Myrick the Asiapundit and one of our corrspondents from China has a post up about the role China's oldest brewer, Harbin Beer, is playing in the disaster in that city. Harbin's river and water supply has been contaminated with benzene but the brewery has deep wells and bottling facilities which have been brought into production to aid the citizenry. The same capacity for brewers to supply safe water has been seen this year in Sri Lanka and, I believe, New Orleans as well.
Just a note on a vanity of mine...
Please vote for both this here A Good Beer Blog and our sister station Gen X at 40 at the Canadian Blog awards. I think both are up for best blog - which risks splitting the vote and letting the mighty Flea sneak through. We of the beery set are up for best group blog and best culture blog and the Tantrama City posts from Gen X at 40 are up for best series. This is a two round competition with the top five in each going on.
As I crave shallow adoration this is the perfect fit for me.
I really do not know about the move to 24 hour open all day and all of the night drinking in England. The BBC has a good article this morning on the debate:
Shadow culture secretary Theresa May... said it was of "great concern" that a "significant number, if not a majority" of premises that would have 24-hour drinking were supermarkets and petrol stations, which she said were often frequented by underage drinkers. She concluded that the change "will lead to more disorder", adding that "government ministers have accepted that there will be more crime as a result of these laws".While it is very difficult to observe one culture's point of view on the drink and I am not one to race to the line up under the sign that says "prudes", there is an aspect to this which is beyond personal liberty that seems to be is entirely abandoning what I would think would be the limits of prudent management given what alcohol actually does. Do you really need drinking at supermarkets and petrol stations? And who needs a "social life" at 4 am or 9 am? Is the teen aged clerk trained to cut the guy off at the gas station at 7:45 am before he gets in the car?
But Mark Hastings from the British Beer and Pub Association welcomed the changes. He said: "We've been saying for a long time that the result of this change would be a relatively modest increase in overall licensing hours, that 24-hour opening was an urban myth, and certainly 24-hour drinking would be an urban myth. What we're actually seeing is that at last in this country adults are going to be treated like grown-ups and given a little bit of choice about having a social life beyond 11 o'clock at night."
Your comments would be interesting on this one.
Thou mayest click on for greater illumination
I have to say that I have really enjoyed everything I have had by the Middle Ages Brewing Co. of Syracuse NY from trips to pubs and the odd beer I have brought back. But last time I was in a central New York beer shop I realized that there is more to life than Syracuse Pale Ale, Kilt Tilter, Wailing Wench and Druid Fluid. Odd to think that - for a micro - there are seven more ales to try when I have already supped and loved four. Then I check the list over at Beer Advocate and there are eleven more to go after these - 22 in all. Ambitious brewers.
To maintain the tradition and tastes of English ales of the Middle Ages, the brewery uses two-row malted barley imported from Munton and Fisson Plc., in Stowmarket, Suffolk, England. The malt is germinated barley that has been kiln dried. "Our yeast strain is a direct descendent of brewing yeast originating in Yorkshire, England. It has been cultivated for the past 150 years," [owner/brewer] Marc [Rubenstein] said. We figure it should bear a resemblance to the Medieval yeasts." Middle Ages Brewing harvests its yeast from batch to batch, mixing it with warm beer to activate it.Interesting to note that Marc trained at the beloved Shipyard Brewing of Portland, Maine and brought its strain of the Ringwood...not "Ringwood" but "the Ringwood"...yeast. Lew Bryson in his New York Breweries (you have bought your copy, haven't you?) has some good things to say and like me, loves the Druid Fluid barley wine. He also notes being dragged to the Blue Tusk by Marc to try the ImPaled Ale cask conditioned on tap:
"You don't have to have the cask," he assured me. "You can have whatever you want. But I'd really like you to try it." As if I'd want anything else! The cask of ImPaled Ale they served up at the Tusk was delicious, with the soft carbonation I've become fond of. The real beauty of cask ale is that the cool serving temperatures and the lack of fiziness lets more of the hidden flavour of the beer come through.I might as well start with the bottle of Middle Age's take on the Imperial Pale Ale and see if it is truely English or more in the northeast US style.
- ImPaled Ale: A light tan lace-leaving head sits over active amber-orange ale. For a nor'easter, it is a notch below biggest in terms of body but there is a mass of chewy hops, some twiggy but mostly candy-cane green-herbed goldings amongst which the 6.5% sits quietly. The water is soft. There is a rich roundness to the malt rather than a pale malt graininess. The Ringwood is there, more subdued than in, say, Shipyard's Chamberlain Pale Ale. It provides a bit of spice as well as a biscuity note well suited for an IPA. BAers say 97% yea.
- Beast Bitter: described as a special bitter, this is a degree less intense than the IPA above, as is the natural order of things - perhaps a third of the way towards the fruit-malt gentleness of their SPA. No where near as big as Nova Scotia's Propeller ESB. Beastly white foam sits over lighter orange ale. There is a citrus note over some twig which sets the brew apart as well. No raisiny notes but some fruit to join the hops in a tangerine thing, just and good. Within the hop, pale malt graininess sits quietly in the shadow of the star - the sharp ex luplis confectam acid. The BAers gave up one more point to give it a 98% rating.
- Grail Ale: This beer pours a tan head over a medium mohogany ale. The brewery calls this an amber ale but I think it is too dark for that and, besides, I am thinking of a lighter form of that old chestnut Old Peculier by Theaksons. There is a treacle note to Grail Ale over graininess and some sweet malt. Also the hop is primarily twiggy bracing but not cutting through the malt. Plummy. Dates, too and maybe a bit of chocolate. Perfect use of the Ringwood. Kind of reminds me of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles as well in the plummy note by not the strength. BAers say 97% up.
- The Duke of Winship: an interesting ale descrobed by the brewery as having the softness of a Scotch ale and the malt profile of porter. The beer pours deep mahogany-garnet under a light brown head. A pronounced fruity chocolate aroma. In the mouth, there is a round soft brown sugar and plum wave up front which goes into coffee and onto maybe chocolate before a long drying finish of slightly astringent hops. A very interesting and singular ale. I don't think there is enough black malt to make it a Scotch ale but it does not pretend it is and, let's be frank, there is many a bad beer out there that abides by the style guidelines. 96% of BAers approve. And I only got the Ringwood on the swish of the final sip. Loverly.
- Wizard's Winter Ale: An off white head resolving to a rim over deep amber orange ale. With the first sip I have an immediate sense of a sort of Scotch ale with soft water and orange marmalade, from the combination of fruity malt and citrusy hops, along with a layer of slightly smoked and burtn toast of black malt. The body is rich with a great cream texture and leaves a warm comforting finish. The brewery calls it their version of a British strong ale which, at 6.8%, is reasonable. Only 2% of BAers deny this its place.
- Triple Crown: amber straw ale with a thin white rim of foam. Not much nose but rich orange - peel and marmalade - heat. There is lots of fruit in the malt and if I have learned anything from this is the is ability Middle Ages has to coax these notes from the malt - cherry, pear and apricot. Really nice. There are two clearly distinct hop notes: green on the tongue and twig at the back of the mouth with the hear. At 10% it ought to have heat but it is so well balanced that it does not stand out. The overall effect is not unlike a tonic. Lots of herbs and spice like, say, a strong gin in a way or like a Scandinavian bread with orange peel and anise...but I don't mean those not those flavours. Thick with taste but not bombastic. Big balance. Very nice.The brewery says they were trying for a Belgian triple with British ingredients. 97% of BAers are with them though the comparison with a triple does not work for me - two styles which are too distinct. Still, quite fine ale.
- X - 1995 to 2005: This is Middle Ages' 10th anniversary ale. It pours orange amber with a rich foamy off-white head. The nose is massive of Goldings, like opening a packet of hop pellets. This ale is big twig bitter, orangey, hot and juicey. Typical of Middle Ages, there is a rich buttery biscuit heart - in this case enveloping the heat. The effect is immersive and huge, honeyed and botanical combining like the Scots liqueuer Drambuie but, even more so, a true hop bath to the point of souring the stomach a tad with those lovely flowery acid. Every BAer approves this ale.
An exhibit opens this week in London, England which provides evidence as to the drinking habits of the locals from around 1300 AD:
Experts have uncovered evidence that 12th century Londoners drank ale by the gallon, starting at breakfast time, due to poor quality drinking water. Exhibits at the Museum of London, including a selection of old Toby jugs, depict tubby men with beer bellies. London's many drinking dens entertained 'immoderate quaffing by fools', according to a writer of the time.Here is the website for the museum's new exhibit. That would be an interesting place for a correspondent to visit. Any takers?
Ah, Utah. If they are not going to learn it in schools you can expect folk are going to have to pick it up in the taverns of the nation:
Wasatch Beers is changing the label on its 2002 Unofficial Amber Ale — a title that once raised a ruckus with Olympic officials — to "Evolution Amber Ale." The company says the change is inspired by Utah legislators and the debate here and nationally over whether public school evolution lessons should be balanced with "intelligent design," or the idea that life is too complex to be explained by Darwin's theory of evolution alone. Wasatch Beers founder Greg Schirf, called a "counterculture brewer master" in a company press release, said the new label was intended to be light-hearted. But Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, isn't laughing. "I guess some people are going to get a chuckle out of it. I don't see anything funny about it," Buttars said. "Anytime someone (tries to) sarcastically exploit issues of morality in those kinds of ways is very unappealing. But it doesn't bother me, whatever they put on there."
Young's are a local brewer in London that has done very well in the export market. Not that long ago that were somewhat hard to find even in England. David Line in his early and important homebrewing guide from 1978 called Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy - a novel idea 27 years ago - says this about the Special Bitter:
A strong hoppy bitter with a distinctive taste. Maybe it is the yeast that adds to the flavour because Youngs Special is hard to come by locally and it always seemed to be served slightly cloudy. Eventually I supped some which was crystal clear and it was even better.Youngs has existed since 1831 but beer has been brewed on the site of its Ram brewery 1533. Even as recently as the late 1990s, the brewery's history speaks of adding a bottling line to satisfy supermarket demand. This is still no macro-brewer despite its age and reach.
- Special London Ale: This beer pours a quickly dissipating tan head over slightly russeted orange ale. There is a strong mineral rich aroma as soon as you open the top. Very distinct with orange apricot marmalade fruit, a tiny touch of black malt toastiness, a distinct yeast strain that is more dry cracker than biscuit and very twiggy hops with a sweet floral background. Very complex and pleasing. You know, I think that Mendocino's Eye of the Hawk Select Ale is something of a respectful imitation. All BAers but few respect.
- Oatmeal Stout: this is a fantastically good stout with a rare roast malt nuttiness. It pours a mocha cream head over black garnet stout. The yeast is rich chalky cream over which sits a halo of mint hop, Northern Brewer I would think. The black malt toastiness is subdued, balanced with a figgy note. Rich but not sweet. Perfectly balanced...and perfect. Almost sherry, a glass took me an hour and a half to sip. The 1% of BAers who say nay speak of a nitro-can version. This was not.
As Britain's parliamentarians debate the prospect and the wisdom of the new 24 hour drinking freedom, the BBC has posted an excellent page on the state of Britian's relationship with the drink:
Some have warned this moment, tagged an "alcoholic Big Bang", will signal chaos and disorder on the streets. Yet others are saying the impact will be far less dramatic, even negligible. Only time will reveal how our drinking habits may change, but what can we say about them now?