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  • Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    by John M. P. Knox

    "Definitely worth adding to your collection – it’s as good a visual record of the brewing process as I’ve ever seen." -Dave of

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Entries in Beer (37)


Brew Masters

Sam Calagione is the Indiana Jones of brewing. I've met him, so I realize he wears no whip, signature hat, or gun. As far as I'm aware, he doesn't make a habit of getting into fist-fights with Nazis either. Too bad, I think it would make good TV.

But Sam does seem to run through life with a sense of determination, running his brewery while cracking jokes and solving beer puzzles. Close enough to Indy for me.

You may have guessed that I recently watched an episode of Brew Masters called "Chicha". That's the episode where Sam goes to Peru, loses his luggage, and tries to track down the greatest treasure of the Incas: their beer.

Predictably, the episode is a riot. The historical method of brewing Chicha requires chewing on corn and spitting it into the mash tun. Sam wants a fairly large batch of the brew, requiring 40 pounds of mouth-moistened corn. The challenge is a serious one that leads to company-wide saliva tests and epic corn chewing and spitting sessions. Dogfish Head must be a fun place to work.

I loved the episode, but I do wish Discovery would produce the show with a little more of a documentary, rather than reality-TV style. I have some nerdy questions:

  • What Peruvian spices did Sam add to the beer?
  • Assuming that traditional Chicha brewers don't get those nifty plastic vials from White Labs, how is the Chicha wort inoculated? Is it a wild yeast? Do they use magic spoons?
  • It looked like the Chicha Sam was served in Peru was fermenting like crazy, giving it a foamy head. Was it very carbonated? How did the Dogfish Head results compare?
  • How did the Peruvian brewers cool the wort?
  • What are the Chicha pubs like when American beer archaeologists aren't raiding them?
  • Why doesn't Sam wear a whip and fedora?

 If you're in Austin, you definitely should consider watching the episode at the Alamo Ritz downtown. To sweeten the deal they even played a few episodes of Drunk History this weekend. Cheers!


Turbo Interview with Two Ladies of Craft Beer: Stevie and Taylor 

I interviewed Stevie and Taylor at the end of the Beer for Boobs Brunch. They tell us a bit about how and why to support women in craft beer, and also a little insight into their future plans. It's a short video, so watch and learn about this trending group bringing a fun new perspective to the craft beer universe.


Turbo Interview with Kevin of (512) Brewing Company

I interviewed Kevin of (512) Brewing Company to get some background on the beers they brought to the festival. I also asked him what interesting beers he discovered at GABF this year. It's a quick one, so watch and maybe you'll discover a new beer you'll want to hunt down for your collection.


Doing Good

Hop GodI just returned from the 2010 Business of Software Conference in Boston. I had a lovely time and had a few glasses of Sam Adams and Harpoon beer that aren't readily available in Austin. Glorious!

One surprising theme that appeared in the conference was that of using a software business to do good in the world. Many of the conference speakers touched on the theme, including Derek Sivers and Joel Spolsky. I didn't expect the topic in a business conference, and I found their speeches quite moving.

The notion also got me thinking about doing good in the beer world. Just as doing good in the software business doesn't mean writing good software, doing good in the beer universe doesn't mean making good beer. I'm talking about doing good in excess of just providing a product people want.

Looking back to the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, I found a few examples of doing good. First, there were a few events supporting cancer causes: the Beer for Boobs Brunch, and the Pints for Prostates rare beer tasting. Both of these events were an example of the beer universe directly supporting a cause to do good in the outside world.

The Ladies of Craft Beer itself is an example of doing a good. Although they don't directly come out and say it, I would say that their organization promotes social justice in the beer world. In this case, fighting the discrimination and mistreatment of women. No need to beat about the bush: some people in the beer world (many of them casual visitors to the beer world) act like jerks towards women. Most of those people aren't half as knowledgeable or involved as the Ladies of Craft beer. Just knowing these ladies are around should help take out the trash.

Beer itself can be a force of good too. Beer in moderation has health and social benefits. Beer was the social lubricant of choice at the Business of Software conference. I have no doubt that new relationships were formed because liquid courage helped break the ice. In some cultures, beer gives the drinker the power to remove her culturally-imposed mask and be herself.y 

Many brewers also promote the use of sustainable and environmentally healthy practices within their own industry. The use of organic ingredients, the support of local suppliers, and more efficient packaging are some that I can think of off the top of my head.

The dark side of beer is that it can be abused. A great social lubricant in excess can break relationships and hurt people. It can even put lives in jeopardy. So another kind of good found in the beer industry is preventing the abuse of beer itself, and helping those who are addicted or at risk of harming themselves or others. Many of the larger brewers especially campaign against the abuse of alcohol. Some might call this reducing harm rather than doing good; that distinction is up to you.

To finish, I would love to hear from you. What other forms can doing good take in the beer world? Whether you're a brewer, distributor, drinker, or member of the beer media, what is your personal brand of good that you want to give back to the world? Are there ideals or ethical standards that we all should strive towards, or is it enough that we each focus on our own form of helping the world be a better place than we found it? Comment below.



21st Amendment Back In Back Turbo Interview

A quick introduction to 21st Amendment's Black IPA: Back in Black.