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Jeff Alworth czechs in from Portland with the news that Grant’s Ales in Yakima is releasing the Fresh Hop Ale made from the first-picked Cascade hops from the local fields. "Fresh Hop Ale, like each of my seasonal ales, showcases the distinctive character of a single hop ‘varietal’ from Washington’s Yakima Valley,” sez the redoubtable Bert Grant — dean of America’s brewpub brewers. “It's brewed with the first Cascade hops of each year's harvest. I like to think of it as a kind of ‘beer-jolais nouveau.’” Bert! Ouch!!! ... Rick Fay espied a Rolls-Royce with license plate “BEER KING” while cruising around Santa Cruz, CA, recently. “A nice house with a new Cadillac in front as well,” he reports. Now we need to know who this “Beer King” be (or not to be?).

New York City may bill itself as the Capital of the World, but if you are roaming its streets and intent on "brown-bagging" a beer as you go, you had better be thinking domestically. If you're caught with an imported brew in your bag, according Toronto’s Stephen Beaumont, it is now going to cost you extra. Judge Sherman of Manhattan, according to the New York Post, has decided that the public consumption of a domestic beer is a less serious crime than drinking an imported brew on the streets. That's why the judge will levy a $10 fine for drinking a Bud in public but will up the charge to $15 if your paper bag contains a Bass Ale or Hoegaarden bottle. All this, of course, raises the issue of how the judge feels about craft brews. If someone is caught with an expensive domestic beer, shouldn't he or she be able to afford the higher fine just as easily as the person caught with the pricy import? And what about rare or unusual beers that the cops don't recognize as being domestic? Will public drinkers be held at the mercy of the beer knowledge, or lack thereof, of New York City's finest? How will contract-brewed and licensed brands be treated? And shouldn't there be a “good-taste discount” for drinking exceptionally good beers in public? “It strikes me that with the institution of his new policy, the good judge has left a lot of questions unanswered,” suggests M. Beaumont. “But just in case, the next time that I find myself drinking a beer on the streets of the Big Apple, I'm going to make darn certain that it's a domestic brew I'm enjoying!” Thanks, Steve! We’re with you on the good brew!

No sooner had the world of beer been relieved of the babe-festooned Wanker Beer than another "female-themed" brew came along to take its place. This one is Babe Beer, and it’s the brainchild of a Beaverton, OR.-based company called (quite understandably) the Babe Beer Company. According to the Business Journal of Portland, Babe Beer labels will add a much-needed “new dimension” to the Wanker marketing scheme by being peelable and, presumably, collectable. They will feature pictures of “robust young women” dressed in “scanty outfits” and “sporting million-dollar smiles.” Babe Beer is scheduled to begin showing up in Washington and Oregon bars and grocery stores within four to six months. One can just imagine the beer-lovers of the Pacific Northwest chorusing, “Hey, I’ll have another Babe, please!” Or, “Make mine a Babe!” Possibly, “Babe me”? The mind boggles, boggle-wise...

Seattle literary icons Dick Cantwell and Fal Allen have a new book on the shelves that was reviewed this spring (favorably, we might add) in an issue of The Stranger, Seattle's local “alternative” weekly newspaper (not published by Albert Camus, silly). This is the first non-beer-related publication in the region to print a review of a decidedly beer-oriented book! As alternative as The Stranger may be (replete with ads for pervo stuff like dating services, phone sex, piercings, tattoos, theater and other godless commie pinko stuff), it is far more mainstream than the brewing community periodicals and offers a broader exposure than the authors had hoped for. “Being reviewed by The Stranger means that we are at the peak of our hipness and grooviness,” said sage Sumerian Fal Allen. “The book is actually selling fairly well (if you don't have one fer gawd's sake run out and buy one now before they are all gone!) and we are looking forward to our first royalty checks... small though they may be.” You can be totally hip and “wired” and buy one online at Amazon. Fal and Dick will love you for it — that can be assured!...

Here’s a new warning label that Joe Kennedy the younger didn’t think of. WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you. Joe is not seeking re-election.

“I’m off to the pub. See you in six months!” An Englishman by the name of Geoff Smith plans to spend a half-year entombed in a coffin-sized box in the garden of his local pub. Okay, you’re saying, what’s the weird part? Well, this, he will point out, is in tribute to his late mother, who set the record in 1968 for time spent being buried alive (101 days). Her record was beaten by some upstart American in 1981 (141 days). Geoff hopes to join the underground (so to speak) for some six months to keep the record in the family. Imagine being at your pub for six months straight and not being able to order a pint! Oh well, six months is also a long time to hold it (if you know what I mean)...

Poor Babe Ruth. Not only was his home-run record beaten, first by Roger Maris and now by Bash-Brother Mark McGwire, his keg-throwing record of 60 feet was recently topped by a team from the Glen Ellen Inn (70 feet!) at the Estate Games at Sonoma Mountain Brewery in Glen Ellen, CA. The keg-toss was a venerable event at the Mendocino Brewing Company in Hopland until liability laws precluded the practice a few years ago. As we recall, the Babe did his best to help provide a steady supply of empty kegs for such events.




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