Thursday Beer Links For Year’s End, Hogmanay and New Year’s Eve 2017

What can we say about 2017? Not as many celebrity rock star deaths as in 2016, I suppose. And we are not yet into the Putin war years. So, all in all a year to look back upon fondly.  It is the time of triumphalist beer pronouncements, whether by blogger or brewer, at bit at odds with the infantalization, death on the shelf and often resulting profiteering that really misses the key point: that being that the beer drinker really needs to be at unending war with the breweries she or he supports. If I have any message for you during this holiday season, it is that.

What else is going on out there? The Braciatrix has a very good piece about Vikings, brewing and Yuletide. One of the things I like best about her point of the post, which focuses on the roles of women in Norse brewing, is how there is a weaving with the roles of men in brewing. Given what I have learned and am still learning about Renaissance brewing in Tudor England and the Hanseatic Baltic, I suspect that the range of intimate scale household brewing to the ale house to public festive celebratory consumption to early industrial export brewing held places for both women and men, in contexts likely quite strange to we moderns. Fabulous stuff.

Also fabulous? Any post by Ron where he is wandering in and out of pubs. And any post by TBN where he is proving again that no more than about 50% of craft beer is worth it given the other better and often cheaper 50% of craft beer. Or a brewery tour post when Ed has to use the washroom.

Mr. Lawrenson has posted a rather special year in review,  one a bit unlike the others – not the least of which was him noting his own lack of activity. I quite like his Teletext tweets, especially how the medium de-aggrandizes the puff he like to waft away. There is so little rejection of the brewery owner as wizard theme going around in these days of the great schism and resulting gap filling that his commentary is always welcome relief. I look forward to more editions of his News in Brief in 2018.

Remember: pay your taxes. And quit complaining about paying taxes with your beer while you are at it. You want western civilization? Pay for it.

You know, much is being written on the murk with many names. Kinderbier. London murk. NEIPA. Gak from the primary. Milkshake. It’s gotten so bad in fact that even Boston Beer is releasing one, a sure sign that a trend is past it. Some call it a game changer, never minding that any use of that term practically guarantees something isn’t. They need to live as the hero in an exceptional time, I suppose. No such luck. My comfort is that the sucker juice of 2017 is so identifiable and so avoidable. My prediction? Clarified murk will be the hit of 2018. Which will take is full circle. To Zima. Then on to the low and no-alcohol ones.

Boom: “The late, great Don Younger (founder of the Horse Brass Pub) used to encourage beer competition by saying that a rising tide raises all boats, if that’s true than 2017 may be the year those boats began taking on water.

And keep your US craft in the US, thanks very much. We have more than enough of our own elsewhere.

Finally… you know, time was this would be when I was rushing around getting the Yuletide Kwanzaa, Hogmanay, Christmas and Hanukkah photo contest results are. How happy is the house that the tears and denunciations that went along with that are over. I found the prospect of transferring the entire set of contest posts to this the new site too daunting. Fortunately, the wonderful Wayback Machine has saved about 379 versions of the original website over the years and you can go browse the decade of 2006-15’s worth of the photo contest posts. To pique your interest and as a Yuletide treat, here are all the winners from the ten years including the favourite of all time from 2007 above which Stonch, then co-contest administrator, described this way:

First, the best image depicting some element of beer culture comes from John Lewington. He calls it “Two pints of bitter”. This is candid photo John took of two old boys enjoying their Sunday afternoon ale in a 17th century pub in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Perhaps they’re old friends, or maybe they barely know each other. When this photo was taken, it didn’t matter: they were immersed in their own worlds for a moment. It’s a beautiful photo, and my favourite overall.

Click on the image for a larger version of each year’s winner.

Contest Year
Dave Selden of Portland, Oregon
John Lewington of England
Matt Wiater of Portland Oregon
Kim Reed of Rochester, New York
Brian Stechschulte of San Francisco, California
Jeff Alworth of Portland, Oregon
Robert Gale of Wales
Fabio Friere of New York City
Thomas Cizauskas of Virginia (co-winner).
Fabio Friere of New York City (co-winner).
Boak and Bailey

There you are. Another year over and deeper in debt. Don’t go crazy at New Year’s Eve. There’ll be another one in 12 month’s time.

Day 15: War, Xmas Photos And Roger Freaks Out!

I got a great gift in the mail today. Copy 8 of 10 of Ron Pattinson’s new book, WAR! He wrote about the book’s release this very morning from his home in The Netherlands and by suppertime a copy was in my mailbox here in Canada. Compiling his studies to date on the years of World War I and World War II, it is a great example of the work he is doing to bringing actual detailed primary research to the question of the history of beer.

One wishes all beer writers were so concerned with the facts as we witnessed today from Roger Protz who went all freaky handbags over BrewDog’s new and insanely strong beer. He’s received a number of head shaking responses, deservedly so given his use of language like “over-inflated egos and naked ambition” and “the wild buckeroos” and “what were you smoking last night, chaps?” and “this bunch of ego-maniacs” and “anxious to give beer a bad name.” The oddest thing is that he goes off on his own ice flow all the while misunderstanding the technical process used for actually making the beer, baldly claiming it had wine yeast in it… not that wine yeast would get you a 32% beer. One wonders what Protz was thinking or, in fact, had been smoking himself when he wrote such a blurt. He has certainly gone a long way to discredit his own opinions on experimental beer generally. For a more measured response, you may want to read Pete Brown’s post on the new and insanely strong beer from last Thursday…you know, when it was news.

Now with the Xmas 2009 Beer Blog Yuletide Photo Contest Extravaganza. First, a couple of solo entries from Canada.

Chris Berry of Kanata, Ontario sent this one picture to the right which sorta looks normal… until you have a good look at the baby’s face. Frank MacDonald of Torbay Newfoundland kept the kids out of the photo to the left. It was taken at the Grizzly Paw Brewpub in Canmore Alberta.

Next, Jeff Alworth of Portland, Oregon has sent in some photos from the scene there. I have no idea how he got to put in 8 entries but never having been to Oregon I can’t be sure this is not some sort of cultural thing, some sort of secret message to us all. Maybe he can’t count. Better not mess with the photo set just in case:













Finally Tim Connelly of Cambridge Massachusetts sent in these pictures which are entitled “Inside Cantillon,” “In a Galway pub,” “Outside of a Galway pub,” “The Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork’ and “Brooklyn Brewery”:









Four more great entries. I better starting beating the bush for more prizes. Here I go. Off to email brewers until all I have are bloody stumps for hands. Why? I don’t do it for you. I do it for Santa.

Day 9: A Few Updates On A Crazy Beer Filled Monday


The contest is on! The contest is on! Entries are pouring on but there has been a bunch of other stuff keeping me from posting a semi-gallery so far. It is really a hemi-semi-demi-gallery so far but you get the point. Here is some stuff I have notice over the last few days:

  • I brewed yesterday but I have no idea what I made. It’s usually that way. It looks like a great holiday brew that I really should have put on about a month ago to do it justice. A real dog’s breakfast of ten malts in the bill along with three hops, orange peel, five spices thrown together with a subtle hand to create one nutty ESB…or perhaps just a strong pale ale. I will name it something Norwegian to add a little more confusion. The spices and peel were steeped in the wort before it got to full boil. However it ends up tasting, it sure made the house smell swell.
  • Steve at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. (a sponsor of the Xmas 2008 beer photo and blogging extravaganza – aka X08BP+BE…trips off the tongue, no?) forwarded a press release about Beau’s working with Operation Go Home to tie helping eastern Ontario youth in crisis with the job of getting more of Beau’s incredibly attractive ceramic flip tops back to the brewery. Great idea. By the way – I have six. Best home brew bottles ever.
  • bba2008The Beer Bloggers Alliance is about to be announced. But because I am the beer blogger with the best connections to Entertainment Tonight, I can tell you that the back room gossip I have heard is that the group plans to focus on (1) increasing retail and wholesaler red tape and related costs to the consumer, (2) creating a code of ethics for beer blogging that will be overly complex and will create dissension as well as finger pointing while also (3) reaching out to marco-brewers to find out how members can be co-opted into acting a mouthpieces for big business. Should be great when it gets a bit more traction.
  • I liked the New Yorker‘s article on Dogfish Head but it’s got nothing on the article in The Atlantic from 21 years ago this month called “A Glass of Handmade“.
  • Don’t forget: the return of the good topic at The Session is coming up. 21st Amendment is taking on the question of what prohibition’s repeal means to you. I expect to take a cranky Canadian point of view.

That’s it for now. I leave you with a great photo up there from Joe in Belgium. I real beauty. I have no idea where the brewery was but maybe you know. Even if you don’t, please be like Joe. Send in photos for the Xmas 2008 beer blog photo contest. You will be happy you did. And if that didn’t shift you maybe this will: SUBMIT! Be careful about this. I don’t want to have to unleash the Daleks or anything.

Another Day, Another Opportunity To Write A Beer Poem

Yes, I do go on…poems, poems, poems. But I really need to have these tickets for free beer at TAP NY 2007 in the hands of those who will use them to drink free beer. Is that so wrong? Listen. I am the one around here who put in four good years of my life to get a BA in English Literature and I better get some action on this contest or I will think of them as lost years. Lost. Which is kind of appropriate as my quick survey of some of the better known pub and beer sorts of poems out there is kind of depressing. Let’s review them, shall we? Because that is what four years of B-grades in English Lit got me, the power to review.

The comment by Captain Hops of Beer Haiku Daily is exactly right. “At The Quinte Hotel,” posted yesterday, is a fantastic poem. Likely the best you will ever read or at least the best I have read so far.¹ Yet there is a melancholy about the respective place of beer and poetry that is at the core of the poem.

Back in the Enlightenment, things were not so cheery as that. In April 1737, Aaron Hill penned “Alone, in an Inn, at Southhampton” which is about as dreary a sentiment as any I have come across. Mind you, 1737 wasn’t any sort of non-stop party generally but really:

Scarce can a passion start, (we change so fast)
E’re new lights strike us, and the old are past.
Schemes following schemes, so long life’s taste explore,
That, e’er we learn to live, we live no more.

Perhaps one less drink for Aaron next time, bartender. A generation later, Thomas Warton wrote “Solitude at an Inn” and at least recognized the opportunity to stay away from the outside world and even the others at the inn as something of a positive:

No poetic being here
Strikes with airy sounds mine ear;
No converse here to fancy cold
With many a fleeting form I hold,
Here all inelegant and rude
Thy presence is, sweet Solitude.

Inelegant and rude! Sounds like a snob out for some slumming to me. Warton’s contemporary, William Shenstone, on the other hand gets his values right in his poem “Written At An Inn“:

Here, waiter! take my sordid ore,
Which lackeys else might hope to win;
It buys what courts have not in store,
It buys me Freedom, at an inn.

Fabulous. While Hill, Warton and Shenstone all provide that personal reflection that foreshadowed romanticism, only the latter was not a total drip and might have actually been someone you might have enjoyed meeting at the pub.

Another generation on and we have “Original Elegy on a Country Alehouse” by Thomas Dermody which loses me somewhat as to who is the subject of any given line, leading me to think I am suppose to mourn the passing of a poetic ale-swigging cat. Flash forward to the late Victorian era and consider he-of-the-ale Thomas Hardy‘s 1898 poem “At an Inn” from Wessex Poems and Other Verses. Please consider it yourself as I have really no idea what is going on except perhaps a Victorian version of “Day Time Friends, Night time Lovers” or some other 1970s new country crap.

Finally – for now – we see that contemporary tavern poetry is well exemplified by “In The Black Rock Tavern” by Judith Slater, published in 2004. Like Purdy’s work, it wells you why the comfort of the pub is important without discussing the point. No tryst gone wrong, no nose turned up at the company. Just a place and a moment where you are taken for you are.

So enter now and enter often. I set the limit at 50 words minimum or three stanzas of thematically connected haiku. More about the contest here. I had said that you should post your poem in the comments before the deadline of 4 pm EDT, Tuesday 10 April 2007 but lets extend that to the 12th. I need time to make sure the prizes are in hand but want as many entries as possible. After all – free craft beer. Not bad.

¹For someone with a B-grade in English Lit from over 20 years ago these two concepts merge.