Monday, December 28, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 50/51, 2015.

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

Weeks 50/51
6 - 19 December 2015

  • 18 December 2015
    The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has streamlined the process of applying for beer "Formula" approval, adding more than fifty ingredients to its pre-approved exemption list. In doing so, TTB has found that these ingredients are “traditional” and not likely to cause problems. TTB’s position has not changed with respect to adding extracts, essential oils, or syrups: those still could contain alcohol, so the Formula requirement remains in place. Exemption from the formula approval process also include processes such as aging in barrels or with wood chips.
    —Via Brewery Law blog.

  • 18 December 2015
    New Belgium Brewing, the fourth-largest 'craft' brewery in the U.S., may be looking for a buyer. Potential asking price? More than a billion dollars.
    —Via Reuters.

  • 14 December 2015
    The growing can shortage crisis for 'craft' beer. Only two manufacturers remain in the U.S., both of which have raised their minimum orders.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 12 December 2015
    At the Paris Global Climate Change Conference (formally known as the United Nations 21st Conference of Parties, or UN COP21) representatives of 195 nations reached an accord that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 9 December 2015
    "A Charlie Brown Christmas" animated special was first broadcast fifty years ago, on December 9, 1965, commissioned and sponsored by Coca-Cola, written by Charles Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip.
    —Via ABC.

  • 9 December 2015
    Is this pay-to-play? Kroger, a large national U.S. grocery chain, to require breweries to pay for the management of their beers on the supermarket shelves. Calls plan “Planogram Center of Excellence.”
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 8 December 2015
    The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights heard testimony regarding the proposed merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller. Judiciary Committee member Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont released a statement delineating his “concerns in distribution: specifically, concerns that the large brewers’ power over distribution is shutting out competitors and undermining consumer choice.”
    A product can only be sold if customers can find it. [...] Large brewers’ power over distribution is shutting out competitors and undermining consumer choice. If craft brewers are being squeezed off the shelf because of restrictive behavior by the dominant companies, that harms competition and limits consumers’ options. One way for large brewers to influence distribution is by buying up distributors. AB InBev has indicated that, following this merger, it will not increase its ownership of distributors above its current level of ten percent. Mr. Brito, at a minimum, I ask you to make a formal commitment to that today. For its part, Molson has indicated that, after it gains 100 percent ownership of MillerCoors, it will not increase its ownership of distributors—nor change its current practice of giving distributors leeway to showcase competitors’ brands. Mr. Hunter, I ask you to make a formal commitment to that today. The pathway from brewer to buyer is critical if we want small companies to compete. State laws regulating distribution vary dramatically, and many small brewers feel constrained by the current state of distribution. I hope this issue will remain a subject of close review.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 8 December 2015
    Maryland beer pioneer, Hugh Sisson, celebrates the twentieth anniversary of his Baltimore brewery, Heavy Seas. In late 1980s, Sisson opened Maryland's first brewpub.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 7 December 2015
    California's Stone Brewing releases first beers from its Berlin, Germany brewery, becoming the first U.S. 'craft' brewery to build, own, and operate a brewery in Europe.
    —Via Full Pint.

  • 7 December 2015
    The use of IBUs (International Bittering Units) to stand in for a measure of “hoppiness” is at best irrelevant and at worst misleading — because IBUs don’t measure “hoppiness,” they measure bitterness.
    —Via Jeff Alworth at All About Beer.

  • The 10 thirstiest American 'craft' beer cities (2014).
  • 6 December 2015
    The cities that drink the most craft beer as a share of their overall beer consumption (by dollar value). Number one is Portland, at 43.5%.
    —Via VinePair.

  • 6 December 2015
    To forestall antitrust concerns with its pending purchase by Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller to sell off its brands Peroni and Grolsch, as well as London, England, 'craft' brewery, Meantime, which it only just purchased.
    —Via BBC.

  • 6 December 2015
    Pennsylvania State University study finds that moderate drinkers (one drink per day) are twice as likely to exercise regularly than teetotalers.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 6 December 2015
    New "superbug" gene found in animals and people in China. Scientists alarmed by potential spread of this gene that makes bacteria highly resistant to last-resort antibiotics.
    —Via Scientific American.

  • 6 December 2015
    A Judgement of Paris moment for sparkling wine? A pair of English sparkling wines from Hampshire and Sussex defeated French Champagnes Pol Roger, Taittinger, and Veuve Clicquot to take the top spots in a blind tasting.
    —Via The Drinks Business.

  • 6 December 2015
    The average 'craft' brewery uses seven pints of water for every pint of beer it brews. Larger 'craft' breweries are more efficient. Stone Brewing, for example, has lowered its usage to 4.5 pints water per pint of beer. International brewing conglomerates can be more efficient yet. MillerCoors has reduced water usage at its Eden, North Carolina, plant to 3.1 pints of water for each pint of beer. But before a brewery even brews, a farmer will need to use ten gallons (eighty pints) of water to grow the hops and barley needed for one pint of beer. (By comparison, a glass of almond milk needs twenty-three gallons of water, and cow's milk requires thirty gallons.)
    —Via San Diego Reader.
    —More, via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • St. Nicholas of Myra
  • 6 December 2015
    December 6th is the Roman Catholic Church feast day of Nicholas of Myra (in what is now Turkey), a bishop in the 4th century, later canonized as the patron saint of brewers.
    —Via "The Brews Brothers" at YFGF.

  • 6 December 2015
    Coffee drinkers live longer than coffee abstainers, says new Harvard study. The Harvard School of Public Health followed a group of twenty-thousand nurses and doctors over the course of thirty years, and found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from strokes, diabetes, heart disease, suicide, and neurological diseases. And those that drank up to five cups per day received the greatest benefit.
    —Via Eater.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pic(k) of the week: Big beer gifts

Big beer gifts

A Pic(k) of the Week for Boxing Day: two cork-caged bottles of 'vintage' Belgian beer.
  • A Jeroboam of Chimay Grand Reserve (vintage 2006).
    Holding 3 liters, the equivalent of 6 pints and a 5 ounce lagniappe.
  • A magnum of Liefmans Goudenband (vintage circa 1987-1995).
    Holding 1.5 liters, which is 3 pints plus 3 ounces.
On 14 November 2015, good beer friends brought big beer gifts to a big party at Ornery Beer Company, a brewpub in Woodbridge, Virginia. A good time was had by all.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#VeggieDag Thursday: Tuesday-before-Christmas 2015 edition.

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

July 2015 was the Earth's hottest month ever recorded, at least since humans first began recording such things. The average temperature of the entire Earth that month was 61.86 °F, 1.46 degrees above average. Nine out of eleven months (excluding unfinished December) were their hottest respective months ever. And once December's results are in, 2015 will be, almost certainly, the Earth's hottest ever recorded, breaking the record set in ... 2014.

The Global Climate Conference —officially and clumsily known as the 21st Conference of Parties— only recently concluded in Paris, France, where it reached international agreement to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius over the next one-hundred years. Of this, U.S. President Obama said: It's “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet we’ve got."

Yet this "best chance" is merely aspirational, enforced, as such, only with national pledges —no penalties or inducements. And as meager as those are, none are required to be enacted until 2020.

The scientific consensus is that a two degree rise in global temperature will give rise to catastrophic and era-enduring changes in global weather, sea-rise, health, and economy —American political grandstanding notwithstanding. Not a good legacy to be dumping on our successive generations.

Turkish coffee

There was some recent good news, however.

The Harvard School of Public Health followed a group of twenty-thousand nurses and doctors over the course of thirty years, and found that coffee drinkers live longer than coffee abstainers, less likely to die from strokes, diabetes, heart disease, suicide, and neurological diseases. And those that drank up to five cups per day received the greatest benefit.

'Tis the season, so let's drink (and not exclusively coffee) and eat and be merry; tomorrow is another day. For this, the Tuesday-before-Christmas 2015 edition of VeggieDag Thursday, it would seem timely to post some (non-animal-killing) recipes.

Nathan Kozuskanich is the Vegan Dad. I've never met him, but I've been a faithful reader of his eponymous blog. Back in 2010, he published this menu list for Christmas Day. Here's some of it:

His 2008 self-published Vegan Dad Cookbook might be a wonderful gift for a friend (or you). It's available in either paperback or ebook (pdf) format. Recipes that kids will enjoy (I've tested!) and that harried parents can make when time is rare.

Stilton-Cheddar Beer Soup


More Christmasy recipes from around the interwebs

  • Vegan 'Caesar' Salad with Chickpea 'Croutons.'
    —Via Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows.
  • Black Pepper Beer Bread.
    —Via YFGF.
  • Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
    —Via BBC.
  • Cheddar Beer Soup (not vegan: the cheese isn't, that is!) —Via The Kitchn.
  • Grilled Winter Squash With Mint-Pomegranate Pesto
    —Via Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California,” by Travis Lett (Chronicle Books,, as adapted in the Washington Post.

    Roasted Shredded Brussels Sprouts (03)

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
    —Via YFGF.
  • Not strictly for the Christmas meal, but a handy vegan-conversion guide for the five classic French 'mother' sauces: béchamel, espagnole, veloute, hollandaise, and tomate.
    —Via One Green Planet.
  • Rice Pilaf with Carrot Juice
    —Via "Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking," by Michael Solomonov, as adapted by Weekend Vegetarian in the Washington Post.

    Vegan Kugelis (2)

  • Easter European 'soul' food: Potato Kugel, a hearty potato pudding.
    • —The traditional method, with lots of eggs, via Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen.
    • —Vegan recipe via Charles Swedish, self-described "metaphysician, social satirist, and amateur mycologist," at YFGF.
  • (Un)Traditional Christmas Pudding, with barleywine.
    • Skip the suet (raw beef or mutton fat)! Use vegetable shortening (but NOT Crisco).
    • Sultanas are green raisins.
    • Recipe calls for 75ml each of stout and barleywine. Instead, simply use 6 ounces of a rich barleywine.
    —Via Delia Smith.
  • Vegan Eggnog (base of homemade almond milk, not soy)
    —Via Elana Amsterdam at Elana's Pantry.
  • Recipes for Christmas 'Craft' Beer Cookies (but skip that 1st bacon thing!).

    Ausukai (01)

  • Ausukai: Lithuanian fried cookies (definitely not vegan!)
    — Via YFGF.
  • And, as a sweet gift? Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
    — Via the Post Punk Kitchen's Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (2009).

From Yours For Good Fermentables to you:
Merry Christmas ... and don't forget the beer!

Merry Christmas from Falstaff


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Kale Ale Cheese Fondue

Kale Ale Cheese Fondue

Pic(k) of the Week is a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Today, it's a photo of fondue. The good fermentable is in the fondue.

Aged gouda, sharp cheddar cheese, chopped kale, and house-brewed ale. On the side for dipping: sunchokes, baby carrots, and a house-made pretzel. Tasty but maybe the texture was a wee bit thin from too much ale in the mix. Accompanied with good beers in interesting subterranean stone surroundings.

As served at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, in Atlanta, Georgia (in the Little 5 Points/Inman Park neighborhood), 12 December 2015.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 48/49, 2015.

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

Weeks 48/49
22 November - 5 December 2015

  • 5 December 2015
    From the 'Department of Truth-Is-Stranger-Than-Fiction': a man named Bud Weisser is arrested for trespassing at the St. Louis, Missouri, Budweiser brewery plant.
    —Via KDSK.

  • FDR proclaims Repeal

  • 5 December 2015
    The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified today, on 5 December 1933, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day.

  • 2 December 2015
    A married couple in southern California, who had pledged fealty to ISIS, shot 14 people to death in San Bernardino. Federal authorities are treating the massacre as an act of muslim-extremist terrorism.
    —Via CNN.

  • 3 December 2015
    To forestall antitrust concern over its purchase by AB InBev, SABMiller to sell off Peroni, Grolsch, and London 'craft' brewery, Meantime.
    —Via BBC.

  • 3 December 2015
    "There are almost no black people brewing craft beer. One reason craft beer is so white: its legacy springs from the lily-white talent pool Big Beer had engineered. “It is no secret that securing capital as a minority business owner can be downright discouraging.”
    —Via Thrillist.

  • 2 December 2015
    A century-old scientific puzzle dubbed the "Warburg effect" (after the Nobel-Prize winning cell biologist Otto Warburg) has been solved by researchers at University of California San Diego: why do organisms (like beer yeast) prefer fermentation vs. respiration? The answer? Wasteful abundance: the cost of protein synthesis overrules the metabolic savings for fast growing cells.
    —Via EurekAlertt.

  • 2 December 2015
    The number of breweries operating in the United States reaches 4,144, topping the historic high of 4,131 breweries set in 1873. Fifteen states are now home to more than 100 breweries apiece: California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • Max's Flo-Jets
  • 2 December 2015
    A beer pub in Toronto, Canada, not only posts the tapping schedule for its many taps, but the cleaning schedule for the taps, as well. More pubs should. Dirty lines ruin beers.
    —Via The Globe and Mail.

  • 30 November 2015
    Steve Anderson, a pioneer of 'craft' beer in Texas, has died.
    —Via El Paso Times.

  • 28 November 2015
    Alone among all counties in the United States, Montgomery County, Maryland, an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., has controlled all alcohol distribution since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Its long, lucrative alcohol monopoly could be ending.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 28 November 2015
    Small Business Saturday, and Small Brewer Saturday.
    Even though they only represent a sliver of the overall beer market (11% in 2014), small and independent brewers are big business. The craft brewing continues to flourish, [and] hundreds of supporting businesses have emerged to help the industry beat the odds.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • Thankful for vegetarians
  • 26 November 2015
    Americans will consume 49 million turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner.
    —Via Notions Capital.

  • 26 November 2015
    In 1953, American humorist Art Buchwald, living in Paris, France, wrote a column explaining Thanksgiving to the French:"Le Jour de Merci Donnant."
    —Via YFGF.

  • 26 November 2015
    Delaware 'craft' brewery, Dogfish Head, to release beer, "Hoo Lawd," an IPA it claims to reach 658 IBUs (International Bittering Units), the "hoppiest beer ever documented."
    —Via Beer Pulse.

  • 24 November 2015
    British beer writer Mark Dredge identifies eleven categories of American IPAs, and none of them are White, Black, or Belgian-style IPAs.
    —Via Mark Dredge at Pencil and Spoon.

  • 24 November 2015
    Michigan State University using algae to clean brewery waste-water.
    —Via Water Online.

  • 23 November 2015
    "Global hop harvest is on average between 30-40% down on what it should be."
    —Via Pete Brown (in the Morning Advertiser).

  • 23 November 2015
    Contract legacy brewery, Pabst, resurrects erstwhile Ballantine Brewing's Burton Ale: 11.3% abv; 75 IBUs; aged for several months in oak barrels.
    —Via Beer Pulse.

  • 22 November 2015
    Analysts believe that global mega-brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev/SABMiller, may be interested in purchasing soft drink manufacturer, Coca-Cola.
    "Anheuser-Busch InBev's takeover of SABMiller could allow it to try on the role of a Coca-Cola bottler ahead of making a move for the soft drinks company, an analyst has said. The SABMiller deal, which is awaiting regulatory approval, is a chance for AB InBev to "kick the tyres" of Coca-Cola, according to Nomura's Ian Shackleton. He said this week that the takeover provides a "Trojan horse" opportunity for AB InBev, similar to a distribution partnership predecessor company InBev signed with Anheuser-Busch ahead of its acquisition of the Budweiser owner. In 2006, InBev became Anheuser-Busch's US distributor for import beers such as Stella Artois and Beck's.

    "We believe this [distribution deal] was an important stepping stone towards the bid in 2008 that InBev made for Anheuser," Shackleton said. "In the same way, we would expect A-B Inbev to gain access to Coca-Cola in Atlanta as a major bottler." According to Shackleton, A-B InBev is likely to take over SABMiller's estimated 5% share of Coca-Cola volumes, much of which comes through its 24% stake in Anadolu Efes, owner of Coca-Cola Icecek.
    —Via Just Drinks.

  • 22 November 2015
    Italy has overtaken France to become the country with the largest wine production in the world, as it expects a 50.37 million hectoliter harvest for 2015-16.
    —Via Drinks Business.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Yahtzee in the taproom.

I like the interplay of afternoon sun, and beer and skittles (well, all right: Yahtzee). They liked the game and the beers.

Yahtzee in the taproom

As seen in the brewery taproom at Fair Winds Brewing Company, in Lorton, Virginia, on 9 October 2015.

Compare the photo above to Afternoon Tipplers, a photo taken at Alexandria, Virginia, beer-restaurant, Rustico.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Maureen Ogle shows us how to write a beer review.

Maureen Ogle writes books on history, like modern plumbing and meat in America. In 2006, she wrote on beer, publishing Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, a seminal history of that topic.

In her Facebook rant, err post, below, Ogle does what so few beer reviewers do. She defines her prejudices of dislike and parameters of enjoyment. She tells you something more about herself. And then she elucidates, in direct terms, how one beer falls far from those and the second well within. She uses phrases that evoke meaning beyond "awesome" or "hoppy."

And, she really, really doesn't like Ballast Point's Sculpin.

1. I promise I will NEVER AGAIN comment on a beer that burns my mouth.

2. In my opinion, feeble though it is, a "good" beer is a beer that tastes good to ME. Not you. Not her. Not him. ME. If it doesn't taste good (and a beer that burns my mouth does not taste "good" to me), then I prefer not to drink it.

3. What I think is a "good" beer has NOTHING AT ALL to do with a) its ingredients; b) its maker; or c) [and most important] its technical quality. Eg, I have NO doubt that Ballast Point's Sculpin is a superior beer. But it doesn't taste good to me.

4. On the other hand, Ballast's Indra Kunindra is a fucking revelation. I have four bottles in the fridge. I think it may now be my desert island beer. I had a dream about Indra K. Its flavors haunt me. Do I think it's a "good" beer. Oh, yes, I do.

5. I AM NOT AN EXPERT ON BEER. I drink beer that I think tastes good. I avoid beers that don't taste good. And that, my very dear friends, colleagues, and random encounters in the cosmos, is my bottom line and final word on the debate about "good" beers.

6. Yes, this is very much like my take on the meaning of life. I made up my mind decades ago, and nothing since has changed my mind about said meaning. And no, I don't discuss that. With anyone.
From Maureen Ogle's personal Facebook page: 7 December 2015. Reprinted with permission.

'By the way,' the first.

I disagree with Ogle. I personally like the 'bite' of Ballast Point's Sculpin. It was one of the first 'west coast' IPAs I had ever tasted that presaged the current U.S. practice of emphasizing Juicy Fruit-like aroma hops (even while still delivering a finishing slug of hop burn).

But that's the point. Ogle shows us how to write a beer review. She doesn't damn the beer because of categorical disregard. She doesn't damn the beer's technical merits, in fact just the opposite. What she does do is tell us that she doesn't care a whit for Sculpin, to her taste, and what that is. She gets up close and personal. A lot. But reading her reaction to Sculpin should make it obvious whether or not you might want to purchase it, or accept the 'burning' challenge.

'By the way,' the second.

Ballast Point is a craft brewery in San Diego, California: in fact, one of that city's pioneering breweries, opened in 1992. It recently made headlines when it was purchased by Constellation Brands (a wine-centric alcoholic beverage conglomerate based in New York state) for a heretofore unheard of price for a 'craft' brewery ... $1 billion dollars.

'By the way,' the third.

Ogle has recently announced her intention of writing an update to Ambitious Brew: an 'e-essay' on the decade of 'craft' beer following the book's publication.

I plan to celebrate its tenth birthday by publishing a new final chapter. An addendum, if you will, to the book. This won’t be a revision: I don’t own the rights and the publisher has no interest in the book and certainly not enough to pay for a revised edition.

Instead, I’ll write the chapter and publish it as a stand-alone essay. Digital only, to begin with. (I’d love to do a print-on-demand paper edition, but that would be pricey for both me and readers. So for now that’s a back-burner option.)

I plan to publish the essay on/around October 1 2016.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Heavy Seas: Twenty years in the making.

In 1880, a Hugh Sisson of Baltimore, Maryland, delivered marble to Washington, D.C., for the construction of the Washington Monument.

One hundred and nine years later, in 1989, a son of a Baltimore pub owner, a descendant of that 19th century Sisson, delivered the beer goods. He successfully lobbied the Maryland legislature to permit brewpubs to operate in the state. (Yes, there was indeed a barbaric time when brewpubs were illegal!)

Immediately thereafter, he would install an eight-barrel brewing system in his family's eponymous pub and make local 'craft' beer history. Sisson's became Maryland's first brewpub since the repeal of Prohibition.

Sisson's brewhouse

In 1995, he relinquished his stake, and opened a production-only brewery, which he called Clipper City Brewing, locating it just southeast of Baltimore, in Halethorpe, Maryland. His name? Hugh Sisson.

Twenty years ago today, 8 December 1995, Sisson and Clipper City rolled out their first beers. Today, his brewery, now known as Heavy Seas Beer, remains there, successful and thriving.

Hugh Sisson @The Old Brogue

But that first day almost didn't occur.

A county fire marshal conducting a final inspection in late November 1995 became confused by .. what is this? A micro-brewery? What will be in those large tanks? Beer?

Not so fast, he told Sisson. Beer is flammable at very high temperatures. The fermenting tanks were fire hazards and would need to be entirely encased in asbestos, he said (undeterred that water, which comprises 95% of beer, is used to douse fires). That obviously would be a financial non-starter for the fledgling brewery.

Fortunately, Sisson had made the acquaintance of the brewmaster at G. Heileman, a then national brewing company with a plant located just a quarter-mile away. In fact, G. Heileman's brewmaster was eager to taste the beers from the much smaller upstart. Sisson asked for his assistance, and the brewmaster phoned the fire marshal. "We don't encase our tanks in asbestos," he said. "Are you going to close us, one of the largest employers in the county?" The next day, the fire marshal gave Clipper City the green light, sans asbestos.

Heavy Seas kettle door

Sisson will also tell you that the 'sailing' was rough after he opened for business. Less than four years into the brewery's operations, the bubble burst for microbreweries (what are now known as 'craft' breweries). A lot of unprepared players had gotten into the game, and a lot of bad beer slowed consumer acceptance. Sales slowed and the brewery survived by contract-brewing beers for other non-brewing companies.

Clipper City's first seasonal that December 1995 was a winter beer, a malty and hoppy English-styled 'winter warmer, ' that Sisson named "Winter Reserve." A decade later, he would re-brand it as Winter Storm, placing a sea captain and parrot on the label.

Freshly bottled Winter Storm 2012

The captain would become a pirate by the next release, Small Craft Warning Uber Pils, and Sisson would call this line of 'big beers,' Heavy Seas. He soon added an IPA, Loose Cannon, and several others. The line would become so successful (Loose Cannon comprising the largest percentage of the brewery's output), that Sisson no longer needed to contract-brew. He rechristened the brewery as Heavy Seas Beer.

Heavy Seas' roster of employees is big. Brewers have gone on to open other breweries in Maryland and Virginia. Several have brewed at such well-known breweries as San Miguel, SABMiller, Sam Adams, and Victory, to name only a few.

The brewery plant was recently expanded to envelop nearly half of an industrial complex. Its annual production is at the fifty-thousand barrel mark; capacity is three-fold that. The brewery's beers are sold in seventeen states. Its cask ale program is the largest for any production brewery in the United States. The brewery has been recognized for excellence several times at the Great American Beer Festival.

Brewery panorama

I've known Hugh Sisson since almost the beginning of the Sisson's Brewpub days. In fact, I worked for him for several years at Clipper City. Please forgive me as I get personal and quote myself from Facebook:
Congratulations, Hugh! What a long, strange, rewarding, tasty, struggling, successful, fulfilling, satisfying, and one-for-the-craft-beer-history-books trip it's been. And it continues!

As Kevin Atticks —Executive Director of the Brewers Association of Maryland— put it: "History in the making." A tasty twenty-year history.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Whisky Yule Log

The Yule Log was a Christmas Eve broadcast by a New York City television station: a two hour continuously looped video of a yule log burning in a fireplace. Accompanied with Christmas music, that was the program's entire content. The station aired it every Christmas from 1966 to 1989.

Now, Diageo (an England-based alcoholic beverage company), owner of Lagavulin scotch whisky, has produced a follow-up.

For 45 minutes, “Parks and Recreation” actor Nick Offerman sits next to a fireplace and sips a Lagavulin. Neat, naturally. He moves the glass. He looks at the camera. He pours another dram and sips. That's it; that's all. Is anything else needed?

One commenter at YouTube offered this play-by-play of the riveting action:

  • 3:10
    Lifts his glass, looks at it for a second or two, and takes a sip. It is apparently very good.
  • 5:44
    Elegantly slides his hand to the side of the glass. Perhaps to take a sip? No. He patiently waits. Like a gentleman.
  • 10:25
    This time, he looks at the glass THEN lifts it to take a sip. He is truly a master of his art. Yet again, it is delicious.
  • 12:44
    After some contemplation, the glass is moved to the knee as if to suggest a sense of sexual tension. It's working.
  • 15:13
    The glass is moved back to the armrest perhaps to suggest that you have no game with this man. Clearly the knee was just a tease.
  • 20:27
    Yet another look then lift. His technique is clearly spot on... But wait. He has finished the glass! What will he do?! Is this the end of the Yule Log special?! NO! He sets the glass on the table and pours himself some more! Such class and grace can only come from one such as WHAT IS THIS?!? HE HAS CROSSED HIS LEGS? MY GOD. No words can be properly recited for something such as this. Carry on fellow viewers... I need a moment...
  • 23:46
    After a few minutes to let us calm down he teases yet again by looking at his glass as if to take a sip. But he does not. Crafty, Mr. Offerman. Very crafty indeed.
  • 28:22
    Yes, after the tease of last time he lifts the glass again to... Oh Mr. Offerman you sly dog, you. Yet another tease. Bravo.
  • 30:14
    Is he?... An inspection of the glass, a long smell of the aroma, long contemplation aaannnnnddd... Another sip! Good show Mr. Offerman! Good show! applauds
  • 36:15
    I believe we have a repeat performance here of 30:14. Less thrilling this time around but still a great performance nonetheless.
  • 38:32
    Ah an itch just behind the right ear. Nothing much to say here real- HE'S TAKEN A SIP. I nearly missed that one because of the distracting itch! And here I thought you had shown us your entire bag of tricks Mr. Offerman. applauds again
  • 41:07
    Haha, very good. A return to form with a classic sip and nothing more. A move worthy of an Oscar.
  • 44:33
    With one last sip he finishes off the glass and makes his way off camera. Truly, truly one of the greatest performances I have seen all year. Absolutely outstanding. Gives a standing ovation.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Kayaker in Great Falls

Kayaker in Great Falls (02)

A kayaker plies the Potomac River at Great Falls, as viewed from the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Park, in Potomac, Maryland, on 25 November 2015.


Friday, December 04, 2015

The Session: Beer Blogging Friday #106. Holiday Beers.

Session 106: Holiday Beers The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, begun in March of 2007 by Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

On the first Friday of every month, a pre-determined beer blogger hosts The Session: Beer Blogging Friday. He or she chooses a specific, beer-related topic, invites all bloggers to write on it, and posts a roundup of all the responses received. For more information, or to ask to host, go to the home page.

For December 2015's The Session: Beer Blogging Friday (the 106th edition), Jay Brooks himself is the host. He has asked us to

write about whatever makes you happy, so long as it involves holiday beers.
  • Discuss your favorite holiday beer.
  • Review one or more holiday beers.
  • Do you like the idea of seasonal beers, or loathe them?
  • What’s your idea of the perfect holiday beer?
  • Do have a holiday tradition with beer?
  • Are holiday beers released too early, or when should they be released?
  • Do you like holiday beer festivals?
For seasonal beers, the Solstice/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Mithra time of the year is my mostest favorite. Holiday beers are by design no one style, but are a chance for individual breweries to let their talent and imagination run wild. At the holidays, when people stop their busy lives and share some precious time with family and friends, the beer they choose should be equally as special as the time they’re sharing. So a holiday beer should be made to impress, to wow its audience, to stand out. That’s the only criteria that should be met by one of these beers.

Nothing profound from me today. (War on Christmas? Bah! Humbug!) Just a beer that 'makes me happy.' Thanks, Jay! I like that as an essential parameter of any 'winter holiday' beer-style.

'Nöelco' Santa

As a kid in the late 1960s, first seeing this television ad each year — a Norelco Santa schussing down foam snow hills on an electric razor— would announce the onset of the Christmas season for me. It should have been Mass and Advent wreaths, but, you know: Christmas and gifts. (But, please. No razors, or socks, for me.)

Post kidhood, the appearance of Sierra Nevada Brewing's Celebration Ale on store shelves has become a winter-season doorbell. (Still no razor, or socks, for me, please.) It remains so now, even though its appearance around Columbus Day is a bit too soon for me; I try to resist the urge to pop one open until Thanksgiving or so.

Celebration Ale 2015

Celebration Ale tastes pretty much the delicious same as it ever was (first brewed by the Chico, California, pioneering 'craft' brewery, in 1983), although the phrase "Fresh hop IPA" made it onto the label a few years ago. Christmas-tree-lights red; bright citrusy and piney hops chased by a Christmas sugar-cookie middle; some light caramel; long-lasting, white-peppery finish; warming but stay-standing-up 6.8% alcohol-by-volume.

Not laced with nostalgia for me, but of a more recent anticipatory vintage, is Jubelale, as Oregon brewery Deschutes conceives of a 'winter' warmer.' At 7.5% alcohol-by-volume, it's a darkish non-sticky figgy pudding (poured under a Christmas pine tree).

There's frost on the car this morning. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Later today, it'll be beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

So long, and thanks for all the beers!

For more than half of a century, I have lived here in northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland (with some time elsewhere).

One morning, about a decade ago, in October 2006, I was driving to work just outside of Baltimore, and I passed by a sad scene of destruction. A demolition crew was ripping the once mighty kettle of the former Carling/National Brewing Company out of its housing; the building itself was next to be razed.

I had been engaged in the 'craft' brewing industry for over fifteen years, but I had been far from diligent in photographing it. My blogging of it, and before that, my pen-and-paper chronicling of it, likewise had been insignificant. Why, I thought, why had I never taken photos of that impressive brewhouse, whose whirlpool I had once seen in operation, ten years earlier, awed by its volume and force? Why, when I had had numerous opportunities, why had I never taken pictures of the brewery's monumental outdoor fermenters, by that day long ago sold for scrap?

Things changed for me that day.

I opened a Flickr account, at which I have now stored nearly thirty-thousand images, most of which are of beer, and its people, places, and things. This blog, which I had begun in 2002, had been only a dalliance. Since then, however, I have written more than two-thousand times of beer (and, yes, occasionally of other things).

I became, shall I say, an honest 'song and dance man' for good beer. I observed —and contributed in small measure to— the exponential growth in the production, availability, and acceptance of good beer here in the mid-Atlantic area. And beer has been good to me. I have been enriched, emotionally and monetarily, even though for me and for many of us in the beer business, the latter has not been "the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice" but of providing sufficient scratch to pay the bills and to save a bit.

I began brewing at home well before that day, in the late 1980s —dared to do so by my younger brother ("Put up or shut up," he challenged me.), taught by Charlie Papazian's Joy of Homebrewing, and patiently assisted by a good friend ("Clean up that mess in the kitchen when you're finished!").

In 1992, I entered a batch of porter in the Spirit of Free Beer, a contest organized by the whimsically named B.U.R.P. (Brewers United for Real Potables), a Washington, D.C.-area home brew club. The recipe was not complex —especially as contrasted with today's so-called 'extreme' beers of high alcoholic strength and exotic ingredients— but, at 5.5% alcohol by volume, the porter was flavorful enough to garner a silver medal.

I went on to study at the Siebel Institute of Technology and then brew professionally for a decade. Later, as a beer salesmen, I would never refer to myself as an 'ex-brewer.' The yearning to brew remained too intimate and too strong. Rather, I regarded myself as 'brewer without portfolio.' Good brewing insinuates itself into one's soul.

Beer may be my vocation, but cask-conditioned 'real ale' —beer served at its glorious freshest— has been my calling and advocacy. Ah, for a pint of properly-cared-for bitter! I can only hope that American cask-ale producers' recent dalliance with their corn-hole toss of silly ingredients and murky beer will be only a passing whimsy.

Although I am a beer judge, only upon occasion have I posted reviews of beers at the blog. After all, anyone can write a review, and so many do. Rather than that, I have attempted to write the story of my search for the 'best' beer, my favorite beer. In the process, I have tasted many contenders, but not yet the one sine qua non. (And if I were to discover that, why continue?)

More than that, much more, I have tried to sculpt this blog into a historical snapshot of good local beer, to make for posterity a small record of our brewers, breweries, and beer folk and things.

I can only hope that that my time here with 'craft' beer provided others with entertainment and refreshment (after all, that is what beer should be), and helped to provide those bringing us beer with the recognition and livelihood they were due.

Or, it may have been all a self-indulgence. No matter.

Thirty-two years ago, in 1983, there were only two breweries in this area: Anheuser-Busch in Williamsbrug, Virginia, and that Carling-National plant in Halethorpe, Maryland. Then this happened ...

  • In 1984, our first area post-Prohibition 'craft' brewery would open: Chesapeake Bay Brewing Company, aka Chesbay, a production brewery in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Closed: 1988.)
  • In 1987, Virginia's first brewpub would open: Blue Ridge Brewing Company, in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was, indeed, the first brewpub in all of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. (Closed: 1999.)
  • In 1988, Maryland's first 'craft' production brewery since Prohibition would open: British Brewing Company in Glen Burnie — later moved and re-named Oxford Brewing, for whom I was privileged to brew. (Closed: 1998.)
  • In 1989, Maryland's first brewpub opened: Sisson's, in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. (Closed: 2002.)
  • In 1990, Virginia's second 'craft' production brewery opened: Old Dominion Brewing, located in Ashburn, and thus the first in northern Virginia. (Moved to Delaware: 2009)
  • In 1992, Capitol City Brewing (with its amusingly misspelled name), opened in Washington, D.C., becoming the city's first brewpub, and, de facto, its first brewery since 1956. (Still open!)
  • In 1993, Richmond, Virginia's first brewpub, Richbrau, would open. (Closed: 2010.)
  • In 1994, northern Virginia would get its first brewpub: Bardo Rodeo, in Arlington. (Closed: 1998. Re-opened as Bardo Brewpub, in Washington, D.C.: 2014.)
  • In 1994, Richmond, Virginia's first 'craft' production brewery would open: Legend Brewing. (Still open!)
  • In 1996, the Carling/National/G. Heilemann/Strohs brewery closed in Halethorpe, Maryland.
  • In 2011, Washington, D.C. finally would get its first production brewery in decades: DC Brau. (Open!)
One goal of the microbrewery, now 'craft' beer, movement — a big goal— has been the main-streeting of good beer. Where and when good beer had been seldom seen anywhere, we would work toward taking it everywhere —not simply skulking in subterranean beer-geek grottos or pontificating in haughty beer Xanadus— but by bringing it everywhere, to every corner shop and every pub, to every suburban chain-store restaurant and every urban white-tablecloth foodie haven, to shopping malls and 7-11s, to big-box stores and to independent wine and beer shops. We're not quite there yet, but the times, they are a' changing.

Today, as 'craft' brewery buy-outs and mergers proliferate, gee-whiz innocence might be lost, but we can be proud that there is a brewery within ten miles of every American citizen. Here, in 2015, in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, after thirty-three years, where once there had been not one 'craft' brewery, there are now more than one-hundred-and-sixty. Benighted jurisdictions helped: DC, Maryland, and Virginia recently gave winery parity to breweries, allowing direct-to-consumer sales in their taprooms, spurring brewery number growth. But, more than that, it was the benighted endeavors of the entrepreneurs ...

How better could I comment but by exclaiming, "wow!"

Or, how better could I comment than by saying to all of you —you area brewers, past and present, you beer entrepreneurs, publicans, purveyors, wholesalers, retailers, bartenders, raconteurs, partisans, writers, bloggers, homebrewers, consumers, businesspersons, bold pioneers, and rogues and demiurges alike—

(to name only a few) James Kollar, Wolfgang Roth, Allen Young, Steve Parkes, Craig Stuart-Paul, Hugh Sisson, Jim Lutz, Theo DeGroen, Marianne and O.B. O'Brien, Jerry Rush, Dan Carter, Rob Kasper, Jerry Bailey, John Mallett, Bill Stewart, Jerry Russell, Bill Oliver, Rob Mullin, George Rivers, Joe Marunowksi, Martin Virga, Bok Summers, Bud Hensgen, Jim Dorsch, Larry Robinson, Tom Martin, Dave Gott, John Wampler, Bill Stewart, Jack Callanan, Tom Flores, Volker Stewart, Tom Creegan, all the members of B.U.R.P. (Dan McCoubrey, A.J. deLange, Bill Ridgely, Andy Anderson, Tom Cannon, Tim Artz, Wendy Aaronson, Rick Garvin, et al.), Judy and Reuben Rudd, Mark Weiner, Mark Cardwell, Maurice Coja, Dave and Diane Alexander, Bob and Ellie Tupper, Dan Brown and all the members of DC (the original DC Beer list-serve) Ron & Gail Forman, Gary Heurich, Joe Gold, Dominic Cantalupo (and all of the members of the Chesapeake branch of the S.P.B.W.), Rich and Gil Ossenberg, John Bates, Tony and Laura Norris, Mark Tewey, Joe Kalish, Bill Covaleski, Ron Barchet, Terry Fife, Mike Byrne, Alice Despard, Nick Funnell, Bill Madden, Barrett Lauer, Geoff Lively, Mike McDonald, Jason Oliver, Casey Hard, Pat and Sherri Casey, Tim Hillman, Mick Kipp, Mark Thompson, Martin Wetten, Steve Frank and Arnie Meltzer (the Brews Brothers), Jim McGinty, Paul Hill, 'Hoppy' Jeff Wells, Ted Curtis, Lyle Brown, Lee Graves, Mike McCarthy, Abe Abernathy, Howie Faircloth III, Steve Frazier, Jim Wagner, Norm Yow, Greg Kitsock (and the entire staff of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News), Steve Jones, Favio Garcia, Steve Marsh, Ron Fischer, Greg Engert, Bill Butcher, Kevin Blodger, Ken Krucenski, Wayne Mahaffey, Ernesto Igot, Thor Cheston, Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock (and all the post-2011 brewers of Washington, D.C.'s beer revival), Brad Klipner, Maureen O'Prey, Alexander D. Mitchell IV, Fritz Hahn, Tammy Tuck, and the websites DC (Andrew Nations, Bill DeBaun, Jacob Berg, et al.) and Cheers Virginia!

— by saying to all of you beer (and wine) folk in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area of the past three decades, too many to personally recount (and please forgive me if I haven't): thank you!

Yes, it may not always have been just good beer and skittles. There have been some wretched beers and several alcoholic ass-hats. (Hey, we're all dealing with the extracted products of rotted grains and fruits; it ain't no rocket science. Get over your little selves.) But, so much more of it has been good times, good beers, and good folk.

You may recognize some of those people above; some not. But they and many others were and are part of the local history of our good beer revival. Their stories and that larger story remain to be told.

Today —now with a goatee instead of a full beard; now with hair 'extra-blond' (others might say gray); and now a beer-guy-with-a-tie rather than a brewer-in-boots— I say ...

This has been an amazing trip, and I may have played a small role in it, but now is your time and I'm only a hitchhiker in your galaxy. This blog may continue, but the time is overdue for its author to embark on a new adventure. Today, after more than half of a lifetime, I exit, stage left, leaving northern Virginia, and my previous homes of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

beers on deck

So long, and thanks for all the beers.

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas

  • References (other than personal recollections):
  • For more from YFGF:
  • Monday, November 30, 2015

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 46/47, 2015.

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

    Weeks 46/47
    8 November - 21 November 2015

    • 21 November 2015
      The Thanksgiving holiday is third among U.S. holidays for 'craft' beer sales; Christmas, second; Independence Day, first.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 19 November 2015
      The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that the upcoming El Niño could be the biggest in recorded history.
      —Via Quartz.

    • 19 November 2015
      What's old is new again: a brief history of "pale ’n hoppy" bitters in the U.K.
      Some of the best beers being made in Britain today belong to a style that has no name. They are the colour of pilsner, usually made with only pale malt, but they are not mere ‘golden ales’—‘golden’ is not, after all, a flavour. They have extravagant, upfront New World hopping suggesting tropical fruits and aromatic flowers but they are not U.S.-style India pale ales because their alcoholic strength is likely to be somewhere between 3-5%. Though this might sound like a description of U.S. session IPA, beers of this type have been around in the U.K. for more than 20 years. If they are given a name at all it is usually a variation on the simply descriptive ‘pale ’n hoppy. [...] These two distinct traditions—U.K. pale ‘n hoppy is traditional session bitter with a glamorous makeover, whereas American brews [session IPAs] are big beers reined in—have ended up in a remarkably similar place.
      —Via Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey, at All About Beer.

    • 16 November 2015
      Wine conglomerate, Constellation, of New York, purchases Ballast Point, a 'craft' brewery in San Diego, California, for one billion dollars.
      —Via Los Angeles Times.

    • 15 November 2015
      'Craft' beer micro-canning pioneer Jamie Gordon has died, at age 56.
      —Via All About Beer.

    • 15 November 2015
      U.S. Senators send a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressing small breweries' concern about Anheuser-Busch InBev's pending purchase of SABMiller.
      The Senators raise concerns that AB InBev may try to use the acquisition to increase its already dominant market position, possibly by constraining distribution channels in order to crowd out smaller beer companies. Some reports have already suggested that the company uses its large market share to put pressure on distributors to favor AB InBev products, which could potentially be deemed an exclusionary and illegal practice.
      —Via Senator Jeff Merkley (Democrat, Oregon).

    • 13 November 2015
      ISIS terrorists attack Paris, murdering 129 people.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 12 November 2015
      "BrewDog drinkers really are drinking the marketing first, the beer second." British beer historian Martyn Cornell reviews "Business for Punks," the just-published “how we succeeded and how you can too” guidebook from James Watt, the co-founder of Scottish 'craft' brewery, BrewDog.
      —Via Zythophile.

    • 11 November 2015
      AB InBev's purchase of SABMiller is about the African and Asian beer markets. The American market is an afterthought.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 11 November 2015
      World War I ended on "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," of 1918. In America the day is commemorated as Veterans Day.
      —Via U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

    • 11 November 2015
      The [U.S.] Brewers Association weighed in on the AB InBev purchase of SABMiller.
      The size and scope of the ABInBev business has many ramifications for the U.S. beer industry, even with the divestiture of the MillerCoors joint venture. The most obvious is that ABInBev is still by far the largest brewer and beer distributor in the United States. It is vital for the continued success of small brewers that we have access to market with an independent and competitive middle distribution tier. [...] ABInBev’s new international footprint and scale give the company greater influence over commodities used in brewing and many other facets of the beer industry that could affect competition in the U.S. market.
      —Via Brewers Association.

    • 11 November 2015
      Anheuser-Busch InBev makes formal $107 billion offer for SABMiller.
      —Via Bloomberg.

    • 8 November 2015
      MolsonCoors appears to be the front-runner to acquire MillerCoors for purported $12 billion dollars, pending SABMiller's divestment of its 58% share. MolsonCoors currently holds the remaining 42% share.
      —Via Just-Drinks.

    • Bill Siebel: 1946-2015.
    • 8 November 2015
      Beer educator, Bill Siebel, has died at age 69. Past CEO of historic American brewing School, Siebel Institute of Technology.
      —Via YFGF.


    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Brewster's Magic

    Brewster's Magic

    British Pathé was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 until 1970. In 2014, resuscitated as an archival company, Pathé placed its entire film library on YouTube.

    Here, from 1933: "Brewster's Magic," an instructional video on beer featuring some fantastic time-lapse views of hops, barleycorns, and yeast.
    Sterile hops, murdered barley, and budding yeast have all united to give us beer.


    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Pic(k) of the Week: Beer books in boxes

    Beer books in boxes

    Pictured, packed for moving: a library of books-on-beer, collected over nearly thirty years. I can't't bring myself to write "curated."

    Northern Virginia.
    16 November 2015.


    Thursday, November 26, 2015

    Le Jour de Merci Donnant

    Art Buchwald was a political columnist and humorist of the 20th century. In the 1950s, while living in Paris, France, he wrote about his expat adventures in that city for the New York Herald Tribune.

    In 1953, he wrote a column 'explaining' Thanksgiving to the French: the Pilgrims (Pèlerins) and native Americans (les Peaux-Rouges) in the New World (le Nouveau Monde). For decades afterward, the Washington Post (for whom Buchwald would later write) would reprint the column on Thanksgiving Day (Le Jour de Merci Donnant).

    Considering recent events, I felt that reprinting it here today might be an appropriate thanks-giving to France, the first ally of the United States. And it's still worth a good chuckle.

    One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant. Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.

    They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs).The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

    In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

    Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration. It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant: "Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning. "I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

    Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).

    At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

    Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

    And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

    No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

    American tolerance


    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    The 2015 Tuesday-Before-Thanksgiving edition of #VeggieDag Thursday.

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

    Here it is: this year's Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving edition of VeggieDag Thursday.

    Mom's Cranberry Relish

    ***my version***
      • 12 ounces cranberries: cleaned and washed.
      • 1 large unwaxed orange: washed, do not peel.
      • 1 large tart apple: washed, cored, and peeled.
      • 1 seeded pomegranate
      • 1 TBSP Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur (my 'secret sauce').
      • 1 to 2 TBSP sugar, more or less, to taste (me: agave syrup, to taste)

    Chop cranberries, orange, and apple in a food processor. Leave chunky; do NOT over-pulse. Add pomegranate seeds, orange liqueur, and sugar. Mix. Cover and let sit a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
    Mom's Cranberry Relish


    More recipes, from around the web

    • Food 52 suggests cooking with cider.
      Because it shares so many characteristics with wine—from its bright fruitiness and slight sweetness to its balance of tannins and acidity—it follows that cider would make an excellent cooking liquid, and it does, in just about every application you can think of.

    • At Global Vegan Kitchen, Robin Robertson proffers recipes for a complete Vegan Thanksgiving, with beautiful photos.

    • Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, shares his "Vegetarian dishes for a Thanksgiving table that welcomes everyone."

    • From Doron Petersan at Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats in Washington, D.C.: Vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie (as excerpted by the Washington Post from Petersan's book: Sticky Fingers' Vegan Sweets).

    • Vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving meals, via Lindsay S. Nixon, aka The Happy Herbivore, at Forks Over Knives and at her own eponymous blog.

    • Nana's Lithuanian Kugel, 'veganized.'

    • Chestnut stuffing, from Martha Stewart. Vegan, if you sub for the butter and chicken stock.

    • From her cookbook, Dinner in The Beer Garden, Lucy Saunders suggests Corn & Beet Salad with Walnut Dressing for Thanksgiving
      because it pairs well with sour brown ales that also happen to go well with other Thanksgiving favorites. Substitute 2 cups corn kernels, oven roasted for 15 minutes, for the corn on the cob, if out of season.

    • Isa Chandra Moskowitz at Post Punk Kitchen has the recipe for a vegan Thanksgiving centerpiece: Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks. (Serve that with my Stout Mushroom Gravy, below.)
  • Stout Mushroom Gravy 05


    Stout Mushroom Gravy

      • 2 cups vegetable broth
      • 2 TBSP kudzu powder (or arrowroot)
      • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
      • 2 TBSP, finely chopped fresh sage
      • 1 tsp dried thyme
      • a few grinds of black pepper
      • 6 ounces stout (such as Guinness or 'craft' versions) *
      • 1 tsp marmite **
      • 1 tsp soy sauce **
      • 1/4 cup dried nutritional yeast

      * I've used Peg Leg Stout from Heavy Seas Beer and Storm King from Victory Brewing. The hoppiness of the latter added another layer of piquancy. In either case, only six ounces are needed, leaving the chef six ounces for personal refreshment. If you're vegan, you would want to avoid Guinness which uses fish-derived isinglass for clarification, even though the brewery has announced its intention to change that procedure.

      ** Soy sauce and Marmite already contain hefty amounts of sodium —as does commercial vegetable stock— so no additional salt needed.

      • It always begins with the onions and garlic. Chop, and then, in a large pan, sautée the garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat for a minute. Add onions and sautée until soft and translucent.
      • Add chopped cremini mushrooms and fresh sage.
      • In a separate bowl, whisk powdered kudzu into the stout. Add to pan with Marmite, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and vegetable stock. Fold all together. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
      • Remove 3/4 of gravy. Process in blender or processor until 'creamy.' Return to pan.
      • Gently stir together, and serve.


    What to drink?

    At the Thanksgiving trough, should there be wine or beer? The former, says Chain Bridge Cellars, a northern Virginia wine shop. The latter, say I.

    Pretty in Pink Saison


    A Thanksgiving prayer

    This Thanksgiving, Americans are expected to consume forty-nine million turkeys. Maybe just this once, this Thanksgiving 2015, at least consider this proposition: kill the vegetables but spare the animals. In the 21st century, must we continue to slaughter God's creatures not for real need but merely for choice?

    Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving.