Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Snow Moon eclipse

Early in the evening of 10 February 2017, the moon was full. The Farmers Almanac calls this full moon, the Snow Moon.

Not only that —as observed over Atlanta, Georgia— there was a partial lunar eclipse that night, a celestial occurrence you could look at it without burning your retinas.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned (in "syzygy") exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can occur only the night of a full moon.

And so it was, and so I snapped this photo. Without a telescope. You can see the eclipse-darkening at the 10 o'clock position of the moon's disc.

Snow Moon eclipse (@ 8:30 pm ET)
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1
  • Lens: Lumix G Vario 45-200mm telephoto zoom
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Focal length: Micro 4/3 200mm
    (equivalent to DSLR range of 400mm)
In no way was this a great lunar portrait. (I'm no photographer; I don't even play one on this blog.) But in my portfolio, it was a personal best. Heck, I even framed the Micro Four Thirds shot with the rule of thirds. Compare that to this one, below, a photo that I took the same evening, but —without forethought of shutter, aperture, and ISO— a luminous blob:

Snow Moon rising (02)

Later in the night, the comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková flew within 7,732,000 miles of the Earth. Unfortunately, it was visible only with a telescope.

Maybe next time, five years from now.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

More 'craft' barley, please!

The 'craft' beer world buzzes about hops. On the other hand, it often seems to relegate barley malt —just the essential principal source of beer's starch and thus its fermentation— to the level of inconvenience. In 2013, I attended a short presentation at the Craft Brewers Conference at which the lecturers almost begged 'craft' brewers to tell them what characteristics they wanted in their barley malt.

In their choice of barley, craft brewers share, with the macro-brewers, a need for lower free amino nitrogen, lower total protein levels, and a lower Kolbach Index (ratio of soluble protein to total protein). The macros, however, 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 a parameter for them. Macro brewers want neutrally flavored barley. 'Craft' brewers prefer the opposite. They want the barley malt to contribute unique and discernible flavors.

Up to this point, barley has been developed and grown almost exclusively for the macros; where it has been grown in North America, it has been geographically limited. To be clear, there are numerous malting companies and there are some specifically targeted at 'craft' breweries. But, as to the barley varieties themselves, except for some imports, 'craft' brewers have not had much of a say.

Recommended Malting Barley for 2016

According to the [U.S.] Brewers Association (BA) —the association for American 'craft' brewers, i.e., small American-owned breweries— when 'craft' beer reaches a twenty percent volume share in a few years (possibly as soon as 2020), 'craft' brewers will be snapping up fifty-one percent of all malt used by U.S. brewers. To satisfy that demand, malting capacity in North America will have to increase by twenty-eight percent —even as total barley acreage decreases.

Things are beginning to change.

A few years ago, the Craft Malsters Guild was created. Last year, the BA 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.

And yesterday, the BA announced that is granting nearly a half-million dollars —$440,000 to be precise— to nineteen unique research projects. Thirteen of those are devoted to research on growing barley specifically for 'craft' brewing.

As North Dakota State University (et al.) stated about its funded project, identifying (and commercializing) malting barley varieties better suited to all-malt brewing for cultivation in the U.S.:
Craft brewers represent a 36% customer for U.S. malt consumption as of 2016. And yet, there are currently no malting barley varieties specifically bred for all-malt brewing in production in the U.S. Craft brewers currently use malt made from barley varieties bred for adjunct brewing, with negative stability outcomes in packaged beer.


The other twelve BA 'craft' barley grants

  • Understanding the Genetics of Barley Contributions to Beer FlavorOregon State University
    Mapping the genetic determinants of barley contributions to beer flavor using two very different types of germplasm and mapping strategies.

  • Metabolite Profiling of Heirloom Barley to Breed for Flavor and Sustainability
    Colorado State University
    This research will perform metabolite profiling of heirloom barley breeding lines developed at Montana State University (MSU) to facilitate breeding for flavor. Investigating the relationship between barley chemical composition and beer flavor is an important area of research. Some craft brewers have preference for malts from older, ‘heirloom’ varieties, although the chemical basis for this preference is unclear. Further, heirloom varieties are not adapted to many U.S. growing regions, and barley growers would be hesitant to adopt them for their poor agronomic performance, yield and malting quality.

  • Stable and Sustainable Dryland Production of High Quality Malt Barley
    Montana State University
    Barley is well adapted to dryland farming, however historic production of malting barley has been in higher moisture to ensure malt quality. In dryland conditions, current barley varieties have an increased risk of rejection due to poor malt quality, resulting in a significant economic loss to farmers. This research will facilitate regional production of malt for brewing in the Rocky Mountain region.

  • Sustainable Grower Production Practices: 2-Row Barley and Nitrogen Usage
    University of Idaho
    Identification of two-row-barley cultivars with the best fit for all-malt brewing, and development of best practices for sustainable cultivation of those varieties.

  • Eastern United States Spring Barley Nursery (ESBN)
    North Dakota State University
    The 2017 ESBN [Eastern States Spring Barley Nursery organized by the Craft Maltsters Guild] includes 25 barley varieties from ten different breeding programs being grown in Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Trial data will be available for use by local university/extension personnel to educate growers and other stakeholders on varieties that perform best in their region.

  • Building a Multi-state Dataset to Support Coordinated Breeding of Local Malting Barley
    University of Minnesota
    The University of Minnesota will organize a coordinated project with 14 breeders/researchers across 12 states/provinces to evaluate two-row spring malting barley lines in the upstream stages of breeding.

  • Barley Breeding For All-Malt Brewing
    United States Department of Agiculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service, Aberdeen, Idaho
    Selecting low protein 2-row barley lines from all over the world will greatly enrich the genetic diversity of barley breeding and germplasm resources; and help ensure a supply of barley varieties suitable for all-malt brewing. To improve the genetic background of North American barley lines, genetic sources for stress tolerance, better malting and brewing quality traits, and disease resistance will be introduced to create genetic diversity and improve on current barley qualities for use in all-malt beer production.

  • Enhancement of Winter Hardiness in Two-Rowed Barley Varieties for the Craft Brewing Industry
    University of Minnesota
    The overall goal of this research is the establishment of a sustainable Midwest winter barley industry for U.S. craft brewers. This requires the development of cultivars with acceptable malt quality profiles and adaptation to the climate. This project will exploit Russian barley accessions to develop winter two-rowed barley cultivars suitable for growing malt-quality barley in the Midwest; which will provide the Midwest craft brewing industry with more locally grown ingredients.

  • Mapping Malt Quality Traits to Facilitate Marker Assisted Breeding and Development of Winter Malt Barley
    Virginia Tech
    [DNA] markers will be identified to facilitate and expedite the process of developing high quality, high yielding malt barley varieties for the Mid-Atlantic and eastern regions of the U.S.

  • Building a Winter Malting Barley Market for the Great Plains
    University of Nebraska
    The ultimate outcome and impact will be new cultivars and an expanding barley market for malting barley (as well as feed and forage) in the Great Plains, a region with generally few diseases (very little Fusarium head blight), but known for abiotic stresses (harsh winters and heat/drought) and aphid pressure.

  • Breeding for Winter 2-row Malting Barley Cultivars for the Eastern U.S.
    USDA Agricultural Research Service, Raleigh, North Carolina
    Our goal is to develop superior malting quality barleys having high grain yield, desirable agronomic qualities, and the disease and insect resistance needed for production in the high-humidity environments of the eastern U.S.[...] from Georgia to New York.

  • Ensuring Malt Quality from the Field to the Malthouse
    North American Craft Maltsters Guild
    The Craft Maltsters Guild would like to develop a guide for barley producers outlining storage and handling [specifically for the craft brewing industry].

The Craft Malsters Guild will be meeting and exhibiting at April's Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. But the conference itself —the annual, premier conference of/for American 'craft' brewers— has scheduled only one seminar on the subject of barley.

More, please. More 'craft' barley, please.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pass the beer; hold the flag. American Craft Beer Week: 15-21 May 2017.

American Craft Beer Week 2017

From the [U.S.] Brewers Association:

Raise a Pint to Freedom

For the twelfth consecutive year, the Brewers Association has declared American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), a nationwide celebration of the small and independent craft brewers that make America’s beer culture so exceptional. The weeklong celebration provides a platform for craft brewers and beer lovers to celebrate craft beer.

From Monday, May 15 – Sunday, May 21, 2017, brewers across all 50 states will hold events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers, and more. [...]

ACBW provides hundreds of thousands of beer lovers the opportunity to visit and support their local brewery and beer businesses. It’s the perfect time to recognize the ingenuity of the small and independent craft breweries that have made America’s beer culture the richest in the world. [...]

Visit the official American Craft Beer Week event calendar on for a full – and growing – list of local celebrations in all 50 states.

A decade ago or so, at a beer-tasting in Washington, D.C., the late Michael Jackson —not the singer but the British-born, then world-adopted beer writer— told the story of a young German brewer who had recently visited the States. The German was astonished to discover the beers of the upstart small American breweries. "They are making beers with flavor," he said, "good flavor." But, he admonished, they were not on the par with German beers. "Why is that?" Jackson pressed him. "Because," the German brewer replied, "our beer is German beer."

We Americans beer drinkers and brewers can often do the same blinders-on and pat-ourselves-on-our-own-backs thing, but toward American 'craft' exceptionalism. In this age of Trump, we sometimes feel the need to denigrate others when we promote ourselves. Could not the press release have been written more modestly without losing the gist: "It’s the perfect time to recognize the ingenuity of the small and independent craft breweries that have made America’s beer culture ONE [emphasis mine] of the richest in the world."?

And "Raise a pint to freedom"? Really? Whose or what freedom? How does this week promote freedom? This is beer, not political liberation.

Some may recall that American Craft Beer Week originally began as an unwieldy "American Beer Month." It became unwieldy not simply because of its 31-day duration, but because it produced an insalubrious side-effect: it also honored American ILLs, the industrial light lagers of the nation's brewing behemoths.

Today, not one of those mega-breweries remains independently American-owned. Today, it is only the smaller breweries that truly make 'American' beer, and there are over 5,100 of them. That's something to celebrate.

If we're honest, we'll admit that there are bad American 'craft' beers; but, at the same time, we can point out that there are many well-made American 'craft' beers; and, in some cases, there are even exceptional American 'craft' beers. During seven days in May, I and many others will be celebrating (read: drinking) that. And we do that every week of the year.

Be proud of American beer —enjoy what we make to drink— but don't wrap commerce in a flag. Skip the faux patriotism.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 5/6, 2017.

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

Weeks 5/6
29 January - 11 February 2017

    Liquor at 36% alcohol market share; beer, 47%.
  • 7 February 2017
    No, Bloomberg. Americans did NOT ditch beer for cocktails in 2016.

    Yes, it's true that the percentage of Americans, in 2016, choosing beer over liquor fell by ONE percent while the reverse —Americans choosing liquor over beer— rose by ONE percent. But no, Americans did NOT switch “pints for shots.” If anything, in 2016, beer remained the preferred alcoholic beverage for most Americans, at 44%, while those who preferred spirits sat lower, at 36%. That's hardly a ditching of beer. It IS an obfuscating framing of insights and analysis by the Distilled Spirts Council, a trade organization for —surprise, surprise— liquor. To be honest, its graph does show a troubling trend —a seven-year downward percentage trend for beer — but nowhere near a rejection of beer as Americans' primary alcoholic beverage choice.

    Gallup, by the way, with less of a dog in the fight, had different data for 2016: 43% of Americans preferred beer, 32% said wine, while only 20% said liquor. And its data showed a rising percentage for beer preference over recent years.

    Data are in the eyes graphs of the manipulators.
    • —Commentary by YFGF.
    • —Original story via Bloomberg.

  • 6 February 2017
    Small U.S. cheese producers are developing their own microbiological starters, in order to end dependence on agra-conglomerates DuPont and Cargill.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 6 February 2017
    The world's foremost authority (full stop) has died. Professor Irwin Corey was 102.
    Why do I wear tennis shoes? That's two questions. Do I wear tennis shoes? The answer to that question is, 'Yes.' 'Why?' That's a question philosophers have been pondering for centuries.
    However ...
    —Via National Public Radio .

  • 6 February 2017
    RateBeer's best of 2016 "emphasizes growing disconnect between beer lovers who use RateBeer and everyone else."
    —Via Bryan D. Roth, at This Is Why I'm Drunk.

  • 6 February 2017
    Good Beer Hunting —an influential 'craft' beer website/blog— creates a new beer website venture in partnership with ZX Ventures —an investment company owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. In its annnouncement of the new project, Good Beer Hunting calls itself the "Grantland" of beer websites, and the new venture —to be called "October— the "ESPN" of beer websites.
    —Via Appellation Beer.

  • Naked Mountain(s) in the afternoon
  • 5 February 2017
    American wine is growing, but not only in California and Oregon/Washington.

    Virginia’s wine industry now contributes more than $1.37 billion annually to the state’s economy, an increase of 82 percent from 2010. Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2016 with more than 556,700 cases, or more than 6.6 million bottles sold. This volume marks a sales increase of more than 6 percent over the previous fiscal year. [Virginia's fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.]

    Between 2010 and 2015, the number of Virginia wineries increased 35 percent, from 193 to 261. The number of full-time equivalent jobs at wineries and vineyards saw a 73 percent increase, from 4,753 to 8,218. Wages from jobs at wineries and vineyards increased 87 percent during the same time period as well, from $156 million to $291 million. [But, how many temporary workers and temporary immigrant workers were employed?] The number of people visiting Virginia wineries grew by 39 percent, from 1.6 million visitors in 2010 to 2.25 million visitors in 2015. At the same time, wine-related tourism expenditures grew from $131 million to $188 million, a 43 percent increase.
    —Via Rappahannock News.

  • 4 February 2017
    In praise of "session beers with ABVs under 5%":
    I’d rather drink beer longer, not get drunk faster.
    —Via Fritz Hahn, at Washington Post.

  • 3 February 2017
    Anheuser-Busch InBev creates an ad for the Super Bowl: “This is the story of our founder’s ambitious journey to America in pursuit of his dream: to brew the King of Beers.
    • Historian Maureen Ogle reacts:
      Yes, Busch was an immigrant, but the rest — Eberhard meets Adolphus, traveling steerage and on foot, staggering, finally, into St. Louis, etc.? Fiction. [...] Even farting Clydesdales would have been an improvement. At least we could have laughed as one.
    • Steve Body at The Pour Fool reacts:
      The entire story of how AB started was nothing like this and it’s not a secret how it did come about. [...] This ad is pure, unadulterated bullshit. And if you fall for it, you are a Tool.

  • 2 February 2017
    Beer might be delicious, but "sorry, it isn't health food." Health claims debunked.
    —Via Outside.

  • 30 January 2017
    The brewing science and taxonomy of "the British fungus," aka Brettanomyces yeast.
    —Via Ed Wray, at Ed's Beer Site.

  • 31 January 2017
    International drinks conglomerate Diageo to build a Guinness brewery in Baltimore County, Maryland, USA. Will not brew Guinness Stout there, however.
    —Via My Beer Buzz.

  • 31 January 2017
    Don't order [beer] tasters. Your initial sip of almost any beer is a very, very poor predictor of what you'll ultimately think of that beer.
    [Me: I am a miserable beer judge. I need at least a pint to come to a conclusion.]
    —Via Beer Simple.

  • 31 January 2017
    • “Brewers and beer lovers are getting drunk for the ACLU.”
      —Via DRAFT Magazine.
    • “Dump Trump. #DrinkForGood.”
      —Via YFGF

  • 30 January 2017
    “55% of craft drinkers say not enough variety in container types.”
    [Me: Really? Not the liquid inside? Maybe Mickey's Wide Mouth IPA?]
    —Via Bart Watson, chief economist for [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 30 January 2017
    Using 2016 data as guides, viewers of the 2017 Super Bowl will purchase $1.2 billion worth of beer, $594 million of wine, and $503 million of spirits.
    —Via Nielsen.

  • Theresa McCulla: first Smithsonian Brewing History Initiative  historian
  • 30 January 2017
    With grant from the [U.S.] Brewers Association, the Smithsonian Institution selects Harvard scholar Theresa McCulla to be its first Brewing History Initiative historian at the National Museum of Natural History.
    —Via Smithsonian Magazine.

  • 29 January 2017
    Since Trump's inauguration, reports on climate change have disappeared from the State Department's website.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 29 January 2017
    “The 10 Best Places in Europe to Drink a Beer,” per beer writers, Bob and Ellie Tupper. #1 in the world? Augustiner BräuKloster Mülln in Salzburg, Austria.
    —Via Culture CheatSheet.

  • 29 January 2017
    In a report issued on the last full day of President Obama's term of office, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a 25-fold increase in the frequency of damaging floods to many coastal American cities.
    —Via Washington Post.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Three for cask.

After three hundred and eighty-eight or so Pic(k) of the Weeks, it's a first. A selfie.

Three for cask

That's I, there, in the middle.

The occasion was the 13th annual Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting, on 21 January 2017, at 5 Seasons Brewing and Taco Mac Pub, in Sandy Springs, Georgia. These three (left to right) were discussing matters cask ale —in the United States and Britain: Georgia beer impressario Owen Ogletree (not pictured) had invited Hamburg and de Moor to help him judge fifty-one cask ales. Of those,
  • 32 (62%) were flavored in some way;
  • Of the 19 (38%) that were not filled with extraneous flavorings:
    • 8 were unflavored IPAs;
    • 7 were sours (8 if you include one British beer that had gone off);
    • 3 (only!!?!) were bitters (or Scottish export style);
    • 1 was an unflavored stout;
    • 0 were milds
Hamburg and de Moor had strong opinions on all that. I recorded those (with permission). There will be a transcript. Stay tuned.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Scott Pruitt is hazardous to your beer.

Brewers For Clean Water

Beer is 95 percent (or more) water. So, without question, safe, clean water is vital to craft brewing's viability (and, of course, to the health and vitality of all Americans). Several American 'craft' breweries have publicly agreed, becoming signatories to the Clean Water Pledge of the National Resource Defense Council.

And, now, because of their intrinsic, operational need for clean, safe water, thirty-two American breweries are openly opposing the nomination of Oklahoma's Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is both a wise and a courageous business move.

Here is their letter to the United States Senate.
Dear Senators:

Please vote against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt’s record of attacking clean water protections shows that he is the wrong choice to lead the agency.

Our breweries cannot operate without reliable, clean water supplies. Together, our businesses employ hundreds of people, and our beers are shipped across the country. We need an EPA administrator who will adopt and enforce policies that protect the water sources we use to make our great-tasting beer. Mr. Pruitt’s actions as Oklahoma Attorney General, however, demonstrate a history of attacking and undermining the protections on which we depend.

Mr. Pruitt has challenged virtually every important EPA safeguard in recent years, often falsely accusing the agency of overstepping its authority. We need an EPA administrator who will enforce our laws to protect our resources and our communities, not someone who tries to weaken safeguards on behalf of polluters.

Beer is about 90 percent water, making local water supply quality and its characteristics, such as pH and mineral content, critical to beer brewing and the flavor of many classic brews. Changes to our water supply – whether we draw directly from a water source or from a municipal supply – threaten our ability to consistently produce our great-tasting beer, and thus, our bottom line.

Protecting clean water is central to our business and our long-term success. Not only does the great-tasting beer we brew depend on it, but so do the communities in which we operate. Mr. Pruitt cannot be trusted to protect America’s water resources. We hope that we can count on you to oppose his confirmation to head EPA.

  • Rob Todd: Allagash Brewing Company (Maine)
  • Brandon Wright: Andersonville Brewing Co. (Illinois)
  • Sandy & Jay Boss Febbo: Bang Brewing (Minnesota)
  • Peggy Zwerver: Bar Hygge/Brewery Techne (Pennsylvania)
  • Taylor Smack: Blue Mountain Brewery/Blue Mountain Barrel House (Virginia)
  • Kris Spaulding: Brewery Vivant (Michigan)
  • Steve Hindy: Brooklyn Brewery (New York)
  • Chris Ray: Center of the Universe Brewing Company (Virginia)
  • Peggy Zwerver: Earth Bread + Brewery (Pennsylvania)
  • Brent Schwoerer: Engrained Brewing Company (Illinois)
  • Frank Moeller: Flying Mouse Brewery (Virginia)
  • Ryan Mitchell & Michael Brandt: Garden Grove Brewing Company (Virginia)
  • Ian Hughes: Goose Island Beer Co. (Illinois)
  • Helen & Michael Cameron: Greenstar Organic Brewery (Illinois)
  • Matt Gallagher: Half Acre Beer Company (Illinois)
  • Josh Hare: Hops & Grain Brewing (Texas)
  • Carol & Tim Cochran: Horse & Dragon Brewing Company (Colorado)
  • Kelly Taylor: KelSo Beer Company (New York)
  • Russell J. Klisch: Lakefront Brewery (Wisconsin)
  • Daniel Kleban: Maine Beer Company (Maine)
  • Jenn Vervier: New Belgium Brewing Company (Colorado)
  • Brandon Wright: Oak Park Brewing Company (Colorado)
  • Corey Odell: Odell Brewing Company (Colorado)
  • Russell Springsteen: Right Brain Brewery (Michigan)
  • Heather Sanborn: Rising Tide Brewing Company (Maine)
  • Tim Patton: Saint Benjamin Brewing Company (Pennsylvania)
  • Peter Egleston: Smuttynose Brewing Company (New Hampshire)
  • Taylor Smack: South Street Brewery (Virginia)
  • Allie Hochman: Starr Hill Brewery (Virginia)
  • Josh Gilbert: Temperance Beer Co. (Illinois)
  • James Ebel: Two Brothers Brewing Company (Illinois)
  • Mary Wolf: Wild Wolf Brewing Company (Virginia)

Scott Pruitt's history of opposition to maintaining, preserving, and promoting clean water, let alone our nation's other precious natural resources, prima facie disqualifies him for the position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

One wonders, then, why (so few) more breweries have not signed on to this letter. Or why the [U.S.] Brewers Association hasn't taken a stand. After all, eleven percent of its members' dues go to government lobbying. As beer writer Alan McLeod observed about beer and politics, at A Good Beer Blog:
But would it kill you to write or call those who represent you in the political realm? Would it hurt too much to maybe pass on that next bit of indulgent “beer travel” and the tripping haze of new fun bar after new fun bar and, instead, travel to sit in a committee room where a policy you hate and want stopped is being discussed, waiting your turn soberly to put your ideas on the record for the five minutes they give you at the microphone?

Getting political is about waking up, being adult. Doesn’t really matter where your interests or political preferences lay. You think the big craft carpetbagger brewery that received the regional branch plant tax break wasn’t engaged in politics behind the backs of the local brewers? I bet the local craft community wishes it had laid the earlier groundwork that might have seen them receive the funding for expansion instead. Which would have required them being actively political.

Despite the brewers' best efforts, the United States Senate has approved Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. The 52-46 vote was almost entirely along party lines. All Republican senators except Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for Pruitt, while all Democrats except Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) voted against him. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) did not vote.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The perfect pub?

When is a pub a 'good' pub? Is there a perfect pub? Is this sentimental nonsense, a pub simply a business like another? Or can a pub indeed be a 'third place' of social significance?

1984's author, George Orwell, published his answer to the "perfect" question —Moon Under Water— in the Evening Standard (now London Evening Standard) seventy-one years ago, on 9 February 1946.

My favourite public-house, the Moon Under Water, is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights.

Its clientele, though fairly large, consists mostly of ‘regulars’ who occupy the same chair every evening and go there for conversation as much as for the beer.

If you are asked why you favour a particular public-house, it would seem natural to put the beer first, but the thing that most appeals to me about the Moon Under Water is what people call its ‘atmosphere’.

To begin with, its whole architecture and fittings are uncompromisingly Victorian. It has no glass-topped tables or other modern miseries, and, on the other hand, no sham roof-beams, ingle-nooks or plastic panels masquerading as oak. The grained woodwork, the ornamental mirrors behind the bar, the cast-iron fireplaces, the florid ceiling stained dark yellow by tobacco-smoke, the stuffed bull’s head over the mantelpiece — everything has the solid, comfortable ugliness of the nineteenth century.

In winter there is generally a good fire burning in at least two of the bars, and the Victorian lay-out of the place gives one plenty of elbow-room. There are a public bar, a saloon bar, a ladies’ bar, a bottle-and-jug for those who are too bashful to buy their supper beer publicly, and, upstairs, a dining-room.

Games are only played in the public, so that in the other bars you can walk about without constantly ducking to avoid flying darts.

In the Moon Under Water it is always quiet enough to talk. The house possesses neither a radio nor a piano, and even on Christmas Eve and such occasions the singing that happens is of a decorous kind.

The barmaids know most of their customers by name, and take a personal interest in everyone. They are all middle-aged women—two of them have their hair dyed in quite surprising shades—and they call everyone ‘dear,’ irrespective of age or sex. (‘Dear,’ not ‘Ducky’: pubs where the barmaid calls you ‘ducky’ always have a disagreeable raffish atmosphere.)

Unlike most pubs, the Moon Under Water sells tobacco as well as cigarettes, and it also sells aspirins and stamps, and is obliging about letting you use the telephone.

You cannot get dinner at the Moon Under Water, but there is always the snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and those large biscuits with caraway seeds in them which only seem to exist in public-houses.

Upstairs, six days a week, you can get a good, solid lunch—for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll—for about three shillings.

The special pleasure of this lunch is that you can have draught stout with it. I doubt whether as many as 10 per cent of London pubs serve draught stout, but the Moon Under Water is one of them. It is a soft, creamy sort of stout, and it goes better in a pewter pot.

They are particular about their drinking vessels at the Moon Under Water, and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass. Apart from glass and pewter mugs, they have some of those pleasant strawberry-pink china ones which are now seldom seen in London. China mugs went out about 30 years ago, because most people like their drink to be transparent, but in my opinion beer tastes better out of china.

The great surprise of the Moon Under Water is its garden. You go through a narrow passage leading out of the saloon, and find yourself in a fairly large garden with plane trees, under which there are little green tables with iron chairs round them. Up at one end of the garden there are swings and a chute for the children.

On summer evenings there are family parties, and you sit under the plane trees having beer or draught cider to the tune of delighted squeals from children going down the chute. The prams with the younger children are parked near the gate.

Many as are the virtues of the Moon Under Water, I think that the garden is its best feature, because it allows whole families to go there instead of Mum having to stay at home and mind the baby while Dad goes out alone.

And though, strictly speaking, they are only allowed in the garden, the children tend to seep into the pub and even to fetch drinks for their parents. This, I believe, is against the law, but it is a law that deserves to be broken, for it is the puritanical nonsense of excluding children—and therefore, to some extent, women—from pubs that has turned these places into mere boozing-shops instead of the family gathering-places that they ought to be.

The Moon Under Water is my ideal of what a pub should be—at any rate, in the London area. (The qualities one expects of a country pub are slightly different.)

But now is the time to reveal something which the discerning and disillusioned reader will probably have guessed already. There is no such place as the Moon Under Water.

That is to say, there may well be a pub of that name, but I don’t know of it, nor do I know any pub with just that combination of qualities.

I know pubs where the beer is good but you can’t get meals, others where you can get meals but which are noisy and crowded, and others which are quiet but where the beer is generally sour. As for gardens, offhand I can only think of three London pubs that possess them.

But, to be fair, I do know of a few pubs that almost come up to the Moon Under Water. I have mentioned above ten qualities that the perfect pub should have and I know one pub that has eight of them. Even there, however, there is no draught stout, and no china mugs.

And if anyone knows of a pub that has draught stout, open fires, cheap meals, a garden, motherly barmaids and no radio, I should be glad to hear of it, even though its name were something as prosaic as the Red Lion or the Railway Arms.

Seventy-one years ago, Mr. Orwell 'found' his perfection. I'm still looking.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 3/4, 2017.

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

Weeks 3/4
15 - 28 January 2017

  • 28 January 2017
    • Brooklyn, New York District Federal Judge Ann Donnelly blocks part of President Trump's immigration order, staying deportations.
    • Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issues a temporary restraining order instructing authorities to "permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained" at Dulles Airport [in Virginia] and forbidding the deportation of detained permanent residents for seven days.
    —Via National Public Radio.

  • 27 January 2017
    Arthur Rosenfeld, an experimental physicist who set aside his decades-long study of subatomic particles to help design energy-efficiency standards and technologies, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and saving everyday Americans billions of dollars each year, died 27 January 2017 at his home in Berkeley, California. He was 90.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 January 2017
    President Trump signs executive order banning almost all permanent immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria and Iraq, for 90 days, asserting the power to extend the ban indefinitely. More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 25 January 2017
    Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors slash U.S. barley purchases, by as much as 60% in Montana.
    —Via Great Falls Tribune (USA Today).

  • 25 January 2017
    The Georgia Senate passes bill to allow state breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels of beer on-the-premises, the equivalent of 744,000 pints per year. Georgia and Mississippi are the only two states in the nation that still forbid on-the-premises sales at (production) breweries.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 25 January 2017
    Better than click-bait. Food and Wine Magazine's listicle, "The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed," actually puts an emphasis on historical importance over current favorites. Number one on list is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
    —Via Food and Wine.

  • 25 January 2017
    The world just became less witty.
    Mary Tyler Moore, whose witty and graceful performances on two top-rated television shows in the 1960s and ’70s helped define a new vision of American womanhood, died on Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn. She was 80.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 22 January 2017
    Sierra Nevada Brewing, the nation's second largest 'craft' brewery, recalls several brands of its beer —but only those bottled at its North Carolina plant— due to the possibility of glass shards in the beer.
    —Via USA Today.

  • "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
  • 20 January 2017
    Donald John Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 18 January 2017
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual State of the Climate report finds 2016 to be the hottest year since scientists started tracking global temperatures in 1880 (topping 2015, itself a record). The global average temperature in 2016 was 1.7°F above the 20th century global average.
    —Via NPR.

  • 17 January 2017
    Ordinary bitter, as a category, is perhaps the single greatest achievement of British brewing, managing to combine a huge amount of character, flavour and variety into something that, by international standards, is untypically low in strength.
    —Via The Pub Curmudgeon.

  • 16 January 2017
    “Why it's time to say no to cask ale.”
    We're always saying cask ale is special, unique, a cut above other beer, that it requires more care and attention. If you're not prepared to treat it like that, you're not supporting cask ale - you're wrecking it. [...] Do yourself, your customers, and cask ale brewers a favour and stop selling it.
    [The Morning Advertiser had originally published the headline of the piece as "Just say no to cask ale," a photo of which is cached from the interwebs above. They have since altered the headline to read, "Just say no to bad cask ale," which was, of course, Mr. Brown's point in the first place.]
    —Via Pete Brown, at Morning Advertiser.

  • 16 January 2017
    [U.S.] Brewers Association creates the position of Quality Instructor —to work with the Association’s Quality Subcommittee to develop content for and deliver presentations that address brewing quality practices, systems and parameters. Appoints Mary Pellettieri, past quality manager for Miller Coors, as first Quality Instructor.
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan and the U.S. flag on the lunar surface.
  • 16 January 2017
    Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died 16 January 2017. On Apollo 17, in December 1972, Cernan became the eleventh person to walk on the Moon. As he left the lunar surface, Cernan said,
    America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.
    —Via NASA.

  • 15 January 2017
    The oft absurdity of beer style management. That time that judges at the World Beer Cup deemed Fullers ESB —the originator!— out-of-style for an ESB, that is, Extra Special Bitter.
    —Via The Malting Floor.

  • 15 January 2017
    Just over a year after they were discovered in China, bacteria that can fend off colistin —the antibiotic of last resort— are being found all across the world.
    —Via The Atlantic.

  • 15 January 2017
    The Craft Business Daily posts behind a paywall, but short tidbits can be gleaned. Such as these, interesting and troubling.
    Earlier this week, Barron's picked up on some Boston Beer c-stores numbers buried in a recent Wells Fargo report. It only covered the four weeks to 12/31, but it was ugly: for the period, Boston beer was down 23.4% in dollars, far worse than their 12-week trend of -17.6%, and almost twice the declines of the next most challenged beer supplier for the period, Pabst (down 14.4%), per Wells Fargo report.[...]The final stretch of 2016 was a struggle for some of the nation's top craft brewers, but not for Dogfish Head. Chief Sam Calagione tells CBD that their 'growth rates really accelerated over the last few months' and set them up for a strong finish to the year.
    —Craft Business Daily, via YFGF at Facebook.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Lietuvos kryžius

Lithuanian Cross

The Lietuvos kryžius (“Lithuanian Cross”) is a stylized folk art cross commonly found in Lithuania, used for funerals and as votive offerings. The cross marries Lithuanian pagan and Christian symbolism, and is derived from pre-Christian renditions of the cosmic tree. Most images include solar and lunar symbolism, such as sun’s rays and crescent moons, as well as tree branches, etc.
Symbol Dictionary

In five days, the Republic of Lithuania —Lietuva— will commemorate the start of its 100th year of its (modern) independence. Lietuvos valstybės atkūrimo diena —the Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania— commemorates the date, 16 February 1918, on which the Council of Lithuania proclaimed the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, with Vilnius as its capital.

My name is Thomas Cizauskas. I pronounce my surname as: "chiz OWs cuss." In the early twentieth century, my grandparents, maternal and paternal, were IMMIGRANTS to the USA from Czarist pre-independent Lithuania. My father's father, my mother's father, and my father retained the Lithuanian spelling (minus diacriticals) of their family names. I am proud of that heritage. I am thankful for those Americans who welcomed my forebears here.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Dump Trump. #DrinkForGood.

Resist! Dump tRump! #DrinkForGood

Elections can have grave consequences. Shall I say, beer purchases can, as well?

During the recent political season and presidential election, I remained (almost) neutral at this blog, a beer blog, after all. But after the events of the past three weeks, the short period following Donald Trump's inauguration, I, in good conscience as a loyal American, cannot remain neutral.

Considering the temperamental instability of President Trump, considering his penchant for prevarication (over tiny things as well as big), and his reckless threats against those who disagree with him, especially, but not limited to, the press (ignoring the protections of the First Amendment to the Constitution);

Considering President Trump's feckless world diplomacy (especially considering his power over nuclear weapons), his seeming unfamiliarity with the Constitution, and his disrespect for the electoral process;

Considering President Trump's repugnant embrace of racism, misogyny, and sexual-orientation-hate (if white-robed as alt-right), his attacks on the independence of the judiciary (until now limited to verbal assault), and his rapacious disregard of the Constitution's prohibition on emoluments (in itself, an impeachable offense);

Considering President Trump's tyrannical claims of unchecked executive right, cavalier disdain of due process, and his cowardly, harmful, dangerous, racist, and unfounded ban (call it what he himself has called it) on Muslim immigrants and refugees (including those who have risked their lives to aid American troops) and on legal American immigrants, residents, and visitors ...

... Considering all of that and more, and understanding the historical Constitutional gravity of this, I, as a loyal American can no longer support or honor Donald J. Trump as president of the United States. I call for his removal from office, either by House impeachment and Senate conviction or by Cabinet invocation of the 25th Amendment, with all deliberate speed.

To that end and until that time, it is imperative and just to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and to protect and defend those who suffer by President Trump's willful and malicious abrogations of it.

American Civil Liberties UnionIn one small measure of support for those goals, I am a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, whose stated mission is
to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Allying that and my mission of good-beer, the thing of this blog, I have been and will be donating $1.00 for any beer* I order, throughout the month of February, in any pub or restaurant or taproom or brewery that I visit. A puny thing versus the terrible might that President Trump can wield, but when enough patriotic (beer-drinking) Americans resist, good can result. And there are so many women and men, who are braver and smarter than I, doing so much more. Even in this #DrinkForGood campaign, I don't drink alone.

Yes, by dumping Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would gain executive power. Yes, he and Senator Ted Cruz and their ilk often do demonstrate odious ideologies. But they are (and, I would hope, would continue to be) competent men, temperamentally sound, and respectful of American law, American political traditions, and the American Constitution. We, the loyal opposition, can fight them through normal American political methods.

Strong opinions will, by their vigor, be met with strong consequences. Disagree with me? Don't read me. I am under no illusion that my words here will change opinions, many or any. But I will continue to exercise my constitutional right to free speech ... while I can.

Not Drunk-Against-Trump, but #DrinkForGood to #DumpTrump.


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

"To swindle, cheat, hoodwink, or hoax." Craft?

Remember when only the evil big-boy brewers used high fructose corn syrup in their beers? Not the good 'craft' brewers!

Oh, wait. Except when they do.

Thanks to a 'craft' brewery, a beer made to taste like Oreo cookies —because the beer is manufactured with high-fructose-syrup-baked-Oreos in it — is now a thing:

The Veil Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia, has just released a chocolate milk stout called Hornswoggler ($17 per 4-pack) that is ‘conditioned’ (fermented) with "hundreds of pounds of Oreo cookies."

And what exactly are the other wholesome ingredients in Oreo cookies, the 'craft' ingredients?
  • Sugar
  • Unbleached Enriched Flour
    • Wheat Flour
    • Niacin
    • Reduced Iron
    • Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1]
    • Riboflavin [Vitamin B2]
    • Folic Acid
  • High Oleic Canola and/or Palm and/or Canola Oil
  • Cocoa (processed with Alkali)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate)
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial flavoring vanillin
  • Chocolate
Do you really want all of those in your 'craft' beer?

By the way, a 19.1-ounce bag of Oreos costs $3.56 (at 'craft' shop Walmart); a 6-pack of a good milk stout, say Left Hand, costs $9.99-$10.99. Four bottles of this Hornswaggler will set you back $17. Hornswaggle: "To swindle, cheat, hoodwink, or hoax."

So as not to single out this particular apostasy, I submit this next example (or this item or these, or ... the damn roll of adulterated 'craft' goes on and on):

Twix-conditioned cask

When the big-boy breweries add flavorings to their beers, they are derided as morally deficient by 'craft' beer poohbahs, their beers demoted to flavored malt beverage status. When 'craft' breweries do the same, they are praised for innovation. But it's all about increasing the sales, isn't it?

A non-trivial portion of the double-digit growth of 'craft' beer has been fed by hiding the flavor of malt. Hiding the inherent, inconvenient flavors of beer. Making alco-pops. Making beers for folk who don't like the taste of 'beer.' (Even hoppy beers can be touted as only tasting of hop: juicy, tropical, dank, etc.)

And when a 'craft' brewery is local, all bets are off. Due merely to propinquity, local brewery deficiencies are fulsomely transmogrified into beatified facets. New 'craft' drinkers are hornswaggled into thinking off-flavors are innovative flavors.

I recently asked a clerk at a local, well-stocked beer store for a suggestion of a beer without extraneous "cocoa-puffs and dingleberries." "Oh, you're looking for a simple beer," he replied.

Good is simple. Bad is innovative. Quality is trumped (ha!) by local. Pandering to make sales.

1984: A 'Craftbeer' Tale

Sunday, February 05, 2017

AB InBev's alternative facts

You know that immigrant-founding-of-Budweiser story ad, “Born the Hard Way,” that beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV is running during the Super Bowl?

This is the story of our founder’s ambitious journey to America in pursuit of his dream: to brew the King of Beers.

The commercial, set in the mid-1800s, follows Adolphus Busch as he leaves Germany and sails through storms from Europe to America. Once there, he encounters discrimination because of his German heritage. After further travails, including an exploding paddleboat, Busch arrives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he meets brewery owner Eberhard Anheuser ("You don't look like you're from around here."), who buys the straggler a beer. Busch pulls out his notebook and tells the older gentleman that the next beer they share should be the one they brew together: Budweiser.

In the current tumult about Trump and his Muslim (non?) ban, the advert, with its “You’re not wanted here” subplot, is rankling some and cheering others (although, of course, it is unintentionally timely, considering the lead time needed for production).

Maureen Ogle is a historian whose bailiwick includes beer. Her take on the ad? It's an unfortunate series of alternative facts.
The guy is Adolphus Busch, who yearns to make beer and slogs his way to America to make it so. In the final scene, he encounters Eberhard Anheuser. Seriously? The ad is both a visual trainwreck and fiction, too?

Yes, Busch was an immigrant, but the rest — Eberhard meets Adolphus, traveling steerage and on foot, staggering, finally, into St. Louis, etc.?


Instead of the three-hanky catharsis I longed for, I got a murky performance of alternative facts. In short: It's perfectly suited to our Moment of Trump. Even farting Clydesdales would have been an improvement. At least we could have laughed as one.

National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story on the commercial and asked for Ms. Ogle’s opinion. For them, she was a bit more diplomatic and historian-expository:
When Busch arrived in St. Louis, he didn't just run into Eberhard Anheuser — he married his daughter and took over the small brewery that Anheuser, a prosperous soap-maker, had acquired. Neither Anheuser nor Busch was the source of the original Budweiser. Ogle says the Bud brand was started by one of Busch's friends, Carl Conrad. Busch eventually bought Budweiser from Conrad — but that happened in the 1880s, long after he had already become a successful brewer.

But there's one thing in the Budweiser ad that rings true to history: the anti-German immigrant hostility that Busch is depicted enduring on the streets. "Go back home!" a man tells him angrily.

The still-new nation was in the middle of a great debate over what it meant to be an American. And it was seeing a huge influx of immigrants — not just from Germany, but Ireland, too. "Both the Irish and Germans came from cultures where alcohol was a respectable habit," says Ogle. Many native-born Americans were worried about how all those newcomers, and their customs, would affect national identity, Ogle says. That's partly what gave rise to the temperance movement. It wasn't just about condemning alcohol, it was about defining the moral character of America.

Another blogger/writer, Steve Body, at The Pour Fool, was much less circumspect:
The entire story of how AB started was nothing like this and it’s not a secret how it did come about. But AB, with its ear constantly to the ground and its corporate antennae acutely tuned to The Main Chance, has now discovered that, in America of 2017, Lying Blatantly WORKS. Bud lies here artfully and masterfully and yanks at your heartstrings as if buying Budweiser was an appeal to sponsor orphaned children in the Sudan. This ad is pure, unadulterated bullshit. And if you fall for it, you are a Tool.

But, in the end, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV gets what it wants. After production costs and the millions of dollars it’s paying to run the ad during the Super Bowl, the manufacturer of one-third of all the world’s beer gets lots of fawning press, lots of free advertising, and millions of click-baits. All the while hoping for a turnaround in falling sales of its flagship brand.


Saturday, February 04, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Schlitz vs. Michelob, LIVE during the Super Bowl

The 1981 live Great American Taste Test (Super Bowl XV)

During the broadcast of Super Bowl LI (that is, the 51st Super Bowl) tomorrow, both Snickers and Hyundai will air commercials that have been filmed live. I'm not clear on what advantage is accrued by filming a commercial three days earlier (Snicker) or a few minutes earlier (Hyundai) and broadcasting it as 'live.' The thrill of not editing, perhaps?

The last time the Super Bowl has actually featured a 'live,' not pre-recorded and edited, commercial, was 1981, during Super Bowl XV (15). Broadcast live from New Orleans, the host city of that year's championship game, Schlitz Brewing ran "The Great American Beer Test," a 60-second taste test of its flagship beer vs. Michelob, brewed by Anheuser-Busch.

The 1981 live Great American Taste Test (02)

The spot was hosted by Tommy Bell, a former NFL referee dressed in referee zebra stripes. Before the broadcast, one-hundred "loyal Michelob drinkers." had sampled Schlitz and Michelob in unmarked ceramic beer steins. When the commercial went live, each pulled a lever to indicate their preference.

Part of the appeal of a live broadcast is the spontaneity; the anticipation of an unedited gaffe or unintended serendipity. When Mr. Bell explained the voting procedure, he did well, obviously well-rehearsed, except on one occasion. Hilariously, he seemed to verbally stumble, to hesitate, when saying "Schlitz," his sponsor, having no such difficulty saying "Michelob."

As the commercial concluded, an electronic football scoreboard tallied the result, and Mr. Bell announced it. Fifty of those one-hundred Michelob drinkers had preferred Schlitz. A tie.

In the game, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10.

But five months after the game, Schlitz would close its Milwaukee brewery, forced to so by a continuing downward spiral in sales, never recovering from a very public cheapening of ingredients and change of process. The following year, the entire company would be sold to Stroh Brewing, and "the beer that made Milwaukee famous," brewed since 1849, was no more.

Schlitz sold today is brewed by Molson Coors for Pabst, itself a brewery without any brewing facilities.


Thursday, February 02, 2017

Super Bowl edition of #VeggieDag Thursday: Stout Chili, and it's vegetarian.

Super Bowl LI

Considering the big game on Sunday, here's a recipe for vegetarian chili easy and basic— but with a few twists, like a strong, big, 'craft' stout ale in the ingredient mix.

On the odd possibility that you are unfamiliar with stout as a beverage, here's what the The Oxford Companion to Beer (2012) has to say about it:
Stouts are a category of warm-fermented ale styles that are distinguished by their dark color, generally an opaque deep brown or black, as well as a distinct roasted character that is often perceived as dark chocolate or coffee. Both of these qualities derive from the use of roasted grains used to brew these beers.

Most beers, even hoppy beers, can be used in chili, to different effect. But a full-flavored stout —as many 'craft' beer stouts* are— contributes a unique layer of complexity to this flavorful vegetarian chili - akin to the chocolate-roastiness of a mole poblano.

Stout Chili


  • 1 block extra-firm tofu (not silken)
  • 6-8 oz strongly-flavored stout*
  • 15.5 oz can 'Italian'-style tomatoes
  • 15.5 oz can cooked black beans
  • 15.5 oz can cooked corn
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder*
  • 1 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional: if you want more 'heat')
  • 1/8 cup TVP*
  • ½ teaspoon Marmite*


  • 1. Beforehand, prepare the tofu for a more 'meat-like' texture.
    • Press the block repeatedly until all water is expelled.
    • Freeze overnight, or until completely frozen.
    • Thaw. Crumble into small, 'ground-beef' sized pieces and toss with the soy sauce until thoroughly coated. Set aside.
  • 2. In a large pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until slightly browned. Reduce heat, and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add green pepper, and sauté for 1 minute.
  • 3. Add tomatoes and all spices. Stir well. Add crumbled tofu and thoroughly coat with mixture. Add beer slowly. Mix in beans, TVP, and corn. Stir well.
  • 4. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  • 5. Remove from heat. Refrigerate overnight. Gently reheat portions to be served.


  • * Guinness Stout is really too mild a beer to get much flavor into the stew. Vegetarians would also want to avoid Guinness, because it is made with fish-derived isinglass for clarification (even though the brewery has announced its intention to change that procedure). Use half of the bottle. Reserve the other half for the chef.

  • * Most American 'craft' stouts are not made with isinglass. Suggestions: Victory Storm King, Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Anchor Porter, or Heavy Seas Peg Leg Stout. Many craft' stouts are also hop-heavy; using them adds another layer of flavor to the chili.

  • * If you're vegan, also avoid so-called 'milk' stouts, which, although they do not contain milk per se, do contain lactose: milk sugar.

  • * Marmite is the brand name for a popular British spread made from dried yeast extract. A by-product of the beer brewing process, it is generically known as autolyzed yeast extract and can often be found as an ingredient in dried soup mixes and other prepared foods. It imparts a meaty/savory flavor. Think of it as vegetarian cooking's umami 'secret sauce.'

  • * TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is often used in vegetarian cooking to add a chewy texture. It's made from defatted soy flour, and is high in protein.

  • * For greater depth of flavor, omit the chili powder and use 4-6 dried whole red New Mexico peppers (depending upon how much 'heat' you want).
    • Toast the chiles until they're pliable (don't burn them!).
    • Remove from the heat and cut the stems off with scissors. Shake out the seeds and use the scissors to pull out the ribs.
    • Cut into 1-inch pieces and add into the pot.

And, finally, enjoy a bowl. With another stout in a glass. And with a few friends to help empty the pot.

And, oh ya. #RiseUp! Go Atlanta Falcons!



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