Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Category: Beer Me

Grab the Bottle & Pour: Why Waiting for the “Perfect Occasion” is a Bad Idea

Not long ago, my friend Winton the Beer Tuber shared the article “Just Drink It Already!” from Draft Magazine that discussed the growing trend of cellaring beer. The author, Christopher Staten, notes that while the flavor of high-gravity and bottled conditioned beer change over time, many people are simply waiting too long to drink them. While some are waiting for flavor to develop further others are waiting for the “perfect occasion” to match the specialness of the bottle.

For some wines and a smaller number of beers there is a curve on which one can describe the flavors as improving over time, but as with all perishable foods there is a point at which the flavors begin to diminish. For beer and wine drinkers, you can tell yourself that the juice in the bottle is still getting better, so there's a reason to wait. Delaying the gratification of drinking the bottle now is offset by the reward of it tasting better in the future. But, for drinkers who prefer whiskey, brandy or some other liquor, this problem is compounded by the fact that distilled spirits don't improve once they've been bottled. So once a bottle has reached its peak, why do we also want to wait for the perfect occasion?

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Temperance in California

On September 5th, 1855 Californian's voted on whether or not they wanted to become a dry state.  While the majority of voters rejected the idea of statewide prohibition of alcohol, several newspapers took a lighthearted approach to the proposal.  Below are two humorous pieces I came across while researching California's temperance movement.

Temperance Lecture

Weekly Placer Herald (Auburn), September 22, 1855

"A Temperance Lecturer, descanting on the essential and purifying qualities of cold water, remarked, as a knock down argument, that “when the world became so corrupt that the Lord could do nothing else with it, he was obliged to give it a thorough sousing in cold water.” “Yes,” replied a wag, “but it killed every darned critter on the face of the airth." 


San Francisco Saloon around the time of the Gold Rush.

Weekly Placer Herald  (Auburn), June 15, 1855

The Charge of the “Tight Brigade” by Vennison Staik, Esq.

At the bar, at the bar, At the bar thundered, Thundered with fiercest din, Topers one hundred.

There stood those thirst men, Thirsty one hundred; Calling for drinks in vain, The bar-keeper slumbered; Hark! There’s a sound from one! List how the curses come From each and every one! Of that dry one hundred.

Into the bar they pitch, Noble old topers, For up comes an order, which Pleased these old soakers: “Forward the Tight Brigade! Take the bar” Muggins said: Into it undismayed, Pitched not each drunken blade— Pitched the one hundred.

“Forward the Tight Brigade!” Gods, What a charge the made! No one was there afraid, No Person blundered. Theirs but to drink their fill, Theirs but to have a swill, Theirs not to pay the bill; Ah, yes they knew it well! Knowing one hundred.

Bottles to right of them, Bottles to left of them, Bottles in front of them, Labeled and numbered; Nobly they fought and well, There many a hero fell. Covered with blood and beer; Beer that they loved so well, Gallant one hundred!

Raised now each nose in air, See what is under there, Mugs charged with lager bier— All the world wondered! Fiercer the revel grows, Redder each blazing nose, Faster the liquid flows, Under the table, goes Half of the hundred.

Bottles to right of them, Bottles to left of them, Bottles all around them, Emptied and sundered; Out from that dreadful room, Out from that dark saloon, Came fort a beery fume, Came forth a dismal moan, But none of the hundred.

When they woke again, O how their heads did pain! No person wondered. Honor the Tight Brigade! Honor the charge they made, Thirsty one hundred. 


Who Drinks Craft Beer?

I recently read Brett VanderKamp's new book Art in Fermented Form: A Manifesto. Brett is the president of New Holland Brewing and Artisan Spirits in Holland, Michigan. In the book, he reflected on a time in US history when people only drank locally produced beer made from locally grown ingredients and he hopes that one day this paradigm will return. He also talked about the success of the craft beer movement and the 5% market share that they have been able to carve out for themselves. As I read, I began to wonder; who is the average craft beer drinker, and does 5% market share mean that only 5% of beer drinkers drink craft? Surely not.

Continue to see the infographic below. 

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What Does it Mean to be Craft?

What does it mean to be a Craft brewery or a Craft Distillery?  Terms like “hand crafted,” “small-batch,” “artisan,” and “traditional” can be found on all sorts of beer and spirit labels.  These terms are meant to evoke visions of individual, hard working craftsmen who dedicate themselves to creating something unique and interesting. Yet these terms are often little more than corporate newspeak (a term coined in George Orwell's 1984). Newcastle Beer recently released an ad that pokes fun at the idea of big breweries calling their products handmade.  The ad cuts between black and white photos while the narrator tells how Newcastle was handcrafted beer, but handcrafted beer was hard work.  The ad then cuts to color photos of a mechanized bottling line while the narrator quips how now they handcraft their beer with big machines.  I like the ad for its humor, honesty and its confidence that their beer is good enough not to hide behind pretense. 


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Mikkeller's Yeast Series: A Microcosm of Beer Week

On the first Saturday of Beer Week, the Press Club offered a flight of the Mikkeller Yeast Series. Mikkeller, a Danish beer maker, took a Pale Ale wort and fermented it six different ways with a Saison, English, Lager, American, Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, and Brettanomyces Lambicus style yeasts to about 6.5% abv. The beers were riveting for their similarities, their differences and, in reflecting upon them, for the ways that they mirrored the best attributes of SF Beer Week. Read More