Everyone wants to know what wine to serve at Thanksgiving. I, naturally, prefer to serve beer. Plenty of beers pair well with the traditional feast:
And squid and plywood and VCRs...
Canada has announced a proposed trade retaliation against the USA over what is being called the Byrd Amendment dispute which will add a 100% trade surcharge against imports of US good and it includes tariff item 2203.00.00 "beer made from malt". Interestingly, bad beer has a lower percentage of malt and some might conceivably have none. Read ales have, of course, lots.
There is an email address to make submissions. It would appear to me reasonable to have an exclusion for imports of under $200.00 CND because that would allow me to personally avoid the implications. I will try to think of better reasons later but that is it now. Have a look at this post to see what taxes are being paid already - and happily given the good things our tax dollars go to. I suspect all that will happen is that I will restrict my local purchasing as I am in this for the quality research. I encourage you all to lobby hard to ensure my needs are met by sending your submissions to:
A reply to Bruno's post at his blog alerted us to the problem:
Heu... Un demi c'est 250ml, soit 1/4l, soit effectivement a peu pres une demi pinte.This is the problem at set out in the post below:
...in France, when you order beer, the usual glass is the demi. France invented metric system, but some remains of the old days are still alive. A demi is in fact about half a pint, rounded to be 125ml. While a pint is being named distingué, and a liter of beer is a formidable (which I think means "smashing" - who knows why?)That will soon read 250 ml. An email came flying across the Atlantic and, as it should, it has gotten me are talking about it.
For me a "glass" of beer is a specific thing, a 8 oz glass which kind of looks like a butt end of a baseball bat (shown right). You only order them in pairs except when an additional small can of tomato juice is allowed. These were the rules of the Jerry at the Midtown and they are alright by me. By comparison, a "pint" should be a straight-sided 20 oz glass with a bit of a wow up near the rim to give a bit of grip (shown left). Not that weird barrel-shaped dimply thing with the handle. In Holland, you ordered trays of small round glasses with about 5 ounces of liquid and five of foam, passes the tray around and drank them before the foam dissipated - "dead beer" they called one without a head even if there was plenty of carbonation. Never caught the name of that glass, though Alfons might know.
But both Bruno and I are mere amateurs in the world of beer glass names - even with the excellently named formidable for a litre - compared to Australians who have different glasses and different names for those glasses in each state. I have known an Aussie who owned a pub and apparently this is a matter of great importance. Ordering the wrong schooner in the wrong town in the wrong way apparently can cause variation in your sperm count level and that of those with you.
In Russia that is. When I worked in Poland not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the same shop sold you your bread and your beer and instead of excusing yourself past over-loaded grocery carts, you had to weave through the weaving neighbourhood gents. As part of a crackdown on its similar problem, the Russian government has also restricted beer ads:
Russia introduced tough beer advertising laws in September, banning commercials between the hours of 0700 and 2200. The use of people and animals in beer ads will be prohibited as of next year.Thank heavens! The use of animals in Russian TV beer ads was a shameless scourge that was encouraging animals down a very slippery slope. These three gents used to breed siamese cats. Look at them now!
Cold November late afternoon. I'm entering an ordinary bar in Bayonne, in front of the market. There are half a dozen of customers, drinking coffee, tea, milk with chocolate. The bartender says a loud “hello” as I sit at the bar. I often sit on bar chair, lean on the counter.
Bartender: What will you?...Only Kronenbourg. All right. It's not the best beer, but if there's no choice...in France, when you order beer, the usual glass is the demi. France invented metric system, but some remains of the old days are still alive. A demi is in fact about half a pint, rounded to be 250ml. While a pint is being named distingué, and a liter of beer is a formidable (which I think means "smashing" - who knows why?)
Me: Well... What kind of beer on draught do you have?
Me: How much?France had changed its currency in the beginning of the century, as millions of people in Europe. Now, everyone counts in Euros, which are about a USD worth. Prices on everyday products are rising at a dangerous rate, not only because of the economic crisis. The government raises heavy taxes on alcohol (and tobacco) to struggle against alcohol and tobacco-addiction.
Bartender: Two euros.
Kronenbourg. The ordinary beer. Low price. Low quality. Better draught than from a bottle, though. As I am sipping my glass, I'm looking in front of me. There are shelves, with bottles on them. A lot of them are not beer, in fact. Strong alcohols, mainly. Four bottles of beer on the shelf. Adelscott (a smoked malt beer, with a sweet sugar-like taste), Leffe Blonde (a Belgian you may have already read about), Blanche de Bruges (a Belgian wheat beer), and Pelforth Brune (a French brown beer, very good in fact). Well... That's not large as a choice as the newly born beer writer might want.
A man enters the bar. He says something I don't get to the bartender. It's obviously Basque (or Euskara), one of the oldest languages in the world, and maybe the oldest tongue in Europe. This language comes from “nowhere”. Well... not really from nowhere, but actually no one knows exactly where and when it comes from. The Basque culture is really alive and strong in the Basque Country population, and its unique language is one of the most important part of it. I often see the colorful sticker "Euskara badakigu" on the door of some shops, or bars, it means "Here, we speak Basque".
I assume that the bartender and the customer are talking about the latest rugby results. Rugby is the most important sport in the south-west France, way more than football (yeah, it's not soccer here - it's football). And Bayonne has a long rivalry with Biarritz. The two cities are five miles away and the two rubgy teams are deadly enemies. It's the fight against the rich-and-smart city (Biarritz), with a bunch of highly-paid stars playing in the team, against the popular and young student populated one (Bayonne). The discussion between the bartender and the customer is now part French, part Euskara.
My glass is empty now. I've got to leave. The sun is low on the horizon. Usually, November is a rainy month on the coast. By the way... every month is rainy, here. There are many bars in Bayonne, maybe too many. All kinds of bars. From the Irish-ish pub to the Cuban bar, from the upper-class café to the drunken factoryman's hangout. But I really need to find a good bar specializing in good beers.
The other day I wrote about the US Beer Hall of Fame proposed for Cincinnati and asked for anyone who could give me an answer why this was necessary. Well I got an answer - direct from the man behind the initiative, Dennis Buettner, President of Leisure Technician LLC. His company which presents itself to the public under the banner of the U.S. Beer Drinking Team, which could give you an idea about the content that I would like to partially dispel. The USBDT has a website, beer radio, beer television and a Hall of Fame to build - it even has a logo which plays upon the one for Major League Baseball. Unlike the few episodes of Beer TV as seen over and over recently in Canada during the graveyard hours of lesser networks, which was really nothing more than an attractive info-mercial for the then mega-corp Interbrew (now InBev due apparently to the need to have names with fewer and fewer letters in them) and its line of products, Dennis's group of initiatives do not appear to select one brewer or even sector over another. There is discussion of macros, regionals, micros and homebrewers. This is good as it adds credibility and also creates an expectation that the content might still be fresh a year from now.
I will look at the other media Dennis and his company uses later but today I will focus on Beer Radio. He was kind enough to share a link to an archived broadcast of Beer Radio [30 MB, streaming] which I listened to the other day. If you are aware of US local AM radio these days, you will know about syndication. It is a means by which stations can buy programming prepared by independent producers. Beer Radio is a three hour example of this. Its tone is rather enthusiastic, a little bombastic, which is a little different for your average CBC, BBC or NPR listener, but its content makes a real effort to be comprehensive and that puts the tone in context. You get stories on the upside of beer and health encouraging you to be active, information about the industry as a whole, as well as interviews with people involved with larger US micros - people apparently without a direct financial stake in Leisure Technician LLC. As a result, the program presents itself as an advocate and resource for the person who wants to know more about beer and wants to get behind the ads - sometimes a difficult thing in an area of the economy with often does not receive the critical analysis its size would otherwise attract. Did you know beer is a bigger part of the economoy than movies, video games and other forms of entertainment? I do now and the numbers appear to add up. Nothing like the industrial role brewing played a couple of hundred years ago as the first large-scale manufactured product but still big.
Dennis has sent me a toll-free phone number and an invite to call - which I will take up when I have enough information to ask some intelligent questions - but for now it is great that he is insterested enough to take the time and get in touch with others who are interested. Bodes very well.
In a quick moment of research looking up Lisa's beers in the previous post, I came across this reference to an old pal from this website:
Gdanskie: 6.2%. Pale lager. From the now closed Hevelius brewery in Gdansk.Finding this stuff in a corner store in the Baltic provinces of Poland in 1991 was gold. I saved a label which says that it was 4.5% then.
Dreher Classic, Krusovice Cerne, Borsod Bivaly
Hot in from Budapest is a digital photo of three brews picked up by Lisa shopping today. She tells us:
I've attached a photo of some beers I bought at the grocery store. I know that the one with the bull on the front is probably pretty crappy. The Czech beer looks okay though. The Dreher is a once local brewer which has been bought out by the Germans. Are any of these worth trying?Of course the answer is always "YES!" The middle calls itself a Bohemian Swartzbeer, or black lager. My Hungarian is rather weak these days so I don't know that the claim to a style is a guarantee that that is the style you will get. In Poland in 1991, our supplies of Zywiec were strangely spiced with cloves rather than hops one week. Disconcerting for a while.
Lisa can add notes here. Click on the beer names under the photo for the Beer Advocate reviews.
This is one of my favorite winter stouts, a real foreign stout. A foreign stout was a high test export ready stout created to survive a sail. Imperial Stouts, dry and roasty at pushing 10%, were originally created for the Baltic trade between England and the northern Slavs in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This sweeter and, at 6.6%, not so incredibly strong style was for the Caribbean trade. It is a little odd to describe - like a Coke meeting a cold mug of cocoa. There must be some lactose in the brew, an unfermentable sugar found in milk that leaves a sweet malty creamy base over and through which the moderate hops cut. Very pleasant.