October 2010

Sunday Travel Section

It’s back, by popular demand.

Adrian Tierney-Jones treated himself to a beer tour of Vermont. His itinerary included Magic Hat, the Vermont Brewers Festival, and the von Trapp family lodge, which now brews fine European-style lager.

Pete Brown describes his visit to a Manhattan “dive bar”. It’s not what you think. A New York City dive is a cozy place that doesn’t cater to tourists and is steeped in nostalgia. Now if only the locals can help Pete understand baseball.

Finally, beer is yet another incentive to visit New Orleans. A columnist for the Pensacola News-Journal calls the city a beer lover’s diamond in the rough.

Please Rise, Remove Your Caps…

With the World Series in progress and the NFL, NBA, and NHL all playing regular-season games, you’re going to hear a lot of our national anthem in the days to come.

We were all taught in school that Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but few of us learned the rest of the story. Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin fills this gap in our knowledge. He points out that Key’s brother-in-law noticed that Key’s poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” fit the tune of a British drinking song titled “Anacreon in Heaven”. Anacreon, a Greek poet born in the sixth century B.C., was known for extolling the pleasures of wine.

All of this was a diversion from the main point of Brooks’s post: an upcoming documentary by the Discovery Channel titled “How Beer Saved the World,” which we can’t wait to see.

The Friday Mash (WWW Edition)

On this day in 1969, the first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. The first message transmitted was supposed to be the word “login,” but the system crashed after the “l” and the “o” were transmitted.

And n…

I knew that would happen.

We begin with the frugal Dick Yuengling, Jr.. He drives a 2002 Ford Taurus–which he bought used–and refuses to spend money get it washed. But his cheapness has certainly helped his brewery survive.

The Lemp home and brewery in St. Louis, said to be inhabited by ghosts of deceased family members, is on the “Ten Scariest Places in America” list. What better place for a Halloween haunted house?

Martyn Cornell gives Michael Jackson credit for inventing beer styles. Before Jackson wrote The World Guide to Beer in 1977, nobody used the phrase “beer style.”

Don Russell, a/k/a Joe Sixpack, urges you to build a bar in your home. Your friends will thank you, and you’ll never have to worry about getting busted for DUI.

Craft beer earned a seat at the table at The French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant in California’s wine country. Ashley Rouston, The Beer Wench, describes her once-in-a-lifetime experience there.

Finally, what do you look for in a beer glass? Lew Bryson offers his criteria, and comes to the defense of the much-maligned shaker pint.

America’s Ten Best Brewery Tours

Yesterday we brought you the world’s worst beers. Today, we atone for it by accentuating the positive. We’ve learned that TripAdvisor.com’s editors have compiled a list of America’s ten best brewery tours.

Heading the list is InBevA-B’s Budweiser brewery in St. Louis. The home of the Clydesdales is followed by Samuel Adams (Boston); Coors (Golden, Colorado); Lakefront (Milwaukee); Jacob Leinenkugel (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin); Stone (Escondido, California); Terrapin (Athens, Georgia); Harpoon Brewery (Boston); New Belgium (Fort Collins, Colorado); and Boulevard (Kansas City, Missouri).

Maryanne and Paul checked the list, and discovered that they haven’t been to five of these breweries. Looks like they’ve got work to do.

Admit It. You’ve Tried These.

Recently, we took a look at RateBeer.com’s list of the world’s 50 worst beers. If you’re a member of the RateBeer community, you know the site assigns a composite rating between 0.5 (the very lowest) and 5.0 (the very highest).

Olde English 800 3.2 was rated worst overall, with an average score of 0.96. Rounding out the bottom ten were Natural Ice (1.03), Natural Light (1.03), Milwaukees Best (1.05), Michelob Ultra (1.06), Sleeman Clear (1.08), Budweiser Select 55 (1.09), Coors Aspen Edge (1.11), Bud Light Chelada (1.12), and Busch Ice (1.13).

What makes reading reviews of bad beer fun is the comments left by some reviewers. These, for example:

“This one should be labeled a hazard by the EPA.”
“Top choice for beer pong. Last choice for everything else.”
“Never to be consumed by anyone over the age of 22 with any kind of a job.”
“Just enough taste to let you know you should not have ordered it.”
“You’re basically drinking the flavor of air.”
“Even now, the nightmares lurk and the mere thought is enough to set the stomach reeling.”
“Has no detectable beer characteristics.”

Oops. Another Beer Label Controversy.

Just in time for Halloween, a beer label controversy is brewing. California-based Lost Abbey has rolled out a pale ale called Witch’s Wit. But wait a minute: the label depicts a witch being burned at the stake.

That label offended Vicki Noble, a prominent member of the pagan and Wiccan communities, who saw “hate imagery” in it; and others thought it inspired violence against women. But the brewery fired back, insisting that Witch’s Wit is one of a series of religious-themed beers, which include Inferno Ale and Judgment Day. Tomme Arthur, one of the brewery’s owners, calls himself “a recovering Catholic.”

God Save Our Pub

Some interesting news about British pubs that Ludwig brought up from the Beer Festival Calendar cellar:

Charlie McVeigh, landlord of the Draft House group of pubs, blames tied-house practices for the disappearance of pubs–especially community pubs that serve small towns and working-class neighborhoods.

Beer evangelist Marverine Cole suggests that women might save the pub from extinction. Her “Inside Out” program on BBC also features the newly-reopened National Brewery Centre in Burton upon Trent and the oldest pub in Britain.

Some pubs, however, invite their own demise. Pete Brown names one culprit: The Enterprise, a pub in Camden, which doesn’t like its customers and says so on its website. Caveat emptor.

The Friday Mash (Princeton Tiger Edition)

On this day in 1746, the College of New Jersey, later renamed Princeton University, received its charter. The school has a long list of famous alumni, including Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson. Princeton has also made sports history. In 1869, the Tigers faced Rutgers in the first-ever intercollegiate football game. Tailgating followed in short order.

And now…the Mash!

The worst industrial accident in the history of British brewing happened in 1814. Martyn Cornell, “The Zythophile,” explains how it happened.

European brewers are facing a tough environment. Not only is the population aging, but there’s talk of higher taxes and new restrictions on marketing.

At this year’s Baltimore Beer Week, Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes tapped the first firkin. It was Loose Cannon Hop-3 IPA.

According to Joe Sixpack, “pre-Prohibition beer” is overrated: it’s no better, and no more “authentic,” than what is available today.

The Metro Times’s Michael Jackman and his friends went on an all-day craft beer crawl in metro Detroit, and Jackman remained sober enough to write an account of it.

Finally, an item from the Life Imitates Art Department. Kimmo Wilska, a Finnish news anchor, was fired after drinking beer on the air. Wilska’s been compared to the fictional Ron Burgundy.

Good News From Our Friendly Local

The establishment that Maryanne and Paul visit most frequently is the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. It’s close to home; serves consistently good ale; and its owners, Matt and Rene Greff, do well and do good.

Which is why they were pleased to learn of the Greffs’ plans to double production there.

In all, the Greffs plan to spend between $250,000 and $300,000 on upgrades. In addition to stepping up production, they’ll install a bottling line at the Corner (it’s a hand-me-down from Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Company, which is also expanding); and retrofitting both establishments with a hybrid solar thermal and geothermal heating and cooling system. Even though Maryanne and Paul are Michigan Wolverines fans, this is a “green” initiative they’ll happily raise a pint glass to.

“Estate Beer” Explained

Greg Kitsock’s latest contribution to the Washington Post’s “All We Can Eat” blog is about “estate beer,” which is made with barley and hops cultivated by the brewery itself. Two major West Coast micros, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Rogue Ales, brew estate beers (Rogue turned out five in its Chatoe Rogue series); and Kitsock knows of a couple in the Washington area that are planning to brew their own version.

But don’t expect a flood of estate beers to hit the shelves. Bill Manley, a spokesperson for Sierra Nevada, told Kitsock that even if a brewery has the real estate for growing its own ingredients, brewing them is expensive. Sierra Nevada president Ken Grossman estimated that when the cost of labor is factored in, estate-grown hops cost $170 a pound to grow, compared to $2 a pound he’d pay on the open market.

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