Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Shakespeare, Mom, and the World Series

In 1948, my Nana and my mother, then a young lady, were on their way, by train, from Brooklyn to visit relatives in Chicago. They stopped for a train change in Cleveland. A porter approached, offering to carry their bags. "What do you think of the Indians," he asked my mother. "You have Indians in Cleveland?" she innocently asked, surprised. In disgust, the porter put down their bags and walked away.

The Cleveland (baseball) Indians would go on to win the World Series that year, defeating the Boston Braves. It would be, in fact, the last season in which Cleveland would win the World Series (until?).

On whether they or their opponent, the Chicago Cubs —last winners of a World Series over a century ago, in 1908, long suffering under a caprine curse— win this October, I take no public stance. My beloved Washington Nationals were, after all, swatted away in the post-season (1924 being the last time they, in an earlier iteration, won the world championship).

And yet, I will watch and root against history. And I will take note that today, Game 1 of the 112th Fall Classic, falls on St. Crispin Day (outfielder Coco Crisp, notwithstanding), a feastday for which William Shakespeare —possibly with the ghost-writing assistance of Christopher Marlowe— penned what might be the ultimate pep talk ... if not originally for a baseball game.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in America [my apology, Mr. Shakespeare] now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

October can be the loveliest month. Angst and joy, but (hopefully) no bloodshed. Talk beer, tomorrow. Play ball, tonight.

  • The video clip is from Act IV Scene 3 of Shakepeare's play Henry V, as performed (and directed) by Kennth Branaugh in the 1989 film, Henry V. Lawrence Olivier's earlier 1944 film is considered by many the cinematic sine qua non of the play.
  • UPDATE: The Cleveland Indians won Game 1, 6-0.

  • For more from YFGF:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 39/40, 2016.

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

Weeks 39/40
25 September - 8 October 2016

  • 8 October 2016
    North American Guild of Beer Writers selects "The Beer Bible," by Jeff Alworth, as 2016's best book on beer.
    —Via NAGBW.

  • 8 October 2016
    Hitting Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and the southeastern United States, Hurricane Matthew killed an estimated 1,400, and caused destruction in excess of $6.9 billion.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • Jack McAuliffe & New Albion Brewing (c.1976)
  • 8 October 2016
    Celebrating 40 years of 'craft' beer. On 8 October 1976, Jack McAuliffe opened New Albion Brewing, in Sonoma, California, in effect, the first American 'craft' beer brewery.
    —Via Tom Acitelli at All About Beer.

  • 6 October 2016
    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision fines the good folk at Anheuser-Busch InBev $6 million for bribing Indian officials and silencing a whistleblower.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 6 October 2016
    Is there something awry with the 'craft' beer business in 2016?
    • The Craft Brew Alliance has laid off at least a dozen of the production employees working at its Woodinville, Washington facility, 10% of its total workforce. [http://bit.ly/2cUTGsW] Craft Brew Alliance, the 9th-largest brewing company in the United states, produces Kona, Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer. Widmer and Red Hook are two of the original 'craft' breweries from the 1980s. The [U.S.] Brewers Association does not consider CBA to be a 'craft brewing company, not because of the beers themselves, but because Anheuser-Busch InBev (and now Pabst) holds an interest in the company.
    • Sierra Nevada Brewing is predicting a 4.4% drop in sales this year. Sierra Nevada is the 3rd largest BA-recognized 'craft' brewery and the 7th largest American brewing company overall. [http://bit.ly/2cuyCtg]
    • Sales at Boston Beer, maker of Sam Adams beers, etc., are down 4% from last year; its profits are down 11%. Boston Beer is the 2nd largest 'craft' brewery and the 5th largest American brewery overall. [http://bit.ly/2cUT8DD]
    • Ninety percent of those 6,720 breweries produce fewer than 100,000 barrels of beer annually. Combined, they account for less than 2 percent of all beer brewed in the U.S. To look at that another way, the [U.S.] Brewers Association's data show that (as of 31 December 2015) 178 'craft' breweries, out of a total of 4,225 'craft' breweries (thus only 4% of the total number), produced 77.8% of all 'craft' beer.
    —Via YFGF, at (Facebook).

  • 7 October 2016
    'Fresh-hopped' (or 'wet' or 'green'-hopped) beer: beers brewed with uncured hops within hours of harvest. 'Craft' beer may claim ownership of such, but records of such so-called 'harvest' beers exist for England as early as 1574.
    —Via Ed's Beer Site.

  • 7 October 2016
    The first segment of an eventual 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail opened ninety-three years ago today, in 1923, in New York state.
    —Via Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

  • 3 October 2016
    Neville Marriner —esteemed conductor and founder of chamber orchestra Academy of St. Martin in-the-Fields— dies at 92.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2 October 2016
    The number of breweries in the UK rises 8% to approximately 1,700; the popularity of 'craft' beer is credited.
    —Via Guardian.

  • Vin Scully in Brooklyn
  • 2 October 2016
    Sports broadcaster Vin Scully retired on Sunday, 2 October 2016, at age 88, after broadcasting Dodgers baseball games for 67 years, the longest span that any broadcaster has been with a single team in professional sports history. Scully began with the team in 1950 when it still played in Brooklyn, New York (and since 1958, in Los Angeles).
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2 October 2016
    In its October 2016 issue, the magazine Wine Spectator chose beer, not wine, to pair with washed-rind cheese.
    —Via YFGF (at Flickr).

  • 30 September 2016
    Crony capitalism in the retail beer and wine industry? Retail Service and Systems Inc., the parent company of Total Wine and More, as been fined by the state of Maryland for making than $250,000 in illegal contributions to political candidates between 2011 and 2014. Owner David Trone says he did so to "buy access."
    —Via Washington Post.

  • MFK Fisher: How To Cook A Wolf (1942)
  • 27 September 2016
    M.F.K Fisher was the preeminent American food writer of the mid 20th century. In her 1942 book, "How to Cook A Wolf," she worte this about local, fresh beer:
    A beer carried quietly three miles is better than one shot across three thousand on a fast freight.
    —Via YFGF (with a hat-tip to Adrian Tierney-Jones).

  • 27 September 2016
    The terroir of hops: does it matter where they're grown? Me: well, yeah.
    —Via DRAFT Magazine.

  • 26 September 2016
    As of September 2016, there were 6,720 breweries holding active permits in the U.S., "and more to come."
    —Via National Beer Wholesalers Association, at YFGF.

  • 26 September 2016
    A (thin) majority of Senate now endorses the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Will it come to a vote?
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 25 September 2016
    U.S. golf great Arnold Palmer dies at 87.
    —Via AP.

  • 24 September 2016
    J’ai gros couer. Stanley Dural Jr., aka Buckwheat Zydeco —accordionist and zydeco music bandleader— has died at 68.
    —Via Rolling Stone.

  • 25 September 2016
    'Craft' spirits comprise 2% of the annual $72 billion spirits sales in the U.S.; projected to rise to 8% by 2020.
    —Via Columbus Business First.

  • Cask Report 2017
  • 25 September 2016
    Cask Marque releases its 2017 Cask Ale Report, an annual summary of the cask ale market in the United Kingdom.
    Although craft beer and cask ale are not always the same thing, it is legitimate to think of cask as part of the craft beer boom. In fact, it's essential to see and speak of it that way.
    —Via Cask Marque (at Flickr).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: 'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

In the topsy-turvy evolution of 21st century American English, the word "literally" has come to literally mean "figuratively." Such as, I literally jumped clear out of my comfortable chair when I first saw this.

'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

The Americans is an American cable-television Russian spy drama, set in northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. during the early 1980s. The protagonists (antagonists?) are Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a married couple who are, in reality, two Russian KGB 'sleeper' spies.

In the second episode of the series' third season (aired in 2015), the two, in disguise, enter a northern Virginia bar. Philip asks the waitress what beers are being served that evening. And, it's a fascinating roster of beers that she recites.

"What beer do you have?"

Jenny the waitress:
"Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Miller, Miller Lite, Natty Light, Michelob Light, Sierra Nevada, PBR, Rolling Rock, Stevens Point, Yuengling, Lord Chesterfield, Genesee Cream, Schaefer, New Albion, [inaudible; Harp?], and Guinness."

The problem is that that beer list is historically inaccurate.

Sierra Nevada Brewing, in Chico, California, had only begun brewing in 1980. In 1982, it was nowhere near the 'craft' behemoth it has since become. In 1982, it was not shipping its beers to the East Coast.

Stevens Point Brewery began operations in Wisconsin in the 1850s under a different name. Always a regional brewery, its beer would not be shipped outside of that base area until the early 1990s.

Coors Brewing Company's insistence on refrigerated cross-country delivery of its non-pasteurized (but highly filtered) beers had given it cult status for many years. In 1982, its beers were not yet available on the East Coast.

Most surprising of all was the inclusion of a beer from New Albion Brewing.

Jack McAuliffe & New Albion Brewing (c.1976)

Jack McAuliffe, an ex-Navy serviceman, opened New Albion in Sonoma, California, on 8 October 1976. New Albion was the first 'craft' brewery to operate in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition. (Back in the 1970s, such things were called simply 'breweries,' unencumbered by later over-fraught labels such as 'craft' or microbrewery.) McAulifffe operated New Albion until 1982 (the year in which the episode of The Americans is set), when he shut it down, struggling to sell enough to make a profit. But by then, his legacy was secure. The American 'craft' brewery movement had begun.

Producing only small amounts, New Albion never exported its beers to the East Coast. The brewery's mention in this scene of The Americans shows a scriptwriter unexpectedly —if historically inaccurate— giving homage to forty years of American beer history.

Which is why I 'literally' jumped out of my chair.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

He must resign.

In the Presidential election of 2000, Al Gore challenged the number of votes counted. Once those votes were counted, with the imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Gore accepted the result, conceding to George W. Bush.

Wednesday, Donald Trump— during the 2016 presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, at the Thomas & Mack Center of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas— challenged, not a count or recount, but the very legitimacy of the Presidential election before it is to occur.

There is no equivalence — historically, politically, or morally— between the two events.

Disqualified to be President

Near the end of the debate, when moderator Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump whether or not he would accept the outcome of the election, Mr. Trump said no. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding later, “I will keep you in suspense.” In campaign speeches, he has said the process is “rigged.”

The election of 1800 was the fourth-ever American presidential election but the first-ever truly contested one —between John Adams of the Federalist party and Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican party. The Federalists wielded the executive power and, yet, they lost the election and accepted their loss —decided in the House of Representatives. And the world marveled at the peaceful transfer of power in this young American democracy. And so it has been since. Until yesterday.

Never before in 240 years of American history—not even in 1860, the election of Abraham Lincoln which helped spark the Civil War— has a major Presidential candidate refused to accept the legitimacy of an election outcome. With this, Mr. Trump has challenged the very bedrock of American democracy; he has veered close to sedition; he has disqualified himself from being President, let alone running for the office.

This blog —Yours For Good Fermentables— is a blog about beer (and wine and spirits). Only rarely have I used this venue to politically editorialize. Today, as a patriotic American, I am compelled.

Being vigilant is one thing. As is disagreeing or agreeing with a political position. Those are healthy for democracy. Government exists by the consent of the governed.

But a presidential candidate refusing to recognize the legitimacy of democracy itself? That's an entirely other thing. Donald Trump, with this heinous and reckless act, has disgraced the nation; he has threatened our constitutional survival.

Donald Trump should must resign from the campaign.

—Thomas Cizauskas
Yours For Good Fermentables
20 October 2016.

Furled flag flies


Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy 20th, Manayunk Brewing!

Twenty years ago today, on 17 October 1996, in the lower level of the Manayunk Farmers' Market, on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, the brewpub Manayunk Brewing Company first opened its doors to the public.

Manayunk Brewing (logo)

There were beer dinners and real ales; "exploding yeast" (well, not really) and Schuylkill River floods.

There were helping hands from uphill neighbors, Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit, then producing open-fermenter beer at their just-over-one-year-old Yards Brewing; Bill Moore of Independence Brewing loaning supplies; Brandon Greenwood of all-over fame providing technical advice; and assistant brewers Jim Brennan and Ted Briggs supplying much-needed help.

There was Jim Anderson of Beer Philadelphia and spirited debates; free-lancer Rich Pawluk and beer-with-food pairings; bikes and beer engines at Dawson Street Pub.

There was the temerity to brew with corn; the dry-hopping with dark-fruit-forward New Zealand hops (like grandaddies of today's American IPA hops); and the pleading of why-don't-you-try-the British-Bitter-styled Renner's Red when raspberry-fermented (but not sweetened) Schuylkill Punch became all the rage. And there was a beer-swilling pig (well, almost).

I should know, because I was there; I was Manayunk Brewing Company's original brewer. Twenty years later, the brewpub continues on.

Congratulations, Manayunk, and cheers for twenty (at least) more.

Assessing the gravity