Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method

ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method (demonstrated by Craft Maltsters Guild)

The Craft Maltsters Guild was there at the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., demonstrating the new Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC).

At the Guild's booth, Jessica Johnstone of Grouse Malting (of Colorado) was kind enough to explain the process to me.
This is a demo of the ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method. It was published about a year ago. A lot of our malthouses have found it very beneficial for a multitude of purposes including brand development or quality control. Essentially, it's a hot steeped malt tea, filtered. Maltsters use it to identify aromas, tastes, flavors, and mouthfeel. Brewers can as well. We're looking for each batch of malt to taste the same, so we can market it as the same product. If there's an outlier, it's something we have to address.

A valuable test —developed by scientists Cassie Liscomb of Briess Malt & Ingredients and Lindsay Barr of New Belgium Brewing, it's a surprisingly uncomplicated procedure, using a coffee grinder and Thermos bottle, filter paper and jars. No expensive equipment needed, 'craft' brewers and maltsters.

"May I taste the samples," I asked Johnstone. "They're grainy and malty," she forewarned me.

"I've known only one brewer only who didn't like the taste of wort," I replied. "These samples are delicious."


Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Ice cold beer lacks the exhilarating effect."

The Wahl-Henius Institute was a brewing research laboratory and school in Chicago that operated between 1886 and 1921. Founded in 1886 by Dr Robert Wahl and Dr Max Henius as the Wahl & Henius, the name was changed to the Scientific Station for Brewing of Chicago and then to the Institute of Fermentology before becoming the Wahl-Henius Institute. Its educational division, the American Brewing Academy, was created in 1891. The school and laboratory operated successfully until Prohibition, when the near dissolution of the brewing trade forced its closure and sale to the American Institute of Baking, which retains the nucleus of the Wahl-Henius library.

The Wahl-Henius Handy Book of Brewing, Malting and the Auxillary Trades, coauthored by Wahl and Henius [in 1901], is a comprehensive and wide-ranging view into American brewing [of the time]. It also contains basic chemical analyses of many contemporary American and European beers, providing an unusually valuable window into the brewing past.
—Randy Mosher ( Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine).

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Wahl and his son, Arnold Spencer Wahl, re-opened the school, but without Max Henius. In 1937, they published Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint, "the first book of what was intended to be a four-volume set designed to educate a new generation of American brewmasters." The elder Wahl died later that year and the school would close soon thereafter.

In 2014, BeerBooks (of Cleveland, Ohio) reprinted Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint. The copyright remains in the family, held now by Roger Wahl.

Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint


Ice cold beer has no flavor or taste.

Among much that is fascinating (and much still valid) in the Wahls' book, here is some "exhilarating" wisdom it imparted. Eighty years on, this advice is often disdained.
Ice cold beer has no flavor or taste. The intense cold does not permit the natural flavor of the beer to become volatile and only what is volatile can be discerned as a flavor. The intense cold benumbs the taste nerves and consequently, the taste of such beer is insipid.

When a stein of beer is taken in one gulp, as is often done, it lies in the stomach like ice, chilling the nerves of the stomach that control digestion. The beer remains ice cold in the stomach until it is gradually warmed up sufficiently so that the digestive processes can begin.

The brewer, in order to have his beer effervesce properly even though ice cold, charges the beer too heavily with carbonic gas, so that, when the beer finally warms up in the stomach, it gives off this surplus gas rapidly, causing bloating or belching. Of course, this beer lacks the exhilarating effect.

Heed that advice. Protect yourself and your beer. Prevent bloating and belching. Don't drink beer ice-cold. Don't be insipid. Be exhilarated.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pic(k) of the week: Brewers Walt Dickinson & Nathan Zeender (and ...)

Brewers Walt Dickinson & Nathan Zeender

Mixed fermentation of wild and sour beers was the topic of a discussion "between two [three] powerhouses of funk": * Brewpub Right Proper hosted the seminar on 11 April 2017, during the week that the [U.S.] Brewers Association had travelled to Washington, D.C, to host its Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C.

Almost one month later, to the day, Wicked Weed was purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev. And many 'craft' drinkers (and brewers) cried foul. Did they believe that all that had been discussed that evening now had been transmuted into "alternative facts"?

A more thoughtful reaction was this from a brewer, said recently to me over beers: "It makes me sad."


Monday, May 15, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 17/18, 2017.

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

Weeks 17/18
23 April- 6 May 2017

  • 5 May 2017
    Anheuser-Busch InBev is buying 'craft' breweries in order to reduce Budweiser's "impairment charge," that is, reduce the price-on-shelf difference between its Budweiser brands and 'craft' beers.
    —Via Good Beer Hunting.

  • 5 May 2017
    Once again, U.S. 'craft' brewers toss a b*tt-load of hops into a European beer style, and claim kinship. No! It's not a pilsner; it IS a hoppy lager.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 3 May 2017
    The story of how Georgia's oldest extant brewpub, Max Lager (1998), is reviving the state's first 'craft' beer, brewed by Helenbock Brewery (1990-1997).
    —Via Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • 4 May 2017
    In 2015, Heineken N.V. purchased 50% of California 'craft' brewery Lagunitas Brewing Company. On 4 May 2017, Heineken completed the aquisition, buying all of the remaining shares. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, will remain as Executive Chairman of the brewery, which will continue to operate as an independent entity within the Heineken Americas Region.
    —Via Heineken.

  • 3 May 2017
    MegaBrew still hungry. Anheuser-Busch InBev purchases Asheville, North Carolina-based 'craft' brewery Wicked Weed Brewing. The brewery joins the other formerly independent 'craft' brewery members of ABIB's "The High End" division: Goose Island Brewery (purchased 2011), Blue Point (2014), 10 Barrel (2014), Elysian (2015), Golden Road (2015)g, Four Peaks (2015), Breckenridge (2015), Devils Backbone (2016), and Karbach Brewing Company (2016).
    —Via BeerPulse.

  • Craft brewing produced 128,768 jobs in 2016
  • 1 May 2017
    Happy May Day to all those Americans —all 128,768 of them— who work daily to make 'craft' beer.
    —Via Brewers Association (minus the May Day message).

  • 1 May 2017
    Throughout the United States, throughout the month of May, it's the third annual American Mild Month.
    —Via American Mild Month.

  • 1 May 2017
    President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue remove healthy nutritional standards for 31 million school children's lunches, breakfasts.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 26 April 2017
    Rather than complaining about A-B and other big brewers buying up their craft brethren, more consolidation actually needs to occur. The industry -- and Boston Beer -- is a victim of its own success. The growth and proliferation has attracted even more brewers to the space, and that's diluting everyone's results, big or small. Instead of having a shakeout occur where large numbers of small brewers fail, allowing them to be purchased by bigger ones would be better. Boston Beer might do better for itself and the industry if it began acquiring small craft brewers instead of saying the government ought to make it harder for Anheuser-Busch to do so.
    —Via Motley Fool.

  • 29 April 2017
    President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt scrub mention of climate change from EPA website.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 April 2017
    The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) has concerns regarding an article appearing in Politico about a possible US withdrawal from NAFTA. Of the $285 million (2012-2016 average) in exports of barley, malt, and other processed products, approximately 63% goes to Mexico and with another 21% to Canada. This is in addition to all the beer and distilled beverages that are traded between the countries. There are also imports of malting barley and malt from Canada that could be impacted. Whether or not this is a bluff, such rhetoric in itself can be damaging to our supply chain.
    —Via YFGF (Facebook)
    As posted to the Brewers Association Brewers Forum (but not necessarily the view of the Brewers Association).

  • 25 April 2017
    For the first quarter of 2017, tax-paid shipments from all U.S. breweries were down 3.4% over the same period in 2016: 1,393,534 fewer barrels shipped this year than in the first quarter of 2016. To illustrate further: If U.S. breweries had shipped all of that only as cases of twenty-four 12-ounce bottles or cans, they would have shipped NINETEEN MILLION, ninety-one thousand, four hundred and sixteen FEWER cases out of their loading docks than during January through March of last year.

    In defense of 2017, there was one fewer day in the first quarter of this year than last year, a leap year. Thus, this February was comprised of 28 days rather than the 29 of 2016. Doing the math, that means that 1.1% (-15,329 barrels) of 2017's first-quarter shortfall could be blamed on the shorter month. Adjusting for that, the shortfall between the first quarter of 2017 and 2016 would be 1,378,205 barrels. Still, a not insubstantial shortfall.
    —Commentary via YFGF, at Facebook.
    —Data via Beer Institute.

  • 25 April 2017
    Is sour beer too…sour?
    A lot of people bring us samples of sour beer, and it’s tough to drink some of them. I think we’re at the point with sour beers like we were 10 years ago with IPAs, where people were just trying to make the most bitter beer.

    For me, too sour is this: If I can’t comfortably drink a full 13-ounce pour of a beer, and the acidity is at a level where I’m not enjoying it by the end, that’s too much.
    —Via DRAFT Magazine.

  • 24 April 2017
    An Oregon hops grower/supplier finds that U.S. craft breweries are gravitating away from the American craft mainstay hop, Cascade.
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.


Pay it forward during American Craft Beer Week

Beer It Forward: American Craft Beer Week 2017

"Beer it forward," the [U.S.] Brewers Association is encouraging 'craft' beer drinkers this week.

Today through Sunday, from 15-21 May 2017, it's American Craft Beer Week, and the BA —the organization which represents "small and independent" American breweries— is urging Americans to double-support those breweries this week. That is, buy a 'craft' beer for oneself and another for someone else.

For the twelfth consecutive year, small and independent brewers across all 50 states will be participating in American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), May 15-21. In the spirit of America’s craft beer culture, camaraderie, and collaboration, beer lovers everywhere are encouraged to #beeritforward and share a craft beer.

Presented by—the beer lover site published by the [U.S.] Brewers Association—American Craft Beer Week celebrates America’s 5,300 small and independent brewers through a host of events encouraging beer enthusiasts everywhere to engage in simple acts of craft beer kindness.

“Small, independent brewers are known for their commitment to their communities. They beer it forward year-round through grassroots initiatives and charity work that in turn have a significant impact on our local economies,” said Julia Herz, publisher of and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “This American Craft Beer Week, we invite the beer-loving public to embrace the theme, and find ways to ‘beer it forward’ as part of the fun.”

American Craft Beer Week 2017

To help beer lovers make the right sharing choices, put together a handy chart to guide them through the expansive selection process. has you covered, simplifying the decision making into a few easy to follow steps.

New this year, will team up with Geeks Who Drink, a pub trivia organization, to incorporate ACBW into trivia at more than 800 locations across the country. Do not be intimidated to play, Geeks Who Drink is for all levels of beer knowledge and enjoyment. From Monday to Thursday, there will be one round of Pub Trivia dedicated to ACBW. Participating locations can be found on the Quiz Schedule.

Find a brewery to celebrate near you with’s Brewery Finder, join the conversation on Twitter with #beeritforward and #ACBW and look for updates on the Facebook page and find ways to celebrate on the official ACBW calendar.

The cynic in me could see a ploy to double the sales of member breweries this week, however well-intentioned. So, to 'beer it forward,' I suggest that a 'craft' beer drinker go ahead and purchase the beer(s) of a local brewery (or breweries) this week (and maybe even for the stranger sitting at the next barstool) but then, instead, 'pay it forward.' Donate a dollar or more to charity for every beer she does buy.

I choose option B.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Child & mother.

Child & mother

Tomorrow is "Mother's Day," observed due to the efforts of a 19th and 20th-century social reformer and peace advocate.
Anna Reeves Jarvis (1864-1948) was a social activist of the 19th and early 20th centuries. A close friend of Julia Ward Howe, Jarvis was the first female literary and advertising editor for Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company.

In 1905, after the death of her mother, Jarvis began a campaign to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday in the United States. The day was first celebrated in the U.S. in 1908, when Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.

In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday. But, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
Wikipedia [accessed 13 May 2017].

Later in life, Jarvis became perturbed by the commercialization of the day's observance.
A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.

Child & Mother
Small sculpture by Klara Sever, ~1990s.
Klara Sever was born in 1935 in Slovakia, Czechoslovakia (neé Klara Klein). She studied at the School of Art and Design and at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia [now Slovakia]. She worked as a sculptor and restorer on some of Czechoslovakia’s most beautiful baroque castles, and also designed new architectural sculpture for the interior of the National Theater.

She and her family were able to gain release from a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, remaining in hiding for the remainder of the war. During the Soviet occupation of the late 1960s, she and her husband were able to escape to Austria.

Since immigrating to the United States, Mrs. Sever has dedicated all her time to sculpting.She has exhibited in Washington at the Marlboro Gallery, the Art Barn, the Gallery House and the George Meany Center. She has received awards at the National Small Sculpture Competition.

In New York, she exhibited with the Jack Gallery in Soho, Best of Woman art and at juried shows at Pen & Brush. Her originals, as well as her reproductions, can be found in numerous private collections in Europe and the United States. Her bronze relief of one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Republic hangs in the American Embassy in Prague.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Hydrangea begins to bloom.

Hydrangea begins to bloom

Saturdays, here, it's usually a photo of a beer or a brewery (or wine, whiskey, but not song). Today, on the other hand, the Pic(k) of the Week is of a blooming hydrangea.

Hydrangea (or hortensia) is a genus of 70–75 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas. By far the greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea. Most are shrubs 1 to 3 meters tall, but some are small trees, and others lianas reaching up to 30 m (98 ft) by climbing up trees. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, though the widely cultivated temperate species are all deciduous.

And, here, from the website of the United States National Arboretum (that is, before budget cuts take it down):
While there are approximately 23 species of Hydrangea, only five are widely cultivated in the U.S. The most popular species is Hydrangea macrophylla, which is commonly known as bigleaf, French, garden or florist’s hydrangea. This Japanese native is rated as hardy to USDA cold-hardiness zone 6. It produces large inflorescences of white, pink or blue flowers in early summer. As with most other Hydrangea species, the inflorescence is composed of a combination of large, showy and small, inconspicuous flowers. In mophead, or Hortensia, (H. macrophylla var. macrophylla) cultivars, many showy flowers are arranged on the outside of the rounded inflorescence. On the interior of the inflorescence, a few small flowers are present; these are the flowers that produce seed.

And, finally, here, from The Farmer's Almanac:
With immense flower heads, hydrangeas flaunt an old-fashioned charm that is hard to resist. Colors also beguile with clear blues, vibrant pinks, frosty whites, lavender, and rose—sometimes all blooming on the same plant! The colors of some hydrangeas—especially mophead and lacecap—can change color based on the soil pH, which affects relative availability of aluminum ions. Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH greater than 5.5 produce pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH. Unrivaled in the shrub world, these elegant ladies are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce flowers in mid-summer through fall (when little else may be in bloom). Hydrangeas are excellent for a range of garden sites from group plantings to shrub borders to containers.

I took this image at 5:53 pm, on 30 April 2017, in the garden of a house in southeast Atlanta, Georgia, using a 'fast lens' on a Micro Four Thirds-format mirrorless digital camera.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1
  • Lens: Olympus M.45mm F1.8
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400
  • Aperture: f/2.0
  • Focal length: 45 mm
    (equivalent to DSLR range of 90 mm)

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

May is Mild.

American Mild Month

Throughout the United States, throughout the month of May, it's American Mild Month.

An American Mild Ale is NOT over-alcohol'd; nor spiced or sour; nor an IPA.

It IS "a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through," 4.5% alcohol-by-volume or less.

An American Mild Ale is a 'session' 'craft' ale, thank you. And I think I'd like another, please.


If you'd like to learn more...

Follow the jump.

"Just The Tip of The Cap" Mild (02)
Mild Ale served cask-conditioned, pulled via handpump, during American Mild Month, at Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Atlanta (Little 5 Points), Georgia. *


Monday, May 01, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 15/16, 2017.

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

Weeks 15/16
9 April- 22 April 2017

  • 22 April 2017
    Thousands of people joined a global March for Science with Washington, D.C. the epicenter of a movement to fight against "assault on facts" by populist politicians. The movement was echoed in hundreds of events across the United States and around the world.
    Science avoids bias, personal ideologies, and political interests. But, politics cannot avoid science. March in support of policy-making based on facts, uncensored communication between scientists, and preventing the dismantling of regulations that exist to protect our society and improve public health. Scientific research is being ignored and undermined. Democracy requires active participation.
    —Via Yahoo News.

  • 18 April 2017
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association has empanelled a Diversity Committee to identify "issues related to maximizing the diversity and inclusiveness of Brewers Association membership" and updated its Advertising and Marketing Code "to address beer marketing with sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images."
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 17 April 2017
    In 2016, microbreweries (i.e., breweries producing fewer than 15,000 barrels per year) with tasting rooms grew faster than microbreweries without tasting rooms. 9.4% of sales from small and independent brewers occurred at the brewery—up from 7% in 2015.
    —Via Bart Watson, chief economist at Brewers Association.

  • 17 April 2017
    New research suggests dry-hopping does increase bitterness in beer, particularly via the oxidation of the hop compound, humulinone.
    —Via Jeff Alworth, at Beervana.

  • Craft Brewers Conference begins
  • 15 April 2017
    The 34th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) was held in Washington, D.C., 10-13 April.
    As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together some 13,300 brewing professionals and more than 900 exhibitors for discussion and dialogue around America’s craft brewing business and culture. CBC was last in the nation’s capital in 2013, with 6,400 attendees and 440 exhibiting companies.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association, at YFGF.

  • 13 April 2017
    Scott Pruitt —adminstrator of the Environmental Protection Agency— calls for the United States to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
    —Via The Oregonian.

  • "Slower growth is the new normal"
  • 12 April 2017
    Slower growth is the new normal, said Bart Watson —chief economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association— during the State of The Craft Beer Industry presentation to the Craft Brewers Conference.
    —Via Drink Up Columbus.

  • 12 April 2017
    During Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., the [U.S.] Brewers Association recognized four recipients for 'craft' brewing business achievement:
    • Brewers Association Recognition Award: Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Co.
    • F.X. Matt Defense of the Craft Brewing Industry Award: Matt McLaughlin, McLaughlin, PC/Mississippi Brewers Guild
    • Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing: Will Meyers, Cambridge Brewing Co.
    • Brewers Association Craft Beer Wholesaler of the Year: Elite Brands of Colorado – Denver, CO
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • Chairman Tod makes his point
  • 10 April 2017
    Rob Tod, chair of the Board of Directors of the [U.S.] Brewers Association, addresses the General Session of the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C.
    We should be gravely concerned when we hear themes like 'independent does not matter to the beer drinker' or themes like 'the beer lover should only care about the beer not who makes the beer.' These are misleading themes and I've been hearing them rear their heads more and more lately. So, here's where our work comes in. We need to take the same passion that we have for talking about our beer to the task of talking about the value of small and independent [brewers].
    —Via YFGF.

  • 10 April 2017
    Maryland legislature increases upper limit of brewery taproom sales from five hundred to two thousand barrels, but, as "compromise," limits taproom operating hours and allows additional one-thousand barrels of sales, but only if purchased from a wholesaler.
    —Via Maryland Business Journal.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Barreling at the CBC


Alan Hew —longtime member of Washington, D,C.-based homebrewer club, B.U.R.P. (founded in 1981)— proudly carries an oak barrel he had secured at BrewExpo America®, during the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference, which ran 10-13 April in Washington, D.C. —only the second time for the conference in that city.
The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers—has concluded the 34th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) in Washington, D.C.

As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together some 13,300 brewing professionals and more than 900 exhibitors for discussion and dialogue around America’s craft brewing business and culture. CBC was last in the nation’s capital in 2013, with 6,400 attendees and 440 exhibiting companies.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 13/14, 2017.

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

Weeks 13/14
26 March - 8 April 2017

  • 8 April 2017
    Re-brand and prosper. For practical, logical, and historical reasons, the Brewers Association should dissolve itself and reconstitute as the United States Brewers Association.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 7 April 2017
    By partisan vote, Neil Gorsuch confirmed to United States Supreme Court, capping a year-long fight by the Republican party to restore a conservative tilt to court —including a year-long refusal to even grant a hearing to President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland— returning court to traditional nine-justice make-up.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • "Pretty good. Not bad at all!"
  • 7 April 2017
    No! Prohibition did NOT end on 7 April 1933. That's 'Fake News.' What did happen was that Congress, constitutionally, redefined the legal meaning of "intoxicating."
    —Via YFGF.

  • 7 April 2017
    After years of 15 percent growth, the craft sector is down to the single digits. Part of that is to be expected in a maturing part of any market — but it’s also a result of a pushback by a handful of gargantuan global brewers, aided by slack government antitrust oversight. <...>In the United States, the AB InBev/SABMiller merger was approved with largely meaningless conduct restrictions, and the two big brewers were given a free pass to continue buying craft brewers and extending the duopoly into craft beer. <...>Laws passed in the 1970s to protect small “mom and pop” wholesalers from the big brewers are now obsolete and have the unintended consequence of creating an unfavorable balance of power — unfavorable to craft brewers and people who enjoy their beers. <...> Get some craft brewers together, and they’ll tell you that if we continue down this path, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the American craft beer revolution.
    —Via Jim Koch, owner of Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams, etc.), at New York Times.

  • 6 April 2017
    Don Rickles, the insult comedian whose aggressive delivery belied his engaging smile, has died at age 90.
    Frank Sinatra had his own favourite Rickles story: the comic interrupted his dinner at the Sands in Las Vegas one night to say he wanted to impress his date, who didn’t believe he actually knew the singer. When he’d finished his meal, Sinatra went over to Rickles’s table. “Hi, Don, how the hell are you?” Rickles looked up. “Not now, Frank. Can’t you see we’re eating?”
    —Via The Guardian.

  • 5 April 2017
    'Own-premise' sales volume (i.e., at the brewery sales) in 2016 was 2.3 million barrels, or approximately 9.4% of the production volume of small and independent brewers (9.5% of domestic sales volume and about 1% of overall U.S. beer sales volume). Up 2% over 2015, that growth in 'own-premise' sales is coming more from the proliferation of production breweries that begin with onsite as a large portion of their business model rather than a strong shift within existing breweries toward onsite sales.
    —Via Bart Watson, chief economist for [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 7,714 operating brewery licenses in U.S. (April 2017)
  • 5 April 2017
    As of 30 March, there were 7,714 breweries with active TTB permits in U.S. (By comparison, there were 2,343 in 2010.)
    —Via Lester Jones, chief economist for National Beer Wholesalers Association, at YFGF.

  • 4 April 2017
    Another canary in the 'craft'-beer-mine? BridgePort Brewing Company, a 30+ year veteran of craft brewing, is cutting about half of its brewing staff "in order to keep pace with the rapidly evolving craft beer market in Oregon."
    —Via Portland Business Journal.

  • 3 April 2017
    Absurd Maryland bill HB 1283: jeopardizes Guinness' move to the state AND harms the state's existing craft brewing industry. As beer author Jeff Alworth tweeted:
    This is incredibly asinine. What on earth is Maryland thinking? These laws wouldn't have been defensible in 1985; now they're madness.
    —Via Baltimore Sun.

  • 31 March 2017
    William T. Coleman Jr. —who championed the cause of civil rights, was a key member of the legal team that litigated Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark desegregation case in which the Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for African American and white students to be unconstitutional, served as only second African-American Cabinet Secretary (United States Secretary of Transportation under Gerald Ford)— has died at age 96.
    —Via NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

  • 30 March 2017
    From the moment a brewery is taken over, its beers may cease to exist – or be replaced by inferior substitutes – at any time, and there’s nothing anyone outside the new owner company can do about it. The new owner hasn’t bought beers, it’s bought brands and their market share. If the new owner is genuinely committed to making decent beer, the beer backing up those brands may continue to be good, but even that can’t be guaranteed – and, of course, the new owner can’t actually be held to account by anyone else. Even when the new owner continues to make a particular beer the old way, nobody can tell whether they’re going to start cutting corners or simply stop making it – let alone stop them doing so.
    —Via Phil Edwards, at Oh, Good Ale.

  • 29 March 2017
    British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50, marking the formal start of the United kingdom's exit from the European Union (EU), its so-called "Brexit."
    —Via National Public Radio.

  • 29 March 2017
    Master cellarman Mark Dorber defines cellarmanship:
    To promote the most beauty in each cask of beer by developing the most interesting range of sound aromas and flavours; by nurturing wherever possible high levels of natural carbonation consistent with each beer style and, moreover, by serving each beer in a manner and at a temperature that enhances its aroma and flavour profile and creates an appropriate mouthfeel.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 28 March 2017
    A craft punk after all, large Scottish 'craft' brewery BrewDog threatened legal action against a London bar planning to call itself "Draft Punk," and this, only a day after the brewery blamed “trigger-happy” lawyers for a similar dispute over a Birmingham pub's name, "Lone Wolf," that sparked a social media backlash.
    —Via The Guardian.

  • 28 March 2017
    President Trump issues executive order which:
    • Rescinds Clean Power Plan (which had required power utilities reduce CO2 emissions 32% by 2030)
    • Lifting moratorium on federal coal leasing
    • Rescinds several restrictions on hydraulic fracking
    • Removes requirement for federal agencies to consider climate-change during decision-making.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • Craft Beer in 2016 (Brewers Association)

  • 28 March 2017
    The era of 18% growth rates is probably over.

    The [U.S.] Brewers Association releases its 2016 data showing craft breweries produced 24.6 million barrels in 2016, saw a 6 percent rise in volume over 2015, and realized a 10 percent increase in retail dollar value (estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share). By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewery growth.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association, at YFGF.

  • 28 March 2017
    Republican-controlled U.S. Congress passes joint resolution stripping the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the primary authority for communications law, of its power to protect consumer's online privacy protection.  The new law enables Internet providers to sell online history and data without consent.
    —Via The Nation.

  • 26 March 2017
    Millenials have "promiscuous drinking tastes."
    Legacy craft breweries are struggling for several reasons, among them, an inability to reach choice-craving millennial consumers whose drinking tastes are more promiscuous than previous generations. And the ubiquitous nature of brands such as Boston Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada won’t make it easy. “The fact that they’re national brands gives them cache that’s offensive to the millennial,” said Mike Mazzoni [a beer industry veteran who has studied the 'lifecycle of brands']. “They want something that’s local. That’s one of the reasons that they’ve fallen off.”
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 26 March 2017
    Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, have died, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 26 March 2017
    U.S. hop growers, dealers, and brewers had 140 million pounds of hop on hand as of 1 March 2017, as compared to 128 million at the same time in 2016, for an increase of 9 percent, according to a report by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. (Compare to March 2015, when hop stocks were down 2 percent from March 2014. In September 2016, pre-harvest stocks were up 2 percent from the year before and the September before they were down 8 percent.)
    —Via Capital Press, at YFGF.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Brewers queue for Welcome Reception.

Brewers queue for Welcome Reception (02)
On 10 April 2017, a long line of brewers (a very long line, snaking a couple of city blocks) waited for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to open its doors for the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference Welcome Reception.

The conference ran 10-13 April in Washington, D.C. It was only the second time the conference had been in that city.
The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers—has concluded the 34th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) in Washington, D.C.

As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together some 13,300 brewing professionals and more than 900 exhibitors for discussion and dialogue around America’s craft brewing business and culture. CBC was last in the nation’s capital in 2013, with 6,400 attendees and 440 exhibiting companies.

There were so many attendees that the Brewers Association simultaneously staged a second reception at the National Museum of American History, a couple of blocks to the west, although less well-attended.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

The skinny on the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference

Welcome to the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference

The 2017 Craft Brewers Conference only just concluded on Thursday. And I've only begun to look through photos, transcribe recordings, write up my thoughts, and recount stories. It's time to get to work, in other words, but that'll be tomorrow. Today, there's a ballgame to listen to and yard work to do.

The [U.S.] Brewers Association —the host and organizer— is, however, behaving in a more professional manner than I. It already has released a post-mortem, possibly one of several to come. Here is its official press release.

Craft Beer in the Capital

13,300 Brewing Professionals, Exhibitors Convene in Washington, D.C. for the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®

Boulder, CO • April 13, 2017—The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers—has concluded the 34th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) in Washington, D.C.

As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together some 13,300 brewing professionals and more than 900 exhibitors for discussion and dialogue around America’s craft brewing business and culture. CBC was last in the nation’s capital in 2013, with 6,400 attendees and 440 exhibiting companies.

Highlights from the 2017 conference include:
  • 2017 Achievement Awards
    Three members of the brewing community were recognized and awarded for their dedication and service.
    • Brewers Association Recognition Award:
      Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo, Co-Owners, Russian River Brewing Company

    • Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing:
      Will Meyers, Brewmaster, Cambridge Brewing Company

    • F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award:
      Matthew McLaughlin, Executive Director, Mississippi Brewers Guild

  • Other notable takeaways from this year’s CBC include:
    • Keynotes:
      Leadership expert Alison Levine drew parallels from her experience climbing the highest peak on every continent to discuss how craft brewers can compete in a challenging and changing environment. Revered brewer Dick Cantwell provided his industry colleagues with his insights from his long career in the craft brewing community, offering a message of unity among small and independent brewers and reinforcing the importance of producing and maintaining high-quality beer.

    • Diversity Committee:
      The BA announced the formation of a Diversity Committee, with a goal of bringing a more diverse group of brewers and beer lovers into the craft brewing community. Helmed by BA Board member Scott Metzger (Free Tail Brewing Company), the committee is made up of a cross section of industry members of varied backgrounds and regions.

    • Marketing and Advertising Code:
      The BA updated its Marketing and Advertising Code to help brewers maintain high standards and act as responsible corporate citizens. New language has been included to address that beer advertising and marketing materials should not use sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate for consumer products offered to the public. Any name that does not meet the Marketing and Advertising Code that wins a BA produced competition including the Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) or World Beer CupSM will not be read on stage or promoted in BA materials, and will not be permitted to use the GABF or World Beer Cup intellectual properties in their marketing.

      Additionally, the BA has convened an Advertising Complaint Review Board should an issue arise that warrants further review and action.

    • CBC Symposium Beer:
      Each year the BA works closely with the local state guild to create the CBC Symposium Beer. Washington, D.C., presented an exciting opportunity to collaborate with the D.C., Virginia and Maryland guilds and involve area craft breweries. CBC attendees received a can of Family Tree, a Belgian pale ale whose recipe highlights the comradery among five D.C.-area brewers—Manor Hill Brewing, Vanish Farmwoods Brewery, Waredaca Brewing Company, and DC Brau Brewing Company—who got their start at Flying Dog Brewery.

    • Government Affairs:
      More than 230 brewers, brewery owners, and state guild representatives participated in the CBC Hill Climb, talking with Congressional staff about legislation important to the brewing community including the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Introduced at the beginning of the 115th Congress, this legislation would lower the federal excise tax paid by craft brewers. Brewers explained that a recalibration of the tax rate would allow them to reinvest in their companies, creating the opportunity for more local manufacturing jobs.

Not one to dawdle, the BA has already begun promoting the 2018 CBC, which it has scheduled for 30 April through 3 May of next year, concurrent with the World Beer Cup, in Nashville, Tennessee. That'll be a hootenanny.


Pic(k) of the Week: Easter egg in tree.

In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal (spring) equinox. In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21. Thus, Easter can occur as early as 22 March 22 and as late as 25 April, depending on when the paschal full moon falls.

We know that Easter must always occur on a Sunday, because Sunday was the day of Christ's Resurrection. But why the paschal full moon? Because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

The Church does not use the exact date of the paschal full moon but an approximation, because the paschal full moon can fall on different days in different time zones, which would mean that the date of Easter would be different depending on which time zone you live in.

For calculation purposes, the full moon is always set at the 14th day of the lunar month (the lunar month begins with the new moon). Likewise, the Church sets the date of the vernal equinox at March 21, even though it can occur on March 20. Both approximations allow the Church to set a universal date for Easter.

Still, Easter isn't celebrated universally on that date—at least not on the calendar we all use in everyday life. While Western Christians use the Gregorian calendar (the calendar that's used throughout the West today, in both the secular and religious worlds) to calculate the date of Easter, the Eastern Orthodox continue to use the older, astronomically inaccurate Julian calendar.

Currently, March 21 on the Julian calendar falls on April 3 in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, for the Orthodox, the Sunday following the 14th day of the paschal full moon has to fall after April 3, hence the discrepancy in the date of Easter. Note that the Orthodox use the exact same formula for determining the date of Easter; the entire difference comes from their use of the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian one.

Easter egg in tree

Spring arrived nearly four weeks ago, on 20 March. The first full moon of the spring season, the Paschal Moon, occurred just this past Tuesday, 11 April.

Thus, in the year 2017, Christians will be celebrating Easter on 16 April —precisely the first Sunday after the Paschal Moon. ...Tomorrow.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Re-brand and prosper: The (United States) Brewers Association.

In 2007, the [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) revoked the 'craft' brewery identification of Widmer Brothers. Widmer, the association decreed could no longer be pals with other 'craft' breweries, its birthright denied —despite it being one of 'craft' beer's pioneers, founded in 1984. Its crime? Anheuser-Busch had purchased thirty-two percent of Widmer's new tripartite partnership, the Craft Brew Alliance.

Fast forward ten years later. In March 2017, the BA released its list of the top 50 brewing companies in the U.S, ranked according to sales volumes. Look closely at this list. Forty of the fifty are 'craft' breweries, as defined by the BA.

Top 50 U.S. Brewing Companies, by sales (2016)

Notice all those special notes, labeled "a" through "w"? (I've listed them, and their multi-brewery exceptions, after the jump. Concurrently the BA compiled a list of the top 50 'craft' breweries —as it defines them— in the U.S. See that below the jump as well.)

In recent years, the BA has been removing additional breweries, once considered fellow 'craft' brewery members, fast and furious from the membership roll. Beer writer Jay Brooks succinctly found the absurdity in that:
Breweries in bold are considered to be “small and independent craft brewers” under the the BA’s current definition. That there are so many footnotes (23 in total, or almost half of the list) explaining exceptions or reasons for the specific entry, seems illustrative of a growing problem with the definition of what is a craft brewery. I certainly understand the need for a trade group to have a clearly defined set of criteria for membership, but I think the current one is getting increasingly outdated again, and it’s only been a few years since it was hotly debated by the BA. But it may be time to revisit that again.

Before revisiting, first this:

An American history of brewing cooperation

In 1862, to fund their prosecution of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress adopted a one-dollar per barrel excise tax on beer. The following year, brewers of the Union (principally the lager brewers) joined forces to successfully lobby for a reduction: the levy was reduced to sixty cents. Although Congress would reinstate the higher tax, the group saw value in common cause and formalized its existence as the United States Brewers Association. The organization would grow in size as the industry grew, only interrupted by Prohibition.

In 1942, small American breweries —"pinned down by [WWII] rationing and ambitious national shippers [large breweries] on one side and a fusillade of federal regulations on the other"— felt slighted by the USBA and created a lobbying group for their own interests. They called it the Small Brewers Committee, soon thereafter changing the name to the Brewers Association of America. In 1976, the USBA and BAA jointly secured a tax differential on the first 60,000 barrels produced by 'small' breweries,' those producing fewer than two million barrels per year, maybe the high point of their political influence. That tax break still exists today.

By 1983, the BAA was fast losing its members to closures and buy-outs (and itself to despair). An aspiring brewer named Mark Stutrud wrote the organization asking for advice. It responded:
My dear Mr. Stutrud: Thank you for your letter, and I note that you are working on a feasibility study on establishing a Micro-Brewery in the Twin Cities area. Please know that I am not encouraging you to do so, because it is a long and hard road that you planning to go down.
(Stutrud would ignore the 'advice.' He opened his brewery, Summit Brewing, in 1986, in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is still in operation, now the 27th-largest 'craft' brewery in the United States, producing 129,000 barrels of beer.)

Seeking a more potent advocate for nascent very small "microbreweries", Charlie Papazian founded the Association of Brewers that year.

Three years later, in 1986, after 124 years of advocacy for American breweries, the USBA was disbanded. Attrition had shrunk it to a mere forty-four brewing company-members, losing it the support of the largest American-owned mega-breweries, which replaced it with a new organization given the anodyne name, the Beer Institute. Still operating today, the Beer Institute's putative mission is to represent all American breweries. In practice, however, it thrives as a lobbying representative of the large international brewing conglomerates —and associated businesses— operating in the United States. (It also serves a valuable historical purpose as a repository for American brewing records dating back to the Civil War.)

In 2005, the Association of Brewers merged with the Brewers Association of America —in reality, the former absorbing of the latter— forming the Brewers Association. The new organization kept the BAA's 1940s definition of 'small' brewery as one producing fewer than two million barrels per year (although adopting the term, 'craft' brewery.) In 2011, in danger of losing Boston Beer Company and its dues and clout (the brewery was approaching the limit), the Brewers Association moved the goalpost, expanding the definition of "small" and "craft" from two to six million barrels.

Craft Brewer Defined

As it is defined now...

Does 'craft' have meaning?

The Craft Brewers Conference is the annual confabulation of the minds and mugs of America's 'craft' brewers. Next week, it returns to Washington, D.C.

The first time it had convened there, in 2013, its founder, Charlie Papazian addressed the convocation without ONCE using the term 'craft' brewery. He pointedly and repeatedly used the phrase "small and independent" breweries, even avoiding mention of the association's third stipulation for a 'craft' brewery: "traditional."

The [U.S.] Brewers Association also takes no stand on what a 'craft' beer, per se, is or isn't. But prior to 2014, it did: forbidding the use of corn —a traditional American brewing ingredient— by any of its members in their flagship beers. In 2014, it altered that definition to graciously permit that starch.

Another stipulation goes to outside ownership. The BA draws a red line for its 'craft' members at twenty-five percent ownership by any brewery that it does not consider 'craft.' Why that amount? Why not more (pristine) or why not less (restrictive)? What is so magical about less than a quarter?

The BA remains silent when outside ownership belongs to a non-brewing entity. If, say, a hedge fund had invested in Widmer rather than Anheuser-Busch, Widmer would still be a member in good standing in the BA's 'craft' club. Why would it be less 'craft' to be owned by a brewery than to be owned by a venture capitalist, owing no allegiance to beer other than investment? A distinction seemingly without merit.

When the BA increased the brewing limit of membership two hundred percent from two to six million barrels per year, it de facto acknowledged the capriciousness of that limit. How did the marginal production of one barrel more than two-million justify the elimination of the 'craft' label? It didn't, and the BA recalibrated. Now, how does "one toke over the (six-million barrel) line" eliminate 'craft'? Again, it doesn't. In defense of the ineffable, the BA punishes the achievable.

And, so...

A Modest Proposal

In anticipation of the upcoming national brewers conference, I suggest this Modest Proposal.

The Brewers Association should dissolve itself
and reconstitute as the
United States Brewers Association.

Yes! The new United States Brewers Association (USBA) could be, as it once was, the advocate of all American breweries: the very large, the regional, the small, the very small, production-only or brewpub, local or national. What the USBA would not be is the representative of foreign-owned breweries. To be a member, a brewery would have to be, at a minimum, fifty percent American-owned. That, like a majority vote, seems less arbitrary than the current twenty-five percent 'craft' limit. No convoluted pretzel-twisting definitions and no time-wasting semantics. No thanks, Anheuser-Busch InBev!*

All American breweries —from the family-owned three-million-plus barrel-per-year Yuengling Brewery to the nano-est 100-barrels-per-year nano-brewery— could find common ground to work together, barrel-by-barrel, toward their common interests. Whether corn —or cocoa-puffs or dingleberries— could constitute the grist of a 'craft' beer would be a moot question relegated to Reddit and blogs like this one.

Problems? Of course. The simmering conflict between large and small 'craft' would continue and the differing concerns of production breweries and brewpubs would continue, even as they do now. But after the change, those interests, common and separate, would be addressed as between American breweries. The smug moral superiority of a nebulous 'craft' imprimatur would be rent. Come back Widmer! Come back Founders; come back Lagunitas; come back all of you. Forgive us!

Back to the future:

The United States Brewers Association

A resurrected USBA could end the jumble of fungible barrelage requirements, ingredient self-righteousness, and convoluted arguments about what exactly a 'craft' brewery is or isn't. Any opinions between outside brewery ownership or venture capital ownership would be rendered a fifty percent stake or less, that is.

This is a solution that acknowledges reality. It avoids subjectivity. It pays homage to American brewing history. It does not penalize success. It increases the industry's economic and political clout. (And, gasp, it's patriotic.)

In 1978, there were 44 breweries in the United States. As of the end of March 2017, there were 7,714 operating brewery licenses. Thank you, [U.S.] Brewers Association.

Now, live long, United States Brewers Association, and prosper.


Pic(k) of the Week: 2nd rosé of spring

2nd rosé of spring

A cornucopia cépage of Mendocino and Sonoma Coast fruit: Pinot Noir, Barbera, Grenache, Grenache Gris, Syrah.

Banshee Winery: its 2016 rosé.

How (did it taste):
Light touch of nectarines and raspberries. Dry finish with a nice smack of acidity.

Rosé: so much a sign of spring.

Front porch: Atlanta, Georgia.
The second rosé: The first glass, I had poured earlier in the evening. 24 March 2017.

Bloomin' Dogwood (03)


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

CBC Road Trip!

Projects underway but not yet completed:

Road trip!

CBC13 Keynote Ballroom


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Where to find beer (and good beer) at Nats Park

Thanks to our friends at, when you catch a Washington Nationals baseball game, you'll also be able to find a good beer. They've just published this convenient 2017 beer map of Nationals Park, in Washington, D.C.

Nationals Park Beer Map 2017

  • District Drafts ('craft' beer from Washington, D.C., and Virignia):
    Sections 119, 129, 139, 223, 310 plus 3 more carts, TBD.
    • 3 Stars
    • Atlas
    • D.C. Brau
    • Mad Fox
    • Old Ox
    • Port City
    • Plus 2 rotating taps for other local beer. (For example: Fair Winds will be at the first homestand; Right Proper, at the second).
  • Vendors
    In addition to the normal flotsam and jetsam sold by beer vendors (Budweiser, via Anheuser-Busch, is the official team beer partner), tallboy cans of Maryland's Flying Dog Brewing's Snake Dog IPA may also be found here and there. Cans of Virginia's Port City Brewing Optimal Wit will come later in the season.

  • Everything else (mainstream beers, imports and Goose Island and Devils Backbone):
    • Base Line Brews:
      Center Field Plaza and Sections 104, 108, 115, 133, 136, 141, 221, 231, 303, 305, 314, 318.
    • Homestead Grays Pub:
      Section 217.
    • The Union Pub:
      Section 306.
    • Devils Backbone Brewing Company:
      Left Field Lodge.
    • Distillers of the DMV:
      Sections 112 and 135.
The Nationals moved to town in 2005, playing in old RFK Stadium. They moved into their new digs, Nationals Park, in 2008. It wasn't until 2013 —due to the efforts of Bill Butcher of Port City Brewing and Bill Madden of Mad Fox Brewing, among others— that good local beer, via the District Drafts carts, became a regular, easily accessed thing at the Park.

As they say, forty-five miles to the north, in the Baltimore Orioles' home field of Camden Yards, where local 'craft' beer has been served since 1993, one year after that magnificent park was opened ...
Ain't the beer cold, hon!


Monday, April 03, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 11/12, 2017.

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

Weeks 11/12
12 March - 25 March 2017

  • 25 March 2017
    Twenty-seven European Union leaders renewed their vows at a special summit in Rome on Saturday, celebrating the bloc's 60th anniversary with a commitment to a common future, but without the United Kingdom, signing a new declaration on the Capitoline Hill, where, on 25 March 1957, the six founding states —Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and West Germany— had signed the Treaty of Rome.
    —Via Agence France-Presse.

  • 24 March 2017
    ‘Repeal and replace ObamaCare' itself is defeated. House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law because of insufficient votes for passage.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 23 March 2017
    Trump Winery in Virginia applying for work visas for non-American immigrants to work in its vineyards.
    —Via Associated Press (at Fox News.

  • Top 25 beers globally (by sales dollars)
  • 23 March 2017
    The world's top twenty-five most popular beer brands, as ranked by sales in dollars. The top three, in order, are Bud Light (with $6.6 billion in sales), Budweiser ($5.8 billion), and Heineken (%5.2 billion)
    —Via Brand Finance (at Craft Brewing Business).

  • 23 March 2017
    May is American Mild Month. Across the U.S., breweries will be brewing Mild Ales, and pubs, serving them. @MildMonthUS:
    —Via American Mild Month.

  • 22 March 2017
    British-born terrorist attack outside Westminster leaves 4 dead, including attacker and police officer.
    —Via CNN.

  • 22 March 2017
    Georgia legislature passes bill to allow state breweries to sell their own beer in their own taprooms. The law takes effect 1 September 2017. Among all states and the District of Columbia, only Mississippi still forbids the practice.
    —Via GPB News (NPR).

  • 22 March 2017
    “We’re trying to make America great again,” said manager Jim Leyland, as Team USA won its first World Baseball Classic title, defeating Puerto Rico, 8-0, in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 18 March 2017
    Columnist Jimmy Breslin, "bard of the New York streets," writer at the New York Herald Tribune, Daily News, and Newsday, dies at 88.
    A Pulitzer Prize winner whose muscular, unadorned prose pummeled the venal, deflated the pompous, and gave voice to ordinary city-dwellers for decades.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 18 March 2017
    Chuck Berry has died at 90.
    Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday at his home near Wentzville, Missouri.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 17 March 2017
    Nearly half of the two million farm-workers in the U.S. are 'illegal,' because Americans are reluctant to take jobs in the fields picking fruit and produce. But without these workers, America risks food rotting in fields and farmers on the margins going out of business.
    —Via Tamar Haspil (in the Washington Post.

  • Kopman & Sisson
  • 16 March 2017
    Dan Kopman —co-founder and past longtime CEO of Shlafly Beer/St. Louis Brewery— to join Heavy Seas Beer in Maryland as its CEO. Will report to Heavy Seas' managing partner and founder, Hugh Sisson.
    —Via YFGF (at Facebook).

  • 16 March 2017
    Mitch Stone —past Anheuser-Busch brewer, Stone Brewing brewmaster, and author of book IPA— announces name and plans of his future Atlanta, Georgia, brewery: New Realm Brewing. Combination production brewery, taproom, restaurant, beer garden, and rooftop patio to open overlooking Atlanta's Beltline park in 4th quarter of 2017.
    —Via BeerPulse.

  • 15 March 2017
    Hundreds of miles of the Great Barrier Reef —the world's largest coral reef system, located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia— its most pristine northern sector, are dead, killed by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. “We didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years,” said Terry P. Hughes, director of a government-funded center for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Australia.
    —Via New York Times.

  • Top 50 U.S. 'Craft' Breweries, state-by-state (2016)
  • 15 March 2017
    The Brewers Association has announced the top fifty 'craft' breweries in the U.S. for 2016 and the top fifty overall brewing companies, both ranked according to sales volume.
    That there are so many footnotes (23 in total, or almost half of the list) explaining exceptions or reasons for the specific entry, seems illustrative of a growing problem with the definition of what is a craft brewery. I certainly understand the need for a trade group to have a clearly defined set of criteria for membership, but I think the current one is getting increasingly outdated again, and it’s only been a few years since the contentious debate that resulted in the current BA one. But it may be time to revisit that again.
    —Commentary via Jay Brooks at Bookston Beer Bulletin.
    —Rankings via Brewers Association.

  • 13 March 2017
    The Oxford Supremacy. A court in Maine rules in favor of overtime pay for dairy truck drivers because of the ambiguity of a statute missing an Oxford (serial) comma.
    —Via Quartz.

  • 12 March 2017
    Canary in the 'craft' beer mine? Echo of the late 1990s? San Francisco brewery Speakeasy closes.
    Speakeasy fits a pattern we saw--well, just about the time it opened in the late 1990s. That was during the first craft beer "shakeout," which wasn't a shakeout at all, but a flattening of growth that stranded breweries that had overleveraged themselves based on expected steep growth. Any time a brewery expands, whether that's from a nano scale to a seven-barrel system, or the leap that Speakeasy took, there's risk. It's hard to lose when the market is growing at 15%; breweries can exploit whatever level of market they plan on entering. But carrying millions in debt when sales flatten out can end a brewery. In the late 1990s, that's exactly what happened. Breweries made the jump to large facilities capable of producing a quarter million barrels just at the moment they flat-lined at sixty thousand. This led ultimately to high-profile failures or buyouts. [...] If this is a second plateau, it may last for years. If so, Speakeasy is just the first of many failures to come.
    —Via Jeff Alworth at Beervana.

  • 12 March 2017
    Unlimited access to drink 300+ beers from 120+ breweries from all over the world costing:
    – $200, which included 4 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout
    – $300, which included 8 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout
    – $400, which included 12 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout
    Hunahpu’s Day® at Cigar City in Tampa, Florida. Too rich for my blood; too rich, I'd wager, for many Americans. Beer used to be the democratic (small 'd') drink (but a noble one) for the masses. Is 'craft'?
    —Via YFGF at Facebook.

  • 12 March 2017
    In 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) rejected a bid by the Deutscher Brauer-Bund (German Brewers Association) to have the Reinheitsgebot recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as it would designate Belgian beer culture two years later in 2016. A German writer for the magazine Mixology writes that the bid should be taken from the German Brewers Association because it “puts the commercial interests of the large breweries it represents first, callously using the Reinheitsgebot myth as a seal of quality.” He recommends a new application focusing on Germany’s positive brewing heritage, rather than just the commercial interests of the modern industry.
    —Via Mixology.