Saturday, January 31, 2009

Moderation, not Deprivation: book review

Pick up a candy bar, a bag of potato chips, or even your kid’s favorite sugar-coated breakfast cereals and you can refer to a Nutrition Facts label.

But pick up a bottle of your favorite beer, and unless it’s a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate brew with a federally-required Nutrition Facts label emblazoned on it, you have no idea what, if any, nutritional components are in a regular-brewed stout, porter, bock, wheat beer or even a simple American-style pilsner beer.

I couldn't have said it better, and in fact, I didn't.

Bob Skilnik did.

The author of Beer and Food: An American History, Bob has a new book — Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer?

Does My Butt Look Big in this Beer?
For each of over 2,000 beers, Does My Butt Look Big lists calories, carbohydrates, alcohol by volume, and Weight Watchers points.  Skilnik collected public information and contacted breweries directly.

The US Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has proposed requirements for listing various nutritional measurements. Skilnik has some interesting things to say about that in the preface to the book: it's a reason in itself for reading the book.

Another beer writer —Lew Bryson— has chronicled how he, while continuing to enjoy good food and good beer, lost weight. Moderation and using Weight Watcher's point system were the keys. Read his account here.

The publication of Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer? could be considered timely. Sunday is the Super Bowl. That event, last year, was the 8th biggest of beer sales in the US. Beer drinkers perusing this book beforehand would be able to forecast —or regret— the amount of calories and carbohydrates they might consume watching the game.

For instance, Victory Brewing's Storm King Stout contains 286 calories, whereas Turbo Dog, a brown ale from Abita Brewing, is measured at 168. For comparison purposes only —and not as an endorsement to drink it— Coors Light contains 104, shall I say, empty, calories. Keep in mind that the nutritional analyses are based on 12 ounces, the size of a standard US beer bottle. Most US pubs serve pints, which should be [read below]16 US fluid ounces. That's 1/3 more. Thus a pint of Storm King would be 381 calories (not 286).

If, even after all this, you're still worried about beer calories and carbs, but don't want to skimp on flavor, then try this: Place two beer glasses in front of you. Fill only one. That's 100% of the flavor, but 50% of the calories and carbs.

  • There is a companion blog at Drink Healthy, Drink Smart.
  • Caveat: My mention of Victory, a PENNSYLVANIA brewery, does not imply a Super bowl pick.
  • Caveat: I did receive a complimentary review e-copy of Does My Butt Look Big in This Beer? That being said, I purchased my copy of Beer & Food: An American History.
  • Caveat: I work for a northern Virginia wholesaler which distributes Abita beers.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pratt Street Ale House

UPDATED: read below.

Maryland's original post-Prohibition brewpub was Sisson's of Baltimore, Maryland. It ceased operations a few years ago.

Maryland's second brewpub is still alive and thriving: The Wharf Rat in downtown Baltimore, Md.

Wharf Rat Brewpub in Baltimore, Md.

Beer Advocate, a website of consumer beer reviews, had recently been erroneously listing the Wharf Rat Brewpub as closed. The confusion may have arisen because founder Bill Oliver had sold the brewpub to new owners on 21 October 2008.

But things went on uninterrupted. The brewing and the restaurant operations did not cease. (The Beer Advocate page has been corrected.)

However ...

Alexander D. Mitchell IV of Beer in Baltimore reports that the brewpub will be closed temporarily for renovations beginning the week of 25 January 2009 and continuing possibly the length of February. The original non-brewing Wharf Rat pub (still owned by Bill Oliver) in the Fells Point area of Baltimore will remain open, says Mitchell.

UPDATE 2009.01.26 from the The Baltimore Sun:
The Wharf Rat (206 W. Pratt St.) will close this Thursday for renovations, according to new owner Justin Dvorkin.

Dvorkin and general manager Justin Damadio took over the downtown brewpub last fall. They plan to reopen the place with a new name and slightly different look March 10.

UPDATE 2009.01.30:
A flyer posted last night at the brewpub stated the following:
Tonight is out last night until we reopen as the Pratt Street Ale House. Same great beers, same pub feel, same awesome food, but a much better look featuring: a bar on the second floor, a whole new draft system, many more high-def televisions, and parking arrangements.Look for our Grand Opening the second week of March. Come back and get housed at the Pratt Street Ale House!!
  • Thanks to Joe Gold of the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW) for this tip.
  • Updated and reposted.

Virginia Beer Trail: a work in progress

The Washington Post recently ran a travelogue piece about four breweries in central Virginia: Virginia Is Also for Beer Lovers (with a feature role for fellow Chesapeake Region Beer Blogger Mike Dolan).

The name of the piece is a riff on the long-time slogan for tourism in Virginia, silly but effective. The article mentions the Charlottesville Beer Trail, a nascent project for beer, similar to Virginia's wine trail. Virginia beer blogger David Turley first reported on this in August 2008, at his blog, Musings over a Pint.

The Virginia Tourism Commission runs a website that lists wineries and breweries.

Virginia’s Wine Country features tours, tastings and special holiday open houses. Now more than ever it’s easier to “Make mine Virginia wine!” If you prefer lagers and ales, you can raise your mug in Virginia’s many microbreweries and enjoy great food and interesting people in true, brew pub tradition.

A good effort, the site remains a work in progress: it omits many worthy brewpubs. For example, the link for Leesburg, home to several wineries, fails to mention Vintage 50, a wine-friendly brewpub and restaurant.

A complete listing (as of January 2009) of Virginia breweries and brewpubs can be found at Relentless Thirst.

Updated and reposted.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Final Draft List: Max's Belgian Fest

Feb 13-15, 2009
11AM -2AM each day

737 S. Broadway
Baltimore, Maryland 21231

No entrance fee
Pay for the beer you drink. Both sample-sized and larger pours will be offered.

Over 120 Belgian beers on draft and over 175 Belgian beers in bottles.
A Belgian-inspired food menu offered all three days.
Friday morning at 11: a free Belgian breakfast buffet.

Max's Bartender Jamie
Longtime bartender Jamie, at Max's German Fest in September 2008.

The Final Draft List
(There may be a few surprises, and some drafts may not be delivered in time.)
Abbaye Des Rocs Blonde
Allagash Fedelte
Alvinne Bathazaar
Alvinne Extra
Alvinne Gaspar
Alvinne Kerasus
Alvinne Melchior
Alvinne Podge
Max's TapHouse
Bavik Petrus Winter
Bel Pils

Benelux Archangel Ale
Cantillon Fou Foune
Cantillon Iris
Chimay Cinq Cents
Chouffe N' Ice 2007
De Dolle Dulle Teve
De Dolle Stille Nacht 2007
De Dolle Stille Nacht 2008
De Glazen Toren Canaster
De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte
De Glazen Toren Ondineke
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre Mere
De Glazen Toren Special Eindejaar
De Koninck 175th Anniversary Ale
Fantome De Noel
De Proef La Grande Blanche
De Proef Les Deux Brasseurs
De Ranke Guldenberg
Mardesous 6
De Regenboog Catherine The Great
De Regenboog Guido
De Regenboog T' Smisje Calva Reserve
De Regenboog T' Smisje Grand Reserve
De Regenboog BBBourgondier
De Regenboog T' Smisje Kerst
De Regenboog T ' Smisje Dubbel
De Regenboog Vuuve
De Regenboog Wostijnte
De Regenboog Plus
Dupont Avril
Duvel Draft(Green)
Ellezolloise Quintine Blonde
Geants Goliath
Geants Saison Vosin
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Cuvee De Keizer Blauw
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Cuvee De Keizer Rood
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum
Huyghe Delirium Noel
Huyghe Delirium Tremens
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux
La Rulles Triple
Lefebvre Barbar
Lefebvre Barbar Winterbok
Lefebvre Floreffe Triple
Leifmans Kriek
Leifmans Oud Bruin
Ommegang Special
Ommegang Wes' Triple
Point Bruges
Silly Pink Killer
Slaapmutske Triple Night Cap
Witkap Pater Dubbel
St Bernardus Christmas
St Feuillien Cuvee De Noel
St Feuillien Brune
St Feuillien Printemps
Strubbe Itchgems Grand Cru
Strubbe Itchgems Pils
Strubbe Keyte Double Triple
Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Rouge
Van Steenberge Kloekke Roeland
Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Noel
La Rulles Estivale
Lindemans Framboise

Additional drafts
As some of the above drafts run out, they will be replaced with:
Ommegang Obamagang
Ommegang Rouge
Ommegang Witte
Ommegang Rare Vos
Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence
Ommegang Abbey
Ommegang Three Philosophers
Silly Abbaye De Forest
Bavik Pilaarbijter Ale
De Koninck Ale
De Koninck Winter Koninck
Fruli Strawberry
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Ambrio
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Triple
Huyghe Floris Apple
Lefebvre Blanche De Bruxelles
Scaldis Noel
Van Honsebrouck Brigand
Van Honebrouck Kasteel Donker
Van Honebrouck Kasteel Triple
Van Steenberge Ertvelds Wit
Van Steenberge Keizerberg Abbaey Ale
Gulden Draak
Poperings Hommel
Chouffe Houblon
Mc Chouffe
La Chouffe
Oud Beersel Framboise
Val Dieu Grand Cru
St Bernardus Pater 6
St Bernardus Prior 8
St Bernardus Abt 12
Corsendonk Apple White
Stone Vertical Epic

Hanssens Young Lambic
Hanssens Old Kriek
Clipper City's Heavy Seas Holy Sheet
2 Brewers Art casks (tba)

For more information:
contact Casey Hard
web: Max's Taphouse
phone: 410-675-6297

Hotel Information:
Courtyard Marriott Inner Harbor East
Baltimore, Md.
$129.00 per night plus tax.
(ask for the rate offered for Max's Taphouse Belgian Fest)

Blogging at prior fests.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Super Sessions and Snacks

There have been only a few Super Bowls that have lived up to their eponymous adjective.

And for this year's game, I don't have a favorite, but ... if the Cardinals' offensive line can stand up to the Steelers' defensive rush, allowing Kurt Warner to pass to Larry Fitzgerald, the game might be competitive. That's a big 'if'.

Either way, 'super' snacks will be required. Here are a few.

Veggie Beer Chili

Since I'm hoping for a close-scoring game through the 4th quarter, I'll be sticking to lower alcohol yet fuller-flavored beers with the snacks. Let's say 'Super Session' beers.

Those will be brown ales, such as Brooklyn Brown, or Abita Turbo Dog, or Smuttynose, or Hook and Ladder Brown, or Legend Brown ... or from the UK, Black Cat Mild Ale.

And if Ose's Outlaw Ale were still on tap at Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, Va., I'd get a growler of that.

Caveat: I am employed by a wholesaler that distributes Abita and Brooklyn beers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pike Brewing and the quest for the gentle pint

Pike BrewingI last visited Seattle, Washington in 1996, attending the Craft Brewers Conference.

One of the highlights was going to the Pike Place Brewery next to the famous Pike Place Market. I was surprised that such good beers and renown had come from such a small brewery, a four-barrel brewhouse. And impressed.

Now known as Pike Brewing Company, the brewery will celebrate its 20th birthday in October. RealBeer has the story.

In the early 1990s, Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell were brewers for Pike. For Brewing Techniques Magazine, they and fellow brewer Kevin Forhan wrote a brief but seminal treatise on producing cask ale in the US. Some of the information might be a bit dated, but the opening paragraph could well have been written today.

Producing authentic versions of traditional beer styles poses a complex challenge to small American brewers. Equipment limitations, availability of appropriate raw materials, and lack of awareness on the parts of both publican and consumer present distinct challenges. After learning to deal realistically with the boundaries drawn by these three and spending time experimenting, we feel that we have achieved a successful balance.

Beer from Stainless: Producing Traditional British Cask Beers in America
Pike Place brewers tell the story of their quest for the gentle pint.
Dick Cantwell, Fal Allen, and Kevin Forhan

There's an especially informative section on priming and conditioning. For a brewery interested in learning about brewing cask ale, this article could be an introductory primer.
  • Dick Cantwell is now owner of Elysian Brewing. Andy Crouch recently interviewed him.
  • Fal Allen moved on to Anderson Valley Brewing, and now is the brewmaster for Archipelago Brewing in Singapore.
  • Brewing Techniques is a marvelous resource for brewers. It is no longer published, but has an on-line presence maintained by

Fresh Baltimore news: Brewers Art bottles, Abbey Burger

From Volker Stewart of The Brewer's Art Brewery and Restaurant (Baltimore, Md.) comes this fresh news:

The latest batch of Brewer's Art bottled product is out. 240 cases of Green Peppercorn Tripel are hitting the shelves in greater Baltimore. More Resurrection bottles are due in March ... brewed Wednesday through Friday of this week.
Green Peppercorn Tripel

Posted at Flickr: a photo review of Abbey Burger, a freshly opened good-beer-friendly burger establishment in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Md.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can it: since 1959, a marriage for beer and aluminum

On 22 January 1959, Coors Brewing introduced the first-ever twelve-ounce aluminum beer can.

[The aluminum] can ultimately spelled the demise of the tin beverage can developed in the mid-1800s. Industry officials say the development of the Coors aluminum can forever changed the way people drink beer and other beverages.

Hawaii Brewing actually beat Coors to the aluminum can, releasing its Primo in an eleven-ounce can in 1958. From
Unfortunately for Hawaii Brewing, the can was poorly designed and it proved to be a disaster for the brewer. It's one of the first all aluminum beer cans, has a foil label and a soft concave aluminum top. It is also an 11 ounce can, as opposed to the normal 12 ounces most brewers made.

The Hawaii Brewing Company packaged beer in the first all-aluminum can in 1958. <...> with a paper label.

According to American Breweries II (Dale Van Wieren, 1995), the Hawaii Brewing Company was in operation from 1934 until 1964.


The first ever beer in cans —tin steel— were released for sale in Richmond, Virginia, by the Gottfried Krueger Brewery of Newark, New Jersey, on 24 January 1935.
The tin can —in part because of its cheap cost— was never much of a candidate for recycling, whereas the aluminum can was.
"The tin-plated can was probably the worst container that anybody ever developed for beer," Bill Coors told the Rocky [Mountain News] last year. "You had lead solder on the seams. You had the tin plate. Steel base. Steel body of the can."

The Coors family argued that the metal can was bad for beer: It produced a lousy aftertaste. What's more, Bill Coors reasoned, the metal cans were littering America's landscape. They weren't easily recycled. <...>

[The aluminum can] also opened a new market for sheet aluminum and, eventually, for aluminum recycling.

The United States Brewers Association opposed the switch to aluminum, specifically because of the recycling issue.
the brewers association "was adamantly opposed to any of the brewers - and this included the soft-drink people - taking any responsibility for their empty containers. It wasn't our fault that they were spread all over the ground."

There was also the issue of formaldehyde used in the process of steel-can making, an additive no longer an issue with today's aluminum cans.

A plastic lining in aluminum cans forestalls any metallic flavor, a flaw which apparently had been evident in those earlier tin cans. But there remain other health concerns, if lesser, as a by-product of the manufacturing process.

The introduction of aluminum cans apparently was also a spur to the mystique of 'fresh' Coors. To kill beer-spoiling bacteria and to stabilize their beers for long-distance shipping, breweries would (and still do) pasteurize their beers —that is, heat to about 165 °F. But with the introduction of aluminum, Coors felt confident to switch to "cold filtering".
At the time, Bill Coors also was keen to do away with pasteurization - a process he believed affected beer's taste.

"You needed a container that was clean on the inside that could be easily rinsed out and sterilized," Coors told the Rocky Mountain News. "It was impossible with the old can."

Coors celebrates aluminum can's golden milestone
By Roger Fillion
Rocky Mountain News
22 January 2009

The term might be brilliant marketing, but it is a misnomer. All beer filtration occurs at 'cold' temperatures of about 28 - 34°F. The phrase, as used by Coors, actually refers to sterile filtration, which is filtering beer at microscopic levels to remove bacteria. Such precise filtering also removes flavor, aroma, and color compounds, all of which are larger than bacteria.

So it became a Hobson's choice for mega-breweries: pasteurize —and create stale flavors— or sterile filter out actual flavor compounds.

Many craft breweries are adopting a different route, adding small amounts of live yeast into the bottle. Yeast consumes oxygen (the major agent of staling) and helps deter bacterial growth. Sierra Nevada Brewing was one of the craft beer pioneers of this process —called bottle-conditioning— here in the US. An ages old technique, it has again become new.

The adoption of canning by craft breweries was an uphill battle. Brooklyn Brewing was an early practitioner, but only in limited amounts and limited brand choices.

The impression was that cans were appropriate only for mainstream, low-flavored beers. "Cans are for baked beans, not fine beverages," a craft beer mover and shaker huffed in 1997. But cans, large and small, have several advantages versus glass bottles.

Sunlight —and the fluorescent lights found in most store's beer cases— rapidly reacts with hops in beer to create the flavor for which a certain imported beer in a green bottle is famous: skunkiness, literally the chemical created by a skunk when threatened. Even brown bottles can only protect beer for a few minutes.

Cans, being opaque, never suffer from this odoriferous defect. Cans are less bulky than bottles. They stack easier, and they weigh less. Cans chill faster than bottles. Cans can 'go' where bottles cannot (such as public places, etc.).

The issue should not be the packaging, but the manner in which the beer is drunk. Drinking a beer out of the bottle is as inelegant and injurious to true flavor and aroma as drinking out of a can. Once beer is poured into a glass, the original container becomes superfluous.

To date, Oskar Blues of Colorado has been one of the most successful craft breweries to can its beers. Its flagship beer, Dales Pale Ale, named for the brewery's owner and released in cans in 2002, has become almost a totem of the craft canned beer industry. Other craft breweries have followed, although, as of 2009, the percentage remains small. [UPDATE 2013. Since I first posted this story, many 'craft' breweries have embraced cans as their package of choice. I don't have actual numbers, however.]

Still having a problem swallowing the idea of 'good' beer in a can? Keep in mind that a keg is indeed a large stainless steel can!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Does the President drink beer?

It's been reported by NBC that Mr. Obama does not drink coffee. Here's a silly exchange on MSNBC's Hardball about that. (Some might say many of the exchanges on Hardball are silly. But that's for another day, another discussion.)

Sen. Barack Obama "campaigned today [10 April 2008] in northern Indiana, shaking hands and chatting with people at a diner near South Bend," MSNBC correspondent David Shuster stated to host Chris Matthews: "Well, here's the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, 'I'll have orange juice.' "

I've also seen reported, contrary to visual evidence, that President Obama does not like beer. But here's this, from Draft Magazine:

Back in September [2008], in the heat of the campaign, “60 Minutes” reporter Steve Croft said that Obama had been trying hard to reach blue-collar voters, noting that the presidential candidate had even “sipped beer with them, which I know you don’t particularly like.”

Obama, who had surely endured more significant campaign trail slights, seemed genuinely peeved by the suggestion.

“Steve, I had a beer last night. Where does the story come from that… I don’t like beer? ” he asked. “C’mon, man.”

Out With the Buckler, In With the Brew: Real Beer Returns to the White House
By Noah Davis
Jan 22nd, 2009

So there you have it. The President may like a beer now and again. And now, we return you to more substantive matters.

UPDATE: 2009.02.10: "I’m always good for a beer" .

Beer prostate health

Beer Examiner has a nice summary of recent studies on the health benefits of moderate beer consumption and of alcohol in general. The blog is written by Charlie Papazian, the founder of the American Homebrew Association, who celebrates his birthday on Friday.

Men ages 40 to 64 who drank four or more glasses of red wine a week halved their risk for prostate cancer, say scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beer and Obama-politics

When even the US Constitution explicitly addresses alcoholic beverages, governmental actions become intrinsically interlaced with the the business of alcoholic beverages.

But it's a tricky thing to determine where to draw the line concerning partisan politics.

Since beer, craft beer, is my issue, I am indeed a partisan for that. And that may mean I will lobby for that cause, and for or against legislation and regulations which affect alcoholic beverages.

(Lobbyists, per se, are not the nefarious villains they are often made out to be. They are partisans, paid partisans, for a cause, whether it be beer or other things. What should be required of all lobbyists is transparency of purpose, source of remuneration, and actions.)

That being said, Yours for Good is a blog concerned with beer and other good fermentables. So, even though I don't hide my politics, I've split most of my political comments into a separate blog.

Several breweries and brewpubs have produced beers to celebrate Obama, or at least to mark the occasion of his nomination, election, or Inauguration.

Obamanator from Wynkoop Brewpub in Denver, the on-line presence of Washingtonian Magazine, has published a short piece about DC-area restaurants that wrestled (or not) with balancing their Obama patisanship and their businesses. One of those restaurants is a brewpub: Franklins, just northwest of Washington, in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Mike Franklin can attest that restaurateurs’ concerns about customers’ perceptions are not idle worry. Part of the enormous appeal of Franklin’s popular Hyattsville restaurant and brewery is their general store. The store’s selection of pro-Obama t-shirts, when jumbled together with the pro-Obama magnets, paper-dolls, and bumper stickers, didn’t get much reaction from McCain supporters. When those shirts were moved to the cash register, however, where shoppers and diners alike must check out, some customers went “ballistic,” says Franklin, and declared, “We’re never going to come in here again! How can you be political?’” When a second group had the same reaction, Franklin relented and returned the t-shirts to a spot deeper in the store. “We kind of have to be Switzerland,” he says.

Which Restaurateurs Are in the Tank For Obama?
January 19, 2009

Why "Yours for Good Fermentables"?

When I was recently asked this question...

I'm sure it's explained somewhere already, but can you tell me the origins of your blog name? Is it supposed to be saying, "I'm yours for 'good fermentables'" or "Yours for good, Fermentables" - neither make a whole lot of sense to me

...I responded:
With the advent of cell phones, email, social e-networking, texting, [and now tweeting], and their ilk, the common (not fancy) practice of letter writing has become a lost art and practice.

But there was a time that written letters would begin with a valediction, a greeting such as "Dear so and so," and conclude with a valediction, a farewell acknowledgment such as "Sincerely yours".

I began using the phrase "Yours for good fermentables" as a closing in my letters —a riff, but with beery poetic license. As my beer career blossomed, the boozy valediction remained, but now moved front and center.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Cask for Obama

If you're in Arlington, Virginia, Tuesday evening, and you've misplaced your invitation to the Inaugural Ball, join Yours For Good for an Inaugural Firkin tapping.

Tap & Vine Restaurant will be hosting a very informal event: Barack-wursts and pints from a fresh cask of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, the hoppy IPA from Clipper City Brewing of Baltimore, Md.

Flag, cask, & bottle

I tap the firkin at 6pm. It contains 86 pints. Come early.

Loose Cannon ... That's not, necessarily, an editorial comment.

No tuxedo required.

[Update: photos.]

Now playing: Aaron Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man
via FoxyTunes

Wine, not beer, bloggers to receive awards

For a third successive year, the US wine world is honoring its better bloggers:

The American Wine Blog Awards seek to honor the very best in English-language wine blogging and to promote wine blogging in general. ... Once finalists are determined, the winners will be chosen based on a vote of the public carrying and judges, with the public given 70% of the weight toward determining the winner.

In 2008, the award categories included:
Best Overall Wine Blog, Best Wine Blog Writing, Best Wine Reviewing Blog, Best Single-Subject Wine Blog, Best Graphics on a Wine Blog, Best Winery Blog, Best Wine Business Blog, and Best Wine Podcast or VideoBlog.

So, why not US beer bloggers? And while I'm at it, why not beer book authors? As it stands now, the only US award in beer journalism goes to non-blogger short-form articles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twitter-ers taste Trappists

Twitter Tasting LiveThis past Saturday evening saw Twitter users link together in a real time web-tasting of Trappist beers. The event was organized by a website called Twitter Tasting Live, which previously had conducted only wine tastings. Web designer and BJCP Certified Beer Judge Chris Gillis is the co-organizer.

Beer bloggers Jay Brooks and Alan McLeod seemed to act as de facto moderators. The TTL site lists 659 current members (not all of whom participated last night).

The next tasting is scheduled for Saturday 21 February 2009 at 8pm EST (US). The beers will be Rogue Shakespeare Stout and Chocolate Stout, and Samuel Smith Imperial Stout and Oatmeal Stout.

Some breweries are using Twitter.
What is Twitter?

Drink Fresh, Drink Local

A component of my job is to train restaurant staffs about beer and wine. I did so recently at a northern Virginia tapas restaurant.

I showed the staff hops and barley malts. I talked to them about the history of a local brewery. I described the flavors of the new beer they were placing on tap.
Drink Local
I asked for questions. A bartender raised his hand, and asked, "Why should my customers choose that beer?"

My answer (other than how wonderful the beer tasted, its quality, blah, blah, blah):

"Beer is a foodstuff, liquid bread. Consume it fresh. If you were to bake a loaf of bread tonight, would you wait six months to eat it?"

Beer coming from a brewery local to you, at least in its transportation, should be fresh.

Buy Fresh, Buy LocalThe FoodRoutes Network, and one of its local partners in the mid-Atlantic area, the Piedmont Environmental Council, advocate for local, fresh, food and farming. Many of their points could easily be applied to local beer.

Buy Locally Grown, It's Thousands of Miles Fresher
  • There are many reasons to buy locally grown food
  • You'll get exceptional taste and freshness - Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries.
  • You'll strengthen your local economy - Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your community. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food builds relationships based on understanding and trust.
The Best Tasting Food Ripens Close to Home
  • Food travels on average 1,300 miles from farm to table.
  • Most fresh fruits and vegetables produced in the U.S. are shipped from California, Florida, and Washington.
  • Fruits and vegetables shipped from distant states and countries can spend as many as seven to fourteen days in transit before they arrive in the supermarket.
Plant Your Dollars Close to Home and Watch Your Community Grow

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Once more into the Bud

After InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch, global decision-making was reserved to offices in Leuven, Belgium, while North American operations remained in St. Louis, Missouri.

This week, however, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABIB) —as the new brewing behemoth is named— announced that it was opening an office in New York City to handle some of those global operations. As some jobs will be lost in Belgium, the move could be perceived as fair turnaround.

But the bigger picture may be that this hastens the end for St. Louis as a brewing center.

Will an international conglomerate really keep two North American offices, one in a Midwestern city (even if large and vital) and one in the financial capital (or would that be bail-out capital) of the world?

If that doesn't seem a likely scenario, it won't be St. Louis that retains the operational headquarters.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, said this week that a New York office will take on some of the management of its global operations now handled by its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. The company said the move makes sense because the U.S. now generates 40 percent of AB InBev's earnings.

A-B InBev looks to N.Y.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Then again ... if ABIB were to move more and more of its bigwigs and suits to New York City, USA ... how would that affect the Belgian or Brazilian (the other third of the conglomerate) segments of the company?

It's only a small story but, yet, it is another alteration to the world's beer map.

Beer and me

I changed my profile photo this morning. I thought it an appropriate time for a non-obligatory non-critical self-review.

Thank you to all my readers. Treat your beer with respect and it will reward you with consummate enjoyment.

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas

Thomas Cizauskas

Favorite Beers:
pull from a fresh firkin

Very First Beer I remember having:
Mainzer Aktien-Bier

Favorite Brewery:
fresh, local beer

Favorite Beer Style:
Pull from a fresh firkin, English bitter, lambic, (true) pilsner

Favorite Beer Quote:
We are all friends in fermentation. (Fritz Maytag)

Favorite Beer and Food Pairing:
Barleywine and Stilton

Least Favorite Beer:
beer poured through dirty beer lines;
nonsensical beer vs. wine comments

If I could have a beer with anyone (dead or alive),
it would be:

Thelonius Monk

About Me:
currently, beer and wine salesman;
previously, brewpub owner, brewer

Social Networks:
Facebook, Twitter, Democracy's Drink, DC Beer,
Flickr,, NetFlix

My Quote:
Oak is for furniture, not beer.

In the photograph, I'm about to broach the top shive bung of a cask of beer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dry, dry, dry: a bad day in 1919

Ninety years ago today —16 January 1919— the State of Utah, along with North Carolina, Nebraska, Missouri, and Wyoming, voted to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution requires the approval of 3/4 of the States for ratification. In 1919, there were 48 States. Depending on the time of day of the vote, one of those five became the necessary, ignominious, 36th State.

The 18th Amendment states that

the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Acting U.S. Secretary of State Frank L. Polk certified the ratification 13 days later on 29 January 1919. But according to the strictures of the amendment, implementation would not commence until one year following ratification.

So, it was on 29 16 January 1920 that the nation began a 'dry' spell that would officially continue until 5 December 1933, that is, for 5,059 5,072 days.

[UPDATE: My math was off when I posted --too early in the morning. After a cup of coffee, I've corrected the dates and math. Beer historian/author Bob Skilnik weighed in as well. See the comments.]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Virginina's original post-Prohibition microbrewery

In Virginia, before Dominion, before Starr Hill, before Legend, before New River, before ... there was

The Chesapeake Brewing Company —aka Chesbay— closed years ago, but a long-time brewer there, Alan Young, now brews for Gordon-Biersch in Virginia Beach, where he has recreated a Chesbay recipe.

The circle of beer. More here.

The entry on Chesbay is taken from an unpublished pamphlet "American Beers and Brewers (1982): A Handbook", recently placed on-line by the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. The authors are (husband and wife?) Susan and Lowell Edmunds. Historian Maureen Ogle, at her blog, identifies the latter as the author of the published book Martini, Straight Up.

Compared to the number of breweries operating in the US in 2007 — 1,463 (from Brewers Association)— the list of American brewing companies in 1982 was startlingly short.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some US breweries all a-Twitter

There are some 1400 breweries in the US, give or take. As of today, 13 January 2009, only 45 of them Twitter about their activities. [UPDATE 13 March 2009: Twitter craft brewery count triples to 150 in less than 2 months.  UPDATE 2013: Now, almost every U.S. brewery has a Twitter account.]

Think of Twitter as a short text message of 140 characters, but one that can be sent to as many (or few) people as the user wishes. Tweets —as the short posts are known— can be created via cell phone text message or web.

But why should breweries be 'Twittering'? offers some strong reasons:

  • Build a small following around your brewery and get to know those who drink your beer who may not be local.
  • Quick feedback/questions/answers exchange
  • Reach the 35-44 demographic (closely followed by the 18-34 group, even though we'll need to legally ignore those first three years for now.)
Read his entire post, which includes the list of all 45 breweries.

Personally, I find Twitter to be a useful addendum to my blog.
  • I can make succinct observations about beer and wine and post them across several platforms. They appear, for example, here on my blog, on Facebook, and on my website (in addition to itself).
  • Using Twitter posts almost as a time-stamped journal, I can collate them into a longer blog piece.
  • By following other people in the beer and wine business, I can learn of things of importance to that business, quickly.
  • I can link to beer news stories or blog posts here and send them out on the Twitter network.
  • I can publicize events in which I'm involved, in real time. [UPDATE: Twitter scooped regular media in reporting the splash landing and rescue of Flight 1549.]
In the DC/MD/VA area, as of today, only Flying Dog and Hook and Ladder publicize themselves on Twitter. [UPDATE: As of March 2013, there were 49 breweries Tweeting. The list: here.]
  • Local blog Musings Over a Pint was an original investigator of breweries on Twitter.
  • You can follow my Tweets here.
  • I wrote a longer explanation of Twitter at my other blog. Or go directly to Twitter's about page.
  • A contrarian's view on drinking and Tweeting.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What's a CE? That, and other beer volumes.

In recent posts here at YFGF, we've examined English cask measurements and bourbon barrel volumes. Now, let's look at some standard US beer measurements.

For ease of conversion, many breweries measure their annual output in case equivalents, that is, as if everything the brewery produced were in cases of 24 12-ounce bottles or cans. One case equals one case equivalent. The jargon acronym is CE.

Reissdorf Koelsch

  • One US barrel —31 gallons— equals approximately 13.78 CEs.
  • The standard size for a US keg is 1/2 barrel —in other words, 15.5 US gallons— which is the equivalent of 6.89 CEs.
  • At the bar, the standard half-barrel keg yields 124 US pints (that is, if the bar is using 'honest pint' glasses of 16 US fluid ounces).

Keep in mind that 'barrel' in this sense is a unit of measurement: 31 gallons. It is not a physical container. (That does not apply to barrels of wine or barrels of whiskey, which, of course, do physically exist, but are of different sizes.)

There are, of course, other sizes of kegs. A common European keg-size is that of 50-liters, which is approximately 13.2 US gallons. Bars with less cooler space may utilize sixtels —that is, kegs of 1/6th barrel in volume, or 5.16 gallons. For more volume equivalents, click on the graphic.

Beer Volume Conversions
  • Cask volume measurements: here.
  • Cask exterior dimensions: here.
  • Bourbon barrel volume measurements: here.
  • Wine volumetrics: here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tuppers & Legend Brewing were NOT sold to Budweiser!

A few months ago there was consternation on the interwebs that Bob Tupper had sold his eponymous brand —formerly brewed by Old Dominion— to Anheuser-Busch.

"Not true, " laughed Bob. "I could quit my teaching job if that were so."

For more than a decade, Tuppers Beers had been contract brewed by the Old Dominion Brewing Company. In 1991, Dominion Brewing assigned distribution rights to its beers to the A-B network in Dominion's home territory of northern Virginia (and some other areas). Tuppers' Beers went along for the ride.

But when Dominion was purchased outright last year by a partnership 49% owned by Anheuser-Busch, Tupper declined to go along for that ride, that is, to be in that network forever.

Legend BrewingNow comes confusion that 15-year Richmond brewery Legend has been sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev.

NOT TRUE. Repeat, "it's not true." Relax, don't worry, and drink an independent Legend Brewing Company beer.

What did happen was that a wholesaler —Legendary Distributors, not the brewery— has been sold to Brown Distributing Company, a Richmond, Va.-area Anheuser-Busch distributor.

Legendary Distributing was created several years ago to wholesale the beers of Legends Brewing. Its portfolio expanded to include many other craft beers and quality imports. Renting space in the basement of the Legends brewpub, it was a wholly separate entity from the brewery.

What's the upshot?

A small group of hard-working folk, who sold and delivered good beers —such as Legend Brewing, Oskar Blues, Victory, Dominion, Clipper City, Lagunitas, Southern Tier, Lancaster, Weyerbacher, and others including a wide range of Belgians, throughout Virginia, from rural areas to urban areas, from Blacksburg to Roanoke to Virginia Beach to Richmond to Harrisonburg to Fredericksburg —have made a bit of money. Not wealthy, mind you —that's a rarity in the good beer world— but indeed financially rewarded.

Nice things do occasionally happen to nice people.

Rick Uhler, GM of Legendary Distributing

It also means that the beer brands that Legendary Distributing had once represented now will be represented by Brown Distributing in the areas that Legendary had the rights to do so. Forever.

And, it means that Legend Brewing Company joins a growing roster of craft breweries who have enlisted the support of larger wholesaler networks to sell their beers.

In Virginia, that includes Dominion and Starr Hill of Crozet. In 2007, the latter announced a distribution alliance with the Anheuser-Busch network, followed soon thereafter with news of an A-B minority stake in Starr Hill itself.

Near-by Clipper City Brewing of Baltimore, Md. recently assigned distribution rights in Charlottesville and central Virginia to the Bud wholesaler there. Since Clipper's beers had been distributed by Legendary in Virginia outside of northern Virginia (albeit without contract), there is a good chance that Brown will gain the rights to do so in Virginia, outside of Charlottesville, and outside of northern Virginia (where a signed contract exists with a different wholesaler ... see below)

Legend Brewing has plans to add new facilities, fermenters, and an upgrade to the bottling line to handle 12-ounce bottles. (It currently packages in kegs and only 22-ounce bottles, called bombers.) More at Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Legend celebrates its 15th anniversary with a party on 8 February 2009.
  • UPDATE: photos including mock-ups of the 6-pack carriers and of the Krones bottling line.
  • More on the three-tier system here.
  • Caveat: I work for a wholesaler that distributes Clipper City's beers in northern Virginia. Prior to that I was a Territory Manager for Clipper City.
  • I was alerted to the Richmond Times-Dispatch story by blogger Relentless Thirst.
  • In a recent post, I asked for more breweries to produce more Brown Ales. Two readers reminded me that Legend brews a Brown Ale ... and it's quite tasty, I would add.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

How much bourbon would a bourbon maker make?

One Saturday in October 2008, I followed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to two distilleries: Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve.

Informative and entertaining tours, wonderful facilities, and delicious liquids.

But after returning, I realized that there were two questions I hadn't asked. (Or if someone had, the sweet mash may have dulled the memory.)

  • What is the size of a bourbon barrel?
  • Is there a legal volume requirement for the volume?
Whiskey in the dark

I asked Lew Bryson, editor for Malt Advocate Magazine, for help. He, in turn, asked Larry Kass of Heaven Hill Distillery, who asked Mike Veach, the 'answer guy' at the Filson Historical Society, a center for the study of the history and culture of the Ohio Valley.

Mike's full response is published at Lew's blog Seen Through a Glass. The short answer? Here's a visual clue:

Fill date--November 21, 2001

Fifty-three gallons, give or take, seems to be the current industry standard. There is no federal legal standard.

In an email to me, Mike added:
The main thing determining the size of the barrel is the size of the warehouse ricks. If the barrels get too big or too small for the ricks then the whole system falls apart and the distilleries would have to replace their warehouses.

The ricks are the wooden supports upon which the full barrels rest as they age. The rickhouse is the warehouse in which the barrels age.

Buffalo Trace Rickhouse

Lew added an an update. In 1968, the U.S. Treasury Department rejected a request to set an official whiskey barrel volume. Imagine that. The government turned down the opportunity to regulate.

Photos from the tour.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I'm not drunk; it's my beard.

As a friend 'texted' me on New Years Eve ...

Happy random human generated conceptual time measurement cyclical renewal celebration.

... so I have avoided old year wrap-ups and new year predictions and resolutions.

Other than my entry for the The Session #23.

And other than choosing this as the best title for a book on alcoholic beverages in 2008:The Drinks Ran Over My Beard
Written by Antanas Astrauskas, the book is
the first well-researched, multidisciplinary and highly enjoyable attempt on the history of fermentables in Lithuania. Published by “Baltos lankos”, unfortunately, still in Lithuanian only.

Translated, the title reads "the drinks ran over my beard".

In 2009, I'll not use the "I've over-imbibed" excuse. Rather, it'll be "Pea(r) BUHR-zhda Vuhr-VHE(RE)- yoh."

Acių labai ("Thank you") to Lithuanian beer blog Tikras Alus.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

How Now, Brown Ale?

During some early January housecleaning, I discovered a homebrew recipe of mine from 20 years ago, for a Brown Ale:

6.6 lbs John Bull English Ale unhopped amber extract
0.5 lbs Crystal 40 °SRM
0.25 lbs black malt
2 tsp gypsum
2 oz Willamette pellets 4.2% aa (1/2 oz at knockout)
1/2 oz Mount Hood pellets (dry hop)
Wyeast London yeast #1028
Original gravity: 1.048
Terminal gravity: 1.009
IBUs (est): 23
abv (est): 5.1%

But what exactly is a brown ale?

Long-time beer mavens Ray Daniels and Jim Parker addressed that question in their collaborative 1998 effort —Brown Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes— one in the Brewers Publications style series.

click for review of Brown AleTo identify a brown ale style, the duo analyzed brown ales commercially available at the time, rather than relying on historical assumptions and stories.
Daniels and Parker point to the most likely candidate: caramel malts. When brewers infuse these caramel malts, especially the darker varieties, into the grists of their brown ales, they produce ales of rich color, malt complexity, and a "sweet, deep caramel-like flavor that many beer lovers describe as 'luscious.' "...the sublime result- a beer that is at once luxurious and quaffable."
—From my 1999 review of the book.

These days, Brown Ale seems a style forgotten in the race for stratospheric hop levels.

So, here's a plea for more breweries to brew more brown ales. And at friendly session strength, not at thump-your-chest alcohol percentages. And freshly cask-conditioned.

I'll rely on poet John Milton, as he wrote in L'Allegro:
Sometimes, with secure delight,
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth and many a maid
Dancing in the chequered shade,
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Butt size, and other cask maths: the volumes and dimensions of beer casks.

Clipper City warehouse manager with casks

Let's do some cask math.
  • A firkin
    is a cask that contains 10.8 U.S. gallons (1,383.3 fluid ounces), or roughly 40.9 liters, or 86 U.S. 16-ounce pints (even though the last few would be quite 'sludgy'). In Imperial (British) measurement, that's 9 gallons. Full weight: 114 pounds, give or take. (Empty: 24 pounds.)

  • A pin
    is a cask that's half the volume of a firkin. It contains 5.4 U.S. gallons (691.65 fluid ounces, or 43 U.S. 16-ounce pints). That's 4.5 Imperial (British) gallons.

  • A kilderkin
    is a cask that's twice the volume of a firkin. It contains 21.6 U.S. gallons (2,766.6 U.S. fluid ounces, or 461 U.S. 16-ounce pints). In Imperial (British) measurement, that's 18 gallons.

  • An English barrel
    contains 36 Imperial gallons, or four times the volume of a firkin. That's 43.2 U.S. gallons (5,533.2 U.S. fluid ounces, or 345 U.S. 16-ounce pints). IMPORTANT: A U.S. barrel equals only 31 U.S. gallons (3,968 fluid ounces).

  • A hogshead
    contains 64.8 U.S. gallons (8,299.8 fluid ounces, or 516 U.S. 16-ounce pints). That's 54 Imperial (British) gallons.

And, then, at 129.7 U.S. gallons (equivalent to 108 Imperial or British gallons), there's the wonderfully named ... butt. That's 16,601.6 U.S. fluid ounces or 1,037 U.S. 16-ounce pints. That's a big butt.


But how about the outside physical dimensions of a firkin itself? For those, go: here.

Firkin Dimensions


Finally, for some historical perspective, let's turn to British beer blogger and author Martyn Cornell —aka Zythophile.

The U.S. gallon is based on the old British "wine gallon" of 231 cubic inches, against the Imperial gallon, which is 277 cubic inches.

Wine came in pipes of 126 wine gallons, equal to 105 Imperial gallons, and a hogshead of wine was thus 63 wine gallons - halve that again, and round it down, and you end up with the U.S. barrel, 31 (US or "wine") gallons.

So a 126-(US) gallon "butt", 104 (or 105) Imperial gallons, is really a pipe.

Beer, on the other hand, in the U.K. came in butts of 108 (Imperial) gallons, which breaks down into two (54 Imperial gallon) hogsheads and three (36 Imperial gallon) barrels.

So that's why a U.S. hogshead is two U.S. barrels, but a U.K. hogshead is one and a half U.K. barrels (or three kilderkins), and why "pipe" and "butt" can be used as synonyms (being both equal to two US hogsheads, 126 U.S. gallons) in the U.S., but not in the U.K., where a pipe is three (Imperial gallons) smaller than a (108-Imperial gallon U.K.) butt.

There'll be a quiz tomorrow. It's open blog.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Session #23: gratitude and expectation

Today, being the first Friday of the month, it's the day for The Session.

The Session #23: The best of 2008; expectations for 2009

The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community which was begun by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s nice archive page.

A dear friend of mine was married on New Year's Day 2009.

In that spirit, I'll address the topic of Session #23, as proposed by blogger Beer and Firkins --beer-wise, what will I miss from 2008 and what will I excitedly await in 2009 --

Except that I will address it somewhat differently.

What did I miss in 2008?
Occasionally forgetting to appreciate and respect beer for the noble beverage that it is.
Occasionally forgetting to express gratitude for those who have enriched my life.

After the casks have gone

What do I look forward to in 2009?
Good conversation.
Good fellowship.
Good, fresh, local beer.
Saying "Thank you" more often.

Sometimes, it's not only about the beer.

Beer, Music, & Art

Good beer is like good music: with an introduction, an exposition, and a coda, it tells a story.

Freddie Hubbard was one such storyteller, arguably the greatest jazz trumpet (and flugelhorn) player to follow after Miles Davis, and the most influential to jazz trumpeters to follow.

Freddie Hubbard
Where Davis was introspective (until his fusion days, and even then, his lines were spare), Hubbard was pyrotechnical. On an NPR interview, he said that he played the trumpet as if it were a saxophone, gliding and whooping through the notes rather than just hitting them.

Hubbard had an evocatively lyrical side. And he was a composer, contributing several standards to the oeuvre, that, while not instantly recognizable to casual listeners, are favorites of jazz musicians.

When Hubbard split his lip in 1992, his prodigious technique became hindered to an extent. I was fortunate to hear him live, two years before that happened, in 1990, at Washington D.C.'s intimate One Step Down. His final set that night, and into the morning, consisted of extended variations on his gorgeous tune Little Sunflower.

If you're not familiar with Mr. Hubbard's music, I'd suggest his albums Red Clay, Bolivia, and Hub Cap; Wayne Shorter's album Speak No Evil; Herbie Hancock's album Maiden Voyage; and Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth.

God's jazz orchestra grew larger on Monday 29 December 2008. Freddie Hubbard passed away.

Now playing: Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Ralph Moore, Vincent Herring - Bolivia


FullSteam in Durham, North Carolina is a brewery in progress. As founder Sean Wilson states, FullSteam, when open
will experiment with local farmed ingredients and heirloom grains to develop a distinctly Southern style of beer. [The brewery uses a dot ag address to emphasize the local agricultural roots of beer.]

In early December, Sean invited folk in the good beer world to identify their favorite music album purchases of 2008. Charlie Papazian, Greg Koch, Marty Jones, Stan Hieronymus, Garrett Oliver, and some 20 in all wrote about their choices.

YFGF's selection was an out-of-print album from 34 years ago, purchased in 2008 on eBay.

Vocalist Cleo Laine somehow manages to humanize the stark lines of Arnold Shoenber's song cycle Pierrot Lunaire. Her gorgeous treatment of the final song makes it almost jazz-like.

A treasure from my college radio days, this is an amazing record that has never been re-released on CD or digital download.

Its liquid mirror: Albert Le Coq Imperial Stout.

Read the full list: Beer People Rock!


Beer blogger Jay Brooks has twin passions for beer and art. Once a week at his Brookston Beer Bulletin, he posts an image of an artwork whose subject is beer, primarily or tangentially.

Jay began the series in early November 2008. My favorite, to this point, is Still Life With A Beer Mug, by Fernand Léger, circa 1921.

Leger_Still life with Beer

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The 1st "Beer is good for you" post of 2009

Here's the first "Beer is good for you" story of 2009.

Well, truth be told, the following piece about research at the University of Porto in Portugal actually was released on 31 December 2008 (and was based on a report issued in October), but then again, it may have already been 1 January 2009 somewhere else in the world.

New research reveals that steak when marinated in beer or wine is less likely to contribute to cancer.

Hot temperatures in the process of frying and grilling cause sugar and amino acids to convert into cancer-causing compounds leading to high levels of hetrocyclic amines (HAs).

And, for a third 'flavor' of hetrocyclic amine
beer works more efficiently in reducing levels in just 4 hours as compared to wine which requires a longer time. <...> Tasters also preferred the smell, taste and appearance of beer marinated steak [over a red wine marinade].

[The article draws on a report published in the October issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.]

But before you go out and buy all that marinade, er, beer, here's a different study released only four days earlier on 27 December 2008:
The risk of getting inflicted with liver and bowel cancer increases by up to 20 percent in people who drink one pint of beer everyday, as per scientists at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

The story is not clear in how that statistic was derived.

Alan McLeod (A Good Beer Blog), in verifying the researchers' bona fides, has an interesting take on such studies in general. As a bonus, he mentions George Carlin, who remains funny and witty even after his passing in 2008.

Cask E.S.B.

A citizen journalist at NowPublic recently emailed me, requesting:
We at NowPublic are working on coverage of new study showing that one pint of beer a day increases liver and bowel cancer risk by 20 percent, and we are putting together a collection of photos. We came across your amazing photo on Flickr and it would be a great addition to our story. We would very much appreciate its use, with proper credit to you of course.

I demurred, and instead, published a link at NowPublic to the first story.

In related news, the Federal Drug Administration has banned life. Seems it leads to death.

More on beer and health here.