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  • Well, the world didn't end... Let's drink Frambozen!

    Let's be real for a minute. Deep down, in bowels of my heart/imagination (and maybe yours, too) I was looking forward to the apocalypse. I was thinking fire-y comets raining down, zombies (the old school, slow kind), and subsisting on expired canned food for the rest of our lives. We would be fighting for survival, reminiscing for those that met an unfortunate, un-dead type of conclusion, and enjoying the day-to-day grey color (like in The Road, or Portland). It was going to be pretty sweet. But, alas, the end of days was a no-go. But, I guess, the day's not over yet, it could still happen, maybe.

    But really, for now, let's assume it's not going to happen. And with that, we need to press on. And pressing on means the holidays. Do you have your gifts, and beers, and all that ready? You don't? Well, I am here to suggest purchasing some Frambozen (as a gift, or for drinking (with family and friends of course), or both, I guess). It's a delightfully sweet raspberry brown, brewed just for the holiday season.

    Let's do a quick review...

    Visual: A deep, dark garnet. 

    Aroma: A roasty-raspberry. Sweet and tart at the same time with the darker malts poking their heads through.

    Flavor: A tart, fresh raspberry. The darker malts come through for some backbone here too, but the berries are on highlight.

    Body/Mouthfeel: A light/medium body, and a dry/tart finish.

    Overall: I love this beer for lots of reasons, the raspberries, the small timeframe it's available, the associations with the holidays. But the biggest reason I love Frambozen is that every year there exists subtle changes. The raspberry crop is always different and the way they interact with the beer changes. The 2012 Frambozen is a bit lighter in body than in the past, less sweet and a bit more tart. I love it every year, but this year especially so. It makes me want to stuff raspberries on my fingers and dance around in an orange jumpsuit... It's that good.

    Point Counter: 9 out of 10 possible.

    I would go out and grab this beer while you can, the window is closing. Here is a link to the Beer Finder for all your Frambozen finding needs.... Also, it ages very well, so maybe buy an extra 6er to put aside till next year, and then, when next year's Frambozen comes out, try them both, side by side.


    With that, I'm out. Enjoy your holidays and let everyone you love know that you love them.


    _JUICEBOX

     

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  • Let's go to Western Heritage, the coolest little foundry in the west.

    At New Belgium we take our soft-goods and swag pretty seriously. From kites to garden-markers we have sold some pretty memorable merchandise. But these new belt buckles we're getting might be the coolest thing yet. They're made in Loveland, Colorado at Western Heritage. A couple days ago some of us were lucky enough to go down the road and see the place for ourselves.

    Western Heritage makes belt buckles, and small sculptures, and lots of other (awesome) stuff cast in bronze, silver alloy, sterling, and even gold. They're pretty famous for making these: 

    That is the official uniformed buckle of the U.S. Forest Service. On one's first day as a Ranger one gets their pants and hat and other uniform-based equipment. Included in that is one's very own belt buckle. Western Heritage makes these buckles for the government, and they are super sweet. I asked (very nicely), and they still wouldn't give me one.

    But, back to the tour. Walking in the door to this fantastic old building your eyes are greeted with the original hardwoods and exposed brick, and some of the finest stamped-tin ceiling I have ever seen (and no, I didn't get any pictures). This was followed by a sweet coffee mug (to take home), some doughnuts (to eat there), and smiling faces. Everyone I met at Western Heritage was really excited to be at work. This is common around NBB too, so it was something I could relate to. After getting the nickel tour of the offices (highlights: 3-D printer, kegerator, and a pewter platypus), we headed into the shop. 

    To cast a belt buckle you have to make a mold. These molds (at Western Heritage) are circles of rubber, each with 6 molds in them. These folks have been in business over 30 years, they have a lot of molds:

    When the mold is made, you spin wax into it, in order make a wax version of the upcoming buckle. Here's our's:

    In that photo you can also see a sweet mustache mold. This is not part of our buckle, but I wish it was...

    Then, about six of those wax buckles are put into a small bucket and plaster is poured in around them. The plaster forms around the wax, it hardens, and then the wax is melted out. This leaves behind reliefs of the buckles in a material (plaster) that can take the heat of pouring molten bronze into it. It's at this point the metal goes in. I took no pictures during this step because it was dark and hot and not that photogenic. The bronze goes in about 1800°, it pours in liquid. After a few minutes it hardens up and the mold gets taken out back for cooling and plaster removal. Really, it's just dipped into barrel of weird looking water water:

    See those buckles? So cool...

    After the cool down the buckles get a lot of finish work. Cutting, polishing (like 12 kinds of buffing), and then drilled for the bail (that's the wire on the back that holds it to your belt), and then it's ready (I also took no pictures of this part because there was just too many steps, I lost track, got confused, and then gave up...). Making belt buckles is a mind-bogglingly labor intensive process. The folks at Western Heitage are really good at it too. When all is said and done our buckle looks like this:

    Pretty good, right?

    So, if you want one (and I bet you do) you'll have to come to the brewery. They're $50, but the craftsmanship... totally worth it. Or, give it a few weeks and they should show up at our on-line store.

    Otherwise, follow the link to Western Heritage, check out their stuff, and have a nice weekend.

    _JUICEBOX

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  • Happy Thanksgiving (time to get the beer and turkey together).

    The (Thanksgiving) holidays are upon us, and there is no pair quite like turkey and beer (Frambozen, specifically). But it's so much more than that. I also like pairing beer with giving thanks to all the awesome people and experiences in my life. I like pairing beer with soft pretzel stuffing. I like pairing beer with more beer and heated discussions on the cost/benefit analysis of building a giant pirate ship in the empty lot next to my house. 

    This is the greatest holiday of all time, please enjoy it. And, from all of us, to all of you... Happy Thanksgiving.

    Next, you're going to ask "Did this guy stuff Fat Tire into his turkey? And why isn't he wearing a shirt? Is that sanitary?" And the answers are "yes," "I'm not sure," and "probably not."

    Again, happy Thanksgiving everybody. Remember to bring out some nice beers and share them with your friends and family, and remember to call the family and friends that you don't get to see on Thursday (and tell them that you love them), and remember to make soft pretzel stuffing (seriously, it's the best).

    Talk to you next week!

    -Juicebox

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  • Today is Stout Day, and I am celebrating already!

    Stout Day is a great way to celebrate such a celebrated style. And that day of celebration is today, today is Stout Day!

    Grab a bottle and some friends (who also grabbed bottles) and crack some great Stouts. Here's a few to recommend:.

    Great Divide's Yeti

    Obsidian Stout from Deschutes

    Schlafly's Oatmeal Stout

    Or maybe, just maybe.... the newest Lips of Faith beer- Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout from New Belgium!

    Ok, I know that's a plug, but this is the New Belgium Blog, so I am going with it. This beer is strong, and rich and dark as (a really dark) night. The coffee and chocolate come punching right off the bell and a complex bitterness follows in at the back. It really is good. Here's a link to the Beer Finder so you can go get yourself some....

    And remember to celebrate Stout Day with your social media friends with #StoutDay, no reason not to spread such beer-cheer on the internet...

    xo,

    Juicebox

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  • Beers Made by Walking indeed...

    The folks down at Focus on the Beer have started a very cool and interesting program for making beer, Beers Made By Walking. The general idea is as follows: take a walk in your natural surrounding, find an ingredient to use in the beer making process, pick or order the ingredient in question (depending on the circumstances), make a beer using the ingredient, and lastly, enjoy the beer made by walking. Lots of people and breweries have gotten in on this action over the last several months, and now, I am happy to report, New Belgium has joined the fun... 

    About six weeks ago we took our walk. We have a very good, natural (and edible) landscape on the NBB property, so we decided to walk the grounds. We stumbled upon gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, hops, sage, and other useable plants. All of them seemed great, but when we came upon the lavender and the plums we knew we had a match made in experimental-beer-heaven. I picked and dried the lavender, and we ordered the plum juice as it was late in the season and the birds (plus co-workers) had picked the plum tree pretty clean. I took counsel with plant engineer and brewer, Chris McCombs (AKA Puffy) to help with the recipe (and all the other stuff, like brewing and fermenting, etc...). He thought the plum and lavender flavors would display nicely in a something a bit sweeter, with a very low hop profile. He suggested we brew a bock, so that's what we're doing.

    We got the yeast all propped up, ordered the malt bill and called the Focus on the Beer folks to come up and help. They got here last Friday around 11am. We had lots to do. Our plan was to start the brew (mash in), then mince the dried Lavender and brew a tea to add after the boil. Then add the plums, mid-fermentation, to ferment some of the plum sugars, but still leave some fruity sweetness (and highlight the possible tartness). The mash in, boil, and hop addition takes about three hours, and on the new pilot system it's pretty straightforward. In fact, it's kind of anti-climatic. The new system is pretty automated, so no real heavy lifting is required (until the cleaning part). After we got the mash happening we got to the lavender chopping. We were looking at a big paper shopping bag stuffed with lavender sprigs, so it took a while. We got it done though (like a boss). To make the tea we had to weigh out the chopped lavender, separate it into game bags, and put them into hot water, it went well. It was about 12 gallons of tea, tasty, but not too strong. After we were done with the lavender prep, and the mash had moved into the boil, we got down to business on removing the spent grain. This is hard work (the heavy lifting part of the cleaning process), lots of shoveling and garbage can moving around. But it's an important step towards a clean pilot brewery. Then we went in for the tea addition. As the boil finishes, the wort (the malty liquid that will later ferment into beer) is whirl-pooled, to knock out any large particulates, and then sent through a chiller to cool it down from boiling temperatures (before the yeast addition). We added the lavender tea to the wort as this was happening. It went great... 

    After the chilling and lavender addition, the wort met the yeast in a fermentation vessel, where it will sit for a couple weeks as this (hopefully) delightful lager turns into a (hopefully) delightful lager. But before it finishes we will add the plum juice, about 10 gallons to the 8 barrel batch (a barrel equals 31 gallons (it's a old-tyme beer making measurement)). This addition will happen before the week is out. We want the fermentation to take hold, and remove some of the malt sugars before the plum sugars invade. Then, after the plum sugars invade, and mix up with all the malt sugars, the fermentation will continue, and a (hopefully) an awesome lavender plum bock will be ready to get kegged up. 

    And speaking of getting all kegged up... This beer is very limited, but it will be made available to the drinking public. A bunch of it will end up at the Focus on the Beer anniversary party happening in early December in Colorado Springs (you should go to that). And the rest will be poured in the tasting room here at New Belgium (a few errant kegs may make their way out, but let's not count on that). So if you are in Colorado you have a pretty good chance of getting some sips, but if not, maybe you should come to Colorado in December for your share of the sips (December is a a beautiful time to visit). 

    I want to thank everyone from Fous on the Beer for coming up with such a cool program, and also for the awesome execution of said program here at New Belgium. It was a real treat to work with you guys. Speaking of, here they are, in all there bearded glory:

    That's it and that's all, I am looking forward to this beer, and thanks for reading (and please go check out Focus on the Beer, and Beers Made By Walking, they are both linked above). 

    xo,

    -Juicebox

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  • Instagram-tastic!

    I love Instagram. For those not in the know, Instagram is like Twitter (if you know what that is), it's a micro-blogging, social networking platform. But, unlike Twitter, Instagram is photo based, and entirely phone derived. Translation: we get to look at other people's pictures on our phones and ooh and ahh over them. And people get to do the same over our photos. It's awesome, especially if you like looking at pictures.

    I also love beer. It's delicious, refreshing, interesting, and wonderful (among other things). 

    Beer and pictures go together very well. Hence, the awesome beer presence of beer stuff on Instagram. Maybe we should call it Beer-sta-gram. If you don't have an Instagram (Beer-sta-gram) account, go get one, right now. It's free and awesome. And now that your account is all set up, go follow all these wonderful beer related Instagram people (listed below, just left of the picture that I should probably put on Instagram), because they are good at taking really nice photos:

    @BrooklynBrewery

    @Beertographer

    @AndersonValleyBrewing 

    @DeschutesBeer

    @SchlaflyBeer

    @FocusOnTheBeer

    @NewBelgium (I have to throw this one in...)

    @JollyPumpkin

    @SquattersPub

    @CigarCityBrewing

    @BeerWestMag

    @SierraNevada

    @WinBassett 

    Some of these are writers, some are breweries, all are good at taking beer related pictures.

    And, after you follow these people, start looking up more beer folks to follow (let me know when you find great ones). Beer lends itself to photos, and some folks are really good at drawing the best out of their subject (I'm really good at drinking beer).

    Happy Instagramming everybody! 

    -Juicebox

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  • The numbers are in...

    The Clips of Faith and the Tour de Fat have both wrapped for the season, and the numbers are in. Clips raised $118,000 this year, and the Tour de Fat pulled in (almost) $500,000. That is (almost) $618,000 total raised (I know, I know, I'm a mathematician) for local non-profits in the communities that these shows happened in. That's a very successful year, to say the least. And we couldn't have done this without you, the fans and party goers, making these events so fun and so philanthropically wonderful. Here's the picture that says it all (well, not all of it, but most):

    So, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, you made this event season fun and beneficial, and we will see you next year...

    xoxo,

    Juicebox

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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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  • Dear Brewery Vivant,

    You're the best, I mean it. I wanted to take a few minutes and write you a letter expressing my adulation. So, here it is... When we first met it was magical. New Belgium was starting the Michigan roll out process and there you were, in an awesome, old funeral home in Grand Rapids. Your beers we great right away. We stopped by to say hello, drink a little, and it turned out that everybody inside the old funeral home (turned brewery) was awesome too. With wonderful and like-minded individuals such as yourselves it didn't take very long for the idea of a collaboration to come to the front. 

    First was the beer brewed at your place, in Grand Rapids: Escoffier. A bretta beer with French chef-er-y roots, and a beer dinner that was 12 courses long. 12 courses! The highlights that I read just barely did it justice. And the few cans you sent me left me craving more (can you send more?). The beer is all over Michigan now, and the Chicagoland area too, but really, it should be world-wide.

    Then, we met Brian and Jacob (brewer, and head brewer, respectively). These guys came to Fort Collins to brew the other version of the collaboration. They were beyond friendly and extremely knowledgable in beer, it was a real treat to talk to them. The beer they made here, with our brewers, is not Escoffier, it's something else, but amazing too. This half of the collaboration is a biere de garde, of the farmhouse family (as with Escoffier). It has bergamot, orange peel, and uses your house biere de garde yeast (oh, so yummy). The collaboration's bottle is a 22oz-er. In homage to you, Brewery Vivant, Jodi put somes roosters on it, it's spectacular. To the right is a very dramatic picture of a mocked up bottle (the real bottle will be silk screened (just like the rest of our Lips of Faith)). 

    I am very excited to taste this next half of our beer relationship, it promises to be a real gem. Oh, and Brewery Vivant, this beer will be available through our distribution network in about a month (or so). Maybe you can come back to Colorado and we can drink both sides of this beer collaboration together, while sitting around a fire, and maybe we can share our feelings and more beers. That would be nice.

    Until we meet again Brewery Vivant, I miss you...

    Yours, 

    -Juicebox

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  • Well, it's over...

    The 2012 edition of the Pro Challenge is done and over. Did I learn anything? Well, I am not as young as I used to be, riding bikes at 10,000 feet is really hard, and I really love drinking beer while I watch bike racing.

    There were thousands of road-side fans that needed thirst quenching, and I like to believe we handled them all. And there were thousands more on-line watchers for our brand of Total Sports Coverage, and I like to think they were satisfied as well. 

    During the week we made 7 videos, posted 7 daily updates, sold almost 600 raffle tickets for 1 custom Yipsan bicycle, raised almost 3,000 bucks (per said raffle) for Bikes Belong, raised a whole bunch of other money for a whole bunch  of other Colorado non-profits from selling beer and swag, ran along with 1 stage winner, gave away 5 New Belgium cruisers, drank beers with countless people, and enjoyed every second of it. I think this photo sums up my feelings for the week:

    And, with all that being said, we will be back for 2013. This was our first year for sponsoring this event, so I can only assume next year will be bigger and bolder. Start booking your flights now because this is going to be a very fruitful relationship for all parties involved...

    Also, I understand that a re-cap video of all the videos is forthcoming, but Simpsonic is a busy fellow. So we'll have to wait and see on that one.

    Until next time!

    -Juicebox

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