Welcome to Squibs 5, the 2012 Tra-la-la edition. I write when the spirit moves me–ok, well, to be perfectly honest, that is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Â I also need to have free time and can’t write these on my smartphone, so it’s also critical to have a real computer before me. Â It all came together for me last night, and so:
1) We couldn’t be more grateful for the support we received in 2011, and we promise you beer asap in 2012. Delicious, fresh, robustly hopped (remember, Pale Ale out of the gate) beer in growlers to go, even. When? Though it gets wearisome to have to preface the answer to the inevitable question with “well, you know, it’s hard to say…” we know we’re really closing in, too. Â January was a deluge of construction, and February for at least making beer seems reasonable. Â How much longer it will take to be able to sell it, alas… is really, indeed, far harder to pin down. Â Let’s just say we’ve gone at least Rounds 1 & 2 with the NY SLA, and so far, so good. Â Let’s see what Round 3 brings. Â In the meanwhile, kegs are on their way, all the Kickstarter stuff is in-production, and we are anxious indeed to start playing with our brewing toys.
2) File this under “I read Beernews.org so you don’t have to,” but imagine my surprise–and pleasure–at finding this video from TEDx San Antonio, in which Freetail Brewing‘s founder Scott Metzger discusses a transition from economies of scale to economies of authenticity; a very apt description of the rise of craft beer. Â Er, perhaps Craft Beer(tm), that is. Â Anyway, the theme of my own talk at Buffalo’s TEDx event back in September was slightly different, but in some ways complimentary or even overlapping. I was arguing for embeerment in Buffalo–or wherever, perhaps San Antonio, right?–as being great for community revival, when done on what I guess he might call a scale of authenticity. Â I think we’ll continue to see a lot of creative financing–kicstarter, public stock–as craft beer expands, and I like to think small scale hops farming and malting will also nestle right into that.
3) Squibs Book Review: America Walks Into A Bar, by Christine Sismondo. Â I got this book for Yuletide, and devoured it. Â Yum! Â Actually, it’s a nice segue from the last point, because the book is really a socio-cultural history of the role taverns (and saloons, pubs, speak-easys and grog shops) played in the history of our country. Â So, not really a history of beer itself, but fascinating to anyone who considers our relationship with alcohol and beer more generally. Â The writer, who teaches English at Reyerson College in Toronto, presents a nicely paced survey of not only the important things that went on in taverns, but also the way our relationship with the institution itself evolved over the course of our history, focused mostly on the pre-Prohibition era. Â Indeed, the book seems a little skimpy on the history thereafter, though I totally loved the chapters detailing how women gained acceptance (or didn’t) at the brass rail and the critical role bars played in the Gay Rights movement. Â MyÂ favoriteÂ anecdote, however, was that Mr. Theodore Geisel, whom we tend to better know as Dr. Suess, authored this fine anti-Prohibition poster to the right in 1942 (Yes, the Prohibitionists didn’t just curl up and die after repeal). Â Sismondo notes that Dr. Suess’s father was president of the Springfield Brewery, and so put out of work in 1920. Â Apparently, Mr. Geisel was not one to forgive and forget.
4) She Blinded Me With Science! Â This week’s Economist has a very interesting article on the relationship between flavor (well, aroma really) and music. Â Turns out, we’re all synesthetes, at least to some degree. Â The research, soon to be published in Chemical Senses and conducted by researchers at Oxford, looked at whether people would agree on the musical tones that paired with various smells, and found that indeed, there was a rather robust patterning of results. Â They had 30 subjects go through 20 odors from a wine-tasting kit, smells that ranged from smoke to apple toÂ violet. Â For each smell, the subject chose the tone that best matched it from an array of 52 sounds which contrasted not just specific pitches but also timbre: the type of instrument playing the notes varied from piano to woodwind to brass.
The researchersâ€™ first finding was that the volunteers did not think their request utterly ridiculous. It rather made sense, they told them afterwards. The second was that there was significant agreement between volunteers. Sweet and sour smells were rated as higher-pitched, smoky and woody ones as lower-pitched. Blackberry and raspberry were very piano. Vanilla had elements of both piano and woodwind. Musk was strongly brass.
Fascinating. Â Even more interesting was some follow-up research, only briefly mentioned, in which the sameÂ researchersÂ looked at the impact of background music on flavor perception. Â In that study, they found that the perceived bitterness of toffee varied depending on whether the eater was listening to high- or low-pitched music while evaluating. Â Note to beer judges: if you’re on an IPA flight, might be a good idea to modulate those hops with some Lustmord over your iPod.
5) Behold! when you search You Tube for “beer twinkie,” of course you get drunk people eating said confectionary treat on web cams. Â Exciting! Â But you also get Deep Fried Corn Flake Beer-Battered Twinkies, from gardenfork.tv Â Brilliant, or Insane? Â You be the judge: