Munich Beer Gardens

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

This is Part 2 of our series on beer in Europe.  For part one, read Adventures in Norway!

When I think of Germany, I think of beer. I don’t really know when this started.  Was it before I met Bryce?  After?  No idea, but that’s the way it is.  Which means when I was planning our time in Munich, I knew there would be lots of beer related activities on our itinerary.

First German Beer Garden

Now, I’m going to be honest here.  Sometimes, I get tired of going to breweries.  There, I said it.  They all seem the same, the décor is sparse, and there isn’t always food (I really like food).  But in Germany I very much enjoyed going to pubs and breweries and I think the reason is because everyone is incredibly proud of their beer.  Like, really proud.  And I love it when people are passionate about what they enjoy.

Liter Mug of Helles

We went on a Bavarian Beer tour, visited several beer gardens, and spent time in countless pubs trying every beer we could get our hands on.  They even had a German version of a summer shandy, better known as a radler.  

German Beer and Pretzel

German beer history is vast and very specific.  You can find more information here about German beer styles such as Oktoberfest (also known as Marzen).  I won’t bore you with the details.  Instead, I’ll share some of our pictures with you.






Read more →

Adventures in Norway

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on


We’ve been back from our European adventures for a few weeks now and I’m finally getting around to editing pictures and getting my thoughts organized.

Our first stop on our vacation was Norway. We began in Oslo and then took a train across the country to visit family in Bergen. Along the way we stopped overnight in a town called Flam, which had countless waterfalls, gorgeous views, excellent shopping, and…a brewery. Go figure.

Ægir Brew Pub

Nestled among the fjords is Ægir Brew Pub. When you step foot inside you are instantly transported to a warm, welcoming pub that feels like Vikings could come through the door at any moment. The brewery had an impressive selection of beer.  I like the lighter beers, so I tried a Boyla Blonde and Sorachi Kolsch.  Bryce likes the darker ones, so he had a Rallar Amber Ale and Sommar Red Lager. 

Ægir Beer


Full disclosure though--I did leave Bryce and the pub in order to do some souvenir shopping. He basked in the glory of not being on a train with a heavy backpack and 14 other family members, while I went nuts in the sweater section of the Mall of Norway (not to be confused with the Mall of America).


Once I finished shopping with a victory lap through the Christmas tree ornament display, I met up with Bryce and a few family members to continue sampling the finest beer Flam had to offer. I think one was infused with wild flowers. If not, it sure smelled like it was and, yes, it was delicious.

Ægir Beer List

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our vacation across Europe, where we post about the beer in Germany!

Read more →

What Is Soapstone?

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

When Bryce was in the early days of creating the Beer Stones, he tried numerous types of materials—steel, glass, and soapstone.  After a considerable amount of prototyping and testing, Bryce ended up choosing soapstone.

But what exactly is soapstone?

Soapstone patterns on three Beer Stones

This unique material, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock.  It transforms deep within the earth's crust under high temperature and pressure, specifically where one tectonic plate plunges below another into the molten mantle.  I was really hoping metamorphic meant it came from planet Krypton or something.  Soapstone is mined all around the world, but it is mostly quarried in Brazil, which is where Brew Muse sources its product.

In its purest form, soapstone is talc, which is most commonly used to make baby powder.  Talc gives soapstone its characteristically smooth, slick feel for which it is named.  The percentage of talc is what determines soapstone’s texture and strength.

While soapstone is an incredibly dense material that is typically used as kitchen counters and fire places, it also works well for carving and was actually favored by the ancient Egyptians for their statues.  Since soapstone is easy to sculpt, Bryce was able to create the classic Beer Stone shapes and etch in the nucleation sites by hand.  Soapstone is nonporous, nonabsorbent, resistant to acids, and heat resistant, all of which help make Beer Stones compatible with beer.

Do you have more questions about soapstone? Let us know!
Read more →

How To Host A Beer Tasting

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

I don’t know about you, but I am in the middle of a major bout of cabin fever.  I am counting down the days to when the weather starts to warm up, so I can get out of my house without my face freezing off.

There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to this spring, but the big one is hosting a beer tasting on our deck.  Having never done this before, I did some research and came up with a lot of great ideas and tips for how to host a beer tasting.  In case you’re interested in hosting your own party, I thought I’d share some tips with you.

Beer tasting flight on a table from a top-down view

First, you need to choose a theme for your beer tasting.  Choosing a tasting theme makes the event more fun and is a conversation starter.  There are essentially four types of tasting themes: horizontal, vertical, blind and seasonal.

Horizontal: This is the easiest theme to arrange.  In this type you select several beers of different styles – usually selections that are distinct in color, taste and strength.  This gives the taster the opportunity to taste new styles and learn the diversity that the world of beer offers.

Vertical: This theme compares beers from one style, region or brewer.  This is ideal for exploring a particular style, such as pale lagers or stouts, or a region, such as Belgium or Germany (and may include beers styled according to a particular region though not necessarily brewed there).  Or, feature a vertical tasting from the selections of one great brewery.

Blind: This theme may have the most fun appeal, but is harder for the host to manage.  In a blind tasting, typically the tasters do not know the brand or style they are sampling.  As host of the tasting, you are the only one (at the outset) to know the identity of the beer samples.  You will have to pour in another room, hide the bottles, and keep careful track of which beer is in which glass (and in which order you serve them).  One tip is to use a magic marker to number the cups before you serve them.

Seasonal: This theme is popular for tastings and is a particular version of a vertical tasting.  It is a fun way to start off a holiday party and a nice ice breaker.  Winter holidays offer great Christmas ales.  Other beer holidays can include Oktoberfest (many German and U.S. craft brew “fest beers” are now readily accessible), and May Day (Mai Bock’s are traditional, but wheat beers are good for the spring, too).  You can also be creative – why not a Valentine’s Day tasting (cherry and raspberry lambics, along with chocolate flavored beers) or a Thanksgiving tasting with pumpkin and spiced beers?

Beer tasting flight on a paddle

Once you’ve chosen a theme, the next step is to set a date, time, location, and invite people. After you do all that, you’ll need to decide how many different beers to taste.  The theme you’ve chosen will help you decide what styles of beer to get and how many.  Once you’ve picked out your beers, do a little research on the beers you’ve selected in order to provide some guidance during your tasting.  

Choose what kind of party décor you’d like to have, and then assemble all the items that you need.  There are a lot of great ideas on Pinterest and blogs, so just do a quick Google search and you’ll be set.  I like this one and this one.

Once you have your party décor and supplies all set, you are ready to party!  Enjoy!

Read more →

Green Beer Be Jabbers!

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

On St. Patrick’s Day everything turns green: cookies, bagels, ice cream, and best of all, beer.  St Patrick’s Day is already a big day of imbibing in a glass or two (or three or four) of Guinness, so why not make light beer green as well?  Green beer is a respectable alternative for those who aren’t into the heaviness of Guinness but are staying festive.

Green Beer in a Pilsner Glass

At some point during the festivities, one might wonder “where did green beer come from?” as he/she orders a round at the bar. And to that I respond “from a coroner.”  Not quite what you were expecting, right?

According to several sources, green beer was first introduced in 1914 during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Schnerer Club in New York City by Dr. Curtin, a Coroner's physician. T he good doctor used a drop of Blue Wash in an undisclosed quantity of beer.  Back then, Blue Wash was a bluing agent used for dying fabrics and probably not what you want to use in your home brewing kit.  I’d suggest blue food coloring instead, just to be safe. 

However, there is also an account of green beer being drunk at a celebration a few years earlier in Washington State.  A 1910 edition of the Spokane Press announced beneath the headline “GREEN BEER BE JABBERS!” that there was “at least one bar in town today that is reminding the thirsty that it is the Sivententh of March, God Rist His Sowl.”  No word on how that Washington barman dyed his drink.  No recipe and the beverage must not have made much of an impression, as Dr. Curtin is still recognized as the one who introduced green beer to the St. Patty’s drinking scene.

If you want to get authentic with the tradition of green beer, here it is.  Back in Ireland, people used to drop a shamrock in their beer, then down the beverage and shamrock to bring good luck. This custom is called “drowning the shamrock”.  Seems rather appropriate.

Green shamrock on a beer's head of foam

At the opposite end of spectrum, far from the bar crawls and parades, green beer isn’t always a good thing.  Green Beer is a term still used today to describe beer that’s too young, or “green."  Green beer still contains acetaldehyde, which can make beer taste bad, because it’s not yet fully fermented. Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, some breweries created campaigns warning consumers against the dangers of drinking green beer.  In 1922, the Washing Times quoted a chemist who said “green beer is extremely bad on the stomach."  These days brewers worry less about green beer, as beer production is better understood and more regulated.

So there you have it.  A very brief history of green beer just in time for all your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Cheers!

Read more →