Friday, August 22, 2014

For my mother

Yours for Good Fermentables is a blog about beer and wine and spirits, enjoyable accompaniments to a good life. I don't usually post on personal matters.

But, today, I will.

My mother, Genovaite Cizauskas, has died. Known affectionately as "Gene," she lived a long, rich, and adventure-filled life.

Gene loved her animals, her two faithful companions: Emma Dog (a rescue dog) and Ethel Mae (a boisterous beagle). She was never reticent to tell friends and strangers all about those two and their escapades.

So, in my mother's honor, I ask you to consider making a contribution to your local animal shelter or rescue association, or to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). There is a donation page there, in Gene's memory.

Thank you.

Yours for good fementables,
Thomas Cizauskas
P.S. Gene was known to enjoy the occasional tipple. She could mix a mean martini.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"From Grain to Growler": The state of 'craft' beer in the state of Virginia.

"From Grain to Growler" is a newly produced documentary 1 on the history and recent growth of 'craft' beer and breweries in Virginia.

From Grain to Growler

The film was publicly screened for the first time, on 9 August 2014, to a full house, at the Capital Ale House, in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Crowd gathers for "From Grain to Growler."

I watched it, sitting at table with Dave Gott (l) —Vice-President of Operations for Legend Brewing Company (of Richmond, Virginia)— and Brett Vassey (c) —President of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, the parent organization of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.

Gott & Vassey (01)

About forty-five minutes later, and after filmmakers Megan Troy and Aaron Stanley took their bows, a panel of five Virginia brewers discussed the film and the state of 'craft' beer in the state.

"From Grain to Growler" panel discussion (02)

On the stage, seated, left to right, were:

And, here's what they said:
In 2013, "a 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 [82]; and the possibility to nearly double that number in the next three to five years. [...] At last year’s Great American Beer Festival, Virginia ranked fourth among all states in the number of medals won. [...] The total economic impact from craft brewing in Virginia comes to $623 million and 8,163 jobs, according to the Virginia Manufacturers Association. 2

Economic contributions of beer in Virginia 2012/2013

"From Grain to Growler" affords Legend Brewing a prominent place in the film, properly, as this Richmond brewery is the oldest extant microbrewery, that is, 'craft' brewery, in Virginia. But the film leaves several other pioneers of Virginia beer —some that preceded and some that followed— unheralded. (I address some specifics: here.) That's a lack of historical context for a "documentary chronicling the rise of Virginia craft beer." Substantial footage wasn't required (or practical), but a simple mention or slide would have sufficed.

In addition, brewers needed to be better captioned for identification: not all viewers of the film will be familiar with all Virginia 'craft' beer, and ten or more years from now, some names of brewers and breweries, unfortunately, may be forgotten. Some brewers were pictured hurriedly, without audio and without ID.

But ... all in all, "From Grain to Growler" was well-produced, with good production values, and done so, lovingly. The audience received the film enthusiastically, and there was ample beer for all to drink.

Virginia 'craft' beer, of course.

Killer Kölsch draft
On draft: Killer Kölsch, from Champion Brewing, of Charlottesville, Virginia.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Gravity Brewhouse at Bluejacket (and DC Beer Week 2014).

Gravity brewhouse at Bluejacket (01)

No pumps!

In a classic gravity-flow brewhouse design, wort flows from the brewhouse down to the fermenters, and then, as fermented beer, down to the serving tanks ...

Bar at Bluejacket

...where it is served at the bar, at ...

Washington, D.C.
12 August 2014.

Bluejacket opened in October 2013, in a former boiler factory for the U.S. Navy. With the attached Arsenal Restaurant, it is the brewery showcase of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which owns and operates sixteen restaurants and shops throughout Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia.


DC Beer Week

DC Beer Week 2014Tomorrow marks the start of the 6th annual DC Beer Week, which, this year, runs 17 - 24 August. Breweries, restaurants, pubs, bars, retail shops, and other venues (such as cruise boats!) will be holding events throughout Washington, D.C. and —for the first time— in surrounding suburbs.

When DC Beer Week began in 2009, there was no Bluejacket, and, although there were a couple of brewpubs in the city, there were no production breweries. Today in 2014, the city has ten breweries: six brewpubs and four production breweries.

Here's how Jeff Wells —a co-founder of DC Beer Week— describes its genesis:
In 2009, Teddy Folkman [co-owner of Granville Moore's Gastropub] and I wanted to expose folk to and celebrate the fledgling beer culture in the Nation's Capital. We decided to get our friends in the industry to rally together and host a series of educational, entertainment, and culinary events throughout various neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. Our mission was to emphasis craft beer's role in the development of our town, and its importance toward creating a vibrant city.

DC Beer Week has thus continued to flourish every year since its inception, and has helped Washington, D.C. gain an international reputation for its beer culture.

Wishing the best to the DC Beer Week 2014 crew!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dominion Brewing celebrates its 25th anniversary!

At a recent inaugural screening of From Grain to Growler, an otherwise fine documentary on the history of 'craft' beer in Virginia, I was surprised by two omissions.

The film failed to mention Chesbay of Virginia Beach, the very first microbrewery ever in Virginia (they weren't called 'craft' breweries back then), ahead of its time, operating from 1984-1988.

And, it ignored the Old Dominion Brewing Company, a brewery which opened in Ashburn, Virginia, in 1989.

Dominion would put Virginia on the 'craft' beer map: garnering multiple awards, producing large volumes (for the time), creating emulated standards of good 'craft' brewing practices, and establishing a model for distribution over a multi-state area by utilizing 'big' brewery wholesalers, which was a new thing for the times. Many of the brewers there have gone on to other breweries, some their own. John Mallett (Bell's Brewery), Ron Barchet (Victory Brewing), Favio Garcia (Lost Rhino Brewery), Kenny Allen (Old Ox Brewery), Rob Mullin (Grand Teton Brewing), and Scott Zetterstrom, Chris Frazier, and Dean Lake, to name a few.

In 2009, Dominion moved to Dover, Delaware; this year, the company reaches its twenty-fifth year of operations. And, that's a major milestone for Delaware and Virginia.

The brewery will be celebrating with a party and special beer release, Wednesday evening, 17 September, at Churchkey, in Washington, D.C. Here's the press release from Fordham and Dominion Brewing.

Dover, Delaware – It was 25 years ago that Jerry Bailey and friends started their brewing adventure inside a small industrial park in Ashburn, Virginia. Since 1989, Dominion has grown from its core lineup of traditional ales and lagers to gourmet sodas, and its newly released award-winning Pinup Series. Not only that, but a partnership with Fordham Brewing in 2007 and a brewery move to Dover, Delaware, in 2009, set it on an exciting, yet uncharted course.

To celebrate its 25th year, Dominion will be releasing “The Dream”. This Black India Pale Lager named after the brewery's tagline, “Livin the Dream”, pays homage to the hard work, passion, and effort it takes to operate a small brewery. The Dream is a nod to Dominion’s lager brewing roots without compromising their love and affection for hops. A rich, robust malt foundation balanced by a righteous blend of Sorachi Ace, Citra, and Columbus hops showcasing melon, tropical fruit, lemon, and licorice notes.

“You only celebrate 25 years once,” said Dominion Brewing’s Vice-President of Sales, Casey Hollingsworth. “So, when we brainstormed at the brewery about beer styles, we knew it had to be a beer with immense character and nuance. Brewing a beer style with no real reference point brings a unique set of challenges,” he said, “but it’s always important to move beyond boundaries.

“We are so grateful to all our supporters to be able to celebrate 25 years in this truly amazing industry, Hollingsworth said, an industry filled with a strong sense of community, purpose, passion, and pride.”

The release date will coincide with Dominion’s 25th Anniversary party, at Churchkey, located at 1337 14th St, N.W. Washington, D.C., September 17th, 2014, at 6PM. Joining Dominion for the festivities will be the retired founder of Old Dominion Brewing, Jerry Bailey, along with friends from Lost Rhino Brewing Co. (Virginia), Victory Brewing Co. (Pennsylvania), Starr Hill Brewing Co. (Virginia), Lagunitas Brewing Co. (California), Bell’s Brewery (Michigan), and Mad Fox Brewing Co. (Virginia).

Dominion's founder Jerry Bailey —who left a job in the U.S. government to follow his brewing dream— never quite received a proper farewell and thanks when he eventually relinquished the brewery in March 2007. Now's the opportunity to thank him, a true 'craft' beer pioneer of Virginia (and of the greater Washington, D.C. area) and to celebrate with him and his successors: Bill Muehlhauser, Jim Lutz, Casey Hollingsworth.

Bailey will be flying down for the evening from his current home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And, to put froth on the pint, several of Dominion's brewers from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, near and far, are also expected to join the current brew staff for this jubilee. The list is currently being created; RSVPs are being answered. The evening may indeed become a convocation of some of the glitterati of our Virginia (and national) 'craft' brewing history.

Blast from the past (02)

Dominion Brewing celebrates its 25th Anniversary
with a Special Release

Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 6pm.
Churchkey, Washington, D.C.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 30/31, 2014.

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

Weeks 30/31
20 July - 2 August 2014

  • 1 August 2014
    August is Virginia Craft Beer Month.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 30 July 2014
    Once considered unfit for brewing, wild American hops are making their solo debut on the beer market. "The difference between the American and European varieties is that there are certain compounds in those American varieties, such as geranial, which gives [the American hops] a floral quality, often a citrus quality." The story of the discovery and cultivation of "Humulus neomexicanus" hops in New Mexico. And a beer brewed with them.
    —Via Smithsonian.

    CBC13 Keynote Ballroom
  • 29 July 2014
    Beer writer Stephen Beaumont believes that, contrary to warnings from others in the craft beer business, "3,000 breweries are not too many for the United States."
    • 1) Roughly 92% of the overall American beer market is not 'craft'.
    • 2) "That brewery to population ratio, by the way, is about one per every 105,000 people. Which in a global context is actually pretty laughable."
    —Via Blogging at World of Beer.

  • 28 July 2014
    A new Gallup poll finds that 41% of U.S. drinkers report they typically drink beer; 31% name wine, 23% liquor. Americans' current preference for beer is among the highest Gallup has recorded since beer tumbled to 36% on this measure in 2005 -- although still not as highly favored as it was in the 1990s, when nearly half preferred it.
    —Via Brewers Assoication.

  • 28 July 2014
    In the first half of 2014, the 'craft' beer industry sold 10.6 million barrels of beer, an increase of nine million over the same period in 2013. Part of that increase can be accounted for by the inclusion this year of figures from Yuengling and a few other breweries, which the Brewers Association had not considered to be 'craft' last year and before.
    —Via Brewers Assoication.

  • 24 July 2014
    The original 'craft' beer bar in Richmond, Virginia —the Commercial Taphouse— has been sold. Opened originally in 1994, it will remain open.

    Ageing Veramar
  • 24 July 2014
    "Wine should not taste like a tree. So why age wine in oak barrels? They contribute structure, body and tannin to the wine, while helping to clarify and stabilize it. They also expose the wine to a measure of oxygen (through the wood, but also when the wine is “racked” from one barrel to another to remove the juice from the lees, or sediment), softening the wine and giving it a fleshier mouth feel. As long as it doesn’t overwhelm the fruit, oak contributes many of the flavors we associate with fine wine."
    —Via Dave McIntyre (in Washington Post).

    Jupiter's Legacy Cider Flute & Bottle (01)
  • 24 July 2014
    The U.S. cider market continues to grow. Combined data from the U.S. Department of Commerce (imported cider) and Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) wine reports (domestic cider) show year-to-date total volumes at an all time high of 7.5 million CEs (case equivalents), growing 63 percent for the first four months of this year. Domestic volumes are 74 percent higher than last year, while imported cider sales fell by 11 percent.
    —Via National Beer Wholesalers Association.

  • 25 July 2014
    Scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Mycology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences say they have discovered the ancestor of Saccharomyces bayanus, a yeast species widely thought to be one of two parents of Saccharomyces pastorianus (also known as Saccharomyces carlsbergensis), used for hundreds of years to make lager. In 2011, an international team found a candidate for lager yeast's ancestor in Patagonia in Argentina, but the suggestion it was the original ancestor was met with arguments over whether the yeast had travelled from Europe over the Atlantic Ocean.
    —Via South China Morning Post.

  • 23 July 2014
    A 'craft' beer distributor in Maine has offered potential client-breweries an interesting work-around to the state's 3-tier franchise law, by offering beverage manufacturers fixed-length contracts capable of being nullified at any time. But the consensus from industry experts and other craft brewers is that state franchise laws would be likely to trump even a written contract.
    —Via Brewbound.

    Homegrown hops
  • 20 July 2014
    Growers in Washington state harvested 27,062 acres of hops in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Virginia has about 30 acres in hops this year, said Stan Driver, chairman of the Old Dominion Hops Co-Op. But the yield is increasing as more farmers begin to grow hops in the state.
    —Via Lee Graves (at Richmond Times-Dispatch).

  • 20 July 2014
    The United States leads the world in total wine consumption at 29 million hectoliters per year (supplanting France at 28.2 million hectoliters). Per capita, the U.S. ranks much lower, at 10 liters per person of per year (13.33 bottles).
    —Via Schiller-Wine.

  • 20 July 2014
    Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) toured Port City Brewing, in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn more about the removal of 'spent' grains from breweries (and its re-use as feed for livestock).The FDA is currently reviewing comments submitted regarding a proposed ruling included in the Food Safety and Modernization Act that would regulate the use of spent grain as animal feed. As proposed, the ruling could have harmful effects on the small brewing industry.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 20 July 2014
    A life well-played. New Orleans jazz trumpeter Lionel Ferbos dies at 103. Was still gigging at age 102.
    —Via WWLTV.

  • 20 July 2014
    A tourism official for Loudoun County, Virginia, touted the recent growth of 'craft' breweries in his county by finding brewery visitors to be "male versions of female wine connoisseurs at a lot of our wineries."
    —Via WWLTV.

  • 20 July 2014
    Forty-five years ago, the first humans walked on the Moon. The USA's Apollo 11 landed there, 20 July 1969.

  • 20 July 2014
    California's Stone Brewing Company to build a new brewery ... in Berlin, Germany. The large 'craft' brewery is using IndieGo Go to crowd-source one-million out of the twenty-five millions dollars expected as necessary.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 20 July 2014
    As just one example of the rapidly increasing number of 'craft' breweries in the United States: Bristol, Virginia's first brewery - Holston Brewing - opened in May. Three more breweries have announced plans to follow, just in the town of Bristol.

  • 20 July 2014
    "This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I'll get back to you." Actor James Garner —star of movies, but most well know for TV shows, "Rockford Files and "Maverick"— has died.
    —Via NBC News.