This story is only breaking in India and South Africa so far according to Google News:
Spokesperson An Frankie said she was given beer at school as a child and called for a return to the old ways.Ah, the old ways...the 1606 ways...kids in the factory ways...
The Punjab in India, conversely, has discovered a better way to relive the olden goldies - a cut in beer prices by half via government regulation.
While researching Irish beers and Irish pubs prior to St Patrick's Day, I started to think of this holiday not as just a day but a season. Then I noticed that in the beer company advertising for St Patrick's Day that the corporations too appear to have adopted this notion of the week prior to the day itself as the time to start focusing on Irish beverages.
On Long Island it's not only the week before March 17th, but the week after that the Irish Saint is celebrated with parades and pints of beer. The day I left Long Island (March 12th) for a brewpub tour of Baltimore and Pennsylvania there was St Patrick's Day parade running through my town. Two weeks later (March 26th), when I returned there was another St Patrick's Day parade, this one running through the town of Patchogue, home to Blue Point Brewery and the Brickhouse Brewery.
My plan was to meet a friend at the Brickhouse for a quiet Sunday afternoon pint. The Sunday afternoon "happy hour" at the Brickhouse is a good opportunity to sample the fine craft brewed beers there at discount prices, but yesterday there was no such thing as a quiet Sunday afternoon pint. When I arrived at the Brickhouse, the St Patrick's Day parade was just winding up and guess where the post-parade festivities were being held---that's right, at the Brickhouse.
I managed to squeeze in just ahead of the Patchogue Fire Department's drum and pipe corps. I had to shout my order of Crop Circle Ale to the bar tender over the deafening hammering of ten drummers pounding away inside the pub.
I managed to find my friend in the crowd and we escaped the madhouse and finished our pints of Crop Circle on the sidewalk in front of the Brickhouse so that we could hear each other speak. Fortunately, the Patchogue police were turning a blind eye to open containers on account of the parade I presume.
For our second pint, we went over to the Half Penny Pub in Sayville, New York (220 N. Main St, Sayville, NY 11782; 631-567-1948). The Half Penny Pub is an Irish Pub, but they were far enough away from the parade route that we figured it wouldn't be totally nuts inside. We were right. We had the place to ourselves, aside from a couple sipping Irish Coffee.
The Half Penny Pub is a good place to go for Blue Point. They always have the Toasted Lager. They have a second Blue Point tap that rotates. The first time I went to the Half Penny they had the excellently smooth Blue Point Oatmeal Stout. Yesterday, they had the Blue Point Blueberry Ale. (According to Ale Street News, Blue Point will start bottling their Blueberry Ale soon.)
In addition to Blue Point, the Half Penny Pub has a number of other taps devoted to serving up the major players. I didn't count, but there were at least 15 taps. They have a decent selection of bottled beer. The bar maid told us that the new Heineken light beer was a big seller.
Usually, the Half Penny Pub has a menu of pub fare available, but yesterday the cook was having car trouble, so instead of corned beef with our Blue Point, we had a bowl of popcorn that they bar maid kindly procured for us. On Tuesday nights, you can get dollar burgers (these are regular sized burgers according to the bar maid). And the place is usually hopping after 8 pm if you like crowds.
Here is an interesting editorial from The Seattle Times including this passage:
In the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, the state has been saying it wants to keep wine and beer expensive so that the people will drink less of it. To that end, in the wholesale market the state bans volume discounts, sales at negotiated prices, sales on credit and delivery to a customer's warehouse.This is an odd concept seeing as homebrewing is legal and allows the creation, with basic skills, of quite acceptable beer for, say, one-tenth of the price in shops. The same goes for wine. In each case, the substance is not in reality controlled under law - just the market in the substance.
Reading the excellent Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Richard Unger as I am (expect a review soon), I am also accutely aware that the price of beer is directly tied to the taxation of beer and that since 1300 it has placed a massive role in public revenues which would be drastically cut if there was deflation in the beer market. So while it is correct to say there is an public interest in safety in relation to beer as a substance to be consumed with confidence, it is not really the case that there is a public interest in reducing the amount people actually drink - only in reducing the circumstances of harm that might arise.
I've wanted to try this comparison for a while. Sgt. Major's IPA from Fitzroy Harbour in the Ottawa Valley is a unique beer in at least the eastern side Canada in that it attempts to take on the US style on its own chewy hoppy terms. Hop Devil IPA from Victory in Pennsylvania is one of the classic northeast US IPAs - balanced but big.
The two beers pour deep amber under fine off-white heads but the Hop Devil is darker while the head of the Sgt. Major holds its fine head with almost Guinness-like will power. In the mouth, the Canadian is hoppier by a long shot but the American presents raisin notes and is richer but by only a notch. Both rely on American hop strains to provide an unsweetened grapefruit twang thang. Both have a good grainy profile from a honest quality malt bill and both use fairly softish water compared to the amount of bittering - no sulfate cheating here. The Hop Devil uses a creamier yeast strain. The overall quality of the beers is extremely similar which is a real tribute to the small Ontario brewer.
I like them both and will have some confidence in picking up a six of Sgt. Major next time I am cranking in my mind about the lack of variety at the local beer suppliers.
My friends from England knew exactly what this beer was when it arrived in the US on March 11, 2004 in time for St Patrick's day that year. Thanks to Guinness USA, the owner of Smithwick's (pronounced "Smiddick's"), this traditional Irish Red Ale first appeared in pubs on draught in "key markets" in 2004, but is now even in my local grocery store. This version of Smickwick's is brewed by Diageo owned Guinness and was inspired by John Smithwick's original recipe. John Smithwick founded a brewery next to the St Francis Abbey near Kilkenny, Ireland in 1710 and the brewery has been in operation ever since (but it's not clear to me where the Smithwick's for the US market is being brewed). Guinness acquired an interest in Smithwick's brewery in the 1950s. They took over the company in the 60s and have had sole control since the 80s. According to Michael Jackson, the bottled version of Smithwick's contains 10% corn syrup.
Sources: "Voice of the Vine: O'Brewing We Will Go" by Lou Campoli, published in The Rye Record on March 9, 2006. "Here comes Smithwick's" on Realbeer.com. "Brewery with its own abbey - it must be Ireland" by Michael Jackson (1993).
Indian Brown Ale and 60 Minute IPA from Dogfish. While they make the excellent yet basic Shelter Pale Ale, Dogfish Head is one of the great micro-breweries of North American and well-known for innovations like the continually and highly hopped 120 and 90 Minute IPAs. Heck, for St. Patrick's Day this year they released a green draft beer coloured with a blue-green algae called Verdi Verdi Good. Clearly a brewery that thinks outside the general thunk.
Ken Wells in the recently reviewed Travels With Barley spends a chapter on brewer Sam Calagione and a visit to Dogfish's brewery and quoted a high-tech description of their hopping technique from Calagione:
"The first time we tried continual-hopping," he said, "was with the first batch of 60 Minutes IPA wthat I brewed back in 2000. I used one of those goofy circa 1978 electrified vibrating football games, canted at an angle and rigged with a five-gallon bucket of pelletized hops over our boil kettle. The hops would vibrate down the angeled football game and into the kettle in a single-file stream.The 60 Minute IPA pours a bright golden straw under a fine creamy white head, active with high carbonation. The aroma is like opening a packet of hops pellets. The brewery calls it their flagship and I see no reason to disagree. It is not a whallop over the head sort of IPA so much as an assertive but reasonable sort of fellow that has a point but will not bowl you over making it. In the mouth there is rich medium mouthfeel, some spice across the middle, a little heat as well as a good doorstop worth of crusty bread. I had an extended evening with this ale on tap last October and was the better for it...in every way. 6% and, in Ontario, at the LCBO for a short time this spring. BAers love it.
The brewery describes the Indian Brown Ale as follows:
A cross between a Scotch Ale, an I.P.A., and an American Brown, this beer is well-hopped and malty at the same time. It is brewed with Aromatic barley and caramelized brown sugar.The beer pours with a large waft of caramel crackle, like the stuff between the other stuff in peanut brittle. Mahogany ale under tan foam and lace. In the mouth the beer is very effervescent and full of dry fruit and sugars - fig, date, molasses, treacle. The hops are not just there to cut cloy but take full place, twiggy. The mouthfeel is somewhat chalky, while a bit like dry cocoa but not overly chocolatey. At 7.2%, also well loved by the nation of BAery. Not unlike Kasteel Brune come to think of it.
The other day, when I did rock, we headed up Yonge Street in Toronto to finish the evening at Volo, a much discussed beer bar amongst the Bar Towelling set. With very good reason as well. While I wasn't able to take my camera and get some shots, I can tell you that the place seats about 40, is something of a cheery jumble of mismatched antiques, plants and beer bottles and has the feel of rec room meeting a cafe. Certain Bear Republic quarts noted. Like a walk-in stash with knowledgable staff. Very nice and, frankly, a brave effort given the legal loops they must have to go through to amass the well chosen and properly handled collection. As a result, the prices are honest and sometimes even bracing but just don't go every night and you will be OK, OK? Here are some directional hints for Volo.
We were not there for long but I got to try a few firsts. I had a bottle of the barley wine Fred by Hair of the Dog and my brother's split a large La Chouffe. I also tried Church-Key Brewing's new biere de garde on tap. I really wish I had had my camera as I remember looking at the chalk board thinking "they don't make a BdG!?!" and here I am thinking that I am going to find a reference on the bar or brewer's web site as to its existence and I find nothing. [Later: Bar Towel News Services has more on this new BdG. I think this is the style of the next two years.]
The Fred was a big rich ale, green hop and with chocolate notes in the malt supported by creamy yeast. In a way, a little light for a ten percent ale as it was neither hot or spicy. The La Chouffe was pear juicey cream rich and round with a nice burlappy hop. I also wrote parsley potato. I will leave you to judge the state of my note taking. La Chouffe is at the SAQ, Quebec's government store, so if I have to do a trip east this summer, I may survive on a case picked up in Trois Riviere. The Church-Key was slightly uncious with a honest but sort of quiet spud peel biere de garde mouth feel. But it was also pale malt grainy making me think it was sort of like their stock ale with a healthy nod towards biere de garde. Milky yeast and soft water, low hopping and medium to low carbonation. If the brew actually exists, that is.
Earlier in the day, pre-rocking, supper was a buffalo burger at C'est What, a gret tap restaurant which I have written about before. My first beer was a Denison Weisse, a hefe of lemon cream cut by a swath of weedy seet hop greens. Lively and prickley carbonation and a really nice grainy wheat texture. I also had a Black Oak Nut Brown, a good honest pint of dusty cocoa with twig-green hop, a milky yeast and pale grain roughness. C'est What is a great comfy basement bar with that most excellent of seating technology, the sofa.
So all in all - with a stop at the Queen's Quay LCBO with its well-stocked and staffed beer corner as well as a decent beer book find - it was a very successful beer related run into the Big Smoke.
Mixing beer has a venerable heritage - whether it is the black and tan with Guinness floating upon a higher gravity lager or Newcastle Brown with its pre-made mix of 1/3 older stock ale and 2/3 fresh...or is it the other way? But recently I have taken to 20% good raspberry lambic with 80% oatmeal stout. It's the business.
So I am just wondering if any of you have your own special blends? Or do you think this is pure heresy?
Yes, we get emails but then we also notice we have lives and jobs and I never get back to doing a proper round up of the household hints you good folk send me so here goes:
- Lew Bryson keeps in touch via regular emails and in his most recent he has this notice for events this Saturday and the one following:
On March 18th and 25th (both Saturdays), I'm riding with Rich Pawlak's GOLDEN AGE OF PHILADELPHIA BEER tour again this year, and it's our tenth anniversary. Ten years ago, Rich and I pulled together about 20 people and toured Philadelphia bars, and went big-time with it the next year. Ten years later, we've got three vans lined up to do it again, with a bigger, ambitious schedule to celebrate the 10th anniversary, which includes our return to Monk's Café and Manayunk Brewing. Yards is doing a specially-hopped version of Philly Pale Ale for the tour, and there's good food at every stop on the way, starting with pre-lunch at Monk's, then lunch at Ludwig's Garten, and ending up the day with dinner at Independence. This tour is all about the beer, the food, and the beer and the food! There are still seats left on both tour dates. Details (and photos from past tours) are up on the site: http://www.lewbryson.com/golden_age10.htmI just like the concept of "pre-lunch"! Want to go but I find I am in another country twelve hours drive away. Others of you must be not so encumbered.
- Over a month ago - a month ago I tell ya - Myrick in Shanghai sent me a link to his story on those beer serving robots. It serves only cans but I suppose I would not mind it if you could have it serve Old Chub. Then...despite me not even posting the picture of the robot, he is good enough to send me a shot of possible the least mouth watering image of a beer I have ever seen. Milk beer. Mmmm...Please forward your reviews of Kefir if you've had it.
- Then Matt sent me the beer tap in the kitchen sink story from Norway, P. Bailey sends me another about how beer scientists are turning by-products of beer into sweeteners which seems to me a waste of wort, and a co-worker mails me the best story of 2006 bar none - the Slovak guy who peed himself out of an avalanche on his way back from the beer store. All beer stories, all the time.
- Then I get news of a very interesting sort from Marty Jones of the makers of Old Chub. Someone won the Beerdrinker 2006 award:
Tom Schmidlin, a 36-year-old University of Washington graduate student, devout homebrewer and yeast enthusiast, won the 2006 Beerdrinker of the Year title in Denver on Saturday, Feb 25. In a two-hour session packed with difficult beer questions from a panel of seven judges, Schmidlin used an intense knowledge of beer, a quick wit, and some impressive bribes to land the 2006 crown. In addition to winning the coveted Beerdrinker of the Year title, Schmidlin won $250 worth of beer at his local brewpub (Big Time Brewery & Alehouse, in Seattle, Washington) and free beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. "I’m moving to Denver," Schmidlin joked in his acceptance speech.Good Lord! I was watching short-track speed skating from Italy all February and missed the whole thing. Here is the whole press release with information on how you can be beerdrinker of the year 2007.