Tag Archives: Montana

Tempest Turns Nine Months Young: An Index of Writing to Date

Cue up all the old clichés about time’s swift passage, for it has been three-quarters of a year now since I posted my first article on A Tempest in a Tankard. Thanks for all the support over these past several months! I’ve learned plenty from all of your insightful comments.IMG_9931 I’ve also learned much just by traveling around to do the interviews and research for Tempest’s articles, to say nothing of the people I’ve met who have led some fascinating lives. No two brewers took the same journey to their brew kettles and fermenters.

On the occasion of Tempest’s nine-month birthday, I’m putting together an index of articles that I’ve written to date. I’ve decided to do this for a few reasons. First and foremost, I’d like to introduce newer readers of Tempest to some of the previous articles buried deep in the virtual archives of the blog.

Second, I don’t really write pieces that are “of the moment.” I’d like to think that much of what I write––brewery profiles, travelogues, recipes, reflections on craft beer and culture, beer evaluations––has utility beyond the few days after I post it. Blogs are sequential by nature, making navigation difficult even with the aid of the categories listed across the top of Tempest’s home page.IMG_0153 Pieces written months ago tend to get lost under the weight of a temporality that favours the most recent post.

Finally, I don’t usually write my serial posts sequentially, so an index will give me the opportunity to group series pieces together––and will give you the opportunity to read them as a series, if you so choose. With a few weeks left of summer travel, the regional spotlights and brewery profiles are particularly timely.

I’ll post this index in two installments. First on deck is a list of my articles on beer and culture, together with my regional spotlights. Next up: a list of my brewery profiles and beer reviews, along with recipes I’ve posted to date for those interested in cooking and food/beverage pairings.

If you haven’t already signed up to have A Tempest in a Tankard’s articles delivered via e-mail, please consider subscribing so you can read the articles as they’re posted. Cheers!

Reflections on Beer and Culture

Never the Twain Shall Meet?

My very first article for A Tempest in a Tankard, one that I posted when I had all of three regular visitors to the site. The article answers a provocation unleashed by another beer blogger on the occasion of a monthly beer writers’ forum called The Session. The question: “What the hell has America done to beer?, AKA, USA versus Old World Beer Culture.”

Celebration Time? Women in the Craft Beer World

Times, they are a changing, but the gender gap is still quite wide in the craft beer world, especially on the marketing end. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that women prefer fruity beers.

Drinking Lager in an Age of Extreme Taste

A few thoughts on how our taste is shaped by trends and tastemakers. I don’t mind hops, and Imperial Stouts are up there among my favourite beer styles. But by indulging our drive toward ever more intense and novel flavours, we have, perhaps, devalued more subtle beer styles in the process.

Terroir and the Making of Beer into Wine

Guest writer Kevin Goldberg’s insightful piece debunking the notion of terroir, which generated so much interesting discussion that I wasn’t able to confine my own response to the comments section of the article.

The following three articles approach the notion of place and locality from different angles. A fourth piece will appear at some point that redeems some elements of the notion of beer and place.

Of Isinglass and Other Fine Additives

This response to the “Food Babe’s” article on the “shocking” ingredients in beer is my most widely-read piece to date, likely because the issue of fish bladder in beer flares up at regular intervals on the interwebs.

Celebrating Craft Lager Day

As much as it is an article on a particular beer (Kapsreiter Landbier), it also represents a challenge to prevailing sentiments that sometimes confuse IBU levels with quality.

The Curiosity Cabinet

Donuts? Bacon? Ancient recipes? Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée features here, but expect other articles on beers in my curiosity cabinet in the coming months.

City and Regional Spotlights

Austin: A User’s Guide for the Craft Beer Enthusiast:

This is a comprehensive series that you can take with you as you visit Austin. Break it down into parts, or read the series as a whole.

  • Part I––Brewpubs
  • Part II––Breweries. Saké, too.
  • Part III––Taprooms and Bottle Shops. Craft Pride and Sunrise Mini-Mart. ’Nuf said.
  • Part IV––Tempest’s Tankard Ratings and the Best Brews in Austin. The tankard system unveiled. You’ll see more of this in the future, much as I dislike ranking beers.

The Epic Stillwater to Vancouver Road Trip, Spring 2014:

  • Tempest Hits the Open Road: Dispatches from the Beerways of North America. Not much about beer, but the piece––one of my personal favourites––lays the groundwork for the rest of my Stillwater-Vancouver road trip this past April and May.
  • Wyoming––A Snapshot from a Moving Vehicle. Cheyenne kicks things off, followed by Coal Creek in Laramie.
  • Idaho and Montana––Of Roadtrips and Aleways. I’ve always been fascinated by the routes we travel. The “discovery” of this trip is Trickster’s Brewing in Coeur d’Alene. Missoula has plenty to offer, too, including Kettle House’s Cold Smoke Scotch Ale.

Gorges and Good Beer in Ithaca and Environs:

  • Part I: A brief history of the Ithaca area, followed by a visit to Ithaca’s oldest craft brewery.
  • Part II: Includes features of the newer faces on Ithaca’s craft beer scene: Bandwagon Brewpub, Hopshire, and Rogues’ Harbor.
  • Part III: A guide to some of the best craft beer watering holes and bottle shops in Ithaca.

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Images:

Capital Brewery (near Madison, WI): F.D. Hofer

Malted grain at FarmHouse Malt (Newark Valley, NY): F.D. Hofer

Hop bines and grape vines at Abandon Brewing Co. (Penn Yann, NY): F.D. Hofer

 

Tempest Hits the Open Road: Dispatches from the Beerways of North America

Stillwater dawned blue-skied, the late spring heat held in check by a gentle southerly breeze. One last sweep of the house to make sure we had everything for our trip.IMG_5863 Warm clothes for the mountains. Coolers for the beer and wine we planned to haul back. And passports. Vancouver beckoned, far away.

After dispatching a set of keys to a friend and fellow homebrewer who had agreed to tend the Kölsch and Scotch ale I had fermenting in the garage fridge, we set off on our road trip to celebrate an important anniversary with family and friends. In between lay some twenty-five hundred miles of asphalt joining high plains, mountain passes, desolate wasteland, and verdant farmland. That, and a few breweries, brewpubs, bottle shops, and taprooms.

North Americans have long maintained an infatuation with the open road stretched across limitless horizons and punctuated, occasionally, by saw-toothed mountain ranges – a fascination with the long-distance journey that predates both the automobile and the transcontinental railway.IMG_9879 With naught but two weeks for our entire trek, though, we had to roll. Plenty of distance, but a dearth of time. Time trumped our desire to tarry with the wind-hewn mesas of Utah, or the trout streams, woods and sequestered mountain valleys of Montana and nearby Yellowstone. Distance – this broad expanse of a continent telescoped somewhat by Eisenhower’s postwar Interstate system – remained absolute, as if to spite a modernity countersigned by the automobile. Massive slabs of granite thrust at angles a mile into the sky remain impressive, even at seventy miles per hour.

Beer Travel on a Shoestring Temporal Budget

Time and distance also had a predictable effect on how I approached the beerscape of the various regions we traversed. Several thousand miles took precedence over carefully-orchestrated beer travel. The result? Brewery and brewpub drop-ins that were pleasantly haphazard – a welcome change from the (albeit enjoyable) brewery visits I’ve arranged since starting work on A Tempest in a Tankard. This time around, the absence of advance planning allowed me a bit more freedom as a critic – an interesting issue I’ll address at length in a future piece. And it left the door open to serendipitous discoveries unclouded by the prejudices and pre-selections that invariably accompany the planning of itineraries.

What happens when you leave town on a long road trip without having done much research on the various brew scenes dotting your route? After a week of exploration around the time of 2013’s GABF, I have a good sense of what flows from the taps in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins. The same goes for Oregon and Washington, mainly because a fair number of their beers enjoy wide distribution. But what about places like Idaho? Sure, I can name a few breweries, but their beers rarely find their way into my stein.IMG_9826 What would we find if we were to just roll into a town like Cheyenne, Wyoming, without knowing what the city or region had to offer? And British Columbia? I grew up in Vancouver’s shadow, but haven’t spent much time in that rainy city since its beer scene began to burgeon.

A Beer at the End of the Line: Cheyenne

Oklahoma and Kansas blended together, the horizon interrupted only by farmhouses, small towns, cattle, and bluffs planted to slow down the wind.

And the wind. Relentless and virtually unhindered, save for the ant-train of cars and eighteen-wheelers snaking their way westward along the I-70, the wind was a constant wall scouring the land, bending trees in an eternal northward bow.

Arrow-straight the I-70 unfolds until, near the state line separating Kansas from Colorado, the road curves back and forth to form a wry smile and a wink. An ironic commentary: still several leagues to travel before any obstacle other than critters or wayward livestock will block your path. But the terrain starts to rise, imperceptibly. And imperceptibly, the landscape takes on a more rugged countenance, scored by gorges and canyons delineating the ubiquitous and lonesome ranch lands.

The wind has abated and we pull off the road, like so many before us, to rest under an afternoon sun that has baked the ground beneath us golden.Oregon Trail - 1907 (Wiki) But unlike those intrepid wagon-train travelers who passed to the north of us a century-and-a-half ago along the Oregon Trail, we doze off serenaded not by the susurrus of the prairie grassland. No, great-great-grand children of the Industrial Revolution and contemporaries of the Information Age, we catch snippets of sleep laced with the pre-recorded National Weather Service forecast broadcasting itself in its strangely-intonated digital monotone, mingling with the purr of engines and the hushed whisper of tires flowing along the asphalt stream yonder.

Just as the fog in that poem, dusk comes on little cat feet. Less so the Front Range of the Rockies, looming up in the distance beyond the glass and steel spires of Denver, shrouded in a veil of cloudy twilight. After hours of westward travel, we thread our way along the seam that separates the foothills from the plains spreading all the way to the Great Lakes, destination Cheyenne. IMG_9861

But where’s the damn beer?

~ Stay tuned ~

Images:

Vancouver’s English Bay: F.D. Hofer

Western Idaho portion of the Oregon Trail: F.D. Hofer

Storefront, Cheyenne, WY: F.D. Hofer

Oregon Trail Map (1907), from Ezra Meeker, The Ox Team, or the Old Oregon Trail, 1852-1906: Wikipedia

Wyoming Welcome: F.D. Hofer