Sunday, October 31, 2010

November is National Blog Posting Month

NaBloPoMo 2010

November is NaBloPoMo 2010, that is, National Blog Posting Month.

The whole thing started off as a goof based on National Novel Writing Month, the challenge of which is to try to write an entire novel during the month November. Not everyone can commit to an endeavor of such magnitude, though, and so National Blog Posting Month was born. However, after doing a November NaBlo for a couple of years in a row it seemed that a lot of people had found their momentum and wanted to keep going into December and beyond. So now NaBloPoMo is something you can drop into any month of the year, though November is still the biggest month, and is the only month when members donate prizes that are then given out randomly to other members who posted every day in November.

Things have gotten a bit lazy here at —only 11 posts in October, including this one, down from a high of 50 in June of 2008. (Curse you, real life!!) So, for better or worse, I accept the challenge. I publicly pledge to post at least once per day, beginning tomorrow, for the duration of November 2010.

UPDATE: I didn't make it.
UPDATE to the Update; I try again in 2011.

  • A tip of the pint glass to the many bloggers, beer or otherwise, who manage to do this every month. To mention one: Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.
  • Tweets don't count.
  • November, thank goodness, hath only 30 days.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: I am a Real Ale Drinker

I am a Real Ale Drinker

In the UK,

Cask beer sales are outperforming the rest of the market and real ale is gradually taking a bigger share of the total market.

According to the latest Cask Report, sales of cask beer in 2009 remained stable on the previous year – the first time since 1994 they have not seen a decline – and cask ale’s share of the total beer market is up for the third consecutive year.

And research suggests that once women get a taste for real ale, they become enthusiastic supporters – women account for 15 per cent of real ale drinkers, but make up 23.4 per cent of the Campaign for Real Ale’s members.

Anna Blackaby
29 October 2010

Written by award-winning beer writer Pete Brown, the Cask Report is sponsored by UK breweries and related trade associations. There is no analogue in the US.

Here, we've been producing cask ale since the inception of micro-brewing, but, despite the success of festivals such as the former US Real Ale Festival and the current New England Real Ale Exposition (NERAX), cask ale has, up to now, filled only a tiny niche.

I'm in the business of selling beer, and in the last five years, I've observed a dramatic increase of sales of cask ales (and lagers). Festivals such as the 7th annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival —recently held in Baltimore, Maryland, run by the only US branch of the Society of Beer From the Wood (SPBW)— are part of that renaissance. The men in attendance still outnumber the women, but that difference is diminishing every year.

The percentage of cask growth in the US may appear large, but, beginning as it does from a minuscule initial sample, that figure is misleading. Actual production is small relative to that of bottle and draft. Furthermore, much of this is conjecture and anecdote. The US-based Brewers Association —an advocacy group for US breweries that produce less than 2 million barrels annually— publishes craft beer figures but does not collect statistics on cask beer production or demographic beer preferences.

  • The term "Real Ale" was coined by CAMRA to refer to cask-conditioned ale.
  • Tip of the beer glass to Lagerheads, who pointed me to the Birmingham Post article.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: When beer vandals attack!

Real Ass

In 2006, when Mahaffey's Pub proprietor Wayne Mahaffey originally set the billboard outside his Baltimore, Maryland, pub to read "Real Ale Every Day", his was only the 4th pub in the city to offer hand-pulled cask-conditioned 'real ale' daily.

Mahaffey quickly re-arranged the letters back to their original iteration. ... Alas!

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A double gift for Virginia pizza & beer lovers

Northern Virginia good-beer lovers receive not one but two early Christmas gift this week and next: two new beer-with-pizza emporia.

Ruth Gresser has operated Pizzeria Paradiso at two locations in Washington, D.C. Today, she's opening a third, but in Old Town Alexandria, on the waterfront at 124 King Street.

The phone number is (703) 837-1245.
METRO: King Street station, Blue Line (and a 20-minute brisk walk down King Street, or a ride on Dash bus system).

The pub features a 180 bottled beer selection, 14 draft beers, one dedicated cask ale line, several wines, and, of course, wood-fired pizza.

The bar (03)
More photos from the soft opening: here.

Rustico Restaurant on Slaters Lane in Alexandria gets a twin early next week.

The Neighborhood Restaurant Groups's restaurants —Churchkey, Birch & Barley, Rustico, Evening Star Cafe, Vermilion, Tallula, Columbia Firehouse, etc.— have all been quite different from one other. A brand new Rustico, however, is scheduled to open next week in the Ballston district of Arlington. It will be similar in theme to the original, but with 260 seats and an expanded beer selection: more than 400 bottled beers, 40 taps, and 3 handpulled real ale lines. There will be artisinal ciders, wines, a full bar, and a menu by Chef Steve Mannino: dishes emphasizing local ingredients and "robust seasonal flavors," as well as wood-fired oven pizzas. [UPDATE: opened Tuesday, 26 October. Photos from opening day: here.]

Rustico Ballston
4075 Wilson Boulevard., Arlington, Virginia.
(571) 384-1820
METRO: Ballston station, Orange Line.
[The website is not live yet. Refer to the original location's site at:]

Rustico Ballston logo

  • Caveat lector: As a representative of northern Virginia wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., I sell beer and wine to these restaurants.

  • Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for 2010 Weeks 40/41

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeeks 40/41
    3 October 2010 - 16 October 2010

    • 2010.10.16
      The 7th annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, organized by the only U.S. chapter of the Society for the Preservation of Beer From the Wood (SPBW), a U.K.-based advocacy group for cask-conditioned ale.
    • 2010.10.15
      Government reports $1.3 trillion deficit for just-completed 2010 budget year, second largest in modern record

    • Drawing a pint
    • 2010.09.14
      "Casking for It: An old-time beer-delivery system [cask-conditioned ale] makes a comeback in D.C."
    • 2010.10.14
      A veteran waiter reveals how customers don't always care about the service when they tip. Via Zagat:
    • 2010.10.14
      Re-thinking The Food Pyramid: USDA Aims For 'Superior' Guide
    • 2010.10.13
      Virginia and Maryland wine industry's Mike Grgich? Meet vineyard consultant Lucie Morton.
    • 2010.10.13
      "There are no strict rules." Pass the artichokes: difficult food and wine matches.
    • 2010.10.13
      Successful rescue of all 33 Chilean miners.
    • 2010.10.11
      Opera singer Joan Sutherland has died at age 83:

    • Ice blanket (02)
    • 2010.10.11
      Pictorial lesson on keeping casks cool on the bar:
    • 2010.10.11
      Top 50 US politics Twitter accounts to follow, as selected by the Guardian, in the UK.
    • 2010.10.10
      Soul Singer Solomon Burke Dies At 70.
    • 2010.10.10
      10/10/10: Happy Birthday, Thelonious Monk, composer/pianist nonpareil.
    • 2010.10.08
      American microbrewery history could be considered as beginning today, the 8th of October, 35 years ago: New Albion Brewing born.
    • 2010.10.08
      Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned in China for subversion, wins Nobel Peace Prize.
    • 2010.10.07
      Cheers, hon! It's Baltimore Beer Week. A guide to the over 300 events.
    • 2010.10.07
      Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies: only the 2nd pitcher to throw a no-hitter in baseball playoffs... ever.

    • Examining the pint
    • 2010.10.07
      Birthday in Beer: Greg Engert, beer sommelier.
    • 2010.10.07
      Why one anti-vegetarian author has it all wrong.
    • 2010.10.04
      French thieves steal entire Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the Languedoc-Roussillon.
    • 2010.10.04
      How SABMiller/Coors' brewery in Trenton, Ohio, achieved zero waste to landfill.
    • 2010.10.03
      Why Facebook could become bigger in five years than Google is today.

    • 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, October 16, 2010

    Pic(k) of the Week: Natty Boh, hon!

    Kasper and Natty Boh

    The location was Bertha's Mussels in the Fells Point district of Baltimore, Maryland. The occasion was A Beer Luncheon on the History of Baltimore Brew, one of six main events of Baltimore Beer Week 2010. The speaker was Rob Kasper —long time features (and beer) columnist for the Baltimore Sun (now editor)— offering a concise history of beer and brewing in Baltimore, Maryland from its 17th century beginnings to the early 1990s. In the foreground is an iconic can of Natty Boh (National Bohemian) once brewed by National Brewing in Baltimore, which is, as Rob lamented, long-closed.
    • Without beer there would have been no Star Spangled Banner.
    • William David Gottlieb Yuengling landed in Baltimore in 1822, coming from southern Germany. He soon moved to Pennsylvania, where he would open the Yuengling Brewing Company in 1829, the oldest operating brewery in the United States.
    • Baltimore would eventually be awash in breweries. Just one road —Belair Road (pronounced B-lair)— would be home to over 20 breweries.
    • The Baltimore Sun's H.L. Mencken referred to Prohibition as "the Horror."
    • Jim Mckay began his broadcasting career in Baltimore, announcing Orioles' baseball games, with his given name, Jim McManus.
    In addition to Rob Kasper, the other speakers were: Discussing the future of craft beer in Baltimore, Klipner and sessa noted that "when beer gets into the city's neighborhood bar —as it is doing more and more— craft beer will have come of age." Baltimore Beer Week founder Joe Gold concluded by pointing out that most Americans, 30 years old or younger, have never not known craft beer.


    • Photo courtesy of Brad Klipner. Posted with permission.
    • More photos of the luncheon: here.
    • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

    Saturday, October 09, 2010

    Pic(k) of the Week: The Remains of the Cask

    Firkin dregs (02)

    The remains of a cask of beer: yeast, hops, proteinaceous sludge. This would be a good reason why never to tilt a cask of beer to pour out the last few pints.

    • When full, this was a cask-conditioned firkin (10.8 gallon) of The Raven (Baltimore-Washington Beer Works). A lager, it's not referred to as 'real ale' but kellerbier.
    • Nearly 40 breweries and 7,000 people attended the Capitol City Oktoberfest, which has been organized by the Capitol City Brewing Company in front of its Arlington, Virginia, brewpub, for the past 11 years. More photos: here.
    • Caveat lector: As a representative of northern Virginia beer & wine wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., I sell the Raven Special Lager.
    • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a good fermentable as subject.

    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Big, Beautiful, Week of Baltimore Beer Begins Tonight

    Baltimore Beer Week 2010
    Baltimore Beer Week —a celebration of beer in Maryland's largest city— begins tonight at the Baltimore Museum of Industry at 6pm with a ceremonial

    tapping of the First Firkin —Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA— provided by the flagship sponsor, Heavy Seas Brewing, brewed to the same recipe which won silver at the 2010 Great British Beer Festival. [Celebrity master of Ceremonies] Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes will swing the festival mallet —the Star Spangled Banger— to tap this first cask of beer.

    The eleven day week (shades of Ringo Starr!) concludes on Sunday, 17 October, at the first annual Baltimore Beer Festival, that is slated to feature over 25 local, regional, and international breweries. In between, there will be well more than 300 other events, including two more festivals:

    On a personal note, I'll be participating in a beer luncheon panel discussion on the History of Baltimore Brew, Monday, 11 October at Bertha's Mussels.
    Guest panelists Rob Kasper- long time Baltimore Sun columnist, Tom Cizauskas- Yours For Good Fermentables blogger (and former brewer at Oxford Brewing Company), Brad Klipner- award winning blogger at and Sam Sessa – Baltimore Sun’s Midnight Sun columnist [will discuss] the malty past and hoppy future of brewing in "The Land of Pleasant Living." The luncheon menu will be served family style and includes 4 beer samplings: Bertha’s Best Bitter (on hand pump) and Victory Hop Devil IPA. The program is a three part series:
    • Part One -The Malty Past: Starting with Baltimore's first brewery in 1748.
    • Part Two -The emergence of craft brewers: Quick recounting of the creations of Craig Stuart Paul, Hugh Sisson, Bill Oliver, Theo DeGroen, Volker Stewart, Mike McDonald, and noting that Sisson's has morphed into Heavy Seas, and Flying Dog has taken over what once was Frederick Brewing.
    • Part Three -The latest suds:. Brian Strumke is one local lad who has made the leap from home brewing to bottling. Will there be m re in the future?
    For more details on this event and to purchase tickets: here.

    This is only the second year for Baltimore Beer Week. It was organized in 2009 by long-time Baltmore beer maven Joe Gold, columnist Rob Kasper, Maryland homebrew guru Les White, Mid-Atlantic Brewing News columnist Alexander Mitchell, past SPBW president Dominic Catalupo, and others.

    More links for BBW10:

    Birthday in Beer: Greg Engert

    Greg Engert is the Beer Director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group of Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. A past English lit major at Georgetown University, Engert oversees the beer selections for eight restaurants and one beer-and-wine retail shop.

    The jewel in the mini-empire is beer-centric restaurant Birch & Barley, and —just up the stairwell— Churchkey, its accompanying beer bar. Engert arranges the list of 555 beers —500 in bottle, 50 on draught, and 5 served from cask via handpumps— by weight and flavor, a practice often thought (more for exclusive snobbery) exclusive to wine. His categories are "Crisp, Hop, Malt, Roast, Smoke, Fruit & Spice, Tart & Funky," with concise —often one-word descriptions— for individual beers within particular groups.

    Food & Wine Magazine selected Engert as one of seven Sommeliers of the Year for 2010: the first time the magazine has brought beer on-board its list.

    Today is Greg Engert's birthday. To paraphrase William Shakespeare (with apologies): "A blessing of your heart, you serve good ale."

    Engert & Cizauskas
    Greg Engert (l) and Tom Cizauskas (r)

    • More of my short list of Birthdays in Beer: here.
    • Follow the Brookston Beer Bulletin's more comprehensive calendar of beer birthdays. It's a marvelous resource for learning more about the folk who brew beer, deliver it, serve it, drink it, and write and talk about it.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Clamps & Gaskets: Roundup for 2010 Week 39

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundupWeek 39
    26 September 2010 - 2 October 2010

    • 2010.10.01
      Virginia Gov. McDonnell alters ABC store proposal; removes restaurant surcharge.
    • Diane Alexander
    • 2010.10.01
      Diane & Dave Alexander to sell the Brickskeller, iconic beer bar in Washington DC.
    • 2010.09.30
      Bill Clinton Discusses his 'Plant-Based Diet'.
    • 2010.09.30
      Atlantic Monthly on-line: "antiquated notion that any [beer] w/ heavy hops needs to have India in the name."
    • Lemon Broccoli
    • 2010.09.30
      From the New York Times: Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries.
    • 2010.09.29
      Sour, salty beer. Gose (pronounced 'goes-uh'): its history and revival.
    • 2010.09.29
      British beer blogger Mark Dredge on The Independent's article on real ale for 20-something females: "Condescending, cliched, really not helpful." With a link to the original piece:
    • 2010.09.29
      You can't make this up. Serendipity: Bruce Springsteen sings for a New Jersey couple's engagement photo shoot:
    • 2010.09.29
      New York wines, particularly Finger Lakes Merlot and Riesling, develop their own identity. From the Washington Post:
    • 2010.09.29
      3 Stars Brewing: a new Washington DC brewery for 2011.
    • Fest & Dirndl
    • 2010.09.29
      Ein Prosit: German Oktoberfest and American beer innovation:
    • 2010.09.28
      British beer author Pete Brown's thoughts on the UK Cask Report, which he wrote.
    • 2010.09.28
      Today, National Punctuation Day, the Chicago Manual of Style reminds everyone of the logic, efficiency, and beauty of the serial comma.
    • Port City (09)
    • 2010.09.27
      A photo tour of construction at Port City Brewing, scheduled to open in December 2010, in Alexandria, Virginia.
    • 2010.09.27
      The UK Cask Report 2010: a 5% volume increase for real ale vs. a 2% decline for bottled and kegged beer.
    • 2010.09.27
      From the Chicago Tribune: The so-called 'craft' beer market draws the attention of the 'mainsteam' big breweries. They see the need for "different flavors."
    • 2010.09.27
      The schedule for the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, 18-21 February, has been announced:
    • Harvest Moon 2010
    • 2010.09.27
      Cosmic accidents: Beginning with the Big Bang, 10 lucky breaks for humanity.
    • 2010.09.27
      Baltimore, Maryland, is rated the No. 32 city in the US city for social media-savvy. Washington, D.C. is No. 3 for Twitter savvy.
    • 2010.09.27
      Cyber warfare? Stealthy "Stuxnet" internet worm targeting power plants, factories.
    • 2010.09.27
      Running out of money, the US Postal Service considers allowing beer to be sent via the mail.
    • 2010.09.26
      Clever tip: To keep bottles of beer stacked in a home refrigerator, use a binder clip.
    • 2010.09.26
      Beer Birthday: Importer and brewpub pioneer Charles Finkel is 67 today.

    • 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, October 02, 2010

    Pic(k) of the Week: Bourbon Wash

    Before there is bourbon, there is beer. At the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, this is an impressive sight, and wonderfully aromatic: the unhopped wort from a corn mash fermenting in an open vat constructed of Florida cypress wood. Distillers call this beer a wash.

    Bourbon wash - open fermenter

    Corn is deficient in the enzymes necessary to convert its native starches to fermentable sugars during a mash rest. Barley, however, is chock-a-block with the necessary amylases. Thus, there always will be barley malt in an American whiskey grist, although less than 49% and usually much less than that. Scotch whisky (without the 'e'), on the other hand, is distilled from a wash of mostly barley malt.

    Bonus pic: a closeup.

    Bourbon beer

    Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a good fermentable as subject.