This Mid-February’s Beery News Stories The Cool Kids Are Talking About

Starting with more Olympic beer news, apparently Team USA has jumped into the spirit led by Canada with it’s own variation, Olympian’s drunk Dad. Well played.

Speaking of drunk Dads, Ben has written extensively and not without a bit of flair on the endearing awful bars which he insists can be distinguished from the more hipster friendly dive bar:

They have cheap wing nights, karaoke, a clock counting down to St. Patrick’s day. Big corporate branding shamelessly adorns every sticky surface; a tacky plastic archive of years of visits from beer reps with expense accounts and a few kegs to unload. They’re the kind of places where the food is almost never what you want and exactly what you expect: big, fried, heavy, and available with inappropriate amounts of sauce for drizzling/dipping/Buffalo-ing. Where they serve Pepsi in heavy, branded 16oz shaker pints and they scoop the ice right out of the well using the glass…these bars appeal to a baser part of me that remains from a time before I knew better.

I tend to think of such bars (“dumps” in my parlance) fondly if I recall them in safety of the theater of my mind. The dumps of my youth. Ah, the places my pals passed out in. But… you know, now I actually hate a bad meal, a sticky surface. My pals passed out in a place like this! And, then,  it’s a vicious cycle as snooty Oldie Olson beats himself up a bit inside for being such a loser. I can’t appreciate an actual unselfconscious bar anymore. But maybe that is OK – as they are often just grim bars for the unconscious.

Again, the everlasting “good people” question. Personally, I have seen no evidence of better or worse. Elsewhere, the media analogously sift clues. Because that is what they do.

No. No, I actually wasn’t.

I have absolutely no way to account for its sales growth” is an odd thing for a good writer to write. [Not anywhere nearly as bad as the too often otherwise stated “trust me” but… still.] For me, the reasonable or at least knee-jerk answer is that seeking all-purpose axioms are a bit of a mugs game.* The only fact needed to be known is that Two Hearted Ale is lovely. By way of comparison, have a look at what wonderful wine writer Janis Robinson wrote about the problem with typicality. I like how she points out that focusing on type is a distracting problem caused by a conservative approach and mainstreaming. Yet, Jeff is right that a pattern seems to be offended by the beer’s success. Does noticing such things reflect a natural desire for the means to account for such things, for the seeing of sub-species, for the hope for “some sort of convention in naming and labeling“? Just because it is a weak draw for me and some… is it so wrong for others and some?

Next, it is either quite hard to find an exclusively all-male WASP panel these days or, I suppose, quite easy:

Finally, as we all heard at the first end of the week, Stone has brought a trademark action to defend its branding against MillerCoors for certain presentations of its Keystone branding. As you can imagine, the actual law is dull as dishwater – as it should be. The only attention grabbing is the needy “He’s Hip, He’s Cool, He’s 45” stuff from that annoying member of of Stone’s ownership group.  Bryan Roth has a very good roundup of a number of  legal perspectives on the case, summarizing views ranging from “it seems like a pretty decent case” to the arguments are “a bit thin.” Like others, I emailed one of those quoted, Brendan Palfreyman, to ask questions. Turns out he’s in Syracuse about 90 miles to my south and we now know we know people. He assured me that the wild eyed hyperbolic form of claims made by Stone in the court filings are actually normal forms of pleading in the States. Have a look yourself. Sad. The Queen would never have it. Apparently, MillerCoors could move to strike a bunch of the junior high puffy but it would actually be unusual – unlike here in Canada where we lawyers operate with that cool clinical confidence that the Crown requires. Bond-like. That’s us. So… we can probably expect a second helping of a whole heaping pile of knuckle headed rang-dang-doo in the Statement of Defence which could be issued as soon as a month from now. That should be fun. My take? There is no confusion ever going to be had in the marketplace between the two products which have co-existed now for about twenty years.

Oh… not beer: the history of slavery on Prince Edward Island.

*See “good people” concept above.

Your Beery News For A Yuletide Thursday

Ah, December 21st. The kids’ Christmas pageant at church was already a few weeks back now. Gifts are bought and parcels have been mailed. Mainly. I will go out for a pint after work tonight but generally this is the time of sweet sherry and cups of tea. Times are a bit too Dad-ly to get overly tinseled. I’ll take a moment to think of Zimbabwe.  Play a few tunes. Then I’ll check in with the news.

Starting on a very cheery note, there is nothing better than accusations of marketplace corruption and political underhandedness in Canada’s tiniest jurisdiction – not that I’d have any idea of why this would be the case.:

Now you take your kid’s to a grocery store, and not only can adults purchase Gahan beer, they can even sample it. Why not sell Gahan beer in the emergency waiting rooms across the Island. Also, a keg of beer (Gahan) would be nice for patients in the back of an ambulance to take their mind off their issues. I am only using Gahan, since they are currently the only ones allowed to sell privately here on the Island. Maybe the other brewers never thought of this idea or are not Liberal donation givers

Frankly, I blame them getting rid of the bootleggers in 2004.

Next, apparently elsewhere in this fine nation the Canadian craft brewer alert status about the impending implosion of their entire industry has been raised to an alarming all time high: concerned. Let that give you pause, global brewing industry.

South of the border, it’s funny watching the brewing trade groups go on and on about the tax cut benefits the ownership class has received without any apparently awareness that these savings are built on relieving 13 million of their fellow citizens from access to health care. Andy has the right take as does Jason: a gratuitous three and a half bucks a barrel back in the owners’ pocket.  Forbes has the extraordinary details on the windfall that has fallen in the laps of the brewery ownership class. Just in time for Dunkin’ Donuts beer.

Antipodeanly speaking, you will be please to know that one retail business in New Zealand considers non-alcohol beer a gateway drug. Reminds me of how, as an undergrad in a college half-run by clerics, we learned how High Anglicans thought the danger with stand up… relations are that they could lead to dancing. Fabulous. Remind me to never shop there.

I love how one farming publication seems to suggest we set the birth of Jesus aside at this time of year to remember… the farmer. Friggin’ farmers.

One last thing. You really will have to pardon me. I really don’t care about the best beers for Christmas. I don’t. Not for me. Not for you. I hope you find something else to do like being happy, annoying little nieces and nephews, doing something good and not telling anyone, staring at the conifer in the living room and eating unfamiliar poultry. Or find a 45. Or listen to this. And, for God’s sake, don’t do this. Try this. Have a holly. Have a jolly. But enjoy yourselves and don’t fret about the beer.


Your Saturday Morning News Not From Boak And Bailey

Six thirty Ay Hem. That’s what you get when you go to bed early on a Friday. After having a nap around supper time. That’s how I think of myself on this sort of Saturday. Okocimiski.

Three elections in a row this week plus, you know, the life of a desk jockey did me in. The first election last Monday in my former tiny jurisdiction of PEI saw my old law school prof get in as Premier. The next on Tuesday in the western Canadian home of the conservative puritans saw a landslide by the socialist hoard. And in the Old Country Thursday the nationalist lefties beat out the unionist pinkos to send the aysmetrical quasi-federation into a dither. The combined effect of many split votes in the last one caused the astounding “great victory of no more votes” – quite an accomplishment. What’s this got to do with beer? Not that much. But I work in governance so am aware that some things do actually matter. What else has been going on?

=> Jim Koch is cashing in some of his shares. Note that his balance of equity seems to be worth around 63.4 million. Sure, it’s a small brewery. Sure it is.

=> In one post, Ron has explained the point of Asheville NC far more clearly than the output of 1,000 subsidized junkets. That he got there via a milk run back country bus was a deft bit of contextualization even if he had to sit on his luggage… no, his actual luggage.

=> It’s been three weeks since beer retailing in Ontario was reformed and absolutely not one thing has actually changed. Classic boondoggling. And no one is complaining. Classic Ontario. Perhaps by 2028 we’ll be allowed to hold our beer bottles with our left hands in public. After all, what really matters is the posing. Like calling something “a game changer”, Toronto has a wee problem calling itself “world class” like the needy kid back in kindergarten who told you his uncle went to space. The phenomenon is described by the term world classy.

=> Go read BB. And then do it again. Where don’t their tentacles reach? It’s like they are becoming a vast industrial complex. [Thankfully, we can trust they did not write “here’s how to unearth the ‘ultimate’ session beer” in that header.] Note: their post on May Day celebrations at Padstow in North Cornwall is one of their best ever.

=> This is funny. In far western British Columbia:

The final report of the B.C. Liquor Policy Review recommends the government consider establishing a quality assurance program for craft beer and artisan-distilled spirits, similar to the VQA, or Vintners Quality Alliance, program — which currently guarantees wines are made in B.C., with 100 per cent B.C. ingredients.

Trouble is no one checked that “local” and “craft” in beer bear scant relationship to wine so… they are left with the same sort of fibs and platitudes we always see – which led to the refreshingly honest admission: “that’s kind of thrown a wrench into the ability to focus on what the next level would be.

=> Just realized that if I started my own periodical I could name it “Al About Beer.” I would have to work on my ra-ra superlatives so maybe not.

=> Might I suggest unless one is extreeeeemely certain that a surprise beer and brunch pairing for Mother’s Day is only one thing: a quick route to the dog house. Don’t be stupid. Just because the love of your life puts up with your dependency / “hobby” it does not mean she likes it. Not at all.

Saturday. And maybe a stinking hot one as well. It was +25C¹ after deep into dusk last night. That means gardening. Letting more lettuce seed buried. Or drinks in the yard. Might get a bit Okocimiski. Jest Sobota Okocimiska? Może. Or I could just go get a growler. You have to remember that they sell lettuce at the grocery store in July, too, you know. Enjoy your Saturday. 7:45 am. People are starting to get up. Better make coffee.

¹ Disclosure: in Canada in spring there are a few days when you have to still make clear you are talking about +25C and not -25C.

Last of the Speakeasies?

Big news from a little place. One of the last vestiges of the prohibition-era speakeasies of the first half of the last century has left the scene in Canada’s smallest province. 
CBC PEI reports

In 1900 Prince Edward Island became the first province to ban alcohol. It was the last to end prohibition almost 50 years later. However, there continued to be dozens of bootleggers around the province…

It seems Charlottetown’s bootleggers have raised the white flag, choosing to close their illegal establishments in the face of tough new legislation passed by the Binns government. The bootleggers run illegal bars in homes. The houses are gutted, a bar is put in, and the people who run them resell liquor and beer. They don’t have liquor licences, and don’t conform to any provincial or municipal laws. They’ve been raided, railed against and reviled. But mostly, they’ve been tolerated, selling booze for much cheaper prices than legal lounges and nightclubs. That’s until this past weekend, when the doors of the known bootlegging establishments in Charlottetown were suddenly locked.

The writing has been on the wall for these illegal bars – one of which is illustrated as shown on the CBC PEI website – for a few years since a man died at a table and was not detected as being dead for some time. It is interesting to note, however, that on the main street of Ogdensburg, NY, one of the last holdouts of British North America in what is now the eastern USA, these sorts of small home-sized bars do operate under license as one might also see in St. John’s Newfoundland. With any luck they will become similarly licensed in PEI but that may destroy some of the attraction to their customers who took advantage of after-hours drinking and unregulated low pricing.

Of somewhat finer interest is the use of “bootlegger” in PEI for an illegal bar. Growing up in Nova Scotia it meant an illegal retailer only.

The Barachois is Claimed!

I used to live a walk from the sand bar – or barachois in Acadian French – near North Rustico, PEI which is now being claimed by someone as ownable land. Funny until you remember the bit that is not covered by the tides twice a day is a nesting site for rare plovers. Thank God we can rest easy knowing the top guns are on the case:

Lewie Creed is the deputy minister and says something will be done, he just hasn’t decided yet what that will be.

Beautiful. I have found this handy map and I think the area in question is that identified as “Dune Bar” above Anglo Rustico – that is the bit known locally as the barachois.

It is interesting to note the absence of South Rustico on the map as well as Rusticoville (not to mention Rustico Cross but we won’t get into that one) and the Hunter River is known as the Clyde River at that point of the flow. Hence the name Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group. Hunter River PEI and Hunter Valley Australia, home of plumy reasonably priced red wines, share a common history in that the same group settled each area and one named itself after the other (but I can’t recall which way it went).