I’m a Hustler, Baby… (new IPA on the way)

As we speak – well as I type and you read – I have somewhere between 4 and 5 gallons of a new IPA recipe dry-hopping in my basement. This new IPA – The Hustler – uses only two hop varieties (Chinook and Centennial) and features the (in)famous Conan yeast strain that is used in Heady Topper

I’ve talked about it before, but the IPAs I’ve brewed have been – for the most part – a huge disappointment for me. Maybe it’s because there are so many excellent commercial examples that even a “good” homebrew seems lackluster, maybe it’s just lack of practice, or lack of experience with different hop varieties. I don’t know. I do still love IPAs despite their ubiquity (and slipping quality), and I’d really love to craft one of my own that I can enjoy.

That’s all to say I have high hopes for this beer. It should be ready to keg by Thursday and ready to drink by Sunday.

Women Hate Beer; Sexism in Craft Beer

Last time I went off ranting and raving, I actually (and accidentally) got noticed for it. So in the interest in learning from my mistakes I want to state up front that:

  1. I am a white, heterosexual, cis-gender male
  2. I was not in attendance at the Craft Brewers’ Conference (CBC) in Portand, OR
  3. I am really, really tired of having this discussion, bros

I follow a lot of beer nerds, geeks, dweebs, and various other beer-related non-norms on the Twitter. One of them, Carla Jean Lauter aka The Beer Babe*, tweeted this into my feed on Friday Night:

https://twitter.com/beerbabe/status/589056825733033984

The hullabullow, which you can read a balanced take on here, involves craft breweries holding their events for CBC at strip clubs in the Portland area. On its face, this is obvious sexism at its most tone-deaf and basic. But… There’s a bit of nuance when you realize, holy shit Portland has a ton of strip clubs. Here in Puritan-founded Massachusetts, our favorite strip club is located in Rhode Island, so I’ll be forgiving and say that there is an aspect of cultural difference that may account for these events. And naturally Portlandians pride themselves on their craft beer almost as much as their fixies and ironic facial hair, so I don’t doubt that Portland’s strip clubs boast a more impressive beer selection than that BYOB joint we took Tim for his bachelor party.

There’s your argument that “this is not a big deal.”

Counter-argument: this is an industry business conference, not my shithead friend’s bachelor party in seedy-as-fuck Atlantic City. Look, I have no intention on getting on a high – or even medium-sized – horse about strip clubs and what they say about us as a society. I am much a feminist as Craig Grebeck was a professional baseball player (i.e. sure, I guess so, if you use the simplest, most basic, and loosest definition, then fine), so I don’t intended to make this about a larger societal issue.** But the Craft Beer Industry doesn’t exactly have a great track record with women. From off-color beer names and labels, to a general boys’ club culture and mentality, to the fact that just about every woman in the industry I’ve talked or read has stories like these… it’s just not a good look for Craft Beer Bros.

But no matter where you stand on the socio-political spectrum, even the most staunch “beer as art” pundits recognize that beer is also business. And if you don’t make the green, you don’t make the beer. So in an industry that has a clear, and public, perception issue with the way it does (or doesn’t) make itself more inclusive to women… why host your events in a venue where they get naked for money?

Hey, I like boobs as much as the next guy. And – as an Internet blogger – I hope to see some in person one day, but even I hear about these events and think “Well, that’s a pretty damn stupid business decision.” Do I think it was malicously-intended? Probably not, but you have to question whether or not you’d want to invest in a company – as an investor or a consumer – that is that ignorantly tone deaf. And it probably made a good number of the conference attendees (male and female) uncomfortable (good being described as “above 0″ because this is – again – a FUCKING BUSINESS CONVENTION). Lack of malicious intent is not a money-making business model, and paints the breweries, the Brewers Association, the conference, and their supporters in a bad light (probably a shade of red, with some strobe effects, and Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” playing in the background).

Beer is for people. It doesn’t care what bits you have between your legs. It doesn’t care what color your skin is. It doesn’t care what language you speak or where your parents came from. Beer’s pretty fucking understanding that way (unless you’ve got Celiac’s. Then sorry. Beer’s not perfect). So I simply beseech everyone who makes beer their business, hobby, or passion… stop fucking it up for the rest of us with your bullshit. As Big Vin said to me once: “Vinny, life’s hard enough. Don’t make it harder by being a moron.”

 

* With all due respect to Carla, a moratorium forever on calling yourself “The _____ Babe.” There is one Babe, his name was Ruth, and I say that as a Red Sox fan. So please stop, or I’m going to start referring to myself as The Homebrew Stud, and no one wants that.
** I actually looked up Craig Grebeck’s career numbers and either I’m more of a feminist than I thought, or I owe Craig an apology.

The Great Thaw and Peak Brewing Season

Well the Great Thaw is upon us here in the Boston area. Over the past few weeks, the majority of the record snowfall has melted leaving behind a king’s ransom in trash and dog crap. Some cleaning is in my new future, but also so is more brewing.

Spring is peak brewing season for “us” here at Anti-Hero Brewing; it’s warm enough to brew comfortably outside and the ground-water is at its coldest without being frozen. And now that I have a fairly excellent (if I do say so myself) saison recipe to brew again for this Spring/Summer, I’m looking forward to a couple of brew sessions in the near future. Right now I’ve got 4 kegs in the freezer; though two of them – barrel-aged Belgian dubbel and the aforementioned saison – are nearing completion.

The our club – which just got a Twitter account – is having an internal competition this Wednesday for brown ales. I brewed a variant on Arctos, a brown ale I made that was well-received (BJCP score of 38-40). I think this variat, Bad Jackson, is much better than the original. A little bit of roast, some chocolate, good mouthfeel, etc. It’s one of a small handful of beers I’ve brewed that I would purchase commercially (the saison is another).

I’m going to try and kick the saison keg in the next couple days and get another brew day on the calendar for a variant on the recipe; I was unsatisfied with the yield and think I can get more beer if I alter the bittering hop addition. I also want to brew a couple of IPAs this summer and get one that I’m happy with which is pretty much a never-ending pursuit for me. We’ll see how it goes.

Back-to-Back Brew Days

I’m leaving for St. Croix on Friday, so I’ve been trying to cram as much brewing into this week as possible. I had meant to brew an amber ale on Sunday, but Daylight Savings (and a hangover) put a pin in that plan. My homebrew club is having a brown ale competition on April 8th so I needed to make sure I had one of those brewed and fermented. So instead of trying to cram another brew day in after my trip, I decided to brew the amber on Monday and brew the brown today. As of right now (4pm EST), the amber is bubbling away in the fermentation chamber, and the brown is in a snowbank chilling down.

Brewing in my backyard provided an interesting challenge on account of the mountains of now and the warmer temps causing it to melt around my system and under my feet. At a few points today, snowmelt came flying off my roof and either into my system of off my arms/back as I attempted to shield the beer. Outside of that – and a minor boil-over today – the brewdays went off without a hitch.

I did have some volume issues with the amber, which I’m going to chalk up to using a mismash of my 10-gallon system and my old 5-gallon system. I had to use my 10-gallon, non-insulated, mashtun to mash both of these beers, and boil both of them in my 8-gallon kettle which generally has a TON of boil-off. So I ended up with only 4 gallons of amber in my fermenter which will probably result in about 3.75 gallons in the keg, but if it comes out well, it’s a good excuse to brew it again. I did over-compensate with the brown ale today, so I doubt I’ll come out with less than 5-gallons of the brown in the fermenter.

That is one of the benefits of brewing more frequently; instead of slavishly following my calculators, I can tune my approach to my system. I would very much like to get some consistent brewing going on my full system so that I can calculate and dial in my efficiency, but for now I’m happy just getting the time to brew as often as I want and to have the products be pretty damn tasty.

For those interested, here are the recipes.

The amber is based on Alaskan’s Amber ale, and it stole the name from the amber ale I never bothered to carbonate: Uncommon Wrath.

The brown is a reworked recipe of Arctos, my brown that scored a 40 from my club’s judges, and will be entered in the club’s competition: Bad Jackson.

Big Doings at the Brewery

Firstly, I’ve started ironically referring to my house as “the brewery…”

New Personnel

Some of you may remember Reilly, my Chief of Brewing Operations. Well Reilly moved out (along with my ex), which left a vacancy here at Anti-Hero Brewing. So – after successfully completing his training – I’d like to formerly introduce our new Chief of Brewing Oversight and Director of Grains (D.O.G.), Oberyn aka “Obie.”

ObieBrewDay

Oberyn, at 3 months old, napping during his first brew day.

ObieJamboree

Oberyn, at 5 months old, working security at the Homebrew Jamboree

Oberyn, closing in on 1 year.

Oberyn, closing in on 1 year.

‘Award’ Winning Beer

My Symphony of Decay pumpkin ale won our club’s first annual Pumpkin Beer Showcase. In fact, the award bears my name and comes with this nifty trophy. The award is a lit bit of validation and verification that my brewing is improving. As such, I’m entering first competition in the next month, the South Shore Homebrew Brew-Off. I’ll be (tentatively) entering my saison, my pilsner, and my (yet to be brewed) amber ale. It’ll be nice to get some BJCP feedback on these beers that I think are solid.

pumpkinchamp

Club Business

Oberyn isn’t the only one getting promoted; I was recently elected as President of Vice (err, Vice President) of our homebrew club. I’m pretty excited about that, as our club is growing fast, is very active and doing a lot of fun and interesting things. Case in point, we purchased two barrels and have filled them. We’ve already pulled a Belgian dubbel off the barrel and it was excellent. We’ve put a robust porter into the other barrel and added a little bit of Maker’s Mark to sweeten the pot, so to speak. And that’s me doing the honors:

Barrelaging

And Lastly, the Blog

I’m going to try and do a better job of updating this blog (as I’ve promised multiple times before); my brewing sort of took a backseat over the winter thanks to the massive snowfall(s) and my vacation out to California. My 10-gallon brew structure is still buried under the snow out back, but I’ll be doing a 5-gallon batch on Sunday with members of the club. I’ll be posting an update on my brewing goals for the year, and some more of my recipes.

Lagunitas Withdraws Lawsuit, Capitalizes Random Words

Around 11:15pm last night, friend of the blog Tony Magee of Lagunitas announced via Twitter that he would be rescinding his trademark lawsuit against Sierra Nevada for the appearance of the term “IPA” on the packaging for SN’s new Hop Hunter IPA.

tony1

tony2

tony3

What Tony Magee is after…

Me, personally, I don’t believe a lick of this nonsense. Or is it Nonsense. I don’t know Why Tony capitalizes Certain Words, and not Others, but Whatever. This seems like a colossal waste of time, money, and resources for what any trademark attorney could’ve told you in an initial consultation. So why go through with the filing? Why strain your relationship with one of the biggest craft breweries in the country? Why would the man who said this…

I told the world that I didn’t want to pretend to ‘own’ something that belongs in the commons.

regarding his public battle against SweetWater over the term “420,” turn around and decide to sue over the use/appearance of the term “IPA;” possibly the most ubiquitous term in craft beer?

I have plenty of my own thoughts and opinions on the matter, but they’re just conjecture and wild ranting… so here they are (rant incoming):

I think Magee is a hypocrite. I think he’s a product of a generation and a half of spoiled rotten brats who are used to getting everything their way. I think he’s a pot-smoking hippie when it suits him, and a litigious business man when it suits him; though he’ll only admit to the former and never the latter. His series of tweets seems to bear that out. It’s all peace and love until his market share is threatened. Lagunitas, like SweetWater, like Flying Dog, and like (unfortunately) countless other breweries are perpetuating a dude-bro culture that – in my opinion – will do more harm than good as the craft beer industry matures. Sure, you can say they take their cues from Bud/Miller/Coors with regards to sexism but excuses are like assholes. If they can take the time and effort to make their products “better,” then they can take the time and effort to make themselves and their companies better. Beers like Mouth Raper IPA, Pearl Necklace, Leg Spreader, and innumerable others are juvenile, sexist, and they implicate all of us – ALL of us: brewers, owners, homebrewers, craft beer drinkers, bloggers – in guilt by association.

In fairness to Magee and Lagunitas, their beers do not fall in with these more putrid examples of rape culture. But the mentality of Magee – this egocentric, two-faced, spoiled brat attitude that leads someone to start fights over “420” and “IPA” like he’s the only one who has ever smoked pot or brewed with hops – is indicative of what is being associated with craft beer. It is a culture of privilege, and more often than not of male privilege. It’s abhorrent and it’s time to grow the fuck up.

That’s just a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to think about next time you’re shopping in the beer aisle.

 

Lagunitas Suing Sierra Nevada Over Stupid Bullshit

EDIT: In deference to the Semantics Warriors: Lagunitas is suing over the appearance of the term “IPA”  on Sierra Nevada’s packaging, not the term itself. Because apparently that makes this totally less ridiculous, except it doesn’t. Whatever. The title’s misleading, and apparently that’s all that matters, because reasons.

EDIT v2: I’ve retitled the article. I think it covers all the bases.

As a post-script to my typo-and-profanity-filled rant, I mentioned that I thought Tony Magee from Lagunitas was a hypocrite and an asshole. A lot of people didn’t like that comment, and I backtracked a little, because I just didn’t want to bother talking about it any more (since it was a tangent to my main point).

Well, sweet vindication has arrived: Lagunitas is suing Sierra Nevada for putting “IPA” on their packaging (That link is to BeerAdvocate’s forums, but it includes the embedded trademark lawsuit filing).

I’m not a lawyer, and I try not to play one on the Internet, but this suit is so laughably ego-maniacal and baseless. And I understand that failure to protect one’s trademarks can result in them being invalidated (or some such nonsense, like I said, not a lawyer), but this is absurd. Literally absurd. As in the definition: “wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate.” Lagunitas’ filing states the following (emphasis is mine):

The unique “IPA” lettering used in the Lagunitas “IPA” Family of Trademarks has a distinctive serif font, distinctive kerning (or letter spacing), between the “P” and “A”, slightly aged or weathered look, with uneven areas on each of the letters, and the elimination of any periods between the letters.

For anyone who isn’t a typeface nerd (so like 99.9% of humans), a serif font has those little lines that come off the letters. It’s what differentiates a capital “I” from a lowercase “l”. So say that entire family of fonts is “distinctive” is to say that because the sky over Lagunitas’ brewery is blue, they have the right to sue every other brewery that has blue sky (or less absurd: no one else can use hop art or the color beige on their packaging).

As for the slightly aged or weathered look; look out Founders, Alaskan, BrewDog, and thousands of other breweries because you’ll be next in court:

And as for eliminating those periods, well…

I just hope that Lagunitas has enough money and lawyers to righteously fight all this injustice that is besmirching their good name. Or maybe Tony Magee should conduct one of his “safety meetings” and chill the fuck out.