Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gottberg beer returns to Omaha

After a hiatus of three years or more, Gottberg beer has returned to Omaha! The fine folks at the Crescent Moon Ale House offered our Princess of Darkness Porter at their Pint Night tonight. We made up some special pint glasses, and Paris herself was actually able to attend.

Our incredibly artistic tap handle

Pint Night Rules

The special pints of Darkness

Darkness all the way down the bar

They went through a full half-barrel and part of another one tonight, and they expect to go through the remainder of their three kegs tomorrow — Halloween. With luck, we'll end up with a permanent tap at the Moon, along with fellow Nebraska brewers Empyrean and Spilker.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Belgium tasting at Max & Joe's

Well, my notes from this one are a bit sketchy, but here's what I remember from the evening of October 18...

First of all, thanks to Bill Rauth for setting me up with a ticket! I was having a beer down in the Huber Haus when Bill said his buddy couldn't make it and asked me if I wanted the ticket. I owe him an equivalent amount of beer when he visits the pub in Columbus!

Polka jam at the Huber Haus!

Travis Flett(?), local New Belgium sales guy, introduced the evening's speakers. Eric Salazar has been brewing at New Belgium for 13 years, and his wife Lauren has been doing sensory QA work there for ten. They are both GABF and World Beer Cup judges, and they both really love their jobs!

Eric and Lauren and friends

After each of us tasters being presented with our very own New Belgium glass, we started off with Mothership Wit. The name "Mothership" refers to the Fort Collins brewery. This was their first organic beer, and they had a hard time finding their ingredients. Lauren says it pairs up well with shellfish, fish tacos, mussels, ceviche, and Mexican food.

Beer #2 was my favorite "everyday" New Belgium beer, 1554. This black Belgian-style beer is fermented with a lager yeast and hopped to 12 BU with Target hops. They don't use any aroma hops. It doesn't fit into any GABF styles; in fact, New Belgium brewmaster Peter Bouckaert (formerly of Rodenbach) says he's not a big fan of beer styles. Rather, he designs beers to answer the question "what are you thirsty for?" Lauren says that she hears a lot of women say that dark beers don't scare them. Pair this beer with cheese, dry-rub barbecue pork and chicken, and burgers.

2° Below, a 6.6% abv Winter Ale, is Travis' favorite. He describes it as "IPA without the bitterness". It has a fiercely spicy floral hop aroma.

After a few snacks of crackers and cheese, we were treated to a glass of the famous La Folie. The draft version is a blend of different years' brews. La Folie has its own dedicated set of pipes and vessels in the brewery. It's very tart...more so than the bottled version. It's a great dessert beer, with dark chocolate and nougat.

Rare New Belgium taps at Max & Joe's

A special treat tonight — well, one of many — was a taste of the special version of La Folie that was brewed for the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. This one is even more tart and has a much better balance than the standard recipe.

The sixth beer was a unique experience: Eric's Ale, also known as "Lips of Faith". It's a wood-aged beer, brewed with peaches and ten-year-old hops, and blended with La Folie and a Belgian Golden ale. 17.5° Plato and 7% abv, for those keeping score. It has a huge peach aroma and a mild peach flavor; it's malty, with a peach finish. If you like Belgian-style fruit beers, this one's for you. Personally, I didn't think the peach worked too well with the Brettanomyces character.

Finally, Le Terroir, a dry-hopped sour Brown, and another member of the "Lips of Faith" series. It's fiercely sour. It's really dry. Its Amarillo hop aroma is intense. They made one barrel, filtered it, and carbonated it in the keg, and we're drinking the keg now. (The remnants were still on tap at the Crescent Moon as of last Friday the 26th.) It's definitely the most tart beer of the night...great stuff!

Thanks to Eric, Lauren, and Travis for putting on the show, and thanks to Bill and Jen for hosting this party at Max & Joe's!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brewer in dispute with real Sam Adams

Hmmm...maybe the name "Sam Adams" is more common than they thought.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Boston brewers of Sam Adams beer objected when they learned that a mayoral campaign here included Web sites invoking the name of their product.

What they didn't realize is that Sam Adams is also the name of the candidate — and has been since before the beer hit the market.

The Portland Sam Adams, a mild-mannered bicycle rider, is a far cry from the Boston Sam Adams, a patriot, brewer, rabble-rouser and business flop of Revolutionary War times. The second cousin to former president John Adams inherited the brewery, and it failed several years later.

Read the entire article at Yahoo! News.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Full Sail LTD 02

So I'm enjoying a bottle of Full Sail LTD 02 Limited Edition Lager this evening. The label is a bit vague as to the beer's intended style, so I looked it up on their site.

No onions, pickles, severed fingers, nor kryptonite. Hmm. It doesn't even whiten as it cleans. But it's a pretty tasty beer anyway.

10 Ways To Maximize Your Beer Value

This comes from the Personal Finance Advice site:

Life Is Far Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer - 10 Ways To Maximize Your Beer Value

First, stop thinking of beer as a commodity. It’s not toilet paper, or screws, or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  1. Shun the sun

  2. Keep it cool

  3. Stay fresh

  4. Buy local

  5. Serve it properly: In a glass

  6. Serve it properly: Not ice cold

  7. Pour strong!

  8. Find your style

  9. Pair it up

  10. Invite your friends

For more details, see

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yet more festivities

Last Friday was the NCHS HomeGrown Fundraiser Event, a beer/wine/food fest to raise money for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society Foundation. It was a good time, although we only went through half of the beer we brought. It's clear that when there's wine, they don't drink beer. Ah well. Two different Omaha bar owners said they'd be interested in carrying my beer, so we'll see if they call.

A festival in the dark

Saturday, my customer in Council Bluffs called, saying he had forgot to order root beer, and he needed an "emergency delivery". I told him I'd fill some kegs and deliver them Sunday, since I had to take Paris to the airport anyway.

While we were in Council Bluffs, we stopped at the highly-touted Hy-Vee liquor department for the first time. We were not disappointed. Here's what I picked up:

I didn't even scratch the surface of their offerings. I'm planning to go back on Friday, beer list in hand, to do some serious shopping.

Coming up this week:

Monday: PT, and filter the All-American Gold.

Tuesday: Brew Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen.

Wednesday: PT, and brew Bugeater Brown Ale.

Thursday: PT, and clean and fill kegs, then head for Omaha and some beers at the Huber Haus.

Friday: More shots in the back, and pick up Paris at the airport.

GABF Results

This year's Great American Beer Festival has come and gone, and the medal winners are posted at the Brewers Association site.

And here are the 2007 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards:

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Pabst Brewing Company, Woodridge, IL

Bob Newman

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA

Matthew Brynildson

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management

Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA

Tomme Arthur

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

Redrock Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, UT

Kevin Templin

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.

Montana Brewing Company, Billings, MT

Travis Zeilstra

Bears and beer don't mix, it seems

Thanks to Ed Rush for forwarding this article:


BELGRADE, Serbia (Reuters) -- A 23-year old Serb was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage of Belgrade Zoo at the weekend during the annual beer festival.

The man was found naked, with his clothes lying intact inside the cage. Two adult bears, Masha and Misha, had dragged the body to their feeding corner and reacted angrily when keepers tried to recover it.

"There's a good chance he was drunk or drugged. Only an idiot would jump into the bear cage," zoo director Vuk Bojovic told Reuters.

Local media reported that police found several mobile phones inside the cage, as well as bricks, stones and beer cans.

Pub completes 25,000km journey by boat

This is my kind of cruise ship.

EX-PAT New Zealanders mourning the World Cup loss have been able to drown their sorrows patriotically after a pub with 75 kegs of a local brew arrived in London on a container ship.

The pub was purpose-built in six weeks by Christchurch company 3 Bald Men inside two five-tonne containers and will stay moored at the wharf for two weeks before setting up in a central London site.

Read the whole article at

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The high cost of a late start

Cause and effect: The weather was real nice yesterday, so I opened the windows all over the house, so the cats went nuts because of the fresh air, so they kept me awake last night even more than they usually do, so I didn't even get out of bed until 9:45 this morning, so I didn't brew any Hefeweizen today.

I did do a little paperwork, including comparing the cost of our major ingredients from 2004 to the present. Malt prices are up 20-40%, hop prices have doubled (or more), root beer extract is up 21%, and even the stuff I clean the lines with is up 27%. And that doesn't include the increased freight costs due to the near-doubling of fuel prices. Meanwhile, we're still charging the same prices that we were in 1995.

And the worst is yet to come. includes a forum post outlining next year's dire hop situation, and this USA Today article is one of many describing the skyrocketing price of malt. Both malt and hops may double in price again before the end of 2008.

Anyway, I also dumped the dregs (spent yeast) from a couple of fermenters. Maybe I'll get that Hefeweizen brewed tomorrow.

Molson Coors, SABMiller to Combine U.S. Operations

The Wall Street Journal reports that the second- and third-largest brewers in the United States are planning to merge their U.S. operations by mid-2008.

SABMiller PLC and Molson Coors Brewing Co. said they plan to combine their U.S. operations, creating a juggernaut that could threaten the decades-long dominance of Anheuser-Busch Cos. in the American beer industry.

The joint venture, to be called MillerCoors, would have annual revenue of about $6.6 billion and yield about $500 million in annual cost savings. The combination would bring together Miller Brewing Co., the second-largest U.S. brewer by sales with about 20% market share and Coors Brewing co., the No. 3 player with about 11% market share. Anheuser-Busch controls nearly half the U.S. beer market.

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.

The news is confirmed by a press release at the SABMiller site:

Pete Coors, Vice Chairman of Molson Coors, will serve as Chairman of MillerCoors. Graham Mackay, SABMiller CEO, will serve as Vice Chairman of MillerCoors. Leo Kiely, current CEO of Molson Coors, will be the CEO of the joint venture, and Tom Long, current CEO of Miller, will be appointed President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Commenting on the transaction, Graham Mackay, Chief Executive of SABMiller, said, "We are excited by the enhanced prospects for growth and the considerable benefits to all stakeholders that this joint venture offers. Given the highly complementary nature of our U.S. assets, operations and geographic footprint, this is a logical and compelling combination that we expect will create significant value for shareholders while benefiting distributors, consumers, retailers and the market overall. We look forward to working with Molson Coors to jointly develop the combined business.”

Pete Coors, Vice Chairman of Molson Coors, said, “This transaction is driven by the profound changes in the U.S. alcohol beverage industry that are confronting both of our companies with new challenges. Consumers are broadening their tastes and are increasingly looking for greater choice and differentiation; wine and spirits companies are encroaching on traditional beer occasions, and global beer importers and craft brewers are both taking a larger share of volume and profit growth. Creating a stronger U.S. brewer will help us meet these challenges, compete more effectively and provide U.S. consumers with more choice, greater product availability and increased innovation. The Molson and Coors families are firmly in support of this strategic transaction.”

Leo Kiely, Chief Executive of Molson Coors, said, “As a result of this combination, Miller and Coors will be able to provide more focused support for our flagship brands, while taking full advantage of consumers’ demand for imported and craft brands and innovative products. Both companies have a lot of momentum in their businesses today, and I am confident that this will accelerate as we adopt the best practices of both organizations. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic team that will mesh truly great brewing traditions, management teams, employees and cultures, while retaining both companies’ commitment to social responsibility and the communities in which we operate.”

Tom Long, Chief Executive and President of Miller, said, “Many important stakeholders will see clear benefits from the new company. Distributors will benefit from a robust brand portfolio, strengthened marketing investments, reduced complexity and costs, and enhanced relationships and coverage with large chain retailers. Retail customers will have an even stronger partner to drive consumer demand through product and packaging innovation, space optimization and enhanced retail execution. Our employees will have the opportunity to work for a stronger and more competitive player in the U.S. beer industry. And the communities where we do business will see a faster growing enterprise providing important economic benefits.”

Read the entire press release, which includes brand, strategic, and financial information, at the SABMiller site.

Monday, October 8, 2007

More festivities

Last Thursday morning, I picked up Paris at the Omaha airport. We stopped by Crescent Moon for a quick beer, then headed to Lincoln for lunch at Yia Yia's. That evening was the 14th Annual Okto Beerfest. It was hot as hell in the building, but the 800+ people who showed up sure had a good time. We went through a sixth-barrel each of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, Bugeater Brown Ale, and Princess of Darkness Porter. Just like last week, we ran out of beer an hour before the end of the show, despite bringing three times as much beer.

A shitty camera-phone picture of the brewers' table

Friday, I went to physical therapy in the morning and planned to take the rest of the day off, but I got a call saying that the glycol machine was all iced up. So I went over to the brewery, climbed up on the roof, and added 7½ gallons of fresh glycol to the reservoir. The temperature kept going up, so I just shut the damn thing off for the weekend, figuring it would thaw.

Today, more physical therapy after cleaning the draft lines. It seems to be working; I don't feel like there's a knife stuck in my back, at least not as often. I spent part of the morning back on the roof with the chiller. It seems to be working now, although the outside of the evaporator is still frosting up a bit. I'll climb back up there tomorrow to take a look.

Tomorrow: I should probably brew a batch of Hefeweizen.

Friday: Yet another fest, this one in Omaha again.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(The following is a facsimile of the posters that we've plastered all over the pub and restaurant.)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We at Dusters Restaurant and Gottberg Brew Pub want to help breast cancer researchers find a cure for this killer of women by making a donation to the Gateway for Cancer Research. This organization is underwritten by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which my mother, Judy Beckstrom, credited with sustaining her during her 15-year battle against the disease. Judy died on October 9, 2002, less than a week before her 58th birthday; the donation will be made in her memory.

The Nine-Percent Solution

The total amount of the donation is up to you: I pledge to donate my entire October bonus, which is 9% of the sales of our craft-brewed beers and sodas. The more of our products you enjoy, the bigger our contribution will be.

Drink our beer. Drink our pop. Find a cure.

Richard Stueven, Brewer

BJCP CEP Vocabulary Guide

Here's an excellent resource from the Beer Judge Certification Program's Continuing Education Program. It's an online dictionary containing (as of today) 249 brewing and beer-tasting terms, from acetaldehyde to yellow. Definitions, etymologies, and pronunciations are included, as well as information on the term's relevance to the brewing process and beer styles.

Eventually, I'd like to figure out how to link words on my site to their definitions, but until then, bookmark and use the BJCP CEP Vocabulary Guide.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A comical blog

The newspaper comic Adam@Home ran a strip that kinda reminded me of my work here: clean lines, clean kegs, drive to Norfolk, etc etc etc...

Click for the original image

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

GABF Podcast

Heading for the Great American Beer Festival next week? The Brewing Network is planning some pre-Fest podcasts, the GABF 2007 Preview (available now), and the GABF Virtual Tour ("coming in October"). During the Festival, they'll carry a Walking Tour Podcast, and they're planning to carry the Awards Ceremony live. I won't be there, but I'll be listening in!


Last Thursday was the First Annual Micro Brew Ha Ha, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. It was held outdoors, on the patio of Rick's Café Boatyard, overlooking the river, on a magnificent evening. They were expecting 500 people to turn up, but I'm sure there were more than that. I actually ran out of beer an hour before closing time!

Besides Gottberg, the eastern Nebraska breweries were well-represented by Empyrean, Granite City, Spilker, Upstream, and Jobber's Canyon. A couple of wholesalers were there pouring Boulevard, Left Hand and Big Sky beers as well.


...and during the fest.

Remnants of the Aksarben crew.

Behold my remarkably elegant table decorating skills!

I spent the night in a hotel in Council Bluffs, then picked up Paris at the airport in the morning. We had lunch at an unremarkable Thai restaurant, then headed over to Crescent Moon to get warmed up for their Oktoberfest, which started at 4:00. If you weren't there, you missed a fantastic party! Great German beers, great German food, great German music, and lots of fun people.

This week...

Monday: Clean the lines, go to physical therapy, do the monthly taxes, move seven barrels of root beer into the cellar, and make 14 more barrels of root beer.

Tuesday: make 14 more barrels of root beer.

Wednesday: Physical therapy, clean and fill kegs, move seven barrels of root beer into the cellar.

Thursday: Pick up Paris at the Omaha airport, then head to Lincoln for the 14th Annual Okto Beer Fest.

Friday: More physical therapy...the rest of the day is pretty much open.