Wednesday, September 27, 2006


There’s this family of free regional beer newspapers that come out 6-12 times a year which are invaluable for the beer snob. There’s THE CELEBRATOR on the West Coast, ALE STREET NEWS on the east, neither of which are affiliated with the aforementioned family of papers. The one I get to regularly check out from that bunch is called NORTHWEST BREWING NEWS, and for the most part, it’s a welcome addition to my addiction. The paper covers and is distributed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Northern California, with a heavy and understandable emphasis on the first two states. Like The Celebrator, they have individual writers assigned to the beer beat in a given state, and their columns will focus on the comings & goings of various craft breweries, as well as new offerings. The paper also does a good job at educating the layperson in beer styles – each issue contains a tasting of one or more given styles, with recommendations for top picks. I guess all beer mags do this now, including ALL ABOUT BEER (which I’ll write about another time), and it’s invaluable, even if the sample size in any tasting is extremely limited to who provided freebies or what was available in that area.

The August/September issue focused on pairing food with beer and on the symbiotic relationship between beer and coffee, a very Northwest thing to write about. It is prognosticated in some parts of this issue that coffee is actually about to undergo a small-batch craft revolution much the way beer did 15 years ago. Color me skeptical. Coffee does not nearly have the ground to make up that beer did in this country 15 years ago, since good-to-great coffee is available everywhere, and yeah, I’m talking about Starbucks, among others. But the folksy tone of this paper and the raw enthusiasm for furthering the growth of incredible beer is infectious. The only sour streak is this awful column called “The Beer Bitch”, which is this pseudo-sexual, S&M-ish column that’s barely about beer and is pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve read in ages. I sincerely hope it is expunged in a hurry. This paper is ad-supported, but they do accept subscriptions, and it’s quite reasonable - $17 for a year. Either that or look for it in bars or specialty beer stores every other month, and I recommend that ya do.

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