“For Drink”: Searching For Something Requires Knowing Something About That Something

Just a bit of a note on how annoying it can be realizing that if you want to find out something you need to know something about the thing you need to find out more about. Not unlike my problems with records or, say, the adjectives of the past.

For example, from time to time I have a habit of hunting through the digital mess of Google Books looking for references to “malt” in lists of ships’ provisions for some sort of expedition or another to see what I can find. I have learned that I have to include a search for “mault” or other variations in the spelling. This is how as I found out about Frobisher’s provisions for his 1577 Arctic expedition by searching for “biere” rather than “beer.”  In that same way, I realized recently that I should also be hunting just for not multiple spellings but also phrases – as the phrase “for drink” in these examples show.

1557: in Tusser‘s domestic text set in verse, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry we read in the section on morning work,

Let some to peel hemp, or else rushes to twine
To spin or to card or to seething in brine.
Grind malt for drink,
See meat do not stink.

1585: in Volume 2 of Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts at document #591, we can read in the requirements for setting up English plantations in Munster, Ireland that a farmer requires six quarters of “oats for drink” while a copyholder needs four and a cottager just two.

1597: in the Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland, perhaps due to the failure of the previous plan noted above, we see that the military need to receive better supplies instead of just beef, including:

…cheese and salted fish, and with some malt for drink for the soldiers, who I see daily to perish for want thereof, against the rule of Christian compassion…

1623: in the records of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, we can read a note by Sir John Coke, a listing of provisions which includes “malt of barley for drink” and “malt of oats for drink.”

1624: a book on Puritan settlers of America indicate in quotations that their preparations need to include “meal for bread, malt for drink” as they should not expect to “meet neither with taverns nor alehouses.”

1688: in a summary sort of document recording aspects of Communications of the Board of Agriculture, a summary sort of acreage chart entitled Quantity of land necessary to subsist 8,000,000 of people in England, according to the present mode of living:

Bread corn – –  – – – – – – –  – – 3,000,000
Barley, for drink – – – – – – – – -1,500,000
Potatoes –  – – – – – – – – — – – -500,000
Grass land, for butcher’s meat – 12,000,000
Grass land dairy – – – – – – – – -4,000,000
                                                    ————-
                                                              21,000,000

Nothing too profound about it all. Just worth noting that you… that I… have to be open to understanding that the short forms or cliches of others in the past are not the shorts forms of today. All very irritating. Except that you notice that over 7% of all English acreage in the late 1600s was used for beer making and then you think that, hey, that is sorta cool.

The US Mid-Terms Of Thursday Beery News Notes

Did anything really important happen this week? The USA slid a bit to the left on Tuesday. But only a bit. Me, I slid to the west and the north, taking time to visit two breweries over the last seven days. MacKinnon Brothers of Bath, Ontario and Brassiers du Temp of Gatineau, Quebec. Each had a harvest ale. MacKinnon’s is its third edition and is called Harvest Ale 2018 while BDT’s is Obwandiyag.* Each was all about local ingredients. Plaid as well as toques were seen in each tap room.

One other thing that happened, as reported in the Watertown Daily Times of mighty and nearby Watertown, New York was the delivery by sea and seaway of “vats” for an unnamed central New York brewery. I assume this means fermenting and aging tanks for FX Matt but I could be wrong.

Annoyingly, this image of London Bridge from 1632 flew by on Twitter this week. Annoyingly, I say, as the painter seems to have framed the left of the image on the eastern property line with that proto-German trade mission called the Steelyard, the likely location of the first hopped beer consumed in England no doubt by Hanseatic sailors perhaps as early as the thirteenth century.  It does, however, wonderfully set the immediate scene.

As a man who has high hopes to get much much older, I found this discussion of  the role of the UK pub in addressing adult male loneliness fab:

As the UK population ages, the number of older people at risk of social isolation and loneliness is on the rise, which can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health outcomes for older adults. Evidence for ‘what works’ in reducing loneliness and social isolation among older people is limited, especially for men. Hence, we turned our focus on the role of pubs and their potential to reduce loneliness and social isolation for older men.

Speaking of old men with high hopes, I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting post from Mudgie and a vibrant conversation in the comments – all on the way changes have caused his well loved local to go off track:

None of these are in themselves showstoppers, except when United or City are on the telly, but added together they make it a pub that I find much less congenial than it once was. If I was showing someone around the area, I’d take them in there for a pint, not least to show them the largely unspoilt interior, but I don’t personally care to drink in there. 

Conviviality. Is that what we want? That and little more, I’d say. Certainly not being chained to a pub. This week… relatedly… perhaps… somewhere… I saw a link to a chestnut of Pete‘s from an OG recent past and I was a bit shocked to see this:

Beer helps us express ourselves and mould our identities. It doesn’t need dancing bears and croaking frogs to do that.

Oh, dear God. No. If beer is shaping your identity you may be a entirely earnest struggling** beer bubble beer writer… or an alky [… or both!] Isn’t even loneliness better than that? But I would hope that you, like me, think of beer like maybe having a cheesecake or perhaps going to see a movie once a week. Or getting, like Jeff, engaged politically. Beer? A momentary escape perhaps but certainly not something core to identity. Life is too short for that.

Dear God, no #2: non-bubbly spiked ‘seltzer’!

Pura Still is a malt-based beverage, like beer but without the color or the hops. It contains a “splash of coconut water” and hints of fruit flavors. It will launch next month in three flavors: Mango, Blackberry and Mandarin Orange.

Western civilization just out-suckered Sucker Juice!! Somewhere some wannabe influencer is trying to figure out how to be the leading authority on non-bubbly spiked seltzer. While they still can, guidance officers really need to help our high school drop outs so that they don’t end up doing that sort of thing. Best of all, given it is malt based and non-traditional, it now qualifies as craft beer!

Update: Beer news item of the week. From the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times:

A Ribble Valley beer writer and BBC Radio Lancashire beer enthusiast has been shortlisted for the British Guild of Beer Writers Young Writer of the Year award. Clitheroe-based beer writer Katie Taylor has reached the shortlist of the prestigious awards, alongside highly-regarded writers from across the industry.

While the use of ripe adjectives is a well-known hallmark of the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, the extended copy explaining Katie Taylor’s particular interest is fabulous and also unpacks a bit more about the process than the BGBW has. I particularly appreciate the use of “entrants” by ATJ rather than “nominee” given that the process is based on submitting one’s own name. Well done @Shinybiscuit !

There is no doubt as to the photo of the week as shared by BlogTO. Both infuriating and comical, it perfectly captures an aspect of Canadian life – the desire to be correct tied to an abiding interest in not actually being all that concern with being correct. The scene is Ontario’s liquor control commission, the LCBO, and the object is a mass produced sales promotion flier. Now, I can’t say for sure that the LCBO produced the promo-product but it would have had to pass through the hands of about 16 bureaucratic conception, design and approval committees on its way to the retail floor. Oh… Canada.

A bit of a shorter post today. I’ve been on the road as I mentioned and it’s the week of our 26th so, you know, I have been away having my identity moulded by things other than intoxicating liquors. Remember – Boak and Bailey put me to shame most Saturdays with their weekly news nuggets.

*aka the great Pontiac of whom another particular hero of mine, Major Robert Rogers, met and wrote in 1765 : “I had several conferences with him, in which he discovered great strength of judgment, and a thirst after knowledge.
** This, the better sort of GBH thingie, comes to mind.

Your First Thursday Beery News Notes For November

Does anyone love November? The World Series has been won, the leaf lettuce took a hard frost and all the Halloween candy was handed out last night. What was left of the evening has shrunk into the afternoon now that the clocks have been changed in the UK and will change again in North America over the coming weekend. The end of October is really the end of the year. The next two months should be their own season. Good winter. Purgatorial autumn. Like driving through New Brunswick, you just want get past November even if it’s 1/12th of your life. Just look at that slightly out of focus photo of my salad from my eastern Ontario garden, picked just a few days ago. Now everything on the plate is dead – except the kale.* Kale, the salad green of death. Bringer of children’s tears. Can the news in beer turn us all away from thoughts of kale and the grave? Let’s see.

First, one can go out like and when one wants to go out through preemptive liquidation:

Honestly my heart hasn’t been in it since the premises move, we expanded to the wrong size, and Gaz’s creativity has been missed.

Speaking of the heart not being in it, the US Brewers Association is apparently going to change the definition of “craft” again (as if they control the concept) by ditching “traditional” as a formal requirement. Keeping in mind that the one thing that divides “craft” from earlier “micro” is the practical abandonment of traditional practices, this is not a big change but, still, this is pretty sad:

According to the BA’s current definition, which has changed three times since 2007, a craft brewer must be small (less than 6 million barrels), independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer), and traditional (a majority of its total volume must be derived from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients). It’s the last pillar, traditional, that is under review, in part because an increasing number of craft brewers are already experimenting with non-traditional beer offerings such as flavored malt beverages and hard seltzers. A growing number of BA members have also expressed interest in creating beverages infused with THC and CBD, Wallace wrote.

So, in response to the BA, it should be clear there is now room for, you know, a traditional brewers association that actually has an interest in beer and not just profiteering from a collective brand. Just don’t call it anything related to craft. That’s for factory beer now. The reasons for doing this are, frankly, less than honourable and so personal reactions seemed to divide into two groups:

(i) those who consider craft beer to be made of craft brewery owners – these folk who then love this because they seem to get a vicarious joy from seeing these brewery owners get richer;** and

(ii) those who consider craft beer to be made of… beer.  These folk laugh at bulk ciders and soda pop being called “craft” anything but know why it’s being done.***

Conversely, I have been cheered by the Beer Nut’s notes on his fluid fueled travels  at the end of the summer throughout Ontario and Quebec, the very parts of Canada most nearest me and myself. He posted about a side trip to Quebec City during which he was caught breaking the law and otherwise up to no good:

Two mouthfuls in, our friendly Via Rail conductor came by to tell me to chug it. Turns out train beer, or at least drinking your own beer on board, is illegal in Canada. Yes it said that on my ticket so yes I should have known, but it’s still downright barbarous. No wonder passenger rail is underused. What’s the point if you can’t have train beer?

Ha ha!!! Other than his response to regulatory infractions, I am quite interested in his thoughts on the local beers I am quite familiar with: “…certainly like an IPA from the olden days“… “I approve. Isn’t it good to know that “unfiltered” doesn’t have to mean mucky?“… “Overall an absolutely benchmark modern IPA.” The entire set of quite independent reviews is his gift to the nation… err, nations…

Speaking of Ontario, Ben wrote an excellent piece on a side project highlighting the process breweries can follow when pestered by bars who illegally demand freebies in return for access to their taps.

The system of graft for tap lines is so ingrained in the hospitality industry, fighting it sometimes feels futile… And so, inspired mostly by all the emails I was getting, I launched a website that allows people to post anonymously and share the emails from bar owners they were previously sending me. It’s called Dirty Lines and it does still get some occasional action. I take no responsibility for the content there, incidentally. I don’t investigate any claims. I don’t vet submissions. It just lives there as a mechanism to vent, essentially.

Speaking of the End Times, I love this lyrical new rule of craft beer:

Efficiency in the managing of seasonal product requires an integrated approach to bring uniformity to how seasonal items are identified so that all contributors in the supply chain reap the benefits.

This lengthy tale by a fellow Oldie Olson might bemoan something things but as it is TL;DR you will have to figure out if that is the case.  I would note one thing: if you label yourself as “cool” either (i) you are really not at all or (ii) you are Miles Davis. And he’s dead.****

Digging around in the past, Geoff Latham has uncovered a description of an English spiced ale from 1554. There is a great conversation in the responses to his tweet from people who know that there is nothing that can’t be explored usefully in that concise shared medium. Speaking of digging around in the past, Nicola the mudlark of the Thames found a wonderful clay pipe at low tide marked with the sign of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes  – and shared that it may well have been a pub freebie of centuries past. Fabulous.

A few legal notes to finish with. Beer retail franchisor Craft Beer Cellar was in a law suit with an employment review website over negative employee reviews but the claims appear to have been recently thrown out. See here and here:

The plaintiff argued that Glassdoor created/developed the reviews because it removed a review and then allowed it to return. The court disagreed: “Glassdoor’s decisions to remove the ‘review,’ and to permit an updated version to be re-posted, constituted the exercise of a traditional editorial function. Without more, Glassdoor cannot be deemed responsible for creating or developing the content.”

And Brendan P over at FB has posted an FYI which was a bit on the QT so I am acting PDQ:

Did you know that you can get every cent you pay in NYS excise tax on your beer back as a production credit against taxes owed? For example, let’s say you sell 2,000 BBL in 2018. At NY’s excise tax rate of $0.14 per gallon, that’s $8,680 in taxes. Just fill out form CT-636 or IT-636 and you can get the full $8,680 as a credit against your taxes…

DO IT! LISTEN TO BRENDAN AND DO IT!!!

Well, that is it for now. I am up to over 1345 words! Every one a gem. I am off to dig into the one youngest child’s trick or treat candy before she wakes. It’s what I like to call “me time” but I expect you all approve. Remember to check out Boak and Bailey on Saturday to see what has happened since I cut and pasted this all together. Perhaps Stan will even post another teaser for the new month. Until next week, as the Beer Nut said to his train beer plans – au revoir!

*Miraculously, the red lead lettuce sprang back up after the frost and was completely unharmed. Fabulous. I know you would have wanted to know.
** See Messrs B.Roth and J.Notte.
*** See Messrs J.St.John and A.Crouch.
**** Unlike my leaf lettuce.

Your Beery News For A Thursday Now That The Cardigan Is Finally On

It’s World Series time. When I started putting these notes together, the first game hadn’t been played. By the time it is posted, two games will be in the books. [Ed.: Oh, the Sox won game one!] I hope the idle Stan has time to catch a game or two… not a certainty given his global gallivanting seems to be continuing. This week, he sent us all this wonderful holiday post card of a photo (above) from Crosby Hops of Oregon. Respect beer. Keep the chain oiled, but respect beer.

Wine drinkers unfairly punished by UK taxes” says wine writer Jancis Robinson responding to a discussion on the implications of Brexit. Has anyone been writing about the implications to the UK beer trade? My hope is that a currency crash and tariff increases might bring on a golden age for Fuggles. There is this point, however:

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has warned that exiting the EU without finalising an Irish border solution is expected to cost €364m worth of drinks trade between Ireland and the UK. The outcome would restrict an estimated 23,000 cross-border truck movements and attract additional new tariffs on supply chains.

To be fair, it’s not like the €364m worth of drinks will not be bought and drunk. It will just be domestic bevvies from each side of the border. Does Guinness rebuild its UK operations? Probably. [Ed.: Wait – that’s not what a good blogger does.] DEFINITELY! Diageo to return to the United Kingdom by Q3 2019.  You heard it here first.

Speaking of wine, look at the size of those servings! Wee lassie sniff-a-wine is pre-gaming for the twentieth century, I’d say.

Are we actually concerned that there are too many references to cannabis in craft beer branding? I hadn’t really noticed it but now that weed is legalized in Canada, I have not been too sharp on the ball. It’s all like a hot box here, the entire country. Have you ever seen a moose in the woods smile dreamily? You can now.

It’s been an interesting week for comments about writing about beer for magazine money. Boak and Bailey in their monthly newsletter (which you really should sign up for) shared that they are done with it for the foreseeable for  very reasonable reasons including frustrations of pitching pointlessly, frustrations with not getting paid, and frustrations when articles are not published. I’ve avoided the crutch of pop beer mag writing for the most part but was quite disheartened when MASH mag went under without publishing my third article on early Canadian brewing… as in early 1600s brewing. BB’s comment – “Can you make it more appealing to Americans?” has worn us down rather – is telling, too. A variant on the too often seen editorial theme of dumbing down. The wonderful @Shineybiscuit shared another curse of the gig:*

Months of pitching a national about the great pubs in my area has resulted in a TV food critic getting to write the piece instead. Love my job.

Yikes! I hope Boak and Bailey still spare a thought for Original Gravity which, while it tends to work “the romance of beer that everyone feels on their fourth pint” as editorial stance, still offers great value for money. And it’s made it to the 20th issue which is worth celebrating in itself.** Very few do, usually with good reason. You can read it here for free.

A fabulous bio of Carol Stoudt got a Lew link and I link on. I love this paragraph:

As the craft beer industry blossomed around her, Carol smelled the roses — and detected the need “to deepen the trenches” in her home state, she says. “As more local breweries pop up, there’s no need for me to be in those markets.” She pulled back distribution around 2015 to bring her beer closer to home. “I never wanted a factory,” she says. “I like small. It’s kind of my philosophy.”

That’s captures what I have been trying to say for about a decade. If you can’t say “I never wanted a factory”, well, I’m not all that interested in what you are brewing. “Factory-made beer” is a wonderful slag against all pretenders of all label levels.

Jordan posted an interesting essay on his experiences returning to England after five year, following up on his piece [… which I have linked to somewhere around here…] what was it called… “Belgium Sucks More Than They Tell You“?… no, couldn’t have been that. Anyway, I liked this point in particular:

Here are some changes that happened when I was away: St. Austell Proper Job in cans. Apparently this is a 2018 development and six packs are available through TESCO. You know how the LCBO changed the market in Ontario by demanding 473ml cans? Well, this is a similar development and something of a standardizing influence between young startups and larger regional legacy brewers. The retailer isn’t quite king, but the 500ml bottles do look a little dated and the deep bottle discounts for multiple purchases do influence the consumer. Cans at least move volume without sacrificing the perception of value.

What is not often noted in the hack writing about “crushable” and the art on cans is their actual benefit as a flexible friend: lower investment, more control, and still that sense of value. Jordan’s other comment about Beavertown Gamma Ray – “there are a couple of dozen better American Pale Ales brewed in Ontario” – was also welcome. It is not, after all, about the quality of the beer, just the quality of the blessed “experience“… which a pop beer mag can tell you all about in a sentence and a half at the rate of about 17 cents a word.

Don C of CNY has penned an interesting article on the return of the (tiny) NY Prohibition Party:

The state’s “pro-alcohol policies are making New York sicker, poorer, and more highly taxed,” the Prohibition Party leaders  said. “Those in state government should come to their senses and end state support for the alcohol industry, or the people should vote to replace them with public servants who will.”

“Should” is the dumbest word in the language. Makes people think what isn’t is what ought to be. No “should” with Pete as he continues his considerations on cask in the UK again and in particular he discusses price. Let me ruin his ending for you:

Price is a thorny topic to get to the bottom of. As a cash-strapped drinker, of course I don’t want the price of beer to go up. But as an adviser to brewers and pubs, I’d say there’s a lot more potential margin in cask if you want it – and if the quality is good. 

The important thing to note is that a lower price is what is being offered and what is being paid. The market is what the market says it is. Which means if folk are happy with lower-price lower-quality cask, well, that might well be the product they want. Hard to capture that as a PR consultancy message*** but it might well be why what is… is what is.

Well, that is it for me for this week. The lettuce patch has not yet suffered a killing frost even if the last green tomatoes have been brought in to ripen on the window sill. The furnace doesn’t run all night but it sure gets turned on before I make the coffee. Winter is coming – but it ain’t here yet. Weekend readings? Day dreaming again, wishing that Saturday was as fun as a Thursday? Fret not. Find your next beer news fix at Boak and Bailey.

*Then removed with well-worthy self-asserted defiance! Fight!!!
**Not the Canadian… err… Toronto edition of OG which seems to have gotten stuck at issue #1.
***Though I am quite fond of my new open source media campaign on the topic “Cask: Reliably Highly Unreliable at a Reliable Low Price!”

Sing Along With “Dorchester Beer” Circa 1784

The note in the fourth issue of The Vocal Magazine to the Compleat British Songster at Song 455 says it was written by the editor “and occasioned by his drinking some extraordinary fine Ale with his Friend J. Morris, Esq. brewed by  Mr. Bower of Dorchester” which is fabulous as we now have the name and time of brewing of an eighteenth brewer of Dorchester beer. Attentive readers will recall how Dorchester’s ale was regarded by Joseph Coppinger in 1815:

This quality of ale is by many esteemed the best in England, when the materials are good, and the management judicious.

And, in another thirty years, we read in a document called The Ladies Companion And Literary Exposi 1844 in an article entitled “Summer Excursions from London” we read the the following exchange.

A lady, who had been my fellow passenger, turned to me as we drove up the avenue, and said, “ I suppose, of course, you mean to try the Dorchester ale, which is so celebrated.” “ Is it very fine ?” I asked.

“Dear me, have you never tasted Dorchester ale?” “No, madam, nor have I ever been in this town before.” She looked at me in some surprize, as my speech was not Irish nor Scotch. When I told her I came from the United States, she gazed upon me with the greatest curiosity…

So, now we know that good things were said of Dorchester’s brewing for around seven decades before and after the turn of the eighteenth century. It’s mentioned in the sometimes very suspect The Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History as being pale and as good or better than our old pals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the ales of Hull, Derby and Burton. Coppinger claims it had ginger and cinnamon in it. Is he to be trusted?  Don’t know but it is clearly worth singing about. And here is what they sang:

In these troublesome times, when each mortal complains,
Some praise to the man is most certainly due.
Who, while he finds out a relief for their pains.
Supplies all his patients with good liquor too:
Then attend to my song, and I’ll make it appear,

A specifick for all is in Dorchester-beer.
Would our ministry drink it, instead of French wine.
The blessed effects we should quickly perceive
It would sharpen their senses, their spirits refine.
And make those— who now laugh at ‘their  folly— to grieve.
No Frenchman would dare at our councils to sneer,
If the statesmen drank nothing but Dorchester-beer.

But should they (for statesmen are obstinate things)
Neglect to comply with the wish of my muse,
Nor regard a true Briton who honestly sings,
Our soldiers and sailors will never refuse:
And, believe me, from France we have little to fear.
Let these but have plenty of Dorchcester-beer.

E’en our brethren across the Atlantick, could  they
But drink of this liquor, would soon be content:
And quicker by half, I will venture to say,
Our parliament might have fulfilled their  intent.
If, instead of commissioners, tedious and dear.
They had sent out a cargo of Dorchester-beer.

Then let each worthy Briton, who wishes for peace
With America’s sons, fill his glass to the  brim,
And drink — May our civil commotions soon cease.
And war with French perfidy instant begin!
May our friends never want, nor our foes e’er come near,
The pride of Old England, good Dorchester-beer.

There you go. Apparently, the entire American Revolution could have been solved had the right people had had the right beer at the right time. Britons licking their wounds? Or maybe the implications had not set in yet. The song might even pre-date publication by a few years. Things were still fairly fluid geopolitically so… beer and ales might as well be as fluid as well.

Sadly, unlike the song Nottingham Ale as published six years later, no tune is given. You will have to make up your own.

Your Beer News For The Week The Red Sox Moved Past The Yankees

This was a home week. Every second week I am in a hotel at the other end of a Great Lake figuring out how to spend 1,500 times my annual wage on a fascinating project. Every other week I am in my basement watching sports TV on a Wednesday evening, having made soup, planning an early night. The soup was good and had about 37 ingredients including our turkey stock from the weekend. It was more complex than craft beer. I thought about that for a bit. Then I created #IsYourCraftBetterThanSoup, a new global public interest group. Might do a GoFundMe with this one.

Anyway, Jordan was here last Friday. We walked into exactly five establishments with him, although two were only for surveillance purposes. He was sifting clues. He does that. I was just wandering, doing a little day drinking and enjoying a Friday off. I share the chalk board from Stone City Ales as they presented it to the bar flies of noon on that fine day for a purpose: to note their wet hop ale, this one with hops from nearby Prince Edward County. Entirely yum. Largely speaking an eastern Lake Ontario zone vernacular. As I noted about ten weeks ago (again) I like my local to be quite localized and infused with locality. I have even pitched my experience to those with more, those trying to solve the “wet” v. “fresh” hop unhappiness. I did so by suggesting the more direct “unkilned” for greater certainty. It received one yea, many boos.

Less locally and further to last week‘s mention of the Cask Report, Old Mudgie worked a few numbers and found a sad result. On average, UK pubs that sell cask ale sell only 40 pints a day. Meaning as many sell 60 pints as 20. Meaning a good chance its been sitting around. This is not a problem with the beer. This is a problem of a lack of gravity dispense firkins on pub counter tops.

UPDATE: I like this piece on how to slink away from Ben which was posted after the newsy notes went to the coal-fired presses.

This is interesting stuff from the US branch of the wine world. The Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas issued a press release on Tuesday:

The Board of Directors found sufficient evidence that the tasting portion of the 2018 Master Sommelier Diploma Examination was compromised by the release of detailed information concerning wines in the tasting flight. The Board unanimously voted to fully void those results to protect the integrity of not only the examination process but also the reputation of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the title Master Sommelier.

Wow. While craft beer is trying to figure out if it’s OK to say both good and bad things about a fairly pointless BrewDog press release, wine is chucking out the exam results. Boom! Good beer beyond craft sometimes has such standards – and Stan is leading the way, especially when it comes to my fears for turning kveik into some sort of craftardization of itself:

Just my opinion, but to support Lars I suggest a) retweeting him, b) pointing others to his posts, c) reading everything he writes 3 times, and d) when somebody refers to kveik as if it is a style remind them it is a type of yeast.

I weedled this irritation a bit by pointing out that I have been sold a beer framed as a “kveik” to which Lars pointed out that “[i]f you go up to one of the brewers at the festival and ask him for kveik, he will give you dried chips.” Toronto’s Bellwoods seems to be doing it right. Remember. Kveik is not a beer. Not a style. It means a family of yeast strains. So, if you see a craft brewer holding out one of their beers is kveik, ask whose kveik it is and where it comes from. Tell them Lars sent you. Fight!

Less seriously, a beer drinking fish.

More seriously, Brendan Palfreyman has unpacked the law suit under which Founders is alleged to have discriminated against a former worker based on race.  Interestingly, he notes that the defense has carefully (“artfully” he states) admitted some of the allegations. Pretty awful allegations in terms of a poisoned work environment. It’s bad news at a very basic level – not good if the evidence shows he was “written up” for being one minute late while others were allowed to be more lax. Remember, craft beer is fun. Reason enough for me to pass on Founders until more is known.

Speaking of legal issues, one Ontario brewing four-person partnership faces a partner facing criminal chargesRobin is righteously outraged. Me, I have done criminal defense work. I am a big fan of their Ukrainian Dunkel. And I am righteously outraged, too.

Finally, I don’t often find myself moved by the save the pub advocacy but this one rings a bell – a Tudor era location with a reasonably consistent presence as an establishment located on East London river frontage. The history as claimed is venerable:

The first pub on the site probably originated during the Wars of the Roses in the 1460s and was called The Hostel. During more peaceful times in 1 533 it became known as The Red Cow, a reference to the bar maid working at the time. The notorious Judge Jeffreys was caught outside the ale house as he tried to escape disguised as a sailor on a collier bound for Hamburg after the Glorious Revolution of 1688; which overthrew King James II. 

The location is at least as impressive. It would have spent most of its live at the edge of the city, to the east of London Tower. In a guide from 1890 we read:

“The Town of Ramsgate” hostelry has a bulging bay window which offers a moderate view of the river, but with this exception reserves its allurements for Wapping High Street, where a conspicuous board at the entrance to the passage draws attention to the attraction of the place. The intelligent tourist, I am told, occasionally makes his way here. 

A winning cause. Or at least one worth fighting. Me, I am off for a nap. The Thursday news gets put to bed Wednesday nights. Before I head to bed. Beerless. Last night the beer was not in the head but at the head. Upside? The Red Sox won. Downside. Only that guy without his beer. Bad call. Good call? Seeing if I come up with something to write about mid-week next week. From that Holiday Inn by the highway. See you then.

The Beer News You Need To Know Before The Corduroys Take Over

Listen up!

This was either a quiet week or a busy one. Busy in the sense that it was too busy to spend time on writing about beer. Did anything strike you in particular? Not that much attracted my attention from the #GABF. Usually something of note comes up out of that event. The only blip was the inclusion of the previously outcast, given the BA has learned it’s OK to take their money. And the odd regional unhappinesses. Other than that and as illustrated, apparently plenty of people went, did similar things and a thousands bunch sat similarly uniformed in neat rows to staring at a stage hearing about this year’s new core message from the same people as always. Now, that’s what independence means to me! But, even that, is something we’ve heard before, isn’t it. So, it’s off to the edges of the week to see if we can dig up some actually interesting things.

First, go read Jessica Mason‘s excellent personal essay on how the pubs was instrumental in allowing herself the opportunity to turn a crisis in her life around:

The realisation that my boyfriend had begun seeing a married woman had knocked the life out of me. I looked up her husband and we agreed to meet at the pub — to cry into our beer and to compare stories. The next time we met, he helped us find somewhere to live. He was fast becoming my friend and his consideration was real.

Speaking of pubs, this photo essay exploration of the Commercial Tavern in the Spitalfield district of London, England by Retired Martin is wonderful in its consideration of a forgotten nugget of pure retro tat:

With no conversations to overhear, I made do with admiring the wallpaper, which reminded me a bit of a nightmare I had in my own bedroom in 1975. 

His thoughts on the newest version of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide are worth reading, too.

More happy tidings. Stan won the inaugural NAGBW Fred Eckhardt Award for Critical Beer Writing which is very good news as Stan is very good at winning things and really should win more things.

tl;dr take -> suck’kin ale. Perhaps a similar thing could have been said about Canadian light beer in the late 1970s.

Hadn’t thought of this before – the potential for economic discrimination which inherently along with the cashless bar or pub:

It needs to be made clear we are not discussing cashless payments per se. They are a growing feature of the financial landscape, and obviously it makes business sense for many pubs to accept them. But to refuse to accept cash entirely is something entirely different, and comes across very much as an attempt to practice social selection of your clientele.

CNN published something of a neg nag on Oktoberfest in Munich for, apparently, reflecting German today:

It is remarkable that all these politicians have long felt comfortable promoting a “festival that emphasizes its German origin with strength and power in every aspect,” as the official website claims. But even this idea of Germanness lacks a certain authenticity. The kinds of dirndls and lederhosen worn at the festival have little to do with German history. Dirndels and lederhosen were not even worn in Bavaria when the festival first took place.

Deutche Welle has a far more positive if a bit stilted take on the fest from three of its foreign correspondents. It’s interesting to me mainly for the mundane aspects of the incidental video – the shots from the fair grounds.

Similarly, I was really taken by Boak and Bailey’s post “Incidental Lager, Pubs and Breweries in Photos of Edwardian London” in which they noted incidental lager, pubs and breweries in photos of Edwardian London… which is exactly the sort of thing I have wasted innumerable lunch breaks at work doing because my brain works in exactly the same way.

Not similarly, Jordan’s mother (the far more sensible between the two of them) wrote about her foray into hops as well as herself:

Jordan has been either blessed or cursed with very eccentric parental units. To see the development of this, and if you are a reader of the blog of long standing you may remember the blog post of long ago wherein the teenaged Jordan learned about Weird Old Broads. We have not become more centrist as time has gone along. In fact the oddness may now be worse.

I find the same for myself is true. The oddness is getting worse. So I best wind it up for another week. Try to be more volatile, eccentric or combustible over the next seven days wouldja beer world? Boak and Bailey seem to have got themselves back into the habit so check out their newsy nuggets this weekend. Other than that, see you in October.

Another Georgian Ruling On The English Law Of Hops

That’s a 1760 etching up there, titled “The Hop Pickers” which sits in the British Museum’s collection. Over three years ago, I wrote a post I was rather pleased with on three court rulings related to the English hops trade in the 1700s. In one ruling from 1769, the scale of the trade described was simply astounding, the purchases of one agent just in the Canterbury area totaling around £30,000 in then contemporary money. So, I was happy coming across another ruling from the era based on this rather creative scam allegedly engaged in by one Mr Waddington of Kent which was perpetrated in the spring of 1800 upon the hop trade of Worcestershire:

…on the 29th of March 1800, at Worcester, &c. wickedly intending to enhance the price of hops, did spread divers rumours and reports with respect to hops, by then and there openly and wickedly, in the presence and hearing of divers hop-planters and dealers in hops, and others then being at Worcester, &c. declaring and publishing that the then present stock of hops was nearly exhausted, and that from that time there soon would be a scarcity of hops, and that before the hops then growing could be brought to market, the then present stock of hops would be exhausted; with intent and design by such rumours and reports to induce divers persons unknown then present, being dealers in hops, and accustomed to sell hops, and having large quantities of hops for sale, not to carry or send to any market or fair any hops for sale, and to abstain from selling such hops for a long time, and thereby greatly to enhance the price of hops…

I love old legal report twinnings: “rumours and reports”… “openly and wickedly”… “in the presence and hearing of”! I found the case looking for references to the statutory 9 Ann. c. 12. s. 24. from 1711 which prohibited common brewers from using any other bitter than hops in brewing their beer. Not sure where that particular line of research came from or where it was headed but, again, the scale of hops involved is itself astounding.

While the Waddington ruling is arcane and complex and involves nine separate charges, basically the allegations were that Waddington wanted to trick his competition either into moving away from the market or into selling to him all based on a false rumour that there were shortages of hops which would cause a price rise. Their retreat from the market itself would likely cause a price rise and Waddington would sell into the market and make a bundle. Bad bad man, Mr. Waddington.  The scale of the operation was quite ambitious as he cornered the market and controlled 500 tons of hops – or 10,000 cwt sacks of hops.* By doing so, is was argued, he sought to turn the £11 pound sack of hop into a £20 one.

The interesting thing is how the court struggles to figure out if the actions were actually actionable – as the rumours were required to be false for them to be criminal. But the rumour, in fact, had the intended effect and the prices did rise. So it was not false. The prosecutors did not buy that shell game and argued that there was a difference in buying in bulk and cornering the market:

It is clear from the opinion of Lord Coke in 3 Inst. 195. and from all other general writers, that forestalling, engrossing, and regrating, were crimes at common law…

[So, just to be clear, none of that forestalling, engrossing, and regrating anymore, thanks very much.] The case goes on to describe the hop market in a fair bit of detail in order to establish whether Waddington had wickedly perverted it or just had cleverly played within it.  Cut to the chase:

Lord Kenyon, C. J. reported the evidence given at the trial, which in his judgment was sufficient to go to the jury upon all the counts; and that they found a general verdict against the defendant. The principal part of the evidence related to the forehand bargains made by the defendant with different planters for their growing crop of hops; a practice however which appeared to have prevailed for a considerable period of time in Kent, and without which some of the witnesses stated that in their judgment the cultivation of this plant, the expense of which was exceedingly heavy, could not be generally carried on. There was also evidence of the defendant’s having bought up very large quantities of the commodity to an unusual amount, and by making unusual advances of money; and that he had held out language of inducement to other persons dealing in the same article to withhold their stock from the market with a view to a rise in the price. 

So, it seems to boil down to Waddington, an established merchant, introducing the Kentish practice of paying farmers in spring to buy hop futures into another part of England where the practice was unknown. Or at least this was what the defendant’s lawyers argued. The sentencing judge was not moved. Despite that practice, it was held that creating an “artificial scarcity” was still an offence.

During the Georgian period when protection of market supply of necessaries was giving way to the more rapacious Dickensian cult of market opportunity, interesting that in 1800 this was still earning criminal conviction. Waddington was fined 500 pounds and got one month in jail. Interesting that the fine represented less than 1% of the value of the hops he ended up controlling. His 500 tons even at the original market price of £11 a cwt sack was worth a total of £110,000 in contemporary money.*  A sum many times that in our money.

Wow. So, there you go. Another step forward in the law of hops.

*Math corrected subsequent to Martyn’s stern and warranted correction.

 

 

Your Beery News For A Mid-September’s Week

The week saw a sweater weather day but now the house is hot and humid again. Spring was late be summer is holding on by the hair on its chinny-chin-chin. The Beer Nut was by over the weekend. I mean he went by… on a train. He took a picture of where I wasn’t standing to wave at him as he went by. His half month-long Twitter diarized trip to Quebec and Ontario so far is like the stay-cation I could never afford. I am just happy that he discovered where the beating heart of Canada can be found. That a view! We really do put out best foot forward for the rail traveling public, don’t we.

The Tand starts us off with a fabulously clear discussion on what is needed to handle cask ale properly and there is a simple set of rules to follow:

They all begin with C. Cleanliness, condition and cellar temperature are the basics. The other is somewhat contrived, but is chronology. Time. Rack the beer to settle. give it a day at least. Vent when the beer has rested. Know when the beer went on and when it ought to be sold by.

He himself aka Tand no doubt would appreciate the cellar instructions and cellar thermometer posted by Brad Wright on Wednesday.

Neolithic beer questions! It’s all about the neolithic this week it seems. What did they drink at feasts? Did they brew bread before they baked bread?

More mod-ren-ly, the Pursuit Of Abbeyness posted some thoughts of the state of “craft” as illustrated by two neighbouring breweries in Cornwall, England. Among other things, it is a good reminder of how not all craft is created equal:

Rebel was established in 2011. Verdant started in 2014, but arguably did not hit its stride until it upgraded to its current, 16-hectolitre brewery in October 2016. Rebel is barely known outside of Cornwall. Verdant is now one of the UK’s most visible craft breweries, a producer of sought-after beers that receive enthusiastic reviews across social media.

This line about Rebel is fairly brutal: “The beers are the sort to win CAMRA awards, but not the sort that grabs the attention of the urban Millennial on the look out for the latest craft-beer sensation.” Given that knowledge, is investing in beer any less of a crap shoot these days than it ever was? Strong on average but fickle in the particular.

Jordan illustrating the only thing he remembers from those undergrad years. Ouch. Right in the brain pan.

Beer community spirit, graphically illustrated:

Speaking of the organized representation of data, Jeff published the results of the survey he was running on US brewery staff compensation. The results are both rare given how little actual use of stats is applied in craft beer (other than as compiled for compromised PR purposes) and useful given the focus he places on real issues:

I gave respondents a list of other benefits employers sometimes offer their workers. Nearly half of respondents (45%) received no additional benefits beyond PTO and health care (if they received those at all). Of the benefits I listed, only training and retirement planning were offered by an appreciable number of breweries (29% and 32% respectively). I was shocked to see that not a single brewery in this pool offered child care. 

Jeff was encourages by the findings but I am less impressed. Saddened even. For all the money in beer there seems to be little money in beer. Still, fabulous work by Jeff.

‘s’truth: every city needs widely available, low-priced craft option.

This is a hard one to sift: a US craft brewery doing a crowd funding campaign to move because the area’s presumed gentrification did not occur:

According to the Star-Tribune, owner Kevin Welch moved into the overwhelmingly white city’s most diverse neighborhood where he “hoped to be part of West Broadway’s transformation.” Instead of a “transformation,” though, Welch and his employees have witnessed violence and seen customer’s cars damaged. They complain that “biker gangs started peddling drugs in the alley” outside. The last straw was a fatal shooting of a black man who is unnamed in the Star-Tribune story, Steven F. Fields. Fields was a hotel employee who was smoking a cigarette when he was murdered.

Reactions not entirely sympathetic. I’d like to know what the realtor’s advice was.

Finally, Ed posted some science-y stuff about brewing that maybe 0.1% of you will get. Gems like this:

Brewers can have problems with processing aids. Antifoams in Fermenting Vessel can clog cross flow filter membranes over time, though this is not a problem with kieselguhr filters. Single shot PVPP may also cause problems with cross flow. Tannnic acid can be a great help but can cause problems if added immediately upstream of filtration.

What the hell is that about? What the hell is a “kieselguhr filter“??? I am glad that there are people like Ed out there worrying about that stuff so I can just concern myself with what is tasty in the glass.

That’s it. One more week of news for the summer of 2018. Baseball in coming into its last handful of regular season games and the NHL is starting camp. Three months to Yuletide. There’s still plenty of veg in the garden but… but…

The Very Last Thursday Beer News For August 2018

So how did your summer go? Mine was fine, thanks, even if I did have to work a lot. Finally got a real week off and I have been lazing about. Might go our to a favorite posted late last week on Twitter, Jasper Johns, “Ale Cans,” 1964. I like it. I have been just sitting here looking at things I like between stretches of doing things I like. Which is pretty good for a holiday.

More beer health news. Nice to see that “minimal risk of harm” has replaced the silly J-Curve as a reasonably expression of the limited impact that moderate alcohol consumption has won out. Here is a good analysis of the study. The semi-paid semi-amateur trade spin doctors may still be out in force but the general rule is still minimal harm from minimal consumption… statistically. The always relevant question, as Jeff pointed out recently, is how minimal is your consumption… really.

I liked Andy’s tweet as it tied in with issues related to value and supply:

Going into a liquor store these days to buy beer is like stumbling into an episode of the Walking Dead. Zombie beer brands just sitting warm and dead on store shelves waiting to attack the unsuspecting consumer.

Layer on that the fun folk at The Sun had asking normal folk about some heavily priced UK craft brands:  (i) “I work in a bar and have tried a lot of beers – and this one, from Evil Twin Brewing, is awful. I wouldn’t even pay a pound for it, let alone 12. On the tin it says it tastes of honey but I think it tastes more like sewage“; yet (ii) “I like a dark beer and this is pretty good from Evil Twin Brewing. We drink a lot of dark beer where I come from. In the background you can taste a burnt biscuity, caramel flavour which is nice.” The semi-paid semi-amateur trade spin doctors were again out in force defending… something… but I thought they were reasonable “person on the street” comments.

Then – get this – comes the news… nay, admission that the main brewery participating in the Back to the Future style buck-a-beer government program is losing money on the process. The biggest retailers has already backed out after mere days according to BlogTO (via Crystal.) What I think Andy, The Sun and this article are all noting is how little understood the value of beer is. I might suggest that it is because there is alcohol in beer and its price serves the intended of the consumer in given contexts but that would be opinionated of me.

Speaking of opinion, Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribute explored how US craft is expressing its opinion(s) of the current US Federal government:

In the Trump era, more than a few Chicago bar and brewery owners have worn their left-leaning politics on their sleeves. With an openness unseen in most corners of the hospitality industry, bars and breweries have openly worked on behalf of immigrant rights, gay and lesbian equality, transgender rights and even that third rail of politics, abortion.

Nice to learn from a link in that article, too, that Jim Koch‘s support of the President led to a boycott in his appropriated state of choice:

“Marketers really haven’t had to deal with something like this for 50 years — since the Vietnam War,” said Robert Passikoff, president of the New York consulting firm Brand Keys. “There is no win on this thing. There’s only dealing with it,” he added. “Now, everything is political.” Koch and Boston Beer have faced a backlash on social media driven by figures such as Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone , who pledged in a Twitter post to “never drink Sam Adam’s beer again!” In the physical world, a Jamaica Plain teenager and his father hung a spray-painted sign within sight of the company’s Boston brewery reading, “SHAME! SAM ADAMS [heart] TRUMP SHAME!”

Now, no need to just do a Koch pile-on when we have BrewDog. I don’t need to actually link to their latest failed marketing strategy (which I have a certain familiarity with being myself an early marketing strategy) but I would like to link to Carla Jean who unpacked their sexist and racist junk.

And Stan‘s last weekly update contains an excellent extended extract on the means by which Henry King (who served as president of the United States Brewers Association from 1961 to 1983) made sure the industry as a whole did not take a wrong step in marketing or brewing – he acted in the best interests of the trade and consumers:

“We beat the federal government by seven weeks. We reported the cobalt problem, we were out of it and no longer had production seven weeks before the Food and Drug Administration even got their act together on it.” He acted decisively not just because it was good for the beer industry, but because it was right. When the nitrosamine proved to be a carcinogen in the 1970s, King again moved swiftly. 

Hero of beer!

There. Another week done, another month done and another summer almost done. Damn good thing I am immortal or I’d be getting all anxtity over this passing o’time stuff. B+B has more news on Saturday as always but I was going to also remind you that Stan will be back Monday… but he won’t!  I was thinking of moving this summary of the news back a day or two. I will see how that goes…