CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Beer

13 Sep 2018
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After my last column on American breweries selling out to huge multi-national conglomerates, I thought I would shake it up a bit … and review beers from a world-famous European brewery owned by a British conglomerate named Diageo. That brewery is the St. James’s Gate Brewery of Dublin, Ireland, that makes the most iconic stout in the world: Guinness Draught. Yes, Guinness, while brewed largely in Ireland, is no longer truly Irish. I am magnanimously putting aside my almost-universal rule of not buying from “Big Beer” for the sake of you, my readers. I know, I know: How very selfless of me, right? I have not tried a vast majority of the special releases from Guinness largely out of cynicism. However, I have more therapy sessions in the books now, and I think it’s high time I push aside the sneering attitude of my past; pull some beers off the…
21 Aug 2018
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It’s not easy to know exactly where your money is going when you buy something. Some large corporations take great care to intentionally obscure this knowledge, at least when looking at products superficially. You might despise a certain large conglomerate, and vow to boycott it … only to later find out that the paper towels you bought are made by a company that is wholly owned by that same conglomerate. For decades in the craft-beer world, we didn’t have this problem: If you liked the beer you were drinking, you could find out who made it by looking at the label—and that was that. Well, the craft-beer market steadily grew … until the bigger boys in the industry could no longer stand by and watch its massive market share erode. The plan was simple: Buy up craft breweries around the country. “What’s wrong with that?” you might ask. Not a…
25 Jul 2018
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I walked into work at the beginning of a closing shift on the Friday of a hot, muggy week in the desert. The past few Fridays had been slow, and my mood was already pensive with a side of rumination, because I’d just seen a woman whom I very much wanted to date at one time—but she was spoken for. I don't tend to walk around with this kind of feeling, but it comes a bit easier for me this time of year. Summer is a strange time for me. Against all good sense, I wake as early as I can stomach, work out and hike the Bump and Grind trail in Palm Desert five or six days a week. In the summer, if you dislike gyms as much as I do, you simply have to get at it early, for the sake of your safety. For a night person…
05 Jul 2018
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When I ponder beer history, two things stand out: the use of hops, and the invention of the drum roaster. The former happened 800 to 900 years ago, give or take. Antiseptic agents are needed in the fermentation of beer to keep the good microflora in and the bad out. Brewers didn't know this—Louis Pasteur’s discoveries happened years later—but they did know that without certain things, beer could turn out poorly. Before hops became widely used, bitter herbs and spices were used for this purpose. Scotland has a tradition of using heather; in fact, you can still find some beers with heather on shelves if you go to the right places. Hops just wound up being more efficient and suitable for beer flavors. More about hops later. As for the patenting of the drum roaster in 1818: Englishman Daniel Wheeler may have singlehandedly changed the course of beer history more…
07 Jun 2018
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Craft beer tends to be very communal. Fans get together for tastings and “bottle shares.” We often trade with people across the country for beers we might not be able to acquire otherwise. We also love our beer festivals. A well-conceived and well-executed craft-beer festival is a beautiful thing—even if you leave wishing you had been able to try yet more beers that you missed. I love the Coachella Valley. I moved here in 1988, although it took a little getting used to. (We got here in August when it was 100-plus degrees.) I grew up hiking around the cove and enjoying its gorgeous views—and met many friends I still know to this day. That said … our local beer festivals can’t quite match the exemplary festivals found in other parts of Southern California. I recently attended, for the fifth straight time, the Firestone Walker Invitational, at the Paso Robles…
10 May 2018
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I dislike IBUs. Allow me to explain. Approximately a decade ago, hops were king in the craft-beer world. People could not get enough, and breweries were finding ways to jam more hops into beer (double dry-hopping, for example). This led to all sorts of excesses. This is where IBUs enter into the more mainstream picture. IBUs (International Bittering Units—it sounds ridiculously over-important, but it’s indeed a thing), as you might have guessed, measure how bitter a beer is ... kind of. Hops contain compounds called alpha acids that make beer bitter during the boil through a process called isomerization. The longer the beer is boiled, the more bitter the beer is, given the same hop strain. (Some strains contain more alpha acids than others.) Hops are vitally important, as this bitterness can counterbalance the otherwise sweet wort that is to become beer later on. Hops also contribute flavors and aromas…

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