Squibs

Squibs 10

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"The Lodge" - Ghost Box Orchestra (listen )

Welcome to Squibs: your highly unpredictable yet oddly compelling look into the mind & reading habits of CBW President Ethan Cox. I was considering bi-weekly…. and then, I reconsidered. I like “whenever,” because scarcity = value. But you can at least count on Sunday night releases- I’ll give you that much.

Maybe.

Can you guess who's Boak?

Can you guess who’s Boak?

1) Boak and Bailey are a pair of English beer bloggers, sort of along the lines of Zythophile or Ron Pattenson… But no, that’s not quite right. I guess I’d say they’re more interested in the social history of beer (in England, natch) than the history of beer itself. As well, though, they talk a bit more about contemporary beer than either of those historical scholars. Yet, I group them together- perhaps because I found my way to all of them through Alan’s blog. Anyhoo, this somewhat recent post is a review of what seems to be a delightfully off (and it seems to me highly British) bit of pseudo-scholarship, the Mass Observation series of experiments and books. Quoth they…

“‘Mass Observation’ was a social research group founded in 1936 founded by an anthropologist called Tom Harrisson, along with filmmaker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. It ran, in its first incarnation, until the nineteen-sixties, and the ‘Worktown’ study was its first major piece of work. It saw Harrisson and a team of observers (some locals, others from academia) descend on the Lancashire town and, for three years from 1937, watched and recorded everything, however apparently inconsequential.”

needless to say, “everything” includes the pub, which is the subject of the book under review in this post- it sounds to me like fantastic reading.

2) You can’t get growlers in Florida, didja know? I did. But I did not know that you can get both 32 and 120 oz. “growlers” filled, which I have to say is really strange… What’s up with 64 ounces? What did 64 ounces ever do to you?! Anyway, this article susses out the positions on pending legislation which would address this oddity. Note well why the lobbyist who against it, is against it… Priceless.

3) ‘Cause Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and (especially) Neilchild-of-countless-treesCassidy will always be cooler than you; sorry: linky.

4) Are hops addictive? Not so much. Now, CBW’s THE IPA might be a different story. I know people that won’t buy anything else!

Main Character Named Frank, No Kiddin'

Main Character Named Frank, No Kiddin’

5) If you haven’t read Iain Banks or Iain M. Banks, you still can: books live forever, even if people don’t. I am beyond sad that there will be no more fiction, science or otherwise, from this brilliantly inventive writer. I remember reading his first book—ten years after it was published—in a dingy flat in Belfast in 1994. I still have that Abacus imprint paperback of The Wasp Factory, signed by the punkers I was hanging with at the time. (Kierin, Andy, wherever you are: you owe me some teeth, you bastards!) Andrew Leonard writes a touching pre-eulogy, for lack of a better term. And one day, CBW will absolutely name a beer after one of Banks’ most amazingly awesome and compelling characters: a sentient spaceship named Very Little Gravitas Indeed.

6) Did you know I also have another vehicle for beery ramblings, one I share with two swell guys named Nick and Chris? If you never have, you might check out Craft Beer Talk. Once, we were a radio show on WECK (I will not link to them; long story), and for awhile we were part of the Buffalo.com and Audio Buffalo group (maybe we still are, I’m not even sure) but for the last two years anyway, we’ve been rocking it as a podcast. We talk, y’know, about beer… ofttimes, the longer you listen, the more loose we get- but we try to blend the entertaining and the informative. And sometimes, we even have guests! Check out the last episode, in which we share a few rounds with Paul from Flying Bison. Tomorrow, we’ll be drinking some Southern Tier with one of their brewers and good times are sure to ensue.

7) From the “I read Beerpulse.com so you don’t have to” files, this article on Ken Grossman who founded Sierra Nevada is highly insightful, and especially entertaining and well-written for business journalism. The good news? Sierra Nevada is really, truly, a good comapny to work for. It seems as well that they are great stewards of their products and the world itself. Equivocal news? They’re nearing the 1,000,000 barrels/year mark, and the new brewery isn’t even on-line yet. What makes craft craft? How do we quantify quality? Why is Boston Beer Company in and August Schell out? How to assess value? With Sierra crossing that million-barrel line, all these questions that won’t quite go away will… not go away some more, be assured. New Belgium will be next-and they make highly respected sours and are employee-owned!!! This industry is charting new territory: in terms of growth; in terms of sales figures; in terms of stress on pipeline industries from glass to hops to equipment manufacturers; even in terms of business models and founding sources. Many fear a retraction, at best and a bubble-bursting at worst. But for ourselves, CBW remains remarkably sanguine about the potential here in Buffalo. You guys are great, and you want great beer, badly. I see it every day, especially on the social media fora. I think, whatever happens in San Diego or Asheville, Buffalo’s Embeering is just beginning: And many miles to go before we sleep.

 

Squibs 9

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"Tiny Desk Concert / NPR" - Wilco (listen )

Welcome to CBW Squibs: Your periodic journey into the ridiculous musings of CBW President, Ethan Cox. I’m considering bi-weekly; it’s a comfortable pace for me. But we’ll see- Dan’s so good at this blog-thing, and I have plenty of other hats to wear, after all. What I am most certainly doing is taking the format a bit more broadly than only beer news and musings. I don’t mean I’ll be getting very political or personal, but I do want to introduce you to some of the offbeat corners of my mind and the output of voracious reading and information consumption I have- oh, and beer.

1.) The Most Influential Beers Of All Time! Have you given it a lot of thought? The beery blogosphere seems to have recently. Not long ago, a food & drink website by name of First We Feast published their list of the 20 most influential beers, as compiled by a panel of largely NYC-based brewers and beer writers. It’s not super simple to qualify or quantify the term influential, nor is it easy to distill many thousands of years of history—most of which no contemporary panel could have sampled—into 20 beers. But all the same, I don’t think it’s such a bad list. It’s on the American-centric and modern side, I’ll allow. But none of the beers on there, so far as have had, are clunkers in the beer quality department. For whatever that’s worth.

fully demotivated

fully demotivated

I’d have never known about this list, however, were it not for the lengthy criticism afforded the compilation by one Mr. Martyn Cornell AKA Zythophile, who  saw fit to offer up not only the aforementioned rebuke and rebuttal but also his own opus of same- and an epic comment thread to boot! Considerably better, in my opinion, but you may well still pick nits; of course. Indeed, even the local beer geekery got into it, at least the Niagara Association Of Homebrewers e-distribution list. So, what do you think? I’ll offer up first the three lists themselves in one spot for ease, below.

First We Feast:

| 1. Gablinger’s Diet Beer | 2. Russian River Blind Pig IPA | 3. Westmalle Tripel | 4. New Albion Ale | 5. Fullers London Pride | 6. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | 7. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout | 8. Pilsner Urquel | 9. Anchor Steam | 10. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye | 11. Ayenger Celebrator | 12. ‘Generic Lager’ | 13. Cantillion Classic Gueuze | 14. Anchor Old Foghorn | 15. Reissdorf Kölsch | 16. Guinness | 17. Allagash White | 18. Samuel Adams Utopias | 19. Saison Dupont | 20. Schneider Aventinus |

Say what you will of this, their compilation of “IT” hops, however, is absolutely spot-on from what I know of the topic… I wish CBW could get our hands on most or any of those!

Martyn Cornell aka Zythophile:

| 1. Spaten Dunkel | 2. Pilsner Urquell | 3. Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale | 4. Parsons’ porter | 5. Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout | 6. Schwechater Lagerbier | 7. Einbecker Ur-Bock | 8. Paulaner Salvator | 9. Anheuser-Busch Budweiser | 10. Bass No 1 | 11. Schneider Weisse | 12. Hoegaarden | 13. Duvel | 14. Fuller’s ESB | 15. Newcastle Brown Ale | 16. Tennent’s Gold Label | 17. Fowler’s Wee Heavy | 18. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | 19. Blind Pig IPA | 20. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout |

“Tim,” local homebrewer

| 1. Reissdorf Kolsch | 2. Duvel | 3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout | 4. Kulmbacher EKU 28 | 5. Westmalle Tripel | 6. Hoegaarden Wit | 7. Schneider Weisse | 8. Parson’s Porter | 9. Cantillion Classic Gueuze | 10.Russian River Blind Pig IPA | 11. Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout | 12. Gablinger’s diet beer | 13. New Albion Ale | 14. Fuller’s ESB | 15. Sam Adams Boston Lager | 16. Budweiser | 17.Paulaner Salvator | 18. Hodgson’s East India pale ale | 19. Spaten Dunkel | 20.Pilsner Urquell

The twenty most influential beers to me, personally (though one is indirect/historical/i ain’t never had it.)

| 1. Pilsner Urquell | 2. Guinness | 3. Pete’s Wicked Ale | 4. Berliner Kindel Weisse | 5. Duchesse de Bourgogne/Rodenbach (tie) | 6. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | 7. Samuel Adams Honey Porter | 8. La Chouffe | 9. De Koneninck | 10. Bellhaven | 11. Labatt Blue | 12. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye | 13. Saison DuPont | 14. Ithaca Brute | 15. Orval | 16. Anchor Libery Ale | 17. New Albion Ale(s) | 18. Ipswitch Ale | 19. Molson Brador | 20. Old Brown Pig

What’s your list? I’ll take mine in a future Squibs and expand on it a bit, but I thought it’d be nice to lay it out as a broad topic first.

Home Of Cash-Only Delights

Home Of Cash-Only Delights

2.) Ode To Lafayette Avenue: Our brewery sits on the first block of Lafayette Avenue, one of my favorite streets in Buffalo. And indeed, I have the good fortune of traveling most of its length frequently, which has afforded me the opportunity to consider all of my favorite buildings from Niagara on the west end to Main on the east. So moving forward, each Squib will feature one (sometimes two) of these structures, be they businesses, residences, or other public buildings. I think Lafayette Avenue can be roughtly divided into three secions: Niagara to Colonial Circle; Colonial Circle (or one could say Richmond) to Delaware/Gates Circle and then the stretch between Gates Circle and Main Street.

We’ll start with one of the anchors, and a cultural treasure as well: Santasieros. Whether you pronounce it “santa-si-er-ohs” or “santa-sair-ohs,” this family-owned business is nearly one hundred years old now and still cranks out inexpensive but delicious (and generously-proportioned) food which fueled much of CBW’s construction and continues to energize our brewing. Rudy is partial to the meatball bomber; I like that quite a bit myself and the pasta fasool as well. I also highly recommend their eggplant parm. The west side used to have a dozen small Italian eateries—when I was growing up, the Italian Festival was still on Connecticut Street, in fact—but as the neighborhood transformed, most of the them have moved or gone out of business. Really, only Marcos and Santasieros have persisted.

Cheerful!

Cheerful!

3.) It’s that Genny bock time of the year here, with all the snow mud and whatnot. I think the retro stubbies exceed even the cans in all their cheery green splendor for go-to packaging this year: I suggest the $4.99 sixer you’ll find at any local Consumers. What you’ll find when you crack one open and pour it on down into a nice glass (really, you think i’d suggest drinking from the stubbie? hell no!) is a remarkably polished, deep-copper beer with great foam throwing something ok, a bit corn-y… but then, isn’t that also a biscuity, toasted goodness you know… Munich malt? Is that… noble hop aroma, though faint? The flavor yields some caramel… ok, this isn’t as complex and geek-tastic as yr Ur-Bock, I can’t deny that. But when it comes to inexpensive, easy-drinking quaffability—a snowblower beer, if you will—this one nails it. I suggest you get it while it lasts! Runners up include Yeungling’s bock and as well, Anchor Steam’s Bock (which hews a bit closer to the Teutonic ideal, to be fair.)

4.) Beer Myths debunked: I am not a Men’s Health reader, and my guess is that their key demographic isn’t largely comprised of craft beer drinkers, but they certainly do feature articles on beer from time to time and this one crossed my path today via a Facebook friend. Normally, the debunking of beer myths I read are more of the historical nature provided by Zythophile, above, or my acquaintance Ron at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, but I thought this set deserved some further commentary and/or snark. Anyway, check the link and then here’s my pithy commentary on same:

  1. Actually, the kind of beers that leverage “coldness” as a selling point are best served as tongue-numbingly cold as possible, lest you taste their nasty, preservative- and adjunct-laden “flavor”
  2. Cans are definitely hip these days, and offer at least two advantages over glass that were not mentioned: they are cheaper to ship and cheaper to recycle (though producing aluminum in the first place is far less green than glass-making, to be fair)
  3. The coolness of seeing Dave Glor’s name in print (he used to brew for Flying Bison here in Buffalo) is one thing- but also, he’s quite right. There are bars where your best bet is a bottle, no matter what they have on tap. Far more beer is ruined by the line than comes out of the brewery or distribution house flawed, I can assure you that.
  4. This is one of my personal missions: to teach people that light v. dark is independent of ale v. lager. And more, the idea that all dark beers taste like Guinness: they most certainly don’t! Aside from the fact that there are a number of different types of Guinness itself, there are also dark lagers that really don’t have much roast bitterness to them at all. Try a Session Black Ale from Full Sail if you wanna see what I mean.
  5. I’ve never heard this one, but no question that alcohol content and color have no necessary relationship and in fact, some of the traditionally stronger styles are very pale indeed (tripels, or belgian golden strong ales, for example).
  6. Again, a myth I am unfamiliar with but I can’t see any reason to believe it. If anything, beer provides more nutrients than wine, though I don’t think either of them makes a great substitute for actual food. Still, I’d rather fast on bock for lent than cabernet.
  7. Of course if you drink a ton of beer, you’ll get bigger- but that’s also because chances are, you’re drinking a ton of beer while also eating a ton of food. And I bet mostly not salads, either. Moderation in all things, y’know?
  8. Where did they get these myths, or do I just hang out with far too many beer-knowledgeable people? If you buy warm beer, chill it asap; if you have a choice, buy it from the cooler. Heat is absolutely the enemy of beer (along with light and oxygen.)
  9. Eh? I mean, sure- one one hand, the Craft Beer Revolution and innovations resulting therefrom in the US have now influenced beer-making in England, Belgium and Germany (not to mention Italy, Japan and Denmark), but on the other, we as a country still consume a lot of pretty bland beer. But not as much as China does!

5.) I love Raymond Scott. I love Jim Henson. And I love older, white-haired gentlemen smoking pipes. So, I give you The IBM MT/ST ad sensation that swept the nation: “The Paperwork Explosion.” Remember: Machines Should Work; People Should Think!

 

Squibs 8

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Hello, 2013! One resolution I made for this year is to more frequently contribute to the blog. I’ll be standing-in for Dan a bit too, later this month as he takes a bit of time off to become a dad for the second time. So, expect at least a few Thirsty Thursdays to adopt my voice– but don’t worry, Dan will be back! In the meanwhile, I intend to make updating my Squibs column a regular occurrence.  So without further ado…

1.)    Craft v. crafty. It’s all the rage! Let’s debate! If you didn’t catch any of this brew-ha-ha before now, a brief background might be in order:

On Dec 13th, Charlie Papazian and other members of the Brewer’s Association had an Op-Ed published in the St. Louis Dispatch entitled “Craft Versus Crafty,” in which they essentially called out Goose Island, Shock Top and Blue Moon (among others) for not being true craft beers and more specifically, for not being honest in their labeling (The first two beers are made by AB-InBev while the last is a subsidiary of SABMiller). And as far as that goes, I can’t disagree: When you pick up a sixpack of, say, Wild Blue, there is absolutely no indication that it is an AB-InBev product, unless you’re savvy enough to know who makes beers in Baldwinsville, NY. So just as San Pelligrino bottles should perhaps note that Nestle owns the brand (and your Lexus should say “A division of Toyota” on it, I suppose), there is clearly an attempt by the big companies to present their products as craft beers when in fact they’re made by some of the largest beer corporations in the world. Fine as far as it goes. Truth in labeling? I’m all for it.

"Daddy, where does beer come from?"

“Daddy, where does beer come from?”

 

A deeper question, though, keeps rearing it’s head and it is whether or not the Crafty manufacturers pose an existential threat to the Craft makers. Does “Craft” even exist? Perhaps it’s a continuum and not even the best way to think about what makes a brewery worth throwing your money at.  Or, is every brewery on a de facto side in The Beer Wars? Certainly, it is easy enough for those of us immersed in the craft beer world to forget that even with all the passion driving incredible growth, 80% of the beer consumed in the country is a product of the two aforementioned global corporations: SABMiller and AB-InBev.  Not only that, but they’re pretty underhanded in their practices (though let’s admit, no more so than other, giant food and beverage corporations). Besides making and distributing “faux-craft” brands, they’re outright buying them, such as Goose Island. And now having achieved a high level of horizontal integration, they’re busy exercising their abilities to vertically integrate, too.  But can they crush or consume the now-thirty-years-old craft movement?

 

I don’t think so; certainly a future with no more small, local-ish, independent breweries seems as unlikely to me as a future where everyone makes their own beer and production breweries are generally obviated. I see craft growth continuing to ride the coat-tails of the locavore movement and finally settling into its plateau somewhere. And I think on the other side, there are limits to what the SABMillers of the world can really push as faux craft- I think it’s not at all random that Blue Moon and Shock Top are wheat beers; can you imagine a Crafty IPA doing at all well? A Crafty Imperial Stout? A Crafty barrel-aged brett beer just isn’t in the cards, but the thirst for such styles will never abate in the US again, in my view. I sure hope I’m right. Certainly the BA itself shares my optimism. In the meanwhile, I suppose I can take some comfort in the notion that it’ll be easier to bring a Linenkeugels drinker over to the small, local and independent side than a Bud Light drinker… so perhaps these guys are doing some of my work for me.

2.)  Let’s see what else is news in the world o’ beer this week, shall we? Ah, I see Brooklyn Brewery is going to build a brewery in Sweden. What? Well yeah, because guess what their second biggest market is, after NYC? Yup: Sweden.  Must cost a bundle sending all that Brooklyn Lager over there from Utica, I can see the appeal. Does this make Brooklyn the latest addition to the CRAFTY list? I suppose by some people’s definition it does. For myself, as long as Sorachi Ace tastes as good as it does, I’ll keep buying it.

3.) Beer Pong Championship in Las Vegas. For real. 

4.)  Did someone say stereochemistry? Now you’ve got my attention! It seems we know more than we used to about the exact shape of the iso-alpha acids that create bitterness in beer. Why would we want to know such a crazy detail? Well apparently because

Even more beautiful than I imagined!

Even more beautiful than I imagined!

“There are some indications that the hops bitter acids may have positive effects on diabetes, some forms of cancer, and inflammation, as well as weight loss. However, the effects seem to vary substantially depending on the absolute configuration. In addition, the various degrees of bitterness in beer seem to depend on the different forms of the tetrahydro-iso-alpha acids.”

In truth, it seems the research is more about the advancement of the technique for imaging these molecules than what will surely follow on it: rigorous testing of the claims mentioned above. Still, it’s pretty cool the levels of detail science is hurtling towards, even in the world of beer.

5.) I leave you with this week’s random You Tube “Beer + X” search result; let X = fountain.

Squibs 7

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Welcome to Squibs 7: your periodic (read: rather intermittent) Morning Grumpy-styled window into the omnivorous mind of CBW President Ethan Cox. Has it really been 6,739,200 seconds already?

1. Growlers: We pour ‘em, we love ‘em. Sure, they have their shortcomings, mainly when it comes to the closure. They certainly have their critics, and I understand some of the criticisms, but clearly not so much as to avoid them. At CBW we recommend drinking them within about 10 days generally, though I cartainly have had people report to me that theirs lasted longer. If properly filled and cared for, I can believe that. The key points are as simple as pouring to have little headspace, avoiding light and keeping it cold, really.

“The Mona Lisa”

Do you suppose the same nonbinding guidelines that restrict us from selling branded onesies will allow us to advertise “family sizes?”

But paracticalities aside (as in:, we actually have no other way of selling our beer directly right now), I have something of a romantic and historical reason for my admiration of this re-popularized packaging solution, and beer blogger Jess Kidden has done a great job of recounting and documenting some of that history in this trio of blog posts. In the time when a growler was most often “rushed” by kids to thirsty workers and consisted of a galvanized, open pail, the vessel was disparaged and bacame an arrow in the prohibitionist’s quiver:

The “Bucket Trade” was frequently attacked during the decades leading up to Prohibition in 1920 by the same anti-alcohol “Temperance” forces that would result in the 18th Amendment.  Laws were passed in many communities to outlaw the growler entirely (sometimes with the support of saloon owners and brewers).   Washington DC, in particular, was one such community, but similar laws were passed in many other urban areas.

Great and super well-illustrated stuff. I was especially amused to learn that the first generation of closed, glass growlers were, in Baltimore especially, refered to as “ducks,” a term we should really bring back.  As well, 1-gallon “family sized” growlers?  I think CBW’s going to be looking into that at the same time we explore 32-oz “purrowlers,” perhaps.

2. Welcome to Founders! One of America’s best craft breweries, out of Michigan, has finally hit the bars and shelves of Buffalo, and the geekery are all a-twitter about it. You should be too- in general, Michigan’s craft brewing scene has been much lauded but hard to come by in these parts, so if Founders does well, we could see more from there. Closer to your palate, Founders does outstanding things with hops- their Centennial IPA is, I happen to know, among CBW Head Brewer Rudy’s favorite beers. I am partial to their Red’s Rye PA, which has a beautiful rye accent and a caramel backbone in harmony with the massive hopping. Nick, Chris and myself will be covering these two beers and one more–you have to listen to find out!–on the next episode of Craft Beer Talk, due out later this week.

"The Mona Lisa"

We Know Of An Ancient Radiation

3. Rohall’s Corner has been open for a while now, but I never managed to drop in before the other night, a muggy Saturday that found the joint roomy with friendly patrons all up to the bar.  If you check out their website, I highly suggest the 360 Panorma image in the virtual tour link, especially the view looking up from the foor; I was wishing I could export that image somehow. Website aside, the bar has a great, old-school vibe with a much different beer (and liquor) selection than you’d expect from it’s brethern establishments. As much as I value the slowly dying beer- and civil-cultural institutions that corner bars constitute, there’s no doubt that their usual selection of draughts typically disappoints the craft beer enthusiast. So it is refreshing to find Rohall’s eight lines sporting such handles as Flying Bison, Ommegang, Pilsner Urquell and, ok: some retro-cool Utica Club and the de rigueur Molson Canadian. What was unusual, though, was the selection of mainly eastern european bottles avaialable. I enjoyed Austrian Stiegel and Bakalar dark lager, a Czech beer; I shall return to try Obolon, from Ukraine.  (I recommend the fine advertising from them below.) While it is true that the likes of such beers can certainly be found at Adam Mickiewicz and Dnipro (the Ukranian club on Broadway; did you know they have a credit union?), Rohall’s classic vibe and location in Black Rock conspire to make it a great alternative to those venerable community assets.


4. Via Beerpulse.org; Beer v. Church tweets. I find this amusing, not deep. Floatingsheep.org (you may recall them from such hits as “The Price Of Weed” and “The Great American Pizza Map”) employed their DOLLY program to search 10 million geo-coded tweets sent  between June 22nd and June 29th, 2012 and produced the data visualized thusly:

 

Not what you’d think, but what you might expect?

If you want to unleash your inner geek, read the section on their use of statistics to determine, for each country, which had not just more church or beer tweets, but significantly more (p < .05). Awesome.

5. Local Beer Isn’t Bad. Local stuff isn’t bad.  It might come as a surprise–or not, depending on your level of cynicism–that the backlash to the locavore movement has it’s leaders and wordsmiths, and the latest broadside is a book entitled The Locavore’s Delimma by Pierre Desroches and Hiroku Shimizu. Some significant criticisms are elucidated in this article at Salon.com, and I admit to not having read the source material on this one. It seems, however, that the authors are two economists who argue from some commonly known faulty premises, for example as detailed here:

Standardization of Food: Much of economic theory rests on the assumption that the goods in question are commodities. Our food is standardized so that it can be treated as a commodity. One Granny Smith apple is the same as any other Granny Smith apple, no matter where it’s from or how it was produced. But many foods are not so interchangeable, and indeed, when they are standardized, they often become standardly bad.

Freshness is a huge part of this, too: oftimes, the homogenization and processing of our foods—and beers—is in the name of preserving the “product,” in order to reduce loss and so increase profitability. But I’m not interested in food that never goes bad; that’s not food. Many of these industrialized processes simply rob nature.

6. Obligatory random Youtube/Beer post: European video for making beer jelly. Or maybe it’s really beer jell-o. I’m sure I don’t want it either way, Dawg.

 

Squibs 6

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Welcome to Squibs: Your sporadic (read: infrequent), Morning Grumpy-styled window into the head of C.B.W. President Ethan Cox. Now available in HiDef!

1. Wow! We did it- we’re open!  It’s really very difficult to come up with words to describe the feelings I know we’ve all been having over the last few days.  For me, being thankful has been the overwhelming emotion.  Thankful not just to the many fans who eagerly drank up every drop of salable beer we’ve made so far down at Coles and Goodbar–and said nice things about the beer online–but really to all the partners who made this possible.  No question the Community at the very heart of CBW is us, and the seven of us all threw in everything we could, resource-wise, from time to money to experience and information: we really operated as a team and accomplished a remarkable goal. Thanks also go to our many partners, kids, parents and even pets for their patience and encouragement.  Now we’re gonna rock out and make tons of beer, mmmk?

2. Beer isn’t really the only beverage I drink; also a lot of coffee, sparkling mineral water (blame my time living in Europe for that) and, when I’m in a contemplative mood especially, a nice glass of Scotch (though not only single malts: bourbons and Irish whiskey also are seen in my liquor cabinet.) So, it was with no small interest that I accepted an invitation to the Dwyer’s Pub Scotch Club to chat about C.B.W. a little bit.  Those guys have a great thing going on, I have to say.  Led by Keith Sexton, they run

Almost Killed Orwell

through three scotches each meeting complete with information on bottle prices, origin and of course, a guest speaker.  Sometimes they do dinner and a movie, and each meeting also features a member-driven ‘Scottsman of the month’; last night, we toasted William McMaster Murdoch, First Officer of the HMS Titanic. We also tried Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Isle of Jura 16yr old, and a Scotch from Virginia, Wasmunds from the Copper Fox Distillery.  All were tasty, though for me the Ardbeg was a bit fusel-alcohol driven and the Wasmunds just had an oddness, leaving the Jura my favorite of the night.  I made sure they were aware of the now-in-planning Eight Buffalo Spirits guys and intend very definitely to return sometime. Honestly, it’d make a great new habit.

3. Beer is a better accompaniment to most foods than wine: there, I said it.  If you doubt me, you might consider going to the premiere edition Bines & Vines, a beer v. wine dinner series to debut at Gene McCarthy’s Tavern on the 30th of April from 6:00-9:00 PM.  Recently under new ownership, McCarthy’s is re-inventing itself as Buffalo’s latest destination for excellent beer (they intend to begin brewing on down the line as well) and locavore-oriented dining, with an emphasis on how beer and food work together in the kitchen as much as on the palate. For the launch of the series, I have selected the beers while Julia Burke (of freelance beer and wine writing all over the place including the Buffalo Spree, NY Cork Report and Great Lakes Brewing News) has selected wines from Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, all to be paired with a menu consisting of:

Coppa Charcuterie Plate of Sweet Coppa, Finocchiona Salami, Lardo wrapped in apple slices, and Pancetta (prepared by Bruce Wieszala)

Massachusetts Avenue Project Watercress Soup

T-Meadows Farms Braised Pork Shoulder with Greens & Beans, Polenta, and a house made BBQ Sauce

T-Meadow House-Smoked Candied Bacon with House-Made Quark from Blue Hill Farms milk and Singer Naturals Cherry-Apple Compote .

Tickets are a mere $35, and are available though Brownpapertickets com; I’d say get them soon or they’ll be gone!

"the mona lisa"

One of the many; one of the greats

4. Frank: Everyone wants to know why. We’re happy to mislead you about that, and frequently; spinning webs of falsehoods is a skill we all possess in great abundance.  Sometimes, we even mistakenly say true things. What we’ll reveal about Frank for right now is just this: everyone knows a Frank.  He’s a friend, a neighbor, a relative; he’s a jack of all trades and master of some… he gets stuff done.  And when he’s done getting things done, he goes bowling.

5. The Beer Business Junkies or ‘I read Beerpulse so you don’t have to’ section: This week, we’re talking about commodity prices, especially hops.  Let’s face it, the expolosion in growth of the craft beer segment is already putting quite a strain on hop availability; not a week goes by without brewers asking through various channels for hops, especially high-demand varietals like Citra and Simcoe. Lately the asks have even transitioned from the hops themelves to futures.  Wayne Wambles of Cigar City thus worries:

“I am worried that the industry won’t be able to support all of the new craft breweries that are in process of opening or recently opened. The issue isn’t that there aren’t enough consumers of beer or demand but rather raw material supply. We are already allocating for hops years in advance in order to make sure that we can continue to produce our core brands. Word on the street is that the same might happen soon with grain supply.”

Needless to say that when you’re a nanobrewery, fluctuation on pricing and availability hit you very hard indeed. So what’s a small fry like C.B.W. to do?  It seems to us there are two factors in our favor. The first is flexibility.  While the hops we settled on for Frank (Zeus, Centennial-type and Zythos, the latter 2 in fact both proprietary blends) were ordered in amounts to ensure a fairly healthy supply of the beer on down the road, we certainly don’t feel like it’s the only pale we can–or will–make.  We’ll be able to let hop availability guide us towards other styles, and experimentation: I am excited to try some new German releases at the upcoming Craft Brewer’s Conference, and perhaps we’ll look to them for some authentic hefes, dunkels, alts or even a pilsner if we can free up some fermentation space for a lager.  The second factor is undoubtedly the good news that there is a resurgence of hop growing in NYS, and while it might be centered on growers in the historical epicenter of the industry, there are adventuresome growers from Niagara County to Springville and even urban farmers I have talked to who are interested in being a part of the trend.  While we’re not using any NYS hops quite yet, and we’re not planning on ever limiting ourselves to only-local hops (the world of hops is just too exciting and varied!) we certainly will brew some batches and perhaps even put into regular rotation some beers featuring the most interesting and flavorful of the emerging NYS varietals, you can be sure.

6. Drunk Candyland on YouTube.  That is all.