These Are The Greatest Mid-April Beery News Notes Yet!

Howdie! It’s definitely spring now. Definitely. I’ve planted radish seed and the snow’s all gone.  More planting to come this weekend.  It’s a busy time in the beer world with the great retreat having begun in earnest. The Craft Beer Conference is going on in Denver so plenty of hope and new instructions* being delivered. And, in a real sense, nothing immediately new has actually been done under the umbrella of craft has been done for quite a while. Whither glitter 2.o? No one knows… or perhaps cares. Not Martin Taylor who posted the photo of the week up there on Wednesday, clear glowing golden goodness.

Oh, speaking of the Craft Brewers Conference, apparently they hauled an old rocker (who, for some reason, is a brewery cross-branding project) out to speak to them all and he regaled them with a few sexist jokes! Fabulous. Conversely, all hail the greatest mind in the beer world over at least the last decade:

…the ruination of nomenclature leaves you with no power to describe things.

How many times have I said that very thing? Never? You’re probably right. But I like it.

In exciting rule of law news, the Canadian federal government has announced it is changing the rules barring inter-provincial trade in booze! Too bad it is regulated at the provincial level as last year’s Comeau ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed. Will there be a constitutional conference on all this? Likely not. Somehow, somewhere a bilateral agreement between two will start the ball rolling. My bet? Nova Scotia and Manitoba!

Neolithic malting techniques explained!

Next up, Thornbridge Brewery in the UK announced a new take on beer and, in a move I trust might be appreciated by our last quote giver up there, it’s a step back of the best sort:

Seeing as the current beer market is awash with Citra/Mosaic US-style IPAs, I wanted to create a beer that uses only British ingredients that was slightly different.  I took the concept of German Kellerbier, a timeless, classic style of unfiltered lager, which is as close to cask conditioned real ale as the Germans get, and put a British spin on it to create our new beer, which we named Heartland.  Kellerbier is known as a fresh-tasting, highly drinkable style with flavours drawn from the yeast (as it would have been served direct from the tank) with a fine bitterness.

Read the whole thing. I have never wanted to have a glass of a new beer more. That sounds entirely yum.

One a word: why?

More research has been published in The Lancet showing that regular alcohol is never a good idea if avoiding health issues is part of your life plan. Note again: no j-curve. You are just trading off long term health for short term jollies. Which can be quantified apparently. I am sure your favourite beer writer will disagree with the medical opinion – but who takes health advice from a paid booze trade advocate? Oh, some of you do? Interesting.

Speaking of things that set of craft crybabies, in even greater neg the UK’s newspaper The Independent has asked the questions we all want answered. Has craft actually succeeded in making beer no fun? Has good beer gone uttlerly boring?

Another day, another press release with the words “craft beer” in the title – perhaps the second or third this week. This time, a madcap alternative to craft beer fun runs, craft beer mini golf, craft beer rafting, craft beer cycle tours, craft beer billiards, craft beer haircuts and craft beer yoga: a new London “craft beer hotel” from the people at BrewDog. It’s apparently a revolutionary place with “craft beer in every room”. Please excuse me for a moment while I consign said email to subfolder “CRAFT CRAP.”

It’s true, isn’t it. Who thought a decade ago that ten years of money and ego could actually succeed in making beer so boring? But they have! I like the article’s tag line… sub-title… whatever you call it: “Big business has killed the authenticity of small-batch brews.” I probably have not paid a nickel into the BrewDog coffers for half a decade so you can’t blame me. I like micro and local too much to bother with big craft.

The Beer Nut again takes one for the team and compares discount Italian lagers. Sadly, the better one will never make our side of the Atlantic.

Martyn has written an excellent post on an unexcellent thing… the disappearance of the word “bitter” from the English landscape:

Exactly when it started happening I’m not sure, but bitter, once the glory of the British beer scene, is disappearing. In the place of all those marvellously hoppy, complex bitters and best bitters we once sank by the pottle and quart, we now have brews sold under the same brand names, made by the same breweries, very probably to the same recipes, with the same ingredients – but describing themselves as “amber ales” instead.

Fortunately, Ontario is behind the times so our old school local preferences are still out there to be enjoyed: sweetish husky pale ales, nut browns, dark ales that might be milds but no one has bothered to inquire.

Finally, we here in Ontario and across Canada heard the news of the sad early passing of Joel Manning. Ben Johnson wrote a fitting warm remembrance:

To a person, anyone I’ve heard speak of Manning is likely to note that “he is a good dude.” He was affable, open, steadfastly committed to helping people in his industry, and always willing to talk. He was also, in every sense of the word, a professional brewer. Manning began brewing beer at age 20 when he was hired as a brewing assistant at the original Amsterdam Brewpub in 1986. He worked his way up to Brewmaster there in just three years and held that position until 2004. In 2005 he took over as the Brewmaster at Mill Street Brewery and remained in that role until his retirement last year. He worked in the beer industry for 32 years.

There we are. Another week has passed and if it had a theme in good beer, it was one of loss, both welcome and deeply sad. I hope it’s a better week ahead. Taxes loom** but so does the four day Easter long weekend. Did I mention the 150 garlic that overwintered outback are suddenly popping up green? So there is good in the world. I expect more of it to be reported by Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday. You should, too.

*Surely, independent malt.
**Which I still do by hand and pencil and paper for four tax returns for some unknown reason…

Your Thursday Beer News Update: Buy-Outs, Bad Press And Bisulfite Bother

Ah, April. As lilacs breed out of the dead land, we watch baseball beginning. Seven months ahead of baseball baseball baseball. People get spring fever and, as a consequence, sometime buy very big hats. Craig has been brewing Albany Ale again with local brewers C. H. Evans, fabulously holding up the side for the project. I think that collaboration dates now back over five years when his hat was not so tall. I also captured the moment by celebrating the very nice breakfast that I had the next day. All so excellent.

Best boozy April Fool’s Day joke. Best letter to the editor.

I find this bit of craft amnesia really strange. The idea that Allagash White stood alone with haze without reference to Pierre Celis and Hoegaarden is a bit sad. Like people suggesting that sparklers weren’t invented as a way to flog poor beer, I suppose.  Or the idea that micro/craft didn’t start beyond the USA. But, as an entire counterbalance… an antidote even, consider Nate’s incidental beer pictures in the Czech Republic or consider Lars live-baking the mash on so-me or, best of all, consider Martyn finding an ad for US hops being sold in the UK in the 1790s! Wow! I am renewed. Redeemed. You can see that I am a sensitive I might not be alone.

A sensitive man…

I am not alone. Jeff at Beervana is a bit fed up, too, with some of the latest news. He captured the mood of these buy-out PR notices with his Mad-Libs, fill in the gaps form for any craft brewers planning to take advantage of any moolah-laced opportunities:

[ _______________ ] announced today an agreement to acquire a majority interest in [ ________ ]-based [ __________ ] Brewing Company.

I found this refreshing, especially in the context a so much fretting about “rumours” which seem to the UK blogging English for knowing something but living under slightly less freedom of speech than we enjoy in North America, if we trust (as I do) the theme as illustrated by @totalcurtis. I blame an over concern with the interests of lawyers, as perhaps illustrated by Boak and Bailey. I’ve never heard of bloggers facing legal problems over sharing trade information but, well, that’s what it feels like on my side of the gown and wig.

They do raise another point: “…the question of people’s feelings.” I usually don’t put that much stock into this personally* either but then I was reminded of the thought when I read this in a review in The Guardian of Pete Brown’s new book:

Brown moved from advertising into “beer writing”, which is not much of a shift. Beer writing purports to be a branch of consumer journalism. Producer journalism would be more apt. He is forever being invited to judge competitions (beer of course, and cider, veg, pies, cakes, anything). He goes to tastings. He opens food festivals. He attends events…  The proximity of writer/critic to maker or artisan is worrying. Beer or wine or food writing often becomes a sort of dissembled advertising, or advertorial, which doesn’t announce itself save by its gushing enthusiasm and self-congratulation.

Now, even if I am a sensitive man, I point this out for the general concept not the particular. My copy of Pete’s book will come to my house in a few weeks as the release has been delayed in Canada. And I won’t review it because it’s not a beer book. But I do think the review in The Guardian was extremely mean spirited. And not in the A.A.Gill, a hero of mine, sense of mean spirited. Not even in the Pete Brown sense of a teensie mean spirited.  It was actually a bit cruel. Demeaning even.* But the general observation on beer writing set out above? Not too far off the mark for a sadly significant part of beer writing. As you know I have thought and written about for years so don’t… just… OK, fill your boots – what the heck. You gotta be you, too.

Independence.

In other news, Garrett Oliver made The Sunday New York Times. And then an interesting discussion broke out on Twitter between him and Matt C. on the meaning and value of “local” including this comment:

It’s complicated for sure. But there is an extent to which asking a brewery to “double-down on local” is like asking a 12 yr old to “double-down on adolescence.” These days “local” can mean only breweries from your own neighborhood. I can walk to five breweries from my house…

I like the point. But is it what people want today? And isn’t that the only point? The discussion started with this from Matt C and goes along through a large number of threads. Worth thinking about.*** And worth thinking about in the context of all the above and below which is really about how a wide range of writing about beer takes many forms. It’s all fairly robust even if we collectively have not caught up to that realization.

Picking hops in 1800s Wisconsin.

Confession time. I am down to maybe having one or two beers a week. Work pressures? Health concerns? Nope. Allergies. Now I am a sensitive man so I am comfortable sharing with you that more and more I am having histamine reactions from beer like many folk get with red wine. The problem has always been there but I managed it by avoiding naturally high sulfate beers like Burton IPAs or anything Burtonized.  For example, I get a headache during the first Sleemans. Always have. Hard water brewery. Then, as with one really good eastern Ontario Porter,**** I started noticing a reaction from some craft breweries that I put down to smaller newer places using sodium metabisulfite (the pink powder home brewers use) as part of the cleaning regime. That one gives me a set of thrilling achy reactions down the throat. But, recently, I have noticed a new class of randomly sulfate laced beers: some of the ones with fruity flavours added. For decades, I avoid anything that is a flaky pastry treat  that’s foil wrapped  for freshness and boasts of “real fresh fruit filling” because that stuff has actually put me in the hospital a few times. Has anyone else noticed this? I know… I am a sensitive man. And it’s not that I mind. Good for the wallet and the waist. Great sleeps, too.

Not unrelated.

That must be enough for this week. This busy week. The week that BeerAdvocate magazine wrapped it up for good. Where will we end up? Back here?

But the bartender is not quite
so sensitive as I supposed he was
the way he looks at me now
and does not appreciate my exquisite analogy

Now, it was brought home to me a long time ago that beer poems and beer history and critical essays about drinking culture will not really buy beer or flowers or a goddamn thing…

and I was sad
for I am a sensitive man

Uncertain how to cope with it all? Read Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday. That might help.

*Honestly, without being the slightest bit pointy fingery, I could not imagine writing “imagine how those team members feel learning the news from Twitter, or on some poxy beer blog” myself but that is why they are they and I am me and, beyond that, there are far more vulnerable voices out there. Too sensitive. But what can you do. Beer is made of flowers.
**Compare to this review in The Observer. Covers the same ground but seems to have no grudge. Odd. And, as I say, cruel.
***And worth hauling out again when someone once again says with a vapid flourish that you can’t explain thing in detail or have a civil discussion on Twitter.
****Which I mention only after I have had the reaction corroborated by someone else I recommended the beer to who had the same odd response.

Perhaps A Very Short Version Of Thursday Beer News.

I say “very short” up there as I never know where these things are going. I am like a one man Brexit in that sense. Suffice it to say, mustering the time and content for this post differs from week to week but, unlike Brexit perhaps, is always the source of joyous surprise.  I couldn’t imagine anything could be more screwed up than 1970s Canadian constitutional conferences – shown live on TV all day in my youth. But Brexit is it! I know some of you are actually living under this nutty-nutso situation so I will not go on. Excecpt to wonder what a backstop really means to @thebeernut.

So what is up in reality land? First, Geoff Latham has an interesting question: what does this record from a brewing session that occurred in September 1848 mean? It appears to show someone dabbling in early hipsterism, employing unholy techniques when it comes to hops. Click on that thumbnail. Can you read the text and help with the mystery?*

Interesting. Second, now Stan has a question:

I think I’ve only asked a variation on that question one other time — in this case the more open ended, “What is the most important hop ever?” — and Jason Perrault of Select Botanicals and Perrault Farms said to give him a little time to think about it. I haven’t pressed him on it since, but now might be time.

My answer – and I am sticking to it – is the one in the beer on the ships that had the cannons of the Hanseatic League 1300 to 1500. Likely proto-Saaz.

Home brew for three pence a pint! What year would that have been? That was my own Burco dream back in the middle of the 1980s. Speaking of the 1980s, great news of  Mendocino Brewing Company, care of a Tom tip. An early micro brewing icon is being revived:

Though the beer is not being produced inside the cavernous, 65,000 square-foot facility, Krauss and his team have high hopes about the future, to the delight of local beer drinkers and fans of the legendary brews. “Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk are back,” smiles Krauss. The beers have recently been revived by the brand’s original brew master, Don Barkley, and can currently be purchased on tap at a few inland Mendo locations: in Ukiah at Crush, Cultivo and the Sports Attic; in Hopland at Campovida; and once again, where it all began, at the Hopland Tap, where the ales were originally served more than three decades ago.

Right on. Moving on, we find some odd responses to the idea of more craft beer going into the UK supermarket chain Tesco. Apparently, the Tand is still the clearest thinking person in beer culture:

This should surprise nobody. Breweries are businesses and while keeping it cosily in the bubble is nice for fans, it don’t pay the milkman. Big beer and big business want a share and they know how to go about it. Expect much more of similar.

The odd thing for me is the twin ideas that (i) for some reason we beer writers are supposed to be boosters for a bigger market slice for the  brewers that self-identify as preferable and yet (ii) we want to keep those precious brewers human scale as if this all is some sort of personal relationship. Note: never has this occurred in all of human history.

Similarly, Paste magazine has listed some of the contract beers they sell under house names – and then unpacks who is actually making them like this entry for Mission Street Pale Ale:

Attributed to Steinhause Brewing in CA, this pale ale actually comes from California’s own Firestone Walker, who also makes a handful of other Mission St. styles like blonde and black ales as well as a hefeweizen. They’re also behind Trader Joe’s Fat Weasel Ale, Jumping Cow Amber, Frugal Joe’s Ordinary Beer, and the Gila Monster Amber Lager.

I had heard years ago that Unibroue up here in Canada made all their Belgian ales. Makes sense. Why sell bad beer in your store when you can rebrand good stuff? And why be a brewer competing with chain branded beer when you can brew it yourself? Everyone wins.

Speaking of beer on the move, Josh Rubin has a great story in The Toronto Star on the ambitious expansion of one Ontario brewery into the Big Apple including one non-traditional and interesting comment from a craft brewer:

Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, was puzzled but welcomes the new arrival. “It seems like an awfully strange move, but then again, we’d probably happily open in Paris or Tokyo, so maybe it’s the same for everyone these days,” said Oliver. “If they make great beer, people will come. And I can walk there from my house. Brooklyn once brewed 15 per cent of all the beer in the United States, so I’m sure that one more brewery/taproom will be just fine,” Oliver said.

Clever people. I hope they make a go of it. Sadly, elsewhere apparently stupid is still a part of craft beer culture:

“We understand it is a bit risqué, but it’s in good humor, comical, and consensual.  We have received good feedback from when we have showed this to many” said Brady.

Jeff obviously was not part of that early feedback loop. Really, I hope you don’t bother looking at the underlying story. Morons. Particularly swell that they are ‘splainin’ sorts who unilaterally assert something is consensual.

Finally in far happier branding news, big craft brewer Stone has lost its motion for a preliminary injunction in that trademark infringement case against cheery micro macro Miller. I say happy because the court has confirmed that the case between Stone and Miller over beer brands is all about money and not some sort of special status. I say happy, too, because it places Dr. Johnson squarely back in the midst of it all, as we observe again with him the unassailable truth that brewing offers and perhaps even inflicts the curse of “the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice” upon those who are not careful, who over reach.  Brendan has more in his Wednesday afternoon tweet-fest of the court’s ruling.

Well, that’s it. Not as short as I had thought – and not even all that pointless! More good news than sad. Not a bad week. The dirty snow has already faded to the lump here an there on the north side of things. Desperate for more? You know the drill: Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday. See ya next week, unless that real job of mine gets in the way. Think I am out at meetings on Tuesday and on the road Wednesday night. Uh oh.

*Ooops… forgot I hate any use of “mystery” as it relates to beer and drinking culture.

England’s Increasing Concern Over Beer Brewing, 1430s to 1580s

I have a thing for a beer I have never had. Double Double. As I understand it, this beer was made by recirculating perfectly good wort and rebrewing it through a new batch of malt. In the mid-1500s, it was a great bother for the nation, it even gets a mention in Shakespeare,* somewhat in open view. In 1560, Queen Elizabeth became directly involved as the supply of single beer was tightening.  She ordered that brewers should brew each week “as much syngyl as doble beare and more.” Hornsey discusses a 1575 letter from the Earl of Leicester discussing a trip he took with Elizabeth, a summary of which from another source is noted above. When she wanted refreshment, she found her ale was as strong as Malmsey, heavy sweet strong Madiera wine. Not pleased.**

In the article “The London Lobbies in the Later Sixteenth Century” by Ian Archer, published in 1988 in The Historical Journal the resulting legal restrictions on brewing double double within and near to London was discussed:

The parliamentary diarist Cromwell describes a bill in 1572 “restraining the bruing of double double ale or doble double beere within the Citie or iij miles thereof, and no beere to be sould above 4s. the barrel1 the strongest, and 2s. the single beere.”

Archer explains that the goal of the regulation of ‘double double’ beer was supposed to ensure that the most intoxicating and expensive of beverages were not available to the poor, while also limiting the consumption of grain. To that, we might also add the waste of wood. England in the mid and later 1500s was not only facing speculation in malt  was having a fuel crisis. Whole forests had been lost. Double double requires not only the loss of volumes of single ale and beer to the production process but also a second firing of fuel. The Common Council of the City of London had regulated double double for years before the statute of 1572 was considered. In 1575, as we can see above to the right, another general statute against the brewing of double double throughout all of England was before Parliament. Notice, too, that it was the brewing of both double double beer as well as double double ale that was being reined in by the law. The hopping of the beer in itself was not key to the question.

Beer brewers themselves were a bit suspect at this time. Strangers. Archer states that the Brewers’ Company was an unpopular group dominated by aliens and thought to be profiteering at the expense of the poor. As we saw a few weeks ago, “aliens” or “strangers” were foreign nationals who were subject to being recorded in a  form of census. Yet, of the 1400s mood one can state that “stranger beer brewers found the Crown to be an ally throughout the fifteenth century because of their ability to supply beer to the military.” We also remember that Henry VIII created a beer brewing complex in 1515 at Portsmouth to supply the needs of his navy. Prior to that, the English navy had to buy beer from a group of 12 brewers in London. Probably including many alien beer brewers.

The role of hopped beer in military victuals continued.  In 1547, the supplying of the Scottish town in England, Berwick, required a steady provision of beer by the tun. Likely in support of the army of Edward Seymour, maternal uncle of Edward VI, who upon the death of Henry VIII became Lord Protector. The expedition culminated in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in which 8,000 Scots were killed to 250 English. All too reminiscent of the outcome of that 1513 misadventure at Flodden when 10,000 Scots died and the English leader Lord Howard noted:

The Scots had a large army, and much ordnance, and plenty of victuals. Would not have believed that their beer was so good, had it not been tasted and viewed “by our folks to their great refreshing,” who had nothing to drink but water for three days.

In a letter dated 29 January 1587, James Quarles, the surveyor general of victuals for the navy sets out his request to regularize the supply of provisions as England prepared to face the Spanish threat. He requests continued control of Her Majesty’s brewhouses, bakeshouses and storehouses and then sets the standard for a pottle of beer per seaman a day, at a price of 1 and 3/4 pence per day. Interestingly, he also notes that a tun of beer had increased in price by about 50% from the 1540s to the 1580s, from 18 shillings to 26 shillings 8 pence. As noted above, resources like fuel and malt were tightening.

While both the armies and navies of England depended on hopped beer, the civic beer brewers were not only suspect but, like the state run beer breweries of the later 1500s, they were busy. As we noted before, Kristen D. Burton in this 2013 article describes the scale of brewing being undertaken in the whole of the City of London during Tudor times:

The beer brewers of London established England’s capital city as the leading producer of beer throughout Europe by the end of the sixteenth century; a notable feat considering the late arrival of hopped beer to England. In 1574, London beer brewers produced 312,000 barrels of beer and by 1585 that had increased to 648,690 barrels…

Scale. So, it may be that beer brewing was more welcome or less of a concern to England in the middle of the 1400s than in the latter 1500s. Or perhaps it was too critical to the nation. This might go a bit against the existing narrative. Perhaps that is because it was first a fairly benign practice in harbour towns supplying the immigrant community. Hops being imported from the continent, just a few bales at a time as in 1480. One hundred years later, it has gone from being perhaps a local port town quirk to a key military asset to a danger to social order if let loose without controls on its supply, strength and price.

If that is all correct, one of the keys to the advancement of hopped ale was not consumer preference so much as military demand. Beer was stable where ale was transitory. Beer could be held on a ship or in preparation for a battle on the field. Ale needed constant production. It also needed rationing if that was the case. And Double Double, perhaps the sucker juice of its day, was no part of a rational rationing program.

Its last sighting was in Schenectady, New York in 1820 of all places and times.  A few weeks ago, Craig unpacked the history of the brewers of that beer. They were men in transit during the great push west, the brewing of a Double Double apparently also transitory. Will I ever have one? I expect so. Perhaps Jeff is right and we are ripe for the wheel turning again. A massively malty beer would be just about right for a return to garage punk band brewing, shrugging off this era of discontent, this time of disco brewing of Franken-beers as foreign to ale as Malmsey.

*Conversely, Shakespeare gives “good double beer” a fairly respectful mention in Henry VI, Part 2, Scene III care of that unforgettable character, the Third Neighbour: “And here’s a pot of good double beer, neighbour: drink, and fear not your man.” Also note that it is beer, not ale. The play is set in around the last half of the 1440s so very little beer going about, one would have thought. Perhaps an anachronism? Or maybe a coy cultural reference to something lost to time.
**Not a wine without an unblemished past in court circles.

That’s It! February Is Over And We Can Now Go On With Our Lives And The Beery News

What a week. I’d tell you about it but that would be telling. On the upside, February is over and that is always good. I never liked it. Icy sidewalks, dirty snowbanks. Elsewhere, daffodils are popping up and buds are bursting. Here, I am convinced every step outside is my last. I haaaaate winter now. The stinkin’ head cold I’ve been dealing with tops it all off. To remind me of happier winter moments past, above is a wonderful photo from Andy Macpherson from the 2015 Xmas photo context of exciting snowy action with him and his pals at Bucktail Brews, a New Jersey brewing project in planning. I hope it works.

News of the week? First up, I don’t disagree with this from @tonitwopint but…

A lot of conversation was generated around Founders, but their situation is indicative of a much larger issue. The conversation needs to continue on a larger scale. If the overall culture of the beer industry were inclusive, it would make it harder for places like that to thrive.

… but you do see two sorts of issue dilution (aka responsibility deflection) being thrown about in such matters: (i) brewery X’s fault needs to be understood in the context of other brewers and (ii) craft brewing needs to be understood in the context of greater society.* Yes and no. Founders may be indicative of a larger issue but it’s also pretty clear that Founders itself alone allowed a culture of bigotry to foster. A particular circumstance which should not be lost. Not cheery but important.

Endtimesy news from Nate.

Timelessness: a study of a back alley tavern from A London Inheritance

In no doubt a move intentionally timed to break the hearts of those interested in #FlagshipFebruary, one of the actual flagships but one not mentioned in the campaign has taken a huge if not fatal hit:

One of Goose Island’s original beers, Honkers Ale, will no longer be on sold on shelves soon. Once a flagship when Goose Island was a locally-owned, craft beer pioneer in Chicago, Honkers Ale is being reduced to being offered only in its brewpubs, according to a post on the Guys Drinking Beer blog, which broke the news. “Honkers Ale was one of the first beers to really put Goose Island on the map. We love this English Bitter style beer! Honkers Ale is not being discontinued and will still be served at our brewpubs…”**

Honkers: a beer so beloved by me it got passing reference once in 2010. RIP.

Entirely crappy news with the filing for bankruptcy by All About Beer magazine and especially the news that plenty of people are left holding the bag. Interesting discussions here and here on what the point and best business model for running a beer magazine in North America is these days. Sad. Actually, just kinda sad.

Speaking of #FlagshipFebruary, even though use of the hashtag went from about 1,000 a day on Twitter to about half that over the  course of the month, I was pleased to see how positive the outcome was. Not just a rear guard action at all. As I had hoped in mid-January, it moved sufficiently off its actual stated mandate to keep interest up rather than beating the dead horse of beers like Honkers no one much cares for anymore. This past week, we have a love letter to a mild, an example and a style which has never been any sort of flagship related to craft. And we had that lovely personal essay by Jay in which the beer is entirely incidental. Wonderful. Now onto that ray of hope, #MoneyMakerMarch when we explore how beer actually works.

In perhaps related beer junket news, a planeload of freebie tourists and cap in hand journalists drinking freebie beer filled the toilets of a plane mid-Atlantic. Such a useful illustration for future reference. Kind of a gross one. Again, grimness prevails.

An interesting bit of intra-provincial comparison went on in Canada’s other national newspaper this week with an article on opening times across our fair land. Ontario, where I live has the latest start – 11 am. Anything earlier, as we learn in school is Satanic. Which is why I do not understand the taverns and dives of New Brunswick opening at six in the morning. Who the hell has to drink in public at that time? Apparently, New Brunswickers.

You know that what follows on social media will be a bit of a grumpy mess, a bit off one’s marbles when it is introduced with the notion that notwithstanding “the steady descent of Twitter generally into a platform for people to get furious over trivia and hurl abuse at people they don’t know…” as if perhaps one did not oneself participate at that level but, never the less, that is what Pete Brown did when he took off on a personal one-legged hopping finger pointy race to explain three reasons why some beer costs more:

But looking at the sheer ignorance of the people we were debating with, two things occurred to me. One, yes, it’s probably not worth bothering engaging with people who for some reason have chosen to spend their precious time on this planet arguing with people they don’t know about subjects on which they are entirely ignorant. But two, the frequency with which this particular attitude surfaces suggests that perhaps we’re at fault too. It’s not just on social media: in pubs and bars, when there’s some strong, rare beer being sold in thirds or halves only, there’s always someone who works out the cost of a pint (even though you can’t buy a pint) and decries how outrageous it is.

The… err… challenging thing is the three reasons (ingredients, time, techniques) are not really (i) explained in terms of the effect of value relative to similar competitors nor are they (ii) explained in the context of fadism-based hyper inflation*** nor are they (iii) explained in terms of the specific effect ingredient, time or technique have on the price. Are they 1%, 5% or 50% variables on overall price? Why can’t we have this explored at a proper level of detail? Apparently understanding price and value are separate issues. [Ed.: we are now having another personal fugue state experience for a mo… and… and… we are back.] Well, if the goals is arguing “on the side of the industry people defending and justifying the expense of some beers…

That’s it! A bit all endtimesy when you look at it. Frikkin’ February. I blame you. In mere hours it will be March. Joy shall reign! Maybe I’ll even have a beer. Can’t quite be certain if I’ve even had one single beer over the last seven days. Rotten stinking February head cold. Soon, I’ll probably rush to plant radishes so I can stare at the small first patch until it’s clear that nothing is going to grow until a few more weeks have passed. Weeks more waiting. Joy delayed.

What do I have to live for until the soil warms? Well, what other than Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday? Surely that is enough for anyone. Though an early spring might be nice, too.

*Though it is fabulously educational to search for “founders” and “racist” on Twitter.
**Isn’t it always fun when the J. Jonah Jameson breaking the news lines are used? Especially when followed by gooey fanboy exclamation marks.
***One of these days, I’ll pull my gueuze and lambic purchases receipts from say ten years ago when I could afford the stuff. I’d bet fifty cents that the price has doubled compared to the lowest decade of general inflation in centuries. Further, note… yet note.

Your Thrilling Third Week Of February Thursday Beer News Update

A week tomorrow is March. I haven’t even bought my seeds for the garden! How edgy is that? What if I have to pick another sort of broad bean, something new to the market? March also means mud, college basketball and baseball spring training. I suppose it might also mean Bière de Mars if I could find any. I am sure will survive without it. Quite sure, especially compared to ending up with the wrong strain of broad beans. How the neighbours will laugh.

To begin this week’s new review, you know a hobby is well into its mature and not necessarily necessary stage of the life cycle when the news starts to sound like a Monty Python skit:

One of the oldest Lithuanian farmhouse ale yeast strains – sourced from famed brewer Aldona Udriene’s JOVARU Beer – is now available… “We’re ecstatic and fortunate that Aldona Udriene of Jovaru, known as the queen of Lithuanian farmhouse beer, is partnering with us…”

Sadly, no mention of our hero Lars whose work would have been unintentionally instrumental to the craft brewing world’s opportunity to mistreat this tradition. (Not to mention the website Craft Brewing Business which ran the story seems clearly to have poached their story’s photo from Lars.)

In other yeast news, sadly it turns out that the discovery of yeast from a bottle of beer found in a shipwreck was not quite a discovery:

It turns out, there’s more to the story. It turns out, there’s already beer made with that yeast. At Saint James Brewery in Holbrook, Long Island, owner-brewer Jamie Adams has for the past year or so been making use of yeast taken from bottles found in the wreck of the SS Oregon, which sank off Fire Island in 1886. Those beers have mixed the historic yeast with modern yeast.

Hmm… why blend yeasts like that? I’d still be interested in efforts at “a biotech lab at nearby SUNY Cobleskill to culture the yeast for modern use.” But that’s because I was marginally famous in that fabulous program for a glorious afternoon with Craig. Craig was more marginally famous than me. Obvs.

Next up, the chef-owners of Montreal’s celebrated restaurant Joe Beef, David McMillan and Fred Morin, published an exposé on their own past alcohol dependency in Bon Appétit magazine:

The community of people I surrounded myself with ate and drank like Vikings. It worked well in my twenties. It worked well in my thirties. It started to unravel when I was 40. I couldn’t shut it off. All of a sudden, there was no bottle of wine good enough for me. I’m drinking, like, literally the finest wines of the world. Foie gras is not exciting. Truffles are meh. I don’t want lobster; I had it yesterday. What am I looking for, eating and drinking like this every day?

Hmm… what would it take for craft beer to form a registered charity to have professional therapists assess brewery workers and then be able to send them either to therapy or to a rehabilitation center?

Help. I saw this tweet and was unclear of the implication other than to note that by way of some photoshopping a message on a t-shirt was removed from a image used by BrewDog. I am at a loss. Please help.

Conversely, some very blunt and largely (in my view) correct observations on the treatment of various problems in good beer these days and specifically responses to racism:

This level of outrage isn’t applied when the issue is racism or the person offended is black.  The idea that we should all sit around singing “Kumbaya” because someone hired a black face and instituted “sensitivity” training WITHOUT an apology or restitution is a dub.  People are looking for any reason to go back to publicly drinking their Founders products.

Wonderful line, full of importance: “If this was a difficult or emotional read, just imagine what it must have been like to write this piece, let alone live portions of its content.” Also consider this and this as well as this backgrounder from the author.

The entirely welcome death of “curate” as it relates to beer.

The English pub: clubhouses of cliques or open inviting spaces for all? Very good question with perhaps an honest answer which is “both”!

Next, Jay Brooks wrote his piece for #FlagshipFebruary and it was entirely enchanting – and it had nothing to do with the beer he selected to write about –   because it was really a short biography of his life with good beer:

I’m part of that dying breed of beer lovers whose first encounter with better beer predates the craft beer movement. I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, when it was a land of regional lagers and the occasional cream ale, but it took joining the military and being posted to New York City to open my eyes to beer’s diversity and endless possibilities. In those dark days — roughly 1978-1980 — it was the imported wonders of Bass Ale, Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, and many others that captivated both my imagination and my taste buds.

And, as a bonus, Jay adds this tidbit: “…[d]espite its success over the previous decade, it had still not remotely saturated the bar scene in the San Jose area…” The beer? Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The modesty of the early success of SNPA contrasts with it’s later national fortunes. Very interesting. Better than the exercise in seemingly denying undeniabletruths.**

Now smaller.

Finally, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal issued an appellate ruling on a case brought by a craft brewery over the fees paid to the government to sell their beer:

Unfiltered applied to the Supreme Court for a declaration that the mark-up was an unlawful tax under s. 53 of the Constitution Act. The application judge found that the mark-up was a proprietary charge and, therefore, not an unlawful tax.

The key word? “Proprietary”! What the ruling really says is that brewers make the beer under license, then it is deemed to be owned by the government for sale by the brewer as agent for the government. It’s called a liquor control board for a reason. And notice this at paragraph 58:

Unfiltered argues that it receives nothing for the mark-up which it pays to
the NSLC. With respect, I disagree. Unfiltered has the ability to sell beer in this province. Without the licenses and permits issued by the NSLC and compliance with them it could not do so.

Boom!! Consider the license to replicate someone else’s created music via CD or Spotify, you are using someone else’s property. In this case, its the same except we are dealing with the proprietary right to convert fermentables to alcohol. Fabulous. As you all know, I wrote a chapter in 2007’s Beer and Philosophy: The Unexamined Beer Isn’t Worth Drinking entitled “Beer and Autonomy” in which I explored in summary how government intersected with alcohol. I wish I had this ruling to work with when I put that chapter together as it gets to the nub of the matter clearly and, obviously, with authority. 

Enough! Check out Boak and Bailey on Saturday and Stan on Monday if you want more sensible insights on the world of beer. Soon… March!***

*physically.
**perhaps mentally.
***#MoneyMakerMarch!

 

In 1480 Two Bales Of Hops Came To Bristol

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

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

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

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

Interesting. Lots to think about with that wee record.

*page 258.

 

As January 2019 Dies Off Another Set Of Beery News Is Born

A surprisingly long set of links face me in my inbox today. Folk send me suggestions all the time… well, some of the time… OK, once in a while. Honestly, for the most part to make this weekly update of the news in good beer I just email myself links as I notice a story through the week. Usually there are seven or nine by early in the week. This week, I had over twenty by Monday. And, yes, emails. So… let’s dive right in.

First off, if you are in Toronto this evening (and I will be if only passing through via VIA) you can pop over to this fabulous fundraiser for an important cause to witness some top notch curling action (like that to the right from last year) at the Beer Sisters’ Charity Hopspiel:*

On January 31st, brewers from across Ontario will gather at the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto’s east end. Clad in array of plaid, denim, light-up shorts, toques and matching jerseys, 24 brewing industry teams will face-off to raise money for the Native Women’s Resource Centre in Toronto. The Beer Sisters’ Charity Hopspiel, hosted by beer writers and educators Crystal and Tara Luxmore, is in its 7th year. The event has raised over $32,000 for the centre, and the sisters hope that this year they’ll cross the $40,000 mark.

Fabulous! And at the Royal Canadian Curling Club! An actual place I am assured, not just a mid-range brand of rye whisky from the 1950s.

Next, Katie wrote a wonderful piece on heritage barley published in Ferment that explores the use of Chevallier, the darling English malting from around 1820 to WWI. I immediately started badgering her about joining my Battledore revival crusade.

Note: Victorians represented in under 1% of the graph and the most striking thing is not their habits so much as the near replication of the feat right before the economic meltdown of 2007-08. Nonetheless, a very handy set of charts and who doesn’t like handy sets of charts?

Not journalism.  Or at least not good journalism.** Just badgering. Easy enough to get a quote from someone but it usually requires letting them speak.

An clear and accurate guide to tipping in Canadian tavs, pubs and bars.

Beer Ramen. Kill me now.

Update: We’ve had an actual update on #FlagshipFebruary and I couldn’t be more grateful for the clarification:

…it is in our and the industry’s best interest if we take a moment occasionally to appreciate the flagship beers of the industry’s foundational breweries…

So, the brewery has to have continued through the good beer era and the current flagship is the brewery hallmarks to recognize. Andy Crouch wrote a wonderful dense poem of a tweet on the same topic:

Revisiting long established flagships tastes of antiquity, success, failure, unfulfilled dreams of resurrection, and ultimately nostalgia. A place in time to momentarily revisit if only to remind you how far you’ve come but rarely a place to linger long.

I noticed this statement in a piece on German brewing culture and I thought it was extraordinary for suggesting agricultural capacity of a landscape is not the governing factor in whether beer was made or not:

Alsace is on Europe’s religious faultline. Beer is often thought of a drink of the Protestant north, but the facts don’t really bear that out. Belgium, Bavaria and Bohemia are historically Catholic (even if that religious attachment has faded); only Britain, of Europe’s foundational beer cultures, is Protestant. Does this suggest beer is less Protestant than thought? Perhaps, but I also think Catholic cultures are (as you might assume) better at preservation.

Well, I suppose someone has created a jam/jelly faultline based on religion. Me, I’d suggest many western and central European brewing traditions were pretty much established before the Reformation.

The effect of the US government shutdown on the brewing trade is measurable. Why the difference in processing wines and spirits? I blame the slackers attracted to a career in the beer label branch.

Gary’s piece on Watney’s Red Barrel as experienced in eastern North America at the time contains plenty of those links to contemporary primary documents that leave you persuaded. By way of contrast, this could really be read in two entirely opposite ways:

“I actually am mystified myself,” says Jeff Alworth. He should know…

Fine. I’ve held on long enough. Let’s talk Fuller’s or at least the highlights of the discussion. Promethean Jordan found a very helpful Brexit angle on the timing based on last year’s visit. Martyn argued convincingly that the whole sale spoke of business success and a strong future going forward. Then he added a bonus history of Asahi to deal with, you know, the legitimacy issues. Jeff at distance took it as a hefty body blow and mainly sees that it poses great risk to the English cask ale scene. Boak and Bailey wrote from their semi-characteristic personal perspective, supposing they are facing another long goodbye to a treasured relationship. Matt sided with the corporate success group and then started blatantly and publicly gambling with Boak and Bailey over the matter. Pete wrote first about his lack of levelheadedness when faced with the news and then got level headed and then sorta wobbled again in the semi-revisionist Book of Genesis stuff.***

My take? First, Fuller’s has been masterful in building up its reputation with good beer conversationalists over the last ten years. Remember how fun it was when @FullersJohn started tweeting? How beer writers were brought in and got their names on the label? What is really being noticed now is how the emotional credit Fuller’s they earned through that clever outreach has been truly a rich investment. And notice how none of the commentary comments upon that even though it was all done openly and with integrity.  Second, the only constant about the beer business over the centuries has been the goal of continuous growth, merger and acquisition. Brewing has two great outputs: beer and wealth. This is just the latter being successfully served after a long stretch merrily servicing the former.

I love this tweet by Jancis R:

Never ceases to amaze me when we get messages like this: ‘We’d like to find out how to go about having our wines scored by Jancis Robinson, as well as the costs involved.’ Who charges to taste wine?

Who charges to taste beer? I know some but it would be rude to mention, no? Conversely, there is a craft beer fraudster working the US south:

“The phone rang and rang and rang…I checked the house and it was empty. The door was unlocked,” Brandon Oliver says. “His chickens were still in the backyard…about 90% of his clothes were gone…he left as if he only had six hours to leave.” Foster left his tools out at the unfinished beer garden. He and his family left town overnight.

The abandonment of the chickens is a sweet detail.

As someone with hearing that will never get any better, I really like this inordinately nice idea from a campaign under the heading Quiet Scotland:

Ever left a shop or been unable to enjoy a meal or drink because the background music has been so loud? Don’t like complaining? Try leaving one of our polite cards to get your point across.

An email went around from NAGBW HQ about the impending demise of the All About Beer web archive and I first thought it was an oddly presumptuous thing to send… and then I thought it was kind to alert me. I did not save any of my own work as anything I pitched was not dubbed worthy – which made me happy. I really hate editors and others paid to make things duller. But I did save Stan’s story How Craft Became Craft for very obvious reasons.

And, finally, let’s just watch this**** and listen to the screams of those precious darlings witnessing a part of their personal emotional foundations, the rebellious idols of their youths, being washed away out from underneath their feet:

That’s it! A big week in the contemporary detritus of good beer culture. Please check out Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then Stan on Monday for more sensible and refined responses to the week in good beer.

* For those not in the punny know, see Bonspiel.
**Which is quite another point we never explore when a writer claims the journalism label… or at least the helpful bits. Seldom the adoption of the concurrent ethics lead at that moment.
***“Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale began life as an attempt to imitate Fuller’s ESB.” Really? How many beers is SNPA an clone of? Ballentine IPA. Burt Grant’s work. What else?
****And this, for that matter.

Your Thursday Beer News Notes For The Week Winter Showed Up

I should not complain about having to shovel snow on the 20th of January when its the first real snow of the winter. It’s not that tough a life. Five weeks to March today means it won’t be all that bad from here on out. What effect has this on my beer consumption? Not so much in volume but now is the time when a pint of stout and port is added to any sensible diet. I say “a” pint with care given the concoction should be somewhere in the area of 10% alc. Yowza. But when does great reward comes without some risk?

Not long after last week’s deadline for news submissions, Ed tweeted that he had “[j]ust been sent an excellent article on rice malt beer 😉” The study describes the potential of rice for brewing and sets out an optimized malting program allowed water saving.  Which is cool. But it is also cool that it is about the use of rice which, except for corn, is the most hated of fermentables. This is despite the fact that rice beer came to Canada about 93 years ago – well after it was brewed in the U. S. of A. – a fact which has been fabulously preserved for us all in the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the case The King v. Carling Export Brewing & Malting Co. Ltd., [1930] S.C.R. 361 at page 373 about the production of beer during the era of US prohibition:

I do not think we can accept the suggestion that there was no market for lager beer in Ontario. The learned trial judge dwells upon the fact that rice beer is peculiarly an American taste, and infers that it is not sold in Ontario. The evidence in support of this does not proceed from disinterested sources and I wonder whether the boundary line so sharply affects the taste in illicit liquor. In truth, it is stated by Low that it was not until some time in 1926 that the respondents began the manufacture of rice beer, and we are not told at what date, if ever, in their brewery, rice beer wholly superseded malt beer.*

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we stopped calling it “American-style lager” and just called it rice beer… or corn beer as the case may be? Will it take another century to pass for good beer to admit this fundamental reality of North American brewing culture?

Beer at the Post Office? Thanks Vlad!

I am still not sure what to make of #FlagshipFebruary.** Like a lot of you, I have been making up alternative hashtags like #GoldenOldieAles, #FlogshipFebruary and #PartyLikeIts1999. But it’s earnestly offered and, you know, as long as there isn’t a secret spreadsheet being sent around to members of the good beer PR-consulto class prearranging who are going to each write about this or that fabulous flagship as a way to artificially drum up interest and maybe future paying PR gigs, I think we might actually come away with a reasonably good taste in our mouths.

It reminds me a lot of by far the most successful of such hashtags, #IPADay created in 2011 by this blog’s friend Ashley Routson aka The Beer Wench.*** But (and this was not really the case in 2001 so laugh not) I would argue was easier to determine what an IPA was in 2011 than figure out what “flagship” mean today. As I am l not clear what a flagship really is, I asked some questions like if the Toronto brewery Left Field consider their oatmeal brown Eephus (1) their foundation (2) their flagship (3) both or (4) neither. They wrote:

We’d be comfortable calling it a foundational beer. We don’t really refer to any beer in the lineup as a flagship. Along with a few others, it’s one of our year-round offerings.

Seefoundational does not (usually) mean flagship. More evidence? Consider this September 1990-ish beer column on the state of affairs in Lake Ontario land. It mentions the venerable and largely forgotten Great Lakes Lager. Foundation? Sure. Not the flagship. That’s now Canuck Pale Ale. You know, flagship might also even be a slightly dirty word in the trade. A tough row to hoe for the industry marketers behind this scheme. But hope lives on eternally in such matters as we learned from the new CEO of Sierra Nevada who, faced with the task of turning things around for the musty ales of yore, stated:

…he’s bullish on Sierra Nevada’s prospects heading in 2019 and he’s projecting 5 percent growth. He believes that advertising will help turn around Pale Ale’s negative trajectory, and that continued growth for Hazy Little Thing, combined with increased focus on Hop Bullet and Sierraveza, will propel the company forward this year.

Advertising! How unlike beer macro industrial crap marketeers!! If that is the case, me, I am launching #FoundationAlesFriday come March to get my bit of the action. Join my thrilling pre-movement now.

Beer so horrible that it can’t really be called beer is rising in popularity in Japan as sales of the real stuff and the semi-real stuff drops.

Elsewhere, I tweeted this in response to the wonderful Dr. J and I quite like it:

Well, the multiplication of “style” to mean just variation leads to a dubious construct that bears little connection to original intent and leaves beer drinkers more and more bewildered when facing the value proposition of fleetingly available brands however well made.

Let’s let that sit there for a second. Fair?

Send a furloughed US Federal employee a beer. Or help with some unplanned bridge financing for an out of luck new brewery.

Even elsewhere-ier, Matt Curtis is to be praised and corrected this week. Corrected only in the respect that he wrote the utterly incorrect “in true journalistic style I was too polite to say” in his otherwise fabulous piece**** on what it was like going booze free for three weeks:

As I walked down Shoreditch High Street on my way to an event from the British Guild of Beer Writers showcasing alcohol free beers I passed some of my favourite bars and restaurants. I found myself pining to sit within them, simply to soak up the atmosphere. In that moment I felt that merely the sound of conversation and conviviality would sate my urge to drink more than any can or bottle of low alcohol vegetable water that has the indecency to call itself beer.

Lovely stuff.

Note: an excellent lesson in what it means to understand beer.  “It’s what [XYZ] told me…” is never going to serve as reliable research. Just ask, beer writers! Ask!!! Conversely, this article in The Growler serves as an excellent introduction to the 18 month rise of kveik on the pop culture commercial craft scene. I say pop culture commercial craft as it has been around the actual craft scene for a number of hundreds of years. Much more here from Lars.

How’s that? Enough for now? Winter getting you down? Remember: things could be worse. I think so. Don’t forget to read Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then Stan on Monday if you want to stay on top of things. Perhaps he will update the impending contiguous v. non-contiguous acreage rumble we’ll all be talking about in a few weeks.

*Buy Ontario Beer for more fabulous facts like this!
**Though I do like the concept of the pre-movement.
***Note: I make no comment on the wide variety of beer “wenches” or “nuts”… or “foxes” or “man” or any such other monikers. At least they don’t claim to be an expert.
****The current edition of Boak and Bailey emailed newsletter contained this bit on Matt’s experiment: “…it all seemed pretty reasonable to us. But even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be any of our business. We did wince to see people in the business of beer berating him for his decision, and winced even more deeply when we saw people nagging at him to break his resolution.” I agree that this is sad and, I would add, smacks of the nags shouldering the alky’s burden themselves.

 

The Government-Shutdown No-Deal-Brexit Why-Kids-Don’t-Drink Version Of Thursday Beer Notes

Woot!!! Holding up the roof since 1693!!!!

So… two weeks and a bit until #FlagshipFebruary* begins… meaning the inevitable rebound to #TrendyMarchMania will see some of the dry,  those off the sours for almost nine weeks hitting the bottle extra hard. You know, we really need to full year calendar to keep all this stuff straight – given we also have #MildMay and #DecemberIsForAmataurs, too.

As I mentioned a few updates ago, the US government shutdown has caused all approvals required by brewers from the  Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. I clucked at the time that at least this halted the manic pace of biere nouveau but – and with a hefty h/t to @beerinator – it appears that the permitting process is far more intrusive that that:

In a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in D.C., Atlas notes that the government has approved labels for its cans of The Precious One, an apricot IPA, but not the labels for its kegs, known as “keg collars” before the shutdown began. Those kegs can’t be shipped out for sales outside of D.C. without label approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: Doing so would violate federal law.

Who knew that “permitting” included such minor matters?***1/2

Next but disconnectedly so, here is an excellent primer for buying wine for a crowded restaurant table. Note the following statements:

I simply order what I most fancy eating and what I’d most like to drink, that’s what gives me most pleasure — even if the combination may seem bizarre to the sommelier… Do you worry about which cheeses to pick off a cheeseboard? I’m sure you don’t, so don’t worry about the wine…

Fabulous advice. Applies to beer, too.**

Unrelatedly, wonderful views (see above) of a +335 year old pub structure in Dublin, Ireland. Here is some backstory from 2016 on the efforts to save the structure:

“The astonishing skeletal grid of ceiling beams and joists is still intact on the ground floor, as well as early brick walls with ancient embedded timbers… With all of the modern partitions and ceilings now removed, the ground-floor shop retains all the grand scale one would expect of a public inn of the post-medieval period, complete with typical corner chimney stacks…”

Not connected at all, good to see some wonderful news of Young’s in England taking a stand on saving its affected staff from the fallout caused by Brexit. More here on the business reasons behind this sensible move:

The boss of pubs firm Young’s on Thursday cheered higher sales, but warned that hiring staff is tougher. Patrick Dardis said around 38% of his 5000-strong workforce are EU nationals, and added: “More workers [from Europe] are leaving here than coming. The recruitment and the retention of top talent is increasingly difficult.

Whiplashedly, ScienceDirect published this so it must be right. It’s a research paper entitled “Why are young people drinking less than earlier? Identifying and specifying social mechanisms with a pragmatist approach” which sets out a number of reasons why my children are apparently smarter than I was as a kid:

Recent analyses of surveys of youth drinking in Sweden have found a strong decrease both in rates of abstinence and in levels of drinking among drinkers. For instance, alcohol consumption among 15- to 16-year-olds has fallen more than 50% between 2000 and 2012. At the same time, the abstention rates among boys and girls have increased from about 30% to more than 50% . Moreover, heavy episodic drinking has decreased from 34% to 18% among boys (ibid.)…  Similar declining trends of alcohol consumption among young people have been identified in other European countries, North America and Australia…

Virtigo inducingly, the Tand himself has posted about how craft sees cask and it’s good enough to have a whole month dedicated to the #MarchOnCraftFibs campaign. It starts fabulously thusly:****

Yesterday there was a Twitter post that caught my attention. It referred to an opinion piece in Imbibe Magazine by Jessica Mason in which she claims that “We’re on the precipice of a cask revival”. The article goes on to explain her thinking which can be summed up – more or less – that cask can revived – wait for it – by modern brewers adopting Golden Ales. Well I exaggerate, but I hardly agree either with the way the article says “cask is becoming ever more exciting, flavoursome and stylistically broad” as if we’ve all been drinking flavourless crud for all these years and can only be saved by innovative craft brewers rescuing us from our own stupidity. 

And utterly conversely, I finally figured out what I don’t get about GBH writing style. This piece by Roth is pretty good even if it needs editing down to get some control of the subject. It’s like there is a need to give each source equal space.  And the obvious extra access to New Belgium, an acknowledged sponsor, is there, too. But those are the problems with the subject matter presentation. That’s normal middly stuff. No, it’s the fact that the letters “GBH ” actually appear 22 times within the text of the story. Twenty-two! Breakout the flashing neon font. Enough already. One is enough. Three is cloying. But referencing your own publication 22 times in a story is weird. Needy. And too bad. It’s an important story and would have been much better if it was just cleaned up with a lashing of confidence.

One last thing: stunning stats on pub waste.

That’s enough for now. My neck hurts. Odd. Mid-January is quiet time. I actually typed all this while balled up in family quilts watching VCR recordings of cooking shows from the 1990s. Seriously. Who has time for -26C, Sunday’s promised nighttime high?  I want it over. You want it over. Like Brexit, we know the next few weeks are just going to be ugly and we need to get them out of the way. Need relief along the way? Check out Boak and Bailey on Saturday and then Stan on Monday for a well earned break.

*Hmm. Now not thrilled with the hinted need to seek to attach a big old lumbering craft revenue stream to what is basically a hashtag.
***1/2Not sure what this footnote is for… it’s even out of order.
**Have another cold Big Mac, you big carrot-headed lardass! [Note: as a distant cousin of Mr. President, I reserve the right to call him a big carrot-headed lardass.]
***So much of wine pairing advice these days is based on relaxing and not worrying while beer pairing advice is so anxious.
****We really do need to acknowledge what a clear focused writer the Tandy One is.