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A deeper look at breweries, beer culture and the beer world

Entries in #beeriosity (7)



James Squire is turning its Hop Thief into a full time beer.

The Australian team captain for The Bashes will, late this month, become a permanent member of the James Squire range. 

The fifth generation of the Hop Thief varietal series, the Hop Thief 5 is a celebration of Centennial and Citra hops in the chase for James Squire's aim of a "Life full of flavour".

Whilst there have been four limited Hop Thief releases over the past few years that showcased hops from around the world, Hop Thief 5 marks the transition to a permanent release series. From now on the beer will be available all year round; with seasonal changes to the hop recipe,” said Malt Shovel Head Brewer, Jeff Potter.

James Squire has tried to develop a full-bodied hop flavour, true to the American Pale Ale ethos, with the specific hops chosen for their citrus and stone fruit profiles, all balanced by a creamy malt body.

We hope this new release will give our drinkers something to savour, as well as build anticipation for the next edition to the Varietal Series, which will once again celebrate the unique characteristics of different hop varieties,” said Potter.

James Squire Hop Thief 5 will be available on tap at select venues across Australia from this month.

Like all of the Hop Thief varieties, it commemorates Australia's first brewer, James Squire, who stole horehound so he could brew his own beer shortly after arriving in Australia during its convict days.

The judge ordered that he receive 150 lashes, plus deliver him two barrels of his ale, as punishment and it took Squire another 15 years to become the first person to grow hops on Australian soil, thereby becoming the first to brew fresh beer.

All of that history, plus the sheer quality of the preceding four versions of the Hop Thief, is why it's the Australian team captain in The Bashes.



It wasn't that long ago that the world's best brewers sneered at beer cans. It was OK to use beer cans if you were a mass-production brewer whose beers didn't have enough flavour to be adulterated in the first place, but not for craft beers.

It wasn't that long ago that a beer can ruined the taste of a beer and, to craft brewers, that was diametrically opposed to what they were trying to do. 

But those days are changing and even the most famous craft-verging-on-volume brewer, Samuel Adams maker, Boston Brewing, is moving into cans. So what's changed?

Beer can technology, that's what. Beer cans have come a long way since they were invented in the US in 1935, when an enthusiastic drinker had to carry a tool to pierce the top twice to drain the precious nectar. (Oh, and can you name the first beer to be canned? The answer* is at the end...)

Now, the beer can revolution is here, following closely in the wake of the craft beer revolution.

Sam Adams has developed its own can to improve the flavour of its Boston Lager, US-based Sly Fox brewing has a can that lets drinkers rip the entire top off and drain it like it's a glass and even Budweiser has developed a new bow tie-shaped can, years in the planning.

“It’s a beer can, but it's not your father’s beer can anymore,” Boston Beer founder, Jim Koch, said after finally coming around to the beer can phenomenon. Koch's team has spent more than a million US dollars developing its own beer can and went through nearly 30 evolutions before arriving at the Sam Can, with its bigger hole and thicker lip. What's more, the Sam Can has been made available to other craft brewers, and they can even put their own logos on it... says that the takeup rate amongst craft brewers has gone from one craft brewer in 2002 to more than 300 today. 

Pennsylvania's Sly Fox also developed its own can, where you rip the entire lid off, for its Helles Golden Lager (widespread) and its Pikeland Pilsner (which is only sold in cans at the Phillies baseball home games).

The benefits of cans have long been known. They seal better than bottles, they are lighter and easier to transport, they can be served on planes, they don't let in light, so you don't get light-struck cans and they are less sensitive about where they are stored.

But for craft brewers, it's more important that today's cans don't ruin the taste of a beer, thanks to a water-based polymer that lines the sides and the inner lid so that the beer itself can never touch the metal.



*Krueger’s Cream Ale



Beer has long been one of Belgium’s biggest exports. Now it’s about to get a temple to Beeriosity’s favourite tipple.

With perhaps the greatest variety of beer styles per capita in the world, more than 150 breweries and around 1500 different beers, Belgium is a mecca for beer lovers who aren’t called Michael Taylor (who generally isn’t a fan of fruit beers). 

So they’re building a temple to an industry whose exports have boomed by 70% in the last decade to the point where more than 60% of Belgium’s beer is now exported.

The Temple will be housed in the former Brussels Bourse building, which served as the Belgian stock exchange until 1996. A huge building with giant columns resembling a Grecian temple, it has been abandoned since the city’s council took it over in 2012.

In typical Belgian fashion, there has been a 15-month study and consultation period to research the Temple to Beer, with the Belgian Brewers’ Federation also on board.

“Beer is to Belgium what wine is to France,” Brussels Deputy Mayor Philippe Close said.

That short quote was backed up by an even shorter one from the very Belgian-sounding Belgian Brewers’ Federation president, Sven Gatz: “It gives our small country a real identity.”

Doubtless there will be sufficient homage paid to cherries and junipers and raspberries and strawberries and pine needles and all the other stuff the Belgian brewers toss into their brews. This is the country most famous for lambic and sour cherry froths and red and golden ales and is noted for highly sweet beers beloved of women and those wishing to be.

Still, we'll pop our heads in when it opens in a year.



Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas and energy drinks can significantly increase the risk of kidney stones, according to a recently published Italian study.

Help is at hand, though, because the same study found that beer can significantlly reduce the risk of developing the condition.

The study, by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, examined data from almost 200,000 middle-aged adults who had never contracted kidney stones. The study followed them for eight years, when 4462 of the subjects contracted kidney stones, mostly those who drank sugary drinks.

"Our prospective study confirms that some beverages are associated with a lower risk of kidney stone formation, whereas others are associated with a higher risk," study co-author Dr. Pietro Manual Ferraro, a kidney specialist at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, said in a statement.

According to the Washington Post, those who drank one or more sugar-sweetened cola drinks a day had a 23% higher risk of contracting kidney stones than subjects who drank them once a week. For sugar-sweetened non-cola drinks (like sports drinks), the risk was 33% higher if they were drunk once a day versus once a week.

Of all the drinks with the ability to lower the risk of kidney stones, beer was the best. No surprise there. It usually is. For everything.

Drunk between once a day and once a week, beer lowered the risk of kidney stones by an astonishing 41%. Wine helped, too, with a 33% reduction for white wine drinkers and a 31% reduction for red wine drinkers.

Coffee also helped (26%), as did tea (11%) and orange juice (12%). But the moral of the story is that beer is best, and it’s tangible.

Beer is therefore almost four times better for you than orange juice. Narrow argument? Narrow schmarrow. It suits us. It’s four times better.

Kidney stones form when the urine becomes too concentrated, which allows mineral and acid salts to join forces and crystallize and depending on their size, they can tear apart the middle of a man's tallywacker. Some of the known causes include obesity, dehydration, urinary tract infections, bad diet and some medicines.

The US alone records more than 300,000 emergency room visits and a million doctors' visits for kidney stones, which the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology estimates will affect around 20% of American men (and 10% of women) in their lives.



Beeriosity has played music on beer bottles before. that's nothing new. Blowing across the bottle neck is a game we've been playing since we graduated from milk and Coke bottles in our teens.

The New Zealand arm of German giant, Beck's, has taken beer bottle music to new extremes with its phonograph.

Beck's was founded in 1870, about the same time as Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, so Beck's NZ has teamed up with the Shine Limited design house to create what the Heinrich Beck and Edison would surely have done themselves, had they only met. Probably.

There is now a Beck's Phonograph, with music scribed into the outside of the bottle and played like an old-school phonographic cylinder.

Shine recognised a similarity in the Beck's beer bottle and an old recording cylinder. You know, from before CDs. And vinyl records. And the cassette tape. And eight track.

So it took the first single, Here She Comes, out of the Arch Hill Recordings label straight onto the glass. But it wasn't that simple, because then they had to make something to play the record, with modern bits and pieces and a clean sound. So they reverse engineered the phonograph.

Unveiled in May at Auckland's Semi-Permanent design fest, it wowed the audience with its sound quality, but there are no plans for mass production.




What's worse than the bar running out of your favourite beer? For a drinker, not much. For the bar owner, though, it's much worse. That's money you're missing out on, as well as losing the opportunity to fulfil your drinkers' cravings.
US company, Steady Serve Technologies, has come up with iKeg, which helps both bar owners and beer suppliers to stop bars unexpectedly running out of beer.
Most bar managers still rely on the time-honoured method of picking kegs up to determine how much beer is left in them, but the iKeg system lets them know precisely how many glasses of beer are left in any keg, any time.
Still in its test phase, the iKeg uses some new hardware, fitted inside the keg. There is a sensor fitted beneath the keg to measure its weight and an RFID tag, similar to those odd things in department stores that have to be taken off with those funny looking scissor/stapler things.

Steve Hershberger, the Chairman and CEO of SteadyServ, says the sensor measures weight and velocity inside the keg to calculate how much beer is being consumed.

“It uses a series of wireless technologies and cellular technologies to get that information from the cooler up to the cloud, or the internet, and back down to the handset,” Hershberger said. “Which is where people can do things with it.”

Those things include not running the keg dry in the middle of a rush, obviously. But they also include automatically delivering replacement orders directly to the beer distributor, via either email, text or a direct message. The beer distributors themselves can let the bar managers know which kegs are running low, how many glasses until they run out and how much stock they have of a particular beer to keep them covered if, say, there's a run of XXXX drinkers arriving in a pub in Tasmania.
iKeg also keeps trak of what beer is selling and what isn't, along with what beers other local bars are moving and what isn't.

"Our system lets beer distributors know at a glance which of its retailers are in inventory trouble," Hershberger said.  "It lets them know who has ordered, who hasn’t (but needs to before they run out) and which of their retail accounts are out of synch (seeing a slow down in beer sales). 

"The beer rep can jump in and provide specific help and resources to aid the retailer in optimizing their beer sales, which in many cases is the greatest profit center establishments have."

Ultimately, SteadyServ wants to combine iKeg with both ordering and social media applications, so customers will also get to tap into the technology to find what's on tap, where.

“You’re going to be able to look at your phone and the app is going to tell you to go a block down the street and to the right and they’ve got three of your favorite beers,” Hershberger said.



Squeezed in my hand is a Fat Toad Pale Ale at the Golden Bear Brewery, Mapua, Tasman, South Island of New Zealand and this is more about the brewery than the individual beers.

The Fat Toad was hoppy with good bitterness for a Kiwi beer; most of which are too sweet for my liking.

The Cimmaron Dark and Hoppy was dark and hoppy, which might not surprise you.

Lefty's Leftovers was fairly good for a wheat beer and Owner/Brewer Jim Matranga gave me an early taster of the superb Siesmic IPA (a week short of tapping).

They may not all be on the menu when you visit, but I am sure that any of the dozen beers on tap will be good.

It's half an hour west of Nelson. Enjoy.