As we now move from writing to editing and proofing the Ontario book, the question of my understanding of things related to publishing has come to the forefront of my brain. But, just when one's brain is melting, you see a lovely thing like the lower left corner of a Victoria image of the Grenville Brewery in Prescott. Click on the picture above for a wildly large version of this corner of the image. It's from the Library and Archives of Canada, part of the Molson Collection.
My favorite thing about this quotation from a news story is how it captures the Canadian soul:
In a written statement, Parks Canada Warden Joe Owchar said a member of the public reported the video to Banff National Park dispatch. “Parks Canada wardens have interviewed the reporting person and collected evidence of the event. We have some leads and the investigation is progressing,” Owchar said. “As Parks Canada wardens progress on this case, we will evaluate if we have sufficient evidence to lay charges under Canada National Parks Regulations. “Potential charges are feeding wildlife, disturbing wildlife and/or unreasonable behaviour. Charges laid under the National Parks Act regulations in the province of Alberta require a mandatory court appearance. If the suspects are found guilty, a fine is determined by the judge.”
See, what happened was a man posted a video on his Facebook page on Feb. 15 which shows him standing outside at Banff National Park with a mule deer eating food out of his hand while he drinks a can of beer. I have not reviewed the video. I have no opinion on the mule deer not having eaten one. But I suspect I am not one who worries whether "it is OK or funny to disrespect wildlife in a national park." I have mocked a squirrel. As long as the animals are not subjectively placed in any state of distress, I am not too concerned if they objectively are drawn into a moment like this. One person quoted was particularly concerned with the "the potential for it to go viral." More pressing might be the comment at this Washington State Department of Wildlife webpage: "...never approach a deer closely; if threatened it can cause serious injury. Doe deer especially will go to great lengths to defend their young." Which would have made for a fun video. Drinky guy plays in woods. Woods wins.
You may have a different opinion. Beer related pranks certainly can go too far. Just consider the damage that's just been done by barrel aged beers. There is likely a telling beer / deer pun that would sum this up. Remember this: Canadian mid-level administrative enforcement officials do not like puns. Humour is all very fine but around here we like to keep it to ourselves, than you very much.
You will remember the great botch of 2012 when the Brewers Association in the US declared that the beer drinking public was being fooled unaware of their beer was craft or whether it was "from a crafty large brewer, seeking to capitalize on the mounting success of small and independent craft brewers." Crafty. Pttouii!. Even bad. Right? Well, in just over 14 months... not so much anymore:
The revised definition recognizes that adjunct brewing is quite literally traditional, as brewers have long brewed with what has been available to them. "The revisions to the craft brewer definition reflect the evolution in thinking regarding the elements of the definition. As the industry continues to rapidly advance, so must the framework that upholds and reflects it," said Gatza. Fish concurred: "The revised definition provides room for the innovative capabilities of craft brewers to develop new beer styles and be creative within existing beer styles." He added: "Taken as a whole, these changes are about looking forward, about the BA of the future, making the association stronger and keeping staff focused on the vital work they do for all of us in the craft brewing community."
Literally! Meaning the BA Board is pretty much admitting the hard line on things like corn and rice are now all okee-dokee largely because, no doubt, the mad rush to throw adjuncts of every kind - cat hair, fish barrel staves, sea water - in every blessed barrel of generously priced rolling towards any given craft beer bar in these troubled time. Gatza and Fish? The Board chair and director respectively, two of the few people actually in the room when the terms of surrender were drafted. One wonders what the membership will say. Will it be like the People Congress of the Bulgarian Democratic Republic, Agricultural Committee, Grains Policy Subcommittee, Transportation branch meeting of May 1974 when everyone held up their hands and shouted "да!" Or is this capitulation the end of the beginning if not the beginning of the end once the fist shaking from the cheap seats sets in? After all, production size and corporate independence have both been long compromised as serious topics for the protectors of this particular creed. All that was left between craft and crafty was a vague promise that the beers weren't adulterated. Adjuncts were what set big bad beer apart, no?
And, as Stan asks, are the videos like "I am a Craft Brewer" and "I Am A Craft Beer Marketing Consultant..." being erased or at least saved to 5.25-inch floppy disks and put in the basement? After all, now that corn and rice are traditional, we can't have all those talking heads saying they don't put them in their beer now can we?
As Jordan and I wrap up the writing and rewriting of our book on the history of beer in Ontario, it is interesting to go back and revisit stretches I wrote a couple of months ago. Of all the bits in the book from 1610 to today, I had not expected the mid-1900s to be all that thrilling when we signed the publishing contract. Not the case. The pace of social change in the second quarter of the century alone occurring along with the advance of modernity could give you whiplash. Certainly at the heart of that time is the massive fact of World War II but the flow of cultural change was only accelerated by the war. This was reflected in both commercial restructuring of the beer market and shifts in public perception of the role of beer in the community.
Boak and Bailey invited us all to post some long writing this weekend so, in support of an increase in new long writing related to beer and brewing - including new forms of writing - I give you excerpts from a late draft of Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay. Final tweeks continue...
In 1927, at the close of the Province’s dalliance with prohibition, Brewers Warehousing Co. Ltd. was founded as a brewers' distribution co-operative. The provincial government retained control of the sale of wine and spirits through the LCBO, but beer, with its lower alcohol content, could be distributed by the hundreds of mom-and-pop stores. Initially, the brewers were involved only in wholesale operations, jointly warehousing and distributing their product to stores operated by private contractors. But in 1940, the brewers bought out the contractors and took over the stores, changing their name to Brewers Retail Inc. The stores were later renamed, creatively, The Beer Store...
Labatt also took its place in the war effort. In 1943, it was reported that not only were patriotic efforts such as war bond drives undertaken but trucked shipments were moved back to railroads while a trade school for army motor mechanics was operated out of the brewery's garage. The brewery also ran a series of weekly panel cartoons on good citizenship standards under the title "Isn't It The Truth by TI-Jos". Topics included household prudence, supporting price controls, rumour mongering as treason as well as the evils of the black market. In doing so, the brewery clearly was associating itself with middle class as well as patriotic values...
Wartime on the home front changed social attitudes to public beer drinking. Higher employment and earning levels increased disposable income. Hotels serving beer to men and women no longer carried a dangerous air so much as a patriotic one. Increased accommodation for beer sales also served the financial interests of business and governments during the war. Beer sales more than doubled during the war years and the Federal excise tax on each gallon of beer brewed increased by 36%. Further, a difference in the relative level of taxation in Ontario caused a significant shift in drinking patterns to beer from spirits.
Two forces combined to impose upon the expansion of beer sales in the second half of the war: a renewed temperance movement and resource scarcity. Under direction of the Prime Minister Mackenzie King, temperance as a countervailing patriotic theme was promoted causing a public clash between King and EP Taylor. At the same time, the national Wartime Prices and Trade Board imposed a quota system to distribute beer as it would other commodities which created shortages. In March 1943, when Kingston received an increased allocation to reflect troops being stationed there, other communities received a reduction in their share. Overall, a 90% reduction was imposed on beer distribution, beverage room hours were restricted and, as a result, the beer casks were dry when the night shift at the factory ended. Some took to wearing "No Beer - No Bonds" buttons.
After victory was won, the topic in one of the last editions of Labatt's "Isn't It The Truth" series was the return of the young soldier to the family home. When mother tells him there's no rush to get a job, he replies "I've been doing a man's job for four years. Now I am all ready to get going here at home." Now, Labatt was associating itself with the sort of moral productivity that continued into the post war boom. Life in Ontario was a worth working hard for as well as fighting for. The brewery continued that theme in 1946 in a series of ads asking Ontarians to do all try can to make tourists from the United States feel welcome with hints from "a well-known Ontario hotelman" including that in business dealings, Canada's reputation for courtesy and fairness "depends on you!"
The new economic opportunities led to changes in Ontario's brewing industry addressing the need for consolidation and succession in light of financial success. In 1945, Canadian Breweries falls under Argus, E.P. Taylor's larger holding company. After spending the first years of the war at the top levels of the British effort to maximize production, Taylor had returned home in 1942 exhausted to focus on Canada's war efforts a member of National boards as well as to prepare for the future of his brewing empire. Well before the war had ended, he had given instructions to have modernization and expansion plans in place for facilities to be ready for brewing in Waterloo, Toronto and Ottawa as soon as the fighting ended. He also moved to secure assets in the malting industry as well as in an American brewery to reduce his exposure to Canadian government policies as he took steps to meet what he believed was a post war boom market for beer.
In December 1945, something happened in Ontario that had not occurred for over 30 years. A new brewery opened. The Peller Brewing Company in Hamilton. It was founded by Andrew Peller, a former brewer with the Cosgrove brewery who was backed by Hamilton businessmen. Although it operated independently for only eight years, the bricks and mortar brewing facility he built shows up a few more times in the province's brewing history. Peller went on to open a daily newspaper in Hamilton that soon failed but moved on to create one of Canada's first large scale wineries, makers of Baby Duck and Peller Estates brands. In brewing, he is perhaps best remembered for getting around the restriction on advertising by opening an ice company and plastering the brewery's trucks and ads "Don’t Forget The Peller’s Ice" with the emphasis on the Peller.
The new Liquor Control laws of 1944 and 1947 divided the administrative functions of retailing alcohol from licensing. These changes created the fourth legal regime beer drinking Ontarians had to live with since the beginning of 1927. They represented a further unraveling of the temperance web of control but not an elimination. The LCBO was still able to announce in a publication in that year that there was no reason Ontarians should not be able to buy what they wished if they were law abiding and financially able. It was still the role of authorities to sift who was who. Changes to the law were brought in by another change in provincial government with the Liberals being replaced by the Conservatives of George Drew in 1943. The new laws brought in by Premier Drew sought to distance it from allegations of political patronage in the distribution of licenses and also to respond to public attitudes. In April 1944, a Gallup poll indicated that 73% of Ontarians now rejected any steps toward prohibition.
The brewing industry was interested in public opinion as well. In a private polling undertaken in 1946 and 1947, attitudes of Ontarians were measured related to beer ads in the media as well as the management of breweries and retail outlets for beer. The polling, conducted on behalf of Quebec brewers Molson, captured post war perceptions at a time of further changes to the province's Liquor Control Act. A drop was noted from 90% to 80% on the question of whether beer was an intoxicating beverage. The shift was even bigger drop for those under 30. A great one-year jump of 40% to 88% was recorded for support for Brewers' Retail stores with far higher marks for their management compared to hotel beverage rooms.
These opinion polls capture not only post war changes in public attitudes but also changes to the system of selling beer in Ontario which came into force on 1 January 1947. Announced the new further relaxed regulations, Attorney General Leslie Blackwell confirmed that throughout the war years beer consumption more than doubled from 24,000,000 gallons in 1939 to 51,000,000 in 1946. The old rules were described as restrictions which amounted to partial prohibition which were being "disobeyed by increasingly large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens." Apparently the generation that wanted to get to work after fighting the war wanted a beer as well.
The changes in attitudes behind the polling reflects the social leveling that occurred through the years of economic depression followed by years of war. The hand of political influence was no longer an accepted norm. Nor was the moral superiority of your dry betters. Brewers were involved. Labatt was staking a claim for beer as a normal part of life by placing ads in newspapers asking for public support of the St. John's Ambulance Society, sponsoring events like a UK food drive and organizing safe driving demonstrations at small town Legions...
At the end of the first half of the 20th century, Ontario was undergoing social transition. It was just a few years from the first human rights legislation protecting against discrimination in employment and accommodation. The Progressive Conservative party was still in the early years of a forty-two year run of uninterrupted power. The population of the province expanded over 20% in the 1940s and the economy was booming. E.P. Taylor controlled 50% of the provincial beer market compared to 20% for Labatt. At the century half way point, Ontario's brewing industry and beer itself was changing to keep up with the race forward.
One of my favorite things eh var about being involved with beer writing and thinking was getting to be friends over the internets with Jeff Bell. The lad onest known as Stonch. In the good old days of the beer blog boom around 2007 or so, he and I colluded on getting ads on our websites, set up editors of publications and otherwise tested the lengths to which our the new found reputations for, as it turns out, not all that much could get us. Samples. Gigs. Articles. He ended up moving into the world of beer capitalism whiIe I started to hunt down paths of long writing.
It is Jeff's birthday today as well as the opening of his new pub in London, the Finborough Arms. It's located in the Finsborough Theatre about a three wood and two iron from Chelsea FC. That photo up there is from this 13 second video of Jeff on opening night a few hours ago. Looking forward to hopefully meeting him maybe this summer if we pull of that UK trip.
Here's a little secret. I read Lew Bryson well before I heard of that Jack Michaelson fellow. He also influenced my approach to beer far more, as well. Here is my review from nine and a half years ago. Of the first edition. This, if I am not mistaken, is my first review of a second edition where I have already posted a review of the first. That, along with my love of upstate NY hots, is due to Lew. But, as you see above, is not only about Lew. Don Cazentre has updated the books. Don is the food and drinks columnist for Syracuse, NY's Post-Standard newspaper and also helped frame my CNY beery education about places like the Gaveville Grocery and Clark's.
So much for the trip down memory lane. A decade later does the book still hold up? I mean in 2004, there was me and the Bar Towel taking on line about good beer in Ontario. Hipsters were still in junior high and Ralph had a dream. Do you need this book today? Well, the updates alone are worth it. On page 11 you get to thrill to the sight of the name "Ethan A. Cox" sometime comment maker around here. He is mentioned in Buffalo's Community Beer Works listing. There are listings for new players liker Captain Lawrence in Westchester County on page 180 where my second cousin in law plies the writer's trade. Well, new like a brewery that opened in 2005 is new. Ryan Demler of C.H. Evans, who brewed the beer for the Albany Ale Project's night at the museum is there, too, on page 145. And, just to be clear, this book includes all breweries. The ABInBev brewery at CNY's Baldwinsville is discussed at page 87.
Then there is the content that is not directly about each brewery. There is information on the various regions of New York. There is information about beer traveling as well as area attractions near to the breweries... so you can arrange a family holiday that includes beer. Brilliant. Subversive even. They know what you want and they know what you must do to get to what you want. The least quibbly quibble ever? Why on the cover do two labels for Keegan and Six Point appear? Other than that, you need this book if you live in New York. You also need it if you cross the state as Canadians from Quebec City to Kitchener do as a matter of course when vacationing. Or New Englanders. Or visitors who fly in or come by dog sled. Buy the book to see how well - how practically, how usefully - a beer book can be organized.
You can get it here at Amazon.com.
We live on a big planet. So big that that there is no reason to expect to understand why this is happening:
In “My Love From the Star,” a romantic comedy about a Korean actress and her extraterritorial boyfriend, the show’s main character (played by Korean A-lister Jun Ji-hyun) is crazy for chimek—“chi” is short for chicken and “mek” for “mekju,” the Korean word for beer. She specifically likes to partake in a meal of chimek to celebrate the year’s first snowfall. That on-the-screen tradition is playing out in real-life fried chicken joints across China as fans of the show get their chimek fix. “These days when my friends and I get together, we order fried chicken with beer,” said Ada He, who works for a real-estate company in Beijing and is a self-professed Korean drama lover.
We are further told that more "than 3.7 million posts related to the Chinese term for chimek have been published on Weibo over the past few weeks." Korean fried chicken is fried twice but it all looks a lot like, you know, chicken. Some guy in Melbourne ate it with 4 litres of beer and left a review on the web this very day. The fad showed up in NYC in 2007. Apparently, one must get some fried chicken delivered to your picnic spot near the Han River.
Is the beer any good? Or is it only the goodness of the chicken that suits the beer? Not sure.
This article at the CBC.ca website answers a question about a major event in Quebec's brewing history:
One of the first published reports on cobalt intoxication was in 1967. Called "Quebec beer drinkers’ cardiomyopathy," doctors described 44 men in their 40s to 60s who were heavy drinkers who died unexpectedly. "There was a suspense element to the story," recalled cardiologist Dr. Yves Morin of Quebec City. "It took a lot of time and effort to find a cause of the disease." It turned out the men all drank beer made at the Dow brewery in Quebec City. The brewery had added cobalt to stabilize the beer's foam.
Here is the actual medical journal from the 1960s on the outbreak. I had heard more about that the brewery had denied responsibility and dumped its inventory in the river than they were putting cobalt in the beer. Cobalt. Yum.
Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, section 62.1 is repealed by the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, chapter 32, Schedule D, subsection 7 (2) and the following substituted...
62.1 (1) A municipality may pass by-laws extending the hours of sale of liquor in all or part of the municipality by the holders of a licence and a by-law may authorize a specified officer or employee of the municipality to extend the hours of sale during events of municipal, provincial, national or international significance. 2006, c. 32, Sched. D, s. 7 (2).
That is a cut and paste job of a section of Ontario's Liquor Licensing Act and it follows a provision that currently reads "The City of Toronto may pass by-laws extending the hours of sale of liquor in all or part of the City..." Notice the difference? The current law only applies to that city at the other end of the lake. The portion I quoted from above is a pending amendment to the law. Pending. Pending as the law has already passed the legislature, The decision has been made by the law makers. We are just waiting for the proclamation. We are waiting for the paperwork. Excellent.
Excellent? See, there is a big game tomorrow morning at 7 am in which the national pride of Canada is on the line. The gold medal game in men's Olympic hockey. It's our World Cup final and we hope to beat the Swedes. People are excited. Churches will be empty. Some provinces are allowing early morning tavern openings and some are not. Which is fine as it is up to each Province to make up its mind in these matters under the division of powers under our constitution. But in Ontario, Toronto has been granted the power to make local decisions but every other municipality is prohibited. The results are obvious. Confusion and a bit of annoyance. The City of Kawartha Lakes council thought it was within its rights and passed a special bylaw last Wednesday only to be advised by the bureaucracy that the action was void. Because someone forgot to proclaim the amendment. How's that for a salute to democracy?
Personally, I am not missing out on anything. Even in Ontario's tightest period of alcohol control in the early 1920s, we were subject to a form of regulated temperance which allowed home drinking and even home brewing. So, if I want a drink that early in the morning nothing is stopping me. But - solely because someone forgot to proclaim the amendment - only if I was in Toronto could I go out and have a beer at 7 am like normal people elsewhere do all the time. Most irritating is having to read Josh's tips for drinking in Toronto tomorrow morning. Nice to know, however, that the general rule that you can be wrong when drinking beer has reared its head. Me? If I can have unsweetened grapefruit juice along with hot sauce on my eggs, I think I might be able to handle an IPA in the morning, Mr. B. If I was allowed.
Yes, in case you are worried what your early summer reading will be you could consider picking up a copy of Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay any time now. It is a fun read that that takes you from Ontario's north in the 1600s to the era of craft beer today... as in this very minute. It's all in there. That beer you are having right now? It's in there, too.