Monday, May 31, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for 2010 Weeks 20, 21

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeeks 20,21
16 May 2010 - 29 May 2010

  • 2010.05.28
    Chef Boyardee to buy Pabst Brewing.
  • 2010.05.28
    Twitter #FollowFriday hashmark for news of the beer scene in the Washington, D.C. metro area: #DCBrews
  • 2010.05.28
    Anheuser-Busch InBev may be selling Bass, Boddington, and other beer brands.
  • 2010.05.20
    After 44 years in business, The Alpine — an Arlington, Virginia, restaurant— has closed.
  • 2010.05.20
    Norton: America's (Virginia's) home-grown red wine grape?
  • 2010.05.20
    There's always room for more beer education. Most of the cloudiness of a hefeweizen is NOT caused so much by yeast but more so by wheat proteins.
  • 2010.05.19
    U.S. Congress passes American Craft Beer Week resolution.
  • 2010.05.19
    So you want to open a micro-distillery? Read about the 2010 Whiskey and Moonshine Distilling Conference.
  • 2010.05.19
    So you want to build a brewpub? How Mad Fox Brewing of Falls Church, Virginia, built its kettle flue to keep condo owners happy.
  • 2010.05.18
    Virginia liquor store privatization gains momentum.
  • 2010.05.18
    Remembering a pioneer of the craft beer industry. Today is the birthday of Bert Grant; he opened the 1st US brewpub.
  • 2010.05.17
    Hank Jones —pianist, innovator, gentleman— has died. His jazz legacy endures.
  • 2010.05.17
    New York City honors Brooklyn's brewing history: More on the city's influential Bushwick Pilsners:
  • American Craft Beer Week
  • 2010.05.17
    Happy American Craft Beer Week: May 17-23, 2010.
  • 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, May 30, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Mild!

An ale aptly named Mild simply isn't going to catch the imagination of many US craft beer drinkers. Their predilection is more often for beers big, strong, bitter. In other words, not mild.

They don't know what they're missing.

Dark Horse Mild

What a Mild Ale actually is has transmogrified over the history of the style.

According to British beer historian Ron Pattinson, mild, in the 18th and 19th centuries, may have referred to more-ish, unvatted, 'young' beer. Nowadays, Mild Ale is usually brewed as a gently roasty or toasted dark-brown ale (although there are paler iterations), to less than 4.5% alcohol by volume (abv), with lesser hop aromas and only gentle bitterness (per the U.S.-based Beer Judge Certification Program).

These latter-day Mild Ales are thirst-quenching but they certainly are not bland. At their low alcohol levels —'standard' beers hover about 5% abv, while many craft beers are significantly higher— Mild Ales are often referred to as "session beers": drink a couple in 'a session' at the pub, and safely blow a .01 into a breathalyser.

In the UK, May is Mild Ale Month. In the US, few brewpubs —let alone breweries— produce a mild or celebrate the month. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, Pratt Street Alehouse of Baltimore, Maryland, is one that does.

I enjoyed a pint of the brewery's Dark Horse Mild, on draft, at the brewpub this past Saturday —beating the May is Mild 'deadline' by 2 days. Brewer Steve Jones is an advocate for the style: he also brews Mild Ale the eleven other months of the year.

Note the film of of condensation on the pint glass in the photograph. The afternoon was typically humid for Baltimore; the pint hit the spot.

  • Ron Pattinson has written a book called Mild! that is a wealth of information on the history of the style.
  • US beer writer/blogger Lew Bryson maintains a blog specifically devoted to Session Beers: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

VeggieDag Thursday: Toasted Cheese Sandwich

Today: a quick recipe for a toasted cheese open-faced sandwich .. as if a recipe were needed!

This sandwich was made with Sottocenera, an unpasteurized cow's milk cheese, speckled with truffles, with a cinnamon-spiced ash rind. (Imported from Veneto, Italy.) Substitute with your preferred cheese.

Lightly butter both sides of the bread. I used sourdough bread and Earth Balance, a butter substitute, just because. Lightly toast both sides.

Toasted Cheese Sandwich (01)

Slice the cheese into thin strips.

Toasted Cheese Sandwich (04)

Sprinkle with a dash of garlic powder, smoked paprika, and oregano. Toast at 450 °F until the cheese bubbles and just begins to brown.

Toasted Cheese Sandwich (06)

And, now, a gratuitous beer shot. Sandwich served with Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA. (Imported from Denmark.)

Toasted Cheese Sandwich (07)

  • VeggieDag is a series of occasional Thursday posts on
    vegetarian cooking and food issues.
  • Why the name? Here.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks welcomed: Here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for 2010 Week 19

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 19
9 May 2010 - 15 May 2010

  • 2010.05.15
    Photos of last flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, on Flickr:
  • 2010.05.15
    The 'Machete' Beer Project: cutting beers down to session strength.
  • 2010.05.15
    Senator Kerry's beer excise tax reduction bill S3339 now has 4 co-sponsors.
  • Presenting: Garrett Oliver
  • 2010.05.14
    The Washington City Paper interviews Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery about the late, great Michael Jackson, the beer writer.
  • 2010.05.13
    Lost Abbey's brewer Tomme Arthur suggest why 'collaboration' beers matter.
  • 2010.05.13
    Beer Education: The physics of beer (and soap) foam.
  • 2010.05.13
    Pairing wines to grilled and barbecued foods. From the Washington Post:
  • 2010.05.12
    So, you want to open a brewpub? There may be at least 17 taxes and fees you'll have to pay.
  • 2010.05.11
    Happy 65th birthday to Jack McAuliffe, the US microbrewery pioneer.
  • Essentials of Beer Style (02)
  • 2010.05.10
    Fred Eckhardt's 1989 book Essentials of Beer Style remains a classic on what defines a beer style. Today is Fred Eckhardt's 84th birthday.
  • 2010.05.10
    On Mother's Day, a story from the Washington Post on the Pink Boots Society: women in the beer industry.
  • 2010.05.10
    A great lady, a great singer, and a great musician. Lena Horne has died at age 92.
  • 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, May 15, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Wary beagle

An awwww pet shot: Ethel Mae, the beagle, has her eye on the cameraman.

I've got my eye on you...

As a bonus photograph: a thinner, younger, guiltier Ethel Mae, running away with a shoe.

Guilty again

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for 2010 Week 18

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 18
2 May 2010 - 8 May 2010

  • 2010.05.08
    Video lessons on how to pour a beer. There are indeed some bartenders who really DON'T know how to do that properly.
  • 2010.05.08
    Brewers Association releases 140 beer style categories for year 2010. Includes 'new' American-Style India Black Ale.
  • Disposable keg (02)
  • 2010.05.08
    Plastic: the future of beer kegs? Photos of one-way, one-use plastic kegs:
  • 2010.05.08
    Wine flavor chemistry. What makes a #wine grassy [or catty]:
  • 2010.05.07
    An actual scientific study: Larger Breasts Mean Bigger Tips For Waitresses.
  • 2010.05.07
    Congressional support for American Craft Beer Week, May 17 - 23.
  • 2010.05.07
    Study shows less risk of type 2 diabetes for people who drink alcohol in moderation vs. those who abstain.
  • Cheeses and beers at Brick Store
  • 2010.05.07
    From a tasting event at the Smithsonian Institute: Does beer or wine pair better with cheese? [Spoiler alert: it's a tie]
  • 2010.05.06
    Why beer bloggers blog about beer. From British beer blogger/author, Pete Brown:
  • 2010.05.06
    Draft Magazine interviews Beervana’s Jeff Alworth, on why he blogs about beer.
  • 2010.05.05
    Well-presented argument --NOT against an increase in Maryland beer tax but-- against the SIZE of the proposed tax:
  • 2010.05.05
    Miller Lite out, Bud Light in, as official beer of National Football League, in 2011.
  • 2010.05.05
    Suggestions on pairing beer with cheese: [Except YFGF recommends strong stout -or barleywine- with blue.
  • 2010.05.04
    A bill in Congress proposes to undo a Virginia vintner's victory for direct wine shipping:
  • Local Beer 2: Starr Hill Amber
  • 2010.05.03
    Room for more beer education. In an online beer review, a writer said a beer had little head retention BECAUSE it was served on draft. That's nonsense!
  • 2010.05.02
    Chef Jose Andres And The "Circus of the Mouth" on CBS' 60 Minutes: "The future is vegetables."
  • 2010.05.02
    How to blog safely (about work or anything else). Via Electronic Frontier Foundation:
  • 2010.05.02
    "American Farmhouse Ales": Local, organic beers from Shooting Creek Brewery in Floyd VA.
  • 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: ... And tardy this week: Clamps & Gaskets is normally posted on Mondays.
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

America comes to Max's

American Craft Beer Week will be celebrated 17 - 23 May, at breweries and pubs throughout the US.

From an email, here's what our friends are doing at Baltimore, Maryland's Max's TapHouse:

MAY 17-23, 2010

Max's will be hosting another American Craft Beer Fest celebrating American Craft Beer Week. We will be featuring over 70 special kegs during this week. We will also have special brewery nights each day.

Monday 17-Troegs/Ommegang
Tuesday 18-Heavy Seas/Brewers Art
Wednesday 19-Harpoon/Victory
Thursday 20-Flying Dog
Friday 21-The Bruery/Lagunitas/Oskar Blues/Boulder/Great Divide/Weyerbacher
Saturday 22-Stillwater Ales/Oliver's/Evolution
Sunday 23-Smuttynose/Allagash

THE DRAFT BEERS LIST 90% DONE.As always beers may change due to things out of our control
Allagash Victor
Allagash White
Allagash Victoria
Avery Samuels
Boulder Cold Hop(Nitro)
Brewers Art Charm City Sour Cherry
Brewers Art Ozzy
Brewers Art Tiny Tim
Brewers Art Taurus
Evolution Haymaker
Evolution Summer Session
Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo
Flying Dog Coffee Stout
Flying Dog Heller Hound Old Ale
Flying Dog Horn Dog(Nitro)
Great Divide Dunkel Weiss
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA
Harpoon Raspberry UFO
Harpoon 100 Barrel Single Hop ESB
Heavy Seas Barrel Aged Below Decks
Hebrew Rejewvenator 2008
North Coast Brother Thelonious
Oliver's Cherry Blossom
Oliver's Hot Money Love
Ommegang Triple Perfection
Schlafly Dry Hopped APA
Schlafly Kolsch
Smuttynose Barleywine
Smuttynose Hanami
Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Smuttynose Maibock
Smuttynose Rouge
Southern Tier 2xipa
Southern Tier Oak Unearthly
Southern Tier Pale
Stillwater Cellar Door
Stillwater Stateside Saison
The Bruery Trade Winds Triple
Troegs Special
Troegs Special
Unita Barleywine 2008
Victory Altbier
Victory Citra
Victory Saaz Braumeister Pils
Victory St Boisterous
Victory Throwback lager
Weyerbacher India
Plus a bunch special kegs---------------

Victory Storm King Stout
Troegs Java Head
Stillwater Cellar Door
Stillwater /Oliver's Collaboration
Oskar Blues Gubna
Heavy Seas Barrel Aged Below Decks
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Evolution Lot #6
Plus a few others.......

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer Diary

Pictured: the beer journal of Joe Gold —long-time Baltimore, Maryland, beer maven— his day-by-day stories of the first ever Baltimore Beer Week, which he organized and founded in 2009.

Beer diary (03)

Bonus pic: the man and his diary. Joe has recently signed on with Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania as its Area Sales Manager for Maryland and Virginia.

Beer diary (01)

Baltimore Beer Week 2010 will run October 7-17. Hmmm? That's eleven days, hon!

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

Feeling Good Libations: Secco opens in Richmond, Va.

Secco bar (03)

We interrupt the regularly scheduled Yours For Good Fermentables to bring you this news flash:
Funny, how after two years of planning, paying rent on an empty space, crunching numbers, planning some more, paying a lot more, crunching more numbers, filling out dozens of logic-defying/mind-numbing governmental forms, drinking a hell of a lot [of wine], filing endless applications, "engaging" city hall (in that unresolved, Korean DMZ sort of way), hiring awesome people and then convincing them to wait months for a job, selling everything I own, borrowing against my soul/leveraging the rest and putting EVERYTHING on a spreadsheet (an unnatural act) it all comes down to 15 freaking days!?!!?!

Julia Battaglini wrote that on 14 April. Her prediction was off by only 7 days. Yesterday —Friday 7 May 2010— she opened Secco Wine Bar for business.

Secco Wine Bar

Here's what I wrote almost a year ago:
So you want to open a bar?

Apply pockets of indebted money, gobs of time, catch-22 frustrations ... and inspired lunacy.

Julia Battaglini owns a wine/beer/cheese shop in the Careytown district of Richmond, Virginia. For nearly two years, she's been transforming the old building next door into a shiny-new wine bar.

The first year was background: financing, and permits, and paying rent on an empty building. Now, she's demolishing, rehabbing, remodeling, re-doing.

Of the more than two dozen by-the-glass offerings at Secco, only a handful are priced above $10, with more than half available for $6 or less. Food for the 'small-plates' menu is locally sourced where possible, and almost exclusively from family-owned or small farms.

Secco bar (01)

And, fear not, good beer fans. Julia is also a member of your club. Secco has bottled Belgians and craft drafts.

Congratulations, and good libations! We need more places like this and more of this encompassing zeitgeist, rather than all of those silly, pleasure-thwarting wine-versus-beer wars.

  • Two prior-to-opening reviews here and here.
  • Pre-opening photo set: here.
  • The planning, frustrations, joys, and construction ... as blogged: here.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pet Peeve: The dregs of a keg

From the Pet Peeves in Bars Department, here's an exchange on Twitter between Fritz Hahn —Bars and Clubs editor/reporter for the Washington Post's Going Out Guide— and The Big Hunt —a multi-tap beer bar in Washington, D.C.

Bartenders: if a keg kicks while pouring my pint, do not give me the dregs to drink while i'm waiting for a new keg. I won't thank you.less than a minute ago via txt

To which, The Big Hunt replied:

Really? Its not the equivalent of backwash...RT @fritzhahn: if a keg kicks, dont give me the dregs to drink while i'm waiting for a new keg.less than a minute ago via Echofon

Fritz Tweeted back:

@bighuntdc It's happened a couple of times recently @ different places. Old beer, slightly past its date, vague metallic taste. No thanks.less than a minute ago via Brizzly

The Big Hunt concluded:

@fritzhahn if that's the case I understand. I have always thought it a courtesy (and ask if the customer would like it while they wait)less than a minute ago via Echofon

  • The Twitter screenshots were created using Blackbird Pie. The program didn't get the timing correct, however. The exchange occurred Thursday night/Friday morning.
  • Follow this blog (i.e., me) on Twitter @Cizauskas.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Free goods

Yesterday, I overheared this recounting at a bar: "As she left, she told us in a loud voice that she was a restaurant blogger."

I was reminded of a recent post by British beer author/blogger Pete Brown. He was writing about the boorish behaviour of a certain group of beer drinkers, when he wrote this:

But I have never - in my life - walked into any pub and either demanded or expected a free or discounted drink because of who I am, or what I do. If I did, I would expect and deserve to be called a complete and utter fucking twat by anyone who witnessed it.

In my 20+ year career in the beer (and restaurant) business, I have watched as customers and managers and salespersons and reviewers have harangued others for free goods. A free drink, a free meal, a free keychain, and often more substantial.

The business may have been more 'cut-throat' in the bad old days, but never would these good folk today think their actions boorish at best or tantamount to soliciting a bribe at worst. Oh, banish the thought! It's ethics, Mr. Beer Writer and Ms. Beer Customer. It's ethics, Mr. Beer Salesman and Ms. Restaurant Manager.

And plain old civil manners.

  • Caveat lector: I sell beer and wine in northern Virginia.
  • Be sure to read the comments to this post.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for Week 17

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 17
25 April 2010 - 1 May 2010

  • 2010.05.01
    Be kind to your neighbors today. One might be brewing beer. It's National Homebrew Day.
  • Caseys and Furman
  • 2010.04.30
    After 2 decades of importing Scottish (& English) beer, Sherri & Patrick Casey —founders of Legends, Ltd.— retire.
  • 2010.04.30
    Map of cask-conditioned beers in Boston and New England.
  • 2010.04.30
    British National Brewing Museum opens... and they serve Champagne??!!
  • 2010.04.30
    Twitter #FollowFriday. For whisky: @the_nose Richard Patterson of Whyte & Mackay. For whiskey (and whisky): @JohnHansell of Malt Advocate.
  • 2010.04.30
    Brookston Bulletin interview with new owners of Anchor Brewing: My Lunch With Keith Greggor.
  • 2010.04.29
    The 'official' announcement: Baltimore, Maryland brewpub The Brewer's Art to contract with Sly Fox Brewing in Pennsylvania to can its Resurrection Ale. To be available in late May 2010.
  • 2010.04.28
    In 1984, Apple ran a famous ad about overthrowing Big Brother. Now, "Look in the mirror, man,” says Jon Stewart:
  • 2010.04.28
    In defense of Marmite:
  • 2010.04.28
    Baltimore, Maryland breweries Stillwater Ales and Pratt Street Alehouse brew a 'collaboration' beer.
  • 2010.04.28
    In Pakistan, a brewery's recipe for 150 years of survival amid alcohol restrictions.
  • 2010.04.28
    Reviewed: Drink Local Wine 2010 exposition (held in northern Virginia, 25 April).
  • 2010.04.28
    Congratulations! The Brewers Art wins Restaurant Association of Maryland 2010 award for Favorite Bar and Tavern.
  • 2010.04.28
    Mead and homebrew: "American Abbey Project" at a Washington, D.C. monastery.
  • 2010.04.27
    Tickets now on sale for the Great British Beer Festival, London, 3-7 August 2010.
  • 2010.04.26
    'Nitro': Good or bad for craft beer?
  • 2010.04.26
    North Carolina farmer Joe Thompson to use a brewery's spent grains to feed —not cows but— prawns.
  • 2010.04.26
    For environmental commitment and outdoor activity, New Belgium and Alaskan Brewing among Top 50 best companies to work for.
  • 2010.04.26
    Over the next 5 years, China to account for 50% of beer sales growth, 33% of wine sales growth.
  • 2010.04.25
    Drink much? Asparagus' amino acids and minerals ease hangovers and protect liver cells.
  • 2010.04.25
    How to pronounce "Eyjafjallajokull," the Icelandic volcano: "(H)AY yah FYAH tlah YUR goolkh":
  • 2010.04.25
    Cask Ale Tradition - Imbibe Magazine:
  • 2010.04.25
    The 1st 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational:
  • 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, May 02, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Fine Wine from Austria

Wines from Austria

I got lucky with the lighting and composition of this photograph.

Good early evening sunlight was streaming through the windows, providing high contrast. Holding the bottle of Hillinger Welschriesling was Michael Hoeffken —assistant winemaker and sommelier for Hillinger Winery in Austria. The occasion was a tutored tasting at Northdown Social, a coffee and wine café in the Clarendon district of Arlington, Virginia.

The Welschriesling grape produces light, bright white wines, with aromatic hints of apple and citrus. It is not related to the Riesling varietal.

  • Caveat lector: As an employee of Select Wines, Inc. —a wine (and beer) wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell Hillinger wines, imported by KWSelection.
  • View the map of Austrian wine regions online at
  • The rest of the shoot from 28 April 2010: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May is Mild Ale Month

May is Mild Month, as declared by the UK's Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA.

Milds are black to dark brown to pale amber in colour and come in a variety of styles from warming roasty ales to light refreshing lunchtime thirst quenchers. Malty and possibly sweet tones dominate the flavour profile but there may be a light hop flavour or aroma. Slight diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) flavours are not inappropriate. Alcohol levels are typically low.

Pale milds tend to have a lighter, more fruity aroma with gentle hoppiness.

Dark milds may have a light roast malt or caramel character in aroma and taste.

Scottish cask beers may have mild characteristics with a dominance of sweetness, smooth body and light bitterness.

Original gravity: less than 1043
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4.3%
Final gravity 1004 - 1010
Bitterness 14 - 28 EBU

Outlaw Ale

Chameleon-like (or based upon what your definition of is is), descriptions of what Mild Ale actually is can differ —sometimes diametrically— based upon informed opinion, historical research, and commercial practice.

Ron Pattinson's book Mild! would be a good place to start.