Thursday, October 31, 2013

VeggieDag Thursday: Quick Links for October 2013

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

Quick links for October 2013:
  • Seven global reasons to promote a vegetable-oriented diet. Via Business Insider.

  • Oreos may be as addictive as cocaine, according to new research. Via Society for Neuroscience, at Forbes.

  • Vegan food truck for Washington D.C. suburban food 'desert'. Via Washington Post.

  • Why the avocado should have gone the way of the dodo. Via Smithsonian Magazine.

  • How potatoes can cause mass sickness and even death: high concentrations of the toxin olanine. Via Smithsonian Magazine.

  • Why cooked carrots taste so different than raw carrots. Via Smithsonian Magazine.

  • A brief, cinematic, history of popcorn in the U.S. Via Smithsonian Magazine.

  • Twenty million bottles a year: The highly unusual company behind Sriracha, the world’s coolest hot sauce. Via Quartz.

  • Alzheimer's test: Can you smell peanut butter ... with your left nostril? Via USA Today.

  • Mark Bittman: "Why I'm not a vegan," (but 'semi-vegan' for six years).

    • Green sauce, two ways: Salsa Verde and Chimichurri. Via BreezyBum.
    • Cauliflower Risotto. Via Vegangela.

      Sweet Beets
    • Chile-infused Beet Sliders with Avocado Dressing. Recipe from Gatsby's Diner in Sacramento, California, via upcoming cookbook, Dinner in the Beer Garden.
    • Vegan Coconut Cream Pie. Via Isa Chandraat Post Punk Kitchen.
    • How to cook pasta correctly. Via Smithsonian Magazine.

    • Too cute, for Halloween! Vegan Monster Mash Shepherd’s Pie. Via Isa Chandra at Post Punk Kitchen.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bluejacket opens in Washington, D.C.

Bluejacket, a brewery with restaurant —the long-awaited project of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and its beer director Greg Engert, brewer Megan Parisi, and Chefs Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac— finally opened its doors to the public, yesterday afternoon, in its digs in southeast Washington, D.C., near to Nationals Park.

Bluejacket noir

I couldn't be at Bluejacket for yesterday's opening ... but I will be there soon. Wonder why, and wonder why you should be going there as well? Read these stories.
  • Tim Carman, food writer at Washington Post, toured the restaurant and brewery. [Spent grains from the brewing process are used in the freshly-made breads; the coolship in the brewery to produce sour beer.]

  • Blog/website DC Beer was at Bluejacket for opening night. [Just dont' bring growlers!]

  • Eatery tours Bluejacket, and takes a lot of photos.

  • News outlet WTOP Radio has this story. [Bluejacket will have the capacity to produce up to 5,000 barrels per year; as many as 20 of its own beers on draft at any one time.]

  • D.C. Council member (mayoral candidate) Tommy Wells attended opening night. Here're photos from his Flickr site. [Not linked to as a political endorsement!]

  • The Washington City Paper has a story about Bluejacket's on-site restaurant, named The Arsenal.

  • And, there are wines at Bluejacket. Story at Washington City Paper.

  • Eight months before its opening, Bluejacket was visited by the Washington Post. [Former 7,300 square foot Navy Yard building where workers once made boilers for ships.]

  • Here's a 2012 story from YFGF. [The timeline-dates were optimistic!]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 41/42, 2013.

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

Weeks 41/42
6 October - 19 October 2013

  • 2013.10.19
    Congress passes, President Obama signs bill to raise debt limit, re-open government. Via Washington Post.

  • 2013.10.18
    Another U.S. brewery purchased by Belgian investors. Duvel Moortgat buys Kansas City's Boulevard Brewery, for $100M. Via USA Today.

    Cheers to Five Great Years!
  • 2013.10.18
    Baltimore, Maryland, celebrates the 5th annual Baltimore Beer Week: 18-27 October 2013.

  • 2013.10.14
    Government shutdown affected wine imports, new wine releases, and new winery permits. Via Wines and Vines.

  • 2013.10.13
    The winners of the Great American Beer Festival, held 10-12 October 2013, in Denver, Colorado.

    The cleaning can
  • 2013.10.09
    Five cardinal Sins of 'craft' beer draft service. Via Julia Herz at Brewers Association.

  • 2013.10.09
    Peter Higgs and Francois Englert —scientists who predicted the now-discovered Higgs boson— win Nobel Prize in physics. Via BBC.

  • 2013.10.07
    Interview with Makers Mark's Vice-President of Operations, Victoria MacRae-Samuels, one of the few women in bourbon industry hierarchy. Via Huffington Post.

  • 2013.10.07
    U.S. government shutdown causing delays in new brewery licences and label approvals. Via The Beer Babe and The BeerMonger.

  • 2013.10.06
    Auf Wiedersehen, Oktoberfest! Munich's 18-day beer festival ends today. To return: 20 September 2014.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Triumph in Denver

"Thousands of unnecessary microbrews on display."

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog —of Conan O'Brien infamy— visited the Great American Beer Festival, 10-12 October 2013, in Denver, Colorado. One of his targets was Paul Gatza, executive director of the Brewers Association, organizer of the Fest.

Yeah, Triumph, yeah? Well, well ... you sniff doggy bum. So, there.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pic(k) of the Week: Married!


My sister is married in Reno, Nevada. She writes:
Angels seen, unseen,
Warmed October air with love,
As we said, I do.

12 October 2013.


Friday, October 25, 2013

The 10th annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival (and some Baltimore beer history).

Saturday, it's the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, a stand-out event of Baltimore Beer Week.

10th Chesapeake Real Ale Festival

More about that in a bit, but, first, let's recount some pre-Week Baltimore good-beer history.

Sixty-nine years ago, in 1944, the Ossenberg family opened its neighborhood pub, Racers' Cafe, in Parkville, Maryland, just northeast of the city of Baltimore. In the late 1980s, when the craft beer renaissance had begun to grow in earnest, sons Richard and Gil transformed the pub into a 'craft' beer bar. These days, there may be other and bigger good-beer pubs in Baltimore and Maryland, but Racers' Cafe, was indeed one of the first. Today: thirteen taps, many bottled beers, and a beer and wine-shop on the premises, but, despite its name, Racers' Cafe still has no kitchen.

Fast forward to 1997. That's the year Racers' Cafe first hosted the Real Ale Challenge, the Baltimore area's first-ever cask ale festival, in cooperation with the Chesapeake SPBW.

Chesapeake branch of the SPBW

SPBW is the acronym for the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood, a consumer-based beer-advocacy group, active primarily in the U.K. Here's how it describes itself on its website, which gets to the nub of what cask-conditioned 'real ale' is about:
It all began on the evening of Friday, 6th December, 1963 when seven disgruntled beer drinkers gathered in the Rising Sun in Epsom. Their concern was the growing decline in both quality and palatability of beer. This they felt was due to the increasing use of gas pressure dispense and the introduction of keg beers. They deplored the policies of the big brewers who, by forcing the sale of beer from 'sealed dustbins' were threatening the availability of traditional draught beer. The seven drinkers decided to form a society with the purpose of drawing attention to their plight - and so the SPBW was born.

In 1963 wooden casks were still regarded as being synonymous with traditional draught beer in contrast to the sealed dustbins which contained the processed and artificially carbonated product. For this reason the name seemed ideal. After a few years, realising that metal casks were rapidly replacing wooden ones, the Society decided to relax its principles accordingly. Nowadays only about a dozen breweries use wooden casks at all, and the SPBW is more concerned with the contents than the container, which we accept makes little or no difference to the taste of the beer. However, the original name has been retained for the sake of tradition.

There is only one chapter of the SPBW in the United States. It's the Chesapeake Branch, founded in the mid-1990s, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Real Ale Challenge would continue for nine more years through 2005. The SPBW was also able to secure English cask ales, and, as local breweries proliferated, so did the local cask ale options. The festival became a victim of its success: the intimate venue was proving too small for the growing crowd of real ale fans. So, in 2004, the Chesapeake SPBW moved its festival elsewhere, choosing the Wharf Rat, a brewpub in downtown Baltimore. Founded in 1994 by Bill Oliver, it was an appropriate choice: an English-style gastro-pub serving cask ale brewed on-site in traditional open-fermenters.

The new festival was called the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival. The Wharf Rat would be sold a few years later and re-christened as the Pratt Street Alehouse, but the annual festival continued there unabated.

There is a common thread stitching together the Real Ale Festival/Real Ale Challenge, the Chesapeake SPBW, and Baltimore Beer Week. All were the creation of Joe Gold, a long-time good-beer maven in the city, and the current sales manager for the city's Heavy Seas Brewing Company. A good legacy: this week, it's the 5th-year observance of Baltimore Beer Week, and this Saturday, 26 October 2013, it's the 10th anniversary celebration of the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival.

SPBW's Joe Gold

Oliver Ales is the house brewery at the Pratt Street AleHouse. Steve Jones, its long-time brewmaster, is the cellarmaster for the Festival. He and assistant brewer J. Derick Davis will have moved all the casks onto stillage, and ensured that all have been properly conditioned.

And, what are those cask ales? 40-plus casks from about 30 breweries: many from Maryland, a few from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and a few from outside the Chesapeake watershed, including one from England. But, as Justin Dvorkin —Pratt Street Alehouse proprietor— told me, this is a fungible list. Many expected casks will arrive, but some may not. Many will be in good shape, but some, unfortunately, may not be (the delicate nature of real ale). Some casks may surprise with unexpected appearances.

And, this I like. Once you get in, you enjoy. There's no need to buy additional tickets for beers.

Jones & Dvorkin
Jones (l); Dvorkin (r)
  • Host Oliver Breweries -
    • Sheer Greed (oak-barrel aged)
    • Fast and Loose (hoppy session ale, hopped with Liberty and Citra, brewed in collaboration with Evolution Brewing)
    • 3 Lions (strong brown ale, aged with French aak)
    • Channel Crossing #6 (Englo-Belgian BarleyWine, brewed in collaboration with Stillwater Ales)
    • Solo Album - "Steve" (Strong English Brown)
    • Solo Album - "Derek" (Wheat Heavy)
    • Solo Album - "Jordan" (salted caramel brown ale)

  • The 'other' Maryland breweries
    • Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery - Cornucopia Harvest Ale (with vanilla extract and light-toasted oak)

    • Brewers Alley - Blend of Oatmeal Stout and Oh My Gourd! Pumpkin Ale

    • Brewers Art - Proletary Ale (with coffee)

    • Burley Oak Brewing Co. - Aboriginal Gangster (with Motueka and Citra Hops, and pineapple and coconut)
    • - Superfun Stout (with toasted marshmallows, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon

    • DuClaw - Barrel-aged Bad Moon Porter
    • - X7

    • Eastern Shore Brewing - (TBD)

    • Evolution - Lot 3
    • - Lot 6

    • Freys Brewing Co. - Backwood Brigade
    • - Milkhouse Stout

    • Flying Dog - The Fear (with cranberry & vanilla beans, and primed with Belgian candy sugar)
    • - Gonzo Imperial Porter (with vanilla)

    • Full Tilt - (TBA)

    • Heavy Seas Brewing - Winter Storm Category 5 Ale (Imperial ESB)

    • Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm - (TBD)

    • Monacacy - Riot Rye (with Citra, Centennial, Sorachi Ace, and Nugget hops, and oak chips)

    • Pub Dog - GM Saison (with French Oak and Simcoe)
    • - Scratch and Sniff

    • The Raven Brewery - Tell Tale IPA (dry-hopped with Simcoe)

    • Stillwater - Hoppy Black Ale (collaboration with Brewers Art)

    • Union Craft Brewing - Black Market (hoppy black ale: collaboration between Union Craft, Flying Dog, Stillwater, and Brewers Art)
    • Union Craft Brewing - Double Duckpin

  • From Virginia
    • Blue Mountain - Lights Out Holiday Ale
    • - Barrel-aged Mandolin

  • From elsewhere in the Chesapeake watershed
    • Old Dominion Brewing (Delaware) - Morning Glory Espresso Stout (dry-hopped with Cascade)

    • Sly Fox (Pennsylvania) - Chester County Bitter

    • Weyerbacher (Pennsylvania) - (TBD)

    • Yards Brewing Co. (Pennsylvania) - Porter
    • - IPA

  • From England
    • Thornbridge Brewing - Raven Black IPA (dry-hopped with Cascade)

  • From everywhere else
    • Boulder Beer Co. (Colorado) - Shake Chocolate Porter
    • - Never Summer (Winter Ale)

    • Lagunitas (California) - IPA
    • - New Dogtown Pale

    • New Belgium Brewing (Colorado) - Ranger IPA
    • - 1554

    • Oskar Blues (Colorado) - Dales Pale Ale (with mangos and habaneros)
    • - Old Chub (with vanilla beans)

    • Stone Brewing (California) - Ruination IPA (with orange peel and vanilla beans)
Capacity crowd at Pratt Street Alehouse (02)


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pic(k) of the Week: Lake Tahoe

2013-10-14 12.48.33

Lake Tahoe: a fresh-water glacial lake divided politically between the states of Nevada and California. At a surface elevation of 6,225 feet, it is the largest high-elevation lake in North America.

Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor (02)

At 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe is the second-deepest lake in North America, and, at 122,160,280 acre-feet, the the 27th largest lake, by volume, in the world. *

Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor (01)

Water color of cobalt-blue and aquamarine. Clarity pristine, in the face of development. Lake rimmed by the mountains and cliffs of the Sierra Nevada range. Words fail, at least here at YFGF, to describe Tahoe's beauty.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 39/40, 2013.

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

Weeks 39/40
22 September - 5 October 2013

  • 2013.10.05
    Governor Martin O'Malley declares October to be Maryland Beer Month. Via YFGF.

  • 2013.10.01
    October is Virginia Wine Month. Via Virginia Tourism.

  • 2013.09.27
    Cask Ale Week 2013: 27 October through Sunday 6 October. Observed only in the U.K.

  • 2013.09.26
    The state of cask ale in the U.K. Down slightly, but stronger than beer generally. The Cask Ale Report, via Pete Brown.

  • 2013.09.26
    Of all counties in the United State, only one county, Montgomery in Maryland, is the only distributor of beer, wine, and spirits. An explanation of the byzantine beer system in Montgomery County, via blogger Elspeth Payne.

  • 2013.09.22
    Autumn officially begins today at 4:44 PM EDT with the autumnal equinox. Via Hufington Post.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pic(k) of the Week: Gravity tap

DuClaw cask tap

It's a close-up shot of a 'gravity-pour' cask tap that had been driven into the wooden keystone of a stainless steel beer cask. A gravity tap is called that because Newton's law dictates the flow. Open the tap, and the beer flows out, down.

The beer was Hellraiser, an IPA, brewed by DuClaw Brewing, of Bowie, Maryland.

IPA is an acronym for 'India Pale Ale', beer-speak vernacular for a hoppy, bitter, and alcoholically-strong pale ale. Hellraiser was, indeed, hoppy. The brewery rated the bitterness at 85 IBUs (International Bittering Units, a biochemically derived measure of hop-derived bitterness). Budweiser, by contrast, has been measured at less than 10 BUs. And, Hellraiser was, indeed, strong: 7.5% alcohol-by-volume (abv).

Cask-conditioned ale (often referred to as 'real ale') is exquisitely fresh beer. It is served from the very vessel in which its final fermentation occurrs, i.e., the cask. The most common size of a cask, 10.8 U.S. gallons, is known as a 'firkin'.

DuClaw further infused the Hellraiser, within the firkin itself, with dried apricots and Guajillo peppers. The beer was, indeed, spicy.

The photo was taken at the 2012 Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, at the Pratt Street Ale House, in Baltimore, Maryland. This year's fest, the 10th annual, occurs Saturday, 29 October 2013. Details and tickets available: here.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Pic(k) of the Week: Serpentine Fire

Serpentine Fire (02)

"Gonna tell a story, morning glory, all about the serpentine fire."

A dramatic autumnal sunrise, over ...
Falls Church, Virginia.
2 October 2013.


Friday, October 04, 2013

October is ... Maryland Beer Month!

Maryland's Governor, Martin O'Malley, has proclaimed October 2013 to be Maryland Beer Month. Well, it's actually a 32-day 'month' running 2 October through 2 November. Here's the good news, via our friends at the Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM).

Maryland Beer Month 2013

Annapolis, October 2nd, 2013 - Governor of the State of Maryland, the honorable Martin O’Malley, proclaimed Maryland Beer Month, to start today, October 2nd through November 2nd, 2013. The Governor stated the importance of Maryland beer as “a value-added manufactured good, produced by small businesses supporting quality job growth” and “an agricultural product, supporting family farms, (Maryland’s) agrarian heritage, and (Maryland’s) food sources for generations to come.” O’Malley further proclaimed “beer brewed in Maryland is made from the Eastern Shore to the Western Ridge, from the Cliffs of Calvert to the top of the Chesapeake Bay” and invited Marylanders to visit, taste, and tour Maryland beer during Maryland Beer Month.

Governor O’Malley partnered with the Brewers Association of Maryland, the non-profit trade association of Maryland brewing companies, in his proclamation. Executive Director of the Brewers Association of Maryland, J.T. Smith enthusiastically agreed, “the Governor’s proclamation is exact in its assertion of Maryland beer playing a vital role in job creation and continued support of Maryland agriculture.” Mr. Smith continued, stating “this proclamation could not have come at a better time, as the newly proclaimed Maryland Beer Month culminates at the premier celebration of Maryland beer on November 2nd, the Maryland Brewers’ Harvest - and the fifth annual Baltimore Beer Week runs during the month. Now is the time to taste, and enjoy Maryland beer!”

—Read the full BAM press release here.

A few events during this extended month include
Hoppy Oktoberfest volunteer

To paraphrase an old beer jingle:

Here’s to good friends.
This month is kind of special.
The beer we’ll pour,
Must say something more somehow.
So this month, this month,
Let it be Maryland beer!