Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pic(k) of the Week: Tree in winter's afternoon

Tree in winter's afternoon

High dynamic range on a blustery winter's afternoon. Photo taken in Walker Park, in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, on 15 February 2018.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pic(k) of the Week: A porter at the brewhouse.

A porter at the brewhouse

This is the glorious, raisiny, chocolatey St. Charles Porter (without either of those ingredients added or needed) of Blackstone Brewing, in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.056
  • International Bittering Units (IBUs): 34
  • Color: 26 Lovibond
  • Alcohol-by-volume (abv): 5.8%
  • Hops: Centennial, Willamette.
  • Malts: 2-row pale, Crystal 60L, Belgian Special B, Chocolate malt, Flaked barley.
  • Yeast: Ballantine Ale (Chico)

If you were learning to brew-at-home in the U.S. back in 1988, you probably were an acolyte of one of two how-to-brew gurus: nuclear engineer Charlie Papazian or English teacher Dave Miller. Although I began with the former, I decamped to the latter, who, that year, had published "The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing."

The Complete Book of Home Brewing (Dave Miller, 1988)

Three years later, Mr. Miller turned pro, the first brewer for Schlafly Brewing in St. Louis. In the mid-1990s, he moved to Nashville, Tennesse to open Blackstone Brewing, that city's first 'craft' brewery.

Mr. Miller continued brewing at Blackstone until only a few years ago. A co-proprietor, he still returns autumnally to brew the brewery's Oktoberfest. Blackstone downsized recently, closing its brewpub, but it has maintained its large production facility, with a public taproom and a permanently visiting food truck.

Three decades ago, it was Mr. Miller's recipe and procedure for brewing Porter that hooked me on the craft. Today, Blackstone brews its award-winning St. Charles Porter, to Miller's recipe.

In early February 2018, I visited Nashville for a few days. I didn't meet Dave Miller while there, but I did meet his beer. It may have taken me thirty years, but, at long last, I was to taste his porter. At his brewery. In his taproom. On draft. Words in a book became real. Glorious.


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Drinking, again! Euphonia Pilsner, from new New Realm Brewing, reviewed.

Not quite four-weeks-old, New Realm Brewing sits along an eastside segment of the BeltLine, the not-yet city-circumnavigating paved park of Atlanta, Georgia. There, on weekends, just beyond this brewery/brewpub's upstairs and downstairs patios, it's a constant people-and-their-dogs parade. Whereas, inside and on the patios, the beers ain't bad, either.

Euphonia Pilsner @ New Realm & Beltline (01)

Pictured is a draft pour of Euphonia Pilsner: "a brewers' beer," the brewery calls it. A local Twitter-er, relying on American-centric beer-styling, asked me if it were a German-style or Bohemian-style pilsner. I replied, "Neither." I called it a stunning first shot for a just-opened brewery.

In appearance and demeanor, Euphonia Pilsner is a bright thing, with a new-age herbal bouquet sprung from a melange of Hersbrucker, Huell Melon, Saphir, and Sterling hops, a cracker-malt backbone, and a finishing slug of those hops as drying balance. The beer contains 5% alcohol-by-volume (that's "ABV," in the accepted, lazy parlance). It contains no fruit or superfluous hoo-ha. "Just the facts, ma'am."

And the beer has a great pedigree. Euphonia Pilsner's creator, Mitch Steele, is the award-winning past brewmaster for Stone Brewing (in California, et al.), renowned there for his hoppy India Pale Ales (IPAs). Now, here, at his own brewery on the East Coast, he's brewing...a lager.

Not to 'worry,' though. Mr. Steele —the man who wrote the book on IPA, literally— is brewing several IPAs at New Realm, as well. And they're spot-on.

A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Pic(k) of the Week: Shadows and light, angles and straight lines

Shadows and light, angles and straight lines.

Sometimes, you should look up from your beer.

I did. Once.

As seen above the courtyard at 5 Seasons Brewing Westside, in Atlanta, Georgia. 20 January 2018.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 1/2, 2018.

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

Weeks 1/2
1 January- 13 January 2018

  • 11 January 2018
    Overt or covert, unintended or disregarded. Misogyny and racism: the fetid under-beer-belly of craftbeer.
    “Everybody has a diversity committee. That's the trendy thing to do,” said the big bearded white guy, one of four members of "The Brewsroom," a live Twitch-cast originating in the St. Louis, Missouri-area.
    — Via YFGF.

  • Reuben Brown, jazz pianist & composer (1939-2018)
  • 10 January 2018
    Reuben Brown (1939-2018) —one of America's great jazz pianist/composers, relatively unknown to the general public, but renowned and highly regarded among musicians— has died. He lived and performed for most his life in the Washington, D.C.-area.
    — Via YFGF.

  • 9 January 2018
    "Cans and bottles: craft beer packaging trends in 2017," from Bart Watson, chief economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association.
    • Although bottles remain the majority of craft beer packaging, craft continued to see share shift toward cans.
    • This shift has been driven partially by shifting package mix from brewers, but has been equally driven by growth dynamics wherein (smaller) brewers that use cans more are growing faster.
    • In fact, most brewers didn’t change their packaging at all.”
    • Based on the 2016 Brewery Operations and Benchmarking Survey, craft brewer production volumes are roughly 41.4% draught (either kegged or via brite tank) versus 58.6% packaged. Cans rose to 16.7% of total craft production, against 41.9% for bottles, meaning that cans are 28.5% of packaged production.
    — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 9 January 2018
    In an otherwise shrill piece on the detrimental health aspects of the 'craft' beer tax cut (e.g., 'it will cause many alcohol-related deaths'), a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution offers an economic non-trickle-down analysis of the (temporary) excise tax cut:
    For every $20 in excise tax cuts, $1 will actually accrue to a craft brewer or distiller. The rest goes to importers or large domestic producers. The biggest changes in the bill are low excise tax rates on small production amounts," Looney says. "On the face, it looks like it will only benefit small producers. ... But there are new technical changes to how beer can be distributed and sold, which allow large producers to essentially pass off their products as craft, and get the low rate.The overwhelming benefit actually goes to large producers. In some ways, it increases the competition that true craft brewers will face.
    — Via National Public Radio.

  • 9 January 2018
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association awards seventeen grants totaling $432,658 for U.S. research into barley and hops.
    — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 8 January 2018
    Mitch Steele —past brewmaster for Stone Brewing in California (and Richmond, Virginia and Berlin, Germany)— opens New Realm Brewing, his own production brewery/restaurant, in partnership, in Atlanta, Georgia.
    I want to brew a lot of IPAs and do a lot of fun things with hops, but I looked at this also as a chance to get back into brewing some classic styles.
    — Via Bob Townsend, at Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • 8 January 2018
    What is 'craft' beer? From a piece on the relative perniciousness of ownership by conglomerate or venture capitalist, one writer's definition:
    Profit maximization be damned. To me, that’s craft.
    — Via Jacob Berg, at DC Beer.

  • 7 January 2018
    By the maths, Bryan D. Roth identifies the 'best' beers of 2017. [Spoiler alert: the 'best' were very hoppy and very alcoholic ales, aka DIPAs. And very rare and limited-release beers, too.]
    Since 2014, I’ve been pulling together a compilation of 'best beer' lists from writers and publications across the U.S., taking subjective choices of what is 'best' and trying to add some layers of objectivity on top. The goal of compiling these lists into one conglomeration allows for some consensus – or at least clearer focus – of what pleased the palate of 'taste makers' from around the country.
    — Via [U.S.] This is Why I'm Drunk.

  • Graham Wheeler, homebrew guru, R.I.P.
  • 6 January 2018
    Graham Wheeler, co-author of home brewing books for the Campaign for Real Ale, died in late November 2017. His several books instructed generations of budding homebrewers, British and over here.
    — An appreciation, via Ed's Beer Site.

  • 6 January 2018
    Trump to permit drilling in ALL U.S. waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and Atlantic, even though the action is opposed by governors, attorneys general, U.S. lawmakers, and the Defense Department.(UPDATE: Interior Zinke grants exemption to Florida.]
    — Via Washington Post.

  • 6 January 2018
    Congratulations to Ray Daniels. His Cicerone Certification Program, an international program to improve beer service, administered its first exams, ten years ago, today, on 3 January 2008.
    The question that most people ask me about the founding of the program is, “Why?” Specifically: why did I decide to start a beer sommelier program? I always say that the answer is simple: Bad beer.
    — Via Cicerone Certification Program.

  • 5 January 2018
    "Brown ales may be unfashionable, but the style is timeless."
    Current American beer culture seems to revolve around a couple of styles: sour beers, which can be altogether wonderful and fascinating, and American India pale ales, which have dominated the craft beer market for so long that it’s a wonder they have not yet fallen out of fashion. ¶ Brown ales and like-minded styles — including straightforward lagers, pilsners and porters — to name a few, are very different sorts of beers. They occupy subtler realms, quenching thirst with pure flavors and perhaps a snappy zestiness in the case of pilsner and a rich depth in the case of porter. They are not flamboyant styles that wow with complexity or make themselves the centers of attention. They simply satisfy.
    — Via Eric Asimov, at New York Times.

  • 5 January 2018
    It’s baffling to me that people are trying to make sessionable versions of other beers, when there are already milds out there. Even more mystifying is that American brewers have found that if they call their beer a 'mild,' no one will buy it. If they give it a name without mild in it, people will order it. But I love milds, if only more people made them.
    — Via Jay Brooks, for Beer Blogging Friday: The Session, at Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 2 January 2018
    "A grassroots industry struggles to find leadership on social issues.
    "[Craft] breweries, almost exclusively run by white people, who serve beer to a predominantly white audience, don’t exactly align with what would feel like an 'authentic' sell should they show up with a case of IPA in a majority black neighborhood."
    — Via Bryan D. Roth, at Good Beer Hunting.

  • 7 January 2018
    Since 2015, the number of breweries in just the state of Georgia alone [HQ to YFGF] has increased by 70%.
    — Via Beer Guys Radio.

  • 2 January 2018
    A customer at Dystopian State, a 'craft' brewery in Tacoma, Washington, did not like a beer he had tasted there. He really didn't. He posted a negative, graphic review on the brewery's Facebook page: the “only place I have spit beer back into a glass.” In response, the head brewer and co-owner sent him several homophobic and violence-threatening messages (pictured below). There was immediate opprobrium. Soon thereafter, the head brewer was suspended. The brewery apologized on its Facebook page and removed its Twitter account.
    — Via Seattle Magazine.

  • Supermoon rising (+1)
  • 1 January 2018
    It's the Wolf Moon on the evening of 1 January, which will not only be the second full moon of a two-month trilogy of supermoons (when the full moon occurs at the moon's closest approach to earth) but the first of two supermoons in January. And that supermoon will be full during a lunar eclipse and, thus, be a 'blood' moon. Astronomical!
    — Via