses me one last time, I say: “Before you go, be a dear and fetch me that Dead Guy Ale, aged in whiskey barrels.” As I watch them leave, I’ll reminisce how life never tasted so sweet — a final selfless superhero move paired with an award-winning Dead Guy Ale aged in Dead Guy Whiskey barrels — its strong whiskey nose and added notes of oak and vanilla balancing out Dead Guy Ale’s malty, honey sweetness.
As the scavenger hordes finally break through our last fortifications, I take one last swig and say, “Sorry bitches, this is one beer I won’t be sharing.”[Cut to scene where long-time girlfriend is seen escaping but turns as she hears an explosion in the distance. The camera fades as she looks on stoically.]
But before that day happens, grab your own bottle. Rogue brewers, distillers and coopers placed Dead Guy Ale in barrels which had previously held Dead Guy Whiskey, made with Rogue Farms ingredients, thus making Dead ‘N’ Dead. The beer was aged for six months, allowing it to soak up flavors and personality from the whiskey barrels. Just in time for fall, Dead ‘N’ Dead will be available for a limited time in 22-ounce bottles and available on draft in select locations. Go find it now and savor it before the end — because the end is near my friends.
I will personally ensure this amazing State of Craft Beer book survives for future mutant generations
Once I become an old cynical drifter of the wasteland (it’s never fully explained how I survived the aforementioned bomb blast, but of course I did), I will carry a few mementos of family members I once knew and loved. I will pull out a dorky photo of Cole (my boy) that I use as a bookmark (probably this one), always wedged into my favorite book, and reminisce of better times.
That publication could very well be the amazing coffee table book above, State of Craft Beer, focused on the working-side of Wisconsin’s craft beer industry. I know some might say, well that’s an odd book to lug around the apocalypse. I say, nope. It’s worth it. The State of Craft Beer is a 272-page journey through Wisconsin’s beer industry (yes), but it’s also an awesome documentation of the whole brewing process, from grain in the field, through the mill and into a distribution truck on its way to someone’s glass. It also branches off to include some of the feeder industries, like equipment manufacturers, tap handle makers and ingredient suppliers.
It’s also absolutely beautiful with gorgeous photography. I foresee Cole and I reading this at night by candlelight (on first watch!) as zombie marauders encircle our camp, demanding us to share our secret knowledge of craft beer. Using big pictures and short summaries, I will teach my offspring all the inner workings of the beer industry, and we’ll talk about Wisconsin as some sort of promised land where we’ll travel one day to join the Resistance and fuel the good fight with our own style of quality ales. Together we’ll trace the hot-pressed and foil-stamped hardcover with our fingers, spelling out the hand-lettered typography. A tear comes to my eye just thinking about it. Buy this awesome book right now (and right here!). Share it with your loved ones while there’s still time.
The ultimate Schlafly beer box finishes up my final preparations
Schlafly Beer will most certainly be a stronghold during the great cataclysm. The brewing brand is already combat tested! It’s been battling right next to the overloads in the great Bud capital of St. Louis. During that time, Schlafly’s developed an impressive arsenal of 60 brands, and the quality and consistency of product is as good as any brewhouse in the beer industry. And just like this paranoid scribe, Schlafly’s theorists are obviously reading the same signs I am. Because why else would they send me this beer survival kit of 12 hearty brewskis? To get me to write about them? Nope. To set up me proper for the pockyclypse. Cheers, mates. I have crossbows if you need them.
The real jewel in this lot is Local Oak. It’s the first foeder beer in the From The Ibex Cellar series. Inspired by the famous sour ales of Belgium, this beer starts as a saison and undergoes several transformations (just like the mutant hordes), fermented with the additions of lactobacillus, brettanomyces and two saison yeast strains. Aged gracefully for over three months in Schlafly’s foeders (hewn from locally grown Ozark timber), the beer’s tart and fruity character make it a wonderfully complex beverage that will probably only be fully appreciated once the world has ended.
Also, I can age this sucker. Perfect for my underground beer bunker.
Schlafly’s Oktoberfest is a grand Bavarian Märzen — full of toasty malt aroma with slight caramel taste. It’s a rich, amber lager that reminds me it’s OK to wear lederhosen, especially since everyone will be wearing leather in the Mad Max dystopia I’m picturing. Ah, and the use of German noble hops with a nice lager yeast ferments a cold, smooth crisp beer. This also has inspired me to build a beer cave to go along with my bunker, lagering like German beers of yore.
Sticking with seasonals, a lot of folks seem to be complaining about pumpkin beers. They’ve clearly never had Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale, which is easily one of the best of its breed on the market. It blends the spices of the harvest with full-bodied sweetness for a beer that tastes like delicious pumpkin pie. Pounds of pumpkin form a malty foundation that supports the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It’s perfect for celebratory feasting after a big Resistance win.
Schlafly brought back its Pilsner this summer if you didn’t notice. When the Saint Louis Brewery (that’s Schlafly’s corporate name) opened the doors of the Tap Room in 1991, Pilsner was one of the original draft offerings. With clean styles back in favor among craft beer drinkers, Schlafly’s golden, crisp lager offers an approachable option with high drinkability. At 5 percent ABV, this is a crushable beer, returning as a new seasonal offering.
AND, I saved the best for last. Schlafly’s Hop Trial SMaSH Pack, in my humble opinion, is the best variety purchase in beer. Each year the company releases an experimental new V-pack that features four different experimental hop varieties (three bottles of each in the pack). This go around, the four hops are Perle, Ella, Barbe Rouge and Chinook. The pack stems from the awesome Hop Trial program, something Schlafly created to test out hops that are looking to be introduced into the market, while offering feedback to the hop farmers and getting input from drinkers.
This is also a great way to learn how different hops affect the taste of beer, which will be crucial as I decide which varieties to breed in the hopyards surrounding my Thunderdome.