Weekly Therapy: Books and history

You might already know that the name of bock beer comes from the German town of Einbeck. But did you know this?

“About the composition of Einbeck beer we learn that is was made two-thirds of barley malt and one-third of wheat malt, but lightly kilned, and was brewed only in winter. Of course, it was a top-fermented beer, ‘but very different from the top-fermented beers of nowadays,’ and is said to have been hopped very strong, and with hops that grew in the environs of Einbeck, where numerous hop-yards were in cultivation.”

Origin and HistoryJohn Arnold wrote that in Origin And History Of Beer And Brewing, one of two books rich in beer history recently made available in reprint form from BeerBooks.com. The other is Louis Pasteur’s Études sur la Bière (Studies On Fermentation).

BeerBooks.comfounder Carl Miller said he has seen a strong and growing demand for rare and early brewing literature in recent years. We hope this is a sound business venture, because we’ve long benefited from his affection for beer history. Visit BeerHistory.com to see what we mean.

“We’re reprinting these works because beer enthusiasts have become more sophisticated in the types of material they seek out,” Miller said. “Many have moved beyond the contemporary books on brewing history, and want to go a little deeper. They want to get closer to the roots of the subject, and these books help them do that.”

Miller contracted with a leading library preservation institution to digitally scan, enhance and reproduce each book directly from a first edition copy. “We want readers to see the pages as they were first published,” he said. “Illustrations, original pagination, even graphic style and page layouts can be almost as important as the text itself.”

Arnold makes the scope of his book apparent in the introduction, writing he was guided by “the conviction that a history of beer ought to be written only by duly weighing the intimate connection existing with the general cultural history of those race, nation, peoples who habitually make and consume it, in so far at least as it is a history dealing not merely with the technical development of brewing.”

The book doesn’t contain much that happened after the 18th century and doesn’t try to be a comprehensive history – for instance, leaving much of what occurred in England to other texts.

Pasteur coverIt’s hard to imagine now, but before Pasteur proved them right in the mid-19th century, the few biologists who held that yeast was the cause of, and not the product of, fermentation were ridiculed. Manufacturers of wine, vinegar and beer didn’t know if a week or two after production they’d have something they could sell or would have to dump – and the scientific establishment offered no help.

That set the state for Pasteur to prove that living cells (yeast) were responsible for forming alcohol from sugar, and that contaminating microorganisms turned the fermentations sour. He identified and isolated the specific microorganisms responsible for normal and abnormal fermentations in production of wine, beer, and vinegar. He showed that if he heated wine, beer, and milk to moderately high temperatures for a few minutes, he could kill living microorganism and thereby sterilize (pasteurize), the batches and prevent their degradation.

It should be surprising that the sub-title of Studies on Fermentation is The Diseases of Beer, Their Causes, and the Means of Preventing Them.

In the preface, he writes: “I need not hazard any prediction concerning the advantages likely to accrue to the brewing industry from the adoption of such a process of brewing as my study of the subject has enabled me to devise, and from an application of the novel facts upon which this process is founded. Time is the best appraiser of scientific work, and I am not unaware that an industrial discovery rarely produces all its fruits in the hands of its first inventor.”

As Randy Mosher points out in Radical Brewing, ancients were clearly aware of the magic yeast (the Sumerians had 50 words for it) performed. But today we’re happy today to still marvel at that magic and not end up with sour beer (unless, of course, that’s what you want). You don’t have to read Pasteur to understand why, but it’s as close as we’ll ever come to listening to him discuss his breakthrough work.

Be warned that these books are neither light nor necessarily easy reading. Pasteur was writing late in the 19th century, in French and interested in communicating with scientists and brewers trained in science. Arnold first wrote Origin and History in German, then it was translated into early 20th century English.

And, for obvious reasons, you won’t find anything about modern brewing practices or beer’s role in contemporary society. Arnold makes reference to the temperance movement that would soon bring Prohibition to the United States, but obviously you won’t find him comparing the roles of spirits, wine and beer in American society with that after Prohibition was repealed.

You’ll have to connect the dots. If Miller is right, a growing number of beer enthusiasts are inclined to do that.

It’s the chips, dummy

A Danish study published in a British Medical Journal reports that people who buy wine also buy healthier food and therefore have healthier diets than people who buy beer.

Note that the issue is that bag of chips you have along with beer, not the beer itself. We must admit that there are tradeoffs when it comes to beer and your health. Here’s one point and countrpoint:

Beer contains significant amounts of magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and is chock full of B vitamins.

Alcohol destroys Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex. Drinking beer that has not filtered out the Vitamin B (such as English “real ale,” many microbrewed beers and homebrew) will help combat the effects of alcohol — most notably a hangover.

More comparisons.

Barley wine tops at CAMRA festival

A Over T from Hogs Back Brewery, Surrey was named as the Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2006 by a panel of judges at CAMRA’s national winter celebration of beer. A Over T, which stand for Aromas Over Tongham, is a barley wine.

Gales Festival Mild won the silver. “Congratulations to Hogs Back. A Over T is a fantastic Barley Wine that fully deserves this accolade. I hope this will encourage more beer drinkers to try this style of beer,” said Steve Proscott, festival organizer. “It is also excellent news that Gales Festival Mild won the national Silver award. We hope this recognition will encourage Fuller’s to continue brewing this excellent brew at Horndean in Hampshire.”

A gathering of St. Louis breweries

Poor Richard’s Ale, made by about 100 breweries across the country to makr the 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth, let to a surprising gathering of breweries in St. Louis. The Post-Dispatch reports:

A Schlafly beer served at the St. Louis tour center of Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation’s largest brewer? Tom Schlafly, owner of the St. Louis Brewery Inc., sipping an Anheuser-Busch product?

These sights might cause people to do a double take, but that’s what happened Tuesday afternoon, when staff from Anheuser-Busch and St. Louis Brewery, the maker of Schlafly beer, gathered to toast Benjamin Franklin’s birthday.

A-B is lobbying other breweries to get involved in a campaign to boost the image of beer, and this reflects their effort.

“There are things we can do together that could make our overall industry get a higher profile in consumers’ minds,” said Bob Lachky, executive vice president of global industry development at A-B’s domestic brewing unit. “And everybody (in the beer industry) would benefit.”

Beer not included

Once again, Saint Arnold Brewing Co. in Houston is actioning off the rights to name a fermenter. Racing to keep up with rapid growth, Saint Arnold has installed its first 120 barrel fermenter and as it did in 2004 the brewery us auctioning the naming rights on eBay.

This is actually the third time Saint Arnold has offered customers the opportunity to become a part of the brewery. Previously:

– In 2004, the brewery held a similar auction for one of its tanks, which led to the christening of the “St. Gonzo” tank.

– In 2003, the brewery’s supporters gladly handed over close to $7,500 to help the brewery pay for a reverse osmosis system to purify its water. Those who donated to the cause have their names displayed on the water tank.

Weekly Therapy: Poor Richard’s Ale

What would Ben Franklin have drunk?

Poor Richard's AlePerhaps something like Poor Richard’s Ale, the beer that officially goes on tap tomorrow to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Franklin’s birth (Jan. 17). OK, some of the 100 or so breweries across the country that brewed this special beer already have it on at others the beer isn’t quite ready to serve, but the Tuesday is the day to raise a glass to Ben.

So before you ask, here are a few answers.

Where can I find the beer?

The Brewers Association has compiled a list.

Even brewing giants Anheuser-Busch is involved. Its St. Louis Brewery will offer Poor Richard’s Ale to guests who visit its Tour Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A special toast led by a Benjamin Franklin historical role performer and A-B brewmaster will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. to honor the real Benjamin Franklin.

How was the recipe chosen chosen?

The Brewers Association held a competition to identify a suitable recipe. A panel of award-winning brewers and others with an eye toward history chose the recipe for Poor Richard’s Ale.

The winning recipe came from Tony Simmons of Pagosa Springs, Colo., who is in the process of opening a microbrewery. Simmons carefully researched his recipe, citing more than a dozen publications when presenting his entry. He wrote:

“Ben Franklin’s favorite type of beer could have been similar in gravity and strength to the modern version of an Old Ale (1.060 to 1.086). Franklin’s own writings refer to, ‘the type of strong, harvest-time ale, or October ale.’ Yet, his regular drink couldn’t have been excessively strong because he was known to have intellectual discussions in Taverns while, ‘lifting a few pints of ale,’ and Franklin felt (along with many of the time) that ale was a healthful tonic if consumed in moderation. In researching the era, I believe that due to the high cost of imported hops and the documented hop shortages in Colonial America, the hopping rates would have been appreciably less than that of Old Ale and more comparable to a Strong Scotch Ale.”

Bill Brand, who writes for the Oakland Tribune and maintains a Beer Blog, was one of the judges and described the decision process, concluding:

“John Harris loved number two (the eventual winner) and eventually he brought the rest of the panel around. He blew away my phenol argument. This was Colonial Philadelphia, he said. Beer was made quickly, placed in wood casks and served in a tavern without benefit of refrigeration. An off-note or two was to be expected, he said. The problem with number three was it was too perfect; it was an excellent, very drinkable beer. Could it have been produced in Franklin’s day? That argument carried the day.”

What makes the beer different?

For one thing, molasses and corn. As Simmons noted, “Modern appreciation for the characteristic molasses flavor is limited at best.” However both were common in ale during colonial times and each would have helped to reduce the colonists’ dependence on imported British ingredients.

Will every batch taste the same?

You already knew the answer was no, but one brewery had a particular problem following the recipe. The Salt Lake City Tribune reported:

All of them except one will follow a recipe for Poor Richard’s Ale that emulates a beer the forefathers might have enjoyed after a heated democratic debate.

The exception – you guessed it – is Utah, where not even American history can trump the 3.2 beer law.

“The rest of the country is going back to colonial times, but we’re going back to Prohibition,” joked Matt Beamer, head brewer at Park City’s Wasatch Brew Pub, the only Utah brewery participating in the anniversary celebration.

Beamer said he would love to join his national brewing colleagues and make the original ale, which contains 6.6 percent alcohol. But since Utah liquor laws prevent that, “I’ve just decided to have fun with it,” he said.

The best part is that this beer will be enjoyed on draft in pubs and taverns, where people still gather to talk – about beer, the football playoffs, maybe even revolution – just as Ben Franklin and his friends did nearly 300 years ago.

Draft Celebrator returns

Finding an old favorite on tap is as exciting as discovering a new beer, so it’s nice in winter to run across the draft version Ayinger Celebrator in a limited number of bars.

The Munich-area brewery only ships kegs of the doppelbock to the United States in winter. A few bars, like Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, stock up and keep it on tap all year. More often, it’s around only a short time and gone.

A few places to look for it: Seattle (Pike Pub), the greater Boston area (Hoseshoe Pub in Hudson, Ana Cara in Brookline, Moan & Dove in Amherst), Conneticut, Virginia (Capital Alehouse in Richmond), North Carolina (both Tyler’s), Georgia (Summits Wayside Tavern, Brick Store), Texas (Double Dave’s in San Antonio, the Ginger Man and Flying Saucer chains) and southern California (Heroes in Los Angeles, Forever Fondue in La Jolla).

A dilemma for beer drinkers and sellers

An excellent question from the Accidental Hedonist:

Is it socially acceptable simply to say “I drink alcoholic beverages” and leave it at that?

Or are qualifiers like this necessary? “What I’m trying to say is this: I drink alcoholic beverages. I do so for a variety of reasons, including taste and for the slight buzz it may bring. I endeavor to drink responsibly, and I never drive after drinking, nor drink if I’m driving.”

The article points out how American culture has changed in the last 50 years. Beer culture certainly has. In the 1950s the beer industry worked together to provide advertisements that said “Beer Belongs” and a message that beer was the beverage of moderation.

Now, a new move afoot would boost beer’s image, but there’s much work to be done, according to an article fromt he Wharton School of Penn University. Marketing professor Patricia Williams says breweries “have trended cruder and cruder” in an attempt to break through the clutter of TV ads and have dug a deep hole for themselves. “They have just descended into the depths as a product category. Unless that stops, no industry ad campaign will do it for them. I don’t see that happening.”

Victory Brewing seeks stories from customers

Victory Brewing in Downingtown, Pa., wants stories from loyal customers to help celebrate Victory’s 10th year of brewing.

“This contest, with each of its categories, details exactly how far Victory has gone in influencing the lives of our customers over the past ten years. With distance from the brewery, we’ll be able to find out how far around the world Victory beers have been enjoyed, while with the most memorable Victory experience, we’re sure to find people have enjoyed our beer in ways we’ve never imagined,” said co-founder Bill Covaleski.

Winning entries will receive one of two $200 Victory Gear shopping sprees.

Enter via e-mail (jakeb@victorybeer.com), or through traditional mail (mail to: Victory Brewing Company, 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335, Attn: Jacob Burns). Entrants should include: their essay, name, mailing address, day-time phone number, and e-mail address. Winners will be announced “Victory 10-Years New Party” Feb. 17-18.

Weekly Therapy: Americans in Belgium

Look out, Belgium. You’re about to be a chapter in Sam Calagione’s next book.

Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, will be joined in March by four more of America’s most innovative brewers for a whirlwind tour of Belgium.

The goal of the trip is to introduce Belgian brewing luminaries to some of the “extreme beers” being made in the United States while allowing the American brewers to pay respect to Belgium’s brewing heritage. Lorenzo “Kuaska” Dabove, an Italian beer writer and well known Belgian beer enthusiast, will act as a guide for the tour and has built a busy itinerary.

Calagione and CilurzoWhat the fivesome of Calagione, Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing, Vinnie Cilurzo (on the left of Calagione) of Russian River Brewing, Adam Avery of Avery Brewing and Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing means by introduce is actually serving samples of their beers. Each will offer two beers at a variety events.

Wish you were a “fly on the wall” for this trip March 3-8? Calagione plans to write about it in Extreme Brewing, a book due out in the fall. Photojournalist Kevin Fleming, whom Reader’s Digest has called “America’s best observer,” will make the trip to document it for the book.

“We look forward to sharing our beers with them,” Calagione said. “We’re not saying our stuff is better than yours or anything like that. We want to recognize they are the mecca.”

All five brewers make beers that take inspiration from Belgium.

The idea for the trip came as Calagione was writing Extreme Brewing. This book will be much different than Brewing up a Business, his 2005 project that targets entrepreneurs more than beer lovers. That book has been very well received and is in its second printing.

When Rockport Publishers approached him about Extreme Brewing, Calagione said: “I struggled thinking of that (“extreme”) as the best terminology. The name has certain connotations – young, alternative, punky.

“That’s why I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the book explaining what I mean by extreme,” he said. “Extreme beers are brewed with more amounts of the traditional ingredients or non-traditional ingredients.”

Rockport wants to target an audience of homebrewers, and those ready to jump in. “It is definitely geared toward the novice,” Calagione said. He’ll offer plenty of recipes, including some that will produce very strong and very hoppy beers like his while using mostly malt extract as a base.

“I don’t want to overwhelm people with technical stuff,” he said. “Otherwise the beginner is going to think, ‘Wait a second. I’d have to be a rocket scientist to make a 10% beer.”

Arthur, Cilurzo, Avery and Tod will contribute recipes to the book.

“In writing this book I wanted to make sure I conveyed the idea that extreme brewing didn’t start with Dogfish Head or even the American craft brewing renaissance, but that it has been a part of the Belgian brewing tradition for centuries,” Calagione said.

“What I’m trying to do in this book is tell people that this philosophy has existed in the United States for 25 years and in Belgium a long time before that,” he said.

The diversity of the beers the American brewers are sending reflects the breadth of inspirations Belgians have offered. They are:

Dogfish Head: Festina Lente and Fort.
Port Brewing: Cuvee de Tomme and SPF 45 Saison.
Russian River Brewing: Damnation and Supplication.
Avery Brewing: The Beast and Salvation.
Allagash Brewing; Allagash Wit and Allagash Interlude.

Perhaps as well as being a fly on the wall you’d like to be a fly on the wall with a glass (or Belgian-style goblet).

Wrong! Sometimes smaller is better

Headline:Beer Is Proof of Stereotypical Sex Roles.

The point: “So finally, beer teaches us about competition: The microbrewers appeared on the scene to tell the ignorati (myself included, back then) that there were infinite possibilities.”

Maybe not quite right: “The big American breweries can do anything smaller brewers can do, and better. They don’t do what the smaller brewers do partly because they don’t want to. To produce niche flavors is costly, and you’ll notice that large brewers typically charge around three to five dollars per six-pack, while the micros start at $7.”

The large breweries can’t do everything smaller ones can better. Part of it is a numbers thing: There are scores of small brewers across the country thinking up something different every day. Many of the ideas will be terrible, but some will be terrific.

It isn’t necessarily great business but it is great art. And if you like flavorful beer you benefit.

Three generations in the brewery

Three generations of the Owens family have worked at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Los Angeles.

A lot has changed. For starters, the first had a 15-minute beer break every two hours, the second free beer after a shift, the third gets two cases a month – but must wait until he gets home to drink the beer.

“Today, everything’s automated and high-speed,” said Dennis Owens, the second generation employee. “Those kind of beer privileges would make it impossible for anyone to run the equipment safely.”

[From The LA Daily News.]

Czech brewery wins round in Bud battle

Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar claimed victory in Finland over beer giant Anheuser-Busch in the latest round of their ongoing global trademark dispute.

Finland’s brewing association, however, said the ruling had no practical significance because foreign beers make up less than 1% of total consumption.

While sales in Finland may be small, that high court upheld a previous court decision that Budvar can use the Budejovicky Budvar trademark in the country is important for the Czech brewery. Anheuser-Busch has “Bud” and “Budweiser” trademark protection in 21 of 25 European Union nations – and as the American and Czech breweries continue to fight trademark battles (about 40 are open right now) Budejovicky needs all the precedents it can point to.

Sam Adams drinkers pick Brown Ale

The beer drinkers have spoken and Samuel Adams will brew a brown ale.

Samuel Adams Brown Ale joins the Samuel Adams Brewmaster’s Collection this month, and in February will be available in six-packs.

And all because consumers voted for it over Samuel Adams Bohemian Pilsner. Brown Ale received 6,649 votes in the Beer Lover’s Choice program and Bohemian Pilsner 5,109. Sam Adams offered drinkers samples at more than 400 tasting events during September and October, then they cast their votes.

Sam Adams Brown is brewed with a blend of two-row malts, as well as caramel, Munich and roasted Carafa malts. Brewers finished the beer with Spalt Spalter and English Goldings hops.