Your Mid-March Beer News For The Winter That Won’t Go Away

Andy Crouch captured the mood with this tweet on Tuesday:

We are tired. We are tired of slipping. Of sliding. We are tired of corduroy. [Except me. I’m not hating on the cords – just trying to fit in here – gimme a break.] Otherwise, it’s been a really quite week. Not one brewery has done anything stupid since last Thursday.  Well, Stone seems to be having shelf space quality control issues in Europe but, well, that’s par for the course for big international craft. And St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on the weekend but that will be ruined but 827 beer writers working for exposure and samples lording over the fun of drinking green bulk lager… but that’s for next week.

Deeply into the now, Mr. B has a new book coming out, Will Travel For Beer. Like any numbers book there is a hyper-inflationary aspect to the idea of going on 101 vacations about beer but I am sure there will be more than a few ideas worth planning one or two trips around.

It’s not the one beer a day I couldn’t manage but who can stop at the third chip?

This is an odd story. Apparently MillerCoors in the US has created a new demographic category for 21 to 24 year olds and is intent in trapping them for life in a haze of weird macro-made beer like things:

The purpose is to sell more beer, which has been losing business to wine and hard liquor for a decade. MillerCoors, the U.S. division of Molson Coors Brewing Co., is gearing its marketing to 21- to 24-year-olds, a slice of the population the company characterizes as “curious,” “pragmatic” and still virginal when it comes to drinking beer… MillerCoors says there are important differences between millennials and the new generation the beer maker created but hasn’t named.

Apparently, the answer for these poor fools is a fluid called Two Hats described as “a light beer imbued with fruit flavours.” Which (i) we have seen in one form or another before such as the cited Bud Light Lime-A-Rita yet (ii) still sounds uniquely horrible. Pity the short term career path of the team that came up with this one.

Did I ever mention I really can’t get too excited about the unhappiness of the good monks who otherwise play quite happily in the commercial marketplace? Think of the extra good work that could be done if one of the recipes were given to big beer to milk  for all it’s worth with all licensing residuals going to good causes. No, reselling is fine by me. If I can buy Harris Tweed, an actual craft product, from some one on eBay – why not beer? I mean, who would deny the joy of the best beer thing of the week – also found on eBay?

Boom! Now that we have dealt with matter haberdasherrific, be careful. This post from B+B may find you wanting to stroke your screen. Lovely images of malt being made 50 years or so ago.

If we are honest, GBH is now sort of on a different planet, no?

Finally, as Jeff notes, the US Brewer’s Association has put out its annual biggest 50 craft brewery and biggest 50 brewery list… except it’s not the biggest 50 breweries but the biggest 50 brewing companies. Which is odd for an organization supposedly celebrating small. EcoBart explained that the lay of the corporate landscape no longer allows for simply listing breweries – but then offered a tweek that might see number of brewing facilities listed under each FrankenKraftenCorp. Which gets to be confusing. TBN certainly was confused. I’ve plunked the entire list into this post down there at the bottom for your review. Look at it. Look!! The inclusion of Duvel Moorgat certainly sticks out. Andy hailed it all as the revenge of the East. Me, I applaud Bell’s for sticking with “Inc.” while all the world rushed to “Co.” Two years ago or so, the annual list was a helpful tool in following the breweries which had sold out. We don’t talk of selling out anymore. It is all too confusing. Which is another reason to buy from your local actual small brewery at the taproom where you can talk with the owner and the brewer.

Remember: Boak and Bailey Saturday, Stan on Monday.

It’s March! It’s March It’s March It’s March News!!!

So… I like March. For years I proclaimed March in 89 font letters on one of my old blogs. I am far more restrained now. A place between two seasons. Did you see that it snowed in Ireland and the UK this week? Farmers out east call this the Million Dollar Snow* – the late storms that drench the fields on melting. And all brewing trade social media has been suspended over there for the last few days for pictures of snow laying thinly all about, just like the story told in the carols! Must be that EU Committee on Taking Photos of Snow (EUCTPS) funding grants finally kicking in.

First, right after last Thursday’s deadline, The Tand Himself** wrote about the inversion of reality that craft has become in the UK market and under their cultural version of the term’s application. Years ago Boak and Bailey discussed the vague and wandering UK use of the word “craft” and it seems like it’s wandered six steps further since then. While it is useless to get too caught up into it, craft now appears to mean “an expensive crap shoot enjoyed by folk many times you likely would not want to spend much time with” – or, you know, something other than what’s in the glass. Who needs that? The better  approach such clinky studies with a certain humility and thank God others are playing with just, you know, honesty. We are blessed and less affected here where craft can still range from $2.80 a tall boy to whatever the market might bear. Related: discount craft discussion #1 and discount craft discussion #2. Somewhat related: odd personal product placement posing deep and abiding questions about value.

Next, I like this footage from the BBC archive of a show discussing the 1986 about the new UK craze for trend in brown bread. Which is interesting. Context about trends in food and other social patterns should be always related to trends in beer culture. Me, I was in Britain for a good chunk of 1986 and remember both the good malty ales and my uncle complaining about all the whole wheat and vegetables suddenly in his diet. Related: drive-by expertise. Unlike branding, actual history and knowledge are reasonably identifiable things. Dr Caitlin Green, lecturer at the University of Cambridge in history, has posted a series of images of ancient drinking vessels. That drinking cup carved out of amber is one of the more wonderful things I have ever seen. By further contrast, consider this discussion of the poorly traced and argued history of lambic – part of our heritage of mob craftism. Why must this be so?

Back to today, interestingly how Ben noted a change in the demeanor of UK trade reporter James Beeson who wrote about his unhealthy relationship with alcohol on Friday and then how drinking swanky craft before 3pm on Sunday made him somehow “a winner.” I’ve often noted to myself how two classes of people seem to align their identity with drinking, alcoholics and beer writers. If you feel the first, the second is irrelevant – just as he openly explored in the thread that followed. No beer makes you a winner. It’s best to be well. And I wish him well. No one needs a millstone.

Do you see a pattern up there? Proper personal insight compared to something else, perhaps second hand. Yet Jeff manages this tension with care and perhaps a bit daring in his posts on sexism. It’s not his story to tell but it’s the story he can tell or host. Still, even with his own discussion on the fact it is not his story – and the reality that we each are only what we are – I just wish the posts didn’t have a male host as intermediary… so, I will pair this link to one from Nicci Peet who is making a documentary about women in all sectors of the trade and has even launched a Patreon campaign to support it:

If you’re here you probably know I’ve just launched a new documentary project photographing women (cis, trans, genderqueer, woc) in the UK beer industry. There’s a lot of talk and debate lately around sexism and inclusivity. Part of the problem is that there’s a lack of visual representation of the diverse range of women who work in the industry. When I say women working in the industry I don’t just mean brewers. If you have a passion for beer there are so many different routes into the industry. 

Both Nicci and Jeff’s very much worth your time. [Related for contrasting context.] And, just so we are clear, the #1 lesson on exactly how not to do it was brought to you Wednesday afternoon by Stone‘s Arrogant Beavis and Butthead social media intern:





The tweets are all now deleted – but for a hour or so defiantly defended. It makes one wonder why do they stick with the junior high locker room branding at Stone? It’s all about judgement of others with a passive aggression from a largely unwarranted stance. Don’t get me wrong. They make mainly pretty good gas station beer that’s reasonably reliable and know how to get the government grants for the branch plants. But apparently because that’s how the head office rolls if the intern’s tacit instructions are anything to go by. Time to move on.

**aka TTH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2: Our Christmas Ice Storm 2013


Happy we are that the stove top and basement fireplace both run on natural gas. We still have electricity but if and when we don’t it’ll be days and days of grilled cheese then porridge, grilled cheese then porridge. We can hold out on that for a week. Week two? Beans on rice? The back step will be our freezer, the cold room under the front step our fridge. For suburbanites, we have it good – or at least the house was built in ’64 with an awareness of nature. Wine is expected to still operate in an extended blackout. As with banjos. Very Christmassy so far… sitting here early on a Saturday evening, four days before the day. Best image of the first day of the ice storm? Street skating.

Photos By Winemakers Fighting Mid-May Frost





Some amazing photos came out of last night’s efforts in nearby Prince Edward County with the risk to early tendrils which will, with luck and skill, become the vines that make the grapes that make the wine. The photos above are from a collection posted on Facebook by Norman Hardie, makers of excellent pinot noir loved by Joe Beef which means likely enjoyed, in turn, by Mr. Bourdain. And me, of course. Three degrees of vineous bacon… or beef… or something. Below is a shot posted on twitter by Harwood Estate in the western end of the county.


What is going on? Bales of hay are lit when the temperature sneaks down towards freezing in the spring when the buds have just opened or in the fall when the grapes are just about right. The smudgy smoke takes advantage of an inversion layer holding just enough warmth to push up against the dropping cold. I think. See, I learn about stuff like this from the internets. If twitter is to be believed, success all around on the ground with the cold beaten off.


As Pleasant A Snow Day Lunch As Ever I’ve Had

Ron as Švejk caught in a beam of angelic light.
My favorite place to have a beer is a block from work and two from my folk’s place. Today, during today’s Snowmageddon, I looked outside at noon, then looked at my workload and realized an impromptu declaration of a half day vacation was in order. Five minutes later saw me within minutes stomping my snowy boots and brushing off my coat in the vestibule of the Kingston Brew Pub. I’ve been going here for coming on 20 years and love the place. Owner Van was settled into the corner of the bar. I joined him to chat and also try Beau’s Dubbel Koyt released today. Helping them brew the 1500’s gruit beer was something of Ron Pattinson‘s, as illustrated on the day, gift to Beaus for bringing him over for last fall’s Oktoberfest as the Vassar was mine, Craig and Chad’s… and Ron’s.

Like their Vassar with it’s unexpected mango tastes, the Koyt was surprisingly moreish. Slick even to the point of glycerol, I have yet to have a gruit beer until today that managed to place the herbal counterpoint as neatly in the back as this did. Honey and mineral tones in the front end reminded me of Mosel in a way. Others at the bar took tasting glasses on offer, too. With a well hidden 6.8%, the beer went down well with a strip loin and arugula sandwich.

Towards the end of the pint, I was reminded by something that Anders Kissmeyer, traveling Dane about the fest, shouted out at the end of a seminar at the fest. He said that there was no chance that the Vassar tasted anything like a beer from the lower Hudson Valley in the 1830s. Likely true. The same is likely the case with the Dubbel Koyt as well. The techniques and equipment used by Beau’s are too fine. The malts and gruit employed too well made. It’s all phony fun after all. This age’s consistency and top quality are something of a curse to the culinary archaeologist whether looking back to 1830 or 1530. But what can you do?

But does it matter? Never had a pale beer made with 50% oat malt and 20% wheat malt before. If something in the past inspires that experiment, why not? After all, it’s just a bit of relief here in the deep end of winter.

Garden 2012: Been Away And Back And What Survived?











The drought has had its effect. Something of a shut down by the onions. A refusal to go on. Squash and zucchini did not make it for a couple of reasons well studied already. But the leaves are booming. I have two sorts of mustard green as well as beet greens, red and green oak leaf lettuce as well as spinach. The salad bowl is full nightly. Beans boom. We are between flowerings so may well be looking at a late August harvest mirroring the mid-July one. A second planting of peas is taking off, too. Basil is booming. It will be pesto week. Collards have formed a blue green wall. All but two of the grave vines have excelled. Location is everything apparently. Having a yard full of berries now makes sense. There is nothing wrong with a yard full of berries. The rabbit has taken up residence. Were this 1870, he would make a swell stew along with the purple and yellow carrots. Starting to think about next year already. Five month to seed catalog ordering you know. Soil will need shifting, too. Much depends on soil quality.

Friday Bullets For Vintage Base Ball Weekend

It’s Sacket’s Harbor weekend and we are past the point of no return. I think I the team will actually have enough players and, except for playing from 10 am to 2 pm in the 90F heat with 100% humidity, it should be great. I will park on the bench. Shouting things. Waving my hands at outfielders who ignore me. I may chew on a cigar but all of mine are Cubans. Filthy habit anyway. Bought some before the RMC game and couldn’t give them away. Shared on a few nights later and felt like crap the whole next day. What the hell has happened to me?

  • Why does some kid blowing of his job warrant 1,295 comments? 24 year old quits job hardly deserves that kinda attention. But maybe there was an earlier post I missed – 23 year old slacks off at work.
  • A greed. fancy schmansy tiny portions are pure evil. “Would you like some more?” is not.
  • Best description of Harper I have ever seen – he’s a centrist like 80% of Canadians. The power of the centrists is so strong is makes conservatives and socialists think they are in charge. Mental mind control of their brains… that’s what’s going on.
  • PEI is spending $500 per person to bring tourists there. Think of the underlying economic policy thought that requires. Even HB weeps now.
  • I love the beer nerd as record store clerk circa 1982 imagery. The slight rush when the guy taking your paper money nods in approval at your purchase. “Their best album… definitely under rated…”

There. Another week gone. Summer. Steak tonight. Bad banjo playing by the pool as I sip Belgian beer. That’s what I’m talking about.