Thursday, November 23, 2017

#VeggieDag Thursday: The Last Thanksgiving.

The Last Thanksgiving

For the day today, here's a cartoon by illustrator Roz Chast, that orginally appeared in The New Yorker, published in November 2010.

Have a happy and safe day of giving thanks.

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 43/44, 2017.

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

Weeks 43/44
22 October - 4 November 2017


  • 4 November 2017
    This date marked the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a sixty-seven-word proclamation from Britain’s then-foreign secretary expressing his government's support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
    The Balfour Declaration is held up as a seminal event, the first formal utterance of the modern Israeli state’s right to exist (though some historians quibble that a “national home” is not the same thing as a state). For that reason, it is also bitterly regarded by many Palestinians as the first instrument of their dispossession. In 1917, Jews made up less than 10 percent of Palestine’s population — a century later, they are now the majority, while millions of Palestinians live in exile or in refugee camps.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 3 November 2017
    As craft dies its death, so too goes its side kick style. In its place we are seeing hundreds and thousands of local expressions, each defying any concept of canon.
    —Via Alan McLeod, at A Good Beer Blog.

  • 2 November 2017
    The 'craft' brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, and more than 456,000 jobs.
    • 2016 craft brewing industry contributions to the U.S. economy, broken down by state and per capita.
      —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.
    • Craft beer economic ranking of all 50 states plus District of Columbia
      —Via YFGF (from Brewers Association data).

  • Hops: Martin Luther's 96th Thesis?
  • 31 October 2017
    The other Reformation: how Martin Luther, five hundred years ago, helped to change our beer.
    In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed, considered undesirable weeds. [...] Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops [...] But Luther's revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. [...] If the Catholic Church lost control over the printed word with the invention of the printing press — the technological weapon that ensured Luther's success — it lost control over beer with the rise of hops.
    —Via NPR Food.

  • 30 October 2017
    While the value of the U.S. hop crop in 2017 is two-and-one-half times that of the crop in 1977, public investment in hop effort has diminished by ninety percent. To partially "reverse this misalignment," the [U.S.] Brewers Association has announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to fund a public hop breeding program within the USDA system. The program will fund the hiring of one full-time USDA breeder and include a
    hop sensory assessment program in 2018, utilizing new sensory methods that will include hundreds of brewers to probe brewer acceptance and to guide rational acreage increase decisions. This assessment program is essential to bridge a persistent gap between variety development and commercialization.
    —Via U.S. Brewers Association.

  • 30 October 2017
    The monks of Mount St Bernard Abbey, in Leicestershire, U.K., plan to open a brewery on the monastary grounds. Pending accreditation by the International Trappist Association, the brewery will become the world's twelfth Trappist brewery (and the first in the U.K.).
    —Via Leicester Mercury.

  • At present, the eleven existing Trappist breweries are:
    • Brasserie de Rochefort / Rochefort (Belgium, 1595)
    • Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle / Westmalle (Belgium, 1836)
    • Brouwerij Westvleteren / St Sixtus (Belgium, 1838)
    • Abbaye Scourmont / Bières de Chimay (Belgium, 1863)
    • Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval / Orval (Belgium, 1931)
    • Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis / Achel (Belgium, 1998)
    • Brouwerij de Koningshoeven / La Trappe (Netherlands, 1884)
    • Stift Engelszell (Austria, 2012)
    • St. Joseph’s Abbey / Spencer (Massachusetts, USA, 2013)
    • Brouwerij Abdij Maria Toevlucht / Zundert (Netherlands, 2013)
    • Abbey of Saints Vincent and Anastasius / Tre Fontane (Italy, 2014)

  • 27 October 2017
    Georgia Department of Transportation employees conducting roadwork on Interstate-75 outside of Macon, Georgia, uncovered a cave that had been dug out nearly two centuries earlier by the state's oldest brewery —the Jacob Russell & Julius Peter Brewery (established in 1837)— to lager its beers. The brewery 'vault' was located below an African-American cemetery built after the brewery closed in 1878. The department said that it would work to avoid impacting the cave with the highway expansion project.
    —Via [U.S.] Macon Telegraph.

  • 26 October 2017
    With the introduction of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the federal government now treats alcoholic beverages as food products, falling under the purview of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 25 October 2017
    Another 'craft' brewery has been sold...but this time to another 'craft' brewery. Harpoon Brewery, of Boston, Massachusetts, has acquired Clown Shoes Brewing. To be precise, it was Mass Bay Brewing Company which did the buying, the parent company of Harpoon and UFO that was created after Harpoon's founder Rich Doyle left in 2014 (to set up his own 'craft brewery holding company called Enjoy Beer LLC). Clown Shoes Beer was founded by Gregg Berman, in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 2009.
    —Via The Full Pint.

  • 25 October 2017
    Fats Domino, rock 'n' roll pioneer of New Orleans, has died at 89. A contemporary of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Domino was among the first acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was reportedly only second to Presley in record sales thanks to a titanic string of 11 top 10 hits between 1955 and 1960, including "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain’t That a Shame."
    Thanks to his New Orleans upbringing, Domino's signature songs fused Dixieland rhythms, his charming, Creole-flecked voice, and his rolling-river piano style.
    —Via Rolling Stone.

  • Base Malt Flavor Map 2017
  • 23 October 2017
    In 2014, after a survey of its members, the [U.S.] Brewers Association pointed out that, “No common (tool or) terminology or lexicon exists to describe the diverse range of flavors found in malts from different sources.” Partially in response, the Sensory Technical Subcommittee of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) recognized "the opportunity to develop a pragmatic approach to malt sensory evaluation. Selected brewery panels throughout the U.S. then created more than 4,000 unique aroma terms —pleasant and unpleasant. Paring the results to 20 primary aroma descriptors encompassing 83 specific terms, the ASBC Sensory Committee created a Base Malt Flavor Map.
    —Via CraftBeer.

  • 23 October 2017
    Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote as the U.S. Senate blocked new regulations allowing U.S. consumers to sue banks for financial malfeasance concerning accounts and credit cards.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 23 October 2017
    Amazon has halted online wine sales due to conflict-of-interest arising from its purchase of Whole Foods, which sells wine in its stores. The decision to shut down seems to be due to so-called “tied-house laws,” which prohibit an alcohol merchant from receiving payments from other suppliers to advertise their goods.
    —Via Wine Spectator.

  • 23 October 2017
    'Craft' brewery sustainability is not simply tree-hugging morality but profit-making, good business. Toward that end, the [U.S.] Brewers Association has released its second Sustainability Benchmarking Update, basing it on data from 2016.
    This document is an update to the inaugural report, and it highlights certain data from 2015. Electricity, natural gas, water, and purchased CO2 were evaluated based on a normalized scale per barrel (bbl) of beer packaged. [...] Best-in-class performance from the first two years of submitted data includes:
    • 6.7 kWh electricity/bbl (ranged from 6.7-709)
    • 0.84 therm natural gas/bbl (ranged from 0.84-37.6)
    • 3.31 bbl water/bbl (ranged from 3.31-81.7)
    • 0.0 lb CO2 purchased/bbl (ranged from 0-78)
    [At least one responding 'craft' brewery was apparently able to capture enough CO2 during fermentation to scrub it 'clean' for all needed use at points of operation. That's an expensive proposition beyond the means of all but larger breweries.]
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • The Management of the Beer Cask (1850)
  • 23 October 2017
    Cask ale cellarmanship advice, published in 1850, often ignored in 2017.
    The Management Of The Beer Cask
    • Place it in that part of the house which is coolest and most free from damp.
    • Tap it when it first comes in, and never shake or disturb it again.
    • Let it stand two or three days before you draw any of it for use.
    • Never leave the peg out.
    • Do not draw it until just before it is to be consumed.
    • Do not have a supply which will last longer than (on the average) three weeks: —a little longer in winter— and shorter in summer.
    The Proprietors of the Swan Brewery, Walham Green, Fulham - (Established 1765) - Beg to Present These Pages on Beer and Brewing; and Will Feel Honoured by Their Acceptence and Perusal.
    —Via Gary Gillman, at Beer et seq.

  • 23 October 2017
    Something's rotten in the state of Stone Brewing. Chief Operating Officer, Pat Tiernan, fired/resigned; the latest in a recent exodus.
    Tiernan’s resignation, however, comes on the heels of a number of high profile personnel shakeups at the nation’s ninth largest craft brewery by volume. Most significantly, in August of last year, the company named a new CEO in Dominic Engels. Leaving his former post as president of POM Wonderful, Engels supplanted Stone founder and then-CEO Greg Koch, who in turn assumed the post of executive chairman. Stone proceeded to cut “approximately 5%” of its workforce about a month later, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the process. These two events were preceded by the June 2016 departure of longtime brewmaster Mitch Steele, who left to open a new brewery of his own in Georgia. Former Stone brewmaster Peter Wiens, meanwhile, was named the first brewmaster of Guinness' new Stateside brewery this past June.
    —Via Good Beer Hunting.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Craft Beer Quick Books

U.S. brewery count, 1990-2017

Fun facts: a snapshot of the brewing and craft brewing business in the U.S. and globally.
    **************

    U.S. beer production & sales

  • In 2016, the U.S. beer market totaled $107.6 billion dollars, 0.5% of the entire U.S. gross domestic product ($18.6 trillion).

  • By volume in 2015, the U.S. beer industry sold 206.7 million barrels of beer – equivalent to more than 2.8 billion cases of 24-12 ounce servings.

  • However, the overall U.S. beer market volume is expected to decline 1.5% this year.


  • **************

    Craft beer production & sales

  • In 2016, 'craft' beer accounted for $23.5 billion, 0.1% of U.S. GDP.

  • But, if all related industries are included (retail, wholesalers, suppliers, etc.), the 'craft' brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016.

  • 'Craft' beer sales growth is projected to be 8 or 9 percent this year, but that's below the 10 percent pace of 2016.

  • 'Craft' beer's volume growth is forecast to be 5 to 6 percent, also below recent double-digit growth.

  • This year, that translates to 1.5 million barrels more than in 2016.

  • The peak year for 'craft' beer was 2014, when it added 3.3 million barrels.

  • Most of the new volume growth for 'craft' this year will come from smaller breweries, not big-name 'craft' brands such as Boston Beer or Sierra Nevada. Larger brands are suffering from a perception of not being authentic 'craft.'

  • Grocery chains are not adding total space this year for 'craft' brands.

  • 'Craft' beer is forecast to represent about 12 percent of total beer volume this year, up slightly from 2016 levels.

  • In 2017, homebrewers will have produced approximately 1.4 million barrels of beer, 1% of all beer produced in the U.S.


  • **************

    Brewery & beer employment

  • Directly and indirectly, the beer industry employs nearly 2.23 million Americans (including breweries, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and importers).

  • In 2016, 'craft' breweries, themselves, employed 128,768.


  • **************

    Total number of breweries

  • Nearly 6,000 U.S. breweries are expected to be in operation by the end of this year, up from about 5,300 at the end of 2016. The vast majority of them will be 'craft'(small, independently-oned, and/or locally focused).

  • In 1970, there were 4,000 breweries in the world. At the end of 2016, there were 20,000.

  • The number of beer brands, worldwide (excluding one-offs), is close to 250,000.

  • In 2016, worldwide 'craft' beer sales totaled $85 billion.


  • **************

    Beer vs. wine & spirits?

  • In 2016, consumer preference for beer increased from 42% to 43%, for wine decreased from 34% to 32%, and for spirits decreased from 21% to 20%. 36% of the population does not consume alcohol. (This is an interesting poll result from Gallup. Numerous other media are saying the opposite: that Americans are shifting away from beer to wine and spirits.)
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Mssrs. Beaumont & Webb

Mssrs. Beaumont & Webb (03)

Quad is NOT a style!” insisted Stephen Beaumont, as he and Tim Webb presented the just-released edition of their new book —Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers— to a 50+ filled room (attendance, not all demographics), upstairs at the Brick Store Pub, in Decatur, Georgia, on 14 November 2017.

Among many beery accomplishments, Tim Webb is also the author of The Good Beer Guide Belgium, first published in 1992, and now in its 7th edition (the latter co-authored in 2014 with Joe Stange). The 8th edition is scheduled for release in spring 2018; in fact, Webb was working on the final revisions during this America trip. Sadly, it will be his last update to the series.

Stephen Beaumont, in his own words, has been ...
lucky enough to have spent the last 25 or so years sipping and savouring beers and spirits all around the world, and getting paid to write and talk about it. Along the way, I’ve managed to author or co-author ten books, beginning with the first of two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guide back in 1994. [...] Among my other books, I’m extremely proud of The World Atlas of Beer, which I co-wrote with Tim Webb and has now been printed in eleven international editions in nine languages.

In previous editions, Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers had been entitled The Pocket Guide to Beer. This was both because that is what the books had been and because, to some degree, Messrs. Webb and Beaumont wrote them as an homage to the late beer writer, Michael Jackson, who had begun the Pocket Beer series in 1986.

For the 2017 edition, the authors have retitled and re-tooled the book to include fewer beer reviews. And why is that?
Our own very conservative estimate places the global brewery total at over 20,000, but it is likely that there are many more than that. [...] The worldwide count of regular beers is fast closing on a quarter-million, and when one-offs are included, doubtless well beyond it. [...]

So, you might ask, why create a book that features even fewer beers? The answer is focus. Rather than attempt to deliver a cross-section of breweries spanning the globe, we have assembled a carefully selected group of what we firmly believe are the best minds in beer [listed at the back of the book] and tasked them to deliver detailed reviews of the absolute best beers their native lands have to offer. Not the most talked about or rarest or the most obscure, but simply the finest ales and lagers and mixed-fermentation beers that eager enthusiasts might actually be able to get their hands on. Star ratings have been dispensed with because all the beers we have featured are at the top of their class.

That evening in Georgia, the audience was served anecdotes and appetizers, cheeses and full plates, and six beers, too (but no quadrupels). The presentation was recorded; at some point, I'll post a transcription, including Beaumont's quad rant and Webb's saison rant. In the meantime, here is another, less 'artistic' view of Mr. Webb (left) and Mr. Beaumont (right):

Mssrs. Webb & Beaumont (01)

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Friday, November 17, 2017

New England IPA: "the first beer style based around Instagram culture."

Garrett Oliver, at Morning Advertiser

Garrett Oliver —author, bon vivant, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, and brewmaster for Brooklyn Beer— recently had something to say about so-called New England India Pale Ales.
I think it (NEIPA) is a fad. These things come and go. I have seen a great many fads over my 28 years of brewing. Three or four years ago, it was black IPA —everyone brewed one. Now, it is hard to find one.

And more...
New England IPA is a beer style that can be really tasty when it is well made, but it can't even sit on a shelf for two weeks. It has no shelf life to it at all. It is the first beer style based around Instagram culture. [...] It is based on the idea that you wait online or at a brewery to get some of this limited thing.
—Read the full interview with Mr. Oliver at the The Morning Advertiser (in the U.K.), published on 15 November 2017.


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What is NEIPA?

Typically cloudy in appearance and loaded with fruity esters from both hopping and fermentation, New England IPAs [sometimes known as NEIPAs or Vermont-style IPAs] rose to fame on the back of a beer called Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in northern Vermont. Other northeastern US and central Canadian breweries soon started to emulate the massively successful beer, and from there this new style spread westward [and south] and eventually overseas.

Along the way, the appearance of these beers gradually evolved, growing first densely cloudy, then turbid and finally reaching something resembling orange juice with a head on it. As the "turbidity stakes" grew hotter, it came out that some breweries were adding flour and fruit purées to increase the cloudiness and "juicy" character of their beers.

Surprisingly, the principal difficulty with such ales is not that their appearance might put drinkers off — a dense cloudiness has, in some circles, come to be perceived as a mark of quality — but that some of these ales lack the flavour stability necessary in a market where competition is growing and kegs or cans of beer might not wind up being consumed within an optimal time frame.
—Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont
Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers (2017)

In their new book, Mssrs. Webb and Beaumont alliteratively placed their NEIPA description, accompanied by a few other beer 'style' candidates, under the heading, Suspect Styles & Tenous Trends. Mr. Oliver, in his interview, was adamant that his brewery would never brew such a beer, throwing shade: "We don't do bandwagon." And this blog's writer, a past brewer, simply disdains ugly beer.

So, whence NEIPA? Its murk —and beer murkiness in general— continues to pop up all over, unabated. What do we know? Instagram or not.

Yellow Beer

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