Friday, July 31, 2009

At the end of a day, it's time for a beer.

It was a typical summer afternoon, yesterday in Washington, D.C. Temperatures in the 90s, muggy.

And sitting out on the lawn —the White House lawn— were President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and sergeant on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police force, James Crowley.

Obama and Biden were in shirt sleeves, rolled up. Gates and Crowley were wearing dark suits.

June Christy once sang about a hot day when she drank "something cool". The professor and the sergeant and the President and Vice-President all reached for something cool: beer.

Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.

The impetus for the so-called beer summit was the President's ill-chosen words on a police incident. And bigotry's historical and continuing pervasive hold on American society, regardless of the specifics of the Cambridge incident.

The blogosphere was aTwit with furious scribbling. Obama, in drinking beer, was shamelessly adopting a common-man stance. Radio talk host Glenn Beck accused Obama of deep-seated hatred of white people.

Historian Maureen Ogle in the Washington Post:
It was never going to be just a round of beers -- not when it was being served at the White House to a black (and part Irish) Harvard professor, a white police officer (also boasting Irish roots) and the mixed-race president of the United States.

Instead, it became a glass of racial politics, with an aftertaste of class warfare.

Ogle exclaimed that the meeting was not about the beer. Well, yes, but no. The White House picnic was a teachable moment for beer.

Fans of fuller-flavored, so-called 'craft' beers, were indignant at the beer choices. Obama drank Bud Light; Gates, Samuel Adams Light; Crowley, Blue Moon; and Biden, Buckler, a non-alcoholic beer, an oxymoron for some. This smacked a bit of elitism (our choices are so much better than yours) and ignored the employment offered by at least three of these breweries to thousands of Americans. (Buckler is produced by Heineken, a Netherlands-based company.)

Employees of the Flying Dog Brewery had fun with the situation. The brewery is located in Frederick, Maryland, 40 miles or so from Washington, D.C. They marched on the White House, chanting "Think globally, drink locally."

Photo courtesy Flying Dog Brewery.

Before yesterday, how many Americans knew that Budweiser is no longer American-owned? How many Americans assumed that Blue Moon was a Belgian beer, rather than a beverage brewed by Coors (which itself is owned by Molson). How many Americans knew that the only American-owned breweries today are the smaller 'craft' breweries, the largest of which is Boston Beer Company, brewer of Sam Adams?

Before yesterday, I'd venture not many. Today, many more.

In the opening lines to his piece on the moment and its meaning, John Dickerson at on-line Slate Magazine wrote:
Sometimes a beer is just a beer—except in politics, where beer may signify any old thing we want it to. It is the most abused of all the spirits. Since the early '70s, the typical voter has often been referred to as Joe Six-Pack. Beer made the cover of Newsweek magazine as part of a discussion of whether candidate Barack Obama (represented by a leaf of arugula) could connect with the common man (represented by a frosty mug). This was an extension of the political sorting technique of describing Democratic candidates who appeal to upscale voters as "wine track" candidates and those who appeal to blue-collar voters as being on the "beer track."

The point wasn't so much what brand of beer was served, but that it was beer that was served.

At the end of a hard day, who wouldn't like to be asked: "Hey, how about a cold beer?" That's an invitation to refreshment, fellowship, happy satisfaction. The White House picnic demonstrated, to a world-wide audience, the social utility of not-so-humble beer.

Somewhere, Jeremy Bentham is smiling at President Obama.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brewpub Chef survives Hells Kitchen (so far)

A chef at a northern Virginia brewpub has survived celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey's histrionics ... at least for one week.

Chef Tennille Middleton has been the chef for the past 4 years at the Sweetwater Tavern —a brewpub— in Falls Church, Virginia,

She also happens to be a contestant on the Fox Network's over-the-top television program known as Hell's Kitchen. Contestants compete to demonstrate their culinary proficiency while suffering verbal abuse from Ramsay, the host. After several more episodes, the survivor of this season's show will receive the top position at a restaurant in British Columbia, Canada.

Chef Tennille Middleton, courtesy Fox TV
Her hometown paper (at least at present), the Falls Church News Press, took a few clues from the first episode and successfully sleuthed her out. Kudos for investigative journalism.

In an exclusive interview with the News Press at the Sweetwater Tavern last week, Tennille (as she is known on the show, no last names are used) was not allowed to say when the series was actually taped in Hollywood, or, of course, what the outcome was. <..>

She sounded surprised when the News-Press found her and called for an interview, but she was readily willing to talk.

If Chef Middleton is victorious, my mother will miss her ... or at least her crabcakes. My mother refers to Sweetwater Tavern —despite its house-brewed beer— as the crabcake restaurant.

Hmmm. Time to check Craigslist for chef wanted ads.

UPDATE 2009.09.01: Chef Middleton advances into 9th episode.
UPDATE 2009.09.22: Chef Middleton is one of 5 finalists on the program.
UPDATE 2009.10.07: Chef Middleton makes it to final four, loses.

The Falls Church, Virginia, Sweetwater Tavern is one of three brewpubs in northern Virginia. None are affiliated with the Sweetwater Brewing Company of Atlanta, Georgia.

In fact, the brewpub recently lost a lawsuit by the Georgia brewery which forbids the Virginia group from using the name outside of the physical brewpubs. When Sweetwater Tavern takes its beers to outside events, the beer is called Great American Restaurant Beer, after the name of the parent company.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twitter for Maryland Beer Lovers

A quick post of interest for anyone who

  1. Lives in Maryland.
  2. Appreciates fuller-favored beer (aka local, craft, some imports).
  3. Has a Twitter account.
The Baltimore Beer Guy blog has created a Twitter account to help Marylanders discover good beer in the state. When a Twitterer spots something special in Maryland —a new beer on draft, a special beer event, a good deal on beer at a certain beer shop, good beer news pertaining to Maryland, etc.— he or she can Tweet the story on Twitter.

It's called MDBeerSpotter, and here's how it works.

At some point in the Tweet, they should include "@MDbeerspotter" (exclude the quotation marks, but include the @). Keep in mind that Twitter is only 140 characters per tweet. The phrase @MDbeerspotter is 15 characters (14 + one space). So, if you're the one Tweeting, limit the content to 125 characters.

To see these posts, go to your Twitter account and 'follow' MDbeerspotter. (That's a reference to Maryland, not the medical profession.) Now, whenever someone posts about a beer spotting and uses that address in the Tweet, you'll see their discovery.

If all this appears as gobbledygook to you, but you remain interested, go to my post about @beerspotter. That's a Twitter account set up by a writer at the Washington City Paper specifically for 'spotting' DC-area good beer.

My post on it goes on at length about Twitter, and how to use that service.

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 29

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

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

This is Week 29:
19 July - 25 July 2009

  • 2009.07.25
    Politics, racial divisions ... and beer

  • 2009.07.25
    There's always room for beer education. Overheard at a beer festival about a NON Dogfish Head IPA: "How many minutes is it? (Go here- -and read the posted comment.)

  • 2009.07.24
    Why wine drinkers are trying craftbeer. And the current sorry state of imported beers and mega-brews.

  • 2009.07.24
    Via @mashable: Here's how Twitter's #FollowFriday works: (I say: also include a reason for following a Tweeter.) /

  • 2009.07.24
    #FollowFriday. @ThBlackSquirrel: Washington, D.C. pub that re-Tweets interesting beer links. @bruisinales: Asheville, North Carolina beer shop that does the same.

  • 2009.07.24
    Washington D.C.'s good-beer-pizza-pub Birreria Paradiso re-opens its Dupont location 17 August in new digs.The Georgetown location remains the same.

  • 2009.07.24
    There's always room for more beer education: Hoegaarden is a German beer?

  • 2009.07.24
    What Yuengling Brewery produced during Prohibition (and beyond).

  • 2009.07.23 reviewers dis the lagers.

  • Hops at Green Spring
  • 2009.07.23
    A Hop's Tale: a public park in Fairfax, Virginia, raises hops.

  • 2009.07.23
    Sierra Nevada releases estate-made beer. Barley and hops grown at brewery.

  • 2009.07.23
    The scary future is here: tethered technology. is only the vanguard.

  • 2009.07.23
    Assistant brewer for Coastal Brewing (Delaware) growing organic hops and barley, and blogging about it.

  • 2009.07.23
    Microsoft released Windows 7 yesterday for PC manufacturers. Public release 22 October. Good riddance Vista

  • 2009.07.23
    How NOT to Twitter: bonehead political Tweets.

  • 2009.07.22
    Surprising results ... or not. Washington City Paper 'blind' tasting of 6 IPAs.

  • Beerman as wineman
  • 2009.07.22
    Wines in one-liter bottles gain critical acceptance.

  • 2009.07.22
    More on why Frank Morales left as chef at Rustico in Alexandria, Virignia. From Washington Post's Going Out Gurus:

  • 2009.07.21
    The Baltimore Sun reviews my blog: Yours For Good Thank you!

  • 2009.07.20
    Sticker shock on heirloom tomatoes. Are they worth the price? (My answer: yes, occasionally.)

  • 2009.07.20
    Columbia Firehouse casual restaurant open in Alexandria, VA. 12 taps including Southern Tier Unearthly. A chophouse menu, and the upstairs more formal dining room, coming soon.

  • 2009.07.20
    Starbucks to experiment with serving beer and wine at 3 Seattle test stores called "15th Ave. Coffee and Tea".

  • 2009.07.20
    Some Miller beers are now brewed by Coors in Golden, CO. Some Coors Light are now brewed at Miller plants.

  • 2009.07.20
    More states are changing regulations in order to allow beer sampling in stores. However, some states such as Georgia and N. Carolina do NOT allow beer sampling in stores. There is a movement in North Carolina to change things:

  • Hops and Glory: mini-review
  • 2009.07.20
    Recommended summer reading: "Hops and Glory" by Pete Brown. Much more than one man's search for historical IPA.

  • 2009.07.19
    Largest group on Facebook: 35-54. Fastest growing group: over age 54.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cider festival in Baltimore, Md.

Max's TapHouse in Baltimore, Maryland has a one-day Cider Festival on tap (and in bottle), Tuesday 28 July, at 6pm. Here's the line-up:

E Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut 2006
E. Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut 2007


Domaine Christian Drouin Poire
Dupont Cidre Bouche 1998
Dupont Cidre Bouche 2002
Dupont Cidre Bouche 2003
Dupont Cidre Bouche 2004
Dupont Cidre Bouche 2005
Dupont Cidre Bouche 2006
Dupont Cidre Cuvee Colette 2006
Dupont Cidre Cuvee Colette 2007
Dupont Cidre De Givre 2006
Dupont Cidre De Givre 2007
Dupont Cidre Reserve 2008
Dupont Pommeau 1996
Dupont Pommeau 1998

Sarasola Saqardosa

Aspall Dry Cider
Aspall Medium Cider
Aspall Organic Cider
Henneys Dry Cider
Henneys Sweet Cider
Henneys Vintage 2007 Cider
Olivers Blackeney Red
Olivers Herefordshire Dry
Olivers Bottle Conditioned

ÆppelTreow Winery Appely Brut (Wisconsin)
ÆppelTreow Winery Pommeaux (Wisconsin)
Farnum Hill Extra Dry (New Hampshire)
Farnum Hill Semi Dry (New Hampshire)
Farnum Hill Summer Cider (New Hampshire)
JK Scrumpys (Michigan)
Original Sin (New York)
West County Dry Baldwin (Wisconsin)
West County Kingston Black (Wisconsin)
West County Redfield (Wisconsin)

Pulling cider
Real cask cider, pulled from a cask, at Rustico restaurant in Alexandria, Va. 2009.03.27. Gwatkin Yarlington single varietal cider from the UK. First time in USA since 2003.

In a manner reminiscent of good-wine drinkers shying from beer because they think all beer to be light lager, there are some good-beer drinkers who pass on real cider. They think of all cider as flavored alcohol cocktails.

But real cider is not that. It is indeed wine, but carbonated: simultaneously tart, tannic, phenolic, and juicy.

Cask cider from the UK --which will not be poured at this fest-- is often referred to as Real Cider, and is relatively strong at 7-8% alcohol by volume. [When I first posted, I unintentionally omitted the modifier "cask" before "cider". As listed above, bottled English cider will indeed be served at the fest. Also, see the comment from Alexander D Mitchell IV below. Some of the bottled English cider exported to the US may be tasty --excluding the flavored stuff-- but it is not nearly as remarkable as the casked variety.]

French cider, called cidre, is principally produced in Normandy. It's lower in alcohol than English cider, but it packs a tannic/phenolic punch, with a character like chewing on an apple skin.

There is a nascent cider revival in the US, but government regulations on taxes and procedures make a robust industry problematic.
  • More on cider and cidre here.
  • Caveat: I work for a beer/wine wholesaler in northern Virginia, one of whose products is Aspall Cider.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Always room for more beer education

North Carolina brewery owner Uli Benowitz once asked Brickskeller host Bob Tupper what he should talk about at the tasting that evening in Washington, D.C. "I've already told all my stories," he said.

That was 1992.

Almost 25 17 years later, it's a bigger and different good beer landscape. There are new stories to be told, his and ours.

But old stories do have to be repeated, and repeated again. Not only for amusement, but because there's always room for more beer education. Take, for example, these three beer whoppers that I recently overheard in bars.

  • IPAs (India PALE Ales) are very dark beers, just like stouts.

  • This beer was brewed with dexatrim malt. (That might give a whole new meaning to 'lite' —or would that be 'diet'— beer. What was meant was 'dextrine malt,' a type of malted barley that adds body to beer.)

  • (And this outrageous comment I overheard only last evening.) During World War II, the Nazis stole the recipe for Budweiser from the Czechs and sold it to Anheuser-Busch. (Hmmm. Wouldn't that make A-B collaborators and fools? And Czech pilsners watery like North American Light Lagers?)

By the way, have you heard the one about the man who walked into a bar and ...
  • If you're in North Carolina and you happen to run into Mr. Benowitz, ask him to tell you his stories about the early days of craft beer: the alcohol revenue agents, and the painted yellow 'bonded' line, and the fermenters on wheels.
  • Also, there's room for remedial arithmetic. 2,009 - 1,992 = 17 years, not 25.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

YFGF in the press

Forgive me this moment of self-promotion.

Yours For Good

This blog —Yours For Good— has been reviewed by Steve Sullivan who, along with Baltimore Sun 'features' columnist Rob Kasper, writes that paper's on-line (is that an oxymoron?) beer blog: Kasper On Tap.

Steve interviewed me last week by cell phone. How I would come across without the luxury of self-editing? Here:
"I don’t review beers very often. It’s done to the nth degree. Anybody can write a review. ... At the end of the day, how many ways can you describe the flavor of a hop? ... if you’re just talking about 'I just had a beer,' that’s the end of the story. That’s your blog.

Beer to me is much more of a cultural thing. It’s how you have it, where you have it, with whom you have it, what you were eating when you had it, what you felt like. There’s a lot more to it. "

And then, in less verbose fashion, I sum things up:
Cizauskas says that anybody who hangs out with him long enough can attest to the fact that, with him, everything all comes back to beer.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Wait ... I just did.

Read the rest at Kasper on Tap: From the beer blogs: Yours for Good Fermentables.
  • Irony alert: Anybody who 'hangs out' with me long enough will know of my scorn for cliches. Catch several I used just in the excerpts above.
  • Graphic by Nahem Simon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 28

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

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

This is Week 28:
12 July - 18 July 2009

  • 2009.07.18
    Hilarious haiku from Captain Hops on Clipper City Brewing's Big DIPA (that's Double-I-P-A):

  • 2009.07.18
    Farmers who find the time to Twitter: a long list from @Zacharycohen on Twitter:

  • Woodford Reserve barrels

  • 2009.07.17
    Neutral-oak-aged tripel on draft at Rock Bottom Arlington, Va. 8.4% abv

  • 2009.07.17
    There are four breweries and one cidery featured on the Brew Ridge Trail (central Virginia) website:

  • 2009.07.17
    From Rob Kasper of the Baltimore Sun: an etymology of the term "church key" for a beer opener.

  • 2009.07.17
    #followfriday. @Zacharycohen - 'conservative' food conservationist. @StephWeber - wonderful title for her food-beer blog:

  • 2009.07.17
    This summer, fireflies are running sexually amuck in Washington DC area. A very wet spring increased the brood.

  • Cuvée de Cardoz
  • 2009.07.16
    On tap at Galaxy Hut in Arlington, VA: Brooklyn Cuvee de Cardoz infused with 11 Indian spices and toasted coconut.

  • 2009.07.16
    America for sale. Sears Tower, no more. Today, renamed the Willis Tower by UK insurance firm.

  • 2009.07.16
    From the WTH department: NASA erased the Apollo 11 tapes of the landing on the moon.

  • 2009.07.15
    For the third time this year, Twitter has been the victim of a security breach.

  • 2009.07.15
    There's a new Delaware brewery -Evolution Craft Brewing Co.- now open in Delmar, DE.

  • 2009.07.15
    Anyone who thinks Twitter is only for narcissists & teenagers should read the posts on the food industry. From @MaureenOgle:

  • 2009.07.15
    Word on the street: Frank Morales has left as chef at beer-centric restaurant Rustico in Alexandria, Va.

  • 2009.07.14
    The newest World Beer Festival -originally scheduled for late August in Richmond, Virginia- has been postponed until spring 2010.

  • 2009.07.14
    Baltimore Beer Week now has a /face/book page:

  • 2009.07.14
    For beer, what does the term "Cuvée" mean? Not necessarily 'better'! From Carolyn Smagalski:

  • 2009.07.13
    Washington Nationals' newest blunder: They fire manager Manny Acta.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Notes from a beer festival

27/28 June 2009: Scribbled notes from the Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest, (finally) transcribed here.

27 Junely. 11am. Attended memorial service for Albert Sisson, patriarch of Maryland's brewpubs. Baltimore's Holy Redeemer Episcopal Church was filled with people honoring his memory. Drove back to Leesburg, Virginia. Why all the traffic ... on a Saturday afternoon?

The NovaBrewFest Crowd

3:30pm Arrived at Morven Park. Packed! A lot of cask fans, waiting. I tapped the firkin of Clipper City's Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale with an ale extractor and connected it to a beer engine.

Heather of Flying Dog

Moved on to the Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. The cask had already been tapped but the beer was not pouring well: the tap was malfunctioning. I inserted a hard spile into the tut to create a partial vacuum and removed the plastic tap, quickly replacing it with a metal Harry Mason tap. It seemed to do the trick.
MacGyver'd cask

Moved on to the firkin of Brooklyn Blast! Double IPA, which was waiting in in a ice bucket. I tapped it with an ale extractor as well. Big explosion of beer! Mmmm.lots of earthy and citrusy hops. But I had brought along the incorrect hose barb. Joe from Select Wines used duct tape to MacGyver the connection. It worked

I finished, tapping a pin (a cask half the volume of a firkin) of Allagash Curieux, the brewery's Belgian-tripel-style ale, which had been aged in Jim Beam oak barrels and then re-fermented in the cask. Not as messy.

30 minutes, 4 casks.

No tut

The next day, Sunday, I was on-site well before the festival gates opened, and I brought the proper barb.

The excitement that day was created by a cask of Gonzo Porter fitted with a solid bung with no tut through which to release excess pressure. (Probably a bung for an old-style Hoff-Stevens keg.) And the cask definitely had pressure. I worked a screwdriver into the bung and, boy did that baby blow! (Tasted great, though.) I was fortunate that I had an extra pair of shorts into which to change.

Random observations.

Lake & Tupper

Bob and Ellie Tupper were on hand with kegs of their 'new' Hop Pocket Ale, which has just begun to be brewed again after a two year absence. It's brewed now by St. George Brewery, in Hampton Roads, Virginia. (In the photograph, that's Bob on the right, with Dean Lake, who is soon to assume the brewing responsibilities at Vintage 50, when Bill Madden departs for his soon-to-open brewpub, Mad Fox.)

Marc Sorini, a lawyer who specializes in alcohol regulations, is on board to shepherd the duo through the maze of licensing and laws.

Rhino Chasers

Favio Garcia and Matt Hagerman, both ex of Dominion Brewing, have purchased the brewhouse of that closed Ashburn, Virginia brewery. They are scouting locations in Ashburn, in which to open their own brewery: Rhino Chasers Beer.

Legend Brewing Tent

Representatives of Legend Brewing in Richmond, Virginia, had a booth. I drank a few Brown Ales, talking with brewer Mike Killelea (second from right) about the progress of the installation of the Krones bottling line. Slow but steady, he assured me, and on-line soon.

John of Clipper City

John Moorhead of Clipper City (Business Development Manager) brought along a few sample bottles of The Big DIPA, a 10.6% alcohol by volume double India Pale Ale (hence the name), and the first in a projected line of 22-ounce 'bomber' bottles. He expects sales in Virginia at some point in July.

Angela of World Beer Festival

Angela Campbell was at the festival scouting breweries for the newest World Beer Festival. Known affectionately as the festival's "beer wrangler", she is on the staff of All About Beer Magazine, which is the sponsoring organization of the festival. For 14 years the festival has been held in North Carolina. Then, earlier this year, All About Beer expanded the event to South Carolina, and now, Richmond, Virginia, in late August. That's Angela on the left. To the right is Becky of Long Distributing in North Carolina, showing off her Delerium tattoo.

UPDATE: 14 July. All About Beer has announced a postponement of the Richmond event until spring 2010. The press release explained: "“Some of the preparations are taking longer than expected, and we need more time to ensure that the World Beer Festival Richmond meets its potential." Musings Over A Pint has more.

I'll give All About Beer the benefit of the doubt. However, I would be remiss if I failed to report the following: North Carolina allows the 100% donation of beer to such events. And most of the participating breweries do just that in return for the promotional exposure their beer receives (and one-night motel accommodations).

Virginia forbids this: all beer must be paid for.

Wine at a beer festival? Why not?

I've asked several Virginia wineries why they don't attend beer festivals. Some have replied that they pick and choose, and indeed I have noticed a few different wineries at different festivals.

But some have replied that they were not interested in 'drunk fests'... as if wine with an average alcohol-by-volume 2 to 3 times greater than that of 'average' beer wouldn't induce euphoria at a wine festival. A festival of better beer is about the experience not just the buzz, as is a better wine festival. Those wineries deliberately skipping better beer festivals lose the opportunity to gain new customers (demographically and numbers-wise).

Tarara Winery is in the first camp. Their booth at the fest had lines both days.

Good friends and good foodists Hard Times Café (I'm a fan of their veggie chili!, Robert Farr The Chili Man, and Cabot Cheese were present, as they were last year (and in the past during the days of the late, lamented Dominion Fest). But the festival seemingly ignores much of the local food scene: not only restaurants, but farms, fishermen, and dairies. A lost opportunity.

The Select Wines Gang

And, without a doubt, I congratulated Bill Madden on a well-run festival. How do those kegs get to each booth so that the beer keeps flowing? Bill has been running beer festivals in northern Virginia for more than a decade, beginning with the Shirlington Oktoberfest when he was Executive Brewer at Capitol City Brewery. (That's Bill in the cart.)

The end of a festival (part 1)

Saturday, the weather was sunny and warm. Sunday, there was light drizzle at the outset. But that stopped, and the day became a good day for drinking good beer. The autumn festival moves to Manassas, Virginia, on 24/25 October.

More notes:
  • All of the photos at Flickr.
  • A more conscientious reviewer than I reviewed festival beers as he drank them: Malt Log.
  • Virginia David mused about the festival.
  • Homebrewer Holzman volunteered as a beer pourer.
  • The Washington City Paper's Young & Hungry had a strategy for tasting the wealth of beers.
  • Caveat- My job is with a northern Virignia wine/beer wholesaler, whose beers include Flying Dog, Brooklyn, and Clipper City.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 27

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

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

This is Week 27:
5 July - 11 July 2009

  • 2009.07.11
    How to cook corn-on-the-cob:

  • 2009.07.11
    An examination of what exactly the seal of a screwcap wine top is (with a little bit about beer crowncaps)

  • 2009.07.11
    Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Awards canceled by the Brewers Association after 5 years.

  • Lyle Brown, waiter.

  • 2009.07.11
    New Fredericksburg VA brew pub—called simply The Pub, run by local homebrewer Lyle Brown— to open July 20

  • 2009.07.11
    Heavy Seas/Clipper City's just released 22-ounce bomber series ALREADY has a new name: The Mutiny Fleet

  • 2009.07.11
    The same fungus that caused the Irish potato famine is killing tomatoes (and potatoes) now in the northeast US.

  • mini-bale of hops

  • 2009.07.11
    The 10 hop varieties most used by US craft breweries. Via @CharliePapazian:

  • 2009.07.11
    This summer, fireflies are running sexually amuck in Washington DC area. A very wet spring increased the brood.

  • 2009.07.10
    There's so much room for beer education. I overheard a customer saying this at a bar: "IPAs are very dark, just like stouts."

  • 2009.07.10
    When Bushwick Pilsners ruled -and tasted good. The New York Times investigates Brooklyn’s brewing legacy.

  • 2009.07.10
    MillerCoors changes discount split to 70-30 brewer-distributor for case portfolio, keeps draft 50-50. Via @BeerBizDaily.

  • 2009.07.10
    On Twitter. #FollowFriday: @beerspotter for beer news in Washington DC area. And @VADavid for beer news in Virginia.

  • 2009.07.08
    What's a Grüner Veltliner? Hint: peppery white wine from Austria. How is it pronounced? More at NY Times.

  • 2009.07.08
    Washington DC Now #2 For Worst Traffic In America. [LA is #1.]

  • 2009.07.08
    Google takes over the world... or at least announces new Chrome OS. Will it kill Windows?

  • Sam of Dogfish

  • 2009.07.08
    Dogfish and Abbey Brewing revive ancient art of stone brewing.

  • 2009.07.07
    Baltimore Beer Week announces its opening plans: aboard the Constellation on 8 October.

  • 2009.07.06
    Sad news Via Washington City Paper's Going Out Gurus: Nathan's, long-time Washington, D.C. bar in Georgtown, to close on 12 July.

  • 2009.07.05
    What the state of Texas says a beer is... and what an ale is.

  • 2009.07.05
    Baltimore, Maryland beer journalist Chuck Cook has begun new column on Belgium travel & Belgian beer at the new
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

DC Beer Week Update

I received an email today from 'Hoppy' Jeff Wells, supplying more detail on the upcoming DC Beer Week: 16-20 August 2009.

Rather than being simply a 'beer' week, DC Beer Week seems to be moving more toward a celebration of beer culture in Washington D.C. —beer, food, people, and music. Since Jeff's email wasn't an actual press release —which Jeff promises will follow— I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing to a small extent (with permission).

DC Beer Week [16-20 August 2009] has actually been in discussion for quite a few months- even before Savor, when a distributor [Premium] decided to do their own 'DC Craft Beer Week'.


I should mention that, even though I have been involved with a lot of the planning, this is the brainchild of Chef Teddy Folkman, a partner in Granville Moore's, Capitol Lounge, and H St Country Club. There —and at The Reef and Vermilion, where he worked in the past— Folkman has been instrumental in helping to foster the beer culture in DC.

It won't only be bars to be involved. Also active in the planning have been restaurant entrepreneur Joe Englert and the folks at Matchbox.


The idea is to celebrate the diversity of the DC bar & restaurant scene, and, in doing so, to emphasize beer's prominent role. So, although many of the brands of my employer [DOPS, a DC and Maryland wine and beer wholesaler] will be involved, no one company will have an exclusive on this.

We chose the summertime because the restaurant business is generally slow at that time, it allowed us more time to get folks organized, and many brewers will be in town for Brew at the Zoo.


The general idea is to start with the concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel (as you know beer & music go so well together!) on Aug 16 that will reflect the diversity of the DC music scene.

We will then have events Mon, Tue, & Wed (Aug 17-19) in different parts of town- an event each night in Adams Morgan, H ST/Atlas District NE, U St/Logan Circle, & Dupont/Georgetown, etc.

We are also trying to do events that are beer & food related— such as dinners— to further elevate beer in the culinary world.

This is the first year of us trying to do something like this in DC. We are deciding to start small and grow. This includes the amount of breweries and venues. We are planning on a dozen or so breweries participating and 20- 25 bar/restaurants. We are still working on many details, getting commitments from many people involved, and promoting DC Beer Week through all of the smart channels.

And then Jeff gets to Why:
It seems as if everyone wants to emulate "Philly Beer Week". Those guys have done and absolutely incredible job and the planning involved with something that huge took many people and lots of time. Washington, D.C. is growing and its beer culture is evolving. I think our main hope for us to all realize that Washington, D.C is fast becoming a great beer town. Let's celebrate that.

Thanks and will send you more information as we have it.

Jeff Wells

Jeff's point is well-taken. This year's first DC Craft Beer Week had less to do with the craft beers of DC than with the craft beers supplied by that distributor (some of which, to be fair, were local beers).

Personally, I'd like to see something even more in that direction: a week-long, region-wide celebration of local beer and local food. Have local farms and farmers, local watermen, local dairies, local breweries and brewers, and local restaurants and chefs team up for a true and joyous celebration of the local mid-Atlantic gustatory experience. (SAVOR —a national beer-with-food exposition held in D.C. surprisingly failed to do that.)

But it is not I who am planning DC Beer Week. Jeff and Chef Folkman are. So, I wish them well. And, I wholeheartedly support them.
  • UPDATE 2009.08.03: More events announced.
  • UPDATE 2009.08.16: Interview with organizers Teddy Folkman and Jeff Wells.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Not a beer photograph

I am —to use today's parlance— so not a photographer. But ...

One recent morning, while walking out to get the paper, coffee in hand, I looked up and saw this high-wire tableaux:

Dove & moon

In the two minutes it took for me to fetch my camera, both the morning dove and and the setting moon graciously cooperated. They held the pose.

Occasionally, even a camera putz can get lucky.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

VeggieDag Thursday: Baked Spaghetti & India Pale Ale

A quick post today about a quick (and easy) meal: Baked Spaghetti ... paired, of course, with a beer!

Beer & Baked Spaghetti

Hoppy beers (both the spicy aroma and spicy or dry finish) mate well with spicy foods. In this case: jalapenos and various herbs, Hop Devil IPA from Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania. Photo collage of recipe here.

Thursdays at Yours For Good are meatless Thursdays —as inspired by VeggieDag in Ghent, Belgium.
Tom Balthazar [mayor of Ghent, Belgium] has officially declared Thursday meatless in his city of nearly a quarter million people. In an effort to make the connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gases (18 percent of which come from livestock production), Balthazar has asked his fellow civil servants to abstain from meat every Thursday.
Kim O'Donnel
Mighty Appetite
  • Keeping with the 'good fermentables' aspect, I'll often inveigle beer or wine (or spirits) into VeggieDag.
  • Submissions are welcome from chefs, homecooks, food writers, etc.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Just anounced: another DC Beer Week!

A second (!) DC Beer Week has been announced for 2009.

Aug 16-20
With a line-up that features more than a dozen breweries and 25 restaurants across the district, the Inaugural DC Beer Week is set to kick off on Sunday, August 16th.

The 5-day event will kick off with a Suds Celebration and concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Daily tastings and presentations by domestic and international breweries will be available every day at participating restaurants and bars.

*Please Note DC Beer week is still in planning stages. The two confirmed events are-

Sun Aug 16
DC Beer Week "Unity Concert"

Featuring the following DC area artists performing-
  • See-I
  • The Blackjacks
  • Laura Tsagarris
  • Jeff Wells
This celebration of DC music and beer culture is being held at-
Rock & Roll Hotel
Atlas District, Washington, DC 2 pm

Thu Aug 20
Brew at the Zoo
Smithsonian National Zoo
Washington, DC 6-9 pm

I hope to see you and share a beverage at one of these events.

Jeff Wells
DOPS, Inc.
Ale Street News

The information was posted by 'Hoppy' Jeff Wells on his Fermentation Education page at Facebook. As Jeff points out, details are preliminary and limited. At this point, there is no website.
  • Update: 13 July 2009.
  • The earlier 'DC Beer Week' was organized by a Washington DC area beer wholesaler at the end of May (and had the word "craft" in its title.). It was really just a loose series of events (although some were indeed excellent events) scheduled the week before SAVOR, the national food with beer exposition organized by the Brewers Association, the national advocacy group for small US breweries. There wasn't much coordination with local breweries.
  • Baltimore Beer Week also announced some of its plans today. Here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 26

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

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

This is Week 26:
28 June - 4 July 2009

  • 2009.07.04
    Nielsen Co: 24 million cases of beer purchased in 2008 for Independence Day holiday. How many for 2009?

  • 2009.07.04
    Seen at Facebook: Clipper City Brewing is testing recipes for a Great Pumpkin (Imperial)Beer for release in fall 2009.

  • 2009.07.04
    After being down for a day, BeerAdvocate is again stable & open. Still moving fwd w/ the migration/upgrade.

  • 2009.07.04
    Read the Declaration of Independence:

  • 2009.07.03
    "Organic beer can be made from non-organic hops. Federal Organic Label Is Questioned." From the Washington Post:

  • 2009.07.03
    I checked yesterday's visits to MY blog 62 hits were mistaken identity searches (Michael Jackson, the beer writer) for Michael Jackson (the pop singer).

  • 2009.07.03
    Twitter #FollowFriday goes out to @BeerAdvocate: fighting the good fight to get its servers back on-line.

  • 2009.07.02 reports that 40-year old slogan 'Virginia is for lovers' has been selected as one world's most successful ad campaigns.

  • 2009.07.02
    The café at Kybecca Wine Bar (and Beer) & Shop in Fredericksburg, Va. reviewed in the Washington Post.

  • 2009.07.02
    Houston, Texas beer lovers debate how cold a beer should be ... when it's 90*F + outside.

  • Garrett Oliver cooks
  • 2009.07.02
    Report on Garrett Oliver Beer Dinner at Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg, Va.

  • 2009.07.01
    VERY useful glossary of beer tasting terms compiled by master brewer Fal Allen

  • 2009.07.01
    It was a dark and stormy night: the 20009 winner of annual Bulwer-Lytton wretched writing contest.

  • roasted shitake salad

  • 2009.07.01
    UK study: vegetarian diet better than carnivore against blood/ bladder/stomach cancer. More study needed.

  • 2009.07.01
    Texting While Driving today illegal in Virginia, on 1 October in Maryland, and already a violation in Washington D.C.

  • 2009.07.01
    Can humans taste wine's terroir? Harold McGee -author of the seminal On Food and Cooking- says NO.

  • 2009.07.01
    How to post Flickr photos from Twitter, and vice-versa.

  • 2009.07.01
    "Sour Beer? Pucker Up" from LA Times

  • 2009.06.30
    Installed Firefox 3.5. So far, so good. Only one extension gone. I like the 'Private Browsing' & embedded video.

  • 2009.06.30
    No joke! Comedian Al Franken now US Senator from Minnesota after Norm Coleman concedes ... 7 months AFTER election.

  • Chuck Cook, beer correspondent

  • 2009.06.30
    Baltimore, Maryland beer journalist Chuck Cook has begun new column on Belgium travel & Belgian beer at the new

  • 2009.06.30
    Former Old Dominion brewers [Favio Garcia, Matt Hagerman] to start new Virginia brewery.

  • 2009.06.30
    "Salvator" considered a beer 'style' until Paulaner trademarked the beer name in 1907.

  • 2009.06.30
    The shaker pint glass must die! A case against waste from beer blogger Andy Crouch:

  • 2009.06.30
    Reputable sources report that a brewer was arrested Sunday for disorderly behavior at the close of the Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest.

  • 2009.06.30
    I'm writing a blog post on the 12 essential beer Twitter-ers. DM, reply, or email me with suggestions, and why.

  • 2009.06.30
    AllMusic's tribute to Michael Jackson:

  • 2009.06.30
    Why to drink beer from a glass rather than a bottle.

The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

VeggieDag Thursday: Watermelon Salad

Beer is a versatile cooking ingredient. Low enough in alcohol and acidity, it can be an almost one-for-one substitute for water in a recipe ... yet one with flavor. Malt, caramel, roast, toast, cocoa, meaty, spice, earthy.

But ... there is a reason you'll find recipes scaled for exactly 6 ounces of beer. The remaining 6 are reserved for the chef. Beer cuisine is as much pairing food with beer as it is cooking with it.

At lunch the other day it was a saison
a Belgian-style ale with flavors of sweet cooking spices derived from yeast fermentation ... additionally spiced in the cask with dried peels of Mineola orange, lemon, lime, and with juniper and Cubeb (Japanese peppercorn) berries, coriander, dried fresh ginger, rosemary sprigs ... and additional hops.

with a salad—
Summer Melon & Cherry Tomato Salad
Watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, cucumber, tomatoes, blue cheese; tossed with ginger vinaigrette.

Summer lunch

Together, a flavor riot. Beer cuisine ... and mighty tasty.

Thursdays at Yours For Good are meatless Thursdays —as inspired by VeggieDag in Ghent, Belgium.
Tom Balthazar [mayor of Ghent, Belgium] has officially declared Thursday meatless in his city of nearly a quarter million people. In an effort to make the connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gases (18 percent of which come from livestock production), Balthazar has asked his fellow civil servants to abstain from meat every Thursday.
Kim O'Donnel
Mighty Appetite
  • Keeping with the 'good fermentables' aspect, I'll often inveigle beer or wine (or spirits) into VeggieDag.
  • Submissions are welcome from chefs, homecooks, food writers, etc.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

@beerspotter DC changes his Twitter tune

For all you intrepid devotees of good beer in the Washington, D.C. area: Orr Shtuhl of the Young and Hungry at the Washington City Paper has changed his Twitter (@beerspotter) procedure.
@beerspotterSo, now ... if you wish to spot, alert, and Tweet (that is, post to Twitter) about your good beer finds in the Washington, D.C. area, use the phrase "@beerspotter" (excluding the quotation marks) anywhere in your 140 character Twitter post.

For example, here's what I Tweeted today:

@beerspotter: Red Sky at Night Saison on cask at Rustico. 'Dry-spiced' with orange, lemon, & lime peel, and coriander, juniper, and pepper spices.

If you don't know how to follow on Twitter (or what all this Twitter stuff means), read more here.
  • Follow @beerspotter on Twitter for good beer sightings in the Washington, DC metro area.
  • Follow on Twitter @Cizauskas
  • Twitter 'button' graphic by Cheth Studios.