Monday, June 27, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 23/24, 2016.

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

Weeks 23/24
5 June - 18 June 2016

  • 17 June 2016
    For 8th year in row, members of the American Homebrewers Association have voted Russian River's Pliny the Elder (a 'double' IPA) as the best beer in the U.S. Of their top ten choices, all but 3 were IPAs.
    —Via American Homebrewers Association.

  • 15 June 2016
    Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association, examines data for on-the-premises 'craft' beer draught sales:
    The data suggest that states where on-premise sales are more important to the beer market, craft does better in the off-the-premises.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 15 June 2016
    What the U.S. Department of Justice should do before granting approval to Anheuser-Busch Inbev for its proposed purchase of SABMiller.
    • Require ABI to divest wholly or partially owned distribution assets;
    • Impose a cap on ABI’s and Molson Coors’ ability to acquire distributors;
    • Prohibit ABI and Molson Coors from implementing distributor incentive programs that prevent smaller brewers from obtaining access to distributors;
    • Prohibit ABI and Molson Coors from terminating existing beer distributors and a freeze on contract term changes;
    • Require ABI to notify the DOJ in advance of executing contracts to purchase distributors or craft brewers that would not otherwise be HSR reportable; and
    • Require Molson Coors to divest the Miller Brewery in Eden, North Carolina.
    —Via The Hill.

  • 15 June 2016
    Discount retail behemoth Walmart says it wants to “bring craft beer to the masses.” It will do so with beers brewed by Trouble Brewery and sold only at Walmart stores. What Walmart doesn't say (and why not?) is that Trouble Brewery does not brew its beer. Wholly owned by Walmart, it contracts with Genessee Brewery in New York state, not exactly what one might call a 'craft' brewery.
    —Via Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer.

  • 14 June 2016
    Archaeologists digging in London have found potential evidence of brewing in Roman England of the 1st century, a Roman tablet, written circa 80 AD, addressed to "Tertio braceario,", that is, “to Tertius the bracearius.” Translating further, that would be to Tertius the brewer (or maltster, or both).
    —Via Martyn Cornell, at Zythophile.

  • 14 June 2016
    As Stone Brewing —the nation's 10th largest 'craft' brewery— opens new brewing facilities in Richmond, Virginia, and Berlin, Germany, its ten-year-tneured brewmaster, Mitch Steele (a past brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch) announces his intention to leave the company to run his own project. Details remain scarce.
    —Via The Full Pint.

  • 13 June 2016
    The U.S. Supreme Court rejects a challenge to Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxic Standards regulating air pollution at coal-burning power plants.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 13 June 2016
    Sierra Nevada Brewing's second brewing plant —in Mills River, North Carolina— uses only 3.5 barrels of water per barrel of beer brewed. The industry standard is five or more barrels of water per barrel of beer. Sierra Nevada Brewing's second brewing plant —in Mills River, North Carolina— uses only 3.5 barrels of water per barrel of beer brewed. The industry standard is five or more barrels of water per barrel of beer. For that and other achievements, the brewery has been awarded Platinum LEED certification.
    —Via BeerPulse.

  • Two flags
  • 12 June 2016
    Forty-nine killed at LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by shooter pledging allegiance to ISIS.
    —Via CNN.

  • 11 June 2016
    Civil war erupts in the heartland of American 'craft' brewing as several Colorado 'craft' breweries resign from their twenty-year old advocacy group, the Colorado Brewers Guild, to form a splinter group called Craft Beer Colorado. The 'rebel' breweries —which include major players such as New Belgium, Odell, Great Divide, Oskar Blues, Left Hand— cite lack of proactive lobbying and non-'craft' membership (such as Breckenridge, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev) as primary causes of the rift.
    —Via Westword.

  • 11 June 2016
    It was bound to happen. Thorn Street Brewery, a 'craft' brewery in San Diego, California, has created a truly dank beer: that is, one infused with marijuana aroma extract. Sorry: no THC. Potato chips not included.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 9 June 2016
    'Craft' brewery owner builds vacation home in grain silo.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 9 June 2016
    The city of Baltimore, Maryland, hosts HomeBrewCon, only the third time the city has hosted the national conference of the American Homebrewers Association.
    —Via YFGF.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Stout-Marinated Grilled Veggies

Stout-marinaded Grilled Veggies (01)

Recent research has found that soaking meat in beer, before grilling, reduces the formation of cancer-causing HCAs (heterocyclic amines) during the high heat of grilling, a reaction between amino acids and creatine.

There's no mention of vegetables, but the former and latter will both be 'tastified' if marinated first. So, here's a cancer-warding Saturday edition of #VeggieDag Thursday:

Grilling vegetables, marinated in Stout ale

  • Zucchini: washed, skin, on, chopped in large rounds.
  • Summer squash: washed, skin, on, chopped in large rounds.
  • Shitake mushrooms: brushed and washed, stems chopped.
  • Vidalia onions: sliced into large wedges.
  • Bell peppers: de-seeded, chopped into thick strips.
  • Asparagus: stalk ends removed. (Peeled, if thick stalks.)
  • Whatever is in season!
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 jalapeno or habanero chopped (optional)
  • 4 oz. 'craft' brewery stout
  • 2 TBSP Tamari
  • 1 TBSP freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Spike seasoning (or your favorite non-salted, dried herb mixture).
  • And/or 1 tsp. minced marjoram and/or fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Chop the vegetables large enough so that the vegetables will not fall through the grates of the grill.
  • Marinate for 3 hours (or overnight in refrigerator, covered).
  • Strain the vegetables in a sieve (especially if you've used hot peppers) but reserve the marinade for basting.
  • Place the vegetables on a skewer and then directly on the grill, or loose on chicken wire over the grate or on aluminum foil punched with numerous small holes (or, if you must, a manufactured vegetable grill-basket).
  • When grilling, avoid direct flame. Turn the vegetables frequently and mop with the remaining marinade to prevent them from drying out (and to add more flavor). The vegetables are done when the skin begins to blister and/or the middle becomes soft, anywhere from five to twenty minutes, depending on the heat of the grill.
  • Reserve the remaining 8 ounces of stout for the grillmaster.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

3 x 10^6 and counting.

I have been posting photographs to Flickr since May 2007. Most have been photographs of beer, but many not, with subjects such as wine, spirits, food, flowers, baseball, and other things. Most of the uploads are mine; a few are re-posts. In fact, I have uploaded in excess of thirty-three thousand two hundred forty-four (33,247), and yet counting.

As of today, 22 June 2016, those images have been viewed more than three million (3,000,000) times. That works out to about twenty-seven thousand five hundred (27,500) hits per month.

3 x 10^6 and counting

That "Pro" designation is not an indicator of skill; it simply means I pay for the file storage. I use the word "photographs," but, to be precise, these really are "digital images," although saying the latter lacks a certain sense of romance.

I've used five different cameras (excluding cell phone — and Palm Pilot— cameras) during this near-decade span. In order, they have been:
  • Canon PowerShot A520
  • Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH
  • Canon PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH
  • Canon PowerShot SX130 IS
Here I am in 2009, displaying the then 'official' camera of YFGF: Canon PowerShot SD400. The point-and-shoot took a lot of abuse that year; I appear proud of the band-aid retaining its innards.

Cizauskas of YFGF

My camera today (and since October 2012) is the Pen E-PL1 from Olympus. In format, it's a mirrorless, four thirds micro system camera. Sort of a point-and-shoot DSLR: lesser than the latter, better than the former. No band-aids ... yet.

YFGF goes to Olympus (01)

Please feel free to copy and redistribute any of my Flickr photos, in any medium or format (after all the point is to promote good beer where and when we find it) as long as, and only so long as, you follow these Creative Commons 4.0 license terms:
  • Attribution
    You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. Contact me for any links and/or with any questions.
  • Non Commercial
    You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
  • No Derivatives
    If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
  • You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
Three million views might be 'small beer' to more serious photographers. But, to me, it's a big thing. Some pics ain't bad: go see. And thank you for your support.

Now, enough vainglory. Back to the beer.

Pouring Fidelis (03)


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Weizen al fresco

A patron enjoys his hefeweizen, while sitting outside on the patio at Gordon Biersch Restaurant Brewery.

Weizen alfresco

A 'blast from the past,' this photo was taken on 30 March 2013, during a 'friends and family' pre-opening open house at the brewpub, located in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C.


Friday, June 17, 2016

"Buy local, buy good, and buy on draft." [a borrowed maxim]

Bart Watson is the Chief Economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association. In a recent post, he examined data concerning on-the-premises 'craft' beer draught sales and their correlation to 'craft' brewery success, especially that of smaller breweries.

  • Most of the data reported in the beer media comes from off-premise[s].
    • Off-premise[s] is more than 80 percent of overall beer volume.
    • Data are easier to obtain [for off-the-premises], thanks to the magic of the barcode and sophisticated scanner systems.

  • 35 percent of craft’s volume coming via on-premise[s] channels
    • Brewpubs less than 1,000 barrels have production that is 95 percent draught
    • Production brewers less than 1,000 barrels are on average 89 percent draught
    • Median 'craft' brewery survyed] has 78 percent draught production.

  • Size of the on-premise[s] beer market varies wildly by state, due to a variety of factors.
    • Beer’s share of beverage alcohol
    • Overall beer consumption levels
    • Number of on-premise[s] outlets
    • On-premise[s] culture
    • Consumer preferences
    • Socioeconomic factors.
    • [Surprisingly not mentioned because ii is such an important factor: laws and regulations which permit or prohibit on-premises sales at breweries and brewpubs.]

  • When you know both the size of the draught market in a state and the size of the total beer market, the size of the draught market is a much better predictor of the number of small and independent breweries.

  • The on-premise[s] market has shifted over the past few years, with the continued spread of “rotation nation” and an increasingly fractured and competitive market for tap handles. This has likely created some challenges for regional craft brewers, the companies that are typically doing the heavy lifting in off-premise[s] channels. Given the greater dominance of chains in off-premise[s], those channels will likely never reach the diversity we are seeing in on-premise[s] markets.

The takeaway is, as Mr. Watson writes:
The data suggest that states where on-premise[s] is more important to the beer market, craft does better in the off-premise[s] [emphasis mine].

The logic is fairly simple: in places where more beer lovers are in bars and restaurants drinking beer and thus encountering craft, off-premise locations have better sales for craft brewers as well.

Pints of beer per adult per U.S. state (2013)
Pints of beer per adult per U.S. state (2013).
Where does your state rank?

Beer author Jeff Alworth succinctly summarized all this at his blog, Beervana (doing his best beer reference of author Michael Pollan's food maxim):
Buy local, buy good, and buy on draft. [...] Drink on draft and you will create a virtuous cycle that buoys local breweries.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Drinking, again! Old Tankard Ale from (gasp) Pabst (sort of).

When I asked for an Old Tankard Ale by Pabst, my server brought me a PBR, unaware that Old Tankard was a new Pabst product, recreated from decades-old brewing logs of the brewery. But, yes, I wanted to try an Old Tankard, and she replaced it.
Pabst Brewing Company's Old Tankard Ale was America’s number two selling American Ale behind another PBC legacy brand, Ballantine, throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 1950s. Utilizing the original Brewer’s Log recipe from 1937, this historic American Ale [...] is brewed with 2-row, imported Cara-Munich and Cara-Aroma malts, with Nugget, Liberty, Willamette and Cascade hops. [It] exhibits the fruitiness and maltiness of an extra special bitter.
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • IBU: 35
  • SRM: 20

Pabst Old Tankard Ale (in a glass)

Pabst ceased all brewing operations in the mid-1990s. It owns no brewing plants, only the rights to the names of Pabst and other American 'legacy' brands, such as National Bohemian and Schlitz. Other breweries — principally MillerCoors— brew its beers for it under contract. In 2014, the company was purchased by a San Francisco–based private equity firm.

After test runs at the Wisconsin Brewing Company, cans of Old Tankard are now brewed and packaged for Pabst by City Brewing Company (formerly G. Heilemann Brewing) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

The text on the back of the can:
Craft beer in cans isn't a new idea. In fact, it's over 80 years old. 1935 was the first year beer was ever packaged in cans and the year Pabst introduced Old Tankard Ale in its proprietary KEGLINED (tm) Tap-a-can to retain freshness.

1. Open can.
2. Pour into tankard.
3. Hoist with friends.

As found on the original Old Tankard Ale cans:
Here is genuine ale in a non-refillable, brewery-sealed container which protects against the harmful effects of light-tampering -anything or anybody. Now you can enjoy the tang, aroma, vigor, and rich mellow flavor of real ale.

Pabst Old Tankard Ale (back)

And the taste of Old Tankard Ale?

Actually, not too shabby. The brewery bills the beer as an ESB; I'd call it an American Amber Ale. Reddish/light brown in color; nice head retention; whiffs of caramel and woodsy hops; apple fruitiness; slight acrid roast (not enough to be off-putting); off-dry finish.

Who could blame my server for bringing me the wrong beer? A beer from Pabst with some flavor? Who would've thunk it? I'd happily drink this again.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 21/22, 2016.

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

Weeks 21/22
22 May - 4 June 2016

  • 3 June 2016
    Deadly flooding has inundated parts of northern Europe. [...] The situation is particularly bad along the Seine River in Paris. [...] The Seine is expected to crest around 21 feet on Friday afternoon — the highest crest since 1955, the BBC reports. Water levels along the Loing, a tributary of the Seine, have already toppled record crests from the major flood event in 1910.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • Sparring with the Greatest
  • 3 June 2016
    Goodbye, champ. "The Greatest," Muhammed Ali, has died at 74.
    Muhammad Ali, the charismatic three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world and Olympic gold medalist who transcended the world of sports to become a symbol of the antiwar movement of the 1960s and ultimately a global ambassador for cross-cultural understanding, died Friday night at a hospital in Phoenix, where he was living. The boxer had been hospitalized with respiratory problems related to Parkinson’s disease, which had been diagnosed in the 1980s. He was 74.

    Mr. Ali dominated boxing in the 1960s and 1970s and held the heavyweight title three times. His fights were among the most memorable and spectacular in history, but he quickly became at least as well known for his colorful personality [...] and his standing as the country’s most visible member of the Nation of Islam
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2 June 2016
    A big merger may flatten America’s beer market.
    As Anheuser-Busch InBev looks to finalize a $107 billion merger with SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, federal antitrust authorities need to weigh what this means for the growing number of small brewers and independent distributors who are driving the industry. Recent reports say that antitrust authorities are likely to approve the deal by the end of the month. If they do so without adequate protections, the merger could stifle consumer choice and choke off America’s beer renaissance.
    —Via Bob Pease, president of [U.S.] Brewers Association,
    in an op-ed at New York Times.

  • 2 June 2016
    In an effort to forestall the extinction of African elephants, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service enacts a near-total ban on U.S. commercial ivory imports.
    —Via USFWS.

  • 29 May 2016
    Over one-third of the coral in the northern and central sectors of Great Barrier Reef has died due to warming ocean water.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 May 2016
    Nearly 71 years after an American bomber passed high above the Japanese city of Hiroshima on a clear August morning for a mission that would alter history, President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons in a solemn visit to Hiroshima, the first U.S. President to do so, and offered respects to the victims of the world’s first deployed atomic bomb.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 May 2016
    Bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort has been found in U.S.; could signal "end of the road" for antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin.
    Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, [which] in some instances, kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. Health officials said the case in Pennsylvania, by itself, is not cause for panic. The strain found in the woman is still treatable with other antibiotics. But researchers worry that its colistin-resistance gene, known as mcr-1, could spread to other bacteria that can already evade other antibiotics.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 28 May 2016
    Be it Resolved: That the Senate commends the craft brewers of the United States.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 26 May 2016
    U.S. antitrust officials are investigating Anheuser-Busch’s distributor incentive programs for violations.
    —Via Craft Brewing News.

  • 25 May 2016
    As goes the beer, so goes the nation. Venezuela’s president gives a brewery an ultimatum: brew or go to jail.
    Empresas Polar, the country’s largest brewer — with an 80% market share — completely shut down their operations in April, apparently because of “supply problems of its main raw materials.” The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has threatened to take over the closed breweries, saying that the business owners risk being ‘put in handcuffs.'
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 25 May 2016
    Is John Hickenlooper —past 'craft' beer pioneer and current Governor of Colorado— in the running to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate if Hillary Clinton wins that party's nomination?
    —Via NPR's Diane Rehm Show.

  • 24 May 2016
    Ballast Point Brewery (of San Diego, California) announces that it will be opening an East Coast brewery, in Botetourt County, Virginia, located outside of the city of Roanoke, thus joining Deschutes Brewery, of Oregon, which, in March, announced that it as well would be building an East Coast facility in Roanoke.
    —Via Roanoke Times.

  • 23 May 2016
    In the Craft Beer Industry, it’s either you are WITH it, or you are AGAINST it, there really is no in-between.
    The owner of a 'craft' beer tap room in Denver, Colorado, denounces the move by a 'craft' brewery to open a rival tap room in the city.
    —Via The Full Pint.

  • 23 May 2016
    Lake Mead —which supplies water to seven western states— has fallen to its lowest level since first created by the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1935.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 22 May 2016
    Why the hottest trend in beer is an IPA that tastes like pineapple or mango.
    Sales of flavored IPAs skyrocketed in 2015, according to data presented at the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia this month, with “tropical flavored” IPA sales increasing by 250 percent year-on-year even though they make up only 8 percent of the flavored IPA market [in part] the result of brewers experimenting with a new generation of hops prized for their aromatic qualities rather than just their bittering properties.
    —Via Fritz Hahn, at Washington Post.

  • 22 May 2016
    Wine-in-a-can is back, especially canned rosé: "one of those perfect summer ideas."
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 22 May 2016
    The world’s biggest breweries now have diverse portfolios and brands that they bought and make within their massive facilities to sell to their extremely powerful and increasingly unilateral distribution networks. All of this is done in an effort to marginalize craft brewers’ access to ingredients and market.
    —Via Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery at Imbibe.

  • 22 May 2016
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a revision to its mandated nutritional label, the first major change in over twenty years.
    Calorie counts are bigger and easier to read. A line has been added to let eaters know how sugar levels of the product stack up against daily values. Daily values for things like fiber and sodium, which were set in the mid-1990s, have been adjusted for current recommendations. Vitamins A and C (which have almost no recorded deficiencies among Americans today) were removed, and Vitamin D and potassium (for which deficiencies are rising) were added. Serving sizes are the most significant change. They’re being adjusted to reflect the amounts we’re really eating.
    —Via Gizmodo.

  • 22 May 2016
    Alaskan Brewing Company produces 140,000 barrels of beer annually and, as by-product, produces 4,500 tons of spent grain. Over the next 10 years, by re-utilizing their waste product as fuel, the brewery is set to save over 1.5 million gallons of fuel, reducing the company’s fuel oil consumption by 70%. Because this system runs entirely on dried spent grain, burning to create steam which powers their entire facility, less transportation of outside ingredients is required, further alleviating costs to this Juneau [Alaska]-based brewery.
    —Via Energy Design Program.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Evil is strong, but good is resilient.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Hang on, little tomato.

Hang on little tomato

A young tomato in the garden: on 8 June 2016, as yet green and, thus far, hanging on.

The sun has left and forgotten me
It's dark, I cannot see.
Why does this rain pour down?
I'm gonna drown,
In a sea
Of deep confusion.

Somebody told me, I don't know who,
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you're feelin' all alone and left behind,
Just take a look inside and you'll find,

You gotta hold on, hold on through the night.
Hang on, things will be all right.
Even when it's dark,
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above,
Spreading rays of sunny love,

Just hang on, hang on to the vine.
Stay on, soon you'll be divine.
If you start to cry, look up to the sky.
Something's coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead.

And so I hold on to this advice,
When change is hard and not so nice.
You listen to your heart the whole night through.
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you.

Pink Martini: 2004.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Baltimore's journey from Planet Beer 1995 to HomeBrew Con 2016.

There was a frantic knocking on my office door. "Tom, come quick. Big problem!"

It was May 1995 and I was the brewery manager for the Oxford Brewing Company, Maryland's first 'craft' brewery, now long closed, but then located southwest of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In June of that year, Baltimore would be hosting its first-ever American Homebrewers Association national conference, and Oxford Brewing had been asked to brew the official beer.

The theme for the conference that year was Planet Beer. So, Oxford's beer was to be I.P.A., Inter-Planetary Ale, in style, of course, an IPA - an India Pale Ale. A bad pun, I know.

Knocking at the door was Alvaro Spencer, our laboratory technician. Mr. Spencer had worked in the beer business in South America for many years, albeit for large capacity industrial lager breweries. He had signed on to help us build a rudimentary laboratory and institute quality control measures. He ushered me to our production board, where he pointed at the specifications for the IPA: 6.5% alcohol by volume (abv), 55 International Bittering Units (IBU). He had never before seen or brewed beers of such high alcohol or hop content, and for such a small-capacity brewery.

In his charmingly accented English, he worriedly exclaimed, "What is this EEE-puh? Too big. Too much IBU. No good!"

American Homebrew Association

The American Homebrew Association was founded in 1978 by homebrew guru Charlie Papazian, even though homebrewing would not be legalized until the following year. Today, the AHA has a membership of 46,000, although the association estimates that as many as 1.2 million Americans brew at home.

HomeBrew Con 2016

HomeBrew Con 2016Now rebranded as HomeBrewCon 2016, the AHA's national convention returns to Baltimore this week for only the third time in its 38-year history. The Conference is also the site for the National Homebrew Competition.

In 2015, 7,663 entries were judged at twelve first round judge centers across the United States. First Round winners advance to the Final Round of the competition at the AHA National Homebrewers Conference. Final Round winners receive gold, silver or bronze medals in 28 style categories.

In 1979, 34 entries competed in the first AHA National Homebrew Competition held in Boulder, Colorado.

At that first Conference in 1979, there were 200 attendees. The AHA has no figures for conference attendance in Baltimore in 1995, but the year before, in Denver, there had been 428. In 2005, in Baltimore for the second time (with the not-snappy theme of "Beer By The Schooner, Ale By the Yard"), there were 857 attendees and 4,128 beers judged. This year, it estimates 3,200 attendees, up from the 2,800 last year in San Diego with 7,663 beers judged.

But HomeBrewCon 2016 is not only for homebrewers. In addition to the Conference itself (and the judging of the nations' best homebrew), which runs Thursday through Saturday, 9-11 June, there are events throughout the week —not just in Baltimore, but in Washington, D.C., 45 miles to the south —with many events open to non-homebrewing good-beer fans, as well. Of many, a few of note:
  • Tuesday, 7 June, 12-5pm.
    In Washington, D.C., beer author Stan Hieronymous co-brews an "American Primitive Beer" at Right Proper Brewing with head brewer Nathan Zeender during an open-house of the brewery's new production facility in Brookland.

  • Wednesday, 8 June, 10am-1pm.
    Maryland beer historian Maureen O'Prey leads a beer-history walking tour of the Brewer's Hill neighborhood of Baltimore Maryland, with Baltimore Beer Week co-founder, Dominic Cantalupo.

  • Wednesday, 8 June, 12-4pm.
    Hand-crafted tap handles. Mark Supik & Company woodturning shop makes tap handles for many Maryland breweries and nationally. See how, at its Highlandtown neighborhood workshop in Baltimore.

  • Wednesday, 8 June, 7:30-11pm.
    A special screening of Brewmore Baltimore, a feature length documentary chronicling the history of the brewing industry in Baltimore, Maryland, narrated by two beer historians, Maureen O'Prey and Rob Kasper (past columnist and editor at The Baltimore Sun). At the Pratt Street Alehouse in downtown Baltimore, with beer served, of course, from host Oliver Brewing Company.

  • Wednesday, 8 June, 12-3:15pm.
    The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) is a certifying entity for American beer judges (for both homebrew and professional competitions). The organization is, of course, present in Baltimore this week, conducting exams for judges. But in addition to that, it's holding a series of seminars, open to both judges and civilians, with such topics as Understanding Sensory Perception of Beer, Pre-Prohibition Porter, Understanding and Judging Flavor Additives in Beer.

  • Thursday-Saturday, 9-11 June.
    HomBrewCon itself begins in Baltimore on Thursday, 9 June and concludes on Saturday, 11 June, with a Grand Banquet at which the winners of the concurrent National Homebrew Competition are announced.

IBUs & Postscript

IBUs - International Bitterness Units - are a measuring scale of bitterness in beer, literally the amount of dissolved alpha acids in a beer contributed by hops. One IBU equals one part per million of isohumulone, or 1 milligram of alpha acid dissolved in 1 liter of beer.

Most industrial lagers clock in at around a dozen or fewer IBUs. Thus, Mr. Spencer felt he had good cause for concern over the 55 IBUs of Oxford Brewing's Inter Planetary Ale. We decided, however, to brew it without any modifications.

Afterward, when Mr. Spencer tasted the finished result, he dropped all of his earlier objections. He had become a fan of 'too-big' beers. And Inter Planetary Ale was served to the attendees at the 1995 AHA "Planet Beer" Homebrewer Conference.

For me, to this day, IPA remains "EEE-puh." Even though, today, 55 IBUs would be considered quaint. Even though I do get puzzled looks when I pronounce it by name.

"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft"
The Carpenters, 1977


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sunday Facebook Check-out (June 2016)

Beer brings happiness; non-craft beer more so.

If the phrase 'industrial brewing' makes your lip curl like a wine drinker on first encountering a Belgian brown sour, I’m afraid you don’t really understand beer. Dismissing mass-market beers is like dismissing the Ford Focus and saying F1 racers are the only valid form of motor car. Some terrible crimes have been committed under the banner of industrial beer, that’s true. But overall, industrial beer has brought more happiness to the mass of humanity than craft beer ever will.

That was beer historian Martyn Cornell, at Zythophile, in a story otherwise about this ...
So, what was it like, the ancient lager Carlsberg spent two years and hundreds of thousands of kroner recreating, resurrecting yeast out of a bottle dating back to 1883, pulling out 130-year-old brewing records, growing an ancient barley variety, hiring a floor maltings, working out the most likely hop varieties to use, reproducing the original brewing water, having oak casks made in a Lithuanian cooperage, making moulds of vintage bottles so that new versions could be hand-blown, and then flying in dozens of journalists and beer writers to Copenhagen from as far away as Malaysia and California to drink the result.

It was … OK.


Dry politics

Dissatisfied with the Presidential choices this year? There IS another candidate for President.

The Prohibition Party is the oldest independent third-party still active. Founded in 1869, it remains “opposed [to] the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages.” Its presidential candidate this election is Jim Hedges of Pennsylvania.

Jay Brooks (a beer writer, not a candidate) has the rest of the story at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.


All About Beer gets lost in Richmond.

In "Explore Richmond: 48 Hours in Richmond, Virginia" (July 2016: Vol. 27, no.3) —a guide to the beer and brewery scene of the city— All About Beer magazine makes no mention of Legend Brewing, that city's (and Virginia's) oldest continuously operating 'craft' brewery (since 1994).

John Holl, editor of All About Beer, responded on Twitter:
Thanks for reading, Tom! Print constraints means that not everyone gets in. But hope folks spend more than a weekend in town.

A representative of Legend Brewing also responded:
We're just a big yellow building and probably the easiest brewery to find.


It isn't just about the hops.

The [U.S.] Brewers Association has joined the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI) as a corporate associate member. The BMBRI works to identify and evaluate barley varieties that are suitable for the production of high quality malt and beer.

Joining with the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute to work toward this is a good move for the [U.S.] Brewers Association, and for American 'craft' brewers. Macro brewers want neutrally flavored barley while 'craft' brewers prefer more highly flavored varieties, whether for base malt or specialty. And up to this point, barley has been developed and grown for the macros.
In late 2011 thru the first half of 2012, members of the Brewers Association Pipeline Committee participated in a survey to ascertain their preferred malt characteristics. Members were asked to describe the base malt characteristics best suited for their brands. [...] Respondents placed the most emphasis on flavor, calling it priority one. Respondents agreed that recent 10- to 25-year trend towards ever increasing flavor neutrality must be reversed. At the same time brewers recognize that this is the most difficult trait to communicate with specific granularity for reasons having to do with basic knowledge gaps of how and when flavor arises and minus a lexicon for describing malt flavors.

The BA identifies other traits of barley for malting for 'craft brewing:
  • Lower free amino nitrogen (“FAN”)
  • Lower total protein
  • Lower diastatic power (“DP”)
  • Lower Kolbach Index (ratio of soluble protein to total protein, or “S/T”)
All but the lower diastatic power are traits shared with macro-brewers. The macro-brewers use a high amount of adjuncts in their grists, usually corn and/or rice. A higher diastatic power is needed in their preferred barley to convert the starches of the adjuncts to fermentable sugar. 'Craft' brewers generally rely on all-malt grists; thus, diastatic power is not as important in the barley they use.
  • Read more at the [U.S.] Brewers Association.
  • And here's a related story about a University of Oregon program to develop malt varieties for 'craft' breweries.


Unbeautiful swimmers

"This is a great IPA," the beer-store clerk told me. On his recommendation, I purchased a 6-pack of cans, took them home, and opened one in anticipation. Here is what I saw and tasted: A sinking mass of sludgy floaters in the bottom of a turbid mess, with only a hint of IPA flavor, tasting melony-fruity and not bitter, and, in fact, metallic-sweet. The date imprinted on the bottom the can, indicating a drink-by date or canning date, was indeterminate at best.

'Craft' breweries, with some exceptions, don't have the resources that macro-brewery conglomerates do to enforce the freshness of their bottles, cans, and kegs once they are shipped from the plants. But they —large breweries or small— are still responsible for informing their customers what is fresh and what isn't. Not doing so is a failure of 'craft.' It is not an unusual occurrence; it's far too common.

Not a great IPA; not great at all.

Unbeautiful swimmers


The Unbearable Corniness of Craft

For years, the macro-breweries have been using unprocessed corn and rice, 'breakfast' grains, as adjuncts to barley malt in their beers. For years, 'craft' brewers have decried and derided the practice. But now some 'craft' breweries themselves are using these grains, not in pure form but with highly processed, chemical-laden breakfast cereals, such as Captain Crunch and Count Chocula, produced by far-from-small or independent mega-conglomerates. That's disingenuous and un-'craft.'

Read more at Beer & Brewing.


The Prosody of Bitter

I’d forgotten about bitter, forgotten about that citrusy-slow build of sweetness, the words of toffee and hop spice, the crosstown traffic, the blistering bitterness, the dryness, the siren call of English hops, the warp and waft of the raw materials, the full body, its common touch (at which I have unforgivably sneered), the monstrosity, the leviathan, the well water hoisted, the sheer sheerness of it all. And as I delved further and further into my glass of Gadds No 3, I realised how much I’d forgotten about bitter and how much I had missed it.
— British beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones, at Called to the Bar.


Saturday, June 04, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Beware of Snakes in Garden

Not quite a biblical admonition ...

Beware of Snakes in Garden

A sign outside a community garden in a park in Atlanta, Georgia. 30 May 2016.