About Ron

I have many passions, beer is just one. Cheers! You can reach me at ron [at] hop-talk.com.

Beer is the new Wine

So I’m sitting in at the hotel bar, off to the side, witnessing a conversation that started with two women, then quickly involving two men, all talking about craft beer. (of which, by the way, this hotel rarely has any despite my encouragement which is what I think spurred the conversation)

“Beer is the new wine” I heard her say. Yes, but why doesn’t everyone know that yet? We have now lived through decades of the U.S. producing the best beer on the planet. Hands down. I’m hearing beers mentioned: Hop Devil, Heady Topper, Lagunitas IPA, Celebration, Kind IPA, Southern Tier 2X, … so many people know, but “we” are still not the “masses”. It just seems weird.

The point is, I’m sitting here working and listening to the conversation and it really has me missing Hop-Talk… because we rocked. While that ship has sailed, I figured, what would be the harm in expressing this… on Hop-Talk. Besides, I never got to write a farewell to our readers, so I guess this is it.

Cheers my friends. Drink in good health.

Death of a Contract Brewer

The Chosen One has arrived.







After 16 years as one of contract brewing’s loudest cheerleaders,Shmaltz Brewing company, handcrafters of HE’BREW – The Chosen Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers®, is breaking with tradition and opening its own New York State production brewery. Located in Clifton Park, NY, 10 minutes north of Albany’s capital district, Shmaltz’s new home boasts a 50-barrel brewhouse with 20,000 barrels of annual capacity. With a $3.25 million dollar budget and countless hours of planning and preparation, what began as an improbable fantasy only one year ago, has blossomed into a nearly 20,000 square foot brewing reality.

Game of Thrones Beers

You may want to look for a good pairing over at the Inn at the Crossroads, a site dedicated to the food and drink found in George RR Martin’s popular series of a Song of Ice and Fire.

I assume Ommegang will stick to their proficiency in Belgian style beers, which are excellent… I plan to collect them all!

Those who watch Game Of Thrones while wishing that there was an accompanying beer they could pound every time Joffrey does something punchable may soon have the officially licensed pathway to alcohol poisoning they so desire. According to a press release, HBO has partnered with New York’s Brewery Ommegang to launch a series of Game Of Thrones-themed beers timed to the March 31 third season premiere, beginning with the first entry, Iron Throne Blonde Ale. The 750ml, $8.50-per-bottle beer—which will presumably feature notes of smug arrogance,

Robert Baratheon ass sweat, and caramel—is the first of four to come that will “directly tie into themes, characters, and nuances” established in the show’s universe. Someday soon you’ll be declaring, “Man, I drank a ton of Varys’ Inscrutable Power Plays Porter and got totally shitfaced on nuance last night.”

via AVClub

Leinenkugel Big Eddy IPA

Leinie’s main line of beers is fairly mainstream, but I love it when they release something from their Big Eddy series. The Big Eddy Imperial IPA comes in at 9 percent ABV and 78 IBUs, is finely carbonated and goes down sweet & easy leaving behind a nice bite. Distinct fruity notes, like the grapefruit expected from the Amarillo, hides behind the rich sweet malt making this imperial IPA more balanced than most. (i.e. it won’t leave you scraping your tongue the next morning). Here’s is what they say:

Big Eddy IIPA fills the senses with five distinctive Pacific Northwest hops, which are added at each stage of the brewing process. Hops include Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Citra, and the extremely rare Amarillo.  The beer boasts grapefruit, mandarin orange and mango notes, balanced by a hint of pine and a strong caramel, toffee sweetness, giving it a complex, multifaceted character.

Know Smutty

I was enjoying some samples of Smuttynose at my local beverage center when it dawned on me that I am going on vacation next week in New Hampshire. I learned a lot about Smuttynose from Jessica including that the brewery has tours and will be 10 minutes from where I’m staying. They recommend reservations and I made ours for next Friday at 5:30.

Smuttynose is also building a new brewery to open in 2013 and will be at the Tap and Mallet on August 15th in Rochester, NY – one of my favorites – I plan to be there too.

No Bollocks

Drinking a New Castle Brown and watching more creative advertising.Check out their YouTube channel for all of the “No Bolllocks” ads. I like that they admit that they may never finish the series… pretty funny in itself.

I must admit, their website is unique and attractive – unfortunately it is not very practical. For instance, if I were looking for a list of their current available brews and a description of each I’d be searching for a long time.

Saranac Diet Root Beer

Somewhere along the line I switched my soft drink preference to diet sodas. Whether the “real” stuff got just too sweet, or my body couldn’t take it anymore (or both), I don’t know

When it comes to root beer, however, diet root beer generally is awful. I was happy to find that Saranac breaks that rule with their diet root beer. It has some sugar in it (about 35 calories per 12 oz worth of corn syrup) plus some of the fake stuff (aspartame). It definitely stands above the rest of the diet root beesr I have tried. Saranac also makes the real stuff, a ginger beer and a Shirley Temple.

Of course, if you want something healthier, I recommend Saranac’s High Peak series.

Beer Makes Men Smarter

Proof why an oatmeal stout for breakfast is both nutritious and educational…. The NY Daily News writes about a study showing that beer makes men smarter.

Beer makes men smarter.

So say researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

They found that men with a couple beers under their belts were actually better at solving brain-teasers than their sober counterparts.

To reach that surprising conclusion, the researchers devised a bar game in which 40 men were given three words and told to come up with a fourth that fits the pattern.

For example, the word “cheese” could fit with words like “blue” or “cottage” or “Swiss.”

Half the players were given two pints. The other half got nothing.

The result? Those who imbibed solved 40% more of the problems that their sober counterparts.

Also, the drinkers finished their problems in 12 seconds while it took the non-drinkers 15.5 seconds.