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


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.'


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Ambush Owl

Ambush Owl
'An Ambush,' said Owl, 'is a sort of Surprise.'

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.


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.



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"


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).


Vegetarian Recipes

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



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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)