American Craft Beer Week

Red, White and Brew!

I have to ask though. Is Crow Peak Brewing really the only brewery in all of South Dakota? That’s just sad. I guess that explains why so few people live there.

Ride Review: Ride the Coast 2013

Ride the Coast 2013

Ride the Coast 2013 turned out to be a great ride for a good cause.

It was a hot one today in Santa Ana, California, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. Of course, everything is relative, because my hometown of Tempe, Arizona had a high of 118 today, so I’ll take the 90 degrees.

But, despite the heat, I opted for my long-sleeved, Ride the Coast T-shirt from a previous year, both for the protection and because I anticipated it might be cold along the beach (and because it has bitchin’ flames on the sleeves). I also pulled off my (Switchblade) windshield, to maximize the airflow. That turned out to be the perfect combination. It was a little bit hot at the commencement of the ride, so I was glad for the missing windshield, but along the beach it got downright chilly, so I was glad for the sleeves (and I got lots of compliments on the bitchin’ flames). Take that, Tempe Arizona. Where could you go for a bike ride and get cold this time of year?

This is a police-escorted ride, so once it starts you fly through every red light and stop sign on the way. Never once did I have to put my foot down during the 70 mile course. It is really quite an accomplishment, with a dozen or so motorcycle cops racing ahead to stop traffic at all of the intersections. Equally impressive is the fact that we go through so many police jurisdictions, and all cooperate in the process. Even Huntington Beach, known for its anti-biker attitude, gets into the spirit (not that they assist in the traffic control, but at least none of us were stopped for loud pipes).

The ride commenced at the Santa Ana Auto Mall. From there we took the 55 to the 22 freeway, and headed to the coast in Long Beach. From there, we traveled the coast all the way to Jamboree, in Newport Beach, and then turned North, ending at Original Mike’s in Santa Ana at about noon. The wait staff there did a great job serving the horde of bikers that arrived en masse.

Proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Ana. For numerous photos taken of the event, go here.

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Note the bitchin’ flames.

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The ride was hazy and very cool along the beach.

How Will You Chill Your Beer After the Nuclear Holocaust?

After the big one comes, and we are living in caves and burned out buildings, waiting for the radioactive fallout to dissipate, how will we chill our beer? I happened to come across this video today that provides a way to chill beer with only a big rubber band, and no electricity required. That’s a load off my mind.

Tonight’s Tasting: CAO Sopranos Edition and Budweiser Black Crown

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Choosing the cigar for tonight’s tasting was a no-brainer. I reached into the humidor to see what I could find and spied a CAO Sopranos Edition. Given the recent death of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), I had no choice but to select this stick as my small tribute. As to the beer, well, let’s talk about the beer.

Budweiser Black Crown

The things I do for you. I really took a bullet on this one.

I was intrigued before Budweiser released Black Crown, by what had to be the stupidest ad campaign ever created. Before any details of the beer were released, Budweiser had billboards proclaiming: “taste arrives on October 15.” I’m making up the date, because I don’t remember what it was, but the obvious message was that previously, Budweiser had never offered taste.

Not being one who is up-to-date on what Budweiser has to offer, the next time I was in a store after the big release date, I picked up a bottle of Budweiser Platinum, thinking that was the great new beer. Doing a little research, I determined that Platinum was not the great, new Budweiser. (Incidentally, just to show I’m not an automatic Budweiser hater, Platinum actually isn’t too bad. It’s pretty much like drinking water, but it’s tasty water, and doesn’t invoke the gag reflex of traditional Budweiser.)

Having figured out that the new beer is Black Crown, I picked up a single bottle at my local store this week and committed to reviewing it, even though Budweiser almost always gives me a screaming headache. I went into this with a completely open mind. Indeed, with the major breweries wanting to be perceived as craft breweries, I anticipated that this might actually be a decent beer since Budweiser was claiming it is its “crown” achievement.

I was so wrong. It tastes just like a Budweiser, with a little less carbonation and with perhaps a touch more hops. I can almost see the executives at Budweiser holding a meeting. “Everyone seems to be going crazy over these IPAs, let’s add some hops to our Budweiser.”

I remember in my college drinking days, Budweiser was usually the beer of choice, but a discriminating beer party host would serve Coors. If you wanted to really impress your guests, you would serve Michelob or perhaps even Heineken. I think that is what Budweiser is going for with its Black Crown. The party host will still be serving Budweiser to keep all the Budweiser drinkers happy, but it will be the perceived high-end Budweiser. Really bad stuff. I give it a 15 on the Morris Scale. Here is how Budweiser describes its Black Crown:

Just as the outfit makes the man, the ingredients of Black Crown are at its heart. Black Crown is a golden amber lager brewed with toasted caramel malt, a variety of American hops, and finished over beechwood to ensure that it is as distinctive as the people who drink it.

These “distinctive” Budweiser drinkers are easy to spot. They’ll be the ones with screaming headaches.

CAO Sopranos Edition (7 x 52″)

I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, or in this case ill of the cigar I am smoking in his honor, but the CAO Sopranos Edition did not impress. This stick made Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars in the world for 2005, but either they were crazy or this cigar has seriously slipped in the intervening 8 years.

This is a good looking stick, with a dark wrapper and a distinctive bright red ring. The construction was good, as was the burn. No technical problems at all, and draw was perfect. However, with the first few puffs, I thought tonight’s pairing was going to be a double downer, as I was met with some real harshness. Thankfully, the cigar mellowed as I smoked, and became an acceptable experience. Flavors consisted of spice, cocoa and nuts. Not a terrible smoke, and some people like them, but the CAO Sopranos Edition just didn’t deliver for me. A 79 on the Morris Scale. Here is how Cigars International describes it:

An offer you can’t refuse.

This is one of the most exciting releases of the past several years. The cigar is a legitimately fantastic premium blend. I must admit when word of this project was first heard, I assumed it would be a tad gimmicky. But this cigar is very tasty, easily among CAO cigars finest blends.

Made in Honduras with a dark and chewy Brazilian wrapper leaf, The Sopranos Edition cigar boasts an intoxicating blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Columbian tobaccos with a Honduran-grown binder. This hearty combination works wonders and caters to those looking for a bold, but smooth smoke. Thick clouds of smoke float above as you enjoy a variety of pleasant flavors. Hints of coffee and toasted wood swarm the palate, and are complemented by a sweet, syrupy note on the finish. Complex, balanced and totally satisfying.

It’s Now Legal to Brew Beer at Home in All 50 States!

Tuesday night the Alabama Senate passed a bill legalizing homebrewing — making Alabama the 50th and final state in America to do so.

It’s incredible to think that in America, where many of the founding fathers were themselves home brewers, that it would take this long to recognize this fundamental right in all of the states. Indeed, James Madison thought beer was so important that he pushed for a national brewery, complete with a “Secretary of Beer”. Thomas Jefferson and his wife produced an estimated 15 gallons of beer every two weeks.

  • History in the making: This will be the first time since pre-Prohibition days that all 50 states will legally allow homebrewing.
  • Rapid-fire succession: Mississippi was the 49th state to legalize homebrewing, and the state did so in March, only two months prior to Alabama.
  • Alabama might not be last: Alabama has an opportunity to legalize homebrewing before Mississippi, since the Mississippi bill has a 90-day wait period to become effective, while the Alabama bill would go into effect immediately once Governor Robert Bentley signs it.

Who needs a truck when you have a motorcycle?

Cow on Motorcycle

New Beer Fridge

Beer Refridgerator

Exciting day. The workers finally finished installing my new outdoor beer fridge. If you ever come to visit, please be careful not to slam the door closed.

New Yorkers Fight For Their Right to Smoke

On Monday, June 24, the New York Tobacconist’s Association will host its second annual Stogiethon, a fundraising event to benefit the organization’s legislative initiatives in Albany. The NYTA, which was founded in 2010, is an activist organization of New York’s tobacconists formed to battle anti-tobacco taxation and legislation on both the state and local level.

Like last year’s Stogathon (now called Stogiethon), the event will take place in Long Island City, this time at Studio Square, a massive event and entertainment complex.

“This year’s event promises to be an upbeat, classy, dignified and delicious event. It will be about celebrating the camaraderie that cigar smoking brings as well as the delight one experiences when smoking an outstanding, celebratory cigar,” said Rob Roth, president of the NYTA and owner of Nice Ash Cigars and Lounge in Buffalo, New York.

The night will begin at 7 p.m. with a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres. Guests will then be served a sit-down dinner. There will be an open bar for the duration of the night, and guests will receive more than 20 cigars, including smokes from Altadis U.S.A. Inc., Alec Bradley Cigar Co., Arturo Fuente, CLE Cigar Co., Davidoff of Geneva, Drew Estate, La Flor Dominicana, Nat Sherman and Rocky Patel Premium Cigars.

Roth says many cigarmakers have promised to bring cigars that have not yet been made available to the public.

The event will also feature a silent auction and raffle. While the auction lots have not been finalized yet, one definite will be the chance to create your own personal cigar blend courtesy of Rocky Patel Premium Cigar Co.

“As you can imagine our efforts are very expensive with our lobbyist fees, travel, conference calls, et cetera,” said Roth. “The success of this event means we can continue to fight for the reduction in taxes imposed by New York state and help the cigar smokers and tobacconists of New York.”

Tickets to the event cost $250 per person, and can be purchased online at There is an early-bird price of $225 per ticket for those who order before June 10. Also, tables of 10 can be reserved for $2,000.

To buy your tickets:


Tonight’s Tasting: Perdomo Patriarch Connecticut and Samuel Adams Alpine Spring

Samueal Adams Alpine Spring

A beautiful day on the Lido deck cried out for a tasting, and I was in a mild mood, so I went with a Perdomo cigar with a light wrapper (although admittedly it looks pretty dark in the photo) and a seasonal beer from Samuel Adams.

Perdomo Patriarch Connecticut (6″ x 50)

Perdomo’s Patriarch cigar comes in three wrappers – Corojo, Maduro and Connecticut. According to the company’s website, it was created by Nick Perdomo, Jr. as a tribute to his late father, Nicholas Perdomo, Sr. That bodes well, because I would think if you are going to create that back story for a cigar, you’d want it to be good. These cigars are made with core tobaccos from Nicaragua’s fertile Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa valleys, rolled in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper.

The construction and burn were flawless, and I was very impressed by this unassuming cigar. It had a nice flavor from the first puff, with a touch of sweetness. Although I had grabbed this thinking it would be a mild smoke, it turned out to be medium-bodied, with a nice palette of spice and coffee flavors. The street price appears to be around $9 for this stick, and that makes it a great bargain. A solid 91 on the Morris Scale.

Samuel Adams Alpine Spring

I’m not a Sam Adams hater, but of the million beers out there this is probably not one I would have ever purchased. However, I got a six-pack of these in my Easter basket (man, the Easter bunny has really changed with the times), so I thought it was time to give one a try.

Give Samuel Adams its due, for what many now view as a mass producer, it still experiments with some styles and ingredients certainly not seen from the big breweries. In the case of Alpine Spring, that’s not just a name chosen to make the beer sound German. Alpine Spring is an unfiltered lager brewed in the German Kellerbier style, yielding a 5.5 ABV with a rich mouthfeel, while keeping the crispness and citrusyness (yes, I made that up) of a lager.

This is a good beer, and was a great choice for tonight’s pairing. The Perdomo turned out to be a little stronger than I had anticipated, but this rich, malty lager stood up to it nicely, while still providing the drinkability I was looking for. On a hot day, this would be a great choice. I give it an 89. Here is how Samuel Adams describes the Alpine Spring:

This unfiltered lager is the perfect brew for spring – flavorful enough for cooler weather but with a balance of bright citrus & crisp maltiness that herald the warmer months to come. A single hop brew with Noble Tettnang hops from the foothills of the Alps, its smooth, refreshing & unique.

Beer Stein in a Can

Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager

I’m always a little amused when people “reinvent” really old technology. Not that I have firsthand experience, but my recollection of history is that the invention of the can was a pretty big deal, and the options at the time for opening them was to punch holes in them or open the entire top with a can opener.

Then came the pop top, and that was a huge deal because people could open and drink from a can with no opener. For awhile, the pop top was a tab sort of thing that the user would pull off the can, but that was not a great solution because it created a lot of waste. Then came the cans that we mostly use today, where you push the tap down into the can, but everything stays connected.

Everything old is new again. With the April launch of Helles Golden Lager, its ninth canned beer, Sly Fox Brewing Company will become the first brewery in North America to utilize the innovative 360 Lid beverage can technology developed by Crown Holdings, Inc. The entire lid of the can is removable, enhancing the drinking experience while turning it into a drinking vessel and eliminating the need for separate glassware.

“This technology allows the full flavor and aroma of the beer to hit the drinker’s senses and makes the can an even more appealing package for outdoor activities and situations where you want to be able to move around and sip your beer easily,” said Sly Fox Brewing Company head brewer Brian O’Reilly.

“Craft brew enthusiasts want to enjoy their beer as it was meant to be experienced whether at home or at an event and the 360 Lid makes the beverage can the perfect vessel to do just that,” added O’Reilly.

I really like the idea of a full opening to better enjoy your beer, but now, instead of that annoying little tab, you’ll have a really big shard of metal to discard into the environment. Ah, progress.