I was thinking the other day about scare-dee cats. While good beer for fans is fun, easy, relaxing and genial for others it can be another nail in the coffin of the moral and secure society we all grew up with or supposedly wished we did. There is something about this dichotomy that makes no sense to me. Craft beer should be making alliances with parts of society which would enhance its vision. For some that is the swank or even the snob but I don’t buy that either. I go to a fine restaurant about six times a year… maybe. Pinning craft beer’s star to fine food is niche and excludes. Similarly being pals with brewers or considering them rock stars is the slightly embarrassing refuge of needy geeks. Not to mention a bit of a sidetrack.
There are bigger issues which neither embarrass or exclude. One of the biggest problems related to drinking is, of course, driving. And drunk driving is primarily a problem caused by driving. No car, no crime. Lew posted about this today in relation to New Jersey’s Flying Fish’s Exit Series beers. When I pointed out that the state’s executive director of MADD had changed her view, Lew commented “Craft brewers and craft beer drinkers do NOT take this seriously enough.”
That was my moment. I was all ready to blast craft brewers for their inaction on the question when I thought about what Lew wrote a bit more. It’s true – craft beer drinkers do not take drunk driving seriously enough either. So we will from now on. By being BBADD. I am going to think about this a bit more and suggest that it is the role of beer fans to promote safe drinking, to present the responsible beer geek as the guy who takes pal’s keys or takes the cab or the bus… or acts as designated driver. We need to ask craft brewers to do the same. For me, this is a no-brainer. Craft brewers have the opportunity to be fight drunk driving and place themselves in the lead of the cause. Social responsibility in the cause could develop as a distinguishing aspect of being a craft brewer and a craft brew fan. There might also be an alliance MADD would welcome one day to confirm they are not the new dry but truly anti-stupid-death. But until that day comes, we can be BBADD to prime the pump.
So, spread the word. Paste the logo at your website. And I know it’s a bad BBADD logo up there so if anyone can make it better or, you know, bad ass or sick or whatever fill you boots. Write a post. Tell a friend. However you relate to beer, make sure it is BBADD.
Finally, I made it to the life of if not a jet setter, then, maybe a border hopper as this morning’s Watertown Daily News proves:
While heckling from the “cranks,” or fans, was not an official requirement of the game, there was certainly plenty directed toward all four teams. Mr. Drinkwater himself engaged in a fair amount of good-natured bantering as umpire and later as a player on the Rochesters, who won their first game against Kingston 9-2 but lost 12-4 in the championship round against the Ontarios… For Alan C. McLeod, organizer of the Kingston team, it was international collaboration that brought his players to the vintage games in the first place. “Obviously there’s a lot of camaraderie. Sackets Harbor got us interested in this two years ago,” Mr. McLeod said. According to the organizer, teams from Canada used to cross over into the States to play baseball with Americans as early as 1870.
Getting whupped 9-2 by the Rochester best nine is not exactly bad when you consider it was the fourth game for the Kingston St. Lawrence Brown Stockings and Rochester has run a weekly program for years. We got tagged for five in the sixth, too. We were down by just one before that. Have I made enough excuses? Need a lighter bat as well. And a bit more work on the fielding. And I shouldn’t have tried for second that one time but they did say that a ball that went into the bush was a double when they meant that a ball that went into the bush and stays in there was a double. I should have done a Billy Martin on those Rochestarians but I was way too out of breath.
I was clicking away last Thursday as the Binghampton Mets beat the Portland Sea Dogs 2-1 in a pitchers’ duel. Got the bunt in a good sequence of shots. We had pretty good seats for seven or eight bucks and got to witness a lot of players who will never make the bigs. Some might. I really liked the Sea Dogs shortstop Diaz as well as all of the Met’s pitchers. Great Sox hope Lars Anderson did not have a good game going 0-4 with two strike outs. In fact in the ninth the lad was shouting “Swing At It, Would’ja Lars!!” as another strike went by as the bat sat nestled on his shoulder. Earlier, after bobbling and almost dropping a foul pop fly he was dubbed “Two Hands, Lars!” after the advice the boy shouted field wards a couple of seconds later. Super tiny midget level softball is paying off. Lars hit 3-4 the next night.
I had BBQ and specifically pulled pork three times on the road. State Street BBQ in Watertown, NY. Beale Street BBQ in South Portland, Maine. Tail O’ The Pup, Ray Brook, New York. I hate to rank good BBQ pulled pork but the Tail O’ The Pup’s sauced take was so soft you could have spread it into a paste with a butter knife. Beale Street’s was hearty and smoky while State Street’s was subtler, like a slow cooked Sunday pork roast. All good.
Tail o’ the Pup was also one of those places municipal planning standards would never accept in Canada to our great cultural loss. Part 1930’s roadside cottages. Part beer tent with its own band. Part diner set in the great outdoors.
As you may have guessed, I like to think about my relationship to beer and the brewing trade. That is, at this moment, really my prime motivation for this blog. It is not so much that I need to chronical my time with beer. And it is certainly not that I think that I have any right to suggest I write like Pete does, am a beer historian like Ron or knowledgeable of the trade like Lew or Stan or that I even have ambitions to be a beer journalist like Troy. No, if this habit of writing is anything it is about me thinking about me and beer. Maybe that it takes so much writing likely speaks more to who’s typing than what is being considered. I never said I was that bright.
So, being essentially a magazine about me, this sort of blogging sometimes means you have to consider what you are not. Yesterday, I dropped into Allagash to pick up my border crossing quota of a few large bottles and a two-four of their White. [By the way, when I asked for a “two-four” I was first brought a couple of four packs.] I was served a sample of their Black, a very nice stout, by a genial pouring host who turned out to be Rob Tod, owner and brewer. He was speaking with an other at the bar retail store’s bar who turned out to be one of the senior guys who ran Victory in Pennsylvania, himself also on a road trip. We chatted a bit as I grabbed bottles to take with me. About how hard it was to bring US craft beer into Ontario. About how Rob was going to be doing a beer dinner in Toronto this fall. I even mentioned I was picking up another of Allagash’s Victor due to my strong and unexpected reaction which had challenged my thoughts about my own taste. I had heard a new grape had been used and wanted to compare. The comment was received with interest, perhaps given the general positive reaction beer fans often provide, but also with real courtesy. In addition to touching on the challenge of storage conditions, the man from Victory (whose name I will be embarrased to be reminded of I am sure) poiinted out that beer also changes all the time due to the availability of ingredients whether the consumer knows or not. Very pleasant conversation as is usual with both brewers and Mainers. All the while, though, I was noticing that each brewer seemed to have a few more of their staff along in the next room sharing samples – and sharing at a level that was more trade than consumer. Instead of beer geekery, it reminded me more of listening to my pals in the software development business I used to hang out with: a little door was opened before me to a level I likely wouldn’t really get. It wasn’t so much the “hard working people working hard” that we geeks are often reminded of as quality brewers comfortably exchanging ideas.
My options seemed limited. To fawn. Or to buy and leave. I was happy with the glimpse and skee-daddled.
Not so much bullets as things noted:
- Chowder is something to do when it rains.
- That guy in Double A baseball who is the next big thing may well not be.
- Banjos can be valued for their good trade-in potential.
- My feet will freckle if I just give them the chance.
- Those screams you hear at waterslide amusement parks include the sounds of terrified 46 year olds.
Links? Maybe next week. It’s not like I looked at the internet much this week.
Apparently wherever I go I pack an extra 5 kilopascals or whatever atmospheric pressure is measured in. The weather has cracked from a month of wet to sunny and dry. Ran into a pal on a CNY backroad gas station three hours from either of our homes and was inspired to grab a 7 puck twelve pack of Utica Club, the local value brew. Then I got a few from Ommegang including their wonderful Hennepin at the corner store near Friday’s hotel. Another local brew. A huge downpour pushed us off the I-95 right at Well, as if Thor demanded I stop in at Tully‘s to see how things were with Dawn’s shop. Bursting at the seams with downeast ales and lagers. The week ahead? I’ll be hunting out Allagash and other Maine brews on tap at the neighbourhood pubs of Portland. It is a tough old life and, as with the scale of the fireworks at the harbour last night, a reminder of what a bigger freer land America can seem sometimes for those from the Great White North.
The trouble with charcoal grilling is that when the rain comes you can’t turn it off. Propane, on the other hand, has a nice dial that has a “0” setting. But there is the garden shed and, when it rains and you have visitors, it can turn out to be a delightful place to while away a late afternoon hour reading last week’s newspapers in the recycling bin, listening to AM radio and comparing a few examples of bieres de garde and saisons.
We opened the Ch’ti Blonde from Brasserie Castelain à Bénifontaine first, a gold ale called a saison (though French not Belgian) by the BAers but a biere de garde by Phil Markowski in his book Farmhouse Ales under a white mouse head that resolved to a froth and rim. It was the favorite of the set with cream malted milk, pear juice and nutty grain. Very soft water. I actually wrote “limpid cream of what graininess” but I am a little embarrassed by that pencil scribble. It gets a fairly poor rating from the BAers but maybe that is because they were not in a shed when they tried it. Castelain’s Blond (no “e”) Biere de Garde was drier but still creamy fruity, not far off the greatest example of a Canadian export ale. Light sultana rather than pear. Also dry in the sense of bread crusty rather than astringency. Lighter gold than the Ch’ti but, again, the rich firm egg white mousse head and far more BAers approve. By this time the shed dwellers had decided that steak could in fact be finger food and also that these ales were an excellent pairing with chunks of rib and New York strip. The Jenlain Ambree by Brasserie Duyck was another level of richness altogether, the colour of a chunk of deep smoked Baltic amber, the richest lacing I have ever seen left on a glass. Hazelnut and raisin, brown sugar and black current with a hint of tobacco. Lately I have been thinking that amber ales are the one style that could quietly slip away and never be missed. Placing this in the glass in the hand in the shed as the rain thumped on the roof and steak was eaten was an instructive treat as to what ambers can be, though 6% of BAers hesitate to be so enthusiastic.
I think this is the worst photo I have ever posted so I will keep it tiny unless you choose to click on it for the full effect. Apparently there is a limit to the beery photographic arts and I have made it my own. The 3 Monts to the left was picked up at Marche Jovi in nearby Quebec for a stunningly low price of under six bucks. Plenty of malteser and pale malt graininess with yellow plum and apple fruitiness, straw gold with more of the thick rich head, cream in the yeast. The water was not as soft was either beer from Castelain but all BAers love it. By Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre who also made this biere nouvelle. To the right, the Fantome Winter was one of the stranger beers I have ever had and, frankly, a disappointment. All I could taste was radish, sharp and vegetative, over and all around the insufficient malt. In my ignorance, I didn’t realize that was likely quite an aged beer as the happy BAers explain. Neither the cork or even label, with its unmarked best before portion, give a hint as to the year but that is all right as I suspect I will consider this just a lesson learned even though I generally love Fantome.
By this time there were stars and a breeze as the cold front finished moving through.