Your Thursday Beer Newsy Notes For Six Weeks From Autumn

I miss corduroys. Don’t you? Eight months a year they are your best pal. One day a year they feel like your lower half is actually a roast chicken in a plastic bag baking in a 450F oven. I haven’t seen a leaf turn yet but the grapes out front are starting to ripen into show purple. The barley was ripened in the fields when I visited MacKinnon Brothers Brewing on Monday. I haven’t fully captured above how literally golden the fresh cut stalks were – pretty much beer-coloured.* There were a few big beer stories this week but none more important than a good barley crop coming in. Some are not so lucky.

Jeff created a lovely portrait of a small shaded corner. Boak and Bailey found a similar scene from 60 years ago. If there is one thing I like as much as the surprise hue of cut barley it’s scenes like these of actual people and how they enjoy their beer.

Here in Ontario, the big news is how the new Provincial government has launched a “buck-a-beer” initiative – including by lowering the minimum price to, you got it, one dollar. The response has not been a warm one from craft brewers and commentators. Great Lakes Beer spoke to CBC Radio while others were interviewed on TV news broadcasts. Jordan took some time before his UK-Euro vacation to set the tone, explaining how the policy change makes little business sense. Crystal pointed out how one brewery, Dominion City, is responding by donating a dollar from every sale to immigration agencies. Other efforts from the charitable to sarcastic response are underway. I’m sure this one is going to build towards the promised release of the new cheap beer for Labour Day. Question: wouldn’t that beer have to have been in production before the policy announcement?

I don’t recall ever craving no-lo alcohol beer other than to cut beer down to 2.5% or so by pouring half and half. Dad liked it as it was a way to get around his diabetes medications. Not sure the new wave of tasty water would fit any particular one of my needs but that is me.

Beer fests. I found the idea of not taking photos of drunk people a bit weird. Why not other than it’s tawdry. Fest organizers and the drinkers put themselves in positions of risk voluntarily. A few images might load social media with something opposing that other weirder idea promoted by the industry – people not drinking craft beer to get drunk. In other fest news, Ben asked if folk were willing to spend $120 for a three hour drinking session. Not a chance, I said. And James B. reported on the continued sexist crap at the GBBF. So… drunken, expensive and being stuck in the same room as sexist pigs. Not exactly my kind of fun. And it’s all a shame when I think of someone like the Tandyman behind the scenes, working to ensure these sorts of things don’t go on.

I really enjoyed this perspective from BeerAdvocate on wholesale beer buying in the US craft market. Thirty years ago I was a wholesale produce trader for a bit and the story rings true, especially the need to respond to demand rather than try to set trends at the supply side of the equation. Consider this:

“The guy at the shop asks, ‘Where are you opening?’ I tell him and he says, ‘Oh, you’re going to be selling gospel music.’ I was an alternative, metal, New Wave kind of guy. I thought, ‘I’ll never sell gospel music!’ I opened my fledgling store with no money and three or four of the first 10 people in the door asked for gospel music. Guess how long it took before I started selling gospel music?” That experience stuck with Singmaster. “You set something up, but then you follow what the customers do if you’re smart,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what I like or what you like… it only matters what the customers [do].”

When I express my unhappiness with the concept of beer “curation” go back and read that passage.

Ed gave us this bit of fabulousness: “Not everyone like lambic…

That’s it for this week. No need to link to the usual bland beer travel puff, beer pairing puff or puff-packed beer style announcements. A shorter summary of the news as you would expect from early mid-August but still enough real news to keep it interesting. Don’t forget to tune in to the internets for Boak and Bailey every Saturday and Stan on Mondays.

*Really? No, I had no idea. Thanks so much for the feedback!

Photo Album: Three Wineries And Four Breweries

The day started early and I bombed past MacKinnon Brothers – the farmstead brewery in Bath, Ontario – to see if the barley was coming in. No one seemed to be around so I headed along. Probably got themselves all out into the fields at 4:45 am or something as city folk like me snored.

Following a route I took in April 2015, I grabbed the Glenora Ferry and headed past Picton into wine country. As the law demands no one sells before 11 am, I used the time getting miles behind me. Off the Schoharie Road, I headed down a familiar gravel road and  grabbed local Chardonnay at Closson Chase and Gewürztraminer at Lacey Estates. I chatted with owners Liz and Kimball Lacey about the challenges of the heat that had pounded the region as well as the lack of rain. Their main fields sit on a hill back of the Closson Road. He said it was about 37C out there before taking the humidity into account

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, I headed south to find Karlo Estates where we discussed the poor season of 2017 and how some wineries were having a difficult go. At this local level, it is the realities of farming plus the lack of tax advantages others enjoy that make or break a year. Rieslings made with grapes from Devil’s Wishbone back from near the ferry as well as a rose were stashed as I headed off.

 

 

 

 

555 Brewing Co. is at the west end of Picton’s downtown strip. It has one of the most attractive patios that I have seen attached to a brewery, out front. Lots of families were having lunch as I grabbed some beers, mentally noting to spend more than six minutes in the place.

 

 

 

 

At the northeast end of Picton, I grabbed a six of cream ale at Prince Eddy’s Brewing Co. which was just setting up for the day. The BBQ smelled very good but I had miles to go before I could rest in the shade of my own backyard, given the humidex was pushing 40C. Again, my six minutes on site were not nearly enough. But I was shopping and driving today.

About 5 km to the north of Picton, Parsons Brewing sits back from the road at a curve on County Road 49. There were beehives beyond the parking area. Chatted for a bit with co-owner Chris Parsons as he ran a very busy bottle shop. We swapped Japan related Warren Cromartie anecdotes. I grabbed some beers. In the dining area and out on the lawns, families were having lunch as kids played.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having filled the cooler and then some, I turned east again through Napanee and on to MacKinnon again to the north of Bath. Driving south on County Road 7, I crossed over the railway tracks and came upon their red combine harvester taking in the barley. The fresh cut stalks shone gold. Dan at the bottle shop told me it wasn’t a field of malting barley but they had 50 acres of the beery stuff out there waiting to come in. The brewery is part of a family seed grain operation. You remember Dan, right? The brewing gent who stabbed Craig Gravina for historical purposes back in 2015.  I had a sample of Dan’s new wheat ale. Lovely stuff. Here are a number of tiny moves of combining the barley: one, two, three and four.

A Pennyworth Of Beer For Each Pallbearer From The Departed, Mother Wells

Mother Wells. Her death was important enough to be noted in the New York Gazette of 28 May 1767.  The story of her mot famous conviction and branding was recorded in 1873’s A History of Enfield in the County of Middlesex…* in this way:

Above a century ago a very mysterious affair happened in that part of Enfield known as the Wash, which caused great excitement in the country. The circumstances are here briefly stated: Elizabeth Canning, a servant girl, had been on a visit to her uncle, and on  her return in the evening was attacked, in Moorfields, by two men, who robbed her, and gave her a blow which made her insensible; they aftenwards dragged her along the high road until they came to the house of one Mother Wells, at Enfield-wash, where, she said, one Mary Squires, an ugly old gypsy, confined her in a room after being shut up there twenty-eight days, and fed upon nothing but bread and water, she at length effected her escape. On arriving in London she told her tale to two gentlemen, with whom she had lived as servant ; she made a deposition before a magistrate…

Enfield is now a borough in northern end of Greater London within which there is a sections called Enfield Highway or Enfield WashWikipedia tells us “Mother Well’s house was opposite the Sun and Woolpack public house, formerly the Sun and Punchbowl.” The Sun and Woolpack is still there. Canning’s walk home after escaping would have been ten miles long. The allegations became a popular scandal but apparently her evidence was not given consistently, charges flew back and forth and the “story which divided the country into two parties, called the Egyptians** and the Canningites.” Mobs gathered, outrages occurred and even the Lord Mayor had his windows broken. All of which is very interesting but I am actually more interested in the idea of Mother Wells and her house of infamy for both “highway gentlemen and highway ladies” – what or rather who were highway ladies?

Canning, initially the supposed victim, was herself tried for perjury due to the confusion of here evidence and the record of the case at the Old Bailey from 24th April 1754 gives a number of tidbits about the house of Susannah “Mother” Wells. According to testimony, it had:

– a main room or parlour on the street level
– a kitchen
– several smaller rooms upstairs with rough furniture and windows
– a hay-loft, work shop or long room with hay also on the upper level
– a shed or “penthouse” attached with a sloping roof

And the Hereford stage went past the rough house as she viewed it through gaps in the planks covering the window. The route to Herefordshire through Enfield is now the A1010.*** There are a few more details of the building in the records of the 21st February 1753 trial of Wells who, along with Mary Squires, were held jointly responsible for the detention and robbery. One of the witnesses is a lodger. The kitchen is described as to the right of the main door and it was below the room in which she was held. Canning herself stated: “there was another room in which I heard a noise at nights…” The door to the room she was detained in had a quarter inch crack you could look through. There were only four or five steps upstairs and the second story window was only eight to ten feet off the ground. So, it is a tumbledown low sitting public or common rooming house.

For their efforts, Squires was sentenced to death while Mother Wells was branded and imprisoned Newgate for six months. The tale, however, turns and Canning is herself charged for making up much of the story. Her evidence of the layout of the highway-person’s and itinerant lodger den of infamy never seems to be quite accepted even though it is described by a number of folk in the evidence before court. It appears to be a sort of informal boarding house if you were of the sort of public that likely would not get much welcome at the Sun and Punchbowl across the road.

The magistrate taking the evidence in the first instance and gets it wrong? Novelist Henry Fielding. The Mayor who takes up the case of unattractive falsely accused highway-folk? Notedhumanitarian and freeman of the Brewers’ Company named Sir Crisp Gascoyne (1700-61).” [I knew this would get back to beer sooner or later.] Gascoyne held a lengthy inquiry into what would normally be an unnoticed matter, one which included 119 witnesses and gained attention of the relatively young press. An airtight alibi was established for Squires and the now branded Wells – and the final outcome proved to be a milestone on the path towards consideration of the merit of the case over the status of the parties.

So, was this the mid-1700s version of a speakeasy? A den of thieves? Or just a poor person’s boarding house. I don’t know. It’s clear that the owner’s notoriety continued for sometime as not only was her death and the parade of pallbearers to every pub in Enfield reported in 1767 but the story was repeated in newspapers in the 1820s and again in the 1850s. A tale of justice being served for the lowly. Those beers at every pub along the route for the pallbearers? One last “up yours” from the little-loved, falsely branded hard case in the casket? Probably.

*A history of Enfield in the County of Middlesex; including its royal and ancient manors, the chase, and the Duchy of Lancaster, with notices of its worthies, and its natural history, etc.; also an account of the church and charities, and a history of the New River; the church history by George H. Hodson, and the general history by Edward Ford…
**I wrote a paper of the English law as it related to the Romani while I was in law school. “Gypsy” is short for Egyptian. Apparently the Romani people arrived in England in Tudor ties ad were assumed to be from Egypt. They were subject to many specific discriminatory restrictions until the reform laws of the mid-1800s.
***The same route was the setting for the comic poem from 1782 by William Cowper,  “The Diverting History of John Gilpin Shewing how he went Farther than he intended, and came safe Home again” meaning Canning was held in a dwelling along a main route.

 

It Is August So Make The Best Of What Is Left Guided By These Tidbits Of Thursday Beer News

Remember?

These Thursday news headlines are getting longer. I wonder what Stan would say about my lack of control. I write that because last Monday’s musings from Stan were so well managed. Made me think about how plunking down this weekly post speaks as much or more to my interesting in writing as my interest in beer. Writing demands writing. So, after reading Stan, I immediately looked to see how many links I had stored away so far in the week for this report and – to my horror – it appears I had been having a good weekend. Nothing had been tucked away to be noted so far. Jings! Bet it won’t show.

How did my week go otherwise? Thanks for asking. I did go to a new pub in another town by the waterfront the other day. It was very pleasant with the cooling wind coming in the window with the view. The beer was a house branded short pour that was also in a cheater pint but my waiter forgot to bill m for my partner’s drink so it all worked out. Sweet.

Dad joke.

Beer sales are up in Germany. Revenues are up in the UK, too, but perhaps not volume. Trumps tariffs are forcing US beer makers to raise prices and “America’s long love affair with beer is on the rocks“!

According to the Beer Institute, a trade group, drinkers chose beer just 49.7 per cent of the time last year, down from 60.8 per cent in the mid-90s. Among 21- to 27-year-olds, the decline has been sharper. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Budweiser’s owner, found that in 2016, just 43 per cent of alcohol consumed by young drinkers was beer. In 2006, it was 65 per cent. Per-capita beer consumption in the U.S. fell to 73.4 litres last year, from 80.2 in 2010 and 83.2 litres in 2000, according to IWSR, a drinks market research firm. Germany, by comparison, consumed 103 litres a person last year.

My kid says it is all about calories in her crowd, so gin or vodka with soda is what they buy. Gin’s big. Makes sense. When folk find out I know something about beer, the look I get is either (i) weirdo or (ii) of course, you fat lump. Both of which are sorta correct so I don’t really mind. Can’t hurt my feelings. No sirree.

Could it be that grain was first malted for purposes other than brewing beer? Merryn has linked to that story.  Interestingly, I heard somewhere – likely NPR – over the weekend that there is a theory (working the theory cocktail circuit) that farming was started to encourage bees because early humans liked honey and bees like plants. Tough luck for that whole “beer created civilization” stuff. It never made sense anyway.

2011 was the peak year for wine blogs. I’d put beer blogs a bit earlier. Lew is one human-sized ball of regret over how things turned out. I remember the glory days. Glory… days…. OK, fine. No one cares. Actually, there are plenty of bloggers but they call themselves on-line journalists. Link every second paragraph to the writings of others while coming to conclusions others had pretty much already figured out? Blog.

Michael Tonsmeire has again updated his fabulous chart of larger brewery ownership connections. Just to be clear, ownership is just one of the ways other outside interests can exert control over a business. Loan agreements are just as restricting but, as private transactions, harder to spot. All those firms in the pure “independent” center of the chart? Just as likely to have a taint that some puritanical nerd sect will have an issue with. But no one cares about that either.

Speaking of law. Beer law story #1.  Beer law story #2. Taking sides in these matters is a bit weird. It’s like folk think they are smarter than the common law. Note: beer not special… standard rules expected to be applied. And these things have happened before. Don’t hear about anyone going all torches and pitch forks against Sam Adams, which is again on the decline. Folk should figure out where to apply their “I’m upset” resources.

New York craft breweries, as Don C. reports, have put together a TV show for public broadcasters. Note:

The series cost about $500,000 to produce, said executive producer and director Justin Maine of MagicWig. The state’s Empire State Development office contributed 80 percent — about $400,000. The project started when the ESD office began looking for ways to promote the state’s growing craft beer industry.

So… more like a state funded advertorial. But its about beer so that’s OK. Don also tells the story of NNY coming to CNY. I enjoyed the original Sackets location in my VBB days.

August. Here’s an August “man bites dog” news story if ever I saw one – someone’s pee is reminding him of beer.

Finally, Europe’s blistering summer might well have seriously damaged the barley crop:

The price of European malting barley, which is used to ferment the brew as well as provide flavour and colour to beer, has surged by two-thirds since the middle of May to a five-year high of €230 per tonne. Scandinavia, the Baltics, Germany and France are among the regions that produce the ingredient, whose production in some regions has dropped by as much as 50 per cent and is “dire”, according to Scott Casey of consultancy RMI Analytics. “In some places the crops are just dying,” he added.

Drag. That actually matters. My yellow zucchini seems to be dying, too. Not that a global industry depends on my yellow zucchini crop. Happens every year. Some sort of virus. Droopy and starting to rot on the blossom end. They look so hopeful in June when they pop out of the ground but by August its a scene out of a C-grade horror movie out in the garden. I should get out my Airfix men and make a flick about how Rommel was really defeated with the assistance of huge yicky plants from Mars.

That’s it for now. Another quality update for your Thursday. Yes! You are welcome. Remember: Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan next Monday.  Bet their zucchini plants are just fine.

If It’s Lazy And Hazy These Must Be Your Beer News For A Thursday

Late July. The fifty seventh muggy day of the summer. In Africa and California the temperature hovers in the mid-120s F. A beer fest in Oregon has been postponed due to the heat. A couple of years ago, I wondered out loud if it was too hot for beer, if gin or white wine was called for. Not sure I am so worried about that anymore as it’s ice water I want. Soon it will be cold compresses to the wrists and the back of my neck. I am far too danty for this weather.

The photo up there as borrowed from here solely for consideration of the shape of the glass. Have we moved far past the days of stemware or the minutely differentiated special IPA glass? I have actually noticed my betters in social media posts, the writers who I assume care more than me, using these fairly jolly beer can shaped beer glasses. Is this something that might indicate something of a relaxation of attitude?

Next up, Nate drank three old beers that were past it and two that were great. Lesson? Malt is better than real fruit filling. And lesson two? Generic stemware is certainly still out there.

There was an interesting profile published in Drinks Retailing News on the new head of the UK health lobbyist group Alcohol Concern – one Richard Piper – who seems to want to move away from a hard line pushing abstinence (if that is a fair characterization of their past) to something more middling and measured:

“The guidelines are useful up to a point,” he shrugs. “If you’re drinking 70 units a week they’re easy to dismiss, but at 45 units they may be the perfect message.  I don’t dispute the science behind them, but I’d like to see an alternative discourse. It’s a more significant risk reduction, for instance, if you cut your drinking from, say, 42 units to 28 units than it is to go from 28 to 14, so we’d like to focus more somewhere up the consumption curve.”

His proposed approach reminds me of the highly successful MADD Canada public service announcement strategy which focuses on not driving if you are going to drink as opposed to lecturing on the drink.

Apparently… (i) there is a beer style more people like than you might have imagined and (ii) some breweries have shut while others have been bought. Oh, sorry…. those things aren’t news.

Merryn reported on an Anglo-Saxon malthouse discovered an archaeological dig:

The settlement was Christian and it is believed the malt house was not something organised by the local inhabitants but was part of a much wider integrated system. “I think here we are seeing the hand of the church. The church is the super state and it had access to all the latest technology and engineering skills anywhere in Europe,” said Dr Jolleys.

A bit of scale, then. Fabulous. I was wondering if the Angles and Saxons ever thought they would just end up hyphenated all the time. Not much related, one thousand years later, Glaswegian students were very very bad in the 1700s.

Last Friday, The New York Times reported that radiation from the 2011 explosions at that nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan had now shown up in California wine. Apparently this is reasonably common as “certain nuclear events would leave unique signatures based on time and proximity to the grapes.” The levels of radiation are below normal background standards so this is more about noticing the footprint than the first ten minutes of the movie THE WINE THAT KILLED CALIFORNIA… but that is no reason not to worry in the back of your mind in the middle of the night about what really might be going on, the things that no one is telling us…

The North American Guild of Beer Writers has announced that entries are now being accepted for the 2018 beer writing awards and will continue to be through Sunday, Aug. 19.  There are a semi-boggling thirteen categories in this year’s competition. While I am not sure about the “Best Short Form Beer Writing” (which includes beer writing from any publication, online or print, that contains fewer than 600 words as that would include 90% of the other category submissions) mine is but a quibble. Get yourself and your writing in there and – hey! – see how you fare.

Flux. More discussion on Twitter of a favorite topic, the success / failure of regional US craft brewers branching out and the greater scene. BA Bart indicates that it’s the tiny brewers who are expanding at this time. The context of the North American retail market at the moment is quite dynamic. Macro craft is on the move. Budget priced Wicked Weed at $5.99 a six-pack.  Goose Island being moved on a “buy one get one free” basis or a 15-pack for $11.99.  Not all beer consumers check price but how does the small scale folk or, rather, the mid-sized firms survive? Jason adds a twist: “keep opening new breweries in the wake of those that close.” We are somewhat immune from price fluctuations here in Ontario… and immune from even twenty years of inflation apparently. Where do you put your money? Where should ambitious craft brewery owners put theirs?

That is it. A bit less than this week than most but I have a range of complaints (which I could share with you if you like) upon which I base this week’s rather thin offering. I know you want more so I will remind you check in with Boak and Bailey on Saturday and again with Stan next Monday. Three separate nations. Three distinct sources of beer news. Two hundred and eleven other nations to go.

A Few More Thoughts On The Early American Hops Trade

Thoughts. Hmm. That is code for “Alan has not researched this enough” but let’s see what we can find out on a pleasant Saturday afternoon. This post is a follow up to one I posted on 10 June which asked the question of when the first hops were exported from the United States.  In this post, I am looking a bit more at where the hops were coming from, especially before the middle third of the 1800s by which time central New York had become the main source of hops. Up there is a snippet from an 1802 article in The Bee, a newspaper from Hudson New York in 1802 which may indicate why the domestic and international trade were not necessarily without connection. More about that later.

A good first step is at the beginning and that could be the diary of Thomas Minor, a gent living in Stonington at the eastern end of Connecticut who recorded the cycle of his farming life from 1653 to 1684. Stonington actually predates the establishment of Connecticut in 1662 so Minor must have been one of the first European settlers there. He was born in Somerset, England in 1608 and came to the the Massachusetts colony in 1630, moving about before settling in Stonington to farm and also serve as a local government official.

His diary is spare, recording a month in a brief paragraph like this passage from September 1661:

…the 8th we had made an end of hay making monday I gathered hops & the 14 day I Commed flax my sons was all about the Cart & wheels sabath day the 15th good-man Cheesbrough spake to me about moving mr Brigden from fathers deaken parke washeare & sabath day the .22. monday 23. we Caught the wild horse the 20th of this month mr picket & we parted the sheep…

As you would expect, Minor kept a diversified subsistence farm with cattle and horses as well as oats, wheat, turnips, peas, apples, chestnuts and Indian corn all being mentioned.  He was not picking wild hops in the woods. He weeded the hops in the third week of June 1663 and again on 22 April 1670. On 17 April 1673, he “diged up the hops” which indicates that he is propagating them in some manner. He also records gathering hops on 8 September 1661, 7 September 1668, 31 August 1669, 15 September 1670, 1 September 1671 and 2 September 1680 when he is 72 years old.

He also makes barrels of cider during many years, pressing from late in the summer and on into autumn. He doesn’t mention barley or beer making. He trades for goods with others. On 19 January 1679 he delivered 30 barrels of oats to be paid in “a barle of good malases and other barbades goods” so it is entirely reasonable that he traded away his hops and traded for ale.¹  Interesting to note that he is trading at that early date for good from the sibling English colony of Barbados. I noticed that the word “bread” is only recorded once so the brewing of ale might have been such a commonplace that it was no worth mentioning.

Inter-colonial trade was an important thing. In a rather condensed paragraph in “A Bitter Past: Hop Farming in Nineteenth-Century Vermont” by Adam Krakowski, the extent of the New England hops trade in the first half of the 1700s is described:

While seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century accounts of hops in the colonies are rare, a law passed in the English Parliament in 1732 under the reign of King George II, titled “An Act for importing from His Majesty’s Plantations in America, directly into Ireland, Goods not enumerated in any Act of Parliament, so far as the said Act relates to the Importation of Foreign Hops into Ireland,” suggests just how widespread and successful the hops crops were in America at that time. Outlawing the importation of hops from America through Ireland and into England implied that the hops were abundant enough to fulfill domestic demand as well as supplying an export trade. The Massachusetts Bay Colony had already established itself as an important hops supplier, shipping hops to New York and Newfoundland as early as 1718. 

If that suggestion, entirely reasonable, about the 1732 British statute is correct, such a date for the first export from the colonies to Ireland would push back the use of American hops in UK brewing about 80 years from the earliest date Martyn has identified. It may actually go further back than that. In an 1847 letter from Earl Fitzwilliam to Rev. Sargeaunt discussing aspects of the Irish Question, the following is stated:

…the hop growers were to have their share in the monopoly, and, by the 9th Anne, c. 12, the import of foreign hops into Ireland was to be adjudged a common nuisance. Early in the reign of George 2nd, some doubts arose, whether, by an act then recently passed, the prohibition upon the import of foreign hops had not been incidentally—unintentionally—repealed. A return of the common nuisance was dreaded, the hop growers were on the alert, and the legislature of the ruling power immediately passed the 5th Geo. 2, c. 9, in which it is declared that the 9th Anne, c. 12, shall remain and continue in full force—consequently, that the import of foreign hops into Ireland was as great a nuisance in 1732 as in 1710.

The statute known as 9 Anne, c.12 from 1710 appears to have been a fairly comprehensive statute related to the imperial brewing industry. Section 24 prohibited the use of hop alternatives like broom and wormwood and also was the first imposition of a duty on hops. All of which makes sense as the primary subject of 9 Anne, c. 12 was taxation. If you are going to tax something you need to exclude similar things not being taxed. So no importation of hops and no use of hop replacements.*

Back to the newspapers. In the decades immediately before, and even during the Revolution, hops were coming into from siblings amongst the soon to be united colonies. To the right is an excellent notice which Craig has discussed from New York’s Morning Post of 6 March 1749 in which Obadiah Wells offered a wide range of good, most “too tedious to mention,” including bales of “Boston Hops.” in 1766, according to the 19 May edition of the New York Mercury, a ship on the Boston-NY  route gave notice that it was sailing in ten days but that it still had hops for anyone who came down to the wharf.**

Perhaps counter-intuitively, hops from across the ocean were also traded in New York City not long after the end of the war. To the right is an notice from the New York Morning Post of 17 March 1787, less than four years after Evacuation Day when the city which had remained loyal was turned over to the new United States. Notice how the garden seeds being English are highlighted.  Notice also the 1500 lbs of “new hops” for sale. Are they also English? It is not claimed.  Compare the volume as well as description to this notice from New York’s Independent Journal on 10 March 1784 in which a few bales of best English hops are on offer. The old country still has some draw.

Soon, however, things shift. On 22 March 1790, the Albany Gazette advocated for the production of beer, cider and hops as there were no duties to be paid upon them compared to the trade in spirits, rum and wines. Decisions related to the development of agriculture were being framed by geopolitical tensions and resulting tariffs.

In 1802, as noted above and seen to the right, The Bee from Hudson, New York published an article on increasing American domestic manufacturing as opposed to relying on foreign trade for necessities. It seems to echo British concerns from one hundred years before. This essay is attributed to Ben Franklin – even though he had been dead for about twelve years. Whoever wrote it, the essayist reflected the new Jeffersonian era in the new century which took American self-sufficiency and exceptionalism to a new level. And hops were part of that, highlighted as a key commodity well suited to increased production for domestic consumption. Makes sense. European tariffs impeded the hops trade otherwise.

Tariffs were imposed on imports in to the United States in return and for reasons which were argued positive political policy. On 26 January 1810, an article in the Albany Register, right, argued for raising the duty on foreign distilled spirits beyond 50% “…to encourage our own breweries, distilleries, molasses importers and growers of hops, grain, fruit and sugar cane…” In the context of an expanding national economy as well as jingoism, the domestic hop industry was worth protecting and expanding. So slap on a tariff.

This home grown hop strategy might well have been key to the development of the market. The Republican Watch Tower, also of New York, ran an ad on 9 December 1801 offering 35 sacks of “fresh hops” for sale. Hard to be fresh by that date if shipped across the ocean – but not impossible. To the right is an ad from Utica NY’s Columbian Gazette from 18 November 1809 showing 4,000 lbs of domestic “Boston hops” for sale. In Horatio Spafford’s Gazetteer of 1813, it states that Utica had a population of 1700 and Oneida County as a whole had four breweries.  According to the hopping rates in the NY State Senate report of 1835, that one supply of hops is enough for well over 1,000 barrels of ale. “Boston hops” were on still offer in the New York City market in 1818 according to this ad in the Gazette from 9 November and this one from the Evening Post from 20 November.   The Commercial Advertiser of New York praised the 1823 Massachusetts hop crop in an October 6th article.  The same newspaper on 30 December 1826 carried a notice for the sale of Vermont hops which had been brought down into the city, twelve hundred pounds worth.

What have we learned? American farmers have produced hops from the earliest days of settlement. As we saw with early Quebec, this aspect of self-sufficiency is as one might expect from the colonial expansion of a beer drinking culture. The trade in those hops as been subject to tariffs and other forms of regulation where local markets perceive that they are in need of protection from the trade in foreign goods competing with local products.*** But in a rapidly expanding marketplace such tariffs may serve to foster a stable complete internal economy. As a result, as Americans turned away from dependency on its eastern coast during the first decades of the 1800s to the opportunities inland, hops would go with them.

I have not laid my hand on a full copy of the original statute, just this later version 9 Anne c.12 with revoked sections. This summary from 1804 indicates to me that it was a comprehensive regulation of the hops market.
** The Krakowski article notes another similar “Shipping records for the schooner Bernard out of Boston destined for New York include 3,000 pounds of hops in February 1763.
*** Sound familiar?
¹ Update: the buying and selling of ale and brewing ingredients in a small 1808 New York community is recorded in this 2014 post on the first Vassar book.

As July Turns To Face August These Are Your Thursday Beer News Stories

Last weekend saw the family head off to the Big Smoke for a Pixies and Weezer combo concert at an outside venue at the west end of  Lake Ontario. It was great. Stinking hot. 15,000 people. Me and a lot of other old guys having a scream-along to “This Monkey’s Gone To Heaven” and “Hash Pipe” which was great. The scene, the Budweiser Stage at Ontario Place,  was an absolute fleece-fest: a tall boy of Bud Light Radler selling for about 15$. I had a Bud with my bland black bean burger before the show. Ice cold it went down like an icy cold Bud. Which was great until it warmed to about 5C after a couple of minutes and then it got, you know, not so great.

I wasn’t really following up on Andy’s idea of taking time to try a classic this summer when I had that Bud. I wasn’t in a place where Bud existed when three decades ago so it does not fill a personal space like that. Not my classic. It’s gas station cooler 1990s New England road trip scenery to me. The beer I passed up. But I did have an old favorite on Friday… and it was an odder experience. Hennepin, which I have enjoyed since at least 2005, showed up in my local LCBO for about $11 for a 750 ml (behind a far worse label… updated branding fail.) I was up for this. We were having a slab of salmon for supper. But it was not the beer I wanted. Hot and heavy even though it was perfect eight years ago on another hot summer night. It’s not like the beer was off. It was lovely. It was just way more than fit my interests, my needs. Am I turning into a target for the low-no movement? What do I actually want?

Jonathan Surratt wins (or perhaps poaches) the “Shaming the Worst of Craft” award with week with the news he shared embedded in that photo to the right. Some gawdawful craft bar somewhere is serving beer in bowls. Could you imagine being served that? Do they serve the food in flute glasses? Do they expect people to pay with actual money? Boo!

Ben notes how a single beer craft brewery putting out a fairly acceptable product that sells well has created another single beer craft brewery to make a fairly acceptable product that sells well. I think of these things like I thought of the music of The Carpenters when I was in my teenage punk phase in the latter 1970s.  They made music that was safe enough for parents who did not like discussing bad things. Like “why Alan is listening to all that swearing?” Mind you, my folks didn’t listen to The Carpenters so I am not sure I will bother buying this beer. Especially as “bugle” is actually a well-known euphemism for beer induced gastric issues.

Is this #ThinkingAboutDrinking? I suppose the idea of thinking is that it’s not about being all positive, just supportive. Fight!

Now this is great: a service to us all. The current big craft and macro craft family tree. Then updated for more detail. Nice to see honesty in the placement of breweries like Sam Adams, BrewDog, Brooklyn and Founders in their natural state. Speaking of Sammy A, sweet dissection by Jeff of another slightly… smarmy GBH post* on the supposed risk of Jim Koch somehow losing status. The lack of institutional knowledge is amazing. Jeff’s point: “when Boston got too big, BA changed the definition.” My point was how Koch was actually an outsider to the main micro/craft movement, which Josh Noel noted and “Sex with Sam” confirmed. Why do we have to fudge things rather than knowing and writing about the actual history of the craft beer movement?

How to sit on a fence.

This is either a story about art v. the regulation of alcohol or it is a story about arts management not grasping the need to find a venue with a stage with a normal licence. I love the “Toronto the Good” half-news in the footnote:

Editor’s note: The Tarragon Theatre has now relaxed their rules for this particular show. Patrons are now able to buy beer up until show time.

AKA: accept what you have been granted.  In other Ontario drinks sales regulation news, Robin has written about how for a few weekends she worked as a beer selection advice giver in one of the few grocery stores with a limited alcohol sales licence.  The role and the context may appear odd. It may well appear odder still as the new provincial government has promised beer and wine** in every corner store! Mind you, the promise has no details. But it may well be that the brave new world promised in 2015 will have a best before date of maybe 2018. So, Robin’s notes may well end up being a valuable set of observations on the state of affairs at the front line in which turns out to be a transitional period. Fabulous information for the future beer regulation historian.

Brendan has shared news that:

files opposition versus beer (and other beverages) trademark application for STONEMILL

With so many breweries using the five letters “s-t-o-n-e” is no one going to point out to the courts how this “just waking up to the news that there are intellectual property claims to be made” approach might be a tad selective on the plaintiff’s part? BeerAdvocate lists 3267 beers or breweries with the letters in that order in their name. Because it is as common as a very common thing. If I don’t associate “Firestone” or “Stone City” with Stone why would “Stonemill” confuse me?

Let’s conclude our collective cogitations this week with a few thoughts about wine writing from Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor with Punch wegazine:***

We assumed experts are meant to provide some kind of road map through an unknowable, confusing realm. We’re expected to help you find a bottle for dinner, and not complicate the conversation. But that has led us, at a time when wine is more interesting than ever, to trivialize its cultural value. We’ve sacrificed context—I mean real critical context, not the fanboy literature that passes for too much wine writing today—for comfort and a sense of belonging. I think Bourdain might look at the situation and point a blaming finger at many of us for failing to explain why one wine is worth more than another, or why certain wines are culturally suspect because they’ve been made with cynical motives. (Big wine companies love when we abandon context for the blind pursuit of deliciousness. Context is the enemy of fake-artisan wine, after all.)

The piece is interesting as it builds on the loss of Bourdain and that irritatingly bland idea of “woke” to get to the notion that context and value are important. It’s a bit too toggle switch for me. Things are complex even if fakers are all around. And I am already a bit sad to see Bourdain being used as a prop for the arguments of others. But I like the call to deeper learning. Hence #ThinkingAboutDrinking.

Upcoming week? The second half of baseball begins. Six or seven weeks until school starts. Use the time you have left wisely. As part of your path to wisdom consider stopping for a pause with Boak and Bailey on Saturday and again after the weekend with Stan next Monday. Laters!!

*Time for an incidental graphics update, too. Keep it fresh.
**Hard liquor, as we call it here, will remain at the surprisingly good LCBO, our government store.
***It actually calls itself “PUNCH” in shouty all-caps… but is font really identity? I mean if it was PUNCH would i have to italicize it? 

 

 

Thursday. Beer. News.

News? You want news? Let’s get into this right away. Is this the worst thing ever done to beer? According to a stranger to me*, this is a pint of Guinness and Sprite, half and half sold in Seattle USA. It wasn’t his drink but someone else’s down the bar who explained  “it’s very English.” Yik. Good photo. Bad drink.

Lars is my hero:

A few years ago I put together a description of how to brew keptinis based on ethnographic sources. Martin Warren followed my instructions, but ended up with just black, unfermentable water. So when Simonas invited me to come to Lithuania to see keptinis being brewed, he didn’t need to ask twice.

Keptinis! 

Into the bucket ran what looked like porridge. The pressure in the keg was so high that what came out was pure foam…

Keptinis! Keptinis!!

A small controversy was set off in Ontario by new branding released by Steam Whistle – as noted by Jordan. The brewery announced its branding in this way:

While nutritional labels are not required on beer in Canada, Director of Marketing Tim McLaughlin says that Steam Whistle is “proud of what goes in our beer, and almost more importantly what doesn’t go into our beer.” The labels follow federal standards and display the beer’s ingredients – “pure spring water, select Canadian malt, European hops, Brewer’s yeast” – as well as calories, vitamin content, and other nutritional statistics.

The implication that Jordan sees is the one hidden in the phrase “what doesn’t go into our beer” – suggesting as it does that others may put other things in their beer. In fact, Jordan received a pestering email from the brewery “suggesting that I use the hashtag to discuss the relatively purity of Steam Whistle.” You know, many brewers do put other things in their beer. And many recognize that us of only water, malt, hops and yeast is just one approach to beer. In other news, I had a Steam Whistle Pilsner in 2005.

Modern Toss on modern beer. And BBC Archives on British Beer in Germany in 1974.** While I am no sure I can fully subscribe to the holistic romance of Jeff’s post on a purposeful meaning of “craft” (mainly because beer is functional) that last link makes a strong argument in favour of the argument.

In the “Worst Idea Ever, Worse Than Guinness and Sprite Even…” a line of wines has been produced, the branding based on The Handmaid’s Tale:

The product descriptions for the wines, dedicated to Offred, Ofglen and Serena Joy, are about as ill-conceived as the idea itself, a real achievement when taking into account the fact that wine matters as much to The Handmaid’s Tale as women (and gay people) do to Gilead. Yes, the show goes down easier with a healthy pour. But maybe not one memorialized with the white bonnet and “Of-insert-husband’s-name” formulations that viewers associate with torture and tyranny. 

Who would possibly think this was a good idea? Stupid thoughtless people, that’s who.

Interesting news from the courts. Most interesting because Beau’s did not participate in the trademark litigation brought against it. For those who would argue that beer and wine are different markets, this is a helpful and clear statement from the ruling:

…the parties’ goods would likely be sold in the same stores and restaurants in various provinces. For example, in 2015 and 2016, the LCBO sold both products. In addition, both products would be considered to be in the premium category given their prices; Steelbird’s wine is sold for $34 or $35, and Beau’s Kissmeyer beer is priced at $6.45 per bottle.

Speaking of rulings, one of those dumb marketing schemes rolled out by BrewDog was help to be inappropriate by the shadowy Portman Group, as The Morning Advertiser reported. Stung, one representative of the brewery’s Department of Poor Ideas suggested folk missed the nuance. Lesson: if you have to explain or even use the word “nuance” in a response, it likely never was nuanced.

Fourpure? Don’t care. Except could someone tell craft brewers that they can skip this stuff and admit it is about scale, wealth and ambition?

They see Fourpure and our beer as a primary focus here in the UK and as their sole production brewing facility we will benefit from all the time, expertise and investment required to succeed, and that means that everything around the brewery will be a little bit easier and a little bit better.

Life as a rich person usually is a a wee bit easier, little bit better yes.

I hope you’ve been enriched. More of the same next week. Don’t forget to catch up with all the beer news on the weekend with Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then find out what happened in good beer and a few other things over the weekend with Stan next Monday.

*Ross Maghielse, Manager of audience development at Philadelphia Inquirer.
**Note the driving gloves. Fabulous.

Session 137: In 2005, I Had Seven Hefeweizens

One of the great things about the internet is the Wayback Machine. When I had to do some fancy footwork in 2016 to move the content of 13 years of two blogs in a matter of weeks, I spent hours and hours determining what I needed to save before the deadline hit and the server was unplugged. Months later I learned that it had all been saved, warts and all, care of the Wayback Machine, part of the Internet Archive project.

Which makes this entry for this month’s edition of The Session – ably hosted by Roger’s Beers – a few things: (1) a reminder that internet beer writing did not start in 2013 or so, (2) a celebration of non-fruit filled or gak-laced adulteration of a style and (3) a reminder that a fairly broad range of the style was available to Ontarians 13 years ago. Wow. Look at those photos. I really cared. Wow. Look at those spelling mistakes I just fixed. I really didn’t care all that much.

++++++++++

A real surprise was in store when I hit the LCBO the other day preparing for a dinner party on a stinking hot summer Saturday. They had actually brought in a bunch of extra hefeweizens, southern German wheat ales with a measure of yeast left in.

Rogue Half-E-Weizen: a loose rich white head falls to a white skim leaving generous lace over a slightly cloudly yellow straw body. Coriander and hops balance well, their bittering leaving some astringency while the lightly creamy yeast with its presence of banana intercedes. A medium light version of the style without the German commitment to full bore clovey creamy goodness. $5.05 for a 22 oz bottle.

Erdinger Weizen: I am a little unsure if this is a real hefeweizen as the labeling is “weissen” but the little neck sash says “mit feiner hefe in der flasche gerfeift” which in my hack German I take as “with fine yeast left in the bottle”. Even with that the nature of this beer still leaves me wondering a bit. White foam over cloudy yellow leaving no lacing. Light body without the phenol of banana or spice that indicate the style. A clean cream yeast without complexity but very refreshing.

Schneider Weisse: This is the business. One of my favorite beers that for some reason screams “lunch” with a cold cut sandwich. How many things scream that in life? It is rich and creamy good with lots of cloves and banana. A fine white head over medium brown with almost a greyish tinge. As befits the style, very moreish and heat-wave cutting.

Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen: this hefeweizen pours a tall egg white meringue over cloudy straw ale. A layer of hop astringency cuts and to a degree hides the yeasty phenol of banana and clovey nutmeg. Not as rich as others from Germany in the style though richer than the American cousins here. Lemony grapefruit in the finish.

Edelweiss Weissbier Hefetrüb: white foam over dark yellow or light brown cloudy ale. Simply lovely. Lighter than the Schneider Weisse with a lemony brightness it does not share. Clove aroma and banana-clove in the mouth. The brewery has had only 530 years to get it right. Clean finish with a nice drying hop astringency.

Saranac Hefeweizen:I am quite surprised by the quality of this beer. Not as creamy a yeast strain as the others but much truer than the other US version of the style from Rogue above and Harpoon’s version tasted in April. It would be worth comparing to Paper City’s Cabot Street. White fine rocky head over cloudy straw coloured beer. Quite pronounced clove over banana. Worthy yet the label says limited edition.

Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse: The last of this set, perfect on a summer warm evening with a game from Fenway on the tubes, soothing to aches and pains from old timers soccer. Neither lemony or particularly creamy, this is quite a grainy rendition of the style with both banana and clove as supporting class. Massive rich white head over cloudy dark straw beer verging on orangey. There is something savory as well in the palate, making me thing of soaking a pork roast in this one. Of the selection above, most like the Rogue with that beer’s untraditional use of coriander but the notes of spice here are in the yeast. Another amazing expression and, for what it is worth, one of the best logos in all of commercial trade.

What an enjoyable inquiry. Hefeweizens are, what, the Rieslings of ale? Like Rieslings with their minerally edge, hefes take a little time to learn about but they are a world unto themselves. And they both go with sausage and sauerkraut – a beer for both summer and fall.

Your Early July, Stinkin’ Hot, Off For The Week, World Cup Round o’16 Thursday Beer News

I tried to avoid the internet on the afternoon of Tuesday, 3 July, given every English beer blogger was (i) drunk and (ii) getting a little jingo-tastic. Not to mention getting ripped off. Good to see they didn’t choke… again. I’ll have the Saltire, the Lion Rampant as well as the blue and yellow Nordic Cross for their next game, Saturday.  If I can get out to the yard to set up the flag poles. It’s supposed to be well into the 30s Celsius today, over 40 C with the humidex.* That’s well past beer weather in my books. Pint o’ club soda with a splash of gin weather. Maybe.

The funniest thing of the week was when the BA “liked” this tweet from me about the BA wasting its lobbying resources efforts on personality politics.

Speaking of bad BA decisions, the idea of partnering  with a classic big macro, fast food chain at the Great American Beer Festival has boggled minds.  Nothing says “craft” like shopping mall food court quality chicken wings. If you read the book,** you would understand that the goal of the transition from micro to craft in the mid-2000s was using discourse control for the great cause of money. So, the idea that big craft could pass on an opportunity to team up with a firm like Buffalo Wild Wings is what we call a poor idea. There’s a lot of SNPA to sell in them there parking lot restaurant. Actual small craft might have many questions. My question is (i) did they put the opportunity out to the market?; and (ii) what did Applebee’s bid? OK, two questions.

Update: Of two minds. On the one hand, struggling to be pleasant while in a bit of a tight spot. On the other, marbles lost but quite likely for good reason.

Better news. Love the campaign. Need the change. Not sure about the accreditation. Who are the scrutineers? How many will be on the ground? What does accreditation cost a pub? If it does cost something (and how can’t it if it is to be done properly) who heads the scrutineers, oversees the standards and hears appeals to determine if allegations are valid. Who gets sued when the process goes wrong? Like when a pub, falsely rebuked, left with its reputation harmed? Does this overlap with a Human Rights Commission mandate?*** Managing this important process well is as important if not more to the integrity of the cause as raising the issue in the first place.

Better still. The Morning Advertiser published James Beeson’s strong argument for the one proper use of the term terroir in relation to beer:

In Tongham, Surrey, Hogs Back Brewery grows 15% of the hops used in its beer on the farm site – including an historic local variety not grown anywhere else in Europe – and sources a further 50% from within three miles of the brewery.

Fabulous. Fortunately, as the keen eyed might have noted, I live usefully close to one of the best examples of local focused brewing, MacKinnon Brothers. Best? They grow the barley, too. Best.  Wonderful. Makes me spend my money. How do you set yourself apart as a local brewer? The sort of brewer that doesn’t partner with BWW? Grow your own damn barley.****

Reminder: #TheSession is this Friday and the subject is German Wheat Beers. That is tomorrow. Tomorrow, folks…

Hmm… How to sell beer to anyone? Just like with the example of the Buffalo Wild Wings deal, the restructuring of good beer culture and concurrent redirection of focus from consumer protection to trade advocacy is almost complete. The latest NAGBW newsletter asks us to “spot great industry coverage” and the BGBW has only one category left for “Citizen Communicator” – whatever that is. I will have to have a word with Pete. Andy noted this sort of creeping problem as far back as 2008. In 2010, the BGBW goal was “to reward the very best beer writing, irrespective of where it comes from or where it’s going.” In 2011, there was only one BGBW award category with the focus on “the excellent work to promote beer which is produced by or on behalf of brewers, pub companies and other related organisations.” Not sure that is the case now.

Why do I care to have, you know, an opinion? Primarily because it all leaves the impression that good beer writing requires you to quit your job, chase the dough and either find a position in the brewing trade or at least go freelance which inevitably requires the junket to tell the naturally compromised junket’s tale. Original independent consumer-oriented personal interest writing is far more… interesting, no? Who are the best? Who needs to be celebrated a bit more? Not me. I can’t even get my Holls and Halls straight.

Conversely and for equal time, “why draw lines in the sand?” asks Matt. Isn’t the answer now and forever “Buffalo Wild Wings”?

Speaking of praising fabulous things, I think this is one of The Beer Nut’s***** finest posts, even though I am sure I say that every seven months. There are only two reasons that one should not post beer reviews on line: (i) you have read The Beer Nut and know you are never going to come close and (ii) you are a ‘fraidy cat who thinks “hmm… maybe I need to quit my job, chase the dough and either find a position in the brewing trade or at least go freelance…” Fat chance that sort of mindset is going to ever come up with this sort of sweet honesty:

The mere 4.6% ABV is further evidence of inauthenticity, but it really kicks in from the aroma: sweet and sticky like a lemon meringue pie. The flavour is pretty much the same, adding a touch of banana foam sweets. The whole thing is weird and artificial. Contrived; and bound to upset any Germans who come to Bar Rua looking for a weissbier. This experiment didn’t work out.******

Oh, that image up there? Best. Of. All. Elephants being fed buckets of Bass ale in 1931. What is not to love about the image of elephants being fed buckets of ale in the mid-war era? Whenever and wherever there is a schism in the good beer world I shall be on the side of images of elephants being fed buckets of ale!

What a week! I wonder if there will be any more soccer coming up on the TV… I wonder if Neymar has another limb to get amputated mid-match. Remember: you can catch up with the news on the weekend with Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then find out what happened over the weekend with Stan on Monday.

*Hey, that’s Canadian!
**Or read this blog… ever…
***Our human rights laws in Ontario protect against discrimination in the provision of services and provide a cheap, professional and transparent process to bring a claim of discriminatory treatment in a retail business setting like the drinks trade. Employment situations, too, as with this example.
****Isn’t it time to pick sides in the craft schism? Isn’t it?
*****Surely one of Ireland’s greatest fluids-based pleasure writers. Anti-Jacksonian.
******Conversely, see the knots that can get tied over calling something “fine.”