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Editorial Dept.'s picture

Spring 2012, Issue 10

Spring 2012, Issue 10

Things are hopping for farmers in the state of New York these days, because legislation has been introduced to allow those who raise hops to also brew and sell beer in the same location. The governor’s office, it seems, has noticed a 400 percent increase in the state’s acreage dedicated to hops in the past two years and is looking to create a “hop trail” to foster tourism as well as encourage the agricultural boom already under way.

Meanwhile, in Petaluma, California, the founder of Lagunitas Brewing, Tony Magee, has been tweeting that he’s about to start buying his brewer’s malt directly from farmers under contract – much like the movement he helped start by purchasing hops directly from the source instead of going through a dealer. The farmers talking with Magee will be able to count on steady prices and dedicate more land to the high quality barley needed for brewing.

In the city of San Francisco, there’s also a focus on leveraging the use of land in a manner directly related to the growth of the beer culture, although in this case it’s all about “airable” land. Beer gardens are starting to show up in what are known as stalled development sites – places that have been cleared but are still awaiting new construction as a result of the economic slowdown.

Other secondary signs of beer’s ascendance are popping up virtually everywhere in the media landscape. Ultimate hostess Martha Stewart has confirmed beer to be the new thing. Fighting has broken out, or at least differences in opinion, among people trying to get some Pliny the Younger – the ultra-hopped up version of the already very hoppy Pliny the Elder made by Russian River Brewing. (We might suggest moving to Philadelphia, the city named for brotherly love, where the younger Pliny was on hand big time during the Philly Craft Beer Festival.)

Like the foamy skeleton found in an otherwise empty beer glass, these indirect signals highlight the satisfaction many Americans are finding in flavorful beer. More directly, scan data from supermarkets show craft beer sales continue to grow. Our internal aggregator tells us that taken together these items underscore the current consciousness when it comes to how we live, eat and drink.

And, as always, we’re here to help.

The Beer Review for our Spring Issue, for instance, focuses on IPA’s, the style whose popularity is driving the growth for hop farmers in New York and elsewhere. In addition to our insightful comments from the group of super tasters gathered by our master judge Charlie Gow in Northern Virginia, there are food pairings from Owen Ogletree that will have you either drooling over a cookbook while creating some of these combinations at home or checking out local food and beer menus online in pursuit of some of these mouth-watering combos. (Please, don’t forget the cheese.)

When it comes to dessert, Kerri Allen has some suggestions on how to pair beers with the sweet stuff as well as recipes made with beer that are unique and flavorful, such as deep fried Moon Pie (!) and other regional delights. In case you want to plan ahead when it comes to a drink after dinner, Owen – Kerri’s husband – also contributes a feature on cellaring beers. He sheds light on how to keep some of your favorite beers in the dark.

During the boom times, it’s appropriate to recognize those who helped cut the trail when the days were dark. Jay Brooks writes the Innovators Series story of Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, who played significant roles in the launch of the craft beer movement. A syndicated beer columnist and co-founder of the seminal San Francisco Beer Week, it was Jay’s blog at that first alerted us to the emerging beer garden phenomenon.

This issue also takes you to the source – via bicycle. Dan Rabin leads readers on a two-wheeled tour of the Flanders region of Belgium, a trip that demonstrates the delights of taking the alternate route and why Dan’s a sought after travel and beer writer.

We haven’t wavered in our presentation of the other regular departments by a cast of veteran and knowledgeable writers. Thanks to all of our contributors and a hard-working staff directed by The Beer Connoisseur founder and publisher Lynn Davis, we’re happy to report the growth in appreciation for beer has arrived at our doorstep – and new office location – in the form of a sharp increase in subscriptions during the holiday season. What can we say? Thanks, dear readers, for making us your favorite beer style magazine.

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Coming of Age: The Nuances of Cellaring Beer
What environmental factors influence beer aging? What type of experimentation can be done to witness the effects of father time on a variety of brands and styles? Is setting up a cellar to age beer really worth the effort?