beer

Autumn Brings Breweries, Bars and a Taproom

 Photo: Cole Wilson

Photo: Cole Wilson

It's the greatest time to be a beer drinker in New York City, right? Wrong! This fall, the beer scene will get even buzzier with the arrival of new breweries from Evil Twin and Torch & Crown, as well a second location of Beer Street. I chronicled the hoppy news for The New York Times. Care to read? 

Turn on the Light: The Rise of the Low-Alcohol Craft Lager

 Photo: Olivia Rae James

Photo: Olivia Rae James

Scroll through Instagram, peruse Twitter and tiptoe through Untappd, and you might assume that beer fans have blinders on for everything but IPAs and pastry stouts. Blow hype’s smokescreen aside, however, and you’ll see the light: Americans love low-ABV lagers. In January, sales data revealed that the country’s best-selling beers are Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, the first time the top three were all light. With lower-calorie beers ruling the land, craft and independent brewers are making unlikely moves, especially as conglomerates increasingly encroach on their turf. “They’re firing shots, so we’ll fire shots back,” says Night Shift co-founder Rob Burns.

Enter the era of light lagers, low-calorie craft beers and nonalcoholic sips suited for one and all. My Imbibe feature awaits your clicking finger. 

Bubbling Up? Sort of. The Latest Trend Is Carbonation-Free Beer

 Photo: Jester King

Photo: Jester King

To American imbibers reared on fizz, zero bubbles may seem as off-putting as that forgotten cup of beer found after a party. However, in Belgium still beer has a proud tradition. There, spontaneously fermented lambics are sometimes kegged or bagged bubble free and served as flat as the day is long. It’s not a bug but an appealing feature—without carbonic acid, sour beers are less perceptibly acidic and can make for easier drinking.

Inspired by Belgian brewing customs, a budding group of sour- and wild-focused American breweries are saying sayonara to fizz. Is it good? Bad? Heresy? Heaven? Only one way to find out: Read my story. Or not! It's OK. I write a lot of words. 

Why Brewers Are Turning to Can Conditioning

 Photo: The Referend Bier Blendery

Photo: The Referend Bier Blendery

As consumers turn away from bottles and embrace cans, producers are left in a pickle: How can they compete in this heavy-metal marketplace? Easy: By cracking the code on can-conditioning, packaging volatile sours, super-effervescent saisons, and beers teeming with wild yeast in 16-ounce cans,  bringing bottled-beer experiences to the beach koozie. Interested? I was! This was one of those ideas I got from staring at a beer cooler for far too long, till the idea started to coalesce in my hops-addled brain. Curious? Here's the story.

Rice, Rice, Baby: Brewers Look to Sake for Inspiration

 Photo: Cambridge Brewing

Photo: Cambridge Brewing

For SevenFifty Daily, I cover how sake has become American brewers’ latest muse. Brewers are collaborating with sake producers, using sake yeast strains, and brewing their own, a move that makes sense when you consider that sake, like beer, is a fermented cereal beverage. “The fact that they have more alcohol than standard beer doesn’t matter,” John Laffler, the co-owner and brewer of Chicago’s Off Color Brewing, says of sakes, which generally have winelike alcohol levels. “It has nothing to do with the ABV. It’s a fermented cereal grain.”

America Gone Wild — How an Ancient Tradition Became the New Wave in U.S. Brewing

 Illustration: Charlotte Hudson

Illustration: Charlotte Hudson

The last decade has witnessed a steady about-face in public perception of sometimes challenging, often misunderstood wild beers. They’ve gone from outcasts to lust objects, bottles of Cantillon revered as the high art of beer connoisseurship. Consumers now worship at the altar of Brettanomyces, flocking to festivals such as Crooked Stave’s What the Funk!?, Upland Brewing’s Sour Wild Funk Fest, and the Funk Collective Sour and Wild Beer Festival, which takes places in Charleston, South Carolina, this summer.

How did this ancient tradition take American take taste buds by storm? I tackle the topic for Good Beer Hunting.