YFGF on social media

Firkin a go-go (01)

Want even fresher beer news?

Go to YFGF's Facebook page:
YoursForGoodFermentables/

Or scroll down.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).


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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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