Short On Beer 2013 Year in Review

My life has changed in ways I could never imagine this year and it’s all because of this site. If you’ll indulge me, I want to retrace my steps during 2013. Fair warning: this will be a lengthy post, at least to this blog’s standard, but I really hope you read it (it gets pretty deep near the end). I’ll drop some hints about projects for 2014 and I think my journey is something you can connect with whether you are just getting into craft beer or have a site of your own dedicated to it.

In The Beginning…

January 9th, 2013 I launched this site. I had no idea what I was doing (I still really don’t). But I dove in and in my first post wrote this:

“Here’s where I’m at:

1. My knowledge of the craft beer industry is minimal.

2. My knowledge of tasting beer is awful.

3. I’m scared to homebrew.”

This year I managed to conquer all or at least part of each of these. First, I met some amazing people in a bunch of different areas in the craft beer industry. This gave me a deeper understanding in how the three-tier system works, how a brewery works, who is drinking the beer, and much more. As far as tasting beer, I spent a whole month thinking critically about what I drank which improved my “drinking powers” (I’ll get to this in greater detail about this later). And lastly, I brewed two homebrew batches.

Beer Club

Hosting Beer Club

Hosting my first beer club at the Buffalo Wing Factory

In February I got the chance to host my first beer club. I had no idea what I was doing out there. This was the first time I was the authority figure that people were paying watch speak. Okay, I wasn’t paid and the people were paying for the beer and food but I think a little of that was to hear me talk. But from it I learned a lot about myself and public speaking. I enjoyed it and am thankful for having gone out there and done it.


In March I homebrewed for the first time. The homebrewing kit I had had for months was eyeing me and I finally got the nerve to just do it. So I watched the miserably produced training video and went to work. After some mishaps and a lot of swearing, a few weeks later I had my first homebrew. It was a proud moment.

April Dirty 30

I thought it’d be a good idea to try a new beer and write a post about it everyday for a month. Well it worked for 17 days (16 straight to begin the month).  At least I made it further than the other blog who I tried to partner with to do it. AD30 made me think critically about every beer I drank which was a good exercise in growing my palette. I think I’ll do it again in 2014.

New Job

The reason April Dirty 30 got sidetracked after 16 days was because I got a new job! All the excitement and preparations that went along with it made it really difficult to fulfill my nightly commitment. This was a huge change for me. I actually don’t know if I would have gotten the job or had the nerve to take it if it wasn’t for this blog pushing me out of my comfort zone.


TWIBs or “This Week in Beer” started in May. This was my way of summing up my thoughts on beers I had had that week along with my thoughts on the beer industry and life. I cut back on TWIBs later in the year but want to get back into them in 2014.


I spent a lot of the spring and summer talking to and meeting with beer people. I had some awesome interviews with local brewery owners who taught me so much about starting a brewery and a beer-related business. Hopefully these lessons will come in handy one day.

Conversations with Beer Bloggers

This summer I started Conversations with Beer Bloggers – an online interview with your favorite beer bloggers. This is one of my favorite things I started. Through CBB I was able to meet and ask questions to people whose opinions I greatly respect. I already have the first one of 2014 recorded and will have it out to you shortly. There will be many more of these in 2014!

Twitter Happened

With my new job came a lot of downtime at first. So I spent copious amounts of time interacting with my new online beer pals on Twitter. Probably too much time. But they kept the days moving and full of laughs. I am now absolutely slammed at work and probably will be for the rest of eternity so I may never get an opportunity like that again.

Portner Brewhouse

Pouring for Portner

Pouring for Portner

Towards the end of summer I got the chance to pour at an event for one of the brewery owners I had met earlier in the year. No big deal, right? Well probably not except that a random, and I consider high-profile, Twitter follower was there and recognized me. Pretty freaking cool.

More Beer Clubs

Oliver, me and Bryan

Oliver, me and Bryan

The summer and fall led to me hosting three more beer clubs. One of them I hosted at home and the other two at the Buffalo Wing Factory. The last beer club of 2013 was a special one. I co-hosted with the great Oliver Gray and another online beer pal, Bryan, traveled 6+ hours in order to make it. Fingers crossed that BWF will let me host more of them next year.

Can you help me host more beer clubs at BWF? Send them a message here simply saying, “I want Josh Short to host more beer clubs.”

Pliny and Heady

Pliny the Elder and Heady Topper are the #3 and #1 beers on BeerAdvocate’s Top 250 Beers. Pliny the Elder was even on My Impossible List. And I drank them both in less than 5 weeks. This time last year I don’t even think I knew what these beers were. No way would I have had the opportunity to have them if it wasn’t for everything listed above. 2014 goal — Zombie Dust and Pliny the Younger.

Cicerone Certified Beer Server

Cicerone Certification


Accreditation. The Cicerone Program’s thoughts on how much I know beer are meaningless to 99.9% of people. However I’m in that 0.1% (and you probably are too). So when I finally got off my ass, studied for the exam and passed with a 97%, I was ecstatic! The culmination of everything I did this year paid off. Little nuggets of information I picked up talking to beer people and interacting with like-minded individuals online came in handy. I studied. I studied pretty hard too and could have probably passed without these experiences. But it wouldn’t have been the same. It wouldn’t have been as fun and that’s what it’s all about for me. The knowledge I learned homebrewing, the details of styles I picked up during the April Dirty 30, having conversations with beer bloggers, hosting beer clubs where I’m the expert being asked all sorts of questions about beer all were wrapped up in one 60-question online exam.

2014 and Beyond

I started 2013 lost in an open field without a compass or map. I can’t go back to the start of my journey even though it would be a blast to do it all over again. I’m now on a road (the distance and size of it I’m unsure). I believe I have a compass. Do I know which way to go? Not yet. But I have a ton of projects coming up that I can’t wait to start working on that will guide me in the right direction. As promised, here are some hints regarding some of them:

  1. A recurring meet up of like-minded individuals at an establishment that serves liquid
  2. Bar/Restaurant beer education
  3. Videos. Lots of videos.
  4. Guest posts (here by others and other sites by me)
  5. SOB Podcast???

My Friends

If you have ever been to this site before, met me in person, interacted with me on Twitter or had a hand in any part of me making it this far I thank you. If this is your first time on this site, thank you too and welcome. You all keep me going on my journey. I probably would have never had the courage to do any of it if it wasn’t for your support. Thank you so, so much.

What do you think? Do you have any questions about my journey thus far or where it’s going next? Leave them below along with your own memories from this year.

As always, contact me if you ever have questions or thoughts on the site, beer or life that you want to share with me. I’d love for you to just say hi and introduce yourself. It helps me to get to know my readers better and deliver you more and better content.

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Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam Study Guide Part V – Off-Flavors

This is Part V of a series on knowledge for the Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam. All information disseminated is from the syllabus provided by the Cicerone website and mixed with my own thoughts. I’m doing this to 1) help me learn the material and 2) share the knowledge with people who haven’t heard of the exam or are planning to take the exam.

Feel free to skip ahead to other sections. Here’s a list of all the study guide parts:

This is Part V on Off-Flavors.

Recently I’ve been diving into learning off-flavors on my journey to becoming a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. On the exam, off-flavors will probably only be a handful of the 60 questions. But it’s a topic I need to study up on since you need to get a 90% to pass (that’s 54/60 right).

Most of this information is taken out of John Palmer’s How to Brew, which is available for free online, and the BJCP website. Here are a couple of key off-flavors and a basic overview about them.


  • Tastes like fresh green apples. It is an intermediate compound in the formation of alcohol. This essentially means the beer is too young and it needs more time to condition.


  • It is mouth puckering and has a husk-like graininess taste. It’s similar to sucking on a tea bag. It is usually the result of steeping grains for too long or the pH of the mash exceeding a range of 5.2-5.6.


  • Tastes like butter or popcorn. It is the result of the normal fermentation process or a bacterial infection. It is usually because of weak yeast or insufficient aeration.

Dimethyl Sulfides (DMS)

  • Tastes like cooked corn. Outside of pale lagers, it is the result of poor brewing practices or bacterial infections. When it’s from a bacterial infection it tastes like cooked cabbage. In short, cool down the wort as quickly as you can before pitching yeast or DMS will reform.

Light-Struck or Skunked

  • It tastes skunky. This is from being exposed to sunlight or fluorescent lights. Brown bottles protect much better than green or clear bottles but they still shouldn’t be left in the sunlight or under fluorescent lights (like in a grocery store).


  • Tastes stale or like wet cardboard. This happens when beer is exposed to oxygen post-fermentation. This can be from a number of sources including bottle caps and keg seals. If your beer is old, it’s probably oxidized.


Once I take the CBS exam I’ll update this and the other parts of the study guide. If you’ve taken the exam feel free to add comments on these off-flavors or other ones that I might need to know to pass it.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam! Remember to check out the other posts. Here they are again:

If you passed the exam and/or used any of these posts as help, I’d love to hear about it. Leave your thoughts on them, the exam or anything else below!

Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam Study Guide Part IV – American Styles

This is Part IV of a series on knowledge for the Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam. All information disseminated is from the syllabus provided by the Cicerone website and mixed with my own thoughts. I’m doing this to 1) help me learn the material and 2) share the knowledge with people who haven’t heard of the exam or are planning to take the exam.

Feel free to skip ahead to other sections. Here’s a list of all the study guide parts:

This is Part IV on American Styles.

**Note – PB stands for Perceived Bitterness**

American Styles


American Lager (Light/Standard/Premium)

  • PB – Low
  • Color – Straw, very pale
  • ABV – Lower to normal

California Common Beer

  • PB – Pronounced
  • Color – Light amber to dark amber
  • ABV – Normal


American Wheat Beer

  • PB – Moderate
  • Color – Straw to gold
  • ABV – Normal

American Blonde Ale

  • PB – Moderate
  • Color – Straw to gold
  • ABV – Lower to normal

American Pale Ale

  • PB – Pronounced
  • Color – Gold to amber
  • ABV – Normal

American Amber Ale

  • PB – Pronounced
  • Color – Amber to dark amber
  • ABV – Normal

American India Pale Ale (IPA)

  • PB – Assertive
  • Color – Gold to dark amber
  • ABV – Elevated

Imperial IPA

  • PB – Highly assertive
  • Color – Dark gold to dark amber
  • ABV – High

American Brown Ale

  • PB – Moderate
  • Color – Light brown to dark brown
  • ABV – Normal

American Stout

  • PB – Assertive
  • Color – Black
  • ABV – Normal to elevated

Oatmeal Stout

  • PB – Moderate
  • Color – Black
  • ABV – Normal

American Barleywine

  • PB – Assertive
  • Color – Light amber to light brown
  • ABV – High to very high

Imperial Stout

  • PB – Pronounced
  • Color – Black
  • ABV – High to very high

Happy studying and good luck on the exam! Remember to check out the other posts. Here they are again:

If you passed the exam and used any of these posts as help, I’d love to hear about it. Leave your thoughts on them, the exam or anything else below!

TWIB – “Finally’s”

This Week in Beer (TWIB) is a feature where I’ll highlight some craft beers I had during this past week mixed with some related (and unrelated) thoughts. Yes, it’s a play on the name of the show This Week in Baseball which I grew up on and loved.

This Week in Beer is all about “finally’s” — finally drinking some elusive beers and meeting a big influence in my beer journey.

Pinecones in a Glass

Finally, my first Stone Enjoy By IPA!

Finally, my first Stone Enjoy By IPA!

A few days ago I received a tweet saying,

Needless to say, days later I was sitting at Glass Half Full finally enjoying my very first Stone Enjoy By IPA. Since I’m in suburbian Northern Virginia, some 2,700 miles from the brewery in Escondido, CA that prides itself on delivering fresh beer, I’ve had a difficult time finding this beer. Incredibly, Glass Half Full had the Enjoy By 09.13.13 on tap. So I ordered one up and indeed enjoyed the piney-goodness. I guess I like eating pine cones more than Tom Aguero.

I’ll buy you a round the next time Glass Half Full has some if you haven’t had one yet. Maybe I’m a sucker for the hype but it’s a beer every beer-lover should have at least once.

Continue reading

Straddling the Line Between Novice and Expert

Glass with Short on Beer etched

Yeah that’s a glass with this blog’s name on it.

I am not a beer expert. I am not a beer novice. What am I? Hopefully I figure it out in the next 700 words (SPOILER ALERT: I don’t). I don’t even know what craft beer is. I’m straddling some imaginary line that separates these two informal and irrelevant classifications in the ever-growing world of craft beer. Besides being a Cicerone or working for a brewery, what certifications (on paper or socially) can one have that sets them apart from the average craft beer drinker? Secondly, does it really matter?

What does one do if they don’t have the time to devote to becoming a Cicerone or financial stability to switch careers to the brewery life? Start a blog of course. Does that automatically make someone a beer expert? No. A beer novice? Nope, not that either. Therefore there are no rules when it comes to blogging. We can post whenever about whatever. And the main reason to blog, at least for me, is to provide quality content that I want to write about that my readers might want to read. I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not my opinion on beer matters. And if they do think that, aren’t I a beer expert then? Do I even want to be a beer expert?

A few months ago I asked some question on Twitter about the best brewery logos. Among the feedback I got a satirical response about a brewery in Kentucky I’ve never heard of that was/is involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit (exhibit A: it could be copyright infringement but does it really matter? Since I’m not a beer expert after all I don’t need to be 100% accurate). I responded with someone like, “oh that’s a cool one.” A third person chimed in saying that I had no right to call myself a beer blogger [because I didn’t get the joke]. I was pissed off for a bit. But I bit my tongue instead of getting into a Twitter war and did made the best passive-aggressive move: block the jerk and move on. I guess deep down I might still be ticked and this part of this rant is my way of getting it off my chest. I offer my sincerely apologies that I wasn’t caught up on the recent brewery turf war news. I have a life outside of beer. Am I a beer expert then? I guess not. Does this mean I should stop blogging? Of course not. I blog about what I want write about that hopefully my readers will enjoy. Now if I was writing on recent brewery logo law news that would be an omission. Maybe ding my beer blogger scorecard then.

There was a recent Twitter spat between two well-known beer bloggers that I respect and read. I am not taking sides or commenting on the situation. However it just goes to show that a few simple words online can be implied the wrong way. Even if there was no malice intended, they can make a difference. This is a reason why I do not call myself a beer expert. There is undue pressure put on them to express thoughts at 100% accuracy. Why would I want that? Blogging is fun. Scrutiny isn’t.

Playing devil’s advocate on this one, isn’t the goal of all beer bloggers is to make money just talking about and drinking beer? And don’t you have to be a beer expert to do that? I’m still trying to answer that myself but at this point I think the answer is no.

In my best Tim Ferriss impression, what is an expert? Besides the few available certifications, isn’t all you need a few public speaking appearances, good knowledge of the subject matter, an online presence, and have your own opinions? Well it looks like I’m almost there. Back to being a beer expert.

What this rant is trying to get at is that I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. And I’m okay with that. I’ll just keep writing about my beer-y adventures and maybe provide some useful knowledge along the way. That’ll keep me happy. That’ll keep this blog going. Don’t force me into being someone I don’t want to be. I don’t care about the semantics involved with Lambics. Like Josh Dion says, “Never take beer or life too seriously.”

I have some new, fun, creative features in the works for this blog (can you say Fantasy Beer League?!). Beer expert or not. If you stuck with this rant to here, thank you. I probably wouldn’t have.