Saturday, November 18, 2017

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

Mssrs. Beaumont & Webb (03)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mssrs. Webb & Beaumont (01)

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Friday, November 17, 2017

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

Garrett Oliver, at Morning Advertiser

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

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


******************

What is NEIPA?

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

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

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

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

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

Yellow Beer

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Dr. Morten Christian Meilgaard (1928 - 2009)

Dr. Morten Christian Meilgaard (1928 - 2009)

Umami and oleogustus! Today would have been the eighty-ninth birthday of scientist Dr. Morten Meilgaard, a man of good taste.

Born on 11 November 1928, Dr. Meilgaard would become a pioneer of the science of beer flavor identification and nomenclature. In 1979, he created the Beer Flavor Wheel, a landmark organoleptic tool that the European Brewery Convention, the American Society of Brewing Chemists, and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas soon designated as an accepted standard. His book, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, became a textbook for sensory science.

Dr. Meilgaard died on 11 April 2009, at age 80. His Beer Flavor Wheel is still being used today by brewers, beer judges, and sensory scientists. His textbook is now in its 5th (and revised) printing. His influence on brewing (and craft brewing) and on the enjoyment of beers is ongoing and substantial.

Above, Meilgaard is pictured in 1962, sailing in Australia (with beer and cigarette), at age 34. The photo is via Stephen Goodfellow, an adopted son of Meilegard, who wrote the following biography to accompany the photo:
Morten Christian Meilgaard was born on Fyn, Denmark in 1928. His younger siblings, Ida, Jorgen, and Erik, followed in short succession. As their father, Anton Meilgaard, was a country doctor, they were brought up in a rural milieu in Morud. Their school was a considerable distance away, and during some winters, they would ski to pursue their education.

Morten caught the travel bug early, taking a road trip with his friends Finn and Torben, pulling a creaky four-wheeled cart around Jutland in 1944, during the German occupation of Denmark.

After WW II, Morten pursued a degree as a chemical engineer and became a research chemist specializing in yeasts for Alfred Jorgensens Laboratorium in Copenhagen. This dovetailed nicely with his love of travel, and his job took him all over the World. He became the Johnny Appleseed of establishing the [nomeclature of] flavors of beer throughout the world, including in Japan, South Africa, and the Americas.

Morten's contribution to the field of sensory science cannot be underestimated; it was truly extensive. Amongst his many contributions, He is the major contributor to the flavor wheel, a Rosetta Stone of sensory evaluation science.

Morten's publication, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, is the educational standard in this field of science. He was quite possibly the foremost expert in his field.

During his work and travels in England, he met Manon Meadows. They fell in love and remained married for almost fifty years, until her death in 2007.

Justin Meilgaard, Morten's and Manon's son, was born in England, 1966.

In 1967, the entire family, including Manon's mother, Doris Meadows, moved from Denmark to Monterrey Mexico where Morten worked for the Cuauhtemoc Brewery from 1967 to 1973.

In 1973, Morten was hired by Peter Stroh of the Stroh Brewery, Detroit, where he worked as Peter's right-hand man until the brewery was acquired by the Miller Brewing Company in 1999, at which point Morten retired.

Even after retirement, he continued to be active in his profession for many years, doing consulting jobs for the Danish Government, working with his co-editors on a revised edition of his book, and donating his extensive collection of brewing literature to Wayne State University [in Detroit, Michigan].

In 2008 Morten returned to Denmark and Sweden to visit family and revisit the important sites of his childhood and early adulthood.

Morten is survived by his younger brothers and sister, Jorgen, Erik, and Ida, and by his sons, Justin Meilgaard and myself.


**************

Meilgard's Beer Flavor Wheel

Beer Flavor Wheel

[Beer descriptors in the Beer Flavor Wheel] are divided first into those perceived by sense of taste and those perceived in aroma. The descriptors are then organized into 14 categories, each of which contains between one and six descriptors. Meilgaard's aim in creating this wheel was to establish a standard vocabulary of beer evaluation and to this day many organizations use his Beer Flavor Wheel as a reference tool.
The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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  • A more detailed description of the Beer Flavor Wheel —"Focus On Beer Flavor"— was written in 1997 by Scott Bickham (of the BJCP) for Brewing Techniques, a long defunct magazine whose articles are —thank goodness— maintained online.
  • Physical copies of the Beer Flavor Wheel can be purchased from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA).
  • In 2016, scientists Lindsay Barr and Nicole Garneau 'updated' Dr. Meilgaards' wheel with their Beer Flavor Map, a graphic explication of beer flavor rather than of chemical analysis. Among other changes, the new 'map' elevated “umami” (savory) and “oleogustus” (fat) to the subcategory of taste and designated “mouthfeel” as a primary sense.
    We elected to use the common descriptors to make the Beer Flavor Map useful to anyone that picks it up, no matter if they had sensory training. This structure allows more people to speak using a common vocabulary of beer flavors. The map bridges the gap for people to begin to associate the descriptive vocabulary with the chemicals.
    Lindsay Barr works as the sensory specialist at New Belgium Brewing and has her BS in biochemistry and molecular biology as well as an MS in food science and technology. Dr. Nicole Garneau received her BA in Genetics and her Ph.D. in Microbiology, and currently is the curator and department chair of health sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Both are members of the Beer and Food Working Group of the [U.S.] Brewers Association. The team is developing a companion model —to make the technical side of flavor just as accessible as the descriptive —and a mobile app— to combine the descriptive and chemical sides of sensory analysis.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos taken (or noted) by me, posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • See the photo on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • For more from YFGF:

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

"Brewmaster": the trailer

Brewmaster_trailer
A film, called Brewmaster, directed by Douglas Tirola, will arrive in theatres in the new year.

The trailer, which you can watch exclusively on Food & Wine, details several aspects of American beer culture. It follows one man as he studies to acquire his Master Cicerone certification, the beer equivalent of becoming a sommelier. Another thread in the movie follows a young man who quit his job as a lawyer to brew his own beer and pursue his dream of opening a brewery of his own.

The film is also peppered with expert voices in the beer world, such as Jim Koch, the co-founder of the Boston Beer Company; Vaclav Berka, a senior brewmaster at Pilsner Urquell (the company funded the film in honor of its 175th anniversary); and Charles Papazian, who founded the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival.

Food and Wine Magazine which wrote that blurb, ignored appearances by Ray Daniels of the Cicerone Certification Program, Randy Mosher of several books, and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery.

And the trailer reeks of fanboy-dom. Beer is referred to as the “most noble beverage ever conceived by man” and “a gift from God.” Food and Wine Magazine, in presenting the trailer, states that the documentary will be required viewing for "beer fanatics." Which does not promise a serious, 'documentary,' consideration of the topic.

But trailers are designed to sound loud and proud. And, as counterpoint, it does contain is this snippet, from Garrett Oliver, beer author and brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewing Company:
If you can't put that beer out tasting essentially the same every time, that doesn't mean you're a craft brewer. It means you're not a brewer.

Food and Wine Magazine says that Brewmaster will have select screenings in November and will be released to the general public in January. I don't know director Douglas Tirola from John Facenda, but just on that Garrett Oliver statement alone, maybe this might be worth the price of admission.

Without further comment, here's the trailer presented for your enjoyment.



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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Wooden cask, deconstructed.

Wooden cask, deconstructed

A wooden cask, deconstructed...
1) TOP HEAD (purple arrow)
The entire front disc. Even though it's referred to as "top", it faces forward, not up. It's circumferenced by a wooden ridge called a chimb (white arrow), or chime. The head consists of four planks: two crescent-moon shaped pieces called cants (bright green arrows). Between them are the two middles (blue arrows). The lower cant is where the keystone bung sits.
2) BACK HEAD (not pictured)
The back of the cask.
3) PITCH (forest green arrow)
The BELLY of the cask, made up of several wooden planks called staves (aquamarine arrows). The shive bung (fuscia arrow) sits at the top of the pitch.
4) QUARTERs (forest green arrows)
The two sections of the belly between the pitch and the front and rear chimes, respectively.
5) HOOPS (red arrows)
Metal bands keep the heads and staves securely in place.

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BITS & PIECES

1) SOFT SPILE (pale green arrow)
Porous bamboo peg inserted into the tut in the shive bung. The tut (not pictured) is an indentation in the center of the shive bung. When venting a cask, the tut is hammered through, and the spile inserted.
2) STILLAGE (dark blue arrow)
Stand on which the cask sits, angled slightly forward toward the top face, the bottom of the back chimb no higher than the level of the top of the keystone.

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MORE

1) WOOD OR METAL
A beer cask can be made of wood or metal although stainless steel is much more the common choice these days. Although metal casks are welded together and don't have staves as do wooden ones, one can still refer to a cask's heads, chimbs, keystone, shive bung, spiles, stillage, etc. Ditto for plastic casks.

2) FIRKINS
  • Casks come in many sizes. A firkin is one size of cask, equal to 10.8 U.S. gallons.
  • The cask above is NOT a firkin, but a 10 U.S. gallon wooden cask. It did, however, contain cask-conditioned ale. *.
  • Volume sizes here are given in U.S. measure. Thus, a 10.8 U.S.-gallon firkin (U.S.) is identical in volume to a 9 U.K.-gallon firkin (U.K.)
3) FIRKIN DIMENSIONS
Here.

4) WEIGHT OF STAINLESS STEEL FIRKIN:
  • Empty: 24 pounds (11.24 kilograms).
  • Full: 114 pounds (51.71 kilograms).
  • One gallon (of water) = 8.34 pounds (3.78 kilograms)
  • The weight of one gallon of beer will be a bit more than that of water, due to its specific gravity (weight of unfermented starch, sugar, etc.)
5) WEIGHT OF WOODEN FIRKIN
?? ... but more than 90.072 pounds, the weight of 10.8-gallons of water.

6) More CASK VOLUMES
Here.

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NOTA BENE

A barrel and a cask, while superficially similar, serve two distinct purposes.
A barrel is for aging.
A cask is for cask-conditioning.
A barrel-aged beer is well-aged; a cask-conditioned beer is, well, fresh. It's the package and the intent.

Fobbing at the Tut

Fobbing at the Tut:
A series of occasional posts on good cask cellarmanship.


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Friday, November 03, 2017

The indefatigable Ray Johnson!

Ray Johnson —the indefatigable "I want a keg of your beer" man of Virginia beer— has died.
—5 November 2017.

The indefatigable Ray Johnson!

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UPDATE
From his friend, Chuck Triplett:
Many of you are aware that Rayner Johnson suffered a massive stroke on 10/31 and passed away on 11/5. His request was to not have a formal service so instead we are having a very informal tribute at Fair Winds Brewing Company on Sunday, November 19th between 12:00PM and 4:00PM. If you feel like stopping by and raising a pint or two to Ray please join us.

It will be a casual, pay as you go affair.

Fair Winds' address is:
7000 Newington Road, Suites K&L
Lorton, Virginia 22079

Hope that you can join us.

***************
If you're a good beer person who doesn't live in Virginia (or Maryland or the District of Columbia) you probably don't know Rayner (Ray) Johnson. But boy, oh, boy, those who do, do!

For nearly 40 years, Ray was an organizer of the Blue-Gray Show, a premier breweriana show of the East Coast. He was a member of the National Association of Breweriana Advertising (NABA) and the Brewery Collectible Club of America (BCCA), and a past national Board member of the latter as well as an inductee into its Hall of Fame. Maybe more so, Mr. Johnson was an indefatigable supporter of Virginia 'craft' beer. He visited every brewery in the state, those extant, some shuttered, and those many planned.

More recently, Mr. Johnson was the northern Virginia distribution manager for Virginia Craft Beer Magazine and a canning line supervisor at Fair Winds Brewing Company, in Lorton, Virginia.

Word has come that Mr. Johnson is in a medically induced coma after suffering a stroke this past Tuesday evening, 31 October.

Please send good thoughts and hoist good beers toward his speedy and full recovery. I am, tonight, with fervor.

May Nikasi be with you, Rayner Johnson! There are (so many) breweries yet to visit.

*****************

UPDATE

8 November 2017
A Go Fund Me campaign is accepting donations to help Ray Johnson's family defray medical and other expenses.
gofundme.com/raynerjohnson

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Hops. Martin Luther's 96th Thesis?

In as much that notions of historical causality can be stretched thin, it's still fun to conjecture about the effect of any one man or woman upon history's arc. And beer's history.


Martin Luther's 95 Theses of 1517 sparked the partial dissolution of the Catholic Church in Europe. That schism, it could be argued, freed brewers in proto-Protestant Europe to use additives other than those Church-decreed. One of those, the herb, hops, went on to displace the Church's spice mixture —gruit— in brewers' beers. That switch may have happened without Luther, but what came of his hammering in the Wittenberg church door, the Reformation, nurtured it.

Thus, the other Reformation! How Martin Luther, five hundred years ago this week, helped to change our beer.
[On 31 October 1517], an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther's native Germany: beer. [...]

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously — their invasive nature captured by their melodic Latin name, Humulus lupulus (which the music-loving Luther would have loved), which means "climbing wolf." [...]

Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops — in 1516, for instance, a Bavarian law mandated that beer could be made only with hops, water, and barley. But Luther's revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. [...]

If the Catholic Church lost control over the printed word with the invention of the printing press — the technological weapon that ensured Luther's success — it lost control over beer with the rise of hops. "The head went flat on monastic beer," says William Bostwick [the beer critic for The Wall Street Journal and author of 'The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer.'] 'Did Protestantism explicitly promote hops? I don't think so. But did it encourage the use of hops? I would say, yes, probably.' [...]

Luther would have relished his role in promoting hops. If anyone loved and appreciated good beer, it was this stout, sensual and gregarious monk. His letters often mentioned beer, whether it was the delicious Torgau beer that he extolled as finer than wine or the 'nasty' Dessau beer that made him long for Katharina's homebrew. 'I keep thinking what good wine and beer I have at home, as well as a beautiful wife,' he wrote. 'You would do well to send me over my whole cellar of wine and a bottle of thy beer.'
Read the rest of the story —here— written by freelance journalist Nina Martyris, for The Salt, the food 'page' of National Public Radio.

Finally, it bears reiteration that Martin Luther himself was a regular drinker of beer and its hearty espouser. Katharina von Bora, his wife, was an accomplished brewster. Then and five hundred years later: thank you and amen!
I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip [Melanchthon] and [Nicholas] Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Virginia bans alcohol.

101 years ago, today, on 1 November 1916, the Mapp Act became law in Virginia: alcoholic beverages were prohibite and the entire state went dry. For the rest of the country, National Prohibition —under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution— would not take effect until 17 January 1920.

Although Virginia established statewide prohibition through a popular referendum, it nonetheless faced several challenges in enforcing the new law. Its long coastline made it difficult to prevent smuggling, i.e. rum-running. It bordered on a wet state, Maryland, which made barely an effort to enforce national dry laws from 1920-1933. Virginia contained several cities which were reluctantly dry, most notably Alexandria, Richmond, and Norfolk. In addition, Virginia had a long-established moonshining tradition in the mountainous western part of the state. As a result, Virginia struggled to live up to the dry ideal it set for itself in 1916.

[...] The referendum on state-wide prohibition [with two simple choices, “For State-Wide Prohibition” and “Against State-Wide Prohibition”] passed, on 2 September 1914 by a vote of 94,251 in favor and 63,886 opposed. Of Virginia’s 100 counties, 71 voted in favor of prohibition. Eight of the ten congressional districts went dry, and one of the remaining two was wet by only ten votes. Surprisingly, sixteen of the state’s twenty cities also voted in favor of going dry. Traditionally cities were strongholds of wet votes. However, only Arlington, Norfolk, Williamsburg, and Richmond stayed wet.Accordingly, following the referendum, the Virginia legislature quickly passed a prohibition law, called the Mapp Law after state Senator Walter Mapp of Accomack County, making the entire state dry as of midnight, the morning of November 1, 1916. [...]The Mapp law defined “ardent spirits” as “alcohol, brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, wine, porter, ale, beer, all malt liquors, absinthe, and all compounds or mixtures of any of them.” The phrase “all malt liquors” was worded to include both intoxicating and non-intoxicating drinks made of malt.

The new dry law closed numerous distillers, six breweries, as well as several hundred saloons, in addition to taking away business from bottling companies and distributors. Breweries and distillers were allowed to stay in business so long as they sold their product out of state. Five of the six Virginia breweries stayed open until 1918. Only Robert Portner’s in Alexandria closed immediately.

[...] Virginia shares the Chesapeake Bay with Maryland, and the bay seemed as if it were designed for smuggling with its many small islands, coves and inlets. Norfolk had been wet during the referendum and remained a popular spot for smugglers to import alcohol. Finally, Virginia had a long-standing tradition of moonshining, especially in the western mountains, an area which traditionally resented Richmond’s control. Moonshiners found that prohibition furnished an even larger market for their product.
—Mark Benbow of RustyCans.org, as published in the winter 2010-2011 issue of Brewery History

Seventeen years later, on 3 October 1933, Virginia voters would vote to end statewide prohibition. A few weeks later, on 25 October, a state convention would ratify the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, repealing Prohibition, making Virginia the 32d state to do so. The amendment would take effect less than two months later, on 5 December. A few months after that, on 7 March 1934, Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be established.

And so it goes.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 41/42, 2017.

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

Weeks 41/42
8 October - 21 October 2017


    Pat Baker receives Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 21 October 2017
    In 1985, Pat Baker (on right in photo) founded the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), "a worldwide certifying organization for judges of beer and related fermented products." On 21 October 2017, the BJCP presented him with its first-ever lifetime achievement award, christening it the Pat Baker Lifetime Achievement Award.
    • Photo courtesy Scott Bickham, BJCP Northeast Regional Representative (on left in photo), on Facebook.
    • Additional information via YFGF, on Facebook.

  • 19 October 2017
    Fifty-one senators —a bi-partisan majority of the U.S. Senate (out of 100 members)— have co-sponsored Senate Bill 236. Known as the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), the bill would cut the federal excise tax for domestic breweries making fewer than two million barrels annually to $3.50 per barrel (currently $7) on their first 60,000 barrels and would reduce and streamline reporting requirements. A similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives —H.R. 747— also has majority bi-partisan support from 281 members (out of 435). Infighting among members of the U.S. brewing industry —small and independent (so-called 'craft') breweries vs. large breweries— could, however, hurt chances of passage.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 19 October 2017
    A small 'craft' brewery in Gainesville, Florida, offered to exchange one free draft beer for admission tickets to a speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer at the nearby University of Florida.
    We believe free speech is a cornerstone of our great nation. That said, speech that condones, let alone, promotes racial supremacy has no home in America, and it sure as hell doesn't have a home here in our beautiful town. [...] For every two tickets you bring in, we'll trade you for a free Alligator Brewing draft beer. Those tickets and reserved spots will be disposed of, leaving two more empty seats in the Philips Center. We, unfortunately, can't stop [Richard Spencer] from bringing his hate to Gainesville, but we can empty the room so his disgusting message goes unheard.
    —Via Esquire.

  • 18 October 2017
    The (beery) etymology of the word "nip": "the smallest imaginable measure of beer."
    In his 1785 Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Francis Grose doesn’t list 'nip' but does have this rather wonderful related entry: 'Nipperkin, a small measure.' By the time a new edition came out in 1788, nip had been added: 'Nyp, or Nip. A half pint, a nyp of ale: whence the nip-prekin, a small vessel.' [...] When the Weights & Measures Act of 1824 was passed it did not include the 'nip/nipperkin' among the new standard Imperial units of volume which meant that, legally speaking at least, it ceased to exist.
    —Via Boak and Bailey.

  • They buy us, now we buy them. (#TakeCraftBack)
  • 15 October 2017
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) —the not-for-profit organization that “represents America’s small and independent brewers”— has proposed, supposedly tongue-in-cheek, a crowd-sourced campaign to #TakeCraftBack from Anheuser-Busch InBev — the international beer behemoth that has been busy acquiring small breweries across the country and the world— by purchasing the conglomerate for $213 billion, its current value. To reach that goal, every American would have to contribute $655 dollars apiece. As of 16 October, $1,591,390 had been 'pledged.' Although the BA says it doesn’t intend to collect from donors, it does promise swag for each. “We have no doubt that your pledge, and all the others like it, has Big Beer quaking in their [sic] custom-made Italian loafers.” It appears that this campaign is a followup to the Certified Independent Craft Beer Seal that the BA launched in June 2017.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association, at TakeBackCraft.

  • 16 October 2017
    "Love beer hate, pubs?" British beer writer Des de Moor on the (not-always-salubrious) past of British pubs and their evolving present (and future).
    The idealised view of the inclusive community pub of the past, where everyone was welcome, is not only contradicted by the facts of physical segregation in pubs at least up until World War II, but by the lived experience of anyone who found themselves outside the prescribed normality of the communities that used them.
    —Via Beer Culture with Des de Moor.

  • 13 October 2017
    More than twenty-five 'craft' breweries in California helped to raise funds to assist people and businesses affected by the state's wildfires.
    —Via San Francisco Chronicle.

  • 12 October 2017
    The Trump administration announced that the United States will withdraw from UNESCO —the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization— effective the end of 2018, because of what it says is agency’s “anti-Israel bias.” UNESCO's missions include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water, and equality for women, and designating world heritage sites.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 10 October 2017
    The northern California wildfires burned over 170,000 acres of land, killed over 40 people, displaced 20,000, and destroyed an estimated 3,500 plus structures, including several wineries.
    —Via Wine Enthusiast.

  • Monk at Minton's (c. 1940s)
  • 10 October 2017
    10 October would have been the 100th birthday of composer/pianist Thelonius Sphere Monk: a giant of 20th-century music, who performed in the jazz idiom (1917 - 1982).
    • Pictured at Minton's Playhouse, New York City, circa 1940s. l-r: Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Teddy Hill.
    • Via YFGF.

  • 9 October 2017
    University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics for his work on behavioral economics, which tries to understand how humans make decisions, especially poor ones. Thaler, an American, is one of the leading experts in the relatively new field that combines psychology and economics.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 9 October 2017
    California wildfires have threatened the state's first legal marijuana crop. California grows an estimated 13 million pounds of pot annually and four of every five pounds is shipped to other states. In addition to burned crops and marijuana displaying smokey odors, cannabis exposed to smoke and ash is more vulnerable to disease, which can result in high levels of molds, mildews, and fungus, creating potential health risks such as lung infections.
    —Via East Bay Express.

  • 8 October 2017
    Grady Tate, a jazz musician who was nominated for Grammy Awards as a singer but was best known as a versatile drummer who helped propel the “soul-jazz” style of the 1960s and who appeared on hundreds of albums and sang for Schoolhouse Rock, has died at 85.
    —Via NPR.

  • 8 October 2017
    For the first time in Goose Island’s 29-year history, Chicago’s oldest brewery did not participate in the Great American Beer Festival, the U.S. beer industry’s premier event and competition, held annually in Denver Colorado, this year from 5-7 October.
    Goose Island’s exclusion is not for a lack of the brewery’s desire to be there. It’s the result of a complicated relationship between craft beer and Big Beer that’s only growing more complicated. The Brewers Association, which operates GABF and is the trade organization for 4,000 breweries that meet its definition of “craft” — small, traditional and independent — says the issue comes down to two intersecting factors: a wildly growing beer industry and the consolidation sparked by Goose Island’s sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011. After two years of discussion, the Brewers Association has begun limiting the number of breweries that a single beer company can have on the floor at GABF. Left on the outside are Goose Island and a handful of other breweries that have been bought by the world’s largest beer companies [such as Virginia's award-winning Devils Backbone].
    —Via Chicago Tribune.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Cask advice for 2017...from 1850.


In 1765, the Swan Brewery began brewing in London. It would continue doing so for an additional one hundred seventy-one years until 1936, when the Ind Coope/Samuel Allsopp & Sons brewing consortium purchased the brewery ... and promptly closed it.

But nearly a century earlier, in 1850, when The Swan was still going strong, it published a pamphlet for the trade that described its brewing procedures and its beers, and offered advice on how to properly care for them. Included was a short passage on cask cellarmanship. It was sensible advice then and remains so now, nearly two centuries later.

The Management of the Beer Cask (1850)
The Management Of The Beer Cask
  • Place it in that part of the house which is coolest and most free from damp.
  • Tap it when it first comes in, and NEVER SHAKE OR DISTRUB IT AGAIN [emphasis mine].
  • Let it stand two or three days before you draw any of it for use.
  • Never leave the peg out.
  • Do not draw it until just before it is to be consumed.
  • Do not have a supply which will last longer than (on the average) three weeks: —a little longer in winter— and shorter in summer.
—"The Proprietors of the Swan Brewery, Walham Green, Fulham - (Established 1765) - Beg to Present These Pages on Beer and Brewing; and Will Feel Honoured by Their Acceptence and Perusal."
1850

Note the cask sizes mentioned: 4.5, 9 (firkin), 18, and 36 gallons. Swan, of course, listed them in Imperial (U.K.) measure. Translating to U.S. volumes, they would be, respectively: 5.4, 10.8 (firkin), 36, and 72 gallons.

The short pamphlet also discussed the clarification of cask ale, i.e, the fining of casks.

The Fining of Cask Ale (in 1850)
Fining is performed sometimes by the brewers and sometimes by the Publican. When beer is brewed in the best manner, little fining is necessary. The proper, and it is perfectly unobjectionable material is Isinglass, which being dissolved in cold acid beer, and then added to the proper beer, separates itself from the liquids which held it in solution, spreads, in the shape of gelatine, through the whole body of liquor, collects all thick particles to itself, and when it has thoroughly done its work, very obligingly takes itself out of the way with the rubbish it has collected, up at the top of the vessel, leaving the beer below, beautifully clear and bright.


Ah, but what is the "perfectly unobjectionable material," isinglass? Here, from the The Oxford Companion to Beer (2012):
Isinglass is derived from the swim bladders of certain tropical and subtropical fish. [...] Traditionally, isinglass for brewing purposes was derived from sturgeon, although modern commercial isinglass is more typically derived from tropical estuarine dwellers. [...] When used as a fining agent, [isinglass] has the ability to settle yeast and beer proteins very quickly and can do so repeatedly. This latter property is essential for cask-conditioned ales, where the casks may be moved several times prior to serving.

Many cellarmen in 21st-century U.S. have switched from the use of isinglass to non-animal-derived agents for clarifying cask ales. Others rely on gravity and time and/or rapidly-settling yeast strains.

But many others, sad to say, when it comes to cask quality, isinglass or no isinglass, couldn't give a f care less.

Fobbing at the Tut

Fobbing at the Tut:
A series of occasional posts on good cask cellarmanship.


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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Small ceramic beer steins

Small ceramic beer steins

Two illustrated, aluminum-handled, ceramic German beer steins, circa 1960 *. On the left is a 200-milliliter stein (6.75 ounces); on the right, a 300-milliliter stein (10.14 ounces).

There's some German doggerel on the larger of the two:

Stich und Hieb, und ein Lieb,
muß ein Landsknecht haben.


—Two lines from a German folksong, loosely translated as:

Sword and uniform, and love,
That's what a Landsknecht has.



A Landsknecht was a mercenary, of the 15th and 16th centuries, from the 'lower' German lands of, what was then, the Holy Roman Empire (in, what is now, the Rhineland, Alsace, etc.).

Some believe that drinking steins were originally designed, hundreds of years ago, with hinged lids to keep flying insects out of the beer. If so, a worthy innovation. Danke und Prost!

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Craft Brewery Sustainability

Sustainability Benchmarking Update for Craft Breweries (Brewers Association, October 2017)

In 2015, the [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) published its first Sustainability Benchmarking Report. Based on data from 2014, the report highlighted best 'craft' brewery practices in utility usage and sustainability. Earlier this week, the BA released its newest Sustainability Benchmarking Update, based on data from 2016.
This document is an update to the inaugural report, and it highlights certain data from 2015. Electricity, natural gas, water, and purchased CO2 were evaluated based on a normalized scale per barrel (bbl) of beer packaged. [...] This update focuses on four environmental attributes as key performance indicators (KPIs): electricity, natural gas, water, and carbon dioxide. In some sections, wastewater costs and greenhouse gas emissions are also discussed. Although there are other KPIs highlighted in the 2015 Sustainability Benchmarking Report, and additional metrics can be entered on the dashboard, KPIs presented in this report capture the primary environmental and economic attributes of concern to the craft brewing industry. [...]

Best-in-class performance from the first two years of submitted data includes:
  • 6.7 kWh electricity/bbl (ranged from 6.7-709)
  • 0.84 therm natural gas/bbl (ranged from 0.84-37.6)
  • 3.31 bbl water/bbl (ranged from 3.31-81.7)
  • 0 lb CO2 purchased/bbl (ranged from 0-78)
    [Appears to mean that a brewery was able to capture and scrub from fermentation any CO2 it needed for other points of operation, an expensive proposition beyond the means of all but larger breweries.]
Sustainability benchmarking and sharing of best practices is not a one-time project. The online benchmarking tools are intended to provide an ongoing platform that constantly refreshes and identifies new best practices through tracking of sustainability-related key performance indicators (KPIs). As benchmarking participation grows, the data will become more robust, and drivers behind those best-in-class performers will be identified and shared.

It is encouraging to see the number of BA members that have recognized business value in continuing to input monthly data through 2016 and into 2017, setting and tracking progress against targets, and sharing best practices. The next benchmarking report will focus on trends and other insights from the analysis of data from 2014, 2015, and 2016. Data presented in this report supersedes [sic] previous studies and should be considered the most up-to-date.
—[U.S.] Brewers Association. 23 October 2017.

A winemaker once told me that he wasn't interested in having his winery certified organic, but in it being sustainable. With many organic practices —best practices for his farm and winery— in the mix for himself and his neighbors, he was woring toward ensuring that his business would be sustained, that is, survive, and maybe thrive, for another year(s). In other words, sustainability is not simply tree-hugging morality but profit-making, good business. I'm sure many brewers would agree.

To accompany its report, the BA provides an online suite of Sustainability Benchmarking Tools to assist breweries in tracking monthly utility bills, identifying opportunities to save energy and money, and benchmarking per-barrel performance.

This is just one example of the great work that the [U.S.] Brewers Association can do for its 'craft' brewery members as opposed to some of the silly stuff it does do.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Trumpeting, at Porchfest.

Trumpeting, at Porchfest

A trumpeter performs during Oakhurst Porchfest, in the Oakhurst neighborhood of Decatur, Georgia, on 14 October 2017. He played for tips.
Eleven years ago [2006] in Ithaca, New York, Lesley Greene and Gretchen Hildreth had an idea: What if we had an afternoon when porches all over the neighborhood became stages and everyone just meandered from yard to yard, listening, hanging out, and connecting/reconnecting with their neighbors?

Porchfest, the ultimate grassroots music festival, was born. 100% resident owned and operated, it’s been going and growing every year since. And in that time, other neighborhoods all around the country have taken the model and run with it. Including Oakhurst, which launched its own Porchfest in October 2015.

This year, over one hundred eighty homes opened their porches, driveways, and yards to musicians of every kind, making Porchfest the biggest and most diverse —free— music festival in Georgia.

I tipped him. (Should I toot my own horn?)

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

#VeggieDag Thursday: Beer! It's what's for vegan dinner!

Vegan Month of Food 2017

October 2017 is Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food. Throughout the month, bloggers, Tweeters, and Instagrammers write on vegan food and lifestyle.

On 17 October, the topic was:
Time to get boozy! What do you do with hooch? Beer batter? Red wine braise? Vodka sauce? Tell us about it!

To which, I answered:
Barley (grain) + hops (flowers of a plant) + yeast (fungus) + water. Together, it's beer! It's what's for vegan dinner!

P.S. Saying beer isn't vegan because some brewers (such as Guinness) have used animal products is like saying food isn't vegan because some people eat animal flesh.

#veganmofo17 #veganmofo #vgnmf17 #vegancommunity #veganchallenge #whatveganseat #vegetarian #veganfood #BeerIsVegan

"Opening Soon Bittersweet" IPA

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Take Craft Back ... Alive!

#TakeCraftBack
It only seems impossible if you really think about it.

The [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) —the not-for-profit organization that “represents America’s small and independent brewers”— proposed, yesterday, tongue-in-cheek, a crowd-sourced campaign to #TakeCraftBack from Anheuser-Busch InBev —the international beer behemoth that has been busy acquiring small breweries across the country and the world— by purchasing the conglomerate itself for a cool $213 billion.

It appears that this campaign is a followup to the Certified Independent Craft Beer Seal that the BA launched in June (2017). But it also raises an uncomfortable question: when was 'craft' beer lost? Take 'craft' back to where/when? Take 'craft' back to when it was 'craft'?

All fun and games aside, THAT's a can of bad beer that the [U.S.] Brewers Association might not want to pop open.

***************
In order for the BA to reach its 'goal' of $213,000,000,000, every American would have to contribute $655 dollars apiece. As of today, supporters have 'pledged' $1,591,390 (at takecraftback.com). Although the BA says it doesn’t intend to collect from donors, it does promise swag for each.
We have no doubt that your pledge, and all the others like it, has Big Beer quaking in their [sic] custom-made Italian loafers.


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Monday, October 16, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 39/40, 2017.

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

Weeks 39/40
24 September - 7 October 2017


  • 7 October 2017
    The 2017 Great American Beer Festival was held 5-7 October 2017, in Denver Colorado, organized by the [U.S.] Brewers Association. There were 800 breweries represented on the exhibition floor, pouring over 3,000 different beers from 7,100 kegs. In the competition, 7,923 beers (from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C.) were judged in 98 categories with gold, silver, and bronze awarded in each (except for the Fruited American-Style Sour Ale category, for which no gold was given). As a comparison, in 2016, there were 7,301 entries from 1,783 breweries, itself, record participation at the time. IPA had 498 entries, making it the GABF's most subscribed category ever. (Hailstorm Brewing, of Chicago, Illinois, won the gold.)
    —Via YFGF (Facebook).

  • 6 October 2017
    Tthe North American Guild of Beer Writers has announced the best beer writers, bloggers, and podcasters of the year. Winning for best beer book was Jeff Alworth for his "Secrets of Master Brewers: Techniques, Traditions, and Homebrew Recipes for 26 of the World’s Classic Beer Styles, from Czech Pilsner to English Old Ale." The Guild awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in eleven categories.
    —Via YFGF (Facebook).

  • 6 October 2017
    The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to advance the negotiations that led to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was preliminarily signed by 128 nations in July at the United Nations, not including the United States.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 5 October 2017
    As of 1 September 2017, there were 1,467 new breweries in the U.S. (per U.S. government TTB permits).
    —Via Lester Jones, chief economist for National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA).

  • 4 October 2017
    "Rå øl" (raw ale) and "gårdsøl" (farm ale): the second year of the Norsk Kornøl Festival (Norwegian Farmhouse Ales Festival) "in Hornindal, in beautiful remotest Western Norway."
    The Lithuanians brought their own brewery with them, in the back of a van, and put on a demonstration in the hall of Lithuanian-style farm brewing, including mashing with hot rocks (filling the air with steam and gorgeous smells), and brewing with a super-fast yeast that produced a drinkable 5.2 per cent abv beer in 15 hours. Go back and read that again: 15 hours from raw wort to drinkable beer. It was still warm as cow’s milk when we tried it the next day, orange and cloudy, slightly tart, but delicious. The Norwegians boggled. The Poles boggled. I boggled.
    —Via Martyn Cornell, at Zythophile.

  • 4 October 2017
    IPAs are what people want from me, you kind of have to give them what they want.
    —Via Bryan D. Roth, at Good Beer Hunting.

  • 4 October 2017
    Judge upholds $2.6 million fine against Massachusetts 'craft' beer distributor, Craft Beer Guild, for 'pay-to-play' violations.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 3 October 2017
    The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Rainer Weiss, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both of the California Institute of Technology —"architects and leaders of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory"— for their discovery of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago but never before directly seen. In 2016, the scientists were able to 'hear' the chirp of the collision of a pair of massive black holes which had occurred 1.3 billion years ago.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 3 October 2017
    Isabella L. Karle, chemist who was once told that chemistry was not a “proper field for girls” but went on devise a pathbreaking method for determining molecular structure, with her husband, Nobel laureate Jerome Karle, has died at 95. In 1995, Ms. Karle received the National Medal of Science.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2 October 2017
    General Motors has announced its plans for an "all-electric future" for its car and truck fleet; to introduce 20 new all-electric models between now and 2023.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2 October 2017
    Hugh Hefner, who created Playboy magazine and spun it into a media and entertainment-industry giant —derided over the years as vulgar, adolescent, exploitative, and, finally, as anachronistic— died at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles. He was 91.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 1 October 2017
    A gunman in a high-rise hotel opened fire on concertgoers at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people (and himself) and injuring more than 500, in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • 30 September 2017
    An interactive timeline of the acquisitions of craft and independent breweries —by large brewing corporations, venture funds and fellow 'craft' breweries— from 1988 to 2017.
    —Via VinePair.

  • 30 September 2017
    Colorado-headquartered craft brewery, Oskar Blues, is sending 91,200 cans of drinking water (8,550 gallons) to Puerto Rico, which is suffering from a severe lack of potable water following Hurricane Maria.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • The Cask Report 2017/2018
  • 27 September 2017
    For some cask is pinnacle of brewing. For others, an unwelcome distraction.
    In conjunction with Cask Ale Week in Britain, Cask Marque —a cask ale accreditation organization— has released The Cask Report 2017/2018, its annual report on the role and state of cask-conditioned 'real ale' in the U.K., in pubs. Summary:

  • 30 September 2017
    Twenty-nine of America’s favorite "cheap" wines, ranked, red and white.
    Best:
    • Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maule Valley, Chile
    • Woodbridge, by Robert Mondavi 2016, California.
    Worst:
    • Tire rubber. Aged in inner tubes. Like a gym accident when you get strangled by a resistance cord.
    • Smells of sewer gas and is simply unpleasant... “poopy.”
    —Via Dave McIntyre, at Washington Post.

  • 30 September 2017
    The [U.S.] Brewers Association has released the 2016 edition of its Economic Impact Report, a biennial analysis featuring the economic contribution of 'craft' brewing for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    Small and independent American craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. The figure is derived from the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through the three-tier system (breweries, wholesalers, and retailers), as well as all non-beer products like food and merchandise that brewpub restaurants and brewery taprooms sell. The industry also provided more than 456,000 full-time equivalent jobs, with more than 128,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs.

  • 27 September 2017
    Don't scorn the corn. Praise the maize. The brewmaster at August Schell Brewing —family-owned brewery founded in 1840 in New Ulm, Minnesota— argues that brewing with adjuncts, such as corn, is traditional to U.S. brewing and was/is done so for valid agronomic and organoleptic reasons, contrary to 'craft' definitions.
    The debate about craft and independence will rage on. But it’s time we put the myths about adjunct brewing to bed. Our focus as brewers and beer lovers should be on the end result, not on the types of ingredients or traditions. Is the beer good? Can it be better? Those are the most important questions moving forward. They were also the most important questions in the past. It’s unfortunate we’ve taken a detour to argue about things that don’t answer either of them.
    —Via David Berg, at Good Beer Hunting.

  • 24 September 2017
    Craft Beer Business is reporting good year-to-date results for the 'craft' beer industry, based on data from IRI, which tracks beer sales at supermarkets, chain stores, and convenience-store chains. (Craft Beer Business publishes behind a paywall, but the web-reader service Feedly provided this short summary.)
    Craft has come on strong lately. In the latest IRI, to September 10, the segment's dollars are up 5.9% and volume up 4% YTD in the multi-outlet and convenience channel. Those trends improved in the latest 12-week period with dollars up 6.9% and volume up 5.1%. And things got even better in the latest four weeks, with dollars up 8.3% and volume up 6.2%. That's among its best showing of the year.
    —Via YFGF (Facebook).

  • 6 October 2017
    "Best quote of the week from @SamuelAdamsBeer's Jim Koch on Big Beer's acquisition of craft brands and calling them partnerships..."
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Brewster Fashion

Brewster fashion

Brewery still life.

Boots and shoes of a brewster, as seen at Heavy Seas Brewing, in Halethorpe, Maryland, on 30 July 2013.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Half Street Blues

Half Street Blues

Beer, after all...

In the wee morning hours of Friday the 13th, when asked what he planned to do now that he and his team, the Washington Nationals —Major League Baseball's National League East Division champions— had lost an ugly, heartbreaking, wacky 9-8 game to the Chicago Cubs —the National League Central champions— in Game 5 of the National League Division Series and, thus, were eliminated from the post-season, Jayson Werth —after what may have been the final game of his ten-year career with the team, never having advanced in the playoffs, after four attempts (in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017)— said ...

... he would have a couple of beers.

A couple of Bard’s Tale Beer Company beers. A couple of sorghum —non-barley-malt— beers.

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Priming casks (cellarman couture)

Priming casks

In February 2004, YFGF's Thomas Cizauskas was invited to add priming gyle* to freshly-racked firkins at Brewer's Alley, a brewpub in Frederick, Maryland.

Four observations:
  • Now, that's a blast from the past.
  • Now, that's some high hair.
  • Now, that's some cellarman couture.
  • I'm Thomas Cizauskas.
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Monday, October 02, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 37/38, 2017.

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

Weeks 37/38
10 - 23 September 2017


  • 23 September 2017
    There's good off-the-premises sales news for 'craft' beer, as compiled by IRI (which tracks beer sales at supermarkets, chain stores, and convenience-store chains):
    Craft has come on strong lately. In the latest IRI, to September 10, the segment's dollars are up 5.9% and volume up 4% YTD in the multi-outlet and convenience channel. Those trends improved in the latest 12-week period with dollars up 6.9% and volume up 5.1%. And things got even better in the latest four weeks, with dollars up 8.3% and volume up 6.2%. That's among its best showing of the year.
    —Via Craft Business Daily, at YFGF (at Facebook).

  • 23 September 2017
    Anheuser-Busch InBev goes down under to expand its hegemony, buys 4 Pines Brewery, a 'craft' brewery in New South Wales, Australia.
    —Via MillerCoors Behind the Beer.

  • 22 September 2017
    We’re going to get into this category and we’re going to kill it.
    Two past employees of Anheuser-Busch reveal how the company regarded 'craft' beer in the mid-1990s (when A-B was still American-owned) and how it reacted toward it. The murderous comment above was one reaction of several.
    —Via Jeff Alworth at Beervana.

  • 21 September 2017
    National Cask Ale Week is an eleven-day week "only in Britain, only in pubs. Celebrating Britain's national drink." Organized by Cask Marque (a real ale pub accreditation service), the celebration runs 21 September through 1 October in the U.K.
    Cask Ale Week's main objective is to get more people trying real ale and encourage more pubs to organise real ale events throughout the week.
    • Encourage non-real ale drinkers to try real ale for the first time.
    • Encourage experienced real ale drinkers to visit real ale pubs throughout the week.
    • Encourage non-real ale pubs to stock real ale for the first time.
    • Encourage pubs to organise a number of real ale events to increase trial and improve their trade.
    —Via Cask Marque.

  • 20 September 2017
    A direct hit by Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico an "island destroyed." It was the first Category 4 storm to strike the island directly since 1932.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 19 September 2017
    An archaeological team from the Universidad Catolica de Temuco in Chile has found traces of S. eubayanus —the cold-resistant parent of lager yeast parents (the other being Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ale yeast)— in 1,000-year-old ceramic pottery at Lake Melinquina in Argentina (near the Chilean border).
    Perez’s find suggests that the group who made the ceramic vessels were probably using them to make a fermented drink from plant products, similar to the 'chicha' or 'mudai' beverage drunk in the region today. That might mean they were doing so using the yeast S. eubayanus to make alcohol more than 200 years before lager production began in Bavaria in the 1400s.
    —Via NBC News.

  • 18 September 2017
    Roy ‘Speedy’ Tolliver, an Arlington, Virginia-based bluegrass fiddler and ‘professional hillbilly,’ who performed at local folk festivals for 65 years and was an inaugural recipient of the Virginia Heritage Award in 2009, has died at 99.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 17 September 2017
    Bourbon, rye, and gin: different daughters of the same mother? The lineage tree of genever, gin, bourbon, and rye in America.
    —Via Gary Gillman, at Beer et seq..

  • 16 September 2017
    What's new is old. In 1679, English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke was categorizing English beer (what we now would beer styles): home-made, for sale, and compound.
    —Via Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog.

  • 15 September 2017
    After five years of consistent growth (driven primarily by 'craft' beer), the active number of individual beer items sold at U.S. retailers is in decline. The number of SKUs — an acronym for stock-keeping unit, a measure used to track unique items available for sale — available on retailers’ shelves stood at 12,786 on the end of August 2017, down 3.4 percent at the end of 2016, according to a report from Brett Cooper at Consumer Edge Research. While that is nearly double the 6,388 active SKUs at the beginning of 2011, the retreat this year shows the craft segment may be in a period of "rationalization." 'Craft' beer SKUs dropped to 9,021, down 5.7 percent.
    —Via The Guardian.
    [Compare with data showing craft beer faring much better, at top of page.]

  • 15 September 2017
    Harry Dean Stanton, the veteran American actor who "ballasted generations of independent and cult films," such as Paris, Texas, Alien, Repo Man and The Straight Story, has died aged 91.
    —Via The Guardian.

  • 15 September 2017
    Launched in 1997, Cassini was the first probe to orbit Saturn, beginning. in 2004. The spacecraft revealed the structure of Saturn's rings and, by delivering the Huygens probe to the moon Titan, executed the first landing of a spacecraft in the outer solar system. It also exposed two moons — Titan, a land of methane lakes, and Enceladus, which has jets of water streaming from its southern pole — as prime targets in the search for life beyond Earth. Once the spacecraft ran out of fuel, NASA would not risk letting it remain aloft, where it might be knocked into Titan or Enceladus. In April, Cassini began 22 close-in orbits that took it between and behind Saturn's rings. NASA flew Cassini past Titan one last time, taking advantage of the moon's gravitational pull to slingshot the spacecraft toward Saturn, before it plunged into the planet's surface early Friday morning, 15 September. —Via Washington Post.

  • 14 September 2017
    A New Jersey man was severely gastrointestinally burned when a bar in Atlantic City served him a draft beer tainted with caustic that had been used to clean the beer lines, but not rinsed.
    —Via WPIX-TV (New York).

  • 14 September 2017
    Craft brewery pioneer Widmer Brothers now generates 100% of the carbon dioxide it needs to carbonte its beer by capturing it during fermentation, cleaning it, and re-using it. (As of a decade ago, the [U.S.] Brewers Association no longer considers Widmer to be a craft brewery.)
    —Via Craft Brweing Business.

  • 12 September 2017
    The seven essential cocktails every drinker should know how to make: Daiquiri, Gin and Tonic, Manhattan, Margarita, Martini, Negroni, and Old-Fashioned.
    —Via M. Carrie Allan, at The Washington Post.

  • 10 September 2017
    Hurricane Irma was the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005, and the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005. Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage, particularly in parts of the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.
    —Via Wikipedia.

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