"hops" news and stories
Alright. We all know that the macro lagers are continuing to lose market share to the craft brews. Not enough to put the majors out of business, but certainly enough to make them sweat.
Which probably explains why earlier this week, while getting my daily dose of Pardon The Interruption, I heard something that caused me to fully utilize the rewind function of my DVR remote. In a new Miller Lite ad, Miller relentlessly touts the recent realization that Miller Lite is "triple hops brewed." Apparently Miller is so enamored with this claim, they've gone and plastered it on the front page of millerlite.com (as seen in the image above).
Here's the thing: I'm sure Miller Lite is "triple hops brewed." I'm sure they do add hops three times during the brewing process. But come on, Miller. Let's not kid ourselves. And let's not start slinging buzz words we can't take back and making up brewing terms that are as original as they are vague.
What is the point of this campaign? Are you trying to convince people Miller Lite is a "hoppy" beer? Every sip sends an opposite reminder to our taste buds. Or are you trying to imply that Miller has a craft-like brewing process? Maybe then you'd like to tell us what kind of hops you're putting in there? And honestly, it's not the hops I'm worried about, it's the adjuncts.
I've created a new ad campaign for Miller Lite. It will be their best, most honest yet: Miller Lite is Miller Lite. If you don't know what Miller Lite tastes like, go drink one! They're easy to find. On the flip side, if you regularly drink Miller Lite (or brew Miller Lite), don't be ashamed of it. Everyone who has ever grabbed an ML knew exactly what he or she was getting. And that's fine, it's a matter of personal taste and preference. But don't try to re-frame Miller Lite as something fancy or finely crafted. When I eat Kraft Mac & Cheese, I do it because I'm jonesing for some Kraft flavored mac or trying to save a little cash, not because I'm going to delude myself into pretending its smothered with gruyere and parmigiana reggiano.
I'd like to believe this whole thing is just a publicity stunt. I mean, it is almost as hokey as the 1-second Super Bowl ad.
Why wet? Well, the name is somewhat self-explanatory. Typically hops are dried before they are packed, shipped and stored to await the brewing process. Hops is a plant (the flower of a plant technically), and anyone who's ever forgotten a fern for too long knows plants become distinctly different when they're dead. The theory behind wet hops is that as soon as the flowers are picked oils, resins and flavors begin to dry up, so by going direct from the bine to the brew kettle, your hops will pack more punch.
The trick works -- beers brewed with wet hops hold more of their distinct flavors -- somewhat begging the question, Why doesn't everyone do it? Well, price is a factor. And unless your ale needs some serious hoppiness, a lot of that subtlety is going to be drowned in malts regardless. Also hop varietals can be pretty picky in where they will grow. But even when everything else works out, the schematics are a pain. Every hour those hops hang out, dryness sets in: They have to find their way to the brewery in a hurry. So brewers looking to use wet hops need a field nearby and the dedicated manpower to make it happen.
After the jump, hear about an accessible example of a beer brewed with wet hops: Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale.
News out of Yakima, Washington, via the Yakima Herald-Republic, is that Mike Rowe and the rest of the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs crew visited a hops processor in the area to film a forthcoming episode of the show. According to the article "Rowe spent two days picking and inspecting hops, working the kilns that dry the hops and making bales." Hops, a flower that helps give beer its distinct flavor, seems like a topical choice. Rising hops' prices, the result of a global hops shortage, has received significant media coverage.
While picking hops certainly doesn't sound like much fun, I'm yet to be convinced how "dirty" the job actually is. Though, truth be told, I'd probably be more apt to watch a Dirty Jobs episode about beer over filthier fare simply because it's a topic I enjoy (unlike, say, cleaning my toilet).
However, don't fire up your DVR quite yet: The episode probably won't be airing until between January and October of next year.
[Photo Credit: wikipedia.org]
On that note, The Washington Post is currently featuring a fun alternative (or addition) to March Madness. The lucky participants started taste-testing 32 beers and have so far gotten the contenders down to a precious 16. But three rounds remain - the quarterfinals, semis, and finals on April 6 - before a champion is named.
Tasters downed their fair share of beers, which ranged from Miller Chill to Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout, and represent the mainstream to the microbrew; the wheat-y to the hoppy; the ale to the stout, and back again.
A few of my personal favorites in the bunch include the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (deliciously full of hops) and the Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale for those summer nights down the shore, but the Post really did choose a fine array (including a few classics - or duds, depending on your taste in beer - Schlitz, Michelob Lager, and the aforementioned new Miller Chill).
Head over to the site now to track your favorite, er, player.
Filed under: Drink Recipes
So I'm back in my hometown for the Fourth of July, and my old roommate picks me up at the train station, and on the way back home he stops at the package store (liquor store to those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about), and he picks up a six pack of Wachusett Blueberry Beer.
He tells me to try it, but I'm hesitant. I mean, I'm somewhat adventurous when it comes to food and drink. I'm not going to try that turkey and gravy soda that Jones makes, but I'm willing to try something new and different. But blueberry beer? Was this made by the people who put coffee in my Coke and nougut in my Reese's Peanut Butter cups?
But I try it and...it's not bad at all. In fact, after a quick burst of blueberriness (I'm not sure if that's a word, but it fits), it actually settles into your mouth without any blueberry shock or aftertaste. And I guess that's the test of a good beer: you don't really notice the flavor of it as you're sucking down bottle after bottle. But this might also be a turnoff to some. Maybe some beer fans will actually want to taste the blueberry, after all, what's the point if you can't?
Right now I'm on my third. Though I don't know if I will make this a regular purchase. Too many other good beers out there to bother.