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  • Let's go to the Great American Beer Festival!

    That's right friends, today we are heading to the (last) Thursday night session of the largest beer festival in North America, the Great American Beer Festival (henceforth: GABF), and let me tell you, this was a time to be had, and I had it, all of it)). 

    So leading up to the festival I wanted to do some research so I would know what I was getting myself into.  I had never been in the past so I had no idea what I was really walking into.  And here are some stats that I found (told in the future tense even though it already happened):

    _This is the 29th annual GABF (math would lead us to believe that the first festival was in 1981).

    _2,200 beers will be available for tasting (not only is this the largest beer selection of American beers ever served it is also way more than I could ever taste in one 4.5 hour period).

    _49,000 attendees expected over the course of the three days.

    _And there will be 455 breweries represented in the festival hall.

    Armed with that knowledge I climbed into a New Belgium Eventing department truck and a few of us started the drive down to Denver Thursday at about 11am.  The session didn't start until 5:30pm but we had some set up to accomplish and lunch had to be eaten as well as some pre-gaming beers to taste at the Falling Rock.  When exhibitors pull into the convention center to drop off on Thursday morning it is a busy affair, fork trucks everywhere and probably 15 reefer trucks set up and cooling kegs and there is really only one way in.  This way in was guarded by a very serious gentleman that didn't like letting people into the hall.  In order to get past him you needed to be armed with your credentials already.  Since we just pulled into the load in area we had no lanyards to prove our affiliation and this fellow was bent on keeping us out.  We tried pointing to all the pop-up tents and other New Belgium booth making miscellanea as well as our NBB shirts (collars no less) and even our company ID cards, but no-dice, this guy had his instructions and he was living them out to the T.  I was going to take a picture to document this event but the gaurdsmith's sense of humor was not as active as I would have liked, so no photo available. Eventually we got lanyards with the proper words typed out on them and we cooly walked past the man with the walkie-talkie and headed over to our booth space for set up.  Some of the set up was already accomplished and we showed just in time to finish it off, and boy howdy it looked real nice:

    The yellowish light present in this photo was a theme for the night, the whole room was lit like a faded polaroid from 1986, but you get used to it pretty fast.  Man, doesn't that booth look great.  We had an end-cap booth which allowed for 10 beers to pour rather than the 5 on the row booths, so we had everything from Fat Tire to Eric's Ale and pretty much everything in between.  It was great and the eventing crew did a great job pulling off this event, with out them and all of their hard work it would not have been as awesome as it was.  But onto the rest of the day.

    First stop after set-up: lunch at the Corner Office in the lobby of the lovely Curtis Hotel.  As you can tell from the link this is probably the sexiest place to eat lunch in the whole city of Denver, I had a burrito and it was great and I paired it with a Hoptober.  The spice of the green chili smothered on the burrito bought out all those hoppy flavors in the beer, but the hops in the Hoptober aren't over the top so the green chili was a flavor I got to enjoy through the whole meal without drowning it in bitter.  Lunch done, food layer set, time to start killing the next 1.75 hours before the festival doors open.  First (and only) stop: The Falling Rock Taphouse. 

     This place has beers coming out of their ears.  The sheer number of choices can be a bit on the intimidating side but I decided to pick a beer theme for the day so I narrowed the choices down to what was sour.  And I had some Sanctification, le Friek, and something else that was a bit like fermented raspberries mixed with drainage water, I don't remember the name of the beer or the brewery, but in the end that might be a good thing.  It is at this point that I should bring up my companion for the evening, the Professor:

    (You may recall him from here or maybe here).  The Professor is a beer lover and an easy going guy so his and I's grouping for the evening was like a leprechaun and a pot of gold getting together underneath a rainbow, perfect, and easy to look at (he is the pot of gold by the way). The professor's plan was to see how fast he could blow out his palette with gigantically hoppy beers, it was going to be fun to watch.  At the falling rock we were smelling beer and sipping and enjoying the last big glasses that we would see for some time, from this point on it was going to be 1oz of beer at a time (probably a good idea).

    As we walked back from the Falling Rock we were busy talking about the plan for the night and I made a really strong point about how lines make me sad and that I was going to try to not stand in one all night.  The Professor thought this idea was a good one and we had an agreement, waiting in lines would be kept to a minimum and we would seek out beers that could be enjoyed without a 4 to 11 minute wait. Easy-peasy, we arrived back at the Convention Center, we walked up the steps into the GABF, and were immediately greeted with this:

    That may give you an idea of the crowd at GABF, it's huge and full of people that love beer.  And this was at the start of the night, it only got bigger and more  rowdy.  When you enter the festival hall the volenteers of the event give you a small lexan glass with a 1oz marker on the side to get the pour levels acurate and then you are set out on you way to explore the varities of beer.  First stop: New Glarus.  It was delicious and sour and at the end of the of a huge line so the Professor's and I's plan about line avoidence was shot in the foot in the first 5 minutes.  But once these beers were enjoyed and rated and talked about we went back to our no line policy and for the most part stuck with it.  And following is a quick list (list of 5) highlighting a few of my favorites and a few reasons why:

    Calabaza Blanca, Jolly Pumpkin.  Wood aged Belgian wit, traditional, spiced with orange peel and coriander hint of sour, very good                                                                     

    Gauva grove, Cigar City. Slightly sour, fruity notes.  Tasty and refreshing.

    Sang Noir, Cascade. Awesome, dark, biting.  if you have never had this go find it now (I mean right now).

    White Electric Coffee Stout, Trinity Brewing (Rhode Island).  100 IBU'S, this has bitter bite and a good one, but the bitter is coffee bitter not hops bitter, new flavor for me.  Also aged in Woodford Reserve Barrels, taste like coffee, whiskey, and awesome mixed together.

    Life and Limb, Sierra Nevada (/Dogfish Head collaboration (but I drank it at the Sierra Nevada booth)).  Really good and maple-y, like the syrup, but thin and boozy.

    And then there was the Ithaca Beer Company.  I caught them at a moment without a line and a friend had suggested that I go and check out their sour called Brute.  It's a golden ale aged in oak and finished with champagne yeasts.  The second it touched my tongue I shouted that it was the best beer I had tried all day, and  I truly meant it.  I spent the rest of the night as well as the coming days talking about how good it was and how I needed to buy big bottles of it and maybe even start brushing my teeth with it.  It was a revelation.  Sour, but not a killer, light, crisp, and so quenching.  And not to mention the carbonation, spritzy as all get out, like feel -it-in-your-nose spritzy.  This beer was highlight of the whole GABF affair for me.  Then a couple days later I come to find that it won a gold medal in the American Sour category.  Deserving indeed.  Cheers to you Ithaca Beer Company, you had that coming.

    After the whole Brute endeavour my night was already made so I just followed the Professor like a tired puppy that doesn't want to go home yet trying to accomplish the palette blowing moment of to many really hoppy beers.  And sure enough, it happened, my tongue exploded, and the Professor was there with a camera to catch it

     The thumbs up is my way of telling the world that I can no longer taste anything, beer, food, whatever, my tastes buds were done. 

    And since I could no longer taste beers I decided to wander around and take in the people.  The first thing that I noticed, pretzel necklaces.  And I am not just talking about a few salty snacks dangling from a piece of dental floss, I am talking about meals hanging from rope, weighing down the posture of all who dared to don them.  I saw peach rings, jerky, string cheese, miniature corn-dogs, just about everything suspended in ready to eat format.  Just get a load of this:

     

    I think these guys have granola bars roped in there. 

    My theory on all these necklaces is that there was some kind of contest going on among festival goers that was a secret (and maybe a little sadistic).  My question here is what do you win?  Because I am pretty sure the loser has to eat everything around their neck (and that is no prize my friends, no prize indeed).  The winner must be able to take their necklace off and relax their neck for an hour or two, because that would be a blessing.

    In continuing search through the GABF for all things fun I also stumbled across some pretty creative marketing, mostly in the men's room:

    Now I must take a minute and sing high praises to these fine companies that have the gusto to try out new techniques in brand awareness as well as raising awareness in personal hygiene, KUDOS!

    After walking around for a while and taking in all things beer and fun the professor and I were looking for a moment to relax.  We headed over to the NBB booth to see if we could lend a hand.  Their answer was "no, we don't need your help".  This was most likely due to the abundance of volunteers at the pouring stations as well as our easy attitudes towards all things at that point.  In not lending a hand we had time to walk out to the line waiting to taste New Belgium's beer and started mingling with the crowd.  It was then that I ran into a few Liquid Center regulars and we exchanged pleasantries.  They were in line hoping to score an Eric's Ale, and I was hoping they would let me snap a picture of them and a few moments later I pulled some strings and boom! A perfectly executed exchange:

    I think the higher perspective adds an art-sie touch that you could appreciate.

    It was at this point in the evening that I could no longer taste anything, I was tired (long day), hungry (not very many people were willing to share their pretzel necklaces with me) and ready to head home, so the Professor and I found our responsible ride home, loaded up and headed north.  The whole way home was spent discussing the finer points of the day and evening and an unbelievable amount of time was spent speaking on the subject of what would be strung onto our theoretical pretzel necklaces, I decided on sourdough pretzels, cubes of cheddar cheese, lime wedges, tootsie rolls, and mustard packets.

    And to finish up here (I know, I'm long winded) I have to mention that Eric's Ale took home a silver medal in the American Sour Catagory just behind Brute from Ithaca Beer Co. (YES! both of those beers are so good they are worth writing home about (or worth writing to you)), and please, go here to check out all the winners.

    Until Friday my friends,

    JUICEBOX.

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  • Let's go to the micro-lab!

    So here it is my friends, the long awaited trip deep into the inner sanctum of New Belgium Micro-Biology Lab (not sure if I should capitalize micro and biology (or lab), but I did (it seems important)).

    So my morning started as usual, a stop at the coffee maker, another quick stop at the time clock, then I proceeded right into the deep recesses of the brewery looking for the scientific type to guide me through the goings on in our Micro-Biology lab.  I found just the guy, Cody.  I started off hot, just firing questions at him, thinking that this would lead him to believe that I understand this subject in anyway at all, and through this very intense succession of questions I came to a couple of question/answers combos that seem relevant to today's subject: what exactly is the importance of the micro lab?  His was a two fold response, fold one: yeast propagation.  Fold two: contamination detection. And, would I look smart in a lab coat? Cody's answer: most likely, not.

    Let's start off with fold two of question/answer combo one, contamination dectection.  This is a very important aspect of the biologist and their job.  Anytime something (let's say wort (remember wort?)) comes in contact with something else (say the next batch of wort) it has to be tested.  The scientists are testing this meeting to make sure both things are clean, and by clean I mean not contaminated (meaning other other yeast strains).  Yeast is a little bug (micro-flora) that is floating all around us and it can be a tricky little guy, sneaking around corners and finding it's way into things.  And it is important to only put things into the beer that we mean to, if something does sneak its way in the flavor could change dramatically.  And it is important to mention here that if we were to get some sort of contamination the only thing to be effected is flavor, because of the low ph values, and the alcohol content there really isn't anything that can grow in beer that could harm you.  Also hops is a strong antimicrobial agent that further restricts the growth of pathogens.  So it is the biologists job to go ahead and test everything, and through this barrage of testing we can ensure that our Fat Tire tastes just how Fat Tire (or whichever brand) should taste every time (you fine people have a fickle palette).  So the testing is continuous and extremely thorough and we have fantastic scientists at the business end of those testing tools getting the job done.

    Now let's double back and talk about fold number one.  Yeast proagation.  We have several in house yeast strains that make up our delicious portfolio of beers and each and everyone of them starts the same way, on a slide.  The that slide is grown into what is called a slant.  Here is Cody displaying a slant:

    From that slant the biologist takes a small amount of the white foamy stuff on top and places it into 250ml of wort.  Now this is normally how you make beer, you put some yeast into the sugary liquid known as wort and the yeasts eat the sugar and make alcohol and carbonation, but what is different here is that there is oxygen involved.  The oxygen rich environment makes for breading yeast, not for brewing beer, brewing beer happens in an oxygen free environment (there is a lot more science involved in that (but I am not sure what it is (but I think it might be called anaerobic fermentation))), so over the course of some time it sits on a agitation table getting shaken around and the yeast starts growing faster.  After the 250ml of wort has grown enough yeast they then add that to another 500ml of wort and the yeast growth continues with more agitation.  Agitation pictured here:

    And this cycle of adding more wort keeps repeating itself until the scientists have achieved about 50 liters of yeast.  And at every stage there is a little nourishment that happens.  The scientists add nutrients to help fortify the yeast and make it ready for "the cold, cruel world of anaerobic fermentation".  Here is Kelly adding a delicious looking supply of vitamins:

    It is then that they hand the hungry yeast over to the cellar and there the folks grow it to an even lager quantity (around 80 hecteliters) which is enough to throw (or pitch) into a full batch of wort to make beer (look out for Let's go to the Cellar). 

    That is the basic run down of the science involved. During Cody and I's talk we were joined by more biologists, Kelly, Gina, Ryan and Drew and the team of five explained it all in major depth but they lost me at "osmotic shock" and that is when I went glassy eyed.  Who knows how many terms and phrases the group threw at me that I didn't understand, the count was very high, but here is a quick list of the few that I think I can spell (but probably not): "polymerase chain reaction", "super oxide radicals", "suspended animation", "speciate", you get the picture.

    But the one thing that blew me away in the micro lab was the sheer volume of fire involved.  I am just another dude that loves watching things get lit ablaze, but in the micro lab they use fire for everything, to sterilize, warm, cook, sing around, whatever.  Here is an example:

    Not sure what is happening there, probably some sort of sanitation, but in the end it's awesome because they are blasting the lip of that scientific container with a fire gun.

    As the morning progressed we discovered the answer to question/answer combo two: would a lab coat make me look smarter?  In this process they asked if I would like to become involved in the science at hand and they passed me that lab coat (for the more official look and smarter look detection) and also some sort of beaker (that sure is a funny name for a jar):

    Bearing witness to my complete inability to perform science and noticing that the lab coat does not (in fact) make me look any smarter, the team of biologists shared in a good laugh at my expense.  I was a little hurt by the hardiness of their hooting and a single tear fell from my eye.  That was just enough for them to gather round and try to figure what might lift my sunken spirits.  They hit the nail right on the head:

    More fire.

    It was then that all of us (me and the five nerdy scientists) came the realization that what they do should be left to trained professionals, they then took away my lab coat (it didn't make me look smarter anyway), stood between me and any source of open flame, and firmly asked me to leave the lab, but before I did I caught one last (and lasting) image of the whole team, deep in the middle of science:

    Drew, Kelly, Cody, Gina, and Ryan.

    So in the end we all learned a few things today, that micro-biology is absolutely important in the brewing world, but trying to explain it to a writer is a hopeless (and thankless) task, and also that a lab coat just makes me look like I stole some scientist's work clothes.  I hope the tour through the micro lab was as awesome for you as it was for me, thanks for reading.

    _JUICEBOX

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  • Vacation Time.

    So I am heading out for the airport in a couple minutes, but before I go let's talk about a few things.  One, the first Bike Yourself drawing for a Cruiser happens today on the Facebook.  Quick, get entered.  Go to the New Belgium Facebook page and bike yourself.  It's fun, funny, and a really good way to get your hands on a 2010 (twenty-ten) New Belgium Employee cruiser bike.

    Secondly, I will be posting from the wilds of my former home, Portland, Oregon over the coming days.  There is all sorts of wierd things to do in that town, so stay appraised of the situation on New Belgium's Facebook feed or maybe on the Twitter (@carnie_NBB), there will be shenanigans, of that I assure you. 

    And finally, I offer this:

     

    Can you believe it?  Pancake batter in a can, and it's organic (AND ON SALE!)!  I just got really hungry for breakfast, review and food pairing coming soon.

    -JUICEBOX

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  • THE BEER, THE BIKE, THE TOUR de FAT!

    It is that time of year again my friends... The Tour de Fat is coming to a neighborhood near you and we want you to get pumped.  And to help get you all amped up we are giving some bikes away, 10 bikes to be precise (and this isn't just any bike (it's an 2010 New Belgium employee cruiser)) from May 31st until September 1st.  And all you have to do is come by the brewery and take your photo on this new and totally awesome (and totally huge) mock up of our newest ad.  Then submit your photo of you looking nice on the new, big mock up of the ad  to our facebook page, under the Bike Yourself heading, then check back often because we will be announcing winners frequently, and with vigor.  Or better yet, follow this link.  We will be pulling winners starting next week and may I be the first to wish you the best of luck.

    Here is the ad:

     

    And here is the giant mock up:

    And here is the best entry we have had so far:

    That is one handsome man. 

    So on that note, may the luck pants be covering your legs and shoes of good charm be gracing your feet.

    -JUICEBOX

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  • IT'S AMERICAN CRAFT BEER WEEK!

    That is correct my friends, this week let's all get together and celebrate the Craft Beer World.  This is the Mother of All Beer Weeks and celebrate we will. 

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    American Craft Beer Week
    www.colbertnation.com
    Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

     

    Here at New Belgium HQ we will be partying all week with fun, games, giveaways, prizes and general shenanigans.  Are you ready?  I am.  And let's take a quick look around the country for some more festivities: there is a BBQ in Bend, OR at the Deschutes Brewery, there is a 5-course brewers dinner in Prescott, AZ at the Prescott Brewing CO, and the Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis is having beer passport events all week.  This is just the quickest of all event smatterings, you can look here for things going on in your neck of the woods (and there is something going on near you, just take a look).   And remember if you are in Fort Collins this week come on by the Brewery, things are going to get fun (beer fun (weird fun)).

    And to culminate our week in Fort Collins, Friday from 2 to 5pm here (at New Belgium HQ) we are having a Beer Geek Conference.  You, the American Craft Beer Geek should come on down and show up with a bottle of your (second) favorite Craft Beer and hang out with each other and with our Brewmaster, Peter, and our Assistant Brewmaster, Grady.  Then everyone is going to sip on some of our favorite beers while we discuss general beer geekery and the advantages of American Craft Beer.  If this doesn't sound like fun you're crazy, because it is going to be fun, and all of you are invited, just show up at the Brewery and let us steer you in the right direction.

    And remember, if your not having fun with Craft Beer this week this guy will know:

    And you wouldn't want to make him frown would you?

    That is all for today good people.

    -JUICEBOX

     

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  • IT'S FRIDAY!

    TGIF my friends, TGIF.  And what does this Friday hold for you?  Well let me tell you, it holds some Graduation weekend at CSU, it holds a link to find all of your Tour de Fat queries, and it holds a picture of Burt Reynolds.

    So let's begin.  This is Graduation weekend here in Fort Collins and that spells mayhem in the Liquid Center.  All of our local college aged regulars will be stopping by the tasting room with people that look like them, only slightly older.  They will be showing their parents where they spent their free time leading up to college matriculation (you know, when not studying).  They will be wandering around the brewery, taking tours and tasting beer, and we will be helping commemorate their achievements with fun, games, tours, smiles and the miniature beers that they have grown accustomed to tasting.  It will be a mad house of laughs.  You too should come by, even if it took you 11 years to finish college before you finally graduated in 1992 (or even if college wasn't your choice), either way it's going to be really fun and remember, playing giant Connect Four and sipping a taster of Fat Tire is never a bad decision.

    The Tour de Fat is coming, the first date is only 5 short weeks away.  You can check out the whole schedule here, or you can get a taste of what's coming here, or you can see if trading your car and your commitment for a brand new bicycle is something you might be interested in.  But in the end the Tour de Fat is heading your way and the shenanigans are in tow.

     And they're being towed in this.  A lot of fun can fit in that trailer, and I hope you show up to enjoy it.

    Well that about wraps up today, but in closing I give you this:

     

    And with that good people I head into the office.

    -JUICEBOX

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  • Fruita is in the books and Sunshine Wheat tastes really good.

    Well it is Wednesday the 12th of May and here in the Fort Collins the snow is falling, winter just doesn't want to let go.  But move forward we must, so moving forward is what we will do.  This past weekend brought the annual 18 hours of Fruita bicycle race, and as you may know I participated in this event.  I made the foolhardy decision to go it alone in the solo category and the pain and tiredness is sticking around to prove it. So below is a little (read brief) recap of the event.

    It all started early on Friday, I was picked up by a loaded truck and trailer at 6AM.  5 of us proceeded towards the western slope.  Along the way we purchased lottery tickets for everyone, 4 lost, 1 won (a dollar).  This losing record could have been taken as a bad sign for the hard hours to come, but I took it as just another punch in a long string of punches that would land, through the weekend to come, in all parts of my body.  We then arrived at the race course following some delicious grub at the Hot Tomato and I set about resting.  I really wanted to be ready for the impending midnight start so laying down seemed like a good idea.  I was only on my feet for a minute to play a quick game of washers (VICTORY!) and also to witness this:

     

    (side note, not only did he walk away virtually unscathed from this failed back flip (back dive?), he went on to ride a lions share of laps (3 laps(a small lion))).

    Midnight arrived and I strapped on shoes and shorts and helmet and went about racing for the next 18 hours.  It was dusty and dark at first, then the cold set in. But I rode laps until the sun came up, then I found myself in deep, dark hole number one.  I needed a breakfast burrito and some words of encouragement but after a little time fireside I was back out there, riding bikes.  Three laps later things were getting weird and I was getting woozy and so I pedaled directly into deep, dark hole number two.  It happened pretty quick following the first hole, but it took much, much longer to shovel my way out.  The sun was out and my back hurt and at that point in the day laying in the grass was way more fun than riding bikes.  But after a quick massage from my wonderful bride and some whispered words of gentle motivation I pedaled onward for a few more laps.  During these laps I suffered a major mechanical failure (followed by a fantastic repair (thanks Bogan)), a few small emotional failures, and I ate maybe 50 Twizzlers licorice sticks.  Then 6pm happened and it was all over.  And I felt like I had just ridden my bike for a really long time.  Beers were consumed and tacos were eaten and I fell asleep fireside at 8:25PM.  13.5 hours of sleep followed and then I went home, and on my way home I enjoyed what is to this day the best Bloody Mary ever slurped threw these lips at the Peach Street Distillers in Palisades, Colorado (side note, also home-base of the best Gin ever (Jackelope Gin), I bought a bottle for home consumption).  When I got home I slept for another 14 hours.  And now, 4 days following race completion my knees hurt, my back is tired, I am still exhausted, but my spirit is very much alive and training for Fruita 2011 starts as soon as this snow melts.

    Now then let's proceed to how great Sunshine Wheat tastes.  It is really good, nice and sweet, citrusy and smooth.  Perfect for these summer days out in the hot sun.  If you follow the link to the Sunshine Wheat page you can find yourself a few awesome food pairing ideas as well (true for all the beer pages across the board at newbelgium.com).  But if French Brie isn't your cup of cheese, but you are still looking for a great food pairing with this wonderful wheat beer try Sunshine with a roller dog and a little classic yellow mustard, simply heaven.

    On that note my friends I am going back to figuring out how to bath in Ben-Gay,

    -JUICEBOX

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  • May is here and with it comes excitement.

    Around here (New Belgium HQ) May 1 is a date to be welcomed (and hugged, with vigor).  It carries a special weight that not all month starters carry.  And what I am talking about here is the release of our summer seasonal Skinny Dip.  This is a great time because the warmth of summer can be poured in after the cold dregs of winter are finally washed out from the bottom of the glass of life.  It is a great day people, let's celebrate. 

    And here at HQ when a new seasonal comes out (and we're in the mood for celebration) we get to enjoy some wonderful new art by everybody's favorite shadow box maker (and photo-shooter extraordinaire) John Johnston.  And this time around Mr. Johnston has out done himself again.  A couple of mornings ago he walked in with this:

    Absolutely beautiful.  Skinny Dip holds a special place in all of our hearts because of the good it can do, and this shadow box, as well as John Johnston (and many, many others) are all helping with this cause.  Check out the video for yourself and expand your horizons (maybe get involved):

     

    So Lets recap, Skinny Dip is out and you should drink some, all the while helping the Colorado River, the beer is nice and crisp, easy to drink, and (let us not forget) figure friendly, so we all can continue to shine come swimsuit (or sans swimsuit) season.

    Now then, let's look at these two fellows:

    seth and foos relaxing

    They are just relaxing in the wonderful garden off the back of the brewery, enjoying some wonderful New Belgium summer offerings (notice the Ranger IPA can (!)along with the glass of delicious looking beer).  These two are just sitting around talking about what the rest of the day might bring (thumb wrestling tournament? giant Jenga (who knows)) when BAM! they realize they are on a swing, so they set forth to the swinging, and the furthering day is no longer an issue:

    And can you see the summer enjoyment springing forth from the hearts and minds of these two friendlies, Fun has never looked so great.

    So on that note dear readers this JUICEBOX guy is heading for the hills.

    I'm out.

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  • Let's go to IOWA! (part 1 of 2).

    I know I have been talking about going to the micro-lab lately, and I know all of you have very much been looking forward to that, but interviews take time, biologists are busy, and this guy had a tip to IOWA! coming up.  So, in time we will all get into that lab, but for now we're going to IOWA!


    My day started early riding on down to DIA, and when I got there I was informed I would be flying out of concourse B.  Which is super lucky for me because concourse B is the home of the New Belgium Hub, partially pictured here:

    the hub

    Going to the airports only New Belgium themed bar was a nice start to my morning.  They have good food and New Belgium Beers abound.  I chewed on a  breakfast burrito paired right next to a Sunshine Wheat.  I know, it was pretty early, but man you can't just go into the New Belgium Hub and order an orange juice.  I felt that a beer was the right move, and a perfect pairing with a breakfast burrito smothered in the verde beauty that is green chili.  The spicy of the breakfast and citrusy of the beer prefer to run next to each other, holding hands and proclaiming, at the top of their lungs, the love that exists between them.  It all mixed well in the deep confines that is my gastrointestinal system.

    Then I got on this little, scary plane:

    the little plane

    It's not as if I am afraid to fly, but I prefer the safe (seeming) environs of a larger, bulkier plane.  This was a sleek commuter jet, two rows of seats on one side, and one on the other, this is a plane meant for more experienced travelers.  And with a front coming in behind us (notice the dark and forboding clouds hanging in the air) there was some wind blowing and some stomach dropping, as well as the breakfast burrito and Sunshine Wheat threatening to re-emerge, again proclaiming their love for each other (albeit in a paper bag with an untrustworthy closure clasp).  But alas, I made it to IOWA! unscathed.

     Walking out of the terminal I see Cheeze waiting for me.  Cheeze is the IOWA! Beer Ranger and my host for the coming days.  He is really good at his job and has a funny nickname, so he is kind of a double threat guy.  Upon leaving the airport we head over towards his lovely home to pick up some bicycles for riding and start his sales route through  Cedar Rapids.  Cedar Rapids (henceforth CR) has a convienient and highly trafficked bicycle path through town and we used it to ride about town stopping in at bars and restaurants for quality checks on existing beer lines as well as attempting to sell in more beer lines.  We succeeded in all of it.  The quality was assured and the new Ranger IPA handles are rolling out quickly. After a few stops we ended up here:

    SOCCER!

    On top of a great beer selection (Ranger IPA I'm looking at you), and a wonderful edible called a Scotch Egg, they also have a large sign out front displaying their affinity towards soccer.  Upon going into the bar I realized that this huge sign saying only "soccer" meant that they had a whole mess of TV's playing different international soccer matches (not games, but matches) as well as a decor almost completely dedicated to their favorite international soccer stars, their teams, and jerseys.  A huge English Soccer bar right in the center Cedar Rapids, IOWA!  Who knew?  This was a great surprise that IOWA! offered, and I have come to feel that CR is a totally awesome place, full of bunches of lovely, little surprises.

    But back to the bike ride.  We were heading down the trail towards more bars and restaurants when we happened upon this sign:

    sign

    What happens if you are a truck driver and and you have a very important load (maybe this, or this) and a truck already went over the bridge? What do you do?  Go around I guess.  After wondering about the sign for a few minutes and trying to make sense of it Cheeze then suggested getting back to the task at hand, work.  We hit some really nice places, swabbed tap nozzles (checking for cleanliness), checked best by dates on bottle and kegs, rotated stock, and delved into more quality assurance.  After a few QA stops we started to think about what CR had to offer in the dinner department.  And gyros were decided on.  It was at this point that work time stopped and play time started.  Although, to me, it seemed about the same.  We went to a few bars, drank some Fat Tires, ate some food and talked to people about how great it is to have New Belgium selling beers in IOWA!  Then the lawn darts started.  Lawn Darts were pulled from the market place (related to (possibly real) safety concerns) years ago, so how did we play this great, but dangerous game you may ask?  Well the fine folks over at  IT games made a video game version of the real life game, and let me tell you, I dominate.  I may be better at virtual Lawn Darts than I am at real life Lawn Darts, which is hard to do, because I am awesome at real life Lawn Darts.  Cheeze did not see this coming and in the end I beat him badly and repeatedly.

    Upon realizing the late hour at hand Cheeze and I decided to retire (and I don't think he could take anymore punishment at virtual Lawn Darts), so I headed to the hotel and he towards home.  Day one was over.  And with the conclusion of day one I conclude the first part of Let's Go To IOWA!

    Tune in soon, for part two is in the making, and with it we will see more Ranger IPA, IOWA! City, and lunch with the one and only RL Bennett.

    -JUICEBOX

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  • THAT DAY! is here. And it's today!

    Well it's time to break out the shades and cut your jeans into jean shorts (it sure ain't January anymore), because today in Fort Collins is THAT DAY!  THAT DAY! is a wonderful holiday brought to my attention by some friends that celebrate it every year.  The beauty of this particular holiday is that you never know when it's coming (and it can vary dramatically depending on where you live).  But it happens when the weather reports have been poured over and the doplar has been checked and re-checked, we all know it's going to be awesome, then Hugh (he lives in Omaha (and from what I understand amateur meteorology is his passion)) calls it.  And last night Hugh decided (with some local imput (thank you Katy et al.)) that Fort Collins THAT DAY! was going to be today.  And It is today friends that we finally get to forget that winter even happened.  Let the celebrating begin, because the Fort Collins today looks like this:

    THAT DAY

    But in order to celebrate you need to know how to celebrate.  From what I understand, on THAT DAY!, all of us have to ditch out on work early, grab a sixer of your favorite beer (my favorite is Mighty Arrow (that could be your favorite also)), and head out-of-doors.  Do your favorite outside activity and have a good time enjoying the weather.  Now I understand that the first day out in direct sunlight can be a bit shocking to your system, but know this people, it will be worth it.  Today we hang out in the sun, maybe make some new friends, and drink beer for all of it.  It truly is something special.

    And to my dear readers outside of the front range of Colorado area, know that  this is your holiday too.  Maybe it already happened for the year (if that is the case use today as a belated celebration), or if you live someplace that THAT DAY! hasn't happened yet know this, it will come, and when it does celebrate until rainbows start pouring out of you ears. 

    So let's crank it to eleven today because the warm times are upon us, and winter (the twenty-ten edition) is a mere memory.  Come together on this day friends and let the sun know that we love the way it feels shining on our smiling faces.

    -Happy THAT DAY! everybody,

    juicebox

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