In case anyone missed it - defending champion Germany has ingloriously bowed out of the biggest sports event in the world: the World Cup 2018. And while the German version of Septa Unella (that is kicker.de and our unforgiving shouty newsprint BILD) will be heaping "shame, shame, shame" on the listless crew we are now stocking up on Brazilian jerseys and renewed resolve to fill the time slots we had reserved for patriotic agony and in-depth soccer analysis with beer making. German football may stink, but German beer is still on fire. And we make our Pilsner, Kölsch and Hefeweizen the right way right here in California. Go summer!
Come join L.A.'s only German brewery Two Coast Brewing this Saturday, April 7 at the "2018 LA Beer Festival". Proceeds will benefit Noah's B-ark, an organization dedicated to finding permanent homes for shelter pets. The festival features 80 breweries bringing their best (expect an IPA or two), food trucks, bands and, perhaps - a drizzle. We're unfazed by Dallas Raines' prognostications - it's downtown, there's 200 beers to wash down the tacos - what's not to like? Let's get to it.
LA Beer Festival, LA Center Studios, 1201 W 5th St., LA, CA 90017. First session Noon - 3pm, second session 3pm - 5pm
Something is brewing in Charles Denby's biochemistry lab at UC Berkeley. And while his discoveries are not quite ready for their reveal in your pint of extra hoppy IPA, you can be sure industrial brewers are paying very close attention. Denby, in collaboration with Californian Lagunitas Brewing, has found a way to eliminate hops in the brewing process by genetically modifying yeast to produce hop flavors, Cascade hops to be precise, during fermentation. Hops, and especially the craft-favorite Cascade, are a limited commodity. Farmers have a hard time keeping up with demand. In addition flavor and intensity can vary considerably making consistent brew results one of the challenges separating good brewers from mere wannabes. Denby bypassed the fickle plant by manipulating the DNA of yeast and mint and basil, two plants producing flavor terpenes that are very similar to hops. There were misfires of course. Yeast is not completely understood to begin with, and coaxing it into producing specific flavor components without affecting its fermentation capacities posed some challenges. However, in the end the engineered yeast produced "beers that are hoppier than traditionally hopped beers", so Denby's team in their article published this week in Nature after a double-blind tasting at Lagunitas. Good news for fans of dry-hopped brews who have concerns about sustainability: they can now combine meatless burgers with hopless beer.
At Two Coast Brewing we care deeply about our planet. After all, as far as we know, it's the only one with beer on it. (Unless the real Most Interesting Man on Earth has found some peaceful corner of the galaxy to clone some of the bottles of Dos Equis he took on his one-way trip to infinity and beyond).
Here on Earth meanwhile a group of astrobiological students at Villanova University is doing really really important work to prepare for mankind's next steps into the solar system. So step aside Elon and NASA, this is important: Among some other minor stuff they found that Martian soil and hops are a match made in, ahem, heaven.
They used an approximation of Martian dirt - crushed basalt from an expired volcano in the Mojave desert - simulated weaker rays from a more remote sun, acidified the soil a bit and hypothesized about ways to loosen the dense ground (vermiculite they used would not be available on Mars). Alongside mesclun salad, basil and mint the hops flourished (somewhat surprising, considering what a fickle plant it is). The students' next challenge: Mars barley. Seriously! With frozen water present, hops and barley, all that's missing is some good space fermentation and humanity can breathe a little easier.
The question is as old as turkey in December - what beer to pair with the holiday bird? Hint: it's not an IPA unless you plan to baste your turkey in fire and brimstone. Holiday meals tend to be moderate affairs when it comes to seasoning and any hop-bomb will overpower whatever flavor you manage to coax out of a bird that is not exactly brimming with it. Look instead for something malty, chestnutty from Germany or Belgium to go with jacket weather. Just like the holiday itself the meal calls for harmonious-minded, complimentary beers. "Thanksgiving is not the time for contrast pairings", a NY chef is quoted in the NY Times whose editor is calling for European beer icons to do the job. A fine Pilsner or a Belgian farmhouse ale with its spicy undertones without having any fashion-y spices added to start the appetizers. A heavier Doppelbock or a malty dark Altbeer for the main course, a hefty coffee stout to finish off Drunk Uncle with dessert. The lesson: un-frilly dark and bright lagers, Pilsners and malty delicacies are Thanksgiving guests you can count on to deliver. These are beers Two Coast Brewing happens to excel in.
Kölsch, delicious, refreshing, the perfect summer beer, one of the great German styles that have jumped the pond, is suddenly everywhere. Or is it? Is the golden beer pouring now from a thousand taps really Kölsch? On closer inspection, the answer is more often than not a resounding NO!
"Tasting Table" August edition names Two Coast Brewing one of their "Coolest new breweries in the counrtry".
We're obviously not blind to California's realities today. We urge everyone to live large, healthy and joyful but do everything that impacts others responsibly. Your life matters as much as anyone else's.
Turns out there's another reason why beer served on a plane is usually the saddest little beer in the world. Not only is it much too often mass-produced swill, our tastebuds act differently at high altitude, surrounded by background noise, low air pressure and desert-dry air. There are a few breweries (and airlines) who try and counteract the stressors while flying. Just this week Cathay Pacific has introduced an in-flight beer containing honey and extracts from a lychee-like fruit that is designed to survive the tough taste environment aboard a plane. The Swedish airline SAS has employed the Danish cult-brewers Mikkeller for several years now, resulting in 10 supposedly air-appropriate beers with six more to follow in 2017. What all have in common is low IBU numbers. Bitterness from hops is one of the flavors that tend to dominate at 35,000 feet leaving little else to enjoy. Smell is an intricate part of taste, and as our noses already suffer in dry airplane air, there is even less to smell because carbon dioxide gases out rapidly at lower air pressure taking whatever aroma particles there were with it. So don't blame ABI and their clones exclusively for the disappointing beer experience on your way to Hawaii, some part of it is simple gastrophysics.
Malty, crisp, hoppy, elegant, clean - call it what you will, it is all those things! We will be rolling out our brand new Pilsner beginning this week. And we're convinced one sip says more than 1000 words. We unearthed a rare heirloom Weyermann Barke malt for this one to give it extra depth and balance. Pilsner was invented over 170 years ago to quell a beer fans' revolt in the Czech city of Pilsen and to finally satisfy their demand for better beer. This, we think, should really settle the score.
Craft Beer Cellar (CBC) has been pretty hard-ass about the definition of craft from their inception in Belmont, Massachusetts in 2010: Sell a large chunk of your brewery to a big-beer corporation and you are off the shelves in their currently 28 stores. Now the first and - so far - only national chain of craft-only stores is dropping a big hammer releasing a ban-list of bad brews that their stores are no longer allowed to carry. In their word: "[S]tarting at the beginning of 2017, [...] all our stores will have a list [of] a series of breweries whose beer Craft Beer Cellar headquarters has deemed unfit for consumption, and will not be allowed on stores’ shelves. Reasons include lack of adherence to style, off flavors, and inconsistency in quality." Bam!
In our opinion that move is long overdue and probably only the first inkling of a major shake-out in our industry. The dirty little secret is, there are a lot of truly awful beer in the market and nobody on the craft-side of things dared to talk about it either out of misplaced solidarity with other brewers or not to expose their own shortcomings in the art and - yes - craft of brewing. After two decades of steadily improving craft-beer-quality a lot of brewing companies are pushing into the market that should not be allowed near a cooler or a tap, much less a beer drinker. As correctly identified by the founder of CBC the problem range from all kinds of outright flavor defects to style failings and uncertainty whether the same beer in name will taste the same from month to month.
Adherence to commonly agreed style standards will help brewers and consumers in the long run by elevating craft beer's quality and marketability even further above the industrial slosh currently crowding shelves and taps. Meanwhile we vow to remain true-blue by blending German brewing tradition with just a hint of California spirit, making simple, great and simply great beers you want to have another of.
Every year the trend oracles at the Pantone Color Institute choose a color that in their view represents humanity's mood of the times. And green it is - 2017's ubiquitous color will be a "zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring". Pantone sees it as a symbol of renewal, rebirth and regeneration, also known as Pantone 15-0343 or "greenery". We have known it as the color of our fine Two Coast Kölsch for quite some time now, thank you very much! A zesty, pale blonde brew that separates humanity into two camps - those who love it, and those who haven't tried it yet. We think it mostly symbolizes "re-order" after the first pint, but what do we know of such things? Look for the star color of the coming year at one of these fashion forward bars, pubs and stores.
Boasting runs counter to everything we cherish, but... We're about as proud as two freshly minted parents! Two Coast Kölsch has now graduated to its very first tap handle in Venice Beach. After all the work, the blood (literally), sweat (literally) and tears (well, figuratively) we put our baby out there in the world to delight Californians with its citrusy, crisp, refreshing taste. Here's to many more to come!
Beer nerds are known to hold (and loudly espouse) the view that nothing refreshes quite like a beer. Now some British lab nerds from the Sports, Health and Exercise Department at the University of Loughborough have indirectly come to their aid by establishing a Beverage Hydration Index. A nice chilled Lager, it turns out, hydrates just as well as water, and almost as well as test winner whole milk. (Spoiler alert: so do sodas, coffee or sports drinks). Alcohol content plays a role, so best stay away from those nuclear IPA's after your workout. But given a choice between beer and - milk? We all know who the real winner is.
Two Coast is getting closer to the first pour. Our brewer arrived in San Jose at our production facility to brew the first batch of our KÖLSCH German Blonde. The Bavarian hops smell delicious as always. We are looking forward to the first mash-in.
Craft beer, many industry observers will tell you, competes more and more with fine wine and spirits for upscale consumers than with fizz-in-a-can multipacks of mass produced beer. Where we're lagging however is the shopping experience. We all have seen backlit tequilas or bourbons, arranged in individual alcoves like so many saints in a church of libations. Beer, however, still sticks with the common man's approach: Cram it into shelves, pile it on palettes and let the gods of buzzing neon lighting sort out the cacophony of labels. Germany, currently experiencing a love affair with American style craft beer, shows another way. Browse in style in what can only be called Beer Boutiques. We want!
A cooler… what could be less interesting than a gigantic refrigerator. Big, white, hulking. Vibrating ever so slightly and emanating a dull hum. Booooring. And yet, probably the most important piece of equipment to ensure that our beers get to you fresh, crisp and in top notch condition. Beer is perishable food and it punishes you for the slightest negligence or mistreatment. It hates the oxygen in the air, light shining on the bottles and oh my does it hate warmth. A couple weeks at California temps and it starts going stale. Kept around 35F / 2°C however, and it will stay in good shape and still puts smiles on your face after months. And all of sudden that boring cooler takes on a glorious sheen as the end-point of our all-cold supply chain from packing hall to warehouse.
It may be a badge of honor for America's vibrant craft beer industry that a giant like Anheuser-Busch InBev seems extremely concerned with losing market share to small, innovative, interesting brewers. Yet it is less the outlandish sums the Belgian corporation is willing to pay to acquire footholds in the craft markets that should concern craft fans. It is the looming mega-merger with SABMiller that could determine the future of US craft beer. Read the excellent op-ed piece by Bob Pease, President and CEO of the Brewer's Association, in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/02/opinion/a-big-merger-may-flatten-americas-beer-market.html?ref=opinion. He warns that without sufficient oversight and government interference, the distribution arm of the planned beer behemoth may well be able to turn varied and well stocked beverage store and supermarket shelves into a totalitarian and predictably bland Budweiser-Land. Possible solutions: changes to onerous distribution laws on state and federal level and a coming together of the entire industry against the threat of One-Beer-Fits-All. Distribution co-ops anyone?
Hazy beer (as opposed to, say, the natural turbidity in an unfiltered Weizen) has many fans and many detractors. Most traditional brewers view haze as a flaw resulting from the interaction of proteins and ployphenols suspended in the beer, the presence of oxygen or heavy metal ions among other factors. The recent upswing in hazy beers (NE IPA's) begs the question: is haze sloppy malting and manufacturing, is it smart marketing or avantgarde brewing adding an interesting wrinkle to the ever expanding beer universe? A recent article in beergraph.com (http://beergraphs.com/bg/973-two-brewers-admit-their-methods-for-haze/) sheds light on how some beer gets to be a place where the sun don't shine.