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The Brewer Who Quit Drinking Beer

I love beer.  I brew it.  I write about it.  And on occasion I have been known to enjoy a pint or two.

So why stop doing something I love?  I know what you’re thinking: because I have a drinking problem.

Well, I suppose if I’m being honest, there were a few times in the past where I admit I did have a drinking problem, but I can truthfully say that I’ve become more responsible since then, and today I always make sure that I have enough beer around so that I’ll never have a problem drinking again.

And just in case you were wondering, no, I’m not Catholic, so I’m not giving beer up for lint (I’ve already got plenty of that in my dryer).

I’m not quitting beer because I got fat (I’m cursed with the metabolism of a hummingbird), I didn’t just have a kid and suddenly get the urge to be Capt. Role Model, nor did I just recently drink too much only to swear off booze until the next time.  So why quit?

I guess for me, it’s a self-control thing because proper beer contains alcohol and alcohol can be addictive (allegedly), so testing the old willpower now and again by abstaining from beer and alcohol in general could be a good thing.  Or maybe it’s a terrible idea.

Only one way to find out!

Also, I’m only quitting for a month.  (I’m stupid, not crazy.)

Predictions

Aside from the obvious reduction in fun, here are a few predictions I’ll make about my month with no beer:

1. Unforgiveable financial damage to local breweries from me not buying their beer which in turn will hurt their families, babies, and their cute little puppies and kitties.
2. Less beer cans and bottles being recycled which will increase global warming and melt the ice caps, thus forcing polar bears to join ISIS.
3. Fewer hangovers.

The Plan

I sometimes get the feeling that my brain likes to think of drinking beer as a reward, so I’ll keep the drinking part, but just swap out the beer with another beverage I also enjoy, in this case tea, and hope my brain doesn’t catch on.

That’s right, the old Pavlovian Switcheroo.

Let’s just hope that my brain is stupid enough to fall for my sneaky little ruse because if it gets wise, there’s no telling what it might do…

A Month Without Beer

Day 1: “No drinks for the month starts today!  Cheers!” was the text I just sent my buddy who said he’d also attempt to go dry with me for the month.  I’m not sure if it’s important to mention this, but the first time my buddy and I met years ago, he told me that he had just quit drinking.

To his credit, I will say he is pretty experienced at quitting as he’s quit drinking about a dozen or more times since then.  Who better to have on my team than this seasoned pro, right?

The truth is, it does make it a little easier going cold turkey when you have somebody in your corner who’s going to tough it out with you too.

Just got a text back: my buddy is headed out to the pub for a pint.

I’ve gotta hand it to him, he quit quitting drinking on the same day.  That is some next-level quitting.  I told you he was a pro.

I, on the other hand, am not a quitter.  Well, except for quitting beer for the month.  And then quitting this whole dumb personal experiment at the end of the month.

Day 2: The day before yesterday was my “Fat Tuesday”, the day you’re supposed to indulge in a bit of gluttony that will hopefully sustain you for the next 40 days of trying to be good before you can start being bad again.

That’s the day I enjoyed the last beer I’d have for a month.  It was a tasty German Hefeweizen I brewed that was just coming into its prime.  I also had a Miller Low-Life with a slice of lime, a bottle that was left over from a party from the month before.  (See, I’m not a beer snob because I discovered that almost any otherwise undrinkable beer can be choked down with a squeeze or three of lime!)

Yeah, so two measly beers.  Fat Tuesday… more like Dangerously Emaciated Tuesday.

Day 3: Two thoughts come to mind: (1) This ex-beer-iment is masochistic and dumb, and (2) I really miss that German Hefeweizen.

Time for a pint of beer tea.

Day 4. Here’s the problem with having beer as your only hobby: you have a lot of free time on your hands when you quit.  The question is what to do with all the free time.  I guess I didn’t think this whole thing through.

Day 5: “Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

~ Homer Simpson

Day 6: It just dawned on me that I’m doing a sort of reverse AA (Alcoholics Anonymous): I’m counting down the number of days until I’ll get to have another beer instead of the days I don’t.  I also just realized that the reverse of “AA” is still “AA”.  It also just dawned on me that the increasing application of facial recognition software courtesy of Facebook, Apple and Amazon, might just be helping to take the “anonymous” out of Alcoholics Anonymous (and everything else, for that matter).

Facebook: “The Cloud just tagged you in a photo walking into an AA meeting!”

You: Nervously awaiting likes & comments from friends, family and co-workers.  (Stole that idea from an episode of Black Mirror, Season 6: Booze Clues.)

Day 7: “Like a camel, I can go without a drink for seven days— and have on several horrible occasions.”

~ Herb Caen

Day 8: I think this spot is about deep enough in the article where I’ll have lost most readers so I can actually be honest about something.  I sort of stole this idea.  Well, not the idea of quitting something I like doing for some pre-determined amount of time.  That’s basically a form of fasting, and fasting’s been around for thousands of years (re: most major religions).

What I’m doing is a purely personal and secular form of self-denial.

The part that I stole was from an article I read a while ago… maybe years ago… that essentially did what I’m doing now: give up alcohol for a month and write about it.  (Did I forget to mention that was one of my other intentions?  To have a little semi-provocative writing fodder for when the idea mill hit a lull?)

But I like to give credit where credit’s due, so let me just provide a link to the article that sort of inspired me.  It should be easy to find… it’ll probably be the only article that pops up when I google “a month without drinking”.

Huh.  So it turns out that there was more than one article about quitting booze for a month.  Google returned more than 400 million search results.  Did not see that coming.

Apparently there’s even a recently invented “official month” for not drinking called “Dry January” that seems to have originated in the U.K. around 2013.  (Note to self: Visit the U.K. in January– the drink specials must be insane.)

Meanwhile, four pages deep into the search results and I gave up trying to find that one article that inspired me.  Thanks, Obama.

Day 9: With over 100 different beer styles and easily over a quarter million commercial examples of those styles, a major allure to beer is exploring all its variety and versatility.

Similarly, there’s a vast landscape of tea to discover.  With over 3,000 different varieties in the world, tea, in all of its various incarnations, should keep even the most ferocious curiosity busy for at least a month.

Here are just a few I recommend:

Detox Teas:

# 1: Dandy Live Detox: Unlike roasted dandelion root tea which has a watery coffee and Cracker Jack character, this dandelion tea is very approachable yet flavorful, slightly fruity, and well balanced. 5/5 stars. (Contains milk thistle seed, lemongrass leaf and a blend of other tasty stuff).

By the way, not all dandelion teas are the same and most contain additional ingredients other than just dandelion.  For example, EveryDay Detox Dandelion from Traditional Medicinals has a dominant black licorice anise character to it, which might be a good substitute for those trying to go a month without ouzo.

# 2: Detox Herbal Supplement with Green Tea: Although this tea from Lipton contains dandelion and nettle, it also contains grapefruit, which is by far the star of the show.  If you like grapefruit, this is the detox tea for you.  Not only that, but just one bag is powerful enough to make a pint of tea.

Other Highly Recommended Teas:

Tulsi Sweet Rose Tea: If you’ve ever seen a cat devour a rose bud, you’ll know why after you try this gentle sweet rose tea from Tulsi.

Yogi Mango Ginger and Lemon Ginger: Both of these fruity-ginger teas pack big flavor and nail the balance between the fruit and the ginger.  As a bonus, only one bag of either of these blends is strong enough to make a respectable pint of tea.  (Chai tea is another example of where you can easily get away with one bag per pint.)


Day 10:
  I started to notice that I’m not feeling as full from a pint of tea as I do from a pint of beer.  Hmmm… I need to google something. Be right back.  Okay, so I’m not sure if this has anything to do with it, but it turns out that google says a pint of beer has 208 calories, while a pint of tea has approximately 0-6 (and roughly 20 with a teaspoon of honey).

Analysis: Need to double quadruple-down on the tea.  Might also pick up some Whey Protein for some shakes while I’m at it.

Day 11: I forgot to mention that I was being a little strategic about when I decided to go dry.  No birthdays or any big beer events I could think are going on this month.  Well, aside from packaging a bunch of beer, writing about beer every day, and living in a house that’s swimming in what even the most liberal alcoholic would call “triggers”.

But here’s the point: if you want to give this awful month-long experiment a try yourself, you don’t have to be a trend-bot and get in line with all the Dry Januaryists.  Do whatever month or 30ish day period that works best for you and have “fun”.

Day 12: Today I realized that despite my bragging about being strategic with regards to when I chose to abstain from the drink, if I were more strategic, I would have chosen February to go dry (fewer days).

Day 13: “Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Day 14: It’s been two weeks with no beer or alcohol in general.  I lost 10 pounds, went down a belt notch, and got thinner in the face.  Yep, you’ve probably heard that alcohol can puffy up your mug like a milder version of pregnant-face.  According to a British dermatologist, this happens because alcohol causes peripheral blood vessels to expand and widen (puff-face), which allows more blood to flow through our skin, also making the skin appear redder. 

Science aside, my working hypothesis is that if you lose 10 pounds through dieting, some of that weight is probably going to come off the face.

Day 15: Speaking of oft mentioned benefits of quitting booze, I was really looking forward to the mountains of money I’d be saving after going cold turkey.

In my case, it just so happens that I probably already spent the same if not more on alcohol this month in anticipation of next month when I’ll be celebrating my accomplishment of the month that I didn’t drink any alcohol.

Day 16: Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.”

~ Sammy Davis, Jr.

Day 17: “5 women reveal the pros and cons of not drinking alcohol for 30 days” is the tagline of the currently top-ranked article on google when I search “not drinking for a month”.

Here are some word-bites from that piece and some reactions:

“I spent more time with my daughter connecting, not battling.”

I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I would like to think that whether I was drinking or not, I would still have the courage to face her on the field of battle.

“I saved money and lost weight—but friends pushed me to sip.”

I didn’t save money, but I lost weight.  My friends didn’t push me to sip because my friends weren’t birthed out of the devil’s butthole.

“[Not drinking] helped my anxiety and depression, and I couldn’t stand being around drunk friends.”

Two things: (1) paradoxically, it sounds like alcohol is having the exact opposite effect on this person than it does for mostly everyone else (anxiety and depression-wise), and (2) this person might want to think about picking up some new friends at the friend store.

Day 18: “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Day 19: Instead of being known as the person who created “Dry January” that encourages people not to drink alcohol for a month, I’d rather be known as the one who invented “Job-Free July”, the month where employers give their staff a paid month off in July.  Employees could use that month to enjoy some drinks while really reflecting on the negative effects of working.  Bloggers could then write 400 million similar sounding articles about what it was like to give up working for a month.

Day 20: “You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.”

~ Dean Martin

Day 21: Lurk around any of the alcohol-related subs (chat forums) on the popular website reddit, and eventually the topic of “do I drink too much” comes up.  Folks chime in with their own personal yardsticks for diagnosing alcoholism from a certain minimum number of drinks consumed in a week/month, to throwing up blood.

From a medical prospective, alcoholism (which is considered both a physical and mental illness) is said to exist when at least two of the following are true:

1)      a person drinks large amounts over a long time period,
2)      has difficulty cutting down,
3)      acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time,
4)      alcohol is strongly desired,
5)      usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities,|
6)      usage results in social problems,
7)      usage results in health problems,
8)      usage results in risky situations (drinking and drive, unsafe sex, etc.),
9)      withdrawal occurs when stopping,
10)   and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use.

It’s probably just a strange coincidence, but those ten lines were all part of my fraternity oath.  Go Kappa Epsilon Gamma (K.E.G.)!!!

Day 22: “An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.”

~ Dylan Thomas

Day 23: In case I needed more proof that I’m living in my own private Truman Show, a large study came out today indicating that “the safest level of drinking is none,” suggesting that any level of alcohol consumption increases a range of certain health risks including cancer.  Perfect timing yet again, The Matrix.

Despite that report, my best thinking/total guessing tells me that if by the time I get cancer from alcohol, there should be a cure.  Then again, if billionaire Steve Jobs couldn’t beat cancer… (Huh, I would’ve thought he had an app for that.  Oh well, at least we got the Apple Watch.)

Day 24:  “The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.”

~ William Butler Yeats

Day 25: There’s plenty of advice out there on how to prep for a month with no drinking including how to reduce or navigate social situations where others might be drinking and even having a few “white lies” at the ready like being on antibiotics or finishing up a project at work.

F that. I really wanted to test my steel, so not only did I not try to avoid situations where people would encourage me to drink, I went head-first into them.  I happily served drinks, packaged lots of beer, and gladly gave beer money to urban outdoors men/stationary non-workers.

Long story short, it wasn’t hard to deal with the supposed social pressure.  “I’ll have a tea” was the only phrase necessary.  (Alright, I didn’t go dry during my birth month, so I guess I wasn’t that hardcore.)

Day 26: You’ve probably heard of that age old secrete to losing weight: diet and exercise.  But there’s an important part that’s missing, namely that diet is more critical than exercise when it comes to weight loss, with some folks putting it at 75% diet and 25% exercise. 

In my case though, I lost 10 pounds in 14 days from not drinking beer, but the ratio was more like 110% diet and -10% exercise seeing as how I was probably lazier this month exercise-wise than usual.  Nevertheless, weight loss is typical for people who give up booze for a month, as was shown in this study where people lost on average 3 pounds.

Day 27: Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.”

~ Ambrose Bierce

Day 28: 28 days.  It’s not only the arbitrarily chosen number of days of sobriety used to break alcoholics of their dependency, it’s also the amount of time it takes for England to be totally overrun by a zombie apocalypse.

Day 29: “In vino veritas” is Latin for “In wine, truth”, and suggests that a person under the influence is more likely to speak their unfiltered thoughts.  Sure does make you suspicious of all the things sober people really think about you but refrain from saying. 

Day 30: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”

~ Martin Luther

Day 31: So here we are.  The final day of “Dry August.”  I suppose there are some people who quit drinking for a month and had some sort of eye-opening, transformative, life-altering, grand revelation about the woes of alcohol.  That’s not me.

And with that, here’s the sugar-free truth of what a month of not drinking looks like:

Cons:

1. Did the same mundane domestic chores I typically do in a month, but with the added benefit of being able to focus more intensely on the boringness of those tasks.
2. Experienced reduced buy-in from people when attempting to blame stupid things I say while sober on alcohol.
3. Found humans more insufferable than usual.
4. Additional time gained from not going out as much only to be reallocated to staying in and watching mediocre content on Netflix.
5. Unlike some anecdotal accounts suggest, I didn’t really notice much of an improvement in the “quality” of my sleep. In fact, I was sleepier and found it more difficult to get out of bed.
6. I might have developed a tea addiction.

Pros:

1. I have to admit that swapping beer for tea really caused me to lose weight and fast. (Note to self: Need to copyright this idea and cash in quick.) In the past, I was under the impression that the reputed “beer belly” was a bit of a myth actually caused by the additional food people typically consume along with the beer. But I concede, beer seems to contribute pounds to the body.
2. Not that I had any doubt, but I proved to myself that I had the will power to go without beer or any alcohol for a month (and possibly indefinitely), but I see no compelling reason to punish myself any further.
3. No hangovers reported.
4. I enjoyed all the tea, and I’ll probably swap out tea for beer more often.
5. No breweries in my city filed for bankruptcy.
6. No polar bears joined ISIS (yet).
7. And sorry, not sorry, but a month without beer really made me appreciate beer more than almost any time in my life.

Last Words

Tomorrow shall be a glorious beer-filled day—a day that will shake the very foundations of the great beer hall of Valhalla.

Skål! (Viking for cheers.)


Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog. Follow me on Myspace.

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Every Hangover Cure from Three Sheets

If you’ve never heard of the drinking/travel show Three Sheets, well, not to oversell it, but it is very likely the greatest drinking show.  Ever.  Over the course of four seasons (52 episodes), endearingly witty host Zane Lamprey (a.k.a. “The Guinea Pig of Booze”) traversed the globe and imbibed in everything from a majestic $10,000 bottle of 50-year-old scotch in Scotland, to snake penis wine in Taiwan.

[Three Sheets Logo]

(By the way, if you missed the original series run, you can find it on YouTube, Hulu, etc.  And if you’re thirsty for new episodes, you’re in luck because Three Sheets is coming back!)

Of course, being a dedicated drinking diplomat usually comes at a price which is customarily paid in the form of a hangover.  But with almost every new hangover came a hangover cure— some more effective than others.

That said, sometimes the actual effectiveness of the hangover cures presented on the show was a bit vague.  But we did our homework, and it turns out that there’s actually a Three Sheets book (4.5/5 stars on Amazon) that spells out the efficacy of the hangover cures by assigning each one a rating of 1 – 3 sheets.

To explain, “a hangover remedy that gets a one-sheet rating would do the trick if you only had a few beers the night before.  Two sheets is for the morning after you had more than a few but you still remember how you got home.  A remedy that’s three sheets is effective for even the surliest of hangovers— the ones that usually linger until well into the next evening.”

The only catch with the book is that it only covers 15 hangover cures despite there being 52 episodes in the series, but we’ll do our best to sort it out.  In addition, the book points out that there is no such thing as a total hangover cure (because that wouldn’t stay a secret for long), and therefore uses the term hangover remedy instead of cure.

With that, we present to you:

Every Hangover Cure from Three Sheets

Below we cover the place where the hangover occurred, what caused it, the corresponding hangover cure (when mentioned), and (if possible) how well it worked just in case you ever find yourself in a similar predicament.

Season 1

1. Belgium: Zane drinks a chocolate beer, a 22 proof beer, and booze made from made with Brussels sprouts.

Hangover Cure: On the show, the hangover cure was chocolate. Did it work?  Well, Zane said he didn’t have a hangover anymore, so yes?  However, in the “Belgium” section in the book, there wasn’t a single mention of chocolate as a hangover cure, but instead the remedy was the standard Belgian fare of mussels & fries with a splash of vinegar.  Effectiveness score? 2-out-of-3 sheets.

2. Costa Rica: Bottoms up, amigos, as Zane goes Three Sheets to Costa Rica where he pounds local brewskis including Imperial, Bavaria and Kaiser, followed by a few foo-foo drinks such as a strawberry daiquiri, marisombra (ingredients: peach, coconut cream, amaretto, ice and white rum), a flaming “la cucaracha” (coffee liquor and tequila), and then brings down the house with the dreaded Guaro, also known as “Gringo killer”, a sugar cane based spirit popular in Costa Rica and other Latin American countries.

Hangover Cure: Coffee in various incarnations including regular coffee, coffee + beer (that’s a thing), and coffee + brandy.  Did it work? The coffee & brandy got Zane drunk again, so maybe?

3. Wales: Zane explores Welsh pub culture and takes a crack at the world famous “Mumbles Mile”, a pub crawl where in order to claim victory, you have to imbibe at 10 of the pubs on the route. Among other libations, Zane drinks “real ale” (cask-conditioned ale) such as Brains and Warrior brand brews which despite urban legend are not served at room temperature.

Hangover Cure: Traditional Welsh breakfast of cockles (tiny shell fish) and laverbread (a cooked paste made from seaweed and oatmeal).  Did it work?  Nope.

4. Champagne, France: Yep, the beverage of choice in Champagne is Champagne, Champagne and more Champagne, alleged not to render a hangover. So did Zane get a hangover from Champagne? Spoiler alert: yes.  A rough one.

Hangover Cure: In the book, “onion soup” was listed as the hangover remedy, but was given the lowest effectiveness rating possible with 1-out-of-3 sheets.  On the show, Zane said that there wasn’t a hangover cure in Champagne, so he went out for a little a Champagne breakfast, a.k.a. hair of the dog, or in French “soigner le mal par le mal” (to fight evil with evil).  No mention of its effectiveness.

Booze fact: The expression “hair of the dog” refers to a hangover cure whereby the hangoveree drinks more of the same booze that caused the hangover in the first place.  The phrase is actually short for “hair of the dog that bit you” referring to an old folk remedy against rabies where a person who is bit by a rabid dog is advised to place a bit of that same dog’s hair in the wound; hence the French version of “fighting evil with evil”. 

5. Jamaica: Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s drinking time! Rum, Red Stripe and stout were at the root of Zane’s bumboclaat hangover in Jamrock, but is there any remedy?

Hangover Cure: “Herbal” teas.  The show doesn’t really spell it out as directly as does the book, but as you might have guessed the special “herb” in one of the “herbal” teas was none other than one of Jamaica’s main exports: ganja.  On the show, Zane definitely wasn’t feeling hungover after the herbal tea, but rather “irie” (a Jamaican patois term for happy and carefree).  In the book, Zane was a little more explicit about the tea’s effectiveness when he writes that after 30 minutes of ingesting some of the worst tasting tea he’d ever had, he was so stoned that he missed the last camera shoot of the day, and was still toasted on the way to the airport the next morning.

So was the herbal tea any good as a hangover cure?  Put it this way: Zane ended up giving the special tea the absolute highest level of effectiveness with a whopping 4-out-of-3 sheets.  Quote: “Did I feel hungover? Shit, I couldn’t even feel my legs!”

[For more on the Jamaican drinking scene, check out our Guide to The Jamaican Beer Scene.]

6. Ireland: Hangover cause: Guinness, whiskey, and a “special”, or roughly a pint of Smithwick’s topped off with a bit of Guinness (sort of the Irish version of a black and tan).

Hangover Cure: Irish coffee, a.k.a. coffee + whiskey topped with cream. Did it work? Didn’t say in the show, but in the book… it was a resounding yes!  In fact, Irish coffee as a hangover remedy was given a superlative rating of 3-out-of-3 sheets, said to be effective against even the surliest of hangovers.

7. Tequila, Mexico: When in the town of Tequila, drink as the Tequilians do! As such, Zane sipped tequila including reposado (aged 2 months to 1 year) and “extra-añejo”, in this case Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia, a blend of tequilas aged up to 30 years. Other tequila-based libations included tamarind margaritas, a few foo-foo drinks, and flaming la cucaracha bombs (a shot of tequila & coffee liqueur dropped into a glass of beer).

Hangover Cure: A meat torta (sandwich) with hot chili sauce.  Did it work? Si Señor, the hot chili sauce officially wiped out the hangover thus earning a 3-out-of-3 sheets of hangover-crushing effectiveness.  That said, Zane points out in the book that food that is spicy, high in fat, and high in protein serves to distract you from being hungover, but sweating from the spice actually dehydrates the body which further increases the hangover.

8. Belize: Belize brought it with Belikin brand lager, mojitos, margaritas, rum & coke, cashew wine (made with the cashew fruit sans the nut) and “viper rum” (a bottle of rum that a viper died in).

Hangover Cure: A Belizean “Michelada” (lemon juice, spices, hot sauce and beer).  Did it work?  Let’s put it this way: the hangover was more so postponed than cured.

Season 2

1. Croatia: Zane imbibed bermet (a spiced desert wine with grapes and spices), lager, Maraschino (cherry liqueur), and travarica (herbed grappa).

Hangover Cure: A cold dip in the Adriatic.  Did it work?  After the plunge, Zane felt more cold than hungover, so let’s call it a wash.

2. Japan: Here’s what the drink menu looked like for the Japan episode: Saké, saké and a lot more saké.

Hangover Cure: Maybe it was the constant flow of food, or the high quality saké, but this was one of only two episodes in the entire series where no hangover cure was required because no hangover was had.

Curiously, the book seems to suggest a different story and lists two “futsukayoi” cures, one for before the bed, and one for after.  By the way, “futsukayoi” is the Japanese word for hangover, and translates as “two days drunk.”

Cure # 1: Ramen soup before you pass out, where the noodles are supposed to fill the belly while the salty broth rehydrates.

Cure # 2: Green tea, miso soup and “genki” drinks for the morning after.  The tea is for the caffeine kick, the soup for the comfort and salt, and the genki to heal just about everything including your hangover, a cold, lack of energy and a low sex-drive.

Zane gave these remedies 2-out-of-3 sheets.  The noodles made the forthcoming hangover slightly more manageable, but didn’t prevent it, and the green tea, miso soup and genki drinks in the morning left Zane cracked out, hungry and over the edge, respectively.  In other words, a fidgety mess.

3. Czech Republic: Hangover cause: Absinth, beer (Pilsner Urquell and the original Budweiser), and becherovka (herbal liqueur).

Hangover Cure: Soaking in a beer bath (bathtub filled with beer).  Did it work? Didn’t say.

4. The Philippines: Hangover cause: Beer (San Miguel) and Lambanog (coco palm liquor) of various strengths (up to 83% ABV).

Hangover Cure: Fried shrimp, shrimp ceviche, frog legs, and beetle larva.  Did it work? Zane said he felt great and a little confused, so that counts!

5. Venice, Italy: Hangover cause: Prosecco (spumante and frizzante), Moretti lager, wine, wine spritzer (wine + aperol + soda water), bitter spritz (same as a wine spritzer, just swap the aperol with Campari), and grappa.

Hangover Cure: None mentioned.  Don’t look at me, I didn’t produce the episode.  Nevertheless, espresso is a fairly common hangover cure throughout Italy.

6. Taipei, Taiwan: Hangover cause: Zane drinks snake’s blood, venom, and bile, snake penis wine, Taiwan Beer, and Kaoliang (a sorghum-based spirit).

Hangover Cure: A painful liver-targeted reflexology massage.  Given a 2-out-of-3 sheets effectiveness rating in the book, after a 60 minute rub down, the hangover was replaced with throbbing feet.

7. Munich, Germany: Hangover cause: Bavarian whiskey (Slyrs brand), schnapps (both raspberry and apple-pear), and plenty of Oktoberfest beer.

Hangover Cure: White sausage (veal) and a pretzel, a hangover cure associated with Bavaria.  Did it work?  Not instantly.

Booze Fact: A common German word for “hangover” is “Katzenjammer”, which translates to “cat’s wail”, where the sufferer’s groans of discomfort is likened to that of a wailing cat.

8. Puerto Rico: Hangover cause: Don Q rum with coconut water, Don Q of various ages, the original piña colada, Medella brand beer, and mojitos.

Hangover Cure: Fish stew with hot sauce.  Did it work?  Well, if getting a runny nose from the hot sauce and hot broth counts, then sure.

9. South Korea: Hangover cause: Soju, originally a rice-based spirit but later was made from sweet potato or tapioca during the Korean War when rice was needed for food, but rice-based versions can again be found today. Mass-produced Cass brand lager, and soju beer bombs.

Hangover Cure: The cure this time was none other than Korean hangover soup!  Made with cow intestines, coagulated cow’s blood, and rice topped off with red pepper spice to sweat the hangover out.  Did it work?  Didn’t say.

10. Kentucky, USA: Buckle up for a trip through Bourbon country as Zane sips, you guessed it, Bourbon including Pappy van Winkle (15, 20, and 23 year old), moonshine and shots.

Hangover Cure: Scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage with a drink of coffee and whisky. Did it work?  Zane still had a hangover afterwards, so not fully.

11. New York (Manhattan), USA: Zane pub-crawls his way through expensive cocktails, ales, Champagne, lager, Fürst Bismarck (“Korn” or German grain alcohol), saki bombs, infused vodka, tequila and mescal.

Hangover Cure: None.  Did you read that list?  There’s no cure for that.

Season 3

1. Chile: Largely known for its grape-based booze, Chile offered up Malbec, Carménère, and Muscat wines, followed up with Pisco (Muscat liquor), and Pisco sours (pisco + egg white + table sugar + lemon juice + Angostura Bitters). Finishing off the night with blonde and brown ale, Zane ends up with an all-too familiar hangover courtesy of Chile.

Hangover Cure: Sopa marina (seafood soup).  Did it work?  Zane felt different, which doesn’t necessarily mean better, so that one ends up in the “maybe” pile.

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Hangover cause: Beer, caipirinha (the national cocktail of Brazil), and cachaça (a sugarcane-base spirit).

Hangover Cure: Açaí smoothie.  It’s high in antioxidants, fiber (good for digestion) and iron (helps circulate oxygen throughout the body).  Did it work?  Quote: “It has cured my hangover. I’m no longer three-sheets; I’m on a sugar high.”

3. Portugal: Hangover cause: Port wine (white, ruby and tawny), vinho verde (both the red “tinto” and green, and sparkling versions), beer, mystery liquor, and Ginjinha (Portuguese sweet liqueur).

Hangover Cure: Lamprey eel (sucker fish). Did it work?  Yes siree, hangover gone!

4. Hong Kong: Hangover cause: French cognac, beer (International Brand and “Hong Kong Beer” microbrews), Gaoliang (sorghum based alcohol) infused with herbs, and cocktails (whiskey & green tea, etc.).

Hangover Cure: Fire cupping.  Not sure, but probably not.

5. Las Vega, USA: Hangover cause: In the heart of sin city, Zane takes a gamble on cocktails, Dom Perignon Rosé, wine, shots, and Martinis.

Hangover Cure: Zane orders up a little room service Vegas-style with a morning burger and a bottle of Champagne for $777.  Delivered by a butler, the Champagne was Dom Perignon Rose (which retails for around $300 a bottle), and a $65 burger from the Burger Brasserie (I think that math adds up.)

Though it wasn’t explicitly mentioned as the hangover cure on the show, the book confirms it and earned a respectable 3-out-of-3 sheets, and was listed as one of Zane’s top three hangover remedies ever ingested.

6. Gibraltar: Hangover cause: John Collins (angostura bitters, ice, gin, lemon and lime juice, topped with soda water), Old Speckled Hen, and Stroh, an Austrian spiced rum weighing in at 80% ABV.

Hangover Cure: A greasy breakfast of fried eggs, fried toast, beans, pork sausage and Danish bacon from Star Bar, the oldest bar in Gibraltar.  The theory is that grease dilutes the alcohol in the arteries while hardening them.  Did it work?  Didn’t say.

7. Denmark: Hangover cause: Beer, both Carlsberg and a $420 oak-aged barelywine of Jacobsen brand beer at 10.5% ABV, cocktails, Fisk (black licorice and menthol flavored spirit), Akvavit and snaps.

Hangover Cure: An icy cold dip in the Limfjord, a shallow sea in northern Denmark.  Did it work?  Here’s what Zane had to say: “One thing I have to admit: the agony inflicted by the unspeakable feeling of cold has definitely overpowered whatever hangover I had.”  In a word, yes.

8. Saigon, Vietnam: Hangover cause: Bia hoi (fresh beer), Saigon Export and Bia Saigon Special brand beer (“special” because it’s made with imported Australian rice), rice-based vodka, and snake wine.

Hangover Cure: Zane skipped the typical Phở and went for a haircut and a massage.

9. Scotland: Hangover cause: Zane drinks a lot of, what else, Scotch, including a pour from a $10,000 bottle Glenfiddich 50 year.

Hangover Cure: On the show, Zane samples a hamburger with a battered and fried patty, battered and fried candy bars, and fried pizza, but doesn’t really say if it worked.

In the book, haggis (minced and spiced sheep organs inside a sheep’s intestine) is the hangover remedy, which was given 1-out-of-3 Sheets in terms of effectiveness stating that “something that makes you sick to your stomach before you even eat it won’t do much better to reduce your nausea.”

10. Barcelona, Spain: Hangover cause: Different kinds of Cava (sparkling wine), aguardiente (Spanish grappa), beer, and lots of sangria.

Hangover Cure: None mentioned, but we won’t leave you hanging.  One common hangover cure from Barcelona is eggs estrellados (fried eggs over French fries).  Olé!

11. Cognac, France: Hangover cause: Zane drank his way through eau de vie and, of course, plenty of Cognac.

Hangover Cure: No hangover cure was mentioned, but then again no hangover was reported.  Either way, a popular French hangover cure is cassoulet, a hearty meat and white bean casserole.

12. Bangkok, Thailand: Hangover cause: Chang brand beer, Sang Som rum, Mekhong Whiskey (which is actually more of a rum), and a Mai Thai.

Hangover Cure: Pad kee mao, or spicy drunken noodles. Did it work?  Here’s what Zane said, “With every burning bite comes more sweat and less of a hangover sensation, until all I’m left with is pure burning heat and a profound need for something cool.”  Sounds like a yes.

13. Argentina: Hangover cause: Fernet Branca (bitter herbal liqueur with more than 60 herbs, spices, roots, and fruits), fernet and cola, gancia batido (basically an Argentinian pisco sour), Quilmes brand lager beer, and wines such as Malbec and Torrontés.

Hangover Cure: BBQ and yerba maté.  In the book, it was just the maté, which was given 2-out-of-3 sheets.

14. Moscow, Russia: Hangover cause: Beer, vodka (potato or grain-based neutral spirit only), Samogon (Russian moonshine, which in this case was made with table sugar and spiced with St. John’s-wort and aged for one year), and Yorsh (a vodka beer bomb).

Hangover Cure: A buttery baked potato. Did it work?  Who knows.

15. London, England: Hangover cause: Gin martini, tequila, cocktails, aquavit, shots, cider, distilled cider, a “mosquito” (a scotch-based mojito), and beer.

Hangover Cure: None mentioned.

Season 4

1. New Zealand: Hangover cause: Moonshine, whiskey cream, Speight’s Gold Medal Ale brand beer, “Sir Ed” cocktail (muddled apricots, honey & lemon, date-infused vodka, with a splash of Nepalese Nepali tea and rum), Monteith’s (original ale and black ale), and more cocktails.

Hangover Cure: A canyon swing over 360 feet (it’s like a bungee jump).  Did it work? Yep.  4-out-of-3 sheets, per the book.

2. Tanzania: Hangover cause: Engortorogi (Masai bee brew), hibiscus wine, moonshine rum, mbege, Raha banana beer, hard cider, konyagi (similar to gin), and beer brands including Tusker, Kilimanjaro, Safari, and Serengeti.

Hangover Cure: Chicken soup.  Made Zane feel better on the show, and given 2-out-of-3-sheets in the book.

3. Lithuania: Hangover cause: Stumbras ‘Trejos Devynerios’ 999 Bitter Liqueur (a grain spirit made with 27 different ingredients), vodka shots, Alus and Stačias brand beers, mead, and Zalgiris Mead Balsam (distilled and spiced mead weighing in at 75% abv).

Hangover Cure: None mentioned, but we’ll pick up the baton.  Cabbage-sauerkraut soup is a common Lithuanian hangover cure.

4. St. Martin: Hangover cause: Guava berry liqueur, guava berry-colada, Love Potion # 9 (bois bande-infused rum), beer, mixed drinks, pressed sugarcane and gin, ti punch (white rum, lime juice and simple syrup), French Mojito, infused rums including a centipede-infused version.

Hangover Cure: Per the book: fresh coconut juice with a shot of gin. Results? Inconclusive as the mix wasn’t terribly pleasant.  Per the show, zip-lining through the trees.  No results mentioned.

5. Cape Town, South Africa: Zane earns another hangover after sampling a variety of wines including Goats Do Roam (a wine in the style of Côtes du Rhône), Klipdrif brandy, a shot of “Springbok” (Amarula and peppermint liqueur), Umqombothi homebrewed beer fermented from corn meal and sorghum, Ijuba and Chibuku (commercial versions of Umqombothi), Witblits (South African grappa), Castle lager, cocktails, snaps and shots.

Hangover Cure: A scrambled ostrich egg.  Just for reference, an ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 regular-sized chicken eggs, weigh over three pounds and contain about 2,000 calories.  Did it work? Zane gave it 2-out-of-3 sheets in the book.

6. Tuscany, Italy: Zane sips Chianti, Super Tuscan, brunello di montalcino, Elixir de san Bernardo (a spiced liqueur digestive), and Gocce Imperiali, another spiced digestive featuring anise and coriander. Finishing up with a wine-crawl (wine-walk?), Zane becomes the proud new owner of another hangover.

Hangover Cure: A grape-stomping contest, I guess?  Did it work?  Let’s put it this way: When has stomping on grapes not cured a hangover?  In other words, who knows.

7. Hawaii: Hangover cause: A sting of foo foo drinks including a “Lava Flow” (basically a piña colada with strawberries), cocktails, Primo and Maui brand beers, okolehao (Hawaiian moonshine), Pau (vodka distilled from pineapple), and shots of Ocean brand vodka.

Hangover Cure: A lomilomi (Hawaiian-style) massage.  Did it work? Zane said he could feel the alcohol toxins leaving his body, so sure, why not.

8. Poland: Hangover cause: honey vodka (Miodula brand), Goldwasser (anise-flavored liquor with gold flakes), beer (Tyskie brand), vodka (single rye, barley, oats, and potato versions), plum vodka, ground pepper-infused vodka, and Żubrówka, or “Bison Grass Vodka” in English, an herb-flavored vodka made illegal in the U.S. for containing coumarin which is thought to cause liver damage (like alcohol) and thin the blood (like alcohol). A similar tasting, reformulated version of Żubrówka that contains less coumarin can be found today in the U.S.

Hangover Cure: In T.V. Land, Zane’s attempt at a hangover cure is a dip in an indoor waterpark at his hotel, but no mention was made of its effectiveness.  Over in Bookland, the hangover remedy listed was “pickle soup” made from pickles, cream, potatoes, dill, and broth.  This hearty soup hit the spot, but didn’t totally cancel out the hangover, so was awarded 2-out-of-3 Sheets.

9. Namibia: Formerly known as “German South West Africa”, it’s little wonder that the African country of Namibia offers up Zane a smattering of German-influenced brews including Windhoek, Tafel, Urbock, and Hansa brands. To further help Zane along his way to hangoversville, Namibia pours Ovambo liquor (palm wine), brandy & cola, Gehr’s Kaktusfeigen Brand liquor (“Kaktusfeigen” is German for “prickly pear”), and Fälinger (“korn” or grain liquor).

Hangover Cure: Adrenaline in the form of four-wheeling on a quad in the dunes of the Namib Desert. Did it work?  Zane said he felt good afterwards, so sure, why not. In addition, Zane also partook in the more traditional hangover cure of Namibia: buffalo milk, which despite its name does not contain any actual buffalo components but is instead a mixed drink comprised of vanilla ice cream, rum, Amarula cream liqueur, spiced rum, and whole cream.

10. Hamburg, Germany: Hangover cause: Jägermeister, cocktails, flavored vodkas, molecular cocktails, Astra Pilsenser, Küstennebel liqueur (anise-flavored liqueur), and shots of Fischer Geist (56% ABV grain alcohol).

Hangover Cure: Labskaus (corned beef, onions and potatoes), a traditional hangover cure of Northern Germany. Did it work?  Didn’t say.

11. Barbados: Hangover cause: Rum Punch, Mount Gay Rum, Velvet Falernum cocktails, rum cocktails including rum & Kola Tonic, and Banks Beer.

Hangover Cure: None mentioned.  But a common hangover cure in Barbados is coconut water.

12. Newcastle, England: Hangover cause: Newcastle beer, real ale, cocktails, and brandy.

Hangover Cure: Black pudding, Cumberland sausage, smoked herring, a pork sausage and a double-vodka bloody Mary.  Did it work?  Didn’t say.

13. Lesbos, Greece: Hangover cause: Mythos lager beer, Tsipouro (pomace brandy) straight up and as a beer bomb, and a lot of ouzo, including 100% distilled (no blended) Aphrodite brand ouzo.

Hangover Cure: A teaspoon of olive oil as a pre-drinking countermeasure, a slow drinking pace, and snacks throughout the drinking day perhaps all contributed to Zane not having a hangover.

14. Iceland: Hangover cause: Landi (Icelandic moonshine), Icelandic microbrews from the Ölvisholt brewery including one brewed with Angelica (an herb), Brennivín (an iconic herbed liquor also known as “black death”), licorice liqueur, and cocktails with an Icelandic twist.

Hangover Cure: Lobster soup and hair of the dog (Icelandic vodka).  Effectiveness unknown.

15. Tahiti: In his visit to French Polynesia, Zane sips “Vin de Tahiti”, the only wine in the world with a “coral terroir”, pineapple and ginger liqueurs, cocktails, Hinano brand beer (the most popular in Tahiti) and brews from Les 3 Brasseurs, a French beer chain.

Hangover Cure: Cavitation (courtesy of dolphin echolocation), which is a rippling apart of molecules in the soft body tissues. Fancy way of saying ‘swimming with the dolphins.”  Did it work?  Yes.

16. Whistler, Canada: Hangover cause: Manitoba Martini (Canadian Whiskey, ginger ale and ice), beer, beer bombs, Champagne, and cocktails.

Hangover Cure: Poutine and “Dude Beer”.  Did it work?  Per Zane, “Whether it’s the Dude Beer or the fires, my hangover is starting to go away.”

17. Panama: Hangover cause: Chicha fuerte (beer made from germinated corn), Atlas, Balboa and Panama brand lagers, Seco Herrerano (a sugarcane-based spirit), and Ron Abuelo Anejo rum.

Hangover Cure: Sancocho, which is a hearty soup made with chicken, corn, carrots, yucca root and, in this case, habanero hot sauce.  Hot sauce contains capsaicin, which temporarily desensitizes neurons including pain.  Did it work?  “I don’t have a hangover anymore; it’s replaced with burning.”

18. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Hangover cause: Hemp beer, hemp wine, genever (“jen-E-fer”: the predecessor or gin), beer, kruidenbitter (herb infused genever), cannabis absinth, Heineken, shots, Brandy,

Hangover Cure: A herring sandwich.  Did it work?  Per Zane: “Okay, so herring doesn’t necessarily cure a hangover.” Take that for what it’s worth.

Final Words

So there you have it.  Every single hangover cure from Three Sheets.

Speaking of hangover cures… and perhaps this should have mentioned earlier, but back in 2013, Zane did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit (a website) where he was asked what his go-to hangover cure was.  Zane responded:

“Time is the only cure.”

Cheers!


Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, American Homebrewers Association Member, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.

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Sam Adams: From Poke to Woke… And You’re Next

A wise man can hear profit in the wind.

-22nd Rule of Acquisition

Last year we published an article entitled Sam Adams: The Waking Giant.  In it, we compared The Boston Beer Company, commonly referred to as “Sam Adams” after its flagship beer, to a slowly waking giant, and made the case that the brewery was poised for a rebound particularly in regards to the company’s stock price (NYSE: SAM).

At that time, the company’s valuation was taking a beating with shares trading for around $150 a piece down from a high of around $315 just two years prior despite being the second-largest craft brewery in the U.S. ¹  We suggested that co-founder, billionaire, and Harvard grad Jim Koch was making some noticeable and innovative changes to his typical play-it-safe brewing philosophy which could spell big profit for the company.

For general readability, we focused more on a shift in the spirit of the company instead of an in depth discussion of the fundamental and technical analysis behind the reasons why we felt a course-change was underway at Sam Adams.

The bear that is Sam Adams (read: Jim Koch) was getting pokes from both external forces but more importantly from folks within the company encouraging Koch to compete with other craft breweries with flavorful trending beer styles including a juicy, hazy New England IPA of its own (Boston is in the heart of New England, after all).

Moment of Truth

So how did our prediction turn out?

Let’s put it this way: if someone had invested in Sam Adams at the time we ran the article, that someone would be up about 100% right now.  Not too shabby.

For comparison’s sake, if that same someone had instead put their money into a Bank of America savings account back then, they’d be up about .01% today.

To be fair, given enough time the money in the savings account would eventually yield the same return as that investment in Sam Adams.  Of course, that would only take about 10,000 years, but who’s counting.

Joking aside, this article isn’t really about how we predicted a winner, but more importantly, how you can.

Channeling Your Inner Profit

Back in 1923, Edwin Lefèvre wrote what is now considered a classic investment book titled Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.  Some of the most successful stock traders of the modern era include that book in the syllabus of required reading for both Wall Street newbs and gurus alike. ²

Similar to the investment philosophy of legendary money manager Peter Lynch³, Lefèvre offered a practical common-sense approach to stock trading, insisting that savvy traders use their knowledge of the world to elicit profit in the market.

Predicting that Sam Adams’ share price would bounce back wasn’t magic.  It was simply the result of being immersed in the world of beer and then intersecting that knowledge with an understanding of the stock market (20 years’ experience in trading stocks doesn’t hurt either).

If you made a bundle by investing in Sam Adams recently, cheers.  If you missed that boat, don’t sweat it because as seasoned investors know the deal of the century comes along once a week.

The more important message to you, my dear beer-loving reader, is this: be mindful not to discount the value of your passion for beer, homebrewing or whatever else your thing might be.  Often times, there’s substantial profit to be had for those who seek opportunity by applying their personal interests to the market appropriately.

This is increasingly true in today’s side-hustle economy where fortune commonly shines its face on the business-ninja who aligns their passion with market conditions.

From Poke to Woke

A year ago, we suggested that Sam Adams was a bear with the passion and talent to lead again. The bear’s eyes were just starting to open.  It just needed a little poke.  That the bear is now woke.

Today, we’re suggesting that the same is true for many of us.  Some of us just need a little poke.

Poke.


Hi, I’m Dan: Advocate of day-seizery, dream-manifestification and community giving-back-ery.

References:
1. “Brewers Association Releases 2017 Top 50 Brewing Companies By Sales Volume.” Brewers Association, 23 Mar. 2018, www.brewersassociation.org/press-releases/brewers-association-releases-2017-top-50-brewing-companies-by-sales-volume/.
2. Schwager, Jack D. Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
3. Lynch, Peter, and John Rothchild. Beating the Street. Easton Press, 1993.

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BeerSyndicate’s Top Beers and Breweries of 2018

Our list of “The Best Beers and Breweries of 2018” is the result of a combined analysis of the top rated beers as determined by over 10 million collective beer reviews as reported by the three separate beer rating websites BeerAdvocate, Untappd and RateBeer.

Here’s how it works:

In order to rank the top beers from Untappd, RateBeer, and BeerAdvocate, we started by combining all of the top 50 beers from all three websites into a single super list, and then removed any meads, retired beers and any duplicate beers including multiple vintages.

This brought the total number of beers on the list down to 75.  Next, we assigned a score to each remaining beer on the list by averaging a given beer’s score from Untappd, RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.  Finally, we arranged all the beers on the list from highest to lowest score, and identified the top 50.

The Top 10 Beers are listed below, however the entire top 50 can be found here.

The Top 10 Beers of 2018

RANKNAMEBREWERYSCORE
1.Kentucky Brunch Brand StoutToppling Goliath Brewing Company4.666
2.Dark Lord - Marshmallow Handjee3 Floyds Brewing Co.4.63
3.Hunahpu's Imperial Stout - Double Barrel AgedCigar City Brewing4.623
4.Zenne y FronteraBrouwerij 3 Fonteinen4.586
5.Mornin' DelightToppling Goliath Brewing Company4.576
6.Pliny The YoungerRussian River Brewing Company4.573
7.Barrel-Aged AbraxasPerennial Artisan Ales4.566
8.Barrel Aged Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake StoutAngry Chair Brewing4.543
9.Juice MachineTree House Brewing Company4.536
10.Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Brouwerij Westvleteren4.53

[Note: Untappd lists beers of different vintages as separate individual entries such as with the many “Bourbon County” vintages from Goose Island, whereas BeerAdvocate and RateBeer simply combine all the vintages and assigns a single entry and single score.  To simplify our list, we combined all vintages of the same label on Untappd, averaged the score, and then averaged that score with the scores from RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.]

Determining The Top Breweries of 2018

To calculate our list of top breweries, first we combined all of the beers that appeared on RateBeer, Untappd, and BeerAdvocate’s top 50 into a single super list.  Then, each brewery was awarded a single point for each beer it had on the super list, excluding meads and retired beers.

Finally, the breweries were ranked by the number of points they had, with tiebreakers being determined by the average score(s) of the beer(s) per brewery. To determine the average score of a given beer, we simply averaged that beer’s individual score from RateBeer, BeerAdvocate and Untappd.

The Top 10 Breweries of 2018

RANKBREWERY# OF BEERSAVERAGE
SCORE
1.Tree House Brewing Company184.42
2.Toppling Goliath Brewing Company104.53
3.3 Floyds Brewing Company74.40
4.Cigar City Brewing64.54
5.Hill Farmstead Brewery64.43
6.AleSmith Brewing Company64.40
7.Founders Brewing Company54.48
8.Goose Island Beer Co.54.43
9.Russian River Brewing Company54.41
10.Funky Buddha Brewery44.47
[All rating data was pulled from RateBeer, BeerAdvocate and Untappd on 3/19/18.]

And of course no beer list would be complete without somebody explaining why it sucks.  So for your entertainment, we’ve included a conversation with the dreaded “Critique Master” below who does an utterly thorough job of destroying our beer list and possibly every other beer list there is.

Enjoy! 


A Conversation with Critique Master about the Top Beers:

Critique Master: First things first: we’re barely a third of the way through 2018, so how the heck can you make any semblance of a claim about the year’s “top beers and breweries” when the year isn’t even over yet?  Even if you combine all the data from BeerAdvocate, RateBeer and Untappd, that data is subject to change at any moment, right?  So isn’t this just a list of what’s best at this very second and not really useful? Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: Wow, coming straight out the gate swinging, huh?  Fair enough, I guess.  So yes, you’re partially correct, the beer ranking of top beers on RateBeer, BeerAdvocate and Untappd is subject to change.  But just because something can change, doesn’t mean that it will.  At least not much in this case, anyways.

For example, looking back almost one year ago today, 10 of the first 11 beers of BeerAdvocate’s top beers back then were the very same beers on the top of its list today. In fact, if one beer in the top 11 hadn’t been retired (namely King JJJuliusss from Tree House Brewing), the beers on that list from a year ago would be exactly the same as it is today with just a slightly different order. Other data points from RateBeer and Untappd were similar.

Critique Master: That’s all well and good, but do we really need another “best of” beer list?  I get it, beer ratings can influence buying decisions sometimes in a major way like in the case of Westvletern, but I mean, can’t you spend your time doing something more important?  Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: Yes and no, in that order… or some other order.

Critique Master: Very cute.  Come to think of it though, technically this isn’t even really “your” list of “top beers”, is it? I mean, I think you guys are actually being really misleading because you’re basically just relying on all of the reviews from BeerAdvocate, Untappd and RateBeer, to which you’ve contributed exactly zero reviews.

Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: Well, our list was more about compiling and analyzing a larger amount of data in an attempt to get a more complete picture of the top rated beer and breweries. I don’t know, we thought it was a pretty cool idea, but you are the Critique Master, and we respect your title.

Critique Master: I am indeed the Critique Master, and you will tremble at my critiquing powers.  Speaking of which, you mentioned that you excluded meads, retired beers, and different vintages of the same beer from your list?  That doesn’t seem fair.   Care to explain why you’re cherry picking the data?

BeerSyndicate: As tasty as mead can be, it’s a honey wine made only with honey, water and yeast.  In other words, it’s not a beer.  Beer, on the other hand, has to contain at least some grain.  That said, if there was a braggot on any list, which, as you know, is a kind of mead made with the addition of barley malt, then we would have included it.  But there wasn’t, so we didn’t.

As for excluding retired beers (which encompasses previous vintages of a given beer), we simply wanted to give a representation of the best beers currently being produced on the market and also make all of the data consistent since Untappd is the only site of the three that separates out certain vintages of the same beer.

This is just one way of looking at the data.  You could certainly do it some other way.

Critique Master: Yeah, I’d probably do it a different way.  Or actually I wouldn’t do it at all, because your entire dataset is flawed.  Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate:  Here it comes.

Critique Master: For starters, Untappd doesn’t seem to have any set guidelines for how its users should rate a beer, so the justification for the average score of any beer is unclear, though my guess is that most users determine a rating based on how much the user “personally enjoys” a given beer, which is subjective. 

On the other hand, BeerAdvocate has its users rate beer according to how well they think a beer represents the definition of the beer style listed on the BeerAdvocate website.  And RateBeer is somewhere in the middle.

In other words, your list of “top beers” confusingly blends reviews that are based on purely subjective personal enjoyment like many on Untappd and also reviews that are rated according to some more fixed standard.  Apples and oranges.

In addition, the varying levels of individual experience and palate acuity of the reviewers determining the score for a given beer on any social beer rating site is also problematic.

Not only that, but I bet it’s mainly Americans who are doing the beer reviews, so that limits your results to mainly the American beer scene and palate, and to a lesser extent non-American English speakers.  Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: It’s true— we’re taking the data from BeerAdvocate, Untappd and RateBeer at face value.  And though we can’t say for certain, you’re probably right that the user base of all three websites is likely mainly American, and then non-American English speakers.

You’re also right to question the level of experience any users has on any of those sites and how that might affect the relative objectivity of any beer’s score.

That said, we never claimed that our list is a list of the “best beer in the world”.  It could be, but all we said was this is a list based on an analysis of the top beers per RateBeer, Untappd and BeerAdvocate.

But you have a valid point when it comes to the subjectivity of scoring a beer based on personal enjoyment as you assume many users on Untappd do.  People have different personal preferences, so beer scores based on those kinds of reviews may not necessarily be very useful to everyone.

If you think reviews from Untappd are too subjective or more of a social app than a serious rating site, we could show you what the top 10 beers would look like if we totally excluded Untappd’s data, and only show you the combined results of the top beers from RateBeer and BeerAdvocate?

Critique Master: I’m mildly interested.  Go ahead and show me your findings, but make it quick.

BeerSyndicate: Right away, but only because you’re mildly interested:

[Below are the top 10 beers based only on BeerAdvocate & RateBeer data]

RANKNAMEBREWERYSCORE
1.Kentucky Brunch Brand StoutToppling Goliath Brewing Company4.685
2.Zenne y FronteraBrouwerij 3 Fonteinen4.58
3.Hunahpu's Imperial Stout - Double Barrel AgedCigar City Brewing4.565
4.Mornin' DelightToppling Goliath Brewing Company4.55
5.Dark Lord - Marshmallow Handjee3 Floyds Brewing Co.4.535
6.Pliny The YoungerTree House Brewing Company4.525
7.Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Brouwerij Westvleteren4.515
8.Barrel-Aged AbraxasPerennial Artisan Ales4.505
9.Barrel Aged Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake StoutAngry Chair Brewing4.495
10.Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS)Founders Brewing Co.4.485

Critique Master: Huh, 9 out of 10 beers from the list without Untappd’s data were the same as the list with it. But that could mean anything. And anyways, the source data from all of these beer review sites— and even your data— could still be untruthful, corrupt or suspect in some way.

For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired a minority stake in RateBeer back in 2016, so even if we assume RateBeer’s data was otherwise perfect, I now have at least a minority reason to be skeptical.

Funny— you’d think that with the glut of AB-InBev-owned Goose Island beers in Untappd’s top 50, it was Untappd that was being influenced by Anheuser-Busch. Anyways.

But here’s an even bigger problem with all of these “top beer” lists: they’re just lists of over-hyped beer. And this is largely because few if any of the beer reviews on Untappd, etc. are done blind.

BeerSyndicate: It’s a fair point to make that the “hype factor” may have some effect on some of the beer reviews that appear on BeerAdvocate, RateBeer and Untappd.  But exactly how to account for the “hype factor” and to what degree that hype even has an effect on those reviews is up to speculation.

Sure, some folks might over-score a hyped beer, but some might unfairly under-score a hyped beer because it doesn’t live up to mountains of hype. And then some might be impartial and not let the hype influence their judgment either way.

So it seems reasonable that blind tastings are potentially helpful for eliminating some of the elusive “hype factor”, though someone doing a blind tasting may think they know what beer it is that they’re sampling, and somehow that could affect their scores.

Nevetheless, most professional and homebrewing competitions in the U.S. are judged blind.

If you like blind beer reviews, you might like the ones Paste Magazine puts out.

Critique Master: Actually, even though Paste Magazine does blind reviews, they score beer according to “personal enjoyment” similar to many Untappd reviews, which, like I said, is pretty darn subjective.

I mean, why go through all the trouble of doing a blind review in the name of objectivity just to introduce subjectivity back into the equation by judging beer according to personal enjoyment instead of some independent publicly established standard like the BJCP Beer Style Guidelines?

Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: Not sure.  We still like Paste beer reviews, but you might have a point.

That said, beer styles can change over time, so a fixed definition of beer would also have to be subject to change.  Paste might be trying to account for the real-time evolution of beer styles by not strictly adhering to past publications of the BJCP Beer Style Guidelines.

Critique Master: Nice try, but basing a beer review on “personal enjoyment” isn’t the same thing as trying to account for a possible subtle development of a particular beer style.  Just sayin’…

BeerSyndicate: Alright, so to sum up your position thus far: You have a problem with the beer reviews from Paste and Untappd because they base their reviews on personal enjoyment, which is subjective.

You’re suspect of RateBeer reviews because AB InBev owns a minority stake in the company.

You have a problem with BeerAdvocate because similar to Untappd and RateBeer, their users aren’t necessarily preforming blind tastings to rate beer.

And you obviously don’t like our list of top rated beers because, well, you don’t like the data it’s based on.

Does that about cover it?

Critique Master: Almost.  Rating a beer based on personal enjoyment is obviously problematic due to the subjectivity of personal preference, so to make things less subjective, it’s better to rate beer according to a fixed standard like the BJCP Beer Style Guidelines.

Even if you view the style guidelines as purely conventional, sort of like the common convention of using inches or centimeters on a ruler, it’s still better to have a common public standard to rate beer than whatever private reasons an individual has for determining their personal level of enjoyment.

But even then, people still have to judge a beer based on their individual physiological sense of taste, which can vary from person to person.  For example, people may perceive the intensity of certain taste sensations differently.  About 25% of the population are supertasters and perceive certain flavors more intensely than other people, 50% are normal tasters, and 25% are non-tasters who perceive flavors less intensely than normal tasters and far less intensely than supertasters.

In other words, if you’re a supertaster, then your review of a given beer may not be as relevant to normal tasters, and even less so to non-tasters.  Therefore, you should get tested to determine if you’re a supertaster using a $5 test.

BeerSyndicate: No offense Critique Master, but hardly anyone will get tested to determine if they’re a supertaster, normal taster or a non-taster.

Not only that, but you’re gonna end up with three sets of beer reviews: one for supertasters, one for normal tasters, and one for non-tasters.  Not to mention, the person reading the review would also have to be tested to know which beer review applies to them.

Then you’d also have to control for other conditions including the serving temperature of the beer, the kind of glass it the beer is served in, environmental distractions, the level of experience of the taster, the level of intoxication of the taster, maybe the diet of the individual like they do with professional coffee tasters, and I’m sure there are other factors we haven’t thought of.

It’s too prohibitive, especially just for the sake of beer reviews.  It’s simply easier for the public to buy a given beer and try it for themselves.

Critique MasterExactly.  And because of this, most or maybe all beer reviews have very little practical application to the individual— except for maybe a blind review done by experienced individuals with trained palates according to a fixed standard and intended for their own personal use.  I suppose this also goes for wine and food reviews too.

By the way, this also means that you’ve wasted your time doing your little analysis of the so-called top beers and breweries of 2018, assuming you were trying to generate any meaningful data in the first place.

Just sayin’…

 

Next on tap on the BeerSyndicate Blog: Ranking the Beers of Rodenbach!


Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, American Homebrewers Association Member, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.

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Data Chug: An Analysis of RateBeer’s Top 50 Beers

Beginning in 2000 as a general beer forum, RateBeer developed into one of the largest beer rating websites in the world, with a listing of more than 470,000 different beers in its database as of early 2013.  Similar to other beer rating websites, RateBeer maintains an ongoing list of its top rated beers, 50 to be exact.

As with our previous analyses of BeerAdvocate and Untappd, we reviewed RateBeer’s Top 50 beers in an attempt to identify any trends regarding brands, beer styles, alcohol content, breweries etc.

For fun, we created a sortable list of RateBeer’s Top 50 Beers which can be arranged by brewery, country/state, ABV, etc.  This is the same list that we used to generate most of the results below.

And now, on with the show.

1. The Top 10 Highest Rated Beers on RateBeer

1) Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout -Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
2) Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) – Brouwerij Westvleteren
3) Mornin’ Delight – Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
4) Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Double Barrel Aged – Cigar City Brewing
5) Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord Imperial Stout – 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
6) Pliny the Younger – Russian River Brewing Company
7) Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout – Bourbon Vanilla Bean – 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
8) Speedway Stout – Bourbon Barrel-Aged – AleSmith Brewing Company
9) Bell’s Black Note Stout – Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
10) CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) – Founders Brewing Company

Interestingly, Toppling Goliath’s Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is the top rated beer on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, and Mornin’ Delight from the same brewery also appears in the top 10 on both lists.  The three other beers appearing on both the top 10 from RateBeer and Beer Advocate were Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, Three Floyds’ Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout – Bourbon Barrel Aged and Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Double Barrel Aged.

The only beer that RateBeer and Untappd’s share in the top 10 was Double Barrel Hunahpu’s from Cigar City.

2. The Most Popular Beer Style Listed on RateBeer’s Top 50

Of the more than the 100 different beer styles in the world, only 9 appeared in RateBeer’s list of its Top 50 beers.   Of those 9 beer styles, it was Imperial Stout that stood out by far with 26 examples of this dark and boozy beer in the Top 50.  Examples of Imperial Stout dwarfed the next most popular beer style, Double IPA, by almost 400%, making it a statistically significant outlier as represented by the green data point below.

Clearly, Imperial Stouts dominate RateBeer’s Top 50, comprising more than half of the beers on the list, which was nearly identical to the percentage of Imperial Stouts on Untappt’s Top 50 (52% vs 54%, respectively).

3. Analysis of the Alcohol Content of RateBeer’s Top 50

The majority of beers in RateBeer’s Top 50 had an alcohol content of greater than 9%, as can be seen in the chart below.

The average ABV of all the beers listed on Untappd’s Top 50 beers was a boozy 11.39%, which is similar to the 11.55% average ABV of Untappd’s Top 50.

The beer with the lowest ABV on RateBeer’s Top 50 was “Ann” from Hill Farmstead Brewery weighing in at 6.5%, while the most potent beer on the list was “Buba Extreme Jack Daniels BA” (16%) from the Polish brewery Browar Szałpiw.

These figures exclude the unlisted ABVs of “Trademark Dispute (Green),” an Imperial Stout from Cycle Brewing, and “Aaron,” a Barley Wine from Hill Farmstead.  But seeing as how these beers were on the boozier end of the ABV spectrum, the average ABV of the Top 50 is not likely to be affected much.

4. Analysis of the States/Countries of  RateBeer’s Top 50

Similar to both BeerAdvocate and Untappd, the majority (82%) of beers in RateBeer’s Top 50 were from American breweries.  As shown in the chart below, only 9 beers in the Top 50 came from non-American breweries; Poland had 1, Sweden 2, and both Denmark and Belgium had 3 each.

The average number of beers per state/country listed above is 3.33, and the only state with a statistically significant number of beers in the Top 50 was California with 8, which is considered a statistical outlier.  In three impressive cases, all the beers from a given state came from just one brewery, including Toppling Goliath in Iowa, 3 Floyd’s in Indiana, and Bell’s in Michigan.

When identifying outliers like California, we try to look for explanations as to why it is performing at a statistically significant level than other states or countries.  One possible explanation for this is the number of breweries in California compared to other states/countries.

For example, some states have more breweries than others, which could potentially increase the number of beers from a given state or country listed in the Top 50.  As mentioned, California has the highest number of beers in the Top 50 with a total of 8, which seems rather high at first glance.  However, if you consider that there are just over 800 breweries in California as of this writing, the relative number of beers contributed by California to the Top 50 based on the number of breweries in the state was just 1.00%.

As shown in the chart above, no longer is California leading in relative terms, but rather Vermont is with 4 from a total of 84 breweries, or 5.48%.  Interestingly, 3 out of 4 of the beers from Vermont appearing in the Top 50 were from Hill Farmstead, namely Aaron, Abner, and Ann.  In other words, a large part of the reason why Vermont is performing at a statistically significant level is due to Hill Farmstead’s individual level of success.

5. Most Popular Breweries on RateBeer’s Top Rated Beers

Below is a chart of the number of beers per brewery appearing in RateBeer’s Top 50.

The average number of beers contributed per brewery was 1.92.  On the face of it, not a single brewery stuck out as contributing a statistically significant number of beers to RateBeer’s Top 50.

However, some breweries produce a greater variety of beers than others, which might create a greater potential for breweries that brew a larger variety of beer to have more beers in the Top 50 than others.  So let’s take a look at what happens when we consider the relative percentage of beers contributed by a particular brewery based on the number of beers that brewery produces.

As shown in green above, there were three breweries with a statistically significant percentage of beers in the Top 50 relative to the total number of beers they produce.  These outlier breweries were Toppling Goliath (8.16%)Rochefort (33.33%) and Westvleteren (66.67%).  The Belgian breweries of Rochefort and Westvleteren are special cases in that they produce only three beers each which they’ve perfected over hundreds of years, whereas Toppling Goliath is a relatively new American brewery (2009) that produces 49 different beers, one of which sits in first place on both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer’s top 50.

Not only is one of Toppling Goliath’s beers the highest rated on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate’s lists (selling for upwards of $1,000 per bottle on the secondary market), but Toppling Goliath is the only brewery that was consistently determined to be contributing a statistically significant number of beers to the Top 50 relative to the number of beers it produces on BeerAdvocate, Untappd and RateBeer.

In other words, a statistical analysis of three separate beer rating sources with more than 10 million reviews combined have shown that Toppling Goliath is living up to its name in a pretty serious way.

But this wasn’t the only data-driven revelation we discovered after chugging all the numbers.  In the final episode of Data Chug, we put it all together and deliver to you:

The Best Beers and Breweries of 2018.

Nah, the year ain’t over yet, but we’re just gonna go ahead and let the numbers speak for themselves.


Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, American Homebrewers Association Member, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.

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