Maybe A Junket, Payment, Sample, Freebie, Pal Registry?

Having the odd combination today of a chorus of the “I Can’t Quite Follow You” Blues contrasted with being offered an actual beer junket itinerary, it popped into my head that an independent registry of potential conflicts for good beer opinion makers might be in order. Sort of a confessional. Sort of a preventative. Yet also likely an interesting aggregate effect if, you know, aggregated. What would be some categories of information that might be included for the junket category:

♦ Name (optional)
♦ Destination and name of brewery or breweries.
♦ Price of junket and portion you paid.
♦ Who organized the junket?
♦ Why were you selected to go on this junket?
♦ Will you disclose the junket in any resulting articles?
♦ Will you refer the junket as “research” in any resulting articles?
♦ Do you intend to call people on junket “friends” in any resulting articles?
♦ Will you disclose to your actual friends that you intend to call people on junket “friends” too?

There. That’s a start. Please use the comments section for your junket disclosures. I am sure that will be helpful way to handle this.

Election 2012: While I Still Have The Power To Blog….

I better make some comment on this election, make some statement given the history around here even if the digital world has deemed blogs to commentary what 8-tracks are to fine audio media.

I was over in the states yesterday and found an active economy. My favorite lunch spot, the Fairgrounds Inn where I have been going for at least six years now was hopping on a Friday lunch. I had the Italian Combo, thanks for asking. And I got my hair cut. The guy getting sheered next to me went on about the Biden debate. Unhappy but a bit shallow. Was there really cause to gripe? Businesses were expanding. On the way out of town, my rear passenger side wheel just about seized and we were lucky to come over the hill on #37 and see Frenchy’s Auto Repair right there. An hour was all it took to get a part delivered and see us back heading to the border. We lapped up the warm late late summer air on a gorgeous rural vista out back of the repair ship. Everyone in the place was happy and busy and working. Some were having a beer. One of my favorite things about the slice of the USA I get to see is how it is both so similar to the Maritimes as a bit of a hard luck corner of the nation but also how frankly cheerful and confident folk are. The restaurant was at a dull roar of conversation the whole time we were there. It was hard to tell if the auto repair was a place of work or a fairly hearty social club given all the people coming and going while we were there.

What will America do on 6 November? My take is that Obama has not been passed, the Federal Senate will not budge and a number of member of the House will move to the left, not the right. There will not be a throw the bums out movement. I don’t think Mitt Romney would be a catastrophe any more than four more years would. No wave of nuttin’. But the next four years one way or another will be about managing recovery. Whammo. Not sure the will be a WHAMMO!!! but there will be a Whammo.


More International Insurance Map Brewery Fun








It was the best of times and insurance maps. It was the worst of times, you know, and… insurance maps. Errr. a tale of two cities of sorts, I suppose. From the upper left we have the Kingston Brewery as well as Portsmouth Brewing of my town from 1908 plus, to the upper right, the Albany Brewing Company, then below left Beverwick Brewing Company and, lower right, Taylor Brewing and Malting all of Albany in 1892. What can we learn from these images? Click on each image and find out for yourself. Here is what I see:

UL: As discussed last August, the Kingston Brewery dates from at least 1791. The badly digitized 1824 map shows a set of buildings on the inland side of the inner harbour road. The 1908 map shows much of the same complex built up overtime. The malt kiln, laid with iron tiles, is no longer used and a lot of space is dedicated to ice houses as part of the lager operations. And there is a manure pit. Dangers which might be faced by fire crews are noted. Where a boiler might be found or a pump. The notes state that hoses are distributed meaning there is water throughout. The basic set up is a courtyard. There is a four story tower as well as a basement with a fermentation room and a stock cellar.

UM: By comparison, Portsmouth Brewing in is more orderly. Based more about access to the lake than the older cross town competition. The kiln is on the land side of the property and leads into the brewery proper which leads to the bottling room. The coal and barrel sheds are separate. There is a basement and the main building is three stories high. Our commentator Steve Gates, author of The Breweries of Kingston and the St. Lawrence Valley has an excellent photo of the brewery from the next year taken from the vantage of someone under the letter “F” in “Fisher” as shown on the map. He also tells us that they had been brewing lager since 1872. Hence the ice house.

UR: Next, the Albany Brewing Company neatly fills a city block as this picture from the coal shed view of 1865 to 1870 shows. I am sure there is a very good reason that hand grenades were distributed throughout the brewery for fire fighting purposes but I am not sure what that might be. Unlike the Kingston breweries above or Taylor below, there is no access to waterfront. Unlike Beverwick below, there is no train spur leading to the building. To the right center, there is a five story tower where it appears the coolers are located. The office is across the street to the south and a police station to the north. It’s in the middle of things. Looks like there are horse stalls near the coal shed that open out on to Green Street to the left of the image.

LL: The Beverwick Brewing buildings appear to be more modern again. Founded in 1878, it has a rail siding… which apparently leads it to be suitable for a model railway set. The main building looks impressive. Five stories with a sixth in the attic. Brick arched ceilings on multiple floors frame fermenting tubs and beer tubs. Coolers are located in the fifth floor. A more compact footprint but, at 100,000 barrels a year, very productive and, therefore, famous. A very industrial set up compared to the others.

LR: Last, good old Taylor Brewing in its elder years. The neighbouring buildings have been left vacant with only the core brewery seemingly in operation. Six stories very much oriented towards the river. When I saw this and saw the images of de Hooch yesterday, its position by the water looked like Dutch breweries lined up along the shore in Haarlem in 17th century paintings. I think that’s the building to the middle right in the image at Craig’s post on the brewery, though that was almost half a century earlier.

What does that tell us? You tell me. I see a range of brewing systems laid showing about 120 years of technological advances. Still plenty of ale brewing going on but a range of transportation methods from horse carts to ships to trains. For the most part, the breweries are all still malting at the turn of the 20th century.

More On The World Atlas Of Beer By Tim ‘n’ Steve

wab1I have been thinking about this book a bit more. The other day when Mr. B. left a comment, I responded in part “I think you have hit a very sweet spot between newbie and fan. Imagine being the one who created a bridge over that gap.” The more I think about that line, the more I think I have hit exactly on what I like about the book. When I wrote the line, I am pretty sure I meant that the book places itself very well between the interests of the newbie and the interests of the fan. But when I look at it again, I think what I really should have been thinking more about the bridge and less about that sweet spot.

Point? The WAo’B can serve as a bridge between people of different interest levels. It’s as a great best device any beer fan can use to explain this great hobby’s attraction. It describes tasty beers in a simple manner. Also, it’s is not based on style, that logic that you have to already be a nerd to understand or dispute. It may sound obvious but the stranger to good beer is unlikely to be also a stranger to the map of the world. Plus, it offers the view from further down the road. Like the fully collected album of stamps, it sure looks swell but… it also hides all the effort, all those long nights at the kitchen table licking and sticking, licking and sticking. Much more than a primer but less than an encyclopedia, it’s neither daunting nor simplistic. It sets out a path to enlightenment – and show how it goes though not only Britain and Belgium but Bamburg and Brazil.

Where does that lead us? Keeping a copy around to chuck at the visiting pal who you just handed a beer? Sure. A gift for a friend who is planning a month on Eurorail or diving across America? Why not? Seems to me that The World Atlas of Beer is probably not going to be the last book a beer nerd buys – but it could be the first book a hop head may remember being given.

Book Review: The World Atlas Of Beer, Tim ‘n’ Steve

wab1Not only do I like a good atlas, I believe deeply in the graphic presentation of data. Mapping, graphs, tables, photos and flow charts. These are the things that provide instruction, organize and contextualize. Text is so over valued, isn’t it? Anyway, suffice it to say that the WAo’B is lush, well organized and current as well as an excellent source of beer porn. The sort of book that proves its value. In fact, unlike all those other guys, I actually bought my copy at an extremely generous discount – one that does makes one wonder who in fact pays full retail any more – and I am very glad I did.

The book has received some pretty ripe cheese so far. ATJ needed a private moment. And, while it is virtually identical in page number and physical size to Jackson’s World Guide to Beer, the function of this book function is quite different. Don’t be fooled by the gullible. Thirty-five years ago the WG2B was a comprehensive gazetteer to the beers of the global beer scene. It dipped into beer culture on the one hand and, on the other, described and classified now uninteresting macro industrial lagers with impressive detail. Not only does it predate the idea of “craft” it does not concern itself particularly with “good” preferring instead to aim for “all” – which is fine… for its day. A whole page is devoted, for example, to an ad for Bud. Fabulous.

The WAo’2, by comparison, takes sides. Which is good. Better. Or at least better suited for today’s wealth of information. Sure, half a page of text is dedicated to what are called “convenience beers” but, really, they are popular beers that need acknowledgement but need not receive further comment. What we get instead is information about the best the world has to offer. And lots of information. After the obligatory introductory sections on the nature of beer that we seem to need in every beer book put out these days, we have 200 pages dedicated to regions and regions within regions of beer. Each gets its own map, summary of the current situation, topical photos as well as a selection of brief reviews of top brews one can find now.

Quibbles? I have heard there ought to be more text and that might be true. A book like this, however, could easily be expanded to twice or even ten times its size… if there were a market for that. But there isn’t because that is what the internet has provided for a couple of decades. The WAo’B, like other better beer books these days, are more about a comprehensive argument or an description of a method of approaching the subject. To date, anything more comprehensive has failed. For me, I would have been more adventurous with the mapping. A map showing the medieval spread of hops perhaps? Beery trade routes of the 1800s perhaps? You get a bit of this with, for example, the brewery density map of France on page 129 or, say, the map of Canada on page 207 that sets out, among many things, which areas have the strongest Belgian influence – though it is not clear to me why Vancouver is particularly weak in this respect. But that’s me, isn’t it. How many times I have gone on about the deficiency in pie charting in non-fiction these days?Buy this book. But just don’t pretend anyone is walking the steps of giants. And please don’t dwell on who is Monet and who is Reubens. Get out your coloured pencils and annotate the damn thing. Mark it up. Layer it with your own findings, prejudices and fantasies. It’s just a big book of maps, you know. Think of a text that a dream but imaginary compulsory grade 12 classes should be based upon. OK, maybe introductory undergrad. Or a field guide perhaps to the best beers of today. Sure. That’s it. So, get it and let it guide you out into those fields, wouldja?

Garden 2012: Root Vegetables For Thanksgiving Dinner


Three types of carrots. The smaller ones to be roasted with olive oil. The bigger ones will be shredded and mixed with parsley, garlic and rice wine vinegar in a salad. Add to that swiss chard with tarragon and orange zest as well as box choi with fish sauce and lime juice. Not to mention small onions roasting under the dripping beef. Lawn food is good.