Monday, January 15, 2018

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 51/52, 2017.

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

Weeks 51/52
17 December - 31 December 2017

  • 31 December 2017
    The Wine Spectator's 2017's wine of the year:
    Of the nearly 17,000 wines under review this year, more than 5,600 rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. From that starting point, we looked for wines that excelled in four criteria: quality (based on score), value (based on price), availability (based on cases either made or imported into the U.S. and, most importantly, a compelling story behind the wine. This year's Top 100 features a strong showing of wines from the United States: nearly 25 percent are from California. Overall, domestic wines account for one-third of our class of 2017, including the Wine of the Year: [...] Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard 2014, representing a comeback story starring a grape much maligned over the last decade.
    — Via Wine Spectator.

  • 30 December 2017
    The dumbest beer-exec statement of 2017?
    From the guy responsible for marketing [Bud Light] the largest beer brand in the country, a brand that continues to post sales declines of 5-6%--a staggering (!) 1.9 million barrels of beer volume lost in the current year alone--comes this: “...(the) Bud Light veep... said Dilly Dilly is 'creating such a fun buzz' and the 'creative team is having a blast.' ”

    Ad-agency creative people are paid handsome salaries to create advertising that sells beer. "Having a blast" is what they do after work, over alcohol beverages (although rarely beer) and banned substances. But maybe, in this case, they should be giddy. They have a client so clueless as to spend millions and, rather than hold them accountable for sales results, he celebrates their... celebrating.
    — Via past Coors advertising executive Dan Fox.

  • Bombogenesis, January 2018
  • 28 December 2017
    A near historic cold-snap, that some meteorologists have called "bombogenesis" or "bomb cyclone" hits the U.S. midwest and east coast.
    — Via Earther.

  • 27 December 2017
    Mike Hastings, past head brewer for national 'craft brewing company Oskar Blues at its plant in North Carolina, assumes the same position for Lost Rhino Brewery in Ashburn, Virginia.
    — Via Lost Rhino Brewery. [Instagram]

  • 23 December 2017
    "Carole" was an Old French word referring to a round of dancers, singing and holding hands. It came to mean a song or hymn related to Christmas.
    — The etymology of "carole," via British Library.

  • 21 December 2017
    With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, craft breweries will receive a tax cut. Beer writer Jeff Alworth asks: "Is it good policy?"
    • Small brewery making 2,000 barrels of beer: $7,000 tax cut.
    • Large regional brewery making a million barrels: $2,090,000 tax cut
    • Large regional brewery making 2 m barrels: $4,090,000 tax cut
    • Large industrial brewery making six million barrels: $12,000,000 tax cut.
    These tax cuts are still the best deal, per barrel, to the small brewery. But as with the Trump tax cut in general, the serious cash accrues to the already-successful. The vast majority of beer excise taxes cut by Congress will go to the largest breweries. They pay the most in taxes, so you may feel like this is only fair. On balance, given the short window and puny benefit small breweries will actually realize, the whole thing looks a lot like another way to transfer federal dollars to giant corporations. Your mileage may vary, but I see no public policy good served by this wealth transfer.
    — Via Beervana.

  • Session double
  • 22 December 2017
    A brewer in Virginia posts a dark lament to Facebook.
    IPA, IPA, IPA! I think it's time that 'real beer' drinkers and brewers (not the Instagrammers and Untappd abusers) take beer back. When was the last time anyone saw a brown ale or a porter or stout that wasn't flavored or imperial? There is nothing quite like a nice, unflavored porter. DARK BEERS MATTER!
    — That and porter's demise in Ireland in 1973, via YFGF.

  • 21 December 2017
    DRAFT Magazine online chooses its top 25 "the most interesting, innovative and well-executed" beers of 2017. [Beers from brewpubs and non-packaging breweries are MIA.]
    — Via DRAFT.

  • 20 December 2017
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a non-tax provision to permit drilling for oil in the until-now environmentally protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
    — Via The Hill.

  • 20 December 2017
    The 115th United States Congress has passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Included in the legislation is the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) that lowers the federal excise tax for breweries, wineries and distilled spirits producers. The provisions become effective 1 January 2018.
    — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 20 December 2017
    Parti-gyling is NOT the production of several beers from different runnings of the same mash, as is often stated in beer writing. Beer historian Ron Pattinson set the record straight...in 2010.
    • Real party-gyling is where you blend 3 or 4 worts of different strengths in differing proportion in different fermenting vessels to make worts of different gravities in order to create several beers. The important point is that even the weakest beer will get some of the strongest wort.
    • Despite what many homebrewers believe, parti-gyling is not using each separate running to make a different beer. That method of brewing disappeared about 1762.
    • And, despite what many beer writers have claimed, party-gyling didn't pretty much die out by 1800. It's a common feature of all the brewing records I've looked at from 1805 to 1965.
    — Via Shut Up about Barclay Perkins.

  • 19 December 2017
    The U.S. government has publicly acknowledged that North Korea was behind the WannaCry computer worm that affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries earlier this year.
    — Via MSN News.

  • Christmas sprites (01)
  • 19 December 2017
    Not quite the Twelve Beers of Christmas but nine beers of winter: "Classic craft, "International flavor," and Georgia-brewed "Local cheer."
    — Via Bob Townsend, Beer Town writer for Atlanta Journal Constitution.

  • 19 December 2017
    British beer writers Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey select their favorite web-scribblings on beer from around the world-wide-web in 2017.
    — Via Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog.

  • 18 December 2017
    The TTB —the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau— is the primary federal regulatory agency responsible for the brewing industry.
    • In 2017, through August, the TTB had received 31,396 applications for beer label approval, a 15.4% over 2016. The vast majority of those applications (97.5 percent) are now electronically submitted.
    • In mid-2016, label approval processing times were averaging 24 days for malt beverages. With additional resources and staffing, the goal for label approval turnaround was 10 days by the end of FY 2017. As of September 11, processing time had dropped to two days.
    • Advocacy efforts led to success when an additional $5 million was added to TTB’s FY 2016 appropriations to accelerate processing of formula and label applications [and] allowing [TTB] to hire 13 additional labeling and formulation specialists. Ten were working as of June 28.
    • Although the 53-day average processing time in August 2017 was a sharp improvement from the average processing time of 178 days in August 2016, the TTB recognizes the need for additional improvements.
    — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.


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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pic(k) of the Week: Graham Wheeler, homebrew guru, R.I.P.

Graham Wheeler, homebrew guru, R.I.P.

Sad news.

Graham Wheeler —the author of several editions of a seminal homebrewing guide published by U.K.-based CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)— died in late November 2017. His books provided instruction for several generations of budding homebrewers, British and stateside. Many of those amateur brewers —it would be safe to surmise— went on to brew professionally.

I already had been brewing when Wheeler first wrote Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home in 1993, but the book wet my whistle for Bitters. And I haven't lost that since.

Thank you, Mr. Wheeler.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

The fetid under-beer-belly of 'craft.'


Everybody has a diversity committee. That's the trendy thing to do,” said the big bearded white guy, one of four members of "The Brewsroom," a live Twitch-cast originating in the St. Louis, Missouri-area.

The group was grilling Michael Kiser —founder of website Good Beer Hunting— and writer Bryan D. Roth about the latter's article for the website, "I Know What Boyz Like: A Grassroots Industry Struggles to Find Leadership on Social Issues."

In his 2 January piece, Roth had examined misogyny and racism in the 'craft' beer business. The boys of The Brewsroom took great umbrage with that. They were displeased that breweries they knew had been singled-out without being given fair time to comment.

The group implied that misogyny and racism did not even exist in 'craft' beer. If women and minorities were under-represented in 'craft' beer, it was, one said, because of a deficit of unqualified minorities and women as opposed to available Siebel-trained white males. Or, even if there were unintended exclusion, why should they care? Their market is, after all, “middle-aged white men” And what was Roth, a white male, even doing making these claims, they asked.

In a tweet about his participation in the broadcast, Good Beer Hunting's Kiser wrote: “It was a challenging convo. Some good moments, some very bad. Ended with 'Buy him a brown ale for diversity.' Baby steps.

Yes, you read correctly. As the broadcast concluded, one of the group, who had just been informed that Roth would soon be visiting St. Louis for beer business, actually did say, with a smirk: “Buy him a brown ale for diversity.

And there's the problem. The boys of The Brewsroom were clear that they were there to brew and drink, and not to be social crusaders. This was a 'convo' that had fallen on deaf ears and souls, not one leavened by the kind spin that Kiser and Roth had put on it.

I don't know the members of The Brewsroom. Maybe their home turf indeed had been unfairly impugned. But the excuse that good ol' boy behavior is just good fun is an unacceptable retread.

During 'craft' beer's infancy (1965-1980) and adolescence (I of the latter), minorities and women were woefully underrepresented. We in the industry were not called out for that. How we would have responded is an open question.

But years later, well after the civil rights tumult of the later 20th century, racism and misogyny, whether overt or covert, unintended or disregarded, remain alive and unwell in segments of the 'craft' beer industry and culture. Not by everyone; not everywhere; not all the time; but present. For some, 'craft' beer has become merely the occasion to get drunk, belch, fart, and screw. Someone could write a song. But it's not funny.

As 'craft' beer makers and drinkers, it should be our duty to not allow prejudice to remain as 'craft' beer's foul flavor for our sisters and brothers, our daughters and sons. Drink on it.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 49/50, 2017.

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

Weeks 49/50
3 December - 16 December 2017

  • 16 December 2017
    We've lost another songstress: "smokey balladeer" Keely Smith, who came to prominence singing with bandleader Louis Prima.
    — Via Washington Post.

  • 15 December 2017
    Trump forbids the Centers for Disease Control from using seven words/phrases: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
    — Via Washington Post.

  • 13 December 2017
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association releases its review of 'Craft' Beer in 2017; omits data for sales and production.
    • 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 breweries?]
    • 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 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?]
    — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 13 December 2017
    The Federal Communications Commission votes 3 to 2 to repeal net neutrality protections.
    The decision is a blow for consumers and a win for internet service companies like Verizon and Comcast, which gain the power to dramatically reshape—and limit—the way Americans access the internet. Net neutrality, a series of Obama-era protections, require internet service providers to treat all data equally, preventing ISPs from charging more for certain services, or restricting access to certain content.
    — Via Daily Beast.

  • Anchor Christmas 2017
  • 13 December 2017
    Forty-three years of Anchor Brewing's Our Special Ale.
    — Via Tom Bedell.

  • 12 December 2017
    Contemporary brewers use the term IPA rather loosely to describe virtually any hoppy beer. But hey, if you brewed it, you can call it whatever the hell you want.
    — Via George Rivers, at Beer Strength Matters.

  • 11 December 2017
    Boston Beer to become only the nation's second 'craft' brewery to enter into a partnership with a Major League Baseball team. In 2018, Samuel Adams will be the official beer of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. In 2017, the Kansas City Royals selected Boulevard Beer as its official 'craft' beer (if not its official beer, per se).
    — Via The Full Pint.

  • 11 December 2017
    Celebrity chef Mario Batali to step away from his restaurants and businesses amid allegations of sexual misconduct raised against him.
    — Via New York Times.

  • 11 December 2017
    After Trump slashes U.S. government science budgets, French President Emmanuel Macron to pay U.S. climate scientists to work in France, to "make our planet great again."
    — Via Washington Post.

  • 11 December 2017
    Is the popularity of the so-called 'New England'-style IPA (NEIPA) here to stay? Yes, says Bryan D. Roth. “The hop war is over, and the bitter side lost.”
    Within industry context, NE IPA’s nascent presence makes it fair to wonder what kind of staying power the style may have, but unlike other creations that have seasonal or specialty lifespans (Pastry Stout, anyone?), New England IPA has found a footing on many levels, from an exciting, new process in which brewers can play, to providing preferred experiences for drinkers and, for better or worse, creating new business models for companies. Indeed, there’s more to NE IPA’s success than a bunch of beer geeks posting photos on Instagram.
    — Via Roth, at Good Beer Hunting.

  • 10 December 2017
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by United Nations, on this date, 10 December, in 1948.

  • 10 December 2017
    Simeon Booker —the dean of Washington D.C.'s black press corps, the first African-American reporter hired at the Washington Post, who took the 1955 story of Emmit Till's torture and murder to a national audience, white and black— has died at 99.
    — Via National Public Radio.

  • 7 December 2017
    What constitutes a 'good' draft beer list?
    • While pub customers come to retail establishments for various occasions, 69% of them prefer roughly the same number of rotating and standard taps. That means, that for many accounts, balance will be key.
    • Quality is more important than price in driving the decision to drink 'craft' (44% versus 33%).
    • Once a consumer has decided on a 'craft' beer, quality of product (59%), style (48%), and brand reputation (31%) are the three most important influencers in brand choice for craft beer drinkers.
    • For those without a drink category preference, the price is the No. 1 purchase driver, with 43% of those who don’t know which category they will drink saying price is their decider.
    • Trial declines with age. Too many choices and a lack of consistent offerings can discourage older consumers.
    — Via Nielsen and CGA Strategy, at the [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • Big Blue Marble
  • 7 December 2017
    On this date, 45 years ago, on 7 December 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 took its soon-to-become-famous "Blue Marble" photograph of Earth ... from 18,000 miles away in space.
    — Via Charles Bergquist (Director, Science Friday radio program).

  • 5 December 2017
    • The Congressional Tax Cut and Jobs Act contains the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act —lowering the beer excise tax— in both the House and Senate versions
      — Statement from the [U.S.] Brewers Association.
    • Comment from Bob Pease, President of [U.S.] Brewers Association:
      Will the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act result in less expensive beer for the consumer. The answer is no.
      — Via DC Beer.

  • 4 December 2017
    Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah by 1.1 million acres and 800,000 acres, respectively, the largest reduction of public lands protection in U.S. history.
    — Via Washington Post.

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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Pic(k) of the Week: Deepdene polypore

Deepdene polypore (02)

Polypores —fungi growing on a dead tree trunk— seen in Deepdene Park, in the Druid Hills neighborhood of the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County, Georgia, on 30 December 2017.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. (1822-1903) is the acknowledged founder of American landscape architecture. The term "landscape architecture" was coined to describe his work in creating Central Park in New York City. The success of that historic commission launched Olmsted into a career designing public spaces.

In Atlanta, his most visible legacy is a linear park system along Ponce de Leon Avenue, which he designed in the late 19th century. The six parks of what is now known as Olmsted Linear Park form the backbone of Druid Hills, the last suburb to be designed before his retirement. Within that system, Deepdene Park is a 22-acre woodland which Olmsted intended to provide Atlanta's growing urban population with access to a Piedmont forest.

Urban stream

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