Thursday, April 29, 2010

More on Anchor's sea change

the grant at Anchor

Jay Brooks —of Brookston Beer Bulletin— has interviewed Keith Greggor, 1/2 half of the team that purchased iconic Anchor Brewery earlier this week. An ex-pat Englishman, Greggor has an interesting, and shall we say, reassuring background. Here is what he intends for Anchor, at least in the immediate future.
The current employees will all remain and nothing much should change around the brewery at all. John Dannerbeck, current president, will continue in that role, reporting to Greggor after the close. Foglio will then become chairman, and Maytag will remain involved as chairman emeritus. The only changes will likely be in marketing. Additional sales people will be hired and will represent the Anchor, BrewDog and Cooper’s brands. Greggor sees lots of opportunities to grow the brand, and that’s really he and Foglio’s specialty.

Oh, and for the record, the brewery's flagship brand is Anchor Steam; the brewery's name is Anchor Brewery (no 'steam').


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I awoke this morning to startling news.

Anchor Brewing Company —the brewery that begat the good beer renaissance in the United States—  has been sold. Here's the story as it broke Monday evening, 26 April, at the Brookston Beer Bulletin:

The Griffin Group, an investment and consulting company focused on beverage alcohol brands, announced its acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company which includes its portfolio of craft beers and artisan spirits, including the award winning Anchor Steam Beer.

The Griffin Group is led by beverage alcohol veterans, Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, two longtime San Francisco residents who have been working with Anchor Brewing Company’s owner, Fritz Maytag to maintain the iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco.

"Anchor Brewing Company has a long history in San Francisco and The Griffin Group is ushering in an exciting era while maintaining our proud, time-honored history,” said Fritz Maytag. “Combining Keith and Tony’s passion for the Anchor Brewing Company, their industry experience and expertise only means that Anchor will be enjoyed in San Francisco for generations to come."

"Since 1896, Anchor Brewing Company has been an icon of San Francisco’s history and culture,” stated Griffin’s Founding Partner, Keith Greggor, "I am honored to bring Anchor Brewing Company into our family of craft beers and artisanal spirits through establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC."

Anchor Brewery Sold
Jay Brooks
Brookston beer Bulletin
26 April 2010

According to Brooks, Gregor and his business partner achieved their success creating Sky Vodka. They own the US distribution rights to Brew Dog, a small brewery in Scotland, the current rave fave of many in the craft beer world.

The Anchor Brewing Company was founded in San Francisco in 1895 as the Viking Brewing Company. The name was changed to Anchor in 1907.

The brewery was close to folding when graduate student Fritz Maytag —of the Maytag washing machine empire— purchased it in 1965. Its facilities were decrepid, its sales near moribund. The conversion to success took several years of struggle.

There have been many, many, other adventuresome breweries since 1965. But for a good 20 years after Maytag purchased Anchor,  there were few so-called micros at all. Anchor Brewing, and Mr. Maytag,  spawned the good beer revolution.

Now, after 45 years, THE icon of good beer in the United States has been sold. Anchor is not a public museum. It is a for-profit business. Anchor Steam, among several fine beers in the brewery's roster, remains —at present— a damn tasty beverage.

In August 2017, the Japanese conglomerate, Sapporo, purchased Anchor. More: here.

  • The Anchor timeline above was taken from American Breweries II (Dale Van Wieren, 1995). The San Francisco Chronicle mentions a 40 year earlier timeline (here), even though it contradicts itself (here), seeming to side with Wieren. The brewery itself cites the year 1896, at its homepage.
  • UPDATE:  Jay Brooks interviews one of the new owners: here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 16

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 16
18 April 2010 - 24 April 2010

  • 2010.04.24
    Freshness matters for beer ... and for gin:
  • 2010.04.23
    Red wine may protect the brain against stroke damage.
  • 2010.04.23
    Today in 1516: Bavaria Cracks Down on Brewers. Historian Maureen Ogle interviewed on the Reinheitsgebot, the Bavarian Purity Law.
  • 2010.04.22
    Fermenting, aging, and blending gueuze-lambic beer in oak barrels —in a garage— at home:
  • Max's Casy Hard
  • 2010.04.22
    Beer writer Lew Bryson says Casey Hard —cellarman/GM at Maxs Taphouse of Baltimore, MD— is insane, in a good way. Why? He's just increased his draft beer lines to 102.
  • 2010.04.22
    The Pennsylvania Beer Debate: Should Six-Packs Be Sold At Grocery Stores? VIDEO: Beer writer says yes vs. the distributors.
  • 2010.04.22
    Facebook expands its reach into numerous third-party sites, such as The Washington Post.
  • 2010.04.21
    When you're confused: Category 23. Beer's catch-all category style, as designated by the Brewers Association.
  • 2010.04.21
    Have the wines of Spanish Rioja been unjustly overlooked?
  • 2010.04.18
    Potential economic impact of the Icelandic volcano eruption:
  • 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, April 25, 2010

Writer Gene Lees tells his last tale

Jazz is greatest when it tells a story. On Thursday, the world of jazz lost one of its story tellers, Gene Lees. Mr. Lees didn't play jazz, but he wrote about it. Here's a portion of an appreciation from the Washington Post:

He wrote biographies of bandleader Woody Herman, Mercer and the composing team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe and was the co-author of Henry Mancini's autobiography. At the time of his death, Mr. Lees had almost completed a biography of Shaw.

Lees wrote about jazz as it was in the world in which it found itself (and does to some extent today):

Mr. Lees also wrote a biography of pianist Oscar Peterson, a fellow Canadian. After making headlines in the 1950s with an article detailing how a white barber refused to cut Peterson's hair, Mr. Lees often wrote about matters of race, sometimes in unexpected and challenging ways. His 2001 book, "You Can't Steal a Gift," assessed the racial burden faced by black musicians Nat "King" Cole, Gillespie, Milt Hinton and Clark Terry.

"These guys all had reason to be bitter and were not," Mr. Lees wrote. "That is a triumph of the human spirit."

Lees wrote lyrics to jazz melodies, as well, some of which have become standards. Here's Matt Shreudle of the Washington Post:
Lees wrote some memorable lyrics of his own, most notably with Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Here are the haunting opening lines [to  Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars, or Corcavado]:

Quiet nights of quiet stars,
Quiet chords from my guitar,
Floating on the silence
That surrounds us.

Lees wrote the lyrics to one of my favorite jazz melodies, pianist Bill Evans' wistful Waltz For Debby. I was fortunate to hear Mr. Evans in person at the Village Vanguard a few months before his death in 1980.
Someday all too soon
She'll grow up and she'll leave her dolls
and her prince and that silly old bear.
When she goes they will cry
As she whispers, "Good-bye."
They will miss her, I fear,
But then so will I.

Gene Lees' books currently available at Amazon: here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birthday in Beer: Bob Skilnik

Today's Birthday in Beer belongs to Bob Skilnik, the author of Beer & Food: An American History. He's written a well-researched story of beer in America from Colonial days to the present, in which he places beer in context, connecting it with the nation's food and cuisine. The book is one part history, one part beer-as-ingredient cookbook, and one part beer myth exposé.

Beer & Food

Bob is definitely a beer curmudgeon; he delights in deflating beer myths. For example, from his blog, Beer (and more) in Food, you'll learn:
  • what Ben Franklin did NOT say about beer
  • the true history of Pilgrims and beer and the first Thanksgiving
  • how beer came to be available on the very day the manufacturing of 3.2% alcohol-by-weight beer became legal in 1933. 
The beer now available had been brewed under the old Prohibition formula for near beer. <...> This would explain how the brewers had hundreds of thousands of cases of beer ready for sale in such a short period of time. After all, old-time local brewers had been stating for decades that their beer required two months for lagering purposes. Despite the loud protests of local brewers, Chicagoans were getting a weakened version of the kind of beer they had drunk before Prohibition. City brewers continued to insist that their beer was up to government standards but week-end arrests for drunkenness indicated otherwise. Police records showed only 63 persons were charged with drunkenness on Saturday night in Chicago. This was about one-third of the normal arrest figures during a typical Prohibition-era week-end.

Bob is a young 72 today. His blog is subtitled  Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!. That's appropriate.

  • Bob is the author of Does My Butt look Big in This Beer, which lists nutritional analyses for 2,000 beers.
  • More of my short list of Birthdays in Beer: here.
  • Follow the Brookston Beer Bulletin's much more comprehensive calendar of beer birthdays. It's a marvelous resource for learning more about the folk who brew, deliver, and write and talk about beer.

Pic(k) of the Week: The Best Cheese Ever?

the most delicious cheese ever?



... So says Sara, the cheesemonger at River City Cellars, in Richmond, Virginia.

The river in question is the James River. The cheese in question is an aged Gouda, from the Netherlands. Say 'GOO-dah,' or, if you're traveling in the Low Countries, say 'KHOW-dah,' sounding as if you were about to clear your throat (but won't).

Gouda, a cow's milk cheese, has a fairly high milk-fat content —near 50%— a chewy loaf, and a nutty/creamy flavor. But, ah, when it's been aged! It takes on a firmer cheddar-like texture, it deepens in color to near orange, it gains a rich nutty/sharp/sweet complexity, and it sprouts crunchy crystals of lactic acid, derived from the fermentation of cheese's sugar —lactose.

Pair your Gouda with a nutty beer, like a märzen, or a toasty beer like a bock, or a doppelbock, with its sweet plummy flavors. Delightful.

  • More about cheese-with-beer here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 15

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 15
11 April 2010 - 17 April 2010

  • 2010.04.17
    Washington DC's 9:30 Club turns 30.
  • 2010.04.17
    Beer historian finds that English brewers did NOT line casks with pitch. Germans did.
  • 2010.04.17
    Clarendon, VA brasserie Lyon Hall set to open 'officially' on Tuesday, 20 April 2010. 20 beer taps.
  • Lyon Hall to open (02)
  • 2010.04.17
    7-Eleven to sell private-label beer called "Game Day." To be brewed by City Brewing of Lacrosse Wisconsin.
  • 2010.04.17
    Proposed US House Bill H.R. 5034 would “reaffirm primary authority of states under 21st Amendment to regulate alcoholic beverages.”
  • 2010.04.17
    China buying significant portion of Canadian barley malt. To impact prices for small brewers?
  • 2010.04.17
    Interent URL shortening service and Twitter call it quits:
  • 2010.04.16
    Maxs Taphouse in Baltimore, Maryland set to expand draft beer selection to 102 (+ 6 casks). Thursday 22 April:
  • Siciliana Pizza
  • 2010.04.16
    Leesburg, Virginia's Fire Works Pizza opening second location in Clarendon, Virginia, mid-June. 31 drafts, 2 casks, 100s bottles, wines.
  • 2010.04.16
    How to be a 'good' beer geek: The Beer Geek Manifesto:
  • 2010.04.16
    First UK winner of World's Best Sommelier competition.
  • 2010.04.16
    #FollowFriday. A list of 15 DC/MD/VA breweries on Twitter:
  • 2010.04.16
    Icelandic volcano’s ash plume as seen by NASA satellite.
  • 2010.04.16
    Possibly the largest beer dinner ever (2000 diners) at the World Beer Cup.
  • Bauer Gruner Veltliner
  • 2010.04.14
    Gruner Veltliner: "get your mouth around" Austria's 'food-friendly' white wine.
  • 2010.04.14
    Top 50 small US breweries: #1 is Boston Beer. Of all US breweries: Yuengling #4. Boston #5.
  • Bordeaux Bottle Wrap
  • 2010.04.14
    An audio pronunciation guide to top Bordeaux properties.
  • 2010.04.14
    Zythophile on the slightly soured character of British porter c.1800-1875.
  • 2010.04.14
    Northern Virginia homebrewer is also a home meat smoker. With recipes.
  • 2010.04.12
    There's another new brewery in Baltimore, Maryland: Bawlmer Craft Beers.
  • 2010.04.12
    Top US states for beer consumption per capita.
  • 2010.04.12
    Analysis of 2010 World Beer Cup competition results: and
  • 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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Saxman

Baseball's Opening Day is a sure sign of warm weather to come, days getting longer.

So it was, 5 April, 2010, in Washington, D.C.: bright sunshine and the temperature, unseasonably warm, at 85 °F.

This gentleman was playing his sax, positioned alongside of the half-block of Half Street leading from the Navy Yard Metro Station to the centerfield ballpark entrance of Nationals Park.

President Obama would throw out the first pitch, high and outside to the left. The Washington Nationals would lose to the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-1. But the beer was cold, and the jazz, hot.

  • Nationals Park is easy to get to via Metrorail. Blue, Orange lines to L'Enfant Plaza. OR Red, Yellow lines to Gallery Place. Either, transfer to Green Line toward Branch Avenue. Exit at Navy Yard Station. Turn left on Half Street.
  • JDLand is an informative blog of the Near Southeast/Ballpark district. Look for the photos and stories of the stadium's construction.
  • Fun with Corel Paint Shop Pro: see the original full color version of the photo: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 14

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 14
4 April 2010 - 10 April 2010

  • 2010.04.10
    Lying in the defense of anti-competitive business practice is no vice, US Circuit court rules:
  • 2010.04.10
    Missing four W.Va. coal miners found dead. 29 perished:
  • 2010.04.10
    Social justice, mentoring, and good beer: Kim Jordan of New Belgium interviewed.
  • Spring afternoon tipple
  • 2010.04.10
    Studies suggest that beer -in moderation- has more health benefits than red wine in preventing heart disease.
  • 2010.04.10
    Fare at Orioles' Camden Yards ballpark includes beer from Fordham, Heavy Seas, and Flying Dog:
  • Down the drain
  • 2010.04.10
    Good real ale cellarmanship means sometimes you lose some beer.
  • 2010.04.09
    President Obama asks for beer. Maine craft-beer industry responds.
  • 2010.04.09
    Three honored at Craft Brewers Conference. Brewers Association Recognition Award: Larry Bell (Bells). Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation: Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada Brewing). F.X. Matt Defense of Industry Award: Steve Hindy (Brooklyn Brewery)
  • 2010.04.09
    Fascinating give and take (the discussion continues into the comments): "On Beer and Its Value":
  • 2010.04.09
    Twitter #FollowFriday. A list of Twitter-ers I follow for beer information: @Cizauskas/beer-14
  • 2010.04.08
    Virginia wines set for Twitter Taste-off 25 April at 2nd annual conference, Lansdowne Resort, VA:
  • 2010.04.07
    2010 Craft Brewers Conference, in Chicago, IL: 7-10 April 2010.
  • 2010.04.07
    For first time in over 100 years, a California condor chick has hatched in a US park.
  • 2010.04.07
    140 beer styles guideline revised by Brewers Association for the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.
  • 2010.04.05
    Whole Foods pulls Lindemans fruit lambics nationwide
  • 2010.04.05
    Good news from Bordeaux 2009: "Pretty damned good, and the best may be mythic."
  • 2010.04.04
    Tom Colicchio arrives in Washington DC today to start filming Top Chef.

  • 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, April 11, 2010

Thank you for reading

As of December 2011, Wikio's rankings have been ported to a company called eBuzzing. Even though the rankings continue to be updated, an error message appears when clicking on the link. Here's what Jay Brooks of Brookston Beer Bulletin had to say:

the name has changed from Wikio to eBuzzing. <...>

If you have a widget and clicked on the link, you may also have noticed that it goes nowhere, to a “404 Error Not Found” page. Several people have written me, wondering what’s going on, and sadly, I’ve been unable to shed any light on the situation. They’re not exactly showing that the North American market is very important to them or their business. Gerard Walen, from RoadTrips4Beer, posted on their UK blog and got the following reply:

"For the moment US rankings have not been incorporated into the site. We will notify you once the US rankings are once more included at the same high quality as our European rankings."

It seems that today, 11 April 2010 —according to the website— Yours For Good is the 26th highest ranked US-based blog in the Food and Wine category. No mention of beer.

First: What is Wikio? is an information portal with a news search engine that searches press sites and blogs. ... It is the number 1 news aggregator in Europe [I blog from the USA.] indexing over 200,000 English-language sources.

Second: How are the rankings compiled?

Wikio bases them on links from other blogs. Here's how it describes the algorithm:

The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. Our algorithm accords a greater value to links from blogs placed higher up in the ranking.

A blog linking another blog is only counted once a month i.e. if blog A links to blog B 10 times in a given month, it is only counted as having linked to that blog once that month. The weight of any link decreases over time. Also, if a blog always links to the same blog, the weight of these links is decreased.

Only links found in RSS feeds are counted. Blogrolls are not taken into account.
Our rankings are updated on a monthly basis and also include Top Blogs for several categories: Technology, Politics, etc. New categories will be added on a regular basis.

Third: I wonder about the methodology. There are several excellent beer blogs that did not make the cut. For just a few, peruse the blogrolls to the right.

Even so, for at least today, I'll take a wee bit of pride in what I've attempted to do since first going 'on air' in September of 2002: to spread the news of good beer —and wine, food, and spirits— and to correct misconceptions and bad practices that bedevil them. Sometimes I have been successful; sometimes, less so. In the process, however, I may have become a better writer; at least, I would like to think so.

Thank you for reading (and linking). There's much more to write.

October 2010: 26 (Wikio creates Beer category. YFGF still in Wine only category.)
September 2010: 19 (Upon request, Wikio moves YFGF to Wine, as no beer category exists.)
August 2010: 71 (Wikio separates Food from Wine category. Leaves YFGF in Food only category.)
July 2010: 22
June 2010: 20
May 2010: 20
April 2010: 26

  • The Top 100 Wikio rankings: here.
  • Pete Brown's view of the whole Wikio ranking thing, from the UK: here.

DC/MD/VA brewers vs. the world

The World Beer Cup is the global flip-side of the Great American Beer Festival. The GABF occurs once every year, in Denver. The WBC is conducted bi-annually, with no real festival, but the results are announced at the conclusion of that year's US Craft Brewers Conference, which itself is held in a different US city every year. The US-based Brewers Association produces both competitions. This year, Chicago, Illinois, was the site, 7-10 April.

Breweries had the choice of 90 (!) categories in which to enter a beer, for a bronze, silver, or gold medal in each. Out of 270 possible awards, 268 were awarded at at a gala beer dinner on Saturday night. The judges declined to award top honors in the categories of Foreign-Style Stout and the clumsily-named American-Belgo-Style Ale.

a record crowd of 2,000 people attended the awards dinner for the World Beer Cup. It is believed to have been the world’s largest beer dinner, and the five course meal was created and prepared by [beer writer] Randy Mosher and Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef.

World Beer Cup Awards 2010
by Jay Brooks
April 10, 2010
Brookston Beer Bulletin

World Beer Cup 2010

The list of winners: here.


As I'm a charter member of C.R.A.B.B. (Chesapeake Region Alliance of Beer Bloggers), it's time now for me to be a proud hometown blogger.

Out of those 268 awards, 14 went to 8 breweries in Virginia and Maryland (but, unfortunately, none to the three brewpubs in the District of Columbia). One of those Virginia breweries, Devils Backbone, and its brewer, Jason Oliver, were honored as the Brewers Association World Beer Cup 2010 Champion Small Brewpub and Brewmaster .

  • English-Style India Pale Ale (category #53)
    Silver Medal: Brewer's Alley India Pale Ale
    Brewer's Alley Restaurant and Brewery: Frederick, MD
    brewer: Tom Flores
    PERSPECTIVE: Tom began his mid-Atlantic brewing career as the original head brewer for Clipper City Brewing Company in 1995. He joined Brewers Alley in 1998. His IPA recently won bronze at the 2009 GABF.

  • Aged Beer (category #19)
    Silver Medal: Gonzo Imperial Porter Vintage 2007
    Flying Dog Brewery: Frederick, MD
    brewer: Bob Malone
    PERSPECTIVE: Flying Dog is the reining Mid Size U.S. Brewery of the Year, winning that honor at the 2009 GABF.

  • Classic English-Style Pale Ale (category #52)
    Bronze Medal: Heavy Seas Pale Ale
    Heavy Seas Brewing Co.: Baltimore, MD
    (formerly known as Clipper City Brewing)
    brewer: Ernesto Igot
    PERSPECTIVE: Mr. Igot (pronounced "EEE go") was the brewmaster for San Miguel, in Manilla, Phillipines, for 25 years. He retired, moved his family to the US, and joined Clipper City in 1999.

  • Golden or Blonde Ale (category #79)
    Gold Medal: Heavy Seas Gold Ale
    Heavy Seas Brewing Co.: Baltimore, MD

  • Vienna-Style Lager (category #27)
    Bronze Medal: Heavy Seas Märzen (formerly know as Balto MärzHon)
    Heavy Seas Brewing Co.: Baltimore, MD
    PERSPECTIVE: This beer has medaled 5 years in a row: 4 times at the GABF.

  • Scottish-Style Ale (category #57)
    Gold Medal: Highland Courage
    Rock Bottom Brewery: Bethesda, MD
    brewer: Geoff Lively
    PERSPECTIVE: Brewer Geoff Lively has accumulated a plenitude of awards for his beers. Click on the brewery link for his resume.

  • American-Style Wheat Beer (category #2)
    Silver Medal: Rockfish Wheat
    Blue Mountain Brewery: Afton, VA.
    brewer: Taylor Smack
    PERSPECTIVE: Blue Mountain was the first brewery in the mid-Atlantic to package its beers in cans.

  • Baltic-Style Porter (category #40)
    Gold Medal: Danzig
    Devils Backbone Brewing Co.: Roseland, VA
    brewer: Jason Oliver
    PERSPECTIVE: Devils Backbone has been in operation for less than two years. At the 2009 GABF, it garnered four medals. Now, a few months later, Devils Backbone and its brewer, Jason Oliver, have won four medals in this global competition and have been honored as the World Beer Cup 2010 Champion Small Brewpub and Brewmaster. For several years prior, Jason was the brewer for the Gordon-Biersch brewpub in Washington, D.C.

  • Coffee Flavored Beer (category #7)
    Bronze Medal: Morning Bear
    Devils Backbone Brewing Co.: Roseland, VA
    German-Style Schwarzbier (category #30)

  • Bronze Medal: Schwartz Bier (category #30)
    Devils Backbone Brewing Co.: Roseland, VA

  • Traditional German-Style Bock (category #31)
    Bronze Medal: Kollaborator
    Devils Backbone Brewing Co.: Roseland, VA

  • Traditional German-Style Bock (category #31)
    Silver Medal: Sidewinder Bock
    Great American Restaurants: Centreville, VA
    (also known as Sweetwater Tavern)
    Brewer: Nick Funnell
    PERSPECTIVE: A degreed British brewmaster, Nick Funnell has won many awards over his nearly 15 year career at Sweetwater. Most recently at the 2009 GABF, his beers garnered two awards. A chef at another of the restaurant/brewery's three locations was a contestant on Gordon Ramsey's 'reality' cooking competition, Hells' Kitchen.

  • Coffee Flavored Beer (category #7)
    Gold Medal: Dude! Where's My Vespa?
    Rock Bottom Brewery: Arlington, VA
    brewer: Dave Warwick
    PERSPECTIVE: Originally formulated by long-time past head brewer Chris Rafferty, this beer, brewed with locally roasted coffee beans, took an earlier gold at the 2009 GABF.

  • Rye Beer (category #4)
    Gold: Harvest Moon Rye
    Rock Bottom Brewery: Arlington, VA

Support your local brewery. The Mid-Atlantic has award-winning breweries and beers right here at home.

Caveat lector: As an employee of northern Virginia wine/beer wholesaler Select Wines, inc., I sell the beer of Heavy Seas in northern Virginia.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Proud Papa

It's always a special day for a brewer when his brewhouse arrives. Here, Bill Madden stands next to his 465 gallon (or so) brewkettle. It had just arrived after a 2,250 mile journey from manufacturer Premier Stainless in California to Bill's soon-to-open brewpub Mad Fox Brewing Company, in Falls Church, Virginia.

Proud Papa

The term brewhouse refers to the collection of vessels, equipment, and tubing with which a brewer brews his beer (sometimes referred to as hot-side operations), as opposed to the vessels in which fermentation occurs (i.e., cold-side). A brewhouse typically includes:
  • mash tun (where the barley malt is steeped until its starches are converted into brewing sugars)
  • lauter tun -pronounced like 'louder' but with a 't'- (where the solution of brewing sugars, called wort -pronounced like 'word' but with a 't'- is separated from the mash)
  • hot water tanks (referred to as hot liquor tanks)
  • brewkettle (in traditional British brewing referred to as a copper, named for the metal with which brewkettles, now fabricated of stainless steel, were formerly made.)
  • whirlpool (in which the hot wort is separated, after the boil, from suspended solids such as spent hops and proteins)
  • heat exchanger (where the boiling wort is chilled to fermentation temperature
  • other assorted equipment and tubing
In the interest of cost efficiency, a large production brewery relies upon all of these vessels to minimize the time in which it takes to brew a beer —often brewing 3 to 4 batches per day— and to maximize the extraction of brewing sugars. Brewpubs and other small breweries, due to size (and monetary) constraints, will use vessels that combine various of these functions. Thus a mash tun and lauter tun will often be built as one vessel to sit atop a hot liquor tank; a whirlpool will often be integrated into a kettle, etc.

The quality of the finished beer, whether from a larger brewery or from a brewpub utilizing smaller, combined equipment, stems from the skillful practices of the brewer.

  • More photos from the brewhouse delivery: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Beer was freed today

Today in 1933, beer —or at least a small version thereof— became legal again in the USA.

On that day, Congress decreed —upon the urging of President Franklin D. Roosevelt— that beer of 3.2% alcohol or less should be considered non-intoxicating, and thus —even though Prohibition would not be repealed until December of that year— legal to manufacture and transport under the 18th Amendment.

Have a beer in celebration today —of any strength!

Read more here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 13

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 13
28 March 2010 - 3 April 2010

  • 2010.04.03
    American 'macro' lagers as rated via @ratebeer: (Spoiler alert: AB InBev's Rolling Rock is no.1)
  • 2010.04.03 now showing up in Google Maps reviews section for beer locations. Useful good-beer search resource.
  • 2010.04.03
    Is Pilsener (Pilsner) a beer style or a beer from Plzen?
  • 2010.04.02
    Twitter #FollowFriday today is @FritzHahn of the Washington Post Going Out Gurus @goingoutguide. Beer, music, nightlife, and more
  • 2010.04.01
    Tickets for the 12 June 2010 World Beer Festival in Richmond VA are now on sale.
  • First Draw
  • 2010.04.01
    The UK Guardian rips into 'real ale'. Beer author Pete Brown rips back 9in the comments section).
  • 2010.03.31
    DRAFT Magazine selects 150 Best Beer Bars. In Washington D.C., excludes Churchkey.
  • 2010.03.31
    The viognier wines of Virginia, reviewed.
  • 2010.03.31
    Gemütlichkeit for Washington, DC: H St. Biergarten opening next month. All-German beer menu with 12 taps.
  • 2010.03.30
    January 30 1835: the first known use of the expression "India Pale Ale."
  • 2010.03.29
    The music lives on. Jazz guitarist Herb Ellis has died at age 88.
  • Main course: vegetarian
  • 2010.03.28
    Beer-and-food pairings from the Brewers Association. Reviewed:


  • 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, April 04, 2010

More good good-beer news for NoVa

2010 is an exciting year in which to be a good-beer fan in northern Virginia.

Mad Fox Brewing Company —a brewpub— is scheduled to open in Falls Church in June.

Pizzeria Paradiso —already operating two good-beer-with-good-pizza restaurants in Washington, D.C.— is opening its third location, in Alexandria, also in June.

Nick Anderson at the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News reports in the April-May issue that Port City Brewing Company is opening in Alexandria, and that Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia —both formerly of Dominion Brewing Company— will be opening their brewery, 28 North Custom Beer Works, in Ashburn in June.

Not in northern Virginia, but just across the Potomac River, the Brasserie Beck group has announced plans to open a Belgian-style brewpub.

I reported earlier on four other good-beer emporiums slated to open soon in Arlington.

The newest news is really more of a rumor. I've been told, third-person, that a German brewery has plans to open a brewpub in South Arlington. Whether there is more to this story, or whether it is incorrect, I don't know.

But stay tuned. At least for beer, the recession seems to be fast receding.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: The pause that refreshes.

Caution: brewer working

19 July 2008, at the Clipper City Brewing Company (since renamed Heavy Seas Brewing), in Baltimore, Maryland:

Brewer Chris Mallon, his shift completed, cools off with a 'quality-control' sample. The 1,600 gallons of wort, boiling in the kettle, only added to the sauna-like condition of mid-summer in the mid-Atlantic.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Punk'd: An unholy CORRECTION

Yesterday, I published a story about the first and only Trappist brewery in the United States, in Stuttgart, Arkansas. That would be a wonderful thing ... except that the story was NOT TRUE. Yesterday was April Fools Day.

For verisimilitude, and with permission, I pretended to have 'broken' this news. Now, a day later, the truth should be told.

The Catholic monks of the Trappist/Cistercian order DO INDEED operate breweries on the grounds of six of their abbeys in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. But they do NOT operate a brewing abbey here in the United States.

I was not the original perpetrator of this April Fools' prank. Here is the real story of this nearly 20 year old hoax, from the real author.

Jim Dorsch originally broke the "news" of a new Trappist brewpub in Southwest Brewing News in the early 1990s. That story caused a Canadian tourist to spend a good part of a day fruitlessly searching Stuttgart, Ark.

The story was revived a few years later in American Brewer, by which time the brewpub had 'relocated' to Kokomo, Ind. The article elicited a letter from a lawyer working for the Trappists, resulting in the magazine's running a retraction and clarifying that there was in fact no such brewpub.

At this point the story took on a life of its own, as it became the pretext of a practical joke (which the author had nothing to do with) played on the Beer Hunter himself. As the author understands it, Michael Jackson [the late great British beer writer] had called the brewpub's toll-free number (don't even ask) and arranged to meet with the brother in charge of the brewpub. He found himself in a less than ideal situation when a taxi discharged him outside a Chicago bar that was definitely not the type of establishment that a good Trappist brother would frequent.

Jim Dorsch is a beer writer, a past editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and the current editor of American Brewer Magazine. He graciously gave me permission to re-print the piece (and, as part of the prank, to wait a day to reveal his identity). I updated it only slightly (Texas Stadium to Cowboys Stadium), changed Brother Bernard to Brother James (in Jim's honor), and added the bit on Extreme Unction.

I began yesterday's blog with mention of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia. That part of the story is, in fact, true. The monastery offers solitude, and the monks make bread, jams, and other comestibles. But the good brothers there do NOT brew beer. As the proverb goes: in Heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The 8th Trappist brewery ... but in the US!

The Washington Post published a story in its Sunday Magazine about a Cistercian monastery in Berryville, Virginia. The abbey is an hour or so west of Washington, D.C., but miles away in terms of sensibility and quiet. The Catholic monks practice a strict code of silence.

The Silent Treatment: A quiet vacation at Virginia's Holy Cross Abbey in the Shenandoah Valley
Rachel Manteuffel
Sunday, March 28, 2010

To help sustain the Holy Cross Abbey, rooms are offered for quiet retreat, and bread, honey, and jams are produced for sale.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, the Cistercians, also known as the Trappists, sustain their order by producing beer. It's a time-honored tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages. Seven monasteries there still do so. Of their beers, Chimay is the most well-known, and Westvleteren the most acclaimed.

ADVISORY: This story was posted on April Fools Day. While the above information is true, what follows below is NOT TRUE. It's a wonderful hoax that's been circulating for nearly 20 years. Other than the introduction, I did not write the piece. I re-printed it with permission. Go here for the back story.


Now, there's an eighth Trappist brewery, and it's here, in the U.S.

With scant fanfare, a Cistercian enclave in Arkansas began brewing 'Trappist-style' ales late last year. True to their calling, the Arkansan brothers plan to produce only enough to maintain the abbey and its small community. Contrary to their Belgian brewing brethren, they eschew a website. In fact, they prohibit photography in the brewery. But fortunately for us laity, the monks operate a brewpub on the abbey grounds, in which the rules of strict silence are not enforced.

Through a beery six-degrees-of-separation, I became acquainted with Brother James, the monastery's 'brewing brother.' Soon after the pub was opened to the public, he invited me for an inside the brewery tour. Here is an excerpt from an article written for publication.

It appears that Brother Patrick is taking a prayer break as I enter the Blessed Sacrament Brewpub at the edge of Stuttgart, Arkansas. When I take a seat on a simple wood stool, I see he's merely washing beer goblets behind the massive mahogany bar of the New World's first Trappist brewpub. Brother Patrick seems a lucky young man indeed; as bartender, he's permitted to speak in the course of his work, a lofty privilege in this bastion of silence and contemplation. "My privilege is not to speak," says the fresh-scrubbed 24-year-old as he neatly stacks clean goblets on the back bar, "but to serve and support our works."

Brother Patrick's discourse is interrupted by the entrance of a sprightly, robed figure, Brother James, the brewpub's 68-year-young founder and brewmaster. Brother James sweeps up his arms in welcome, then rushes up and vigorously shakes my hand in both of his. Before showing me around the premises, Brother James orders samples of his three regular beers, and a light lunch of dense, crusty bread slathered with a fragrant, soft goat cheese. Many of the kitchen's ingredients, including the bread and cheese, come from the adjacent Blessed Sacrament Monastery.

"The idea for this enterprise came about on a 2004 trip to Belgium, where I attended church meetings and became acquainted with Trappist ales," Brother James explains. The idea remained just that until August 2008, when the monastery--where Brothers James and Patrick and 25 other monks live and work--sought to capitalize a traditional Trappist craft venture with cash thrown off by its other activities.

Brother James was ready when the call came. He enrolled in the Diploma Course at Chicago's Siebel Institute of Technology and apprenticed at Abdij der Trappisten, brewer of Westmalle Trappist ales. "I selected Westmalle because they brew a full range of Trappist ales, from singel to tripel," says Brother James. He engaged a Belgian contractor to construct a traditional Trappist brewhouse from parts scrounged from the many small Belgian breweries that have closed in recent years. The first brews emerged in December 2009.

After lunch, Brother James leads me through the kitchen to the brewery, where robed brewery workers tend to a batch of the brewery's exquisite Tripel. High on a sea green, tiled wall a crucifix is prominently displayed in the fashion of Belgium's Trappist breweries. "It's very important that we adhere to tradition as much as practicable," says Brother James, gesturing toward the 50-hectoliter, solid copper, gas-fired kettle that was built in 1926 for Brouwerij Holjschmook, a 1986 victim of Belgium's pernicious trend of brewery consolidation. The large brewhouse was bought with an eye to wholesale trade, a prophecy already coming into play.

A stairway goes down to the fermentation room, where the heady perfume of young Trappist brews wafts from two rows of 100-hl open wooden fermenters. Another door opens onto a room whose walls are lined with kegs. One of the brewery's sole concessions to modernity, the stainless kegs sit silently conditioning before being served upstairs at the bar.

Blessed Sacrament Brewpub serves Dubbel and Tripel as well as Singel, a style that's usually not sold, but is traditionally consumed by Trappist monks with their meals. All are cask-conditioned, carbonated by priming with a hopped sugar solution and dispensed via beer engines. The beers are fermented with a mix of two strains of yeast, whose source Brother James declines to identify. All are hopped with Cascades and Kent Goldings, giving a nod to both Old and New Worlds. To obtain the proper flavor, Brother James purchases white and dark candy sugar from a Belgian supplier.

Singel is a delicately dry, herbal golden ale with original gravity 12° Plato (1048), 5.1% alcohol by volume and 22 bitterness units (BUs). It is made from pale malt and a small amount of white candy sugar. The beer undergoes two weeks of secondary fermentation and a week of warm conditioning in cask.

Dubbel is a chewy, yeasty brew made from pale and caramel malts and a proportion of dark candy sugar. This beer is maltier than the Singel, and has notes of currant and banana. Dubbel's two-hour boil over gas flame enhances its caramel notes. Secondary fermentation lasts two weeks, before reyeasting and two weeks' warm-conditioning. It has original gravity 16.5° Plato (1066), 6.4% alcohol by volume and 20 BUs.

Blessed Sacrament's Tripel is the best reason ever for a trip to Stuttgart, Ark. This immense beer has original gravity 22° Plato (1088), 9.8% alcohol by volume and 25 BUs. Tripel is brewed from pale malt and white candy sugar. It has an astonishing lack of alcohol flavor for such a strong brew. The beer receives a full three weeks of secondary fermentation and three weeks' warm-conditioning. It has a dry, flowery character, and more of the herbal notes that mark the Singel.

Brother James now leads me into a room set off from the primary fermenters. He closes the door. There I see another open fermenter, this one rectangular, topped with a huge head of barmy foam. And I certainly can smell it. Brother James sanitizes a sampling tube, dips it into the froth, and pours a small sample into a vial for me to taste. "We ferment this beer with a melange of airborne yeasts that we harvested in the open in Belgium," he tells me. In a nod to American sensibilities, the brothers have invested the brew with an elevated level of hops, estimating over 90 BUs. It tastes fruity, earthy, and barnyardy, redolent of a dog let into the house after a roll in the mud. "It's our 'wild' beer," he says, with an ever so Trappist hint of a chuckle. "We've named it 'Extreme Unction.'"

How did Stuttgart, Arkansas, accept its first brewpub? "At first the community was unsure of what we were doing. They began coming when we instituted Saturday night Bingo, and business slowly increased on other days of the week," Brother James says, adding that his establishment is closed Sundays. Just months after opening, the 75-seat bar and 120-seat dining room are often filled from dinner until closing at 11:00. And the brewpub is becoming a regular stop on Stuttgart's power circuit.

Demand for Brother James' beers is rising fast, to the point that he plans to purchase a bottling line and begin selling 75-cl corked bottles in area grocery stores. Until then, lucky patrons will hope to take home one of the few hand-bottled specimens. The brewery supplies kegs for parties and home use, and hopes to establish draft accounts in area bars.

Brother James strives to make a name for his products, and Trappist ales in general, by establishing a small number of key accounts. "We contacted fellow Arkansan Jerry Jones and he introduced us to the concessionaire at Cowboys Stadium. We believe our Singel will be sold at Cowboys games next season," he says.

Back at the bar, Brother James asks Brother Patrick to draw me a Tripel while the kitchen produces an asparagus and cheese omelet. The fresh flavors of food and beer meld exquisitely. I close my eyes and turn my head skyward, at peace with the notion that there is a heaven, and it may be right where I am sitting.

ADVISORY: This story was posted on April Fools Day. It is NOT TRUE. It's a wonderful hoax that's been circulating for nearly 20 years. Other than the introduction, I did not write the piece. I re-printed it with permission. Go here for the back story.