Monday, November 30, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 46/47, 2015.

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

Weeks 46/47
8 November - 21 November 2015

  • 21 November 2015
    The Thanksgiving holiday is third among U.S. holidays for 'craft' beer sales; Christmas, second; Independence Day, first.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 19 November 2015
    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that the upcoming El Niño could be the biggest in recorded history.
    —Via Quartz.

  • 19 November 2015
    What's old is new again: a brief history of "pale ’n hoppy" bitters in the U.K.
    Some of the best beers being made in Britain today belong to a style that has no name. They are the colour of pilsner, usually made with only pale malt, but they are not mere ‘golden ales’—‘golden’ is not, after all, a flavour. They have extravagant, upfront New World hopping suggesting tropical fruits and aromatic flowers but they are not U.S.-style India pale ales because their alcoholic strength is likely to be somewhere between 3-5%. Though this might sound like a description of U.S. session IPA, beers of this type have been around in the U.K. for more than 20 years. If they are given a name at all it is usually a variation on the simply descriptive ‘pale ’n hoppy. [...] These two distinct traditions—U.K. pale ‘n hoppy is traditional session bitter with a glamorous makeover, whereas American brews [session IPAs] are big beers reined in—have ended up in a remarkably similar place.
    —Via Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey, at All About Beer.

  • 16 November 2015
    Wine conglomerate, Constellation, of New York, purchases Ballast Point, a 'craft' brewery in San Diego, California, for one billion dollars.
    —Via Los Angeles Times.

  • 15 November 2015
    'Craft' beer micro-canning pioneer Jamie Gordon has died, at age 56.
    —Via All About Beer.

  • 15 November 2015
    U.S. Senators send a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressing small breweries' concern about Anheuser-Busch InBev's pending purchase of SABMiller.
    The Senators raise concerns that AB InBev may try to use the acquisition to increase its already dominant market position, possibly by constraining distribution channels in order to crowd out smaller beer companies. Some reports have already suggested that the company uses its large market share to put pressure on distributors to favor AB InBev products, which could potentially be deemed an exclusionary and illegal practice.
    —Via Senator Jeff Merkley (Democrat, Oregon).

  • 13 November 2015
    ISIS terrorists attack Paris, murdering 129 people.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 12 November 2015
    "BrewDog drinkers really are drinking the marketing first, the beer second." British beer historian Martyn Cornell reviews "Business for Punks," the just-published “how we succeeded and how you can too” guidebook from James Watt, the co-founder of Scottish 'craft' brewery, BrewDog.
    —Via Zythophile.

  • 11 November 2015
    AB InBev's purchase of SABMiller is about the African and Asian beer markets. The American market is an afterthought.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 11 November 2015
    World War I ended on "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," of 1918. In America the day is commemorated as Veterans Day.
    —Via U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

  • 11 November 2015
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association weighed in on the AB InBev purchase of SABMiller.
    The size and scope of the ABInBev business has many ramifications for the U.S. beer industry, even with the divestiture of the MillerCoors joint venture. The most obvious is that ABInBev is still by far the largest brewer and beer distributor in the United States. It is vital for the continued success of small brewers that we have access to market with an independent and competitive middle distribution tier. [...] ABInBev’s new international footprint and scale give the company greater influence over commodities used in brewing and many other facets of the beer industry that could affect competition in the U.S. market.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 11 November 2015
    Anheuser-Busch InBev makes formal $107 billion offer for SABMiller.
    —Via Bloomberg.

  • 8 November 2015
    MolsonCoors appears to be the front-runner to acquire MillerCoors for purported $12 billion dollars, pending SABMiller's divestment of its 58% share. MolsonCoors currently holds the remaining 42% share.
    —Via Just-Drinks.

  • Bill Siebel: 1946-2015.
  • 8 November 2015
    Beer educator, Bill Siebel, has died at age 69. Past CEO of historic American brewing School, Siebel Institute of Technology.
    —Via YFGF.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Brewster's Magic

Brewster's Magic

British Pathé was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 until 1970. In 2014, resuscitated as an archival company, Pathé placed its entire film library on YouTube.

Here, from 1933: "Brewster's Magic," an instructional video on beer featuring some fantastic time-lapse views of hops, barleycorns, and yeast.
Sterile hops, murdered barley, and budding yeast have all united to give us beer.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer books in boxes

Beer books in boxes

Pictured, packed for moving: a library of books-on-beer, collected over nearly thirty years. I couldn't bring myself to write "curated."

Books, likely beer

Two more boxes not pictured.

Northern Virginia.
16 November 2015.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Le Jour de Merci Donnant

Art Buchwald was a political columnist and humorist of the 20th century. In the 1950s, while living in Paris, France, he wrote about his expat adventures in that city for the New York Herald Tribune.

In 1953, he wrote a column explaining Thanksgiving to the French: the Pilgrims (Pèlerins) and native Americans (les Peaux-Rouges) in the New World (le Nouveau Monde). For decades afterward, the Washington Post (for whom Buchwald would later write) would reprint the column on Thanksgiving Day (Le Jour de Merci Donnant). Considering recent events, I felt that reprinting it here today might be an appropriate thanks-giving to France, the first ally of the United States. And it's still worth a good chuckle.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant. Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs).The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration. It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant: "Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning. "I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

American tolerance


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The 2015 Tuesday-Before-Thanksgiving edition of #VeggieDag Thursday.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and ecological issues.

Here it is: this year's Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving edition of VeggieDag Thursday.

Mom's Cranberry Relish

    • Cranberries (12 ounces)
    • 1 large unwaxed orange: washed, do not peel.
    • 1 large tart apple: washed, cored, and peeled.
    • 1/8 cup orange juice
    • My 'secret sauce' addition: 2 TBSP Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
    • 4-6 TBSP sugar, more or less, to taste (or —not from Mom: agave syrup, to taste)

    Chop in a food processor. Leave chunky; do NOT over-pulse. Cover and let sit a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
    Mom's Cranberry Relish

    More recipes, from around the web

    • Food 52 suggests cooking with cider.
      Because it shares so many characteristics with wine—from its bright fruitiness and slight sweetness to its balance of tannins and acidity—it follows that cider would make an excellent cooking liquid, and it does, in just about every application you can think of.

    • At Global Vegan Kitchen, Robin Robertson proffers recipes for a complete Vegan Thanksgiving, with beautiful photos.

    • Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, shares his "Vegetarian dishes for a Thanksgiving table that welcomes everyone."

    • From Doron Petersan at Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats in Washington, D.C.: Vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie (as excerpted by the Washington Post from Petersan's book: Sticky Fingers' Vegan Sweets).

    • Vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving meals, via Lindsay S. Nixon, aka The Happy Herbivore, at Forks Over Knives and at her own eponymous blog.

    • Nana's Lithuanian Kugel, 'veganized.'

    • Chestnut stuffing, from Martha Stewart. Vegan, if you sub for the butter and chicken stock.

    • From her cookbook, Dinner in The Beer Garden, Lucy Saunders suggests Corn & Beet Salad with Walnut Dressing for Thanksgiving
      because it pairs well with sour brown ales that also happen to go well with other Thanksgiving favorites. Substitute 2 cups corn kernels, oven roasted for 15 minutes, for the corn on the cob, if out of season.

    • Isa Chandra Moskowitz at Post Punk Kitchen has the recipe for a vegan Thanksgiving centerpiece: Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks.

    • Serve that with my Stout Mushroom Gravy.
    Stout Mushroom Gravy 05

      • 2 cups vegetable broth
      • 2 TBSP kudzu powder (or arrowroot)
      • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
      • 2 TBSP, finely chopped fresh sage
      • 1 tsp dried thyme
      • a few grinds of black pepper
      • 6 ounces stout (such as Guinness or 'craft' versions) *
      • 1 tsp marmite **
      • 2 TBSP soy sauce **
      • 1/4 cup dried nutritional yeast

      * I've used Peg Leg Stout from Heavy Seas Beer and Storm King from Victory Brewing. The hoppiness of the latter added another layer of piquancy. In either case, only six ounces are needed, leaving the chef six ounces for personal refreshment. If you're vegan, you would want to avoid Guinness which uses fish-derived isinglass for clarification, even though the brewery has announced its intention to change that procedure.

      ** Soy sauce and Marmite already contain hefty amounts of sodium —as does commercial vegetable stock— so no additional salt needed.

      • It always begins with the onions and garlic. Chop, and then, in a large pan, sautée the garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat for a minute. Add onions and sautée until soft and translucent.
      • Add chopped cremini mushrooms and fresh sage.
      • In a separate bowl, whisk powdered kudzu into the stout. Add to pan with Marmite, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and vegetable stock. Fold all together. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
      • Remove 3/4 of gravy. Process in blender or processor until 'creamy.' Return to pan.
      • Gently stir together, and serve.

    What to drink?

    Should it be wine or beer with the Thanksgiving trough? The former, says Chain Bridge Cellars, a northern Virginia wine shop. The latter, say I.

    Pretty in Pink Saison

    Americans, this Thanksgving, will consume forty-nine million turkeys. Maybe just this once, this Thanksgiving 2015, at least consider this proposition: kill the vegetables but spare the animals. In the 21st century, must we slaughter God's creatures not for need but by choice? Or each other?

    Enough pontificating. Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving.