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Conversation brewing over Auburn man’s attempt for beer world record

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Alfred Lee brews 110 beers at his Power Club Brewery in Auburn, and Tuesday’s story in The Bee detailed his attempts to set a Guinness World Record for “most handcrafted microbrewed beers brewed on premises by a single master brewer and served on tap.”

Now, that’s a lot of beer —and a pretty long title for a world record. But the story’s also generating keg-fulls of online chatter, both skeptical and supportive, about Lee’s brewing practices.

Lee declined to share his precise brewing methods with The Bee’s story, but says this on the web site for his Power Club microbrwery:

“I handcraft (partial mash, all grain and extract) each and every one of the following Microbrews. Everything is brewed here on premises 5 Barrels at a time (at the Power Club Brewery) and served fresh on tap.”

The Bee story was posted on Reddit, where users share some of the day’s most popular links, and it quickly became the top story in its section dedicated to homebrewing. Like a spritzy pilsner, some of the 159 comments (and counting) were light and agreeable. Among them:

• “It sounds like he's experimenting a lot, and with 110 beers he has a lot of opportunities to try new things. Even if 90% of them are just decent, that's still going to mean he produces a lot of interesting and novel beers.”

• “I don't live far from Auburn. I'll have to stop by and check it out.”

• “He was successful enough in other ventures to allow him to live the life he chooses.

• “I say great for him. It's not like he was handed his fortune on a silver platter while he sat around watching tv.”

However, a good chunk of the comments were likely made with bitter beer face. As mentioned in the article, many questioned how this glut of beer would be kept fresh. Others found that descriptions of Lee’s beers were nearly the same of those from commercially available beer kits.

For starters: The notes for Lee’s “Dead Ringer IPA” mirrors that from the product description of the Dead Ringer Ale Extract Kit (available for $40.45 at Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply).

Much of this conversation begs the question: What defines “handcrafted” or “craft beer,” anyway?

The American Brewers Association offers some guidelines for craft brewers: They must produce 6 million barrels or less annually, operate as an independent business and adhere to traditional brewing methods and ingredients.

But those definitions don’t always hold tight. Adjuncts, or unmalted grains such as rice, are often frowned upon in craft brewing. But had a glass of the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale from Japan? Brewmasters love to debate these discrepancies.

That’s to say, the conversation surrounding Lee’s 110 beers on tap keeps flowing. We’ll also check back in a few months once Guinness makes its determination on the world record, a time when Lee says he’ll divulge his brewing methods.


* Auburn entrepreneur taps into craft beer craze -- and looks to set a world record

Read more articles by Chris Macias

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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