Friday, May 31, 2013

This week, all things considered, you should rather be in Philadelphia.

Why should you consider traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Philly Beer Week, which begins this morning and runs through 9 June?

Here's how Philly Beer Week answers the question:

Philly Beer Week is a 10-day celebration of the Best Beer-Drinking City in America. Established in 2008, it’s the largest beer celebration of its kind in America, featuring hundreds of festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights to area bars, restaurants and other locations throughout Greater Philadelphia. Since its inception, nearly 100 other cities worldwide have copied Philadelphia’s success to launch their own beer weeks.

And, here's how Lew Bryson, managing editor of Whiskey Advocate and longtime observer of things beer via books and blog, puts it:
Believe me when I say that Philly Beer Week is too big for any one person to encompass, experience, or comprehend. Kinda like American craft beer...

This week, all things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia. Alas, I won't be, but you should.

  • Website:
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: @phillybeerweek. Hashtag: #PBW2013
  • Mobile App.
  • Monday, May 27, 2013


    One million, one hundred ninety-six thousand, seven hundred ninety-three American soldiers killed in combat.


  • Graphic courtesy of Huffington Post.
  • Musical selection: first movement of Second Symphony by American composer Howard Hanson.

  • Saturday, May 25, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Rigging in the Tank

    Rigging in the tank

    Riggers off-load a 150-barrel fermentation tank from a flat-bed truck and carefully hoist it into Heavy Seas Brewery.

    Heavy Seas opened in 1995, in Halethorpe, just south of Baltimore City, Maryland, where it remains today. Its tank 'farm', as of May 2013, consists of 30 vessels: 23 fermenters and 7 maturation (or "bright") tanks, of which 4 are 200 barrels in volume, the remainder 100 or 150 barrels.

    In 2012, Heavy Seas brewed more than 32,000 barrels of beer, making it the 69th largest American-owned brewery in the United States (out of 2,403). That was nearly a three-fold growth over 2008, four years earlier, when the brewery's output had been about 13,000 barrels.

    22 May 2013.

  • More pics of the tank rigging: here.
  • A barrel is not a keg or other container. It's a unit of volume measure, equal to 31 U.S. gallons. To put it in perspective, a barrel is the equivalent of 13.7 cases of twenty-four 12-ounce bottles. Thus, Heavy Seas' 2012 output was the equivalent of 10,722,496 bottles of beer.
  • The top 50 breweries (and 'craft' breweries) in the United States: here. A 2012 snapshot of the business of 'craft' brewing: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas.
  • 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.
  • Friday, May 24, 2013

    A 2012 snapshot of the business of 'craft' brewing in the United States.

    The Brewers Association is an advocacy and lobbying group for small and independent breweries in the United States.

    Once a year, the Brewers Association releases its state-of-the business-of-'craft'-beer (as reported in the May/June edition of New Brewer Magazine —the journal of the Association). Some of that information is released publicly, such as the this: the top 50 craft breweries in the U.S. Much of the material, however, is released only to members of the Association, and is the property of the Association. Thus, I won't report on the actual barrelage numbers of any brewery unless and until that information is publicly released.

    Instead, here is a snapshot of the 'craft' beer business, in 2012, both nationally, and here (where YFGF resides) in the tri-state mid-Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (that is, if Washington, D.C. were granted its due statehood).

    New Brewer

    Overall U.S. beer sales were some 200,028,520 barrels in 2012, up an estimated 0.9% over 2011. Of that total, small and independent U.S. breweries accounted for an estimated 13,235,917 barrels, up from 11,467,337 in 2011 (a 15.4% increase). 'Craft' breweries' sales share in 2012 was 6.5% by volume and 10.2% by dollars (approximately $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011). There were 2,403 breweries operating in 2012, the highest total since the 1880s. Brewpubs (of which there were 1,132, up from 1,075 in 2011) produced 870,371 barrels in 2012, 7.2 percent more than in 2011, the fourth straight year of an increase.

    Here, in the DMV, for 'craft' beer produced in 2012:
    • Washington, D.C. was ranked 46th in the nation (if it were a state) with 7,815 barrels (up from 2,822 in 2011, a 176.9% increase).
    • Virginia was ranked 28th with 84,059 barrels in 2012 (up from 61,440 in 2011, a 36.8% increase).
    • Maryland was ranked 20th with 154,650 barrels produced in 2012 (up from 123,371 barrels in 2011, a 25.3% increase).
    The largest brewery in the tri-state area is Flying Dog, located in Frederick, Maryland. It's also the 29th largest 'craft' brewery in the U.S. In Virginia, the largest is Starr Hill, in Crozet. In Washington, D.C., it's DC Brau.

    Nationally, the top 5 states, in order, were:
    • California 2,453,793 barrels
    • Pennsylvania 1,626,116 barrels
    • Colorado 1,291,771 barrels
    • Ohio 980,969 barrels
    • Oregon 764,226 barrels
    The state with the fewest barrels of craft beer brewed in 2012?
    North Dakota, with 858 proud barrels.

    State of Craft Beer: headlines 2013 (14)
  • The Brewers Association restricts its brewery membership to what it calls "craft breweries." It defines those as "small, independent, and traditional." Read here as to how it defines those parameters.
  • The top 50 breweries (and 'craft' breweries) in the U.S.: here.
  • At the 2013 Craft Beer Conference, Paul Gatza —Executive Director of the Brewers Association— delivered a presentation on the State of the Craft Beeer Industry. See a slideshow: here.
  • A barrel of beer is not a physical thing. It is not a keg, but a unit of volume measurement. One barrel equals 31 gallons. In terms of cases of beer (24 bottles of 12-ounce bottles or cans), one barrel is the equivalent of 13.7 cases. For more about beer measurements: read here.

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    The Feds look at the use of Social Media in the advertising of alcoholic beverages

    The U.S. government's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (commonly referred to by its initials, TTB) recently published new regulations on social media advertising for breweries, wineries, distilleries, alcohol wholesalers and importers, etc.

    Simply put, any blog, Facebook page, Flickr, Tumblr, etc., maintained by a brewery (or winery, distillery, importer, or alcohol wholesaler), is now considered an advertisement. The 'ad' must include the brewery name (or winery, etc.), the brewery's city and state, and the type of beer (or wine, etc.) mentioned.

    For Twitter feeds, the TTB acknowledges that 140 characters isn't enough for mandatory statements, so it requires those to be placed on a profile page. And, so far, unaffiliated blogs, like this one, are seemingly exempt.

    The ruling does not appear very onerous, and, as of now, its strictures are voluntary, but that status can easily change. If you're interested in reading the entire thing, I've copied it below. ( Related: for a list of things a brewery (or winery, etc.) can and cannot say in any advertisement, read here.)

    Use of Social Media in the Advertising of Alcohol Beverages

    To:  Proprietors of Bonded Wineries, Bonded Wine Cellars, Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses, Beverage Distilled Spirits Plants, Breweries, Importers, Wholesalers and Others Concerned.
    1. PURPOSE.
    This circular provides guidance to industry members and others on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s (TTB) position that the advertising provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) and the implementing regulations under 27 CFR parts 4, 5, and 7 apply to all advertisements (as defined in the regulations) in any media, including social media.  This guidance provides a basis for voluntary compliance with the FAA Act and the TTB advertising regulations with regard to social media, both in terms of required mandatory statements and prohibited practices or statements.
    Section 105(f) of the FAA Act, 27 U.S.C. 205(f), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the advertising of wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages.  The FAA Act requires that these regulations prevent consumer deception; prohibit the use of misleading statements, irrespective of falsity; and provide the consumer with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product advertised.
    The TTB advertising regulations promulgated under the FAA Act are as follows:  27 CFR part 4, subpart G sets forth the regulations for advertising wine; part 5, subpart H sets forth the regulations for advertising distilled spirits; and part 7, subpart F sets forth the regulations for advertising malt beverages.  More specifically, the regulations contained in §§ 4.62, 5.63, and 7.52 require certain mandatory statements (e.g., responsible advertiser name and address) to appear in advertisements for wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages, respectively, and the regulations contained in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54 prohibit certain advertising practices and statements from appearing in such advertisements.  In the case of malt beverages, TTB’s advertising regulations apply to the extent that state law imposes similar requirements with respect to the advertising of malt beverages introduced into or received into the particular state.
    TTB reviews advertisements that appear in various media, including print, television, outdoor, and website advertisements, and enforces the regulations related to advertising for alcohol beverages. 
    Advances in technology have led to the development of new forms of advertising (i.e., social media) that are interactive, allowing consumers and industry members to generate content and create links between various social media outlets.  These outlets include, but are not limited to, social network services such as Facebook or MySpace, video sharing sites such as YouTube or Flickr, weblogs or “blogs,” forums or comment sections directly on websites, and applications (apps) for mobile devices.  With the emergence and growth of these types of media outlets, TTB is expanding the breadth of its advertising reviews.
    The TTB advertising regulations state that no industry member (for the purposes of this Industry Circular, persons described in §§ 4.60, 5.61, and 7.50), shall directly or indirectly or through an affiliate publish or disseminate or cause to be published or disseminated an advertisement that is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce unless the advertisement conforms to the regulatory requirements.  The scope of the regulations is very broad, covering all forms of advertisements, including “any other printed or graphic matter.”  The definition ofadvertisement in §§ 4.61, 5.62, and 7.51 includes any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction that is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce, or is disseminated by mail.  The regulations list specific types of advertising, including “any other media.”  TTB interprets “any other media” in the regulations to apply to advertising in all types of media, including types of media that did not exist when the regulations were originally adopted.
    The following guidance is intended to assist industry members in ensuring that advertisements for alcohol beverages that appear in social media outlets comply with the FAA Act and the TTB advertising regulations.  Because of changing technology and the ongoing evolution of social media, this is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of the types of social media.  However, the general principles set out in this circular can be applied to other social media outlets that have been or will be developed.
    We also note that this circular provides general information regarding TTB’s enforcement of the advertising provisions of the FAA Act and TTB regulations.  TTB evaluates specific advertisements on a case-by-case basis under the advertising provisions.
    1. Social Network Services (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, MySpace, etc.).
    2. A social network service is a service, platform, or site where users communicate with one another and share media, such as pictures, videos, music, and blogs, with other users.  Many industry members have created pages on social network services for their company and/or a particular brand.  These are sometimes referred to as “fan pages” or “pages,” and users of the social network service can become “fans” of the company or brand, creating a link between their own page and the fan page.  The purpose of fan pages is to increase brand awareness and loyalty by allowing industry members to communicate with consumers in an interactive manner.  TTB considers fan pages for alcohol beverage products or companies and any content regarding alcohol beverage products posted to the pages by the industry member to fall under the category of “any other media” in TTB’s regulatory definition of advertisement, and therefore the fan pages are subject to the provisions of the FAA Act and TTB regulations.
      Because TTB considers industry member fan pages for alcohol beverages to be advertisements, all mandatory statements required by the regulations (in §§ 4.62, 5.63, and 7.52) must be included on them.  TTB views the entire fan page (i.e., the “home” page and all sub or tabbed pages directly associated with the “home” page) as one advertisement, so mandatory statements need only appear once on the fan page, either on the “home” page or on any sub or tabbed pages directly associated with the “home” page.  The regulations require that mandatory statements on alcohol beverage advertisements be:  (1) conspicuous and readily legible; (2) clearly a part of the advertisement; and (3) readily apparent to the persons viewing the advertisement.  Thus, mandatory statements may not be hidden or buried in an obscure location on the fan page. 
      Although the regulations do not require that mandatory statements appear in a particular location, TTB strongly recommends that, for the benefit of consumers, advertisers consider placing mandatory statements in a location where a viewer would most logically expect to find information about the brand or the company.  This is generally called the “profile” section, though it might have a different name depending on the service and may change as social media sites are updated or revised (e.g., currently on Facebook, it is the “About” section).

      The regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements (in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54) also apply to social network fan pages.  Any information or images posted to a fan page by an industry member, including content created by a third party and reposted by an industry member, is part of the fan page and therefore considered to be part of the advertisement.  Similarly, TTB considers any information or images posted to industry members’ websites by the industry member to be part of the advertisement.
    3. Video Sharing Sites (e.g., YouTube).
    4. Video sharing sites allow individuals or companies to post videos to an internet website to be viewed by the public.  Viewers can also post comments about the videos.  Individuals or companies can set up an account on the site and create a “channel” to which only they can post videos.
      Videos about alcohol beverages that are posted to video sharing sites by industry members are considered to be advertisements if they fall within the regulatory definition of advertisement in §§ 4.61, 5.62, and 7.51 as a written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction that is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce.  Therefore, for videos that are considered to be advertisements, all of the regulatory requirements regarding mandatory statements (in §§ 4.62, 5.63, and 7.52) and prohibited practices or statements (in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54) would apply to both the video and any associated “channel” created by an industry member.  As with social network services, there is generally a location on each video sharing site to provide profile information where a viewer would most logically expect to find information about the brand or the company.  TTB recommends that mandatory statements be placed there.
      In addition, for videos that are subject to the advertising regulations, the industry member must include the mandatory statements within the videos themselves, if there is no associated “channel” or profile section, or if the industry member allows video content to be downloaded by viewers.  By allowing videos that the industry member posts to be downloaded, the industry member is in effect disseminating an advertisement, so each advertisement must contain all of the mandatory statements required by regulation.  When the industry member has both a “channel” or profile section and individual videos, TTB recommends placing the mandatory statements on both.
      For videos and video sharing sites that TTB considers to be advertisements, the regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements also apply to any information that the industry member may place on the site.  
    5. Blogs.  
    6. A blog (short for web log) is a type of website intended for public viewing that is maintained by an individual or company and is frequently updated with entries that may include commentary, events, videos, or pictures.  Most blogs are interactive and allow visitors to leave comments or messages; it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from static websites.
      If an industry member maintains a blog about itself (e.g., ABC Winery blog) and discusses issues related to the company, its products, or the industry in general, the blog is considered by TTB to be an advertisement and is subject to TTB’s advertising regulations because it is a written statement by the industry member that is calculated to induce sales in interstate or foreign commerce.  Accordingly, the mandatory statements prescribed in §§ 4.62, 5.63, and 7.52 must be included in the blog, and the regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements contained in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54 also apply to anything posted by the industry member on the blog.
    7. Microblogs (e.g., Twitter, Tumblr).
    8. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that posts are typically very short.  Microblog posts often include short sentence fragments, images, or links to videos.  Commercial microblogs are designed to promote websites, services, or products.  If a microblog is determined to be a written statement calculated to induce sales in interstate or foreign commerce, it will be considered to be an advertisement under TTB’s regulations. 
      The public can “follow” an industry member’s microblog posts, which will then appear on their own microblog page or be sent to a mobile phone or other device.  Many microblog services have character limitations of around 140 characters.  Due to these character limitations, TTB has determined that it is impractical to require mandatory statements to appear in every microblog post made by the industry member.  However, mandatory statements prescribed in §§ 4.62, 5.63, and 7.52 must appear in the advertisement in a manner that is conspicuous and readily legible.  Similar to other social network services described above, industry members may include the mandatory statements on their microblog profile page.
      Character limitations have no effect on the application of the regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements prescribed in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54; thus, they must be followed for each microblog post.
    9. Mobile Applications.
    10. Some industry members are creating applications, also known as “apps,” that can be downloaded to consumers’ mobile phones or other handheld devices.  These apps may provide drink recipes, assist consumers with finding locations where a product is served, or provide other information related to an alcohol beverage that the consumer may find of interest.  TTB considers mobile apps related to alcohol beverages to be advertisements consistent with §§ 4.61, 5.62, and 7.51 because mobile apps are written or verbal statements, illustrations, or depictions that are in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce.  Because these apps are downloaded by the consumer to a mobile device, however, TTB considers them to be a consumer specialty advertisement, which is defined at 27 CFR 6.84(b)(2) as, “…items that are designed to be carried away by the consumer, such as trading stamps, nonalcoholic mixers, pouring racks, ash trays, bottle or can openers, cork screws, shopping bags, matches, printed recipes, pamphlets, cards, leaflets, blotters, post cards, pencils, shirts, caps, and visors.”  Accordingly, under §§ 4.62(c)(2), 5.63(e)(2), and 7.52(c)(2), the only mandatory statement required to appear in the app is the company name or the brand name of the product.
      The regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements (in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54) apply to mobile apps for alcohol beverages that are created by industry members as they would for any other advertisement.
    11. Links and Quick Response Codes
    12. Industry members frequently post links to other websites or pages on their social media advertisements (including social network services, video sharing sites, blogs, microblogs, and mobile applications).  In reviewing social media advertisements, TTB will consider the totality of the message presented by the advertisement and any links contained therein to determine if the content of the links will be considered part of the advertisement.  In addition, any description of the linked site or page prepared and posted by the industry member that appears on the industry member’s social media advertisement must not violate the regulations concerning prohibited practices or statements because TTB considers the description of the linked site to be part of the industry member’s advertisement.  Similarly, TTB considers any description of links included on industry members’ websites to be part of the advertisement.
      An industry member may also provide links to other websites or pages for different alcohol beverages or companies for which it is the responsible advertiser.  In that case, TTB would consider the linked website or page as a separate advertisement that must contain all necessary mandatory information and comply with the prohibited practices or statements regulations.
      Industry members may also enable consumers to access content by including a quick response code (or QR Code) on a label or advertisement.  Consumers can scan the QR Code with their mobile device to access the additional content.  Depending on the type of media that is linked to by the QR Code (such as the industry member’s webpage, mobile application, or blog), the relevant regulations and TTB public guidance documents will apply.  If, for example, the QR code links to a document, such as a drink recipe using an industry member’s product, the recipe will be considered an advertisement because it is a written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction that is in, or calculated to induce sales in interstate or foreign commerce.  The regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements (in §§ 4.64, 5.65, and 7.54) also would apply to the additional content obtained by scanning the QR Code as they would for any other advertisement.  If questions arise concerning which regulations apply to a particular type of media, industry members may contact TTB at the contact information listed below.  

    Caveat lector: I am employed by Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia. However, any views expressed here at Yours For Good Fermentables are my own, and not necessarily those of Select Wines.

    What did you do for American Craft Beer Week?

    Here's what I 'did' for American Craft Beer Week, 13-19 May 2013.

    ACBW 2013_badge2

    • Monday, 13 May:
      Stayed local for ACBW Monday. DC Brau (Washington, D.C.) The Public Pale Ale, on draft at the Evening Star Cafe (Alexandria, Virginia).

    • Tuesday, 14 May:
      Allagash Brewing (Portland, Maine) Beer Dinner at Fire Works Pizzeria (Arlington, Virginia).

    • Wednesday, 15 May:
      For an almost-local ACBW beer today, Victory Brewing (Downingtown, Pennsylvania) Prima Pils, on draft at Lyon Hall (Arlington, Virginia). Floral nose, firm malt, lingering, dry finish. Delicious!

    • Thursday, 16 May:
      For ACBW tonight, nothing fancy. Just a refreshing Lancaster Brewing (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) Strawberry Wheat Lager, al fresco, at Dogwood Tavern (Falls Church, Virginia).

    • Friday, 17 May:
      For ACBW Friday, stayed 'uber' local with Port City Brewing's Downright Pilsner ... at the brewery (Alexandria, Virginia). Review: here.

    • Saturday, 18 May:
      Read the book Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer, by Amy Mittleman.

    • Sunday, 19 May:
      For the final day of ACBW 2013, reported on the independence of Dominion Brewing, a mid-Atlantic craft brewery.
    Then again, as Robert Perry —brewer for Baltimore, Maryland, brewpub, The Brewer's Art— expressed it, on Facebook:

    American Craft Beer Week?
    This week and every week!!!!

  • Why the term 'craft brewery' should be dumped. A modest proposal in honor of American Craft Beer Week: Bring back the United States Brewers Association.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Allagash and Lancaster.

  • Monday, May 20, 2013

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 17/18, 2013.

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

    Weeks 17/18
    21 April 2013 - 4 May 2013

    • 2013.05.03
      American 'craft' breweries pledge clean brewing and non-wastefull water strategies in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Via MSNBC.

    • 2013.05.03
      Income of Boston Beer Company —maker of Samuel Adams beers, and others— rises 20%, but brewery sees stock tumble 11% as earnings fall beneath analysts' expectations. Via CNN.

      H Street by night
    • 2013.05.02
      After a 51 year absence, streetcars return to Washington, D.C. ... but they're not on the rails yet. Via WAMU Radio.

    • 2013.05.01
      Rogue Brewing, of Oregon, sues Washington, D.C. restaurant —Rogue 24— for trademark infringement. Via Tim Carman at Washington Post.

    • 2013.05.01
      Argentina: not just for Malbec anymore? Higher altitude vineyards found appropriate for chardonnay. Via Dave McIntyre of Washington Post.

      Mad Mild (03)
    • 2013.05.01
      May is Mild (Ale) Month, in the U.K. More from CAMRA, the U.K. Campaign for Real Ale. Historical perspective on the campaign from blog Boak and Bailey.

    • 2013.05.01
      Justin Wilson —the 'Spirits' columnist of the Washington Post— writes his final column.

    • 2013.04.30
      Agronomist at John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., revives Chevallier barley, once Victorian Britain’s most popular malt variety. Via Martyn Cornell at Zythophile.

      Mick Kipp
    • 2013.04.30
      R.I.P. Mick 'The Pirate' Kipp, Baltimore, Maryland, stuntman, hot sauce entrepreneur, and good beer advocate. Via YFGF.

    • 2013.04.30
      Anheuser-Busch InBev controls five of the world's top six beer brands, is world's largest beer company with a market value of $150 billion. Via CNN.

    • 2013.04.30
      The 2012 vintage in Bordeaux, France was "less than stellar," especially for Cabernet Sauvignon. Via Wine Spectator.

    • 2013.04.29
      First active professional U.S. male athlete comes 'out of the closet': Jason Collins, most recently of the Washington Wizards basketball team. Via Huffington Post.

    • 2013.04.29
      British winemakers credit climate change for boom in bubbly sales. Via Washington Post.

    • 2013.04.28
      Ten books from the 21st century every man should read. At least according to GQ Magazine.

    • 2013.04.26
      Nine-Thirty Club in Washington D.C. named by Rolling Stone Magazine as best best "big room for live music" in U.S.

    • 2013.04.26
      Country music singer innovator George Jones dies at age 81. Via New York Times.

    • 2013.04.23
      Un, Kono Kuro: a Japanese beer made with coffee beans that have "passed through" an elephant. Via Fox News.

    • 2013.04.23
      One billion cicadas per square mile. Last seen in 1996, "Brood II" cicadas have begun emerging in the mid-Atlantic. Via WAMU Radio.

    • 2013.04.23
      Richie Havens, the folk singer and guitarist who was the first performer at Woodstock, has died at 72. Via Bloomberg.

    • 2013.04.22
      Three-tier system of alcohol production and sales affirmed in Illinois. Law prohibits breweries from owning any percentage of a beer wholesaler. Via BeerPulse.

    • 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 most are re-posts from
    • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Free to live the dream! Dominion Brewing Company.

    On this last day of American Craft Beer Week 2013, there's good beer news to report from the Mid-Atlantic area.

    Yours For Good Fermentables has learned from a reliable source that Dover, Delaware-based Dominion and Fordham Brewing Companies have obtained release from their Master Distribution Agreement with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

    In 2007, When Dominion was purchased by Bill Muehlhauser of Fordham Brewery, with others, a distribution alliance was formed with the then Anheuser-Busch, which itself took a forty-nine percent ownership stake in the resultant company. Coastal Brewing, as it was called, was, in reality, an expression of the situation, rather than a beer brand. One never found Coastal beers on the shelves or on tap, but Fordham and Dominion.

    A year later, AB would become Anheuser-Busch InBev. Preoccupied with its own big merger, the conglomerate became relatively hands-off toward day-to-day operations at Dominion/Fordham. Except for one major stipulation. Whenever Dominion and Fordham wished to expand distribution into new markets, ABIB had to sign off on that, which would be, of course, only to approved, existing AB wholesalers.

    With this mutually-agreed abrogation of the Master Distribution Agreement, Dominion/Fordham is now free to choose those wholesalers it wishes, as it expands into new markets. According to Brewers Association statistics, Dominion/Fordham increased production/sales by 11% in 2011 and by 12% last year, to over 23,000 barrels.

    And, here's the really big news, appropriate to American Craft Beer Week.

    Since the initial deal in 2007, AB has reduced its ownership share to 37%. It may be on its way to selling back its entire stake. Lawyers must dot the i's and cross the t's, but, if so, the Coastal thing will be no more; Dominion/Fordham will be 100% independent, 100% free to live the (its own) dream. Small, independent, and traditional: an American craft beer company. Congratulations!

    I relied upon a source I trust to write this post, but, as in such things, let's wait for official word from the parties involved for confirmation.

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: In the tasting room with a Downright Pilsner

    In the tasting room with a Downright Pilsner

    For Friday afternoon of American Craft Beer Week Friday, I drank a glass of Downright Pilsner —from Port City Brewing Companyat the brewery, located in Alexandria, Virginia.

    A Pilsner is one type of lager beer, not an ale. As a comparison, Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser is also a lager, but not a pilsner-style lager. Downright Pilsner was measured at 45 International Bittering Units; Bud has been reported at about 10 IBUs. Flavor counts!

    Port City's lead brewer, Jonathan Reeves, brewed the Pils —his late-spring limited release— with a Pilsner malt-only grist and hopped it exclusively with Czech Republic Saaz hops, often referred to as "noble' hops because of their perceived elegant aroma and flavor: over 30 pounds in kettle and an additional 11 pounds as 'dry-hops' after fermentation. 43 bittering units (BUs), 4.8% alcohol-by-volume (abv). Reeves used only Saaz hops in the Pils this year, because, he told me, the Czech harvest had been good, and the bittering compounds of the hops higher than normal.

    Hops, an herb, contribute both bitterness and aromatics to beer, just as, say, oregano, would to tomato sauce. Hop aromas are derived from hop oils, whereas hop bittering from alpha acids. Saaz hops generally contain alpha acids in the 3 to 6% range. The 2011 crop was measured at an average of 5.8%. As comparison, Simcoe hops — found in many hoppy American IPAs— contain alpha acids from 12 to 14%. [Hieronymous: For The Love of Hops.]

    The beer poured deep golden, with a tinge of chartreuse and haze (from the dry-hopping?). There's a wonderful aromatic surfeit of hops, but some sweet malt can be tasted in the background. Reeves describes the aroma and flavor as piney and woodsy, with the herbal heat of fresh ginger. I also tasted citrus like the twist of lemon. The finish is spicy, long-lived, and refreshing.

    Brewer Reeves had an interesting observation about 'craft' lagers. Small and independent American breweries that produce lagers —a small subset of the American 'craft' world— tend to fall into one of two camps. Either they slavishly attempt to conform to perceived European styles or they brew something "experimental." He noted that his Downright Pilsner falls between the two extremes. Inspired by Bohemian Pilsners, it might differ from those in that it is dry-hopped, albeit with 'traditional' pilsner hops, Saaz.

    That I could drink a glass of the Pils at the brewery was itself a special thing. Only last summer, a law took effect in Virginia, which allowed the state's production breweries to sell pints to customers, much as Virginia wineries could already do (with wine, of course). To borrow the vernacular, this was a game changer: several breweries have opened in Virginia since the law changed, and several more are under construction or in planing. Neighboring Washington, D.C. allows its production breweries the same, and the Maryland legislature recently passed a similar law which will take effect 1 July.

    At Port City's tasting room, I so thoroughly enjoyed my taste of Downright Pilsner, that I wanted more. I bought a six-pack to take home.

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    A modest proposal in honor of American Craft Beer Week: Bring back the USBA!

    American Craft Beer Week 2013

    Welcome to American Craft Beer Week 2013.

    For the eighth consecutive year, the Brewers Association —the national non-profit association on behalf of small and independent (and 'traditional') U.S. breweries— has declared one week in May to be American Craft Beer Week® (ACBW).

    This year, from Monday, May 13, through Sunday, May 19, 2013, American Craft Beer Week will provide an opportunity for small and independent brewers, craft beer enthusiasts, and better beer retailers to celebrate the ever-advancing beer culture in the U.S. Events include exclusive brewery tours, special beer releases, multi-course food and pairing dinners, collaboration beers, retail promotions, etc. A list of events is listed on the Association's website.

    The Brewers Association was founded in 1983 by Charlie Papazian, founder of the American Homebrew Association and the Great American Beer Festival. It was known then as the Association of Brewers. At the time, the much larger United States Brewers Association was in existence, but Swiftian attrition was rapidly shrinking its membership as U.S. mainstream brewing companies and plants were being closed or acquired. Another organization, the Brewers Association of America had been formed in the 1940s as an alternative to the the USBA , to be an advocacy group for 'small' breweries. In 1976, the USBA and BAA jointly secured a tax differential, for breweries producing fewer than 2 million barrels per year, on the first 60,000 barrels they produced, a tax break that still exists today.

    In January 2005, the Association of Brewers merged with the Brewers Association of America to assume its present composition as the Brewers Association. It defined the production limit for a 'craft brewery' as fewer than two million barrels per year. In January 2011, the BA, in danger of losing Boston Beer Company (the brewery was approaching the limit), changed its definition of "small" to six million barrels.

    The USBA was disbanded in 1986 —after 124 years of advocacy for American breweries— because of withdrawal of support from the then American-owned mega-breweries.

    In his speech to the Craft Brewers Conference in March of this year, in Washington, D.C., Charlie Papazian never once referred to a brewery as a "craft" brewery. Rather, he pointedly, and repeatedly, used the phrase "small and independent" brewery, avoiding even the Association's own 3rd stipulation for a 'craft' brewery, "traditional."
    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.

    For American Craft Beer Week 2013, here's my modest proposal. Scrap "craft." Scrap "small." Scrap "traditional."

    The Brewers Association should re-convene next year as the reincarnation of the venerable United States Brewers Association.

    What would the requirement be for membership in the new USBA? Simply put, a brewery would have to be majority American-owned. That's it (well, along with dues). With this, all American breweries —from family-owned Yuengling Brewery to the nano-est nano-brewery— could work together, barrel-by-barrel, toward their common interests. It could end the jumble of fungible barrellage requirements, ingredient self-righteousness, and convoluted arguments about what exactly "craft beer" is.

    American Craft Beer Week began originally as American Beer Month. Not its duration, but the inclusiveness, produced an insalubrious side-effect of honoring the industrial light lagers of the brewing behemoths. Now that not one of those mega-breweries is independently American-owned, it is 'craft' brewers who hold the mantle of the true makers of American beer. So, let the international beverage conglomerates of Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, MolsonCoors, and their ilk— fight among each other. For the rest of us: Long live American beer!

    Anyone with me?


  • For a list of ACBW events across the nation, go here.
  • History of the USBA and BAA from Amy Mittelman: Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer. Algora Publishing: 2008.
  • Because "craft brewery" is such an ill-defined term, I usually enclose it in within quotation marks.
  • Sunday, May 12, 2013

    Drinking, Again! A beer for Mother's Day.

    Beer reviews

    Dear Mom,

    If I were to choose one very special beer to share with you, today, on Mother's Day, it might be this: Serendipity Happy Accident Fruit Ale, from New Glarus Brewing (of New Glarus, Wisconsin).

    New Glarus is known for its sweet-tart fruit beers, especially its Wisconsin Belgian Red, fermented with the equivalent of over a pound of Door County cherries in every bottle.

    In 2012, however, brewing that beer would prove impossible. An unseasonably warm March caused trees to bud early, followed by an April freeze. Ninety-seven percent of Michigan's entire cherry crop was destroyed (Associated Press). But nature, with berry serendipity, compensated by delivering a bumper cranberry harvest.

    Here's how New Glarus' Dan and Deb Carey responded.
    Severe Drought, we shared the farmers' horror as Wisconsin's cherry crop failed! Dan bought what cherries he could. The Apple crop fared better. Then joy! A grand Wisconsin cranberry harvest. What will Dan brew with Apples, Cranberries, and Cherries? Oh my! You hold the happy accident of Wisconsin's favorite fruit aged in oak with an almost magical wild fermentation. Serendipity is a wondrous celebration that sparkles your senses, and dances across your palate. A kaleidoscope of flavor discovered by accident in a sour ale! Cheers to the unexpected!

    Serendipity Ale

    Serendipity Ale, a mere 4% alcohol-by-volume, but, oh, what zymur-alchemy, what a happy accident. Big sweet/sour, cherry/apple flavor and aroma. The cranberries magically seem to stretch the cherry character. At 4%, a magnificently flavored treat, sweet with fruit, but tart and dry and lingering in the finish. [Fie on all you 'session-beer' haters.]

    I have to admit, though, Mom, that I drank the bottle already, in fact, on the very day that one of your other sons drove it down from Wisconsin. As a substitute this morning, I hope that you'll accept flowers and a home-cooked brunch.

    Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
    Your son,

  • “I’m more of a German-school brewer, so I think in terms of original gravity, and alcohol to me – I don’t even like talking about alcohol. It’s like asking a butcher to measure his steaks or hamburger in terms of percent fat. Alcohol to me isn’t important. When I brew these beers it’s about flavor.”
    — Dan Cary, co-owner/brewer of New Glarus, as quoted by Jay Brooks (of Brookston Beer Bulletin).

  • "Drinking, Again" is a series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). No scores; only descriptions.
  • Graphic created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

  • Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Robin on a rock

    Robin on a rock

    Its nest not far away, a robin keeps a wary watch on the photographer.

    Fairfax, Virginia.
    10 May 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, May 08, 2013

    (Good beer) history is made in Alabama and Mississippi

    From the American Homebrewers Association (AHA): For the first time, homebrewing is to become explicitly legal in all 50 states of the United States.

    The Alabama legislature has passed a bill that, once signed by Governor Robert J. Bentley, will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Alabama will be the last state in the nation to legalize homebrewing. Alabama is the last state holding out against legalizing homebrewing. In March 2013, Mississippi became the 49th state to pass homebrew legislation. The AHA has been working with Right to Brew for five years in order to get the Alabama bill passed.

    "Homebrewing has been an integral part of the history of America, so it’s thrilling to know that soon all 50 states will support this growing hobby and long-standing tradition," said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. "We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw."

    Homebrewing became federally legal in 1979, though the 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Once the Alabama bill is signed by Gov. Bentley, it will be the first time since pre-Prohibition days that homebrewers in all the states can legally brew at home.

    The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than one million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Alabama is home to an estimated 5,000 homebrewers who will soon enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.

    Congratulations to the AHA and the home-grown groups of homebrewers who were instrumental in achieving these victories. In Alabama, that was Right to Brew and Free the Hops. In Mississippi, it was Raise Your Pints.

    I got the geography wrong in the original draft of this post. Thanks to Craig of Raise Your Pints for the correction. And, congratulations!

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    Pic(k) of the Week: Asparagus & Merlot

    1st course: Asparagus

    Asparagus with cheese and capers: the 1st course 'vegetarian' substitution for a 5-course dinner featuring the wines of Cade Winery (Howell Mountain, California) and its 'sister' winery, Plumpjack (Oakville, California), both owned by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco philanthropist Gordon Getty.

    The guest speaker for the evening was Danielle Cyrot, winemaker for Cade. "My father is French; my mother, Irish. I have the French nose for wine, and the Irish liver for its enjoyment." "Personally, my preference is for screwtops over corks. The wine in the bottle tastes just as I remember it from the barrel."

    The asparagus was served with Plumpjack Merlot 2010, a wine that those who pooh-pooh the varietal (a group related to those who pooh-pooh Chardonnay) should taste. Ripe plum, dark berry flavors, with notes of sweet cooking spice and chocolate. In the finish, moderate tannic structure and refreshing acidity balance the 'California' suppleness of the fruit.

    L'Auberge Chez Francois
    Great Falls, Virginia.
    24 April 2013.

  • See more photos from the dinner: here.
  • See the menu for the dinner: 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, May 02, 2013

    VeggieDag Thursday: Quick Links for May

    VeggieDag Thursday
    VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

    Quick links:
    • Deborah Madison's new "Vegetable Literacy" is "must-have if interested in plant-based cooking," says Joe Yonan of Washington Post.

    • It's not only fat and cholesterol in red meat that clog arteries. Researchers finger carnitine.

    • How the food industry manipulates taste. Michael Moss, author of "Salt Sugar Fat," interviewed on National Public Radio.

    • Why use egg in aioli, when mustard & garlic can emulsify? Recipes via Vegans Eat Pencil Shavings.

      Veggie Bibimbap (02)
    • Traveling to Indonesia to observe the fermentation of tempeh. Via National Public Radio.

    • "The icing is coming off America’s cupcake craze." Via Notions Capital.

    • What's the common ingredient between tabbouleh, bouquet garni, persillade, gremolata? Parsley! Via Washington Post.

    • Recipe for Honey Roasted Radishes: "ridiculously delicious!" Via Dan Clapson of Dan's Good Side.

      1st asparagus of the season
    • "It's Spargel Season!" (That's asparagus, when in Austria.) Via Austrian Wine USA. Tips for grilling asparagus. Via Washington Post.

    • Bees, 'fish' peppers, urban farming, & the African-American agricultural heritage. A discussion with culinary historian Michael Twitty, and founder and farm manager of Five Seeds Farm and Apiary in Baltimore, Maryland, Denzel Mitchell. Via the Kojo Nnamdi Show.

    • Mushroom Stout Pie With Potato Biscuits. Via Post Punk Kitchen. Braised Cabbage & Kale Colcannon. Via YFGF.

      Assiette de lègumes
    • Why do humans cook their food? Via YFGF.

    • The anti-Alzheimer, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric. Via Huffington Post. [And, by the way, it's tur mer rick NOT tumor ick!]

    • The Food Editor of the Washington Post's Food Section 'comes out' as a vegetarian.

      I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light label
    • Burkey Belser, the man who designed the FDA's nutrition facts label. Via Metro Connection on WAMU Radio.

    • Recipe for no-yeast Black Pepper Beer Bread. Prepare in one hour. Via POP Sugar Food.

    • R.I.P. Mick 'The Pirate' Kipp, creator of Whiskey Island Hot Sauces & Condiments. Via YFGF.

  • Why the name VeggieDag? Here.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks welcomed! Here.