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  • Beer and food, you should make this for dinner!

    I went camping the other night, some friends, some bikes, some beer, and some delicious soup. It was a touch towards the fall-in-Colorado side of the weather, a bit cold, no need for puffy coats, but we weren't wearing flip-flops either. The first perfect soup night pf the year, and my pal Lance came through. It was full of veggies and beans and sweet potatoes. I enjoyed this soup to such a degree that a mere five nights later I recreated it at home (to the best of my available memory/culinary skill). Then I paired it with Ranger IPA (and even put some in the soup)... It was a perfect match, let me give you the recipe/directions and you can go home tonight and make it for dinner.

    I went with things that I had in the house (luckily it's what I needed for the soup), some celery, carrots, onions, garlic, a standard mirepoix, with garlic (for those keeping track of my French cooking (language) cred). I sautéed them up in a little olive oil until the onions were translucent, then I added the sweet potatoes, some chopped fresh oregano and salt and pepper. I sautéed it a bit longer, then added the Ranger IPA, a whole can. It stewed up for about 30 minutes, and then I added wild rice and some more veggie stock to cook said rice. As the rice started to soften up, I put in a can of northern white beans and a can of kidney beans (drained, rinsed), some crushed red pepper and dried basil. I let it cook for about an hour. The soup really started to thicken up and get stew-y, so I knew it was about ready. Before I put it in a bowl, I toasted up some pine nuts, got the parmesan shredded, and chopped a bit more fresh oregano, all for toppers. I ladled up a serving into a bowl, dropped the oregano, parm and pine nuts to the top, and then cracked a fresh can of Ranger IPA for pairing. Marvelous.

    This pair was great, the soup had a subtle spice from the red pepper and garlic, and the hops brought it out even more. It was a complimentary kind of thing, just perfect. The soup was also pretty rich, and the Ranger's dry finish has a palate cleansing quality, it wiped my tongue clean, post food-in-teeth-mashing. The Ranger has a touch of sweetness too. It's the malt coming to life, and the sweet potatoes favored that aspect of the beer, also very complimentary. This was a really a well rounded pair. The only thing missing was a nice, crusty bread. But I didn't have time to hit the store. Next time ( Probably tomorrow, there's about eight pounds of left-overs).. 

    There it is, an idea for dinner. And you should make this soup tonight, because it's awesome. Thanks to Lance for the details/inspiration. 

    And PS, without the cheese this is very vegan (you know, if you eat that way...).

    Until next time,

    Juicebox... 

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  • My favorite way to win a bike...

    We are right (smack dab) in the middle of bike give-a-way season (AKA: Enjoy the Ride)... We have lots of ways to win- the Twitter, Instagram, random drawing (boring), and my favorite: the Beer-a-Mid! "What's a Beer-a-Mid?" you ask... Well, it's that thing you used to build out of empty beer cans in college. It resembles a pyramid, and the feat of balance can get tricky as the cans get taller. It was a fun way to kill an evening with your pals.

    The smart-as-hell programmers here at NBB HQ built one for the internet-minded... It is based on something called a "physics engine" and the details are way over my head. But what I can tell you is that it's awesome. Every mouse click gives you more cans for stacking, and the fun gets bigger as the cans get higher. The other super great thing about the Beer-a-Mid is that the really great ones win bikes. Here is an example of the one I just built:

    That is just a couple minutes of tampering and I would call it a winner (but alas, I am not eligible). So get after it, build a great Beer-a-Mid and win a bike!

    Until next time,

    -JUICEBOX  

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  • I put a can of Fat Tire into that Chicken's can!

    Food and beer pairings are bigger than grizzly bears right now (but not nearly as cute (or ferocious)). The reason beer and food are coming together is they really make the perfect fit; the perfect, two part meal. The huge variety of both beer and food can unite to make the right two choices sing sweet, sweet Motown right in your mouth. The other great thing about beer and food is that you can use one to aid in the cooking of the other. Throw some Trippel in your green chili, or 1554 in your gravy, get creative, go with what feels right. And last night it felt right to stick a can of Fat Tire into a chicken's butt, and then cook it.

    We have all heard of beer can chicken, right? The general idea is that you take a can of beer, drink half of it, and then stick the half-full can right up the backside of a whole, roasting chicken. Then you stand the whole dinner-tower (chicken and beer can) upright and roast it in your oven, or on your grill (whichever fits the tall, and very top-heavy meal-time obelisk). Light lagers work really well for this dish, the easy hopping and well-mannered malty flavors transfer pleasantly to the chicken. In New Belgium's portfolio I would point to Shift Beer as the clear choice for beer can chicken. But this night I wanted something else from the beer. I wanted a stiffer sweetness, and some carmel-y tones for my chicken, and those things could only come from a Fat Tire. So I choose Fat Tire. And I went with a 16oz can because it was more upfront beer drinking for me, and the longer can would stabilize the chicken a little better. I only have a post-roast picture to show, as the pre-roast pictures looked kind of gross. 

    Let me walk you through the prep and cooking of this wonderful dinner. First crack the beer and start sipping. In a bowl make your dry rub. I went black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cumin (in descending order of pinch sizes). Rinse your chicken, inside and out, with cold water and then pat dry. Take a few more sips of your beer and then rub your spices all over that chicken, again, inside and out. Have the oven pre-heating to 350º. In cooking a beer can chicken you can use your oven, or you BBQ grill, depending on the vertical space, and seeing as I have the world's smallest BBQ, I went with the oven, and it was pre-heating to 350º. Get out a glass roasting dish, 13x9. At this point your beer should be about half way finished, so poke 4 more holes in the top with a church key for more ventilation and flavor transforming. Take the last of your dry rub and dump it into the half full can of beer (more flavor!). Take the spiced up chicken, turn it upright and cram that beer can up its butt. Then carefully set the chicken tower on the 13x9 and put the whole thing into the warm oven. 1 hour and 30 minutes later pull the chicken out and let it rest (this time frame worked for the size of my Colorado chicken, it might not work for yours. Make sure to cook the chicken until it is done at 165º internal temp). Using caution, tongs and a gorilla-like grip remove the chicken from the Fat Tire can. Cut it up and plate. Viola, beer can chicken!

    I made roasted jalapeño and cheddar mashed potatoes with a basic green salad for accompaniment. You should make whatever sides you deem appropriate.

    And then, all plated up, what beer could pair with this lovely dinner. Fat Tire would be a good (even great) choice. We used it in the cooking and the flavors are already roasted into the chicken. But is it too obvious? I thought it was, so I went with Sunshine Wheat. There was a gentle heat to the meal, from the pepper flakes on the chicken and the jalapeño potatoes. The Sunshine complemented that heat. And the sweetness of the beer did wonders to the rich, carmel-i-ness of the Fat Tired chicken. I also poured my Sunshine into sweet, vintage Hamm's glasses to class things up (see photo). This was the greatest dinner I have had all week and I would implore you to try this at home.

    Beer can chicken is a fair bit of work, but the fruits of your labor will be enjoyed. Go forth and create wonderful food. 

    Hugs,

    _Juicebox 

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  • More for the conversation on cans and bottles.

     


    As a craft brewer who fills both glass bottles and aluminum cans with delicious beers, we inevitably receive questions (and have our own) regarding the environmental impact of each container. A comprehensive, unbiased study comparing the total environmental impact of glass bottles to that of aluminum cans does not exist. So we see a lot of guessing going on out there and many of those guesses are being stated as though they were ultimate facts.

    Below are some questions we hear often along with answers based on the research we’ve done. Remember, though, that since a comprehensive study has never been conducted, we don’t really know which container is ultimately environmentally superior.


    Which container is sustainable?

    Neither! Both containers have a net negative impact on the environment.


    Okay, well which container comes closest to being sustainable?

    With the data we have reviewed, no clear winner.

    The beginning of the lifecycle of the aluminum can (mining of bauxite, smelting of aluminum) has a larger impact than glass. But later in their lifecycles, the glass bottle has the larger impact (heavier to transport and more difficult to recycle). At the end of the day it’s possible they even out.

    The best container is the one that ends up in the recycling bin.

    Both aluminum and glass can be recycled an infinite number of times and doing so has many benefits:

    - Reducing impact from mining virgin material (The mining of bauxite for aluminum is highly toxic to the land due to the chemicals used in the process. The mining of the materials needed to make glass is also destructive, but less so).

    - Reducing energy required to melt virgin material (melting recycled material requires less heat: Recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy and recycled glass uses 30% less energy.)

    Improving the U.S. economy

    - Americans landfill $2 billion worth of aluminum every year!

    - Create more jobs (recycling offers jobs in the U.S. while mining occurs outside the U.S.)

     

    But I thought cans are more sustainable because they are lighter to ship?

    It is true that the transportation of cans, since being lighter and stacking better, requires less fuel and is therefore more ecofriendly than the transportation of bottles. However, this is only one little segment of the entire lifecycle of the container and not enough info to make a verdict. It would be like saying, “Well, I got an ‘A’ in my freshman history class, so that means I graduated college with a 4.0 GPA.” We wish! But remember, we also had calculus classes and biochemistry and perhaps the occasional hangover, and so most of us didn’t achieve A’s throughout the lifecycle of our college career. Just like our GPA depends on several steps throughout our college life, the sustainability of one container or another depends on the many steps throughout its own lifecycle (from mining all the way to disposal).

     

    But I thought glass bottles were more sustainable because the mining of bauxite to make aluminum was so destructive and toxic?

    The same notions apply here as to the question above. Yes, mining of bauxite has giant ecological impacts that are arguably greater than those of mining sand for glass. But, again, it’s only one segment of the story.



    What can beer drinkers do to make a meaningful difference?

    - Recycle your cans and bottles.

    - If you are at a bar or restaurant that doesn’t offer recycling, encourage them to do so. If they don’t know where to start, tell them they can find recycling facilities here: http://earth911.com/ or request a meeting with their local waste hauler.

    - Little nerd note: Glass is difficult to pull out at a sorting facility, so throwing it in your commingled bin doesn’t ensures it will be recycled. Implementing a glass-only recycling bin will give the glass the best chance of being recycled. And, of course, the glass needs to stay glass-only until it reaches the recycler!

     

    How can my love for drinking beer have the absolute lowest impact today?

    Drink draft beer out of a reusable cup.

     

    What is New Belgium Brewing doing to make a difference?

    - Conducting and commissioning studies that help us to better understand the environmental impact of our beverage containers and our opportunities to improve it.

    A greenhouse gas (GHG) study was commissioned in 2011 comparing the GHG emissions of the two containers. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND that GHG emissions are ONLY ONE part of the story. Not considered in this study are toxicity, water quality and quantity, biodiversity, human health and total ecosystem health. The results of this study, while important to know, are not an absolute verdict on these packages, only a segment of the story. The results of the study showed aluminum cans having fewer GHG emissions than glass bottles. However, the main contributor to this difference was the fact that factories melting glass are getting their power from fossil fuels (high GHG emissions) and factories smelting the aluminum are strategically  sourcing their power from hydro (which requires reservoirs & dams, but avoids the GHG emissions from fossil fuels). Of course, hydro power looks great through the lens of GHG emissions. However, generating hydro power requires rivers to be diverted and dammed – a process that has severe ecological effects not accounted for in GHG emissions studies and a process that New Belgium has actively opposed in Colorado and throughout the U.S.

    - Decreasing the weight of our bottles, therefore reducing resource consumption and the impact of bottle transportation.

    - We are helping to lead an industry-wide effort initiated by Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America) to increase recycling of consumer packaging and printed materials 20% by 2015. This is a HUGE step.

    - Through our participation in Future500, we are monitoring potential legislation around packaging called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a strategy that “uses financial incentives to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally-friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at end of life.”

    - Striving for strokes of genius that will land a revolutionary packaging idea into our laps!

     


    Your friends,

    -the NBB Team Sustainability

    PS: Check back next month for our thoughts on BPA

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  • Clock out, it's finally time for a SHIFT BEER!

    16oz cans of Shift Beer are taking over the world! Or, at least, I hope they do, because this beer is awesome. April 2 is the official release of Shift (that's today!!!!!), it's packaged in 16oz cans only, and should be available through our entire distribution area as of right now. This is a pale lager, light bodied, but full flavored, 5% ABV. Shift is a session beer, lightly hopped with Nelson Sauvins from New Zealand, and while being a hop forward lager, this beer is very drinkable, no matter your tastes in beer. 

    I have been talking a little about Shift in recent weeks, here on the blog, and on the ol' Facebook, you know, building a buzz, getting the facts out to you as they become available. And finally, today, I can tell you that Shift is on your shelves and ready for the drinking. But before you head out into this wide, wide world looking for it, let me give you the full run down for Shift. I want to give you all the information you need to successfully find these big cans of beer and enjoy them to their fullest potential.

    First, lets talk about the can, it's 16oz's– a tall boy, pounder, pint can, el gigante, or, as I like to call it –> the perfect sized beer. Fat Tire, in 12oz cans, has been around since the summer of '08, and we have added Sunshine and Ranger IPA since, and craft beer cans (generally) have been around even longer. Our can production has been blowing up since we started offering them, and in just four years we outgrew the capacity of our original line. We started looking for a shiny new line last year. The new one we decided on fills lots of 12oz cans per minute, way more than the old line, but we found out pretty quickly that it also filled 16oz cans. So we did what anyone in this position would do, we decided to put beer into those bigger cans. And then we took it one step further, we decided to brew a beer that would fit so well into that bigger sized package it would be exclusive to it. Hence... Shift Beer in 16oz cans only! Boom! The big cans are great for more than just increasing your drinking efficiency, they also make your hands look dainty and cute, and who doesn't need a little of that in their life?

    And then on to the total package. This is a canned-up, crazy, craft world we live in and there are some folks still having a difficult time deciding which package is best for their beer: cans, kegs, or bottles. Decisions are hard, but the good news is that this decision has no "wrong" answer. All beer packages are good, and none is really better than another. Some folks (like me) prefer their beer in cans, which makes this Shift release all the sweeter, some don't. We created a decision map full of information relavant to your beer package choices. I hope it helps guide your decision: 

    But wait, there's more! In conjunction with Shift's release we have created a new mobile app for your smart phone! This is exciting on several fronts. First, the highlights of the New Belgium/Shift App: You can set your clock-out alarm as a "work is done" reminder and then the post-shift Shift drinking can begin. You can use the New Belgium/Shift app to share photos of you and your cohorts enjoying some cans of Shift. And you can share a Shift with your pals on the social networks.  You can even use the app to locate a can of Shift. This last one is super terrific. The app reads your location (via your phone's GPS), and then reads our Beer Finder data, and then gives you a lead on your closest package stores and bars serving up these tall cans of awesome! Geo-locating... Who would've thought it would help you find beer? Am I right? The other awesome part of this app is that it auto-updates. So when new parts of the app or totally new and awesome things for the app are released in the future, say a new Ranger campaign, the app updates and morphs into the new app without you having to go back into the app store and download a different app. Oh, and it's free! So that's great too. We have made this app for iPhones and for Androids, so head on into your respective app getting places and download the fun.

    And then there's this, which is awesome too.

    That is the ad, featured in magazines on every level of the news stand's shelf. And like all of our advertisements it is, in fact, a 3-D thing. That time clock, and typewriter (and everything else) are screwed directly to the giant green board. It stands 6 feet (at least) with a 4 foot breadth, it's gigantic. I bet the Shift piece is the biggest shadow box, 3-D advertisement we've built to date. The other awesome thing about the ad is the hidden hashtag. I am a Twitter nerd, I love hashtags. If you don't know what a hashtag is ask one of your friends that's into Twitter, they'll tell you. But find the hidden hashtag and then jump in on this #ShiftBeer conversation. It will be a hoot!

    And then finally, Pandora. Who doesn't listen to Pandora? I listen mostly at work. Now there is a Shift Beer station for work, here's the link ––> Shift Work-Time Radio. The Shift Work station is full of tunes to keep you working and accomplishing during your clocked in time.

    But after work you want party music. So we made an after work station for Shift listening too. Here is that link ––> Shift Party-Time Radio. This post work, party time Shift station will keep the fun turned to 11. So tune in and don't forget to turn it up, like real loud...

    And that is everything you should need to Shift it up. Get after it, make good turns and good luck.

    XOXO,

    Juicebox

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  • Cans Versus Bottles Versus Kegs! The battle rages on...

    With the release of Shift happening today, and 2012 being called the year of the craft beer can, it is important to talk about these beer package choices.  Between bottles and cans and kegs there isn't one package that is a clear winner over the others. They all have their ups, and they all have their downs. We want our consumers to be informed when the package choice is presented, so we made this handy-dandy decision map for your looking and considering, check it out.

    Now take this information and make use of it. And remember, be safe out there and make good turns.

    -JUICEBOX

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  • Let's Go to the Brand New (and Totally Awesome) Can Line

    The new (and totally awesome) can line is all fired up and the cans are blasting out! The new (and totally awesome) can line cans are getting ready to hit shelves all over our distribution area come April 1. To give you a quick recap of where the new can line is I present to you this run-on sentence: The old can line was in the old bottling hall in the main Mothership-HQ-type building here at NBB, and since the new bottling line got its own building in 2007, called the Thunderdome, the new can line building got attached to the east side of the Thunderdome when it needed an upgrade (it is following the bottling line around), and from this moment on, the new (and totally awesome) can line, and its building, will forever be known as– BEYOND THUNDERDOME (I just thought of that, it's great, no?)! Here is a panoramic shot/map of the new Beyond Thunderdome addition and the relatively new Thunderdome. Take a look, you should be able to figure what's what.––>

     

    Now that you are panoramically oriented, let's go to the new (and totally awesome) can line!

    Walking up the steps and into the building you are first greeted by the CAN-delier:

    This wonderful piece, and a couple smaller, adjacent CAN-deliers, were made by our friends down at Boulder Business Products. They did some serious precision riveting here, and the cans are perfect, no dents, no dings, no nothing, just perfect lay up and execution. My hat's off to Troy and Karen and everybody else down in Boulder for creating this wonderful piece of art. They have made some beautiful things for us over the years, but this one hits a major home-run.

    After walking past the CAN-deliers, and through the second, interior door, you get to the production floor. It's here you can see, hear and smell the magic happening. Cans are whipping around and there are people hovering over the machines and beer is flowing. On this particular morning the machines (and the people working them) were filling 16oz cans of our brand new pale lager, Shift (Shift is due out in just a couple weeks, so be looking for a detailed Shift blog post upon its release).

     

     But back to the machines and today's duties. Here is what a palate of Shift cans look like before it heads into the de-palletizer:

    Then the cans head into said de-palletizer:

     

    The de-palletizer sweeps the cans off the pallet, layer by layer, and sends them down the conveyor belt. At this point the can is empty, and in fact, topless. The topless cans (heehee) come together to make a big long river of topless cans (heehee) as they gather steam and head into the filler:

     

    Sorry for the blurriness, but this machine is whizzing. In fact the filler is filling at a rate of 270 16oz cans of Shift per minute. And when 12oz-ers are in the chute the can-per-minute count is closer to 360. Blazing...  After the can is filled, the top is seamed on (no longer topless), and the pressure is checked. The filler/seamer does make a mess of the can, so it has to be washed off, in fact, it's given a shower:

     

    Then, the cans have to be flipped up-side-down to get their best-by-date tattoo on their bottoms. Then they get flipped back right-side-up for cardboarding in this fun looking twisty slide:

    After the flipper-over-er, the single stream of cans regroups into a river of cans, and they head towards they cardboarder (This machine has a more engineering-type name, but I call it like I see it). Here is an eddy in the river of full beers about to get cardboarded:

     

    The 16oz cans will be distributed in 4 packs and the 12oz cans will be in 12 packs. Since Shift is 16oz only that means 4 packs were being made today. Here is a 4 pack making a run for it:

     

    Don't worry, that little bugger won't get away. It will head over to its mother carton just like all the others. Six 4 packs per carton and then further on down the line:

     

    Then, all the mother cartons head into the re-palletizer to get, you guessed it, re-palletized. The finished pallets are about 8 cases per layer and 8 layers high. Here is Mark putting the finishing touches on a pallet before it gets shrink-wrapped and put into a truck:

     

    Makes you thirsty doesn't it?

    Anywho, the new (and totally awesome) can line has been running close to non-stop for weeks now, filling up thousands of cans for our spring and summer time enjoyment (not to mention fall and winter). As the trucks fill up they head to our warehouse and then into over-the-road trucks to bring them to liquor stores near you (via another distributor). I am talking about 16oz-ers of Shift, Fat Tire and Ranger, and 12oz-ers of Fat Tire and Ranger, the whole she-bang. Look for these cans the first week of April.

    I hope you enjoyed the tour of the new (and totally awesome) can line and stay tuned for lots more about Shift Beer in the weeks to come!

     

    xo,

    Juicebox

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  • Let's go to the new (and not quite completed) can line!

    I just walked over to the new canning facility here at NBB to witness and document the progress of the building, and take it from me, it's all happening! The outside and the inside are being built at the same time and both are mere weeks (less than two months) from completion. I also got a new panoramic camera app on my phone, so here is a look at the building through the panoramic eye of the beer-holder (yes, a beer based pun).

    Pretty sweet looking so far...

    The completed building on the left of the photo is the Thunderdome (the bottling hall) and where the plastic covering starts is the new can line building, and that new part (the can line building) is attached to the Thunderdome (and will inevitably be called (wait for it...)), beyond Thunderdome! The trucks parked out front are the contractor's vehicles, you can tell because they're big and dusty and backed in rather than pulled in (a trait little recognized as that of the American Contractor).

    The hundreds of feet of conveyor and all the machines needed to fill cans of beer are on the inside and looking bright and shiny (if not fully assembled). Here is a quick peak at some of that equipment:

    The second picture looks like the chutes at a horse track, but instead of ponies lining up it's going to be delicious cans of beer. And let me remind you that this line is bigger and badder than our old one. Instead of 60 cans a minute, that then have to be hand packed into 12 pack boxes, the new line is more like 360 cans a minute (!) and then automated boxing and palletization follows. No more "little can line that could," this is hitting the big time (at least the moderate time). The new line (as previously mentioned) will also fill 16oz cans, tall boys. We are going to put Fat Tire, Ranger and Shift into those gigantic, glorious beauties, and Shift (a pale lager) will be a 16oz only offering (also, previously mentioned).

    Also, I  have to (quickly) talk about the greatest byproduct of this bigger and badder can line: MORE CANS IN MORE PLACES! With the new, faster line we will be able to send more of these wonderful little (and also gigantic) aluminum offerings out to our larger drinking audience, so get ready because this thing is scheduled to be up and operational soon (ish) and shipping beer for an April 1 release... Get thirsty and stay thirsty and look for a full write up of the new can line operation once it is fully operational.

    byebye,

    Juicebox

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  • And then it was 2012...

    If the world does end this year I will be so angry. There are many wonderful things on the horizon that I want to be a part of and the world ending would absolutely limit the fun. I want nothing to get in the way, shorten, or even remotely hinder my future-possible enjoyment of these glorious things. Most notably, gigantic (relatively speaking) cans of beer. You may have already read about it here, or maybe here, but right now, from the horses mouth... New Belgium is putting beer into tall boys! And inside some of these tall boys will be a brand new (and tall boy only) beer called SHIFT! (the capitalization and exclamation point are just for effect and not in the actual name of the beer). Shift is a pale lager that even the most enthusiastic of canned beer enthusiasts will find to be delicious, bold and hugely quaffable. I don't want to get into too many details here but the test batches I have tasted are simply delightful and I am looking forward to drinking on them during the out-of-doors-type parts of the year (and the other times too).

    Also in that wonderful and em-biggened-sized can will be Fat Tire and Ranger IPA.

    This is a revelation for me and all other New Belgium canned beer fans. There are many things in this world that I enjoy doing with a beer in my hand and a lot of places that I enjoy doing these things don't like glass bottles, they are either frowned upon or flat out illegal. Now, I am not one to break the law (that often) so I always pack the canned beer. With these out-of-doors-type activities I have always wished that I didn't have to go back to the cooler as often as I have to, interrupting the thing that I am doing, and now with a larger can I don't have to, and neither do you.  With four more ounces per can (from 12 to 16) we can gain an efficiency advantage of 33% over 64 total ounces of beer. Think of what we can accomplish with that kind of efficiency rating. I am going to dedicate all of my extra time to becoming better at tether-ball. I have always been an OK tether-ball player, but now, without having to pause the game to go to the cooler and grab another beer I can stay on the tether-ball court and keep hammering away at my skills. My tether-ball competition is not going to know what hit them, and it's all thanks to larger cans of beer.

    2012 is going to be the best year yet!

    Good-bye, I love you and I'm out...

    Juicebox

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