American Craft Beer Week can be a good excuse to:

  1. Share a beer with a friend
  2. Open up something that has spent way too much time in the back of the refrigerator
  3. Visit your local brewery
  4. Support pubs serving craft beers
  5. Put those beer mug boxers back in the rotation
  6. Start blogging every day
  7. Drink at lunch

... Or remember what “Craft Beer” actually means. The Brewer’s Association defines a craft brewer as small, independent, and traditional:

Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.

More importantly, a craft brewer is a small business owner. Craft brewers have been reshaping American beer culture. The Brewer's Association goes on to define several concepts that represent American craft brewers.

  • The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
  • Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.
  • Craft Brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism, and sponsorship of events.
  • Craft Brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers.
  • Craft Brewers maintain integrity by what they brew and their general independence, free from a substantial interest by a non-craft brewer.
  • The majority of Americans live within ten miles of a craft brewer.

We opened another special craft beer today... I'm also sporting my beer mug boxers.

Day 2
May 18, 2010
Independence Brewing Company Jasperilla Old Ale (Austin, TX)
2009 Vintage

Website/Bottle Information:
"Brilliantly golden, Jasperilla is a unique take on an old ale. Biscuity malt flavors meld with subtle plum and berry notes, produced by a special blend of English Old Ale and Chico yeasts. Brewed once a year, and aged for six months prior to release, the Jasperilla is smooth despite its 9% ABV.

We named this beer after our dog Jasper because he has brought so much joy to our lives. We got Jasper from a local dog rescue group called Mixed Breed Rescue. He has been a constant source of smiles and kept our spirits high through many late nights and long hours at the brewery.

Jasperilla is so good and smooth that you'll beg like a dog for more, roll over for a belly rub, howl at the moon... you get the picture."

Serving: 22 oz bottle
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 9.30%

He Said:
If you haven't tried Independence's beers in a while, I kindly suggest you go get some*. Accomplished brewer Rob Cartwright and crew have taken their already solid lineup of beer and made each even better. 2009 Jasperilla exemplifies Indy's success. This particular vintage is probably the best Old Ale that I have ever tasted. It is fantastic. Traditionally English Old Ales were dark, malty beers in the 5%-6% ABV range. The beers were usually aged at the brewery and then released. American versions are of higher strength, which is represented by Indy's version topping 9% ABV.

Beers of this strength are almost always better as they warm. I impulsively grabbed wine glasses while opening this beer, which functioned well to highlight Jasperilla. The nose is sweet and malty with dark fruit flavors leading the way. While cold, the flavor was mild and very drinkable. The beer was sweet with a mellow aftertaste. As it warmed, the beer really woke up, with much more fruit and alcohol taste. A hoppier finish could be detected in the warmed version.

I'm glad I bought a few extra bottles when I picked this 2009 Jasperilla up. The hard part will be trying to keep them hidden.

She Said:
Jasperilla has the aroma of sweet hard liquor. The taste is deep, dark, and almost foreboding. The first few sips of Jasperilla are dangerous in an "I'm going to stalk you" kind of way. After a few more sips, you think: "stalking isn't so bad, right?" For a 9% ABV beer, the flavor is soft, yet deep.

One of my favorite things about this beer is that it is named for Indy's first brew dog. I love Jasper... he's sweet... like this beer. Also like Jasper, you'll need to drink plenty of water with your Jasperilla.

Amazing. Excuse me while I finish the rest. I give it a 4½ hops out of 5.

* TwoPints and I should mention that (FACT:) in 2005 we handed a moderate amount of money to Independence Brewing Company in return for a fancy certificate, but (PRESUMPTION:) I'm pretty sure we would love these guys just as much even if we hadn't.