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The Open Bar Archives

The Open Bar – Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Sample Pack

Editor's Note: Another semi-regular feature starting up here. “The Open Bar” will focus on all the wonderful drinking options FBMers should avail themselves of.

This spring Sierra Nevada Brewing Company will release their twelve-pack sampler “Beer Camp”. This year, however will be a bit different. 

The Chico, California brewery invited some of America's best breweries to join them and collaborate on twelve individual beers that highlighted each's best qualities. 

The result was “Beer Camp Across America”, one of the most innovative and amazing sampler packs ever. Those in the SA distribution network (which includes most of the U.S.) will have to chance to sample many breweries that were once only obtainable via trade or long roadtrip. The project is the perfect symbol of the anti-competitive, pro-collaboration world of craft beer. 

The list of breweries and beers they made for “Beer Camp”:

Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME – Belgian-Style Pale Ale 
Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, CA – India Pale Lager
Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI – Imperial Dark Ale
Cigar City Brewing, LLC, Tampa, FL – Tropical Mai Bock
Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA – Hoppy Pilsner
New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI – English Style Bitter
Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, OR – Coffee Milk Stout
Oskar Blues Brewing Company, Longmont, CO – Rye Bock
Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA – Beligan-Style Blonde
Three Floyds Brewing, LLC, Munster, IN – Pale Ale
Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA – Altbier
Local brewing community in Asheville, NC – Scottish Ale

Sierra Nevada has partnered with a dozen exceptional craft breweries to create 12 different beers for one mixed 12-pack – including 10 bottles and two cans – another first in the craft beer world. The Beer Camp Across America 12-pack will be available throughout the U.S. this summer.

More information about the process, a beer festival in seven U.S. cities, and details for each beer can be found at:

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – Pliny: A Documentary

Of course you've always wanted to know more about the “best beer in the world”. Meet Russian River Brewing Company's “Pliny the Younger”.

Served just once a year at the Russian River Brew Pub in Santa Rosa, CA; it is the highly sought after triple IPA version of RR's double IPA “Pliny the Elder”.

Viewer beware….watching this only made us want this Pliny more than ever.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar, Video

The Open Bar – Pop Chart Lab Free Beer Contest

Pop Chart Lab, the makers of some pretty cool beer art (Breweries of the United States, Breweries of Europe, and many more ) is giving away free beer!

Two hundred free beers, in fact! You just have to purchase one of the beer-related posters or shirts to be entered to win a bottle/can of every beer on their work, the “Very Many Varieties of Beer”.

Details below, but head over to Pop Chart Lab and get yourself or another beer-lover in your family an awesome Christmas present.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – How to Make a Pumpkin Keg

This “how to” video brings a whole new meaning to pumpkin beer.

Why wait for your local craft brewery to come out with a pumpkin seasonal when you can create your own?


Tags: Beer, The Open Bar, Video

The Open Bar – Pop Chart Lab’s “Breweries of Europe” Poster

Photo Credit: Pop Chart Labs

If you've got any space left on your walls at your home or office this new poster by Pop Chart Labs is a must have. From the creators of the “Breweries of the United States” comes an even more daunting task, identifying and locating a continent's worth of some of the world's famous breweries. Much like the U.S. version, the European map is not meant to be comprehensive, but is certainly meant to include the most well-known breweries of the European world.

From the description over at Pop Chart Lab:

“The world's most comprehensive mapping of the breweries and abbeys of the European continent, this print measures in at over seven square feet and features nearly 1,000 breweries, from craft to macro and everything in between.”

The photo above doesn't do the poster justice. Click through to view an interactive version of the poster for a much closer look.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – The Growler Car Seat

No worries, America…. you're growler needs are now covered. Meet the “Growler On Board” aka the “Beverage Transportation Unit” capable of securing your most precious cargo…. your beer. The BTU can hold three standard growlers and even has the ability to be buckled in your front seat (barring any local laws about alcohol, open or closed, being in the reach of the driver). For $30 it seems like a pretty good investment for something a priceless as a quality craft beer from your local brew pub.

More Info:

The Beer Transport Unit (BTU) by Growler On Board is designed specifically with spill & damage free transportation in mind. No more worrying about having your growlers rolling around in your backseat, floor, or trunk! BTUs hold your growler and its contents in an upright position, eliminating the chance of them colliding or breaking. No more using cardboard boxes, baby seats, towels, or whatever else you find to secure your growlers for the drive home.
The BTU's are made of low density foam, giving it the insulation properties similar to a can koozie.  Delivering your growler to your destination at cold & ready to drink (within reason). Talk about brewery fresh!

•Holds standard 1/2 gallon growlers, as well as 2L swing top style growlers with handles.
•Made of low density foam making it light enough to carry with filled growlers, and retain insulation qualities similar to a can cozy.
•Place on floor, trunk or seat. For extra peace of mind secure with seatbelt, although we have found it not to be necessary.
•1.4″ holes in the bottom of each cavity make for convenient drying of growlers when properly washed & rinsed.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – A Handful of IPAs We’ve Had and You Should Too

Today is #IPADay, a social media driven craft beer holiday intended for beer drinkers to try out the style, embibe a few old favorites, or go out on a limb and try a new India Pale Ale they've never had. It's a celebration of the most popular style of craft beer in the United States and a day to revel in the incredible growth of craft beer in America.

Not everyone is crazy about IPAs. For many the taste is too hoppy, too bold, too bitter, but IPA Day is that day to give them another shot. It's probably less likely that you don't like IPAs and more likely you just haven't found the perfect IPA for you.

Here are a handful of India Pale Ales that we've hand in our FBM lives that we really feel like you should have too. This isn't meant to be a definitive list of “the best” IPA or a list of IPAs that will appeal to everyone… just good old fashion fun and appreciation of the style. There are most certainly loads of great ones we've had this year that didn't make this list as well.

As always we'd love to hear back from the FBM community as to what your personal favorite IPAs are. Leave 'em in the comments section.

Bell's Brewing “Two Hearted” IPA

Location: Comstock, Michigan

ABV: 7%

Hops: Centennial

They say: “Bell's Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.”

Russian River Brewing Company “Pilny the Elder” Double IPA

Location: Santa Rosa, California

ABV: 8%

Hops: Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops

They say: “Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. It is well-balanced with malt, hops, and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus

, and pine. Best enjoyed FRESH! That is why we make it in such limited supply. Actual bottling date is printed on each bottle!

Where did we come up with this name? Back in the year 2000, our friend, Vic Kralj, who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California, decided to have his first ever Double IPA festival. Vic invited 10 breweries, 6 of whom (including us) had to brew something special for him since we had nothing that would fall under this style category. Vinnie had made a Double IPA at Blind Pig in 1994, but was not brewing one at Russian River Brewing at the time. He had an idea for the recipe, but not a name. After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”. Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews!

Pliny the Elder was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. while rescuing people. Cheers to the scholar, historian, officer, writer, and Roman Naturalist- Pliny the Elder!”

Three Floyds Brewing Company “Apocolyse Cow” IPA

Location: Munster, Indiana

ABV: 11%


They say: “This complex double India pale ale has an intense citrus and floral hop aroma balanced by a velvety malt body which has been augmented with lactose milk sugar. With this different take on an IPA we have brewed an ale that is both pleasing to drink and, once again, “not normal.”

Austin Beer Works “Fire Eagle” American IPA

Location: Austin, Texas

ABV: 6.4%

Hops: Summit, Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo

They say: “Flavor swoops in (cue EAGLE SCREAM), grabs you by the face and flies you through the hop rainbow. At the peak of the ride it swoops back to earth and gently drops you back on your bar stool where you are refreshed, excited and ready to ride again. It’s hoppy, bold and American.”

Bear Republic Brewing Company “Hop Rod” Rye IPA

Location: Hearldsburg, California

ABV: 8%


They say: “A high gravity IPA brewed with 18% rye malt. Hop Rod Rye has a floral hop aroma and subtle caramel notes with a slightly earthy and spicy rye character.”

Stone Brewing Company “Sublimely Self-Rightious” Black IPA

Location: Escondido, California

ABV: 8.7%

Hops: Chinook, Simcoe & Amarillo

They say: “We're brewers whose substantial mettle and idiomatic approach to brewing allows us to consistently create works of art such as this justifiably self-righteous ale. Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale. Yes, we damn well know our stuff here at Stone, and it would be irresponsible of us not to acknowledge how remarkable this heavenly creation of ours is. Thus the name we are compelled to give it — Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale — serves as a reminder of just how good we are, in both liquid and verbal form.

We're certainly not perfect. Too often, we allow our modesty to get the best of us as we're simply not inclined towards senseless braggadocio. When you're good, you're good. And when you do something great, the least you can do is acknowledge it. Others benefit from knowing. In this case, we find that we are compelled to point out how amazing this ale is that we rightly call the Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

First brewed in 2007 as the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, this ale was an instant hit. With us. Other folks with great taste loved it too, but we were focused on how much we liked it, and we felt it was truly sublime. That euphoria didn't last long though, as it was soon replaced with the grim reality that when we sold out of it there wouldn't be any more. For us. And that was simply unacceptable. So, we are now blessing ourselves, and you the enlightened, with this ale. Thusly, you may now revel in your own self-righteousness as you see fit with this glorious example of ours. You are genuinely welcome, as it is our pleasure.”

Victory Brewing Company “Yakima Glory” Black IPA

Location: Downington, Pennsylvania

ABV: 8.7%

Hops: Yakima

They say: “The tenacious grip of big, juicy hop aroma and character slides smoothly into rich, dark malts. This heavyweight battle between fresh, Yakima Valley hops and dark, roasted malts is resolved harmoniously as the flavors merge to deliver complex satisfaction with a warming edge. Bask in the “glory”­ of the bright and brassy hops!”

Deschutes Brewing Company “Red Chair” NWPA

Location: Bend, Oregon

ABV: 6.2%

Hops: Cascade, Cenntenial

They say: “The citrus punch of a big IPA, minus the one-dimensional hop sledgehammer. Seven select European and domestic malts round out the edges for a complex, copper-colored brew. Like its namesake ski lift, it’s an insider’s ride to fresh thrills.”

Six Point Brewing Company “Resin” Double IPA

Location: Brooklyn, New York

ABV: 9.1%


They say: “A beer that celebrates the extraction of hop resin for a concentrated yet balanced brew.”

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery “60 Minute” IPA

Location: Milton, Deleware

ABV: 6%


They say: “60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped — more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. (Getting a vibe of where the name came from?)

60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!”

Surly Brewing Company “Furious” IPA

Location: Brooklyn Center, Minnestoa

ABV: 6.5%

Hops: Warrior, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Amarillo

They say: “A tempest on the tongue, or a moment of pure hop bliss? Brewed with a dazzling blend of American hops and Scottish malt, this crimson-hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee. For those who favor flavor, Furious has the hop-fire your taste buds have been screeching for.”

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – Breweries of the United States Poster from Pop Chart Lab

UPDATE: We've sent an email to the creators of the poster to alert them to the numerous errors we and members of “Beerit” have spotted on the poster. They've suspended production of the print until they've re-done the whole thing. Thanks to everyone here and on Reddit for the help in making this one of the most comprehensive craft brewery posters in the United States.

If you're not already clicking through to buy this we'll just assume it's because you're stunned at its beauty and need a second.

“Pop Chart Lab”, the makers of other awesome beer art like “The Many Varieties of Beer” (t-shirt or print) or the sold out “Breweries of Colonial America” has just released “Breweries of the United States, a massive seven square foot masterpiece of craft beer (and macros) in America.

Last week we learned that craft breweries in the U.S. broke 2,000 and so a few here and there might be missing, but such a project is always going to have a few hiccups and be dated.

Head over to “Pop Chart Lab's” site and you can zoom on the map and see all the little dots and breweries in detail.

Check out all the great FBM gear in our “Swag Store”.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – American Craft Beer Week (May 14-20)

For those long-time readers and followers of the Free Beer Movement you've probably figured out that we're pretty big advocates of not only American soccer, but American craft beer. It's not that we don't partake in the consumption of the Millers, Budweisers, and the Coors of the world.. it's just that as we want more from our sporting experience we also want more from our imbibing experiencing.

The Brewers Association feels the same way and that's why in 2006 they created “American Craft Beer Week” to promote and celebrate the beauty that are craft beers, the breweries that make them, and the establishments that serve them. Cities across the nation host “beer weeks” to highlight craft beer and local bars and this is supposed to be “the mother of all beer weeks”. According to BA over 1,500 official events in 50 states were held in 2011.

For 2012 “American Craft Beer Week” is going to be even bigger. On the BA website you can search for events near you and also by specific brewery. Even if there are only a few events (or none at all) listed in your city definitely hit up the web to search for unlisted or unoffical events. Or contact your local brewery or craft beer bar to check.

Lastly, do yourself a favor and download a copy of the “Declaration of Beer Independence”

The Declaration of Beer Independence has been an integral part of American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) since 2009. It has been signed and shared by tens of thousands of passionate and thirsty beer lovers, hung on the walls of brewery tap rooms across the country, and even carried through the halls of Congress. It also can be seen on display in forward thinking retail establishments, further confirming the importance of diversity in the beer marketplace.

At the very least grab yourself a few six packs and celebrate with some craft beers this week. When you're watching soccer this weekend treat those newbies to the same in your home, at a bar, or your next tailgate.


Check out all the great FBM gear in our “Swag Store“.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – Build Your Own Keezer (aka Chest Freezer Kegerator)

Now this is a must-make for any craft beer enthuiast. Whether it's your own homebrew or you're picking up a couple of kegs to keep at home. Just imagine this baby working at full-tilt when you invite your friends, family, and/or co-workers for a little Free Beer Movement action in front of some soccer?

Northern Brewer, one of the nation's largest homebrewing supply retailers put together this little how-to video so you can build a kegerator from a chest freezer. Why a chest freezer, you ask?

Why not have more than one beer? A chest freezer will afford you the space you need for several brews on tap.

Check out all the great FBM gear in our “Swag Store”.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – This Cinco de Mayo Celebrate with a Golazo-rita

Stop. Just stop right there.

No, “Cinco de Mayo” is not Mexican Independence Day. That's September 16th; celebrating the day in 1810 that Father Miguel Hildalgo gave his “Grito de Dolores” that launched the Mexican Revolution and overthrew Spain.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army's defeat of French forces under Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Puebla is all over this, but it's not even a federal holiday in Mexico.

History lesson over.

If you're going to drink today… and we know you are…. there's no sense in settling for some piss poor, cheap Mexican lager. And surely we're about American craft beer, but we can make an exception for today.

We'd recommend an American twist on a Mexican favorite, the margarita, with a “Golazo-rita”.

We're making our mixed drink with the Seattle-based Golazo Energy and gone with the Major League Soccer sponsor el Jimador for our tequila.


1.5 oz Major League Sponsored el Jimador tequila
1/2 a lime
.5 oz Orange Liqueur
A squeeze of agave nectar
3 oz of Golazo

Muddle lime. Add ice, Tequila, liqueur, and agave. Shake. Serve over ice and add Golazo.

For more information about Golazo…check out their website at:

Check out all the great FBM gear in our “Swag Store”.

Tags: The Open Bar

The Open Bar – Now You Can Plan Your Ultimate Brewery Roadtrip

Last week the Brewers Association released their list of “Top 50 Craft Breweries in America of 2011” (based on sales volume) to much fanfare. Your top five remaines unchanged from last year including: Boston Beer Co (Samuel Adams), Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, The Gambrinus Company (Bridgeport, Shiner, Pete's Wicked), and Deschutes.

Of the top 50, thirty six are small, independent craft brewing. Another fun fact? In the last fifteen years, craft beer has increases its market share from one percent to over six percent. 

Facts and figures are all fun and games, but really you're wondering… “How the heck can I get to all of these mini-beer heavens?

Wonder no more.

An enterprising beer writer (with a bit too much time on her hands) put each of the top 50 into Google Maps so you can see the spread of these breweries nations-wide. More importantly though….

Photo Credit: Heather Vandenengel for Dig Boston

Road trip!

Heading over to the Google Map you can click on any of the 50 breweries and get directions from where you are to where you need to be, like yesterday.

Stop wasting time. Quit your job and get on the road.

Check out all the great FBM gear in our “Swag Store”.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – Washington Post’s Beer Bracket

Photo Credit: Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST 


The Washington Post held a beer-tasting competition in conjunction with March Madness called “Beer Madness” that features 32 beers from 32 breweries across the United States in four categories: “crisp”, “fruit and spice”, “hop”, and “roast”.

Click here to see all the beers (featured above) and below to see the Post's interview with the host about how the competition works.


Side Note: Back in 2007 the FBM held a 64 beer bracket challenge for a bachelor party. The final four? New Glarus (WI) “Naked”, Lakefront (WI) “Riverwest Stein” Amber Lager, Lagunitas (CA) IPA, and Acme (CA) Pale Ale. Held in Milwaukee, WI, it was definitely biased towards homestate brews and our tastes have evolved even further. But we basically wanted to mention that we purchase and drank from 64 six-packs in one night. Phew….

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Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

The Open Bar – el Jimador Soccer-Specific Tequila


Editor's Note: Another semi-regular feature starting up here. “The Open Bar” will focus on all the wonderful drinking options FBMers should avail themselves of.

Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer's official tequila sponsor is launching a set of soccer-specific tequila bottles. Coming in February el Jimador will sell branded bottles of MLS, the U.S. National Teams, and the Mexican National Team.

From the press release:

“For those aficionados looking for an extra special way to celebrate the sport and prepare for the next MNT match, Mexico’s No. 1 selling tequila presents a series of el Jimador Commemorative Soccer bottles, available in stores February 2012. As the official tequila sponsor of Major League Soccer (MLS), the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams and the annual U.S. Tour of the Mexican National Team, the brand will distribute the packaging once a year for a limited two-month period, to kick off the soccer season. The 750ml bottles will be available in all three expressions – Blanco, Reposado and Añejo – and will feature soccer ball motifs blended with the brand’s iconic graphic designs, and highlight the Mexican Soccer, U.S. Soccer and MLS logos.”

Obviously we're more of the beer-persuasion, but partial to a few quality margaritas here and there.

So if you're around in February 2012 and looking to support a brand that supports soccer in America (and Mexico) then grab a bottle of el Jimador.

UPDATE: We stopped by the liquor store to check when they'd have the new el Jimador bottles in stock. Our guy told us probably the second week in February. They had a el Jimador display set up with a soccer ball in it, but with the regular bottles. Stay tuned.

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Tags: The Open Bar