Borg Brugghús Fenrir: An IPA Smoked With Sheep Shit

Beer: Borg Brugghús
Brewery: Fenrir Taðreyktur IPA Nr. 26
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6 percent

This is what you get, beer snobs. This is what happens when you chase down delivery trucks carrying the newest barrel-aged stout, wait in line for hours to sample an IPA made with 42 different hops, or fork over hundreds of dollars for ales made with stuff like Sriracha and beard yeast and bull testicles. This is what you get when regular old water, malt, hops and yeast are no longer good enough.

You get a beer made with sheep shit.

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Neomexicanus: The Most American Hop

Zach Fowle
Beer: Harvest Wild Hop IPA
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.5 percent

Of the four main ingredients used to brew beer, hops get the most fanfare -- and why not? Humulus Lupulus is a beautiful plant, distinctive in shape and grown for a singular, noble purpose: to make beer better.

Also impressive is that hops have been found growing across the globe, without any help from human hands. Today, these wild-grown breeds are known as landrace varieties, They showcase the terroir of their respective regions, exhibiting profoundly different flavor profiles depending on where they were found. Many of the landrace hops have been so widely used that they've come to distinguish beers from that region. We expect English ales to have a floral, woody hop character due to Fuggle, a variety found growing wild in England in 1861. The spicy, peppery Saaz hop is a hallmark of the Czech-style pilsner. German brews wouldn't be the same without the cedar-and-tobacco aroma of Hallertauer Mittelfruh.

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What Gose Round Comes Around

Beer: Here Gose Nothin'
Brewery: Destihl
Style: Gose
ABV: 5 percent

Beer is like clothing, in a way. As tastes change, certain styles fall in and out of favor with the general public; beers that were once incredibly popular in a region may be laughed off by the modern drinker as a relic of the past. But just as big sunglasses, jumpsuits and -- shudder -- mom jeans have been resurrected, so too have several beer styles thought lost to history.

The Gose is currently experiencing such a renaissance. Pronounced GO-zuh, this ancient (read: 1000-year-old) ale is now most closely associated with the city of Leipzig, Germany. But it wasn't always so. The style gets its name from the river Gose, which flows through Goslar, a town located about 100 miles west of Leipzig. It was here in the 11th Century that this historic brew earned its reputation, and it was only here that it could've done so. The well-water in Goslar, you see, is naturally saline, and when used in brewing, each sip of a finished beer seems seasoned with a dash of salt.

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Stone Master of Disguise: The Green Ketchup of Beers

Zach Fowle
Beer: Master of Disguise
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Golden Stout, I Guess?
ABV: 9.7 percent

Remember green ketchup? Heinz, those crazy bastards, launched an emerald-hued version of the condiment -- made, I'm assuming, with ground-up leprechauns and seaweed -- in 2000. It was incomprehensibly popular for about five years, until people realized they were eating green ketchup, and stopped the madness.

I couldn't stop thinking about green ketchup as I sipped Master of Disguise, the newest ale from Stone Brewing Co. It has all the aspects of your standard imperial stout: It's crazy-thick, sliding into the glass with motor-oil consistency. It smells like cocoa nibs, light roast coffee, baked wheat bread, green bananas and wet tree leaves. The flavor is permeated with coffee beans and chocolate, accented by subtler fruity yeast notes of red apple and pear. It the mouth, the brew's viscous and lightly carbonated, and it finishes with a blast of sweet cocoa and a lingering alcohol bite. It's a tasty example of an imperial stout.

Only problem is, it's orange.

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Contents Under Fresher: Lagunitas Born Yesterday

Beer: Born Yesterday
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5 percent

In beer, freshness matters. Brewers go to great lengths to get beer from their fermentors to your mouth in a timely fashion. The reason: science!

Like most foodstuffs, beer is a perishable product. The longer it sits on the shelf, the less it's going to taste as the brewer intended it to when he sent it off for packaging. The reasons for this decrease in quality are numerous, but they're most often caused by the ingredients used to make the beer as well as other compounds that may sneak in during the brewing and packaging process. Oxygen is the most common of these rascals -- it's found to some degree in every packaged beer and can react with a beer's ingredients to create changes in its flavor profile. This process, called oxidation, causes some pretty radical shifts: sweet and catty aromas increase; the flavors of fruity esters and fresh, floral hops decrease; notes of caramel, toffee, paper, wine, whiskey or leather can emerge; hop bitterness drops while the harshness of said bitterness gets a boost. Given enough time, almost any beer will eventually become an astringent, honey-sweet, cardboardy mess.

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Fizzy Yellow Beer Is Not Your Enemy

Several months ago, I took part in a judging competition for a local craft beer festival. As often occurs at such ceremonies, we began the day by tasting a calibration beer -- one brew, given to every judge, that helps beer-tasters adjust their scoring so it's in line with everyone else in the room. The beer was poured was translucent and golden, with a fluffy head of pure white. Its flavor was crisp, with a soft grain flavor and a touch of corn-like sweetness. Pretty tasty, we all agreed.

Each judge's score was collected and the beer was given an average score of 40 out of 50 -- an excellent rating for any brew. Then the mysterious beer was revealed.

It was Budweiser.

I bring this up because Bud and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, have been much discussed in craft beer circles these past few nights. The debate stems from a Facebook post Oregon-based 10 Barrel Brewing Co. made Wednesday announcing that the brewery would be sold to Anheuser Busch. Beer nerds promptly lost their minds:

"This is an absolute tragedy. Seriously so bummed. Boooooo"

"wow, another company sells their soul to the devil."

"aww man i loved yalls beer now i know those guys are going to make it taste like crap somehow"

"At least you could have had the decency to SELL OUT to an American company."

"Fuck Budweiser and fuck 10 barrel the god damned sell outs." *

If you're not familiar with 10 Barrel, that's okay. The brewery's located in Bend, Oregon and only distributes its products in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Vermont. But the reaction to its purchase by AB InBev is nationwide. It's similar to the feedback New York's Blue Point Brewing Co. received from fans when it sold to AB in February, and nearly identical to the backlash directed at Chicago craft brewery Goose Island when AB bought it in 2011. Were the Belgian-Brazilian brewing giant to purchase an Arizona-based brewery -- Four Peaks, SanTan or Lumberyard, for instance -- I daresay we'd be seeing the same nastiness on their Facebook pages. Why?

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Futures 10: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. and Jimmy Eat World Collaborate on a Beer

Ken Barnett, Self Righteous Photography
The band and the beards.
Beer: Futures 10
Brewery: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.5 percent

Musical accompaniment to this post

Musicians and brewers commonly collaborate. Sometimes the beers that come from such unions are actually pretty good (New Belgium Clutch, brewed for the metal band Clutch; Cigar City Killsner, made for monster-rockers GWAR). Sometimes, like the musicians themselves, they're bland and obvious (as with the bottled lagers produced by Kid Rock, Motorhead and KISS). Sometimes they remind you of bands you forgot existed (anyone remember Hanson's beer, MmmHops? Anyone remember Hanson?).

But sometimes the beers perfectly capture the ethos of both brewery and band. So it seems to be with Futures 10, a synergistic saison brewed by Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. and Jimmy Eat World. AZ Wilderness, located in Gilbert, is rabidly dedicated to the use of local ingredients; Jimmy Eat World, formed in Mesa in 1993, can be considered a local ingredient themselves. The two groups met several months ago to brew a special beer that accomplishes several goals.

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Avery Pump[KY]n Is the Pumpkin Beer That Will Get You Drunk the Quickest

Beer: Pump[KY]n
Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 17 percent

We are now in the thick of pumpkin-beer season. Beer labels, like leaves on trees, have shifted to shades of brown, black and orange. Pie spices and pumpkin puns can be found all over the place, and everyone wants to know: which of these gourd-based brews is the absolute gourdiest?

For myriad reasons that have to do with beer styles, availability and good old-fashioned personal taste, I can't tell you which pumpkin beer is best. I can, however, tell you which one will get you drunk the quickest: Avery Pump[KY]n.

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Ninkasi -- the Goddess and the Brewery -- Now Available in Arizona

Beer: Tricerahops
Brewery: Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8 percent

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall. Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,

When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.

Man, I love that song. The Hymn to Ninkasi, as the above bit of poetry* is known, is an ancient beer recipe/drinking song, created by the people of ancient Sumeria and passed down through generations. They did this both orally -- each older generation teaching the song to the youngins -- and, eventually, via the written word. Clay tablets upon which the hymn was written date back to the 18th Century BC and are considered one of the world's oldest examples of literature.

The people of Sumeria (today a part of Mesopotamia in Southern Iraq) are important to the history of beer because they were one of the first civilizations to give up their hunting and gathering ways and settle down into a life of grain cultivation. Having discovered (likely by accident) that grain and water when mixed and allowed to sit for a few days gave drinkers a nice little buzz, the Sumerians focused much of their culture on the practice of brewing.

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The History of Oktoberfest Beer (and Five to Try Right Now)

Before it was a beer style, it was a party.

The first Oktoberfest celebration was held on October 12, 1810, but far from the drinking festival it's become today, this first party was actually held to celebrate a wedding. Ludwig, Crown Prince of Bavaria (who'd later become King Ludwig I) exchanged vows with Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and everyone in Munich was invited to attend. There was music; there was dancing; there were horse races; there was beer. Everyone had such a good time that the royal family decided to host the races again the next year, and the next, and the next. This tradition gave rise to the modern Oktoberfest.

Today, it's the world's largest beer festival. Held annually in Munich, Oktoberfest actually begins in late September, running 16 days and ending the first weekend in October. Some of the traditions of the first Oktoberfest remain -- example, the grounds upon which the festival is held each year are still known as the Theresienwiese, or "Theresa's meadow." But the 6.3 million people who visited in 2014 didn't go to frolick in the grass; they went to drink. You could determine this by the number of arrests made at the festival (720) or the number of people treated by the Bavarian Red Cross for alcohol poisoning (600) or minor alcohol-related scrapes and bumps (7,900). But it's best to just look at the beer: brewers sold 6.5 million liters of beer at this year's Oktoberfest, which equates to about 1,7171,118 gallons or 18,315,925 12-ounce cans.

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