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Archive | August, 2007

Michael Jackson: Journalist

TypewriterYesterday I wrote: “and I’m sure that news stories and tributes will appear soon enough elsewhere on the Internet.”

Only a bit of an understatement. I have no idea how many billion kilobytes went winging about the Internet yesterday – in blogs, on discussion boards, via e-mail – in which people shared their memories and paid tribute to Michael Jackson. I was going to compile a list of links, to make sure you didn’t miss the best, but it grew far too long. (Head to really simple BEER syndication to be overwhelmed.)

Instead a story as promised, mostly in Michael’s own words, that made me almost smile yesterday.

When he kept his Beer Hunter website active one of my jobs was to add his updates (edit him? silly thought). Sometimes he would send other stories just to amuse me, ones that might or might not make it into print elsewhere. One mentioned the secret pleasures of working for a morning newspaper, putting the paper to bed and heading for the pub having already seen the next day’s news.

The exchange that followed digressed a bit:

“When I was 17 or 18, I worked as a sub-editor (rewrite?) on a small town afternoon paper, The Huddersfield Examiner, in Yorkshire. Being a daily, it followed the usual practice of mixing local stories by its own reporters with national and world news from AP, Reuter, etc. Given the short time available to distribute an afternoon daily, it did not go much beyond the city limits. After publication each day all the national and world stories were dissed, but the local items were kept in metal galleys. They were re-composed on Friday into a weekly paper for the surrounding countryside. So Friday was a long day: first the usual afternoon paper, then the weekly. In stories with the word ‘today’ that had to be replaced by ‘this week’ and everything had to be cut and fitted to new layouts,with new headlines. The chief sub-editor would urge me on: ‘Hurry, lad, you (ie the paper) will miss the milk train’ (which dropped off the bundles at village stations as it headed off towards Manchester in the early hours).

“After that, we walked through the Linotype room, past metal ‘stones’ full of page formes, exuding the smell of hot metal and oil. The building was already rumbling to the roll of the presses. At the far end of the room, a door led directly into the pub, The Prince Albert.”

Later I described the back shop of the first paper I worked at, that the floors were cobblestone and sometimes when a printer would get an assembled page rolling too fast and it would hit a bump and go flying. Metal type went everywhere, but had to somehow be reassembled.

Had we been in a pub we would have laughed mightily and ordered another pint.

A few days later an e-mail arrived about a post he wanted to amend:

“I’m sending you a slight revision in the next half hour. Don’t slip on the cobbles and drop it.

“A compositor at the Huddersfield Examiner once pied the splash story, on deadline for the first edition. Picking himself up, he calmly slid a suspiciously-dusty galley from a drawer. ‘We’ll pop this in for the first edition,’ he reassured me. On taking a look, I saw that it was a story announcing the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. It had been in the drawer since the 1930s. I pointed out that it was old news, by several decades. ‘Aye, but it fits,’ he grunted, stretching a length of his apron alongside the galley to gauge its length.

“I had better stop these reminiscences before I turn into Mark Twain.”

More than a moment of silence for Michael Jackson

There’ll be no blogging here today.

Consider it a symbolic moment of silence to honor the memory of Michael Jackson, simply the best writer about beer there ever has been.

His death was reported this morning and I’m sure that news stories and tributes will appear soon enough elsewhere on the Internet.

You don’t need details from me and I don’t much feel like writing.

When I do I promise to pass along a story or two about him that will help us regain our smiles.

Added late in the morning: All About Beer Magazine has posted the last column he wrote for the publication, which was due to appear next month: Did I Cheat Mort Subite?

And now . . . Imperial Hefeweizen

Pyramid Imperial HefeweizenJust when you thought it was safe to go into the style pool again . . .

Today a press release from Pyramid Brewery announces the introduction of “Imperial Hefeweizen, the first in a line of new limited edition, specialty beers known as Pyramid’s ‘Brewers Reserve.’ ”

This on the heals of a loud discussion at Seen Through a Glass about Samuel Adams Halltertau Imperial Pilsner.

From the Pyramid press release:

“Pyramid pioneered the wheat beer market back in ’85 with the first year-round wheat beer brewed in the U.S. since prohibition and soon followed it up with our American style Hefe Weizen. Now we’re taking that wheat beer tradition one step further by introducing one of the first, if not the first, Imperial Hefeweizens brewed and distributed in the U.S.,” said Art Dixon, Seattle Head Brewer for Pyramid Breweries. “Our team is truly pumped to feed our passion for wheat beers in this new select Brewers Reserve release.”

Pyramid’s new Imperial Hefeweizen, like our flagship Hefe Weizen, is a smooth, unfiltered ale, but also features a pleasant hop flavor and a more full-bodied and robust taste. The limited edition ale is brewed in small batches of less than 120 barrels using the finest West Coast ingredients, combining 60% malted wheat with Nugget and Tettnang hops for a robust, yet surprisingly refreshing taste. Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen has an alcohol by volume level of 7.5%.

“Beer aficionados are in for a one-of-a-kind taste experience with our new Brewers Reserve beers,” said George Arnold, Master Brewer for Pyramid Breweries. “Starting with our inaugural Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen, these limited edition beers are specifically designed for those who want to take their craft beer experience to the next level.”

I don’t think everybody needs to get their knickers in a knot because Pyramid has invented this term (notice, I don’t say style). My beef with it would be that the name doesn’t tell me what this beer might taste like.

Let’s go back to Imperial or Double IPAs, which arguably started this naming trend a dozen years ago. The first was called Double IPA and as a group of generally similar beers emerged mostly West Coast (and mostly Southern California) brewers suggested it had become a new and definable style. This took several years, and I’ve already written about it.

A few breweries have since introduced beers they described as imperial pilsners (lower case intended), sometimes using those words as part of a brand’s name. I’m OK with that. It generally tells consumers about the beer – lots of pilsner malt, lots of hops, little (should be no, but life isn’t that good) fruity ale flavors. Just because they use the term doesn’t mean it ends up being a “style.”

(Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the company of Belgian brewers, but my interest in arguing about styles has seriously waned of late. I think the BJCP Guidelines are excellent for what they are intended – giving homebrew judges a blueprint for fairly scoring beers. I use them the several hours a year I judge homebrews. I don’t consult them to decide if I like the beers I otherwise drink.)

I had planned to write about Samuel Adams Halltertau Imperial Pilsner by now. Not so much to “evaluate” the beer as to discuss some technical hops stuff (after all, I am a geek) and about the beautiful Halltertau Mittelfrueh hop that the beer showcases. Other items to post here and other work got in the way, but soon, maybe tomorrow I will find time.

Still I’m not going to write about it as a “style.” It’s not. Maybe it will be some day, though I doubt it.

And imperial hefeweizen? It means nothing. In America hefeweizen tells you what about a beer? Go buy a bottle of Pyramid Hefe Weizen or Widmer Hefeweizen. Now find some Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat. Got some sorting out to do on the non-imperial stuff, don’t you think?

Pyramid is simply offering a clue about one beer. I lied when I typed I had no idea what Pyramid’s imperial might taste like – I expect it would be a bigger, bolder version of Pyramid Hefe. I understand they want the people who like that beer and who want to try something bigger and bolder to have a choice they sell.

I figure they aren’t really out to invent a new style. If they are then they are idiots.

Lost Abbey barrel tasting: It’s a wrap

Barrel with beerOne of the many perks – beyond watching a roadrunner pace up and down the burm outside my office window right now, not quite sure what his plan is – of living where I do is that I know that the New Mexico Rio Grande Valley is not the Best.Beer.Region.On.Earth.

They worry about such things in Philadelphia (see here and here) and Portland (do I have to type Oregon?) and San Diego.

I don’t have to. Thus I can claim to be impartial. So I’m declaring that in many years when somebody writes a book about the history of artisan beer in America they’ll want notes from the evening of Aug. 25 at Lost Abbey Port Brewing (near San Diego, for those of you participating in the regional wars), because the first Lost Abbey barrel tasting was a watershed event.

Steve at Summer of Beer has a really solid account. I’m impressed how lucid his notes are to the end, including dessert and the final beers. Read it at your own risk – you’ll want to reserve a spot next year.

A recipe in memory of Copa, Too!

Jack Curtin recently reported that Philadephia’s Copa, Too! has closed, and wrote about that restaurant/bar’s place in history. I added a few details at Beer Travelers, but since we seem to have slipped into beer-and-food mode here I’ll use the news as an excuse to post another recipe (a dessert, of course).

Tom Peters managed some extraordinary beer dinners almost every month before leaving Copa to start Monk’s Cafe. The recipe comes from one in July of 1994 when the theme was “Tom’s Favorite Beers.” The full menu follows.

Peters started hosting beer dinners in 1994, and began serving dishes prepared with beer by the third one. In the beginning most of those who showed up were homebrewers, but soon there were lawyers, stockbrokers, art students, just about anybody.

It was always a hands-on event for Peters, starting at 4 a.m. with a visit to local markets. Grouper might have been on the menu when he laid out the menu but if the rainbow trout looked better that’s what ended up on the plates. Although he wasn’t a regular in the Copa kitchen, on beer dinner days you’d hardly find him anyplace else.

So here you go . . .

Angel Food Cake
w/ framboise-scented cream anglaise

Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

10 egg whites, room temperature (save yolks)
1¼ t. cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
1¼ cups sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 cup fresh raspberries – optional

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a whisk or an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend.
Add sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff and shiny (do not let them dry out).
Sift flour into stiff egg whites. Add flour in three steps and fold in carefully. Do not break the egg whites. Fold in raspberries, if desired.

Spoon mixture into ungreased nonstick tube pan.
Bake for 40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Invert pan onto a cake rack and let cool in pan.
When completely cool, carefully run knife around outer and inner edges and invert pan, gently shaking until cake slides out.

Cream Anglaise
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
10 egg yolks
1/4 cup Boon Framboise

Heat milk, cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and heat with cream until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat.
Whip egg yolks in bowl and gradually add hot cream very slowly, whisking continuously. When half of the cream has been added, pour yolk mixture into pan containing remaining cream.
Return to stove and cook over very low heat until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove vanilla bean and scrape seeds into custard.
Place in food processor or blender and process until absolutely smooth.
Gently fold in Boon Framboise.
Refrigerate until well chilled.

Presentation:
1 ounce ladle of creme anglaise.
Slice of angel food cake
Sprinkle with fresh raspberries.

Copyright Tom Peters

THE MENU

Pre-dinner beer
Dock Street Frambozen.

Appetizer
See Scallops on Spicy Black Bean Cake. Served with Duvel.

Salad
Tom’s Home Grown Lettuce & Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette. Served with Corsendonk Brown Ale.

Entree
Chicken Breast with Rosemary, Garlic & Lemon
or
Grilled Salmon with Watercrss, Ginger & Sesame
Served with Chimay Grande Reserve and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Dessert
Angel Food Cake with Framboise Scented Creme Anglaise. Served with Boon Framboise and Scaldis.

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