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The bier-oyster connection seldom spoken

You dont see newspaper leads like this any more. It appeared in the Nashville Union and American in 1871, and was taken from the Cincinnati Gazette (no date given):

It is the custom of the world to honor great inventors and discoverers with a meed of praise proportionate to the importance of that to which they have introduced the human race. We glorify Franklin for bottling up lightning, and sound high the name of Morse because he utilized it for commercial and other purposes. We apotheosize Watt for demonstrating a practical use of steam; Guttenberg, for the invention of movable type; Jacquard, because he gave the world the silk loom, and Friar Bacon for the invention which is said to have blown his student and his laboratory out of existence at one and the same moment. Upon these and other inventors and discoverers all can put we can put our finger, as it were, with a moments reflection; but looking for the man to whom civilization is indebted for its bier, we find this identity wrapped in the mists of uncertainty which which envelop that of the individual who ate the first oyster.”

One hundred and sixty-four words. Whew.


Book review: Mastering Homebrew

How many homebrewing books do you really need to own?

In the foreword to “Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer” Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch writes, “This book might just be the only brewing book most homebrewers will ever need.”

For personal reasons, I hope that most homebrewers don’t take that thought seriously.

There are a bunch of “if you were to buy only one homebrewing book this one will take care of all yours needs” books available, but it seems to me that “Mastering Homebrew” jumps immediately into what now constitutes a Big Three (I might as well mention now there is a disclaimer at the end). “How to Brew” and the recently revised “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” are not only at the top of Books > Cookbooks > Food & Wine > Beverages & Wine > Beer at Amazon, but also the books you find in any decent homebrew shop.

I can see where somebody who has already worn out a copy of “How to Brew” and has a growing interest in sour beers would choose to buy “American Sour Beers” next, but I think a book that serves a beginner may offer value for even the most experienced homebrewer (in fact, commercial brewers as well). John Palmer (“How to Brew”), Charlies Papazian (“Complete Joy”) and Randy Mosher (“Mastering Homebrew”) think about beer differently, different than each other but, as important, different than you or I.

Within the early pages of his book, Mosher writes about “Brewing with Both Halves of Your Brain” and that “The first question is an existential one: Why is there beer? That answers will depend very much on your point of beer.”

He’s not always deadly serious. So “Doing It the Hard Way” (yes, that’s really the header on page 134, and it is a dive into mashing) is balanced with “Brewing the Perfect Party Beer” (Page 352).

Gravity to IBU chartAnd if you bought a copy of Mosher’s “Brewer’s Companion” when it came out in 1993 some of the graphs and charts will look familiar, if a little fancier. Like “Radical Brewing” and “Tasting Beer” the book is beautifully illustrated, reminding us that Mosher is a graphic designer in real life. We’re not simply talking eye candy, but illustrations that, well, illustrate. The chart at the right makes it easy to visualize the balance between gravity and bitterness in various beer styles.

You can use the “Look inside” feature at Amazon to see the table of contents, but that only hints as how astonishingly complete this book it. (So you can see why Koch wrote what he did.)


The disclaimer: My friendship with Randy Mosher is old enough to buy beer legally. In addition, he was the technical editor for “Brew Like a Monk,” for which I will always be in his debt, and he has said and written nice things about me on occasion.


There’s more to lager than American-hopped pilsner


Local Lagers Looming.
Brewers Association economist Bart Watson provides some very real numbers: “Although amber and pale lagers didn’t stand out in scans, pilsners announced themselves in the first month of 2015 with 56% growth versus a year ago.” And he has more reasons to predict a “new era of local lager.” But we need lagers beyond those brewed with pale malt and hopped to appeal to IPA drinkers. [Via Brewers Association]

How to make an ad as effective as Budweiser’s.
I continue to update the links (pro and con) related to Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial (now in regular rotation elsewhere), but it seems more appropriate to post this one here. Dan Fox writes that the commercial “nails four keys to creating solid, effective beer-selling messages.” Number 4 is that it communicates Bud’s uniqueness. That got me thinking about the chart Watson showed at the American Hop convention. In 1970, Bud and beers like it accounted for 99% of sales in the U.S. Today, “various domestic” beers have a 24% share and it is still shrinking. Beers brewed by members of the Brewers Association members have stolen 11% of share, but light beers have taken 52%. Of course AB InBev has benefited, because it has the No. 1 selling light beer. Nonetheless, this makes the advertising conversations tricky, doesn’t it? [Via Hey Beer Dan]

That’s the dollar value of total sales of IPA in the United States in 2014. [Via CNBC]

New Belgium Brewing18 Things I Learned at New Belgium’s “Sour Symposium.” Excellent and interesting. Just one of the many I like: “The first batch of La Folie, Lauren [Salazar] says, was so sour it could rip the enamel from your teeth. Now, she says, she’s more mature and attempts to formulate the brewery’s sours with more balance. ‘I try other breweries’ sours and I go, ‘Oh, I remember when I was like that!'” [Via Phoenix New Times]

Could a Colorado craft brewery sell out to big beer? The headline takes a point of view, don’t you think? Because there is a difference between selling and selling out. [Via The Denver Post]

Trip to Tumalo ~ hop growers in Central Oregon.
Another example of farmers figuring out a way to grow and process hops on a small scale. [Via The Brewstorian]

FOMO Infiltrates Beer Culture.
I would suggest pairing Heather Vandenengel’s post this past week with this post from Jeff Rice I linked to a couple of weeks ago. Followed by these tips for “crushing the fear of missing out” and perhaps Tyler Cowen’s thoughts about “The Upside of Waiting in Line.” [Via All About Beer]

Detroit Metro Times goes full tabloid with smear piece on Arbor Brewing Co. owners Matt & Rene Greff.
Arbor Brewing Co. presents a case study in local business ethics and crowdfunding.
The defense is presented first simply because that was the story I found first. Read ‘em both and read the comments. I’m not sure where the truth lies, but plenty of reality on display. [Via Eclectablog & Metro Times]

How Dogfish Head strives for quality through science. Sam Calagione’s interview with Men’s Journal about the commercial got lots of attention last week, but this story tells you, and shows you, something new. [Via delmarvanow]


The Session #96 roundup posted

The SessionJoan Villar-i-Martí at birraire has posted the roundup for The Session #96: “Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?”

It was an interesting peak into different cultures, at least beer cultures. I remain intrigued by the idea that John Duffy introduced: “I’ve found them to be a great way of learning about any particular country’s brewing… . Even smaller ones like Borefts or Quartiere In Fermento, in my experience, really help with understanding what’s happening with beer in other places.”

I think you could replace the word country with region and apply it to the United States. It’s a big country.


Session #97 announced: Beer scenes on the rise

The SessionBrett Domue of Our Tasty Travels has announced the topic for The Session #97: Up-and-Coming Beer Locations.

Here’s the plan: “I’m asking you all to share which locations you see as the beer destinations that everyone will be talking about in the next few years. Where are the beer scenes just emerging, or coming into their own? Some may be brand new locations. While others may be old-world destinations seeing a renaissance into the world of new craft beer styles. Some may even be locations where familiar names from around the world are planning on setting up shop to bring new styles to old palates.”

I’ve got an old palate, so I’m looking forward to March 6 and reading the spots everybody suggests.


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