Friday, June 30, 2006


As discussed previously in these pages, STONE BREWING from Escondido, CA are hot hot hot right about now, routinely making their way into every beer connoisseur’s Top 10 lists and beer cellars, popping up on taps and in speciality stores the nation over, and winning awards hand over fist at the various festivals across the US. I’m pretty late to the Stone party, having only had my second example of their wares – the outstanding 9TH ANNIVERSARY ALE – just a couple of months ago. A little over a week ago I returned, this time with my hyper-critical beer blogging eye and my “rating notebook” in hand, to the only other Stone product I’d previously consumed, the much-heralded ARROGANT BASTARD ALE, which I believe is their “flagship brand”. This is classified as an “American Strong Ale”, to which I say, “isn’t it indeed”. It comes up really bold and upfront with hops like you wouldn’t believe, but also with a sweetness and all-around fresh taste that is just too great for words. Its dark amber color has you thinking it’s going to be like a bitter Belgian dubbel, but instead you get this curveball fruit taste and a rich, pleasing hop-based scent. Maybe some caramel going on as well. I don’t know, it’s real strong drink and probably not something you’d want to throw back over and over, but as a one-off this is one of the finest beers I’ve enjoyed this month – this year even! 9/10!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


My “beer sensei”, the gentleman who taught a beer appreciation class last year that was so enlightening it gave rise to this blog, had one bit of particularly nasty criticism that he leveled early and often throughout the class: that New York City was “the worst beer city in the United States”. Per capita, and based on my experiences in NY to that date, I had to admit at the time that there was probably something to his strong and surly words of condemnation. Now it just so happens in my line of work that I get “called away” reasonably often to that fine city, and I reckon in the past 18 months I’ve made at least ten different visits to New York. I made a vow recently that on future trips I was going to “go deep” into the City’s beer culture and sample every microbrewery in town (all 3 of ‘em!) and find the pubs that would shine a light of personal experience on my sensei’s assertions.

Two weeks ago I sprang into action at the HEARTLAND BREWERY at 51st and 6th, right across from Radio City Music Hall. I will say that I actually tried Heartland a few months before this but was so hungry at the time of my 9:30pm dinner that the beer was a quenching afterthought only, but if I remember anything from that visit it was that their chicken pasta was actually damn good. Good food at a brewery? Are you kidding me? I chalked it up to being famished and figured that was that. Don’t even remember what beers I ordered. Now I’ve got a blog to take care of and a readership in the low dozens, so I HAD to take notes this time. Let me say this – Heartland Brewery’s cooks have got it going on. For less than $20, which is exceptionally infrequent in New York, you can get a steak dinner with a fine, juicy piece of meat & mashed potatoes that taste like mama made ‘em. Soggy vegetables? No way man, Heatland’s grilling up asparagus spears like they’re in the South of France and the whole family’s coming for Easter dinner. OK, so I exaggerate a bit, but I can’t tell you how many mediocre-to-godawful brewery meals I’ve suffered through in order to enjoy quality beer – no doubt you have many tales to tell on that end as well.

So it was disheartening to say the least that of the 3 Heartland beers I tried, all 3 were varying shades of blah, with one being tolerable in the right circumstances. First up was their INDIA PALE ALE, the beer snob’s brew of choice. It was a far cry from the MAGIC HAT IPA I had just two days later – duff, lifeless and lacking any kind of hop-laced zing at all. I gave it a 4/10 and figured anyone can make a bad beer, let’s move on. Next up was the one they were flogging all over the restaurant, the SUMMERTIME APRICOT ALE. This was better for sure, but again, how could something with the promise of the tart/sweet apricot be so bereft of any kind of hops or complex malts to balance it out? I gave it a 5.5/10 but that seems too generous. Guess I was in a summery mood or just excited to be in New York. Finally, looking for redemption, I ordered up the FARMER JON’S OATMEAL STOUT. Why, this one actually won medals at the “Great American Beer Festival” in 1995, 1997 and 1999 – that wasn’t too long ago, was it? Afraid so. This was the worst of the bunch, a barely-drinkable dry concoction of dark black water and alcohol that left me sad and dejected. I “awarded” this beer a 3.5/10, which is dangerously close to Miller Genuine Draft country and is definitely my personal signal to “never order this one again” (I keep a list, you know). So I feel like I gave the Heartland Brewery a pretty good college try, but I came up short on game day. This is, let it be said, a “chain brewery”, but I don’t remember being this disappointed in beer at the ROCK BOTTOM BREWERY in Cincinnati, Ohio last year. Ah, Cincinnati! A story for another day!

Monday, June 26, 2006


Had heard some positive things about the FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING Co. from Paso Robles, CA, but if this one's any indication of their dedication to making a top-end, special microbrew then all bets are off. Their FIRESTONE DOUBLE BARREL ALE is advertised as an American Amber, and that may be true, but I swear it tastes like a macrobrewery trying to "go micro" rather than the other way around. In other words, if you've ever tried concoctions like "Budweiser Hefeweizen" or "Coors Amber Bock" (making the names up, you know what I mean), this Firestone beer's in roughly the same class. It has a brownish-orange color and a sort of caramel-ish taste, but it truly tasted like a tarted-up Bud to me. No complexity, no hops, no future, baby. And look at that label - doesn't that look like something that every Tom, Dick & Harry would be hauling off the liquor store fridge shelves, right next to the "Keystone" and the "Rolling Rock". These fellas are going pro in a big way - and that's no sin, I will defend both Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada to my dying days -- but unless they've got some heavyweight beers hiding behind this marginal "American Amber" (come on!), I'm keeping a wary and distrusting eye on 'em. 4.5/10.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


This one looked awfully intriguing calling from the shelves, what with a happy 'lil gnome on the label and the words "dobbelen" (double), "IPA" (IPA") and "Tripel" (the famous hop-heavy Belgian beer style). Well folks, it was. It came shooting out of the bottle into the glass like a sugared-up 7-year-old at SplashWorld water park, and the head it surrendered was something to behold. In the glass I'd estimate it was about 1/4 beer, 3/4ths foam, and even a mouthful o' foam tasted real, real good while I waited for it to settle. Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel is a product of the Brasserie d'Achouffe in Belgium, and it appears that all of their labels features this gnomic character. I wonder what he makes of the 9% ABV on this thing. What made this one better and perhaps more drinkable than a lot of the American Double IPAs is the fact that it gives off more of a fruit/floral taste to counteract the hops, and unlike overpowering drinks like MOYLANS' excellent Hopsicle, this isn't a cloudy, impenetrable beer. It looks like it tastes - simple, sweet, and robust. I gave it a 7/10 and marveled at how many likely fantastic Belgian beers there are left to enjoy and evaluate - just those imported to the United States alone will keep me busy for a couple years.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Pull up a stool at a 40+-taphouse in the US, attend a domestic microbrewed beer festival, look at the faces shown partying in any Celebrator, Northwest Brewing News or Ale Street News, and you’ll see the biggest collection of pasty white faces this side of the Kennebunkport High girls’ field hockey squad. I should know – I have one myself. But to broach the delicate subject of race and craft beer consumption, one must be willing to ask if there are indeed subtle palate differences between the races that make it so, or if it’s just something of an unfortunate outreach issue that the microbreweries haven’t tackled yet. I don’t know. Asian friends are the first to tell me that Asians often don’t do too well with too many drinks – and yet in Japan, beer culture and especially sake culture are rampant. Every salaryman is out on the town with his co-workers 5 nights a week slamming the alcohol down, and sure, it might be Sapporo or Kirin or Asahi or whatever, but it’s beer just the same. Anyway, microbrewery culture is not about the quantity consumed but the quality & craft of the 1-2 or 3 pints taken in on any given evening. So where are the Asian faces at said bars and events? I dunno.

Folks of a Middle Eastern persuasion, I can understand. They’re typically not at the cocktail bars or wine bars in droves either. Latin Americans? Not sure – could be a clinging love for the cold, refreshing beers of their hot, blast furnace of a homeland, rather than the complex and often acquired taste of a microbrew. What about African-Americans? Well, let’s think about it this way. The beer that I and those of you reading this blog have fallen for has its roots in Germany, Belgium, the UK and surrounding areas. European areas. White areas. Black people did not live in those areas 100-700 years ago (those that did were certainly not there of their own accord), and thus had no wide exposure to it until it popped up and started to spread quickly in America around – jeez, what, 15-20 years ago? Those of us with English, German, Dutch etc. roots, well, I’d be hard-pressed to say that there’s a natural inborn palate for the stuff – otherwise Australians would be cranking out great beer now, and Americans would have done so far earlier than we did – but maybe drinking European-style craft beer is a sort of solidarity with the motherland in some sort of semi-conscious way. African-Americans, lacking said inborn connection, stick to drinking something closer to home for them personally. There are undoubtedly class issues at play (below-poverty-line white Americans aren’t buying Anchor Steam any more than below poverty-line black Americans), and who knows, maybe some physiological ones as well. I just know that in a diverse state like California, being in a room with 100 people, with 99 of them typically being whiter than white, is a pretty goddamn jarring thing. Sounds like some clever marketers have some untapped market issues to think about.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


It’s beginning to look like specialty, microbrewed craft beer is entering another heyday in the United States, the second renaissance since the initial early 90s explosion that brought great beer and microbreweries to American towns hither and yon. I haven’t collected all the evidence yet, but the leading indicators are the growth of the “gastropub”, complete with beer sommeliers (of which New York’s Cafe D'Alsace is only the most recent example); the stats that keep pouring out showing this is still the fastest-growing segment of the beer market; the megabuck purchases of small microbreweries like Blue Moon by macrobreweries like Coors (remember this was going on a bunch in the early 90s too, during craft beer’s first strike into the heartland); and the opening of amazing new beer-only stores like San Francisco’s CITY BEER. Can you imagine supporting an entire business made up of sales to beer snobs alone? Craig Wathen can. He’s created a palace of beer at 1168 Folsom Street, between 7th and 8th. I just had to pay a visit last Friday, and not only did it exceed my expectations (you can drink there!), but Craig turned out to be a pretty stand-up guy. He’s an army of one at this place, and he’s turned a longtime passion for high-end beer into a true community resource where others can catch the bug too. It’s got chairs, couches, beer on tap (6 ounces only at a time, due to weird-ass liquor laws), and Craig’ll even tap a bottle of anything in the store for you for a dollar. He’s open until 9 or 10 most nights, so I expect this to become the San Francisco beer dork hangout of choice when the Toronado gets to be a bit much.

I’m going to write more about City Beer if Craig accepts my request for an interview, but for now – highly recommended that you check this place out if you’re around town.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


As mentioned yesterday, AP did an excellent story on the rise of beer blogs and highlighted some of the best out there, as well as ours. Thanks to Otis Hart for the boost - and you can read the whole thing right here.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Summer is icomen in and that means the wheat beer's getting pushed like never before. I'm comfortable enough in my manhood to fess up that I've always loved this style, hot weather or no, and this past weekend I was able to try 2 new ones I'd never experimented with. First, and you'll laff at this one, but Hedonist Beer Jive was interviewed by the Associated Press (!!!) for a nationwide, syndicated article about beer blogs. I'm flattered, or course, and I guess this blog's going to be the centerpiece of the thing, as AP even sent a photographer out to snap my picture at my local pub last Friday. Who knows, it may even run today, so check your local paper (you know they buy all their content from the AP anyway, right?). So the guy asks me where we should meet and I chose the Valley Tavern in San Francisco's Noe Valley 'hood. He says, "you gotta order a beer, and you gotta pretend I'm not sitting here taking 700 fast-frame photos of you while you drink it". So I bellied up & picked something called BLUE MOON BELGIAN WHITE. That's "white" as in "wheat", I guess. The friendly lady behind the bar even threw a slice of orange in there, wasn't that nice? Well, as I was drinking it I found myself wondering about something I'd read about the Memphis-based BLUE MOON BREWING company, but I couldn't quite put my noggin around it - now, looking on the "World Wide Web", I remembered - they were bought by Coors (hisssss!!!). But I'm not a guy who lets externalities interfere with my beer consumption, so let's just cut to the quick. This beer was fantastic. So crisp, incredibly smooth, and just the right amount of citrus flavor to give the tongue a good ride. It's exactly what I want in a wheat beer, and it's definitely more on the beer conoisseur side of the great drinking pendulum than the "turn it loose with the Silver Bullet" side. Coors, I guess, didn't tamper with this fine brewery's wares, and it shows. Give me more of this any day. 8.5/10!

On the other hand, there's this SUNSHINE WHEAT beer from nationwide tastemakers NEW BELGIUM BREWING Co., yeah that's right, the Fat Tire guys. I didn't cotton to it, and I had three at a summer barbeque, ground friggin' zero for wheat beer appreciation. Totally bland, dry beer with maybe a little lemony bite to it, but long after you've given up on it after a couple of swigs. Well, that 6-pack was a sunk cost and someone had to drink it, but this is the first New Belgium product I can unequivocably say I didn't like. A dry, depressing 4.5/10. Tune in next time when we explore some real Belgians, not that pretend stuff, kids!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I'm as big a partisan as they come for Bend, Oregon's DESCHUTES BREWERY. They are the ones who make probably the best porter in the US of A, Black Butte Porter, and I could also argue with trembling conviction that their Mirror Pond Pale Ale is first in its class as well. I enlivened many a day and evening with these when I lived in the Pacific Northwest in the late 90s, and they've proven to be so popular that they are now very easy to procure throughout Northern California & beyond. They certainly have earned the kudos. So naturally when a new product of theirs appears on the shelves, it's time to spend some sawbacks. I picked up a 6 of the new seasonal CINDER CONE RED ALE a few weeks back, and have slowly been making myself aquainted with it. I think it's fair to say that it's a step down from their lofty catbird seat atop the West Coast beer world, but it's still pretty solid. I like the deep red color and the smell - c'mon, they didn't really sneak a couple pine cones into the vats, did they? -- and it has a subtle malty taste that masks the alcohol pretty well. Bitter but still refreshing. It was a bit "thin" tasting, though, and sorta felt like an experiment, rather than something our friends at Deschutes want to truly make a regular part of the all-star lineup. I tried to imagine this next to a Boont Amber and it was clear - I'd grab the Boont every time. Do yourself a favor and let this one warm up a bit before you start sucking it down, as I found the colder it was the less the strong flavors were discernable, but after that it was pretty serviceable. Hedonist Beer Jive is giving the Cinder Cone Red Ale a decent 6/10. What's next, Deschutes??


Here's a brief but interesting take on Northern California brewing and the evolution of American beer culture in general by beer writer William Brand in this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian. I've been noticing Brand's name a bunch lately and I like his take on things. See if you do too by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


So there I was in the JetBlue terminal at New York’s JFK airport last Friday, looking for a place to park my carcass & watch a little World Cup action. As a combination Polish/Ecuadorian, I was particularly intrigued with the Poland-Ecuador game going on at that moment, and wouldn’t you know it, right there in the terminal was the “New York Sports Bar” or something like that – showing the game live! Well I bellied up to the bar to order a nice Sam Adams, since of course that’s usually the best thing on tap in New York. Then I saw the “beer menu” – 40-some-odd beers on tap. Wow! I looked at the menu and identified the one I’d never heard of, and placed my order within seconds. My blind pick was MAGIC HAT BREWING’s “Blind Faith” IPA, which was a fine choice indeed. This IPA was a real balanced brew, with an attractive copper tone to it and just the right amount of sweetness vs. intense hop flavor. The bitterness was refreshing in the sense that these guys figured out exactly how to counteract that with the right concoction of malt and deep yeasty tastes. Nice. I gave it a 7.5/10, and felt like I was truly spelunking for the first time in the East Coast microbrew scene, just as I'd spent many hours obsessing about, getting to drink something that will likely never come to California, where I live. I subsequently learned from one East Coast beer enthusiast that Magic Hat is “overrated” – but that’s what he says, right? What I say is what counts.

By the way, is Magic Hat’s web site about the worst thing you’ve ever seen? Someone let “Flash” boy loose & he created the most unnavigatable site of all time. Can you crack its code??

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


It’s May, and you know what that means, beer fans – wait a minute, it’s June 13th? Well stow me for a lubber, as the Katzenjammer Kids used to say. Well May meant Maibock time, and way back in late May I sampled an American brewery’s interpretation of this German style. Here, let’s surf on over to Beer Advocate and see how they define maibocks:

"The Maibock style of beer tends to be lighter in color than other Bock beers and often has a significant hop character with a noticeable alcohol around the same as a traditional Bock. Maibocks are customarily served in the spring and are oftentimes interrelated with spring festivals and celebrations more often in the month of May".

I got into the celebratory spirit of the season and had the girl pull me a pint of REDWOOD COAST BREWING's Tied House Maibock, and a few sips in I was kinda hoping she’d take it back. Flat and dull despite the shimmery orange color – and I mean orange, like a translucent glass of Anita Bryant-style Florida pulp-free. Its tartness & lack of inner fire just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t hard to render a verdict quickly -- 4/10, enough to see the liquid to the bottom of the glass one time out, and that’s about it. These guys are, to the best of my knowledge, a contract brewer for the Tied House chain of breweries in the SF Bay Area. The Tied House is the place one goes to in San Jose to quaff a pitcher before a Sharks (NHL) game, not to savor the rich, distinct brewing techniques of the olde country - so there you go. Better luck next May, fellas.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Fairfax, California is the upscale hippie/bohemian epicenter of uber-wealthy (but a lil’ left-of-reality) Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Real live hippies and cult freaks roamed the hills of Fairfax back in the 1970s, including wacko personality cult Synanon – a former classmate of mine was a 70s child of 2 Synanon-addicted parents, and told me of long days hoeing fields in weird robes with a shaved head at the age of six. And mind you, this was a female. Nestled in this happy community in 2006 is the IRON SPRINGS BREWERY, and their IPA was on tap the other day at Barclay’s Pub in Oakland and may still be there as we speak. I found this one all a bit much. The hoppiness reached out and strangled my gullet & forced me to pay attention, and tasted so overhopped I was wondering if it wasn’t really one of those newfangled Triple IPAs the kids are getting so excited about. Or maybe someone simply forgot to stir the kettle. Conversation stopped as I worked this one down, and yet, I know something decent was lurking in that golden, hop-choked pint glass. I gave it a 5/10 and an extra good-on-ya “salud” for attempting to overwhelm rather than underwhelm. We’ll revisit this place’s beers in a future installment, when Hedonist Beer Jive takes to the road for the 35-minute drive to Fairfax and a lost afternoon at Iron Springs.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I’ve already blabbed on enough in this forum about this “beer class” I took last year that was the likely impetus for my deeper forays into the world of beer criticism – before that I had simply beer an active fan of good, strong beer. This class I took featured many a tasting of various style from around the globe, and was my first entrée into the crazy world of the Lambic ale. Now lambics have been gaining a great deal of attention of late – to wit, this New York Times article -- but I remain unconvinced that they are anything more than dressed-up 1980s-style wine coolers with beer properties. At least that’s what LINDEMANS FRAMBOISE LAMBIC, tasted last Sunday, reminded me of. (Please note that my ignoramus pose in this post is at least half just that – a pose). I mean, it’s good stuff, and I had mine with a mega slice of strawberry pie and heaping helping of vanilla ice cream – just that if you told me that it was a Rasberry Italian Soda I would not have argued. The girls – I mean the ladies – in the house were not complaining one bit, and this was one drink that everyone could definitely rally around. But what does it have to do with the world of specialty craft beer? Well, read the article linked above – it’s all there, I’m just not sure I buy it. Oh, and the Lindeman’s brand is said to artificially sweeten their lambics a bit, so it can rightly be argued that there’s no way I can base an opinion of lambic ales of just this one brand (my beer class served the Lindeman’s Cherry version, which the Belgians call “Kriek” for some reason). I’d love to hear from lambic lovers the world over about this style and whether or not it fits your personal definition of what “beer” is.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Naturally when one thinks about spending 7-10 days off in an island paradise, one’s thoughts turn to alcohol consumption as a necessary and needed salve for the wounds of the typical workweek. On Maui, where I spent eight days during the month of May, an entire town called Lahaina appears to be a shrine to wanton beverage consumption, a mini-Bourbon Street or Las Vegas strip perched on the deep Pacific. That’s not exactly my “style”, if you know what I mean, but I did take the time on my recent sojourn to seek out some of the Islands’ distinct local beers. They aren’t hard to find – virtually every restaurant we visited had at least one native beer on tap or in bottles, and said bottles were found in every liquor store rack I happened to gaze at. The most popular brand on Maui at least appears to be KONA BREWING, based on "the big Island". We didn’t have any of those, but we had a couple others. I must say for the record that I had a pretty healthy inkling that I wasn’t going to find any Hawaiian chocolate porters here, nor any local Dopplebocks nor Russian Imperial Stouts. This is sun country, folks, and that usually means the darkest shade you’ll find is a glassy golden-amber. I also kept my expectations low, as experience tells me that the world’s best beers tend not to be brewed in climates where the year-round temperature fluctuates between 70 and 85 degrees, be it December or July.

But enough of my yakkin’. First up was KEOKI SUNSET ISLAND STYLE, made by Keoki Brewing on the garden island of Kauai. It is an amber lager, with a big emphasis on"lager", trending more toward generic American frat party beer than anything you'd want to seek out a second time. It was, I’m afraid to say, a “pour-out”. Oh sure, the main reason I couldn’t finish it was because my 2-year-old son was disturbing the patrons of some hippie café in Pai’a with his toddler hijinks and shenanigans, but it was the only excuse I needed. I gave it a 3/10, and that’s probably with a generous point applied for the glorious weather outside. A must to avoid. Much more pleasing was WAIMEA LUAU LAGER made by Waimea Brewing, also from Kauai. This one was a light, golden lager, perfect with Thai food & really tailor-made for island drinking. Very refreshing, but with just enough snob appeal that I got to sit back and think about it a little before pouring it down my throat. I reckon that the 6.5/10 I gave it when it was done may have added a half point added due to greatly exceeded expectations, but I also know that I wouldn’t be afraid to have a barman pull the taps for this one if it ever shows up on the mainland. And it’s a dreaded lager, no less – and even tasted like one! How about that?

Friday, June 02, 2006


It was my wife’s birthday a few weeks ago & she made it clear she wanted to spend it with some friends at AZIZA, an outstanding Moroccan restaurant located in San Francisco. I assured her I’d take care of the arrangements, an assurance that was itself assured once I looked at Aziza’s beer list online. W-o-w. I’d never even heard of half of these, so I knew that some aggressive beer spelunking on my part would be taking place under the hooded guise of selflessly celebrating a new annum in her life. Upon arrival I immediately placed order #1 – the ERDINGER WEISSBIER PIKANTUS, brewed by Erdinger Weissbrau in, you guessed it, Germany. It came in a large bottle somewhere between a 12oz. and a 750ml – probably about a pint and a half’s worth here. It set the evening in the right direction for sure. This is a "Weizenbock", which Beer Advocate says is "A more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of "bock strength"), with a pronounced estery alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits.". A more powerful Dunkel Weizen? Sign me up! Man, I have a lot to learn.

Anyway, I don't have my notes in front of me because I didn't take any, but I remember the deep chocolate-brown color, the rich malty taste, & the thick, almost "chewiness" of the thing. I scored it 7/10 and made my next move. This one didn't pan out as well. The AYINGER JAHRHUNDERT BIER is a "Munich Helles Lager", and I'm just not that into yellow European lagers with that sticky-sour taste. It was immediately regretted upon purchase, but it was also a sunk cost that I needed to finish. Once done, I furtively typed 4.5/10 into my cell phone when no one was looking & rejoined the party. This restaurant is amazing, folks - easily one of the two best restaurants I've been to in my hometown of San Francisco (Delfina is the other) - and with a beer selection that encourages deep dives into Euro beer culture, I predict a return visit as soon as I pay off the credit card bill form this last one.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Hey beer fans – you know, a few months ago when I started this site I reckoned that there might be 3 or 4 other blogs related to beer out there, tops. Wrong. Turns out there’s a whole host of them, some that simply regurgitate news and wacky stories from the “beer world”, others that review new beers and breweries, and still others that take a highly personal view of their drinking hobby, incorporating all manner of personal arcana into posts loosely centered around beer. One easy way to get as many of them as possible in one swooping web session is to go first to the beer blog aggregators, sites who take in RSS feeds from individual blogs like Hedonist Beer Jive & compile all the recent posts on a single page. Here are a few to check out:

THE BREWERY (our favorite so far)