Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#VeggieDag Thursday: Hoppin' John, and quick links to finish the year.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet, and environmental and ecological issues.

In informal congress with the good citizens of Ghent, Belgium, I publish VeggieDag Thursday (hard 'g') posts on occasional Thursdays. But, for this end-of-year-edition, it'll be today, Tuesday: the day before the day before New Year's Day.

In 2015, choose a plant-based diet. Love God's animals; don't eat them.



Forget champagne—in the Southern United States, Hoppin’ John is standard New Year’s fare. This simple, delicious dish of peas, pork and rice has graced holiday tables since the 1800s. Although it’s believed to bring luck and peace in the coming year to anyone who eats it, Hoppin’ John’s history is anything but peaceful.

Some say an old, hobbled man called Hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston. Others say slave children hopped around the table in eager anticipation of the dish. Most food historians think the name derives from a French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

It’s also uncertain why the dish became associated with New Year’s and good luck. The most likely story is that slaves would often have the period between Christmas and New Year’s off, since no crops were growing at that time. Hoppin’ John was, and still is, often eaten with collard greens, which can resemble paper money, and “golden” cornbread. The peas themselves represent coins.

For New Year's Day, spare the pig. Here's a recipe for a 'vegan' Hoppin’ John Bowl With Red Hot Tahini from vegan cookbook author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, at the Post Punk Kitchen.

In this vegan version, we’ll be using “ham mock” or “sham hock,” or whatever vegan pun you prefer, it’s just a little liquid smoke and bay leaves. Since I’m not really content with a few beans over rice, let’s turn the bean around and prepare a full-on bowl. Lots and lots of steamed greens, red rice and smoky beans, smothered in a sauce that keeps up the Southern Jewish theme; a simple concoction of tahini and Frank’s Red Hot! This stuff is irresistible: spicy, nutty, savory, tangy, garlicky bliss. And to cool things down, a little tomato parsley salad is a welcome burst of freshness.


Quick links for December 2014

  • 29 December 2014
    In advance of next year's U.N. conference on climate change, Pope Francis I of the Roman Catholic Church to issue encyclical on the dangers of climate change.
    An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

    The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

    The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.
    —Via The Guardian.

  • 29 December 2014
    A sister and brother dream of creating the perfect vegan ... Spam! Aubry Walch and Kale Walch (yes, that's his birth name) of The Herbivorous Butcher.
    —Via Public Media for North Texas (KERA).

  • 15 December 2014
    A 44-year-old northern white rhinoceros has died, of natural causes, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in California. Only five survive worldwide.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 10 December 2014
    The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously(!) passed the Chesapeake Bay Accountability Act. The bill requires agencies to break out what they spend on the bay, and allows lawmakers and other officials to know exactly what's spent, so that they can then see if the effort is getting results.
    —Via Daily Press.

  • 4 December 2014
    There may be a world-wide olive oil shortage in 2015, caused, in part, by Italy's meager olive harvest in 2014. In Spain and Greece, as well, production was far below the 2013 harvest, and, in California, drought is pinching production.
    —Via Mother Jones.

  • 3 December 2014
    A new study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters, finds nothing to stop the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from melting into the sea. The region is shedding a "Mount Everest-sized" amount of ice every two years.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 28 November 2014
    Arrests were made at a Portland, Oregon vegan (?!) strip club after a melee on Black Friday (the shopping day after Thanksgiving). Really!
    —Via cached story (originally at That Oregon Life).
    —What is a 'vegan' strip club? Via New York Magazine.

  • 12 November 2014
    U.S. and China strike deal on carbon cuts, in push for global climate change pact in 2015. The United States pledges to cut its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels, by 2025. China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, has agreed to cap its emissions for first time ever, pledging to cap its output by 2030, or earlier if possible, and to increase its use of energy from zero-emission sources to 20%, by 2030.
    —Via The Guardian.

  • 12 November 2014
    Hackers from China breached the US government's weather and weather satellite network in late September, forcing cybersecurity teams to seal off data vital to disaster planning, aviation, shipping and scores of other crucial uses.
    —Via Capital Weather Gang (Washington Post).

  • 10 November 2014
    Smithsonian study finds more and larger oxygen-depleted water ‘dead zones' forming annually since 1950s, likely because of climate change.
    —Via Washington Post.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 50/51, 2014.

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

Weeks 50/51
7 December - 20 December 2014

  • 2014.12.17
    U.S. to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba.
    —Via Daily Beast.

    Founders Mango Magnifico
  • 2014.12.17
    Michigan's Founders Brewing —among top 30 largest 'craft' breweries in the U.S.— sells a 30% stake to Spanish brewery, Mahou San Miguel, to facilitate expansion. [The U.S. Brewers Association stipulates 25% as the upper limit for its members, i.e., under its definition of 'craft' brewery. Will it end Founders' membership?]
    —Via All About Beer.

  • 2014.12.15
    After peaking at nearly 219 million barrels in 2008, total U.S. beer shipments have declined, reaching just 211.7 million barrels in 2013. 'Craft' beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. The most precipitous decline for a 'mainstream' beer was Budweiser Select, down 61% from 2008 through 2013.
    —Via 24/7 Wall Street.

  • 2014.12.13
    The forty-year history of Anchor Brewing's "Our Special Ale" Christmas beer, the first American 'craft' spiced beer. [And, for the first time ever, brewers divulge spices not used.]
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2014.12.09
    The northern European history, archaeology, and agriculture of 'brewing stones.' Before the adoption of metal brew kettles, brewers used 'brewing stones' to mash and heat their wort.
    —Via LarsBlog.

  • 2014.12.09
    At the end of November 2014, 3,200 brewery companies were operating in the United States; 13 states had more than 100 breweries each. Through June of 2014, 'craft' breweries enjoyed 18 percent growth by volume. Numerous data channels show continuing double-digit growth for 'craft' beer in the second half of the year.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 2014.12.10
    Maker’s Mark bourbon sued over claim of being ‘handmade.'
    —Via The Drinks Business.

  • 2014.12.08
    Washington Post uses old data to incorrectly imply that millennials are abandoning craft beer (which grew at 18% in 2014, while total beer consumption has declined 9 percent between 2002 and 2012).
    —Via Beervana.
    —Original Wonkblog piece at Washington Post: here.

  • 2014.12.09
    John Coltrane's seminal "A Love Supreme" was recorded 50 years ago, 9 December 1964.
    —Videos, via YouTube:

  • 2014.12.08
    'Craft' beer joins mile high club. Delta Airlines to serve beers from eight 'craft' breweries, during flights.
    —Via Eater.

  • 2014.12.08
    An Idaho legal challenge to Anheuser-Busch's purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing. The declaratory action seeks a ruling to confirm Idaho’s statute that a brewer producing more than 30,000 barrels cannot hold a retail, brew pub, or wholesale license. ABInbev produces over 180 million barrels of beer a year; 10 Barrel produces more than 40,000 barrels. The lawsuit claims that ABI now seeks to establish itself as brewer, distributor, and retailer.
    —Via Alcohol Law Review.

  • 2014.12.07
    Photos from the attack on Pearl Harbor, 73 years ago today.
    —Via Yahoo.

  • 2014.12.07
    "My business taxes should not be used for someone to compete with me." Richmond, Virginia, restaurants complain about favorable tax rates and loans given to California's Stone Brewing (which is building a new brewery and beer garden in the city city).
    —Via Style Weekly.

  • 2014.12.07
    Comparing the same wine sealed with cork and screw-cap. Reduction vs. oxidation and cork taint.
    —Via Jamie Goode's Wine Blog.

  • 2014.12.07
    2.9 billion miles from Earth, but only 162 million miles from Pluto (and closing), NASA's (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) New Horizons probe 'awakens' from 8-year slumber.
    —Via NBC News.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Mary Jane pump & pour.

Ilkley Brewery is an award-winning regional brewery in Yorkshire, U.K.

On 19 December 2014, its Mary Jane IPA made its Virginia, U.S.A, debut, at American Taproom, in Arlington (Clarendon), Virginia.

"Mary Jane" pump & pour (01)
A transatlantic India Pale Ale, brewed with North American and English hops. Deep gold in color, and delivering an intense aroma of berry fruit and citrus, Mary Jane is deceptively smooth on the palate, building to a hoppy crescendo, with notes of honey, and a pleasant, lingering bitterness to finish.

Hops: Amarillo, Cascade, Citra [U.S.]; Northdown [UK].
Barley: Maris Otter.
ABV 6.0%.
IBUs: 48.

Translating the slug above, "pump" refers to the beer engine, a piston-pump that a bartender uses to 'pull' beer from a cask. American Tap Room serves its cask ales via two beer engines, holding the beers under 'blanket' carbon dioxide pressure via a cask breather, and at a temperature of 48 °F.

Considering the botanical familial ties of cannabis and lupulus, one wonders why no American 'craft' brewery has yet named its own 'dank' IPA, "Mary Jane." It took the Brits.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Christmas card.

Seasons's Greetings

Two friends of YFGF —who live in the Baltimore, Maryland, area— maintain the (vanishing) tradition of ('snail') mailing Christmas cards. The wife-and-husband duo, talented graphic artists, create a different drawing each year, but always with renderings of their Husky dogs (and often with a beer ... them, not the Huskies!).

To all, today, Season's Greetings, and a wish of a Happy Christmas. Take time to remember those who are not —because they cannot be— celebrating the day.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Su Šventomis Kalėdomis

Christmas Lights in Falls Church (01)

The trees lining the streets of downtown Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.A., are sparkling at night this season.

This recording of Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night) was digitally transferred from a German record album, now out-of-print, circa 1960. That record was played often during the Christmas season, in Germany, in the Cizauskas household. The scratches can attest to that.

That "Su Šventomis Kalėdomis," above? Lithuanian "Merry Christmas."

It's three nations represented here, but with the wish that all world citizens might enjoy a sleep in heavenly peace. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

And, a wish for all my readers: that after a long winter's nap tonight, each might find, tomorrow morning, a Christmas beer in their stocking, hung with care.

Cellared beers

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Bubbles for a snowy day.

Bubbles for a snowy day

On one cold, sleety, icy, snowy, December, 2013, day in Baltimore, Maryland, it was deemed prudent to stay inside and enjoy some bubbles.

It was a friend of Yours For Good Fermentables who thought so, and did so, and took this photo.

8 December 2013.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 48/49, 2014.

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

Weeks 48/49
23 November - 6 December 2014

  • 2014.12.06
    The new owner of The New Republic —Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes— announces plan to re-fashion the long-time literary bastion of the left and neo-liberalism from a magazine-focused institution to a “vertically integrated digital media company." Mass resignations ensue.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2014.12.05
    Primates' ability to digest alcohol may have been one key to survival, ten million years ago, when the the ADH4 enzyme —which enables caloric metabolism of alcohol— started showing up in the ancestor humans share with chimpanzees and gorillas, around the time they started eating fallen, fermented fruit off the forest floors.
    —Via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (at NPR Food).

    "Brew Britannia" (front cover)
  • 2014.12.05
    The British Guild of Beer Writers awarded the 2014 Michael Jackson Gold Tankard for Beer Writer of the Year to Ray Newman and Jessica Slack, who blog as Boak and Bailey, and who this year published "Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer."
    —Via Roger Protz.

  • 2014.12.04
    The Washington Post writes that young adults are eschewing beer for wine and spirits.
    —Via Wonk Blog.
    Beer blogger/author Jeff Alworth debunks 'craft' beer claims of above article, cites the paper's use of old data.
    —Via Beervana.

  • 2014.12.03
    A brewer returns a medal for having inadvertently entered his beer in the wrong category. Judging panel failed to distinguish between brettanomyces [funky] and lactobacillus [sour].
    —Via All About Beer.

  • 2014.12.03
    The 2014 grape harvest in Virginia and Maryland should produce a "classic" vintage of "elegant wines with ripe flavors and moderate alcohol levels."
    —Via Dave McIntyre.

  • 2014.12.02
    Patrick Rue (of The Bruery, in California) and James Watt (of BrewDog, in Scotland) become only the 8th and 9th Master Cicerones [beer 'sommeliers,' as recognized by the Cicerone Certification Project] and the only brewer/brewery owners to do so. Watt is the first European to achieve the accreditation.
    —Via All About Beer.

  • 2014.12.02
    Rolling Stones' saxophone player Bobby Keys has died at age 70.
    —Via Associated Press.

  • 2014.12.01
    Draft Magazine's list of the top 25 beers of 2004. Includes the only Trappist beer brewed in America (Spencer) and a recreation of a bygone "Berliner Weisse/Märzen marriage," from August Schell, the second oldest family-owned brewery in America (1860).
    —Via Draft Magazine.

  • 2014.11.29
    Dan Fox —past beer advertising executive— corrects the record when the Wall Street Journal incorrectly claims that Anheuser-Busch has abandoned its successful decades-long Christmas advertising campaign featuring the brewery's Clydesdales horses.
    —Via Hey, Beer Dan.

  • 2014.11.27
    Le Jour de Merci Donnant: past humorist/columnist Art Buchwald's classic 1953 column, explaining American Thanksgiving to the French.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2014.11.27
    The true story of "Beere, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving."
    —Via YFGF.

  • 2014.11.26
    The top 25 beers of 2014, according to wine magazine, the Wine Enthusiast. At the number one position is Serpent’s Stout, an 'imperial' stout from Lost Abbey of San Marcos, California.
    —Via Wine Enthusiast.

  • 2014.11.25
    'Craft' beer reached a milestone in 2013. Combined, the industry sold 16.1 million barrels of beer, more than the 16 million barrels of Budweiser beer that Anheuser-Busch InBev sold.
    —Via Slate.

    Vintage Beer (front)
  • 2014.11.23
    Some of the best beer writing of 2014. The North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) awards.
    —Via YFGF.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Open House at Raven Beer.

Open house at Raven Beer

The Raven Beer —aka Baltimore-Washington Beer Works— threw an open house for its fans and loyal customers, 6 December 2014, at Peabody Heights Brewery, in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

Baltimore native Stephen Demczuk is the brand's principal owner. His flagship beer, Raven Special Lager, was first brewed in the U.S. in 1997, under contract at Clipper City Brewing Company, another Baltimore-area brewery. In 2013, Demczuk moved all production to Peabody Heights, under contract, where he added other beers, all Edgar Allen Poe-themed.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three-thousand two-hundred breweries.

In case you haven't heard the news, there were more breweries —'craft' breweries— in the United States, at the end of November, than there were a year ago.

Not such unexpected news, you say?

Well, make that more breweries than only a month ago, or even a week ago, or just yesterday. During the first eleven months of 2014, breweries were opening at a rate of ... 1.5 per day.

The Brewers Association (BA) —the advocacy group for 'small' and 'independent' breweries in the United States— has released its year-end short-form review for 2014. Some other salient data:

  • There are now 3,200 active breweries in the country. (By the end of 2013, there were 2,722.)
  • There are 13 states that each have more than 100 breweries apiece. 1
  • Through June of 2014, 'craft' breweries enjoyed 18 percent growth by volume, and the assumption, based upon data, is that they will have enjoyed a similar rate during the second half of the year. 
  • IPA is the most popular 'craft' beer 'style.' 
  • Women now consume almost 32 percent of 'craft' beer volume.
Not released in this report, but also according to the BA, the highwater mark for the number of breweries in the United States was 3,286, set in the year 1870. Next year, in 2015, early in the year, there's a new record waiting to be set.

The grant at Anchor Brewing

There is no legal or federal-government requirement for a 'craft' brewery. However, the Brewers Association defines it —for the purpose of membership— as:
  • Small
    Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. 2

  • Independent
    Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

  • Traditional
    A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released its study of the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation and detention program following the attacks on the U.S. of 11 September 2001, and during the Iraq and Afghan wars, during the presidency of George W. Bush. Some call it the Torture Report.

Here, the response of Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture, by the North Vietnamese, while held captive from 1967-1973.

Mr. President, I rise in support of the release – the long-delayed release – of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists. It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose – to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies – but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.

I believe the American people have a right – indeed, a responsibility – to know what was done in their name; how these practices did or did not serve our interests; and how they comported with our most important values.

I commend Chairman Feinstein and her staff for their diligence in seeking a truthful accounting of policies I hope we will never resort to again. I thank them for persevering against persistent opposition from many members of the intelligence community, from officials in two administrations, and from some of our colleagues. The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.

They must know when the values that define our nation are intentionally disregarded by our security policies, even those policies that are conducted in secret. They must be able to make informed judgments about whether those policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values; whether they served a greater good; or whether, as I believe, they stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good.

What were the policies? What was their purpose? Did they achieve it? Did they make us safer? Less safe? Or did they make no difference? What did they gain us? What did they cost us? The American people need the answers to these questions. Yes, some things must be kept from public disclosure to protect clandestine operations, sources and methods, but not the answers to these questions.

By providing them, the Committee has empowered the American people to come to their own decisions about whether we should have employed such practices in the past and whether we should consider permitting them in the future. This report strengthens self-government and, ultimately, I believe, America’s security and stature in the world. I thank the Committee for that valuable public service.

I have long believed some of these practices amounted to torture, as a reasonable person would define it, especially, but not only the practice of waterboarding, which is a mock execution and an exquisite form of torture. Its use was shameful and unnecessary; and, contrary to assertions made by some of its defenders and as the Committee’s report makes clear, it produced little useful intelligence to help us track down the perpetrators of 9/11 or prevent new attacks and atrocities.

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering. Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.

I know, too, that bad things happen in war. I know in war good people can feel obliged for good reasons to do things they would normally object to and recoil from.

I understand the reasons that governed the decision to resort to these interrogation methods, and I know that those who approved them and those who used them were dedicated to securing justice for the victims of terrorist attacks and to protecting Americans from further harm. I know their responsibilities were grave and urgent, and the strain of their duty was onerous.

I respect their dedication and appreciate their dilemma. But I dispute wholeheartedly that it was right for them to use these methods, which this report makes clear were neither in the best interests of justice nor our security nor the ideals we have sacrificed so much blood and treasure to defend.

The knowledge of torture’s dubious efficacy and my moral objections to the abuse of prisoners motivated my sponsorship of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ of captured combatants, whether they wear a nation’s uniform or not, and which passed the Senate by a vote of 90-9. Subsequently, I successfully offered amendments to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which, among other things, prevented the attempt to weaken Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and broadened definitions in the War Crimes Act to make the future use of waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ punishable as war crimes.

There was considerable misinformation disseminated then about what was and wasn’t achieved using these methods in an effort to discourage support for the legislation. There was a good amount of misinformation used in 2011 to credit the use of these methods with the death of Osama bin Laden. And there is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure. Will the report’s release cause outrage that leads to violence in some parts of the Muslim world? Yes, I suppose that’s possible, perhaps likely. Sadly, violence needs little incentive in some quarters of the world today. But that doesn’t mean we will be telling the world something it will be shocked to learn. The entire world already knows that we water-boarded prisoners. It knows we subjected prisoners to various other types of degrading treatment. It knows we used black sites, secret prisons. Those practices haven’t been a secret for a decade.

Terrorists might use the report’s re-identification of the practices as an excuse to attack Americans, but they hardly need an excuse for that. That has been their life’s calling for a while now.

What might come as a surprise, not just to our enemies, but to many Americans, is how little these practices did to aid our efforts to bring 9/11 culprits to justice and to find and prevent terrorist attacks today and tomorrow. That could be a real surprise, since it contradicts the many assurances provided by intelligence officials on the record and in private that enhanced interrogation techniques were indispensable in the war against terrorism. And I suspect the objection of those same officials to the release of this report is really focused on that disclosure – torture’s ineffectiveness – because we gave up much in the expectation that torture would make us safer. Too much.

Obviously, we need intelligence to defeat our enemies, but we need reliable intelligence. Torture produces more misleading information than actionable intelligence. And what the advocates of harsh and cruel interrogation methods have never established is that we couldn’t have gathered as good or more reliable intelligence from using humane methods.

The most important lead we got in the search for bin Laden came from using conventional interrogation methods. I think it is an insult to the many intelligence officers who have acquired good intelligence without hurting or degrading prisoners to assert we can’t win this war without such methods. Yes, we can and we will.

But in the end, torture’s failure to serve its intended purpose isn’t the main reason to oppose its use. I have often said, and will always maintain, that this question isn’t about our enemies; it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world.

We have made our way in this often dangerous and cruel world, not by just strictly pursuing our geopolitical interests, but by exemplifying our political values, and influencing other nations to embrace them. When we fight to defend our security we fight also for an idea, not for a tribe or a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion or for a king, but for an idea that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights. How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same. How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves even momentarily.

Our enemies act without conscience. We must not. This executive summary of the Committee’s report makes clear that acting without conscience isn’t necessary, it isn’t even helpful, in winning this strange and long war we’re fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed.

Now, let us reassert the contrary proposition: that is it essential to our success in this war that we ask those who fight it for us to remember at all times that they are defending a sacred ideal of how nations should be governed and conduct their relations with others – even our enemies.

Those of us who give them this duty are obliged by history, by our nation’s highest ideals and the many terrible sacrifices made to protect them, by our respect for human dignity to make clear we need not risk our national honor to prevail in this or any war. We need only remember in the worst of times, through the chaos and terror of war, when facing cruelty, suffering and loss, that we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 46/47, 2014.

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

Weeks 46/47
9 November - 22 November 2014

  • 2014.11.22
    Marion Barry, civil rights leader and former four-time mayor of Washington, D.C, has died at age 78.
    —Via CNN.
  • 2014.11.22
    The economic impact from craft brewing in Virginia comes to $623 million; 8,163 jobs; 52 percent annual growth in volume among Virginia craft breweries; a ranking of 15th in the nation in 2013 for the number of active breweries (90); and the possibility to nearly double that number in the next three to five years.
    —Via Lee Graves (at Virginia Business)

  • 2014.11.22
    Virginia brewery puts turkey stuffing into its beer.
    —Via Washington Post Express

  • 2014.11.21
    The mid-Atlantic region's first ever hop processing plant to open at Black Hops Farm, near Leesburg, Virginia. A forty-thousand dollar grant from the Virginia Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to assist Loudoun County with the estimated one million dollar project.
    —Via Virginia Business.

  • 2014.11.21
    Craft brewers fighting 'black market' re-sell price-gouging. For instance a 'limited-edition' bottle of Stone Brewing (California) from 2002, which sold then for $7.99 in, was seen on-line selling for $1,000.
    —Via CNN Money

  • 2014.11.20
    The great film/stage director, Mike Nichols, has died at age 83.
    —Via The Guardian

  • 2014.11.20
    The Top 100 Wines of 2014.
    —Via Wine Enthusiast
    —Via Wine Spectator (at YFGF)

    Weizen sippers
  • 2014.11.20
    Women represent 37% of total U.S. 'craft' beer consumption, but the industry still seen failing its female fan base.
    —Via First We Feast

  • 2014.11.20
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in three adult Americans drink too much, yet finds that 90% of those are NOT alcohol dependent. —Via NPR Food.

  • 2014.11.19
    Forty-five 'craft' breweries are members of Brewers for Clean Water; actively support Clean Water Act. (In the Washington, D.C./Virginia area: Chocolate City Brewing, Blue Mountain Brewery, Old Bust Head Brewing, and South Street Brewery.)
    —Via National Resources Defense Council

  • 2014.11.17
    A look at the history, from the late 1980s through the present, of 'craft' vs. 'crafty,' that is, small brewery beer vs. large breweries masquerading as small.
    —Via Paste Magazine

  • 2014.11.14
    The State of Virginia celebrates Virginia Cider Week, 14 - 23 November 2014.
    —Via YFGF

  • 2014.11.12
    History is made with the “first controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus.” The European Space Agency's Philae, launched from its Rosetta probe, landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which orbits the sun at a speed of about 85,000 mph, 300 million miles from Earth.
    —Via Washington Post

  • 2014.11.12
    A mid-western U.S.beer landmark will be re-lit. August Schell Brewing Company moves to preserve Minneapolis' iconic Grain Belt sign.
    —Via Schells Brewery

  • 2014.11.11
    Top 10 worldwide beer brands of 2014. Number one is China's Snow still tops; Bud Light is at number 3.
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin

  • 2014.11.10
    “The age of craft brewers acquiring craft brewers is upon us.” San Diego's Green Flash buys Alpine Beer.
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin

  • 2014.11.09
    A wine writer predicts "The Coming Repeal of the Three Tier System for Wine, Beer, and Spirits."
    —Via Tom Wark at Fermentation Wine Blog

  • 2014.11.09
    [Beer distributors] are just as vital as other tiers [of craft beer business]," says Erik Frank, Field Marketing Manager for Deschutes Brewery.
    —Via Southwest Michigan's Second Wave


Saturday, December 06, 2014

Pic(k) of the Week: Christmas Tree 2012.

Nicholas of Myra was a 4th-century Christian bishop, later canonized a Christian saint. The patron saint of brewers —and repentant thieves!— he is, thus, without doubt, a person of exalted influence. Centuries later, Nicholas would become the inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus.

Today, 6 December, is his Christian feast day.

Christmas tree 2012

In 2012, the tree in the photo would be my mother's penultimate Christmas tree. She liked that little gnome from Brasserie D'Achouffe in Belgium. And she liked its beer...as does her son. She placed 'Chouffie' under the tree.

Within the last few months, this photo, of no particular panache, has received in excess of 5,000 12,000 views (on Flickr). Some of those —perhaps, appropriately— today.


Friday, December 05, 2014

At 5:32 pm, Prohibition ended 81 years ago, today.

New York Times front page: 5 December 1933

Yesterday, eighty-one years ago, in 1933, the state of South Carolina voted against the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Fortunately, it would be the only state to vote no, and to futile effect. *

The very next day, 5 December 1933, at 5:32 PM ET, the citizens of Utah would vote for ratification. Utah became the 36th State to do so, thus achieving the 3/4 majority of states' votes needed to enact the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending the nearly 14 year ignoble reign of Prohibition.

It had become legal, again, to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcoholic beverages ... if a state desired to do so. The 21st Amendment left to the states the right to control the importation, sale, and regulation of alcohol within each state's own borders. And, to this day, there remains a seemingly inchoate patchwork of state-by-state alcohol laws throughout the nation.

21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

But in the capital of the United States: not so fast.

In his book, "Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't", historian Garrett Peck observed that Congress wouldn't rescind Prohibition for Washington, D.C. until the following year, on 1 March 1934. Washington D.C.'s repeal legislation, although tardy, would become a template for other jurisdictions in the U.S. on how to regulate, license, and control alcohol sales, as opposed to dispensing it directly.

There's another unique facet to the 21st Amendment, as noted by beer historian Bob Skilnik
American voters, through state referendums, added the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It was the first time in our history that a constitutional amendment was passed, not simply by the will of legislators, but instead through popular mandate, i.e., the power of the U.S. citizenry [and the only time].

Take a moment today to honor the sagacity of those Americans of eighty-one years ago. Hoist a beer, sip a whisky, drink a glass of wine. Legally.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Max's UK Invasion

I don't often post adverts for a beer event, but (sounding like a certain beer commercial) when I do, it's because it's quite intriguing.

Max's UK Invasion, over the next few days, is quite a large lineup of British beers —cask, draft, and bottle— several not before seen on this side of the Atlantic, presented over several days, at Max's Taphouse, in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Kudos to the pub's cellarmaster Casey Hard, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow (in grand fashion, I might add).

I drool looking at this list: only a few beers with extraneous cocoa puffs and dingleberries. Most: just good beers. I sigh, knowing I can't be there.

No entry fee. Pay as you drink.

Max's Taphouse_2014

We will be celebrating some world class UK Casks, drafts and bottles. Many of these breweries are first timers in the United States.

Moor Envy (Golden Ale)
Moor So’Hop (Golden Ale w/ New Zealand Hops)
Ridgeway Barley Bad Elf (Bitter)
Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf (Barleywine)
Ridgeway Lump of Coal (Chocolate Stout)
Adnams Tally Ho (Barleywine)
Brew By Numbers 04/02 (Double Berliner Weisse)
Burning Sky Saison a la Provision (Saison w/ Lacto & Brett)
Buxton Ace Edge (IPA w/ Sorachi Ace)
Buxton Tsar (Imperial Stout)
Conniston Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout)
Magic Rock Human Cannonball (Imperial IPA)
Magic Rock/Kissmeyer Salty Kiss (Gose w/ Gooseberries)
Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree (Hefeweizen w/ herbs)
Ridgeway Bitter (Bitter)
Siren/Hill Farmstead/Mikkeller Lemoncello (Sour Mash IPA w/ Lemon Peel)
Siren/Prairie Ratchet (Saison aged in Chardonnay barrels)
Siren/to Ol Tickle Monster (Triple IPA aged on cedar wood)
Weird Beard Black Perle (Milk Stout w/ coffee)
Weird Beard Something Something Darkside (Imperial Stout/Imperial IPA Blend)

Friday 5pm  &  Sat/Sun 11am
Burning Sky Arise (Session IPA)
Buxton Nth Cloud (Double IPA)
Coniston Bluebird Bitter (Bitter)
Fyne Sandra Blonde (Blonde IPA)
Magic Rock/Evil Twin Pogonophobia (Sour Red/Bruin)
Moor Revival (Bitter w/ American hops)
Pressure Drop Bosko (IPA)
Ridgeway Reindeer Droppings (Winter Ale)
Wadworth 6X (Bitter)
Weird Beard Decadence Stout (Stout)
Weird Beard Holly Hoppin Hell Batch 5 (Imperial IPA)
Weird Beard K*Ntisch Town Beard (Hoppy Wheat)
Weird Beard Little Things That Kill batch 9 (Session IPA)
Weird Beard Mariana Trench (Pale Ale)
Weird Beard/IMBC Hacienda (Imperial Black Saison)
Buxton Kinder Stout (Stout)
Buxton Red raspberry Rye (Raspberry Rye Sour)
Buxton Tsar (Imperial Stout)
Buxton Tsar Bumba (Imp Stout w/ Slurry from 1978 Courage Imp Stout)
Buxton Wolfscote (Mild Black Sour)
Coniston Old Man (Old Ale)
Coniston XB (ESB)
Fyne Jarl (Hoppy Golden)
Fyne Sandra Black (Black IPA)
Salopian Entire Butt Porter (Porter)
Siren Odyssey 001 (Imp Stout barrel aged w/ Imp Red )
Siren/Prairie Ratchet (Saison aged in Chardonnay barrels)
Timothy Taylor Landlord (Bitter)
Wadworth Old Timer (Old Ale)

Dark Star Revelations
Ilkley The Mayan (Chipotle Chocolate Stout)
Hobson Manor Ale (Bitter)
Thornbridge Jaipur (IPA)
Wild Beer Bliss (Spices/Roasted Apricots/Wild Yeast)
Wild Beer Evolver IPA (IPA w/ Brett)
IIkley Mary Jane( IPA)
Hobson Postman Knock (Porter)
Signature Brew Black Tongue (Double Black IPA)
Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf
Ridgeway InsanelyBbad Elf
Ridgeway Santa’s Butt
Thornbridge Wild Raven (Black IPA)
Thornbidge Bracia (Dark Ale w/ chestnut honey)
Thornbridge Halycon (IPA)
Thornbridge Medici (IPA/Brown Ale)
JW Lees Harvest Ale 25th Anniversary (Barleywine w/ champagne yeast)
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Old Ale)

Signature Double Black IPA
Hobson manor Ale No1
Hobson Postman Knock No 3
Hobson Town Crier No 2
IIkley Siberia Rhubarb Saison
IIkey Mary Jane
IIkley The Mayan

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cider and a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner.

Blue Bee is Virginia's first and only 'urban' cidery. Located within the city limits of Richmond, Virginia, in the city's Old Manchester neighborhood, Blue Bee is also one of the few such 'urban' cideries in the entire nation.

Charred Ordinary is one of Blue Bee's regular offerings, and the 'hard' cider I poured at this year's Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving meal, with cider (04)

An old-fashioned style of cider, Charred Ordinary is dry and assertively sour, with earthy aromas of hay, mushrooms, and bruised apples. A strong citrus and salt finish. 8.3% alcohol-by-volume (abv).

Charred Ordinary has apple-skin tartness and flavor, some earthy and smoky flavors, and a nice finishing slug of minerality.

Thanksgiving meal, with cider (01)

From the 12 o'clock position:
P.S. There was a turkey served for the Thanksgiving carnivores (just not pictured here).


Not your Nana's Kugel

Potato Kugel, an eastern European staple, has been historically plied with eggs, milk, and pork. Here, new-world, it's a kugel, cooked 'vegan': un-egged, un-cow'ed, un-pigged ... and served with 'hard' cider.
  • 3 Russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (or vegetable shortening)
  • 2/3 - 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 TBSP Ener-G Egg Replacer 1
  • 3 TBSP matzo meal
  • 1 TBSP Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 380 °F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 shallow cake pan with oil.
  • 2. Grate potatoes into thin strips. Keep the gratings submerged in water, with a dash of lemon juice. This prevents the kugel from turning gray.
  • 3. Sautée diced onions in oil, over medium heat, until just soft. Add chopped garlic in the oil. Sautée until golden. Set aside, and cool.
  • 4. In a bowl, mix together onions, garlic, grated potato (drained), olive oil, and spices until the oil just coats the potato mixture.
  • 5. Add the stock.
  • 6. Mix in the flour (+ baking powder + Ener-G) 1/4 cup at a time, until the 'batter' around the potato and onion becomes 'just' thick. Add more flour as needed.
  • 7. Spoon into greased casserole dish, 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle top with Panko bread crumbs.
  • 8. Set oven at 380 °F. Bake for 45-60 minutes, uncovered, or until the top of the kugel is brown and crisped.