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Prohibition killed the bock. Bocks are rich, grainy, and worst of all, German. When breweries got running again 78 years ago today, they were making beer for drinkers used to Bevo, Vivo, and watery gin. The target market would not have appreciated a beer named after a goat.
Hops come to brewers either as thumb-sized bundles of leaves called cones or flowers (the botanical term is strobilus, and they’re closer to pine cones than actual flowers), or ground up and packed into tiny, rabbit-food-like pellets. The cone-vs.-pellet debate is long and popular.
Lagunitas uses pellets. They have to, because whole cones won’t fit into the air cannon head brewer Jeremy Marshall uses to fire hops at 70 psi into the fermenters. That’s called dry hopping, and Lagunitas dry-hops a lot of their beers. We saw these boxes of hops last time we were up at the brewery. “Sum” is for Summit, a really bitter, grapefruity hop. Fill in the blank for the other one.
Does the Cicerone program certify brewery tour connoisseurship? We’ve been on our share of walks through fermenters and bottling lines and can report with authority that the Anchor Brewery tour is by far the most entertaining. Ask for Bob, and try not to roll your eyes right out of your head.
In honor of St. Patrick, some Guinness rumors we uncovered in our research:
It’s brewed with beef bouillon. It used to be brewed with rats (these have been replaced by beef bouillon). It’s mixed with old, stale beer. Guinness brewers were some of the first to practice sparging, or rinsing their grains to extract more fermentable sugars. Guinness brewers used to power parts of the brewery with a steam engine that ran on old beer. Guinness tastes better in Ireland. (This last rumor was “confirmed” by “researchers” in the Journal of Food Science this month.)
Break free of your shamrocked chains! Today, drink American: rat-free, and obviously more delicious here.
See my picks of the best American dry(ish) stouts in the Wall Street Journal: North Coast Old No. 38, Avery Out of Bounds, Anderson Valley Barney Flats.
They say Texan homebrewers invented brown ale. (At least, the modern version.) Knowing their reputation, we don’t doubt it. It’s the hardest style to make, in our opinion — not too sweet, not too dry, not too roasted… It needs an experienced hand.
Makes sense too that the folks at Anchor perfected it.
Texan homebrewers don’t mess around. While we were there we heard about a homebrew made with bacon-infused Scotch, and tried a smoky barleywine that tasted like meat and leather and was so delicious we licked off our fingers when we accidentally spilled a drop. Fort Worth’s Cap and Hare homebrewing club is hosting the biggest homebrew competition in the country this month — Bluebonnet Brew-Off — and we’d be going, and entering, (and probably losing), if we didn’t have to run the Craft Brewers Conference gauntlet that same week.
Even Rahr shares the homebrew spirit. They host Cap and Hare meetings sometimes, and a homebrew contest called Iron Mash. We saw some little, 2- or 3-gallon barrels in their barrel room — just like the ones we have from Tuthilltown. One of Rahr’s brewers, Jason Lyon, told us the little barrels are good for experimenting because they have a better ratio of volume to surface area (less beer touching more wood), so they age beer faster than regular, 53-gallon barrels. Not everything’s bigger in Texas.