Beer! Just kidding. I also write other stories sometimes. A few years ago, AFAR magazine flew me to Detroit and tasked me with this: find out how a new generation of makers and reinventing the Motor City. Four days later, I returned with this report.
For Men's Journal, I tackle one of the more unique trends in brewing today: beer whiskey.
See, modern brewers regularly dabble in distilleries’ toolsheds, aging rich stouts and barley wines in onetime whiskey and bourbon barrels. Now distillers are turning the tables and producing beer-inspired whiskeys: seasoning them with citrusy hops for a subtle, fruity kick; using ale yeast to give them extra richness; and even distilling IPAs into a hoppy, fragrant liquor.
Did you know that I've been writing about beer and cheese for, oh, seven years for Culture magazine? Now you do! For my latest column, I investigate the wild world of Brettanomyces–driven beers and the cheeses that love them.
Back in high school, I’d obsessively flip through my local record store’s racks for the freshest indie-rock darling, something to jingle-jangle my teenager ears just right. Fast-forward a few decades, and my obsession is now beer shops’ fridges, rustling through their cool, illuminated recesses for the fresh new thing.
That’s how, on a recent winter afternoon at Brooklyn’s Covenhoven, my gaze locked on a few foreigners clad in uncommon garb. Germany’s subtly smoky Schlenkerla Helles and Birrificio Italiano’s generously hopped Tipopils were canned, cold imports wearing American beer’s trendiest armor.
I palmed the cans, seeking the packaging information with an archaeologist’s fervor. Perhaps this was another case of contract brewing, Evil Twin or Omnipollo hiring breweries to pump out Stateside product. Schlenkerla’s label explained that the beer was brewed in Bamberg, Germany, and canned in Connecticut, while Tipopils’s label proclaimed the beer was brewed in Italy and canned fresh in Oxford, Connecticut. That city is the headquarters of their shared importer, B. United International.
Brewed overseas. Packaged stateside. Distributed on the double. These were aluminum unicorns, a dream made real by B. United. “The beers are brewed where they’re supposed to be brewed but have the freshness of a locally brewed beer,” says B. United packaging manager Ben Neidhart.
For New York, I tackle the question I get asked all the time: Where should I eat in Prospect Heights? I've lived here for more than 15 years, so I've got plenty of opinions on everything from ramen to Thai and fried chicken.
Anybody can drink beer. Drinking beer smartly, however, is a tougher task. Having spent the better part of two decades imbibing as both an amateur and professional (writer, that is), from double-fisting Busch Light to sipping sparkling raspberry lambics from stemware, there are vital lessons necessary to become a better beer drinker. Whether you’re sipping your first IPA or someone who name checks favorite yeast strains, I provide Wine Enthusiast with eight tips to up your beer IQ.
For October, I tackle a top new travel trend: beer concierges at hotels.
See, going on vacation voids every societal drinking norm. Pre-flight double IPAs at 8 a.m. are as perfectly acceptable as pounding bloodies aboard the plane until you’re flying high above the clouds. And that’s just the beginning. Fo some, the very point of voyaging is to explore a city’s brewing scene, drinking up the regional bounty by the pint.
You can certainly book an Airbnb and explore breweries and bars with your good friend Google Maps. Hotels, however, are making a compelling case for you to plop your head on their excessively high thread count pillowcase. They’re offering specialty beer packages, expert advice from on-call beer concierges and access to hard-to-get bottles, cans and drafts.
For October, I tackled the increasing intersection of politics and beer. The story inspiration started like this:
Many Americans could’ve used a beer on Friday, January 20, 2017, the swearing-in date for the 45th president. Donald Trump’s future plans and proposed bans frazzled nerves, begging for a beer’s soothing touch. Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing had a salve: Courage, My Love, a fragrant lager released concurrently with the inauguration, a beer full of hops and hope.
The beer was a hit, and, this February, Threes rereleased Courage on draft and in cans, adding a the same twist. Ten percent of proceeds were earmarked for the ACLU, plus a portion of sales from the release bash, which features a cocktail called Don’t Despair. The latter contained mezcal from female-run Yola, which promotes Oaxacan women’s economic independence.
“We’re going to stand up for what we believe in,” says cofounder Josh Stylman. “We’re not a political organization, we’re a beer company. But if you can’t defend your own values and virtue, then what are you?”
Politically speaking, the country is as divided as a pizza pie, each American slice separate. Passions are running at a fever pitch, and the battle over right and wrong is being waged in unexpected arenas such as breweries. They’re making beers that stand for what they believe in.
Aluminum cans were once the domain of mass-market brews, the kind of bland, economy lagers bought by the case. But over the last decade, brewers have embraced the can, filling the once-maligned vessels with juicy and aromatic IPAs, tingly sours, and barrel-aged stouts. Cans have gone from objects of derision to desire, fueled by both the liquid and the labels. Designers, illustrators, and artists have turned these aluminum canvases into handheld works of art, a rare analog experience in a digital era.
Instead of bottles, we’re palming cans, Instagram-age billboards that telegraph a brewery’s philosophy and set it apart. A few decades ago, simply making more flavorful beer was a big enough point of differentiation. Now that good beer is sold everywhere—at gas stations, sports bars, and four-star restaurants—brewers need to consider the whole package, nailing both the formula and branding alike. The best labels look as good as the beer tastes.
For Ceros, I rounded up 30 of the best canned-beer designs available in America, including quotes from many of top designers.
Fruity and floral rosé is firmly lodged in popular culture, a synonym for sun-soaked hedonism, spawning memes like #yeswayrose, canned up for portable consumption anytime and everywhere. Breweries have taken note of the trend and released their own riffs on sparkling rosé. They appeal to beer lovers looking to sip something new, as well as wine fans wading into familiar waters.
Here, I tackle the trend that's leaving brewers tickled pink.