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Place-based beer, a global roundup

MONDAY BEER LINKS, MUSING 11.24.14

Place-based beer, a world-wide local movement and Place-based beers and 13-year-old Special Brew. The first link is to the transcript of a talk about “beer and terroir from an international perspective” Martyn Cornell gave in Denmark, and the second is about what he found while he was there. They are both about beer from a place, beer terroir, indigenous beers. Like I wasn’t going to make these the top links for the week. I sure as heck want to try some of this “Hay Ale.”

Mark Hø Øl (“Hay Ale”) from the Herslev bryghus. Made with hay from the field at the back of the brewery: hay goes in after the wort is boiled, and fermentation using yeasts and other micro-organisms in the hay is allowed to take place for two days. The ale is then boiled again, and a “combinational yeast” added – and more hay. The result is a sharp, pale, flat beer with a taste of what I can only call “fruity feet” – but in a good way.

[Via Zythophile]

Now on tap: Beer brewed with zebra mussels and milfoil right from Lake Minnetonka. I can’t start linking to every story about beer made with local ingredients, but this is a perfect companion for the two from Cornell.
[Via StarTribune]

How Craft Beer Fails Its Female Fan Base. Listen up, people, this is important.
[Via Via First We Feast]

The Belly of the Beast: A Trip to Anheuser’s Research Pilot Brewery and The Man Who Dumps More Beer Than Most Brewers Produce. Two different, but not entirely different takes, on a press trip to the Anheuser-Busch pilot brewery in St. Louis. Notice the additional attention lifestyle publications are giving beer? A few years ago, when Paste magazine was something you looked for in print because online there wasn’t much, they briefly hired Stephen Beaumont for a series of authorative articles. Then they didn’t, presumably because their audience wasn’t ready. Now it must be, because there have been seven new beer-related stories in little more than a week. My favorite is the carefully researched history of craft (and crafty) beer by Daniel Hartis.
[Via Paste and Men’s Journal]

Beer Advocate and the United States of Beer: The Complete Series! Bryan Roth consolidates links to series of posts thick with numbers, but with words that help make sense of them. I think he’s wrong about the Dakotas.
[Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

Free State & Boulevard Newspaper Clipping from 1989. A newspaper article, old school style (a pdf rather than a link). It’s pretty obvious Boulevard Brewing founder John McDonald never expected this brewery to grow to the size it has (and will). He says, “We feel like we have to establish a local market. We don’t do that we don’t have any business shipping beer outside the city.”
[Via KC Beer Blog]

How Climate Change Will End Wine As We Know It. How the wine industry is — and isn’t — reacting says a lot about the future of agriculture. And beer is an agricultural product.
[Via BuzzFeed]

The 2014 Xmas Photo Contest Is On!!! The deadline to enter is Dec. 12. The rules might be the same as last year.
[Via a Good Beer Blog]

1

Call it beer friendly, kid friendly, or just call it friendly

Yesterday The New York Times posted a story about beer garden play dates and I nudged All About Beer magazine editor John Holl on Twitter because he once wrote a story for that magazine (before he was editor) about beer gardens and of course mentioned the family friendly aspect. Later in the conversation that followed John pointed to a more recent story from AABM about the rise of family friendly breweries, proudly noting, “Seems the Grey Lady is swimming in our wake.” Jeff Bearer popped with an delightful picture and added, “for some of us, breweries have always been family friendly places.”

I will spare our daughter, who will turn 18 in little more than a week, the embarrassment of showing a photo of her in her portable car seat at her first brewery. It was Joe’s Brewery (RIP) in Champaign, Illinois, and she was about two weeks old. She’d been in more than 100 breweries by the time she was two years ago. It should be no surprise that it made sense for Daria and I to feature kid friendly places when we were writing the travel column for AABM. This appeared in the summer of 2000 and is dated in parts (some of the establishments are long gone, sadly), but it provides insight into beer culture not really long ago.

I should also add that Nico and Porter Ortiz (pictured in the story) visited St. Louis last year for a dad and son weekend. No surprise that when we met up with them it was in the beer garden at Urban Chestnut Brewing.

*****

In a scene that will be repeated by parents across the country this summer, we glanced back at our daughter snoozing in her car seat, at the clock on the dashboard and the roadmap, and began thinking about where and when we would stop for lunch.

We were headed north on Interstate 25, and Sierra obviously was going to sleep right through Pueblo. Next stop, Colorado Springs. We knew just the spot — Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza & Brewery. They make what Sierra considers a perfect kid’s meal, a child-sized version of Pizza Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil.

It costs $2.50, slightly more expensive than a McDonald’s Happy Meal once you pay for lemonade — but they give her pizza dough to play with while the pizza bakes … and mom and dad can order fresh beer.

Such a pleasant pit stop would have been unlikely just a few years ago. Kids and beer together, in a setting that treats both well, is a recent phenomenon in the United States. Only in places that replicated the Old World, such as the German beer gardens of the late 1800s, did this happen. Of course, there are those who will argue it still shouldn’t, and would be happy handing out the literature the Anti-Saloon League used 100 years ago in lobbying for the passage of prohibition. One of the best-selling books for the 19th century, Ten Nights in a Barroom, had a picture of a little girl on the cover, grasping her father’s arm and crying, “Father, come home!” In one of the book’s best known scenes, a little girl is trying to retrieve her drunken father from a saloon when she is knocked unconscious by a flying beer glass.

 Ten Nights in a Barroom

We doubt that many children were actually felled by flying glass in those saloons, but clearly these weren’t family places. The taverns and bars that emerged after prohibition in the 1930s weren’t as rough and tumble, but many still didn’t tolerate women, let alone children. Don Younger of the well known Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon, likes to point out that as recently as the 1960s state law prohibited bars from having windows that were less than six feet above the ground. That didn’t exactly encourage civility. “We had nothing else to do but get drunk and say [expletive deleted] a lot. It was crazy. I don’t know how we survived it,” Younger says.

Even today, you had best check the house rules in Oregon pubs rather than assuming children are permitted. They may be banned, by law, from all or part of a place in the evening (of course, no matter where you are places tend to be kid friendlier before things get too late or too busy). The law can be just as confusing in Washington state. Basically, Washington law does not permit children to be present where beer is served. That means children — even babes in arms, we found out the hard way — cannot venture into a place that has a pub only license. Many brewpubs have both pub and liquor licenses and erect a wall that those under 21 should not venture beyond. Then there is the Elysian Brewery in Seattle. It features “taps from the sky” that hang down from the ceiling rather than sitting on the bar. Since the beer taps do not actually touch the bar, it qualifies as a “lunch counter,” and children may sit there.

Quirky laws aside, brewpubs — remember, there were none in 1982 and now there are more than 1,000 &#151 have developed into dependable stopping places for parents, including those looking for unique food as well as beer. Although a growing number of restaurants are catering to children — 40 percent of those with an average check size of $25 or more provide entertainment for children &#151 they aren’t always as easy to spot as something with “brewpub” and “brewery” in the name.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, we had lunch and beverages (beer for us, lemonade for Sierra) at our local (Rio Rancho, N.M.) brewpub, Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. At a neighboring table, two couples enjoyed soft drinks with their lunch while their four children dined at the hightop table next to them. They come into the brewpub about every other month, sometimes for beer and sometimes not. The kids love the pizza and soft drinks made on premise.

Nico & Porter Ortiz, Turtle MountainAt the hightop next to the kids, Turtle Mountain owner Nico Ortiz was feeding his own baby son, Porter. Porter doesn’t actually spend that much time at the brewpub — only when both his mother, Liz, and father are busy working there &#151 but snoozing behind the bar in his carrier, he makes the place immediately friendlier for everybody.

“Catering to families was a central element in our original business plan,” Ortiz said. “Part of the reason for going with the (wood oven) pizza was that pizza is kid friendly. That’s why we make the root beer and cream soda. The kids can feel like they are having a pint with dad.”

That hasn’t hurt Turtle Mountain’s beer business a bit. Nearly 40 percent of its sales are beer — on the high side for a brewpub. “Rio Rancho tends not to be kid friendly restaurant-wise,” Ortiz said. “We knew that if the kids like to come to Turtle Mountain that would play a real big part in the decision.”

In fact, James McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, points out, “When it comes to selecting restaurants, children typically make these decisions about 75 percent of the time.”

It takes more than providing a children’s menu, having high chairs or a place to park a stroller. At Fox River Brewing in both Appleton and Oshkosh, Wis., the tables are covered with white paper and crayons are set out. When a server first appears at the table, he or she writes his or her name upside down on the paper. At the Appleton pub, a conveyor track runs through the pub with kegs hanging from it, and the names of each of the beers are written on the kegs. There’s plenty to do and look at until the food arrives, and there usually isn’t somebody constantly telling kids to be quiet. The best of pubs achieve a particular noise level — below the din of a noisy bar with loud background music, so conversation is possible, but loud enough that mom and dad aren’t worried the kids are annoying the people at the next table.

Because we sometimes visit breweries before they are open when working on stories, Sierra has been afforded more latitude than most children. Brewer Dave Raymond at Vino’s Brewpub in Little Rock, Ark., just smiled when she hid his brewing boots. They let her climb around on kegs at Stone City Brewing in Solon, Iowa.

So maybe she’s a little more comfortable then most kids in a brewpub, and maybe not. We were in Turtle Mountain on a busy Friday night in February, waiting for a table to open up when she struck up a conversation with another 3-year-old from the next town over. Pretty soon they were making plans to get together.

“It’s a matter of instead of being a chain of making it more of a homey kind of place,” Ortiz said. Call it beer friendly, people friendly, kid friendly or just call it friendly.

More examples of what we mean

We’ve taken Sierra to places that were perfectly friendly — particularly since we often traveled with a portable high chair — but weren’t exactly geared toward children. For instance, the Balcony Bar in New Orleans, which had 75 draft beers for us to choose from and French fries Sierra really enjoyed, was a great place to sit on the balcony and watch Saturday afternoon traffic drift by on Magazine Street. And there was Four Green Fields in Tampa, an Irish pub we visited with Daria’s brother, Ricky, and his son, Michael. When Michael missed the board a few times in the course of shooting darts, nobody flinched.

With that in mind, here are more places, brewpubs and otherwise, where you and the kids can relax with the beverage of your choice:

Mews Tavern, Wakefield, R.I.: Plenty of places have no interest in being kid friendly, and their patrons like it that way. The Mews, which was a men-only club when it opened in 1947, calls the bar itself a “kid free zone” but also has an intimate, woody tavern area with booths that are perfect for containing a precocious child. The Mews has 69 beers on tap, 200 single malt Scotches and maybe the best sweet potato fries we’ve had anywhere.

Redfish Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo.: The New Orleans-style menu is on the upscale side for a brewpub, and the beer lineup is diverse, often featuring Belgian-influenced ales. When Sierra managed to free the first purple balloon they tied to her high chair and watched it float to the ceiling more than 20 feet above, the server simply smiled and gave her a new one.

Sam Choy’s Breakfast Lunch & Crab Shack, Honolulu, Hawaii: The servings are so large here that when a plate was delivered to a neighboring table a customer at another table got up and took a picture. Kids love the show. There’s also a boat in the middle of the restaurant (with a dining table inside).

Die Bierstube, Frankfurt, Ill: Not every German restaurant-bar caters to children, but they are nearly as good a bet as brewpubs. Booths to the side of the bar here are like small rooms.

Parting Glass, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Irish establishments are not nearly as good a bet as German spots. The menu may not be as diverse and the patrons may consider the bar their own. The Parting Glass, though, is more restaurant with a broad menu and separate music room.

Last Chance Saloon, Columbia, Md.: This is more British pub than wild west saloon. Not only does the dining area cater to families, but it seems perfectly reasonable to bring children into the bar area. We once saw a man plop a young child right on the bar top while he had a beer. More than 50 draft choices.

Redbones, Somerville, Mass.: It’s crowded all the time and they won’t take your name for seating until they can see everybody in the party. The darker downstairs and small bar area upstairs are best left to adults, but kids are welcome in the main dining room. This place passed the 2-2-2 test (two kids under two, time to enjoy two beers). The 24-tap lineup is as good as anywhere, but the barbecue might be better.

ESPN Zone, Baltimore: If you are going to go for the video-and-more gaming experience you might as well go all the way. This is a great spot for when the kids get a little older (or you want to be a kid). We still recommend spending the afternoon wandering around Fells Point before the crowd arrives at great spots like the Wharf Rat Bar, but you can get interesting beer here while the kids play.

Barclay’s, Oakland, Calif: A little rowdy on Friday nights, but very pubby and with a menu adventurous enough for parents who want something new and tame enough for kids. Barclay’s has served an astonishing number of beers from 30 taps since opening in 1991, rotating them often and adding at least three new ones every week.

Mickey Finn’s, Libertyville, Ill.: Regulars loved this place when it was “just” a bar, but when it converted to a brewpub in 1994 the menu got broader and it became more appealing to the suburban family crowd. We’re partial to the operating electric train the chugs around just below ceiling level.

2

Are we there yet? Beer personalized to your own hoppy tastes?

You can read it right here, explanation marks and all: “Engineers have developed a ‘barista-type experience’ for beer drinkers where a barman can adjust a gadget fitted to a beer tap to adjust the ‘hoppiness’ level on demand.”

“Hoppier” works much like Randall the Enamel Animal, which Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery invented more than 10 years ago. Engineers at Cambridge Consultants might be putting a little more emphasis on pressure (“We knew, for example, that pressure is fundamental to extracting flavour in espresso machines – so part of our investigation was to see whether it does anything for beer.”), as the video illustrates.

Randall and a variety of devices other brewers built since (I’ve had Budweiser though a Randall-like filter, on more than one occasion in fact) prove that filtering beer through hop cones will create different aromas and flavors than are in the beer alone. Extracting essential oils may make the beer taste more “hop-like” and fresher or grassier. But it is a might bold to suggest the engineers “have ‘transformed’ the brewing and dry-hopping process, which usually tales two weeks, to enable consumers to change the flavour of beer in seconds.”

There’s more going on in the torpedoes used to make Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, because dry hopping involves more than just extracting flavor from hops. They how, what and why are not perfectly understood. For instance, researchers in Germany just determined that the transfer rate of various compounds varies, which is not exactly a surprise. But it appears that this rate may also vary based on the variety of hop involved. Makes writing formulas difficult. Hop scientists often talk about the importance of synergy — put two compounds or more (hops contain more than 400) and they may create other compounds or the way each is perceived may be changed by the presence of others.

In addition, yeast becomes a key player in dry hopping, because of the biotransformations that occur when yeast and hop hang out together — another area where much more research is needed. Those aren’t going to occur in the seconds it takes beer to pass through the “Hoppier.” Sierra Nevada has studied this is much as any brewery on earth. The brewery uses two different methods to dry hop. One is to attach eight-pound bags of hops, which will be more than four times heavier after absorbing beer, to rings that have been welded to the sides of tanks. Beers will then soak for up to two weeks.

Torpedoes used for dry hopping beer at Sierra Nevada Brewing

The other process uses the torpedoes (thus named because the tanks look like torpedoes turned on their sides), invented because Sierra Nevada was running out of real estate at its original brewery in Chico, Calif. Each one can hold up to 80 pounds of hops. It is purged with CO2, then beer is circulated from the bottom of the cone to the bottom of the torpedo, up through the torpedo and back into the tank. The beer, freshly dosed with hop oils, passes through a tube within a tube (called a periscope) so that it returns higher into the tank. Otherwise, beer in the bottom of the tank may become saturated and won’t retain any more hop oil.

Brewmaster Steve Dresler said results vary dramatically based upon temperature and flow rates. Torpedo Extra IPA circulates for five days, beginning at 68º F (20° C) and finishing cold, extracting all the oils Sierra Nevada wants out of the hops much more quickly than with the passive bag system. However, the parameters are the same with bags. Dry hopping begins at 68º F, and yeast will still be active.

“We don’t get the same floral estery notes in some other beers if we use the torpedo process simply cold without yeast contact time,” Dresler said.

Edward Brunner at Cambridge Consultants may well be right when he says, Hoppier gives brands to stand out in the marketplace and “It’s a way of building on the current trend of personalisation to create new experiences and add value for the consumer.”

But it’s not necessarily a substitute for dry hopping.

*****

PS – Yes, the tagline “Beer brewed by engineers” should send a chill down your back.

4

Is beer still the most democratic drink?

MONDAY BEER LINKS, MUSING 11.17.14

Which side are you on? More from the “Let There Be Beer” campaign, in which Ed Wray writes “There seems to be clear division between whether we should be promoting beer as a premium product or beer for mass consumption.” And, “So beer geeks, the line has been drawn: Which Side Are You On?” Ask a question, get an answer, I guess. A lot of them here, and plenty of back and forth. So many noteworthy comments I thought about making this week’s links/musing just links to them. Pull of a stool — it is worth the time.
[Via Ed’s Beer Site]

What Has Become of Our Beer? Tiah Edmunson-Morton at the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives has scanned in several late 1940s-early 1950s items she found in The Hopper: the hop grower’s magazine. The last quotes heavily from “TRUE, The Men’s Magazine” and is proof there was at least one beer geek in 1952. He talks about his first brush with beer on a farm in Stelton, New Jersey.

Later there is this: “A man who is a brewmaster at one of the ten largest breweries in the country said to me, ‘The beer we’re making today got no resemblance to the beer we put out after repeal in 1934 and ’35 and ’36. We were making a real beer then, like a pro-World War I beer, and you took a drink of it and got the taste of hops in the back of your throat. Your knew you were drinking a good glass of beer.'”
[Via Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives]

Single Hopped Kentish Ale - TescoSupermarket boost for British hops. Tesco is the first British supermarket chain to sell a beer with the British Hop Association logo on it. The beer features East Kent Golding hops and the back label explains that the EKG variety’s parent was called Canterbury Whitebine and first grown in 1790. The publicity is good for British hop growers (an aside, Ali Capper tweeted it was a great week for UK hops at Brau Beviale), but ask yourself: “What is wrong with this picture?” Not to pick on Shepherd Neame, @MrJohnHumphreys, but geez, what’s with the clear glass? What hop aromas are you trying to showcase?
[Via Protz on Beer]

Illegal Beer Is Brewing a Massive Following in Venezuela. Dozens of small breweries have sprung up in Venezuela over the past five years, and although selling these beers brewed in homes is illegal many do a brisk business with liquor stores and restaurants.
[Via Munchies]

On cellaring, a polite way of saying “forgetting.” I particularly like “The cabinet of all lost souls.”
[Via Community Beer Works]

Extreme Beer Judging. Pete Brown judges homebrew in Italy. For the record, when you judge homebrew competitions in the United States you put your name and email address on every sheet.
[Via Pete Brown]

A Master Sommelier Gives a Winery Tour. Finishing with a bit of levity. And because the only thing better than hearing beer types making fun of wine types is reading wine types making fun of wine types.
[Via HoseMaster of Wine]

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