Episode 33: A Tropical Beeradise

IMG_3046This is the 33rd episode of the Blind Tiger podcast, recorded July 21st, 2014. In this episode Mike, Jesse, and myself gathered in our studio to take a break from the summer heat to pretend that we are drinking cold craft beer alone of a desert beach.  Being stranded alone on an island in the South Pacific would not be the hellish experience that Tom Hanks alleged in Castaway if you have an unlimited supply of craft beer.  Yet the real challenge is, what beer would you want for the rest of your days?  A query not easily answered.

We bring back “Beers From Around the World” with a look at a few delicious brews from New Glarus brewing company.  Friend of the show, Kerry, recently took a midWest road trip and found their beer to be top-notch.  She gracefully donated a few loose bottles for the Blind Tiger podcast crew to sample.  And we sampled the hell out of them.

Mike finally got to cross off ‘Tour Dogfish Head Brewery” off his craft beer bucket list.  He recently spent an unseasonably cold and overcast weekend at the beach and decided to make lemonade out of the crappy July weather’s lemons by touring their brewers.  He gives us the skinny on what production at that level is like and how Dogfish Head makes their brewery experience all their own.

We discuss the fact that mass market beers aren’t in every bar in America.  We discuss how Pa lawmakers are attempting to legislate beer gardens into oblivion.  And we remark how NPR threw down the gauntlet disproving Jim Koch’s trick to keep from getting drunk while drinking.

The introductory question to get our panel chatting this week was: “If you disappeared on a flight around the world what beer would you want to be stranded with and why?”

Show Notes:

Beer News:

  • Pennsylvania Lawmakers Just Say No to Beer Gardens
  • 31% of US Bars No Longer Stock “American Light Lagers”
  • Boston Area Tech Companies Lure New Hires with Beer
  • New DC Law allows breweries to sell pints without being bars
  • NPR debunks Jim Koch’s Trick for Fending off Drunkenness

Beers From Around the World:

Normally on this segment we discuss the beers that we’ve had from our travels both her, there, and everywhere.  But just because a beer is from another time zone doesn’t mean we’ve been there.  Beer that comes to you is just as delicious as the beer that drives you to the source.  (At least in theory it is.)  This episode we received an amazing donation of Wisconsin beers from friend of the show Kerry Bartens.  She and her boyfriend took a wonderfully fun road trip across middle America finding the best and brightest of breweries and beer from our nation’s breadbasket.  While they visited a number of breweries while out there Kerry was especially impressed with New Glarus Brewing Company from New Glarus, Wisconsin.  New Glarus was started in 1993 by master brewer Dan Carey.  They managed to purchase authentic Bavarian brew equipment from an abandoned German brewery.   They popularity skyrocketed with the release of their most notable beer, spotted cow, a cask-conditioned farmhouse ale.  Since we happen to have a bunch of delicious beers from New Glarus to try, it only makes sense that we try them out.

The Beers:

Beer vs Beer:

Mike’s Choice: Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale

Rob’s Choice:Tröegs’ Perpetual IPA

Destination Brewery:

This weekend I finally got to go to the beach, and of course, it was about as anti beach weather as you can get in July. While it did not rain, it was unseasonably cool and overcast 90 percent of the time I was down there. Luckily for me it was the perfect opportunity for me to finally hit up the Dogfish Head Brewery tour in Milton, DE. I have been to the restaurant in Rehoboth many times, this weekend included, and I’m sure you’ve been there before too Rob, but I have never done the brewery proper which is about 20 minutes up the road. It was built in an old canning factory that went defunct at the turn of the century and is located, rather coincidentally, in an off-centered way right in the town. Dogfish has poured about 50 million with renovations and add ons, and they have created themselves a nice little space to brew beer. Previously I had wanted to do the tour, but they only offered reservations which were always filled up well in advance. No longer, as they have switched to a first come first served setup. We arrived early on Saturday, got our names in, and hit up the tasting room. We had about an hour to kill, so much like Magic Hat and other larger breweries, they still offer free tours and tastes, but you are limited to four free samples. The only thing I was really excited to try was the 120, which I have had on draft only one other time. I first got the firefly ale, a very easy drinking straight ahead amber ale brewed for the firefly festival, a very un off-centered beer, but good for drinking all day. Then came the festina peche, a spin on a Berliner weisse that is extremely sour and tastes like liquid warheads. Then came burton baton, an imperial IPA that is very syrupy, and then finally the 120 minute. After four free samples, I was pretty buzzed. While you wait, you can play cornhole or bocce in the two courts they have built. I don’t know why bocce, I am guessing because Sam is Italian so none of that ping pong shit will fly at his brewery. Our tour guide was a dry-witted congenial fellow who cracked lots of obscure 80s references during the tour, which made me happy. We got to see the very large boil kettles where they do their four main products, 60, 90, Indian Brown, and Namaste. Everything else is done on the old system. I got to see the very recently completed yeast room that seems ultra serious, everything is hermetically sealed and yeast never sees the light of day. They have a special computer that knows what the cell count is and how much to add and when. I saw the giant wooden palo santo tanks used for that eponymous beer and the kegging warehouse that more importantly held what was referred to as Sams private stash. Basically he has about two pallets of any beer that they make, including things off tap right now. I saw world wide stout, Immort Ale, etc all housed behind a large chain link fence. I am surprised that they didn’t errect razor wire around the perimeter. Finally came the quarter-mile walk to the bottling line. Yes, they pump out the beer a quarter-mile away, refrigerated, in a foot wide pipe about 8 foot off of the ground to their german designed bottling line. It was about double the size of Tröegs. There were machines everywhere. I would have loved to see it in motion, but unfortunately it was not in operation.

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