Thursday, July 18, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: (vegan) Pazzo Pesto!

Basil inflorescence (and visitor)

This sweet basil from my garden (minus the entomological protein) became this...

Pazzo Pesto, vegan-style.


Pazzo Pesto (vegan)

Pazzo Pesto is my take on the recipe by the Minimalist Baker. Truth be told, it's 99.99% Dana Shultz's recipe (although I did substitute veggie broth for the water). Nutritional yeast provides the cheesiness. It's the 'beery' connection in the recipe.

So why, pazzo? I blended it all before I realized that I had forgotten the garlic. Pazzo! (I did, however, rectify the omission).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups packed, rinsed fresh basil (large stems removed)
  • 3 TBSP pine nuts
  • 3 large cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3-4 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt (or more or less to taste)
  • 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-6 TBSP water or veggie stock (less, or more, as needed)

PREPARATION

  • Add the basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and sea salt to a food processor (or, in my case, a small blender), and blend/mix on high until a loose paste forms.
  • Add olive oil a little at a time and scrape down sides as needed. Then add water one tablespoon at a time until you get a thick but pourable sauce.
  • Refrigerate, but...
  • Even refrigerated, the pesto will quickly brown, losing its bright green luster. As Ms. Schultz suggests, freeze it an ice cube tray and then bag the frozen cubes for future use.
Start to finish, Pazzo Pesto will take you two months to prepare. Of course, once the basil has grown, only minutes. Resist the temptation to eat it with a spoon. Spoon it on pasta.

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

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Caladium, after rain

Caladium, after rain

Refreshed by rain, elephant ears (aka Caladium) seem to flap in a breeze.

In a garden, in Atlanta, Georgia. 15 June 2019.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

After 9 years, Mad Fox closes.

Mad Oak Bill

There's sad news from YFGF's former bailiwick. Mad Fox Brewing Company, a brewpub in Falls Church, Virginia —a suburb of Washington, D.C.— is closing its doors and spigots later this month, after a nine-year run.
Friends of Mad Fox Brewing Company
July 9, 2019

Friends, Patrons, and Supporters,

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I inform you of the closure of Mad Fox Brewing Company. Our last day of business will be Sunday, July 21st.

The decision to close has been an extremely difficult one to make. We have witnessed restaurant competition in the 2.2 square mile Falls Church City become fierce since our opening in 2010 with multiple businesses opening in the last year alone. As much as we tried to compete, there is an overwhelming number of choices for the local population. Sales have been on a slow decline over the last several years and, unfortunately, staying open is no longer sustainable.

On the brewing side of our business, we continue to see more breweries opening in Virginia with two new Taprooms setting up shop within a mile of Mad Fox in the last year. When we opened in 2010, there were 40 breweries in Virginia. Now there are close to 250. The Brewpub business model is a tough one to maintain compared to a Brewery Taproom with little overhead, lower rents, and outsourced food trucks. Our draw from the surrounding areas has dwindled in what has become an extremely competitive craft beer market, which has resulted in this final decision.

We attempted to work with our Bank and our Landlord for more favorable terms and while both were willing, we ultimately could not come to an agreement that would allow Mad Fox to be break even or better.

We plan a closure date of Sunday, July 21st; however, we plan to continue with our 9-year Anniversary Party on Saturday, 13 July to honor you, our investors, our staff, and the Falls Church Community. Words cannot express how proud I am of the Mad Fox legacy and the opportunity to be a member of such a wonderful community, if even for a short while. We opened the first brewpub in the City of Falls Church and have won numerous medals at the Great American Beer Festival as well as the Virginia Beer Cup. We have celebrated christenings, birthdays, weddings, retirements and many holiday gatherings. You, our guests, along with our spectacular Mad Fox team have enabled us to build tremendous notoriety over 9 years in business. I thank you for allowing Mad Fox to be a part of your lives. Thank you for your years of support and I hope to see you at the Pub in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,
Bill Madden
CEO and Executive Brewer, Mad Fox Brewing Company

Mad Fox awning

Mad Fox has never been known for "notoriety." To the contrary, it has achieved renown for its good beer, often, award-winning —Kölsch, Orange Whip IPA, Mason's Mild, Wee Heavy, to name only four. I —and many more— thank CEO/executive brewer Bill Madden​ for all of those beers. And for his magnificent real ales.

There are lessons to be learned, unintended consequences, as alcohol laws evolve. Mr. Madden's succinct letter points that out. Closing a business can be a visceral pang; one can read 'between the lines' of his letter.

That being said, Mr. Madden is a successful doyen of the area's 'craft' beer scene, both with Mad Fox and for a quarter-century before that. Beyond his own personal successes, he has mentored area brewers, he has organized beer festivals for brewers (beginning back when that concept was foreign), he has long advocated (and practiced) cask ale cellarmanship, and, last, but not least, he was co-instrumental in bringing good beer to Washington baseball.

His influence is beyond doubt. If past is prologue, good things await him (and beer lovers of the Washington, D.C.-area).

Real ale quintessence (02)
Unfiltered cask-conditioned pale ale, served via handpump

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Saturday, July 06, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer Independence Day

Beer Independence Day 2019
Independence Day drinking, in the beer garden of Wild Heaven Beer (brewery), in Avondale Estates, Georgia, on 4 July 2019.

Other than being apropos for the day, the mural's caption —"Beer Independence Day 2017"— refers to 1 September 2017, the date on which breweries in Georgia were first 'free' to sell and pour their own beers on their own premises.

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Thursday, July 04, 2019

#VeggieDag Thursday: Food & drink (and more) on Independence Day, by the numbers

Independence Day Food & Drink, by the numbers
  • $6.8 Billion: Amount Americans plan to spend on food for the 4th of July.
  • 150 Million: Hot dogs will be consumed on the 4th of July.
  • $1+ Billion: Amount Americans will spend on beer for the 4th of July, making the day the nation's top beer-drinking holiday.
  • $568 Million: Amount Americans will spend on 4th of July for wine.
  • $1+ Billion: Amount Americans will spend on fireworks in 2019.
  • $5.4 Million: Value of American flags imported annually (mostly from China).
  • 47+ Million: People traveling 50+ miles from home for the 4th of July.
    — Via WalletHub.
    4 July 2019.

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For Independence Day, three out of four Americans choose beer...

...that is, for those Americans who drink or serve alcoholic beverages.

Here are more beer-on-Independence-Day statistics, from studies commissioned by folk who sell beer.
The Beer Institute asked legal-drinking-age adults what alcohol beverage they’d be celebrating with during the Fourth of July holiday. Seventy-five percent of people planning to host or attend a Fourth of July celebration will serve or drink beer. Beer is nearly twice as popular as any other alcohol beverage, with 64 percent of people saying they plan to drink beer compared to 37 percent for wine and 32 percent for hard liquor.
Beer Institute

For brewers, distributors and retailers, Independence Day marks the height of the summer beer selling season. Much like Black Friday is a milestone for traditional retailers, the Fourth of July is a milestone for beer sales. In some states, beer distributors will be delivering double the beer of a typical week. NBWA and Fintech® got together and worked through on- and off-premise volumes for beer distributor sales to retailers across the country in 2016. The data revealed that the Fourth of July ranked #1. [...] While July Fourth takes the number one spot for off-premise sales, the rankings look radically different when just the on-premise (away from home) sales are ranked. In these channels of retail sales, St. Patrick’s Day, the Super Bowl and Cinco De Mayo take top spots.
National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA)


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Recipes

Wait! Whaaat? No watermelon on that list of foods for 4th of July? Come on, now!

Other than simply enjoying a delicious slice of watermelon, here are some other plant-based recipe suggestions for today:
  • Butternut Squash & Beets Salad
    — Via Lucy Saunders from her cookbook, Dinner in the Beer Garden (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal).
  • Watermelon Tofu Salad
    — Via YFGF.
  • The quintessential Spanish summertime chilled soup: gazpacho, 5 ways.
    — Via Voraciously (Washington Post).
  • Grilled Tofu Barbecue
    — Via Vegan Dad.

  • Carrot Dog with veggie chili
  • Carrot Hot Dogs
    — Via Kristen Pound.
  • Beer is a vegan food stuff. Grill your vegetables with it.
    — Via YFGF.
  • Twenty-seven '4th of July' vegan recipes.
    — Via Post Punk Kitchen (Isa Chandra Moskowitz).
  • Twenty-four '4th of July' plant-based recipes.
    — Via Minimalist Baker.
  • One-Bowl Vegan American Flag Cake.
    — Via Nora Cooks.

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In conclusion

Patriots of the American Revolution

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Hourglass 'Lithuanian Farmhouse' Ale

Hourglass Lithuanian Farmhouse Ale

The day I visited the Hourglass Brewing taproom in Longwood, Florida, there were 38 beers on tap. This 'Lithuanian Farmhouse' ale was one of them. Can there be too many?

According to the website, the beer is prepared by:
  • Mashing (heating with water) malted barley, wheat, rye, and oats.
  • Lautering (washing and straining) the wort (a sticky solution of malt sugar derived from the mash) through a bed of hay and hops.
  • "Pasteurizing" the wort in the kettle —but not boiling it.
  • Cooling and then fermenting it with yeast from a "famous Lithuanian brewery."
Reddish-brown and very hazy (as would be expected), but not murky. A long-lasting head, if not spumous. For aroma: apricot and white pepper. For flavor: slightly sour and definitely funky with a suggestion of toffee, lemon rind, and apricot. The finish: abrupt, slightly astringent, and, again, slightly sour, but with a green pepper aftertaste. 5.7% alcohol-by-volume (abv).
"Yeast from Švyturys or Utenos?," I asked the bartender. *
"I'm sorry?" he replied, puzzled.
"Those are two famous Lithuanian breweries," I remarked.
"Oh. I'm not sure," he answered.
"Who among the staff is Lithuanian," I wondered. "No one," he replied.

Hourglass Brewing facade

I took these photos on 17 June 2019. I didn't spy a farmhouse nearby.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: How the beer snob rolls

How the beer snob rolls

When (NOT) in Rome...

When in Atlanta, Georgia, in Piedmont Park —for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival— the beer snob rolls as other Piedmont-Parkers do.

The beer snob drank a Cerveza Pacífico Clara...straight out of the can.

Almost 100% innocuous except for that slight off-flavor of metal dripped through cardboard. Produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev / Grupo Modelo, in Mexico (and safe now, because of T-MEC, "Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá").

PS. "Clara" means "clear, in Spanish. Q.E.D.

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Drinking, again! Westmalle draught Dubbel: Vespers in a glass. (review)

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


I took a sip of my draught and leaned back on my bar stool, taking it all in.

It may have been the expression on my face, because the young lady sitting to my right asked me, "Do you like it?"

I explained that, after more than ninety years, Trappist monks, at their Belgian monastery-brewery, Westmalle, had finally shipped their Dubbel ale to the U.S. in kegs (although they have been exporting the bottles for several decades.)

"I'm happy you could try it," she replied.

"Thank you," I responded. "It was worth the wait...for all of us."

Vespers in a glass

Specifications

  • Alcohol-by-volume (abv): 7%
  • International Bittering Units (IBUs): 24
  • Ingredients: Water, barley malt, candi sugar, hops, yeast.
  • Pronunciation: vest-MUL-uh DOO-buhl
Brownish-red color; off-white head. Anise and rum-raisin aroma; same for flavor, but with apricot and circus peanuts. Semi-sweet finish with a slug of alcohol. (Please excuse the blurry camera-phone shot. It may have been the rapture.)

On draught, at My Parents' Basement, a comic book emporium and pub in Avondale Estates, Georgia, on 13 June 2019.

Westmalle Dubbel.
Vespers in a glass.
Amen.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Geranium among the licorice

Geranium among the licorice

Red! A closeup of geraniums blooming in a bed of silver licorice.

Using flash under the directly overhead midday sun. As seen in a garden, in Atlanta, Georgia, on 11 June 2019.

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Mimosa stamens

Mimosa stamens

Pink, perfumed...and invasive!

A mimosa tree blooms in June, as seen along the East Decatur Greenway, in Decatur, Georgia, on 1 June 2019.

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About the Mimosa

Albizia julibrissin is known by a wide variety of common names, such as Persian silk tree or pink siris. It is also called Lenkoran acacia or bastard tamarind, though it is not too closely related to either genus. The species is usually called 'silk tree' or 'mimosa' in the United States. The leaves of the tree slowly close during the night and during periods of rain, the leaflets bowing downward; thus its modern Persian name shabkhosb, means 'night sleeper.' In Japan, its common names are nemunoki, nemurinoki, and nenenoki which all mean 'sleeping tree.'
Wikipedia.

Originally brought to the U.S. as an ornamental tree, the mimosa tree has escaped gardens and pushed its way into natural areas that should be preserved for native plants. With its ability to reproduce vigorously and with only one natural enemy to keep it in check (Fusarium wilt), it has spread unchecked across the South. It is considered a non-native invasive weed.
Walter Reeves: Georgia Gardener.

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Saturday, June 01, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Still leaf with rapids

Shoal Creek shoals

"Hi! Why are you doing that?" a young girl enquired as I lay prone on a flat rock on the banks of the creek, focusing my camera.

"I'm trying to see what the fish see," I responded.

She seemed to think about that for a couple of seconds, said, "Oh," and walked off.

A 'fish-eye' view of tiny rapids in Shoal Creek, in Dearborn Park, Decatur, Georgia, on 11 May 2019.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

$328 Billion: U.S. beer industry's stake in American economy

Beer Serves America
The Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association released their Beer Serves America economic report on the nation’s beer industry just ahead of Memorial Day, which marks one of the top beer-selling holidays of the year and the start of the summer beer-selling season. The study found the U.S. beer industry supports more than 2.1 million good-paying, local jobs in a wide range of industries, including farming, manufacturing, construction, and transportation in every community across the country.
Beer Institute, 21 May 2019.

Key statistics

  • The beer industry contributes $328.4 billion in economic output, which is equal to 1.6 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
  • There are over seven thousand active breweries in the U.S.
  • Brewers and beer importers directly employ nearly 70,000 Americans.
  • There are over three thousand beer distributors in the U.S. The number of distributor jobs has increased by more than nineteen percent in the last decade, to nearly 141,600.
  • Combined, brewers and distributors directly employ more than 200,000 Americans.
  • Every job in a brewery supports another thirty-one jobs in other industries.
  • Large and mid-sized brewers and beer importers provide about fifty-eight percent of brewing jobs.
  • Suppliers to the brewing industry —enterprises that manufacture bottles and cans, cardboard case boxes, brewing equipment, marketing displays, etc.— generate nearly $102 billion in economic activity and are responsible for almost 436,650 jobs alone.
  • Overall, the beer industry generates more than 2.1 million jobs.
  • Beer produces $58.6 billion in tax revenues equal to nearly forty percent of the retail price paid for these products by consumers, comprising:
    • $46.3 billion in revenues to federal, state and local governments
    • $4.8 billion in federal and state excise taxes for consumption of beer
    • $6.6 billion in state sales taxes
    • $816 million in city and county excise taxes and other beer-specific local taxes.

US Beer's Economic Impact 2018

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Growth of Beer Industry

Compare these 2018 data to those from, say, the 2014 Beer Serves America report:
  • $253 billion in economic activity (1.5% of GDP).
  • 1.75 million jobs.
  • $48.5 billion in tax revenue.
In 2018, economic activity and jobs are up, while taxes collected are down. And yet, the beer industry —for whom the federal excise tax rate has not changed since 1976 (when it was went down!)— asks for a tax cut.

Just sayin.'

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Ambush Owl

Ambush Owl
'An Ambush,' said Owl, 'is a sort of Surprise.'
Winnie-the-Pooh
A.A.Milne

Surprising me and my dog, this fine fellow graciously held his pose overhead for a couple of seconds.

It was 19 May 2019. All three of us were in a forest on the grounds of the former United Methodist Children's Home, in Decatur, Georgia.

The city recently purchased this seventy-seven-acre parcel of land. What it will do with it remains up in the air.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

#VeggieDag Thursday: Memorial Day Friday edition.

It's Memorial Day weekend...

Not the start of astronomical summer, but indeed its calendrical onset. And refreshment. Five percent of all the beer sold during the year is sold during the two weeks surrounding Memorial Day.

To accompany that beer, sixty percent of Americans are expected to barbecue this weekend. According to WalletHub:



And many will infuse beer into their bastes, sauces, mops, and marinades: tasty and healthy. Read on.

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Grilling

The Washington Post's Voraciously offered some tips for grilling:
Extra-virgin olive oil prevents sticking, keeps foods juicy and promotes caramelization/grill marks. But note: Oil the food, not the grill grate. Why? Because the oil on a preheating grate will start to burn and become tacky. Your food won’t stick when it is brushed all over with a thin coat of olive oil and placed on a clean cooking grate. Also, the coating will act as a barrier, preventing natural juices/water in the food from turning into steam and evaporating. That means your food won’t dry out before it’s done.

My bag trick will save time, coat your food sparingly and evenly, and keep your hands grease-free. It is also a handy and sanitary way to carry food to the grill. Here’s what to do: Place your prepped food in a resealable zip-top bag and pour in a little olive oil. Seal and massage the food through the bag to give it a thin, all-over coating. Keep the bag refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.

Salt brings out the flavor in just about anything. Season your food with salt after you have coated it with the oil and just before it goes on the grill, otherwise the salt will draw the juices to the surface. Start with a pinch; there is a fine line between just right and too much. It’s easy to add but almost impossible to subtract.

Pepper is not quite as essential as the first two items in this trilogy, but I am a fan of black pepper for grilling. A coarse or flaky “butcher grind” is preferable, because it will not bring as much heat to your food as a finely ground pepper (dust).

Grilled ratatouille stack

And as to vegetables, Voraciously says this:
Vegetables headed for the grill should be cleaned and cut in slices that won’t fall through the grates, about ½-inch thick. Recommended for direct-heat grilling: asparagus, bell peppers, squash, zucchini, eggplant, corn in the husk, scallions and onions; also large strawberries, melon and bananas (in their peels).

To be grilled over indirect heat: firm, whole vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, heads of garlic, artichokes, large mushrooms such as portobellos. Prep them with the grilling trilogy [olive oil, salt, pepper]; also, whole fruit including apples, pears, peaches, apricots, etc. Many of these will benefit by a short amount of time directly over the heat to get grill marks but will be primarily cooked with indirect heat. (Technically, that would be a next-level, combination method.) For great grill marks, place your (direct-heat) food across the grates from left to right. I cut squash and zucchini lengthwise and place them across the grates.


Well-worn "Grilling with Beer"

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Beer AS marinade

Why use beer in a BBQ sauce? First and foremost, flavor. Beer is much less acidic than wine, vinegar or citrus juices commonly used in BBQ sauces and marinades. It will tenderize meats without breaking down texture as rapidly as more powerful acids. Also, the balanced flavor in beer means that the other herbs and spices will not be overwhelmed by acetic notes.

Second, beer is less expensive than wine. It's possible to use a very fine quality ale to make more than a quart of marinade, and still spend less than $5.

Third, the variety in North American beer styles encourages experimenting in the kitchen. From apricot ale to witbier, there's a flavor that matches a meat, chicken or seafood sauce destined for the grill.

Fourth, drinking beer with BBQ —especially dark beer such as porters and stouts— defuses potentially dangerous [carconogenic] compounds.
— Lucy Saunders
Grilling with Beer (2006).

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Vegetarian Recipes

And some VeggieDag recipes:
Stout-marinaded Grilled Veggies (01)

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Beer

The first time I spotted an ad for a fancy 6-burner grill with a bottle of wine and two stemmed goblets perched on its shiny stainless steel hood, something clicked inside me like an electronic ignition. "Why wine?" I fumed. Craft beer delivers the best flavors to go with barbecue and grilled foods.

What makes craft beer so tasty with grilled far? Specialty roasted barley malts in a cascade of caramel colors enhance the flavors of barbecued food. Hops that range from floral to citrusy to deeply astringent help cut through the fat of ribs and burgers. And carbonation completes the sensation of refreshment, readying you for yet another bite.
— Lucy Saunders

Beers? You pick 'em.

But my suggestions are dark for the marinade and this 'craft' lager for chilling: United Craft Lager, from Georgia/Virginia's New Realm Brewing. New this year, it gives Sierra Nevada's Summerfest a run for its B, double E, double R, U, N money!
American lager made with a blend of pale and pilsner malts, flaked corn, and a cool combo of Hallertau, Hersbrucker and Lemondrop hops. At 4.5-percent alcohol.


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Memorial Day

Oh, and, by the way. It is Memorial Day weekend this weekend, which is, above all, a weekend for remembering America's war dead.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
— Abraham Lincoln
19 November 1863.

Remembering those who died

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Refreshed by jazz

Refreshed by jazz

That's the ticket! A cold draught beer and a hot big band seemed to be just the refreshment this gentleman required.

Listening to the Joe Gransden Big Band perform, in black-and-white, at the Inman Park Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, on 28 April 2019.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Draught Beer Quality in the U.S.?

Foamy draught

The number one problem affecting 'craft' beer in the United States is not the beer itself. It's not the infantilization of beer flavors (Ninkasi: make it stop!). It's not even shelf-stability, although beer staling within days of receipt in a store is indeed a problem.

The biggest fault in 'craft' beer is the much-too-often-encountered poor condition of draught beer, as it is poured at pubs and at breweries themselves. Dumping pints of foam down a bar drain, repeatedly, is a gross loss of profit; it's an alteration to the carbonated quality of the beer itself. If a brewery cannot understand the basics of draught technology sufficiently enough to pour a good pint in its own taproom, how can it expect or demand that a commercial account do better?

To that end —even though it wouldn't couch it in those terms— the [U.S.] Brewers Association released the 4th edition of its Draught Beer Quality Manual, in April of this year. The new edition has been expanded from the 87 pages of the 3rd edition to 117, adding an index, among other things.

Draught Beer Quality Manual 2019
Prepared by the Technical Committee of the Brewers Association, the Draught Beer Quality Manual presents well-researched, detailed information on draught line cleaning, system components and design, pressure and gas balance, proper pouring technique, glassware sanitation, and other valuable advice from the experts. Also included is information on both direct- and long-draw draught systems, important safety tips, and helpful visuals for easy reference.

The manual even contains four pages —as one of four extensive appendices— on serving cask ale. Taproom managers would be well-served to read those before simply tossing (ugh!) a firkin onto a bartop.

The Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Working Group began focusing on draught beer quality at retail in 2007. Under the guidance of Ken Grossman, Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and 2008 Chair of the Brewers Association Technical Committee, the brewing community came together to develop a set of best practices and standards to help brewers, wholesalers, retailers, and draught system installers improve and maintain the quality of available draught beer. The Draught Beer Quality Manual continues to evolve through collaborative efforts within the brewing community.

The information on how to serve a good —if not perfect— pint is out there; it's been so for years. There simply is no good excuse for bartenders (and brewery taprooms, for #$%!@! sake) to claim ignorance and serve bad draught beer. It's their product. They should take pride in it.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Garden vine blossoms

Garden vine blossoms

Mom always loved weeding her flower beds 'best,' more so than planting them. She took delight, she would say, in "the creative destruction."

Here's a blossoming vine I saw climbing near a front door, in Decatur, Georgia, 10 May 2019. No creative destruction needed.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

A Rocksteady American Mild Month

Rock Steady Mild at the brewery

As far as I can determine, Rocksteady 'English Mild' is the only Georgia, USA-brewed Mild Ale * currently available during American Mild Month in May.

And it's a good one, on draught at its creator, Good Word Brewing, a brewpub in Duluth, Georgia.
This Mild clocks in at 3.4% and has hints of leather, chocolate, and slight menthol from the E.K.G. and Fuggles hops we used in this beer.

Rocksteady is a year-round mainstay, there. But there's a bonus. During American Mild Month in May, the brewpub is also serving the mild cask-conditioned via beer engine. But that's only on Thursdays (or until the cask runs out) and only after 5 pm.

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

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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Rosebud glory

Rosebud glory

Georgia's May Day's rosebud's glory.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
— William Shakespeare (Sonnet 18)

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: What color do brewsters dream in?

Lauter tun (02)

What color do brewsters dream in?

Stainless!

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Pictured: a lauter tun [pronounced like 'louder' but with a 't' in place of the 'd'; 'tun' like 'ton']: one of the several pieces of stainless-steel kit in a brewhouse.
a stainless-steel vessel that receives the entire mash from the mixer [or mash tun] after the suitable conversion time has passed [barley malt starch enzymatically converted into sugars]. It has a slotted false bottom with 'valleys' arranged in concentric circles. The mash bed sits on the false bottom. To enable wort runoff to the brew kettle, rakes with knives rotate slowly, cutting the mash. The bed is sparged [washed with hot water] during the runoff.
— Christine P. Rhodes, Tom Bedell, et. al
The Encyclopedia of Beer, 1995.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: A few craft brewers fight to protect their principal ingredient — water.

How to clean a river?

"You can’t make great beer without clean water."


Four ingredients comprise most of beer: water, barley malt, hops, and yeast. Of those, water holds the greatest share by far, 95% of beer's makeup, give or take a few percentage points.
Not only is clean water critical for our health and our economy—it’s essential to making a great-tasting pint. That’s why almost 100 breweries have joined the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to work to protect the Clean Water Act of 1972. Brewers for Clean Water (BFCW) advocate for measures that safeguard their water sources from upstream pollution and keep waterways clean for their downstream neighbors.

One major fight of the BFCW campaign is to save the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which clarifies the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act and protects vulnerable waterways from pollution and destruction. Brewers for Clean Water members were instrumental in persuading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt this important rule. Now they’re working hard to counter efforts to repeal it.
National Resources Defense Council

In March, a group of 59 'craft' breweries, partners in NRDC’s Brewers for Clean Water campaign, sent a letter to both the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the agencies’ 'Dirty Water Rule' proposal to slash clean water protections for waterways around the country.
Mr. Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, U.S. Department of the Army

Dear Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:

We oppose your proposal to substantially limit the number of waterways receiving protection under the Clean Water Act. This rule would endanger critical wetlands and streams across the country—waterways that our craft breweries depend on to provide the clean water we use to brew our beer.

Beer is mostly water, so the quality of our source water significantly affects our finished product. Compounds present in brewing water can affect pH, color, aroma, and taste. Sulfates make hops taste astringent, while chlorine can create a medicinal off-flavor. The presence of bacteria can spoil a batch of beer. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern.

Unexpected changes in water quality—due to pollution in our source water, or a change in the treatment process at our local drinking water plant—can threaten our brewing process and our bottom line. We need reliable sources of clean water to consistently produce the great beer that is key to our success. It is thanks in part to this important natural resource that the craft brewing industry contributes about $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year, along with more than 500,000 jobs.

For years, craft brewers have been asking for more clean water protections, not fewer. We supported the 2015 Clean Water Rule because it helped protect the sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans from pollution and destruction, providing certainty that we would continue to have access to the clean water on which our livelihoods depend. Importantly, that rule was based on sound science. The record showed that the waters it protected had biological, chemical, and physical connections to larger downstream waterways.

This proposed rule, to the contrary, ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that protecting small streams and wetlands is essential to ensuring the quality of America’s water sources. It would prohibit applying federal pollution-control safeguards to rain-dependent streams and exclude wetlands that do not have a surface connection to other protected waters. It also invites polluters to ask for even greater rollbacks, such as eliminating protections for seasonally-flowing streams.

We strongly oppose these proposed changes, which would affect millions of miles of streams and most of the nation’s wetlands. Science shows that protecting these waters is important to downstream water quality. We must maintain clear protections for the vulnerable waterways that provide our most important ingredient.

We are depending on you not to roll back the safeguards established under the Clean Water Act. Protecting clean water is central to our long-term business success. Moreover, it is vital to the health and the economy of the communities where we live and work.

Thank you for considering our views on this important matter.
The 59 brewery signatories to this letter.

Kudos to these brewers.

Nevertheless, there are over 7,300 'craft' breweries in the United States. One wonders why only fifty-nine were concerned enough about their prime ingredient that they would sign this letter. Or why the signature of their industry representative, the [U.S.] Brewers Association, is absent.

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

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Rosebush, refreshed

Rose bush, refreshed

They say to spray water droplets on flowers when shooting close-ups. I prefer to wait for nature to provide the raindrops. Waiting for a breeze to subside: that's another thing.

Here, a spring rain refreshes a fledgling rosebush, in a garden in DeKalb County, Georgia, on 12 April 2019.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Drinking, again! Euphonia Pilsner

Euphonia, posed

It was during the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference that I took my first whiffs of hops Ariana, Calista, Hallertau Blanc, Hüll Melon, Mandarina, Saphir, and Smaragd, the new German harvest of American-esque hop varieties (although the Germans would NOT like that characterization!). Aromas of melon and mulberries, and even foxy tones.

I revere German brewers' traditional, 'noble' hops such as Hallertau Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, but I was impressed by these new kids, bold yet elegantly restrained. During the six years since, those hops have caught on with brewers in the States.

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

Euphonia Pilsner

Here's one such beer, American-brewed, paying homage back to that. It's Euphonia Pilsner, brewed by New Realm Brewing, of Virginia Beach, Virginia (and Atlanta, Georgia).

I enjoyed it al fresco and 'still life'd,' in Decatur, Georgia, on 14 April 2019.
  • The brewery's website states:
    German-style pilsner combines tradition with modern hopping techniques for a nice floral hop character. Brewed with German Pilsner malt, and late addition hops to provide a soft bitterness and vibrant hop aroma. 5% abv [alcohol-by-volume].

  • The can states:
    • "Hersbrucker, Huell Melon, Saphir, & Sterling" hops.
    • 5.8% as the abv rather than the website's lower claim of 5%.
    • The provenance, "Brewed in Georgia," whereas the punt of the can is clearly stamped with the words, "Brewed in VA,"
    • The packaging date: 14 March 2019 (also inked on the punt, under the can).

  • Now, my turn:
    Restrained use of new-age fruity lager hops overlays classic spicy/floral hops. There's a hint of classic lager sulfur but NO hint of the brunchy —egg and apple— foul of many 'craft' lagers. In the background, there's firm shortbread malt.

  • Conclusion:
    Overall, Euphonia Pilsner is bright and crisp, and overtly, if not bluntly, aromatic, with a sustained finish. It's proof that New Realm's brewmaster co/owner, Mitch Steele —the 2014 recipient of the [U.S.] Brewers Association's Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing, the former head brewer for Stone Brewing and, before that, a brewer for Anheuser-Busch, and the man who literally wrote the book on IPA — knows how to brew a pilsner, by Groll! That the beer tasted 'born-on fresh' a full month after it was packaged is a further testament to his brewing chops.


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

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Doggin' Dogwood

Doggin' Dogwood

It's early April in Georgia, and many of the dogwood blossoms are already past peak. But not these guys.
The four showy flower petals of the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) aren’t actually petals as botanists define them. The dogwood petals instead are modified leaves called bracts that surround a cluster of about 20 tiny yellow flowers. As the flowers bloom, the showy bracts expand to attract pollinating insects. Each bract has a dark red-brown indentation at its tip. Depending on location, dogwood trees may bloom in March, April or May for about two weeks. When pollinated, the flowers produce red berries relished by wildlife.
SFGate.

As seen in Sycamore Park, in Decatur, Georgia, on 11 April 2019.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What's 'craft' beer worth? Try $27.6 Billion.

This week, a plenitude of American 'craft' brewers are in Denver, Colorado, attending the Craft Brewers Conference/BrewExpo, the industry's annual confabulation, hosted and organized by the [U.S.] Brewers Association in different U.S. cities each year.

In conjunction with that, the BA has released its annual compilation of annual growth data for the U.S. 'craft' brewing industry. Such as:

Craft Beer Production, 2018
In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.

Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018. The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017.
[...]

There were 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018, including 4,521 microbreweries, 2,594 brewpubs, and 231 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 1,049 new brewery openings and 219 closings—a closing rate of 3 percent.
[...]

Craft Breweries, 2018

[These] numbers are preliminary. [...] A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® in Denver, Colorado from April 8 – 11, 2019. The full 2018 industry analysis will be published in the May/June 2019 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and production by individual breweries.

— [U.S.] Brewers Association
2 April 2019

And while I'm at it, here's the BA's super-duper definition of its member breweries, that is, its definition of what a 'craft' brewery is. Note, however, that the BA does not define what a 'craft' beer is.
An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer.
  • Small:
    Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent:
    Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Brewer:
    Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice [Federal license to brew beer commercially] and makes beer.


Trailer for the short, "For the Love of Craft," produced by [U.S.] Brewers Association founder Charlie Papaziaan. The film is to be premiered at the CBC.

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Saturday, April 06, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Friday afternoon Contrast

Friday afternoon Contrast

Garage-style doors opened, April spring let in, and Artifice Pale V2 served on draught. It's a Friday afternoon in the taproom at Contrast Artisan Ales, on 5 April 2019.

The brewery is new. Contrast opened to the public —in the city of Chamblee, Georgia, population 29,000, a few miles north of Atlanta— only three months earlier, in December 2018. It's owned and operated by Chase Medlin, the past head brewer at Twains Brewpub and Billiards in nearby Decatur.

Contrast's taproom is cozy and spartan —a converted auto-repair shop— with local artwork on the walls and a wrap-around white granite bar-top. Wooden barrels double as tabletops in the stool-less small outdoor front patio.

The two-vessel seven-barrel brewhouse can be seen in the background. Beers are served from finishing tanks located in a cold room directly behind the bar (to the left in the photo).

The pictured beer, Artifice Pale, is a not a hazy or juicy-fruit pale ale but a bright and crisp one with a citrusy aroma and dry finish, at an alcohol level of 5.6% (by volume). I would surmise that an apparent 11% alcohol decrease from the recipe for version 1 decreased the sweetness but increased the perkiness in this, version 2.

And increased —gulp— its 'drinkability.'

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  • Neither Contrast's website nor its Facebook page lists the brewery's address (or current beer list). It's: 5504 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, just east of the intersection with Broad Street.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos, posted on Saturdays, and occasionally, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • See the photo on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1. Lens: Canon 50mm ƒ/1.4 FD.
  • Settings: 20 mm | 1/100 | ISO 200 | f/4.0
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • For more from YFGF:

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Bridge over calm waters

Bridge over Calm Waters (02)

Dredged by folk, 
It's really a pond. 
But still, 
It's chill. 
Avondale Lake.

Wooden trestles span this bridge over calm waters, located in the city of Avondale Estates, Georgia. Photo taken 27 March 2019.

And, by the way ...
The land that makes up present-day Georgia had few natural lakes before European settlement, and most impoundments, formed by beavers and debris dams from high flows, were relatively small. The lack of glacial retreat, land slope, and local geology provided conditions for large and small rivers and streams but not for lakes. The natural water bodies that occur in Georgia are primarily located in the southern part of the state in the Coastal Plain, where sinkhole lakes and isolated wetlands in natural shallow depressions largely fed by rain and shallow groundwater, called Carolina bays, form. Hence, the majority of lakes in Georgia that are now enjoyed for recreational, industrial, municipal, and federal government uses are made by people.
New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Pink Spring!

Sycamore Pink (02)

On 17 March 2019, these magnificent dogwoods —in the Sycamore Street neighborhood of Decatur, Georgia— were in the pink, seemingly celebrating the start of spring. They were three days early.

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

Vernal Equinox

The actual Vernal Equinox —when winter became spring, astronomically— occurred Wednesday at 5:58 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time. (That's Atlanta, Georgia time. Your time may vary.) At that moment, the Sun crossed, from south to north, directly above the equator. In other words, at that moment there was no tilt of the Earth's axis in regard to the Sun. For our friends south of the equator, the March Equinox marks the end of summer and start of autumn.

Super Worm Full Moon

The moon also rose that evening of the Equinox, full (aka the Worm Moon) and 'super' (its closest approach to the Earth). That's a phenomenon that last occurred in spring 1905 and won’t occur again until 2144.

Not half and half

Year to year, due to the inexactness of the modern calendar and because Earth's elliptical orbit is continually changing its orientation relative to the Sun, the date varies from 19 through 21 March. And, it isn't true that on that day, there are equal amounts of daylight and dark. It's close, but not quite.

Vernal Equinox and Easter

In A.D. 325, the Roman Catholic Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls after the Vernal Equinox. (A full moon —the Worm Moon— did occur Wednesday night, but since it occurred on the same date, it's not technically the first full moon after the Equinox.)

In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls after March 21. Thus, Easter can occur as early as 22 March or as late as 25 April, depending on when the paschal full moon falls.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Malt for U.S. beer in 2019.

The Craft Maltsters' Handbook (front)

Hops are an herb, but without a fermentable starch, you ain't got beer.
Each year, the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) releases its list of recommended malting barley varieties to US growers. AMBA is a nonprofit trade association of 76 brewing, distilling and malting companies that are end users of US malting barley. The list is meant to inform US producers which malting barley varieties the industry intends to use in the upcoming year. Some varieties will be used in large quantities and others are only utilized in niche markets, so producers are encouraged to contact their local elevator, grain handler or processor to gauge market demand for any variety grown in their region prior to seeding.

There are several changes from the 2018 list. The two-row varieties Harrington and Propino are being dropped from the list and four two-row varieties are being added. These additions include ABI Growler, Bill Coors 100, Moravian 165, and Thunder. ABI Growler is a two-rowed, midseason, spring barley developed by Busch Agricultural Resources, Ft. Collins, Colorado. Bill Coors 100 and Moravian 165 are two-rowed, spring varieties bred by Molson Coors in Burley, ID. Bill Coors 100 was released in 2016 in celebration of Mr. Bill Coors 100th birthday. Thunder is a two-rowed, winter variety released by Oregon State University and has performed very well in the Pacific Northwest.
Craft Malting Guild

Related pondering:
With the midwest, especially Nebraska, devastated by the flooding caused by the recent so-called 'cyclone bomb,' will barley farmers in other areas convert their fields to produce feed barley or other feed grains to fill the void, driving up the cost of malt?

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Tree at night in fog

Tree at night in fog

Long exposure: a froggy, froggy night in Avondale Estates, Georgia, on 17 February 2019.

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