Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer Phones


It was a full house at Meridian Pint in Washington, D.C. The largest ever Craft Brewers Conference had just concluded and many of its attendees had traveled uptown to this good beer pub in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. All 23 taps, as well as 23 casks, were pouring beers from 20 local breweries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

It was loud. It was boisterous. It was a celebration. Surrounded, this gentleman was able to tune it all out, and simply enjoy his beer.

Washington, D.C.
29 March 2013.

  • See the list of beers he was perusing: here.
  • This was but one of many events throughout the city (and nearby suburbs) during the week of CBC. See more photos from the Craft Brewers Conference: here
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Destination: Washington DC. 2013 Craft Brewers Conference

    The annual Craft Brewers Conference has arrived in Washington, D.C., running today through Friday. Rather than a consumer beer tasting and brewery competition, this is a confab of and for brewers: the technology and science of beer, the business of beer, the selling of beer, the regulations of beer. And, of face-to-face networking. The peers of beer, if you will.

    From March 26-29, America’s small and independent craft brewers will gather in Washington, D.C. for the 30th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) & BrewExpo America. Presented by the Brewers Association, CBC is the largest industry event, serving both brewpubs and packaging breweries. CBC joins brewers from across the country for over 80 seminars focusing on topics including sustainability, sales, packaging and export development, along with daily receptions, brewery tours, and hospitalities. BrewExpo America is the premier trade show for brewers, with hundreds of vendors showcasing the latest and best products and services.

    It's important to understand what is meant by 'craft' brewery. This is not a legal, governmental, term. It is a definition of and by the breweries themselves, through their trade group, the Brewers Association, organizer of the event.
    An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

    Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.

    Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.

    Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

    There is some controversy about that definition, which many have addressed (including me). This week, that's a discussion deferred.

    This is the first time in its history that the Conference has 'been' to Washington, D.C. I myself have been to two Craft Brewers Conferences: one in Austin, Texas, in the early 1990s, the other in Seattle, Washington in the late 1990s. In the 'craft' beer world, that's a virtual lifetime ago: much has changed, the number of breweries ballooning to over 2,000, the most ever in the history of brewing in the United States.

    Working for a wholesaler, I sell beer for a living; so I'll be at the CBC to drum up brewery business. But, as I wrote in this blog's masthead, I'm a lover of beer: not simply with its flavors —as delicious, complex, and varied as they may be— but with its history, science, lore, and evolving creation. Those are the reasons why this week will be, for me, a privilege and a treat.

    The new breweries of Washington, D.C., and those of neighboring Virginia and Maryland, will proudly be playing host. The 'craft' beer bars and restaurants of the area will be pulling out all the stops with a multitude of events, most open to the public.

    There will be telling of tall tales. There will be drinking of beer. Much.

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 9/10, 2013.

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
    A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
    of news of beer and other things.

    Weeks 9/10
    24 February 2013 - 9 March 2013

    • 2013.03.09
      Wynkoop Brewing releases Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout in cans. That's bull testicle stout. Via The Full Pint

    • 2013.03.09
      "Alcohol and its role in the evolution of human society" by Ian Hornsey. Book review by A Good Beer Blog.

    • 2013.03.09
      Bamberg, Germany, and its smoked beers. Via Roger Protz.

    • 2013.03.09
      The experiments with tradition at bourbon distillery Buffalo Trace. Via Queen City Drinks.

      Nick's Big Tripel
    • 2013.03.08
      The New York Times takes exception to the "wineification' of beer. The Beermonger takes exception with the New York Times.

    • 2013.03.08
      The 2012 wine vintage in Austria will be well below the yearly average, but the quality is predicted to be high. Via Austrian Wine USA.

    • 2013.03.08
      Twenty beer quotes that may deserve to be better known. Via Zythophile.

    • 2013.03.08
      The Stuff of Legends: a crowd-funded documentary about 19 year-old Legend Brewing of Virginia.

    • 2013.03.04
      The U.S. Brewers Association Association releases new Beer Style Guidelines for 2013: 142(!) styles.

    • 2013.03.03
      Anheuser-Busch InBev begins an ad campaign to combat charges of watering down Budweiser. Via Houston Chronicle.

    • 2013.03.03
      A summary of the rapid growth of the 'craft' beer industry in the Richmond, Virginia, area. Via Richmond Times Dispatch.

    • 2013.03.02
      Craft beer myths that, unfortunately, persist. Via Huffington Post.

    • 2013.03.01
      Is Twitter killing the beer blog? Via Beervana.

      Heurich Wholesome Home Brew
    • 2013.03.01
      The repeal of Prohibition came late to Washington, D.C.: 79 years ago, on 1 March 1934. Via YFGF.

    • 2013.02.27
      Barboursville Vineyards wins the Virginia Governor's Cup for the fourth time. Via Washington Post.

    • 2013.02.27
      The overreaction to Maker's Mark's proof dilution, and un-dilution. Via Washington Post.

      Sweat & Bier
    • 2013.02.27
      Five common draught beer mistakes. Via Micro Matic.

    • 2013.02.25
      What if Prohibition had never happened? Charlie Papazian —founder of American Homebrew Association and Brewers Association— proposes an alternate history of consolidation, tied houses, and little 'craft' beer.

    • 2013.02.24
      Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller own more than 200 brands in 42 countries, including 18 in the U.S. Via NPR.

    • 2013.02.24
      15 breweries and counting. "New York’s Ale Awakening: How a Cocktail City Learned to Love Beer." Via TIME.

  • 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. Most are brief, and many are re-posts from
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

  • Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: The Heart(s) of the Run

    The Hearts(s) of the Run (04)

    Rye whiskey being distilled at Catoctin Creek Distillery, in Purcellville, Virginia.

    I visited the facility one Saturday in March, and took the tour, offered by co-owner/distiller Scott Harris. Here's what I learned.

    Organic rye malt from Kansas is mashed, and the wort (sweet liquid) is boiled. Cooled to room temperature, it is fermented over a week's time in 310-gallon plastic fermenters. The resultant 'wash' is then distilled, vaporized in a 400-liter still. The distillate is cooled by a tap-water counter flow chiller. Alcohol condenses before water, and is collected as it streams from the still. The initial condensate, or "heads," is 'impure' containing such by-products as acetaldeyde. It is discarded. The end of the distillate, or "tails," consisting of fusel alcohols (such as methanol and acetate) and water, is also considered impure and is discarded.

    Which leaves the "hearts" of the run, which is collected, and then aged or bottled. Harris told us that the contents of one fermenter is distilled down to the contents of only one barrel

    The rye whiskey is bottled both un-aged as a "white' spirit, at 80 proof, called Mosby's Run, and as Roundstone Rye, which is aged for a minimum of two years in 30-gallon Missouri oak barrels.

    Catoctin Creek is currently producing about 40,000 bottles per year: the above two and a gin infused with juniper, coriander, cinnamon and lemon peel. Additionally, the distillery produces brandy, distilled from Virginia grapes, the first ever in Virginia. At present, the spirits are sold primarily in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The volume sold in the District is more than that of the two states combined. Additional shipments go to Pennsylvania, New York City, and, soon, to Georgia.

    Harris told us that the distillery has outgrown its digs, and will be moving during the summer months into a much larger building, an historic site in downtown Purcellville. Scott Harris and wife co-owner Becky Harris will bring along their current still, but will add a new one to the production, at three times the size. *******************
  • Photograph taken 9 March 2013. See more: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    New Gordon-Biersch brewpub to open on Opening Day near Nationals Park.

    Gordon Biersch opens a second brewery-restaurant in Washington, D.C., on Monday, 1 April, near to the Navy Yard and Nationals Ballpark.

    Like its sister brewpubs in nearby downtown D.C., Tysons Corner, Virginia, and Rockville, Maryland —and all Gordon Biersch locations nationwide— the brewpub will primarily produce lagers (and some ales) for sale at the restaurant. And that's a good thing. The 'craft' beer world needs more flavorful lagers.

    Horizontal at G-B

    Brewer Travis Tedrow got his 'chops' at Capitol City Brewing Company, in Shirlington, Virginia. Having first met him there, I can attest that he brews good beer.

    Here's the press release:
    WASHINGTON, DC (19 March 2013) – Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant’s April 1 opening at the Navy Yard (100 M Street, SE), will bring together a talented management trio set to firmly establish the new restaurant as a neighborhood beacon, a unique modern-day brewery and restaurant offering a sophisticated yet casual setting. Gordon Biersch veterans, General Manager Brian Beauregard and Executive Chef Tony Blais are joined by Head Brewer Travis Tedrow.

    Announcing the (2-liter) boot
    Follow Tedrow on Twitter at: @GBNavyYardBrew

    Head Brewer Travis Tedrow has vivid childhood memories of his parents and neighbors home-brewing in the foothills of his native western North Carolina – well before home brewing and craft beers rocketed in popularity. “I remember the sweet malt aroma, the spice of the hops, and the adults having a wonderful time,” he says. Since entering the commercial brewing industry, Tedrow has found a similar camaraderie and friendship among fellow brewers and craft beer fans, an element he looks forward to sharing at the newest Gordon Biersch.

    After graduation from the University of Alabama, Tedrow held jobs as diverse as tending bar on Alabama’s Gulf Coast and working as a research assistant for the Senate Banking Committee. However, brewing remained a strong interest, ultimately leading him to the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology in Chicago, IL. There he underwent a rigorous apprenticeship program at Laurelwood Brewery in Portland, before landing a position at Capitol City Brewing Company in 2007. He continued to hone his craft, creating flavorful, consistent beers while regularly studying the art and science of brewing. Incredibly enthusiastic about joining the Gordon Biersch team at Navy Yard, he looks forward to making their signature German-style lagers.

    Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants is known for its handcrafted lagers and fresh, inspired recipes made from quality ingredients – the domain of Executive Chef Tony Blais. Like so many chefs, the New Hampshire native launched his culinary career inauspiciously as a dishwasher in a Portsmouth restaurant at age 14. He advanced through various industry positions before leaving town for the bright lights of Las Vegas six years later. Along the way, having found true passion in the culinary arts, he set his sights on becoming a chef. Vegas fortune smiled upon him as he landed a job as a grill cook at the Gordon Biersch on Paradise Road before eventually moving to the real home of paradise at Gordon Biersch Hawaii, where he earned a promotion to Sous Chef and ultimately met his wife. From there, Blais moved to Arizona to serve as part of the opening culinary team for new Gordon Biersch San Tan location in Gilbert, where he was later promoted to Executive Chef in 2010. He, his wife and three young sons have now relocated to the Washington area.

    General Manager Brian Beauregard launched his career in a professional bakery outside his hometown of Pittsburgh before attaining his Bachelor’s in Restaurant Management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He later earned a Master of Science at Florida International University in Miami, and in 2003 he began his management career with CraftWorks in Jacksonville.

    Beauregard moved to Denver and then later relocated to New Orleans where he worked as part of the Gordon Biersch opening management team in 2004. He was promoted to General Manager of the Miami location in 2006 and made an immediate impact on the store – and on Linda – now his wife. With most of his family living in the Northeast, the prospect of managing the Navy Yard Gordon Biersch was an ideal opportunity. Beauregard and his family now reside in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Where in the world is Gordon-Biersch Navy Yard?

    With a seating capacity of 226, the 8,290-square-foot Navy Yard Gordon Biersch features a stylish dining room, an outdoor beer garden that seats 88 and a glass-enclosed brewing room. The spacious bar area will offer plenty of seating as well as numerous high-definition televisions and daily drink and food specials. The restaurant will offer five freshly brewed Signature Gordon Biersch lagers on tap (Golden Export, Hefeweizen, Czech Lager, Märzen and Schwarzbier) and one seasonal option.

    0.5 liters of Oktoberfest (02)

    The new Southeast location marks the company’s fourth in the Washington, DC metro area - downtown DC (900 F Street, NW), Tysons Corner Center (McLean, VA) and Rockville Town Square (Rockville, MD).

    The Navy Yard Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant will be open seven days a week, offering lunch, dinner and bar dining, from 11am until 10pm Sunday and Monday, with the bar open until 2am; Tuesday through Thursday, 11am until 11pm, with the bar open until midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11am until midnight, with the bar open until 2am. Happy Hour and Late Night will feature both food and beverage specials. Happy Hour will be hosted Monday through Friday from 3pm until 6:30pm. Late Night hours are Sunday through Thursday from 10pm until close. Reservations and private parties will be accepted and encouraged. For reservations or further information, call 202-484-2739.

    UPDATE: I attended the pre-opening 'VIP' event on Saturday, 30 March 2013. Tedrow showed me around the brewery. It's a Specific Mechanical system, with a 15-barrel brewhouse (kettle/mashtun combination, lauter tun). There are five 30-barrel closed, conical fermentation tanks, four 30-barrel dish-bottom 'bright'/serving tanks, and six horizontal 15-barrel lagering/serving tanks. A plate-and-frame filter was purchased at the Craft Brewers Conference, the preceding week. Gordon-Biersch is known for its 'craft' lagers. Tedrow will decoct his beers where appropriate and time permits: he specifically mentioned maibock. Decoction is a time-intensive traditonal German method, which builds extra toasted and caramelized malt character.

    Due to a licensing snafu with the Washington, D.C. government, brewing has not yet begun on-site. For the pre-opening event, and once open, until the brewpub is up and brewing, beer was, and will be, shipped in from the Gordon-Biersch pub in Columbus, Ohio. The voyage had not seemed to hurt the beer. The Pilsner was crisp, firm, and aromatically spicy. In a decision I applaud, the pub will have eight guest taps (including taps dedicated to local beers), even after brewing commences. Tedrow is anxious to brew but sanguine: he expects the city inspectors' imprimatur without too much more delay.

    The pub opens to the public on Monday, 1 April 2013. That's Opening Day for the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team; not coincidentally, Nationals Park is but a block from this new Gordon-Biersch.

    Saturday's soiree was invitee-only (and a charity fundraiser). The restaurant was filled. Despite that, service was excellent. See photos: here.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    Maryland's good laws for good beer

    The Maryland House of Delegates is considering several bills that would benefit breweries in Maryland. Here's more about that, from the Brewer's Association of Maryland (BAM) —the non-profit trade association of Maryland brewing companies:

    Brewers Association of Maryland

    This past week we brought Maryland House Bill 4 to your attention. If passed, this bill will allow Maryland breweries to sell beer by the glass in their taprooms.

    House Bill 4 (HB 4) was scheduled for a vote in the Economic Matters Committee this past Monday, but was delayed because of the overwhelming response from supporters of Maryland beer. The lead Sponsor of the legislation, the Honorable Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of the Eastern Shore, has tirelessly stood tall in the name of Maryland Beer. She deserves our thanks; as well as our admiration.

    Many craft breweries around the country are already able to sell beer by the glass. The passing of HB 4 will enable manufacturing breweries to grow their taproom experience, entertain more impromptu visits, increase tourism, and grow business across the state.

    Steam brew (01)

    The Brewer's Association of Maryland continues to assert that as more people are able to visit Maryland breweries, sales of craft beer will increase, not only in those breweries, but also in other small businesses such as local restaurants, pubs, and beer stores throughout the community.

    When successfully passed, HB 4 will be scheduled to be signed by Governor O’Malley, and will go into effect July 1, 2013.

    The bill's Senate analogue is SB32, sponsored by Senator Richard Colburn, of the Eastern Shore.

    According to BAM, there are a few more brewery-related bills up for consideration. Senate Bill 955 would permit production breweries (that is, not a brewpub) to fill and sell growlers to go. Both this and HB4/SB32 would put Maryland breweries on the same footing as breweries in Virginia and the District of Columbia, where laws were only recently changed to permit beer to be sold by the glass for consumption in brewery tasting rooms and to allow the sale of filled growlers of beer.

    House Bill 230 would allow farm breweries to contract with brewpubs to produce beer for the farm brewery with ingredients grown on the farm.

    Brewery on a hill: Stillpoint Farm (02)

    And, finally, HB231/SB223 would allow brewpubs to self-distribute the beers they brew to other restaurants and shops. J.T. Smith —the Association's Executive Director— adds that "this is an incubator policy for brew-pubs to self-distribute up to an annual limit [to be determined] at which point they will go into 'normal' distribution via the 3-tier system." The neighboring state of Virginia has set up a public-private program to assist small wineries in that state (but not small breweries).

    This is good work by the Brewer's Association of Maryland on behalf of its twenty-six members. If you live in Maryland, support the effort by contacting your state Senator and Delegate, and urge their support of the bills. It makes good political sense; it makes good local business sense; it makes good beer sense.

    UPDATE: Passed and signed into law.
    House Bill 4/Senate Bill 32: Allows for a Class 5 Production Brewery to sell beer by the glass to the general public, provided they are of legal drinking age. The proposed bill positively impacts the local municipality, county, and state as it:
    • attracts additional tourism activity
    • further supports business development local to a Class 5
    • results in the hiring of additional employees
    • increases tax revenue
    • works to equalize competition between Maryland and adjacent states
    • does not undermine current business plans of retailers or wholesalers residing in the state
    • aides a start-up Class 5 to see immediate financial return, while developing their brand with consumers


    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Purple majesty's early spring

    Purple majesty's early spring (04)

    At the intersection of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail: purple blossoms in late winter.

    Madison Manor Park
    Arlington, Virginia.
    10 March 2013.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • Monday, March 11, 2013

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 7/8, 2013.

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
    A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
    of news of beer and other things.

    Weeks 7/8
    10 February 2013 - 23 February 2013

    • 2013.02.23
      Mexican 'craft' brewers fight duopoly control of market; to increasing success in Baja California, but difficulties remain elsewhere. Via San Diego Magazine.

    • 2013.02.23
      Hotel chains begin to stock local craft beer at their bars. Via Hotel News Now.

    • 2013.02.22
      Craft beer pioneer Anchor Brewing to open second brewery, to be located outside AT&T Park in San Francisco, increasing yearly capacity. Via IBABuzz.

    • 2013.02.22
      Long-time Maryland brewery DuClaw Brewing moving from original Harford County location to Baltimore County; to automate, double capacity. Via Perry Hall Patch.

    • 2013.02.20
      Boston Beer Company to release its flagship Boston Lager in specially can designed with flared top to approximate flavor like drinking from a glass. Via BrewBound.

    • 2013.02.18
      The story of Virginia 'craft' beer pioneer, Allen Young, and of those who have followed him. Via Distinction Hampton Roads.

    • 2013.02.18
      It's not the 1960s anymore! Yoko Ono turns 80. Via Wikipedia.

    • 2013.02.18
      Pricing, scarcity, brand management, and bourbon. Maker's Mark takes heat after reducing proof to 82. Returns recipe to 90 proof. Via Bourbon Blog. Analysis of Maker's Mark alcohol-diminution retreat. Via Washington Post.

      American Craft Beer Week 2013
    • 2013.02.18
      8th annual American Craft Beer Week announced for 13-19 May 2013. Via Brewers Association.

    • 2013.02.15
      Asteroid DA14 passed by Earth by 17,200 miles, closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. Via Guardian. Russian citizens upload footage of the day's other, unnamed and unexpected, meteor blast and its aftermath. Via Mashable.

    • 2013.02.13
      U.S. National Cider Summit held in Chicago, Illinois. Via Food Republic.

    • 2013.02.13
      The myth of the "beer belly." Via Shine.

    • 2013.02.11
      How to chill a beer in 2 minutes. Via Alton Brown on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

    • 2013.02.11
      Profile of Washington DC's new and only distillery, New Columbia Distillers, via Washington Post.

    • 2013.02.11
      The Roman Catholic Church's Pope Benedict to step down, citing poor health. Last Pope to resign did so in 1415. Via Yahoo.

      Select Wines packs up
    • 2013.02.11
      Beer distributors in the United States employ 130,000 people, add $54 billion to GDP, pay $21.3 billion in taxes. Via National Beer Wholesalers Association.

    • 2013.02.10
      Truman Cox, Master Distiller at A.Smith Bowman Distillery of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has died.
  • 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. Most are brief, and many are re-posts from
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

  • Saturday, March 09, 2013

    Pic(k) of the week: Allagash allemande!

    Allagash allemande!

    A server seems to dance, while presenting eight small pours of draught beers from Allagash Brewery, of Portland, Maine. All told, fourteen Allagash draught beers were available to patrons during an Allagash 'tap takeover' that evening, at Pizzeria Paradiso.

    Alexandria (Old Town), Virginia.
    1 March 2013.

    See the register of all fourteen beers: here.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera used: Olympus Pen E-PL1. Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Allagash.

  • Friday, March 08, 2013

    The Stuff of Legend (Brewing): a crowd-funded film

    Legend Brewing will turn twenty in 2014. You can support a documentary about this stalwart Richmond brewery, by contributing to its production, at IndieGoGo, no later than 2 April 2013.

    The Stuff of Legend (Brewing)

    Here's more, from the production company, Horse Archer Productions:
    A year in the life of Legend Brewing, a craft brewery and pub in Richmond, Virginia, as they prepare for their 20th anniversary, add Hopfest to their year round line, take their beers to festivals and navigate the complex world of inter-state distribution laws as they seek to expand their footprint.

    Forget glamour and glitz -- we’ll take you inside the real process so you’ll understand the art of beer making as well and capture the story of how this brew has united people-- from professional rock climbers to college professors--who otherwise would not even know one another. And we’ll document the legends of Legend from runaway kegs, to ice storm lock-ins to the showdown between two local rival TV personalities. And perhaps most importantly, we’ll show you just how significant a brewery can be to the local economy and community.

    Legend Oktoberfest

    If you care about American small business, see the value of the local food movement or just love a great beer, please support this film. When this film is completed it will be Horse Archer Productions’ ninth documentary, so we know how to do this right . . . but we need your help.

    The funds will go directly to cover costs associated with production and post-production of the documentary. There are several costs you probably never thought of, from legal fees and insurance to travel expenses, supplies and design work. But, the most important thing is being able to pay our crew fairly. Independent film companies like ours rely on freelance workers who deserve fair compensation. We believe in paying artists.

    I'm delighted to see Legend Brewing and its brewmaster, John Wampler —underhyped stars of the Virginia brewing scene— get some well-deserved props. More on the fundraising campaign, which hopes to raise $28,000 by 2 April 2013, at the crowd-funding site, IndieGoGo.

  • Follow the documentary on Facebook.
  • Follow Legend Brewing (there's no 's') at Twitter @LegendBrewingCo; on Facebook; at its website:
  • From a couple of years ago, a look at Legend Brewing on its 17th anniversary: here.
  • Follow Horse Archer Productions at Twitter @horsearcher; on Facebook; at its website:
  • I hope the production company, HorseArcher, drops the clichéd use of the opening fanfare to Richard Strauss' tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra. The producers have assuaged me that that was used only for the teaser. It will not be soundtrack for the trailer or finished film. Whew!

  • Thursday, March 07, 2013

    VeggieDag Thursday: Why do we cook our food?

    It's been twenty-two years and counting since I last consumed an animal. On 17 February 1991, I declared meat independence. No trumpet fanfares. Just did it. The words "vegetarian" and "vegan" are so fraught with connotations and clarifications, that I avoid them, and say, "I don't eat animals." Even that simple declaration seems to sow confusion. "So, do you eat fish?" To which, I want to sarcastically reply that the fish plants are growing well next to the tomato vines. But, I don't.

    I am not a raw-foodist, however. I might juice; I might eat raw vegetables; but the majority of my calories comes from cooked food, as it does for most other humans. In my mind, this begs an elemental question: Why do humans cook food. And when did they start doing so, and are cooked foods less nutritious than raw foods?

    Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have conducted research into the rapid evolutionary growth of the human brain. They have concluded that this evolutionary burst required a drastically higher higher caloric load than, say, that needed for the vegetarian gorilla's brain. They cite meat-eating and cooking (of meat AND vegetables) as having been essential to human development: meat because it was calorically more dense than vegetables and fruits.

    And why cooking? Here's Dr. Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University, speaking to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 2009, as paraphrased in The Economist:

    Wrangham believes that cooking and humanity arose simultaneously. He thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity's “killer app”: the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other—and subsequent—changes that have made people such unusual animals.

    Humans became human, as it were, with the emergence 1.8m years ago of a species called Homo erectus. This had a skeleton much like modern man's—a big, brain-filled skull and a narrow pelvis and rib cage, which imply a small abdomen and thus a small gut. Hitherto, the explanation for this shift from the smaller skulls and wider pelvises of man's apelike ancestors has been a shift from a vegetable-based diet to a meat-based one. Meat has more calories than plant matter, the theory went. A smaller gut could therefore support a larger brain.

    Dr Wrangham disagrees. When you do the sums, he argues, raw meat [even though it has more calories than plant matter] is still insufficient to bridge the gap. He points out that even modern “raw foodists”, members of a town-dwelling, back-to-nature social movement, struggle to maintain their weight—and they have access to animals and plants that have been bred for the table. Pre-agricultural man confined to raw food would have starved.

    Start cooking, however, and things change radically. Cooking alters food in three important ways. It breaks starch molecules into more digestible fragments. It “denatures” protein molecules, so that their amino-acid chains unfold and digestive enzymes can attack them more easily. And heat physically softens food. That makes it easier to digest, so even though the stuff is no more calorific, the body uses fewer calories dealing with it.

    In support of his thesis, Dr Wrangham, who is an anthropologist, has ransacked other fields and come up with an impressive array of material. Cooking increases the share of food digested in the stomach and small intestine, where it can be absorbed, from 50% to 95%.

    As to cooking's deleterious effect upon food nutrients, here's a passage from Nutrition For Dummies:
    There’s no denying that some nutrients are lost when foods are cooked. Simple strategies such as steaming food rather than boiling, or broiling rather than frying, can significantly reduce the loss of nutrients when you’re cooking food.

    Virtually all minerals are unaffected by heat. Cooked or raw, food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, and sodium. The single exception to this rule is potassium, which — although not affected by heat or air — escapes from foods into the cooking liquid.

    With the exception of vitamin K and the B vitamin niacin, which are very stable in food, many vitamins are sensitive and are easily destroyed when exposed to heat, air, water, or fats (cooking oils).

    [But] Some foods are less nutritious raw because they contain substances that destroy or disarm other nutrients. For example, raw dried beans contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the work of enzymes that enable your body to digest protein. Heating disarms the enzyme inhibitor. Some, foods (such as meat, poultry, and eggs) are positively dangerous when consumed raw (or undercooked).

    When did humans 'discover' cooking? Again, from Wrangman:
    The archaeological evidence for ancient cookery is equivocal. Digs show that both modern humans and Neanderthals controlled fire in a way that almost certainly means they could cook, and did so at least 200,000 years ago. Since the last common ancestor of the two species lived more than 400,000 years ago fire-control is probably at least as old as that, for they lived in different parts of the world, and so could not have copied each other.

    So, maybe evolution isn’t a reason to 'go' vegetarian. But, there are significant environmental, economic, ethical, moral, and health reasons to go there. "With supermarkets and refrigeration, humans today can and increasingly do eat a vegetarian or vegan diet year-round. And given the amount of heart-stopping saturated fats in factory-produced animal products, a plant-based diet can be more healthful" (along with highly processed foods).

    Finding calories is not difficult in the modern era. With good fortune  YFGF will be going for at least another 22 years of meat-free eating. As I said in a 2008 post celebrating this anniversary: "Now, beer: ahh! That IS a wonderful vegetarian foodstuff!"

  • I hope this post is not interpreted as an anti-raw-food screed. Far from it. From Dr. Douglas Graham, here's here's strategy for modern raw food eaters to avoid caloric deficiency.
  • Joe Yonan, the editor of the Food Section of the Washington Post, a major U.S. newspaper, has "come out" as a vegetarian: that is, he eats no animal flesh, but does eat dairy and eggs.

  • Wednesday, March 06, 2013

    Washington D.C. Prohibition repealed!

    Heurich Wholesome Home Brew

    An advertisement published in the Washington Herald on 7 February 1913, promoted Heurich Home Brew, a beer brewed by the Christian Heurich Brewing Company. At less than 2% alcohol-by-volume, this was pretty much a 'near beer,' and possibly a test of what the Washington, D.C., brewery might have to produce if Prohibition were ratified.

    Which, regrettably, it was.

    National Prohibition began on 17 January 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect, and would continue through 5 December 1933, when it was repealed by the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, an interregnum that H.L. Mencken, Baltimore-based literary reporter/satirist, referred to as those "Thirteen Awful Years."

    In Washington, D.C., it was even more awful.

    There, local Prohibition had begun nearly three years earlier, when on 1 November 1917, Congress, under its Constitutional authority over the city, enacted the Sheppard Act, prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, and sale of intoxicating beverages within the District Of Columbia. Congress wouldn't repeal the city's Prohibition until 1 March 1934, three months after the rest of the nation.

    However, although tardy, that repeal legislation would become a model for other jurisdictions in the U.S. on how to regulate, license, and control alcohol sales, as opposed to dispensing it directly.
    In place of unfettered bootlegging would be alcohol licensing, regulation, taxation, and a control board. [Anti-Prohibition crusader] Rufus Lusk proposed a drinking age at eighteen, except for any alcohol with 14 per cent alcohol by volume, or higher, in which case you had to be twenty-one. It established licensing for bars, hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments to sell alcohol. ... Most states adopted similar licensing as they established Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) boards
    Prohibition in Washington, DC: How Dry We Weren't. Garrett Peck.

    How dry we were. How inchoate we remain.


    Saturday, March 02, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Snuggery Seas

    Snuggery Seas

    I like the (accidental) 21st century Bruegel-esque composition of the photo: diners enjoying the food, beer, and conversation at a Heavy Seas Brewing 'beer dinner' at The Old Brogue, in Great Falls, Virginia, in the restaurant's back room, the "snuggery."

    The Old Brogue Irish Pub & Restaurant
    Great Falls, Virginia.
    26 February 2013.

  • More photos from the dinner: here. Menu: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1. Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas.