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Cans and Bottles

Sam Adams just announced that they will start selling one of their beers in a can. A can that they designed, because normal cans apparently ruin the flavor of craft beer. There is all kinds of hype about it. What’s the big deal?

Sam Adams has a lot of heft in the craft beer world because they are one of the oldest and one of the biggest breweries that isn’t owned by a beer conglomerate. Their chairman, Jim Koch, has been saying for a while that they couldn’t sell beer in cans because it changes the flavor of the beer. Now they are making a big hullabaloo about how they had their own new can designed that will make for an amazing drinking experience. Ok.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Sam Adams. I think it mostly has to do with Jim Koch. I’ve never liked him one bit, mostly because of his personality and his stupid marketing stunts. So maybe I’m a little biased against Sam Adams.

But craft breweries have been selling their beer in cans for years. The experience of drinking out of a can is certainly a little different than drinking out of a bottle. If you aren’t pouring the beer into a glass, though, you don’t get much of the aroma of the beer either way and there isn’t really a chance for the head of the beer to form.

Cans are much easier to pack and bring with when you are going hiking or boating or travelling at all. Cans are lined with food-grade plastic so the aluminum of the can isn’t going to affect the flavor of the beer at all. Cans are much easier to dispose of, especially if you are exploring the outdoors.

So what’s the big deal with Sam Adams’ beer in a can? It’s all hype. Plenty of other breweries have been successfully selling beer in cans for a long time, and they didn’t need to design their own new can to pull it off. Boston Beer Company is just selling you the image that they are still cutting-edge.

Do you enjoy craft beer from cans? Why or why not?

Lenten Beer Promises

Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, and many people make some type of “resolution” as a matter of discipline to prepare themselves for Easter. They may give something up for the 40 days of Lent, or they may do something extra. (By the way, Lent technically lasts 46 days but Sundays are supposed to be joyful even in this somber season, so they aren’t counted as part of Lent). There are two beer-related Lenten practices that come up regularly, and both of them are difficult practices that require great discipline.

1. Don’t Drink Any Beer  for Lent
One of my friends did this in college and it was an un-enviable feat, I think especially due to the fact that we were in college. Our school’s winter carnival (a five day long party in the snow) often took place in Lent, and Lent always includes St. Patrick’s day. It’s not easy to give something up when all of your friends are enjoying it. That type of discipline is what Lent is all about, though.

2. Drink Only Beer For Lent
This has to be the more difficult of the two. It is said that their is a history of monks living off of beer for the entirety of Lent. These beers weren’t Miller Lite, though – they were thick, heavy, dark beers with some nutritional value to them.

In 2011 a man in Iowa home brewed a whole lot of Dopplebock and survived off of it for the entirety of Lent. Only one single type of beer, and water. For 46 days. His motives weren’t so much spiritual as historical and experimental, but it makes for an interesting story. In fact, I find it interesting that he experimented with practice of Catholic monks during a Catholic liturgical season when he exhibits a certain anti-Catholicism in his writings, but to each his own. You can read about his experience here.

Do you have a beer-related Lenten promise this year? What is it?

Beer and the Pope

As you’ve heard, Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down in a couple of weeks. This is an interesting day for the Catholic church, but also a time of excitement for a new pope and gratefulness for a job well done by the current pope. What does this have to do with beer, though?

Pope Benedict Enjoying A Beer

Pope Benedict XVI is a big fan of beer. He is from Germany after all. His favorite beer is reported to be Franziskaner Weissbeer, a wheat beer that is made in Munich. Their website is difficult to navigate, but it looks like you can actually get their beer in parts of California and New York.

Adding to his legacy, there’s even a beer made in the Pope’s honor in Germany called “Papst-Bier” or “Pope Beer.”

Pope Benedict XVI Beer


You can always stock up on Pope beer steins and bottle openers to keep this pope in your memory.


Pope Benedict Beer Stein


Pope Benedict XVI Bottle Opener

As the current papacy winds down, why not crack open a cold beer in Benedict XVI’s honor, and give him a “Prost!”

The Flavors of American Imperial Stouts

When you are drinking an American Imperial Stout what flavors should you be looking for? What types of unexpected flavors might you find?

A couple of weeks ago I looked through dozens of reviews of twenty amber beers, picked out the four flavors that were repeatedly used to describe each beer, and analyzed them to determine which terms are most commonly used to describe amber beer flavors. Today I did the same thing for American Imperial Stouts.

American Imperial Stouts are basically just really strong stouts. Of the twenty beers I looked through the alcohol by volume (abv) ranged from 7.5-16.8%, with an average of 10.8%. These are beers to be reckoned with. They include a variety of stout styles – oatmeal stouts, coffee stouts, milk stouts, chocolate stouts, and so forth.

The beers I looked at came from all over the United States. Some examples are Founders “Breakfast Stout,” Deschutes “The Abyss,” Dogfish Head “Worldwide Stout,” Terrapin “Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout,” and Lagunitas “Cappuccino Stout.”

These were the terms most often used to describe American Imperial Stouts:

Chocolate 19
Coffee 14
Roasted Malt 10
Vanilla 6
Alcohol 5
Dark Fruit 4
Molasses 4
Bourbon 3
Caramel 3
Hoppy 3
Tobacco 2
Brown Sugar 1
Cayenne Pepper 1
Cherry 1
Honey 1
Licorice 1
Maple Syrup 1
Oak 1

Here is my breakdown of the results:
I pulled out 18 unique terms that describe American Imperial Stout flavors, compared to 20 unique terms for amber beers. Several flavors showed up across most of the American Imperial Stouts. “Chocolate” used to describe flavors in 19/20 beers, and “coffee” and “roasted malt” described more than half of the beers.

It is clear that there tends to be more experimentation with the flavor of stouts. Who expect to see “cayenne pepper” or “maple syrup” in descriptions of beer? The deep flavor of stouts certainly allows for more experimentation than the cleaner flavors of other beer styles, like amber beers.

How would you describe the flavors in your favorite Imperial Stout?