dingsbeerblog

The Session

11/20/2013
by Ding
19 Comments

Session #81: Women in Beer Culture

This is a post that is about three weeks late. Every month, on the first Friday of said month, the The Beer Sessions invites beer bloggers to pen a post on a single subject. Each month a different blogger ‘hosts’ the session by choosing a topic, and then subsequently summarizing all of the posts for that month. At the beginning of November, Session #81 brought us to an old chestnut (at least for me), as The Tasting Nitch asked, “What about Women in Beer Culture?‘.

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Banned

11/18/2013
by Ding
2 Comments

Hypocrisy, FRESH and on tap!

It’s always heart-warming to be reminded from time to time that there are so many of us out there that belong to the, ‘mistreated by beeradvocate.com‘, club. My own story is well-documented, and unsurprisingly there are many, many others that are similar and equally disappointing – and it’s STILL going on, even years AFTER this. I think there’s a pattern emerging here, guys!

So, this morning was a good one. I woke up to read Chad’s Beer Nut column at timesunion.com where he details, and reflects upon, his own expulsion from the site, two years prior. Nothing new there, but as I say, still good to be reminded that there are plenty ‘like me’ still out there. The piece rang especially true with me, as my own ban was instituted in the Spring of 2011 just a few months before Chad’s. Of course, on reflection the ban was a great thing for me, since this blog was born as a direct result of beeradvocate’s action.

I probably check the site a few times a month these days, often after I get a message from somebody telling me that my name has been mentioned on the forum somewhere.

Living on

Living on

When I do check-in, it’s obvious that the forums are an absolute riot of useless nonsense. Again, nothing to report there, all of that’s old news as well, but as I looked around the site this evening (having been provoked by Chad’s piece), I noticed something that I had not done before.

Having had all my reviews deleted from beeradvocate (after I managed to save them all), I knew that the Bros. hypocrisy in terms of respecting beer knew no bounds, but my visit this evening revealed yet another layer of disrespect. Not only have they kept all of my photographs of places & beer, AND have kept places and beers that I added to the database (all of which I already knew about), now they have now taken to crediting THEMSELVES as the sources of those entries – CLASSY!

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Who added?

Who added?


The Session

10/04/2013
by Ding
1 Comment

Session #80 – The Craft Beer Bubble

The first Friday in October ’13 brings us Session #80, where Derek Harrison at It’s Not Just The Alcohol Talking asks, ‘Is Craft Beer a Bubble?‘.

I’m no economist, and in any case economics is a soft science at best, so I guess it doesn’t matter, but here’s my take.

No matter what the relative competence of a brewery in terms of what they brew, or indeed competence in terms of their business plan, infrastructure, finances and strategies, as long as their beer actually SELLS, then it’s entirely possible for incompetent, ‘bad’ breweries, to survive. In some cases, in particular in America, these breweries even thrive. So, that brings us to the American craft beer market.

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WWB

09/15/2013
by Ding
0 comments

Beer Review: Westbrook Brewing Co., Weisse Weisse Baby

Ding Points: 70.50

Pour: 40.00, Nose: 70.00, Palate: 80.00, Mouth: 80.00, Global: 70.00

Tasting Notes:

$9.99 for the 750 mL from Growlers, HHI, SC, USA. Bottled 3/29/13.

Well this beer has been a long time coming. A few years ago, a few months before Westbrook had even opened, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Westbrook at a party held in Charleston (thanks Brian Z.). Ed brought two beers with him that he was piloting for the new brewery. One I forget (perhaps a Strong Belgian Dark), but the the Berliner Weisse I did not. It was astonishingly good.

I was thinking that WWB might be an re-incarnation of that beer, or perhaps, actually that beer. A quick Twitter exchange with Ed confirmed that indeed WWB IS ‘that beer’. I must admit, WWB seemed dramatically different than I remembered, and I was surprised that Ed confirmed that the two beers were one and the same.

Westbrook, Weisse Weisse Baby

Westbrook, Weisse Weisse Baby

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The Session

09/08/2013
by Ding
10 Comments

Session #79 – The round up and a few rebuttals

OK, Session #79 is now over and the thoughts of many have been recorded for posterity. There weren’t quite as many posts as I was expecting, and some of the writing wasn’t very good, but here’s my summary. If I have left you out it was NOT intentional. My apologies, and if you contact me I will gladly correct my oversight.

The first thing that I want to comment on is my own Session #79 post. Frankly, even after a lot of time and consideration I was still left a little dissatisfied with what I wrote. I knew this before I posted it, so this is not an after-the-fact observation. I struggled with the direction of the post quite a bit, and I think that I know why. I have written so much about the cultural divide in other, more specific ways, that I felt that I had already covered most of this ground elsewhere. Also, when writing about such matters without a specific topic in mind (as I was on this occasion), it can sound more like a tirade that lacks focus, than a considered, well crafted opinion. This is why I wanted people to read my other posts on cultural differences in the same vein – I hope that people took the time to do that, because taken together, I think that a clear pictures evolves.

The first Session #79 post came in quite a few days early from Simon Tucker. As Simon explains in his post, he is an Englishman in America too. I was a little confused by two things that he said in the first few lines of his offering. Firstly his reference to CAMRA makes little sense to me. What that has to do with my position I’m not sure. He goes on to write something that I absolutely disagree with; ‘And whilst I agree that America is not making the best beer in the world right now, it is the best place to be drinking beer’. On the contrary, I think some (not all, but some) of the best beer IS being brewed in America, but despite that America is a TERRIBLE place to be drinking beer – in fact I’d go further, and say that is really the whole point of my Session #79 post! I am in a place that sits 180 degrees from Simon’s statement. Continue Reading →

The Session

09/06/2013
by Ding
8 Comments

Session #79 – USA versus Old World Beer Culture

OK, here we go with the blog post that you’ve read before. Why do I say that? Well essentially this is a post that I’ve written umpteen times over, just in varying guises.

In those past posts I have generally focused on one particular aspect of the cultural divide, and by doing so I have been able to hone in on one facet of US beer ‘culture’ that I find deficient. For example, you may have read such classics as, Americans and Cask AleAmericans and The Beer Middle Class or Americans and Session Beer, where I take Americans to task over their abuse of cask ale, their penchant for hype and extremes, or their ignorance of basic beer nomenclature respectively. (Actually, it’s really important for one to read all of these other posts (and ones highlighted below) if one wants to get a sense of where I’m really coming from here, since taken together, they give a much more complete picture of my thoughts on this particular subject than can be gleaned from this post alone).

OK, so how is this post different to all of those others? I suppose what I am trying to do here is to give a more global, less topic specific view, but even when attempting to do that, there are still some recurring themes and common threads that allow me to illustrate what I believe to be true about American beer ‘culture’ in general. Some of these ideas will not be news to you at all, in fact, they are all almost certainly old hat, but that doesn’t make them less valid, and when you’ve written so much about this in the past as I have, there is inevitably going to be some repetition – I make no apologies for that.

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The Session

08/15/2013
by Ding
26 Comments

Session #79 – The announcement. Friday, Sept. 6th – USA versus Old World Beer Culture

The Session, a.k.a. ‘Beer Blogging Friday’, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. Friday September 6th will see my turn to ‘host’ The Session, #79 in the series.

Anyone with any inkling of my online, in-person and blogging presence in the American beer world since 2000, will know that the whole of my beer experience in that time has been colored by, sits against the backdrop of, and forms the awkward juxtaposition to, my English beer heritage and what has been happening the USA in the last few years. Everyone knows that I have been very vocal about this for a very long time, so when it came to thinking about what would be a great ‘Session’ topic, outside of session beer, it seemed like that there could be only one topic; ‘What the hell has America done to beer?‘, AKA, ‘USA versus Old World Beer Culture‘.

This probably won’t be pretty, and you’re probably not gonna like it much, but hey, what’s new?

Please remember to send me the link to your contribution to Session #79 on Sept, 6th.

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06/09/2013
by Ding
1 Comment

Beer Review: Westbrook Brewing Co, Mexican Cake

Ding Points: 80.00

Pour: 80.00, Nose: 80.00, Palate: 80.00, Mouth: 80.00, Global: 80.00

Tasting Notes:

Two separate, approx. (what looked liked) 10-12 oz pours (in undersize Duvel glasses) at The Lodge, Hilton Head Island, SC.

I had heard a little about Mexican Cake but would never have sought it out as such. Anyway, strolling into The Lodge at 4.00 PM on a Saturday afternoon I see that they have it on, and since it was one of only three beers on their list that I have never tried, I thought that it made sense – after all, it was right there in front of me, and Westbrook is such a feature for me when I am on the island these days.

Mexican Cake at The Lodge, HHI, SC

Mexican Cake at The Lodge, HHI, SC

Pour is standard for the style. Jet black body, with a light mocha, orangey head. The head is sustained sufficiently for the ABV and the lace is light.

The beer offers some simple chocolate based nose which also renders itself in the initial tastes. It also has a high solvent character for me, and the alcohol burns a little. Having said that, paradoxically perhaps, it seems to act within the paramters of 10.5% ABV, and coupled with a relatively thin mouthfeel, the beer is surprisingly drinkable for such a beast.

For me there is no hint of heat or peppery spice. Maybe the solvent alcohol that I pick up, is my palates way of telling me that there is a habanero burn, but for me this does not register on the heat scale at all. A chile beer, this is most definitely, not.

On warming some more of the cocoa/chocolate element starts to come through, but once again I don’t feel a spice character in any manner.

Typical mocha head

Typical mocha head

In the final analysis is this nothing more than an entirely competent, slightly solvent based, American Double/Imperial Stout. Don’t get me wrong, for the style, and if you are in the mood for such things (which I seldom am these days), then this is going to do the job and probably make you quite happy. However, is it the next coming? No.

Of course the hysterical hype is hardly the fault of Mexican Cake, ‘the beer’, but I sometimes wonder about this style. Even many years after the early ‘craft’ days of this current American round, this style still is the one that manages to self-generate and hang on to the most insanity and nonsense. Mexican Cake, whilst although being good, is just the bazillionth beer in the style that is NOT all it’s cracked up to be.

Other: American Double Stout/Imperial Stout, 10.5% ABV.

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05/10/2013
by Ding
1 Comment

Beer Review: The Wrecking Bar, Ding – The English Bitter

Ding Points: 70.00

Pour: 70.00, Nose: 70.00, Palate: 70.00, Mouth: 70.00, Global: 70.00

Tasting Notes:

I have not spoken to Bob Sandage about ‘Ding‘, so I cannot comment on its origin with any degree of certainty, but here is what appears to have happened.

Recently Bob went to England for a short visit where he was exposed to some classic, English Bitters. His trip happened to coincide as our argument/discussion about the characterization of cask beer in America was coming to a head, and as a result of those two events, he decided to brew Ding, The English Bitter. If that’s inaccurate, my apologies to Bob and I invite him to chime in and correct me.

Ding on the board

Ding on the board

Lots of people have asked me how I feel about Ding. Is it a compliment? Is it a gentle jab? Is he mocking me? Am I flattered? Am I insulted? In truth I have mixed feelings. I suppose it is nice/important to be recognized as forming some part of the greater Atlanta beer community, but in all honestly, if the abuse of cask ale continues in the US, then frankly I have no use for such things. For me, any discussion about Ding isn’t really about the beer itself, rather it’s about a whole nation being misled about the nature of cask beer – the fight goes on.

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04/14/2013
by Ding
0 comments

Beer Review: Back Forty Beer Company, Freckle Belly IPA

Ding Points: 74.50

Pour: 90.00, Nose: 80.00, Palate: 70.00, Mouth: 70.00, Global: 70.00

Tasting Notes:

I’ve had very little exposure and experience with Back Forty beers, but when I did, I thought they were incredibly average. This is the first one that has made it across the border to GA, and predictably a DIPA. 22 oz bomber, cost me $4.99 I think. Best By 08/12/13.

Freckle Belly

Freckle Belly

Whether this is an American IPA or an American DIPA is largely irrelevant I feel, since with the level of bitterness that we encounter and the ABV, there is no way that I could categorize this as anything other than ‘American’, or ‘Double’.

Pour is a standard and attractive one, with some solid golden orange color, a medium thick, sticky bone-white head, and some retention and lace. Good start.

Nose offers some alcoholic, metallic grapefruit. Continue Reading →

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