Monday, October 31, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 41/42, 2016.

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

Weeks 41/42
9 October - 22 October 2016

  • 22 October 2016
    AT&T to buy Time Warner (and thus CNN) for $85.4 billion, consolidating media power. FCC to review for antitrust concerns.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • Sniffing hops
  • 20 October 2016
    New strain of powdery mildew is found to be attacking Cascade hops, a variety initially bred to have genetic resistance to the disease.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 19 October 2016
    Travel company Travelocity calculates Beer Tourism Index, the top 20 large and small city beer destinations, using four metrics: breweries per 1 million residents, rideshare availability, nonstop air destination, lodging score. Portland is tops. (Bend, Oregon, is tops among small cities.)

  • 19 October 2016
    The blob! Interantional brewing conglomerate Anhwueser-Busch InBev which only recently bought its biggest rival SABMiller for $107 billion, now has purchased, via its wholly-owned venture company ZX Ventures, the largest American homebrew supply business, Northern Brewer, for an undisclosed sum.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 18 October 2016
    Phil Chess, co-founder of Chess Records —one of the most influential mid 20th century record labels for blues and early rock 'n' roll— has died at age 95.
    —Via Bloomberg News.

  • 15 October 2016
    On 7 August, for the first time ever, wind power generated all of Scotland's electricity. On average, more than half the country’s electricity now comes from zero-carbon sources such as wind, hydro and solar, and the latest target of 100 percent by 2020 may be within reach. The United States — with a population 60 times as large and a land mass 120 times greater — is nowhere near that level, hovering at around 13 percent.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 15 October 2016
    Nearly 200 countries adopt an amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • President Jimmy Carter
  • 14 October 2016
    Thirty-eight years today, 14 October 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill into law fedeally 'legalizing' brewing at home.
    —Via Craft beer & Brewing.

  • 14 October 2016
    Bad weather in Canada could significantly reduce the 2016 malting barley crop. If so, beer costs, especially for 'craft' beer, would rise.
    —Via CBC News.

  • 13 October 2016
    Citing slower growth and an increasingly more competitive craft beer landscape, San Diego’s Stone Brewing Company today laid off nearly 75 employees as part of what it termed a “restructuring.” The cutbacks come on the heels of completing of two capital expenditure projects — a $25 million Berlin brewery and a $75 million Virginia brewery. The company is also planning to open a 10,000 sq. ft. pilot brewery and tasting room in Napa and recently agreed to license its name to a $26 million hotel concept in Escondido, Calif., where the company is headquartered.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • Blonde on Blonde
  • 13 October 2016
    Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan is the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 12 October 2016
    Brooklyn Brewery, the 12th largest 'craft' brewery in the United States (producing 300,000 barrels annually), has sold a 24.5% minority stake to Japan conglomerate Kirin Holdings in a bid to bring the beer producer’s ales to new Asian markets. The [U.S.] Brewers Association says that a brewery can be deemed independent, and thus 'craft', as long as minority control is 25% or less. Just under the 'craft' wire for Brooklyn.
    —Via Fortune.

  • 10 October 2016
    The Great American Beer Festival, by the numbers. 35th anniversary of the festival; 30th edition of the GABF competition; 1,752 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.; 7,227 beers judged, a nearly 9 percent increase over 2015; 96 style categories judged; Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale.
    —Via Jay Brooks, at Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 10 October 2016
    Anheuser-Busch InBev announced today that it has completed its $108 billion purchase of SABMiller. The combined company will now be called (trumpets, please) Anheuser-Busch InBev. Bye, bye Miller Brewing of American brewing history. MolsonCoors now has the perpetual U.S. rights to all of the brands currently in the MillerCoors portfolio for the U.S. market, including import brands such as Peroni and Pilsner Urquell, and full ownership of the Miller brand portfolio everywhere in the world outside of the U.S.
    —Via BeerPulse.

  • 9 October 2016
    After splitting earlier this year (over issues related to 'craft'/non-'craft' brewery ownership, the Colorado Brewers Guild and the breakaway Craft Beer Colorado to reunite.
    —Via Denver Business Journal.

  • 9 October 2016
    Yahoo has secretly scanned incoming emails of hundreds of millions of users to comply with an order from the U.S. intelligence community. How is this not illegal, and the government's action not a violation of the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments to the Constitution?
    —Via Washington Post.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Tie-dyes


Colorful canine and human: two Dogtoberfest contestants seen on 16 October 2016, in the East Atlanta Village neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Craft beer sales down (slightly) in 3rd quarter; brewery taproom sales (way) up.

Bart Watson —the economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA)— has examined the craft beer sales figures for the third quarter (July, August, September) of 2016 and compared the results with those of the third quarter of 2015. He's used a bit of legerdemain because the BA has removed several breweries from the ranks of 'craft' since last year.

Brewers Association

Making those adjustments, here's what he saw:
  • Off-premises sales
    • 14.825 million barrels
    • +6.1% growth (over 2015)
  • On-premises
      6.475 million barrels
    • -2% growth (!)
  • Premises-use
    • 1.2 million barrels
    • +62.1% (!) growth
    • [I would assume this includes taproom sales at production breweries and at brewpubs.]
  • Other beer sales at breweries
    • 0.55 million barrels
    • +40% growth [Growlers, cases, 6-packs, kegs, etc.]
  • Craft Exports
    • 0.45 million barrels
    • -11.1%
Brewery taprooms, while still a small part of total sales, have increased their sales numbers by 61% this quarter over last. But 'craft' beer sales at non-brewery pubs and restaurants (i.e., most on-premises sales) have decreased. Watson blames wine and 'craft' cocktails.

Overall ...
Based on what we can see, my estimates are that growth did slow a bit in the third quarter, but the error bars on that estimate are big enough that it’s tough to say definitively. I’m using a base of 23.5 million barrels, pulling out an estimate of the barrels the craft data set will lose due to the acquisition of formerly independent brewers.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Shakespeare, Mom, and the World Series

In 1948, my Nana and my mother, then a young lady, were on their way, by train, from Brooklyn to visit relatives in Chicago. They stopped for a train change in Cleveland. A porter approached, offering to carry their bags. "What do you think of the Indians," he asked my mother. "You have Indians in Cleveland?" she innocently asked, surprised. In disgust, the porter put down their bags and walked away.

The Cleveland (baseball) Indians would go on to win the World Series that year, defeating the Boston Braves. It would be, in fact, the last season in which Cleveland would win the World Series (until?).

On whether they or their opponent, the Chicago Cubs —last winners of a World Series over a century ago, in 1908, long suffering under a caprine curse— win this October, I take no public stance. My beloved Washington Nationals were, after all, swatted away in the post-season (1924 being the last time they, in an earlier iteration, won the world championship).

And yet, I will watch and root against history. And I will take note that today, Game 1 of the 112th Fall Classic, falls on St. Crispin Day (outfielder Coco Crisp, notwithstanding), a feastday for which William Shakespeare —possibly with the ghost-writing assistance of Christopher Marlowe— penned what might be the ultimate pep talk ... if not originally for a baseball game.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in America [my apology, Mr. Shakespeare] now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

October can be the loveliest month. Angst and joy, but (hopefully) no bloodshed. Talk beer, tomorrow. Play ball, tonight.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 39/40, 2016.

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

Weeks 39/40
25 September - 8 October 2016

  • 8 October 2016
    North American Guild of Beer Writers selects "The Beer Bible," by Jeff Alworth, as 2016's best book on beer.
    —Via NAGBW.

  • 8 October 2016
    Hitting Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and the southeastern United States, Hurricane Matthew killed an estimated 1,400, and caused destruction in excess of $6.9 billion.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • Jack McAuliffe & New Albion Brewing (c.1976)
  • 8 October 2016
    Celebrating 40 years of 'craft' beer. On 8 October 1976, Jack McAuliffe opened New Albion Brewing, in Sonoma, California, in effect, the first American 'craft' beer brewery.
    —Via Tom Acitelli at All About Beer.

  • 6 October 2016
    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision fines the good folk at Anheuser-Busch InBev $6 million for bribing Indian officials and silencing a whistleblower.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 6 October 2016
    Is there something awry with the 'craft' beer business in 2016?
    • The Craft Brew Alliance has laid off at least a dozen of the production employees working at its Woodinville, Washington facility, 10% of its total workforce. [] Craft Brew Alliance, the 9th-largest brewing company in the United states, produces Kona, Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer. Widmer and Red Hook are two of the original 'craft' breweries from the 1980s. The [U.S.] Brewers Association does not consider CBA to be a 'craft brewing company, not because of the beers themselves, but because Anheuser-Busch InBev (and now Pabst) holds an interest in the company.
    • Sierra Nevada Brewing is predicting a 4.4% drop in sales this year. Sierra Nevada is the 3rd largest BA-recognized 'craft' brewery and the 7th largest American brewing company overall. []
    • Sales at Boston Beer, maker of Sam Adams beers, etc., are down 4% from last year; its profits are down 11%. Boston Beer is the 2nd largest 'craft' brewery and the 5th largest American brewery overall. []
    • Ninety percent of those 6,720 breweries produce fewer than 100,000 barrels of beer annually. Combined, they account for less than 2 percent of all beer brewed in the U.S. To look at that another way, the [U.S.] Brewers Association's data show that (as of 31 December 2015) 178 'craft' breweries, out of a total of 4,225 'craft' breweries (thus only 4% of the total number), produced 77.8% of all 'craft' beer.
    —Via YFGF, at (Facebook).

  • 7 October 2016
    'Fresh-hopped' (or 'wet' or 'green'-hopped) beer: beers brewed with uncured hops within hours of harvest. 'Craft' beer may claim ownership of such, but records of such so-called 'harvest' beers exist for England as early as 1574.
    —Via Ed's Beer Site.

  • 7 October 2016
    The first segment of an eventual 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail opened ninety-three years ago today, in 1923, in New York state.
    —Via Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

  • 3 October 2016
    Neville Marriner —esteemed conductor and founder of chamber orchestra Academy of St. Martin in-the-Fields— dies at 92.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2 October 2016
    The number of breweries in the UK rises 8% to approximately 1,700; the popularity of 'craft' beer is credited.
    —Via Guardian.

  • Vin Scully in Brooklyn
  • 2 October 2016
    Sports broadcaster Vin Scully retired on Sunday, 2 October 2016, at age 88, after broadcasting Dodgers baseball games for 67 years, the longest span that any broadcaster has been with a single team in professional sports history. Scully began with the team in 1950 when it still played in Brooklyn, New York (and since 1958, in Los Angeles).
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2 October 2016
    In its October 2016 issue, the magazine Wine Spectator chose beer, not wine, to pair with washed-rind cheese.
    —Via YFGF (at Flickr).

  • 30 September 2016
    Crony capitalism in the retail beer and wine industry? Retail Service and Systems Inc., the parent company of Total Wine and More, as been fined by the state of Maryland for making than $250,000 in illegal contributions to political candidates between 2011 and 2014. Owner David Trone says he did so to "buy access."
    —Via Washington Post.

  • MFK Fisher: How To Cook A Wolf (1942)
  • 27 September 2016
    M.F.K Fisher was the preeminent American food writer of the mid 20th century. In her 1942 book, "How to Cook A Wolf," she worte this about local, fresh beer:
    A beer carried quietly three miles is better than one shot across three thousand on a fast freight.
    —Via YFGF (with a hat-tip to Adrian Tierney-Jones).

  • 27 September 2016
    The terroir of hops: does it matter where they're grown? Me: well, yeah.
    —Via DRAFT Magazine.

  • 26 September 2016
    As of September 2016, there were 6,720 breweries holding active permits in the U.S., "and more to come."
    —Via National Beer Wholesalers Association, at YFGF.

  • 26 September 2016
    A (thin) majority of Senate now endorses the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Will it come to a vote?
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 25 September 2016
    U.S. golf great Arnold Palmer dies at 87.
    —Via AP.

  • 24 September 2016
    J’ai gros couer. Stanley Dural Jr., aka Buckwheat Zydeco —accordionist and zydeco music bandleader— has died at 68.
    —Via Rolling Stone.

  • 25 September 2016
    'Craft' spirits comprise 2% of the annual $72 billion spirits sales in the U.S.; projected to rise to 8% by 2020.
    —Via Columbus Business First.

  • Cask Report 2017
  • 25 September 2016
    Cask Marque releases its 2017 Cask Ale Report, an annual summary of the cask ale market in the United Kingdom.
    Although craft beer and cask ale are not always the same thing, it is legitimate to think of cask as part of the craft beer boom. In fact, it's essential to see and speak of it that way.
    —Via Cask Marque (at Flickr).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: 'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

In the topsy-turvy evolution of 21st century American English, the word "literally" has come to literally mean "figuratively." Such as, I literally jumped clear out of my comfortable chair when I first saw this.

'Craft' beer spies of 1982?

The Americans is an American cable-television Russian spy drama, set in northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. during the early 1980s. The protagonists (antagonists?) are Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a married couple who are, in reality, two Russian KGB 'sleeper' spies.

In the second episode of the series' third season (aired in 2015), the two, in disguise, enter a northern Virginia bar. Philip asks the waitress what beers are being served that evening. And, it's a fascinating roster of beers that she recites.

"What beer do you have?"

Jenny the waitress:
"Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Miller, Miller Lite, Natty Light, Michelob Light, Sierra Nevada, PBR, Rolling Rock, Stevens Point, Yuengling, Lord Chesterfield, Genesee Cream, Schaefer, New Albion, [inaudible; Harp?], and Guinness."

The problem is that that beer list is historically inaccurate.

Sierra Nevada Brewing, in Chico, California, had only begun brewing in 1980. In 1982, it was nowhere near the 'craft' behemoth it has since become. In 1982, it was not shipping its beers to the East Coast.

Stevens Point Brewery began operations in Wisconsin in the 1850s under a different name. Always a regional brewery, its beer would not be shipped outside of that base area until the early 1990s.

Coors Brewing Company's insistence on refrigerated cross-country delivery of its non-pasteurized (but highly filtered) beers had given it cult status for many years. In 1982, its beers were not yet available on the East Coast.

Most surprising of all was the inclusion of a beer from New Albion Brewing.

Jack McAuliffe & New Albion Brewing (c.1976)

Jack McAuliffe, an ex-Navy serviceman, opened New Albion in Sonoma, California, on 8 October 1976. New Albion was the first 'craft' brewery to operate in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition. (Back in the 1970s, such things were called simply 'breweries,' unencumbered by later over-fraught labels such as 'craft' or microbrewery.) McAulifffe operated New Albion until 1982 (the year in which the episode of The Americans is set), when he shut it down, struggling to sell enough to make a profit. But by then, his legacy was secure. The American 'craft' brewery movement had begun.

Producing only small amounts, New Albion never exported its beers to the East Coast. The brewery's mention in this scene of The Americans shows a scriptwriter unexpectedly —if historically inaccurate— giving homage to forty years of American beer history.

Which is why I 'literally' jumped out of my chair.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

He must resign.

In the Presidential election of 2000, Al Gore challenged the number of votes counted. Once those votes were counted, with the imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Gore accepted the result, conceding to George W. Bush.

Wednesday, Donald Trump— during the 2016 presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, at the Thomas & Mack Center of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas— challenged, not a count or recount, but the very legitimacy of the Presidential election before it is to occur.

There is no equivalence — historically, politically, or morally— between the two events.

Disqualified to be President

Near the end of the debate, when moderator Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump whether or not he would accept the outcome of the election, Mr. Trump said no. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding later, “I will keep you in suspense.” In campaign speeches, he has said the process is “rigged.”

The election of 1800 was the fourth-ever American presidential election but the first-ever truly contested one —between John Adams of the Federalist party and Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican party. The Federalists wielded the executive power and, yet, they lost the election and accepted their loss —decided in the House of Representatives. And the world marveled at the peaceful transfer of power in this young American democracy. And so it has been since. Until yesterday.

Never before in 240 years of American history—not even in 1860, the election of Abraham Lincoln which helped spark the Civil War— has a major Presidential candidate refused to accept the legitimacy of an election outcome. With this, Mr. Trump has challenged the very bedrock of American democracy; he has veered close to sedition; he has disqualified himself from being President, let alone running for the office.

This blog —Yours For Good Fermentables— is a blog about beer (and wine and spirits). Only rarely have I used this venue to politically editorialize. Today, as a patriotic American, I am compelled.

Being vigilant is one thing. As is disagreeing or agreeing with a political position. Those are healthy for democracy. Government exists by the consent of the governed.

But a presidential candidate refusing to recognize the legitimacy of democracy itself? That's an entirely other thing. Donald Trump, with this heinous and reckless act, has disgraced the nation; he has threatened our constitutional survival.

Donald Trump should must resign from the campaign.

—Thomas Cizauskas
Yours For Good Fermentables
20 October 2016.

Furled flag flies


Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy 20th, Manayunk Brewing!

Twenty years ago today, on 17 October 1996, in the lower level of the Manayunk Farmers' Market, on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, the brewpub Manayunk Brewing Company first opened its doors to the public.

Manayunk Brewing (logo)

There were beer dinners and real ales; "exploding yeast" (well, not really) and Schuylkill River floods.

There were helping hands from uphill neighbors, Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit, then producing open-fermenter beer at their just-over-one-year-old Yards Brewing; Bill Moore of Independence Brewing loaning supplies; Brandon Greenwood of all-over fame providing technical advice; and assistant brewers Jim Brennan and Ted Briggs supplying much-needed help.

There was Jim Anderson of Beer Philadelphia and spirited debates; free-lancer Rich Pawluk and beer-with-food pairings; bikes and beer engines at Dawson Street Pub.

There was the temerity to brew with corn; the dry-hopping with dark-fruit-forward New Zealand hops (like grandaddies of today's American IPA hops); and the pleading of why-don't-you-try-the British-Bitter-styled Renner's Red when raspberry-fermented (but not sweetened) Schuylkill Punch became all the rage.

And there was a beer-swilling pig (well, almost).

I should know, because I was there; I was Manayunk Brewing Company's original brewer. I'm not there now, but twenty years later, the brewpub lives on and thrives.

Congratulations, Manayunk, and cheers for twenty (at least) more.

Assessing the gravity


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Briarcliff Pumpkin Patch (and Borani Kadoo).

Briarcliff Pumpkin Patch

Years ago, my Lithuanian-American parents introduced me to Afghan food. And it was love at first aromatic pumpkin bite.

Borani Kadoo is Afghan pumpkin stew, savory, spiced with heat and sweet. That description does it injustice. Here's a recipe via the San Francisco Chronicle:
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3-pound sugar pie pumpkin
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch salt

  • Puree the onion in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 14-inch saute pan or large casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

  • While the onion is cooking, cut the pumpkin. Set the pumpkin on its side and use a sharp chef's knife or bread knife to cut the top and bottom off the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin right side up and cut off the peel, trying to remove as little of the flesh as possible. Cut the pumpkin in half down the middle and scoop out the seeds and string. Save the seeds for toasting if you like. Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch-thick wedges and cut those wedges in half crosswise.

  • Once the onion is tender, add the garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, turmeric, ginger, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

  • Once the mixture boils, turn the heat to low and gently press the pumpkin pieces into the onion/broth mixture so the pumpkin is tightly tucked into the pan. It's OK if the pieces overlap somewhat. Every few minutes, move the pumpkin around so all the pieces cook evenly in the sauce and the bottoms don't burn. Add more liquid if the pan gets dry. Cook until the pumpkin is fork-tender but doesn't lose its shape (about 30 minutes).

  • While the pumpkin is cooking, combine the yogurt, garlic and salt in a small bowl.

  • To serve, spoon the yogurt over the pumpkin and pour any remaining yogurt around the outside edges of the pumpkin. Serve with warm pita or naan bread.

Take it from this Lithuanian-American: cook an Afghan pumpkin; drink a German bock bier. It's quite a cultural melange and, gourd, it's good.


Monday, October 10, 2016

A Brown October Ale? Yes, please.

Brown Ale: rich color, malt complexity, and a sweet, deep caramel-like flavor that many beer lovers describe as 'luscious.' The sublime result- a beer that is at once luxurious and quaffable.
Brown Ale: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes
Ray Daniels and Jim Parker

Oliver's 3 Lions Brown Ale @spacebar

A Brown October Ale? Yes, please. But quickly, today. Before 'craft' innovation re-renders it as a basket of hops, with dark malt merely the wrapping of a pretty bow.

Brown October Ale was a well-known song from the comic opera Robin Hood, an American light opera first staged in Chicago in 1890. It was revived there as recently as 2004. The music was by Reginald De Koven, and book and lyrics, Harry Smith, both Americans. [...] The opera interprets the Robin Hood legend. The gas lamp era was a time when medieval England had some hold on the public imagination. [...] Brown October Ale, the song, had a long career in the American popular music repertoire and was performed into the 1940s at least.
—Gary Gillman
Beer et seq.

Earl Wrightson sings Brown October Ale, from a radio broadcast of 1944.

And it's will you quaff with me, my lads 
And it's will you quaff with me? 
It is a draught of nut brown ale I offer unto ye. 
All humming in the tankards, lads, 
T'will ease thy heart folorn, 
For here's a friend to everyone, 
'Tis stout John Barleycorn.

So laugh, lads, and quaff lads. 
T'will make you stout and hale. 
For all my days, I'll sing the praise of 
Brown October Ale. 

And it's will you love me true, my lass 
And it's will you love me true? 
If not, I'll drink one flagon more and so farewell to you, 
If Kate or Moll or Nan or Doll has left thy heart forlorn, 
Fill up the pail with nut brown ale 
And toast John Barleycorn. 

So laugh, lads, and quaff lads. 
T'will make you stout and hale. 
For all my days. I'll sing the praise of 
Brown October Ale. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Vote like you give a sh*t.

If you live in Alaska, today is the last day on which you can register to vote in the national election, 8 November. Deadlines in the rest of the country (and for Americans overseas) come over the next few days, varying state-to-state. Putting it simply, if you don't register now, you won't be allowed to vote later.

  • If you're unsure of what your local deadline is, you can consult this list from the U.S. Vote Foundation.
  • Also, for key information in your state about registering to vote, where to vote, what's on the ballot, etc., you can consult this online interactive map from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Only a few benighted jurisdictions will allow you to register on the day that you actually vote. So, register today. Then, on 8 November, vote like you give a shit. Because, in America, you can.


Saturday, October 08, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer & Bop

Beer & bop

When he's not playing the organ at home games of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Matthew Kaminski leads his own jazz group. Here he is, performing with vocalist Kimberly Gordon, at 5 Seasons Brewing, in Sandy Springs, Georgia, on 23 September 2016.

Yes, the beer and CD were posed to be in the photo.

But the beer —the brewpub's HopGasm, a 6.5% alcohol-by-volume IPA— it was tasty and the Hammond SK2 organ, hot. And how about that 'cool' purple-blue phone-camera lens flare?

A few weeks later, the Braves played their final game ever in Turner Field. In 2017, the team moves twenty miles from downtown Atlanta, Georgia, to a new stadium. Kaminski moves with them.


Monday, October 03, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 37/38, 2016.

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

Weeks 37/38
11 September - 24 September 2016

  • 24 September 2016
    A top official at Sierra Nevada Brewing, the nation's third largest 'craft' brewery, predicts that the brewery will experience a 4.4 percent drop in sales for 2016. Since only four percent of the nation's four thousand two hundred plus 'craft' breweries produce nearly seventy-eight percent of all 'craft' beer, will 2016 be the year that 'craft' beer sales growth stumbles?
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 24 September 2016
    The state and future of the hop industry and its relation to craft beer in the United States.
    —A five-part analysis, via Bryan D. Roth, at This Is Why I'm Drunk.

  • 24 September 2016
    Bready, empyreumatic, twang, mucilagenous, and sickly: 19th and early 20th-century beer descriptors, now (sadly?) no longer used.
    —Via Gary Gillman, at Beer et seq.

  • 22 September 2016
    Hackers attack Yahoo in 2014, gain access to personal information of over a half billion users, largest data breach ever. Yahoo reports incident two years after the fact, says it is likely 'state sponsored.'
    —Via Yahoo.

  • Cask Ale Week 2016
  • 22 September 2016
    Cask Ale Week begins today and continues through 2 October, organized by pub cask-ale accreditation organization, Cask Marque, but "but only in Britain, only in pubs."
    —Via Cask Ale Week.

  • 20 September 2016
    August 2016 was the hottest August on record, and the 16th consecutive month of record-heat, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The summer period — encompassing June through August — was also the warmest on record, 0.07 degrees warmer than the summer of 2015, the previous record holder.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 20 September 2016
    Runner sets Appalachian Trail hike-through record: two thousand one hundred ninety miles in just under forty-six days, fueled with candy, pizza, and beer.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 15 September 2016
    Beer sales in brewery taprooms have shown a major increase this year over 2015. Through the first six months of the year, the TTB recorded 851,142 barrels of the total 87.8 million barrels of domestic production as “Tax Determined, Premises Use.” Although that’s still less than 1% of overall volume, it’s up sharply from 2015, when the TTB recorded only 525,203 barrels at the same point. That means premises use is on pace to add roughly 600,000 barrels of volume in 2016. And that likely underestimates growth.[...] At-the-brewery sales will never be the majority of the beer business or even the craft business. What recent trends show, however, is that they are here to stay, and will be an increasingly important piece in the beer landscape in coming years.
    —Via Bart Watson, chief economist at [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 15 September 2016
    The business of homebrewing contributed $1.225 billion and 11,672 jobs to the American economy in 2015.
    —Via American Homebrewers Association.

  • 14 September 2016
    Observations by Gaia, a spacecraft operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), million miles away from Earth, have been used to create the most accurate map ever made of the Milky Way
    an atlas detailing the positions and brightnesses of some 1.1 billion stars in the Milky Way, based on 14 months of observations starting in July 2014. Over 400 million of these stars have never been seen before. By the end of its scheduled observation run [in 2020], the spacecraft will have tracked the accurate positions and motions of roughly a billion stars, or one percent of the Milky Way’s estimated stellar population.
    —Via National Geographic.

  • 12 September 2016
    I would counsel someone not to get into the [American 'craft' beer] business today. — Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, at California Craft Beer Summit.
    —Via Craft Business Daily.

  • 12 September 2016
    Brewmaster Mitch Steele —ex of Stone Brewing, author of book "IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale"— announces plan to open prodution brewery/brewpub in Atlanta, Georgia.
    —Via Good Beer Hunting.

  • Bluejacket krausen
  • 11 September 2016
    Scientists —at the University of Leuven and the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB)— have examined the genetic history of ale (and wine) yeast. They have found that brewers have been domesticating the yeast used to make beer — breeding it for the properties that suit their needs — since the 1500s, over a century before scientists actually discovered microbes. Since then, brewers have been, in effect, discouraging their yeast from having sex. According to the study's analysis of 157 different strains of yeast used to make beer, wine, spirits, sake, bread, and bioethanol, this process has caused the yeast used in beer brewing to grow more distinct from feral cousins than microbes used for other commercial fermentation. Vintners have been more lenient in such matters.
    —Via Washington Post.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Open cyprus-wood fermenters at Stroh Brewery.

Open cyprus-wood fermenters at Stroh

Is this a 'craft' brewery?
Is this a Belgian brewery, say, Rodenbach?
Is this Stroh Brewery Company, in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960?

Imagine that. Open-to-the-air cypress-wood fermenters. At a non-'craft' brewery. All things considered, that was craft.

The photo was digitized from a promotional booklet put out by Stroh in 1960: "The brewers of Stroh's beer present: The fire-brewing story." The capacity of each cypress tank, the number of them, their care and feeding, the story of their cooperage: all things that were left untold.
After the yeast is added, the beer is pumped to the cypress [open] vats where fermentation occurs. The yeast consumes the fermentable substances produced in the mashing process creating alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, meanwhile reproducing itself three to five times. The Stroh yeast culture being presently used is a descendant of yeast which we brought from abroad in 1911 and has been in use at the brewery ever since. It is another item which contributes greatly to the flavor and aroma of the finished product.

The entire fermentation process is carefully controlled by frequent laboratory tests and, when completed, the yeast settles and the beer is withdrawn. The yeast is collected and some of it is retained in stainless steel tanks for re-use in the next cycle. The balance is sold for use as a cattle feed supplement since it is valued highly for its protein and vitamin content.

This next, bonus, Pic(k) of the Week comes from the same promotional pamphlet: Stroh's hospitality room. There's something about the Technicolor serenity of that Baroque Mad Men taproom that gets me.

Stroh_tasting room, circa 1960

Alas, these fermenters and hospitality room are no more. Maybe flower boxes somewhere. Stroh, founded by Bernhard Stroh in Detroit in 1850, ceased operations in 2000, its brands sold to Pabst and Miller Brewing.