YFGF on social media

Firkin a go-go (01)

Want even fresher beer news?

Go to YFGF's Facebook page:
YoursForGoodFermentables/

Or scroll down.

***************


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Industrial relic

Industrial relics

And, so, to the conclusion of 2019: for image #52, industrial relic is the theme.

Appearing almost like rusted distillation stills, it's some sort of former industrial superstructure on a roof in the Oakland/Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, as seen on 24 December 2019.

-----more-----

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A beer for peace


Coca-Cola once asked us to teach the world to sing. If Sainsbury's —a British supermarket chain— now asks us to work toward peace by sharing a bar of chocolate, well, heavens, yes.

And I'd slip in a bottle of beer with that chocolate. It's the message, not the messenger.

Happy Christmas, if you can.

-----more-----

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Happy hibernal solstice

Condo night

Magenta dusk —over a blue-lit building, with green streetlamp tint— in Decatur, Georgia, USA.

The hibernal solstice —the onset of astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but of the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere and the onset of astronomical summer there— occurs tonight, 21 December 2019, at 11:17 pm ET (your mileage may differ). The above photo was taken 24 November 2019...but you get the picture.

Happy hibernal solstice to all...and to all a good (condo) night.

-----more-----

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Misted field and pond

Misted field and pond

26 November 2019: morning mist on the marsh, on the bank of Postal Pond, on the 77-acre grounds of the former United Methodist Children's Home, in Decatur, Georgia, USA.

The Children’s Home had been in Decatur since 1873, originally established to care for children orphaned during the Civil War. The city of Decatur purchased the property from the church in 2017.

Although sounds of the city, faint or obnoxious, can be heard throughout the grounds, city sights, in undeveloped portions, can vanish.

-----more-----

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Bend in the boardwalk

Bend in the boardwalk (02)

Slow down, speeding pedestrians! There's a bend a-coming.

Looking northwest along a meandering, leaf-covered, wooden boardwalk on the South Peachtree Creek Trail, northwest of Medlock Park, in DeKalb County, Georgia, USA. 5 December 2017.

I don't often add selective color to black-and-white photos. Too gimmicky. But I succumbed here.

-----more-----

Thursday, December 05, 2019

On this date in American history, it once again became legal to sell intoxicating beverages.

Prohibition Repealed!

A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with,
even if he drank.
— Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken

Eighty-six years ago, today —on 5 December 1933 (at 5:32 pm ET)— the state of Utah voted to approve the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, its decision fulfilling the requisite number of states and thus terminating the ignoble, nearly 14-year reign, of the 18th Amendment, Prohibition.

Some might find it ironic that Utah of all states —with its widespread latter-day teetotalling— would vote to ALLOW alcohol. On closer examination, it may have been logically sagacious of that state to repudiate the 18th amendment, the ONLY amendment to eradicate constitutional rights rather than creating, affirming, or clarifying them.

After Utah's vote, two more states would vote to ratify. Six states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii, which were not states at that time) would never bother to vote on the amendment. But alone among all the states of the nation, only South Carolina, deserving of ignominy, voted against repeal.

-----more-----

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Remains of New Manchester Manufacturing Co.

Remains of New Manchester Manufacturing Co.

Remains of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, an 18th-century water-powered mill in Georgia, USA, once a large manufacturer of cotton textiles, yarn, and fabric, 'humbly' named for the city of Manchester, England, then the world-renowned center of textile manufacturing.

The Union Army effectively destroyed the mill in 1864, during a campaign preceding the Battle of Atlanta of the American Civil War.

As seen looking east to west, across the Sweetwater Creek, in an eponymous State Park, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, near the town of Lithia Springs, in Douglas County, Georgia, on 17 November 2019.

Remains of New Manchester Manufacturing Co. (02)

-----more-----

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: PBR at Northside Tavern

Northside Tavern (03)

A mural depicting a bald eagle and the logo for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is painted on the outside wall of Northside Tavern blues club —and 'dive' bar— in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Despite its name, Northside sits in Atlanta's Westside, an area that has experienced rampant redevelopment since February 2016, when I took this photo. One hopes for the club's continued long life.

And for that of the blues.

-----more-----

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Inked and Real

Ah, the beauty of cask-conditioned 'real ale.'

Real ale is a natural product brewed using traditional ingredients and left to mature in the cask (container) from which it is served [without extraneous gas pressure] through a process called secondary fermentation [and served at what is called 'cellar' temperature —in the low to mid 50 degrees Fahrenheit.] It is this process which makes real ale unique amongst beers, and develops the wonderful tastes and aromas which processed beers can never provide.
CAMRA [with edits].

Ink & Firkin
A bartender pours real ale directly from a firkin (10.8-US gallon cask). At Spacebar in Falls Church, Virginia, USA, on 8 September 2012.


Think of real ale as uber-fresh, as if it were being poured directly from a brewery fermenter. It is a deliberate process, involving both a brewery and pub.

What cask-conditioning is NOT is tossing beer into a cask; that's just tossing a beer into a cask. In fact, cask-conditioning does not imply or require the infusion of artificial or extraneous ingredients. That's just —as a friend describes it— tossing in "cocoa-puffs and dingleberries."

What real ale IS —as Jeff Alworth described it on p.84 of The Beer Bible— is "living beer."

Firkin Thursday.
A bartender pulls real ale from a firkin via a beer engine (hand-pump). At Metropolitan, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on 13 November 2008.


***************

Cask Marque USA

If your U.S. pub, brewpub, or brewery taproom serves cask ale on a regular basis, you can receive accreditation from Cask Marque, now also available in the United States. Consultation is also offered. Information: here.
Cask Marque, begun in the U.K. in 1997, is a voluntary accreditation scheme that allows publicans to display a special symbol indicating that their cask ale is of good quality, as judged by a series of surprise inspections.

-----more-----

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Reeds at night

Reeds at night

Reeds in empty lot
Streetlamp's metallic sheen
Whipped by frosted wind.


At night, in a parking lot, in Decatur, Georgia, USA, 12 November 2019. You can't tell: it was bitterly cold.

-----more-----

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Hefe day: Widmer Brewing, for all intents and purposes, is no more.

In the late 1990s, I attended a Craft Brewers Conference (then, a much, much smaller affair than now) in Seattle, Washington.

Paul Shipman, CEO of Redhook, gave the keynote address. Gloating in smug self-appreciation, he told us that his minority sale to Anheuser-Busch (itself not yet devoured by InBev), was the best business decision he had never made. Get big or die he seemed to tell us. A friend whispered to me: he's telling us to bend over and take it from A-B.

Where is Shipman now? “He calls the decision to partner with Anheuser-Busch 'the defining error of my career.'” In creating the brewery Craft Brew Alliance, Redhook would be, for all intents and purposes, subsumed by its bigger partner, Widmer Brothers Brewing. The Craft Brew Alliance itself sold a minority stake to A-B. And the [U.S.] Brewers Association punished it by rewriting Rob and Kurt Widmer out of the community of 'craft.'

**************

The 'end' of Widmer

Two and a half decades later, the chickens have come to roost. In case you missed it, with all the other news, Anheuser-Busch InBev has purchased the whole thing.

This past September, the international behemoth refused to exercise its option to purchase Widmer/Craft Brew Alliance by a deadline set years earlier. That inaction simply drove the stock price down. A lot. A-B retendered its offer but at a significant discount. The board of the Craft Brew Alliance, in its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, now had an offer it couldn't refuse.

And, now, there is no more independent Widmer.

**************

So what?

A collective yawn seems to be the response of many 'craft-ers.' Many new breweries think of themselves as the true torch-bearers and of all who came before --if years, or even months or weeks-- as irrelevant and unimportant.

Few will admit to drinking a Widmer 'American Hefe.' But they do. Because it's a refreshing and tasty beverage.

Yes, all this is just business; but it's a loss of our collective legacy.

Widmer dates to 1984. The following year, Oregon granted brewers the right to sell their own beers on-site —in no small measure because of the new brewery's lobbying efforts. That was THIRTY-FOUR years ago. For brewers in other states, it has taken decades to get that same business 'privilege.'

You rest on others' Jenga blocks. When you knock those out, you teeter. A sad day. I think I'll drink a Hefe. Bittersweetly.

**************

Read more.

  • The story of the sale: Oregon Live (11 November 2019).
  • The always perspicacious Jeff Alworth puts it in perspective: Beervana (13 November 2019).

-----more-----

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Fortitude in the marsh

S-curve pine

In the morning light, it stands solitary in the marsh — its spine bent like an 's,' its spindly branches bare except at the crown— and yet it evinces fortitude.

I've attempted before to capture a worthwhile image of this pine tree on the bank of Postal Pond in Decatur, Georgia, USA.

On 3 November 2019, I think I got it.

-----more-----

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Colors of autumn

Time was, preserving a leaf under a flyleaf was a life memento. Nowadays, there are e-variants thereof. Here: colors of autumn, from October 2019, seen in and around Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Colors of autumn (04)

And another: when spring's joy-green, its purchase failing, could yet be seen.

Colors of autumn (01)


***************

Pam Bricker & Autumn Leaves

The song Les Feuilles mortes was composed for the 1946 French movie, Les Portes de la Nuit (Gates of the Night) by Hungarian émigré Joseph Kosma with lyrics by French poet Jacques Prevert. The song soon became a popular music standard (Edith Piaf's version, well-known) and a jazz standard. The American lyricist Johnny Mercer penned the English translation, Autumn Leaves.

Autumn Leaves, below, is from Washington, D.C.-vocalist Pam Bricker's 2001 album, U-Topia, named after a D.C. club in which she held a regular gig. Performing with her are her longtime accompanist, Wayne Wilentz, on keyboards, and Jim West on drums. It's a crystalline performance.

Ms. Bricker began her career singing folk music but, after moving to Washington, D.C., transitioned to jazz (and cabaret). In the 1980s, she performed with the vocalese group Mad Romance, then going solo in the 1990s. In the early aughts, she recorded with the acid-jazz Thievery Corporation.

I was fortunate enough to hear Ms. Bricker perform in person, on several occasions, in the early 1990s, at hotel lounges in Washington, D.C. Like any bar and lounge, there was a lot of inattentive audience chatter, an experience she compared to performing like "a living jukebox." Me, I paid rapt attention.
Bricker is blessed with perfect pitch, clear diction, more than average range, and a knowledgeable sense of the lyrics and feel for the beat, all packaged in a clear, cool set of vocal pipes.
All About Jazz

A life's memento of the remarkable Pam Bricker (1955-2005).

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold.
I see your lips, the summer kisses,
The sun-burned hands I used to hold.

Since you went away the days grow long,
And soon I'll hear old winter's song.
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.

-----more-----

Sunday, October 27, 2019

5,000,000 beers and other things

Five million on Flickr (27 October 2019)

Yes, some of us photo-dinosaurs still use Flickr.

In 2006, I first began posting photographs and images to that online image hosting service. As of this morning, 27 October 2019, my 53,450 photos and images have been viewed 5,000,000 times. That works out to approximately 1,054 hits per day.

Beer salesman's electronic cockpit
Beer salesman's electronic cockpit, circa 2008.

I passed four million views on 1 July 2018 and the three million mark on 16 June 2016. I have used six different cameras (excluding cell phones and Palm PDAs). In order, from the earliest to the most recent, they have been:
  • Canon PowerShot A520
  • Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH
  • Canon PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH
  • Canon PowerShot SX130 IS
  • Olympus Pen E-PL1
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 II
During those thirteen Flickr years, much of what I have uploaded has been beer-related. In the past few years, however, my emphasis has evolved toward the 'artsy,' if not always so successfully.

Stairs to plaza

Thank you to all who have viewed my images, and to all of you who have 'favorited' and commented on them.

Now, back to the brew.

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas
27 October 2019.

Anchor's lagering tanks

-----more-----

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Old Stock Ale 2001...in 2019

Old Stock Ale 2001...in 2019

Like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round out and mellow with age. It’s brewed with classic Maris Otter malt and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, all imported from England.

What it was

This Old Stock Ale, brewed by North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California —in 2001— was still going strong in 2019. (The brewery, founded in 1988, is itself still going strong.)

I drank it —purloining it from my vintage beer-bottle stash— in Atlanta Georgia, on 22 October 2019, while I was watching the broadcast of Game 1 of the 2019 World Series in Houston, Texas

How it tasted

After aging in the bottle for 18 years, it had a touch —if only a light touch— of carbonation remaining. In looks, dark with mahogany/red highlights; in texture, silky smooth; and in taste, like chocolate-covered plums, the predominant story-line among several sub-plots.

Why I drank it

Succinctly: for jubilation. In 1933, a baseball team from Washington D.C. last played in the World Series. Eighty-six years later, the city's drought of Fall Classics surceased, it is happening again: the Washington Nationals, champions of the National League, versus the Houston Astros of the American League.

Fort Bragg might have little in common with Washington, D.C. But on that night, the glorious liquid produced within its borders seemed right. With an Old Stock Ale in hand, I was smiling.

And, maybe, somewhere Walter "Big Train" Johnson was too. Go, Nats!

Will a new pennant wave? (01)

-----more-----

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Two Calusians: 'craft' beers in Sarasota, Florida

Two Calusians

I put out the word on the interwebs: where to go for good beer in Sarasota, Florida?

And the word came back from 'craft' beer professionals on Facebook. Go to Calusa Brewing.

So, I did (on 5 October 2019).

The brewery sits in unpretentious surroundings in a light-industrial/business park. Rusting cars and totaled light-engine planes sit in a junkyard just beside it. The brewery building itself is corrugated metal.

Inside, it's, again, corrugated industrial with high ceilings. A long bar with several draught-beer taps sits against one wall, communal stammtiche tables in front of it. Windows to the rear provide a peek into the brewhouse area. Bourbon barrels filled with maturing beers sit to the side.

And those beers...!

16 rotating draft lines of traditional favorites, hazy hop bombs and mixed-fermented/fruited sour beers.

I asked for help. Bartender Ed took the time to walk me through it. Here are two (neither a hop bomb or sour):
  • King's Creatures​ (left)
    • "English Export Stout​"
    • 6.9% alcohol
    • "Deeply roasty, with a hypnotic darkness and scary drinkability. Monsters covet and hoard the British malt notes of espresso, & light toffee."
    • Me: Lovely British Maris Otter malt for base; sapid but not overdone treacle from dark malts; alcoholic slap at end dries the finish.

  • Calusa Ringstrasse (right)​
    • "Vienna-style Lager"​
    • 5.5% alcohol
    • "A brilliant clarity of autumnal copper reveals the toasted, full character of the finest continental malt and crisp finish of noble hops.
    • Me: Not "brilliantly" clear, but a well-executed lager nonetheless, expressing lightly toasted crackers, an elegant (not fruity) sweet middle, and, indeed, a crisp finish.
Sometimes, the interwebs do deliver on their promise.

Calusa Brewing [kuh LOOSE uh] is located at 5701 Derek Avenue, in Sarasota, Florida. I don't know who Derek is, but the Calusa were the original Native American landlords of southwestern Florida. (Seminole was the catch-all name for the later refugees fleeing white-man encroachment further north.)

A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.

-----more-----

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Half-hitch secure.

Half-hitch secure

With a half-hitch, the winch was secured. Onboard a boat in Sarasota, Florida...for a three-hour cruise. 5 October 2019.

As a friend says, "Everything is better in black and white."

Sometimes.

-----more-----

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Maintaining his cool

Maintaining his cool

Not John Goodman, maintaining his cool.

28 September 2019: a very hot and humid late September day for the East Atlanta Strut, in Atlanta (East Atlanta Village), Georgia, USA.

The East Atlanta Strut is East Atlanta's free annual one-day neighborhood festival, always on the third Saturday in September featuring a parade, food, live music, art, and events. The festival is held to highlight the businesses in East Atlanta Village as well as raise funds for schools, senior programs, and Neighbor In Need East Atlanta. The festival is run completely with volunteers.
-----more-----

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Still life with Oktoberfest, pretzels, & radishes

Still life with Oktoberfest, pretzels, & radishes

So that you won't have to, Virginia, USA-based beer blogger Alistair Reece (at Fuggled) blind taste-tested 18 Oktoberfest beers this year, imported and USA-domestic. He began here; winnowed things down in round two, here; and concluded here.

Spoiler alert:
Do not look at the photo above (or read below) for his choice as winner.

***************

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

For the past few summer/autumns, California, USA-headquartered Sierra Nevada Brewing has collaborated with a different German brewery each year to brew an Oktoberfest lager. This fascinating exercise has organoleptically demonstrated the brewing creativity possible using only barley malt, hops, water, and yeast, within a strict set of parameters. No extraneous froufrou needed or used.

This year, its partner is Bitburger Brauerei, of Bitburg, Germany.

We teamed up with Germany’s Bitburger Brewery for a festbier [with] a rich amber color and smooth malty flavor. We brewed Oktoberfest with Bitburger’s custom yeast and secret hop blend called Siegelhopfen, meaning 'Sealed Hops'—two house ingredients never shared outside their walls until now.

Specifications:
  • Malts: Pilsner, Munich, caramelized malts.
  • Hops: Bitburger Siegelhopfen, German Magnum, Loral.
  • Yeast: Lager
  • Alcohol: 6% (by volume)
  • IBUS (international bittering units): 20

***************

And the winner is

In case you hadn't guessed it yet, Fuggled's 2019 choice for Oktoberfest (and I concur) is...

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2019, brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing, at its Mills River, North Carolina plant.

Mr. Reece wrote:
  • Sight - deep orange, tight ivory head, excellent retention
  • Smell - toasted cereal, light cinnamon, bready malt
  • Taste - brown sugar, juicy sweet malt, citrus hops, subtle lemon and lime, clean finish
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2.5/5
If you are having a session and want a beer that doesn't just fade into the background, go for the Sierra Nevada.

I say:
Orange-red appearance, Sierra Nevada/Bitburger Oktoberfest pours from the bottle with a scant head but lasting carbonation. There's an aroma of toasted cracker...and, in distant second and third: plums and spent matches. In flavor, add brown sugar and hints of lemon peel and mowed grass (the "secret" hop blend?). The finish is Goldilocksean: not too sweet, not too bitter, not too short, not too long. American Oktoberfests sometimes have a fruity/marshmallow character and/or a burned malt flavor. Not this.

I enjoyed (that is, drank) my bottle, purchased in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 25 September 2019. It's this week's Pic(k) of the Week.

-----more-----

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Pray for Zinfandel

Pray for Zinfandel

Pray for Zinfandel!

Or, as Benjamin Franklin wrote to his friend, André Morellet, a 18th-century French economist, philosopher and theologian:
On parle de la conversion de l’eau en vin, à la nôce de Cana, comme d’un miracle. Mais cette conversion est faite tous les jours par la bonté de Dieu, sous nos yeux. Voilà l’eau qui tombe des cieux sur nos vignobles, et alors elle entre dans les racines des vignes pour-être changée en vin. Preuve constante que Dieu nous aime, et qu’il aime à nous voir heureux.

Translated into English, this reads:
We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!

Sorry, cerevisaphile. Contrary to your myth, Mr. Franklin did NOT write, "Beer is proof that God loves us." But we can forgive him his trespass.

As to the photo itself: residents of the Oakhurst neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, have installed various whimsical found-art sculptures in their front yards and on the median of their street. I snapped the photo on 19 September 2018.

-----more-----

Thursday, September 19, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: Banana Malt Bread

When life gives you brown bananas, you make Banana Malt Bread.

Banana Malt Bread

I adapted this recipe, almost intact, from Easy Vegan Banana Bread by Nora Cooks Vegan but with a beery twist: for the sweetness, a barley malt substitution à la beer-food writer Melissa Cole. Have your beer and eat it too.

***************

RECIPE

  • INGREDIENTS
    • 2-3 medium overripe bananas
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup barley malt syrup
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin oil oil
    • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
    • 5 tablespoons water
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup garbanzo flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts

    Banana Malt Bread (02)

  • PROCEDURE
    1. 1) Preheat the oven to 350 °F.

    2. 2) Lightly oil a 9-inch loaf pan and arrange a strip of parchment paper width-wise along the center, with just a bit hanging out over each side.

    3. 3) Make two flax 'eggs.' Use a coffee grinder or mortar-and-pestle to grind the seeds. In a bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed meal with six tablespoons of water. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set up and thicken.

    4. 4) Mash peeled bananas in bowl.

    5. 5) Add malt syrup, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla to bowl. Mix well.

    6. 6) Add the flour to the bowl. Mix well. Add baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and reserved flax 'eggs.' Mix well.

    7. 7) Fold in walnuts.

    8. 8) Spoon the batter into loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil.

    9. 9) Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

    10. 10) Remove aluminum foil and return loaf to oven, baking for additional ~20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or fork tine into the center. If it comes out easily and clean, it's done. Don't burn the top!

    11. 11) Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool before removing it from the pan.

    12. 12) Slice and serve.

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

-----more-----

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Baltimore Beer Week is no more (at least for 2019).

There's sad news out of Baltimore, Maryland, where humans live.

Baltimore Beer Week will not be held this year. If it had been, this would have been its 11th iteration.

Baltimore Beer Week to end

The pro bono efforts of its organizers, particularly of Joe Gold and Dominic Cantalupo —and of all the breweries, businesses, pubs, and volunteers who contributed for a decade— are to be commended, appreciated, and profoundly thanked. Maybe not the O.G. city-wide beer week (that honor belongs to Philly Beer Week of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) but, yet, for those ten years, it was a premier beer destination for, and of, the U.S. east coast. Baltimore Beer Week will be fondly remembered and forlornly missed.

Baltimore Beer Week 2013 (logo)As the organizers state, the festival may have been a victim of its own success. The very number of breweries in Baltimore, and of all of Maryland —and more broadly noting, the numbers throughout America now— vs. the smaller numbers of even a decade ago might negate the purpose of such a gathering or at least create too much 'noise' to make it viable.

That being said, success does not obviate celebration but engenders delight in its observance. One hopes for the future resuscitation of Baltimore Beer Week.

-----more-----

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: (Non) Beef Soup

(Not) Beef Stew

I'm taking rudimentary steps toward food styling, so today:
(Non) Beef Stew, adapted from a package of Hurst's Beans 'HamBeens' 15 Bean Soup package. Animal-free, of course.

***************

IN THE PACKAGE

  • Actually 18 bean varieties:
    Great Northern beans, pinto beans, large lima beans, baby lima beans, blackeyed peas, garbanzo beans, green split peas, red kidney beans, white kidney beans, cranberry beans, Cannellini beans, Habichuela Rosadas, small red beans, yellow split peas, lentils, navy beans, black beans, and yellow-eye beans.

  • And one seasoning packet:
    hydrolyzed soy protein, maltodextrin, salt, artificial flavorings (including artificial smoke flavor), silicon dioxide (added less than 2% as an anti-caking agent).


***************

RECIPE

I followed the recipe on the package but added in suggestions from Lord Byron's Vegetarian Beefless Stew. I spruced things up by using vegetable broth rather than water and by adding potatoes, frozen peas, fresh rosemary, and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Smoked paprika, Marmite, and the included seasoning packet add umami (less technically, a 'meaty' flavor); sautéd diced portabellos, a 'meaty' texture. Really, it's like Stone Soup: more about how you finish than how you begin. The yield is about 12 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 oz package Hurst Beans "HamBeens 15 Bean Soup" package
  • 8 cups low-sodium (or homemade) vegetable stock (or 8 cups water)
  • 1 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 small Yukon potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP dried basil
  • 1 TBSP smoked Spanish paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

PROCEDURE

  1. 1) Rinse the beans to remove any dirt or debris.

  2. 2) Place rinsed beans in a large pot, cover with 8 cups of water, and soak beans overnight for at least 8 hours.

  3. 3) After soaking, drain off the water and rinse the beans again. [This removes some of the raffinose, the carbohydrate responsible for beany, uh, flatulence.]

  4. 4) Place beans in a large pot with 8 cups of vegetable stock (or water).

  5. 5) Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

  6. 6) Add tomatoes, chili powder, Spanish paprika, Marmite, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Simmer, covered, for another 30 minutes.

  7. 7) Five minutes before cooking is complete, add frozen peas and contents of Hurst's seasoning packet. [See above.]

  8. 8) Simmer five more minutes, covered. Remove from heat.

  9. 9) While the soup is simmering, boil the cubed potatoes for 15-20 minutes. Drain. [I reserve the water and refrigerate for up to a week for use as a soup base.]

  10. 10) In a skillet, sauté the chopped onions for 3 minutes until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms release their moisture and become brown, about 10 minutes. Add the diced garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.

  11. 11) Add the mushroom mixture and the cooked potato to the soup. Gently stir.

  12. 12) Scoop out two cups of the soup —vegetables and broth. Purée in a blender until smooth. Return the purée to the pot and stir into the soup. S/P to taste.

Enjoy with a hunk of rustic bread and an Oktoberfest lager. Whether it's a soup or a stew is up to you. Prost!

-----more-----

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Forest allée

Forest allée (03)

Allons-y l'allée!

The Postal Pond urban forest, in the Winnona Park district of Decatur, Georgia, on 7 July 2019.

-----more-----

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Bar, just Bar.

Bar, just Bar

Baltimore, Maryland is a city of bars (and churches)...and charm. Human beings live there.

Pictured: no frills. A bar, just "Bar." It's a tavern sign that said all that was needed to be said. As seen in Baltimore's Fell's Point neighborhood, ten years ago, on 7 November 2009.

-----more-----

Friday, August 30, 2019

The best donut beer

Joshua Johnson of 1A

Recently, National Public Radio's weekday 2-hour public-affairs program, 1A, was broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair.

In the first hour, host Joshua Johnson interviewed the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz. More to the point, in the second hour, Mr. Johnson interviewed a panel comprising two brewer/owners, a hop farmer, and the editor of a brewspaper, all from Minnesota. The topic was "Tapping Into Minnesota’s Craft Beer Boom."
Pop quiz. What do cotton candy, chocolate chip cookies, and mini-donuts have in common? Give up? They are all flavors of beer.

Mr. Johnson asked for listener comments. At the 25:00 mark, he was reading a few sent in via Twitter, when he said this:
And YFGF tweeted: “An 'approachable' beer is one I approach. A 'drinkable' beer is one I drink. The best donut beer is a beer in a mug and a donut on a plate.' [laughter] I mean...whatcha want me to say? If he's wrong, tell me he's wrong, but I don't think he's wrong. [...] And it's just that simple wisdom like 'an approachable beer is a beer I approach.' Boom! One of y'all is going to print that on a tee-shirt and make a lot of money.”

YFGF is, of course, the acronym for the name of this blog, "Yours For Good Fermentables," or "Yifgif," as some folks around here (not those at NPR) can be heard to pronounce it.

Approachable Beer

***************

Tapping Into Minnesota’s Craft Beer Boom

There was more to the hour-long episode than talk of beery nonsense. Here's 1A's program syllabus.
"Would you try a jalapeño cream ale? Maybe a cotton candy milkshake IPA? If your answer is yes, you should head to Minnesota. The North Star State has a booming craft beer industry. But that wasn’t always the case.

Not long ago, craft beer wasn’t nearly as widely available in the U.S. as it is today. Between 2002 and 2007, employment at breweries across the country declined as large corporations like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors consolidated. In 2012, these two companies controlled nearly 90 percent of beer production in the country.

But between 2008 and 2016, the number of brewery establishments — many of them small businesses sextupled. The number of brewery workers grew by 120 percent. In the same period, shipments from the five major brewers (Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken, Pabst and Diageo) fell by 14 percent.

Minnesota was no exception to the trend. In 2011, the state was home to 35 craft breweries. Today there are more than 170 breweries operating in the state. Those breweries pump out nearly 650,000 barrels of beer a year.

At the Minnesota State Fair, local breweries show off their classic brews as well as their more experimental ones, which feature a wacky variety of flavors, including dreamsicle, elderflower, lavender, dragon fruit, push pop, pumpkin seed, cake, chocolate chip cookie, dill pickle, funnel cake, maple bacon and s’mores.

[...] We sit down and sip at the Minnesota State Fair to talk and taste with the state’s craft beer insiders.

-----more-----

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Tiny tri-tone

Tiny tri-tone
So gradual in those summers was the going of the age it seemed that the long days setting out when the stars faded over the mountains were not leaving us...
W.S. Merwin: The Speed of Light.

A tiny tri-tone —maybe 1 centimeter wide— was nearly hidden in the underbrush. By the following day, it had withered.

DeKalb County, Georgia. 20 July 2019.

-----more-----

Thursday, August 22, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: Vegan Summer Potato Salad

Here's a recipe for Vegan Summer Potato Salad. You don't have to be vegan and any season will do.

I adapted it from Julia Child and Jacques Pepin's 1999 (non-vegan) cookbook, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. I've added a lot of ancillary ingredients; you could easily simplify it with only the first three.

The recipe holds a special place in my heart (my gullet?). It's one I often cooked at the old family homestead. And, in August 2015, it was the last dish that I would ever photograph in the kitchen there.

Summer Potato Salad (02)

Vegan Summer Potato Salad

  • INGREDIENTS
    • 2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes
    • 2 TBSP malt vinegar
    • 1/3 cup vegetable stock or the potato-cooking liquid
    • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as non-soy Just Mayo)

  • EXTRAS
    • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
    • 3 small radishes, roughly chopped
    • 3 TBSP finely chopped dill pickle
    • 3 TBSP chopped fresh scallions
    • 1 TBSP capers
    • 1 tsp ground white pepper
    • 1 tsp ground mustard
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
    • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
    • Kosher salt, to taste

  • GARNISH
    • Crisp whole red-leaf lettuce leaves
    • Thinly sliced radishes
    • Chopped scallion greens

  • PROCEDURE
    1) Peel the potatoes and slice each one lengthwise in half, or in quarters if very large; then cut crosswise into half-round or quarter-round slices, about 1/2 inch thick.

    2) Put the slices in a saucepan with water just to cover and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt per quart of water. Bring water to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, uncovered. Cook the potatoes for 5 to 6 minutes, checking with a fork for cooked through, but still firm. Check frequently. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

    3) Immediately remove from heat and drain into a colander, but save a cup of the cooking liquid for dressing the potatoes.

    4) Add the malt vinegar to 1/3 cup of vegetable stock or the reserved potato water. Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl. Drizzle the vinegar/stock over the potato pieces, turning them gently to distribute evenly. Let sit 10 minutes to absorb the liquid.

    5) Add potatoes to colander. Strain any remaining liquid. Return to mixing bowl.

    6) Add the onion, celery, pickle, scallions (reserving some for the garnish), capers, Liquid Smoke, and spices (minus the paprika and salt). Toss. Top with 2/3 cup of mayonnaise and, with a large rubber spatula, gently fold everything together until well blended. Taste the salad and add more salt, pepper, mayonnaise, or vinegar/stock as needed.

    7) Cover the salad and set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so before serving. If it is refrigerated longer, let it come back to room temperature before serving.

    8) To serve, line a bowl or a platter with red-leaf lettuce, and mound the salad on top. Decorate at the last moment with radish slices, chopped scallion greens, and a couple of dashes of smoked paprika.
Served with a pilsner or Vienna-style lager, it's delightful. If you have to 'settle' for a glass of wine or (gasp) only the potato salad, it's still delightful.

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

-----more-----

Monday, August 19, 2019

Happy World Photography Day

Today is World Photography Day. Unlike other marketeers' fanciful markers, this date is rooted in actual history.

In 1839, Frenchman Louis Daguerre developed the daguerreotype process, the first publicly-announced and commercially-viable photographic process. Although crude photographs had been attempted before Daguerre, the year 1839 —180 years ago— is generally accepted as the birth year of practical photography.

Telling a story is what good photograph should do. Here's one I took with a simple point-and-shoot in 2012 ... of beer and a beer drinker, of course.

Weizen sippers

I think the photo tells the story of the moment: anticipation, concentration, and satisfaction. It was a lucky shot. But I'll take it.

-----more-----

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Red beach bicyclist

Red beach bicyclist

The beach.
The ocean.
The surf.
Clouds.
A bicyclist.
A red jersey.
A bird.
Minimalist.

An early evening exercise-ist pedals along the Atlantic Ocean, at St. Augustine Beach, Florida. 4 August 2018.

-----more-----

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Avondale Stonehenge

Avondale Stonehenge

Like a latter-day (but, oh, so less mystical) Stonehenge, block totems mark the careening mitosis of 'luxury' condominium construction.

As seen in Avondale Estates, Georgia, on 27 July 2019.

-----more-----

Friday, August 09, 2019

Tastes not-so-great, barely less filling: Michelob Ultra continues its fast growth.

'Craft' breweries make pastry stouts and beers with fruit loops. Mega-breweries do this.

Michelob Ultra has surpassed Miller Lite as the third-best best-selling beer in the U.S. Bud Light and Coors Light remain at number one and two, respectively.


Michelob Ultra launched nationally in 2004, and, according to sales data, it’s now the third-largest beer brand in America, with Miller Lite slipping to number four. That’s by dollar sales, though, not volume. Because Michelob Ultra costs more than Miller Lite, it still sells less by volume than Miller Lite, but rakes in more money.

'The first two years [of Michelob Ultra sales] were ridiculous and it’s been a double-digit growth brand for a decade. There’s nobody else except for upstart brands that can lay claim to that,' Bryan Roth, a beer writer who’s covered Michelob Ultra extensively, tells The Takeout. A piece he wrote for Good Beer Hunting last year calls Michelob Ultra 'the most important American beer since Bud Light.' [...] 'The way the brand has integrated itself into the lifestyle activity and the minds of people consuming it is a true differentiator. It’s built this ‘better for you’ category for modern beer audiences.'
— Kate Bernot
The TakeOut.

Almost three decades ago, 'clear ' beer —implied as a product better for you— fell with a thud. In this year's data, there is a 'sobering' trend for the conglomerating breweries to note. Of the top 20 brands (by sales dollars), only fourMichelob Ultra (Anheuser-Busch), Modelo (Constellation / Anheuser-Busch), Natural Light (Anheuser-Busch) and Stella Artois (Anheuser-Busch)— are up in sales. Dollar sales of Modelo have increased 18.9% over last year; Stella barely 0.2%. Miller Lite, owned by Molson Coors, is down 0.3%.

What's it all about, Alfie? Other than the dollars, not much. One can of Michelob Ultra contains 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates, whereas Miller Lite contains 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbohydrates. Tastes not-so-great; barely less filling.

The only 'craft' beer on the list —to be precise, the only beer produced by a [U.S.] Brewers Association-defined 'craft' brewery— is Yuengling Lager. Its dollar sales are down 3.5%, this year vs. last.

-----more-----

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Resistance is futile. Anheuser-Busch's Brewers Collective

Anheuser-Busch In-Bev' Brewers Collective has purchased 20,000-barrel-per-year* 'craft' brewery Platform Brewing of Cleveland (and Columbus and Cincinnati), Ohio.

ABIB announced:

[Platform's] unparalleled creativity and experimentation has resulted in more than 600 recipes that include a variety of unique seasonals, sours, ciders and fruit ales, barrel-aged beers, and a line of hard seltzer.

Six-hundred 'recipes'! Wow! Such vast expertise! Or, as Jeff Alworth, at Beervana, put it:
Platform offers beer slushies, beer cocktails, seltzers, and hazies. [...] It doesn’t seem like a stretch to suggest ABI will be using Platform to reach younger Millennials and Gen Z drinkers.

On-line beer news site Brewbound (itself in recent news, unfavorably) interviewed Platform's co-founder Paul Benner.
Benner said the Ohio craft brewery began “exploring different investment mechanisms” about six months ago in an effort to continue the company’s upward growth trajectory. Ultimately, Benner said he and co-founder Justin Carson were attracted to the “autonomy and independence” A-B provides the founders in the daily decision making of its acquired craft brands. “As we became more educated on what that partnership actually looks like, it became more and more clear this was the best option for us for the short-term and the long-term as a company”

But not the medium-term? 'Autonomy'? Investment 'mechanisms'? Gobbledygook. How about honesty: "We wanted to make lots of money."?

Adding Platform to the list, here's the scroll of shame (my phrase) and the date each 'craft' brewery sold (out), alphabetically:
  • Goose Island (March 2011)
  • Blue Point (February 2014)
  • 10 Barrel (November 2014)
  • Elysian (January 2015)
  • Golden Road (September 2015)
  • Breckenridge (Dec 2015)
  • Four Peaks (December 2015)
  • Devils Backbone (April 2016)
  • Karbach (November 2016)
  • Veza Sur (April 2017)
  • Wicked Weed (May 2017)
  • Virtue Cider (September 2017)
  • Platform Beer (August 2019)
At some point this year, Anheuser-Busch InBev rebranded its portfolio of (now, lucky 13) acquired 'craft' breweries from “The High End” to the “Brewers Collective.” The ABIB-borg collective. Resistance is futile.

-----more-----

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Leopard Lily

Leopard Lily

Not a lily: the Leopard Lily.
Iris domestica (aka Leopard Lily or Blackberry Lily) was introduced from Asia and naturalized fairly quickly in the U.S. Recent molecular studies have revealed the flower to be in the Iris genus. Blackberry in the common name comes from the tight clusters of dark seeds the plant produces.
Wildflowers of the United States

DeKalb County (Vista Grove), Georgia. 26 July 2018.

-----more-----

Monday, July 29, 2019

Brewbound editor's free fall


Washington, D.C., May 17, 2019 -- Former Brewbound editor Chris Furnari (left)
moderates a Brew Talks panel with industry leaders
several hours before the Brewers Association's annual Savor event.
— ©Tara Nurin

During an early July podcast, Chris Furnari, editor of Brewbound, took informed points about the pernicious innocuousness of 'influencers' upon 'craft' beer —and, indeed, the blatant sexism of some of those— and obscured his message with a revealed infelicitousness, losing his beer-news editor's job in the process.

Via Tara Nurin, at Forbes (25 July 2019):
Furnari took issue with an Uproxx story that named half a dozen female Instagrammers as beer influencers worth following. Before naming the accounts, Furnari says the list “goes to shit and it's all chicks who basically take photos of themselves in like low-cut tops with beer.”

Ironically, Furnari, who for nine years had been the editor of Brewbound, “arguably the nation's leading beer news website" made the comments in introducing
Denizens Brewing co-founder Julie Verratti, who, with her wife, runs what the [U.S.] Brewers Association says is the only female-owned brewery in Maryland. The topic: diversity and inclusion in brewing.

Nurin continued:
I feel the hosts were actually speaking up for women by chastising those whose personal branding suggests that their chests are more important than their faces and that their bodies speak louder than their minds.

On 25 July 2019, Chris Furnari resigned from Brewbound. In an almost 'you too' moment, his fall follows what happened earlier in the year to Bill Metzger, the publisher of the national line of Brewing News brewspapers.

-----more-----

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Double Refreshment

Double Refreshment

Beat the heat, twice!

In the beer garden, at New Realm Brewing, in Atlanta (Poncey-Highland), Georgia, on 7 July 2018.

-----more-----

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: The spigot is closed.

The spigot is closed.

Commercial cask ale in America is dead.

After a resurgence —beginning in the late 1980s and continuing through the late 20-aughts— American 'real ale' now appears moribund, relegated (with rare exceptions) to one-offs, terrible technique, and Frankensteinian experiments in extranea.

The photo above is a redo of a shot I took in 2012, at a cask ale festival at Mad Fox Brewing, a brewpub in Falls Church, Virginia. Mad Fox is not a cask offender but a fierce advocate for real real ale. Alas, it closed on 21 July 2019, after a nine year run.

The timing feels congruent. I'm sad (and thirsty). The spigot is closed.

-----more-----