Monday, August 31, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 34

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 34:
23 August - 29 August 2009

  • 2009.08.29
    Full coverage of the NEW Pizzeria Paradiso grand (re)opening near Dupont Circle in Washington DC.

  • 2009.08.29
    Watch a winebar as it is built. Read the blog. Funny and poignant. River City Cellars in Richmond, VA:

  • 2009.08.29
    Chef/owner of Cowboy Cafe (northern VA ) demonstrated how to cook Caribbean Meat Pies, on Washington, DC Fox TV: /

  • 2009.08.29
    Rock Bottom Brewpub in Arlington, VA celebrates it 10th anniversary tonight.

  • 2009.08.29
    Raw foodists will disagree: primatologist Richard Wrangham argues cooking gave humans evolutionary edge.

  • 2009.08.29
    Historian Maureen Ogle says New York Time's anti-trust story about Anheuser-Busch is loony. Explains why 5 ways.

  • 2009.08.29
    @Beervana analyzes gender preferences for beer vs. wine, and what wineries are doing about them:

  • 2009.08.29
    Belga's Bart Vandaele to be 3rd inductee from Washington, D.C. into Le Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs

  • 2009.08.29
    Proving it worthy profession: World's oldest (& longest-serving) bartender, 95, retiring in Pennsylvania.

  • 2009.08.28
    180 bottles, 12 drafts, 1 cask: Pizzeria Paradiso re-opens in its new location tomorrow in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. More via Going Out Gurus of Washington Post:

  • 2009.08.28
    Adjust your Facebook privacy settings:

  • 2009.08.28
    The UK's no.1 beer blog Jeffrey's Blog - and on Twitter: @thegunmakers

  • 2009.08.28
    The Washington Post discusses 4 Loudoun County (northern Virginia) wineries

  • 2009.08.28
    @Beervana looks at the 80% market share for just 2 macro-breweries, and sees collusion.

  • 2009.08.28
    #FollowFriday @lewbryson: Not much Tweeting there, but the man can sure beer blog!

  • 2009.08.28
    Via @just_drinks: French wine and spirits exports down 25% in the first half of 2009.

  • Inside-out at Galaxy Hut
  • 2009.08.28
    Paean to an Arlington, VA beer/music bar: "As long as there's the Galaxy Hut, everything will be alright."

  • 2009.08.27
    Despite recently announced beer price hikes, beer pricing hasn't come close to cost of goods sold increases, says Beer Business Daily.

  • 2009.08.27
    Twitter goes for the $$? The service rolls out commercial accounts later this year.

  • 2009.08.27
    Researchers may have discovered cause of calamitous decline of honeybees: a fungus that attacks the bees' RNA.

  • 2009.08.27
    Reports of the demise of jazz have been greatly exaggerated: Spread the word on Twitter by using the hashtag #jazzlives whenever Tweeting about a live jazz concert.

  • 2009.08.27
    Washington DC Restaurant Week, so far, only so-so? Anecdotes from the Washington Post's Going Out Gurus'out nights on the town.

  • Kerberos TTL
  • 2009.08.27
    Flying Dog Brewery celebrates its 20th anniversary.

  • 2009.08.26
    Author Dominick Dunne has died.

  • 2009.08.26
    One of the (sometimes) forgotten pioneers of the 'craft' beer movement, Pete Slosberg celebrates his birthday today.

  • 2009.08.26
    What a job! Draft Magazine goes to baseball games, drinks beer, and writes about it: the beer selections at National League ballparks.

  • 2009.08.26
    Budweiser, Miller to raise prices in the fall.

  • 2009.08.26
    Edward Kennedy, Senate's Liberal Lion, has died.

  • 2009.08.25
    Via The best BEER happy hours in Washington, DC.

  • 2009.08.25
    Via @CharliePapazian: The tickets for the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions at the Great American Beer Festival (14-26 October 2009) have sold out. Thurs, Sat eves' going fast.

  • 2009.08.25
    Discussions between Diageo and United Spirits over a stake purchase have collapsed.

  • 2009.08.25
    Through its subsidiary in New Zealand, Heineken gains trademark control over use of term "Saison."

  • 2009.08.25
    On balance, I'm pretty sure being a 'Beer' is more positive than negative. " Mr. Larry Beer runs for office in Colorado.

  • 2009.08.25
    The President was 'following' me on twitter. That is, the new President of Lithuania -Dalia Grybauskaite (@DGrybauskaite)- it's first ever female president.

  • 2009.08.24
    DC Beer Week is over. Now it's Washington Restaurant Week. Which spots also serve good beer?

  • 2009.08.24
    Business story on NPR Morning Edition: US craft beer faring well, in spite of poor economy.

  • 2009.08.23
    Preliminary Baltimore Beer Week (8-18 October 2009) schedule is up. So far: 47+ events.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's been 2 years since the Great One died.

Michael Jackson died two years ago today. No, not that Michael Jackson.

But Michael Jackson, the un-gloved one, the one who couldn't dance, the Michael Jackson who could and did write prolifically in promulgation of malt —beer and whisky.

The poet A.E. Houseman wrote:

And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

It was Michael Jackson —the Beer Hunter— who showed us, with prose that still resonates today, that beautiful malts require no justification.
A man who does not care about the beer he drinks may as well not care about the bread he eats. Neither should a woman be so careless. <...> Drink, food, and sex can all provide quick satisfaction or a more relaxed enjoyment. Some people take their pleasures quickly, and swear loyalty to the same beer every day, but they miss much. The search for the perfect pint should last a lifetime.

The New World Guide To Beer
Michael Jackson

Maureen Ogle has posted a link to a 1990 review in the New York Times of Jackson's then new Beer Hunter series on the Discovery Channel. Back then, there were no Imperial barrel-aged soured brettanomyces-fermented triple-hopped beers —at least not in the US.

Tragedy closes Monks Cafe, in Philly

UPDATE 2009.09.04: Monk's has re-opened.

Jack Curtin reports that the Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been, at least temporarily, shut down.

The entire building in which the famed bar is located has been vacated after two people fell from a fourth-floor fire escape balcony early this morning when the rusted out railing broke. The man is dead, the woman in critical condition. TV reports say the building already has several other fire safety violations.

Curtin has updated with this:
I have an email from [owner] Tom Peters which says that the restaurant part of the building is okay and has no defects and that Monk’s should reopen Monday or Tuesday.

Monks Cafe is one of the original Belgian beer bistros in the US —if not the original. I remember having my first ever Hannsen's Oude Gueuze there, in a hand-labeled bottle, and being smitten, permanently.

Follow Jack Curtin's blog —Liquid Diet— for more.
  • UPDATE 2009.08.31: The Phildadelphia Inquirer reports: "the repairs would take at least two weeks."
  • UPDATE 2009.08.31: Lew Bryson reminds us to "spare a prayer or thought" for the person who died, and his friend, in critical condition.
  • UPDATE 2009.08.31: The Philadelphia Beer Bars Examiner suggests that "a benefit fund could be established to aid the victims and their families."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pic(k) of the Week: Hummus & Beer

Hummus and (strong) Lager

A snifter of Heavy Seas Prosit Imperial Oktoberfest from Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. Tasting like a dry, more-ish doppelbock, Prosit is indeed strong at 9% alcohol by volume (abv) ... which is why it was served in a snifter.

With Prosit, a plate of house-made hummus and roasted bell peppers.

I don't know about you, but when I order a glass of water, I want just that. I don't want ice, I don't want lemon, and I certainly don't want a straw (that ended when I was 9 or 10 years of age.)

Despite the request, bartenders seem, by automatic rote, to give me at least one of the three other accouterments.

I may, however, have hit upon the correct request. I say, "Water: no ice, no straw, no lemon. JUST LIKE THE BEER." It works ... about 50% of the time. It did so here, at Tap & Vine in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Caveat: I am employed by a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia, which distributes, among other things, beers from Clipper City Brewing.
  • Go here for a recipe using beer as an ingredient in hummus.
  • More photos from Yours For Good here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

DC and VA hit the trifecta for good beer bars

The Washington, D.C./northern Virginia area has hit the trifecta for new good beer bars.

Just last week, Dogfish Head opened its third Ale House location in northern Virginia.

Now, open this week, only a few miles further west along Route 50 in South Riding, is Vintage 51. A beer bar/restaurant with a strong wine emphasis, Vintage 51 is owned by the same group that operates Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge in Leesburg.

Vintage 50 combines brewpub with wine bar and restaurant. Vintage 51 has the same beer and wine aspect, but, for its food, less of a formal dining room and more of an American pub small plate aspect. Vintage 51, however, is not a brewpub.

And, it cannot, by law, buy beer brewed by V-50.

Vintage 51
The Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) forbids a holder of a brewery license in Virginia from selling his/her beers to another bar/restaurant that is owned by that person or group ... even if the beer is first sold to a distributor, its price marked up, and then sold to the 2nd location. In other words, if you own a brewpub in Virginia (or brewery) and you own a pub, you are forbidden from buying your own beer. (Virginia law does allow one person or group from operating several breweries; that is forbidden in neighboring Maryland.)

Bill Madden is the brewer at Vintage 50. On August 4th, he'll turn over the brewing reins to Dean Lake. He and Dean put together the beer list for Vintage 51. Since they can't bring in their beers, they're doing the next best thing. They have arranged the draught list to reflect the styles for which Vintage 50 is known.

Kölsch? They have two on tap: Gaffel from Germany and Full Circle from New Holland in Michigan.

Wee Heavy? They have Dirty Bastard from Founders Brewery, also in Michigan.

The conceit only goes so far. Rounding out are the 14 taps and 20+ beers in bottle are local stalwarts Dogfish Head Brewery's 90 Minute (IPA) Ale, Clipper City Brewing's Loose Cannon (Hop3 Ale), Flying Dog Brewery's Old Scratch Amber Lager, and other 'craft' beers from further afield.

The third (!) new good beer bar opens tomorrow, Saturday, in Washington, D.C.
Pizzeria Paradiso, opening day, 29 Aug 2009
Here from the Washington Post's Going Out Gurus comes word of the re-opening of the 2nd Pizzeria Paradiso —actually the first, but in its new digs.

Here's the news Dupont Circle pizza and beer fans have been waiting for: Pizzeria Paradiso opens tomorrow at 2003 P St. NW -- just down the street from its original location.

The biggest change is a bigger space -- more than 80 seats in the new building as opposed to 35 in the old townhouse. This means there's also room for a 15-seat bar that will mimic Birreria Paradiso, the popular beer bar at Georgetown's Pizzeria Paradiso. Bar manager Greg Jasgur says there are 180 bottles, 12 draft lines and one English-style cask ale. Here's the cool part: "Right now, there's no overlap [between the beer lists in Georgetown and Dupont]," he says.

The draught beer list might be a bit more 'exclusive' than that at Vintage 51. At opening, it will include Bear Republic Nor Cal, Allagash Fluxus 2009, Founders Breakfast Stout, De Dolle Dulle Teve, La Trappe Isid'or, and more.
  • As of today, there is no website for Vintage 51. The address is 25031 S. Riding Plaza #150, Chantilly, Va., next to the Home Depot.
  • In 2010, Bill Madden will open his own brewpub, called Mad Fox, in Falls Church, Virginia.
  • Dean Lake, a long-time brewer at the now-closed Dominion Brewing Company, is returning home in a way. He was the original designer and brewer of the brewhouse at Vintage 50. When it opened in 2005, it was known as Thoroughbreds.
  • Dogfish Head Brewery does not own the Ale Houses. It grants the license to use its name.
  • There is yet a fourth new beer bar and restaurant scheduled to open, in D.C., in September: Birch & Barley/Churchkey.
  • Photo of Pizzeria Paradiso by permission of PJ Coleman. Thank you!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DC Beer Week 2009 wrap-up

The following was posted on Facebook by Jeff Wells, one of the organizers of the first ever DC Beer Week, held in Washington, D.C., 16 - 21 August 2009:

When the DC Beer Week planning committee got together this past spring we really had no idea what was to come. Our idea was to start small and very grassroots with just about a dozen breweries and 25 or so bars & restaurants. The concept was to celebrate beer culture in the nation's capitol and emphasize it's importance in the culinary world and nightlife community. We were hoping to showcase many of the vibrant parts of DC (Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, H St NE Corridor, U St, etc.) and not only highlight beer bars but restaurants, music venue's, and pub's. We also dreamed of many events that not only featured beer but gave the opportunity for the establishments to show-off their cuisine by offering beer and food pairings, with many regional breweries’ native foods being the natural accompaniment.

We would like to think that we reached our goal. To say that we received a good reaction would be a major understatement. It seems that everyone, including ourselves, underestimated the people of DC's love and interest of craft beer. This has been quite an amazing feeling for many people who- for many years- have been paving the way for beer culture in the nation's capitol. We would like to give a huge thank you and token of appreciation for all the venues, breweries, and most importantly the people who came to all the events and supported all the establishments- it was amazing!

What even better news it that is seems that this is a national movement.
Beer Week's are popping-up all around the country-

Our main inspiration for this week (and the original) occurs just three of so hours from DC in the "City of Brotherly Love"- Philadelphia, PA.
Philly Beer Week has been moved a little later in the year and will take place June 4-13, 2010.

Coming up next month in September will be the big apple's turn. New York City Beer Week will take place Sep 11-20, 2009.

It could be argued that DC's closest major city is one of the most underestimated beer towns in the country. Baltimore, MD host's such great breweries as Brewer's Art and Clipper City and world-class beer bars such as Max's on Broadway and Racers Cafe. Less than and hour from DC (and a easy commute on the highly-recommended MARC train) Charm City will hold their beer week October 8-18, 2009.

If you missed your opportunity to purchase your official DC Beer Week 2009 T-Shirt don't still have time. Our friends at Capitol Lounge will be offering beer week T's for sale for the next few weeks. Please stop by and pick-up a shirt for $10. The proceeds of the sales of these T-Shirts will help fund DC Beer Week 2010.

Please join Jeff Wells' "Fermentation Education" page on facebook that is updated monthly with beer events around the DC area, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and beyond.

We hope to have an even bigger, better, and more involved DC Beer Week in 2010. Please stay tuned for details.

Wine Guy Whines About Better Beer Press

It's been called 'craft' beer; it's been called microbrew; it's been called boutique beer.

The first term is nebulous and inherently self-referencing. The second is ugly, sounding like a nefarious chemistry experiment. The last is unfortunate.

I prefer local, or fresh, or fuller-flavored.

Light lagers comprise nearly 80% of the American beer market, which, although brewed here in the US, are produced by companies that are foreign-owned. The 'craft' breweries, on the other hand, are American-owned and operated. They were locavore before that neologism was coined.

Be that as it may, 'craft' beer commands scant respect in the mainstream media. When alcoholic beverages are discussed, it's wine —and sometimes spirits— that grab the column space. And when an occasional and infrequent story on 'craft' beer does appear, its tone is often condescending: suds, brewski, etc.

Thus, it was an ''aha!' moment, when I read the following comment to a story on a local restaurant published on-line by the Washington (D.C.) City Paper:

On a slight tangent, I wish Citypaper would pay more attention to the DC’s wine scene, and a little less to beer-centric topics. Between articles like this, and Beerspotter, you guys have a decided bias toward suds. But y’know, some of us like vino better, eh?

Now, I like wine (in fact, I sell wine for a living), so I should just say "Can't we all just get along," and end it there, but the moment is simply too precious.

So, to the paper: keep up the good work. To the complainer: relax, don't worry, and grab a Gruner Veltliner ... or why not a fresh cask-conditioned bitter?

By the way, it's beer not suds ... that's soap.
  • There are exceptions to the mainstream media blackout —Bob Townsend in the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eric Asimov in the New York Times, Greg Kitsock in the Washington Post, Rob Kasper in the Baltimore Sun, to name a few— but the point remains valid. Their bandwidth is limited compared to that provided to grape juice, er, wine.
  • The craft brewing sales share as of December '08 was 4% by volume and 6.3% by dollars (per the Brewers Association). The remaining difference between that and the 80% share of the beer conglomerates comprises imported beer, etc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Chef for a Cask Ale Restaurant

The Washington City Paper on-line reports that Kyle Bailey, past chef for a Manhattan hot-spot restaurant, has accepted the position of Executive Chef for Washington, D.C. restaurant Birch & Barley/Churchkey.

His investiture may have put the final piece in place for that yet unopened, long-anticipated beer-centric restaurant.

[Bailey is] even an avid home brewer, and better yet, he’s almost giddy at the thought of developing a beer-oriented cuisine at Birch & Barley. “I’m excited by any chance to cook with beer,” he noted, “and not poach fish with Coors Light, but really cooking with beer.”

Birch & Barley Hires NYC Chef to Replace Frank Morales
Posted by Tim Carman
Young & Hungry
Washington City Paper on-line
Aug. 25, 2009

Bailey joins Greg Engert, beer manager (who will split his duties between there and Rustico in Alexandria, Va.), and General Manager Jeannette Acosta (who recently held the similar title for José Andrés' at his restaurants Oyamel and Jaleo).

And, there will be casks there. 5 cask lines to be exact. That's dear to YFGF's heart.

More here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 33

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 33:
16 August - 22 August 2009

    Lucy Saunders prepares

  • 2009.08.22
    "Start with beer in good condition -the flavors will intensify." More cooking with beer tips from chef/author Lucy Saunders

  • 2009.08.21
    The latest on Mad Fox brewpub to open in 2010 in Falls Church, VA:

  • 2009.08.21
    Broadbent vs. Billionaire's Vinegar. The wine expert's libel suit over a book on a wine hoax, and his tarnished reputation. In Slate: /

  • 2009.08.21
    Humorous, faux Public Service Announcement via @twobeerqueers: Parents, don't let your kids drink ... bad beer.

  • 2009.08.21
    #FollowFriday: @BeerScribe - Companion Tweets for the blog of the same name. Perceptive analyses of the beer scene.:

  • 2009.08.21
    Beer and food pairings basics for first-timers. Beer and Food Pairings at NBC Today Show (on Hulu)

  • 2009.08.20
    The weight of the official kilogram may be changing ... or not. Via NPR News:

  • 2009.08.19
    Six (as yet unnamed) companies may soon be operating water taxis to Washington Nationals baseball games.

  • Steve Jones
  • 2009.08.19
    How a British biochemist PhD candidate became a brewer ... in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • 2009.08.19
    Twitter of MORE than 140 characters: A list of 100 book-related Twitter-ers.

  • 2009.08.19
    Beer myth busted? Scottish beers were NOT hopped with fewer hops than English beers, in 19th century.

  • 2009.08.19
    The 'Judgment of Virginia': In a blind tasting, Virginia wines fool the judges, almost beat the French.

  • 2009.08.18
    DC Beer Week ends Friday with Nationals vs Brewers (appropriately!). Mention “Beer Week” to purchase discounted tickets.

  • 2009.08.18
    Brewers Association figures show slowing rate of craft beer growth: up 5% for first six months in 2009 vs. 6.5% growth in first half of 2008. Analysis of figures, and the BA's take on it:

  • 2009.08.17
    Ever new, Kind of Blue. Today is the 50th anniversary of maybe the greatest jazz album ever.

  • 2009.08.16
    It all begins with water. Great Lakes Craft Brewers & Water Conservation Conference. Oct 26-27, Milwaukee, WI.

  • 2009.08.16
    Facebook just bought the rights to nearly every social net-thing you do online. And it cost them only $47.5 million.

  • 2009.08.16
    Via @agoodbeerblog: Who really should be writing about beer? [Bloggers or paid professionals? And what are their agendas?]

  • 2009.08.16
    Fight to clear the name of computer genius Alan Turing.

  • 2009.08.16
    Oregon's winemakers are "fighting back" against beer's success.

  • 2009.08.16
    'Tough work' at the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News writers' meeting.

  • 2009.08.16
    DC Beer Week: The Interview. (Sept 16-21)

  • 2009.08.16
    Twitter's API was more or less down for 14 hours yesterday. Is there a need for non-centralized Twitter-like services via the computing cloud?

  • 2009.08.16
    Most expensive pint of beer in world is in the United Arab Emirates: Least expensive in Panama:

  • 2009.08.16
    Women who drink moderate amounts of beer may strengthen their bones, per Spanish researchers.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More about Balto Beer Week

Hard on the heels of the conclusion of the inaugural DC Beer Week, Alexander D. Mitchell IV, a beer writer based in Baltimore, Maryland, reports that the inaugural Baltimore Beer Week has

47 events committed so far, and that's not all of them either--there are a couple more in the pipeline, so to speak. now, granted, 20 of these events are at Max's Taphouse, and some of them overlap significantly, such as events during the BAM Oktoberfest and the Chesapeake Real Ale Fest--but there should be enough now to start planning your liver allocations, hotel rooms, and the like

Baltimore Beer Week runs long, 8-18 October 2009, the better to accommodate its projected 150 events, to include beer tastings, tours, dinners, festivals, and lectures. Three that stand out for me are the Opening Tap Ceremony aboard the USS Constitution (8 October), the 6th annual Chesapeake Real Ale Fest (17 October, at the Pratt Street Ale House) and a lecture and tasting called the Beer Pioneers of Baltimore (12 October at Bertha's)

Bertha's, Baltimore MD
Guest speakers to include:
  • Hugh Sisson – Clipper City Brewing Company (formally of Sisson’s Brew Pub - Maryland’s first brew pub)
  • Tony Norris – Bertha’s
  • Craig Stuart Paul – founder of Oxford Brewing Company (Maryland’s first micro-brewery)
  • Jim Gardner – Winner/F.P. Winner Distributing Company
Missing (so far) from this lecture on the revival of craft beer in Maryland are Bill Oliver, founder of the Wharf Rat Brewpub (recently sold, but still brewing as Pratt Street Ale House) and Theo DeGroen founder/owner of the Baltimore Brewing Company, a lager brewpub. The brewery closed in 2005 and DeGroen returned to Europe, so the organizers might be forgiven for not getting him here.

Read more at Also, follow on Twitter and Facebook.

The organizers of the festival include Mitchell, long-time Baltimore beer maven Joe Gold, and Baltimore Sun columnist Rob Kasper.

Prior YFGF posts here and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It takes a good amount of cash to make a good beer

Not to belabor the obvious, but it's difficult to come by a lot of cash, and more so these days, when there's less to get.

It takes a lot of cash to open a brewpub, and more so in prime real estate. Thus it was reassuring to read this on the front page of the Falls Church News-Press:

Amidst an otherwise gloomy economic contraction and stall in the City of Falls Church [in northern Virginia], owners of two new business start-ups are making progress toward buttoning up outstanding issues with their prospective landlord to bring new and tantalizing drinking and dining to the center of the City. <...>

Veteran brew master Bill Madden and his business partner Rick Garvin are eager to introduce the Mad Fox Brewing Company in the currently vacant ground floor space [at 444 W. Broad Street].

Mad Fox Brewing Co., Waterford Close In on 15-Year Lease Pact
By Nicholas F. Benton
Thursday, 20 August 2009

The paper reports that a local developer has stepped forward as a new investor, ostensibly with the necessary political and funding firepower:
A meeting was held Tuesday afternoon [18 August] between the Mad Fox people, including [local developer] Ed Novak, and [Bob] Baxter [vice-president of the development company that owns the building] to hammer out remaining issues.

If —among other unpublished considerations— there are "assurances of adequate parking" for Mad Fox's customers, the 15-year lease is expected to be signed by next week. If that occurs, the brewpub would open in spring 2010, occupying 8,600 square feet, with indoor seating for 250, and additional outdoor plaza seating.

Not overly specific as to the food, Madden says
There will be wood-fired pizza, paninis, salads, entrees, and other menu items. While it will be family-oriented, it will be "beer-centric."

He's more specific as to the beer. Madden expects to be able to brew up to 1,250 barrels of beer per year. Doing the liquid math, that's 849 pints per day, or four million, six hundred-fifty thousand pints over the 15 year lease.

One beer Madden —who received his brewing degree at Cal-Davis— will not be brewing is what the paper's owner/editor Nicholas Benton incorrectly described as a "Scottish-style wheat heavy ale."

Madden will be brewing a Wee Heavy: a strong, slightly sweet, malt-accented, ruddy-hued ale, inspired by historically similar beers from Scotland. Over the past decade, Madden's Wee Heavy has garnered 6 major national brewing awards. But with no wheat involved!
  • UPDATE 2009.09.10: Bill Madden interviewed by Falls Church News-Press.
  • UPDATE 2009.09.05: Mad Fox gets its 1st employee.
  • Prior stories at YFGF about Mad Fox here and here.
  • Not mentioned in the article is Maddens' affinity for cask-conditioned ale. He has reassured me that he will indeed offer real ale at the brewpub.
  • Falls Church is a city of approximately 11,000, located 8 miles west of Washington, D.C., in northern Virginia. It's named for an eponymous Episcopal Church, at which George Washington often worshiped.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Secret Identity revealed

Well, I knew it had to happen some time.

Folk know me because I sell beer (and wine), because I've been a brewer, because, well, because they just know me.

But this was a first.

My secret identity, so to speak, as the author of Yours For Good was revealed. "Hey, isn't he ...," was the whisper from a few seats down the bar.

So, I write this, having escaped to a bar at which no one else is blogging on a net-book. But then again, I'm drinking a lager from Victory. (Victory, in Pennsylvania, brews lagers traditionally, rather than laden with adjuncts and little flavor as do the mega-brewers, deliberately.)

Good beer goes mainstream, tastefully.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Fish, Two Fish, New Dogfish Pub

Musings Over a Pint had the scoop: the new, third Dogfish Head Ale House was set for a 'soft opening' in Chantilly, Virginia ... on Tuesday.

Packed house at Dogfish

But they scooped us all, and were 100% open! I was lucky and just happened to be driving by. The place was packed. I ordered a 60 Minute, and congratulated Manager Kim Ross.

View Larger Map
  • As of Tuesday, the website did not have the address posted. It's 13055 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway (Route 50), in Chantilly, Virginia, in the Greenbriar Shopping Center.
  • A 'soft' opening is somewhat of a trial run, when a restaurant opens for a day or two for designated guests rather than for the general public. the 'soft' opening was actually held on Saturday for invited guests.
  • When I first posted this, I wrote that I had been to the Pub on Monday, rather than, of course, Tuesday! Was it the effect the of 60-Minute Pale Ale?
  • Musings Over A Pint visited and reviewed as well.
  • The name Kim Ross may be familiar. For several years prior, she had been the Banquet Manager at multi-tap Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, Virginia.

Good news, bad news: Craft beer in mid-2009.

Good news .... or is it?

The Brewers Association has announced that, in the first 6 months of 2009, 'craft' beer sales and production are up over the same period last year, and that there are more breweries in operation today than there were 100 years ago.

There will be some who will gleefully compare craft beers' increase with the major brands' anemic figures. That's fine. It'll make them feel good. Then, get back to business. analyzes the figures, and finds good news but troubling trends.

Craft beer numbers are floating back to earth. Dollar Growth has gone from 14% to 9% in two years with most of that coming before the word, “recession,” started gaining steam late last summer. In the same timeframe, production growth has dwindled from 11% to 5%. Meanwhile, we have 100 more breweries than we did two years ago. The beer supply is increasing despite demand decreasing.

BeerNews looks at a recent column by Andy Crouch at Beer Scribe and sees another potential for concern. A not insubstantial portion of recent 'craft' beer mega-growth has come from expansion into new markets (geographical growth) as opposed to the development of local sales (organic growth).
When distributors were giving craft brewers the cold shoulder, they dedicated themselves to the organic growth model. With the change in fortunes, breweries of all sizes are increasingly rejecting it. In early 2003, Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sold beer in twelve states, focused on the western U.S. By the end of 2009, that number will hit twenty-five, including South Carolina. For a brewery of New Belgium’s size, selling around a half-million barrels per year, that model may make sense.

But what about the neighboring Avery Brewing Company, which sells only 16,000 barrels in thirty-three states and parts of Europe? [Contrast this to] New Glarus Brewing, which sells 80,000 barrels in just one state.

The two business models are healthy partners. But long-term viability, especially in times of economic downturn, depends on the latter -- on home-town loyalty. Fill the pipeline first, then build more.

But, yes, even a slowing rate of growth is ... growth.

The full Brewers Association release here. The BA defines a 'craft' brewery as "independent," "traditional," and producing less than 2 million barrels of beer per year.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ever new, Kind of Blue

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released August 17, 1959 on Columbia Records. The sessions featured Davis's ensemble sextet, which included pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley.

The album was composed as a series of modal sketches, in which each performer was given a set of scales that defined the parameters of their improvisation and style.

Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been cited by many music writers as Davis' best-selling album, as well as the best-selling jazz record of all time.

On October 7, 2008, the album was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It has also been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and ranks at or near the top of several "best album" lists in disparate genres.

In 2002, Kind of Blue was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


Davis' Kind of Blue was the first jazz (record) album I ever purchased. Every year since, I've re-discovered it, surprised and enthralled.

To my ears, it weaves together the hypnotic stasis of Davis' later In a Silent Way with the straight-ahead musical story-telling of his earlier bop. Or, if you forgive me a beery indulgence: Kind of Blue is jazz on a summer evening, cooling with a Flemish Red Ale, and it's music during a winter storm, warming with a barleywine at hand.

The recording itself may be 50 years old, but the music remains fresh today. Suffice it to say: ever new, Kind of Blue.
  • Read an NPR review of the album here.
  • At Amazon, read this review of the much better sound quality of the Legacy CD re-release.


UPDATE: 15 December 2009
(AP) — WASHINGTON - Fifty years after jazz legend Miles Davis recorded "Kind of Blue," the U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to honor the landmark album's contribution to the genre.

Davis collaborated on the record with saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat who sponsored the measure, said the group "made musical history and changed the artistic landscape of this country and in some ways the world." The resolution recognizing the album's 50th anniversary passed on a 409-0 vote.

Associated Press

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 32

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 32:
9 August - 15 August 2009

  • 2009.08.14
    The government of China is blocking the blog of Washington DC based writer Chris O'Brien, 'The Beer Activist'.

  • 2009.08.14
    #FollowFriday: @agoodbeerblog is a good accompaniment to what is, a good (= witty, erudite) beer blog.

  • 2009.08.14
    Word on the street: Washington DC beer restaurant Birch & Barley to (really!) open in September. /

  • 2009.08.13
    Jay Sheveck (aka @BeerGuppy on Twitter) is now blogging about the progress of his upcoming documentary, Beer Pioneers:

  • 2009.08.12
    At the Great Taste of the Midwest: protecting his beer glass while soundly snoozing.

  • 2009.08.12
    Hilarious beer review at the Great British Beer Festival: "Like being kicked in the crotch by a sawdust monster.”

  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • 2009.08.12
    'Heirloom tomato' is not necessarily synonymous with 'good.' Story in the Washington Post:

  • 2009.08.12
    Was too hazy in noVa to see much of the Perseid meteor shower this morning before sunrise.

  • 2009.08.12
    Only us old farts tweet. Most teens don't tweet.

  • 2009.08.11
    Watch Hillary Clinton declare, "My husband is not the secretary of state" to a questioner.

  • 2009.08.11
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder,Special Olympics Founder, sister, John f. Kennedy, dies at 88.

  • 2009.08.11
    Recycling spilled beer BACK into the beer: 'Autovacs' are still in use in the UK.

  • 2009.08.10
    At 64 calories, MGD 64 is too heavy, says Anheuser-Busch InBev, launching its 55-calorie (2.4% abv, 1.9 g carbs) Select 55 beer.

  • 2009.08.10
    US cask ale competition at Great BRITISH Beer Festival: Brooklyn Brewery gets silver for East Indian Pale Ale. Cambridge Brewing Company, gold for 10.5 %abv Imperial stout YouEnjoyMyStout.

  • Huh? Oh yeah? Beer!
  • 2009.08.10
    Flickr pics from Great Taste of the Midwest, tagged with "gtmw":

  • 2009.08.09
    Why should neo-prohibitionists have all the fun? Anti-neo-prohibitionists get angry.

  • 2009.08.10
    Sunrise, with coffee and melon, sitting lakeside, blogging my story on the Great Taste of Midwest. Listening to the loons.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

DC Beer Week: The Interview

DC Beer Week ( runs today (Sunday, 16 August) through Friday, 21 August. That's D.C., as in Washington, District of Columbia. But it's the first time the capital city of the United States has ever had a week-long celebration of beer culture.

I recently sat down to discuss the festival with its two principal organizers, 'Hoppy' Jeff Wells (r) and Chef Teddy Folkman (l).

Folkman and Wells

Wells is a long-time beer maven of the area; Folkman is chef at Granville Mooore's, a Belgian-inspired brasserie, located in the newly vibrant H street corridor of the Trinidad neighborhood in northeast Washington, D.C. He is associated with several other establishments.

WARNING: I foolishly chose to drive from northern Virginia, during afternoon rush hour, over the 14th Street Bridge. The trip --just the segment over the bridge-- took nearly an hour. That's due to extensive construction and heavy traffic. Don't repeat my mistake. Take the DC Metro to Gallery Place, where the H Street Shuttle bus runs for free.

I began by asking Jeff and Teddy about some sniping on the 'interwebs'.

Some groused that DC Beer Week will only extend over 6 days. And others asked why the festival will occur during the traditional height of DC's hot and humid summer weather, and when many residents have gone on vacation.

Both Wells and Folkman laughed. If the festival were to extend for an extra day, would folks complain that it was, as the Beatles sang, eight days a week?

And, as Folkman pointed out, despite the heat of August, the week following DC Beer Week is DC Restaurant Week. The duo feels that when business is slow, that is exactly the proper time in which to build up more business and "buzz."

As we were served glasses of draught Chouffe Houblon, we began to discuss the pairing of beers and food, one focus of the week's events. I mentioned a cultural bias, among some, of recognizing only wine with food. "I hate Merlot", Folkman blurted out in response, quickly noting that pairing should be "about matching flavor and intensity."

Wells argued that "DC is the fastest-growing culinary town in the US." And Folkman agreed. "The city's vibe is grass-roots. Many in the DC food scene are 'lifers'.

Soon sitting down with us was Chris Surrusco, General Manager of Marvin, a Belgian-themed pub and restaurant, in the bustling 14th & U neighborhood of northwest DC.

Surrusco has also been actively involved in the planning. "There's been a lot of quiet representation of beer and food in D.C.," he said. "This week can be a showcase."

Folkman emphasized the re-growth of distinct districts of night-life venues and restaurants ... but with a twist. "DC is fast becoming a beer and food city." In fact, he said, the festival plans to expand throughout the city. "In 2010, we'll have volunteer captains in as many neighborhoods as possible."

This year's festival was set up quickly, no fuss, as an LLC. Next year, it will be reformulated as a non-profit. (Due to legal issues, DC Beer Week has been required to remove any mention of the Smithsonian's Brew at the Zoo from the event's website and promotional materials.)
DC Beer Week 2009

The trio has ambitious long-term plans. They envisage the non-profit as promoting craft-brewing and beer culture year-round. (Never too soon to begin planning, Folkman mentioned that the first meeting for next year's DC Beer Week will be held at Granville Moore's in March 2010. Mark your Outlooks now.)

This year's 'week' begins today (Sunday, 16 August) from 2-8 pm with a “Unity Jam” at the Rock & Roll Hotel — For $20 you can buy ten 4 oz. sample pours of rare craft beers. Bands include See-I, The Blackjacks, Laura Tsagaris Band, and The Jeff Wells Band.

The week concludes with a baseball game: the Nationals vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, Friday evening at 7pm, at National Park. DC Beer Week attendees will receive discounted tickets in selected areas of the ballpark.

Mezzanine seats for only $23 (regularly $30) and LF/RF Reserved for only $16 (regularly $24). To purchase, call Mike Benko of the Nationals at 202-640-7648 and mention “Beer Week.”

"DC Beer Week 2009 ends with the Brewers. How cool is that," exulted Chef Folkman. "Let's make it a city-wide celebration."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Washington, D.C. beer blog banned by China

Chris O'Brien lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He blogs about beer — The Beer Activist — from an environmental point-of-view. He has also written a book, with a similar premise, called Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World.

Beer Activist
Pictured: Chris O'Brien (l) with Washington, D.C. beer maven Bob Tupper.

And that title may be why the government of China has a problem with him.
When I arrived in China [2 August 2009], I quickly learned that my blog was being blocked by the government. Last night someone told me how to get around the censorship. It’s taken me an hour or so to finally get it working and now I’m furiously typing this post before I get logged out again. We head to Qingdao today for the International Beer Festival. Hopefully I’ll be blogging from there about beer!

Beer Activist
13 August 2009

The Beer Activist is too revolutionary for the Communists! Hmmm. Will YFGF be blocked now for mentioning this?

Yes, it MAY be true! Birch & Barley opening in September 2009

It's word on the street that Birch and Barley/Churchkey MAY indeed finally be opening! The date appears to be mid to late September 2009. [UPDATE: October 2009.]

To remove any doubt, see this ad placed on Craiglist on 7 August:

Birch & Barley, A Neighborhood Restaurant Group Joint, is seeking experienced servers, bartenders & hosts. We are leading an area wide search for talented, experienced individuals who enjoy food and the fast pace of a busy restaurant. We are a restaurant that specializes in upscale regional cuisine while being beer-centric & wine forward! Opening in late September, so apply now!!!

Training starts on September 1st!!!
Dakota Cowgirl to be Birch & Barley

Long anticipated, the long-title beer-centric restaurant is a project of the fast expanding Neighborhood Restaurant Group. And it will be NRG's first Washington, DC location, in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

The other locations, all in northern Virginia, are Buzz, Columbia Firehouse, Daily Planet Wine, Evening Star Cafe, Rustico, Tallula/Eat Bar, Vermilion, and a new Rustico to be opened in the Ballston area of Arlington.

As to the name: Birch and Barley is the name of the restaurant; the beer bar will be called Churchkey —the term refers to a ubiquitous type of beer bottle/can opener.
  • UPDATE 2009.08.25: Chef hired.
  • Prior coverage from Yours For Good here and here.
  • The photo pictures Dakota Cowgirl, the former resident of 1337 14 St. NW. Courtesy of Andrew Clark, via Facebook.
  • Caveat emptor: As a representative for northern Virginia wholesaler Select Wines, I sell beer and wine to several of NRG's locations.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

For September: Max's 2nd Annual German Beer Fest

Max's TapHouse in Baltimore, Maryland has announced (most of) the lineup for its 2nd annual German Beer Fest, a companion piece to the pub's successful 72 Hours of Belgium Festival.

SEPT 18-20, 2009

Maxs German Festival
From email:

Max's will be hosting our 2nd Annual German Beer Fest again this year. We have brought in some really special beers this year.

We will be featuring over 80 Authentic German beers on draft, over 70 Authentic German Beer in bottles and a full German inspired food menu.

Official Sponsor : Warsteiner

We will be offering 10 oz Sample Mugs, 1 Liter Steins, 1 Liter Boots and 2 Liter Boots.....

So here is the draft list (updated 2009.08.25)

ASR Fastenbier
ASR Helles
ASR Marzen
ASR Urbock
ASR Unfiltered Urbock
Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Bayer Theinheim Unfiltered Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Baynof Berliner Weisse
Bitburger Pils
Einbecker Brauherren Pils
Einbecker Heller Bock
Einbecker Mai Ur Bock
Einbecker Urbock Dunkel
Einbecker Schwartz
Erdinger Dunkel Weisse
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen
Erdinger Weisse
Fischer Greuth Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Fischer Grueth Rauchbier (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse
Goller Zeil am Main Pils
Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest
Hofstetten Hochzeitbier 1810 (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Hofstetten Honigs Bock
Hofstetten 1810
Hofstetten Kuebelbier
Julius Echter Hefeweizen
Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Bonator
Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Altfra Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Klsoterbrauerei Weissnophe Monksfest
Konings Ludwig Hefeweizen
Kostritzer Schwartz
Kostritzer Oktoberfest
Kraus Hirschaid Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Kulmbacher Pils
Kulmbacher Eisbock
Kulmbacher EKU Pils
Kulmbacher Kapuzinger Weisse
Kulmbacher Monchschof Kellerbrau
Kulmbacher Monchschof Schwartz
Kulmbacher monchschof Festbier
Leipziger Gose
Lindenbrau Grafenberg Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Lowenbrau Buttenheim Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Mahrs Brau Bamberg Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Mahrs der Weisse Bock
Mahrs Pils
Mahrs Ungespundet Lager
Paulaner Hefweizen
Paulaner Oktoberfest
Reissdorf Kolsch (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Sauer Rossdorf Unfiltered Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Schnieder Edel Weisse
Schnieder Weisse
Schnieder Aventinus
Schnieder Aventinus Eisbock
Schnieder Brooklyner Hofen
Schneider Edel Weisse (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Spaten lager
Spaten Oktoberfest
Spaten Optimator
Spaten Pils
Spezial bamberg Rauchbier (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Spezial Rauchbier
Sunner Kolsch
Uerige Dopplesticke
Uerige Classic
uerige Sticke
Uerige Weizen
Warsteiner Pils
Warsteiner Dunkel
Warsteiner Oktoberfest
Weihenstepahner Prginial
Weihenspahner Hefweizen
Weihenstaphaner Oktoerbefest
Will Schederndi Amner Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Wurzbuger Oktoberfest
Wurzbueger Pils
Zehender Monchsambach Amber Lager (poured by 'gravity' tap)
Konigs Pils
Gaffel Kolsch
Jever Pils
Heavy Seas Prosit (Cask-conditioned 'Imperial Oktoberfest')

Plus a few more TBA ... as always some beers may change do to shipping or things out of our control.

Max's Taphouse
737 S. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
  • UPDATE: Coverage and photos from Saturday's festivities.
  • Go here for a report on last year's German Fest (2008) at Max's.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 31

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 31:
2 August - 8 August 2009

    Firkins on the wall

  • 2009.08.07
    At Great Dane Brewpub in downtown Madison, Wisconsin for lunch. Inner Warmth Peanut Stew with gravity pulled cask of Black Watch Scotch Ale. Slightly smoky. 6.2%"

  • 2009.08.07
    #FollowFriday @thefullpint,@beerinator: excellent aggregators of beer news.

  • 2009.08.07
    Via @dcbeer: DC Beer Week Survival Guide. /

  • 2009.08.06
    Legal snafu pulls Brew at the Zoo from DC Beer Week

  • 2009.08.04
    Why do many restaurant menus contain long wine lists but only a paltry handful of beers? From the Washington Post:

  • 2009.08.04
    Harvesting brewery-grown Cascade hops at Virginia's Devils Backbone Brewery.

  • 2009.08.04
    At the Great British Beer Festival: Champion Beer of Britain 2009 Gold: Rudgate Ruby Mild; Silver: Oakham Attila; Bronze: West Barkshire Dr Hexter's Healer

  • 2009.08.04
    Time to move to Maryland? Baltimore and Maryland continue to lead the country in job openings.

  • 2009.08.04
    Delaware chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) maddened by Obama's 'Beer Summit'. Industry responds.

  • 2009.08.04
    VA/DC/MD breweries that blog:

  • 2009.08.04
    News of a new Virginia brewery to open: Wolf Hills Brewing, near Bristol at the VA/NC border.

  • 2009.08.03
    What is the modern preferred etiquette for an email valediction? "Best", Cheers", "Sincerely" ... or nothing at all?

  • Beer Pioneers
  • 2009.08.02
    "Beer Pioneers":The roots & originators of American craft beer. Filmed by Jay Sheveck. Summer 2010 release.
The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by NotionsCapital.

BAM! Emeril cooks with homebrew(er), organically

Jason Nuzzo lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He also happens to be a good beer fan, a homebrewer, and a home cook.

In December of 2008, he got the chance to combine all three interests with chef Emeril Lagasse. He won the opportunity to cook with the chef —and, at least with one dish, to use his own homebrew as an ingredient.

It all airs Monday evening, tonight (10 August 2009), on Discovery Channel's Planet Green. The 30-minute program will air several times, but initially at 8PM. The segment is called "What's Brewing".

Emeril Green
The show's premise is on cooking within parameters of the green movement, but by using easily purchased ingredients.

Jason took it one step further.

When open casting was announced, he informed the producers that he often entertains large groups at his house and would like to learn more about cooking with beer, that is, cuisine de la biere. (YFGF wonders how to inveigle an invitation to Jason's house, now that he's received his Emeril training!)

Jason did a screen test, and succeeded against the other contestants. " I didn't come across as too goofy," he laughed.

The segment was shot 7 December 2008 at the Whole Foods in the Fair Lakes region of Fairfax, Virginia. It features Jason, Chef Emeril, and Chef Sal, a corporate chef for the Whole Foods chain. Jason was also assisted by his friend Yong, who may or may not have made the final cut. "We'll wait and see," Jason said. Other parts of the program were shot at Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jason, Chef Emeril, & Chef Sal

Emeril prepares four different dishes, which could, together in one evening, comprise a great dinner:
  • A salad with a dressing prepared with Oxford Organic Raspberry Wheat (from Clipper City Brewing of Baltimore, Maryland.)
  • Asian Style Mussels Meuniere. cooked in an organic India Pale Ale (from Wolaver's of Vermont.)
  • A choucroute, (a stew of sausage, sausage, sausage ... and some sauerkraut) prepared with Jason' own homebrew, a porter (dark ale) infused with coriander, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Espresso ice cream, churned with Peak Organic Espresso Ale. (Emeril emphatically adds an "x" to espresso, almost as if he's defying you to correct his pronunciation. Jason, being the invited gracious guest, demurs.
Three short clips are available for viewing on the website:
  • Chef Emeril discusses organic beers with Lee Hitchins, the beer manager for the Whole Foods Market in Fairfax, Virginia.
  • Emeril cooking the choucroute.
  • Emeril making the stout/espresso ice cream. (Emeril emphatically adds an "x" to espresso, almost as if he's defies you to correct his pronunciation. Jason doesn't. After all, it IS Emeril's show and Jason is a gracious guest.
Jason currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area, but he hails from Maine. In fact, his hometown paper —The Kennebec Journal— ran a story about him:
"It was a great time," Nuzzo said. "It was nice because the whole premise of the show was to support the green movement. The products are grown organically and locally. It's trying to cut down on the carbon footprint."

He said his home brew proved particularly popular with show staff.

"They took it out back and drank the rest of it," he said.

"Anything else," I asked?

Other than saying "okay" once too often, Jason thought the experience was "a blast." He found Emeril to be gracious and laid-back, but, befitting teh chef's skill and celebrity status, he was "definitely intense." (After all, Emeril is known to spontaneously exclaim, "BAM!)

"I would do it again," said Jason. "Considering that some stories about beer only emphasize stupid drinking tricks, programs like this will be beneficial for the craft brewing scene."

More photos from the day of the shoot: here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Yours for Good travels to Madison, Wisconsin this weekend to attend the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival ... for the first time.

Great Taste of the Midwest 2009From the festival website:

The Great Taste is, to our knowledge, the second longest-running craft beer festival in North America. This year, we expect 105+ breweries/brewpubs to be serving about 500 different beers right here in Madison, Wisconsin (Beer Capital of the Midwest!) in a beautiful lakeside setting with a view of the state capitol, with great food for sale, space to spread out on the grass in sun or shade to enjoy the beers and music, and with a celebrity brewer dunk tank for charity.

We also limit ticket sales to a reasonable attendance figure so you aren't standing in line all day for beer. We usually get the brewers themselves to attend and pour, so you actually have a chance to talk to the people who brewed the beer rather than someone who may not know what he or she is serving.

I have an agenda.

It's to have no agenda, except, maybe, to enjoy good beer and meet with family and friends.

Oh, and, there will be a real ale tent with about 40 cask ales. Oh, and Chef Lucy Saunders will be giving a demonstration on beer and grilling. And ...

UPDATE: Photos up now on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

That wine-beer convergence thing, again

When Washington Post beer columnist Greg Kitsock told me that his next column would be about "beer vs. wine", I could have been worried that it would be the tiresome 'beer is the new wine' trope again.

But I wasn't.

Kitsock writes his twice-monthly column with concise prose, allowing his sources to frame the story. In this case, he examines appearances, food and food business, and sales figures and consumer buying patterns.

Marnie Old, a Philadelphia sommelier who co-wrote the book "He Said Beer, She Said Wine" with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's Sam Calagione, says beer and wine are stealing a page from each other's books.

"Wine was never designed to be evaluated by itself. Wine styles emerged because they were pleasant with food," Old says. In a similar way, more breweries are emphasizing how well their beers pair with food.

To Go Upscale, Put a Cork in It
By Greg Kitsock
Washington Post
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

But, why, Kitsock asked, do many restaurant still maintain "paltry"beer lists, when compared to their more extensive wine lists?
Thomas Cizauskas [ahem], who sells beer and wine for wholesaler Select Wines, suggests that many restaurateurs simply haven't been exposed to the full spectrum of beer flavors: "That's where education is important."

Kitsock noted that beer may have a perceived value that wine does not.
Off-premises sales of high-end wines (over $20 a bottle) are down 5.7 percent so far this year <...> Craft beer sales are up 6 percent. <...> Consumers, speculates [industry analyst Bump Williams of BWC in Stratford, Connecticut], tend to see an $8.99 six-pack of a pale ale or a Belgian-style witbier as a better value than, say, a $20 bottle of chardonnay.

The 4th of July holiday has traditionally been a high water mark for beer sales in the US. Not so this year. The Wall Street Journal reported that, in a dramatic reversal of fortunes,
Heineken sales sank 18 percent from the previous year in grocery, convenience and drug stores during the two-week period ended July 5, followed by Budweiser at 14 percent. Corona Extra sales dropped 11 percent, while Miller Lite declined 9 percent and Bud Light fell 7 percent. Coors Light sales held up better, falling less than 1 percent from a year ago.

Wall Street Journal
Real Time Economics
27 July 2009

To be fair, the WSJ piece also noted that cheaper beers —or as the industry calls them “subpremium” beers— increased in sales over the same period.

I don't have the numbers for more expensive 'craft beer' (the industry calls it 'specialty beer') sales for that period, but in all of 2008, sales of craft beers grew by 5.9%, outpacing 'standard' beers. They have been projected to do so again in 2009.

Allagash Tripel Reserve

The Post's Kitsock titled his piece "To Go Upscale, Put a Cork in It". That's a reference to beer that is packaged in wine-sized 750 milliliter bottles, often re-fermented in the bottle, and then sealed with a cork and cage, as is sparkling wine. It's a growing trend for craft beers. And a relatively expensive (wine-like?) one for consumers.

Cowboy Café

Cowboy Café is a northern Virginia pub. It lists its beer choices under three headings: Bottled, Draft, and ... Corked.

That may be an intentionally amusing dig at wine. For wine, 'corked' is a term to be shunned; it indicates a major flavor fault. For Cowboy Cafe, it's a collection of highfalutin beers.

That wine-beer convergence thing, again.

'More expensive' is relative, but expect to pay a minimum of $8.99/$9.99 for a ' craft' beer 6-pack. In 2008, the assumption was that $10.99 might be the tipping point for consumers. That price point may be reached this year. Will it be a tipping point?