Caleb Haviland Sold Lovely Drinks In 1798

ch1Versions of this advertisement ran in newspapers in New York though the middle of 1798. This one is from the New York Gazette of 12 March. There is a reason the run ended when it did. On November 23 of that year Caleb Haviland’s widow is granted letters of administration after he dies without a will. Which is unfortunate as he seemed to have a good bit of business going for himself. You can go see where his shop was located on 77 John Street in Lower Manhattan but it looks a bit different now. You can see what the district is like at this page from Forgotten New York.

Enough about the geography. Look at the beer he is selling. Nine sorts at least. At least two had been brought into New York from Philadelphia where it had been landed from Britain the previous fall. This business of repackaging and coastal shipping of imported luxury goods is something I’m noticing is fairly common soon after the Revolution. It’s a wonder anyone could tell a Whig from a Loyalist. Porter vaults seem to have been a thing.

It’s one of the last ads I’ve seen listing Dorchester ale. No mention of Bath, Liverpool or Gainsborough ales in Coppinger. Liverpool was not even particularly pro-Revolution. The typo in “Ameriban Porter” is eventually cleaned up in later editions. Hibbert‘s London Porter was still being sold in Mobile, Alabama in 1857. But was it ripe and brisk? Ripe and brisk we are assured are qualities of the best possible order. If the words have the same meaning in the 1850s, ripe appears to mean conditioned, all bubbly like. Not necessarily soured. These sorts of adjectives are rare in ads earlier than this point. This ad from a 1764 edition of the New York Mercury shows how dry they were. You want Dorchester beer? Edward Pollard has some for you.

Rebus Drinking In Scotland and England


Something very odd has happened to me over these last two months, August and September. I am reading novels. Rebus novels. I haven’t read novels for years. Decades. For some reason, I was driven off fiction by being an usher at a playhouse in undergrad. Perhaps watching plays repeatedly had the same effect as watching sausages getting made. Don’t know. Then a career in reading and writing masses of pages every week put me off pleasure reading of any sort for a long time. I’d browse through histories, graze upon articles and essays and write plenty. Hunting for clues in newspapers of the Georgians to Edwardians took a big part of my time. But undisrupted cover to cover novel reading? Never.

Then we traveled to Scotland twice in a year, spending time with family, looking out the windows of pubs. I’ve since added BBC Scotland to the regular radio playing in the background as life goes on around the house. Followed the news. And then one of the Rebus books came as a gift. Detective fiction set near to the Firth of Forth. I was little worried about it when I unwrapped it. I work with police so I was thinking it wouldn’t be much of a break from working life so it sat from spring to summer. I am now on my sixth novel in seven weeks. Consider this:

In a large pub near the tube station, a barn of a place with walls painted torrid red, Rebus remembered that he had not tried the local brews since coming south. He’d gone for a drink with George Flight, but had stuck to whisky. He looked at the row of pumps, while the barman watched him, a proprietorial hand resting on one pump. Rebus nodded towards this resting hand.
‘Is it any good.’
The man snorted. ‘It’s bloody Fuller’s, mate, of course it’s good.’
‘A pint of that then, please.’
The stuff turned out to have a watery look, like cold tea, but tasted smooth and malty. The barman was still watching him, so Rebus nodded approval, then took his glass to a distant corner where the public telephone stood.

That passage up there is from an early novel, 1992’s Tooth and Nail. Even though it’s from the one book in England, it’s typical of the tone. Plain. Observational. Often a dark corner. Always menace. Always drink. My cousins kept telling me to get to the Oxford Bar when I was in Edinburgh, the favourite of the stories’ main character. Haven’t made it there yet. Plenty of other good pubs saw me crossing the doorstep. Plenty that show up in the Rebus stories, too, both high and low. Well written recognizable realistic descriptions of unadorned pub life. Not always pretty.

It’s the sort of writing that gives you hope. So much that is written about the ordinary course of things – and especially about beer and pubs – is either pumped and puffed up or made stark to attract an audience. And certainly the Rebus stories do the latter through their narrative and pace. But not the setting. The fresh baked baps glow warm in the hands of the officer returning home after a night shift. The pubs have smells. The streets chatter. One hint. I’ve spent reasonable lengths of time in Edinburgh on five or six occasions so far in life so I have a sense of some of its parts. But not others. Bob Steel’s Edinburgh Pub Walks – with its photos, maps and pub descriptions – places a lot of the action in the Rebus novels directly into context. As good a companion guide as I might want even if unintentional.

Forget Defining Craft – Here’s What “Small Brewer” Means

jerkIt’s here! It’s here! The new phone book is here!!!!

Well, OK… it’s not that exciting but the Master Framework Agreement dated 22 September 2015 is here. Last April I discussed the process of reforming Ontario’s beer retailing. I won’t really go into it again except to say I am still not convinced it will make that much difference to me as a beer buying consumer. It may well turn out to make a significant difference to less finicky buyers and also the brewers of Ontario. But that will take some time to play out. Give it time. Today, then, in addition to providing you with that .pdf of the final deal amongst the existing retailing interests up there under that first link, well, I thought we might spend some time considering a key definition. Being a lawyer, I always check out the definitions. See, the general idea as described in the Toronto Star today is that about 33% more retail outlets will be licensed in the form of a modest number of grocery stores over the ten year term of the deal. And in many retail outlets more space will be provided for craft or small brewers. 20% of the shelf space.

Well, actually only “small” as the word “craft” only appears four times in the agreement and only in the context of the “Ontario craft beer” subcategory to be used in the merchandising of beer. So… that means the deal is about “small” and, well, let’s be honest… “small” has not been all that “small” when used in these sorts of contexts and in these sorts of laws, is it. Here, then, is the definition in the agreement upon which the whole concept turns:

“Small Brewer” means, in respect of a Sales Year, a Brewer that meets each of the following qualifications in respect of the prior Production Year:

(a) it has worldwide production of Beer in the previous Production Year that was not more than 400,000 hectolitres or, if this is the first Production Year in which it manufactures Beer, worldwide production of Beer for the Production Year that is not expected to be more than 400,000 hectolitres;

(b) it is not a party to any agreement or other arrangement pursuant to which any Brewer that is not a Small Brewer manufactures Beer for it;

(c) is not a party to any agreement or other arrangement pursuant to which it manufactures Beer for any Brewer that is not a Small Brewer; and

(d) any Affiliate it has that manufactures Beer meets the qualifications set out in (a), (b) and (c) above.

For purposes of this definition:

(e) the following will be included in determining the amount of a Small Brewer’s worldwide production of Beer for a particular Production Year:

(i) all Beer manufactured during the Production Year by the Small Brewer, including Beer that is manufactured under contract for another Brewer, whether or not that other Brewer is a Small Brewer;
(ii) all Beer manufactured during the Production Year by an Affiliate of the Small Brewer, including Beer manufactured by the Affiliate under contract for another Brewer, whether or not that other Brewer is a Small Brewer; and
(iii) all Beer manufactured during the Production Year by another Small Brewer under contract for the Small Brewer or for an Affiliate of the Small Brewer; and

(f) an agreement or arrangement referred to in clause (b) of this definition does not include an agreement or arrangement that provides only for the final bottling or other packaging by a Brewer that is not a Small Brewer, including any incidental processes such as final filtration and final carbonation or the addition of any substance to the Beer that, if added, must be added at the time of final filtration.

The Board may on or before the date of this Agreement designate Qualifying Brewers, other than the Original Owners, to be Small Brewers for purposes of this Agreement. Once a Brewer qualifies as, or is so designated as, a Small Brewer it shall remain a Small Brewer for so long as it remains a Qualifying Brewer and does not become an Affiliate of a Brewer that is not a Small Brewer. As of the date of this Agreement, the Board has designated each of Brick Brewing Co. Limited and Moosehead Breweries Limited to be a Small Brewer.

First, notice that the definition relates to worldwide production. This is not a definition which protects Ontario brewers. Considering the network of international trade treaties we are subject to here in Canada that is likely a reality which was generally acknowledged early on. Next, notice that the threshold for small is actually smaller than a lot of smalls you may have seen before. 400,000 hectolitres, Google tells me, is 340,867 US beer barrels. Which means Sierra Nevada doesn’t qualify. Fuller’s does. Contract brewing is out if the actual brewer it itself not a small brewer under the definition. Or if the small brewer, interestingly, contract brewers for another brewer which is itself not small. That’s interesting. One more thing. Notice Moosehead and Brick are deemed to be small. Brick brews around 500,000 hl. Close enough for jazz. Moosehead, however, produces over 1.25 million hectolitres worldwide. Despite this, as it is specifically included in the definition it does not have to pass the test. It and Brick are deemed to be small. Right to the front of the line, Mr. Moosehead.

Think about it. Who has been cut out of the deal from day one? That’s what the definition is about. Who is not included? For those included, the rest of the agreement is what sets out the rules. If you are excluded from the deal entirely according to the definition… nothing else really matters that much.

So Far It’s Been A Poor Election Campaign For Beer

mulcair2015UPDATE TO THE UPDATE!! #TeamPoliPour2015 is coming together very nicely. We have received another link via Twitter to a French-Canadian blog post from 4 September which includes photos of both Harper and Trudeau with beer. Must analyze more closely for evidence of actual pouring as opposed to serving and hoisting. More updates as they come in….

UPDATE!! – NDP leader Mulcair seen today in PEI at a microbrewery to announce tax policy. [Inside scoop: I used to live about 300 yards from the parents of named NDP candidate Herb Dickieson (Egmont) on the road just north of New Glasgow, PEI. Lovely people.] Got a tweet from @salut_galarneau at 7:32 EST to let me know. Money shot. You may have had to wait otherwise for the morning papers…

Earlier: Remember last Canadian federal election? The leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was caught on camera proudly pouring a beer. And our Prime Minister was seen awkwardly pouring a beer on his way to his first majority government. Our conservatives like beer. Our centre left appear to want to expand access to beer – though their generosity is somewhat limited. Generally speaking beer is generally not a matter of general public debate. We like beer. It’s like hockey without the ice to us.

So, what has gone wrong so far this time around? Why have I not been bombarded with candidates in tavern scenes or folks who just want to be seen to be Johnny Average Canuck uncomfortably holding a case of some beer upside down? Don’t get me wrong. Normal folk from average backgrounds who have made good have been the norm as far as our national leadership goes. And that sort of dull is frankly better than the alternative. But, still, why is the only image so far this one tweeted from a campaign flight showing NDP leader Tom Mulcair holding a Dos Equis? I sure hope the federal level has not taken the message from the most recent provincial election in Canada’s biggest province when not talking about beer was key to the winning campaign.

And why Dos Equis? Who decided to put that on the campaign plane at all? Well, at least he’s been seen with a brew. Time for macro and micro, craft and kraphtt to demand the nation’s leaders kow-tow to a tavern table of Canadians, insist they show the electorate they drink what the common folk drink. Hey – I know a thing or two… and have a few pals in or near the war rooms. Send me a line. Campaign beer theory is not something for the amateurs. Which makes me comfortable charging a fee. You need help. I can help: beerblog@gmail.99

A Few More Limits In Ontario’s Beer Reform

I am increasingly finding myself far more disinterested in the current reforms of the beer distribution system in Ontario than I am annoyed by them. They seem to be geared to offer little that I expect to alter my shopping experience. But last week there were a couple of hints as to what is going on behind the closed process of government and industry negotiations that are worth noting if only for their entertainment value:

=> First, last Thursday Ben Johnson posted a great interview with the provincial Finance Minister in which he learned “the LCBO will roll out “craft beer zones” to 25 other LCBO locations across Ontario. Similar to the LCBO vintages section, these craft beer zones will feature and highlight craft beer made in Ontario.” It would be similar if there weren’t more than 300 Vintages locations in Ontario. Oddly, 20 years ago, the vintages section carried good beer, mainly imports but some local micros, too.

=> Second, Toronto’s Metro confirmed that there will be annual limits to the works out to the equivalent of 279 six-packs — or about 70 cases of beer — sold daily per store… and also “unspecified penalties for retailers who try to sell more than their allocation”!! I think I mentioned this before but it’s nice to see that it was not just my bad math. So… what does this mean? On a hot Friday in late July does the grocer cut off sales at 2 pm because the daily, weekly or monthly quota was reached?

These weird revelations are in addition to the numbers we have so far that indicate my city of 122,000 people will be lucky to get two of the new grocery store permits. More weirdness that remind me of something I came across some years ago now. Amongst my cult classic publications, I contributed the chapter “Beer and Autonomy” to the book Beer & Philosophy published in 2007. I opened the chapter with a quote from Pete Brown: “more than climate or genetics or anything else, drinking behaviour is governed by culture. And that culture is created by the laws that govern it.” Looking at that now I quibble with one word. Created. I would think now that the culture is expressed by the laws that govern it. I concluded the chapter with the thought that the beer laws of Canada ought to lead one to question the vision the state has of its own citizenry.

The more I read and write about Ontario in particular I find myself wondering if might be better off questioning the vision the citizenry has of itself. These “reforms” are, yes, a bit more than shuffling the deck chairs but are so restricted that they must be messaging something related to cultural identity. Jordan has expressed measured optimism but I can’t shake the feeling that we are dealing with a set of business and political interests that, in the words of one economic development officer spoken years ago in another province, is based on the principle “we pick the winners.” Because the marketplace can’t be trusted to pick the right winners. Because Ontarians can’t be trusted and may not even trust themselves.

Cream Ale: I Hate Records Revisited…

Adjectives from another time. How irritating. I mentioned this the other day somewhere folk were discussing steam beer. One theory of the meaning is it’s a reference to the vapor from opening the bottle. Another says something else. Me, I think it’s the trendy word of the year of some point in the latter half of the 1800s. Don’t believe me? Just as there were steam trains and steamships, there were steam publishers. In 1870 there was a steam printer in New Bedford, Massachusetts. A steam printer was progress. Steam for a while there just meant “technologically advanced” or “the latest thing” in the Gilded Age. So steam beer is just neato beer. At a point in time. In a place. And the name stuck. That’s my theory.

Cream is like that. Folk think it has a specific meaning. Static in time. The general theory is that cream ales started as top-fermented ales that receive an extended period of cold-conditioning or lagering. Another source closer to the ground tells me that cream ales are now just blends of basic pale ales and basic light lagers. Could be. But that up there is an ad from 1830. It’s from New York Evening Post from 13 August 1830, well before lager was a twinkle in an Empire State brewer’s eye. Mr. Swan of Roosevelt Street had some for sale. So other than the seemingly odd juxtaposition of street name and date – what does it mean? There are two obvious first choice. Cream is rich and it also rises to the top. Hmm.

Six years later, the first or perhaps just leading American brewing industrialist John Taylor was placing ads for his Albany Cream Ale. Here is an ad that was placed in The Ulster Republican of Poughkeepsie, New York from 25 May 1836. Three years later, Taylor is advertising his Imperial Cream Ale and add the tag line “No mistake as to its superior quality.” Here is an example from the Albany Evening Journal of 4 April 1839. Which is interesting. Not a call to strength. A call to finesse. Ten years later, in an article about a new sarsaparilla works, Taylor’s Cream Ale is mentioned in the 21 July 1849 edition of the Plattsburgh Republican as an example of something the new sarsaparilla maker exceeds in production. It’s become common parlance for quantity as well as quality. Half a decade after John passes away, his sons are still prominently advertising their Imperial Cream Ale, now fit “for family use” as you can see was stated in the Albany Argus of 20 January 1869.

These are just snippets but they do show something of either an arc of meaning or perhaps a versatility. A claim more than a descriptor. Superior stuff. Was it creamy? I have no idea. I hate records.

Saturday Night In A Rain Soaked Beer Tent

I rarely think of things as being “Canadian” because “Canadian” is a bit elusive. Usually you need an American friend to let you know something is weird so that you can tell him “oh, that’s Canadian.” Sitting in a beer tent at long plastic covered tables during a cold downpour watching iconic 1970s rockers April Wine on a military base at a civvie invitation only concert feet in chilling puddles watching soldiers and pals and dates and, apparently, parents and grandparents having a good time on the one macro beer on offer struck me as pretty Canadian as I was sitting in the midst of it there last night. There in the foggy tent on the parade square asphalt. Do other nations even have laws requiring beer tents? The stamping of hands as you go in? I didn’t have any beer. Not because I didn’t like the beer. Mooseheads pale ale is decent enough for a beer tent. Fact: the porta potties were a hurricane away. Others didn’t pass on the opportunity. Watched one guy down eight or ten Mooseheads in the first half hour we were there. He was givin’ ‘er. As we say. It was so foggy in the tent from the downpour outside that it started condensing on the inside of the tent, rain reforming to pour on our heads. A science lesson in itself. We left not just because of that or because it was so loud that I stuffed wads of Kleenex in my ears but because they played their 1979 cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” which I had not appreciated they had in fact once recorded. They did an excellent job for the eleven minutes of that tune but the crowd was there for songs on the radio, songs with lyrics like “tonight is a wonderful night to fall in love, oh yeah” and not covers of early prog rock speed metal. Earlier, folk had happily Legion danced to the opening band, Whiskey Overdrive, playing classic rock covers. Legion dancing requires a generous application of the elbows. And a few Mooseheads. There’s a real happy levelling that goes on when military folk are partying. The opposite of the oneupsmanship you can get at house parties filled with strangers. Military folk already know who in the room is one up. Still, there was a bit of a crush at the exit gate as we left. But plenty stayed. It was really good. Good company. Good out dinner before. Good being among Canadians. People were having a time.

It’d Be Nice To Get More Actual Spruce Beer Brewed


#22 – Halfway Home

The new Nanos numbers this morning were not good. Another small slide. When he had called a friend’s office later he hadn’t been in yet. The voice on the phone had used the words “death march” even with weeks to go. Weeks to go this time could mean weeks to go of this. Or, worse, an “anyone but the NDP” move to the Grits leaving us in the wilderness. Again. It had stung hard to have to listen to Elsie Wayne so often.

Limited upside. Great. And the boss let the message out that he’s not perfect. What an interview with Joe Rockhead the other night! I am who I am and that’s who I am. People want a Syrian grannie in every church… for God’s sake. Somewhere they know they can drop off Timbits or a casserole or a blanket or something to feel good about themselves. Why is that too much to ask?