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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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