Got Hops? We do. Introducing The Hop-Heads Beer Club™

hop-heads-beer-clubYou made it clear to us that quite a few of you wanted more hops. Actually, only hoppy beers to be specific.  We stuck our toe in the water earlier in the year and officially offered our members a way to customize their shipments each month, essentially calling us at the beginning of the month, finding out what the featured beers were and having us put only the hop-centric ones in their box that month.  It was better than nothing, but in the end, not optimal because you guys had to remember to call us and if only one or two of the four featured beers were aggressively hopped, you’d only get one or two beers that month.

So we’ve been quietly working with a lot of different breweries, better understanding how much it would cost to deliver a club that only features kick-ass, hoppy beers each month.  Not just IPAs mind you.  That would be so limiting, and you’d miss out on some really amazing hoppy beers.  Brewers are creating styles faster than ever.  More and more, you can’t easily categorize a beer neatly into any given style.  Take for example Mikkeller’s Wit Fit, which the brewery describes as a hoppy imperial wit.  Clearly not an IPA, but I’m here to tell you, Hop-heads will love this beer as it delivers plenty of citric, floral, and resinous notes, some acidity, and a clinging bitterness that hangs on in the finish.  Don’t panic. We’re going to run a ton of IPAs in the club.  In fact the majority of what we feature will be IPAs, but we’re also going to run India Pale Lagers (IPLs), hoppy Red and Pale Ales, and other hop-centric beers.   Hops are obviously the key ingredient used to balance the malty sweetness in a beer’s flavor profile, but they also contribute some pretty amazing aromatics and flavors so we’re not just focusing on beers that have crushingly bitter hop profiles, but also beers that explore the many hop flavors and aromas available to today’s brewers.

The club will feature two or more breweries each month and we’ll even drop in an import in there from time to time when it makes sense. There are some really neat breweries out there now like Mexico’s Agua Mala and Germany’s BRLO that are crafting outstanding American style IPAs and other hoppy styles that are just now making their way to the American marketplace.  That said, I expect something like 90% of our featured beers to come from US breweries.  We’re gonna send ya twelve, 12-oz. beers in each shipment, 3 different beers (4 bottles or cans of each).

We’ve got some pretty sweet beers lined up for our inaugural shipment in November, including Route 1A, an 8.2% ABV big, boldly flavored Double IPA from Ipswich Brewery in Massachusetts.  You’re gonna dig it.

No one else is doing anything quite like this in the market today, so naturally we’re really excited about this club and hope you are too!


Jolly Pumpkin’s Rosie del Barrio Lives!

Rosie front 1How cool is this label?  I couldn’t be more pleased with this project. From start to finish, Ron Jeffries, co-founder and head brewer for Jolly Pumpkin, has been super cool about creating a beer to pay tribute to an old friend of mine, Rosie, my 19 year old Maine Coon cat that passed last October.  We wanted to make a big and unique red ale to match his personality and have the beer community and our customers name the beer.  The people chose “Rosie del Barrio”, loosely translated to Rosie in the hood, which is pretty appropriate as he always pretty much made himself at home in my neighbor’s houses and was always largely considered a neighborhood cat.

Ron just sent over the label design today and I absolutely LOVE IT!  It actually really looks a bit like the neighborhood I lived in when we were just starting the business and where Rosie spent his rowdy teenage years.  In fact, the label is pretty much the view from my old bedroom window and front porch. Tom’s house is on the left, Jerry’s on the right.  Rosie in fact did used to jump from Tom’s roof to Jerry’s roof all the time (Not until this day did I note the irony of my neighbors being named Tom & Jerry).  He’d get up on Tom’s roof by climbing a big avocado tree we had in the courtyard.  It was a solid little community and Rosie was a big part of it.

Adam Forman is the artist behind Jolly Pumpkin’s labels and is a longtime friend of Ron and Laurie Jeffries.

Nice work Adam!  Thank you!


Pints for Prostates Elevation Rare Beer Club Beer Naming Contest

Elevation BrewingThat’s right, we’re doing still yet ANOTHER beer naming contest! It’s just that we feel really bad for all the folks that still haven’t taken home the grand prize of a 6 month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club, so we’re giving you still another chance…Make it count because there’s a good chance that this may be the last one this year. Don’t hold me to it. We still have slots in October and December to fill and I’d like to get as many exclusives in the club as possible this year.

This contest is our annual collaboration with Pints for Prostates, and this year Rick has secured Colorado’s Elevation Beer Company to be the honored brewery to create a beer to help PFP help educate dudes about getting properly screened for prostate cancer. Suffice to say…It’s a really worthy cause, people. The last time Elevation participated in this effort, they brewed an 8.5% smoked Dopplebock and the name that won the contest that year was one of my all-time favorites…Prostator!

I got super fired up when talking to head brewer and co-founder Christian Koch about the beer he has in mind this year. He said something like, “I’m thinking about a blonde barleywine kinda beer made with a shit-ton of wheat and aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels…What do you think of that?” Just kidding. He didn’t say “shit-ton”, but I wouldn’t have been offended if he did. Anyway, I was thinking to myself, “Self…That sounds mighty fine to me! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Tell me more!”

So we’re calling it an American Wheat Wine. It’s being aged in freshly emptied Sauvignon Blanc barrels for six months. Been in barrels for a little over a month now and the nose is currently showing fruity white wine, light oak, and a mild hop bitterness. It’s going to pick up more of the barrel remnants, of course, as it rests longer. He’s making it with 50% malted white wheat. It’s gonna be pretty full bodied with a starting gravity of 25 plato (1.106 SG). Here are the tasting notes so far, straight from the brewer, that were no doubt composed when he snapped the photo in this post (what a sweet back porch, ya?): “This beer pours a beautiful golden color and has aromas of fruity white wine, light oak, and a mild hop bitterness. The flavor of our Wheat Wine is extremely complex. With 50% malted white wheat, is a full bodied beer with fruity notes of peach, lime, and passion fruit. This beer will age extremely well and flavors will meld and mellow over time.”

It’s gonna be cool.

Here’s what you need to know to play kids.

Entering the Beer Naming Contest

Although the new beer will only be available to members of The Rare Beer Club, both members and non-members are invited to enter the contest and submit up to three names for the new beer. The contest officially begins on Thursday, April 28th, 2016. Entrants will have until 2 pm PDT on Thursday, May 12th, to submit up to three names.

Finalists will be chosen by The Rare Beer Club, Pints for Prostates, and Elevation Beer Co., at which time contestants, club members, and the general public can vote for their favorite name. The winning entry will be announced on Friday, May 20th, and the contest winner will receive a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club.

To receive this special beer, and many more, join the Rare Beer Club online or call 800-625-8238. Be sure to start your membership by September 2016, or earlier, to receive this exclusive beer from Elevation Beer Co.

Have fun!


Celebrating Sunday with one of the World’s Best Gueuzes… Cantillon does not disappoint

cantillon-kc-aI’m getting better at doing nothing. This last Sunday, I did just that for a glorious 3 hours. Just listened to some Cajun music in the sun while enjoying what many consider to be one of, if not the best, lambics the world has to offer, Cantillon’s Classic Gueuze 100% Lambic. This one’s a rare bird to be sure which I’m fairly confident contributed to the whole experience. Only about 50 cases enter the US each year and we were able to score a few from one of our favorite importers, Shelton Brothers.

It was pretty hazy with a golden, tangerine hue. Very tart and funky. I enjoyed it even more once it warmed up. The oak was there with hints of barrel contributions (vanilla/tannins). In the end, I dug it very much and decided to selfishly set aside a few more bottles for later as Ken suggests in our tasting notes.

I think I’m going to work on doing nothing more often.


Another Chance to Name a Rare Beer Club Exclusive Beer crafted by Upright Brewing

Upright Brewing LogoSo we just closed out our last beer naming contest with Jolly Pumpkin and we know your brain is tired from the effort that went into coming up with so many killer names, but we need your help again!  We had so much fun allowing our members and the beer community at large to name several of last year’s Rare Beer Club® exclusives that we’ve decided to ramp up our game this year and have no less than three beer naming contests in the queue this year.  And since the beers we’re naming will be featured in July, August and September, we’re going to be running back to back contests for the next two months.  All in all, you’ll have 3 chances to name one of our up and coming beers and win a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club. How cool is that?

This time we’re working with Upright Brewing up in Portland, OR.  I’m a big fan of Alex’s work.  I want to say they launched in 2009, about 3 years before we featured them for the first time, and I’ve been rattling his cage ever since to work with us again.  He’s a busy cat.  Straight up, one of the biggest challenges we face is planning far out enough to be able to feature the world’s best breweries.  Makes sense if you think about it. They make the best beer.  Everyone wants it.  Supply and demand baby. Supply and demand.  Anyway, we finally have liftoff Houston and it’s gonna be worth the wait.

Alex makes some of the best saisons in the country so we’re thinking it’s best to let him run wild with that and have some fun with hops and brett!  Here’s what he had to say about the project, “The more I think about it, I keep going back to a hoppy saison for an August feature. We have Five, which is kind of a pale ale crossed with European hopping and a somewhat clean “French-style” fermentation, but I’m thinking something way different, more like a Belgian IPA with some brettanomyces added at bottling, so it will start clean but get slightly earthy and a bit more tart over time.”

You know the drill by now, but just the same, here are the vital bits that you need to know about the contest:

You can submit up to three names by 2 pm PDT on Thursday, April 14th. Three finalists will be announced on Friday, April 15th at which time contest entrants, club members and the general public will be allowed to vote for their favorite choices. Contest winners will be announced on Friday, April 22nd. If your beer name is used, we’ll hook you up with a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club.

To receive this RBC exclusive beer, you’ll need to be an active member of The Rare Beer Club in August of 2016 when it will be featured.

Alex’s only request on the name is to keep it short so that it works with his current label design…Like real short, preferably 10 characters or less so you’re gonna have to really get creative this time.  Have fun!