Thursday, January 3, 2013

Charter Oak Launches a New Website

Things have been moving fast this past Fall for the Charter Oak Brewing Company.  We not only introduced the Royal Charter Pale Ale style and are now in over 400 locations throughout Connecticut, but we also launched a new website.  Please visit us at
We also incorporated our blog onto this site.  Please check this out at

Friday, May 25, 2012

Brown Ale Beer Style

In that the Charter Oak Brewery is about to release our 1687 Brown Ale, we thought it prudent to update our releases with a section on the American Brown Ale style.  The demand, and knowledge, of this style is weak in comparison with styles such as IPA, Pale Ale, Stouts and Porters; however, this year round beer certainly has an important spot in the beer world!
 I find that many newer craft beer drinkers are afraid to even venture a sip of an American Brown Ale for fear that the dark brown body will yield a heavy bodied, robust flavor and one that may alienate most.  Unfortunately, this is a poor perception of a highly sessionable and delicious style.
The Brown Ale style was one of the original British beers and was introduced centuries ago. One should not be afraid to try this style.  In fact, the Brown Ale beer enjoys a medium body, just enough bittering hops to balance the sweetness generated from the barley, and is not high in alcohol content.  A typical Brown Ale has a flavor profile that has a somewhat roasted taste with a backbone of caramel and chocolate.  This style is sometimes also referred to as a ‘nutty brown’, because of the roasted flavor.  It is not as hoppy as the Pale Ale beer and typically a well poured Brown Ale has a light tan foam head which lasts until the last of the deep cooper to brown shaded pint is gone.

Some examples of Brown Ale include Pete’s Wicked Ale, Charter Oak 1687 Brown Ale, Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale, Pyramid Brown Ale, as well as Samuel Smith and Newcastle.

For the beer expert, this style profile range includes
4.0 – 6.4% ABV; 1.040-1.060OG;  15-26IBU

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stout Beer Style

In today's craft beer age, Stouts and Porters are often spoken in the same breath as being nearly the same beer.  I would have to say, today, this is true because the two styles have indeed overlapped one another.  However, back in the 1730’s when the first Stout was introduced in London, it was known as a Stout Porter, which was simply a stronger Porter beer.  This style soon enjoyed popularity throughout both England and Ireland. In fact, the Guinness Brewery was started, primarily brewing solely the Stout Porter style. It was not until the 1820s when Stout was separated from Porter to become its own style.  It was known as a darker, hopper, and higher gravity beer versus the Porter style. A typical Stout has an original gravity of 1.070-1.090, 90+ IBU and a shade exceeding 40SRM. The newly introduced black unmalted barley assisted brewers with this midnight black style. 

Today, although the Stout style is still a dark shade, it now is less in bitterness and the primary grains include crystal, chocolate and a roasted barley which allows for a balanced and interesting dry coffee, caramel, and chocolate flavor. I might argue that the modern Stout is once again very similar in style to the Porter style. The most popular Stouts have a full month feel as a result of nitrogen gas instead of the more typical CO2 for carbonizing. 
The American Stout, which has a slight citrus backbone, compliments a dish of Oysters well, but also, pairs well with a garden salad.  The Stout is a wonderful choice on a cold winter’s night with the fire a blaze!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beer Growlers are Fun

Ever wonder why the craft beer brewers decided on strange packaging such as a growler or why it is named a growler?  While it is true that during the prohibition, the distillers pushing ‘moonshine’ had a container that appeared similar, the modern day beer growler traces its roots back to the 19th century.  The growler was first used when a loyal pub drinker wanted to bring some beer home or sent his kids down to his favorite watering hole to fetch some beer.  They would fill small pails and as one carried the pail home it would hiss and rattle as the CO2 escaped…. also referred to as growling.

Today, the growler is generally brown in color, to prevent light from spoiling the craft beer, and holds 64oz or 4 pints.  Most growlers also have a handle for easy pouring.  Although nearly every craft brewery now markets growlers, it was Otto Brother’s Brewing (now Grand Teton Brewing) that introduced this container in 1989 into the USA.  Beer growlers are not only fun, they are reusable and therefore environmentally friendly.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Legend and Our Story for our Beers

There is perhaps no greater Connecticut legend than that of the Charter Oak.
In 1662, the colony of Connecticut, owned and governed by England, was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II. The “Connecticut Charter” permitted the colony to make some of its own rules and to elect certain officials. Charles’ death in 1685 brought his brother, James II, to the throne. James disapproved of the Royal Charters and demanded their return. The charters interfered with James’s plan to establish the Dominion of New England – a combination of the New England colonies and the colony of New York under the leadership of one royal official.
In 1687, Sir Edmond Andros, the Royal Governor of the New England Dominion, met with leaders of the Connecticut colony in Hartford. Debates continued for hours as the colonists steadfastly refused to give up the Charter. According to legend, all of the candles in the meeting house, Sanford’s Tavern suddenly blew out and, during the confusion, the 1662 Charter disappeared. Captain Joseph Wadsworth was positioned outside the tavern and in the chaos of the darkness rode off to George Wyllys farm where a huge Oak tree stood.  It was hidden in the trunk of a large white oak tree where it was protected from the King and from Andros.  .... known from this day forward as the Charter Oak tree and became Connecticut’s state tree.... not only did the tree become famous, but 325 years later, a craft beer was born.
Despite Connecticut’s resistance, it became part of the Dominion of New England for the next two years. In 1689 James II was overthrown and Andros lost power in the colonies. The Connecticut Charter emerged from hiding and was used to govern Connecticut until 1818, when the Constitution was introduced. In 2011, the Charter Oak Brewing Company was founded, A True Legend!
On August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak, estimated at nearly 1,000 years old and 33 feet circumference, fell down during a violent storm.  
BUT, the brewery lives on to tell the tale....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Connecticut Reviews Liquor Laws

Connecticut, the state Charter Oak Brewing Company operates in, has a new Governor and he is reviewing our liquor laws.  This was a long awaited event in that our state is surrounded by other states that have all updating their respective laws and the result has hurt sales in Connecticut.  You may recall, Connecticut is often referred to as the Blue Law state because of the tight regulations.  Governor Malloy initially proposed several modifications, but the final docket appears as follows
-State will now allow Sunday alcohol sales 
-Allow liquor stores to stay open on holidays (except Christmas)
-Grant breweries to sell a full case of beer on premise, also, permit beer tastings without having to take a tour  (growlers were always allowed)
-Package stores can now sell snack foods
-Permit an operator to now own up to 3 stores
-Bars/restaurants now able to stay open until 2am on Friday and Saturday.
-Retailers now able to sell up to one item at 10% under actual cost
These may not seem like large revisions, but if you had operated in Connecticut, they are all important.  The state will vote on these issues in late May.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A session with Jim Koch and the Boston Beer Company

We enjoyed a very productive session with Jim Koch and his team at Sam Adams / Boston Beer Company. In a word,  Jim Koch was fantastic.  He spent time with me and certainly understood all the challenges of starting up a business, especially in this difficult economy.  Jim shared many pointers regarding his start as an entrepreneur in 1984, brewing his first Sam Adam’s Lager and going into the market to sell craft beer.  I was also able to meet with Jim’s associates in public relations, branding, packaging, marketing, legal, and accounting and they all took the time to educate me as to how to improve Charter Oak's programs. I have benefited from many meeting in the past, but discussing my challenges and outlining potential solutions with all his managers exceeded all my expectations!
Clearly, the Boston Beer Company is an excellent model to replicate, and we hope to grow the Charter Oak Brewery just as Jim Kick succeeded with Sam Adams.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Charter Oak Brewing Company Anthem

In an era of extreme everything, the Charter Oak Tree quietly stands apart as a patriotic symbol of strength and truth. That’s why we chose Connecticut’s beloved tree to be the symbol of our dedication to brewing the most
honest, freshest and un-hyped beer possible.
Our ales are handcrafted from 100% natural ingredients: select malted barley, choice hops, special yeast, and using only the purest water for a unique and delicious taste. We never use any adjuncts or preservatives.
Each varietal is carefully brewed to be the ideal balance
of flavors for that style beer.
Our beers are entertaining and enriching. For the enjoyment of our beer lovers, on each variety and seasonal ale we have portrayed a different character or part of the historic Charter Oak legend.
We hope you enjoy our beers as much as we enjoyed brewing them.
Charter Oak,  A True Legend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Legend and Our Story for our Beers

There is perhaps no greater Connecticut legend than that of the Charter Oak.  This is why we named our brewery after this historic event and our beers after events from the tale.

In 1662, the colony of Connecticut, owned and governed by England, was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II. The “Connecticut Charter” permitted the colony to make some of its own rules and to elect certain officials. Charles’ death in 1685 brought his brother, James II, to the throne. James disapproved of the Royal Charters and demanded their return. The charters interfered with James’s plan to establish the Dominion of New England – a combination of the New England colonies and the colony of New York under the leadership of one royal official.

In 1687, Sir Edmond Andros, the Royal Governor of the New England Dominion, met with leaders of the Connecticut colony in Hartford. Debates continued for hours as the colonists steadfastly refused to give up the Charter. According to legend, all of the candles in the meeting house, Sanford’s Tavern suddenly blew out and, during the confusion, the  1662 Charter disappeared. Captain Joseph Wadsworth was positioned outside the tavern and in the chaos of the darkness rode off to George Wyllys farm where a huge Oak tree stood.  It was hidden in the trunk of a large white oak tree where it was protected from the King and from Andros.  .... known from this day forward as the Charter Oak tree and became Connecticut’s state tree.... not only did the tree become famous, but 325 years later, a craft beer was born.

Despite Connecticut’s resistance, it became part of the Dominion of New England for the next two years. In 1689 James II was overthrown and Andros lost power in the colonies. The Connecticut Charter emerged from hiding and was used to govern Connecticut until 1818, when the Constitution was introduced. In 2011, the Charter Oak Brewing Company was founded, A True Legend!

On August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak, estimated at nearly 1,000 years old and 33 feet circumference, fell down during a violent storm. 

BUT, the brewery lives on to tell the tale....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beer Market Continues to Grow

Researchers are beginning to release sales and volume figures for 2011 beer sales in America and initial figures look promising.  The total USA beer sales increased by nearly 2% to $98.94Billion.  The Beer Institute reported that most of this growth was a result of strong performance by craft beer, imports, and premium beers.  Restaurants and bars (up 3% to $55Billion) witnessed increased demand despite a poor economy, while 'off-premise' stores such as convenience, liquor and supermarkets grew less than 1% or $43Billion.

Meanwhile, demand for Bud-Miller Coors domestic beers remain weak.  Several analysts believe this is a direct result of the poor economy in that it is primarily the middle income consumers that buy these beers, and many have felt the challenges of this recession. 

Although over all volume decreased 1.5% to 202.6Million Barrels (2.9Billion cases), we are happy to report, beer remains the #1 most popular alcoholic beverage in America.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Connecticut Blue Laws Under Review

After decades of operating under antiquated regulations, Connecticut, the state that the Nor’easter Brewing Company is headquartered in, is currently reviewing their infamous Blue Laws.  Although our state never actually ratified the 18th amendment, calling for prohibition, Connecticut is often referred to as the Blue Law State.   Two examples of this reference include the lack of Sunday liquor sales which have been prohibited since 1933, and the confining serving hours of restaurants and bars only allowing liquor served until 1am Sunday through Thursday (2am on Friday and Saturday).  Accordingly, drinkers are flocking to neighboring states and this results in fewer sales for

Connecticut establishments.

Governor Malloy is currently lobbying to change many of the current regulations to permit liquor sales on Sunday, grant permission to bars and restaurants to remain open until 2am for all 7 days, and ease policies for grocery stores that sell alcohol as well as allow them to market beer until 10pm.  If 100% successful, other revisions to the law would include, small convenience stores being given the option of selling beer, as well as one person, or one LLC, allowed to operate more than only the two package stores now permitted.  One other modification Malloy is seeking includes the minimum bottle and quantity discount law, which the governor is interested in eliminated altogether. Removing regulations such as posted prices, quantity discounts, and depletion allowances could and would hurt the smaller proprietors; this grants regulated price levels allowing them to buy alcohol at competitive pricing to the bigger box stores.  If the removal is successful, this would also create great harm for the smaller craft beer brewers… more on this in another release, but it is NOT good!

The Governor recently reported that Connecticut is behind the times and losing important tax revenue because residents are buying their beer, wine and spirits across the border in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.  We at Nor’easter Brewing think Gov. Malloy has several good points, and reducing many of these obsolete regulations should certainly assist with our states’ sales.  Why the push back?   It appears the local, smaller liquor stores and restaurant owners believe that sales will not improve, at least not to the extent that the additional sales will cover the extra costs of staying open.  They also believe DUI incidents will increase.  Lastly, but very important, eliminating price posting and promoting quantity discounts is NOT a beneficial idea, and would place the majority of smaller off premise stores at jeopardy as well as smaller breweries and wineries. 

The legislation will be reviewing Governor Malloy’s requests in the current session and we will report results as they occur.   We would enjoy hearing comments from our readers.  These state government discussions are occurring now and we can incorporate your ideas into our presentations to the state.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More on State of the Beer Market

Earlier this month we reported on the reduction of sales in the USA for the big four world leaders; Anheuser-Bush, Miller, Heineken, and Carlsberg.  More 2011 figures have been confirmed and we thought we would share these with our readers.
-2011 beer shipments were the lowest since 2003
-Worldwide, beer shipments down 2.9Million barrels (nearly 40Million cases) or 1.4% from 2010
-Budweiser shipments fell 2.9Million barrels (2.9%) to less than 100Million barrels (actual 98.8Million).             
This is the first time Anheuser-Busch dropped below 100Million in 10 years!
-MillerCoors shipments fell 3% to less than 60Million barrels
-ABInbev USA market share reduced to 47%, and MillerCoors now at 28.5%
-Heineken USA shipments fell 4%
-Craft beer continues to increase in volume and market share in USA
-Yuengling sales grew 16.9%  (now USA largest brewery)
-Boston Beer (Brews Sam Adams) increased 8%
-2011 ended with over 1800 operating breweries and nearly 700 in planning!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kolsch Style Beer

The Kolsch styled beer was first brewed in Cologne (Koln), Germany and will be offered as a seasonal beer by Connecticut's  Nor'easter Brewing Company as a summer seasonal selection.  This style is not a widely offered beer here in the United States; however, it is a perfect brew for a warm summer's day or evening.  The light body, pale golden shade, and crisp, dry finish make this a perfect choice.

Although most German brewed beers tend to be bottom fermented Lagers, the Kolsch style is brewed as an Ale.  Typically, the base malt is a Pilsner barley with up to 15% malted Wheat.  In fact, I understand most beer drinkers mistake this for a pilsner, but this style is unique. The special blend of barley, together with the noble hops and two stage fermentation (including over two months in cold storage) yield a soft malt flavor and slight undertone of bitterness.  The Kolsch beer pours out with a delicate, snow white head of foam and boosts a medium to medium high carbonation.  In Germany, Kolsch Beers are served in a tall, cylindrical glassware called 'stange'.

The Kolsch style is generally brewed to an Original Gravity of 1.044-1.050 and a low bitterness of 20-30IBU with a pale golden shade of 3.5-5SRM.  It has a low alcohol rating of 4.4-5.2%ABV.  This beer style is outstanding along side a seafood dinner and will make a salad pop.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The World Outside Craft Beer

Although the standing in world rankings remain the same with Anheuser-Busch InBev solidly at #1, SAB Miller in second place, followed by Heineken and Carlsberg; the dynamics in the USA are changing. While it is still true that ABInBev (AKA "the king of beers" ) still commands first place for it's Bud Lite brand, as well as over all beer sales, it has recently been nudged and perhaps awoken.  For the first time in recent memory, the flagship brand with the familiar white, red, and blue label which had enjoyed second place, was just passed by Coors Light (18.2Million barrels-over 250Million cases versus the Budweiser label at 17.7Million barrels-nearly 245Million cases).  I might make note of the fact that since 1988, shipments of Budweiser's 'go to' beer has slipped a whopping 60%. AB (now known as the King of Beer - drop the final s for losing market Share) has controlled the number one and two spots for over 20 years. 

Research indicates that Budweiser has witnessed a sales drop of 4.6% overall last year for all brands, and 2009 and 2010 were no picnics for the company.  In fact, all the big beer companies are losing sales. Many of the premium imported beers are down as well. The shining star in the USA is the craft beer breweries - with double digit growth. 

Many forecast that the  Bud-Miller-Coors breweries will begin to focus on the growing craft beer market; however, the reality is they are already playing in this field - note Blue Moon, Goose Island, Leinenkugel, Red Hook, Kona, Rolling Rock, Alexander Keith's, Killian (the list goes on). This strategy does not appear to be working.  Maybe more multi-million dollar Super Bowl advertisements or additional acquisitions in a current successfully operating micro brewery? 
Truly, this is a turn of events. 
Could the Boston Brewing Company, brewer of Sam Adams,  become the next King of Beers?

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's Hoppening to Hops?

The Federal government just concluding their report for the 2011 Hops Crop and confirmed that production was down again. As you may be aware, hops are an important ingredient for brewing beer in that they assist with a bittering flavor and also the aroma.  

The State of Washington grows nearly 80% of all the hop crop in the USA and primary hop varieties include Cascade, Super Galena, Zeus, and Columbus/Tomahawk. These four account for 49% of Washington's output.  Oregon is another important producer of our hops, especially for supplying Nugget and Willamette.  Idaho rounds out our states with a focus on hop growers, as the third largest supplier.  Although Idaho's production of hops was actually up (nearly 10% to 5,454,100 pounds) , the fact that Washington (51,310,000 pounds) and Oregon (over 8million pounds) were down created a decline in the over all USA production.  Note, the total USA hop production for 2011is 64,781,600 down from 2009 at 94,677,900 and 2010 at 65,492,600 pounds.

Although the decrease from last year to 2011 was only down 1%, it is down significantly from 2009 and the trend for 2012 is forecasted to once again be down.  We believe this is a result of more profitable corps being substituted for hops, some of which are actually being grown for alternative energy. Most of the breweries will contract out a year of two to confirm a steady supply of hops.  Homebrewers might be wise to buy their favorite hops now, while inventories are in good shape.  Hops, maintained in an airtight container in the freezer will stay fresh for 12-18 months.

Note: the five most popular hop varieties for USA brewers include Cascade at #1, Centennial, Willamette, Chinook, and at #5 is Goldings.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Porter Beer Style

The modern day Porter Beer continues to be brewed and marketed as a dark and full bodied style, but it is no where near the same as when it was first introduced. Porter Beer is an Ale (top fermenting) and has a somewhat roasted, sweet flavor profile, although not to the same extent as its heavier bodied companion, the Stout.  Porter Beers are now brewed at around 5% ABV (down from over 7%), they are somewhat sweet, and are low in bitterness.  The USA east coast (mainly New England and Pennsylvania) breweries in the 18th century focused on Porter Beers.  This style gained its origin or at least its name, because it was a popular drink with the transportation works (porters) on both the rivers and streets of London.

The Porter style generally  has an original gravity of 1.040 and up, low bitterness at 20-35IBU, and dark in appearance at 20-40SRM.  This full bodied appearance can be deceiving in that most Porters can be very refreshing, yet a full body taste and good carbonation.
The Nor'easter Brewery will be brewing and marketing a Porter styled beer for their Fall offerings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More on Testing the Limits of Alcohol

Several readers commented directly to us on our release dated September 11, 2011 on our article called 'Testing the Limits of Alcohol'. We decided to conduct some additional research on the topic and found some additional observations and thought we would report on these.
Nor'easter is a craft brewery in planning and it is our objective to brew and market beer, but we also will be socially responsible and although we would like you to order plenty of our beer and have reported on actual health advantages in our tweets, we also wish to provide some caution on aggressive drinking.
-You should always consider your body weight, any health concerns, and your age. Use common sense when drinking.
-Eat some food before drinking.  This will prevent rapid absorption of the alcohol and thus drunkenness.
-Drink moderately and slowly, most people can consume about two drinks every three hours.
-Consider alternating a nonalcoholic beverage between beers, especially important is to drink plenty of water before bed.
-I was reading a study that outlined a 'healthy intake' is no more than 14 drinks/week for men and 9 per week for women ... spread out over the week.
-A 'drink' is considered 1-12oz beer 5%ABV; 1-5oz glass of wine 12% ABV; or 1-11.5oz shot of Spirits (Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, etc.) Preferable mixed with something.
Please drink responsibly.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sour Beers are here to Stay

Although the Nor’easter Brewing Company will not initially brew nor market a Flanders, Limbic, or Gueuzes sour styled beer, I am constantly asked about this beer and thought we should include something in our releases.

In theory, all beers could be brewed as a sour styled beer with the substitution of a different yeast, most common strain for sours being a Brettanomyces.  Unlike the traditional brewing environment of an almost total sterile production process to protect the yeast from contamination, this style uses wild yeast, which actually relies on bacteria!  This yeast, and sometimes adding a fruit, yields a tart or sour tasting beer.  Again, unlike traditional brewing, whereby the brew master works earnestly to produce a consistent beer from batch to batch, the process for brewing a sour generally results in an unpredictable, nearly uncontrollable, outcome. 

Although the sour beer styles have been available from the Belgium breweries since the 1800’s, the North American operators have only recently introduced this as part of their beer offerings.  This beer generally rests in a barrel for several years.  Accordingly, unlike most conventional Lagers and Ales, this style takes time to ferment and allow the wild yeast to do its work; while all this is happening, there must be a major willingness to take on risk for the unknown!

Today, sours are clearly the big talk of the craft beer community.  Many USA breweries that market this style sell it only at the brewery or at retail in fancy 750ml specialty packaging.  We might suggest you sample the sour beer before buying a bottle or growler.
This style has a very different taste and month feel than traditional beers and may be too tart or sour and not well balanced enough for your pallet; also these beers tend to have low carbonation and limited bitterness.  Having said this, you owe it to yourself to try a sour style to broaden your craft beer experience!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Beers for Thanksgiving

This year, join the revolution of Craft Beer followers and pour beer at your Thanksgiving supper.  Today, the trend continues to grow whereby drinkers are substituting beer for wine and spirits during meals.  There are so many choices of beer brands, styles, and now breweries.

Back when the pilgrims served their first big meal to give thanks and welcome in the New World - it was beer they drank.  Let's continue that tradition and serve a micro crafted beer on Thursday!

We, at Nor'easter Brewing, recommend a medium to dark beer that favored the sweetness from malted barley with only slight undertones of hop bitterness and aroma.  The beer should not be overly hopped and have a light to medium body.  We endorse a beer style with a roasted malt and caramel flavor to compliment the feast.  The carbonation from beer will assist your digestion and serve as an excellent means to cleanse your pallet between all the food choices.

There are no strict rules on pairing beer with your Thanksgiving dishes.  We might endorse you start, before the meal, with a Brown Ale,  ESB (Extra Special Bitter),  or a seasonal Fall beer.

Nor'easter Brewing's releases for  'What's Brewing...'   has reported on beer and food pairing in our past blogs (refer to Pairing Food with Beer).  We would not endorse an IPA (India Pale Ale) type style but instead try a Pilsner or a Brown Ale, or a Belgium Pale Ale or Saison with the meal would be an excellent choice.  If you are smoking the Turkey, a Stout or a Porter would be wonderful.  Ask your favorite package store to recommend a local craft brewed beer that fits these styles.  Please remember, craft beer tastes better served at the correct temperature - NOT too cold.  Refer to our earlier releases for the correct temperature.

If you are a guest, why not bring a 6pack of your favorite craft beer to your host, drop the hint for next year!

Have a great meal.  Cheers!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Craft Breweries Continue to Grow

I continue to read about the terrific growth in both volume and sales dollars for the craft beer market.  The fact is, the number of actual breweries are also increasing as well as beer brands, and this is good for the beer drinker.

The count is now slightly over 1,700 operating breweries in the USA, which means there are almost 10% more breweries than a year ago and the growth continues.  Furthermore, as of June 2011, there were over 530 breweries in planning, which translates into more than one start up every day for the next year! Did you know, there were 1,751 breweries just before the prohibition occurred?  A number we are quickly approaching. Back in the early 1900, most towns and cities enjoyed a brewery in the center of town - this is quickly becoming the case for 2011. Together with these new breweries, there  are also a lot more diverse brewing styles being offered today, particularly by the micro craft brewers, and the quality of today’s craft beer is fantastic!

There are several conversations on defining the segments of today's beer market, allow me to outline the ‘official definition’ as outlined by the Brewer’s Association-

Microbrewery: A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels. When Nor'easter Brewing Company is operating, this will be the segment the operation will fall into.

Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer at the restaurant The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery's storage tanks.

Contract Brewing Company: A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales, and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery

Regional Brewery: A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels. Note, the BA just increased the output to 6,000,000.

Large Brewery: A brewery with an annual beer production over 6,000,000 barrels.  Generally referred to as BMC – for Bud, Miller Coors.

The large breweries are always filtered out of articles and comments on the craft beer market. Mainly due to the automated brewing process and their lack of ‘hand crafted approach’. Clearly, the devoted craft beer drinkers divorce even the breweries that are owned by BMC and never consider them as a craft brewer. Breweries such as Goose Island, Redhook, Kona, Widmer and Leinenkugel are every bit a craft brewery, but the fact they are owned by the biggies negates most purists from including them ….. is this fair?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Not Host a Beer Tasting Party?

For your next party at the house, why not host a beer tasting event?  This is a great way to introduce your buddies to craft beer and have a fun, unique party. 
Here are a few suggestions
-It’s best to invite a small gathering, 4-10 people and mandate that the objective is purely to have fun!
-We suggest you pour 6 - 8 beers, and only fill each glass 1//3 of the way.  2 bottles of 12oz for each style per 8 people works well.
-The glasses should be clear (no plastic PLEASE) and large red wine glasses do just fine. Please be sure they are clean!
-Set up the tasting to start with the least %ABV (alcohol) and minimal hoppiness /flavor and proceed to the more robust beers
-Note, do not be concerned with shade; the darker the beer       has little to do with how robust the style is nor amount of alcohol.
-Have a pitcher of water to rinse both your month and the glass
-Also, crackers (unsalted) or bread might help to cleanse the palette between tastings
-Be sure not to serve the beer to cold – over chilled beer numbs the taste buds!
-Everyone should taste the same beer at the same time.  It’s more than fine to discuss the attributes of each beer with one another – why keep it a secret, if fact, this is encouraged and commenting on each beer is the objective to the party!
-You can certainly hand out a beer-rating sheet – there’s plenty of websites that do a good job presenting score sheets for you to print and distribute
-Lots of factors to evaluate and discuss – keep it simple … it’s a party
         -Presentation – shade, aroma, head, clarity
         -Taste- fruity, dry, sweet, bitter, smooth, yeasty, alcohol
         -Body – Thin/Thick, temperature, bubbly, mouth feel 
         -Drinkability – personal preference – no right / wrong answer here 
         -Overall impression – AKA would you buy a 6pack or dump it down the drain?
-May also be helpful, after the discussion begins, to present a professional description of the beer and style.  Folks like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer both do a fine job here.

Remember, the real trick is to remind everyone to have fun! The best beer is the one YOU like! 
Don’t forget to order more beer for everyone to celebrate AFTER the tasting

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A look at Today's Beer Market

Nielson, the marketing survey company,  just reported on current beer sales and confirmed that craft beer is still growing, despite overall beer sales declining in the USA.  The report reviewed strong overall summer beer sales, although off-premise continued to be slower than normal.  Craft beers enjoyed a 16.8% increase by volume and an 18% increase in sales dollars for 52 weeks, ending September 17.  The average case of craft beer is now $31.72.  Note, craft beer only makes up 5% of the total USA beer market.

Neilson further commented on imported beers and that they too have declined 1.1%, while overall domestic beer volume in USA declined by 1.7%.  Of interest, is the 'below premium' beer (selling at $14.65/case average) fell by a whopping 3.9%.  Among the imports which was an exception were the Belgium beers, lead by Stella Artois - this country's imports actually increased for the same 52 weeks by 26% ! Although overall total beer sold in USA declined by volume, but dollar sales increased by 0.8%.  The average price for a case of beer rose 2.3% and is now $19.74/case.

Overall alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) prices, according to the US Consumer Price Index,  rose 1.4% for the year through September.  Overall, off-premise pricing for all alcohol was flat and on-premise increased by 3.5%.  By category, beer pricing increased 2.3% for on-premise and + 1.3% for off-premise.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Proper Beer Glassware for the Perfect Craft Beer Experience

The shape of the glass is actually fundamental in delivering the aroma, and thus taste, of your beer.  Such attributes as the height of the glass, how wide or narrow the glassware is, and the shape of the mouth all effect the bouquet.  As outlined earlier on the Nor'easter Brewing website, your nose is important and, therefore,  taste and aroma are absolutely connected.  As a point of fact, smell (or aroma) enhances flavor. 
The primary objectives of the glassware chosen are four fold; namely, the  ability to retain the beer's head or foam, allow for aromas to enter your nose, the glass should control the temperature of the beer inside the glass, and, lastly,  provide a delicious and full taste for the style of beer you are drinking. 
TIP: Your craft beer will taste phenomenal no matter what glass you pour it into; however, the proper glassware WILL enhance your enjoyment. There are literally dozens of different types and styles of glassware available.  We include the most popular for your reading enjoyment.

Irish Imperial Pint
-My personal favorite!
Glass Shape Features - This glass shape includes a wide 'rounding' mouth tapering down slightly at the base. Most likely the glassware that comes to mind when you are traveling and say   ' I'll have a pint...'
Glass Functionality - The tapered base allows for less heat transfer from the hands and the wider mouth encourages a tall head of foam and room for the hop aromas to escape and be smelled.
Perfect for these Beers - Stouts (although I use this glass for numerous styles)

'Nonick' Imperial Pint
-This is very similar in appearance to the Irish version above with the exception of a bulge about a quarter way down from the mouth of the glass.  
Glass Shape Features  - The bulge allows for a better grip (difficult to slip out of your hands), very good hop aroma is released from the wide mouth, and,  if the glasses are stacked (as bars and restaurants normally do), the notch prevents each glass from sticking together. 
Perfect for these Beers - Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Stout, ESB, Porter, IPA

Classic Pilsner Fluted Glass
-A very popular beer glass at fancy restaurants.
Glass Shape Features - This is a tall, slender, conical shaped glass with a narrow base and a wide mouth.
Glass Functionality - The narrow base design brings bubbles of hop aroma to your nose as you tip the glass back from each sip.
Perfect for these Beers - Kolsch, Pilsner, Scotch Ale

Tulip or Snifter
This is certainly the 'prettiest' beer glassware and borrowed from the world of spirits for Brandy.
Glass Shape Features - This tulip-like design creates a large round bottom on a stem which actually enhances the transfer of heat from your hand to the beer while allowing aromas to escape.
Glass Functionality - Encourages a warmer beer which creates a better tasting experience.  Meanwhile, the expanded mouth permits much of the aromas from the hops to penetrate your nose for the perfect taste.  This beer glass is ideal for strong beers over 8% ABV and strong malty craft beers.
Perfect for these Beers - Russian Imperial Stout, Strong Ales, Dopple Bock, Double IPA, Saison, Lambric, Tripel

Handled Glass Stien  (AKA 'The Mug')
-Probably the most traditional beer glassware.
Glass Shape Features  - This stien is typically made of thick glass with an easy gripping handle for drinking. The mug is approximately the same diameter from mouth to base.
Glass Functionality -The shape promotes easy drinking and the handle completely eliminates any heat transfer from your hands.
Perfect for these Beers - Vienna, Oktoberfest, Marzen, Dunkel.

American Shaker Pint
-By far the most common beer glassware in the USA ... known as the 'pint glass'.
Glass Shape Features  - This tall glass enjoys a slightly larger mouth than base to promote easy drinking, but fails to promote hop nor malted barley aroma and flavor.
Glass Functionality - Beyond the ease of stacking, this beer glass is strictly 'function over form' and should be avoided!
Perfect for these Beers - Wheat, Amber, light beers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clean Beer Glass ... Please

Unfortunately, in our fast paced world of wanting everything NOW,  restaurants and pubs tend to throw a bunch of soap on a beer mug, maybe dip it in a sanitizer, and than rinse it in a nana second, and stick it on the rack.  This is not to say the glass is not ‘clean’ … but it is not beer clean!  A dirty glass can kill the taste of a great beer.  

One immediate tell tale is your beer appears flat – absolutely no head of foam and no bubbles floating to the surface – the mental image hurts!  If the glass is properly cleaned, the sides of the glass should have a lacing effect with every sip from the head of foam; the head should remain in tact for most of the beer; bubbles should constantly rise to the top; and no bubbles should cling to the side of the glass.

You certainly do not want to appear as a pushy beer drinker, but if your beer appears flat, it is most likely not enjoyable and should be sent back and exchanged for a beer in a clean glass.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pairing Beer with Food

 Once the Nor’easter Brewing Company is in operation, we will revisit this release and recommend our specific beers for pairing with food. In the meantime, we wanted to document something now, because for ‘centuries’, it’s always been “which wine goes best with this meal”; today, beer has finally made it on to the menu.  In fact, more and more restaurants now boost a beer selection as large as the wine choices!  In fact, joining the ranks of wine experts at restaurants, beer sommeliers, or formally referred to as cicerones, have popped up in cities across the country in increasing numbers.

We, at Nor’easter, believe that beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine.  The carbonation from beer actually can serve as a cleanser to your palette and there are now so many beers and various beer styles to choose from.  It is our hope that you will soon discover that not only can beer enhance the flavor of food, but food enhances the flavor of beer as well.  Basically, delicate or light dishes work best with lighter bodied and noncomplex beers, and it is equally true that strongly flavored foods demand more assertive and heavy bodied beers. Intensity of beer flavor may involve many aspects: alcoholic strength, malt character, degree and variety of hop and its bitterness, sweetness, richness, body or mouthfeel, and so on.

Keep in mind that matching food with beer is not an exact science, even for the pros.  But most tend to agree, lighter beers tend to go well with lighter foods, and, heavier beers with heavier foods.  I will note, although the majority of beer cicerones look for commonalities, that is a spicy dish with a heavily hopped IPA, or fish with a pilsner; while a few cicerones believe that contrasting flavors is a better compliment, that is a stout paired with chicken or fish, or an Imperial Porter with a salad.

Some beer cicerones might even recommend to simply thinking ethnic. Try bratwurst (complete with grilled onions and horseradish) with a German dark lager or an English Stout with Shepherd’s Pie; perhaps an American pilsner with raw or steamed New England clams. How about beer from Mexico with Quesadillas, or Italian beer with Pasta. How can you go wrong with this method?  I might add, this makes a wonderful theme for a ‘beer’ dinner party.

Another thought is to treat beer like wine ….OK, you wine lovers, still confused?  Some people say lager is like white wine and ale is like red.  Ales tend to be ‘heavier,’ fruity, more complex, and robust, while lagers are lighter, crisp, and comparatively delicate. Recall the age-old rule, red meat; you should have red wine, the new rule …. Red meat, you should have an IPA. With beer, it may be simply said heavy food, heavy beer - light food, a lighter beer.

We offer the following to assist you wine drinkers trying to convert -  
>If we agree that light body wines examples include -Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Pinot Grigio

>Why not substitute these beers:  Lager, Pilsner, and Wheat
>Medium body wines examples include Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah
>Why not substitute these beers:  Ale, IPA, Bock
>Heavy body wines examples include: Cabernet Sauvignon, and Oaky Chardonnay
>Why not substitute these beers:  Stout, Porter, and Barley wine

I provide a simple chart created by Epicurious  -
Why not hang it up in the kitchen?
Pair with: Burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.

Bock beer:
Pair with: Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.

Pair with: Shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Pair with: American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Pair with: Smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.

Pair with: Roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).

Wheat Beers
Pair with: Light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.

Above all else, remember, this is not a science and in the end, drink the beer YOU think is best with your meal. Reality is, like wine, drink what you like, truly, there are no right and wrong pairings.  Beer IS the new wine.

As outlined in prior Nor’easter Brewing Blogs, beer is normally served too cold, it is always best served between 40°F and 50°F.  Review our past releases for the perfect temperature for the beer style you choose.

Please drop us a comment on your thoughts for pairing your favorite craft beers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What’s the Perfect Temperature for Beer?

The simple answer is the more you want to ‘taste’ the beer, the warmer it should be served, within reason.  Most beer is served too cold in the opinion of many craft beer drinkers.  One would attribute this cold temperature to the fact that over 85% of the beer market is Budweiser, Miller, and Coors and these lagers are all served ice cold.
As a general rule of thumb, the proper temperature for Lagers should be served between 40-50F and Ales slightly warmer at 54-60F.
Although, beyond waiting until the beer becomes warmer, one normally does not have much of a choice at a restaurant or bar, and if the beer is keep in a bucket filled with ice, the 32F beer might not warm up until it’s time to leave!

Aromatic beers that are brewed with more ingredients – Pale Ales for example --should be served around 40 F to 42 F, while beers with big flavor, such as Belgian ales, will not even release their aromas until they hit about 50 F.  Temperature will certainly influence the drinker’s experience. A difference of even 10F could yield an enormous difference.
I include some material from Michael Jackson-
He proposed a five-level scale for serving temperatures: well chilled (7 °C/45 °F) for "light" beers (pale lagers); chilled (8 °C/46 °F) for Berliner Weisse and other wheat beers; lightly chilled (9 °C/48 °F) for all dark lagers, altbier and German wheat beers; cellar temperature (13 °C/55 °F) for regular British ale, stout and most Belgian specialties; and room temperature (15.5 °C/59.9 °F) for strong dark ales (especially trappist beer) and barley wine.
Ratebeer documented the following
Very cold (0-4C/32-39F): Any beer you don’t actually want to taste. Pale Lager, Malt Liquor, Canadian-style Golden Ale and Cream Ale, Low Alcohol, Canadian, American or Scandinavian-style Cider.

Cold (4-7C/39-45F): Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Kölsch, Premium Lager, Pilsner, Classic German Pilsner, Fruit Beer, brewpub-style Golden Ale, European Strong Lager, Berliner Weisse, Belgian White, American Dark Lager, sweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Duvel-types

Cool (8-12C/45-54F): American Pale Ale, Amber Ale, California Common, Dunkelweizen, Sweet Stout, Stout, Dry Stout, Porter, English-style Golden Ale, unsweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Faro, Belgian Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, Dunkel, Dortmunder/Helles, Vienna, Schwarzbier, Smoked, Altbier, Tripel, Irish Ale, French or Spanish-style Cider

Cellar (12-14C/54-57F): Bitter, Premium Bitter, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, English Strong Ale, Old Ale, Saison, Unblended Lambic, Flemish Sour Ale, Bière de Garde, Baltic Porter, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Strong Ale, Weizen Bock, Bock, Foreign Stout, Zwickel/Keller/Landbier, Scottish Ale, Scotch Ale, American Strong Ale, Mild, English-style Cider

Warm (14-16C/57-61F): Barley Wine, Abt/Quadrupel, Imperial Stout, Imperial/Double IPA, Doppelbock, Eisbock, Mead

Hot (70C/158F): Quelque Chose, Liefmans Glühkriek, dark, spiced winter ales like Daleside Morocco Ale.