Sunday, May 31, 2009

NRG expands in Alexandria, Va.

The neighborhood just grew for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG).

Barbara Maxwell, at Alexandria City Buzz Examiner, has reported that

It has been suggested that a local company that owns several restaurants such as Rustico will be purchasing the building and opening a new restaurant later on this summer. Zagat Buzz in its most recent online issue, that a new restaurant, called Columbia Firehouse will be taking the place of the current Bookbinders.

Bookbinder's is was a steakhouse in the historic district of Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. In turn, Bookbinder's had replaced the long-established Portner's Restaurant.

And that restaurant had been named for what had once been the largest Pre-Prohibition brewery in the southeastern US: Robert Portner Brewing Company.

Physically extending in Alexandria, Virginia, over four blocks on either side of Pendleton Street between North St. Asaph and North Washington streets, the Portner brewery was one of the first US breweries to use refrigeration and one of the to refrigerate its railroad cars. Its network of railroad delivery rivaled that of Anheuser-Busch. Poised for dominance, the brewery suffered from family squabbling and never re-opened after Prohibition.Portner's Brewing Company
Back to Columbia Firehouse:

The purchase of Bookbinder's now brings NRG's ownership to 7 restaurants and shops in Arlington and Alexandria, two suburbs of Washington, D.C. The Examiner continues:
Columbia Firehouse will be serving an affordable, casual menu on the main floor, while the upstairs will be a more traditionally focused steak and chophouse.

The name, by the way, is a
tribute to what the building housed more than a century ago, says Michael Babin, president of the group.

Planting a Steak in Old Town Going out Gurus WashingtonPost.com
Renovations are expected to take 3 weeks and are reported to include expansion of the draught beer system and selection.

Still on tap for NRG is Birch and Barley/Churchkey, a beer-centric restaurant and taproom, slated to open in Washington, D.C. in late 2009.

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 21

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly wrap-upClamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories that I have not posted at Yours For Good Fermentables.com, but that, nevertheless, I find interesting or germane.

Most are concerned with beer, or wine, or whisk(e)y. Some are not. But all are brief. And many are re-posts from my Twitter account: twitter.com/cizauskas.

This is Week 21:
24 May - 30 May 2009

  • 2009.05.30
    Pronunciation tip at SAVOR: The 'i' in Pliny the Elder is like "gimme" not like "winey"."

  • 2009.05.30
    Basic info but good to see that grocery chain Wegmans has a beer-and-food pairing guide. http://tinyurl.com/nyrqep

  • 2009.05.30
    The Beer Institute spent $170,000 in 1st quarter 2009 to lobby on government regs/laws concerning beer. http://bit.ly/LYWQK

  • 2009.05.30
    Best US neighborhoods, as determined by Mens Jounal: http://bit.ly/B5Nxl.

  • 2009.05.30
    "You don't need a TV or radio. You don't even need a newspaper. But you DO need the Internet," says San Fran homeless man. http://bit.ly/1a1fBj.

  • 2009.05.30
    Add @legendbrewingco in Richmond, Virginia to the list of DC/MD/VA brewing companies on Twitter.

  • 2009.05.30
    Lovely post from historian Maureen Ogle on the value of work: Living the Life You Love. http://tinyurl.com/lf9en2

  • 2009.05.30
    Clipper City Brewing Company of Baltimore, Md., now on Twitter. @HeavySeasBeer.

  • 2009.05.30
    A list of DC/MD/VA breweries that use Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/nfqy4f.

  • 2009.05.30
    Washington City Paper's Orr Stuhl reviews the eponymous lagers -and ales- of Carol Stoudt tasted at the Brickskeller. http://tinyurl.com/mpcks9

  • 2009.05.29
    A short history of beer cans, with photos. http://bit.ly/uAFhb

  • 2009.05.29
    The State of Virginia frowns on smiling ... on driver's license photos. From the Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/lbmgsz.

  • 2009.05.29
    Fermentation Wine Blog looks at Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's ruling against out-of-state wine shippers, and in favor of distributors and state's rights, in the case of Swedenburg v. Kelly. http://bit.ly/NTGUo

  • 2009.05.28
    Should you follow me on Twitter? My Social Score is 10%; my Sharing Score is 59%; my Narcissism Score is 31%. Info at Followable Tweetlens. http://bit.ly/AvS75

  • 2009.05.28
    “The family meal is a social event, not a food ingestion event.” 21st century Emily Post: No texting at the dinner table. From the New York Times: http://bit.ly/dRTW6

  • 2009.05.28
    New York judge temporarily halts New York State's bottle deposit bill, pending lawsuits [and a constitutional review]. http://tinyurl.com/qhjqee

  • 2009.05.27
    Historian Maureen Ogle in rebuttal to columnist Maureen Dowd: Twitter is simply a new form of ball-point pen, NOT a barbarian at the page. http://bit.ly/qu7cX

  • 2009.05.27
    A Brit defines the 'perfect' beer garden ... and it's German. http://tinyurl.com/qu238f

  • 2009.05.27
    Chef and beer-cookbook author Lucy Saunders gets a a nod from the Washington Post, and offers more advice about beer-with-food pairing. http://tinyurl.com/pp23wt

  • 2009.05.27
    Spring storms severely damage German Hallertauer hop fields. May add to pressure on hop availability and price yet again. http://tinyurl.com/ooh2uj

  • 2009.05.27
    @beerspotter (Orr Shtuhl) reviews the Brasserie Beck/Jocelyn Cambier French beer dinner for Washington City Paper. http://tinyurl.com/q2dwrx

  • 2009.05.27
    There's a new theory that rapid human evolution may have arisen from the ability to cook food. http://bit.ly/aj4EM


  • Beer bung thief

  • 2009.05.27
    A wine study with beer implications. Wood aromas are "limited by the action of yeasts during fermentation." http://tinyurl.com/c6dw62

  • 2009.05.27
    British government forgets that the nation grows thousands of acres of barley. http://bit.ly/zIrWQ

  • 2009.05.27
    Wall Street Journal on Robert Parker and the ethics of wine reviewers accepting gifts from wineries they review. http://tinyurl.com/odcfy3

  • 2009.05.26
    Wine/food pairing tip via wine author @KevinZraly: Young red wines with high tannins will taste better paired with high fat-content foods. The fat softens the tannins. http://tinyurl.com/c6dw62

  • 2009.05.26
    A successful Cleveland Ohio community garden program may be coming to Baltimore, Maryland ... and to Whole Foods stores. http://tr.im/mqn1

  • 2009.05.26
    "Czech Beer" -Ceske Pivo- a new European Union Protected Geographical Indication designation needs overhauling, says blogger Evan Rail http://tinyurl.com/qpk7mx

  • 2009.05.25
    No local/Maryland beers at Baltimore Brew at the Zoo. The Baltimore Sun's Rob Kasper asks why. http://tinyurl.com/op6ahz

  • 2009.05.25
    On hiatus for a creative breather: EatAir, a vegetarian recipe blog that has posted almost 600 recipes. http://eatair.blogspot.com/

  • 2009.05.25
    Unfettered Capitalism is Bad for Your Diet: A majority of US food production is owned by only a few conglomerates. http://tr.im/mmzN

  • 2009.05.25
    The Mad Fermentationist blog -aka Michael Tonsmeire- reviews "Smoked Beers" by Ray Daniels and Geoff Larsen. http://tinyurl.com/odwsu5

The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Twitter Tweet SAVOR Summary

There were a lot of "Awesome" and "Great" Twitter posts from SAVOR last evening. And that's to be expected. How controlled can you be drinking and eating ... and texting?

But here are a few more detailed 'Tweets' I've culled from Twitter search (using search term #SAVOR):

  • @BarlowBrewing: Absurd line outside waiting to get into Savor
  • @joeyonan: Saw [Chef] Frank Morales & [Manager] Greg Engert of Rustico and forthcoming Churchkey etc. Big complaint: catered food. Why no DC beer loving chefs?
  • @hopsock: Too busy Trying beer and food pairings to tweet
  • @worldclass: Sam Calagione [Dogfish Head Brewing] keeps referring to Reinhetsgebot German Purity Law as "censorship" as it forbade many perfectly good beer ingredients.
  • @WARojas: [Overheard:] "Normally, you don't see a lot of hot chicks at a big beer thing" -- A fratboy grows up.
  • @macgruffus: In Maytag blue cheese and Chuao chocolate pairing salon. Winner? The Dissident [Deschutes] presented by Lauren Buzzeo [@laurbuzz] of Wine Enthusiast.
  • @WARojas: Glazed salmon skewers (by Southampton Publick House station) are phenomenal
  • @joeyonan: Oysters are Choptank sweets, Chesapeake farmed
  • @Ed_Roberts: Uh oh. Brian had bad bad oysters and now he wants to vomit.
  • @joeyonan: Ran into Teddy Folkman [chef at DC's Granville Moore], also into the oak aged brews like me but sez, sometimes I like a PBR
  • @washingtonydc: Had a conversation in German with a guy from Nürnberg who moved to Louisiana to be a brewmaster in the bayou. Only at Savor
  • @IronOrr: Food and beer of the night: Curried carrot and coconut milk soup & Cuvee de Tomme. Not paired together, but obvious highlights 4 us.
  • @mjsmith11: [At] Savor, hockey has no meaning tonight!
SAVOR is an annual national beer-with-food exposition, sponsored by the Brewers Association. It has been held twice, both times in Washington, D.C. the most recent was yesterday, Saturday, 30 May 2009. Pronunciation tip: it's NOT "suh VOR", it's simply" SAY vur".

IBU-er madness

There was a frantic knocking on my office door. "Tom, come quick. Big problem!"

It was June 1995 and I was the brewery manager for the Oxford Brewing Company, now closed, but then located just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. was hosting the . Oxford had been asked to brew the official beer for American Homebrewers Association national conference in Baltimore.

The theme for that year had been Planet Beer. So Oxford was brewing International Planetary Ale —IPA. The beer was in style an IPA - an India Pale Ale. Bad pun.

Our lab tech, Alvaro Spencer, entered the office, very worried. He quickly walked me out to our big production board, and pointed at the schedule and specifications for the IPA. 6.5% alcohol by volume,

Alvaro had worked in the beer business overseas for many years, albeit for large capacity lager breweries. He had never seen or brewed beers of such high alcohol or hop content.

In his charming, accented English, he exclaimed, "What is this EEE-puh? It's too big; too many IBUs. It's no good!"

IBUs - International Bitterness Units - are measures of bitterness in beer, literally the dissolved alpha acids contributed from the hops. One IBU equals one part per million of isohumulone, or 1 milligram of alpha acid dissolved in 1 liter of beer.

In 1998, I wrote a review of Tuppers Hop Pocket Pils. It included this passage describing a scene I observed at a beer festival, now over ten years ago, in Washington, DC:

At the 1998 Mid-Atlantic Beer and Food Festival, at least 40% of the attendees were women. This a proportion that had been growing at this festival since its inception five years earlier. For the most part, these women were bucking the conventional wisdom that women only drink sweet, flavored, or fruit beers. They were sampling all of the beers. (This illogic, unfortunately being practiced by some craft breweries of pandering to the least common denominator is similar to the process that led the big American brewers to dumb down their offerings.)

Particularly intriguing was a conversation between two women who appeared to be just past the minimum age. They were standing in line, eagerly waiting to receive refills of Hop Devil Ale, an India Pale Ale, brewed in Pennsylvania by the Victory Brewing Company, that is big, bold, very bitter, and very aromatic.

These women, however, were not remarking upon the bitterness of the beer, but, rather, upon its hoppiness, that is, its fresh herbal aromatics.

Too often, many of us refer only to bitterness when we talk of hop quality, as in the macho muscling in of as much 'hair-on-your-chest' bittering as possible. We forget about the appealing bouquet that hops impart to beer. Hops are herbs, after all.

In a business that prides itself on romantic notions of craft, it's strange that non-romantic acronyms —such as IPA, DIPA, IBU, abv, etc.— run amuck, as at governmental agencies. So, for me, I.P.A will always be "EEE-puh."

And Mr. Spencer? He soon became a fan of 'big beers'.

This year's National Homebrewers Conference is scheduled for 18-21 June 2009 in Oakland, CA. Tickets can be purchased at www.beertown.org

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brewers' Row

For those of you (like me) not at Friday evening's Lupulin Reunulin at Washington DC's RFD, here is owner Dave Alexander's description of the hop-extravaganza, in his own extravagant syntax:

Friday May 29th in the back room at RFD we again present the best of the best cutting edge American craft brewers.

Hosting this truly special event is our buddy, my fellow member of the Rolling Boil Blues Band (We hop!) and one brave woman, Julie Bradford editor of All About Beer the magazine

The brewmasters are -

Tomme Arthur of San Diegos Pizza Port/Port and Lost Abbey Brewing Co.s, who we introduced to DC in July of 2001 from Santa Rosa California,

Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River who we introduced to DC just three months later in October tho we had sold his great Blind Pig years earlier (credited with being the first EVER commercially brewed double IPA)

Adam Avery, whose Colorado self named Avery Brewery made it’s first Brickskeller appearance in January of 2001

Rob Tod of Maine’s Allagash brewery who first graced our stage in April of 2001 (a HECK of a year!!!!)

Bill Madden, local legend of Leesburgs Vintage 50 and soon coming [sic, should be Mad Fox] Madd Fox!

and last but not [sic, but hilarious] leased from Delaware

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head who first appeared at the Brick in December of 1995

And here, courtesy of LagerHeads at Washington City Paper, is a photo of the august brewing crew.

Brewers' Row at Lupulin ReunulinFront row l-r:
Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head),
Rob Todd (Allagash), Bill Madden (Vintage 50).

Back row l-r:
Greg Koch (Stone Brewing), Ken Grossman, Jr. (Sierra Nevada), Tommie Arthur (Pizza Port), Adam Avery (Avery Brewing).

Off to the right: Dave Alexander (proprietor of RFD/Brickskeller)

Rumor has it that, by evening's midpoint, there were some very happy brewers on the dais. No comment about the end of the evening.

This was just one event of DC Craft Beer Week, which culminates tonight (Saturday) with the Brewers Association's national beer-with-food exposition, SAVOR.

Brewery Twitter List for D.C., Maryland, & Virginia.

Tweeting breweries


As of 16 August, 2014, there are ninety-eight (!) breweries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, that post updates to Twitter, and twenty-two that are under construction, in planning, or open but not yet brewing, which 'tweet', as well. The actual number of area breweries is higher, as several do not maintain a Twitter account. Five years ago, in 2009, there were far, far fewer breweries in the 'DMV' region, and only two were 'on' Twitter.

District of Columbia (10)


Maryland (37)


Virginia (51)

In planning, or under construction ...
or open, but not yet brewing.
(22)

  • Virginia (16)
    -----more-----
  • Friday, May 29, 2009

    VeggieDag Thursday: vegetable stock

    I missed my own deadline!

    Thursdays at Yours For Good Fermentables.com are meatless Thursdays —as inspired by Veggiedag in Ghent, Belgium.

    Tom Balthazar [mayor of Ghent, Belgium] has officially declared Thursday meatless in his city of nearly a quarter million people. In an effort to make the connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gases (18 percent of which come from livestock production), Balthazar has asked his fellow civil servants to abstain from meat every Thursday.
    Kim O'Donnel
    Mighty Appetite
    Washingtonpost.com
    Cubes of vegetable stockSo, here's a photo-by-photo demonstration for making homemade vegetable stock.

    Save your vegetable scraps (onion skins, stalks, clippings, etc.) and freeze them. When you run out of space in your freezer: make soup stock.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Mahaffey the Poet

    Wayne Mahaffey operates his eponymous good-beer pub in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. His weekly pub emails read like free verse poems. Here's his most recent opus minor.

    Was walking to work through the park in the gentle mist yesterday and noted 1 jogger and 1 squirrel. I wondered if this was more than coincidental that there was exactly one of each when normally there is a plethora of both.

    I thought: Is it possible that the sole representative of their kind was out there for the same reason? If so, were they the Go-Getters: The ones that do what they think is important no matter what the conditions. Or are they the Slackers: Those that have watched the others do their thing for so long and now have to make up for lost time even in inclement weather? Or are they simply the Frolickers: Those that just want to be a part of nature and enjoy the gift of rain?

    Either way, it's quite humbling to ponder: That the lowly Rodent and the great Human could be responding to the same cosmic incentive plan. There's a time for everyone if they only learn that the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn.

    Wayne Mahaffey


    And where did I, the lone Stroller, fit into the equation? I didn't, as I'm reasonably certain that the squirrel and the jogger didn't have a few too many cocktails the night before and their good buddy said "Get the f$%@ out of your truck, you're not driving anywhere, which in turn left them without a vehicle so they had to walk to work in the rain. They're always having a good time down on the bayou.

    Those delta women think the world of me.

    US Pilsners reconsidered

    Considering the current American craft beer majority obsession with hop-derived aromas of grapefruit and cat-pee —at the expense of malt— it's thrilling to read this description of a Pilsner-style lager ... made in the USA.

    There is a massive hit of bitter and spicy hops in the mouth with toasted malt and tangy citrus. The finish is long and beautifully balanced with bitter hops, ripe malt and sharp fruit. <...>

    The color is brilliant gold and the aroma has undertones of lemon and tangerine and a fresh floral German noble forefront. Very lithe in the body, with a drying and durable finish full of hop bitterness.

    From Pennsylvania, it's Sly Fox's Pikeland Pils —packaged in cans— as reviewed in the July issue (available now, in May) of All About Beer.

    I would say to those American double Imperial IPA drinkers who disdain Pilsners, and by extension, all lagers: doing so is akin to a European's dismissal of American beer as watery, without having tasted any US local/small brewery beer. At the source.

    I haven't yet tasted Pikeland Pils, but I shall.

    Alerted to this story by a post at Jack Curtin’s LIQUID DIET.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Disgorged and severed: sparkling wines

    This is a graphic video ... but in a good way.

    Taken at Austrian family-owned winery Steininger, the video depicts the winemakers disgorging their Sekt.

    Disgorging is the method of removing yeast from a bottle of sparkling wine bottle. sekt is the German/Austrian name for a Champagne-style wine. The video was taken by Seth Gross, the co-writer of Wine Authorities - Estate Grown Blog, during his trip to Austria in January of this year.



    Did you catch the snippet of the theme music from the 19070s Laverne and Shirley television program near the end of the video? The pair worked at a ... brewery!

    ... And here, from August of 2007, is a (very) brief video showing the representative from Virginia winery Barboursville literally severing the bottle neck of his Sparkling with the blunt edge of his sword.

    The Washington Post recently ran a story that showed the difficulty that Virginia wineries —and by extension, most lesser-known wines— have in the bigger world of wine-acceptance. Reported from the London International Wine Fair:
    Lisa Abbott, a cork master at her English wine club (it's called the Wasters), took a sip of a Viognier from Virginia and declared with obvious surprise, "It's an absolute classic!

    "I didn't know Virginia produced wine," she said, echoing a comment heard over and over

    'Virginia Makes Wines?' Yes, and London Likes Them
    By Mary Jordan
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    As frustrating as that may be for purveyors of Virginia wines, the flip side is that there is a huge market yet to be filled.

    That's a lesson also for the new breed of local and smaller US breweries. With their sales at only 5-6% of the beers sold, they have before them the remaining 95%, a large untapped market.

    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Clamps & Gaskets: Week 20

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly wrap-upClamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories that I have not posted at Yours For Good Fermentables.com, but that, nevertheless, I find interesting or germane.

    Most are concerned with beer, or wine, or whisk(e)y. Some are not. But all are brief. And many are re-posts from my Twitter account: twitter.com/cizauskas.

    This is Week 20:
    17 May - 23 May 2009

    • 2009.05.23
      Fascinating use for a 'green' roof: The Fairmont Hotel in Washington D.C. hopes to produce 300 lbs. of honey from the beehives cultivated on their roof. http://ow.ly/8UkC

    • 2009.05.23
      Tickets for the Great American Beer Festival(24-26 Sept in Denver) are now on sale for members of the Brewers Association and the American Homebrew Association. Public sales begin 1 June. http://www.beertown.org/

    • 2009.05.23
      Beer math: a proposed Fed excise beer tax increase of $2/case would increase consumer case average cost by $3.38. http://tinyurl.com/pejqaq.

    • 2009.05.22
      New from Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland: Heavy Seas Big DIPA (double India Pale Ale) 22-ounce bottles. http://bit.ly/r7D8q.

    • 2009.05.22
      Add @legendbrewingco in Richmond, Virginia to the list of DC/MD/VA brewing companies on Twitter.

    • 2009.05.22
      Alabama Gov. Riley has signed the Gourmet Beer Bill. Beers of greater than 6% abv can now be sold (but less than 14%) in the state. Congratulations to website/organizer Free the Hops http://www.freethehops.org

    • 2009.05.22
      The Beer Fox aka Carolyn Smagalaski reviews The Beer Bistro Cookbook on Amazon: "North America's Gold Standard for Beer Cuisine" http://bit.ly/10fNwv

    • 2009.05.22
      The Washington Post has endorsed R. Creigh Deeds for Virginia Governor in the 9 June Democratic Primary. http://bit.ly/ZJGBX.

    • 2009.05.22
      So what the heck does 'local' mean? Various definitions of local food offered at BNET.com. http://tinyurl.com/pwacub

    • 2009.05.21
      Article about sin [?] taxes from The American, the house organ for the conservative think tank, The American Enterprise Institute: morals 'correction' vs. revenue enhancement. http://bit.ly/zfF6P

    • 2009.05.20
      Primers on summer grilling. Vegetables: http://tinyurl.com/qzl8sj. Steaks: http://tinyurl.com/q5sl8g

    • 2009.05.20
      Arbitrary definitions? Brewers Association is poised to kick Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) to the curb. Who's next? From the Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/puu4uy

    • 2009.05.19
      A quirky 27-only entry glossary of wine terms. From the Wall Street Journal http://tinyurl.com/rbh23k

    • 2009.05.19
      Palm Pre to be released, Sprint-only, on 6 June 2009, for $199. Palm's make-or-break touch phone. http://tinyurl.com/qq4pxn

    • 2009.05.19
      Senescence deferred, Hubble Telescope to release first public photos of deep (ancient) space in September 2009. http://tinyurl.com/r6knuu

    • 2009.05.18
      Brewers Alley of Frederick, Maryland brews a molasses and caraway beer to evoke 17th century American colonists' beer. http://tinyurl.com/pevsbr

    • 2009.05.18
      A Twibe is a group of Twitter users interested in a common topic. I've created one for Cask Ales (& Lagers). Join at http://twibes.com/Cask_Ale

    • 2009.05.18
      Another recap of Real Ale & BBQ Fest at Clipper City Brewing. [from BeerInBaltimore] http://bit.ly/lWGbB

    • Fobbing at the Tut
    • 2009.05.17
      Is it Schmidt's or Schmidt or Pabst, or is it really all just pablum from the SAME spigot? The story from Joe Sixpack. http://tinyurl.com/q7rgk8
    The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

    Memorial Day observed, 2009

    irises and flag

    Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
    General John A. Logan's General Orders No. 11
    Grand Army of the Republic
    (Union Civil War veterans organization)
    30 May 1868

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Not bitter about IPA and chocolate at SAVOR

    A friend pointed this out.

    Yours For Good Fermentables.com is featured in a Brewers Association video promoting SAVOR, next week's national food-with-beer exposition in Washington, D.C.

    Filmed at last year's SAVOR, when I was a representative for the Clipper City Brewing Company, I appear from 4:01 to 4:12 (between Tom Schlafly of Schlafly Brewing Company and Bryan Baltzell of Great Divide Brewing Company).

    I was apparently feeling the spirit and quite enthusiastic about how the same IPA paired well with chocolate and with Meadow Creek Dairy's Grayson washed-rind cows milk cheese. It wasn't the bitterness of the hops that was the flavor hook; it was the hops' aromatic character.

    Don't blink.



    See this video from last year's SAVOR.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    SAVOR update: local?

    SAVOR is a national beer-with-food exposition organized by the Brewers Association, an advocacy group for 'craft' brewers in the United States. It is meant to be a showcase for the marvelous, chameleon-like ability of beer to pair with almost all foods, from sweet to savory to spicy.

    Tasting a wide variety of beers paired with a wide variety of foods can be quite a surprising experience to some, such as food writers, who tend to relegate beer to only brats or wings (as satisfying as those might be).

    This is the second year for SAVOR, both occasions in Washington, D.C. There's more information at SavorCraftBeer.com. This year's single-session only event —Saturday 30 May 2009 at the National Building Museum— has sold out. But you can still ogle the menu. Click on the graphic:


    Last year, Chris O'Brien, the Beer Activist, pointed out that such a celebration of beer-with-food might be better served if it were to celebrate local food.

    This year, the chocolates are produced by local Kingsbury. And the oysters seem to be of mid-Atlantic origin. But that's it. No local cheeses? No local produce, meat, poultry, or fish? The menu is quite impressive, but those omissions seem contrary to the ideas of freshness and craft.

    *********************
    The entire week leading up to the Saturday exposition has been designated DC Craft Beer Week, and features many beer-related events. The schedule is posted at the Washington City Paper's on-line Lagerheads column.

    View a review of last year's SAVOR here.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Veggiedag

    Yours For Good Fermentables.com begins a new feature today:

    VEGGIEDAG

    It's Meatless Thursday, as inspired by the first official Veggiedag (Meatless Day) in Ghent, Belgium.

    As reported by the BBC, Tom Balthazar [mayor of Ghent, Belgium] has officially declared Thursday meatless in his city of nearly a quarter million people. In an effort to make the connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gases (18 percent of which come from livestock production), Balthazar has asked his fellow civil servants to abstain from meat every Thursday.
    From Kim O'Donnel
    author of the Washington Post's Mighty Appetite blog
    She recently began a Meatless Monday column.

    For the Veggiedag Thursdays to come, I'll be posting recipes, tales of my attempts at cooking, food news (meatless, of course), puzzled enquiries from meat-eaters, photos, and more.

    Pink Sushi!


    Keeping with the 'good fermentables' aspect, I'll often inveigle beer or wine (or spirits) into the posts.

    Wine vs. beer

    Beer writer Jay Brooks is peeved.

    It definitely ruffles my feathers, [he wrote yesterday at his blog, Brookston Beer Bulletin] when other writers, and especially food or wine writers, write uncharitably about beer in somewhat dismissive tones, even when they’re trying not to, as if they can’t help themselves. That seems to be the case here, as [Tamara Palmer, at SF Weekly] writes in her description of DRAFT magazine. “Beer is not usually something you think of as classy.” <...>

    I find it just so incredibly frustrating. I see so many people committed to raising the status of beer beyond mere commodity, pouring their life’s blood into it to no apparent effect whatsoever. I mean what exactly do the craft beer brewers, the better beer bars, and the beer savvy chefs at restaurants embracing beer have to do to attract the notice of someone whose very job is about food and drinks?


    In the end, Palmer does admit “Draft gives the craft its due as a refined art,” but then why was it so necessary to first dismiss beer as being perceived as unrefined. <...> I’ve getting crabbier than usual, and for me that’s saying something. I need a nap.

    Dismissing Beer
    Brookston Beer Bulletin
    20 May 209

    Jay,

    Trust me: I understand.

    Although I do have a preference for the nobler of the two beverages, I enjoy both wine and beer. And I sell both for a living. Almost everyday, I hear this beer-is-pablum (and wine-is-snotty) nonsense. So, in camaraderie, I offer you these two responses.

    The second best would be to indulge in a frisson of schadenfreude. (Sorry: mixing French and German cognates.) While you sip your beer, look at the naysayer and think this: "I'm going to take great pleasure in this beer. That's something you will never experience." Maybe even have some pity for them.

    Beer vs Wine: Dessert

    But now, the best response. Don't sweat it.

    It's you who are enjoying your beer, a wonderful beverage, and doing so usually in the fellowship of others who feel likewise. That is its own consummate pleasure and reward.

    Yours for (most) good fermentables,
    Thomas 'Tom' Cizauskas

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Speak Easy, Speak Beer Bread

    This is delicious ... in many ways.

    Rustic(o) Beer Bread

    Frank Morales —chef at Rustico Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia— bakes his Speakeasy Sourdough Bread with beer as an ingredient. He sells the loaves at a take-out side door, Mondays through Fridays, until they sell out. Look for the SpeakEasy sign.

    His first batch was baked this week, with Achel 8, a Belgian Trappist beer.

    Knock on that side door, and say: "Yours For Good Fermentables.com sent me!"

    I was alerted tothis story by Metrocurean. I went to Rustico and got a boule.

    DC Craft Beer Week 2009

    On the heels of Philly Beer Week's triumphal 2 year run in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, several other US cities have done the same, or are actively planning similar events.

    In my neck of the woods, there's Baltimore, Maryland which has scheduled an extended week of festivities for October 8-18, 2009. It's still in the planning stage. Details are on-line at www.baltimorebeerweek.com.

    And, in Washington, D.C., a local beer distributor —Premium— has teamed up with OnTap Magazine to publicize DC Craft Beer Week, a 6 day schedule of events from 25 through 30 May. It concludes on Saturday with SAVOR, a national beer-with-food exposition, organized by the Brewers Association, an advocacy group for 'craft' breweries. [SAVOR update.]

    [UPDATE 2009.08. Another DC Beer Week --note slightly different name-- has been announced for the week of 16 August 2009. The organizers are a different group.]



    Washington, D.C. itself has two brewpubs (Gordon-Biersch and Capitol City Brewery) and there are many breweries in the surrounding jurisdictions. But, unlike Philly Beer Week, the overwhelming number of events for DC Craft Beer Week celebrate beers from elsewhere.

    It's an impressive line-up, nonetheless. I'll mention two events:
    • Wednesday 27 May is Flying Dog Brewery's 'TweetUp' at Luna Grill in Washington, D.C. If you have to ask, what's a Tweet-up, you're not on Twitter.
    • And, if we consider the week to be an 'extended' week, then NOT listed is a Clipper City Brewing beer dinner, Wednesday 3 June, at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Virginia. (Consider that the Greater DC Metro area.) Menu here.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Keynote to the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference

    "Be Remarkable: Collaboration Ethics Camaraderie Passion,” is the keynote address delivered by Greg Koch, CEO of the Stone Brewing Co., to a packed audience of 1700 craft brewers and industry members at the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference in Boston on April 22, 2009. Greg kicked off the keynote with “I Am A Craft Brewer,” a short collaborative video

    2009 Craft Brewer's Convention Keynote from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    A Beer a Day, locally: #7 (Flying Dog)

    I celebrated American Craft Beer Week with one beer —one local beer— each day during the week of 11 - 17 May. Local for me is the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

    Day Seven (17 May):

    I finished the week of drinking locally, very locally, at home. A simple tomato sandwich, a slice Snake Dog for American Craft Beer Weekof Cabot Cheddar Extra Sharp Cheese ... and a bottle of Snake Dog IPA from Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland.

    I.P.A. is the unsexy acronym for India Pale Ale, a style of beer said to have been first brewed to survive the sea voyage to India, and the British troops stationed there. New scholarship says otherwise, but the name India Pale Ale remains in use for a deep-hued golden Pale Ale of fairly high alcohol with a good slug of hop bitterness and often high hop aroma.

    With a slice of artisinal cheddar cheese, I might normally recommend a less aromatic, less alcoholic 'standard' Pale Ale, maybe one with a bit more nutty-malt character. but with the same dry finish that hops supply.

    But the Snake Dog from Flying Dog, at 7.1% alcohol by volume (abv), did just fine. It's the dry finish of hops in a bitter, or in a pale ale, or in n I.P.A.— that is the flavor hook that connects to the sharpness of cheddar.

    And as to the exercise of drinking locally?

    Drinking a local beer each day of the week easy, ridiculously easy. What was difficult was choosing which local beer, of the many breweries I missed. And that ... that was the point of the exercise.

    The first 6 local beers for the week:

    Caveat: I sell Flying Dog beers as a representative for a northern Virginia distributor.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Clamps & Gaskets: Week 19

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly wrap-upClamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories that I have not posted at Yours For Good Fermentables.com, but that, nevertheless, I find interesting or germane.

    Most are concerned with beer, or wine, or whisk(e)y. Some are not. But all are brief. And many are re-posts from my Twitter account: twitter.com/cizauskas.

    This is Week 19:
    10 May - 16 May 2009

    • 2009.05.16
      While things may be stable for craft breweries, NOT so for many beer consumers. Craft beer pricing http://tinyurl.com/ry2z8o

    • 2009.05.16
      Amazing photo of Space Shuttle Atlantis silhouetted against the sun on its way to the Hubble Telescope. http://tinyurl.com/q52ply

    • 2009.05.16
      "Froth, The Science of Beer" by Johns Hopkins U. physics professor Mark Denny: http://tinyurl.com/opq4an. Reviewed here: http://tinyurl.com/qt4q6l

    • 2009.05.16
      The illogic of sin taxes and neo-Prohibitionism. Discussions in the US Senate.http://tinyurl.com/oj6ad8.

    • 2009.05.15
      There are enough US/Canadian organic beers produced to hold a festival - 3rd year in a row! North American Organic Beer Festival (NAOBF) 26-28 June in Portland, Oregon. http://www.naobf.org/

    • 2009.05.15
      For the first time since WWII, the number of US farms has increased. [Caveat: the statistics are tricky.] http://bit.ly/EV3k8

    • 2009.05.15
      Federal Trade Commission sues to halt "Your auto warranty has expired" 'robo-calls'. http://tinyurl.com/q6q2kw

    • 2009.05.15
      100+ draft list for American Craft Beer Week at Baltimore's Maxs Taphouse. Today: Lagunitas, Stone, Dogfish. http://tinyurl.com/ppnb4o.

    • 2009.05.14
      City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin formally recognizes American Craft Beer Week. Story at MilwaukeeWorld.com: http://tinyurl.com/djzq3a

    • 2009.05.14
      Rustico (Alexandria VA) to bake Achel 8 Trappist beer sourdough bread and sell weekdays 7am-10pm at side door. http://bit.ly/ZWkXT

    • 2009.05.14
      Twitter in space. Follow Astronaut Mike Massimino aboard the shuttle Atlantis for Hubble repair mission on Twitter @Astro_Mike. http://tinyurl.com/q9gnas.

    • 2009.05.14
      Declare every Thursday as "Veggiedag" as has the city of Ghent, Belgium. It translates as "Meatless Day" http://bit.ly/MKSiJ

    • 2009.05.14:
      The Baltimore Sun's Rob Kasper reminisces with 1950s/1960s employees of the past National Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland. http://bit.ly/Pelzj

    • 2009.05.14
      President Obama abandons his plan to appoint Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) boss to head the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA). http://bit.ly/11qhGt

    • 2009.05.13
      NotionsCapitol picks Flickr photo site "I Drink Beer" as a "Blog with a Bite". http://tinyurl.com/rbn289

    • 2009.05.13
      A concurrent manifesto forAmerican Beer Week: Buy local, buy good, drink on tap. http://tinyurl.com/o8x2dy

    • 2009.05.13
      Artisanal cheese and how to buy it at your local cheese shop to be discussed during the 1 pm hour on the Kojo Nnamdi Show at www.wamu.org. http://tinyurl.com/qdtrx9

    • 2009.05.13
      Leesburg Va. brewpub Vintage 50 chef Aaron McCloud "gets funky with foodstuffs." His recipe for veggie corn dogs: http://tinyurl.com/pnf2lq

    • 2009.05.13
      Congratulations to the Washington Post's Food section for winning a James Beard Award: http://bit.ly/8Tyue

    • 2009.05.13
      Washington D.C. 'celebrity chef' Barton Seaver discusses "food sustainability 2.0." Saving dinner by re-involving the consumer.http://tinyurl.com/p2zscr

    • 2009.05.13
      Author Robert Parker says he has NO influence over restrictive US #wine laws. The Daily Wine Blog disagrees. http://tinyurl.com/pjedw9

    • 2009.05.04
      EU to allow rosé wine to be cheaper red-white blend. Many French vintners opposed http://tinyurl.com/djqw9k

    • 2009.05.13
      Rather than worrying about beer's provenance, author Stephen Beaumont is supporting good tasting beer for American Craft Beer Week. http://bit.ly/zrfAu


    • Wine tasting sheet


    • 2009.05.12
      Wine preferred over beer in UK, in poll conducted by Wine and Spirit Trade Association (hmm). But what are actual sales figures for wine and beer? http://tinyurl.com/oabocv

    • 2009.05.12
      Internecine mega-brewers' price war is projected for the summer. Corona has fired the first price-cutting shot. http://tinyurl.com/qznl4k

    • 2009.05.12
      Guerilla marketing: Flying Dog Brewing of Frederick, Maryland spends $0.00 on advertising. http://bit.ly/lew0p

    • 2009.05.12
      What's the biggest American-owned brewery: Boston Beer or Yuengling? Both hovering near 2 million bbls http://tinyurl.com/cvmb8q

    • 2009.05.11
      You too can own a 30, 000+ bbl per year brewery. The assets of the former Dominion Brewing Company in Ashburn, Virginia are for sale. http://tinyurl.com/pwftbg

    • 2009.05.10
      Alexandra Elman: The Blind Wine Taster. A short video story from the NYTimes.com http://tinyurl.com/o9dfy2

    • 2009.05.10
      “God bless the woman who gave birth to the brewer.” Czech proverb. Happy Mother's Day.

    The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

    A Beer a Day, locally: #6 (Cask at Clipper City)

    I'm celebrating American Craft Beer Week with one beer —one local beer— each day during the week of 11 - 17 May. Local for me is the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

    Day Six (16 May):

    To Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Real Ale & BBQ Fest.

    The nine cask ales included the sneak preview of the first beer in the brewery's 22-ounce ('bomber') bottle line: Heavy Seas Big DIPA (as in Double I-P-A)

    This was a very hoppy and strong India Pale Ale, clocking in at 10.6% abv alcohol by volume (abv), showing likewise strong flavors of cantaloupe melon and grapefruit. Owner Hugh Sisson told me that he expects the 'bomber' bottles and kegs to be available in late June/early July 2009.

    Pulls a pint of Little DIPAWhat I found fascinating (and tasty) was the beer poured next to it at the same station: Little DIPA.

    When barley is mashed to extract sugars, it is crushed and mixed with hot water. That sweet liquid, called wort, is transferred to a kettle and boiled. A lot of sugar remains entrained in the mash, so brewers continue to 'wash' the barley bed until most of the sugar is extracted. This is a process called 'sparging'.

    It wasn't always so. Hundreds of years ago, brewers would make a strong beer from the first wash, a weaker beer from the second wash —or runnings— and a very weak table beer from the third runnings. The invention of the hydrometer and other technological advancements increased efficiency and ended that practice.

    In a nod to that tradition, Clipper City brewed its Big DIPA with only the rich first runnings. The brewers produced a second beer from the second runnings. As strong as the Big DIPA was (25+ °P original gravity), the 2nd beer was also surprisingly strong (17 °P original gravity). Called Little DIPA (of course!), it fermented out to 6 % abv. The beer will only be available at the brewery.

    The entire line-up of nine casks was:

    • Heavy Seas Big DIPA Double IPA
    • Heavy Seas Little DIPA India Pale Ale ('second runnings')
    • Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale
    • Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout
    • Heavy Seas Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale
    • Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night Saison
    • Clipper City Gold Ale
    • Clipper City Pale Ale
    • Oxford Organic Amber Ale
    Each cask had hops added into the cask as well, a process called "dry-hopping'. In some of the casks, Cellarman Stephen Marsh used hops different than those used during the brewing process, creating unexpected flavors. To the casks of Red Sky at Night Saison and Holy Sheet Über Abbey Ale, he also added spices and botanicals.

    Cellarman Stephen MarshFood was catered by Andy Nelson's Barbecue. I would guess about 200+ attendees.

    I met up with fellow area beer blogger Brad Kipner, who hosts BeerInBaltimore.com. Read his summary here.

    Congratulations to the entire staff, but especially to Stephen Marsh, Clipper City's cellarman, for his excellent work in preparing the casks and overseeing their service. More photos here.

    The rest of the local beers for my observance of American Craft Beer Week were: