We lead off with an always-engaging topic: Game of Thrones. Apparently, Brewery Ommegang joined the throngs of Thronies disappointed by the recent news of a late and shortened Season 7 of the hit HBO fantasy series, and decided to cope by moving up the next beer in their until-now-annual Game of Thrones series. Valar Dohaeris Belgian-Style Tripel will be available starting on October 10th, and will be joined by what could be considered its returning brother, Valar Morghulis Dubbel Ale. I reviewed this year's start-of-season offering, Seven Kingdoms Ale, and you expect to see Valar Dohaeris on this site later this year.
Staying in the realm of the nerdy, San Diego Comic-Con is mere days away, and Stone Brewing will be preceding the annual convention with HopCon 4.0, their 4th annual beer festival celebrating beers created by nerds, actors, comedians, and nerdy actors and comedians. The concept started with Stone's initial collaboration with former Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton and fark.com founder Drew Curtis 4 years ago, known as Stone Farking W00tstout, which has now become an annual release. This year's HopCon will feature W00tstout variants and other unique beers created by nerdy personalities, with Wheaton and Curtis joined by comedienne and tv host Aisha Tyler (Whose Line is It Anyway?), actresses/Team Unicorn members Alison Haislip and Rileah Vanderbilt, tv/internet personality Alex Albrecht, comedian Jonah Ray (upcoming Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot), and NASA/JPL engineer Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowsi.
Goose Island Beer was one of A-B InBev's first acquisitions under the High End banner. I generally tried to remain positive about Goose Island, insisting that as long as they were left alone and had no problems, that I would remain positive about their beer line-up, despite the potential for interference from their macro overlords. Well, Goose Island just issued their second recall of their well-regarded Bourbon County Brand Stout from 2015 due to several batches being infected with lactobacillus bacteria. Goose Island is pursuing the root cause, making process changes to ensure future batches are not infected, and issuing refunds for bad bottles. One batch of Proprietor's Bourbon County Stout was also infected.
Vinepair released a list of the 10 most popular new craft beers released in 2015. The list is based on supermarket sales. The result is a list that is as much influenced by distribution as it is by beer quality, though I have no real qualms with anything on this list.
Netherlands-based KLM airlines has collaborated with Heineken to develop a special keg system that will work at typical airplane altitudes. Standard kegs are not practical at 30,000 feet, because the air pressure differential would result in pint glasses full of foam. Heineken has developed modified air pressure kegs that will work at up to 36,000 feet and have been adapted to fit in an airplane. As a result, KLM will begin serving in-flight draft beer starting next month.
Finally, the 35th annual Great American Beer Festival will be held October 6-8, 2016. GABF is the largest ticketed beer festival in the U.S., with over 750 attending breweries in 2015, and their prestigious GABF Competition will award medals in over 90 categories covering about 150 beer styles. In 2015, over 6600 beers entered the competition.