Friday, March 31, 2017

May is American Mild Month. Will Georgia brewers participate?

"You must have seen great changes since you were a young man," said Winston tentatively. The old man's pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents ... "The beer was better," he said finally. "And cheaper! When I was a young man, MILD beer —wallop we used to call it — was four-pence a pint. That was before the war, of course." "Which war was that? said Winston. "It's all wars,' said the old man vaguely. He took up his glass, and his shoulders straightened again. "Ere's wishing you the very best of 'ealth!"
— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.


An open letter to Georgia brewers

Dear Georgia 'craft' brewers:

As a recent Georgia immigrant (16 months and counting), I've enjoyed your beers: the sours, imperials, barrel-aged, and flavored.

Now, here's my challenge to you. In May, brew the opposite: brew...Mild Ale.


Mild Ale is a Session Beer, quintessentially

Mild Ale It is not intemperate; it is not over-alcohol'd or over-hop'd; it is not spiced or soured. A Mild Ale is mild enough to disdain extreme flavors. Mild Ale is low enough in alcohol so that two (or more) can be enjoyed in sobriety. But it is more-ish: just flavorful enough that the triad of ale flavor —hops, yeast and, in particular, barley malt— are easily discerned, undisturbed by extraneous fruits and spices and flavorings.

Dark? Maybe. Fruity? A tad. Hoppy? In the background but not timidly. A Mild Ale might be mild-mannered, but it does not lack sinew. Low calorie with gusto. It is the quintessential 'session' beer.

Not just for Georgia brewers...

May is American Mild Ale Month

American Mild Month 2017

The month of May 2017 marks the third American Mild Month. Throughout the month, American breweries, nationwide, will be brewing Mild Ales and 'craft' beer pubs, serving them.

The whole thing is the idea of Alistair Reece —an ex-pat Scotsman, past Prague denizen, and, for several years now, a USA resident, who blogs at Fuggled.

In the United Kingdom, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has been celebrating Mild Month in May for many years. * Mr. Reece asked, "why not here in the U.S.?" And, for three years now, we haven't had to ask.


What exactly is a Mild Ale?

Like porter before it, Mild Ale has been a disappearing beer in the U.K. And, here in the U.S., it's but a notch above nil.

The name itself might be an impediment. Mild? What's that? Weak beer? A local brewer told me of the time, a decade ago, a Mild Ale was not selling well at his brewpub. He put the beer on the 'stout gas' line and renamed it "Nitro Monkey." It became a hit.

So, what exactly is a Mild Ale and what is an American Mild Ale?

▶ Session Beer

Start with the much-abused concept of 'session' beer. It does not mean simply brewing a lower-alcohol version of another beer. Beer and whisk(e)y writer Lew Bryson has defined American Session Ale as:
  • 4.5% alcohol by volume or less
  • Flavorful enough to be interesting
  • Balanced enough for multiple pints
  • Conducive to conversation
  • Reasonably priced
If that seems vague ... it is. Here's another definition: low-alcohol, but not low-taste. It's subjective. Live with it, and enjoy it. We're here to help make your night out more fun, more tasty, and more safe.
'Session,' therefore, is both 'sessionable' in alcohol and 'sessionable' in flavor. One and the other. Goldilocksian.

▶ Historical Milds

According to British beer historians Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson, milds of a hundred and more years ago tended to be sweet, but, then again, could also be highly hopped and/or very strong. The key was freshness.

Originally, the main, indeed the only standard for a beer called mild was that it should be fresh, not more than a couple of weeks old, and have the taste and aroma that come with freshness. Any older, past the point at which the beer starts exhibiting the flavours that come with maturity, and it isn't mild anymore, at least not what brewers would have recognized as mild back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. [...]

All the other characteristics generally associated with mild today are secondary to the fact that it was meant to be delivered into the pub soon after it was brewed (just four to ten days after being casked [emphasis mine], against maturation periods of twenty-one days or more for the lighter draught pale ales).
— Martyn Cornell. Amber, Gold & Black. 2010

The trend toward darker milds, as we know them today, began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The decrease in alcohol began in the early 20th century, and accelerated rapidly, for reasons such as tax laws and wartime restrictions.

▶ Modern Mild Ales

Today, the standard for Mild Ale might be as defined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), in the U.K.
Milds are black to dark brown to pale amber in colour and come in a variety of styles from warming roasty ales to light refreshing lunchtime thirst quenchers. Malty and possibly sweet tones dominate the flavour profile but there may be a light hop flavour or aroma. Slight diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) flavours are not inappropriate. Alcohol levels are typically low.
  • Pale milds tend to have a lighter, more fruity aroma with gentle hoppiness.
  • Dark milds may have a light roast malt or caramel character in aroma and taste.
  • Scottish cask beers may have mild characteristics with a dominance of sweetness, smooth body and light bitterness.
Original gravity: less than 1043. Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4.3%. Bitterness 14 - 28 EBU.

Furthermore, British brewers have often used brewing sugars and other starches (such as flaked maize or flaked barley) to accompany the malted barley of a Mild Ale grist.

And so, now, we come to...

American Mild Ale, defined

Mad Mild (03)

No style disciplinarians need apply: brewers should have fun with this. But there are three lines not to cross. American Mild Ale is emphatically NOT a Session IPA. It is NOT spiced or soured. And American Mild does NOT contain alcohol greater than 4.5% by volume. Doing any of these, a brewer would be playing with 'session' semantics.

American Mild Ale, Mr. Reece suggests, should have an alcohol-content-by-volume (abv) of 4.5% or less, a color greater than 17 SRM (i.e., darker than a golden ale), and an International Bittering Unit (IBU) level of 30 or less (thus stronger than an English Mild, but 'milder' than an American IPA).
American Mild is not a hop bomb, but neither need it be a hop free zone. 'Low' is not the same as 'none;' it is all about restraint, and with the wide variety of American hops available the range of hop flavors is actually quite broad, whether its the spiciness of Cluster, the grapefruit of Amarillo, or the tropical fruit of El Dorado, there is room here for differentiation, and dry hopping is ok too.
Remember though, before going crazy with the hops, an American Mild is not a Session IPA, or a Session Cascadian Dark Ale, it's still a mild. Traditional English milds top out at 25 IBUs, but for an American Mild we would suggest an upper limit of 30 IBUs.

One major departure from the English mild style in a theoretical American mild is the yeast. The classic American yeast strain used by many an American craft brewery is known for being very clean, allowing the other ingredients to shine through without contributing the fruity flavors of the British yeasts.


Why should we celebrate Mild Ale?

You'll sometimes hear a brewer mention that a lager, such as pilsner or helles, is difficult to brew well because there's no place for the brewer to hide faults. In that, a Mild Ale is its ale counterpart.

As Mr. Reece puts it, American Mild should be a "restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present shine through." As Mr. Bryson puts it: it's "an unsung delicious beer style; tasty and 'more-ish' at low alcohol levels."


Mild and Cask

Firkin Brown Ale: Capitol City Brewing, May 2009

In the U.S., we often treat cask as only a special occasion thing, a one-off beer infused with extraneous gunk. And often with beer styles that are done a disservice by cask's lower carbonation and cellar temperature.

But ales like bitters and milds? On 'standard' tap, they can be wonderful. But they shine, shine, shine when presented in cask-conditioned form. Cask them, yes! Serve them uber-fresh, still living, gently bubbled without superfluous carbonation, drunk cool (NOT warm). Yes! But resist the temptation to disrespect them with cocoa-puffs or dingleberries. That is NOT Mild Ale.


How to participate

  • Sign Up
    To join the fun in May, go to the sign up form. Pledge to brew a American Mild in May (cask-conditioned, a plus), and Mr. Reece will place your brewery's name and website on American Mild Month's web-roll of distinction. That's it! Brew a Mild, then package it or keg it or cask it, but serve it and tell America about it.

  • Brewpubs
    This could be a simple matter for a brewpub that wished to participate, as well as for nano-breweries and other small production breweries. It might, however, be problematic for a larger production brewery.

  • Production Breweries
    ▶ In several states, production breweries are allowed to serve beer to patrons in their tasting rooms, like a bar, but without the food. That won't be the case here in Georgia until September, but a production brewery could produce a small batch on its pilot system, and serve it exclusively in its tap room?

    ▶ Or, produce a one-off 'collaboration' beer with another brewpub or brewery.

    ▶ Or, if a brewery already has a beer that fits (or comes close to) the parameters of American Mild, it could simply re-brand it for its taproom only and serve it there.

    Oliver Brewing Company, in Baltimore, Maryland, brews a very British Dark Horse Mild. This May, it will be stamping the American Mild Month logo on the side of the cans.

    Dark Horse Mild
  • Pubs
    Restaurant, pubs, and bars: want to play along? Ask your local breweries for Mild Ales in May.

  • Homebrewers
    Organize competitions in May for American (and, okay, English-style) Mild Ales. Register those at the website.

  • Georgia (and American) good beer drinkers
    You, the discerning drinker: you're the vanguard of offense and the bulwark of good taste. Tell your local breweries about this campaign for good session American Mild Ale. Ask your local pub to search for Mild Ales, and to serve them during May (if not year round).


In Mild Conclusion

Mild Ale for Mild Month (03)

In his just published book "The Secrets of Master Brewers," Jeff Alworth succintly sums up the magic of Milds:
Whatever the formulation, milds are built to be drunk in bulk, to taste as pleasant on the first sip as the fourth pint, a trick that isn't as easy as it sounds.

This May, participate in American Mild Month. Please! Many of us wish to make a bulk session of it.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

U.S. hops looking good for 2017.

Hopyards @Stillpoint Farms (02)

For the second year in a row, U.S. hop stocks were up in March over a year earlier, an indication that hop supply has caught up with demand. That and other U.S. hops industry statistics for 2015 through 2017, as published in Capital Press (21 March 2017):
  • U.S. hop growers, dealers, and brewers had 140 million pounds on hand as of 1 March 2017, as compared to 128 million at the same time in 2016, for an increase of 9 percent, according to a report by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. (Compare to March 2015, when hop stocks were down 2 percent from March 2014. In September 2016, pre-harvest stocks were up 2 percent from the year before and the September before they were down 8 percent.)

  • A few specialty varieties still may be undersupplied, according to Ann George, executive director of Hop Growers of America and the Washington Hop Commission.

  • In 2016, a record 50,857 acres of hops were harvested — mostly in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The production value was estimated at a record $498 million and volume was the second largest ever, at 87.1 million pounds.

  • The expansion of small, 'craft' breweries has fueled the demand for more aroma hop varieties, according to Ms. George.

  • The average price per pound reached $5.72 in 2016, up from $4.38 in 2015, driven by more high-value aroma varieties.

  • Prices for the 2017 crop will be slightly higher than in 2016, according to Pete Mahony, director of supply chain management and purchasing for Yakima hop grower/processor John I. Haas.

  • Because the 2017 crop is essentially entirely contracted under multi-year agreements pricing is still reflective of the peak of the market but will start to drop in 2018 and according to Mr. Mahoney.

  • U.S. hops acreage increased 17 percent in 2016 (and production increased 11 percent). 4,000 new acres expected to be reported this year, according to Mahoney.

  • A full sixty-four percent of total U.S. hop production was exported in 2016.
Now, we wait on nature and weather.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mark Dorber on Real Ale, Cask-Conditioned Ale, & Cellarmanship

If he had lived five hundred years later than he did, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus might have translated that ancient Greek proverb as a reference to cask-conditioned ale.

Indeed five centuries later, a gentleman named Mark Dorber has been working to prevent cask "casualties." From 1981 to 2007, Mr. Dorber was the manager at the renowned White Horse pub on Parson’s Green, in London. Many traveled (and commuted) there to learn about 'proper' cask-conditioned ales, and to drink them.

Now, in the 21st century, Mr. Dorber is the landlord of The Anchor, "an award-winning inn and restaurant-with-rooms [...] in the charming village of Walberswick across the footbridge from the market town of Southwold" on the English North Sea coast, about 100 miles north-east of London.

Still serving 'real ales' and still imparting knowledge, Mr. Dorber has kindly posted a concise tutorial on cask ale service at the inn's website. I've reprinted it below.

Cellarmanship & Real Ale

"Real ale" as an expression was adopted by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in 1973. First known as the Campaign for the Revitalization of Ale, its name change was an attempt to simplify and shorten what was an uncomfortable mouthful of letters at the most sober of times. The appellation is a convenient campaigning device that has attracted a lot of crass comments about the "realness" of filtered beers.

Cask-Conditioned Ale

I prefer the simplicity and nondidactic expressions "cask-conditioned" or "bottle-conditioned" to describe beer with live yeast. The qualitative difference between cask-conditioned beers and filtered beers lies in the presence of live yeast, which is able to feed on any fermentable sugars remaining in the beer from the time it is racked into cask at the brewery and to impart its own individual imprint of aromas and flavours as well as life-enhancing carbonation.

Oxygen and beer

However, what might be termed CAMRA's "clause celebre" has inspired the fundamentalists of the campaign to insist that even a non-invasive blanket of carbon dioxide at atmospheric pressure * to protect slow-selling beers from the ravages of oxidation must be construed as an unnatural interference with the aroma, flavour and mouthfeel of cask ale, thereby rendering it non-real.

Their strongest claim is that the air drawn into a cask on dispense somehow softens the palate of the beer resulting in beneficial flavour changes analogous to the effect of oxygen on a young red wine. The fact that not a smidgen of evidence can be produced to support their thesis appears not to deter them in their dogmatic determination to be wrong and to penalize those who wish to get it right by excluding from the listings of beers in Good Beer Guide pubs those beers that use blanket pressure as part of their dispense and preservation regime.

The Art of Cellarmanship - Cask Conditioned Ales

Cellarmanship in the broadest sense covers the gamut of drinks sold by retail outlets and requires a detailed technical manual. The purpose of this short piece, though, is to set out the general principles for the successful management of cask- conditioned ales.

An avaricious brewer may define cellarmanship as the art of serving a continuous supply of saleable beer with the least financial loss. Here, compromises will be made on quality in order to fulfil the primary requirement of profit maximization.

My view on the primary goal of cellarmanship, which, incidentally has not changed since August 1981, is the following:

"To promote the most beauty in each cask of beer by developing the most interesting range of sound aromas and flavours; by nurturing wherever possible high levels of natural carbonation consistent with each beer style and, moreover, by serving each beer in a manner and at a temperature that enhances its aroma and flavour profile and creates an appropriate mouthfeel."

The above must follow the disciplines of good husbandry continuity of supply and speedy turnover in order to keep the beer in each broached cask as fresh as possible.

The Techniques of Cellarmanship

  • 1. Setting a Stillage

    Securing a cask of beer: A stillage is the name given to any solid object that enables a cask of beer to be laid down and prevented from moving by means of the insertion of wooden wedges (also known as scotches or chocks). It is important that casks be set horizontally with the shive pointing straight at the ceiling. If a cask is stillaged with a forward tilt, sediment will fall to the front of the cask and be concentrated at the tap, leading to fouling of the tap and the need to draw off three or four pints of beer before the clarity and quality of the cask's contents can be judged accurately. If the cask is tilted backward, problems of unstable yeast and finings slurry slipping forward may arise when the cask is tilted in order to decant the final few gallons.

  • 2. Conditioning

    The purpose of conditioning is to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the cask to enable a good finings action to occur and then to build up the level of carbonation appropriate to the style of beer.

    Venting excess CO2 is achieved by inserting/hammering a porous peg ("soft peg" made of soft wood, usually bamboo cane) into the sealed shive tut causing a sudden escape of gas and the immediate emergence of fobbing beer. This procedure should be carried out in a controlled way; i.e., the contents of each cask should be chilled to 52 to 55 degrees F in order that a relatively calm and nonexplosive purging of excess CO2 can take place.

    It is also important that upon soft spiling, the cask should have an even distribution of finings and yeast. It is sensible to roll each cask vigorously before stillaging, securing and venting. The time taken for the beer to "work" through the soft peg will vary according to each yeast strain, the concentration of yeast cells per millilitre, and the yeast's general friskiness, along with the amount of residual sugar/primings in the cask and the temperature/state of agitation of the cask. In the case of exceptionally lively beers, it may be necessary to replace the soft peg every hour for a day or more. The pegs sometimes become blocked with yeast and, occasionally a plug of dry hops may form underneath the soft peg, preventing the release of gas.

    The rule on the amount of time to soft peg beer is that there is no rule. It is entirely dependent upon the yeast fining regime adopted. The object of soft pegging is to reduce the amount of CO2 to the point at which the finings will prove effective.

    But do not over vent. You are preparing the yeast for a marathon journey not a short sprint, hence the need to vent at low temperatures and avoid exhausting the supply of sugars. The tension to be observed is the need to produce clear beer and the imperative to stimulate good to high levels of CO2 in solution. Flat, clear beer is the norm in Britain. We drink with our eyes and then jazz up flat beer by forcing it through a tight sparkler. We cannot put our well-conditioned pale ales through a sparkler at the White Horse without substantial wastage due to the relatively high level of CO2 in solution.

    Hard pegging should occur when a cask has "worked" to the point where it takes 3 to 10 seconds for the fob to re-form on top of the soft spile after being wiped clean, again depending upon the style and strength of the beer, the yeast/finings regime, and when the beer is required for dispense. The soft peg should be replaced with a nonporous hard spile to prevent the escape of any more CO2 and to slow down yeast activity.

    Dropping bright will now occur and is, in my experience, greatly assisted by a rising temperature. Again, it is a matter of trial and error with the yeast strains used, but I have found that taking the ambient cellar temperature from 52 to 54 degrees F up to 58 to 60 degrees F for about 8 to 12 hours produces consistently bright, polished results across the range of ale yeasts used in Britain today. Dropping bright times from hard pegging vary from four hours to four to five days.

    Carbonating should now take place after a spell of warm conditioning at 58 to 60 degrees F. It is important to chill back down to 52 to 55 degrees depending upon the temperature that your yeast is happy with. The lower the temperature tolerated by the yeast, the greater the level of carbonation possible.

    Bass yeast remains one of the liveliest and most tolerant of yeast strains in Britain and will work happily at 50 degrees. After a four-week maturation period in the cellar at 50 to 52 degrees F our pale ale has the most glorious, mouth caressing effervescence that one could wish for.

  • 3. Maturation

    This part of the process of cellaring beers, sadly, is seldom given much attention in practice. However, aging beers not only allows the appropriate level of carbonation to be generated but also allows the beer to dry out the effects of krausen or priming additions, thus taking away any insipid qualities from the palate of the beer. The fresh kiss of yeast, the hallmark of cask-conditioned ale or unfiltered lager, develops further impact and complexity during the process of maturation, be it in a lagering tank or in a cask. Aging also enables the effects of dry hopping to achieve maximum impact after two weeks or so in cask, developing its own particular grace and delicacy of aroma.

    For beers such as low-gravity dark milds, we would expect to put the beer on dispense in the shortest time possible, perhaps only four or five days after racking, in order to promote the slightly sweet, fresh malt character of this supremely quaffable style. We cellar ordinary 1040 original gravity pale ales, such as Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter, for two weeks in order to extract the succulent malt characteristics and earthy Sussex hop flavours, but stop before the dual strain, spicy, clove-like yeast imprint becomes dominant. A period of two weeks also enables us to build up good levels of carbonation to provide the complementary mouthfeel so sought after.

    Draught Bass we keep for three to four weeks as described above. Old ales have been cellared successfully by us for months; two months for Highgate Old (1050 og.) this past winter to a year in the case of Traquair House Ale and Adnam's Tally-Ho (1075 og.).

  • 4. Dispense

    The key areas to get right here are:
    • Temperature, ideally 50 to 55 degrees F depending upon the style of beer and the ambient temperature. Please don't excessively chill a rich, biscuity, malty Scotch ale or an ester-laden, vinous barley wine. Therefore, pay attention to insulated beer lines (and beer engines) carrying beer from your cellar or chill cabinet behind the bar to the customers' glass.

    • Use either tap-fed gravity dispense or beer engines. If you use beer engines, decide which beers benefit from the use of sparkler attachments in order to produce a tight, creamy head. Stouts and dark milds can be enhanced by the use of sparklers, but think carefully and experiment before you connect a carefully crafted IPA to an 'Angram Pip'.

    • Each cask broached and put on dispense should be consumed as quickly as possible; ideally within 24 to 48 hours unless a cask breather is used. It is not just a question of oxidation and acetification setting in, but the loss of CO2. In all but the most carefully prepared casks, such loss will result in a notable loss of freshness and vitality, which matter a great deal to me.
For those of you who are preparing pale ales for cask-conditioned dispense, the following quote from the head brewer of Marston's in 1899 provides a rare insight into his perception of quality and indicates just how far brewing techniques had advanced from the 16th century:

Dorber concludes in high fashion by paraphrasing the "late, great Bill Shankly, pioneering manager of Liverpool Football Club":

A true fact, that.

Fobbing at the Tut
Fobbing at the Tut:
A series of occasional posts on good cask cellarmanship.

  • * Some American pubs apply CO2 to a cask at 1 or 2 psi to forestall oxidation. The goal is noble; the suggestion is very wrong. Any additional pressure will add carbonation to the cask —more so the longer beer is served from it— defeating the purpose of the naturally-derived carbonation of cask beer. Dorber, on the other hand, is recommending blanket pressure of CO2 —net zero CO2 pressure— to forestall oxidation.
    • The atmosphere exerts pressure on us, which, at sea level, is 14.7 pounds-per-square-inch (PSI), depending upon weather conditions. A standard CO2 gauge measures only any additional pressure greater than atmospheric. Thus a gauge showing 1 pound-per-square-inch-gauge (PSIG) is actually releasing CO2 at one pound PLUS atmospheric pressure.
    • A cask breather does not really pressurize a cask. It's an aspirator valve that responds to the slight vacuum created when beer is pulled from a cask, by releasing CO2 at atmospheric pressure (or maybe a wee, wee, wee bit more) —thus, effectively, zero PSIG— completely filling the space vacated by the beer pulled out with CO2. This CO2 rests atop the beer like a blanket, accomplishing two things. It prevents ingress of air —and the oxygen in it— into the cask, which would oxidize, that is, stale, the beer. And, it slows the flow of CO2 —dissolved in the beer— into the headspace, that is, it slows the beer from going flat.
    • With a standard CO2 regulator, a setting of '1' would permit enough CO2 to flow into a cask to actually carbonate it, thus making it kegged beer rather than cask-conditioned beer, albeit at lower pressure additional beer carbonation. And a setting of zero would prevent any CO2 at all from flowing into the cask, and thus prevent little beer, if any, from being pulled out.
    • By the way, using nitrogen instead of CO2, or even mixed gas —so called Guinness gas (a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide)— would also protect the beer from oxidation, but it would NOT protect the beer from going flat, that is, losing CO2 into the headspace.

  • Yvan Seth, an expat Australian who runs a beer distribution company in England, has written two myth-busting cask-ale-service posts based on his in-the-trade experiences: Three Cask Ale (semi)Fallacies (12 May 2014) and Followup: Cask Ale Fallacies (18 May 2014).
  • Justin Hawke, an expat Californian in Britain, owns and operates Moor's, a small brewery in Bristol. Here are his Cellar Management Tips.
  • From YFGF: America is doing cask ale wrong. (16 September 2015).
  • Mr. Dorber's original essay at The Anchor: Cellarmanship & Real Ale.

  • For more from YFGF:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

[U.S.] Brewers Association Releases 2016 Statistics for 'Craft' Breweries

The era of 18% growth rates is probably over.1

It's 6%.

Hot off the presses (or email distribution lists)! The [U.S.] Brewers Association —"the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers"— has released its 2016 data for 'craft' breweries and, by extension, the product they produce, commonly called 'craft' beer. 2

The data show that the state of American 'craft' breweries —although not as good as it has been in the past— is still good.
Boulder, CO • March 28, 2017—The Brewers Association (BA)——today released 2016 data on U.S. craft brewing growth 3. With over 5,300 breweries operating during the year, small and independent craft brewers represent 12.3 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry.

In 2016, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels 4, and saw a 6 percent rise in volume on a comparable base 5 and a 10 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share. By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth.

“Small and independent brewers are operating in a new brewing reality still filled with opportunity, but within a much more competitive landscape,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers. This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands. Small and independent brewers were able to fill in the barrels lost to acquisitions and show steady growth but at a rate more reflective of today’s industry dynamics. The average brewer is getting smaller and growth is more diffuse within the craft category, with producers at the tail helping to drive growth for the overall segment.”

Additionally, in 2016 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16.6 percent, totaling 5,301 breweries, broken down as follows: 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation. Throughout the year, there were 826 new brewery openings and only 97 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 129,000 jobs, an increase of almost 7,000 from the previous year.6

Craft Beer in 2016 (Brewers Association)


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Where in the world is the original Waffle House?

The answer to the question is ...

... in (the humbly named 'city' of) Avondale Estates, Georgia, located just east of the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

There, on Labor Day, 1955, the first Waffle House diner opened for business. The building is now, yes, a (working) museum.

Where in the world is the original Waffle House

I took this picture on 7 March 2017, because of sad news from a few days earlier ...
Joe Rogers Sr., the restaurateur who founded 24-hour diner chain Waffle House with his partner Tom Forkner, died on Friday [3 March 2017]. He was 97. As a young man, Rogers worked as a short-order cook and manager at the now-defunct Toddle House chain. He opened the first Waffle House with his neighbor Forkner in Avondale Estates, Georgia, in 1955. Rogers and Forkner decided to call it Waffle House because waffles were the most profitable items on the menu. The duo expanded slowly, opening just a few more locations during the restaurant’s first decade in business. But growth accelerated in the ’70s and ’80s and now the chain has more than 1,900 outposts, most of which are located in the South. Even though he was the co-founder, Rogers liked to hop behind the counter from time to time. In 2004, the restaurateur told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I’m not an executive, I’m a waffle cook.” Rogers pulled himself out of day-to-day operations of the chain decades ago, but he was still active at the company’s headquarters into his mid-80s.

Here are two more images from the session:

Waffle House: est. 1955

Original Waffle House (Avondale Estates, Georgia)

"Good Food Fast"... but tours (and waffles and smothered hash browns) by appointment only.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 9/10, 2017.

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

Weeks 9/10
26 February - 11 March 2017

  • 11 March 2017
    Since the start of the year, off-the-premises beer sales —in supermarkets, chain stores, and chain convenience shops— are down by 1.2 percent over the same period in 2016; sales of 'craft' beer are up, but only by 1.6 percent. Data by IRI.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • Royals & Boulevard
  • 10 March 2017
    The Kansas City Royals pick an official 'craft' beer 'partner' —Boulevard Brewing— a first for any Major League baseball team. Miller Lite, however, remains the team's 'official' beer, per se.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 9 March 2017
    • Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, states that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with the established scientific consensus on climate change.
      —Via New York Times (9 March).
    • President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt to cut the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97 percent, from $300 million to $10 million —the pollution cleanup project of the Great Lakes, the water system that contains 21% of the world's surface fresh water, a project that has bipartisan support.
      —Via Michigan Live (3 March).
    • President Trump to cut the nation's weather satellite program —run by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration— 22 percent, by $513 million; to cut the entire NOAA budget by 17 percent.
      —Via Washington Post (3 March).
    • President Trump to to slash the Chesapeake Bay cleanup fund by 93 percent, from $73 million to $5 million. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest inland estuary in the lower 48 states.
      —Via Washington Post (1 March).

  • 7 March 2017
    England-based international drinks conglomerate, Diageo (owner of Guinness) introduced a bill in Maryland state assembly to exclusively grant its new Maryland brewing facility for Guinness the right to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer annually to visitors (versus current Maryland limit of 500 barrels). After backlash, Diageo begrudgingly agreed to a new bill extending the barrelage increase to all Maryland breweries...while simultaneously keeping its original, exclusive, bill in consideration. It's jarring to read "England-based" and "Guinness" in the same sentence.
    —Via Baltimore Sun.

  • Siren Noire & Thin Mints
  • 2 March 2017
    • From an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, entitled, “How Girl Scout cookies and craft beer pairings became the next big thing.
      One thing you have to give craft breweries credit for is the creativity in the way they imagine flavors and bring those to fruition in their beers. You have craft brewers who are doing everything from loading their tanks and conditioning their beer with donuts to one in Oregon that sealed the tank with blueberry muffins to add the flavor to the beer. There is boundless creativity within the world of craft brewing itself and that is one of the primary drivers that makes this whole thing interesting.
      —Jamie Bogner (editorial director, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine)
    • “Creativity in the way ‘craft’ breweries imagine flavors and bring those to fruition” might be one thing. But, no, far from deserving credit are ‘brewers’ who toss donuts and blueberry muffins into brewery tanks: that act is a puerile farce, bereft of real imagination or brewster’s skill. And, by the way, pairing Girl Scout cookies with beer might be a lark, but it is NOT, by any stretch of a writer's imagination, the “next big thing.”
      —Commentary via YFGF.

  • 1 March 2017
    An international team led by University College London scientists claim to have discovered fossils of bacteria aged 3.8 to 4.3 billion years old —the oldest fossils ever found on Earth— in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), in Quebec, Canada. The Earth itself is estimated to be 4.57 billion years old.
    —Via Agence France-Presse (at Yahoo News).

  • 1 March 2017
    Murky green beer? Breweries are brewing with a new hop product called "cryro hops" (that is, lupulin powder processed from hops).
    —Via Stan Hieronymus, at Appellation Beer.

  • 1 March 2017
    U.S. beer drinkers select their favorite beer bar in each of the nation's fifty states plus the District of Columbia, as compiled by, the consumer arm of the [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • Ayinger Celebrator, on draft
  • 1 March 2017
    Liquid bread for Lent. The story of Salvator, Celebrator, and dopplebock.
    —Via Jeff Alworth, at All About

  • 26 February 2017

  • -----more-----

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Pic(k) of the Week: Flavor Enhancing Floaties?

    Flavor Enhancing Floaties? (01)

    13 February 2017. A highly acclaimed 'craft' beer Imperial IPA with mango and orange added; obtained within a month of being can-packaged; stored refrigerated for a few days; poured, from a can, slowly into a glass. And a second time. And a full four.

    Online beer-raters have used the term "flavor enhancing floaties" to praise beers like this. But this can't be 'craft,' can it? At best, it's gross insouciance; at worst, rank incompetence. Craft is skill, honesty, and charm; isn't it?

    In 1979, Fritz Maytag —the godfather of craft beer before there was 'craft' beer— moved his dilapidated Anchor Brewing to beautiful new digs in San Francisco, California. Really beautiful digs. Afterward, he appealed to the intrinsic grace of beer: "Don't tell me that good beer can be made in an ugly brewery." Likewise, now in 2017, don't tell me that my beer must be unseemly to be ineffable. Hell, no!

    They tell me to surrender; the beer is out of the tank; the murk is loose; the battle is lost. "You are old, Father William."

    Ah, but I am not alone. The struggle endures! Beauty forever! Resist! "Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"


    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Almost there: good news about good laws for good breweries in Georgia.

    Georgia and Mississippi* are the only two states remaining in the United States which still forbid direct-to-consumer sales at breweries.

    Early in 2015, however, Georgia breweries won a small, if somewhat goofy, victory when the state legislature passed a law allowing them to sell beer directly to customers who take brewery 'tours.' Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. The beer came as 'free souvenirs' during the 'tour' or as 'souvenirs' the attendees could take home with them.

    NO Beer to Go

    As the brewers figured it, the cost of the beer would, of course, be worked into the price of the 'tour.' But, not so fast.

    In September 2015, the Georgia Department of Revenue reinterpreted the law. It issued a bulletin declaring that a brewery's 'tour' prices could NOT be based on the value of the beer given during a tour and that those tours could only include a limited amount of 'free' beer at the end: up to thirty-six fluid ounces of free malt beverage to each tour attendee in a calendar day in free tastings, and up to seventy-two ounces of beer as a free souvenir.

    After a backlash —including statements from legislators that the DoR's re-interpretation was not what the legislature had intended— the Department relented in early 2016 and reestablished the bill's original intent. But the requirement of a ‘tour’ fiction and the prohibitions on per-pint pours in a brewery taproom and on brewery beer sales out-the-door remained.

    Georgia Capitol @6am

    Which brings us to Monday’s action by the Georgia House of Representatives (and the earlier vote of the Georgia Senate, on 2 February):

    Press release from the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild

    Monday, 13 March 2017
    The 2017 Georgia House of Representatives voted today in favor of legislation to allow consumers to purchase beer or spirits directly at the brewery or distillery where they are made. Senate Bill 85, authored by Senator Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove) and carried in the House by Representative Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas), passed with vote of 147 to 14.

    “This legislation is a victory for small businesses across our state from Blue Ridge to the Golden Isles,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “I appreciate all of the stakeholders coming together and working out a solution that empowers our craft brewers and distillers to create more jobs. As Georgia’s economy continues to grow and new industries and entities enter the marketplace, this legislation will serve as an example of how to move forward in a positive and mutually-beneficial way.”

    Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, business leaders from craft breweries and their wholesale partners met to discuss common sense updates to benefit the beer industry in Georgia. “With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell, and Senator Rick Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB85,” said Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.

    In the House Regulated Industries Committee, under the guidance of Chairman Howard Maxwell, Representative Ron Stephens, and Representative Alan Powell, SB85 was modified to represent the terms of a compromise reached by the Georgia Distillers Association and the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Georgia. With the new language added, visitors to breweries and distilleries will be able to sample products by the glass, take up to three 750 ml bottles of spirits or one case of beer-to-go, and purchase food without the current tour and tasting requirements. Both distilleries and breweries will be subject to an annual sales cap of 500 and 3000 barrels respectively. Furthermore, the bill slightly modifies the brewpub license to reinforce local control on issues of to-go sales from brewpubs.

    According to Palmer, the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association and the Georgia Municipal Association are also due credit. “The wholesalers of Georgia and our allies in cities across this state have been crucial in this process.”

    Having found common ground with his counterparts in the industry, Chris Sywassink of Ghost Coast Distillery and the Georgia Distillers Association added, “We’re grateful to our wholesale and retail partners for the time they have spent working with us in a spirit of cooperation for the last year. And we’re fortunate that leadership within the Georgia legislature has created an environment that encouraged compromise and communication. The GDA is especially indebted to Speaker David Ralston, Chairman Howard Maxwell and Chairman Ron Stephens for their time, energy, encouragement and tireless efforts over the past 2 years.”

    Max Lager fermenters

    Here’s more about the vote, from the Savannah Morning News (13 March 2017):
    Breweries and distilleries in Georgia this week are toasting the state House of Representatives’ passage of legislation that will let them sell their beverages straight to consumers.

    The Georgia House voted 147-41 on Monday to adopt an amended version of Senate Bill 85, which will provide for distillers and brewers in the state to sell a set amount of barrels of their products directly to the public each year. The state Senate passed its version of the legislation in a 49-2 vote on Feb. 2.

    There’s [sic] still a few more steps to go before the bill goes into effect. Because the legislation was amended to add in the language for distilleries, the bill needs to be agreed upon by the state Senate before it heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. If the governor signs the legislation, it would go into effect Sept. 1.

    As passed by the House on Monday, the bill allows for distilleries in Georgia to sell up to 500 barrels and brewers to sell as much as 3,000 barrels of their product on the premises each year. Previously, these companies were required to sell only tours of their facilities and then offer free samples during limited hours each week.

    Carly Wiggins [marketing and sales director for Savannah’s Southbound Brewing Co. and sitting president and membership chair of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild] said the new law would be more than just a boon for breweries, which take, on average, five years to break even. While breweries will be able to generate more revenue through direct beer sales, the state will also benefit from brewery tourism and from an additional, taxable revenue stream.

    There would be one more issue for state officials and local brewers to address once the legislation crosses the governor’s desk, said Kevin Ryan, CEO of Service Brewing Co. in Savannah. If the law passes, Ryan said, the next step would be to see how the Georgia Department of Revenue decides to interpret it. In the past, he pointed out, the Department of Revenue’s interpretation of Georgia’s beer laws has fluctuated, which has emphasized the importance of clear and concise legislation. Assuming, however, that the interpretation matches the major points in the bill, Ryan said, he’s happy about the prospects for Georgia.

    The executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, Nancy Palmer, said she’s been tracking more than 80 prospective brewing companies that have expressed an interest in opening in the Peach State if the legislation passes. “If just two-thirds of these breweries come to fruition, Palmer said Monday, it would more than double the 50 breweries currently operating in Georgia.”

    On the distillery front, meanwhile, the benefits should be similar to those for Georgia’s breweries, said state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, one of the authors of the distillery legislation. “What passed in the state House Monday essentially dismantles a long-standing shell game the state has played to appease critics over the years, Stephens said. “Now you can directly sell a limited amount,” he said. “It is still a limited amount but it is a huge victory for distillers and brewers. It’s going to help everybody. Once people find the product, they’re going to want to go to the retailer and buy the product. … When you’re looking at a tourist town like Savannah, where tourism is the No. 1 industry, this is a big deal.”

    Chris Sywassink, owner of Savannah’s Ghost Coast Distillery and a member of the Georgia Distillers Association, said there are 17 distilleries operating in Georgia today, but he expects that number to double in the next few years if the legislation is ultimately signed by the governor.

    Sweetwater taproom

    What it all means

    A barrel of a beer is not a physical container; it's a unit of measurement equal to thirty-one U.S. gallons (and, in fact, defined as such by the legislature in this bill). Thirty-one gallons is the equivalent of two hundred forty-eight 16-ounce pints. Senate Bill 85, if signed into law, will permit a Georgia brewery to sell three thousand barrels of beer per year to customers in its taproom. Doing the math, that's 744,000 16-ounce pints of beer.

    When it comes to spirits, however, the legislature defines a barrel as fifty-three U.S. gallons (a gallon more than twice a U.S. beer barrel). Thus, the 500-barrel limit that the legislature is granting for distillery taproom sales is worth more than it might seem.

    The legislation also reaffirms that brewpubs are permitted to sell beer-to-go (think: growlers) where the brewpubs are permitted to do so by their county or municipality. And it allows production-breweries to sell growlers and/or packaged beer to go, up to a case of beer per day per customer (that is, twenty-four 12-ounce bottles or the equivalent of 288 fluid ounces).

    Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, has calculated that there are currently fifty breweries in Georgia. And, she believes, there might be as many as eighty breweries that might open in the wake of SB85's hoped-for passage: a 160% growth spurt. But it might be even better than that. Beer Guys Radio list sixty-five breweries and brewpubs as operating in Georgia, and one cidery.

    Of course, it'll all be moot unless and until the Georgia House and Senate reconcile their bills and if the Georgia Department of Revenue gets creative with intent and language. So, stay tuned.

    And thank the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild for its efforts; and (if you're a Georgia resident) encourage your representatives to vote yes; and, maybe, toss a few barleycorns over your left shoulder for good luck.

    UPDATE Wednesday 22 March 2017:
    Per GPB News, the Georgia Senate approved SB85, by a vote of 52-1 (amending it to include the distillery option added by the House). From here, the bill heads to Governor Nathan Deal. If he, as expected, signs it, the law will take effect on 1 September.


    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 7/8, 2017.

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

    Weeks 7/8
    12 - 25 February 2017

    • 24 February 2017
      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials declare their legal right to forbid all passengers on U.S. domestic flights from disembarking without first showing agents their identification.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 23 February 2017
      We are disappointed with our depletion trends in 2016, which have remained weak so far in 2017. These trends are affected by the general softening of the craft beer category and cider category and a more challenging retail environment with a lot of new options for our drinkers. New craft brewers continue to enter the market and existing craft brewers are expanding their distribution and tap rooms, with the result that drinkers are seeing more choices, including a wave of new beers in all markets.
      —Jim Koch, CEO/founder Boston Beer (maker of Sam Adams beer; largest American 'craft' brewery), via Craft Brewing Business.

    • 22 February 2017
      The [U.S.] Brewers Association to grant a total of $440,000 to nineteen unique research projects. Thirteen of those are devoted to research on growing barley for 'craft' brewing.
      —Via Brewers Association (at YFGF).

    • 22 February 2017
      Seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth, quite close in cosmic terms. One or more of the exoplanets in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star, according to an international team that has been observing Trappist-1, named after a robotic telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile that the astronomers initially used to study the star.
      —Via New York Times.

    • 21 February 2017
      Christine Celis, daughter of Belgian beer icon Pierre Celis, buys back rights to her family name, will open Celis brewery in Austin to brew the orginal recipe of Celis White.
      —Via Brewbound.

    • 21 February 2017
      Kenneth Arrow, Nobel laureate and seminal economist with wide impact, dies at 95.
      • Shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with British economist Sir John Hicks in 1972 for contributions to welfare economics and general equilibrium theory, a branch of economics that studies the behavior of supply and demand for multiple firms in a competitive market.
      • Proved, with his “impossibility theorem,” that no voting system can fairly aggregate voter preferences in an election involving three or more candidates while simultaneously satisfying several reasonable conditions, thus “fundamentally alter[ing] economic and political theory and practice.”
      • “Found that the delivery of health care deviated in fundamental ways from the traditional competitive market and, for this reason, was a non-market relationship [...] which puts the consumer (patient) at a relative disadvantage.”
      —Via Washington Post.

    • American Craft Beer Week 2017
    • 21 February 2017
      Pass the beer; but hold the flag-waving. The [U.S.] Brewers Association announces American Craft Beer Week for 15-21 May 2017.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 22 February 2017
      Mildred Dresselhaus, physicist dubbed ‘queen of carbon science’ —a leader in the study of the electrical and electronic properties of solids, with specialties in exotic forms of carbon and in nanoscience, the physics of materials at scales of one-billionth of a meter— dies at 86. Dr. Dresselhaus was the first woman to serve as a full and tenured professor at MIT and the first woman (in 1990) to win the National Medal of Science for engineering.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 20 February 2017
      For two years in a row, beer consumption volume has declined in China —the world's largest beer market (44,853,000,000 liters per year)— and is set to continue to do so for the next five. The reasons include intense competition, changing tastes, growing health awareness, and a slower economy.
      —Via Bloomberg.

    • 18 February 2017
      Beer writer Alan McLeod finds beer-brewing procedures written in cuneiform by the Babylonians three-thousand-years ago.
      —Via A Good Beer Blog.

    • 18 February 2017
      Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, has died at at 69.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 18 February 2017
      A continent two-thirds the size of Australia has been found beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean, scientists reported in the journal of the Geological Society of America. Tentatively called Zealandia, the land mass of 4.5 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles) is 94 percent underwater and only its highest points - New Zealand and New Caledonia - poke above the surface.
      —Via Reuters.

    • Brewers For Clean Water
    • 17 February 2017
      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. But Congress has ignored their plea and approved former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt's history of opposition to maintaining, preserving, and promoting clean water, let alone our nation's other precious natural resources, prima facie disqualified him for the position.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 17 February 2017
      Richard Pankhurst, one of the world's leading experts on Ethiopian history and culture, has died aged 89. Pankhurst campaigned for the return of piles of plunder taken from Ethiopia by invading British troops in 1868, and of a giant obelisk taken from the ancient city of Axum by Mussolini's forces (which was returned in 2005). Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry called him a "doyen of historians and scholars of Ethiopia".
      —Via The Telegraph.

    • 16 February 2017
      President Trump signs executive order permitting toxic coal-waste poisoning of American rivers, overturning the Stream Protection Rule of the Office of Surface Mining.
      —Via The Hill.

    • 16 February 2017
      In 1946, George Orwell —author of Animal Farm and 1984— found the perfect pub. Or did he?
      —Via YFGF.

    • 15 February 2017
      As part of an three-year collaboration with several genomics groups, yeast purveyor White Labs has sequenced the genetic information contained in 157 different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae: ale yeast.
      —Via Oliver Gray, at Good Beer Hunting.

    • 14 February 2017
      Valentines' Day truth from 2007:
      Red wine with chocolate is like an arranged marriage. The only thing they have in common is fruit: Red wine tastes like it, and chocolate sometimes tastes good with it. However, red wine's overbearing tannin, oak, and acid affront a fine chocolate's complex creaminess, and neither lets the other finish a sentence. They don't belong together. Chocolate needs something like beer, a beverage that can be supportive. They speak the same language. They share the same bittersweet nature. Think of the beer as you would a chocolate's center: chocolate-covered malt balls, toasted rice, toffee. They like to go to the same places on your tongue <...> With beer and chocolate, it's not a matter of getting it wrong. It's more likely to be just right.
      —Maggie Dutton at Seattle Weekly (via YFGF).

    • 16 February 2017
      • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has deleted online tracking of animal abuse at zoos, labs, puppy mills, etc.
        —Via Mother Jones.
      • After backlash, the USDA released a statement on February 17 saying it would again post certain animal welfare reports on its website. Not all previously-scrubbed documents will be available, only those pertaining to certain research and federal facilities inspected by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services. Records on animal breeders, zoos, and horse trainers are still unavailable.

    • 15 February 2017
      Twenty-billion dollars worth of American crops —thirty percent of the nation's food supply— rely upon bee pollination. Despite that economic necessity, President Trump has frozen ecological protections for the nearly extinct American bumblebee.
      —Via Newsday.

    • 12 February 2017

    • 11 February 2017
      The basic appeal of beer samplers, both for consumers and breweries, is understandable. Samplers help eager beer drinkers fill a perceived need—insatiable drive, perhaps—to try every possible beer. But with more than 5,000 breweries in the US and thousands more in planning, and with each one making dozens if not hundreds of beers every year, one cannot even realistically hope to try every ale and lager brewed in a small-sized city. [...] Unfortunately, samplers provide consumers with an inherently incomplete drinking experience. With their limited pour size and almost uniform inability to allow for proper head formation, carbonation, or aromatic development, they’re unable to offer even a reliable snapshot of a beer’s spirit. The flavor, aroma, and character of a beer develop over time, as it warms and opens up to further exploration. This shortchanged experience is finished in a flash of three or four ounces.
      —Via Andy Crouch, at Beer Advocate.

    • Snow Moon eclipse (@ 8:30 pm ET)
    • 10 February 2017
      Full moon and a partial lunar eclipse: the Snow Moon of 10 February 2017. And the passing of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková within 7,732,000 miles of the Earth.
      —Via YFGF.


    Saturday, March 11, 2017

    Pic(k) of the Week: The demolition of the Georgia Archives building.

    Georgia Archives demolition (03)

    Just after 7 o'clock on the morning of 5 March 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced, "fire in the hole," demolition experts exploded several charges, and, with several loud bangs, a fireball, and a huge plume of dust, the former Georgia Archives building, in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, imploded. In addition to the governor, a few thousand Atlantans had gathered to view the demolition, standing (well) back from the east side of the building.
    The monolithic Georgia Archives —the 14-story tall "White Ice Cube" building in downtown Atlanta, Georgia— was imploded on Sunday, 5 March 2017, just after 7 am, collapsing into a subterranean 4-story parking garage.

    When the building was built in 1965 on Capitol Avenue, near the Georgia State Capitol, it was called the most modern archival facility in the nation. But by the late 1990s, engineers determined that issues related to ground water leakage and nearby freeway construction would be inordinately expensive to repair.

    In 2003, the new Georgia Archives facilities opened in Morrow near Clayton State University. By 2004, the adjacent Southeast Regional Branch of the National Archives opened to the public.

    The building has remained empty since that point. Officials said after the current structure is demolished, a new state courts building will be constructed, providing a new home for the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.
    NBC 11 Atlanta

    And, here: how the Archives Building appeared only a few days earlier (as seen from the west side):

    Georgia Archives panorama


    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Call it for what it is.

    This keeps happening. The newest entry in the roll call of ‘craft’ folly is a brewery in Massachusetts ...

    set to release its new Belgian-style ale featuring an unexpected ingredient: Cap'n Crunch Berries breakfast cereal. The craft beer industry is no stranger to flavor innovation: many others have borrowed from breakfast food favorites to come up with new beer recipes. Stouts, for example, have been used as a cereal beer base in multiple brew concoctions such as Black Bottle Brewery's Count Chocula milk stout or Big Time Brewing Company's Breakfast Cereal Killer Stout. However, for [XXX] Brewing, a lighter beer was a more natural flavor choice to pair with the fruity cereal.
    Beverage Daily (9 March 2017)

    No, this is not a Belgian-style ale. Like an evidence-empty Trumpian tweet, that’s a specious claim of Belgian provenance when none such exists.

    No, this is not innovation. A brewer uses her toolkit to suggest flavors and aromas. That's called skill, and art, and, yes, craft-manship. But this thing —like a cartoon character's trompe-l'œil, pulling away a frame to reveal that a landscape painting is actually the landscape itself— this Cap'n Crunch junk-food ‘beer’ is a reductive forgery, devoid of innovation.

    No, this is not ‘craft’ beer. What it is, is:
    Corn Flour, Sugar, Oats Flour, Sugar Brown, Coconut Oil, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Soybeans Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Flavors Natural & Artificial, Strawberries Juice Concentrate, Malic Acid, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch Modified, Niacinamide Vitamin B3, Iron Reduced, Zinc Oxide, Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride HCl, BHT, Preservative, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid Vitamin B9

    What is a ‘craft’ beer? I don't have a facile definition. And neither does the [U.S.] Brewers Association, which only defines ‘craft’ brewery, not ‘craft’ beer.

    But I do recognize a ‘craft’ beer when I see it. And this is not a ‘craft’ beer.

    No; call it for what it is. Gimmick. Pandering. Crap.

    • Another example, from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2 March 2017) entitled, “How Girl Scout cookies and craft beer pairings became the next big thing.
      One thing you have to give craft breweries credit for is the creativity in the way they imagine flavors and bring those to fruition in their beers. You have craft brewers who are doing everything from loading their tanks and conditioning their beer with donuts to one in Oregon that sealed the tank with blueberry muffins to add the flavor to the beer. There is boundless creativity within the world of craft brewing itself and that is one of the primary drivers that makes this whole thing interesting.
      —Jamie Bogner (editorial director for Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine)

      “Creativity in the way ‘craft’ breweries imagine flavors and bring those to fruition” might be one thing. But, no, far from deserving credit are ‘brewers’ who toss donuts and blueberry muffins into brewery tanks: that act is a puerile farce, bereft of real imagination or brewster’s skill. And, by the way, pairing Girl Scout cookies with beer might be a lark, but it is NOT, by any stretch of a writer's imagination, the “next big thing.”
    • Or this example: "To swindle, cheat, hoodwink, or hoax." Craft?. Or this 'craft' beer bar silliness: here.
    • Nutritional(?) information for Cap'n Crunch Berries from Food

    • For more from YFGF:

    Wednesday, March 08, 2017

    Bock lucky

    According to The Oxford Companion to Beer:

    Bock is a traditional strong, malty Bavarian lager [with] a typical alcohol content beyond 6.5% ABV. [...] Many —but not all— bock beers tend to be full-bodied to slightly sweet and malty with a floral or fruity note. They are generally not hop-driven beers, and bitterness is kept to a moderate level.

    Dopplebock is a strong beer with [...] typical alcohol content beyond 7% ABV. [...] Doppelbocks are usually reddish-brown bottom-fermented lagers, and generally show a toffee-like, bready aroma and rich malty palate with notable residual sweetness.

    Maibock, although brewed to bock strength —with about 6% to 7% alcohol by volume and a substantial body— is light amber to deep golden in color. This sets it apart from the darker winter bocks, hence its other name, heller bock (pale bock). [...] Compared with the winter bocks, maibocks also tend to have slightly more hop bitterness and hop flavor from noble Bavarian hop varieties.

    In late winter and early spring, I look for bock beers. If I'm fortunate, I'll find them in local pubs, such as this bock, brewed in Germany at Ayinger Privatbrauerei, which I found served on draught in Virginia. I call Celebrator a favorite; it's often called a doppelbock.

    Ayinger Celebrator, on draft

    In late spring, I've enjoyed paler, almost golden bocks, sometimes called hellerbocks or maibocks, such as this one I enjoyed, post-spring, in mid-summer, in Wisconsin, in the Bier Garten of the Capital Brewery.

    A Capital maibock

    Only a few weeks ago, in winter, I drank this bock, made in Georgia, served on draught at a pub in Georgia.

    Dark Maibock?

    The pub called it a maibock. The Georgia brewery that brewed it —Arches Brewing Company— did not:
    This traditional German lager originated in the 14th-century and was lagered in caves through Winter to be consumed to celebrate the coming of Spring. The strong, sweet malt character is the hallmark of the style, complemented by a deep amber color. The malt character is balanced by a slight hop bitterness that allows the toasted grain and caramel flavors to shine through.

    In my prior neck of the woods, bocks —both imported and locally-brewed— were not absent from taps and shelves.

    In my newer, southern, neck of the woods, however, they are rare. Possibly, it's the climate.

    Here (and not just limited to here), the emphasis is on hops and sours; bocks of malt character are not au courant. That's unfortunate. Malt is beer's irreducible soul. Tasting good should always be fashionable.

    On that night a couple of weeks ago, that mis-ID'd bock was a caramelly, toasty, (slightly) concord-grapey, and reddish-brown bock. And it was tasty. Count me bock lucky.

    Session 121: Bock! Beer Blogging Friday: The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, begun in March of 2007 by Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

    On the first Friday of every month, a pre-determined beer blogger hosts The Session, choosing a specific, beer-related topic, inviting all bloggers to write on it, and posting a roundup of all the responses received.

    For The Session: Beer Blogging Friday #121, Jon Abernathy — blogger at The Brew Site— is the host. His theme is one word, with emphasis: "Bock!"
    The month of March heralds the start of spring, and March 20 is even National Bock Beer Day. So Bockbiers seemed like a natural fit for the month! Don’t feel constrained to simply write a review of a Bock beer, though I’m certainly interested to read any reviews that come it. Some other ideas to consider:
    • Dig into the history of the style—their ties to Einbeck, the differences in the development of Bocks and Doppelbocks, and so on.
    • Do any of your local breweries brew a Bock-styled beer? Seek it out and write about it.
    • Alternatively, interview your local brewer who brewed that beer; get their take on the style and why/how they brewed it the way they did.
    • Have you ever attended Bockfest in Cincinnati, Ohio? It just so happens to take place the first weekend of March—write a review for The Session!
    • There are already the styles of traditional Bock, Doppelbock, Maibock, Eisbock, Weizenbock (and Helles Bock and Dunkles Bock in the BJCP) guidelines. Just for fun, invent a new style of Bock and describe it.
    • Have you homebrewed a Bock or similar style? Tell us about it, and anything you learned brewing this lager style at home.
    • Bock puns!