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
Four ingredients comprise most of beer: water, barley malt, hops, and yeast. Of those, water holds the greatest share by far, 95% of beer's makeup, give or take a few percentage points.
Not only is clean water critical for our health and our economy—it’s essential to making a great-tasting pint. That’s why almost 100 breweries have joined the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to work to protect the Clean Water Act of 1972. Brewers for Clean Water (BFCW) advocate for measures that safeguard their water sources from upstream pollution and keep waterways clean for their downstream neighbors.
One major fight of the BFCW campaign is to save the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which clarifies the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act and protects vulnerable waterways from pollution and destruction. Brewers for Clean Water members were instrumental in persuading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt this important rule. Now they’re working hard to counter efforts to repeal it.
In March, a group of 59 'craft' breweries, partners in NRDC’s Brewers for Clean Water campaign, sent a letter to both the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the agencies’ 'Dirty Water Rule' proposal to slash clean water protections for waterways around the country.
Mr. Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, U.S. Department of the Army
Dear Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:
We oppose your proposal to substantially limit the number of waterways receiving protection under the Clean Water Act. This rule would endanger critical wetlands and streams across the country—waterways that our craft breweries depend on to provide the clean water we use to brew our beer.
Beer is mostly water, so the quality of our source water significantly affects our finished product. Compounds present in brewing water can affect pH, color, aroma, and taste. Sulfates make hops taste astringent, while chlorine can create a medicinal off-flavor. The presence of bacteria can spoil a batch of beer. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern.
Unexpected changes in water quality—due to pollution in our source water, or a change in the treatment process at our local drinking water plant—can threaten our brewing process and our bottom line. We need reliable sources of clean water to consistently produce the great beer that is key to our success. It is thanks in part to this important natural resource that the craft brewing industry contributes about $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year, along with more than 500,000 jobs.
For years, craft brewers have been asking for more clean water protections, not fewer. We supported the 2015 Clean Water Rule because it helped protect the sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans from pollution and destruction, providing certainty that we would continue to have access to the clean water on which our livelihoods depend. Importantly, that rule was based on sound science. The record showed that the waters it protected had biological, chemical, and physical connections to larger downstream waterways.
This proposed rule, to the contrary, ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that protecting small streams and wetlands is essential to ensuring the quality of America’s water sources. It would prohibit applying federal pollution-control safeguards to rain-dependent streams and exclude wetlands that do not have a surface connection to other protected waters. It also invites polluters to ask for even greater rollbacks, such as eliminating protections for seasonally-flowing streams.
We strongly oppose these proposed changes, which would affect millions of miles of streams and most of the nation’s wetlands. Science shows that protecting these waters is important to downstream water quality. We must maintain clear protections for the vulnerable waterways that provide our most important ingredient.
We are depending on you not to roll back the safeguards established under the Clean Water Act. Protecting clean water is central to our long-term business success. Moreover, it is vital to the health and the economy of the communities where we live and work.
Thank you for considering our views on this important matter.
Kudos to these brewers. However, there are over 7,300 'craft' breweries in the United States. One wonders why only fifty-nine were concerned enough about their prime ingredient that they would sign this letter. Or why the signature of their industry representative, the [U.S.] Brewers Association, is absent.
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and on environmental and ecological issues.
The Clean Water Rule is a 2015 regulation published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to clarify water resource management in the United States under a provision of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The regulation defined the scope of federal water protection in a more consistent manner, particularly over streams and wetlands which have a significant hydrological and ecological connection to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and territorial seas. It is also referred to as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which defines all bodies of water that fall under U.S. federal jurisdiction. The rule was published in response to concerns about lack of clarity over its scope from legislators at multiple levels, industry members, researchers and other science professionals, activists, and citizens.
The rule has been contested in litigation. In 2017 the Trump administration announced its intent to review and rescind or revise the rule. Following a Supreme Court ruling on January 22, 2018, that lifted a nationwide stay on the rule, the Trump administration formally suspended the rule until February 6, 2020. The administration published a proposed rule [the so-called 'Dirty Water Rule] on February 14, 2019, that would revise the WOTUS definition. — Wikipedia.
(I would normally provide a reference to a direct source. In this case, not so. The Trump administration has scrubbed information from the websites of many of its agencies, particularly when concerning the environment and climate science.)
This post originally appeared on YFGF's Facebook page (albeit in slightly shorter form) on 22 April 2019, the 49th annual observance of Earth Day.
German-style pilsner combines tradition with modern hopping techniques for a nice floral hop character. Brewed with German Pilsner malt, and late addition hops to provide a soft bitterness and vibrant hop aroma. 5% abv [alcohol-by-volume].
5.8% as the abv rather than the website's lower claim of 5%.
The provenance, "Brewed in Georgia," whereas the punt of the can is clearly stamped with the words, "Brewed in VA,"
The packaging date: 14 March 2019 (also inked on the punt, under the can).
Now, my turn:
A restrained use of new-age fruitier lager hops overlay classic spicy/floral hops. There's a hint of classic lager sulfur but NO hint of the egg and apple characters rampant in many 'craft' lagers. In the background, there's firm shortbread malt.
Overall, Euphonia Pilsner is bright and crisp, overtly, if not bluntly, aromatic, with a sustained finish. It's proof that New Realm's brewer Mitch Steele —the man who wrote the book on IPA, and the former head brewer for Stone Brewing and, before that, a brewer for Anheuser-Busch, and the 2014 recipient of the [U.S.] Brewers Association's Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing— knows how to brew a pilsner. That the beer tasted 'born-on fresh' one month after it was packaged is a further testament to his brewing chops.
A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). No scores; only descriptions.
It's early April in Decatur, Georgia, and many of the dogwood blooms are already past peak. But not these guys.
The four showy flower petals of the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) aren’t actually petals as botanists define them. The dogwood petals instead are modified leaves called bracts that surround a cluster of about 20 tiny yellow flowers. As the flowers bloom, the showy bracts expand to attract pollinating insects. Each bract has a dark red-brown indentation at its tip. Depending on location, dogwood trees may bloom in March, April or May for about two weeks. When pollinated, the flowers produce red berries relished by wildlife.
This week, a plenitude of American 'craft' brewers are in Denver, Colorado, attending the Craft Brewers Conference/BrewExpo, the industry's annual confabulation, hosted and organized by the [U.S.] Brewers Association in different U.S. cities each year. In conjuction with that, the BA has released its compilation of annual growth data for the U.S. 'craft' brewing industry, which it represents.
In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth3, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018. The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017. [...]
There were 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018, including 4,521 microbreweries, 2,594 brewpubs, and 231 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 1,049 new brewery openings and 219 closings—a closing rate of 3 percent. [...]
[These] numbers are preliminary. [...] A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® in Denver, Colorado from April 8 – 11, 2019. The full 2018 industry analysis will be published in the May/June 2019 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and production by individual breweries.
And while I'm at it, here's the BA's super-duper definition of its member breweries, that is, its definition of what a 'craft' brewery is. Note, however, that the BA does not define what a 'craft' beer is.
An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer.
Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
Garage-style doors opened, April spring let in, and Artifice Pale V2 served on draught. It's a Friday afternoon in the taproom, at Contrast Artisan Ales on 5 April 2019.
The brewery is new. Contrast opened to the public —in the city of Chamblee, Georgia, population 29,000, a few miles north of Atlanta— only three months earlier, in December 2018. It's owned and operated by Chase Medlin, the past head brewer at Twains Brewpub and Billiards in nearby Decatur.
Artisan's taproom is cozy and spartan —a converted auto-repair shop— with local artwork on the walls and a wrap-around white granite bar-top. Wooden barrels double as tabletops in the stool-less small outdoor front patio.
The two-vessel seven-barrel brewhouse can be seen in the background. Beers are served from finishing tanks located in a cold room directly behind the bar (to the left in the photo).
The pictured beer, Artifice Pale, is a not-hazy, not juicy-fruit pale ale, bright and crisp with a citrus aroma and dry finish, at 5.6% alcohol-by-volume (abv). I would surmise that an apparent 11% alcohol decrease from version 1 decreased the sweetness and increased the perkiness in this, version 2. And increased —gulp— its drinkability.
Wooden trestles span this bridge over calm waters, located in the city of Avondale Estates, Georgia. Photo taken 27 March 2019.
And, by the way ...
The land that makes up present-day Georgia had few natural lakes before European settlement, and most impoundments, formed by beavers and debris dams from high flows, were relatively small. The lack of glacial retreat, land slope, and local geology provided conditions for large and small rivers and streams but not for lakes. The natural water bodies that occur in Georgia are primarily located in the southern part of the state in the Coastal Plain, where sinkhole lakes and isolated wetlands in natural shallow depressions largely fed by rain and shallow groundwater, called Carolina bays, form. Hence, the majority of lakes in Georgia that are now enjoyed for recreational, industrial, municipal, and federal government uses are made by people.
On 17 March 2019, these magnificent dogwoods in the Sycamore Street neighborhood of Decatur, Georgia, were in the pink, seeming to celebrate the start of spring. They were three days early.
*************** Vernal EquinoxThe actual Vernal Equinox —when winter became spring, astronomically— occurred Wednesday at 5:58 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time. (That's Atlanta, Georgia time. Your time may vary.) At that moment, the Sun crossed, from south to north, directly above the equator. In other words, at that moment there was no tilt of the Earth's axis in regard to the Sun. For our friends south of the equator, the March Equinox marks the end of summer and start of autumn.
Super Worm Full MoonThe moon also rose that evening, full (aka the Worm Moon) and 'super' (its closest approach to the Earth). That's a phenomenon that last occurred in spring 1905 and won’t occur again until 2144.
Not half and half Year to year, due to the inexactness of the modern calendar and because Earth's elliptical orbit is continually changing its orientation relative to the Sun, the date varies from 19 through 21 March. And, it isn't true that on that day, there are equal amounts of daylight and dark. It's close, but not quite.
Vernal Equinox and EasterIn A.D. 325, the Roman Catholic Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the Vernal Equinox. (A full moon —the Worm Moon— did occur Wednesday night, but since it occurred on the same date, it's not technically the first full moon after the Equinox.)
In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21. Thus, Easter can occur as early as 22 March and as late as 25 April, depending on when the paschal full moon falls.
Hops are an herb, but without a fermentable starch, you ain't got beer.
Each year, the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) releases its list of recommended malting barley varieties to US growers. AMBA is a nonprofit trade association of 76 brewing, distilling and malting companies that are end users of US malting barley. The list is meant to inform US producers which malting barley varieties the industry intends to use in the upcoming year. Some varieties will be used in large quantities and others are only utilized in niche markets, so producers are encouraged to contact their local elevator, grain handler or processor to gauge market demand for any variety grown in their region prior to seeding.
There are several changes from the 2018 list. The two-row varieties Harrington and Propino are being dropped from the list and four two-row varieties are being added. These additions include ABI Growler, Bill Coors 100, Moravian 165, and Thunder. ABI Growler is a two-rowed, midseason, spring barley developed by Busch Agricultural Resources, Ft. Collins, Colorado. Bill Coors 100 and Moravian 165 are two-rowed, spring varieties bred by Molson Coors in Burley, ID. Bill Coors 100 was released in 2016 in celebration of Mr. Bill Coors 100th birthday. Thunder is a two-rowed, winter variety released by Oregon State University and has performed very well in the Pacific Northwest.
Related pondering: With the midwest, especially Nebraska, devastated by the flooding caused by the recent so-called 'cyclone bomb,' will barley farmers in other areas convert their fields to produce feed barley or other feed grains to fill the void, driving up the cost of malt?
AMBA’s Objectives are to enhance the national public sector barley research infrastructure; develop malting barley varieties with improved agronomic and quality characters; help implement programs to benefit producers and increase production; and represent the malting and brewing industry regarding public and regulatory issues that impact barley.
The full press release of recommended malting barley varieties for US growers in 2019: here (pdf).
The Guild's mission is to promote and sustain the tradition of craft malting in North America, provide services and resources to the Association’s members, and uphold the highest quality and safety standards for Craft Maltsters. Here is the maltster we strive to empower:
Relatively small scale. Craft Maltster produces between 5 metric Tons to 10,000 Metric Tons per year. Sources ingredients locally. Over fifty-percent of grains are grown within a 500-mile radius of the Craft Malthouse. Independently owned. The Malthouse must be independently owned by a seventy-six percent majority of ownership.
The original story at the Craft Malsters Guild website: here.