Beer

This Bud's For You

In Defense of the Everyman Beer

Editor's Note: Malted Madness is a celebration of America's craft beer. But what about the rest? Brandon Chuang feels... strongly about the everyman beer. We haven't forgotten the good ole' standbys either, so we let him vent. By now, just a few short days into Malted Madness, you’ve taken in about as much as you can when it comes to beer. You’ve studied the bracket — our curated list of 64 of the best craft beers in the country — and you’re drunk with emotion. Why isn’t my beer in the tournament? How could that beer make it past the first round? Nothing brings out our passions more than competition, and nothing clouds our judgment more than the wants and desires of our own hearts. And in this boozy, passion-soaked attempt to find the best of the best, we’ve forgotten what “the best” truly means. We’ve begun a coronation while the king still lives.

The Hoppy Mayhem Continues

Malted Madness, Round Two: Pouring Ahead

The second round of any 64-team single elimination tournament is always clearer. The chaos is winnowed down in scale but magnified in intensity. Dark horses that dazzled against top-ranked teams return to earth (ahem, Harvard). Under-performers face heavier competition, and some of the best battles of the tourney ensue. The second round of Malted Madness brought a whole new level of great matchups and tough calls for tasters. The first round's head-to-heads had been largely decided on gut reactions. In this round, the tasters began showing signs of "decision depression" -- i.e. not wanting to make a selection -- and there was far more frowning going on than should be in a room loaded with excellent brews. Still, we had known the risks going into the tournament (though we forgot to include alcohol poisoning waivers). Furrowing brows and downing saltless crackers to revive our palates, we forged on.

Take off eh!

Malted Madness: Five Passport-Worthy Canadian Microbrews

Not content to be contained, Malted Madness is spreading across the 49th parallel. Lucky for us, our neighbors to the North hold the same passion for cranking out (and drinking) mouth-watering microbrews as American brewers. And lucky for you, the GP team has a Canadian correspondent to help guide your sudsy stumblings beyond the world’s longest international border. The goal was the same: finding category contenders worthy of each of our style brackets (lagers, light ales, dark ales, and Et Al.). But instead of crowning winners, we’re presenting four Provincial picks (plus a personal favorite) to whet your palate. You might even be tempted to hop the border and find out what excellent Canuck craft brew is all aboot, eh?

The madness begins

Malted Madness, Round One: 64 Poured, 32 Downed

For the past several weeks, we've been neck deep in beer organization, planning, spreadsheets and desperate phone calls. We've labored, unpacking beers, tweaking final lists, praying that no bottles were dropped or lost or drunk by devious and sly beer-stealing types, and preparing an encoded 64-brew bracket. Then, suddenly, we were plopped in comfy leather chairs in Alphabet City Beer Co., unsalted crackers unappealingly laid on the table before us, with beer pairs -- two pitch-black, two cloudy with wheat and yeast, two reeking of hops and two deep in malted caramel colors -- set before their respective tasters. And so Malted Madness began, finally, in earnest. Zach Mack bravely charged into the Et Al. category, Ben Bowers tackled the apocalyptic Light Ales grouping with modesty and strong focus, David Hitchner hammered out bold decisions in the Lager category like it was second nature, and I tucked into Dark Ales with loudmouthed gusto. We were all buzzing, and we hadn't even had a sip.

Turning a Dream Into a Sudsy Reality

Method to the Madness: How a 64-Beer Tournament Comes to Be

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to put on a 64 beer, single elimination, NCAA-style tournament. One minute you're dreaming of all that hoppy, malty, chocolatey, fruity goodness in one place and the next... well, you're trying desperately to get all that hoppy, malty chocolately, fruity goodness -- in one place. To be clear, this tournament isn’t about bitching. It’s about gathering 64 of the best beers in America together, matching them up, tasting them blindly (removing the pretense that so often surrounds our entrenched beery beliefs), and crowning a champion. It's GP's swing at a new way to enjoy, explore and appreciate damn good beer. It’s about one of the biggest movements in our country. It’s about a shared passion. It’s also about personal taste, the barroom argument you’ve had with your buddies many times: which beer is better?

Tops Pop Next Week

Introducing | Malted Madness: The Gear Patrol National Beer Championship

Name your favorite domestic beer. Not so easy, eh? With Malted Madness, Gear Patrol takes on that challenge: blind tasting the best craft brews across America. We’re not talking about your “go-to” choice, the quick pick you can find at any supermarket or Jiffy Mart across America, although there are several of the quality we mean that are nationally available. No, this is about the beer with a starring role in your dreams, a taste that conjures the trumpets of heaven with each sip and invokes tears of joy as it traipses across your palate. Naming a favorite is subjective, like picking America’s “Sexiest Woman”, and an over-simplification of the media. Gear Patrol jumps into the fray, regardless, in an attempt to do just that: pick the best craft beer in the United States out of a field of 64 in a grand single-elimination tournament. Join us for Malted Madness, the perfect companion to the culmination of college basketball. Read on for more info.

An hour wasn't enough

Dogfish Head Sixty-One

What's big and floral and more hopped up than a GP editor after the Fortnight of Coffee? The continuously-hopped 60 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head, of course. And now the Delaware brewery has combined that beer with syrah grape must to make the first new foamer in its core lineup since 2007: Dogfish Head Sixty-One ($9), available this month.

Hop Hop, Hooray

Spiegelau IPA Glass

Quick, who do you want to make you the perfect IPA glass? An excellent German glass maker (Spiegelau), a West Coast brewery that was one of the earliest and most influential in craft beer making (Sierra Nevada) and an East Coast maker whose 60 Minute IPA is considered one of the most solid (Dogfish Head)? The resulting IPA Glass ($25 for two) looks awkward but is tailored just so for your drinking pleasure.

A future king?

Budweiser Black Crown

Budweiser Black Crown isn’t another ploy from “the King of Beers” to rally the fratty faithful with higher alcohol content (though its 6% ABV is technically higher) or pointless packaging gimmicks (It turns red when you’re hammered!). Instead, it’s the result of a year-long skunky works initiative, dubbed “Project 12” in which the company asked...

Das Ist Different

Beck’s Sapphire

Can gimmickry was so two years ago. Today, it's all about getting a better buzz from your brew. Beck's Sapphire is the latest entry into the field, boasting 6 percent ABV and a sleek black glass bottle designed to blend seamlessly into the background of happening nightclubs, bars and restaurants -- while also protecting the suds from light.

Fill 'er up

Portland Growler Co.

It can be emitted by your stomach, your dog or your angry in-law, but the best form of the low rumble is the growler, beer drinkers' response to the doggy bag. Portland Growler Co. knows their way around these 32- and 64-ounce jugs o' joy better than just about anybody. The (you guessed it) Portland company proudly designs a range of growlers, which are then slip cast, trimmed and made to order by Mudshark Studios (also of Portland, of course).

Beer is Coming

Ommegang Game of Thrones Iron Throne Blonde Ale

Chalk up another gimmick that we’re head over heels lusty after. In the beautiful marriage of fantasy, boobs, political intrigue and swordplay that is Game of Thrones, there’s a new player in town: brew. Ommegang’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale ($9), due out before the show’s season three debut on March 31st, is the first in...

12 gifts for the booze lover

12 Guys of Christmas: The Mixologist

The Mixologist’s gotten you into plenty of blissful adventures, most of which ended without real long term damage to your record or your marriage. He’s a passionate guy, and he knows his craft: beer, that is. Malts, mash, wheat, barley, rye, and oh yes, sweet sweet delicious hops — he sucks them all down, grinning...

A sippin' beer

Samuel Adams 10th Anniversary Utopias

We’ve given you the Paul Harvey on the dethroning of the American King of Beers — now we bring you the heir apparent. This year’s Samuel Adams’s Utopias ($190), a special 10th Anniversary edition of their bi-annual offering, pushes the limits of beer brewing on three fronts: price, potency and flavor. A 29% ABV libation...

De-throning the Kings of Beers

Bitter Brew

Mom, baseball, and apple pie might just be the only things more American than Budweiser beer. Except Bud’s not — American, that is. Though the logo of the number-one-selling beer in the U.S. remains burned into our national psyche, Anheuser-Busch is now a wholly owned subsidiary, bought out in a 2008 hostile takeover by the...

Gourd your loins

Tasting Notes: Hangar 24 Gourdgeous Pumpkin Porter

It’s time to give up sipping the double IPAs of summer, but not quite time for a winter warmer. If you have a strange itch for a liquid sort of pie, there’s an explanation: it’s pumpkin beer season. Tragically, this classic fall seasonal is damn easy to mess up — we’re tired of one dimensional,...

Briefings: Meeting Family, Caveman Beef, Pint Math, Butchers and WWII Photos

Short and sweet. No, we’re not talking about your first girlfriend or how you like your shopping trips. Our pinnacle of pertness is far, far more important (just like every Briefings). Our theme: more content, less time spent. Reading, that is. History. Dating. Beef. More beef. Sudsy math. Our finds keep it quick, because goddammit,...

Oktoberfest on demand

Professional Microbrewery

We’ve found home brewers to be a zealous lot, with arguments about proportions of barley/hops/secret ingredients, the virtues of top versus bottom fermenting, and the pursuit of a beer that rocks ABV and IBU values. With a small investment ($45K), you can put your brewing efforts on Viagra and move directly to the top of...

Briefings: Pasta, Vampires, Beer Machines, Mosquitos, and Euro 2012

Our attention this week was on things practical rather than academic: eating carbs, drinking beer, watching sports, and protecting ourselves from vampires with Victorian-era slaying kits. Remember: practical. It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] gearpatrol.com if you think there’s something we should know about.

Everything you need to live it up

Roundup: Memorial Day Weekend

Looking to make your extended weekend celebration extra memorable? Well, our editors have culled through our latest posts to help provide some last minute inspiration for your Memorial Day weekend, whether the festivities are at your place, or elsewhere. You can thank us by throwing another burger on the grill. Two slices of cheese, please....

The original craft brewer

Tasting Notes: Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy Imperial IPA

Beer lovers, we live in fortunate times. The craft brewing revolution is in full swing in America, from Seattle to South Beach. But while most craft beer makers are “micro” in every sense of the word, there’s one with a long history and the capacity to make its beer available coast to coast: Leinenkugel’s. Sure,...

Starting relief pitcher

Ice Core Beer Pitcher

With spring in the air, the NHL already in playoff mode and the NBA’s second season about to start, there are a number of reasons to have the boys over for a beer. The Ice Core Beer Pitcher ($13) is a simple accessory that ensures your suds will stay ice cold, out on the patio...

Jailbreak your beer

Dogfish Head Randall Jr. Personal Beer Infuser

Even with the current renaissance of commercial craft brewing, many of us still feel the need to tinker or create our own. Sure this stout is fantastic, but what if I added some espresso beans? Leave it to a Gear Patrol staff and reader favorite, Dogfish Head, to devise an easy and low-cost solution. The...

Because 12 ounces isn’t enough

Tasting Notes: Samuel Adams Single Batch Series

Samuel Adams is best known for its Boston Lager, but with a slew of other great beers – the Boston Ale and Black Lager come to mind – the brand has transitioned from craft brew darling to international powerhouse. That said, they keep the craft and innovation alive with releases like the Single Batch Series....

A true drinking game

8-Bit Pale Ale

In hindsight, it completely makes sense that craft brewers like video games. In fact, what guy doesn’t like beer and video games (you productive types don’t count). To that end, Kansas’ Tallgrass Brewing Company, known for packaging their entire selection of beer in 1 PINT aluminum cans, has released 8-Bit Pale Ale. Based on customer...

No ID required

Sierra Nevada Natural Lip Balm

The next time you’re in need of lip protection, stop stealing the cherry gloss from your better half’s purse, and grab some Sierra Nevada Natural lip balm ($1). It’s made from cascade hop oils and other all-natural ingredients, for a hint a Sierra Nevada flavor, minus the 5.6% ABV buzz. Keep a stick in your...

Hop to it

Upslope Brewing Company Foreign Style Stout

After just two years in business, Upslope Brewing Company is releasing the Foreign Style Stout, their first limited release specialty ale. Located and expanding in the North Boulder area, this budding brewery was founded by three outdoor adventure lovers who enjoy chilled, fizzling hops in between camping, rafting, and mountain biking trips. With only 200...

Your Homebrewing Handbook

The Illustrated Guide to Brewing Beer

While we appreciate the growing craft beer movement and the art of a perfectly poured pint, we can’t ignore our do-it-yourself instincts. But before we turn the guest room into a rogue brewery, we’ll take some advice from avid home brewer, Matthew Schaefer. His new book, The Illustrated Guide to Brewing Beer ($15), is the...

Chills beer in just five minutes

LG Super-Capacity French-Door Refrigerator

Technology is constantly striving to indulge our inner sloth. Manually setting reminders on your phone was deemed too arduous, so now you can speak them. Pulling out keys, inserting them into the ignition, and twisting was just pointlessly strenuous, so now we just push a button. Going to rent a movie at Blockbuster defined drudgery,...

Light Beer, Guinness-Style

Tasting Notes: Guinness Black Lager

The first thing you should know about Guinness’s latest creation is that it’s targeting a broader market of drinkers who may not be fans of their meal-in-a-pint stouts. Though it’s called a Black Lager, beer geeks will point out that it’s technically a very specific German brew called Schwarzbier or “black beer”. Developed long before...

A Study on Suds

The Oxford Companion to Beer

Clearly, we’re fond of books that teach us more about the things we love. The subject matter alone of The Oxford Companion to Beer ($38) is enough to tempt most men to flip through its pages, but when you factor in that it’s been edited by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, it becomes a must...

Party Foul Proof

Silipint

Most people will take beer in any container they can get it in. Purists, however, tend to place the traditional pint glass above all us. The Silipint ($10) is an indestructible incarnation of the popular cup (sadly it’s the American 16 oz, not a 20oz British Imperial). Made from flexible, food grade silicone, it can...

Cold and Calculating

Summit Appliance Beer Frosters

The purpose of a Beer Froster ($550+) should be self-evident. What may not be so obvious is how it’s different from a standard freezer. Anyone who has ever attempted to cool down some brews quickly in the freezer and then forgot about it has learned that the consequences of combining beer with freezing temperatures can...

Brew A-Ha

Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer

The cigarette companies were slapped year’s ago for using illustrations in their ads on the grounds that it created young smokers in training. Still, those dirty peddlers were on to something. Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer ($12) takes full advantage of the beauty and appeal of illustration to walk would-be brewers...

Bring the bar to you

Alpina Mobile Bongos Beer Bar

Think of the Alpina Mobile Bongos Beer Bar ($11,300) as a graduate degree in outdoor drinking. The mobile party center features an integrated kegerator, 8kg of ice storage, and customizable tops for adding everything from a gas-powered grill to extra serving areas. Thanks its four sturdy wheels and a specially designed refrigeration system, there’s also...

Beer!

For their book Beer: A Genuine Collection of Cans ($13), authors Dan Becker and Lance Wilson painstakingly logged and photographed nearly 500 beer cans. Sourced from thirty countries the book spans obscure, forgotten, and stalwart brews. Some you’ll recognize. Some you won’t. If you’re itching to see the beer sooner than later though, 163 of...

Meet the World's First Space Beer

Vostok 4 Pines Stout Space Beer

Vostok 4 Pines Stout ($20) is the world’s first beer that’s certified for drinking in space and was developed by the 4-Pines Brewing Company and Saber Astronautics. Yes, the claim is a blatant marketing ploy, but you’d be surprised what a brewer has to deal with to make suds drinkable in space. First of all,...

They Say a Person Just Needs Three Things to Be Happy

The Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection

The Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection is composed of three unique beers that share a common background of aging in oak barrels that originally did time storing brandy in a previous life. Outside of that common ground though, the American Kriek, New World Tripel, and Stony Brook Red brews are each distinct specialty beers. The...

Like Classic Guinness, With a Bite

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

Claiming that Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is a new offering from the esteemed Irish beer brand is technically inaccurate. The reality is it was brewed for more than two centuries and dates back to 1801. Back then it was known as West India Porter until the mid-19th century and was distinguished by its more intense...

Draught Beer Made Easy

EdgeStar Mini Kegerator

Draught beer is the ultimate party beverage. But let’s face it, unless you’ve got fraternity pledges to do the heavy lifting, kegs are an enormous pain. Mini kegs are the tiny answer to this problem, but dispensing these bad boys properly can seem as troublesome as dealing with a whole keg. That’s where EdgeStar ($160)...

Giving Back Never Went Down So Smooth

Abita Brewery SOS Charity Pilsner

Though the eventual consequences of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill are still being determined, the damage done to the seafood industry along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana is a very present and tangible reality. Families which have fished and shrimped in the murky waters off the Mississippi delta for generations are facing an end...

End of Summer, Refreshment

Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy Beer

In the blistering heat, when your typical Bud bottle isn’t quenching your thirst, you need something that actually tastes refreshing. That’s when you should break out a 6-pack of Leinkenkugel’s Summer Shandy ($7). The first thing you’ll notice is the citrus aroma that jumps out of the glass. When it hits your lips the lemon...