19 Sep 2009 @ 8:51 AM 

I just found this fantastic set of rules on Lang Brau Schönbrunner’s website (NSFW), translated from German:

This is brilliant:

Recommendation Manual for Schönbrunner Erotic Beer

1. Attention: do not open an Erotic bottle in public! (Erotic effect can have immediate impact)

2. Do not let Erotic Beer linger in your throat, but rather swallow it immediately! (Can cause throat swelling: death by suffocation is not to be excluded.)

3. If you drink an Erotic Beer at home, do not bother to turn the television on as you won’t have a chance to watch it: the Erotic impact takes effect immediately.

4. Cold-blooded people may not experience the erotic impact immediately. No problem! Simply open more Erotic Beer bottles, 5 to 8 bottles and… cheers! Afterwards, watch your body closely. Normally, it should work. If not, consult your physician as soon as possible.

Quotation from a satisfied Erotic Beer drinker: “Since I started drinking Erotic Beer, it even works in my marriage!”

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Mark this down as an awesome idea.

October 3rd is the day of the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC. If you’re local to Durham and you’re not going, you’re silly. It is, for real and true, one of the best beer festivals that I have been to. Great variety, good representation from local breweries, great food, good live music, and the wonderful added bonus of a brilliant location. This year (as with many years before excepting last year) it is in the historic Durham Athletic Park, where the Durham Bulls used to play? Ever seen Bull Durham? Yeah. There. Awesome.

This year, there’s even more awesome. Fullsteam Brewery — heard of them? You may have, even though they’re not actually open yet. Sean and Chris have been making waves in craft beer (not like one of those pools, no) because they’re so damn chalk full of good ideas. If you haven’t heard of them, you will. I guarantee it. (In fact, you just have, haven’t you?)

Anyway!

The under-construction Fullsteam Brewery is right around the corner from the Durham Athletic Park. East about a block. Easy walking distance, and they’re capitalizing on that by holding – on the same day as the World Beer Festival, in between the afternoon and evening sessions – a Backyard Brewfest.

Homebrew only.

It could be awesome or it could be terrifying. It might be both, considering they don’t have bathrooms built into their space, yet. (Let’s hope someone borrows a port-a-john and brings it by!)

There are still spots available for homebrewers, and many free “tickets” still available for the event itself. RSVP here for either.

Is it a little tight on the timing? Sure is, but I’m brewing this weekend to have something ready in time. No problemo. I’ll see you there with a couple of kegs of homebrew. If you’re in Durham for the World Beer Fest – or even if you’re NOT going to the WBF but you’re still in the area? Come on by and say hi.

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Categories: beer festival, homebrew, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 17 Sep 2009 @ 02 10 PM

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 15 Sep 2009 @ 11:29 AM 

Have you seen this article? It got popped up on a few beer-related Twitter feeds yesterday. It’s… it’s ridiculous. I’ll give you a link, but no.. don’t click on it, we’re going to talk about this in length all right here. Don’t you dare leave. I’m re-printing this article in its entirety as it was published, with comments. (The ABC “Travel” Section)

Sexy Beer the New Viagra?

Bavarian Brewery Claims to Spice Up Sex Lives With a New Erotic Beer

By JOSIE COX
September 14, 2009

Jürgen Hopf fits the stereotype of a Bavarian beer-maker, with his traditional felt hat, rosy cheeks, and proudly protruding beer-belly. But Hopf has given Germany’s favorite drink an unlikely twist, creating libido-enhancing beer.

When I think of Bavarian beer-makers, I think of felt hats. Don’t you? Okay. Maybe. I kinda feel like they don’t wear them to brew, though.

The real reason for the call out here is that link. It points to an article named Do Drinkers Exercise More Than Their Sober Peers? which is about the Boston Hash House Harriers, “a drinking club with a running problem.” I can see why it’s linked to from “protruding beer-belly” but only just barely.

And the potion which he created almost seven years ago, has gone from strength to strength. Sales of the bottles adorned with a picture of a woman removing her top now make up more than a tenth of all the beer brewed in his village.

You started a sentence and a paragraph with “And?” It’s not even a remotely complete sentence. Can I be a paid journalist? Please?

His village, by the way? Wunsiedel, Bayern, Germany, population 10,000. Notice that it makes up more than a tenth of all the beer brewed in the village, not the beer consumed in the village.

The brewery is Lang Bräu. Here they are on Beer Advocate.

I suppose that since the brewery lists 17 beers on their website (the last paragraph of this article says they make 13), 10% of the production is fairly decent.

But his invention came about by chance, Hopf says. “I work at a brewery where all the processes are automated. One night though, the system failed and I was called up to try and fix it as I live just over the road,” he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It was the middle of the night and there wasn’t a soul in sight so I crossed the road wearing just my little boxer shorts and slippers.”

What happened next is something which Hopf describes as pure magic. When he entered the brewery the machine was completely broken and couldn’t be restarted. Semi-naked with no sleeves to role up, he picked up a large stick and started stirring the soupy brew by hand. “I suddenly felt strange and I knew that this beer would be different from any beer we had ever made before,” he recalls.

Excuse my french, but… Are you fucking kidding me!?

I suddenly felt strange?!

This blows my mind.

Never mind that they’re supposedly doing heat-based tasks overnight with no supervision. Never mind that even an automated brew system needs a human to, say, move hoses, or clean things, or even push a damn button now and then. How did they know that the system failed if there was nobody there? Also – when it failed to work, he “picked up a large stick” (let’s assume a mash paddle, at least) and started stirring it by hand whilst wearing nothing but boxer shorts and slippers?!

Either this guy or the person who wrote this article is a total freakin’ toolbag.

I wonder how all the people in the brewing industry who have gone through extensive skin grafting due to burns would feel about the safety procedures laid out here.

Bavarian Loin Cloth

Sure enough, two months later, the beer brewed that night back in 2002, had become somewhat of a local legend. Anyone in the village of Schönbrunn — a settlement of 1,400 in the heart of the Fichtelgebirge Mountains in Bavaria — who tried the beverage, reported a drastically increased libido. “Everyone I asked told me that they had not watched TV in the weeks,” Hopf chuckles, “instead they had went straight to the bedroom with no time to spare!”

I bet it was a local legend. “Hey, remember when the fat guy with the felt hat went over to the brewery in the middle of the night and made beer in his boxers on a broken brew system?” “Yeah, how was that even drinkable?” “No idea, but it made me HORNY!”

I.. you.. NO. No. You are NOT passing this off as a real news article.

Also! That link up there? It points to an article called Guinness Storehouse Most Visited Site in Ireland which, yes, is a local legend but not THIS local legend.

And hey.. wait! 2002? This subtitle to this article says, “Bavarian Brewery Claims to Spice Up Sex Lives With a New Erotic Beer”. Since when has 7 years old counted as new?

Hopf produced his “Erotic Beer” in ever larger batches. But each bottle is still brewed manually in the middle of the night by the 53-year-old brewmaster, who dresses in nothing but a scant, traditional Bavarian loin-cloth when making his beer.

A Bavarian loin-cloth? We must be talking about lederhosen, here. This is a loin cloth.

You know why he brews it in the middle of the night? Because everyone he works with thinks he’s a nutjob. It’s probably the best way to avoid safety and sanitation inspections, too.

Today, his brainchild has become one of the most successful products in the small village, which relies on agriculture and is home to only a few family owned businesses.

Link points to Anheuser-Busch Markets Bud Light Cans to College Students – totally related, right?

Although beer is commonly believed to lower a man’s fertility, other companies — such as the German biggest erotic store chain Beate Uhse — have also tried their hand at marketing libido-enhancing versions of Germany’s favorite drink. The “Popp-Bier,” German slang for “F*@# Beer,” with 4.8 percent alcohol content, hit the shelves in 2007 but was snubbed for its stiff price of almost €10 for a standard bottle.

Now there’s an amazing sentence, “beer is commonly believed to lower a man’s fertility.” I can find no actual science to totally corroborate this. It wouldn’t actually surprise me, but written out like that seems like a great way to start/spread some sort of urban legend and reminds me, again, of the Science News Cycle.

I have found what appears to be a follow up study (though I am not sure to what) in which the conclusion of the study is:

“A woman’s alcohol intake is associated with decreased fecundability even among women with a weekly alcohol intake corresponding to five or fewer drinks. This finding needs further corroboration, but it seems reasonable to encourage women to avoid intake of alcohol when they are trying to become pregnant.”

I’m not sure that’s quite the same message.

I would also like to point out that the link in that paragraph, from “commonly believed” goes to a video report about 2007’s hop shortage. Out of date and unrelated.

Hopf’s “Erotic Beer,” on the other hand, was an instant hit when it was unveiled at an international beer fair in Milan, Italy, in 2002. “The Italian machos were absolutely crazy about it,” recalls Hopf, whose name is almost the German translation of the English word for hops — the flower used in the production of beer.

The Italian machos were absolutely crazy about it, huh? I suppose that had nothing to do with the naked woman on the label,. (NSFW)

A Miracle Potion

Since its Milan debut, the company has branched out with its brand, selling “Erotic Beer” beer mats, T-shirts, bottle openers and beer tumblers as well as a special fridge, with the brewery’s logo and a picture of a semi-naked woman plastered across the door.

At the 2007 Oktoberfest — Munich’s annual beer-swilling festival — Hopf was told that his beer had helped an infertile woman in the United Kingdom become pregnant. His explanation: The beer must be a miracle potion.

No. Abso-fucking-lutely not. No, no, no. This beer did NOT help an infertile woman become pregnant. Not without a reference! Not without explaining how!

The drink is the product of an unusual manufacturing process. After being brewed, the beer is stored in a special “Erotic Beer Cellar,” separate from the other 13 types of beer produced by the family business. A special neon light is shone on to it, and the composition “Also sprach Zarathustra” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) by the German romantic composer Richard Strauss is played. “That’s the only song which works the magic,” Hopf explains.

YES! An Erotic Beer Cellar! Holy shit. An erotic beer cellar where you dress in a “scant Bavarian loin-cloth” and skunk the beer on purpose while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I have my brewery I am TOTALLY building an Erotic Beer Cellar. That is the sexiest thing ever!

“My life has changed since my breakthrough in 2002,” he says, “and I’m not only talking about my life as a brewer. I’ve been married for 25 years and I’m not going to tell you too much about my wife, but I can assure you that she’s a fan of Erotic Beer.”

This is one of those, “No! I’ve got a girlfriend! She lives in Canada!” lines isn’t it? “I won’t tell you much about her, but she loves my little felt hat and Bavarian loin-cloth, if you know what I’m saying!” You’re saying you’re single? Gotchya.

Is it any wonder that a people don’t take beer as seriously as wine? Regardless of the clearly fictional properties and process behind the “Erotic Beer”, this article is downright embarrassing. It’s written poorly. There has clearly been no research done on the beer, the town, the brewery, the brewer, the Bavarian loin-cloth, the brewing process or anything. There is no supporting information substantiating any of these outlandish claims or even what, aside from the soundtrack, makes the beer an aphrodisiac.

It is, however, proof again that people should be paying me to write articles, instead.

More on Erotic Beer in this post!

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Categories: marketing, media, new beer
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 19 Sep 2009 @ 10 25 AM

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Shocking, I know, but here’s the confession: Sometimes, when I’m at the beer store, I actively seek out imported beer.

I’m a little embarrassed about this to be quite honest. I really want to support the American craft beer industry, and especially my local breweries, but I often feel like my hand is being forced.

Okay. I can’t really make any apologies about my Belgians. I’m a lambic junkie. When I see lambic for sale, I have a hard time staying my hand, especially for an aged bottle of Cantillon, Oud Beersel, or, really, anything that Frank Boon produces.. There’s just not a good selection of American-made lambics (yet), and actually zero American-made lambic available on the shelves in North Carolina.

But I consistently find myself surreptitiously bringing home Scottish ales, English ales, milds, bitters, porters and even the occasional imported IPA. Twisted Thistle? Yes, please. Fuller’s London Porter? Any day of the week. Adnams Bitter? Load me up. Black Douglas? Every time I see it on the shelf.

But why? Why do I do it?

Because I can’t find a comparable American beer.

(insert stunned silence here)

I don’t know what your bottle shop looks like, but mine looks largely like a showcase sponsored by the hop grower’s association. For whatever reason that I’m not sure I understand, every damn thing in the store – seasonals aside – is loaded with hops.

I like hops. I do! IPA has a constant presence in my house. But sometimes, I want something different. Sometimes, I want a porter, or a stout, or a bitter, or a mild, or anything that isn’t sticky with hops. But wait! You notice I listed an IPA up there? Yeah! A British IPA, which gives me what I love most in an IPA: balance!

Hey, look. I get it. We’re Americans. Not only do we think we have to do everything bigger and better, but as craft brewers we’re trying to forge our own path away from the macrobrews and, really, every established style in the world pretty much ever. And that’s great! There’s a time and a place for a Double IPA. They are tasty beers. But that time and a place for a Double IPA is not every single time I pick up a beer. Sometimes, I want something else – some variety to take me away from the hops, and I have a hard time finding that on the shelves of my bottle shop in the form of an American Craft Beer.

To be fair – maybe all of this is a local distributor issue. Maybe the local craft beer reps are hopheads. That’s fair. I respect that. If that’s the case, I appreciate that they’re putting what they like on the shelves. Now if they could put more than that on the shelves, it’d be awesome.

But maybe, just maybe, when a lot of people think outside the box in the same way, the box just changes.

I’m not saying stop. By all means, forging our own way forward into new style territory is awesome (and, I might argue, constantly necessary – when we stop creating we die), and I want to continue to see it happen. But remember! Variety is the spice of life. If everybody is pushing the envelope by dumping in as many hops as possible, then.. well.. it’s all pretty similar, isn’t it? For variety, we have to move… what.. inside the box and not push the envelope? It seems counter-intuitive somehow.

A few months back, my Zymurgy had a listing of “The Best Beers in the Country” as voted by the readers or.. something. I don’t remember the methods, I remember the lists. The best beers were all IPAs and Double IPAs, etc. Pliny the Elder, Arrogant Bastard, 90-Minute IPA, and on and on. All awesome beers. The only non-IPA at the top was Old Rasputin, I think. The top 10 import list? (Not all of them, not in order, from memory): Guinness, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Chimay Grande Reserve; not a beer with hop character among them. It tells me that I’m not alone.

So, when you get a bunch of beer sales statistics together, it’s invariably noted that imports, while losing ground lately (probably due to cost), are still a large portion of U.S. beer sales. And I know why. Bud Light Lime counts as an import. Because sometimes, that’s the only way you can get what seems like a basic beer style. It makes me sad, but until I can find something comparable on the shelves (or have my own brewery where I can think inside the box like a REBEL) I will continue to support the breweries that give me the variety that I’m looking for, even if they happen to be overseas.

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Categories: appreciation, distribution, industry, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 14 Sep 2009 @ 12 19 PM

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 11 Sep 2009 @ 8:08 AM 

Some days you just wish you could get somebody’s ear. Like the BA.

MSN published this awesome article the other day: Why Every Cold Beer Costs You More.
Just imagine the cost of THIS pitcher.
Don’t feel obligated to click through. It’s just short of being a Jackie Harvey-esque Hollywood gossip column about the beer business in a “This is what they DON’T want you to know!” (gasp!) kind of way. It’s still informative, though, because it gives us this lovely little piece of information:

The top 13 executives [at A-B] made $73 million in the first half of 2009, or $5.6 million each, on average — up from $38 million a year before.

And mind you, Anheuser-Busch InBev execs received a 79% pay increase in 2008, reminds Paul Hodgson of The Corporate Library, an independent corporate governance research firm. The increases are mainly due to gains from stock options and stock vesting.

Anheuser-Busch InBev top brass aren’t the only beer execs getting in on the act. Molson Coors Brewing chief Peter Swinburn got a 120% pay increase in 2008, to $6 million from $2.7 million the year before, according to company reports. And Boston Beer chief Martin Roper saw his pay go up 28% last year to $2.75 million, according to company filings.

For the love of god, craft brewers: SAY SOMETHING. I’m pretty sure that the majority of craft brewers are just barely making enough to squeak by. The thing that I’ve heard over and over again when I talk to people about wanting to start a brewery is “I hope you like cleaning stuff!” and then “You’re not going to get rich doing this, you know.”

Well, no. I know. But I’m going to be happy, and that’s pretty awesome. I don’t ever expect to make $2.75 million, much less $6 mil!

Come on craft brewers, get out there and work this! You’re the beer for the people! These companies aren’t being run by somebody who just loves beer and wants to make a quality product, they’re being run by some cushy exec in a corner office who just loves profit! (Not to say I don’t love profit.) There’s so much spin to be had!

Go! Strike! Win market share!

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Categories: industry, marketing
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 11 Sep 2009 @ 02 24 PM

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