Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Drinking Budweiser & Heineken?

Drinking Budweiser & Heineken?

Requiem for two heavyweights?

Two non-'craft' beers from two breweries who until recently had been considered 'craft,' but now not. Left to right:
  • Fille de Ferme
    Brewed by Wicked Weed Brewing of Asheville, North Carolina.
    (Purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev in May 2017.)
    • 4.2% alcohol-by-volume (abv)
    • "Foeder-rested, brettanomyces farmhouse ale. Fermented with honeysuckle and fresh orange zest."
  • IPA
    Brewed by Lagunitas of Petaluma, California.
    (Purchased by Heineken in May 2017.)
    • 6.5% abv.
    • 51.5 International Bittering Units (IBUs).

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What is 'craft' beer? Formalistically speaking.

The [U.S.] Brewers Association —the trade association which bills itself as "the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers"— has 'kicked out' several member breweries when they no longer comported with the association's (changing) definition of what a craft brewery was.

Currently, the BA holds that ...
an American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.
  • Small:
    Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent:
    Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Traditional:
    A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients [emphasis mine] and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

It's that definition of 'independent' that, in May, the BA employed to knock-out Lagunitas and Wicked Weed. Notwithstanding —at Thinking Man Tavern, in Decatur, Georgia, on 13 July 2017— both beers, née 'craft,' still went down damn tasty.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 25/26, 2017.

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

Weeks 25/26
18 June- 1 July 2017


At the halfway point of year 2017...
  • 30 June 2017
    After eight years atop the Zymurgy poll, Russian River Brewing lost its position as brewing America's best beer (Pliny the Elder) to Bell's Brewing (Two-Hearted) ... and you won't believe what they did next! [Headline ha-ha!]
    —Via CraftBeer.com.

  • 27 June 2017
    Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • 27 June 2017
    One of America's great pianists, Geri Allen —who "reconciled far-flung elements of the jazz tradition"— has died at 60.
    —Via New York Times.

  • Certified Independent Craft Beer Seal
  • 27 June 2017
    [U.S.] Brewers Association launches new seal to designate independent beers.
    In an effort to educate beer lovers about which beers are independently produced, the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—launched a new seal touting independent craft brewers. ¶ Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 26 June 2017
    The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily reinstated segments of Donald Trump's Muslim-travel-to-America ban; will hear arguments on the consitutionality of the executive order in October.
    In practical terms, this means that [the executive order] may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 22 June 2017
    The unbearable freshness of beer-ing. Why 'craft' breweries make it so difficult to determine if their beers are fresh or not.
    —Via Fritz Hahn, at Washington Post.

  • 21 June 2017
    "Craft has become [a] commodity and it’s going to be OK."
    It’s a commodity in the standardization of international styles such as IPA and murk as well as in single brands like Goose Island. You can find pretty much the same beer everywhere. And if you can’t you are still seeing the internationalization of the fib of “craft” pretty much everywhere. We cling on to outdated ideas about craft and the value of any beer at our peril. We miss the actual in favour of the hype. We chase the marketed (whether from the PR consultants or the semi-pro enthusiasts) in favour of the quieter, local and lovely. The experience? Yes, it is still about the experience but that includes learning from our experience.
    —Via Alan McLeod, at A Better Beer Blog.

  • 21 June 2017
    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the 3-tier beer distribution system in California, in part to protect small breweries (and small beer wholesalers). In a 10-1 decision, the court upheld California’s Tied-House law which prohibits beverage alcohol manufacturers and wholesalers from providing anything of value, directly or indirectly, to retailers in exchange for advertising their alcoholic beverages.
    This case had enormous implications for our members as well as for craft brewers across the country. If the courts had ruled in favor of the plaintiff, it would have struck down, as unconstitutional, code section 25503(f)-(h), which prohibits alcohol beverage suppliers from giving anything of value to retailers in exchange for advertising their products. Striking down this tied-house provision would have allowed retailers to charge suppliers for such things as a sign and other POS placement, in-store displays, listing of a brand on beer menus, tap handle placement and other forms of advertising. It is clear who would win in that scenario — big alcohol companies who have tremendous resources and who could easily out-spend small craft brewers, giving big alcohol further dominance in the craft beer space.
    —Tom McCormick, California Craft Brewers Association Director.
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.

  • 20 June 2017
    The new irrelevance of pleasure. Neilsen/Harris/Brewbound poll finds 'Independent/Independently Owned' most important consideration for 'craft' beer drinkers. ("Enjoyable," "refreshing," "delicious," or, even, "local" not considered.)
    A total of 2,000 people (adults 21+), including 773 self-identified regular craft beer drinkers, were surveyed on 29 buzzwords. [...] The most intriguing news to share is that when asked, 'How familiar are you with each of the following terms as they relate to beer,' 81% of craft beer appreciators indicated 'independent' and 'independently owned' as the most recognized. The second-most recognized buzzword was 'traditional.'
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 18 June 2017
    Americans use and dispose of half a billion straws every day, contributing to five trillion pieces of plastic waste, including over 250,000 tons afloat at sea, estimated to currently be on the planet. Advocacy group The Last Plastic Straw has been founded to fight this waste.
    —Via Saveur.

  • 16 June 2017
    At "Industry Leaders Discuss State of Craft" discussion hosted by website Brewbound, Hugh Sisson, founder of Heavy Seas Beer (in Baltimore, Maryland), noted that the 'craft' beer segment has matured and evolved from being a group of companies ...
    that defined themselves as the polar opposite of big beer to one that includes thousands of players competing within the confines of the beer industry. [...] We’re having growing pains. Typically when you’re having growing pains, shit happens. And we’re in that shit happens moment now. I’m still pretty bullish, but now it’s time to up your game. [...] My customer base has a loyalty to me of one six-pack. And the day that I forget that, I’m toast.
    —Via Brewbound.

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Today: an American symphony.

John Trumbull: The Declaration of Independence

Today, considering the day, I think I'll take the time to listen to a recording of one of America's finest symphonies, the First Symphony (in One Movement) by Samuel Barber (1910-1981). One of America's finest composers, Barber wrote his first symphony in 1936 when he was twenty-six years old.

Barber composed the symphony as a formally three-partitioned, yet sonically seamless, sonata. He beginss with an expansive grand theme that sounds like an aural painting of an American West vista.

Leaving Rifle
At the eight-minute mark,
the orchestra takes off on an easy gallop, but not without some reluctant Alan Ladd-like heroics.

Just past twelve minutes in,
an oboe sings a lover's theme, lovely but elegiac, over strings.

At about seventeen minutes,
a passacaglia (think waltz without schmaltz) takes the opening theme on a dignified march that grows in urgency.

Barber brings all to a conclusion around the twenty-minute mark,
with string and woodwind crescendos building to several terse blasts, brassy and tympanic, like affirmations of what once had been American can-do and American must-do, virtues seemingly quaint in today's America.

For me, Samuel Barber's First resounds like a discovery of wide-open spaces: dangerous yet promising. Parts brooding yet lacking bathos, parts brash while contemplative, the whole expressing a contradictory character that, heretofore, had been perceived as quintessentially American.

Today, while listening, I think I'll take the time to drink a fine American beer, pure and true, without artifice.

And enjoy our Independence Day.


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Saturday, July 01, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Gazpacho & witbier.

Gazpacho & witbier

For today —the first day of the northern hemisphere's hottest month of the year— here's an anodyne pleasure: soup served chilled and a beer, likewise.

Gazpacho:
a spicy soup that is usually made from chopped raw vegetables (such as tomato, onion, pepper, and cucumber) and that is served cold.
Merriam-Webster

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Some other chilled soups


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And that witbier on the table?

It's Allagash White from Allagash Brewing of Portland, Maine: an American interpretation of ...
Belgian-style wits brewed using unmalted wheat, sometimes oats and malted barley. Witbiers are spiced with coriander and orange peel. A style that dates back hundreds of years, it fell into relative obscurity until it was revived by Belgian brewer Pierre Celis in the 1960s.
CraftBeer.com.

There may be only one beer, here, today (and tangentially, at that), but there's a surfeit of refreshment. Chilling!

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