Monday, August 24, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 32/33, 2015.

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

Weeks 32/233
2 August - 15 August 2015

  • 15 August 2015
    Seventy years ago, 15 August 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's surrender to the Allies in WWII. The formal signing would be on 2 September.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • 14 August 2015
    Nine 'craft' breweries make Inc. Magazine’s annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States, ranked according to percentage revenue growth over a four-year period.Revenue in the initial qualifying year must have been at least $200,000 and revenue in the most recent year must have been $2 million. At #1 among the 'craft' breweries is Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (at various locations in southern California) at position #519 out of 5,000, with 893% growth ($6.1 million in revenues).
    —Synopsis via YFGF.
    —Full story via Brewbound.

  • 14 August 2015
    The United States Social Security Act became law 80 years ago, on 14 August 1935, creating unemployment insurance and government-backed pension plans.
    —Via United States History.

  • 12 August 2015
    In a story on the recent rapid growth of the 'craft' beer industry in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post compares the aroma of boiling wort to that of light-stuck 'skunky' beers, and manages to get parts of American beer history wrong.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 12 August 2015
    • Welsh brewery, Tiny Rebel, won the 2015 Great British Beer Festival, marking the first time in the festival's history that a Welsh brewery has won best beer of Britain
      —Via Roger Protz.
    • Stone Brewing (of Escondido, California) won the Michael Jackson Award —for the best cask-conditioned ale made in America, at the festival— for its cask of Ruination Imperial IPA (8.2% abv).
      —Via YFGF.

  • 12 August 2015
    "There isn’t going to be another success story like IPA in near future." Bart Watson, economist for the (U.S.) Brewers Association charts the recent great growth of IPA in the United States. IPAs can finish 2015 with a 27.5%+ craft share, thus having grown more than ten times their 2008 share, or more than 6 million barrels in absolute growth.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • Fred Eckhardt 1926-2015.
  • 12 August 2015
    Fred Eckhardt —homebrewing and beer author, and a pioneer of the craft beer industry since before its legalization in 1979 until the present day— has died.
    —Appreciation via John Foyston, at Oregon Live.

  • 12 August 2015
    "The Beer Bible," by beer writer/blogger Jeff Alworth has been published.
    —Via Jeff Alworth.

  • 9 August 2015
    The 7th annual DC Beer Week, now celebrated throughout the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area: 9 -16 August 2015.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 9 August 2015
    Ten years after Sean Lilly Wilson (now owner of Full Steam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina) shepherded passage of "Pop the Cap" in 2005 — which permitted beers of greater than 6% alcohol-by-volume to be sold and produced in North Carolina— the state is experiencing great growth in its 'craft' beer industry. As of August 2015, there were 132 'craft' breweries in the state.
    —Via News-Observer.

  • 8 August 2015
    "On beer cicerones, wine sommeliers, and the cult of the 'expert'."
    —Via The Pour Fool.

  • 6 August 2015
    The United States deployed the first-ever atomic bomb seventy years ago, 6 August 1945 during WWII, devastating the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
    —Stories of the survivors, via Washington Post.

  • 5 August 2015
    "Why I Wanted to Talk About Race." The 'whiteness' of craft beer.
    —Via Bryan D. Roth, at This is Why I'm Drunk.

  • 3 August 2015
    Taxes paid on beer during the first six months of 2015 are down 1.7% from the same period in 2014 (and thus, sales/production can be considered down).
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.

  • 3 August 2015
    Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon, may be planning to join the movement of western U.S. breweries eastward. There are indications that it may be planning to open its second production brewery, in Greenville, South Carolina.
    —Via Greenville Onine.

  • 3 August 2015
    What 'craft' beer bubble? "Production/capacity ratios are reasonably healthy," says Bart Watson, economist for the Brewers Association. Micro-breweries (producing fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year) continue to show no signs of slowing, and grew significantly faster than the rest of the 'craft' brewery category. For regional breweries (producing anywhere from 15,000 to 6,000,000 barrels per year) growth is shifting to off-premises. Data from the BA's bench-marking survey for 2014 showed the average regional moving from 62.4% packaged production in 2011, to 65.6% packaged in 2014. 87% of the breweries responding to the BA's survey reported growth compared to the same period a year ago, versus 13% that reported being flat or down.
    —Via YFGF (Synopsis of data released by U.S. Brewers Association.)

  • 2 August 2015
    • "If the current craft beer 'revolution' has a defined starting point, you might say August 2, 1965, was that moment. On that date, Fritz Maytag, heir to the Maytag washing machine company, bought a stake in Anchor Brewing Company."
      —Via CNBC.
    • It's been 50 years since the birth of U.S. craft beer. Why no celebration?
      —Via Tom Acitelli, at All About Beer.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pic(k) of the week: Sunflower and bees

Sunflower and bees

Bumblebees foraging for pollen on a sunflower, in late summer, in Arlington, Virginia.

21 August 2015.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Today is the last day to enter the 2015 Beer Writing Awards of the North American Guild of Beer Writers.

Do you write about beer? Do you believe know you write well?

Well, then, read this, and act ... today!

The North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) aims to broaden the conversation about beer and brewing, raise the standards of (beer) writing, provide leadership and continuing education for practitioners of the profession, and encourage and support more participation throughout all media channels. In North America.


Toward that end, the NAGBW has announced its 3rd annual Beer Writing Awards for writers, bloggers, broadcasters, and authors to honor the best beer and brewing industry coverage. This year, there are nine categories, organized by content.
  • Best Beer and Food Writing:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, that places beer in the context of food, including but not limited to recipes and pairings (e.g., cookbooks).

  • Best Beer and Travel Writing:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, that transports the reader to a place and provides guidance or insight on the location’s unique features and beer landscape (e.g., travel books).

  • Best Beer Writing, Short Form:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, that contains fewer than 600 words.

  • Best Beer Writing, Editorial/ Humor:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, that provides the author’s position or opinion on a topic related to the beer industry with or without comedic emphasis (e.g., columns).

  • Best Beer Writing, History/ Technical:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, that chronicles beer historically and/ or technically, offering industry guidance (and introductory beer books).

  • Best Beer Writing, Local/ Regional:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, intended for a local, statewide or regional audience (alt weeklies, brewspapers, local newspapers submit here).

  • Best Beer Writing, National/ International:
    Beer writing, including print or online media, intended for a national or international audience (e.g., magazines, online magazines and newspapers with national/ international circulation or readership).

  • Best Podcast/ Broadcast:
    A serial podcast or broadcast that focuses on beer/ the brewing industry. Please submit three examples of your online series that best represent your beer industry coverage.

  • Best Blog:
    A blog series dedicated to beer/ the brewing industry. Please submit three posts that best represent your beer industry coverage.
The deadline to apply is today, Monday, 17 August, 2015. (The contest was opened 3 August.) To be eligible, entries must have been published between 1 July, 2014 and 30 June, 2015. And you the writer, must officially reside in North America.

Acceptable formats include: .pdf, .doc, .docx. The submitting site accepts large files. One article/ item per entry, except where indicated for Blog and Podcast/ Broadcast. If you have a book that is not available in .pdf form or would prefer to submit a hard copy, email NAGBW Director Erika Bolden at for mailing instructions.

There is a fee of $30 per each entry. Proceeds go toward winner prizes and modest judge stipends. Members of the NAGBW pay only $15. If you're a beer writer, why not join us? (Yes, YFGF is a member.) The Guild has members from USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Costa Rica. Membership is open to all writers and content producers who cover beer and brewing, although industry and associate memberships are both non-voting categories.

For more information and/or to submit an entry, go: here. But do so quickly!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Bubbles on the ledge.

Bubbles on the ledge
It’s common to hear wine professionals comment on the size of bubbles as being some indication of quality. A good quality Champagne has a steady stream of fine bubbles, while an inexpensive Prosecco has much larger bubbles. That’s how the received wisdom goes.

But it’s a myth.

How many bubbles does a bottle of Champagne have in it? Zero. The same goes for a bottle of Prosecco, or Cava, or English sparkling wine. They all have carbon dioxide dissolved in them, up to pressures of 6 atmospheres. It’s only when they are poured into a glass that the bubbles appear, and the nature of the bubble largely depends on the characteristics of the glass.

It’s also a myth that the way that the carbon dioxide gets into the wine determines the bubble size. Once carbon dioxide is in the wine it doesn’t matter whether it was produced by yeasts or pumped in from a cylinder. It’s the same gas.

So how do glasses affect bubble size? Bubbles are formed from what is known as nucleation sites in the glass. Typically these will be small bits of cellulose fibre (for example, from cleaning cloths) or other imperfections. As the glass is filled, these will harbour microscopic air bubbles that are then able to initiate bubble formation in the wine. The dissolved carbon dioxide comes out of solution at these sites and a stream of bubbles is released. Some glasses are deliberately etched at the bottom to create nucleation sites that will cause a pretty stream of bubbles to flow upwards.

If you were to clean a glass perfectly, for example by using phosphoric acid, then there would be no nucleation sites and no bubbles.
Jamie Goode's Wine Blog
14 August 2015.

But why exactly does that fine-mousse of a Champagne dissipate so rapidly, whereas the foamy head of a well-made beer lingers on? Here, Charles Bamforth, at the University of California, Davis, educator to 'craft' brewers, explains:
Foam is an inherently unstable phenomenon because of the huge increase in surface area within an aqueous system that is counter to the force of surface tension. That beer foam is stable, unlike that in richly carbonated beverages such as champagne and sodas [and cider], is due to the presence of surface-active agents in beer. The main foam-stabilizing agents in beer are hydrophobic polypeptides derived from grain. These molecules cross-link with the bitter iso-alpha-acids derived from hops to render the foam more rigid and not only more stable but also adhere to the side of the glass as the beer is consumed.
The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.

In other words, beer has proteins from barley and wheat, and compounds from hops. Wine, from grapes, does not.

Long-lasting bubbles or not, the quality of the wine inside a bottle of Champagne does make a difference. The yeasty, toasty, elegant, well-acidified flavor of a French Champagne is a thing of beauty.
In France, Champagne and sparkling wine are drinks enjoyed everyday, not only reserved for special occasions.

So said Isabelle Bricout, the U.S. Business Development Manager for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte of Épernay, France, when hosting a recent luncheon at L'Auberge Chez Francois, in Great Falls, Virginia.

Words to lunch by, in America.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 30/31, 2015.

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

Weeks 30/31
19 July - 1 August 2015

  • 1 August 2015
    It's been 50 years since the birth of U.S. 'craft' beer. In August 1965, Fritz Maytag, heir to the Maytag washing machine company, purchased a dying San Francisco brewery, the Anchor Brewing Company, and the rest is history.
    —Via Tom Acitelli, at All About Beer Magazine.
    —Via Tom Rotunno, at CNBC.

  • 1 August 2015
    Buddy Emmons, the country-music pedal-steel guitarist who 'taught everybody to play,' has died, at age 78.
    —Via NPR.

  • 29 July 2015
    Odell Brewing is the latest 'craft' brewery to forestall potential take-over bids by selling ownership back to employees.
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.

  • 29 July 2015
    Five reports on the state of upcoming hop harvests, and five different conclusions.
    • Craft Beer Business (9 July 2015) reported that the 2015 hops harvest in the U.S. would be the third highest total harvested acreage on record.
    • NBC News (25 July) reported that the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 98.6 percent of Washington state in a severe drought. The drought will boost hop prices for anything on the spot market. There could be a hops shortage starting in 2016.
    • The annual report from the international Barth-Haas Group (released, July), stated that U.S. Pacific northwest hop growers do not anticipate that the 2015 hop crop will suffer from lack of water.
    • The (U.S.) Brewers Association (16 June) reported a strong increase (16%) in acreage [in the Pacific Northwest] between the 2014 harvest and 2015 plantings, but cautioned that long term water issues could have devastating effects on the ability of new plantings to mature.
    • Stan Hieronymus (29 July) reported that the International Hop Growers Congress in Bavaria announced that production in Germany’s main hop growing regions would likely fall 12 to 22 percent short of earlier predictions, and that the Hop Growers of America is worried that the U.S. alpha varieties yield in 2015 would be down up to 5 percent and aroma varieties off 10 to 15 percent.
    —Via YFGF.

  • Beer Serves America: Economic Contribution Study (2014-2015)
  • 28 July 2015
    In 2014, the U.S. beer industry accounted for $253 billion in economic activity (1.5% of the national Gross Domestic Product) and produced 1.75 million jobs.
    —Via The Beer Institute.

  • 27 July 2015
    Researchers at Purdue University have found that humans have taste receptors for sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami ... and fat. Scientists had already discovered the chemical signature and two specific receptors for fat, but now were able to prove that humans can indeed distinguish fat from other tastes.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 July 2015
    As of the end of June 2015, there were 3,739 breweries in the United States, an increase of 699 over June 2014. (1,755 breweries are in planning.) During the first 6 months of the year, those breweries sold approximately 12.2 million barrels of beer, up from 10.6 million barrels during the first half of 2014.
    —Via (U.S.) Brewers Association.

  • 22 July 2015
    Regular moderate drinking helps to lessen debilitating effect of chronic pain, a new study has found, whose results were published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research.
    —Via The Drinks Business.

  • 22 July 2015
    The record for the most beer taps in the world? The Raleigh Beer Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina has 366 drafts.
    —Via Forbes.

  • 22 July 2015
    E.L. Doctorow —one of America's great 20th/21st century novelists— has died, at 84. Most famous for "Ragtime."
    —Via Washington Post.

  • Cantwell addresses CBC13
  • 21 July 2015
    Dick Cantwell —a co-founder of Elysian Brewing, who recently relinquished ownership there over displeasure with a buy-out by Anheuser-Busch InBev— has been appointed Quality Ambassador, a new position of the (U.S.) Brewers Association, with the Association's Technical Committee, "to provide a framework for quality to craft brewers and to provide guidance to achieve the vision of a membership that consistently produces beer of the highest quality."
    —Via (U.S.) Brewers Association.

  • 21 July 2015
    The USPS Shipping Equity Act, a bill currently under consideration by the U.S. Congress, would allow beer, wine, and spirits to be send through the U.S. Postal Service, overturning a 1909 law, if passed. This would apply, however, only to licensed brewers, distillers and winemakers; individuals would still be prohibited from doing so.
    —Via The Drinks Business.

  • 20 July 2015
    New York City's commissioner of health says NO to cold beers or cold showers during the city's 100 degree heat wave. Huh?
    —Via Observer.

  • 20 July 2015
    Dwayne Wade, star basketball player for the Miami Heat, has launched his own wine, called, naturally, "Wade."
    —Via The Drinks Business.

  • 20 July 2015
    According to market research firm Mintel, 23 percent of new beers released globally in 2014 contained greater than 6.5% alcohol-by-volume. In 2012, that number was significantly lower: just 15 percent were that strong. Those high gravity brews are mostly coming from America, with over three times as many beers over 6.5% released in 2014 compared to those released in 2011.
    —Via Food and Wine.

  • 19 July 2015
    53% of beer drinkers in the United States, aged 21-34, say ‘local’ is very or somewhat important in their decision to buy beer.
    —Via Nielsen.

  • The Barth Hops Report 2014/2015
  • 19 July 2015
    In 2014, worldwide beer production totaled 1,960,000,000 hectoliters (the equivalent of 1,670,249,098 U.S. barrels), down 0.6% from 2013. China was the world's largest producer of beer, as it has been for several years, at 492,190,000 hectoliters (419,428,522. U.S. barrels).
    —Via Barth-Haas Group, at YFGF.

  • 19 July 2015
    A list of the top 40 breweries in the world, by production volume in 2014. (At number 1 was Anheuser-Busch Inbev, with 411.5 million hectoliters, 21% of the total world production.)
    —Via Barth-Haas Group, at YFGF.

  • 19 July 2015
    "AM radio kicked streaming's ass. Analog cassettes and 8 tracks also kicked streaming's ass, and absolutely rocked compared to streaming. Streaming sucks. Streaming is the worst audio in history. My music is being removed from all streaming services."
    —Via Neil Young, at Rolling Stone.