Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mick 'The Pirate' Kipp

He survived bouts with Hodgkin’s disease. He wore a bandanna after losing his hair while undergoing chemotherapy. He never took the bandanna off, and it became his signature, 'pirate,' look. He created hot sauces, and said, "Eat My Stuff!" He endeared himself to a city, saying "Oogy Wawa!" Mick 'The Pirate' Kipp died, suddenly, Saturday, at age 51, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Mick Kipp & Ken KrucenskiMick Kipp (l) with Baltimore publican Ken Krucenski, in 2009.

Kipp grew up in Cleveland, became a film stuntman (sought out for personal pyrotechnics), and moved to Baltimore, where cancer ended his career. Not missing a beat, Kipp became a food entrepreneur, creating and hawking hot sauces via his Whiskey Island brand.

Kipp would bartend —and become famous for his pirate persona— at several Baltimore 'watering holes,' Pickles Pub, outside Camden Yards, for one. I first met him in the mid-1990s, when he was working at The Wild Mushroom a bar, in the Canton neighborhood, well ahead of its time. Kipp featured Belgian beers; he and I shared many a goblet and story.

His Whiskey Island hot sauce and catering business did well. He won prizes at the Fiery Foods Challenge, as well as garnering Scovies —the 'Oscars' of hot-foods. He was a regular at Baltimore farmers' markets and beer festivals, offering his wares. Kipp decided to remain true to artisan roots, deliberately keeping his business smaller in scope. The Baltimore Sun profiled him in 2006.
[A] passion for food, the artisanal side of the business, is what keeps Kipp going -- even as, in some ways, it's what holds his business back. "Unless I'm doing thousands and thousands of items, I make very little and everyone else makes very much," he says. Ramping up at that scale also might mean losing control of quality. He has known microbrewers who started with a passion for hops, grain and good beer, but became full-time marketers as their businesses grew.
Kipp's brother tells him that he's "too attached" to Whiskey Island and that the business was "meant to be sold." Kipp instead identifies with the small farmers he works with every Saturday at the Waverly market and he wants to concentrate on building a strong local customer base.

Kipp was only recently in the news. For several years, he had volunteered as kitchen manager for "Empty Bowls," a soup festival fundraiser for Baltimore's homeless.
A soup tasting event allows people "to enjoy something that people who are homeless need," Kipp said. "Homeless people want something that tastes good and fills their belly, and nothing does that better than soup."

What struck anyone who would meet Kipp was his almost zany zest for life. This not-tall man had an out-sized personality, a powerful handshake, and infectious aura of enthusiasm. Baltimore writer and baseball historian Charlie Vascellaro has written a moving, personal tribute, at the Baltimore City Paper. One of the many comments posted there captures the man's essence:
He was a wonderful advertisement of the quirkiness of our fabulous Baltimore city.

Here's Kipp interviewed on National Public Radio in 2006. Follow his recipes; eat his stuff! Rest in peace, Mick Kipp: pirate, stuntman, hot sauce entrepreneur, good beer advocate, cancer warrior, and lover of life.

  • UPDATE: A fundraiser to help defray college tuition for Kipp's daughter has been announced for 19 September at Heavy Seas Brewery (in Halethorpe, Maryland.) That day just happens to be Speak Like A Pirate Day. Details: here.
  • "In addition to a buoyant, cheerful personality, the man could cook," said Rob Kasper, the former Baltimore Sun food and beer columnist, of Mick Kipp. Read more at the Baltimore Sun.
  • Sign the guest book at Legacy.com.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 15/16, 2013.

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

Weeks 15/16
7 April 2013 - 20 April 2013

  • 2013.04.19
    Police kill one suspect in Boston Marathon bombing; second suspect captured alive. Via CNN.

    Good fermentables tasting (02)
  • 2013.04.17
    Blaufrankisch: Austria’s silky, sour red wine. Via Dave McIntyre of Washington Post.

  • 2013.04.13
    American 'craft' beer catches on in Britain, inspires brewers. "There's a hipster cachet to it," says British beer writer Melissa Cole. Via BBC.

  • 2013.04.13
    "Small and independent American craft brewers ...are one of the country’s fastest-growing employment sectors." Bill Butcher of Port City Brewing, via Roll Call.

  • 2013.04.12
    Bordeaux 'first growth' winery Château Margaux experimenting with “voodoo” of biodynamics. Via The Drinks Business.

    Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale
  • 2013.04.12
    Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. "We never really advertised much. I've thought it better to focus on the beer." Via Inc.

  • 2013.04.11
    The top 50 breweries, and the top 50 'craft' breweries, in the U.S. Via YFGF.

  • 2013.04.09
    "A dirty little secret of the craft beer industry is that we are growing on the shoulders of a beer style —IPA— that has a very short shelf life." Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing at Craft Brewers Conference. Via YFGF.

  • 2013.04.09
    Sly Fox Brewing, of Pennsylvania, is first brewery in U.S., large or small, to introduce the 'topless' beer can. Via Today Show.

  • 2013.04.09
    How Pabst Blue Ribbon won its blue ribbon in 1893 ... sort of. Via Mental Floss.

  • 2013.04.08
    'Craft' breweries ask Congress for tax cut: Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce (BREW) Act. Via New York Times.

  • 2013.04.08
    Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, has died of a stroke at age 87. Via Yahoo News.

    BAM meets BAM
  • 2013.04.07
    U.S. Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski, joins the Senate Small Brewers Caucus. Via Maryland Brewers Association.

  • 2013.04.07
    On 7 April 1933, beer of 3.2% alcohol and less was made legal, although actual Prohibition wouldn't be repealed until 5 December 1933. Via YFGF.

  • 2013.04.07
    The State of Oregon poised to designate beer yeast as the state's official microbe. Via Beervana.

  • 2013.04.07
    Suspicious fire damages two New Belgium Brewery buildings in Asheville, North Carolina. Via BeerPulse.

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

  • Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Pic(k) of the week: Cat & dog & stripes

    Cat & dog & stripes

    Spooks the Cat and Ethel Mae the Beagle find common truce in a snooze, as late afternoon sun warms through window-shade slats.

    20 April 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.

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Sublime, not simple: Pilsners and the Washington Post 2013 Beer Madness

    Since 2007, the Washington Post has run a beer contest paralleling the March Madness tournament of collegiate basketball. Post columnist Greg Kitsock selects a panel of 'laypersons' and 'experts' which winnows a field a beers —placed in divisions, similar to the brackets of the NCAA tournament— to one, champion beer.

    For this year's Washington Post Beer Madness, he and Greg Engert —beer director for the Churchkey/Neighborhood Restaurant Group— selected a tournament line-up of 32 local beers —beers from breweries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware— and separated those into four brackets of Crisp, Fruit & Spice, Hop, and Roast.

    Over successive weeks, the eight judges rated the beers based on their personal preferences, rather than adherence to any stylistic guidelines. Which is how the vast majority of consumers chooses its beers. Which is why I enjoy the contest, but why it might rankle a beer-style geek. Accept the results as subjective fun.

    Last week the panelists had winnowed the field to two: the redundantly named Double Dog Double Pale Ale from Flying Dog, of Frederick, Maryland, and the succinctly named Pilsner from Legend Brewing, of Richmond, Virginia. And then, Kitsock wrote this:

    Pilseners tend to be simple, straightforward beers.

    No, no, no, and no!

    At best, Kitsock's statement is dismissive praise, like saying that Mozart's String Quartet No. 19 —the Dissonance Quartet— is 'simple' music because the notes have been written down. At worst, his comment finds common cause with the major brewing companies in doing harm to their distant legacies of Czech and German lagers —and SAB/Miller Brewing, in particular, with its apostasy "true Pilsner" campaign: if we repeat something enough, it will be believed to be true.

    I'm going to avoid quoting formalistic delineations of OG/ABV/IBU and other alphabetic parameters. But I know a pilsner when I taste one: firm, slightly sweet, deep golden-hued malt; spicy, floral hops; crisp character, with a whiff of yeasty sulfur; gentle enough alcohol at about 5% to allow another sip, yet strong enough to make a statement; a long, dry, dare I say, bitter finish. And, above all, a clear, joyful declaration of the four ingredients of beer —malt, hops, yeast, and water— unencumbered by ale's zig-zag riot of dank hop, fruited yeast, and nowadays, back-of-the-cupboard oddities. No disrespect is meant to the world of ales. But if one fancies him or herself a beer lover, and 'simply' dismisses lagers out-of-hand, she or he leaves undiscovered an entire hemisphere of delicious choices.


    Double Dog bested Legend Pilsner today, winning the 2013 Washington Post Beer Madness. A fine beer it is: a fine, strong, hoppy ale. Congratulations are due to Flying Dog Brewing. I have a bottle in the fridge. But, when the time is right ...

    Pour yourself a Legend Pilsner, 'crank up' Mozart's 'Dissonance' Quartet, and take the time to taste and listen. That's not simple; that's sublime.

  • Two of the Post's judges advanced Legend Pilsner into the final round because of complexities they described as Belgian beer-like and banana. In a formal competition, those flavors would have been deemed faults and the beer eliminated. In writing this posting, I tasted the beer. I didn't find those flaws.
  • With many iterations available, here are but two other U.S. pilsner-style lagers to try: Gordon-Biersch (nationwide brewpub chain), Victory Brewing Prima Pils (Pennsylvania). For more in-depth stylistic exploration of pilsners and other lagers, read the blog Fuggled.
  • I cannot claim authorship of the lager/string quartet analogy. That belongs to Washington, D.C. beer raconteur Bob Tupper, who compares an ale to a jazz quartet. Each member goes his own way, but all finish together. A lager, in contrast, is like a string quartet. It is a seamless composition.
  • Flying Dog's brewmaster Matt Brophy (and, again, congratulations) had this to say about the name of his beer: when Double Dog Double Pale Ale premiered in 2004, to celebrate the brewery’s 10th anniversary, there was no accepted stylistic designation for a strong ale with such a massive hop content. That has changed, and Brophy assures us that the beer will be relabeled a “double IPA.”
  • The fact that Kitsock and Engert were able to select thirty-two local beers —easily, with many excluded— is, in itself, a remarkable facet of the competition. Even five years ago, there weren't enough breweries here to do that.

  • Monday, April 22, 2013

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 13/14, 2013.

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

    Weeks 13/14
    24 March 2013 - 6 April 2013

    • 2013.04.06
      DRAFT Magazine published a guide to cask ale in Washington. D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, metropolitan areas. Written by Joe Stange, who, as Thirsty Pilgrim, reports from Costa Rica.

    • 2013.04.06
      India Pale Ale (IPA) is the fastest-growing beer style in U.S. restaurants and pubs. Sales were up 39% in 2012, while industrial lagers were down 5%. Via Just Drinks.

    • 2013.04.06
      A start-up Washington, D.C. brewpub has a poor experience with crowd-funding. Via Washington Post.

      Piels beer coaster: Bert & Harry
    • 2013.04.06
      How Piels Beer changed advertising in the 1950s with comedic spots from Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding. Via WNYC.

    • 2013.04.05
      Film critic Roger Ebert dies. Via The Atlantic: "Roger Ebert Knew About Writing." Via The Atlantic.

    • 2013.04.03
      Jim Barrett and Mike Grgich —Napa wine pioneers of the 1976 "Judgement of Paris"— are honored. Via Dave McIntyre of Washington Post.

      Brian Strumke (02)
    • 2013.04.03
      The debate about contract/'Gypsy'/resident-brewing continues, unabated, post Craft Brewers Conference. Via Andy Crouch at Beer Scribe.

    • 2013.04.02
      Sales of higher-priced craft beers increased by 27% in 2012; lower-priced craft beers by only 3%. Via Just Drinks.

      Local beer at Nationals (04)
    • 2013.04.02
      Prices for beer at Nationals Park —home to Washington D.C. major league baseball team— are some of the most expensive in all baseball. Via Washington City Paper.

    • 2013.03.30
      This week's denial-of-service attack was a serious threat to the Internet itself. Via ReadWrite.com.

    • 2013.03.29
      The 2013 ProWein wine expo in Germany had 44,000 attendees. Via Just Drinks.

    • 2013.03.28
      Former Maker’s Mark master distiller Dave Pickerell distilling rye whiskey at George Washington’s excavated distillery at Mount Vernon, Virginia, using Washington's recipes. Via Washington Post.

      Weizen sippers
    • 2013.03.26
      Gallup poll shows beer replacing wine as drink of choice for women 18 to 34. Craft beer is a crucial part of that. Via Detroit Free Press.

    • 2013.03.25
      Is beer Kosher? Maybe. Is it Kosher for Passover? No. Via Brews Brothers.

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

  • Saturday, April 20, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Nitrogen fob

    Nitrogen fob

    Jets of liquid nitrogen vaporize out of beer bottles necks, during a demonstration of nitrogen bottle-fobbing, arranged at the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference.
    Fobbing during bottling is important in forcing oxygen from the bottle before capping. As the bottle leaves the filler, foam rises to the top of the bottle, due to the drop in pressure, displaying the oxygen in the bottle's headspace. This is known as "capping on foam." Bottling lines will often employ liquid nitrogen or sterile water "jetters" [to create fobbing].
    The Oxford Companion to Beer

    The 2013 Craft Brewers Conference —presented by the Brewers Association— was held the last week in March, in Washington, D.C. (for the first time in its 30 year history).

    Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
    28 March 2013.

  • More photos from the conference: here.
  • More coverage by YFGF: 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.

  • Monday, April 15, 2013

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 11/12, 2013.

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

    Weeks 11/12
    10 March 2013 - 23 March 2013

    • 2013.03.22
      Brewing "standards and baroques," brewpub Right Proper Beer to open in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C., next to the fabled Howard Theater, in October of 2013. Via Lagerheads at the Washington City Paper.

    • 2013.03.20
      Scientists determine that saliva chemically reacts with compounds in wine to unlock aromas. A possible similar pathway in beer, via hop compounds. Via Beervana.

    • 2013.03.20
      Wine on tap, served via a draft system. What’s working and what’s not. Via Wine Table.

    • 2013.03.18
      Several Virginia 'craft' breweries to can their beers using a 'rent-a-canning-line' Virginia company. Via Richmond Biz Sense.

    • 2013.03.17
      Maryland's good laws for good beer: production breweries could be allowed to sell beer by the glass in their taprooms, and other proposals. Via YFGF.

    • 2013.03.17
      Brilliant critical thinking, as always, from Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post: Is capitalism moral?

      A brewers' toast
    • 2013.03.17
      "The best that can be said for Guinness is that it is the least worst of rubbish pub beer choices." Via The Guardian.

    • 2013.03.16
      "Ah beer, the perfect end to a day of tasting close to 50 wines." A Virginia wine shop visits Austria. Via VinesAdventures.

    • 2013.03.14
      Google to shut down RSS aggregator Google Reader. Via Huffington Post.

    • 2013.03.14
      An East West Coast IPA? San Diego, California brewery Green Flash to open $20M facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Via BeerPulse.

    • 2013.03.13
      Francis I: Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina elected first Pope from outside Europe in more than millennium. Via The Week.

    • 2013.03.13
      A wine glut is feared in New Zealand after a hot summer and large harvest, in contrast to the small harvest of 2011. Via The Drinks Business.

    • 2013.03.11
      Today, on 11 March 1990, Lithuania became independent of the Soviet Union. Via Central Intelligence Agency.

    • 2013.03.11
      The physics of beer skunking, and how the color of beer bottles can retard it. Via Wired.

    • 2013.03.11
      Scottish distillery accidentally flushes thousands of liters of Chivas scotch whisky. Via The Drinks Business.

    • 2013.03.11
      Alcohol may give heavy drinkers more than just a buzz. It can also fuel their brains, a new study suggests, boosting levels of acetate, an energy-rich by-product of alcohol metabolism. Via Science News.

      Escape from heat dome
    • 2013.03.10
      Think grammar doesn't matter? An airline deal is erroneously approved in India because of a superfluous comma. Via ‏Reuters India.

    • 2013.03.10
      Daylight Saving (no 's') Time began in the United states this morning. Via Time and Date.

    • 2013.03.10
      The oldest common human male ancestor yet discovered: 340,000 years old. New Scientist via Yahoo.

    • 2013.03.10
      The rat may be the common ancestor to ALL mammals? A 66 million-year-old rat. Via The Week.

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

  • Sunday, April 14, 2013

    It's on! Blodge vs. Gooch

    Is there a Maryland/Virginia beer rivalry a-brewing? The Blodge, aka Kevin Blodger —co-owner/brewer of Union Craft Brewing (Baltimore, Maryland)— has thrown down a gauntlet at the Gooch, aka Jason Oliver —brewmaster for Devils Backbone Brewing (Roseland, Virginia).

    Union Craft Brewing opened in June of 2012, in the Woodberry neighborhood of Baltimore. Blodger's Altbier took a gold medal a few months later at the Great American Beer Festival.

    Devils Backbone opened in 2008 in central Virginia. Since then, Oliver and the brewery have consistently won medals at the Great American Beer Festival (including eight in 2012). In 2010, they were honored with Champion Small Brewpub and Brewmaster at the World Beer Cup.

    Blodger and Oliver are good friends. Before their current positions, both had worked for Gordon-Biersch brewpubs in the Washington, D.C metro area. So, this is all in good fun. Yet, we'll wait for the results of the 2013 Great American Beer Festival will be held in Denver, Colorado, 10-12 October.

    Video courtesy of JT Smith.

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: CBC13 Keynote Ballroom

    CBC13 Keynote Ballroom

    A panoramic view of the main ballroom at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C.

    On the morning of 27 March 2013, the room would fill with nearly 6,400 professionals of the U.S. 'craft' beer business for the opening presentations, and keynote address, of the Craft Brewers Conference.
    From March 26-29, 2013, 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.

    This was the first time the conference, in its thirty year history, held been held in Washington, D.C. It also was its largest gathering ever; ten years earlier, a tad less than one thousand had attended. The business of small and independent U.S. brewers is booming.

  • More photos from the conference: here.
  • More coverage by YFGF: 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.

  • Thursday, April 11, 2013

    The top 50 breweries (and 'craft' breweries) in the US

    At the recent Craft Brewers Conference, I noticed something different in the welcome speech from Charlie Papazian, President of the Brewers Association (BA). I whispered to a friend sitting next to me: "He's never once said 'craft' brewery. He's using the term: 'small and independent brewery.'" A small detail, perhaps, but potentially a paradigm shift.

    Papazian addresses CBC13

    Papazian and the Brewers Association define 'craft' breweries using three criteria. Notice the third.
    An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.
    • Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. 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 brewer's 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.
    Yesterday, the BA published new statistics on the state of the industry of 'craft' breweries.

    In 2011, 'craft' breweries accounted for 5.7% of the beer produced in the United States; in 2012, 6.5%, a 14% increase. In 2011, there were approximately 2,036 'craft' breweries in the U.S.; in 2012, there were 2,403, an increase of 18%. And, possibly most significantly, 'craft' beer's dollar share of the total U.S. beer market was $8.7 billion in 2011; in 2012, it reached $10.2 billion, a 17% increase. That marked a crossing of a beer Rubicon of a sort: craft beer sales in 2012 accounted for a 10.2% dollar share.

    U.S. Small & Independent Breweries in 2012

    Note the use of "Small and Independent" in the above graphic from the BA. Of course, they also use the term "craft." Yet, still, it does seem a shift in tone and message.

    Here, from the BA's press release is the list of the top 10 'small and independent' breweries (or 'craft', if you will), based on sales volume in 2012:
    • 1. Boston Beer Company: Boston, Massachusetts 
    • 2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company:  Chico, California 
    • 4. New Belgium Brewing Company:  Fort Collins, Colorado
    • 4. The Gambrinus Company:  San Antonio, Texas
    • 5. Deschutes Brewery:  Bend, Oregon
    • 6. Lagunitas Brewing Company:  Petaluma, California
    • 7. Bell's Brewery, Inc.: Galesburg, Michigan
    • 8. Matt Brewing Company: Utica, New York
    • 9. Harpoon Brewery: Boston, Massachusetts
    • 10. Stone Brewing Company:  Escondido, California

    Flying Dog Brewery —of Frederick, Maryland, n the Washington, D.C. / Maryland / Virginia region (in which this blog resides)— took the 29th spot. Rounding out the top fifty was Troegs Brewing, of Hershey, Pennsylvania. See the rest of the list of the Top 50 'small and independent' breweries: here.

    Again, according to the Brewers Association, the top 10 breweries in 2012 in the United States, solely by volume, regardless of affiliation, were:
    • 1. Anheuser-Busch Inc.: St. Louis, Missouri
    • 2. MillerCoors: Chicago, Illinois
    • 3. Pabst Brewing Company: Los Angeles, California.
    • 4. D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc.: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
    • 5. Boston Beer Company: Boston, Massachusetts
    • 6. North American Breweries: Rochester, New York
    • 7. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: Chico, California
    • 8. New Belgium Brewing Company: Fort Collins, Colorado
    • 9. Craft Brew Alliance, Inc.: Portland, Oregon
    • 10. The Gambrinus Company: San Antonio, Texas

    Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are not American-owned. Pabst owns no breweries; it is, in effect, a marketing company. Thus, the largest American-owned brewery is Yuengling, family owned and the oldest brewing company in the United States. Boston Beer —maker of the Sam Adams beers— is the second-largest. Yuengling Lager —Yuengling's flagship beer— is brewed with a hefty proportion of corn. As the BA does not consider corn to be 'traditional' —a stipulation that is historically fallacious— it refuses to recognize Yuengling as a small and independent brewery.

    North American Breweries is a conglomerate comprising Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat, and Pyramid brands. The Craft Brew Alliance comprises Kona, Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer Brothers brands.

    Rounding out the top 50 overall breweries is Karl Strauss Brewing Company, of San Diego, California (which is also 39th on the list of 'craft' breweries). Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery comes in at #40. See the rest of the list here. Of those fifty, thirty-nine are defined by the BA as small and independent.

  • Read the Brewers Association press releases: here and here.
  • UPDATE: The Brewers Association's full 2012 industry analysis was published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, the trade journal of the Association.

  • Sunday, April 07, 2013

    Beer be Free! (80 years ago, today)

    In the 11th century, King Canute ordered the ocean's tide to retreat. It didn't.

    In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled that a fruit was a vegetable. Nature stated otherwise.

    And, on 7 April 1933 —80 years ago today— Congress, in its collective wisdom, decreed beer to be non-intoxicating... sort of.

    The 18th Amendment to the U.S, Constitution —which was ratified on 16 January 1919— had prohibited the manufacture and sale of "intoxicating liquors ... for beverage purposes". The wording left it up to Congress to define "intoxicating". Congress did so later that year, via the Volstead Act, defining intoxicating as any beverage containing greater than 0.5% alcohol by weight (the equivalent of 0.634% by volume).

    National Prohibition would go into effect the following year, in January 1920, and it would be a long, dry, thirteen years until Congress would pass the Cullen-Harrison Act on 19 March 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in keeping a campaign promise, signed the bill the next day, saying, "I think this would be a good time for a beer."

    A few weeks later, on 7 April 1933, the bill went into effect, declaring, in effect, that alcoholic beverages of equal to or less than 3.2% alcohol-by-weight (4.05% by volume) were to be considered as "non-intoxicating", under the requirements of the 18th Amendment. Beer, of a weak sort, had become legal, even though Prohibition still remained in effect.

    Family-owned F.X. Matt Brewing, of Utica, New York, would obtain the first brewery permit in the nation to sell beer. Another family-owned brewery Yuengling, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, would deliver a case of beer to the President at the White House. And, throughout the nation, in celebration, 1.6 million barrels of beer would be consumed in a 24 hour period. If that had been just bottled beer - which it wasn't - the happy ruck would have consumed more than 529 million bottles of beer in one day.

    Considering all that beer at the ready, a question begs to be asked. Since it had been illegal to brew beer before the stroke of midnight 7 April 1933, where had all that beer suddenly come from? Regardless, the day indeed was quite the national party, and contrary to the dire predictions of the 'drys,' relatively crime-free.

    To be precise, it wouldn't be until nearly eight months later, on 5 December 1933, that the 21st Amendment would be ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment, and thus Prohibition. From that date on, beers of any strength, and wines and spirits, were allowed to be produced and sold, but only at the discretion of each state within its own borders.

    Anchor Cue

    Today, celebrate, yet be mindful of a milestone of U.S. beer history. Enjoy a beer brewed by an independent American brewery. You won't have to limit yourself to 3.2%.


    Saturday, April 06, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Red Hose

    Red hose

    A brewhouse tableaux: a red water-hose carefully coiled in the brewery, at the new Gordon-Biersch Navy Yard.

    The brewpub/restaurant is located in the Navy Yard-neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The photo was taken during a pre-opening event on 30 March 2013.

  • More about Gordon-Biersch: here. See more pics of the brewpub: 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.