On 26-27 September, the 5th Annual SEA Brew Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand. Oddly enough, in a country where craft brewing is still illegal over 500 attendees joined the South East Asian Brewing Conference to network, meet with vendors, and to seek inspiration from a variety of sessions from both a technical and a managerial perspective. For me, it’s been a few years since I last attended the conference (Singapore 2016), and I was very impressed to see how much the event has grown in popularity which is an encouraging indicator of the state of the industry in the region. In this post I will be sharing a brief recap of five takeaways that I gleaned during the sessions.
As a brewer, I’m always interested in learning more of the science behind brewing and fermentation. As a beer enthusiast, however, I always love a good history lesson about beer and brewing. American Palate has published a series of historical books on beer and as I have traveled I have come across a few of the titles to supplement my, often dry, beer science knowledge with the more colorful story of beer around the world.
Having recently visited Portland, aka “Beervana”, and other parts of Oregon on a summer family road trip, I came across Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana at the locally famous Powell’s Bookstore. Needless to say I was happy to avoid another technical brewing text to go for a more enjoyable read to give me more of a background on this city that has come to be recognized as one of the hubs for craft beer in America.
In this post I wanted to filter out a handful of historical facts that I found interesting.
I ordered my first craft beer back in 2003 and while my love for beer has grown throughout my travels, it has taken me 16 years to finally make it to Portland, a.k.a. “Beervana”. I don’t have the hard figures on how many breweries are in Portland, and I’m sure that it is in a constant state of flux. However, it is safe to say that there are loads of breweries not only in Portland, but all across Oregon as well. So, this summer I made the pilgrimage for 10 days from Portland to the northern coast, through the Willamette valley, out to Hood River, down to Bend, and back in a trip that won’t soon be forgotten. In this post I will not be providing an exhaustive review of Oregon’s breweries. However, I will point out some highlights of this road trip through the Beaver State.
While there is a plethora of information on homebrewing (and just about everything else) available for free on the internet, including online calculators, discussion forums, and clone recipes, I’m a bit of an old-fashioned student that prefers referencing printed textbooks. To me, I prefer to thumb through the pages of a well-worn brewing book that is peer-reviewed rather than scour the forums for the answers to my questions, often wondering if those well-intentioned responses are trustworthy. I also like to have comprehensive information all bound under one cover rather than consulting six different websites to cover my daily ponderings.
Australia is a place with no shortage of great beer and since Tasmania accounts for majority of the hop supply, it’s no wonder that there would be a handful of breweries putting out some excellent craft beers in the state’s capitol of Hobart. We spent a week in Tasmania, using Hobart as a base, and since we never made it up to Launceston (home of James Boag’s and also close to Van Dieman’s) I decided to focus this post on the breweries of Hobart.
I recently had the opportunity to help organize the annual home-brew competition held by the Hong Kong Homebrewers' Association (HKHA) at the beginning of June. It wasn't really my intention to fill that role, as I'd much rather just brew and enter beers, but sometimes things just turn out that way. On the bright side, there's always something to be learned from a new challenge so in this post I'd like to point out a few things that I have gleaned from this experience.
"Session Beer" is a relatively recent term that is entirely made-up, but refers to beer that is of a lower alcohol content (typically under 5%) that allow for drinking more than one in a single "session". The challenge with brewing beers of lower alcohol strength is in ensuring that they have enough flavor to keep them interesting, and enough balance to invite multiple rounds. In this blog post I'll cover some takeaways from Jennifer Talley's new book Session Beers, including relevant styles and brewing tips. Talley has spent majority of her brewing career in Salt Lake City, Utah where she was restrained to brewing low-alcohol beers due to state laws. Out of necessity she has learned to brew great beer under 5% ABV and shares her tips (and recipes) in this 2017 publication.
This past holiday season I spent a few weeks along the Eastern coast of the USA visiting friends and family. Although we experienced some abnormally frigid weather for late December, my wife and I were still able to make our rounds to visit some of the breweries around Boston and the surrounding suburbs to the northeast.