Apparently The Beer News Heats Up When We Reach Mid-February

Happy Valentine Day. Or is it Valentine’s Day? Never sure. Me, I grew up in a florist’s household and, as a young lad, was a Netherlands-trained wholesale florist myself. So, I pretty much have burned the entire thing out of my consciousness. Watching people line up to pay $80 bucks for roses when $25 worth of fresh red tulips was the smart move gets depressing. You worried about the big macro industrial beer trade? Worry about the big macro industrial rose trade. Just sayin’.

In other VD related news, thankfully the “what beer to pair with chocolate!” story and the “how to confront your date with beer on your big day!” story seem to have both mercifully gone away. Did you see as many? It feels like something grew up, like watching your teen finally eat a damn green bean. Time to get back to a more honest, wholesome approach. Hmm… stuffed haddock imperial sounds pretty good, actually. Thanks Pam!

Other than that, as I mention above there is plenty of heat in the real news left in the last few weeks of winter. For starters, Jeff shares the news that Portland, Oregon’s seemingly perhaps formerly beloved BridgePort Brewing has shut after 35 years:

This will hurt the soul of many Portlanders. Even if BridgePort wasn’t locally owned, even if it wasn’t making interesting beer, and even if the pub had been turned into a wannabe Chili’s, it was still the oldest and perhaps most important brewery in the state. Exactly 20 years ago, we lost a monument to Oregon beer when Miller shut down the old Henry Weinhard brewery that anchored downtown. We will lose the most important remaining emblem of our brewing history when BridgePort shutters its doors thirteen blocks north of Weinhard’s.

Keep in mind one thing. This and the other closures being reported in 2019 are occurring in an economic upturn.  What will happen if the economy starts to actually wobble?

If that sort of prospect weren’t bad enough, Robin rightly blew a gasket (as did many many others) over an entirely unnecessary but utterly sexist and creepy story run in the Great Lakes Brewing News:

This post isn’t going to talk too much about beer, but it’s something related to the beer world. Primarily one of the many things wrong with it in regards to its treatment of women. No no, this isn’t going to be talking about a sexist label or a really bad PR gaffe in which a rape joke was made. This is a special kind of trainwreck.

In response, the author/editor/publisher indicated that it was all a one off satire. Problem is… there was nothing satirical about it. Also, as I was able to show via a couple of tweets, the GLBN has had a long standing habit of publishing the author/editor/publisher’s pervy creepy personal fiction for over a decade. Breweries (including Fat Head’s which has supported with advertising for years) have now begun abandoning the publication. Nice to see, by the way, someone turning the stupid immortal Calagione statement that the craft brewing industry is “99% a**hole-free” back on itself. 99% asleep at the wheel on such matters might make for more accurate math. More here at a Wednesday round up in Detroit’s MetroTimes.

Entirely to the opposite and building on his Beer 101 webcasts that mentioned last December, Garrett Oliver proved again why he is the leading spokesperson for good beer in North America when he strode upon the small screen on US broadcast morning show LIVE with Kelly and Ryan under the FeBREWary banner:

Look alive, peeps! In the green room about to appear on @LiveKellyRyan. We’re going to improve your Monday! In the meantime, the chocolate chip cookies in the green room are pretty good. The life of the modern brewmaster is a strange thing….

Discussing good beer with the authority the O.G.G.O. brings is a rare thing indeed. Placing it on a normal everyday national forum like that was almost a shock. Here is the four minute segment.

In other good news, Anchor Brewing is thriving and going union!

There are approximately 70 full- and part-time employees in the bargaining unit, spread across the Anchor’s production facility in the Potrero Hill neighborhood and its taproom, Anchor Public Taps, across the street. The brewery employs approximately 160 people total, including white-collar workers…

Video of the week: drunken horse riding in England in 1972.

Floorboard story of the week: early 1900s Danes hid brewing archives under them.

A drinks man,  the roaring boy has left us.

Graham Dineley* has posted something of a personal history of coming to beer which entirely parallels mine – 1980s home brewing along with Dave Line’s books:

My first Baby Burco on the left, on it’s third element, is now relegated to heating sparge water. In the middle is my last remaining beer sphere, Peco mash tun and demi-johns. Inside the blue sleeping bags there is 10 gallons of beer in the final stages of primary fermentation. I bought my ingredients from Hillgate Brewing Supplies in Stockport, the shop mentioned by Boak and Bailey. It must have been just after the shop had changed hands from Pollard. The man running it was John Hoskins, if my memory serves me right. I would phone in an order: “Two of page 88 please” and pick it up the next day. He would make up recipes from David Line’s “Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy”, which was a boon for a novice brewer without any scales.

A Burco! We had a home brew shop owner in Halifax that would lend out Burcos for free like a beery private librarian when you bought your malt and hops. Fabulous. And a completely different route into good beer than the authorized version would let you believe.

Speaking of rambles down the unilateral memory lane, I might be coming around a bit more to #FlagshipFebruary even if the month is long and, frankly, chores are being missed.** It’s a good measure of which memories are considered important to some – naturally I suppose given the model includes allocation of stories through the assignments. Not everyone gets to choose Sam Adams, for example. So what has week two given us? I hand’t paid much attention to  New Zealand’s Epic Ale which seems to be a clone of a mid-2000s C-hop brew. Good for the Kiwis getting a day. I’ve like most New Zealanders I’ve met. Similarly, Evan wrote glowingly on Samichlaus which is a beer I regularly pass when shopping. Racing to be the strongest beer was like being the hoppiest – a bit of a genetic dead end in good beer but still Samichlaus hangs on. Having passed between breweries, it’s a flagship in the sense that war prizes can stock a naval fleet.*** Two more weeks to go. Crickey. No suspense that SNPA will be the last one reviewed, right? Bet it gets ripped. No? You’re probably right.

Well, that’s enough for now. After last week’s update Maureen gave high praise. I am simply grateful that somebody reads this stuff. It’s all just talon sharpening for my real world life. Well… and temper tempering I suppose. Best not to ask my inner voice too many questions. Unlike Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday whose more cogent thoughts should set you off in all sorts of new directions. Two weeks to March! What will March stand for? What will be it’s new hashtag? We’ll have to think about that.

*Yes, indeed.
**Nothing tells you there is a bit of confusion more than GBH insisting there should not be confusion and that he/they/it are confused by it. If people only understood how smart they were they’d get over all the weirdness.
***Whose navy indeed!

 

In 1480 Two Bales Of Hops Came To Bristol

That image above is from The Overseas Trade of Bristol in the Middle Ages, a publication of the Bristol Record’s Society Publications. The BRS is now one of my favorite things, a society dedicated to record keeping. Interestingly, there is one data point in this record that is not really referenced on the map. The passage taken by one ship that landed at Bristol on 24 February 1480. The record for that voyage reads as follows:

Fascinating. What that means is a ship registered to the Basque port of Guetaria named the Seint Sebastian, with someone named Lope as her master, sailing from Flanders came to Bristol on 24 February 1480 carrying madder, tar, wainscot and hops. The ship is en route to the south but stops in at Bristol, a half point between Flanders and what is now in northern Spain.

Look at the offloaded cargo. Madder is a plant that gives a red dye. Tar is likely pine tar which was a product of the far eastern reaches of Baltic Hansa. And wainscot (anglicized from the Dutch word wageschot) was measured by the hundreds as we see with that “C” and a fine grade of lumber for interior paneling. And those hops.

Look at the hops record.* Notice that the hops are in identified units. Two bales. Not just some plant matter slung in the corner of the hold. They have a recipient listed: John Cockis. So, it is a shipment and not just a delivery on speculation to be sold on the wharf. It is a priced. Three pounds for the two bales. It is worth less per bale than the madder. And that price relates customs valuation. Which means there was a process for valuing hops. And a customs duty that would apply to their three pounds of value on their importation. All a very formal affair. Very bureaucratic. Very legal. Very normal.

Interesting. Lots to think about with that wee record.

*page 258.

 

Beer News For The Week When You Learn 1/52nd Of All Human Thought Relates To The Super Bowl

Well, that was quite a something. The game was dull and boring the halftime show was worse. But it’s over. And, really, you only get one “Prince in the rain for your halftime” experience in a lifetime. It’s all degrees of sucking from there. Otherwise, three weeks to March. That’s all I know… so, let’s go crazy with some beery news on a Thursday.

In a surprise move, the beer ads on the Stooper Stupor Super Bowl broadcast actually triggered actual discussion. It started with the odd message from ABInBev summed up neatly with this tweet.

To be clear, Bud Light is not brewed with corn syrup, and Miller Lite and Coors Light are.

Which immediately pissed off big corn. So MillerCoors sent corn farmers their beer! Since then we have been reminded that much high test US craft also relies on corn sugar to boost its strength. This is called chaptalization in wine and it is not considered good. Mainly because it is considered bad. But with US craft beer it is apparently considered – on the near highest authority – to be very good. A rice v. corn debate then broke out. It was exciting. Me, I was caught up in the moment and noted that “138 years of a massively popular rice-based beer and its cultural place still confuses some commentators.”  Stan piled on historically and noted with both flair and panache:

On January 30, 1881, well before A-B took aim on beers brewed with corn, the author of a full-page article in the Chicago Daily Tribune chose the side of rice in the rice versus corn debate. The author stated, “Corn beer is not a drink for Americans or Germans. It is good enough for the Spaniards, Greasers, Indians, and the mongrel breeds of South America.” Instead the author lauded the exceptional crisp taste that resulted with rice, and added, “for years the ‘blonde,’ or light colored beers have been fashionable and grown into public favor in America.” The author also suggested most breweries in Chicago used rice, while Milwaukee brewers used corn.

Me, I’m pro-corn since at least 2008. And I am pro–rice, too. And Jeff’s from sugar beet farming stock. So we are all the better for the whole thing.

Changing gears but still on the general theme of “Knowing v. Not Knowing What’s Real” last Saturday England’s newspaper The Telegraph broke the news that no one had considered ever before – that there is a craft beer bubble! To be fair, the article mainly focused on the bubble from an investor’s point of view.

“There is still growth, but the market is now much tougher for new entrants,” says Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at market research group Mintel. “The number of brands is outstripping the growth and now people with money are wising up to the market. If someone asked me to invest in a craft beer company now, I’d say ‘no way, that ship has long sailed.’”

Hard to disagree with that.* And in Colorado, a fourth brewery had announced its closing – the fourth just since 2019 began. Remember: money likes money, not fads. Apparently thermometers are sorta fads… or at least not traditional…. or someone was having a bad day. Speaking of making money, there was an interesting follow up to the news last week of Fuller’s sale. Head Brewer, Georgian Young tweeted:

Thank you @Will_Hawkes it has been a strange week with so many uncertainties for some colleagues but my great team @FullersHenry @FullersHayley @FullersGuy along with the Engineers, Tech services, Quality et al are looking forward to the next chapter friends

Then the former Head Brewer, John Keeling, tweeted: “Today I took people on a Fullers Tour, not sure if there will be many more.” Melancholy days even if the future is arguably… well, hopefully no less as bright.

Attentive readers will remember Robert Gale. He won the 2012 Christmas Beery Photo Contest. Well, Robert is living with Crohns Disease and recently had a stoma  – or alternative nether region – installed. He recently tweeted about a post he placed on his blog with this fabulous invitation to readers: “Here’s my experience when I tried beer for the first time since having a new bum installed“! Here is his post entitled “Beer and Stoma.”

Once upon a time, an anonymous brewer berated R(Hate)Beer on this here blog. Now, with the announcement that it has been fully owned by ABInBev, he is not alone.  Which is a bit unfair but not entirely unfair. Oddly, the former principle owner wrote on the competing – and for my money superior – BeerAdvocate:

RateBeer is a quality-focused organization, and our value to the community has always depended on our integrity, and willingness to put in greater effort to produce more meaningful scores and information. I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to serve you all. It’s been a great pleasure meeting so many of you in person, and through this more fully understanding our important role in industry, and the joy, pride and responsibility felt by so many out there in RateBeeria.

That’s nice. As I have reminded you all often, always remember there are people out there behind the blogs, forums, tweets and… what else is there? People. And money. People and money. And beer. People and money and beer.

#FlagshipFebruary is one week in and – boy oh boy – are there ever more days in the month than actual flagships out there, aren’t there. We learned that macro brewed Euro-imports are allegedly flagships. We learned that a brewery can have eight flagships.  And another can have a sexist flagship. We learned that it’s  departure lounge beer, “stupid” and a “legacy craft promotional thing.” It’s cloudy and new, too! We also learned that all the sponsorship were only to make sure the writers chosen to write blog posts got paid.  [Ed.: we are just having a personal fugue state experience for a mo… and… we are back.] That’s nice. The upside is that it did not die a dumb death.** And this one won me (even with the “moule frites” for mussels and fries***) by proving this is not just, not solely #OldBeerForOldGuysFebruary. Plus I was reminded how wonderful McAuslan Oatmeal Stout is from a modestly priced can. Fabulous! The downside is we still have no idea what it all really means other than some sort of odd booze-laced homage to the Counter-Reformation. Whatever it is, what it is now won’t likely be what it is a couple of weeks from now. Stay tuned. I’m rooting for it. Really. Like almost 50/50 on the upside. Well, except for money for writers. I’m 100% on that especially given how much money they are getting each!

That is it. Early February ice storm out there as this goes to press. Need to shuffle along not knowing exactly when my feet will be cut out from underneath me. Meantime, look to Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then Stan on Monday for updates on these and many more good beer news stories.

*Some always try.
**An actual phrase in our household: do not die a dumb death. Like the award winner “Doubt it, Ralphie!” which I thought was a line from some forgotten early 1960s TV comedy until Dad told me that when there was a neighbourhood kid who hung around when I was maybe four who just lied all the time. Name? Ralph.
***I just can’t shake the sub-motif of Turgenyev’s Fathers and Sons.