Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beer Pedagogy, in 140 characters or fewer

At the same moment that Twitter may have reached a tipping point —though huge in number of users, its growth has slowed dramatically, and 80% of those users post infrequently or quit outright (more here)— there are those who have found creative uses of its mini-blog service.

Ray Daniels is the founder of the Cicerone Certification Program, an on-line training course for beer sommeliers. He has begun to post a series of lessons on beer ingredients and beer styles, calling it Beer Education — in Twitter-speak: #BeerEd. And, since it's on Twitter, Daniels lectures briefly, in 140 characters or fewer.

  • Hybrid styles mix ale & lager: Anchor Steam uses lager yeast at warmer temperature. Cream ale uses ale yeast at cooler temp.
  • Germans say, “Malt is the soul of beer.” It provides most color and alcohol content as well as much of the flavor in beer.
  • Bohemian (Czech) pils: golden, full-bodied, notable malt flavor, spicy-floral hops. German pils paler, drier, less aromatic.
  • Brewers IBUs (International Bitterness Units) measure beer bitterness. Low of 5 to high of 105. Pilsner, Pale ale ~35 IBUs.
  • Malt: barley soaked in water til it begins to sprout. After 3-5 days, it’s kilned dry and develops most of its flavor.
  • ABV=alcohol by volume. Low: English mild ale~3.0%; High: Imperial Stout: to 12%. (Rare specialties higher & lower.)  
  • Pilsner created in town of Pilsen, Czech Republic. Soft water enabled pale, well-hopped beer first made in 1842.
  • ESB: Extra Special Bitter: amber draft English ale. 4.6-6.2% abv. Malty with equal bitterness, some flavor & aroma hops. 
  • Mild ale: popular w 20th C Eng workers. < 3.2% abv. Was dark, today often gold-amber. Very low bitterness. Tea-like tannins.
  • Lager yeast ferment at ~50° F; ales at ~68° F, but some Saison yeasts ferment at temps up to 90° F!
Daniels plans to continue his beer pedagogy in Tweets. This is great stuff: in byte-sized portions. To follow along, go to, and search for the term #BeerEd (including the # sign).
  • Daniels recently did a similar thing,  Tweeting  results from a lecture on dry-hopping by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
  • More on Mild Ale: here.
  • There are even beer tastings on Twitter. Two from Flying Dog Brewery here and here.  (Caveat lector: I sell Flying Dog beers for a beer/wine wholesaler in northern Virginia.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Instant anonymous punditry

I've added a feature to Yours For Good Fermentables which allows readers to quickly add a response to a post. 

Look at the bottom of any post (including this one). Click on one of four boxes to register your opinion.. Choices are limited to "Agree," "Disagree," "Interesting," and "Who cares."

If this instant anonymous punditry proves interesting, I'll retain it. If the feature becomes an anonymous basher's delight, and thus useless, I'll end the experiment.

Pic(k) of the Week: Sweet! Pairing of Beer & Food

Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog finds the concept of beer and food pairing superfluous, and the word itself annoying.("Why does that word 'pairing' make my temples ache?") There's only one thing worse than 'pairing' beer and food, he grouses. And that's people writing about 'pairing' beer and food.

So, here, for curmudgeon-in beer Alan, a 'pairing' ... in a picture:

A sweet food pairing for BlackOps

Brooklyn Brewery's Black Ops
A 'Russian' Imperial Stout, fermented, than aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled un-carbonated, and re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast. 11.6% alcohol by volume (abv). Only 940 cases produced for 2010.

Reese's (Yes, it has a website. Twitter?)

Chocolate and peanut butter cup, with a strong, more-ish, bourbon-esque, vanilla-tinged, mocha-hinted, roasty stout.  They were delicious, uh, paired together.

  • Modern day Guinness Stout is 4.4% abv. So-called Russian Imperial Stout is fermented to much higher alcohol levels, usually in excess of 8%. These days, more such beers are brewed outside of Russia than within, despite the name, They are said to be named after Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great's penchant (and thus of members of her court) for London stouts, which had been fermented stronger to survive export. There is current historical scholarship which disputes this assertion.
  • Caveat lector:  I sell Brooklyn Brewery beers in northern Virginia, as a representative of beer/wine wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., at whose offices, in fact, this food pairing occurred.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rice, corn, and wheat: a quick rant

You know the self-congratulatory rant: "We are a CRAFT BREWERY, and we don't use rice or corn."

Of course, that same righteous brewery will proudly make a wheat beer. Wheat —itself only a few notches above flavor-neutral— that will, in the mash,  dilute the flavor of barley.

Is then saké —100% rice beer— an inconsequential beverage? Not quite.

Beer is not solely the ingredient; it's what the brewer makes of it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

VeggieDag Thursday: Pesto, mushrooms, & an amber lager

Stuffed mushrooms (02)

A beer dinner, that is, a dinner in which each course is paired with a specific beer, does not have to be 'fancy.' But, at least for logic of flavor, the menu should be well thought out.

As an example: mushroom caps stuffed with artichokes and organic pesto and Parmesan, served with Flying Dog Brewery's Old Scratch Amber Lager. The beer's biscuity flavor was the 'cracker' to the pesto.

American Flatbread Restaurant in Clarendon, Virginia hosted its first ever beer dinner, Monday, 25 January 2010. The event featured the beers of  Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland.

  • More photos from the dinner here.
  • As a representative for beer/wine wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., I sell the beers of Flying Dog in northern Virginia.
  • VeggieDag is a series of occasional Thursday posts on vegetarian cooking and issues. Why the name? Here.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks welcomed! Here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big brewers cry a river; small brewers buck the tide.

In the late 1990s, the Wall Street Journal famously 'reported' that the US 'micro-brewery' movement was a fad —comparing it to the interest in cigars— that would quickly shrink to a small niche of aficionados. They've done it again, in a Julie London "Cry Me A River"-like report on the current woes of the beer business in the US.

Julie London sings Cry Me A River

Often tendentious when corporate America is involved, the WSJ last week bemoaned that beer sales had slipped 2.2% in 2009. The Murdoch-owned outlet neglected to mention that beer sales by US small breweries had actually shown a robust rate of growth.

In the face of an overall economic slowdown, US small breweries (often imprecisely referred to as craft breweries) increased their sales by dollars by 9% in 2009. This is according to trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights (BMI), as reported by the St. Louis Dispatch (in Anheuser-Busch's hometown, no less).These figures show US small breweries holding their growth at the same rate as it was mid-year, as reported then by the Brewers Association (BA) a trade group for small US brewers.

Anecdotally at least, brewpubs may have suffered less growth or a decline in sales, as did restaurants nationwide as disposable incomes shriveled from 2008 into 2009. Very small breweries may have suffered disproportionally as well. For a more complete picture, we'll have to wait for the figures from the BA to be released.

What a small brewery is is a measure of whose pencil is writing the definition. Based upon upper production levels (and tax rates), brewery practices, and contract brewing, the Brewers Association's view differs from BMI's and that of other journals and groups,  Because of that, the BA itself is about to lose a powerful member, with all of its influence and its dues.

The BA defines small brewery as one producing less than two million barrels per year (a barrel is the equivalent of 13.7 cases of beer). Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams beers, is approaching that mark. In fact, it actually booked 2.025 million barrels in 2009, but some of that included so-called malternatives, which the BA does not count toward the total.

I recently attended the Virginia re-release party for Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale, a 'craft' beer of local renown. In northern Virginia, it is distributed by the wholesaler Guiffré, whose principal beer brands are those of Anheuser-Busch In Bev.

When owner Mike Guiffré introduced Hop Pocket, and its founders Bob and Ellie Tupper, to the gathered crowd, he may have inadvertently referred to all of this. "Tuppers' is fun," he said. "We haven't had much fun lately."
  • The link to the Wall Street Journal story actually takes you to the Brookston Beer Bulletin, at which there is a lengthy analysis of the piece. 
  • More on the small brewery/Brewers Association conundrum from Beer Scribe.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Drinking again ... for the first time

Beer Advocate and Rate Beer are two well-frequented on-line everyman review repositories. I've posted a grand total of seven reviews at the former. Here at YFGF, I've written an occasional review, and I have few up at Flickr as well, but for the most part, I've abstained.

Anyone can write a beer review; we all have our opinions. De gustibus non disputandum.

As someone who in the past has brewed beer professionally, and who now sells it, I must tread carefully. Saying something derogatory about a beer I do not sell, or flattering about a beer I do sell, would be patently unethical if I did not clearly declare my association.

For those who wish to describe beer, there are certain commonly accepted 'rules' —a stout is dark, a pilsner not— but taste is inherently subjective. Nebulous qualities such as, say, balance or, ugh, 'drinkability' are fungible targets. What was perceived of as harshly bitter last year could, this year, be praised as delicately poised between malt and hops.

And, the vocabulary! One hears testosterone-driven claims to superior sniffing abilities conjoined with a surfeit of absurd metaphors and adjectives. I challenge anyone to describe the flavor salty without, in circular fashion, referring to salt. Likewise sweet with sugar, and so forth.

I appreciate and understand the skill in making a beer, but I (and you) don't taste the technology; I taste the beer. Particular beer flavors have particular identifying words. Tying the right word to the perception of a flavor compound —an ester, aldehyde, fusel alcohol, tactile sensation, or ingredient— is the not-so-mysterious route to achieving a good beer palate. And proffering a good review.

A good review, however, a useful beer review, should overtly display the reviewer's prejudices. With that filter, a reader can better determine whether he or she might like the beer assayed. Without that filter, there's a lack of context that can render the review unhelpful at best, pernicious at worst.

What are my prejudices?

I prefer beer that is both flavorful and refreshing. I prefer beer of elegance, beauty, and charm over beer created for flummery and look-what-I-did-ma. I prefer my beer to be a friend rather than an adversary. Although I do enjoy aged beer, I prefer beer that is fresh. I prefer beer drawn from a cask over that pushed from a keg. I often prefer draft to bottle. I enjoy beers from elsewhere; I prefer beers that are local. I prefer beer that has a reason to be, that has a liquid logic, over a beer created with a because-I-could genesis. I prefer beer that has a back story. I prefer beer that plays well with food. I prefer beer that encourages a second pint. I prefer beer in company rather than isolation.

For me, beer is not simply a product or a number. Beer is a thing of beauty, and a thing that brings beauty. When it's quantified as a numbered score, or as a price-point, or as a demographic category, beer is rendered as a formalistic, non-aesthetic, quotidian thing. If rating beauty, what really is the difference between a 92 and a 93?

I'm DRINKING, AGAIN, and writing of it. I've overcome my reticence. But here, you'll find no scores.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 3

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 3
17 January 2010 - 23 January 2010

  • 2010.01.23
    Happy Birthday! Charlie Papazian. It would be hard to find any one person alive who has done as much for good beer in the US.

  • 2010.01.23
    Total US beer sales are down in 2009, but craft breweries sales volumes were up.

  • 2010.01.23
    Going Rosé! Sarah Palin to keynote the 2010 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers convention in Las Vegas. From

  • Tupper at Norm's (03)
  • 2010.01.23
    Photos from a beer renaissance. Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale re-released in northern Virginia.

  • 2010.01.22
    Emmy-winning Will & Grace creators working on Fox sitcom called "Strange Brew" about a family-owned brewery.

  • 2010.01.22
    FollowFriday. For food in Maryland: @WhatsToEatBmore. For beer in northern Virginia: @The_Beermonger. For wine in Washington, D.C.: @dmwine.

  • 2010.01.21
    Sierra Nevada will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a year-long celebration, and in partnership with other craft breweries.

  • 2010.01.21
    A reminiscence of the late crime author Robert P. Parker, with links to more about him.

  • 2010.01.21
    Does there 'need' to be a US beer bloggers conference? One might be coming to town near you.

  • 2010.01.21
    This could be huge development. A Hamas official accepts Israel's right to exist, says Jerusalem Post.

  • 2010.01.21
    Employee blockade puts AB InBev's Belgian beer production [Stella, Leffe, etc] at a total standstill.

  • Ruby slippers1
  • 2010.01.20
    Eric Johnson, Washington DC area chocolatier (organic) also making kimchi (vegetarian). Who knew?

  • 2010.01.20
    More on a potential change to law to allow direct wine shipments to consumers in Maryland.

  • 2010.01.20
    Guide to roasting coffee at home, in Washington Post. tried this 2 years ago:

  • 2010.01.20
    Analysis via from the Huffington Post: Obama squandered the greatest opportunity to change the nation and political landscape since Reagan:

  • 2010.01.20
    Room for beer education. Overheard: employee at Washington DC bar known for its beer snipes that Churchkey beer bar is pretentious for caring about beer serving temperature.

  • Zaca Mesa Syrah (03)
  • 2010.01.19
    Analysis of court rejection of Massachusetts' partial ban on direct wine shipping, and the implications for Maryland.

  • 2010.01.19
    Bill Gates @BillGates joins Twitter .

  • 2010.01.19
    In Baltimore, Maryland, Max's Taphouse has posted the final draft list for the 72 Hours of Belgium, Belgian Beer Fest, Feb. 12-14:

  • 2010.01.19
    Conan O'Brien to move to FOX? A website & Twitter account have been registered

  • 2010.01.19
    Participating breweries for 2010 SAVOR beer-with-food exposition announced. 5 June 2010, Washington, D.C. Tickets go on sale in February.

  • 2010.01.19
    The domain name belongs to a South Korean dating service. Anheuser-Busch InBev files lawsuit to get it back.

  • 2010.01.19
    For the first time since 1949, a 'mysterious' visitor did NOT place a rose and full cognac bottle at Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore, Maryland, on the anniversary of the author's birthday (201st).

  • 2010.01.17
    Text message donations To Haiti exceed $10 Million; some phone companies commit immediate funds.

  • 2010.01.19
    Room for beer education. Overheard yesterday in a beer/wine shop: I don't want beer with dessert. That's just weird.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account:
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Shroomburger


A bit of food 'porn', appropriate for football watching today: a portabello mushroom 'burger' from Abbey Burger Bistro in the Federal Hill district of Baltimore, Maryland.

Pic(k) of the Week: one entry in a weekly series of photos I've taken.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

VeggieDag Thursday: Mac un Cheese

When you tell someone you’re vegan, they ask (often incredulously) 'What do you eat?!

To that, the writers of the blog Eat Air have had a hilarious response, right there in the name of their blog. To my dismay, they have announced that they are calling it quits.
I won't be updating this blog anymore. I'm finding I just don't have the time or energy to keep writing regularly and more importantly to keep it fresh and interesting. I've had so much fun writing this blog these last 4+ years. There were very few vegan food blogs when we started but now there are hundreds - please go show them some love.

I've cooked several of the recipes, but there was one, in particular, that was received with enthusiastic approval after I had prepared it (if skeptically at first): Mac un Cheese. [The link is dead, but the recipe is saved below.] It's a vegan recipe: no cheese was grated to make it, nor cow milked.

Mac 'un' Cheese2


Vegan Mac un Cheese

When you spend all your time in the kitchen making cupcakes instead of making dinner, here's a quick and easy recipe so you can have something other than just cupcakes for dinner. This is a variation on a recipe I make quite often from Very Vegetarian by Jannequin Bennett and Carl Lewis.

  • Add 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. nutritional yeast to a saucepan. Whisk in 2 c. water then add 1 veg. boullion cube.
  • Turn on medium heat and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
  • Add 1 Tbs. miso, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well and simmer for about 5 min.
  • Add 2 Tbs. vegan margarine and 1 tsp. mustard of your choice.
  • Meanwhile, cook a pound of your favorite pasta.
  • Before draining the pasta, add 1 c. of the pasta water to the sauce.
  • Then put 1/2 c. frozen peas in your colander and drain the pasta over the peas. Mix pasta & peas with the sauce in a large bowl and enjoy!
  • If you want to add some protein, fry up some seitan or TVP chunks and add to the pasta.


A YFGF twist

The dish is done at this point, but it can be baked as well. (If so, omit the peas. I didn't, and they were mushy after the baking.)

Spoon into a casserole dish. Top with Panko breadcrumbs. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover, spoon some vegan margarine on top, and bake for 10 more minutes, uncovered, to crisp.

Baked Mac unCheese (03)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 2

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 2
10 January 2010 - 16 January 2010

  • 2010.01.16
    Australia considers progressive beer tax based on the level of alcohol by volume (abv). Could this be a sobering warning for US craft breweries?

  • 2010.01.16
    Announced for 27 March 2010: a Real Ale Festival, as a joint effort of the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of the Society for the Preservation of Beer From the Wood (SPBW) and the Pratt Street Ale House. Casks featured from breweries in the US mid-Atlantic and England. Membership in the SPBW required:

  • 2010.01.15
    Some smiles in the face of horror: Satan Writes Pat Robertson A Letter.

  • 2010.01.15
    Appreciate your tipple, on this, the last day for a legal drink in the US in 1920 for 13+ years.

  • 2010.01.15
    Congress approves bailout of Maryland bottle maker ... in 1790. More history of beer bottles:

  • 2010.01.15
    #FollowFriday Chef and author Lucy Saunders @lucybeercook: cooks with beer, and Tweets all about it.

  • 2010.01.14
    Donations To Haiti Via Text Message Surge Past $5 Million [with number to text for Red Cross donation]

  • Wine tasting @Ceciles (02)

  • 2010.01.14
    Federal court rules Massachusetts wine shipping ban is unconstitutional.

  • 2010.01.14
    Finally! All the Brewing News papers online: free registration required.

  • 2010.01.14
    Maryland proposing 60 cents tax increase to a six-pack of beer.

  • 2010.01.14
    Long Trail Brewing -new owner of Otter Creek/Wolavers -will be expanding into DEL, MD, VA, sometime in 2010.

  • 2010.01.14
    Does your local 'uber' beer bar support local beer? What it really means to “go local."

  • 2010.01.14
    Turn off the lights: Soul singer Teddy Pendergrass has died at 59.

  • 2010.01.13
    German grapes and French style combine to make fine wine in Alsace. Conde Nast Traveler:

  • 2010.01.13
    Wynkoop Brewpub founder John Hickenlooper, now Denver mayor, running for Colorado Governor.

  • 2010.01.13
    From Network For Good, many ways in which to contribute and help earthquake survivors in Haiti:

  • 2010.01.12
    Exposing neo-prohibitionist lies: "Alcohol is getting cheaper."

  • 2010.01.12
    Paradise Springs Winery opens in Clifton in Fairfax, Virginia, after zoning battle; the county's 1st winery.

  • 2010.01.12
    Analysis of Heineken's $5.5 billion purchase of Femsa (brewer of Dos Equis, etc.): there's not much change in US.

  • 2010.01.11
    In Bordeaux: Flavescence Dorée —a grape vine disease— threatens to be as destructive as Phylloxera.

  • 2010.01.11
    Alsopps Arctic Ale: a 158-year-old adventure revived.

  • 2010.01.11
    In New Zealand, a new vineyard tractor runs on vine cuttings:

  • 2010.01.11
    The power of Twitter is pulling together an audience, talking to them directly, letting them reply directly.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account:
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Twitter, Sierra Nevada Brewing, and hop freshness

Here is an illuminating series of Tweets (posts on Twitter) from Ray Daniels of concerning Sierra Nevada Brewing. It scans like notes taken at a lecture ... which they were.

  • Fri up early for talks by Sierra Nevada's Tom Nielsen--beer flavor chemist/genius. Great insights on dry hopping (to follow) link

  • SN's Tom Nielson talked on hopping & their torpedos. They only use whole hops=poor extraction in bags. link

  • To improve flavor/aroma extraction, SN uses external "torpedo" filled with hops. Fill, CO2 purge, circulate post primary beer. link

  • SN Torpedo: normal: beer circulated at 4 gal/min for 8 hrs; special maybe 2 hrs at 8-12 gals/min for lighter hop treatment. link

  • Hop flavor: SN's Nielsen talked about "aroma scalping"--crown liners actually absorb hop aroma from beer--up to 2/3s lost in a few weeks! link

  • SN Nielsen talked about their change from twist-off caps back to pry-off: better O2 barrier, less aroma scalping. (But all caps scalp some) link

That's useful information on beer and hopping and flavor freshness delivered in posts of 140 characters or fewer. Here's another, in 22 characters: Drink your beer fresh.

What exactly is Twitter? Why should you bother with it? I briefly discuss this in the context of, what else(!), beer here.

Two beer quotes

Two observations on beer recently struck my fancy:

No one brews "near-perfect beer" - silly idea.

Alan McLeod, A Good Beer Blog
as seen on Twitter.

... which is why, usually to the consternation of the interrogator, I never can answer the question, "What's your favorite beer?" The quest is ongoing. The 'perfect' beer would end the fun.


And, from Joe Stange, as posted on the Burgundian Babble Belt beer discussion website, as re-quoted by Stephen Beaumont:
All brewers, Belgian or American or otherwise, ought to have the freedom to play around with various hops and yeasts without it [their beer] suddenly being nailed down and pigeonholed into some imaginary style.

... although some do try to do just that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heroes in Haiti

Reprinted in full from an email from northern Virginia's Neighborhood Restaurant Group:

Frank Thorp V, an American aid worker, was in the mountains 100 miles away from Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck, and at first he didn’t realize how serious it was. But then he learned that it had leveled the Haitian capital and that his wife, Jillian, was trapped in the wreckage of a building. He departed to the city immediately and pulled Jillian from under the rubble of the former Mission House for the Haitian Ministries where she had been pinned beneath concrete, bricks and wood for nearly 10 hours. She survived with miraculously minor injuries.

Frank was a member of the Rustico Restaurant service team before striking out on his career in communications alongside wife Jillian. Jillian is the sister of Kate Cook whom many of you have seen supervising service at Buzz Bakery. Frank’s parents are longtime Alexandria residents and personal friends of our family of businesses. In August 2009, Jillian moved to Haiti to begin working full-time Haitian Ministries for the Diocese of Norwich, a U.S. based humanitarian aid organization. In January 2010, Frank moved down to Haiti to be with Jillian.

Donations will be directed to the Haitian Emergency Rebuilding Operation (H.E.R.O.), a foundation developed by the Thorps in the aftermath of this crisis. Their website is or simply visit any of our restaurants throughout the week to make a donation. Additionally, all of our restaurants will feature items on their menus (indicated with a red cross), the proceeds of which will be donated on our behalf to both H.E.R.O. and the Red Cross.

The Neighborhood Restaurant Group will also host a fundraiser with Jillian and Frank on Wednesday, January 20 at Columbia Firehouse Restaurant from 6 until 9. We’ll ask for a $40 donation per guest (no reservations, donation collected upon arrival, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cash bar.) and will encourage additional donations throughout the evening on behalf of H.E.R.O. Please come out to help out.

  • More events in Washington D.C. to help Haitian earthquake victims: here.
  • More ways to send contributions to relief agencies: here.
  • Caveat lector (although on this occasion, it might not be necessary to indicate): As a representative for northern Virginia wine/beer wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., I sell wine and beer to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

Pic(k) of the Week: J.W. Lees vertical

Using the 'way-back' machine, a photo from a 2004 'vertical' tasting of several vintages of J.W. Lees Harvest Ales: 1986, 1988, 1997, 1999, 2001, and four wood iterations from 2003: Calvados, Sherry, Port, and Lagavulin whisky.

JW Lees tasting
  • The story here.
  • More on the vintages here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: entire series here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Appreciate your tipple

2009.11_Pint of Rye at Sweetwater

Enjoy an 'adult' beverage tonight, and do so with poignant gusto. Remember that, on this day in 1920, it would be the last occasion for 13+ years before a US citizen could again legally enjoy an alcoholic beverage.

Prohibition —the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution— took effect on 16 January 1920. It would not be until 5 December 1933 that Prohibition would be repealed, by the 21st Amendment.

More posts here on Prohibition.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti.

Details are coming out from Haiti as the day begins, but yet again that small nation has been beset with injury so disproportionate to its size and wealth. An earthquake of a 7 on the Richter scale struck the island yesterday.

The non-profit Network For Good lists several NGOs to which one can contribute to help the survivors. Some of them:

  • AmeriCares
  • Doctors without Borders
  • Mercy Corps
  • Oxfam America
  • Partners in Health
  • Save the Children
Or, use your cellphone to text HAITI to the number 90999. Doing so will automatically donate $10 to the Red Cross. The charge will be added on to your next bill. UPDATE: As of Saturday, 16 January, $10 million had been raised from this method alone. Some of the phone carriers were pledging to immediately send the funds rather than waiting until customers had paid their bills.

Some events in Washington, D.C. to raise funds to help Haitian earthquake victims: here.

Life is not only about the beer.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 1

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 1
3 January 2010 - 9 January 2010

  • 2010.01.09
    A masthead to the 21st century. The Brewing News papers to offer a more substantial online presence:

  • 2010.01.09
    75 years ago this month, the first cans of beer were sold. From

  • 2010.01.09
    The world suddenly seems less sour (or more so). Drie Fonteinen, back from "the Catastrophe", to stop brewing, keep blending, start distilling:

  • 2010.01.08
    A loss to the brewing community. Jeff Becker of the Beer Institute has died.

  • The Flying Dog Winny (03)

  • 2010.01.08
    Photos from Flying Dog brewery's Tweetup featuring the only cask this year of its spring seasonal Garde Dog:

  • 2010.01.08
    Room for beer education: Seen in an email promoting a beer dinner in Washington DC: INDIAN Pale Ale.

  • 2010.01.08
    #FollowFriday on Twitter: @HurraBier, @beltwaybeer. The two newest members of C.R.A.B.B.

  • 2010.01.07
    Bottles of Brooklyn Brewing's Black Ops have been spotted in Northern Virginia ... but don't blink or you'll miss them. Only 10 cases were exported there.

  • 2010.01.07
    Allsopp's Arctic Ale and the upcoming documentary on recreating it.

  • 2010.01.07
    Big brewers drag US beer industry down 1.6% in 2009. (Also: an Alcohol Beverage Control scandal in North Carolina)

  • 2010.01.04
    Three years of great beer blogging ended yesterday in the UK. Early 'Stonch' is remembered at Canadian beer blog:

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account:
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Big Bigfoot Tattoo

Big Bigfoot tattoo

A true fan of Bigfoot —Sierra Nevada Brewing's barleywine-style ale— shows his 'big' devotion. His tattoo has since been inked in full color.

A barleywine is not a wine but an ale of close to wine's alcoholic strength. From Sierra Nevada's website:
This year marks the 25th release of Bigfoot®. Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.
  • alcohol content 9.6% by volume
  • beginning gravity 23.0 Plato
  • ending gravity 6.0 Plato
  • bitterness units 90
  • bittering hops Chinook
  • finishing hops Cascade & Centennial
  • dry hopping Cascade, Centennial & Chinook
  • malts Two-row Pale & English Caramel

Pic(k) of the Week: entire series here.

Tuppers' returns!

There have been false starts, rumors, teases, test batches, samples ... but, now, it appears as if the news may indeed be for real:

Tuppers' returns!

MC Tupp

From the Tuppers Beers website:
Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale is in bottles and kegs, and in only a few days trucks will begin bringing them to the Washington DC area. It's pricey and will be in short supply for a while, but we'll be increasing production in the next several weeks, and availability should increase steadily through the winter and spring.

On January 19th [at Hard Times Cafe, in Bethesda, Maryland] starting at 5pm, we'll have the first pouring anywhere of the revived Tuppers' Hop Pocket. Ellie and I will be there; there will be souvenir glasses and door prizes on the hour. Best of all, Hard Times is donating 25% of the entire gross for the night to programs that assist homeless and distressed families.

On the 20th at the Brickskeller, we have our DC inaugural pouring between 7 and 9. Glasses while supplies last; a share of the proceeds will go to Children's Hospital.

On the 21st, Ellie and I will be at Columbia Fire House Restaurant in Old Town [Alexandria] for our Virginia debut.

Almost immediately after its introduction in 1994, Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale, an "extravagantly hopped" pale ale, would be considered by many to be the iconic locally-produced brand of the Washington, D.C. area. Hop Pocket Ale won a gold medal in the American-Style Pale Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival in 1997. The Hop Pocket Pils (not yet re-released) won gold in 2001.

The Old Dominion Brewing Company produced Tuppers' under contract for school teacher/beer raconteur Bob Tupper and scientific editor Ellie Tupper, but when that brewery was sold in 2007, production ended. The 'new' Tuppers is brewed by the St. George Brewing Company in Hampton, Virginia.
  • Photos from the re-inaugural events.
  • More about Bob and Ellie Tupper and their beers: here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Announcing Session #36: Cask-Conditioned Beer

Announcing February 2010's The Session: Beer Blogging Friday.

The Session #36: Cask-Conditioned Beer

The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community begun by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer, and co-moderated with Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

On the first Friday of each month, a predetermined blogger hosts The Session,
chooses a specific, beer-related, topic, invites all bloggers to write on it, and posts a roundup of all the responses received.

For more information and to host a Session, go to the archive page at
the Brookston Beer Bulletin

The Session began its course as a cross-blog discussion of beer styles. Since then, it has veered into beer-lifestyle discussions ... not that there's anything wrong with that! For February's Session, I'd like to return to essays on a beer style, or more precisely, a beer procedure: Cask-conditioned ale.

Cask-conditioned ale —or "real ale" as it is called, somewhat boastfully, by the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), a beer consumer advocacy group in the UK— is defined by that organization as
beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.

Viewers of this blog have read my opinions on cask-conditioned ale, and probably once too often. So, let's hear yours, and not only yours. Why not invite brewers and drinkers and bemused casked-spectators to contribute essays for the Session?

Make the post a definitional thing: other than that CAMRA description, what 'is' cask-conditioned ale? Or, make it an encomium: how cask-conditioned ale will transform the world. Or, make it a style harangue: why saisons, for example, should have no place in a cask, or should.

Or, make your post a lifestyle essay: how you first lost your c-c-a virginity. Make it a cultural debate: how Americans have 'extremed' the cask experience, or how Americans need further lessons from the British.

Make it an ale vs. lager knockdown: can lagers be cask-conditioned? Make it a zymurgical and practical thing: how does your brewery commercially produce and transport cask-conditioned ale?

Make it a 'pesce' PETA thing: can one be a vegetarian and drink cask ale? Make it a beer ticker thing: who makes the best, and who serves the best?

Make it a cellarmanship thing: how should a pub handle a cask? Make it an international thing: where was the most unexpected place you drank a pint of cask-conditioned ale? Make it a geek thing: at what temperature to serve, to sparkle or not sparkle, and how clear should clear be?

Make it a sad story. Make it a love story. But ... make it! And make it here, Friday, February 5.

Write your story (500 to 1,000 words would be fine.), then link to it here on the 5th as a comment or at my own post that day.  A few days later, I'll collate, analyze, comment, and link back. Include some photos, too: of casks, of imbibing their contents, of filling them.

Above all, let's have perspective folks, perspective! Cask-conditioned ale is not a matter of life and death; it's much more.

My thanks, of course, go to Stan Hieronymus and Jay Brooks. They have organized, encouraged, and gently cajoled to get this resource —The Session: Beer Blogging Friday— on the web every month since March of 2007.

**** UPDATE 5 February 2010: Read the stories, blog entries, and essays posted here. ****

If you don't have a blog but wish to contribute, please do!  Cut and paste your essay into the comment form here: If it doesn't fit, use that page to contact me and I'll respond back. Just do it by Thursday 4 February, so that I can post it by the next day!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 52

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 52
27 December 2009 - 2 January 2010

  • 2010.01.02
    There's always room for beer education. I overheard a bar customer who was looking at a wood-clad gravity-tapped keg of Schneider-Weisse: "That's just for show, right?"

  • 2010.01.01
    Today in 1875, the world's oldest trademark was registered: the red triangle for Bass Ale.

  • 2009.12.31
    More demand for fresh local beer! Washington D.C. population to top 600,000 for the first time in decades:

  • 2009.12.31
    Wall Street Journal cancels its wine column. John Brecher & Dorothy Gaiter's final essay: Analysis:

  • 2009.12.31
    Sign of the times. Via @gourmet: Tavern on the Green in Central Park NYC will serve its last meal on New Year's Eve.

  • 2009.12.30
    Penn Brewery -famous for its Penn Pilsner- has reopened with ... its first ever Pale Ale.

  • 2009.12.30
    DuClaw Brewing closes its Fells Point bar. NONE of their other locations to close. More:

  • 2009.12.30
    Great vocal 'pipes' and copywriting. On NPR's Morning Edition since its first broadcast in 1979, announcer Carl Kassel has his final newscast today.

  • 2009.12.30
    A fascinating look at origin of words "beer" and "ale." At blog Zythophile:

  • 2009.12.29
    Chef Bryan Voltaggio of Restaurant Volt pushes Frederick County to be the first county in Maryland to allow restaurant patrons to bring in bottles of wine purchased elsewhere.

  • 2009.12.28
    Beer writer Stephen Beaumont forgoes alcoholic 'bang for the buck' for his selection for 2009 Taste (beer) of the Year. Chooses FLAVOR instead!

  • 2009.12.27
    The Music They Made - a slideshow of musical greats who died in 2009:

  • 2009.12.27
    First there was "Hops and Glory," a recounting of an attempt to recreate Pale Ale's 19th century journey by sailing ship from England to India. Now, an attempt to brew Allsopp's Arctic Ale (and follow its 19th century journey) for a documentary.

  • 2009.12.27
    Digital revolution? Kindle e-books outsell 'real' books on Christmas Day [but ... ]

  • 2009.12.27
    There's always room for beer education. Seen on Twitter: "My thought process when ordering beer - Highest Alcohol Content for the Lowest Price."

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account:
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Kegman


Laimingų Naujųjų Metų:

It's 2010: bring on the beer!

  • "Laimingų Naujųjų Metų"- Lithuanian for "Happy New Year." My grandparents— on both sides— emigrated to the US in the early 20th century.
  • That's not I in the photo. It's Florian Kemp —of the World Beer Festival in Durham, North Carolina— doing the unheralded but essential task of any beer festival.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: entire series here.