Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser

Hello, my name is Michael Jackson. No, not that Michael Jackson, but I am on a world tour. My tour is in pursuit of exceptional beer. That’s why they call me the Beer Hunter.

"Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser"

That other Michael Jackson (1942-2007) died nine years ago, today, of complications related to the neurological Parkinson's Disease. Of his legacy, Gavin D. Smith, a Scottish author on whisk(e)y and beer, wrote this, in a thirteen-writer tribute book, Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser (2009):
The World Guide To Beer was written by Michael Jackson [in 1977]. Almost immediately, the volume earned him a place as one of the most influential drinks writers around. He was to confirm that position during the succeeding years with a plethora of important titles on the subjects of beer and subsequently whisky. [...] The modern theory of beer 'style' was largely developed by Jackson and expounded in this book, with beer classification being formalized into three essential categories of 'bottom-fermented,' 'wheat beer' (also 'bottom-fermented'), and 'top-fermented,' with many sub-division in each classification.

As well as its categorization-based approach, one of the factors that made Jackson's study of beer highly unusual at the time was a passionate attachment to the locale and the manner in which [beer] was drunk, the food it accompanied, and the heritage of the brewing operations in question. [..] To borrow a phrase from the poet WH Auden, he helped [beers] to become 'like some valley cheese, local, but prized elsewhere.'

In the nine years since Jackson's death, and prior, beer scholarship has advanced much, history researched more at original sources, and 'facts' redacted or debunked, but the kernel of what Jackson planted remains, and the tree has grown fruitful. Here's Portland-based beer writer Jeff Alworth, writing recently at his blog Beervana, re-defining Jackson's legacy:
Jackson was fundamentally an ethnographer. He wasn't a brewer and he wasn't an historian. He called himself a journalist, but his biggest contribution was understanding beer in the context of the culture in which it was brewed. He might have approached beer from the sensory perspective, as much wine writing does, or he could have gone out to breweries and described the beer they made, like a simple journalist. Instead [...] Jackson situated beer in a place. He demonstrated how it was an expression of the culture of the people who made it.

The thing that fueled the American brewing revival was how people fell in love with beer, and Jackson's culture-rich writing was one of the main vectors of that romance.

Worth looking for, and looking at, is The Beer Hunter, a four-part video series written and hosted by Jackson, and broadcast in the United States in 1989 by the Discovery Channel. It's a VHS(!) snapshot, now nearly thirty years past, of beer appreciating its nobility but reveling in its common-man freshness (the latter, a joy, that, these days, often seems to be 'experted' and curated away). Jackson provides wit and pith, limning the players, but, as in his books, never upstaging them.

The Beer Hunter VHS (03)

The logical beauty of Jackson's writing remains vibrant even today, when it can still outshine a lot of current writing in praise of 'craft' beer, so fanciful and jargon-draped. Take this Jackson gem, for example, composed on British beer, his first and true love.
Before British beer can be enjoyed, experience is required, but the same could be said for sex. In both cases, mistakes are inevitably made, but the triumphs make the disasters worthwhile.

Beer goggles were never so clear.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer on ground

Beer on ground

Really, dude! What's your beer doing lying there on the ground ... in the sun?

Bio-chemical pathway for sunstruck beer

In a beer exposed to sunlight's wavelenths, there will be photolysis of iso-alpha-acids in the presence of a thiol donor leading to 3-mehtyl-2-butenethiol. In other words, when sunlight hits the hops in your beer, your beer's going to smell like a scared skunk. And go down warm.

As seen —with a touch of photoshopping— at Blue Tarp Brewing, a small 'craft' brewery in Decatur, Georgia, on 6 August 2016, a 100-degree afternoon.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

'Craft' beer map of Turner Field

Flag over Turner Field

I've looked for 'craft' beer at Turner Field —the home ballpark for Major League Baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. I've walked its concourses seven times. (Blogger's license: it's been more than that.) All in all, I must report that the state of 'craft' beer there is not good.

Sweetwater at The Ted

There are cans of Sweetwater Brewing beer —an Atlanta, Georgia, hometown 'craft' brewery, the 18th largest in the U.S., according to the [U.S.] Brewers Association— available at an 'island' just inside the front entrance to the ballpark. That's good. A few of the other concessions elsewhere in the ballpark also offer 'craft' and local beer in cans —Top of the Chop, Budweiser Pavilion (!), for example. Also good.

But forget about cups. The ballpark insists that its customers drink straight from the can.
One of the most outlandish, and to me shocking, habits of the times we live in is that of swilling down drinks from up-lifted bottles. No civilized person guzzles from a bottle if a glass or mug is available. For American advertisers to condone and actually promote such a habit is a good comment on these times when manners have been abandoned and social customs of gentlemen and ladies decried.
Vrest Orton: 1973 [whom, I believe, if not being presumptious, would have found like ignominy straight out of cans, if drinking 'craft' beer today].

A lot of choice? Or draught 'craft' beer? Not really.

Occasionally, randomly, there might be a tap pouring 'craft' at one concession or another (at a Tomahawk Tavern, once that I noticed), but, if so, it's unbeknownst to Guest Services. (I've asked.) Good luck finding those.

Alternatively, at two self-serve kiosks —one of which is often 'down'— there is a choice for foamy Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale. (In fact so foamy, that, on repeated visits, an attendant has been forced to pour the beer and discount for foam.)

At the game, pour your own (01)

A 'craft' beer map? Ha! There is no map.

For all intents and purposes, there is little to no 'craft' draught at Turner Field. Compare this state of affairs with the situation at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., for example, where the ballpark is 'craft' beer, local-brewery, and draught-'craft'-beer friendly.

This all may be moot, however.

The Braves have played in Turner Field (aka "The Ted") since 1997. (The stadium had been built for the Olympic Games in Atlanta the year before.)

Whereas most professional sports teams these days are moving back into center cities, the Braves, at the conclusion of the 2016 season, will be abandoning Turner Field —located just south of the city's downtown— for a site twenty miles distant and nearly public-transportation-free.

Home run no. 715 (05)

It took a decade for the above-mentioned Nationals Park to welcome 'craft' beer. One can only hope that the Atlanta Cobb County Braves, in 2017, will move quicker, provisioning their new digs with local and independently-owned draught beer. It's only civilized.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

#VeggieDag Thursday: Of veggie dogs and baseball: striking out at Turner Field.

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

*************
The root (pun intended) of "vegetarian" is "vegetable," made vernacular in the 19th century by Mancunians but modified to distraction in the 21st. And, yet, the kernel of meaning survives: eat your vegetables!

At modern baseball games, eating such has not been easy, constrained, amidst carnivores, to French fries, wilted iceberg lettuce salads, or greasy ilk. But then, "on June 19, 2000, the Chicago White Sox made baseball history when they began selling vegetarian hot dogs during games at Comiskey Park."

Vegetarian hot dogs are usually based on some sort of soy protein. [But not all. *] Unlike traditional home-made meat sausages, the casing is not made of intestine, but of plant-based ingredients. [Some contain egg whites, which would make them unacceptable to vegans.] The history of the vegetarian hot dog is not clear, but Worthington Foods' Veja-Link meatless wieners claim to have been the world's first vegetarian hot dogs in 1949.
Wikipedia

Since Comiskey's innovation, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has made a tradition of ranking sporting arenas for the vegetarian accommodation of their food concessions. In 2011, Turner Field — home of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team— was third above all on PETA's baseball list.

The Braves have a strong heart of the order, and Braves fans can have a strong heart by enjoying delicious cholesterol-free fare at the concession stands, such as veggie burgers, veggie dogs, meatless burritos, vegetable sushi, veggie pasta, and dairy-free smoothies.

By 2015, however —with Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles tops, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, number two, and Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., at the third spot— Turner Field had completely fallen off the list (and the Braves team, rebuilding, far off the game's leaderboard.)

And this year, vegetarian options are few at Turner Field. Even finding a veggie dog has become an elusive mission and a hungry workout, a search throughout the stadium. Don't even ask at Guest Services. They'll send an explorer to five unstocked concessions, such as this one, the, ahem, All Star Lineup.

Veggie Dog? Nope!

---> I'll have a veggie dog, please.
We don't have them.

---> But it's on your menu board.
We haven't had any veggie dogs all season.

Ah, but the sixth location: the Gluten-Free Cart at Section 102! There, the 'dog' is steamed to a rubbery consistency and served naked on a spongey gluten-free roll (the only option). On top: no onions, relish, jalapenos, veggie chili, no nothing, but that other vegetable, ketchup, can be squeezed on top to add some flavor. Yum? A mission accomplished, but not appetizingly so.

Naked dog

Vegetarian fare is, fair to say, a limited experience at Turner Field. Your best bet? Bring your own veggies, or stick to peanuts and beer. Of the last, a look, tomorrow, at its sad state of affairs.

Ballgame grub (02)


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VeggieDag Recipes

The tomatoes of summer: you won't find these at the ballpark, but you can, at home:
  • Capellini with pomodoro sauce.
    —Via Joe Yonan at Washington Post.

  • Panzanella: Tuscan bread-and-tomato salad.
    —Via Tim Carman at Washington Post.

  • No-cook Beefsteak-tomato veggie burger.
    —Via Jose Andres at Washington Post.

  • Summer gazpacho
  • Gazpacho and salmorejo: Spanish-inspired tomato-based chilled soups.
    —Via Gabriela Llamas at Washington Post.

  • 'Creamy' vegan (hot) tomato harvest soup.
    —Via YFGF.

  • How to buy, store, peel, seed, and freeze tomatoes.
    —Via StartCooking.com.

  • No-recipe flashback of 2005: a Tomato Harvest Beer Dinner, in Washington, D.C. (The dessert course was unique and delicious.)
    —Via YFGF.

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VeggieDag News

  • Good news...

    The United States National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary today.
    On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible NPS for protecting the 35 national parks and monuments then managed by the department and those yet to be established.

    The "Organic Act" states that "the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

    Today, the National Park Service administers four hundred and twelve parks (including one for the performing arts), wildernesses, seashores, and other areas comprising more than eighty-four million acres.

  • Not so good news...

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the July 2016 global temperature of 62.01 °F (16.67 °C ) was the highest ever recorded since global records began in 1880.
    For the 15th consecutive month, the global land and ocean temperature departure from average was the highest since global NOAA temperature records began in 1880. This marks the longest such streak in NOAA's 137 years of record keeping. The July 2016 combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average, besting the previous July record set in 2015 by 0.06°C (0.11°F). July 2016 marks the 40th consecutive July with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.

    Since July is climatologically the globe's warmest month of the year, the July 2016 global land and ocean temperature (16.67°C / 62.01°F) was the highest temperature for any month on record, surpassing the previous record set in July 2015. July 2016 was the 379th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984 (-0.09°C / -0.16°F).

    Averaged as a whole, the global temperature across land surfaces for July 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average—tying with 1998 as the highest July temperature in the 1880–2016 record. July 2016 marks the 24th consecutive July with temperatures at least nominally above average. The last time global land surface temperatures were below average in July was in 1992 (-0.15°C / -0.27°F).

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 31/32, 2016.

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

Weeks 31/32
31 July - 13 August 2016

  • 13 August 2016
    'Craft' brewery Dogfish Head creates beer called "Beer For Breakfast," made with maple syrup, applewood-smoked barley, roasted chicory, milk sugar, coffee, and scrapple (seasoned pork scraps).
    —Via Beer Street Journal.

  • 13 August 2016
    Amid a pending deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev, Devils Backbone, the largest 'craft' brewery in Virginia, was "kicked out of its own festival."
    —Via Fritz Hahn, at Washington Post.

  • 13 August 2016
    French-born chef and restaurateur Michel Richard, whose career spawned the transformation of Washington, D.C. from a power-lunch town to a national culinary destination, has died at age 86.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 12 August 2016
    What do you do when your 'craft' brewery has been purchased by a much larger brewery? You buy a much smaller one.

    In 2002, John Cochran and "Spike" Buckowski founded Terrapin Brewing in Athens, Georgia. 14 years later, last month, Miller/Coors (via its 'craft' division, 10th & Blake) bought a majority interest in the brewery. Cochran left the brewery and has purchased Altamont Brewing, a 5-year-old brewery in Asheville, North Carolina, renaming it UpCountry Brewing. In the circle-of-brewlife, the owner and founder of Altamont, Gordon Kear, has left his brewery.
    —Via Asheville Citizen-Times.

  • 10 August 2016
    In July, the temperature hit 129.2 °F in Kuwait, the hottest ever recorded in the eastern hemisphere.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 10 August 2016
    A second brewery is slated to open in the old Pabst brewery grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOT Pabst, but a 'craft' brewery called MKE Brewing.
    —Via On Milwaukee.

  • GBBF 2016
  • 9 August 2016
    A vanilla stout has won Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 9 August 2016
    St. Louis Brewing has defeated a legal case by conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly attempting to force her nephew Tom Schlafly —principal owner of the St. Louis, Missouri-based 'craft' brewery— from using the family name, Schlafly, for his beers.
    —Via St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

  • 8 August 2016
    Stock analyst thinks Boston Beer, maker of Sam Adams beer, has serious problems.
    It's time for the Boston Beer Company to rewrite its playbook. The company's internal efforts to generate growth aren't keeping up. I can understand the desire to stay true to the craft roots, but the company opted to play the perpetual growth game and went public. Shareholders demand profitable growth. It might be time to purchase a small rival brewer or two and plug them into the existing Sam Adams family. Until the company makes changes, it runs the risk of losing more market share and revenue to both larger and smaller rivals. At current valuations and with an anemic outlook, the Boston Beer Company looks overpriced to me.
    —Via Motley Fool.

  • 8 August 2016
    Pumpkin shortage threatens pumpkin beer supply. That's just too bad.
    —Via DRAFT.

  • 5 August 2016
    "IPA is shorthand for the American ['craft' beer] tradition."
    —Via Jeff Alworth, at Beervana.

  • 4 August 2016
    August 4th was #IPADay, as created by 'craft' beer writer and advocate Ashley Routson, aka the Beer Wench, in 2011.
    —Via CraftBeer.

  • 4 August 2016
    In 1975, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) invented the modern beer festival when it staged the Covent Garden Beer Exhibition, a five-day event with more than fifty beers, attended by forty thousand people. But before the festival evan began, it was nearly derailed, by an ill-placed suitcase; Fullers Brewery saved it. Today, the festival is known as the Great British Beer Festival.
    —Via Boak and Bailey.

  • 2 August 2016
    There has been significant consolidation in the hops industry—the number of commercial growers decreased from 378 in 1964 and 90 in 1987 to just 44 in 2015, according to Hop Growers of America. But new growers ARE coming online. In 2016, there are 53,213 acres of hops growing nationwide—the most acreage ever in production and an 18.5 percent increase over 2015. Almost all of the hops production is in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, but, in all, 29 states are registered to grow the crop.
    Without the advent of craft brewing, local, family owned hop farms would have gone bankrupt. It's saved the industry.
    —Via National Public Radio (NPR).

  • 4 August 2016
    The world’s two largest beer companies – Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller – are merging into one brewing company. The deal, which will be worth $107 billion, is expected to close by October 2016, at which point most global beer brands will be owned by five conglomerates: AB InBev/SAB Miller, MolsonCoors, Heineken, Diageo, and Carlsberg.
    —Via Visual Capitalist.

  • 3 August 2016
    Forty-three percent of Americans who drink alcohol say they prefer beer (the highest since 2002, when 44 percent said the same); thirty-two percent say wine; and 20 percent say liquor.
    —Via Gallup.

  • 2 August 2016
    Inconclusive yet tantalizing historical hints: before cream ale had there been cream beer (and then Kentucky Common)?
    —Via Alan McLeod, at A Good Beer Blog.

  • 2 August 2016
    Buying beer to-go at a brewery in Alabama? Showing proof of age won't be sufficient. The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board wants the brewery to record your name, address, telephone number, and date of birth ... and it wants its agents to have the right to go to your home to confirm that you actually did buy that beer.
    —Via Free The Hops.

  • 2 August 2016
    Total U.S. beer shipments for the first half of year 2016 were up by 0.1 percent (while June's figures were down 0.2 percent over those of June 2015). 'Craft' beer, on the other hand, was up 8 percent over the same time period. Imported beer volumes increased by 7.1 percent in June, and was up 7.7 percent for the year.
    —Via Beer Institute: here and here.

  • 1 August 2016
    An infelicitous date, October 10 is announced as the official date for the completion of the merger of the world's second-largest brewing company, SABMiller, with the world's largest, Anheuser-Busch InBev. The name of the new mega-company to-be-determined.
    —Via Reuters.

  • 31 July 2016
    A 'craft' brewery and its town devasated by flash flooding in Maryland.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 31 August 2016
    2015 was Earth's hottest year since pre-industrial times, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in its report, State of the Climate in 2015.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 31 July 2016
    Good news for the U.S. hop harvest 2016:
    There is some concern about the effect of early bloom in some parts of Oregon and Washington, but, overall, [this year's hop] crop [in the Pacific Northwest] looks like a good one assuming weather conditions remain favorable and pest pressure is manageable.
    —Via YCH Hops.

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