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Beer 101

Beer 101

Girls Take Flight with Karen-Sourpuss!

You walk into the brewery, take your tour, and go read the menu. You see Stouts, IPA’s, Ales, Lagers, Wits, and a …Sour? A sour beer? What does that mean? The brewer purposely made the beer acidic to taste tart? Hmmmmm…….

Bacteria are what give the sour beers their distinct taste. Lactobacillus and Pediococcus are the two bacteria that turn the sugars into lactic acid and increase acidity. Brettanomyces is wild yeast that balances the beer with an earthiness. So how do they taste?

At first sip, I thought, “Oooh, too tart!” But then I was asked by the brewer, “Do you like wine?” I replied, “Yes.” He said, “Take another sip and think about wine.” Wow! He was right. The sour took on an entirely new profile. Comparing it to wine, rather than a sour or tart drink, had me appreciating it a lot more. It was crisp, clean, refreshing, tart and fruity. Yay! A brand new way to enjoy a beer.

Sours can be a great alternative to those who don’t love beer but do like wine. For me, they’re a brew to slowly sip and savor the flavor of just one. I must admit, I don’t regularly order a sour. Having it as a sidecar, or just asking for a sample is about my extent. This year I will stop being a sourpuss and find a sweetness for sours.

Now sit back and enjoy your flight!

Beer 101 News

Jay Rose, Host of Fear of A Craft Beer Planet Podcast, On “Release Fatigue”-Why You Should Remember Your Craft Beer Roots!

New music. It can be fantastic. It can be exciting, innovative, it can stir up emotion, and unite people. But, why is it when an album comes out that I’ve anxiously been waiting to hear, I only listen to it 3 or 4 times then I’m over it? Why? Where does this come from? When I was younger I’d listen to an album/tape/cd until I wore it out. Weeks at a time would go by as I absorbed every breath the singer (well, full disclosure, probably a rapper) took and every syncopated fill the drummer hit. At some point, something shifted and I don’t listen to new things with the same enthusiasm and zeal that I once did. Is it because I have just about everything ever recorded on demand in the palm of my hand, and I feel overwhelmed by all the music I’m NOT listening to at any given moment? Maybe that overwhelming feeling is the reason I inevitably find myself leaning on the old music that changed my life and made me who I am today, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I noticed a correlation recently between the music I consume (a ton) and the beer I drink (more than a ton). As with new music, I’ll drink a new beer release and find myself smitten with it. I’ll take artsy, jealousy-inducing pics of it and post it on ALL social media forums while I wait anxiously (drunkenly) to collect as many of those addictive little hearts and upright thumbs as digitally possible for my boner beer. But, once that beer is gone, I don’t reach for it again. Like ever. Why is that? Are there too many new releases to keep up with? Recently, I’ve heard the term “release fatigue” floating around the craft beer water cooler. As I interpret it, “release fatigue” happens when there are too many new beers on shelves for drinkers to fill up their untapped account with, so they keep grabbing what’s new and not grabbing what they’ve already had that has just 3 stars (“This beer says it’s unfiltered, I can still see right through it! THREE STARS!”). How are breweries supposed to keep up with the pace of drinkers that are constantly on the lookout for the next IG-worthy one-off? Why is it that once a hot new release makes the IG and untapped rounds for a few weeks, it becomes irrelevant? Is this a sustainable way to grow a business? Example: Brewery XYZ has been making pretty solid beer for a few years. Recently they made a fantastic New England Double IPA which sold out instantly in the brewery and leaped off local shelves and tap lines at blinding speeds. What is that brewery’s next logical move as a business? Supply the (perceived) demand. So they make more and it takes a month to get back on shelves. In that time, guess what happens… no one cares. The buzz is now squarely anchored around the exact same style beer by another brewery leaving XYZ Brewing very confused and looking for answers as their once RED-HOT beer slowly gets older on shelves. I wonder if there is such a thing as a favorite brewery or a favorite beer at this point? By beer hopping from one to the next with every cracked can, how CAN there be a brewery/beer that inevitably becomes someone’s favorite? I don’t have answers to these questions. I guess they’re more of a rhetorical glimpse at my inner monologue as I eye up NJ tap lists and retail shelves on my daily grind. I was sitting a bar a few days ago (shocker) and saw Dogfish 90 Min IPA on tap surrounded by every fruit juice bomb IPA currently available in the great Garden State. Now I love these NEIPA’s as much as the next hipster, but….. I really do always find myself leaning on the old beers that changed my life and made me who I am today. Does that negate my 41-year-old hipster street cred? I think it just might.

Seriously, why is it ok to pop on Physical Graffiti by Led Zep or Check Your Head by the The Beasties and break off the volume knob (are volume knobs still a thing? I feel like they’re not…), but if someone hands you Rogue Dead Guy Ale it’s a violation of the highest order?! Those classic beers are the foundation for what is happening today. Just like The Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zep, Beasties, Tribe Called Quest and Prince are the foundation for current music, Victory Hop Devil, Stone IPA, DFH 60 Min, 90 Min, Allagash White, Troegs Hop Back, Flying Fish HopFish are the foundation for where we currently find ourselves in the craft beer world (we need to come up with a new name by the way. The word ‘craft’ is now being used to sell pizzas at pizza hut, slimy lunchmeat sandwiches at subway, and some preposterous concoction from Ronnie Mac himself at McDonald’s). Next time you’re in a store and an employee says you JUST MISSED the last 4pk of the latest juice bomb #beerporn beer you left work early to track down, go reacquaint yourself with some of the classics living on shelves in South Jersey. You’ll be astonished by the selection (ridiculous amount of amazing Belgians on shelves, more Bruery Beers than even The Bruery themselves has access to) and in some cases, already perfectly aged bottles! You can find these gems sitting on shelves all over South Jersey and all over the entire state! And we haven’t even mentioned the imports yet! Schneider Aventinus, Rochefort 8, 10, 12, Orval, Sam Smith, Chimay and St Bernardus! What a time to be alive! All of these beers are collecting dust on shelves all over South Jersey as the shiny new can with the tripped out artwork and 17-word name arrives in the store and finds a home in under an hour. I wonder how many reading this have had the opportunity to sit with a Schneider Aventinus, or an Orval, or a Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout. If this rite of passage has passed you by, it’s not too late! Run to your nearest Discount Liquor Emporium Outlet and comb over the goods in the beer aisle. There you will find a treasure trove of beers that were once upon a time, the most sought-after beers in the state!

If the music we grew up with, which molded our personalities, kept us company and watched us grow up, is still a big part of our lives, shouldn’t the beers that shaped us ALSO hold a special spot in our lives? Is filling an app with as many rare, one-off beers as possible in the ultimate quest for upright thumbs really all that important? I dunno, maybe I listen to too much music, and chances are I drink too much beer for any of this to seem remotely logical. But… Do yourself a solid the next time you’re in a store with an overwhelming selection, grab one of the OG’s sitting there waiting for a home and luxuriate in its timeless glory. Those beers connect us to the past, help us remember how we got where we are today, and if you look hard enough, give hints as to where the craft beer universe is headed in the future. Just because it’s not an IPA doesn’t mean it’s a bad beer, but that’s another rant for another time I suppose. Go open a beer.

I’m Jay Rose, host of Fear Of A Craft Beer Planet Podcast, and I approve this message!

Craft Beer Podcast hosted by Jay Rose, Richard James Rabic, Rob Forczek and Ryan Harbinson. Jay Rose has been in the beer business for 20 years. Currently, he works for The Hunterdon Distributing Specialty Team in Southern NJ as their Exquisite Liquids Expansionist. Richard Rabic has been in the radio biz for years and most recently co-hosted/produced for the Mary Walter show. Rob Forczek has also been in the beer business for 20 years and is the NJ Rep for Stone Brewing. Ryan Harbinson is a craft beer fan/conspiracy theorist with an opinion on everything. 
Beer 101

Girls Take Flight! Looks Aren’t Everything, But They Sure Do Help!

Just like we eat with our eyes when a plate of food is put in front of us, we drink with our eyes when a flight is presented to us. The beautiful hues of ales, ambers, lagers, and ports can make for a Kodak moment you want to remember and share with others.

When your selection is given to you in order from lightest to darkest, you can’t help but smile and say, “How pretty!” Automatically your tasting is off to a great start. Take a moment and look at your selections. Watch the bubbles rise (a sign of a clean glass). Hold the glass up to the light. Revel in the beauty of the different shades, and see if the color resembles the description given on the menu. Try to guess which pour is which without reading your selections.




I personally feel ambers are the prettiest of them all. The rich reds are so warming and gorgeous, I hate having them disappear. It’s really amazing how just the slightest variances in color can enrich and add eye candy to your tasting. If the taste is as yummy as the color, a total win!Take the time to visually enjoy your flight as well as taste it. After all, looks aren’t everything, but they sure do help!

Take the time to visually enjoy your flight as well as taste it. After all, looks aren’t everything, but they sure do help!

Now sit back, and enjoy your flight!

Beer 101

Beer 101: Take Out-What are Growlers and Crowlers?

Part 3:  Take Out-What are Growlers and Crowlers?

Well, as promised, here are my views on the growler and crowler thing.  Of course my husband never leaves without one or the other, so I have seen the filling process several times.  So you go to a brewery, you do your flight, order a pint of the beer you like to drink there and make sure its the one you like, and then you want to know how to take some home.  Well your in luck, because you can get your favorite craft beer to go in a growler, which is usually a 1/2 gallon jar, or in a crowler, which is a 32 oz can.  It’s like going into Starbucks and ordering a venti or a short.  It’s all about what size you want and how fast you are going to drink it.

First, I will tell you about a growler only because that is what we have most of in our house.  My husband has started quite the collection, he has one from all the different breweries he has visited.  The first time you buy the growler, get it filled, then bring it back when its empty for more beer. WHAT..….how convenient!  We have a pretty large collection in my house, and there is something in common with all of them, they are dark brown glass jugs.  At first I thought this was just a preference for the brewery because its a dark color, like beer, and manly looking. But, come to find out, the dark brown glass prevents light from getting through to the beer and causing the beer to produce a bad taste or smell, a term we all know as “skunked beer”.   Not all growlers are glass, some are ceramic, stainless steel, or plastic.  From my perspective most are glass, and I am starting to see the stainless in most breweries as well. 

Next they fill the growlers.  But its not as straight forward as you think.  Most growlers are filled in breweries by attaching about a foot long hose to the end of the tap, then sticking the other end  of the hose in the growler to the bottom.  I watched and thought “why are they doing that”.  I found out the answer is that the tube is a specific length to go to bottom of the growler, and it helps to get an effect of filling the growler from the bottom up.  This helps to reduce filling time and save beer.   Another method used is by purging the growler with CO2, which helps eliminate oxygen in the growler before pouring so it keeps the beer fresher longer. Using both of these methods helps give the beer you take home the best taste and longest shelf life.

Now let’s discuss the caps, they are different too.  Some growlers have a tilt top lid, its just like the kitchen canisters I have in my house, if that helps give you a visual.  There is a rubber ring on the inside of the lid which, when shut and latched, helps form an air tight seal on the jug.  Another method I have seen is a standard looking cap, with plastic or another type of lining that gets screwed on the top, then wrapped with electrical tape to form an air tight seal.  I know it sounds weird but thats what they all do to seal in the freshness.  It’s cheap and it works.  The last thing you will see is a homemade tag or label of your chosen beer attached with your new growler that has the name of the beer and the ABV%.  Now you are ready to go home, break the seal and drink your favorite craft beer any time you want.  Best thing is, you have a growler keepsake, whether it is a onetime souvenir, or from the brewery right down the street,  you now have your own refillable growler.

Now we will talk about the crowler.  This is a 32oz take-home can of your favorite beer.  It starts off as an empty, topless aluminum can which is labeled and personalized per brewery, and a lid.  Prior to filling the Crowler, they usually purge a little co2 to the can prior to filling it with beer to help keep it fresh and last longer once sealed.  After filling the can, breweries have this awesome machine that they put the can under which lifts the can up to seal the lid on the can.  It is loud, it spins, and looks like something that belongs in a machine shop.  Once done, voila, you have a fresh 32oz can of your favorite craft beer to take home and put in your frig.  Unlike the growler, this is not refillable, but still a cool keepsake.



These are the two types of take-home beer options that I have seen so far.  I am sure there are more types and also different styles each brewery uses to produce and sell there awesome craft beer that allows my husband to contribute to their business.  Some people may ask which one should I buy? It all depends on your taste or if you want a collector jug.  The major differences obviously is the size you leave with, and also the shelf life.  Typically, a growler should be consumed in the next 24-72 hours, especially after it has been opened.  The crowlers will last longer, I have seen them in my fridge for weeks and when opened still look and taste like they did at the brewery. 

So there have you my input on take-out beer  from your favorite brewery.  So the next time you go to brewery and get beer to go, pay attention to how they do it.  It really is amazing.  Sometimes I think it seems old fashioned and out of date, but then I think NO!,  this is what makes the craft beer scene so cool.  Making craft beer really is an art, there are so many touches and things done to keep it that way, and taking home freshly made beer is one of them.  It’s gives you a down-to-earth, homey, and folksy feel and it is awesome!  So the next time you go to a brewery, get some of your favorite craft beer to take home in a your very own growler or crowler.   


Beer 101

Beer 101: Why Are We Taking a Tour and What The Hell is a Flight?

Part 2:  John finally got me to say yes!

So here is my experience entering a brewery for the first time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, what to wear, and, most importantly, what I would drink.  Honestly I didn’t know if they served food, if they had other alcohol (yeah, I know a brewery means beer), I was going in blind.  So I got dressed and we headed to my first brewery.  Well, first off, I realized that I was way overdressed.  Attention ladies and gents, you don’t need to wear anything other than what you are comfortable in. Secondly, I figured out that they only serve beer.   And, lastly,  it was nothing like I had envisioned it to be.

So we enter the brewery and off on a tour we go.  A what?  Yes a tour.  I looked at John and he knew what I was thinking, “what the hell is this crap?”  John later explained to me that all breweries in the state of New Jersey are required to make every patron take a tour in order to taste the beer.  And, unbelievably,  every time you enter a brewery, no matter how many times you have been there, you start with a tour.  So after a 5 minute tour, I found myself totally surprised, yet enthralled with the whole thing.  The warehouse-like, big brew area was surprisingly really cool and interesting.  I was looking all around taking it in, saying “Wow! the beer is actually brewed in those big shiny different shaped metal vats.”, and yes, I now know they have names other than “shiny vats” which I will get into in another article LOL.  So off to the tasting room we go. How cool and awesome these tasting rooms are!  For those of you that have been to one,  you know what I mean.  They all have their own theme, most that I have been to are very trendy, rustic-like, and have their own off-the-beaten path type of decor. Some have tables, others have beer barrels, some have picnic tables, every tasting room I have entered is very unique. But, in my experience,  they all provide that down-to-earth homey atmosphere for tasting locally made craft beer.

So now I am into it! I am ready to get my first taste of fresh-brewed craft beer.  John says to me “we will do a flight.” A flight? What the hell is a flight? I have no idea what that is, but I trusted my husband and just stood next to him trying not to look too confused while he asked the bartender for one. So the server grabs this wood plank looking thing that has 4 perfect mini glass holders, and starts to write in front of each glass holder the numbers of the beers John chose. First, why are they writing on it, and, second, is that a permanent marker?  Ok, so they write on it so you know which beer you are tasting and, yes, the marker wipes off so the planks are reusable. This made me happy because I could already see John’s giant pile of wooden planks he would keep as souvenir’s of the brewery placed around the house as “art”. So what is a flight? A flight usually consists of 4 – 6 small glasses holding only about 4 ounces each of the beer you chose to taste and they fit perfectly into those little glass holders on the plank. So John grabs the flight and off we go to a table to give them a try.

All of the beers that John chose were different.  They each had different colors and smells.  He was trying to explain why they all looked different and  started spitting out Beer types, words I had heard before but had no idea the definition of.  Stouts, lagers, IPA’s, double and triple’s, wheats, Belgians, and others.  I was so confused!  So I asked John to stop with his yapping and I just started tasting them.  To be honest, the first few times I went to breweries I wasn’t sure what I liked.  I typically drink vodka, so this was a palate changer. I would taste and say “yeah thats good” , then I would taste another and say “no I don’t like that.”   I couldn’t remember what I tried each time we went.  John would say “you liked this, so you should like that”.  In the beginning I would let him order for me and that’s what I drank.  Every time we went, he would encourage me to taste his flights and ask, “what do you smell, and what do you taste?”  It has become a really cool thing we do.  I love smelling to see if I can figure out the hints and notes of the beer, and, as I have become more understanding of the types of beer, have begun to develop likes and dislikes and can recognize them immediately.

I look back now and see how far I have come, especially being so reluctant in the beginning about craft beer and breweries.  Please, don’t be afraid to give it a try!  The next time your significant other, or a friend says “lets go to a brewery” don’t snub your nose at it like I did in the beginning.  I think everyone should give it a try.  Just the atmosphere alone will suck you into the brewery life, it is like no other drinking experience. Please give it a try, you wont regret it!  It has become one of my favorite places to hang out and see all the great people I now call my friends.

Next:  What the hell is a Growler?