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Public drinking, in context

Terminal Bar, from the book of the same name

Among the photos on page 105 of “Terminal Bar: A Photographic Record of New York’s Most Notorious Watering Hole” is one of a man with his chin resting ever so lightly on his closed right hand, looking like he could have been a silent screen star in the 1920s although the picture was taken in 1973.

The caption reads: “He used to come in on Saturdays, and the more he drank, the more lipstick he put on. He drank beer.”

That’s it. A reader is free to fill in the rest of the story.

Or there’s Charlie on pages 88 and 89, with beard and without; in 1977, in 1980, and at other times. “He once told me that these pictures of him were going to be valuable because he was going to do something. Every time he came in, he drank something else.”

So the description at Amazon simply doesn’t do “Terminal Bar” justice. “In 1972 Shelly Nadelman began a ten-year run bartending at one of New York City’s most notorious dives: the Terminal Bar, located across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square. For ten years, right up until the bar closed for good in 1982, he shot thousands of black-and-white photographs, mostly portraits of his customers — neighborhood regulars, drag queens, thrill-seeking tourists, pimps and prostitutes, midtown office workers dropping by before catching a bus home to the suburbs — all of whom found welcome and respite at the Terminal Bar. This extraordinary archive remained unseen for twenty years until his son Stefan rescued the collection, using parts of it in a documentary short. Featuring nine hundred photographs accompanied by reminiscences in Shelly Nadelman’s inimitable voice, Terminal Bar brings back to life the 1970s presanitized Times Square, a raucous chapter of the city that never sleeps.”

At the time Termnal Bar was featured in the movie Taxi Driver it was known as being one of the roughest bars in the city. That was mostly a media fabrication, Nadelman says in this NPR interview, and instead he describes it as the gayest bar in New York.

It closed in 1982, and it appears there isn’t a sign of it remaining on Eighth Avenue. (If you were looking for a place with a wide beer selection you’d head for the nearby Beer Authority, but that’s a total aside.)

Describe “Terminal Bar” as a documentary if you’d like — 10 years in the life of a New York City bar and the lives of its regulars and its passers-through — or call it a book for the imagination.


Disclosure: 1) I received this book after a PR person contacted me to see if I’d consider looking at it. 2) If I spotted it in a book store I would have bought after flipping through maybe a dozen pages. But this is a sort of book I’m predisposed to like.


Did people really smoke while brewing in the 1950s?


Ed Reisch of Reisch Brewing in Springfield, Illinois

A ‘good mixer.’
The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, occasionally hauls out photos from its archives. This one is from December 1953. It shows Ed Reisch, the fourth generation of his family to run Reisch Brewing, at a brew kettle. The brewery closed in 1966 and Reisch went to work at Pabst Brewing in Milwaukee. His son, George (his tweet led me to this photo), became a corporate brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch (now AB InBev). His grandson, Patrick, is a brewer at Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago. I’m pretty sure Reisch was not manning the kettles that day. The shirt and bow-tie are one giveaway; the cigarette in his left hand another. And on a historic note, it seems that Reisch Brewing still had oak fermentation vessels in the 1950s. [Via The State Journal-Register]

Beers from my past-Pt 1: The Anheuser-Busch American Originals.
Mitch Steele — you know, the guy who once brewed at Anheuser-Busch, now oversees brewing at Stone, and who wrote a book about IPA — digs into his garage and his memory to start a series about when he worked in new products at A-B (mid- to late-90s). He plans to include details about Faust, which has been getting new attention recently, in the next one. [Via The Hop Tripper]

Black-Market Brews: Inside the Super-Secret World of Beer Muling.
Who needs lions and tiger and bears when you’ve got whales and mules, oh my? Just when you thought the New Beer World couldn’t get any stranger there’s a story like this. It would have broken my spirit to spend any time reading discussions that followed at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, but I particularly like this comment on the STL Hops forum: “I feel that actual mules would think that this term is derogatory to them and possibly to farmers and whatnot who actually use mules.” [Via First We Feast]

The King has left the building.
h/T to Roger Baylor for pointing to this. He put it better than I can (not the first time I’ve written those words about his blog): “Writing well is very, very hard, and the best way to approach it is to tell the truth and write what you know. Sometimes, what you know is awfully hard to write with honesty.” [Via Louisville Beer]

Big Beer: Is Consolidation Limiting Your Drink Selection?
Beer family treesSkip to the end for the dire warning: “If the consolidation trend continues to absorb more and more of the world’s brewing market, we could see the same product sold under different brand names in an attempt to give consumers the illusion of choice.” Obviously not happening in our small world. But the real reason I’m pointing to this is it uses a great graphic first posted at Quartz at the beginning of October and until Saturday overlooked by me. Of course, it is already out of date. There’s a Blue Point branch on the AB InBev tree but no 10-Barrel. [Via Business CheatSheet]

Fear Beer? Sometimes the Best Wine is a Beer (or a Cider).
Mike Veseth writes, “I spoke about the trends I have observed traveling the world in the past year and one of them is the rise of craft beer and cider and their growing incursion into the wine space. I see it everywhere and the people I meet are often surprised that it is a widespread phenomenon. I thought it was just something that’s happening here is a common response.” Read that last sentence again. [Via The Wine Economist]

Urban spelunking: Leinenkugel’s 10th Street Brewery.
A reminder that an “ultramodern” and “highly automated” brewery meant something different in 1985, when G. Heileman Brewing built this facility. Today? “At best I would call 10th Street a partially automated brewhouse, some of the temperature controls of the mash and some of the brews vessel to vessel movements are automated – with the brewer pressing a button to start and stop the processes – but that would be it.” [Via]

New brewery in Thibodaux to offer King Cake Ale.
Cinnamon, vanilla and lactose aren’t ingredients that constitute something specifically local to south Louisiana, so it’s probably a stretch to call King Cake Ale a place-based beer, but it’s probably worth a trip to Thibodaux just to make sure. [Via]


On the demise of beer, & your weekly ‘place’ updates


The great beer abandonment: America’s young drinkers are increasingly drinking wine and hard alcohol instead.
“Even the beer world’s coveted corner, craft beers, which has been gaining market share for many years now, might be on the verge of hitting their peak. ‘While we’re not there yet, we’re definitely approaching bubble territory,’ Spiros Malandrakis, an industry analyst at Euromonitor, said this past summer.”
[Via Washington Post]

Craft Beer Report Card: Have We ‘Failed Our Female Fan Base’?
The Sexist Nightmare That is Being a ‘Barmaid.
Jessica Miller, who was one of the one of the women surveyed for the “How Craft Beer Fails Its Female Fan Base” story in the 11.24.14 links, offers indepth perspective on the issue. The next two links provide a different sort of persective.
[Via Hey, Brewtiful; Hipster Brewfus; The Vagenda'; h/T Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

Learning to love constraint in brewing, or, Globalization and the terroirs of music, soccer formations, and local beer.
Truly local beer requires a beer culture.
The first was written for Boak & Bailey’s call to “go long” but I didn’t spot it until Monday. It begins with a series of digressions (“I swear this eventually has to with beer”) but they turn into a fine way to introduce the idea of “commitment to restraint.” And it ties directly into what Lars Marius Garshol has to say in the second. You know you should take the time to read something that includes this thought: “Strong forces are pulling the other way, toward drowning everything in the soup of sameness.”
[Via The Brewolero and Larsblog]

Indigenous ingredient of the week.
[Via Richmond-Times Dispatch]

Fourteen rules concerning wine blogging.
They work just as well for beer.
[Via Via Steve Heimoff]


Session #94: Just another cog in the industrial beer complex

The SessionThe topic for The Session #94 today is: “Your role in the beer ‘scene’. What it is.”

Host Adrian Dingle provided this guidance: “So, where do you see yourself? Are you simply a cog in the commercial machine if you work for a brewery, store or distributor? Are you nothing more than an interested consumer? Are you JUST a consumer? Are you a beer evangelist? Are you a wannabe, beer ‘professional’? Are you a beer writer? All of the above? Some of the above? None of the above? Where do you fit, and how do you see your own role in the beer landscape?”

Since he first posted the topic, I’ve been trying to decide if I should call myself a “cog” even though I don’t draw a paycheck from any brewery. By writing about beer I publicize beer. And all publicity is good publicity, right? So there you have it. Enough about me. More interesting is what I get to see and write about. Here’s what I saw this morning:

Davo McWilliams

That’s Davo McWilliams pouring a bunch of hops into a brew kettle at the Anheuser-Busch Research Pilot Brewery in St. Louis, and RBP brewmaster Roderick Read in the background. McWilliams won the right to have his IPA recipe brewed at the pilot brewery when a panel of A-B judges liked it best in a competition last month held in conjunction with the Ballpark Village Brew Fest in downtown St. Louis.

The beer will be served next month in the Budweiser Brew House at Ballpark Village. Right now it’s still wort and, like the story, a work in progress


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