Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: 'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

In the topsy-turvy evolution of 21st century American English, the word "literally" has come to literally mean "figuratively." Such as, I literally jumped clear out of my comfortable chair when I first saw this.

'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

The Americans is an American cable-television Russian spy drama, set in northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. during the early 1980s. The protagonists (antagonists?) are Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a married couple who are, in reality, two Russian KGB 'sleeper' spies.

In the second episode of the series' third season (aired in 2015), the two, in disguise, enter a northern Virginia bar. Philip asks the waitress what beers are being served that evening. And, it's a fascinating roster of beers that she recites.

"What beer do you have?"

Jenny the waitress:
"Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Miller, Miller Lite, Natty Light, Michelob Light, Sierra Nevada, PBR, Rolling Rock, Stevens Point, Yuengling, Lord Chesterfield, Genesee Cream, Schaefer, New Albion, [inaudible; Harp?], and Guinness."

The problem is that that beer list is historically inaccurate.

Sierra Nevada Brewing, in Chico, California, had only begun brewing in 1980. In 1982, it was nowhere near the 'craft' behemoth it has since become. In 1982, it was not shipping its beers to the East Coast.

Stevens Point Brewery began operations in Wisconsin in the 1850s under a different name. Always a regional brewery, its beer would not be shipped outside of that base area until the early 1990s.

Coors Brewing Company's insistence on refrigerated cross-country delivery of its non-pasteurized (but highly filtered) beers had given it cult status for many years. In 1982, its beers were not yet available on the East Coast.

Most surprising of all was the inclusion of a beer from New Albion Brewing.

Jack McAuliffe & New Albion Brewing (c.1976)

Jack McAuliffe, an ex-Navy serviceman, opened New Albion in Sonoma, California, on 8 October 1976. New Albion was the first 'craft' brewery to operate in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition. (Back in the 1970s, such things were called simply 'breweries,' unencumbered by later over-fraught labels such as 'craft' or microbrewery.) McAulifffe operated New Albion until 1982 (the year in which the episode of The Americans is set), when he shut it down, struggling to sell enough to make a profit. But by then, his legacy was secure. The American 'craft' brewery movement had begun.

Producing only small amounts, New Albion never exported its beers to the East Coast. The brewery's mention in this scene of The Americans shows a scriptwriter unexpectedly —if historically inaccurate— giving homage to forty years of American beer history.

Which is why I 'literally' jumped out of my chair.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

He must resign.

In the Presidential election of 2000, Al Gore challenged the number of votes counted. Once those votes were counted, with the imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Gore accepted the result, conceding to George W. Bush.

Wednesday, Donald Trump— during the 2016 presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, at the Thomas & Mack Center of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas— challenged, not a count or recount, but the very legitimacy of the Presidential election before it is to occur.

There is no equivalence — historically, politically, or morally— between the two events.

Disqualified to be President

Near the end of the debate, when moderator Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump whether or not he would accept the outcome of the election, Mr. Trump said no. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding later, “I will keep you in suspense.” In campaign speeches, he has said the process is “rigged.”

The election of 1800 was the fourth-ever American presidential election but the first-ever truly contested one —between John Adams of the Federalist party and Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican party. The Federalists wielded the executive power and, yet, they lost the election and accepted their loss —decided in the House of Representatives. And the world marveled at the peaceful transfer of power in this young American democracy. And so it has been since. Until yesterday.

Never before in 240 years of American history—not even in 1860, the election of Abraham Lincoln which helped spark the Civil War— has a major Presidential candidate refused to accept the legitimacy of an election outcome. With this, Mr. Trump has challenged the very bedrock of American democracy; he has veered close to sedition; he has disqualified himself from being President, let alone running for the office.

This blog —Yours For Good Fermentables— is a blog about beer (and wine and spirits). Only rarely have I used this venue to politically editorialize. Today, as a patriotic American, I am compelled.

Being vigilant is one thing. As is disagreeing or agreeing with a political position. Those are healthy for democracy. Government exists by the consent of the governed.

But a presidential candidate refusing to recognize the legitimacy of democracy itself? That's an entirely other thing. Donald Trump, with this heinous and reckless act, has disgraced the nation; he has threatened our constitutional survival.

Donald Trump should must resign from the campaign.

—Thomas Cizauskas
Yours For Good Fermentables
20 October 2016.

Furled flag flies


Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy 20th, Manayunk Brewing!

Twenty years ago today, on 17 October 1996, in the lower level of the Manayunk Farmers' Market, on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, the brewpub Manayunk Brewing Company first opened its doors to the public.

Manayunk Brewing (logo)

There were beer dinners and real ales; "exploding yeast" (well, not really) and Schuylkill River floods.

There were helping hands from uphill neighbors, Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit, then producing open-fermenter beer at their just-over-one-year-old Yards Brewing; Bill Moore of Independence Brewing loaning supplies; Brandon Greenwood of all-over fame providing technical advice; and assistant brewers Jim Brennan and Ted Briggs supplying much-needed help.

There was Jim Anderson of Beer Philadelphia and spirited debates; free-lancer Rich Pawluk and beer-with-food pairings; bikes and beer engines at Dawson Street Pub.

There was the temerity to brew with corn; the dry-hopping with dark-fruit-forward New Zealand hops (like grandaddies of today's American IPA hops); and the pleading of why-don't-you-try-the British-Bitter-styled Renner's Red when raspberry-fermented (but not sweet) Schuylkill Punch became all the rage. And there was a beer-swilling pig (well, almost).

I should know, because I was there; I was Manayunk Brewing Company's original brewer. Twenty years later, the brewpub continues on.

Congratulations, Manayunk, and cheers for twenty (at least) more.

Assessing the gravity


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Briarcliff Pumpkin Patch (and Borani Kadoo).

Briarcliff Pumpkin Patch

Years ago, my Lithuanian-American parents introduced me to Afghan food. And it was love at first aromatic pumpkin bite.

Borani Kadoo is Afghan pumpkin stew, savory, spiced with heat and sweet. That description does it injustice. Here's a recipe via the San Francisco Chronicle:
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3-pound sugar pie pumpkin
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch salt

  • Puree the onion in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 14-inch saute pan or large casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

  • While the onion is cooking, cut the pumpkin. Set the pumpkin on its side and use a sharp chef's knife or bread knife to cut the top and bottom off the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin right side up and cut off the peel, trying to remove as little of the flesh as possible. Cut the pumpkin in half down the middle and scoop out the seeds and string. Save the seeds for toasting if you like. Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch-thick wedges and cut those wedges in half crosswise.

  • Once the onion is tender, add the garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, turmeric, ginger, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

  • Once the mixture boils, turn the heat to low and gently press the pumpkin pieces into the onion/broth mixture so the pumpkin is tightly tucked into the pan. It's OK if the pieces overlap somewhat. Every few minutes, move the pumpkin around so all the pieces cook evenly in the sauce and the bottoms don't burn. Add more liquid if the pan gets dry. Cook until the pumpkin is fork-tender but doesn't lose its shape (about 30 minutes).

  • While the pumpkin is cooking, combine the yogurt, garlic and salt in a small bowl.

  • To serve, spoon the yogurt over the pumpkin and pour any remaining yogurt around the outside edges of the pumpkin. Serve with warm pita or naan bread.

Take it from this Lithuanian-American: cook an Afghan pumpkin; drink a German bock bier. It's quite a cultural melange and, gourd, it's good.


Monday, October 10, 2016

A Brown October Ale? Yes, please.

Brown Ale: rich color, malt complexity, and a sweet, deep caramel-like flavor that many beer lovers describe as 'luscious.' The sublime result- a beer that is at once luxurious and quaffable.
Brown Ale: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes
Ray Daniels and Jim Parker

Oliver's 3 Lions Brown Ale @spacebar

A Brown October Ale? Yes, please. But quickly, today. Before 'craft' innovation re-renders it as a basket of hops, with dark malt merely the wrapping of a pretty bow.

Brown October Ale was a well-known song from the comic opera Robin Hood, an American light opera first staged in Chicago in 1890. It was revived there as recently as 2004. The music was by Reginald De Koven, and book and lyrics, Harry Smith, both Americans. [...] The opera interprets the Robin Hood legend. The gas lamp era was a time when medieval England had some hold on the public imagination. [...] Brown October Ale, the song, had a long career in the American popular music repertoire and was performed into the 1940s at least.
—Gary Gillman
Beer et seq.

Earl Wrightson sings Brown October Ale, from a radio broadcast of 1944.

And it's will you quaff with me, my lads 
And it's will you quaff with me? 
It is a draught of nut brown ale I offer unto ye. 
All humming in the tankards, lads, 
T'will ease thy heart folorn, 
For here's a friend to everyone, 
'Tis stout John Barleycorn.

So laugh, lads, and quaff lads. 
T'will make you stout and hale. 
For all my days, I'll sing the praise of 
Brown October Ale. 

And it's will you love me true, my lass 
And it's will you love me true? 
If not, I'll drink one flagon more and so farewell to you, 
If Kate or Moll or Nan or Doll has left thy heart forlorn, 
Fill up the pail with nut brown ale 
And toast John Barleycorn. 

So laugh, lads, and quaff lads. 
T'will make you stout and hale. 
For all my days. I'll sing the praise of 
Brown October Ale.