Monday, September 01, 2014

Happy Labor Day, and thank you for the beer!

This way to Beltway beer

According to the Beer Institute, not only does the American beer market directly and indirectly employ around 2,000,000 people, but one job in a brewery or wholesaler supports 45 jobs outside of it -- and not just because the people in those jobs go to the bar after work.

The recent study -- which took into account years of economic data and required drinking/looking at lots of beer -- also concluded that the brewing industry generates around $246 billion for the US economy and earns $79 billion for the folks working within it, and proposed a sort of "Beer Ripple Effect", where a single brewery job can create positions in agriculture, distribution, retail, and lots of other industries.
Thrillist, 27 August 2014.

The beery contributions of the state of California lead the nation: 241,640 jobs, $11.1 billion in wages, and $34.2 billion in total economic input.

Virginia is 15th, where beer produces 51,830 jobs, $2.2 billion in wages, and $7.3 billion in economic contribution. Maryland is at the 21st position, with 34,670 jobs, $1.2 billion in wages, and $3.1 billion in economic contribution. The city of Washington, D.C. is 48th — 3,590 jobs, $106 million in wages, and $296.9 million in total economic contribution —but it beats out three actual states, with Wyoming finishing last. 1

Bob Kittrell at Sisson's (1997)

Beer might be a commodity, but labor is not. It's a right, enshrined by international law 2. And, it's the fruit of a brewer's labor at a brewery that is a gift to all of us. So, thank you, brewers and brewery workers, and beer distributors and drivers, and beer store employees and publicans. Thank you all for your labors.

Today, Labor Day 3, may be a federal holiday, but chances are that those brewers don't have the day off. Yeast never sleeps.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Brunch with Gueuze

Before "Brunch with Gueuze," three things.

  • 1. Gueuze (pronounced almost like "grr zəh") is
    a blend of two or more lambics of different ages [one and three-year-old], with the younger beer providing the sugars needed for refermentation [sparkle] in the bottle. [...] The traditional gueuze flavor is dry, sharp, and earthy, close to that of of unblended lambic, but bottle-conditioning and the resulting carbonation give it perhaps even greater complexity and finesse. 1

  • 2. Lambic is a type of beer brewed
    in the Pajottenland region of Belgium, southwest of Brussels and in Brussels itself. Unlike conventional beers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer's yeasts, lambic is produced by spontaneous fermentation: it is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Zenne [River] valley. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste. [...] After the fermentation process starts, the lambic is siphoned into old port or sherry barrels (of chestnut or oak) from Portugal or Spain (some of the brewers prefer used wine barrels.) The lambic is left to ferment and mature for one to two or even three years. It forms a "velo de flor" of yeast that gives some protection from oxidation, in a similar way to sherry; but the barrels are not topped up. 2

  • 3. A Gueuzestekerij, or "gueuze tapper," is a company that —rather that brewing its own beer— purchases stocks of lambic, and matures those in barrels, blending and bottling when ready, similar to the traditional manner of French négociants with wine in Bordeaux and Burgundy. Hanssens Artisanaal is the oldest extant Gueuzestekerij in Belgium, sitting in an "old farm in the now urban village of Dworp, south of Brussels." 3

Now, on to that brunch, home-cooked, several thousand miles west of Brussels, in the mid-Atlantic U.S.A.

Breakfast with gueuze

It was a sunlit Sunday morning in August, remarkable for its unclammy comfort. Served for brunch, outside, were Hanssens Oude Gueuze, scrambled tofu, tempeh bacon, and, of course, bagels (whole wheat).

Other folk at table had hens' eggs and pigs' bacon, and mimosas of gueuze and orange juice. The photographer preferred his brunch, non-'animaled,' and his beer, un-fruited. All were pleased.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

#VeggieDag Thursday: Quick Links for August 2014.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on issues of an animal-free diet, ecology, and the environment.


Quick links for August 2014

  • 27 August 2014:
    The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization is drafting voluntary guidelines for "responsible investment in agriculture and food systems." Responsible investments, according to the draft guidelines, will increase "sustainable production ... of safe, nutritious, diverse, and culturally acceptable food," which is defined as "food that corresponds to individual and collective consumer demand and preferences, in line with national and international law."
    —Via NPR.

  • 27 August 2014:
    Due to changes in FDA regulations, shipments to the U.S. of French Roquefort, and other blue cheeses, may diminish sharply this year.
    —Via Planet Cheese (Janet Fletcher).

  • Pizza Pie @Rustico
  • 27 August 2014:
    "Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality," or the science of why mozzarella melts and blisters better than most other cheeses.
    —Via Journal of Food Science (as reported by NPR).

  • 20 August 2014:
    Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has led to a natural gas boom. However, many local governments are attempting to limit or ban the practice due to concerns over its effect upon health and the environment, such as water contamination and increased seismic activity.
    —Via Diane Rehm Show (WAMU, Washington, D.C.).

  • 17 August 2014:
    The worst drought in the California's recorded history is hitting farmers in the Central Valley hard, threatening beef cattle, and crops of fruit, vegetables, and winter wheat. Now, across California’s vital agricultural belt, nervousness over the state’s epic drought has given way to alarm. Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 14 August 2014:
    Virtually every adult on the planet consumes too much salt, Tufts University researchers have determined, with an average of 3.95 grams of sodium consumed per person per day--nearly double the two grams daily recommended by the World Health Organization. Nearly 10 percent of all deaths from cardiovascular causes --heart disease and stroke-- were attributed to excess sodium intake.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 12 August 2014:
    "A BBC poll has revealed that fewer than one in 10 Brits know when some of the UK's most well-known fruit and vegetables are in season, and supermarkets do little to help." Some reasons for (and against) 'seasonal' eating.
    —Via The Guardian.
    —Via Wise Bread, a nice rundown, month-by-month, of vegetables (and fruits) in season, in North America.

  • 6 August 2014:
    The 12 'best' vegan dishes in the Washington, D.C. area, including:
    • Tempeh Panini at Busboys and Poets
    • Piyaz (Turkish bean salad) at Zaytinya
    • Vegan Linguine Puttanesca at Maple
    • Plai Moana Chien (Cambodian-style stir fried pineapple with ginger) at Doi Moi
    —As chosen by DCist.

  • 3 August 2014:
    The 21 'best' vegetarian restaurants in the United States.
    (In Washington, D.C., the choice was Elizabeth's Gone Raw.)
    —As chosen by Thrillist.




Monday, August 25, 2014

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 32/33, 2014.

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

Weeks 32/33
3 August - 16 August 2014

  • 2014.08.16
    The economic impact from craft brewing in Virginia comes to $623 million; 8,163 jobs; 52 percent annual growth in volume among Virginia craft breweries; a ranking of 15th in the nation in 2013 for the number of active breweries (90); and the possibility to nearly double that number in the next three to five years.
    —Via Lee Graves (at Virginia Business)

  • 2014.08.12
    How several western-based 'craft' breweries, with new brewing plants on the East Coast, are tweaking North Carolina water to match the water of their original, western, plants.
    —Via NPR (The Salt).

    Serendipidity Ale (side label)
  • 2014.08.12
    Only one person in the U.S. government is responsible for approving the labels of all beers produced and sold in the United State. Kent “Battle” Martin of the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a section of the Treasury Department.
    —Via The Daily Beast.

  • 2014.08.12
    Actress Lauren Bacall, one of Hollywood's leading ladies, has died at age 89.
    —Via NPR.

  • 2014.08.11
    Comedian and film actor Robin Williams dead at 63 years old.
    —Via Huffington Post.

  • 2014.08.10
    "A craft brewer making lousy beer can drive fledgling craft beer drinkers permanently to other beverages, like wine or spirits. And that’s bad news for all of us. Unfortunately, there are some brewers starting up who don’t understand the importance of this, and worse yet, how to achieve it. [...] It’s not good at all for craft brewers to get smug with our success, spend too much time patting ourselves on the back, and rest on laurels, since a potential quality disaster is just around the corner."
    —Via Mitch Steele (brewmaster at Stone Brewing).

    The view from the seats
  • 2014.08.08
    The best baseball ballparks for 'craft' beer, as ranked by local beer, quality, and uniqueness.
    —Via DC Sports Bog .

  • 2014.08.08
    The World Health Organization (WHO) formally declares Ebola virus outbreak to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” The declaration means that experts have concluded that the outbreak could spread beyond the West African states where it is concentrated — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — unless nations coordinate their efforts to stop it.
    —Via Scientific American.

  • 2014.08.08
    For 'craft' beer in the United States, the word "India" of India Pale Ale (IPA) doesn't mean India. Rather, it implies American pale ale, "saturated in flavors & aromas of American hops."
    —Via Beervana.

    Respect your (Pliny the) Elder
  • 2014.08.06
    The state of the American IPA in 2014: "Brewers will find new permutations to wiggle those three letters into their portfolios."
    —Via DC Beer.

  • 2014.08.06
    The European unmanned spacecraft, Rosetta, is the first human spacecraft to rendezvous with, not crash into, a comet: 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, 250 million miles from Earth.
    —Via Vox.

  • 2014.08.05
    Formerly scorned as a cheap adjunct used by large breweries, corn gets a new look from American 'craft' brewers.
    —Via Greg Kitsock (Washington Post).

  • 2014.08.03
    Beer brewing is inherently energy intensive, which is why some large craft breweries have made big investments in energy efficiency, heat recovery, renewable resources, waste reduction, and water use.
    —Via Green Biz.

  • 2014.08.03
    Shareholders of U.S. supermarket chain, Safeway, have approved the company’s $9.2 billion sale to rival, Albertsons. The deal will create a network of more than 2,000 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 20 manufacturing plants with more than 250,000 employees. The combined Safeway and Albertsons supermarket chain will be slightly smaller than Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in the U.S.
    —Via Los Angeles Daily News.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Here's to the winners of the 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup!

More than fifty Virginia 'craft' breweries —out of more than eighty-two operating in the state— presented and poured their beers at this year's Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, where they competed for recognition as the best beers in Virginia. From our friends at Virginia Beer Trail comes the news.

Roseland, Va. – The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild hosted the 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Fest and the third annual Virginia Craft Brewers Cup competition Saturday, August 23th at Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub. There were more than 2,500 in attendance to enjoy tastings from 51 Virginia craft breweries.

This year’s competition, managed by master Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judge Tom Cannon, had 28 judges review 221 beers in 23 different categories. George Stewart, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, presented the awards for Best in Show. The winners of Best of Show and each category are as follows:

Best of Show winners 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup
American and German Lager
Vienna and Oktoberfest
Kolsch and Blonde Ale
Light and Amber Hybrid Beer
English, Scottish, and Irish Ale
American Pale Ale
American Amber and Brown Ale
India Pale Ale
Imperial IPA
German Weizen
Strong Ale
Belgian and French Ale
Belgian Strong Ale
Sour Ale
Fruit Beer
Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Smoke-Flavored/Wood-Aged Beer
  • Silver: Starr Hill – Bourbon Barrel Bandstand Barleywine
Specialty Beer
  • Silver: Starr Hill – Whiter Shade of Pale Ale
The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth. The Beer Institute reports the beer industry in Virginia accounts for 8,123 jobs with an economic impact of $623 million.

Virginia Craft Brewers Fest

To put it all into some perspective, I've arranged the winners by the total number of gold medals won, (listing first by total gold, then by total medals overall, breaking ties alphabetically), and finally by non-gold medal winners (listed first by totals, and then alphabetically). They are:
    • Devils Backbone Outpost * (Lexington)
      3 (6 medals totals, including gold: best of show)

    • Devils Backbone Basecamp * (Rosemont)
      2 (4 medals total, including silver, bronze: best of show)
    • Apocalypse Ale Works
      2 (3 medals, total)
    • Lost Rhino Brewing Company (Ashburn)
      2 (3 medals, total)

    • Champion Brewing (Charlottesville)
      1 (3 medals, total)
    • Starr Hill (Crozet)
      1 (3 medals, total)

    • AleWerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg)
      1 (2 medals, total)
    • Blue Mountain Barrel House * (Arrington)
      1 (2 medals, total)
    • Bull and Bones Brewhouse (Blacksburg)
      1 (2 medals, total)
    • Chaos Mountain Brewing (Callaway)
      1 (2 medals, total)
    • Old Ox Brewery (Ashburn)
      1 (2 medals, total)
    • Parkway Brewing Company (Salem)
      1 (2 metals, total)
    • Wild Wolf Brewing Company (Nellysford)
      1 (2 metals, total)
    • Wolf Hills Brewing Company (Abingdon)
      1 (2 medals, total)

    • Beach Brewing Company (Virginia Beach)
      1 (1 total)
    • O’Connor Brewing Company (Norfolk)
      1 (1 total)
    • Three Brothers Brewing (Harrisonburg)
      1 (1 total)

    • Sunken City Brewing Company (Hardy)
      3 total
    • Triple Crossing Brewing (Richmond)
      3 total

    • Blue Mountain Brewery * (Afton)
      2 total
    • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond)
      2 total
    • Old Bust Head Brewing Company (Vint Hill)
      2 total

    • Ardent Craft Ales (Richmond)
    • Capitol City Brewing Company (Arlington)
    • Center of the Universe Brewing Company (Ashland)
    • Extra Billy’s (Midlothian)
    • Legend Brewing Company (Richmond)
    • Mad Fox Brewing Company (Falls Church)
    • Midnight Brewery (Rockville)
    • Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria)
    • Smartmouth Brewing Company (Smartmouth)
    • South Street Brewery (Charlottesville)
    • Strangeways Brewing Company (Richmond)
    • Three Notch’d Brewing Company (Charlottesville)
* Considering the mutual ownership of Blue Mountain Brewery and Blue Mountain Barrel House, the combined total of those two breweries would equal one gold and four medals overall, putting them near the top of the leader board. Of course, then the totals for the two Devils Backbone facilities (Basecamp and Outpost) should be combined, as well. And they would run clear away from the rest of the pack, with five gold medals, and ten medals, overall, taking home all three best-of-show medals.

Thanks should go to the festival and competition organizer, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, and to Mark Thompson (of Starr Hill), its director. Thanks, as well, to Devils Backbone for hosting for the third time.

Congratulations to all the winning breweries. And, hearty congratulations to Jason Oliver and his entire brewing team at Devils Backbone. He, and they, hold the cup, again, of best in Virginia.

There are eight days remaining in August; eight more days of Virginia Craft Beer Month. At the pub, at the store: make it a Virginia 'craft' beer.