Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Tannebaum topper

Tannenbaum topper

Getting into the spirit, a can of Night On Ponce IPA (from Three Taverns Craft Beers, a brewery in Decatur, Georgia) sits jauntily atop a Christmas tree.

Getting into the spirit, the decorator consumed the contents of the can (7.5% alcohol-by-volume, 69 International Bittering Units) before fixing the beer atop the tree.

13 December 2017.


Friday, December 15, 2017

The BA's 2017 Beer in Review (sort of)

The [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) —"the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers"— has released an end-of-year summary, looking "back on the defining beer moments of the year."

But... NOT included were any actual numbers for production, depletions, or sales (other than the amount of homebrew produced) for 2017. Of course, there are two more weeks of sales to go before the year is out, including Christmas which is the 4th highest holiday period for off-the-premises sales.

Here's a partial summary of the BA's summary:

☞ There were 6,000 breweries in operation during 2017—with 98 percent of them small and independent craft brewers.

☞ At present, 83 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery.

☞ 'Craft' breweries contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, a 21.7 percent increase from 2014. [2017?]

☞ in 2016, 'craft' breweries were responsible for more than 456,373 full-time equivalent jobs, a 7.5 percent increase from 2014, with 128,768 of those jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs. [2017?]

☞ More than 2,700 small and independent 'craft' brewing companies, representing more than 75 percent of domestic volume, have signed on to use the Independent Craft Brewer Seal, informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. [But how many actual breweries? Most are small.]

☞ The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) has been added as an amendment to the larger Senate Tax Reform Bill. If passed, it would significantly reduce the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of any domestic brewery that produces fewer than 2 million barrels a year and would lower the federal excise tax on barrelage up to 6 million barrels.

☞ There are currently an estimated 1.1 million homebrewers in the U.S. In 2017, they produced more than 1.4 million barrels of beer—equaling one percent of total U.S. beer production. The National Homebrew Competition, hosted by the American Homebrewers Association, continues to be the world’s largest beer competition, this year with 8,618 entries from 3,530 homebrewers worldwide.

☞ The average 'craft' beer drinker visits 3.5 breweries near their homes and 2.5 breweries within two hours’ driving distance.

☞ American 'craft' breweries donated an estimated $73.4 million to charitable causes in 2016, up from $71 million in 2014. [2017?]

2017 Craft Beer in Review


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beef and Beer (and Wild Irish Rose) ... and Jazz.

In January 2008, I was in a restaurant/wine & beer bar in Greenville, South Carolina, flogging the beers of the brewery that was employing me.

A vintage record shop shared an entrance with the restaurant. These days, I avoid such places; they do great damage to my wallet. But, that day, I was there, so, finished with the sales call, I walked in. Fortunate for my wallet, my working schedule was filled for the day, so my browsing was limited. I purchased only one CD.

The Main Ingredient

That compact disc was The Main Ingredient, a jazz album that Washington, D.C.'s own Shirley Horn —the late great vocalist and pianist— recorded in 1996.

It features Shirley Horn's then personal trio: Steve Williams on drums, Charles Ables on bass, and Ms. Horn on piano and singing. And then there's the rest of her lineup: a young Roy Hargrove on trumpet; Washington D.C. stalwarts, bassist Steve Novosel and tenor saxman Buck Hill; and stars of the jazz firmament, drummers Elvin Jones and Billy Hart, and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson.

The sessions were recorded in Ms. Horn's D.C. home, but the quality doesn't betray that. Not only is the music exquisite — Shirley Horn was one of the great chanteuse/pianists of the latter portion of the 20th century — but printed on the back page of the liner notes is an astounding recipe for ... Beef & Beer (and something else).

Beef and Beer (and Wild Irish Rose)

Look at the ingredient list. Scroll down to the final two ingredients: a bottle of beer — Heineken — and a lot of wine — Wild Irish Rose.

In case you've forgotten your days of searching for a quick, cheap buzz, the latter is a sweet fortified 'wine' of a mere 18% alcohol. The recipe calls for a full half pint of it! It suggests you "open a beer or drink & chill"; and, maybe to regain a healthy veneer, the recipe concludes with an underscored admonition: "Remember no salt."

Although the recipe looks like winter comfort food, I've never cooked it (and probably won't *). But, since that day in Greenville, I have replayed the disc many times.

Ms. Horn died in 2005. I am fortunate to have heard and seen her perform live on several occasions. Her music —quiet and sensitive yet insinuatingly powerful— is the main ingredient. It lives on.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Drinking, again! Bell's Christmas Ale.

Christmas Ale, by the light of the NFL

This was the scene on a recent late Sunday afternoon: watching football on the tube and drinking —from a lantern tankardChristmas Ale, a 'specialty Scotch ale,' brewed by Bell's Brewery (Comstock, Michigan)

The brewery's take (on the beer):
This traditional Scotch Ale is rich and malty with notes of caramel and a warm finish. Certain to make any occasion festive, or at least a bit more bearable. Enjoy with the company of friends and family. Alcohol-by-volume (abv): 7.5%.

YFGF's take:
It's a translucent ruddy reddish-brown, on the fuller side of medium-bodied, malty in flavor (toffee, nuts, caramel) without being treacly, hinting at grape jelly, and finishing with a gentle hop presence that helps to dry the finish.

Final observations:
Not for hopheads, Christmas Ale is quite the enjoyable beer and strong (not so, the NFL product). But warning! It's a far different beer than the Bell's Winter White Ale. Rather, it's like an American take on a trad beer that, I would surmise, Bell's Director of Ops John Mallet might want to drink. I did.

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


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Sartorial Charlie

YFGF's Pic(k) of the Week has gone to the dogs.

Sartorial Charlie

Cancer survivor Charlie, a French bulldog resplendent in his snappy Christmas bow-tie, was expectantly watching the Reindog Parade and Contest, at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, in Atlanta, Georgia, on 2 December 2017.

The competition, in its tenth annual observance, showcases canines in their winter fashions (and their companion humans). Categories include Best Puppy, Best Adult, Best Botanical, Best Dog-Owner Dress-alike, Best Dog Pack, and, ultimately, Best in Show.