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in a letter to his wife Abigail


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27 February 2005
Bryson for the defense.
When I posted this link to an opinion piece advocating the "tagging" of beer kegs, which ran in the February 6 Philadelphia Inquirer, and asked for comments, the only one I received was from Lew Bryson, who thanked me for bringing it to his attention and told me he'd fired off a response to the Inky which they were editing down to acceptable limits and that it would run in today's paper. Sure enough, it did. You can read Lew's counter-argument here.

He's so cute when he gets all riled up, especially when both his beer-loving heart and his liberatarian soul have been engaged.

[Posted 11:50 am edt]

26 February 2005
Eight breweries, one beer.
This is the label for the special beer which will be brewed for the Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia April 14-16:

7 Threads Symposium Ale is a blended porter (6.8% ABV, 50 IBUs) made with Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, Flying Fish Porter, Independence Brewpub Oatmeal Stout, Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter, Nodding Head Grog, Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout, Victory Storm King Stout & Yards India Pale Ale. Three kegs of each beer will be delivered to Stoudt's by mid-March where they will be blended, bottled and kegged on March 23. Some 1600 bottles will be created.

The label is the handiwork of Victory's Bill Covaleski and Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione, who are members of the local Craft Brewers Conference committee, along with Gene Muller (Flying Fish), Tim Roberts (Independence) Mark Edelson (Iron Hill), Curt Decker (Nodding Head) Ed and Carol Stoudt (Stoudt's) and Tom Kehoe (Yard's). Kehoe will give the welcoming address to open the conference on April 14 and Yards will host the Welcoming Reception the previous evening.

The text just below the artwork and logo reads:

A blend of eight beers from Philadelphia-area breweries

7 Threads is a big brown beer that defies mathematical convention while celebrating the historical tradition of multi-thread beers... The City of Brotherly Love comes together to ask the rhetorical question, "Are you down with the brown?"

The panel on the left explains the "7 Threads" concept:
In response to the popularity of 'Three Threads' (pale ale, new brown ale and stale brown ale mixed at the spigot by tavernkeepers), Ralph Harwood of the Bell Brewhouse in Shoreditch, England produced the first brewed porter in 1722. By 1780 more than 75% of the ale brewed in London was porter. In 1789, George Washington wrote "We have already been too long subject to British prejudices. I use no porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America: both these articles may now be purchased of an excellent quality." Let freedom pour in Philadelphia!

7 Threads Symposium Ale was brewed to commemorate the Brewers Association's Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®, April 13-16, 2005 Philadelphia, PA

The panel on the right lists the beers used in creating 7 Threads and thanks Andler Bottle Company; Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.; Hopunion CBS, LLC; Inland Label & Marketing Services, and Sterling Press & Packaging, Inc. for their assistance.

Since it involves eight breweries, this is arguably the largest collaborative brewing effort ever. Last year's very good 2004 Symposium Ale was the work of Peter Zien (Alesmith), Tomme Arthur (Pizza Port Solano Beach) and Lee Chase (Stone), who brewed the ale together at the Stone Brewery.

For what it's worth, I tasted the initial version of 7 Threads last fall, courtesy of Brandon Greenwood, who produced it at Nodding Head, and was, as I wrote here, quite impressed.

Wha's up with the name?
Hmmmm, you are probably Hmmmm-ing to yourselves, how come it is that there are 8 breweries (threads) involved here but the beer is named 7 Threads? Good question.

It could be that the local committee was taken with the mystical and historical properties of the numeral 7. It took God 7 days to create the earth in Christian tradition and there are 7 heavens in Islamic tradition, for example. And 7 wonders of the ancient world, 7 deadly sins, 7 days in a week, 7 colors in a rainbow, 7 ages of man (Shakespeare). 7 is a combination of 3 & 4 which are also considered lucky numbers. Plus, I ask you, who will ever forget Seven of Nine?

Such erudite reasoning would certainly be what we might expect from the combined wisdom of the best and the brightest who comprised the committee, so maybe that is how it went.

Or maybe they just, y'know, miscounted.

Inquiring minds probably don't really want to press the issue.

Lock up the women and children.
We will be knee deep in brewers and brewery representatives that second week in April. About 1200 of them are expected to show up for the conference and you can bet that all the downtown "good beer" destinations will be, um, hopping.

On Sunday, April 10, things will kick off with The Brewer's Plate in the Reading Terminal Market, an event I heartily endorse not only for its attention to the pairing of good beer with good food, but also for the endeavor it supports.

Come Tuesday, Monk's Cafe is doing a "Best of the West" beer dinner featuring the beers and brewers of Pizza Port and Elysian. That same night, chartered busses will be toting lots of other brewfolk out to Adamstown for a Pre-Conference Party at Stoudt's.

The thundering herd will be visiting in the suburbs and points beyond as well: Wednesday is devoted to a trio of Brewery Tours. Attendees will have the choice of going South (Iron Hill Wilmington, Dogfish Head, Stewart's Brewing), Northeast (Flying Fish, Triumph New Hope, General Lafayette, Manayunk Brewing) or West (Victory, Sly Fox Royersford, McKenzie Brew House). Those travelers all ought to be great form for the Yard's Welcoming Party that night. y'think?

We'll likely see more local beers on tap in unexpected places and a beer dinner/party or two showing up on the schedule as April approaches. Nodding Head already has plans for an early Thursday evening bash and Scoats at the Grey Lodge Pub is looking to find a spot he can fill in his own inimitable style. I don't know that Standard Tap has to do anything other than just be there, pouring the best of the locals as it always does, but I'll let you know if something's happening there.

Independence Brewpub will be the official nightly hospitality center, with its own and other local brews on tap at special prices for conference attendees, from 10 PM until closing each night.

My advice is that you be especially nice to any stranger you meet at the bar that week, folks. He or she might just turn out to be your favorite brewer.

[Posted 12:55 pm edt]

25 February 2005
Appalachian goes Belgian.
I just posted the news about The Abbey Bar at ABS over at the Beer Yard site, along with Store Note about a beer-naming contest being conducted by the fine lads at Troegs, Harrisburg's other brewery.

The Beer Yard...you gotta visit every day to stay current.

7 Threads Symposium Ale.
A while back, when you and I were still young, I told you about getting an early taste of the trial version of the special beer being brewed for attendees at the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia in mid-April and said I'd go into some details when the event got closer.

Well, by golly, the time is nigh and I can't hold back any longer. Well, a little longer.

Stop by this weekend for the details, including a look at the label.

[Posted 2:35 pm edt]

22 February 2005
Acting like grownups. Darn it.
In a surprise move that took a lot of the fun out of the Monday Night Tasting last evening, Richard Ruch (Victoryville) and Joe Meloney (Here, There & Everywhere) negotiated a last minute resolution to the question of which of them is actually Victory's Greatest Ambassador (see "Oh boy, wait 'til Richard sees this" below) prior to our gathering together.

As is usually the case in matters such as this, the actual terms of the agreement remain undisclosed but Meloney did admit that

I get Maine and Essex County, New York and he gets everything else.
One insider revealed that the sticking point that almost destroyed the agreement was Richard's offer to allow Joe to wear his Victory underwear and Joe's refusing, followed by Richard's insisting and Joe's adamantly refusing and on and on. Our source didn't know how it was all resolved, but resolved it was, a things were boringly harmonious 'round our table at Sly Fox Phoenixville.

Although Joe did seem to be wanderin' kinda funny like whenever he went up to the bar...

Enough tomfoolery. It's all about the beer.
Ruch, Meloney, Tom Foley, Lori Limper, Bill (the good one) Huber and I comprised the tasting group, with brewers Brian O'Reilly and Tim Ohst hanging around and weaseling samples of those beers they deigned to try and Karl Shoemaker sitting at the bar and allowing the occasional beer to be forced upon him. Everybody's got their own thing, y'know?

We started with the Clipper City Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils (try saying that three times real fast) that I brought, courtesy of the Beer Yard. This is a very good beer--all the Heavy Seas line has been impressive--rich with hops but with a notable malt character as well, 7.5% ABV. Clipper City calls it "a pilsner style bock lager," which pretty much covers all the bases.

Next up was probably the best beer of the night, Wanderin' Joe's growler of Lake Placid Pub & Brewery Frostbite Ale, a spicy, hoppy (Amarillo) and extremely drinkable pale ale (6.8% abv) which might explain all by itself why Meloney makes those regular journeys north.

Bill poured what is, these days, an oft-overlooked and forgotten classic brew, Samuel Adams Double Bock from Boston Beer Company. This big, dark, strong (8.4% ABV) beer has been around since 1988, our bottle was from this year and, for some reason, the beer poured surprisingly hazy. Whatever caused that haziness might explain why this one didn't taste at all like I remember it. Then again, my memory ain't at all what it used to be...

Richard brought along a large bottle of Great Divide Titan IPA and it was the best beer of the night if Meloney's wasn't (these two just seem doomed to be in conflict, don't they?), hoppy with lots of pine and citrus notes, 6.8% ABV and meaning it.

Which brought us, as these evenings almost inevitably do despite all efforts to change course, to Foley, who delved into his stock of homebrewed wonders for a pair of most interesting brews. The first was--I don't lie--his Imperial Alt, which he suggested would be a perfect accompaniment for a dish such as rabbit in plum sauce, a suggestion which led to--still not lying here--a discussion of the best way to prepare a squirrel for consumption. When Bill said he'd done it in a crockpot, I just stopped listening.

How to describe this beer? Tim Ohst summed it up:

I can say that this is definitely the very best Imperial Alt I've ever had.
Foley's other contribution, the last brew of the night, was his Mead, a smooth, sweet creation which set off another food discussion, this one about what sort of cheese one might want to nibble in front of the fire with a goblet of this in hand. Cheese Whiz, I suggested and walked off into the night.

Lord help me, it's what I do.

[Posted 12:30 pm edt]

20 February 2005
Oh boy, wait 'til Richard sees this.
Victory's greatest ambassador?

Is that what he said?

Victory's greatest ambassador?


I have a feeling this could go very badly.

The following was provided (yet again) by Ted Johnston. It's a posting he ran across on PubCrawler:

I'm using this space to applaud Victory's greatest ambassador, Joe Maloney. Every year Joe comes to Lake Placid, he supplies myself, Lake Placid Pub&Brew and Great Adirondack with an abundance of Penn beer (mostly Victory) which we normally can not get our hands on up here in the great white north. I can only speak for myself, and I want to express publicaly my gratitude. Every time I open my fridge I am greated by Old Man Horizontal, Storm King and HopDevil--a site that makes me a very happy man. The beers are great. When my girlfriend opened the fridge and noticed the new additions her exact comment was "Wow, he did give you a lot of beer." Victory should be greatful they have Mr. Maloney spreading his good cheer/beer this far north. Thanks again Joe for the beer, and you were right, the Pils rocked!
Okay, aside from this guy's problems with spelling, the big issue here is surely how Kindly Old Mr. Ruch will take this.

On the one hand, his beloved Victory is getting props; on the other, he's not the one spreading the word.

Happy...Angry...Happy...Angry... What to do?

'Cause I know you care, I'll let you know if the relationship between Wanderin' Joe and the Man from Victoryville gets a bit testy tomorrow night.

[Posted 3:55 pm edt]

19 February 2005
Monday Tastings gone wild. Adults only, please. Let's not disullusion the kids.
As promised yesterday, I step humbly back into the shadows to allow Ted Johnston, homebrewer, soccer coach and man of the people, to record the events of recent Monday Night Tasting Sessions at Sly Fox Phoenixville.

Maybe we can all learn something from this. Or maybe not.

Here followeth Mr. Johnston's deposition (with lots of clever editing here and there and everywhere, so just I can feel like I'm still in control around here):

Monday 2/14 -- Wanderin' Joe Meloney, Travelin' Rick & Jeanne Smiledge, reportin' Ted Johnston, Rocky O'Reilly (he brews, he skis, he plays music) and Big Jim Young from O'Flaherty's Pub in Bristol were in attendance.

Big Jim was in to check out Brian's beers, which will soon be on tap at the pub. He sampled many of the beers on tap and Brian sent him home after the tasting with a growler of the Winter Lager.

Rick and Jeanne returned from their latest sojourn with New Holland Paleooza Pale Ale and New Holland Pilgrim's Dole Wheat Wine. The pale ale was tasty but the wheat wine had a slight sour tang to it, probably not intentional.

I brought my Dry Irish Stout. Brian noted a bit of smoke character.[ED NOTE: What? No diacytle?] Wanderin' Joe wandered in direct from NY with a growler of Adirondack Pub Avalanche IPA and Bartender John contributed a Great Divide Hibernation Ale,a dark strong ale with smooth Northwest hops which was my favorite of the night.

And we had Weyerbacher Insanity, also from John, I think.

Monday 2/7 -- Tom Foley, Richard Ruch and Bill Huber joined the ever-present Ted and Joe and Lee Marren came in later.

Tom brought a good English ale, Harviestoun Haggis Hunter Ale. I brought my just tapped Dortmunder Export, which was not as well balanced as in the past, but no one complained.

Not sure who brought the other beers [ED NOTE: See? This is why this sort of thing should definitely be left to professionals], but I greatly enjoyed the hoppy Christmas porter, Three Floyds Alpha Klaus. Big hops to start with and then more and more roasted as the bottle got emptied.

We had Bar Harbor Cadillac Mt. Stout, amazingly not from Joe (maybe Bill). Labeled a dry stout but had a sweet side with a chocolate malt and vanilla taste.

Also 2003 Ommegang 3 Philosophers, rich malt and cherry flavor without being too sour or sweet and hiding it alcohol well, and Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine (Lee). Big Columbus hops and the malt to back it up.

It was a small group with big bottles of good beers. We left Tom's 14% ABV Mead was left unopened, waiting for a bigger group at a later date. [ED NOTE: Good thinking. I'll be there this week, the fates permitting]

Monday 1/31 -- A 2002 Alaskan Smoked Porter was opened by Richard Ruch and was a classic. Richard himself? Not such a classic.

Tom Foley had a Single, Dubbel and Tripel from...New Holland? I brought some fresh Yard's Philly Pale Ale which was much better than the one we had several months ago and maybe the St. Peter's English Ale [ED NOTE; Maybe? You "maybe" brought a beer? Or the Yards was maybe better than the St. Peters? Say what?]

A Bear Republic Tribute Brown Ale was already empty when I arrived, but had high praise. There may have been others, but it was too long ago.

You know, you kick 'em out of the nest and hope they can fly on their own, but sometimes they're just not ready. I'll try to restore some order this Monday, promise.

[Posted 12:55 pm edt]

18 February 2005
Destiny awaits.
I just posted a story at the Beer Yard site, an update on Phoenixville's newest brewpub. Destiny Brewpub was approved by borough council and is scheduled to open in June.

I incorporated material from a local newspaper story this week and from the recent interview brewer Emerson Haines did with the Invaluable Bryson last week in the piece, getting all the basic information together in one place for the first time. Both sources are linked from the story as well.

Loyal reader Bob (I'm Not Bill) Huber, who apparently has a lot of time on his hands, put me onto the Phoenix news story, which was very helpful and should be a clue to those of you who constantly ask why we let him hang around with the Monday Tasting Group.

Speaking of that, Ted Johnston, also trying to fill the empty hours, has sent along a report about some of the brews sampled at the two or three Monday gatherings (sessions I missed), and I'll be getting that information up over the weekend.

Sixpack in the cellar.
There's a quite nice Joe Sixpack column today in which Don Russell talks of "secret kegs," those special private stashes hidden away in the basement of the best beer bars awaiting....well, the right moment, whenever that is.

Sixpack reveals that one such right moment will come tonight at the Dawson Street Pub (world's greatest bar, because I say so), when owner Dave Wilby and Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione tap a three-year old keg of Raison d'Etre for those lucky enough to find their way to the far corner of Manayunk.

The column also asks some of the city's best known publicans what wonders they might have squirreled away. You'll have to go read it to get the skinny but, as a general rule, you might want to start hanging around Monk's, McMenamin's and Standard Tap (especially whenever you see Brian O'Reilly on the premises, in the latter case).

[Posted 10:45 am edt]

15 February 2005
New Dogfish Head venture.
I just posted this story at The Beer Yard site (along with this story). Check 'em out--at least the first one--and then hurry back for some additional information.

Okay, here's the stuff that didn't fit into the Beer Yard story.

One of the first questions I asked Sam when we talked this afternoon was whether or not Dogfish Head had the capacity to produce all the beer necessary to meet the demand when--okay, if--these six brewhouses come on line. His answer:

I guess it's fair to say that remains to be seen with our history in 2004 of shorting so many customers, [Laughs] Seriously, we've put in nine 200-barrel tanks in the last six months and today we just ordered three more of them. That takes our 50-barrel brewhouse capacity up to 25 brews a week and that's what we'll be doing when the last tanks are in place at the end of April. Right now we're doing 20 brews a week. Also, impact will be minimal to start, maybe 20-30 kegs a week in season, and as we're pumping out 200 barrels a day, that's a relatively small fraction of our production.
Still, I noted, with all the high-end beers that Dogfish makes, isn't that number of brews somewhat misleading because 50-barrel brews aren't yielding 50-barrel batches. Didn't slow him down a bit:
You're exactly right and that's a bottleneck--no pun intended--that we face as brewery because the average case of beer leaving our facility is 9% alcohol as opposed to most breweries' average of 5% alcohol. When we do a beer like 90 Minute, even though its on a 50-barrel brewhouse, we're only yielding about 33 barrels. So we triple batch 90 Minute, Midas Touch, Immort Ale and other high alcohol beers in a 100-barrel tank and we do quadruple brews of Shelter, 60 Minute and the styles where we get a full yield to fill the 200-barrel tanks.
Finally, we also talked about the Forbes story and how it might distort things in the eyes of the beer geeks who want their beloved brewers to always remain, y'know, "pure." Quoth Sam:
This was the longest time I ever interacted with any reporter on a single story. It was literally three months of phone calls and visits and it turned into a page and a half story. Thankfully, it t was a very positive article. The thing is, no matter how much I talked about our caring more about making beer than making money, and about the value and appeal of small breweries, they whittled it down to a nuts and bolts business story,

People have to understand, when you do a story with Forbes, all they really care about is the monetary aspect. That's what they're about.

Some beer lovers may look at this from the outside and see it as a 'corporate' move, but I hope everybody remembers that it's still me running this company and the beer is always a priority. Our agenda is still making "off-centered ales for off-centered people" and the nice thing is, as we see our industry growing, there are more and more off-centered people out there every day. We look at this as a great new opportunity to introduce a whole new group of people to what Dogfish Head is all about.

Sam, Sam, he be the man.

[Posted 6:20 pm edt]

13 February 2005
B.E.A.T.S., one more once.
It turns out I got a reasonably good photo of Eli Charleston, the mysterious wandering musician who's rumored to drive a Troegs truck now and then, during yesterday's event. It should give you some idea of the venue.

This was taken from the second level, by the bar. Eli's on the stage along the far wall downstairs. the various brewery setups were in a U-shaped pattern around the room, with the food setup in the center. On the second level were another five or six breweries and the bar. Up above on the Mezzanine were two more breweries and the chocolate buffet.

I kinda lost track on who else performed, but the lineup definitely included the lovely Pain Relievaz, a charming group from General Lafayette and an ample duo from Yards.

Because my driver, Mr. Ohst, had to get back for his bartending gig and I needed to tend to my wounded dog, we left before 5, so we missed whoever might have done their thing in the final hour of the event.

[Posted 3:50 pm edt]

B.E.A.T.S. can't be beat.
The Blues & Brews Brewing Exposition and Talent Show (B.E.A.T.S.) at World Cafe Live yesterday wasn't as good as I expected it to be.

It was way better.

Eighteen breweries (including Woodchuck Cider), absolutely amazing food and surprisingly good musical entertainment made for a very happy crowd. Speaking of that, it was just crowded enough to be comfortable without any hassle. From a purely selfish perspective, I'd love to see things stay that way next time, but I'm sure they won't, once word gets out.

I had my first taste of a couple of relatively new beers: Lancaster Hop Hog IPA, a nice, drinkable imperial style; Stoudt's Abbey Triple, the only one of the 12oz bottle reformulations I hadn't had yet and which is better than ever, and Dogfish Head Burton Baton Ale, courtesy of a bottle Sam Calagione was kind enough to go to his car and bring in for me. Good stuff, but you knew that.

Also enjoyed General Lafayette Old Curmudgeon Strong Ale (maybe we ought to make this one the Official Beer of LDO?); damned close to "one of everything" at the Victory booth (i.e., Prima Pils, St. Victorious, Storm King, Hop Devil), while sales guy Steve German tried to convince me that it was somehow my fault that there was a humongous screw or nail in the front tire of his SUV); and the new bottling of Perkuno's Hammer at the Heavyweight stand, where Miss Peggy, with hubby Tom off in Pittsburgh for another beer event, was using her feminine wiles to have people bring her food or lug stuff around, and doing a fine job of it, if I say so myself, and I do.

Of course, my "homies" at the Sly Fox booth got some of my time as well. Angst was thick and heavy over there for a bit when it turned out O'Reilly forgot vital equipment for pouring his O'Reilly's Stout, until Everybody's Pal, Tom Kehoe of Yards, saved the day. For those who many wonder, or care, I got a ride down to the event with Fox assistant brewer Tim Ohst; my car remains immobile until tomorrow or Tuesday.

With it all, though, three other beers are the ones I'll remember best from the afternoon, one as much due to the way it looked as the way it tasted, the other two because of how well they matched up with the chocolate buffet.

I was in front of the Lancaster booth sampling the Hop Hog when I looked to my left and saw incredibly knowledgable Beer Yard Jeff (one of Matt's new hires) getting a beer from the adjacent Appalachian booth. The 6oz tasting glasses we were using were clear and as the server poured Chocolate Cherry Porter from a pitcher, I could see that beer was tan and cloudy, looking like nothing so much as a cup of coffee with milk. I had to try it, though the "cherry" portion of the recipe wouldn't normally appeal to me, and it was pretty good. In any case, I've never seen a beer that looked like that.

The other two beers that stick in memory were Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout and Ommegang Three Philosophers, both more than fine enough in their own rights, but notable on this day because of how each went spectacularly with the chocolate mini-pies (tarts? I dunno) in the chocolate buffet up on the Mezzanine level. The combinations were almost mesmerizing and I had to force myself to leave so I'd stop proving the point.

That buffet was just part of a food presentation which was truly fine. Live Cafe's chef apparently came from one of the Iron Hill locations and he do know his stuff. Among the offerings: Lemon Bronzed Scallops with greens and goat cheese, Lamb Korma (curry), Wild Boar Chili, Alligator chunks (battered and fried, I think) and Merguez (sic, lamb)) Sausage with lentils. Neatly, a style of beer was listed as the ideal pairing with each item (Pils with the scallops, IPA with the lamb, etc.).

Suzanne Woods, the World Cafe Live events coordinator who put this thing together and who was all over the place making sure it all went right, finally paused to chat and reiterated that she wants to repeat this event every winter and also add a summer beer festival to her schedule ("maybe we'll do it outside") and to have three or four beer dinners a year. She's also going to see what she might put together in April during the Craft Brewers Conference which might appeal to the beer folks, which is, y'know, you and me.

The 2005 Festival Season has kicked off and kicked off very well indeed.

[Posted 12:25 pm edt]

11 February 2005
Dead tree updates.
It's been a good start of the year for me in print, starting with the appearance of my regular "Atlantic Ale Trail" column in the the February-March issue of Celebrator Beer News.

Plus the February-March Ale Street News has a profile/feature story I wrote about Stamford Galsworthy ("Fuller Brewing's Man in the Colonies") and, last but hardly least, there's the Winter 2005 issue of American Brewer, with my story, "Leveraging the Pride," which takes a look at the concept of Open Book Management and its possible applications to the brewing industry.

For extra credit, I even helped our man Bryson jazz up his regular ASN column (as if he needed it) by appearing there in a photograph taken during the Sly Fox IPA Project party, surrounded by about as motley a group of reprobates and beer geeks as you're likely to find this side of Richard Ruch's living room.

Coming up? The next CBN will have the "Atlantic Ale" column as usual, of course, plus a feature piece looking ahead to the April Craft Brewers Conference here in Philly. And I've also gotten at least a nibble on a proposal to a local publication to do a special section devoted to the conference--cross your fingers.

The next Ambrew has a piece about dispelling the various myths and misconceptions about the relationship of alcohol in general and beer in particular to good health.

Finally, I have a couple of proposals going out this weekend to mainstream and niche magazines for beer-related stories. We'll see how that goes.

Maybe I will, maybe I won't.
I hope to see some of you at World Cafe Live tomorrow for the B.E.A.T.S. festival, if I make it. A bad water pump has put my car out of operation until Monday so I may not be able to work out getting from out here in the sticks to the R5 Main Line train and back.

Hey, just because February is looking good in print doesn't mean it hasn't more than justified its ranking as the worst month of the year overall.

[Posted 12:30 pm edt]

9 February 2005
Bad Czech.
I noted this story in a posting here last month:

A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it...
It turns it may be an internet hoax.

The good folks at snopes.com, who specialize in debunking urban legends don't say so definitely, but...

The story has so far proved difficult to verify because its attributions have been vague (e.g., "correspondents in Bratislava"), and it evidently originated in a part of the world (the Slovak Republic) where information sources are more difficult to track down (particularly because the language is unfamiliar to most westerners).

However, a correspondent who works for a Slovak news agency informed us that not only has the avalanche story (or any news story about an avalanche) not appeared in the news media there, but the very same tale (of Czech origin, told about an unnamed man caught in the Austrian Alps) was circulating in that country as an e-mail joke even before the heavy snows described in the article occurred.

Appears I been had, don't it? And not in a good way.

[Posted 10:45 am edt]

Fuzzy brew.
This week's installments of the very funny Get Fuzzy daily comic strip are devoted to lead (human) character Rob Wilco's doing some homebrewing, while ever-sarcastic Bucky Katt and lovable Satchel Pooch provide commentary. The sequence began with Monday's strip.

Beer often plays a role in Fuzzy; in an early installment, Rob ordered a Corsendonk at a restaurant. Cartoonist Darby Conley appears to be one of us.

[Posted 9:30 am edt]

8 February 2005
Bryson ascendant.
The very industrious Mr. Bryson snuck into my very back yard to do an interview with that guy who's opening Phoenixville's third(!) brewpub. And here I was thinking the dogs were barking at a deer or something. Anyway, Emerson Haines, who is that guy, says the place should be open by June.

Mr. Bryson also announced on Friday that he's now officially the Beer & Spirits columnist for Philadelphia Style magazine, joining his pal and fellow beer geek Rich Pawlak, he of the Golden Age of Beer in Philadelphia tours, who is the Food Editor. Plus he'll be doing a similar column for the soon to be introduced Washington Style.

Add these gigs to his regular work for Ale Street News, Malt Advocate and Massachusetts Beverage Business, freelance stories for the likes of American Brewer, Cheers and New Brewer, plus the three guide books and a couple of other gigs and I think we can safely say that the Big Guy is probably the most successful beer writer in the nation. By volume, anyway.

Which is why I now call him "Mr. Bryson."

I was gonna get all jealous and bitter and shift into serious back-stabbing and undermining mode--it's the American way--but that takes so much damned energy, plus you have to pretend you're not really doing it, which means you have to be careful what you say to whom, which means thinking about what you say and...well, who needs that?

So let's just say good on ya, pal. But you're buying next time, you can count on that.

[Posted 3:15 pm edt]

6 February 2005
Tagging kegs.
The executive director of Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking made the case for "tagging" kegs of beer so they can be traced back the their source in the "Neighbors" section of yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer. You can read it here.

Comments, anyone?

[Posted 6:20 pm edt]

6 February 2005
Visiting Victoryville.
What did I figure I'd need to get me through tonight's Super Bowl? How about nice growler of Victory St. Victorious Doppelbock? A great confluence of name and expectations, right? The Eagles will win convincingly, right?

And so I hied myself out to Downingtown around noon yesterday to acquire same and, oh yeah, to cast my vote in the pale ale competition. If you haven't been paying attention and are too lazy to click the link and go look, Victory brewed a pale ale and then split it into two batches, fermenting one on an U.S. yeast, the other on "healthy yeast from a venerable British brewery," named them USPA and UKPA and are asking customers to evaluate and vote on them.

I pretty much figured going in that I'd prefer the UK version, especially after Kindly Old Mr. Ruch let the cat out of the bag at BeerAdvocate.com that the "venerable brewery" was Fuller's. I was right (and the bartender told me that as far as she knew, it was a runaway for UK), but I also thought the alternate version was fine drinking. I say keep 'em both.

Ruch was there (shocker), along with a small coterie of BAs (including evil Davo) and I ate lunch with them while downing a couple of small St. Vics and a pint of the glorious Dark Lager. On the way out the door, I picked up sixpacks of Storm King and Old Horizontal, either will be appropriate for drowning my sorrows should tonight's game not go as it should. If it instead works out perfick, a chilled magnum of DeuS is waiting.

Be prepared, that's my motto.

Groundhog Day at the Grey Lodge.
Went to the morning session. Great event, great pancakes, great beer (seek out Brewer's Art Canard if you have a chance). I was gonna do a big blowout on this one, with lots of photos (courtesy of Tracy Mulligan), but this has been a complicated, troublesome and expensive week (all of which is, or soon will be, briefly detailed here) and I'm not sure that will happen. Probably not, now that the moment has passed. Ah well...

I got to see the about-to-open upstairs while I was there, picking my way across the ice up the back fire escape in Hawaiian shirt and swim trunks for the opportunity. Gonna be cool. There's a ten-seat bar--rescued from the Chestnut Hill Hotel; space for, I dunno, eight ten tables, maybe more; a nice large picture window overlooking, well, Frankford Avenue (you work with what you got), and a decent sized kitchen in the rear. Plus two more rest rooms.

The Grey Lodge is one of those special bars we all wish we had in our neighborhood. That's true now more than ever. Ah, Scoats, I knew you when...

The complete January 2005 postings have been archived here.

[Posted 10:40 am edt]

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

--A. E. Houseman


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