Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Hop-Pickers' Lunch

Beer gardens in America are actually beer patios, to paraphrase Greg Kitsock, editor for Mid-Atlantic Beer News.

Ah, but here, pictured near summer's end, this is a real beer garden.

Hop-pickers' lunch

Hogs Back Brewery's chairman Rupert Thompson gives a final look over lunch for his hop pickers, the table set amid mature Farnham White Bine hops in the brewery's hopyard. This year's harvest was the first of that hop variety, in its native soil of Surrey, "since the last bines were grubbed up 85 years ago."
Sixty and more years ago the hops would have been picked by travellers and other itinerant workers: today it’s students, earning some late summer holiday money before returning to college. This can cause problems: the hops have to be picked when the workforce is available to pick them, and Rupert and his team say that one of the things they have discovered since planting their own hops is that the cones often have the best flavours and aromas later in the year than many hop farmers would be harvesting them.
Hopping down in Surrey
Martyn Cornell
9 September 2016.

United Kingdom ---> England ---> southeast England ---> Surrey ---> Guildford ---> Tongham ---> Hogs Back Brewery.

Lupulin's majesty; bucolic repast; labor's reward. I've re-posted the photograph with kind permission from Martyn Cornell, all rights reserved.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cask Ale Week 2016, but “only in pubs, only in Britain.”

Cask-conditioned 'real ale' appears to be an endangered afterthought in a lot of the United States. And even when it does appear, it's often not as truly 'cask-conditioned,' but merely as uncarbonated beer in a cask with cocoa-puffs and dingleberries tossed in, or other ephemera, willy-nilly.

Of course, that's a generalization, but only because it often is the reality.

But that's not so in the United Kingdom, where Cask Ale Week begins today. It's an eleven-day week, "celebrating Britain's national drink," continuing through 2 October, but "only in Britain, only in pubs."

As to the former, unfortunately, it's not only the week that's so.

Cask Ale Week 2016

To learn more:


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Don't take away my beer pie, Google!

Google giveth; Google taketh away.

I write YFGF on the Blogger platform, supplied by Google. By the end of the month, Google will be 'deprecating' its —gasp— nine-year-old Google Feed API.

In plain English, that means that, in a few days, linked searches and the slideshow of all those pretty photos at Flickr will be disappearing from this blog's side panel. (The photos themselves will remain at Flickr — a service of the incredible shrinking Yahoo— and the search function will remain viable, but searching only for things written in the blog itself.) Oh, well.

But please, Google. Don't deprecate take away my beer pie.

Eat Beer Pie (02)


Monday, September 19, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 35/36, 2016.

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 35/36
28 August - 10 September 2016

  • 8 September 2016
    The first Star Trek episode was broadcast fifty years ago, today —8 September 1966— on NBC.
    —Via Rolling Stone.

  • 8 September 2016
    Voracious Anheuser Busch-InBev outfoxes Heineken; snares ownership of Belgian 'craft' brewer Bosteels for $225 million.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 8 September 2016
    The art of brewing, the act of brewing, no matter what you’re doing, it’s a very repetitive, structured task at its most basic. It is this. You do this. And you do it every time, and you do it right every time. So regardless of the ingredients that are in that mash or in the kettle, it doesn’t really matter. Whether it be a Golden Ale or an IPA or an Imperial Stout, if you’re doing it and you’re crushing it every time and it’s great, and you’re maintaining that—what else do you need to satisfy your ego? There’s plenty of ego in the craft beer world. I don’t think we need to add any more to it.
    —Via John Kimmich, co-founder/owner/brewer, Vermont brewery, The Alchemist (as quoted at Good Beer Hunting).

  • 7 September 2016
    Hops acreage is up 17 percent in Pacific Northwest, in 2016 over 2015, and 18.5 percent across the United States. This is the 5th consecutive year of growth for U.S. hops, which now amount for 40 percent of the global suply. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that a record 91.8 million pounds will be harvested in the Pacific Northwest alone, a 16 percent increase over 2015 (an increase of 13 million pounds).
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.

  • 6 September 2016
    The DNA of kveik —the farmhouse beer yeasts of Denmark (and Lithuania)— and their complex composition and obscure genealogy.
    —Via Lars Marius Garshol, at Larsblog.

  • 5 September 2016
    'Craft' beer sales grew 9.6 percent during the first half of 2016, which, while substantial, was 'craft' beer's smallest increase since 2004.
    —Via DRAFT Magazine.

  • 4 September 2016
    According to the [U.S.] Brewers Association, "small and independent American craft breweries" create more than 424,000 jobs, with more than 115,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs. All put, the 'craft' brewing industry contributes $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy. According to Nielsen, more beer is sold in the United States during the Labor Day holiday than during any other of the year
    —Via YFGF.

  • 2 September 2016
    Launched on 5 August 2011 and achieving orbit of Jupiter on 5 July 2016, Juno is only the second spacecraft to ever orbit that planet and only the first solar powered craft to do so. “Its first glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before.”
    —Via NASA.

  • 31 August 2016
    Virginia wine sales were at a record 556,500 cases in fiscal year 2016 (which concluded 30 June), up 6 percent over 2015. Virginia cider sales were at 416,750 cases, up 52 percent. #VAwine #VAcider
    —Via NBC 29.

  • 31 August 2016
    103-year old South Carolinian woman says the secret to longevity is drinking beer. "Doctor's orders."
    —Via Thrillist.

  • 31 August 2016
    IPA is the third most poured draft beer category in the United States, 2016 versus 2015, and the top 'craft' beer draft category. Pale Ales are down 22 percent over the same period last year.
    —Via BeerBoard (at

  • 30 August 2016
    In a landmark decision with national implications, a Texas judge has found that beer distribution 'franchise' regulations are unconstitutional under Texas law.
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.

  • 29 August 2016
    In 2010, aroma hops accounted for 8,100 acres in the U.S., 26 percent of the total U.S. hops acreage. Alpha hops —hops grown for their bittering potential— were the other 74 percent. In 2016, aroma hops were planted on more than 40,000 acres, accounting for 80 percent of all U.S. hop acres. That's a 393.87 percent increase in acreage. Total acreage devoted to all hops was also at an all-time high in 2016 in the U.S.: 51,000 acres.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 28 August 2016
    Beginning during World War II, American breweries' advertisements campaigned to transform the image of beer from that of a working-class vice to that of a "wholesome American domestic pastime."
    —Via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • 28 August 2016
    You're not a good brewer just because someone bought your beer. You're a good brewer when that customer finishes the beer and comes back to buy another.
    —Via Travis Tedrow , brewer at Washington, D.C. brewery, Gordon Biersh (as quoted at DC Beer).

  • Denis Holliday: creator of Thomas Hardy Ale at Eldridge Pope Brewery
  • 26 August 2016
    Denis Holliday, head brewer of Eldridge Pope’s Dorchester brewery for nearly 30 years, and creator of Thomas Hardy Ale, a barleywine that, at 1.1 percent alcohol-by-volume, was for awhile the word's strongest beer, died at age 99, on 2 June 2016.
    —Via The Telegraph.

  • 27 August 2016
    The potential scenario where, through acquisition of craft breweries and synergies of the mega-merger [Anheuser-Busch InBev purchasing SAB Miller], a single giant player could attempt to curb the craft beer movement from behind the scenes by reducing access to raw materials [e.g. hops, malt] and distribution channels is a legitimate fear in the craft industry.
    —Via Chris Herron, CEO and co-founder of Georgia brewery Creature Comforts, (as quoted at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

  • 25 August 2016
    Please can we all remember that Pete's Wicked Ale went public on the NASDAQ on November 8, 1995 and rose 40% immediately. Petes was initially priced at $18 in the offering and closed at $25.25 at the end of the first day of trading. Today the brand doesn't exist. Doesn't even exist. Not kidding. Doesn't exist.

    These issues, I am certain, will only intensify as more breweries come online and capacity starts to outstrip demand, and distributors and retailers start to say 'no mas' on additional brands and SKUs. [...] Too many breweries creating a crowded marketplace, tap rotation nation, too much brewing capacity but not enough packaging capacity, too much bad/infected beer being produced, too much dusty old beer on the shelves, rampant pay-to-play, and big brewers aggressively getting into the game. Oh, and deep discounting: the biggest red flag in predicting a 1997 redux. [...]

    There will be more Pete's Wicked Ales, mark me. The reverse-tipping-point is here, or will be soon. And when times get tough and the craft pie is not growing even high or mid single digits anymore -- or, god forbid, FLAT -- people will get sharp elbows. It's already happening.

    Look, I was already armpit deep in the business in 1996-2000 when the last time this was happening in craft. Everybody now seems to hopefully say, 'This time is different.' From what I saw back then and what I see now, the only difference is people have more tatts. Even the beards are the same. And the blithe ignorance. They know what they know, but what they don't know, they assume doesn't exist.
    —Via Harry Schuhmacher, at Beer Business Daily.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Got Beer?

An Oktoberfest blast-from-the-past.

Here was Sweetness, the St. Bernard. Her name matched her temperament. Her flask, unfortunately, did not. It was empty.

On 4 October 2008, Sweetness was attending the 9th annual Capitol City Oktoberfest, hosted by the (wonderfully misspelled) Capitol City Brewing Company, in Arlington (Shirlington), Virginia. Then and there, alternate supplies of beer were, fortunately, ample.

Got beer?

Four thousand two hundred and forty miles away, the 2016 iteration of the world's original Oktoberfest begins today in Munich, Germany.

Normally, the party would run for sixteen days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. A celebration revision in 1990, however, ruled that if the 16th day of Oktoberfest falls before German Unity Day (3 October), Oktoberfest would continue until that holiday.

Thus, in 2016, Gemütlichkeit will flow for seventeen days during Oktoberfest.

Meanwhile, back in Arlington, Virginia...

The Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest marks its 17th year, this year, on 1 October, with beers from more than sixty-five breweries.

For the first time, the festival, this year, will be included as a "marquee" event of DC Beer Week —a celebration of beer in the nation's capital and its environs. This is the 8th year for DC Beer Week; for the first time, the DC Brewers Guild will be its organizer. Putting its stamp on things, the guild has transferred the event from the heat and humidity of late August to the crisp weather of early autumn, 24 September through 1 October.

Again, Gemütlichkeit.