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Holiday 2009, Issue 1

Holiday 2009, Issue 1

Here it is, finally. The beer magazine you’ve been waiting for. It’s due time to elevate the dialogue within the beer world, to bring all the elements of today’s vibrant brewing landscape into a single authoritative source. The Beer Connoisseur has arrived, and it’s just in time.

We’re making it our mission to fill these pages with portraits of the passion, creativity and irreverence springing forth from breweries around the world. These are halcyon days for beer drinkers, especially American ones. As Randy Mosher noted recently in his excellent book “Tasting Beer,” the late, great beer writer Michael Jackson used to stun audiences in Europe by stating that the United States had become the best place on Earth to drink beer, thanks to its diversity of styles and the experimentation of its legions of brewers.

That sense of shock has mostly receded by now, as the world has caught on to the rise of craft beer here in the States. We’re living in the midst of a beer renaissance, and the movement shows no signs of slowing down.

Breweries are popping up everywhere you look. According to the Brewers Association there are now roughly 1,525 of them in America, more than there have been at any point in the last century, since Prohibition all but wiped the brewing slate clean. But beyond the sheer number of producers, the quality of their products is what stands out as truly remarkable. From brewers experimenting with wild fermentation techniques and barrel aging to collaborations combining the talents of some of the most popular beer makers around to gourmet beer dinners fixing the spotlight on beer’s epicurean virtues, there is more going on in the ever-expanding universe of beer than one can possibly keep track of. And that’s why we’re here.

Each issue we’ll take you on a trip to an international beer capital, starting, naturally, with Belgium this go round, and we’ll stay closer to home for a look at some breweries that are especially worthy of a visit. We’ll explore the complex mingling of food and beer, taking a look in this issue at the roots of the gastropub trend and learning a lesson from one of the country’s top cheese experts. We’ll delve into the intricacies of various beer styles, and we’ll sit down with behemoths of the beer world, beginning with Fritz Maytag, the icon who breathed new life into San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company. We’ll bring you along to some particularly stellar beer bars, like the Brick Store Pub in our home base of Atlanta, and of course we’ll review some outstanding brews, both from around the world and within the burgeoning Southeast scene.

If you haven’t already, pour yourself a glass of a nice wintery brew, find some place cozy and dive into this first issue of The Beer Connoisseur. We’re just getting started and there is much to be done, so stay tuned as we continue to celebrate one of life’s greatest pleasures – our friend and yours, beer.


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Traveling without internet? Download the PDF HERE.




A Beer Tour of Belgium
An extensive guide to the most superb breweries in Belgium: a beer-lover's nirvana.



What is Imperial Stout?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “imperial” as something “of superior or unusual size or excellence.”

What is Doppelbock?
For all its arguable foibles and missteps throughout recorded history, the Church has always been rather adept at brewing beer. Thank God for that. The modern doppelbock style, derived from the earlier bockbiers of Bavaria and made famous by the brewing monks of St. Francis of Paula in Berlin during the 17th century, is an excellent example of this fact.

What is Belgian Dark Strong Ale?
Some of the most highly sought-after and elusive beers in the world fall into the Belgian Dark Strong Ale category. For many beer connoisseurs they are considered the holy grail of the beer world, their complexity and character matched only by their rarity and mystique.

What is Old Ale?
Old ales can be confusing. Some are actually old, others not. Some are called winter warmers, stock ale or “keeping” ale. Some like to think they are really barleywines. Whichever aliases old ale takes on, one thing is clear – the style gets around. Here we’ll focus on the traditional English-style old ale and highlight its unique characteristics as compared to its progeny.