Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dr Wort's Blog is now....

"Rather let them feast on idol sacrifices than bear the reproach, or expose themselves to the ill-will, of heathen neighbours. "

- 1 Corinthians 10:12

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Pyramid Effect

This will be the Doctors last hurrah!

Pyramid has been the epitome of a corporate brewing gluttony for so long. Multiple buy out and mergers to save itself. Along the way...repackaging, reworking, tweaking recipes, new styles in, new styles out, sloppy beers and the mess goes on and on. This corporate product tweaking and repackaging technique confuses the consumer. Is it all a deception or just corporate survival at it's worse? You be the judge. Lets call it the "Pyramid Effect."

First, a little history, per Wikipedia:

Founded in Kalama, Washington, in 1984 as Hart Brewing, Inc., the company bought Thomas Kemper Brewing of Poulsbo in 1992.

Hart Brewing changed its name to Pyramid in 1996 after its best-known brand. Went public on stick exchange in 1995.

In 2007, Pyramid sold Thomas Kemper to Adventure Funds of Portland, Oregon.

Pyramid also owned the Portland/MacTarnahan's Brewing Companies. In 2008, Pyramid agreed to be acquired by Magic Hat Brewing Company for $2.75 per share, a total of about $25.2 million. Magic Hat will "maintain offices in Seattle" after the merger.

Pyramid Breweries operates 4 restaurants called 'Alehouses' in Seattle, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, and Sacramento. In addition, Pyramid operates a taproom in Portland. The Seattle Alehouse opened in 1994 and is directly west of Safeco Field, which was completed in 1999. The Walnut Creek Pyramid Alehouse opened in 2002.

Pyramid used to feature one of the single largest selections of beer types among a single brewer. They made beers covering all the major types including, ales, lager, weizens, ciders, porters, and IPAs. Nowadays, the selection has been pruned to six styles, three of them weizens (wheat ales).

The Pyramid Effect.....

Lets' make a decent Barley Wine, call it "Snow Cap" (early 90's).

It gets a good following and some nice write ups.

Go Public! OK.... well, lets continue Snow Cap, but lets strip it down a little and make it simpler, tweak the grain bill and less alcohol. At some point I remember seeing the words, "Barley wine styled ale," but that was short lived. Label below just says, Snow Cap ale.


Now lets expand and open more BIGGER breweries and trendy looking restaurants! Snow Cap? We'll just call it a Seasonal Ale.

1998 - 2001

While we're at it lets under ferment it and send it out the door tasting Green and worty. We'll stick with the word "Seasonal." Shhh, no one will notice! But we did!

Expansion, expansion, expansion. Change label, change label, change label. Beer styles come and go in rapid succession. Adopt words on label that say, "Full-bodied Winter Warmer," that sounds like trendy moniker!




Oh no! We're totally losing our identity and our beers just are not selling, we've changed labels like 5 times and our beers aren't selling. Now what do we do? We bought out MacTarnahans/Prortland brewing, but that didn't help. Portland loses a decent brewery and Pyramid is treading water. We need help.... Financial stability, please. Magic Hat buys out Pyramid. New re-packaging!! That'll be the trick!


Slowly moving away from the Pyramid icon and trying to carry the load on the old MacTarnahan's name. It may truly become a Magic Pyramid soon! Now ya see it..... soon you won't.... Magic!

Presto! What are you hiding up your Magic Hat?

What does the beer taste like after more than 15 years of changes? I'm afraid to try! The last time I had a Snow Cap it was a sweet worty unfermented tasting mess.

How can you not laugh?

This may be a little pre-judgement, but you be the judge.....

Commercial icon gone bad or Icon gone Commercial?

What will Magic MacPyramid do next? Ronald MacDonallhan lager? A cheap beer you can swill down with any cheap franchise burger! Maybe pull out the big guns for spring and have a Mayor MacGrifter.... A Malt Liquor for the bum that made it into office.

A little Pride from my homeland

Not much to say here....

Infamous Toronado Barley Wine Fest

My new Homeland favorite - Holiday Ale Fest

The Godfather of Craft Brewing - Fritz Maytag

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More early Inspirational Beer People and Brewers

I can't find video clips of everybody deserving of the title, "Inspirational Beer People & Brewers," so here are some names.

Dr George Fix, Fred Eckhardt, Greg Noonan, Dave Miller, Bert Grant, Don Barkley, Michael Layborn, Ken Allen, Charles Finkel, Kirby Nelson (Capital brewing), Randal Sprecher, Jack McAuliffe, Ponzi family, Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker (Original Redhook), Pete Slosberg, Alan Sprints, Ken Grossman, Brian Hunt, Widmer brothers, Jim Koch, Bill Owens, Senator Alan Cranston and many more....

Larry Bell of Bell's Brewing

Michael Jackson - Last known interview

Charlie Papazian - The Godfather of modern Homebrewing

Magic Hat and Dick's reviews

Magic Hat was gracious enough to send me some of their Autumn samples. The bottles came with a media pack of beer descriptors, I threw it away without reading. I'd rather just evaluate what I taste without their given descriptions. I'll rate them on a the 5 scale. I'll keep my descriptors simple for some of my less experienced readers to follow. ;-}

Roxy Rolles - Amber ale

Amber in Color with small white lace. Head dies quick.

Aroma is slightly fruity and citusy. Grapefruit.

Flavor. Well hopped through out palate. Mostly puckering bitterness with some steely non definable hop notes. Malt is in the background and not very well defined through the steely bitterness. Maybe some mid-range crystal and a little toasted malt. Medium body.

Finishes with that astringent metallic bite on the tongue. Hoppy, but not a pleasant hoppy flavor.

It's not that enjoyable of a beer. Hop bitterness is just that, "Bitter." Not well defined flavors of malt or hop complexity or even simplicity.

rating - 2

Odd Notion - Fall 09'

Opaque deep brown/black in color with a brown head. Moderate lacing, but does maintain a small head.

Aroma is rather like that of a Stout with some chocolate, roast and coffee mocha notes. Maybe a hint of smoked wood? Bamberg? Beechwood?

Flavor. Well it's definitely a Stout! Nice balance of Roast and Chocolate malt with some higher crystal maltiness. Well balanced malt and hop profile. Medium bodied with a creamy texture.

It finishes with a think malt coating on the tongue, but flavors quickly diminish. Almost Irish Stout dry, but with a lingering roast flavor and a hint of smokiness.

All in all it's a nice drinking stout. I'd love to have this beer with some Oysters or some smoked cheese. Well balanced with a hint of smoke. Nice texture and finishes soft, almost dry. It's an above average stout.

rating - 4

Dr Wort doesn't want to end on a East Coast brewing note, so he dug into his cellar and pulled out a 2005 Dick's Brewing Barley Wine for evaluation.

Dick's Barley Wine 2005

Clear dark amber hue with small lacing and an off white head with diminishes quick.

Aroma is of roasted and candied almonds with a deep concentrated malt nose. Hops are spicy. Almost brandy in aroma. Treacle sugar aroma.

Flavor is a nice balance of complex malts and balanced hops. Hops are somewhat spicy. Rich burnt caramel flavors with hints of apricots, mango and smokey toffee.

Finish is very fruity with hints of everything from my flavor profile, but with the addition of a cane sugar? flavor.

It's definitely a Barely wine and would not (could not) be described as a Imperial IPA. This more along the lines of a classic British barley wine. Smooth, well balanced. Hops are extremely well balanced and not prominent. Tastes along the lines of a Adnams Tally Ho barley wine. Nice British barley wine.

rating - 4.5

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have no fear fellow Bloggers!

After this weekend the Doctor is done, period. There will be no more blogging and you won't find him trolling on other blogs. Do they give out AA chips for how long I can hold out from commenting on someones blog??? I might need an incentive program.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Men that are changing the brewing world

Here are just a few of the men that are breaking exciting new ground in brewing.

Ron Jeffries

Sam Calagione

Vinnie Cilurzo

Tomme Arthur

Real Beer Cuisine

Recently found this short DRAFT Mag interview with Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton. He manages to set the tone for the current beer and food landscape as a pairing experience. It's about passion. Passion for experimentation and creating new horizons in beer cuisine.

As I wind down this blog, I'd like to have some features about modern brewing that I find exciting and exhilarating. That means there won't be any mention of the newest IPA on the block or randomly boring copy cat brewing establishments.

Dr Wort to shut down blog!

Yes. The Doctor has grown bored with the beer blogging gig and feels it's time to move on. I have one more Magic Hat review to post and then will abandon the blog. I'm sure some readers will be ecstatic to here the news, while others will be disappointed. The last post should be this weekend.

Greg Noonan - Modern beer Pioneer Passed Away

Quite the trail blazer in the early years of the American Brewing Renaissance. I had the pleasure of meeting Greg once at an AHA Home brewers conference. A real nice and intelligent man.

My words are not enough. There's a great Obit for him here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Odonata Brewing - Coming Soon!

The big talk out on the street is the soon-to-open Odonata Brewing Co. in the Sacramento area. Peter Hoey is the brewmaster, but details are limited at this time. The word is out on their introduction Belgian Inspired "Rorie's Ale," a Cherry Quadrupel.

Choosing to appeal to a more sophisticated beer palate, similar to that of our NW Upright's Brewings #4, this opening is causing quite a buzz. I have a feeling this won't be the typically tiresome IPA and Porter brewery opening.

No official web site yet, but you can go to their blog at

Initial reviews of their Quad have been exceptional. The Doctor has not had a chance to try this limited edition, but sources tell me it's an amazing introduction beer for a brewery that has yet to even open.

per Odonata blog:

Rorie's Ale is a Belgian-inspired specialty ale, commonly referred to as a "quadruple", with additions of cherry to make it truly decadent. This is a massive beer, aged in barrels for over a year, perfect for pairing with a fine dinner of duck breasts or grilled lamb. Because of its fruitiness, this beer is also great with chocolate desserts. The beer itself is fairly dark, with deep caramel notes that play off sassy cherry overtones. It's boozy, it's complex and because it's bottle conditioned and high in alcohol, is perfect for putting in your cellar for several years.

A Matter of Taste!?

"Taste" has many meanings. Some imply to eating and drinking while others refer to having a sense of quality vs none or little. This begs the question... Do you taste your beer or have enough taste to evaluate your beer?

Some want to imply it's an elitist attitude vs. a common mans perspective. Well, there are professionals and elitists in every walk of life and endeavour. We have people who evaluate Coffee, Wine, Ice Cream, Booze, etc. Why would we mock someone in the know? It takes many years and education to gain the knowledge to be an expert at anything. Any FOOL can write a blog about beer, but how many really understand beer and can thoroughly evaluate it's subtle profiles and flavors. The number is smaller than you may think!

Jared over at "The Weekly Brew" blog is a very energetic up and comer in the beer world. He has the right attitude and is self educating himself on beer, brewing, history and the like. You know, the old fashion way! He's not listening to his buddy who only drinks IPA's or the local pub putz who thinks he's a expert on beer, but is really only proficient at warming a stool and getting drunk. This guy is pounding the ol' educational pavement. Kudos to you my friend!

In his most recent post, he talks about describing beer. Are all those words really necessary? I think he's posing the question to his audience. My answer is... It depends on your audience. He talks about Beer Geeks arguing over beer descriptors...... GEEKS may be the proper descriptor! I've sat at many a pub and had some local ass wipe who thinks he knows something about beer, tell me what I "SHOULD" be tasting. It can be rather humorous to watch some these schmucks make fools of themselves. I hold my comments and just shake my head in agreeance. Let the poor insecure bastard think he knows something. It's like walking an old lady across the street. I've done my good dead for the day. I've allowed some shit wit to feel good about himself, done.

Here's a copy of my comment to his post:

I think I agree with your post.

I would say, CATTY is Bad and Boot Leather could be good. Depends on the beer being tasted. I’ve reviewed some beers as having a Feline Excrement factor, just a nice way of saying it has a taste of CAT PISS.

Beer Aficionados do have their own language for describing the nuances of any given beer. Most descriptors have been long used within the beer community (even Michael Jackson was not the first to use such terms) and are common descriptions that are flavor profiles given off by certain grain, hops and yeast or in combo. They can be simple descriptors or can be very elaborate. I always think the best descriptors are ones other beer people can relate too. Like you said, beer snobs understand the language while beer poser do not. It does separate the masses from the… dare I say the word everybody here hates?…. beer elite. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about! It takes years of honing ones palate and nose to pick out these beer nuances and descriptors. Being a Brewer helps with the understanding of the flavors of beer ingredients, but not essential.

I prefer “Beer Aficionado” over Geek just by definition of the words.

Aficionado – an ardent devotee; fan, enthusiast.

Geek – a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.

Geek implies more to the braggart poser (phony, wanna be) vs. one who is truly in the know. Beer posers like to use the word "Geek" to downplay the true knowledge of the beer aficionados. Would we call Michael Jackson or Fred Eckhardt a Beer Geek?

I find it funny to read or hear beer posers talk about complex beer descriptions. They can’t relate to the knowledge they don’t posses. I hear some say, we should make it simpler…. Maybe describe a Stout as “Black, rich, & Roasty” and call it good. Sounds like burnt toast to me! ;-}

Keeping pushing the envelope Jared! Just remember, the more proficient your knowledge gets, the less of an audience you will acquire.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Delusions about Beer: Popularity vs Quality?

Reading through some local blogs we see some kind of Deschutes Brewery bashing vs. the typical mindless cheer leading. The Doctor is fairly tired of this childish banter of who's penis is bigger than the next guy. Who frickin cares!? Do you like it? Drink it! Think it's crap? Then don't! Everybody has their likes and dislikes, everybody's beer appreciation is at different levels with preferences of style and the like. PERIOD!

As most of you know, the Doctor is bored with the same ol' shit! The standard ale fare has become rather tedious and boring..... to the Doctor. You still like these beers? Fine, keep drinking them and stop reading this article. Wanna talk about commercial popularity vs. quality? You may be surprised with the Doctors view.

Can we truly equate popular and commercial beers as being low quality? NO!

Maybe it depends on the drinker?

Wanna chug down some beer and get a buzz while watching NASCAR? Wanna follow the masses of generational dorks? You probably think Bud or PABST is a righteous brew.

Tired of those beers? Maybe you've moved onto some gateway beers? Fine. Then those mass produced craft beers are doing you fine!

Moved to a higher palate? Great plenty to choose from! Search out the ones you like and explore.

Beyond that?! Now your palate is far more refined and your selection becomes rather narrowed.

Does this mean that any of these beers are garbage? Maybe, from a cheap mass production stand point, but generally, NO.

There's really no sense in arguing over what is quality vs popular consumed quantity, because you're going to drink what you like at your level of interest. Who cares what the other guy thinks?

Here's the newest Brewers Association's "Top 50 Breweries" based on sales. Lets' see where we can draw the line of quality vs. popularity:

Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies by Beer Sales Volume
(Based on 2008 sales)

Rank Brewing Company City State
1 Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
2 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA
3 New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
4 Spoetzl Brewery Shiner TX
5 Pyramid Breweries Inc. Seattle WA
6 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
7 Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY
8 Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City MO
9 Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
10 Magic Hat Brewing Co. Burlington VT
11 Alaskan Brewing Co. Juneau AK
12 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
13 Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI
14 Kona Brewing Co. Kailua-Kona HI
15 Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA
16 Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
17 Summit Brewing Co. Saint Paul MN
18 Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA
19 Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
20 The Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
21 New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
22 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
23 Long Trail Brewing Co. Bridgewater Corners VT
24 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA
25 Rogue Ales/Oregon Brewing Co. Newport OR
26 Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
27 The Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
28 Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA
29 SweetWater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
30 Flying Dog Brewing Co. Frederick MD
31 BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery Huntington Beach CA
32 Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants Louisville CO
33 BridgePort Brewing Co. Portland OR
34 Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
35 Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown PA
36 Mac and Jack’s Brewery Redmond WA
37 Big Sky Brewing Co. Missoula MT
38 Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants Chattanooga TN
39 Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA
40 Breckenridge Brewery Denver CO
41 Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe Eureka CA
42 Otter Creek Brewing Co. Middlebury VT
43 Utah Brewers Cooperative Salt Lake City UT
44 North Coast Brewing Co. Fort Bragg CA
45 Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY
46 Boulder Beer Co. Boulder CO
47 Pete’s Brewing Co. San Antonio TX
48 McMenamins Breweries Portland OR
49 Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Boonville CA
50 The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc. St Louis MO

Did you figure it out? Did you see where to draw the line of quality vs. the popular sales? I know, I sure didn't. Are any of these breweries producing CRAP beer? NO!

Deschutes is at #6 and Pyramid is at #5! Does that mean Pyramid is a better brewery? Does it means the Deschutes makes equally popular and boring beers based on their sales?

It appears the arguments we're all reading are based on High End and cutting edge beers. How many of these breweries are producing quality cutting edge beers? 30%? What percent of the sales does that equate too?

Here's the point! All these breweries are selling lots of beer Whether they make exotic beers or not, they're winning the battle. This means they are doing something right for the consumer and the consumers palate.

The Doctor doesn't drink a beer because it popular or because it's brewed in the NW, SW or mid-west. I don't really care where it comes from! If I enjoy it? I'll buy it! I don't give a rats ass where it was brewed and I'm certainly not going to run any flags up a flagpole because a brewery is in my back yard.

Some people have to many personal attachments and feelings towards breweries. It's frickin beer for God's sake! Does a brewery produce something you like, then enjoy it. They go out of business? Guess what? They're are plenty others that will fill the bill. Brewing is huge International business and they're 100's of quality beers. You can get a great IPA from different breweries all over the world...... No use fretting over the loss of a few..... Just like with employment, a beer can be replaced as easy as you can at your job.