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Among my interests, one which holds my profound attention is beer. I might say that I have a love affair with beer: not simply its tastes - as delicious, complex, and varied as they may be - but its history, science, lore, and evolving creation. But as a man cannot live on beer alone (although some have tried), I do occasionally post on other topics. Run by Thomas Cizauskas
This is the glorious, raisiny, chocolatey St. Charles Porter (without any of those ingredients added or needed) of Blackstone Brewing, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Original Gravity (OG): 1.056
International Bittering Units (IBUs): 34
Color: 26 Lovibond
Alcohol-by-volume (abv): 5.8%
Hops: Centennial, Willamette.
Malts: 2-row pale, Crystal 60L, Belgian Special B, Chocolate malt, Flaked barley.
Yeast: Ballantine Ale
************** Back in 1988, if you were learning to brew-at-home, you probably were an acolyte of one of two how-to-brew gurus: nuclear engineer Charlie Papazian or English teacher Dave Miller. Although I began with the former, I quickly decamped to the latter. That was the year Mr. Miller published "The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing."
Three years later, Mr. Miller turned pro, in St. Louis, the first brewer for Schlafly Brewing. A few year after that, he moved to Nashville, Tennesse to open Blackstone Brewing, that city's first 'craft' brewery.
Mr. Miller continued brewing there until only a few years ago. A part-owner, he still returns autumnally to brew the brewery's Oktoberfest. But it was his recipe and procedure for Porter that got me hooked. And even today, St. Charles Porter is still brewed at Blackstone to one of Miller's original recipes.
It may have taken me 30 years, but on 3 February 2018, I finally enjoyed Dave Miller's beer in person. On draft in his taproom. Glorious.
Not quite four-weeks-old, New Realm Brewing sits along an eastside segment of the BeltLine, the not-yet city-circumnavigating paved park of Atlanta, Georgia. There, on weekends, just outside this brewery/brewpub's two outdoor patios, it's a constant people-and-their-dogs parade. Whereas, inside and on the patios, the beers ain't bad either.
Pictured is a draft pour of Euphonia Pilsner: "a brewers' beer," the brewery calls it. A local Twitter-er, relying on American-centric beer-styling, asked me if it were a German-style or Bohemian-style pilsner. I replied, "Neither." I called it a stunning first shot for a just-opened brewery.
In appearance and demeanor, Euphonia Pilsner is a bright thing, with a new-age herbal bouquet sprung from a melange of Hersbrucker, Huell Melon, Saphir, and Sterling hops, a cracker-malt backbone, and a finishing slug of those hops as drying balance. The beer contains 5% alcohol-by-volume (that's "ABV," in the accepted, lazy parlance). It contains no fruit or superfluous hoo-ha. "Just the facts, ma'am."
And the beer has a great pedigree. Euphonia Pilsner's creator, Mitch Steele, is the longtime past brewmaster for Stone Brewing (in California, et al.), renowned there for his hoppy India Pale Ales (IPAs). Now, here, at his own brewery on the East Coast, he's brewing...a lager.
Not to 'worry,' though. Mr. Steele —the man who wrote the book on IPA, literally— is brewing several IPAs at New Realm, as well. And they're spot-on.
A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). No scores; only descriptions.
Not to be a fanboy: some of the fixtures look rushed and some of the side rooms are appointed with the charm of an airport lounge. Some of the food is a work in progress and the service can be a bit rough around the edges. Then again, not quite four weeks in, the place is often packed, the view is terrific, and the beers are drawing them in (including this blogger).
More photos from YFGF's 21 January 2018 visit to New Realm Brewing: here.
Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos taken (or noted) by me, posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always (as is ths case today), with a good fermentable as the subject.
Photo taken with a new (to us) Panasonic Lumix 20 mm f/1.7 lens Mark 2) on a Micro Four-Thirds camera format and converted to black-and-white utilizing the temporarily free(!) Nik Collection for Photoshop Elements. See the photo on Flickr: here.
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup of news of beer and other things.
Weeks 1/2 1 January- 13 January 2018
11 January 2018 Overt or covert, unintended or disregarded. Misogyny and racism: the fetid under-beer-belly of craftbeer. http://bit.ly/2mh0C5D
“Everybody has a diversity committee. That's the trendy thing to do,” said the big bearded white guy, one of four members of "The Brewsroom," a live Twitch-cast originating in the St. Louis, Missouri-area.
10 January 2018 Reuben Brown (1939-2018) —one of America's great jazz pianist/composers, relatively unknown to the general public, but renowned and highly regarded among musicians— has died. He lived and performed for most his life in the Washington, D.C.-area. — Via YFGF.
9 January 2018 "Cans and bottles: craft beer packaging trends in 2017," from Bart Watson, chief economist for the [U.S.] Brewers Association.
Although bottles remain the majority of craft beer packaging, craft continued to see share shift toward cans.
This shift has been driven partially by shifting package mix from brewers, but has been equally driven by growth dynamics wherein (smaller) brewers that use cans more are growing faster.
In fact, most brewers didn’t change their packaging at all.”
Based on the 2016 Brewery Operations and Benchmarking Survey, craft brewer production volumes are roughly 41.4% draught (either kegged or via brite tank) versus 58.6% packaged. Cans rose to 16.7% of total craft production, against 41.9% for bottles, meaning that cans are 28.5% of packaged production.
9 January 2018 In an otherwise shrill piece on the detrimental health aspects of the 'craft' beer tax cut (e.g., 'it will cause many alcohol-related deaths'), a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution offers an economic non-trickle-down analysis of the (temporary) excise tax cut:
For every $20 in excise tax cuts, $1 will actually accrue to a craft brewer or distiller. The rest goes to importers or large domestic producers. The biggest changes in the bill are low excise tax rates on small production amounts," Looney says. "On the face, it looks like it will only benefit small producers. ... But there are new technical changes to how beer can be distributed and sold, which allow large producers to essentially pass off their products as craft, and get the low rate.The overwhelming benefit actually goes to large producers. In some ways, it increases the competition that true craft brewers will face.
9 January 2018 The [U.S.] Brewers Association awards seventeen grants totaling $432,658 for U.S. research into barley and hops. — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.
8 January 2018 Mitch Steele —past brewmaster for Stone Brewing in California (and Richmond, Virginia and Berlin, Germany)— opens New Realm Brewing, his own production brewery/restaurant, in partnership, in Atlanta, Georgia.
I want to brew a lot of IPAs and do a lot of fun things with hops, but I looked at this also as a chance to get back into brewing some classic styles.
7 January 2018 By the maths, Bryan D. Roth identifies the 'best' beers of 2017. [Spoiler alert: the 'best' were very hoppy and very alcoholic ales, aka DIPAs. And very rare and limited-release beers, too.]
Since 2014, I’ve been pulling together a compilation of 'best beer' lists from writers and publications across the U.S., taking subjective choices of what is 'best' and trying to add some layers of objectivity on top. The goal of compiling these lists into one conglomeration allows for some consensus – or at least clearer focus – of what pleased the palate of 'taste makers' from around the country.
6 January 2018 Graham Wheeler, co-author of home brewing books for the Campaign for Real Ale, died in late November 2017. His several books instructed generations of budding homebrewers, British and over here. — An appreciation, via Ed's Beer Site.
6 January 2018 Trump to permit drilling in ALL U.S. waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and Atlantic, even though the action is opposed by governors, attorneys general, U.S. lawmakers, and the Defense Department.(UPDATE: Interior Zinke grants exemption to Florida.] — Via Washington Post.
6 January 2018 Congratulations to Ray Daniels. His Cicerone Certification Program, an international program to improve beer service, administered its first exams, ten years ago, today, on 3 January 2008.
The question that most people ask me about the founding of the program is, “Why?” Specifically: why did I decide to start a beer sommelier program? I always say that the answer is simple: Bad beer.
5 January 2018 "Brown ales may be unfashionable, but the style is timeless."
Current American beer culture seems to revolve around a couple of styles: sour beers, which can be altogether wonderful and fascinating, and American India pale ales, which have dominated the craft beer market for so long that it’s a wonder they have not yet fallen out of fashion. ¶ Brown ales and like-minded styles — including straightforward lagers, pilsners and porters — to name a few, are very different sorts of beers. They occupy subtler realms, quenching thirst with pure flavors and perhaps a snappy zestiness in the case of pilsner and a rich depth in the case of porter. They are not flamboyant styles that wow with complexity or make themselves the centers of attention. They simply satisfy.
It’s baffling to me that people are trying to make sessionable versions of other beers, when there are already milds out there. Even more mystifying is that American brewers have found that if they call their beer a 'mild,' no one will buy it. If they give it a name without mild in it, people will order it. But I love milds, if only more people made them.
2 January 2018 "A grassroots industry struggles to find leadership on social issues.
"[Craft] breweries, almost exclusively run by white people, who serve beer to a predominantly white audience, don’t exactly align with what would feel like an 'authentic' sell should they show up with a case of IPA in a majority black neighborhood."
7 January 2018 Since 2015, the number of breweries in just the state of Georgia alone [HQ to YFGF] has increased by 70%. — Via Beer Guys Radio.
2 January 2018 A customer at Dystopian State, a 'craft' brewery in Tacoma, Washington, did not like a beer he had tasted there. He really didn't. He posted a negative, graphic review on the brewery's Facebook page: the “only place I have spit beer back into a glass.” In response, the head brewer and co-owner sent him several homophobic and violence-threatening messages (pictured below). There was immediate opprobrium. Soon thereafter, the head brewer was suspended. The brewery apologized on its Facebook page and removed its Twitter account. — Via Seattle Magazine.
1 January 2018 It's the Wolf Moon on the evening of 1 January, which will not only be the second full moon of a two-month trilogy of supermoons (when the full moon occurs at the moon's closest approach to earth) but the first of two supermoons in January. And that supermoon will be full during a lunar eclipse and, thus, be a 'blood' moon. Astronomical! — Via Space.com.
Brewery webmistress: The past participle of the verb "to drink" is "drunk." Thus, writing "I have drank" is poor English. "I have drunk" is the correct form and it sounds as if a good time were had. 'Just saying.'
On 20 January 2018, the East Coast cold snap snapped and it was a glorious winter's day for real ales. The hospitable venue —5 Seasons Brewpub in the westside Midtown district of Atlanta, Georgia— filled quickly and fifty-three cask beers were poured for festival go-ers at the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting.
Above, a volunteer pours one such beer from a firkin (a 10.8 U.S.-gallon cask).
Of the scheduled fifty-six beers:
Thirty-four were adulterated with all manner of gallimaufry, including Tang, bacon, and eggnog, which demean the very raison d'etre of cask-conditioning.
Six were sour or saison-ish beers, which misses the point.
One cask gone completely off.
Another was a lager, which, of course, is not cask-conditioned ALE at all. Ditto a mead and a cider.
Three British cask ales, unadulterated, failed to appear because of inclement weather over the importer's warehouse, which was unfortunate.
But ten were, indeed, *just* cask-conditioned real ales, showcasing themselves in fresh form, which is the point.
Of those, some were delights; and one delightfully so.
In my estimation, Fourteen Twenty Dark Mild was the star of the show, a balanced beauty of a beer at 4.5% alcohol-by-volume (abv) and 20 International Bittering Units (IBU), brewed and conditioned by Mitch Steele, brewmaster and co-owner of New Realm Brewing, his recently-opened Atlanta production brewery and restaurant. There could be a touch of irony in that. After all, it was Steele —who wrote the book, literally, on IPA when he was brewmaster for Stone Brewing —who brought that gently hopped 'session' beer to the festival. The judges —whoever they were— agreed, awarding his Dark Mild first place.
Kudos and thanks, first and foremost, should be given to Owen Ogletree, who ably organized the festival, as he has for 14 years.
Yesterday, on his 70th birthday, Charlie Papazian —the 'godfather' of American 'craft' brewing and American homebrewing— announced that, after his more than forty-year career, he is retiring from the [U.S.] Brewers Association —the advocacy group for small and independent American breweries— that he founded in 1979 (or more properly, its predecessor, the Association of Brewers).
Educated as a nuclear engineer, a homebrewer by hobby, Mr. Papazian, has an extensive curriculum cerevisiae.
He founded the American Homebrewers Association in 1978, when homebrewing in the U.S. was still technically illegal. Today, the hobby is legal in all 50 states. Papazian's efforts were a crucial part of that evolution.
In 1982, he organized (with Daniel Bradford) the first-ever Great American Beer Festival —since held annually, and considered the premier annual national competition for American breweries.
In 1996, he organized the first, now bi-annual, World Beer Cup.
In 1976, he self-published his seminal how-to, The Joy of Homebrew, formally published in 1984 as The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. He is the author of several more influential books on homebrewing, beer, and mead.
In December, Mr. Papazian donated his "charismatic" wooden spoon —the 'high-tech' instrument with which he has brewed and taught homebrewing to several generations of hobbyists and professionals— to the Smithsonian's American History Museum for its American Brewing History Initiative.
Mr. Papazian's advocacy was in no small measure instrumental in shepherding the successful revival of good beer in America. His books inspired and educated successive generations of homebrewers, many of whom would later convert their avocations into 'craft' beer professions (including the author of this blog).
Ninkasi-speed, Charlie! Thank you for all you've done —and continue to do. And, now, as you have long admonished us in your books and in person:
Read the press release from the American Homebrewers Association: here.
This post originally appeared, in truncated form, at YFGF's Facebook page.
From Tom Acitelli (at All About Beer, 14 January 2016), more about The Complete Joy of Homebrewing:
[Charlie] Papazian’s influence through writing [...]started in the mid-1970s, after he had relocated to Colorado and started teaching homebrewing courses in his spare time from a six-page syllabus he developed. In 1976, Papazian, who taught preschool and kindergarten by day, expanded that syllabus to 78 pages and self-published it with the title, 'The Joy of Homebrewing.' ¶ The American Homebrewers Association offered copies for $2.50 each, beginning in 1978, or $2 if you also bought a $4 annual membership in the association. Papazian continued to tweak the guide, increasing its scope and size so much that Daniel Bradford, then the AHA’s marketing director, saw the potential for turning it into a saleable book. He acted as Papazian’s agent, landing a small advance in early 1983 from Avon, a Manhattan-based publisher best-known for romance paperbacks and comic books. ¶ Throughout the late spring and summer of 1983, Papazian spent mornings and afternoons writing and rewriting in longhand. In the evenings, after everyone else left the AHA offices at his home on 19th Street in Boulder, Papazian would type up the writing on the association’s lone computer. ¶ The 'Complete Joy of Homebrewing' dropped in 1984, and connected almost immediately with the growing legions of homebrewers nationwide (one estimate pegged their number at 1.4 million, or the population of San Diego today). The book would go through several printings—and counting—and editions; and would become the best-selling homebrewing guide ever. ¶ It wasn’t just Papazian’s expertise, honed since that first homebrewing experience in Charlottesville in 1970, that landed with readers. It was his breezy tone, one that had first convinced Bradford the syllabus-turned-guide could work as a book. ¶ Papazian set that tone from the get-go, assuring his audience in the book’s introduction that 'making quality beer is EASY!.' Fretting otherwise would only spoil things. 'Relax. Don’t worry.' Those words became a kind of catchphrase for Papazian, one that he would soon expand: 'Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.'
Most will be infused with all sorts of silly extranea I like to call dingleberries and cocoa-puffs. But not all will be and not the ales from the U.K., such as Coniston Bluebird Bitter. The winner of the Great British Beer Festival in 1998, Blue Bird Bitter, cask-conditioned, still holds a special place in my heart.
A 3.6% ABV English Ordinary Bitter with Challenger hops. Quite pale in color, with a beautiful orange nose and toast character from biscuit malt. Finishes dry and lightly fruity.
Tickets for the festival are $43.50 plus tax and a processing fee, available: here. There'll be no samples from drip pans, though!
Clipper City Brewing is now known as Heavy Seas Beer. It remains in the same location (but much expanded) as it did then, just south of the city of Baltimore, Maryland, and under its original ownership. Barley's remains open in Greenville, if now called Barley's Craft Pizza & Beer.
All firkins are casks; not all casks are firkins. A firkin is a cask specifically sized to 9 UK gallons, which in U.S. measure is 10.8 gallons. It holds 84 U.S. 16-ounce pints, although, with all the yeast and proteinaceous sludge (and dingleberries and cocoa-puffs) in a filled firkin cask, the yield is often less than that.
Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos taken (or noted) by me, posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup of news of beer and other things.
Weeks 51/52 17 December - 31 December 2017
31 December 2017 The Wine Spectator's 2017's wine of the year:
Of the nearly 17,000 wines under review this year, more than 5,600 rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. From that starting point, we looked for wines that excelled in four criteria: quality (based on score), value (based on price), availability (based on cases either made or imported into the U.S. and, most importantly, a compelling story behind the wine. This year's Top 100 features a strong showing of wines from the United States: nearly 25 percent are from California. Overall, domestic wines account for one-third of our class of 2017, including the Wine of the Year: [...] Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard 2014, representing a comeback story starring a grape much maligned over the last decade.
30 December 2017 The dumbest beer-exec statement of 2017?
From the guy responsible for marketing [Bud Light] the largest beer brand in the country, a brand that continues to post sales declines of 5-6%--a staggering (!) 1.9 million barrels of beer volume lost in the current year alone--comes this: “...(the) Bud Light veep... said Dilly Dilly is 'creating such a fun buzz' and the 'creative team is having a blast.' ”
Ad-agency creative people are paid handsome salaries to create advertising that sells beer. "Having a blast" is what they do after work, over alcohol beverages (although rarely beer) and banned substances. But maybe, in this case, they should be giddy. They have a client so clueless as to spend millions and, rather than hold them accountable for sales results, he celebrates their... celebrating.
28 December 2017 A near historic cold-snap, that some meteorologists have called "bombogenesis" or "bomb cyclone" hits the U.S. midwest and east coast. — Via Earther.
27 December 2017 Mike Hastings, past head brewer for national 'craft brewing company Oskar Blues at its plant in North Carolina, assumes the same position for Lost Rhino Brewery in Ashburn, Virginia. — Via Lost Rhino Brewery. [Instagram]
23 December 2017 "Carole" was an Old French word referring to a round of dancers, singing and holding hands. It came to mean a song or hymn related to Christmas. — The etymology of "carole," via British Library.
21 December 2017 With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, craft breweries will receive a tax cut. Beer writer Jeff Alworth asks: "Is it good policy?"
Small brewery making 2,000 barrels of beer: $7,000 tax cut.
Large regional brewery making a million barrels: $2,090,000 tax cut
Large regional brewery making 2 m barrels: $4,090,000 tax cut
Large industrial brewery making six million barrels: $12,000,000 tax cut.
These tax cuts are still the best deal, per barrel, to the small brewery. But as with the Trump tax cut in general, the serious cash accrues to the already-successful. The vast majority of beer excise taxes cut by Congress will go to the largest breweries. They pay the most in taxes, so you may feel like this is only fair. On balance, given the short window and puny benefit small breweries will actually realize, the whole thing looks a lot like another way to transfer federal dollars to giant corporations. Your mileage may vary, but I see no public policy good served by this wealth transfer.
22 December 2017 A brewer in Virginia posts a dark lament to Facebook.
IPA, IPA, IPA! I think it's time that 'real beer' drinkers and brewers (not the Instagrammers and Untappd abusers) take beer back. When was the last time anyone saw a brown ale or a porter or stout that wasn't flavored or imperial? There is nothing quite like a nice, unflavored porter. DARK BEERS MATTER!
— That and porter's demise in Ireland in 1973, via YFGF.
21 December 2017 DRAFT Magazine online chooses its top 25 "the most interesting, innovative and well-executed" beers of 2017. [Beers from brewpubs and non-packaging breweries are MIA.] — Via DRAFT.
20 December 2017 The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a non-tax provision to permit drilling for oil in the until-now environmentally protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. — Via The Hill.
20 December 2017 The 115th United States Congress has passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Included in the legislation is the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) that lowers the federal excise tax for breweries, wineries and distilled spirits producers. The provisions become effective 1 January 2018. — Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.
20 December 2017 Parti-gyling is NOT the production of several beers from different runnings of the same mash, as is often stated in beer writing. Beer historian Ron Pattinson set the record straight...in 2010.
Real party-gyling is where you blend 3 or 4 worts of different strengths in differing proportion in different fermenting vessels to make worts of different gravities in order to create several beers. The important point is that even the weakest beer will get some of the strongest wort.
Despite what many homebrewers believe, parti-gyling is not using each separate running to make a different beer. That method of brewing disappeared about 1762.
And, despite what many beer writers have claimed, party-gyling didn't pretty much die out by 1800. It's a common feature of all the brewing records I've looked at from 1805 to 1965.
19 December 2017 The U.S. government has publicly acknowledged that North Korea was behind the WannaCry computer worm that affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries earlier this year. — Via MSN News.
19 December 2017 Not quite the Twelve Beers of Christmas but nine beers of winter: "Classic craft, "International flavor," and Georgia-brewed "Local cheer." — Via Bob Townsend, Beer Town writer for Atlanta Journal Constitution.
19 December 2017 British beer writers Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey select their favorite web-scribblings on beer from around the world-wide-web in 2017. — Via Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog.
18 December 2017 The TTB —the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau— is the primary federal regulatory agency responsible for the brewing industry.
In 2017, through August, the TTB had received 31,396 applications for beer label approval, a 15.4% over 2016. The vast majority of those applications (97.5 percent) are now electronically submitted.
In mid-2016, label approval processing times were averaging 24 days for malt beverages. With additional resources and staffing, the goal for label approval turnaround was 10 days by the end of FY 2017. As of September 11, processing time had dropped to two days.
Advocacy efforts led to success when an additional $5 million was added to TTB’s FY 2016 appropriations to accelerate processing of formula and label applications [and] allowing [TTB] to hire 13 additional labeling and formulation specialists. Ten were working as of June 28.
Although the 53-day average processing time in August 2017 was a sharp improvement from the average processing time of 178 days in August 2016, the TTB recognizes the need for additional improvements.
Graham Wheeler —the author of several editions of a seminal homebrewing guide published by U.K.-based CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)— died in late November 2017. His books provided instruction for several generations of budding homebrewers, British and stateside. Many of those amateur brewers —it would be safe to surmise— went on to brew professionally.
I already had been brewing when Wheeler first wrote Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home in 1993, but the book wet my whistle for Bitters. And I haven't lost that since.