Saturday, February 06, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: She makes Budweiser here. Maybe.

Anheuser-Busch InBev in Cartersville (01)

There is an Anheuser-Busch InBev beer plant in Cartersville, Georgia, one of twelve Budweiser breweries that the international conglomerate operates in the United States.

Opened in 1993, the site comprises 1,700 acres, with a total plant floor area of 900,000 square feet. Its annual capacity is eight million barrels per year.

A barrel is not a keg. It's a unit of volume measurement equal to exactly 31 gallons or approximately 13.78 cases of beer. In one year, therefore, the Cartersville plant puts out the equivalent of one hundred ten million, two hundred twenty-two thousand, two hundred twenty-two cases of beer (110,222,222).

To take pictures, I only made it as close as Busch Drive in front of the brewery. Anheuser-Busch InBev says that it does not offer public tours here (but does so at five other of its plants). Or maybe it does.

According to The Chattanoogan, A-B did indeed offer limited public tours at Cartersville in 2015, the first time ever at that plant. And, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated in a February 2016 story that tours will again be offered this year, although its reporter only offered a link to a story from 2015 about a series of tours which apparently were conducted at different days than the Chattanoogan had reported. Byzantine Budweiser!

Who makes the beer there? Depending on which link you access, the plant's current brewmaster is either Dan Kahn, Travis Moore, or Sarah Schilling.

I'll go with Sarah.

Budweiser Cartersville plant (panoramic view)

As seen on 31 January 2016, near exit 296 (Cassville-White Road) off Interstate 75, outside of Cartersville, Georgia.


Friday, February 05, 2016

The Session: Beer Blogging Friday. Barleywine, for when it snows.

Session 108: Snowed In! The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, begun in March of 2007 by Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

On the first Friday of every month, a pre-determined beer blogger hosts The Session: Beer Blogging Friday. He or she chooses a specific, beer-related topic, invites all bloggers to write on it, and posts a roundup of all the responses received. For more information, or to sign up as a host, go to the home page.

Jon Abernathy is the author of Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon, and the writer of The Brew Site, a blog on "all things beer and brewing. Based in Bend, Oregon, there is of course a strong Oregon beer focus."

For the 108th iteration of The Session: Beer Blogging Friday, Mr. Abernathy is the host. He has asked bloggers to blog on "Snowed In!":

  • What style(s) of beer do you prefer for this cold weather? Open one up and write about it.
  • Do you dip into the stash or cellar, and drink something special? Does the occasion warrant it? Why, or why not?
  • When you know the weather’s coming, do you stock up on a favorite or go-to beer? What makes you pick this particular beer?
  • Are you a homebrewer? Maybe this is the perfect time for a brew day—what would you brew? Have you brewed in the snow before?
  • Alternatively, perhaps you have a hodge-podge of brewing ingredients lying around but nothing definitive—could you MacGyver up a homebrewed beer from only what you have on hand?
  • Imagine you were snowed in at a cabin in the mountains for the winter. What one beer would you want with you, and why? (Think “desert island beer” but colder.)
  • There’s plenty of time to catch up on reading; what beer book(s) would you read? If not a beer book, what would you be reading—and what beer would you pair with it?

I don't remember now if it were snowing that evening in November 1993 in Arlington, Virginia. But it might as well have been. It was a very cold night.

My friend and I had just finished watching a screening of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas. We stepped out of the comfort of the movie theater, and a vicious wind unwelcomingly insinuated itself despite the leather of our jackets and the tight wrap of our scarves.

"Let's duck into Bardo," my friend said.

A block from the movie theater, located within a former Chevrolet dealership, the cavernous Bardo Rodeo was the first brewpub (and, at the time, only) to operate in Arlington, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Bardo Rodeo

Cold as we were, we knew that no brown ale, IPA, nor even a stout would suffice. Ah, but my friend did know the anodyne. "What barleywines do you have?" she asked.

"We don't have barley wines," the tattooed bartender informed us. "But," she added, with just a tincture of haughtiness, "we do have red and white wines."

Looking at the taps behind the bartender, my friend replied, "Well then, I'll have that Sierra Nevada Bigfoot BARLEYWINE you have on tap ... right there."

Nonplussed, the bartender acquiesced, and poured us two. My friend and I were soon warm and content.

Barleywine, big and boozy... for when it snows.

Street and man



Upon further consideration, as NFL officials are wont to say, maybe it was Anchor Brewing's Old Foghorn on tap that evening. Northern Virginians were fortunate to have that original 'craft' American barleywine on draft in those days. But the bar conversation, as written, did indeed occur; draft barleywine was indeed drunk. At least, I think it was. Two decades and 9% alcohol beer can have that effect.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

#VeggieDag Thursday: Superbowl 50.

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

In Santa Clara, California, this Sunday, it's a Super Bowl so momentous, that the National Football League has abandoned its Roman numeral scheme, and designated it "50." It's young quarterback, Cam Newton —probably the NFL's MVP for the 2015 season— versus Peyton Manning —the 'old guard', one of the league's all-time great quarterbacks. And, oh yes, it's the Carolina Panthers (based in Charlotte, North Carolina) of the National Football Conference versus the Denver Broncos of the American Football Conference.
The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, known [only] retroactively as Super Bowl I, was played on January 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10.

Super Bowl 50 (logo)

The game is its own mini-economic stimulus, quantitative feasting. Nearly one hundred eighty-nine million Americans are expected to watch. During the day, they will consume 1:
  • 1.3 billion chicken wings
  • 139.4 million pounds of avocados
  • 8 million pounds of popcorn 2
  • $277 million in sales of cheese 3
  • $140.2 million dollars worth of potato chips
  • $93 million dollars of crackers
  • $90.8 million of unflavored nuts
  • $20.1 million of tortilla chips
  • $5.1 million of vegetable trays
  • $4.9 million of tater tots
And beer?

It's the number one product by far, expected to generate $583 million in sales (including the week leading up to the game). 4

Happy drinking (be safe!); here's some good eating (be veggie!).

Premium Ale & vegetarian Bánh mì (02)


  • Vegan Bánh mì
    — Via Kindred Kitchen.
  • Veggie Burgers 5
  • Kepta Duona (Lithuanian-style fried garlic-rye-bread strips).
    — Via YFGF.
  • Dip with:
  • Vegan Cheese Stix (Daiya cheese).
    — Via Vegan Zombie.
  • Cauliflower Hot Wings
    — Via Evolve Vegan.
    You might have a problem with this. Cold weather in the growing regions of California and Arizona has caused a cauliflower supply shortage; prices have soared.
    — Via Wall Street Journal.
  • Dip with vegan ranch dressing (cashews).
    — Via Uncooked 101.
  • Go fancy; go English. (Do they watch the Super Bowl?). How to make The Perfect Tea Sandwich, with thinly sliced radishes, a light spread of curried egg salad, or the classic cucumber.
    — Via Food & Wine.
  • Curried Tofu 'Egg' Salad for the tea sandwiches.
    — Via Happy Herbivore.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Steaming Sweetwater

Steaming Sweetwater (03)

On a winter's afternoon, steam billows outside, from the kettle inside, at Sweetwater Brewing, in Atlanta, Georgia.

As seen from the highway, I-85, on 4 January 2016. I wasn't driving.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reviewing beer? Avoid "high and mighty snobbery."

Today, a second in an infrequent (ex post facto?) series on reviewing beer.

The first installment was from historian Maureen Ogle: a humorous essay on enlivening a review by bringing in personal experience. Today, it's advice from the BJCP newsletter, on how to avoid "high and mighty snobbery."

The BJCPBeer Judge Certification Program— trains and certifies judges for homebrew and professional beer competitions. It's a non-profit organization, founded in 1985, "to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills."

At every competition we judge, we are told to ensure that entrants are receiving quality feedback and scoresheets. [...] While it is the duty of each judge to write a proper scoresheet, remember that it is an even worse error to only write a few comments, which is seen from time to time. [...] As the day gets long and judges become complacent, it can begin to creep into sections of a beer’s evaluation by judges of all levels.

One of the easiest way to combat this, and give interested stewards a chance to enhance their judging skills, is a simple discussion. Naturally, this happens at varying levels after every beer, but if you see scoresheets beginning to suffer, take it a step further. All initial notes have been made at this point, but taste the beer again and together highlight the basic aspects of the beer that are listed in each section of the scoresheet. Alternate and discuss.

BJCP logo

For instance, in the Aroma section, begin simply by discussing the malt character. What you notice, the intensity, the specific characteristics. Take that next into how it plays with the hop character of the beer. Move to the yeast, and anything else that stands out. Both positive and negative. Just remember to stress how it comes to play versus the style guidelines. If you haven’t taken the time to review the guidelines together, pull them out now and take the opportunity to do it. While this may cause the evaluation of a couple beers to take a bit longer, you will have a refreshed understanding of what the beer should be and what is expected on the scoresheet. This should also help the later beers in the flight move faster, as now there is a greater understanding of the beers being presented to you.

While this may sound like a cliche, and may not be completely possible in every situation, invoking memories about the beer and translating those memories helps to build a better scoresheet. Even if the only memory you can recall is that of another beer or brewery, write that down. While it may be a tricky area saying something such as, “This beer is reminiscent of an -insert brewery name- product”, it shows at a minimum the beer is of commercial grade.

Specific memories typically mean nothing to another person. For instance, how many people out there have tasted your grandma’s homemade rhubarb pie? But in general terms, everyone should at least have an idea of basic concepts even if they have never experienced salt water taffy, charleston chews, or chocolate covered cherries. Getting judges and stewards to reach and expand their thought process while drinking a beer leads to better understanding.

Judging Maryland's best (04)

When it comes to the Overall Impression section of the scoresheet, it is easy to discuss major faults and give troubleshooting advice for those. But what about the very good beers that just have minor stylistic issues? The ones that score well but are just missing that unexplainable wow factor. [...]

This can be a difficult section, and sometimes judges struggle with what to include here. Begin by giving your basic thoughts on the beer in regard to the entered style. Also, if the beer is a good example of a style, but not the style entered, be sure to not only say it is miscategorized but where it should go. There are times when entrants received this feedback but they were not told why the beer was out of style or where it should go instead. After that you can move into talking about how the beer missed the mark in sections where it was either not previously discussed or where the “major” issue lies.

Ask the judge you are working with to contrast the characteristics of the beer with the guidelines. While working on those areas, also consider the balance of the beer. The bitterness of a beer can be right for the style but paired with the body or yeast character, there may be a struggle for power. Comments in this vein will give more experienced homebrewers ideas to think about rather than what some see as “high and mighty snobbery” and will give the less experienced homebrewers an idea of what the score they received actually means in regards to their beer.

While consistently creating high quality scoresheets takes time, taking it one section at a time and filling it out as carefully and accurately as you can is of huge value to the brewer. A poorly completed scoresheet has no value to anyone and detracts from the judging process. [...]
Advice for quality scoresheets
BJCP newsletter
Allen Huerta
25 January 2016.

BJCP scoring sheet