Category Archives: What’s Fermenting This Month?

Tasting events, beer dinners, tap take-overs, and festivals in a locale near you.

Craft Beer Gift Ideas for the Last-Minute Holiday Shopper

With the popularity of craft beer at an all-time high this holiday season, it’s no surprise that all manner of purveyors have stepped up to offer you an array of beer-related wares. Need yet another item to add to your wish list? Still wondering what to buy for the craft beer imbiber in your life? Tempest’s annual holiday wish list has you covered with more holiday gift ideas than you can shake a tankard at. No beer-scented soap, though. (Just the thing you need when you wake up with a holiday hangover: a shower with beer-scented soap.)Drinktanks-Beer-Growler-with-Keg-Cap-TealGrowler Keg!

In case you missed out on one of DrinkTank’s sleek stainless steel growlers last year, fear not! You’ll have a chance to drop an even bigger chunk of change this year on this tappable 64-oz. growler that combines durability with rugged good looks. Sixty-four ounces not enough? DrinkTank also makes the 128-oz Juggernaut –– the “world’s largest growler and personal keg.” That’s a whole gallon, folks. Great for road trips, and perfect for the homebrewer who wants to pull some beer off his or her kegging system to bring to friends in far-flung places.

Beer ’n Bikes at Beerloved

How about a leather growler carrier for that fixie-riding hipster friend in your life? For those of your cycling friends who don’t ride fixies but still want to look hip, have ’em try a Beers and Gears T-shirt on for size.Beerloved - LeatherGrowlerCarrier Advantage: none of the thousands of North American breweries will feel left out because you didn’t get your special someone a tee from their brewery.

Something a Little Different from Beer Is OK

If each craft beer is a snowflake, so, too, are Brian Welzbacher’s inimitable designs for barware and accessories. Get your hands on his ever-popular jagged steel bottle opener forged in the shape of Oklahoma (which just so happens to lend itself perfectly to bottle openers), or opt for something a little less intimidating like a set of laser-engraved maple wood earrings in the shape of hops. Brian’s wares range from fire-side enamel mugs to wall hangings made from reclaimed wood.BeerIsOK - HopEarRings Check out his Etsy site for gift possibilities that might tickle your fancy and support one of the growing number of folks working to promote craft beer in Oklahoma.

Useful Accessories in One Gift Box

Craft Beer Hound carries many of the usual suspects you’ll see on other beer-related sites, such as insulated growlers, totes, beer candles and soap, and the like. They also cater to those with a fetish for collecting, stocking everything from “cap collector boxes” to coasters. If coasters and bottle caps aren’t quite your thing, Craft Beer Hound assembles reasonably priced gift boxes that include everything from glassware and bottle openers, to fridge magnets (Good to the Last Hop) and totes, to T-shirts and the ubiquitous beer soap.

Literature on Tap

Daniel Okrent. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2011). Last Call is a page turner that touches upon an array of topics in American cultural and political history at the same time that it resists romanticizing the gangland violence of the era.Last Call (Amazon) In tracing the intricacies of how the demand for prohibition and the struggle for repeal brought together some unlikely constituencies, Okrent rescues one colourful figure after another from obscurity. With sustained force, he drives home the utter failure of Prohibition to stem the tide of alcohol flowing into and through the United States of the twenties and thirties. Ideal for any seasoned imbiber who wants to know more about what happened to his or her wine, beer, and spirits during the dark days of Prohibition.

Jeff Sparrow. Wild Brews: Beer Beyond the Influence of Brewer’s Yeast. Foreword by Peter Bouckaert (2005). Brett beers, wild-fermented beers, mixed fermentation: sour and funky beers are all the rage now, but if you’re a homebrewer, how do you brew these notoriously temperamental ales? Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium and Rodenbach fame sets the stage for a panoramic view of the lambics, gueuzes, faros, oud bruins, and Flanders reds of Belgium. Skip the chapter on history and book a ticket, instead, on Sparrow’s journey through the contemporary landscape of Belgian beer. After you’ve got your bearings, Sparrow explains which yeast and bacteria strains produce which kinds of acids and esters at each stage of fermentation. He then covers techniques such as the turbid mash favoured by lambic producers, and introduces topics such as barrel-aging and blending. Perfect for the homebrewers on your list who want to plunge into the deep end.Beerloved - 33BottlesBeer

Stocking Stuffers

The 33 Bottles of Beer Tasting Journal from Beerloved makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the budding beer judge, brewer, or beer sommelier in your life. It’s made with recycled materials and soy-based inks, so you get some environmental karma out of the act of gift-giving as well. The notebook even has a flavour wheel to help you key in on a beer’s profile. You can’t go wrong for a mere fiver.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

More Tempest Gift Ideas and Seasonal Posts

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craft Beer Enthusiast

Gift Ideas for the Craft Beer-Drinking Bookworm

Accoutrements and Provisions for the Classy Imbiber

Spreading Good Cheer with a Tankard of Mulled Beer

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la GueuzeDrinkTanks-Beer-Growler-128-Gloss-GreenImages

All images from the respective sites of merchants mentioned in this post.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Weather Forecast: A Deluge of Beer

Calm seas in Tempest Land will give way to a torrent of words in the coming weeks. Expect the first rumblings tonight or tomorrow with another edition of “Your Saturday Six-Pack.” On the menu: Saisons.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my “Rough Drafts” on Facebook, brief photo essays on some of the places I’ve been this summer. First up: Vancouver.

Thanks for reading while I’ve been traversing the continent this summer.

IMG_3479

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craft Beer Enthusiast

If you’re like me, last-minute holiday shopping is a fact of life. December 18? Plenty of time! Whether you’re of the last-minute persuasion, or whether you’re still scratching your head wondering what the perfect gift might be for the classy imbiber in your life, Tempest’s annual holiday wish list has you covered. And even if the über-cool DrinkTank growlers are on back order till February, an I.O.U. with a picture of a growler tucked into a stocking might just be your ticket.

Glassware

Time to branch out beyond that old pint glass. You won’t have much difficulty in finding glassware that is deeply rooted in the culture of a particular locale, or that offers enhanced gustatory and aesthetic pleasures.Pauwel Kwak (rakuten-com) Nothing beats the look of a well-poured Hefeweizen, but for sheer uniqueness rivaled only by the British yard glass and the German boot, here’s my choice: the bulbous Pauwel Kwak glass with its own wooden stand. Brouwerij Bosteels, which brews Pauwel Kwak and markets the accompanying drinking vessel, claims that the apparatus was designed in the nineteenth century by an innkeeper named Pauwel for coachmen who would pass by his inn. The design made it easy to hand the glass to the coachman, who could set the stand securely beside him for the ride. Apocryphal or not, the stories you’ll dig up about the glass are sure to be augmented by more recent stories of you or your friends trying to drink out of the set-up without wearing your beer.

Lebkuchen

For those who like to experiment with food and beer pairings, Lebkuchen from Leckerlee in NYC makes for an ideal dessert that complements the rich, caramelized fruit-accented malt notes of Doppelbocks and barley wines alike.Leckerlee - Lebkuchen Tin Lebkuchen is a seasonal baked good that originated with the Franconian monks of the Middle Ages. Akin to gingerbread, regional bakers distinguish their wares with honey, aniseed, coriander, cloves, allspice, almonds, or candied fruit. Lebkuchen is a fixture of many a Christkindlmarkt stall across the Germanic countries at this time of year, where it is often served as an accompaniment to mulled wine. The baker behind Leckerlee’s Lebkuchen went straight to the Franconian source for inspiration, spending a year developing her recipe for these tasty Nürnberger Lebkuchen.

Beer Is OK Bottle Opener

You’ve got the glassware now, and some kind soul has given you some fine beer. No doubt, you already have plenty of bottle openers kicking around, but what’s the harm in having one more, especially if it comes in the shape of the State of Oklahoma? And really, how many other U.S. states or Canadian provinces lend their shapes so well to bottle openers?IMG_2052 You don’t even have to be from Oklahoma to appreciate the merits of this opener worth its weight in the metal from which it’s crafted.

DrinkTank Stainless Steel Growler

Not only do DrinkTank’s variously-hued growlers look impressive, they are, according to the company, “cast from high quality 18/8 stainless steel and do not sweat due to a double wall vacuum insulation design.” If you’re like me and stuff books and beer into the same backpack, you’ll readily appreciate this feature. You can choose from eleven colours and finishes, and you can even trick out your growler with a CO2-charged Keg Cap that’ll keep your beer fresh for up to five days.

DrinkTanks - ProductLine_revised (www-drinktanks-com)BeerLoved

If you’re still completely stuck, BeerLoved.com stocks a wide range of beer-related goods, apparel, gadgets, and munchies, many of which run in the $20-$50 range. Chillsner (beerloved-com)How about a Chillsner by Corksickle to keep your beer cool on those hot summer grilling days? BeerLoved carries plenty of perfect stocking-stuffers in the under-$10 price bracket as well. Raspberry Lambic Caramel Sauce, anyone? Hint: When you try to leave their site, they give you a “second chance” coupon good for 10% off.

And a Few Books

Garrett Oliver. The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food (2003). With so many quality beer offerings to choose from these days, it’s no surprise that craft beer types have begun to pay more attention to pairing the tastes and aromas of beer with what’s on the plate. Brooklyn Brewery maestro, Garrett Oliver, obliges those who want to go well beyond beer and bratwurst, offering up a cornucopia of pairing possibilities in his Brewmaster’s Table. Got a Rodenbach Grand Cru you’d like to feature with dinner? Oliver lets you know why this particular beer complements game, “especially wild wood pigeon and partridge.” No wild wood pigeon in your neighbourhood? No problem. Gamey liver patés will do just fine, as will tangy dishes like ceviche and pickled herring. The Brewmaster’s Table is book to which I return again and again, and not merely for the beer and food pairings. A pleasure to read.

John P. Arnold. Origin and History of Beer and Brewing: From Prehistoric Times to the Beginning of Brewing Science and Technology (1911; reprint issued in 2005). For many a craft beer drinker with a casual interest in reading about the liquid in his or her glass, beer writing originated with Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter extraordinaire.Arnold - OriginHistBrewing 1911 (amazon) Sure, Jackson played an inestimable role at a crucial juncture in combating the host of mass-produced lager that threatened to confine less-popular beer styles to the proverbial dustbin of history. But just as we’ve been drinking beer for eons now, Jackson, too, has his predecessors. John P. Arnold, a one-time student at Chicago’s Wahl-Henius Institute of Fermentology, penned his magisterial Origin and History of Beer and Brewing on the occasion of the institute’s twenty-fifth anniversary. More than a mere overview of scientific developments, Arnold’s work is a cultural history of an order rarely attained in contemporary writing about beer. I stumbled across Origin and History of Beer and Brewing in Cornell’s Rare and Manuscript Collection while doing some research on the pre-Prohibition hop industry in New York State, and was even happier to find that it had been issued as a reprint in 2005. (Don’t be put off by the sole two-star Amazon review of this reprint. The author of the review has clearly failed to grasp the difference between 1911 and 2010.) This gem is a connoisseur’s book –– a history of the brewing industry that is a primary source in its own right. Perfect for the beer-drinking scholar on your list.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

More Tempest Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas for the Craft Beer-Drinking Bookworm

Accoutrements and Provisions for the Classy Imbiber

Images

Pauwel Kwak glass: www.rakuten.com

Lebkuchen tin: https://www.facebook.com/leckerleenyc

Beer Is OK opener: F.D. Hofer

Growler Line: www.drinktanks.com

Chillsner: www.beerloved.com

Arnold’s Origin and History of Beer and Brewing: www.amazon.com

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© 2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Hoisting a Tankard on Tempest’s First Anniversary

The leaves have begun to fall from the trees where I live and the days portend cooler weather to come. It’s time to put the grill away for the season and drink up the last of my saisons before digging out the imperial stouts, robust porters, barley wines, and Doppelbocks that complement a smoky autumn evening so well.IMG_1597It’s also time for me to open a special bottle of beer I’ve been saving for the occasion of this, Tempest’s first birthday. On my way through Indiana this past summer, I found an oddity in South Bend that combines two of my favourite styles in one bottle: Schneider’s Tap X Porter Weisse.

SchneiderWeisse - TapX PorterBut before I take a sip––wow! a porter with a rocky head like a Hefeweizen!––let me raise my glass to all of you who have read my posts and articles over the past year. Cheers! It’s been an exciting ride so far. I’ve met some very generous people with some fascinating stories to tell. And I’ve enjoyed sitting down to write about it.

The Year in Brief

Blogs privilege the moment, making older posts difficult to find in the depths of the virtual archives. Before getting the Porter Weisse out of the fridge, I updated Tempest’s annotated index in case you have a rainy (or snowy) Sunday afternoon and want to read any of the sixty-odd articles I’ve posted to date.

For the curious, the five articles that have gained the most traction over the year are these:

Keep your eyes out for an article I’ve been working on for eons now on the topic of cans versus bottles––a topic that usually occasions vigourous debate.IMG_1078Back in September, I posted the first of two interviews in my Industry Series, an occasional series of pieces that introduces readers to unique careers (some might even say dream jobs) within the beer/beverage industry. If you or someone you know who would like to be interviewed, get in touch.

One more thing before I start drinking my Porter Weisse in earnest: I’m hoping to expand my readership during my second year, so don’t forget to tell all your craft beer-drinking friends to like Tempest on Facebook or follow Tempest on Twitter (@TempestTankard). Consider subscribing to Tempest as well so you can get email updates as I post new material. Prost!

Not quite a tankard, but it'll do.

Not quite a tankard, but it’ll do for a toast.

And now for that beer. (Click here for tasting notes on Schneider’s Porter Weisse.)

Images

Sky images by F.D. Hofer

Schneider’s Porter Weisse

FDH by Max M.

© 2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

How To Become a Beer Liaison: An Interview with Genesee’s Sean Coughlin

If you have any preconceptions about Genesee and the Genny Light your parents drank, set them aside. Genesee Brewing Company, the venerable Rochester brewery that has been rolling out barrels of beer since 1878, has started serving up heavy-hitters like an Imperial Black IPA in their recently-opened Genesee Brew House overlooking High Falls.

Sean Coughlin is one of Genesee’s more than five hundred employees, but his position with Genesee––Beer Liaison––is unique in that it brings together tradition and innovation. Coughlin plays a key role in assuring that Genesee Cream Ale reaches its legions of loyal fans tasting as it should. But he has also been known to convince the occasional Cream Ale-drinking Brew House visitor to taste beers like Genesee’s Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Altbier. (You read that right. The pilot brewery that keeps the Brew House supplied also has a Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter coming your way soon.)

Genesee - Brew_House (geneseebeer-com)Coughlin wears many hats at Genesee. On any given day, he’s training the staff in all things beer, participating in the brewery’s daily tasting panel, or educating customers about Genesee’s lineup.

Given his background in music education, it’s not surprising that Coughlin managed to create a niche for himself involving training staff and leading tours for the public. Before moving to Rochester with his wife who is pursuing a doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, Coughlin taught at middle school, high school, and at the collegiate level. Owing to the number of Eastman grads in the region, though, it was difficult to find a job teaching music in Rochester. Explains Coughlin, “My second passion after music is beer, so it made sense to look for something in that field. When we moved to Rochester, it was shortly before Genesee opened up its Brew House, so the timing couldn’t have been better.”

Coughlin is also an accomplished beer judge, and it is in this capacity that I met him this past summer while judging at the New York State Fair homebrew competition in Syracuse. We judged a flight of porters together, but I didn’t manage to get his contact information in the shuffle at the end of the day. In one of those happy twists of fate, I got the judging sheets back from a Kölsch-style beer that I had entered in the competition, and noticed that Sean was one of the two judges who had evaluated my beer.

* * *

A Tempest in a Tankard: So you have what sounds like a dream job. You get to work, and by nine in the morning you’ve got a beer in front of you. Tell us more about what you do on a day-to-day basis with Genesee.

Sean Coughlin: I certainly have a dream job. The biggest perk is that my day is completely encompassed by talking about beer––so it’s never a dull day on the job. I am responsible for the beer education of the entire staff at the Genesee Brew House, managing our online store, giving tours, training employees, cleaning draft lines, participating in a daily taste panel, and pouring at off-site events.

TT: Genesee has a long history and loyal following. How is Genesee trying to position itself vis-à-vis “craft beer”? Is it trying to develop new beers that would appeal to the craft beer enthusiast?

Genesee has actually been at the forefront of the “craft” movement. Genesee began brewing the Dundee line of craft beers in 1994 with the introduction of Honey Brown Lager, a gold medal winner at the 2004 World Beer Cup. The line has expanded significantly since 1994 and now includes twelve offerings besides Honey Brown Lager. With the opening of the Genesee Brew House in September 2012, we have been brewing craft beers on our 20-barrel pilot system.Genesee - cream-ale (www-geneseebeer-com) People who walk in the door expecting Genny Cream Ale will sometimes end up leaving with a growler of Imperial Black IPA.

We have a huge craft beer community in Rochester, but everyone still supports local breweries like Genesee, even if Genny Light might not be their first choice. The craft community recognizes the quality of our pilot brewery beer and is excited about what we’re doing. No one would have anticipated Genesee putting Altbier in an apple brandy barrel a few years ago, but now people are excited to see what we’re going to come up with next. It’s been exciting to see the diversity of people who come through the door––craft beer geeks and Cream Ale diehards all have a place at our bar.

TT: I’m interested in hearing more about how quality control works at a brewery like Genesee––in particular, how the brewery divides up tasks between those who perform analyses in the lab, and those (like you) who rely on your senses. At what stages in the brewing process do you taste the beer?

SC: We’re fortunate to have a state-of-the-art lab and a great staff made up of specialists like chemists and microbiologists. If we want to know the exact levels of diacetyl in our beer, we can run it through a gas chromatograph and find out. However, there’s no substitute for the human senses. After everything has undergone thorough analysis, it is sent to the taste panel for further evaluation. Sometimes we will put product into a “Difference from Control” or a “Triangle Test.” Triangle tests are particularly helpful––two items serve as the control, and one is different. It could be spiked with an off-flavor, or it could be the same beer with different hops or a different base malt.

During the taste panel, we taste everything from brewing water to finished bottled product. Along the way we might taste the same beer that is both pasteurized and unpasteurized, carbonated and uncarbonated, or filtered and unfiltered. Carbonation, mouthfeel, trueness to style: all of these are taken into consideration.

TT: How many other breweries that you know of have dedicated tasting panels for quality control?

SC: Any brewery worth its salt is taking the time to conduct a regular tasting panel. Gordon Strong (president of the Beer Judge Certification Program, or BJCP) says that whenever brewers ask him how to improve their brewing, he tells them to become a beer judge. This is great advice––having high standards for your beer is the best thing you can do to improve the quality of it.

TT: On a related note, how much actual smelling and tasting do you do over the course of a given day or week? How much of what you do involves training your senses, either by drinking beer or through the use of sensory calibration kits?

SC: Thanks for this great question! If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s extremely important to constantly use your senses outside of the workplace too. It’s especially important with regard to aroma, where sensory memories help us to pinpoint exactly what we are smelling. I’m constantly thinking about aromas and flavors, whether pleasant or unpleasant. One of the best pieces of advice I could give any brewer or beer drinker would be to get out to a coffee roaster and do a coffee cupping (tasting), or to visit a few wineries. Try new kinds of food. Try cooking old favorite recipes with different spices.

The use of sensory calibration kits is important––especially trying things in different concentrations so you can figure out what you’re sensitive to and what you may have trouble identifying. For example, I’m extremely sensitive to acetaldehyde (“apple/cider,” sometimes indicative of incomplete fermentation) and can smell it from a mile away, but have a hard time picking up on dimethyl sulfide (“cooked corn/cabbage,” a common by-product of fermentation with lager yeasts). I’m a big fan of practical hands on experience––and that means drinking beer! Commercial beer is helpful, but drinking homebrew offers a better chance to become acquainted with off-flavors. It’s thankfully rare that you’ll end up finding flaws like caprylic acid (a goat-like or sweaty character) in a commercial beer, but it pops up every now and then in homebrew.

TT: You’re also a homebrewer, and a decorated one at that. How long have you been brewing? How important do you think a knowledge of the brewing process is for what you do on a day-to-day basis with Genesee?

SC: I’ve been a homebrewer for only about three years but have made a lot of batches in that time and have learned lots along the way. We have a few other homebrewers who work at our brewpub so it’s always fun bouncing ideas off of one another and offering constructive criticism. I also have the pleasure of working daily with our head brewer, Dean Jones. Dean has racked up quite a few medals from the GABF and World Beer Cup over the years and has more than twenty-three years of experience. I’ve learned a ton from him–– he is a phenomenal troubleshooter with the best palate of anyone I know.

Knowledge of the brewing process is very important for what I do, even though I don’t brew at work. We probably offer more tours than any brewery in the world I know of––seven days a week, every hour on the hour.Genesee - PilotBrewery (geneseebeer-com) Sometimes people are content to hear the basics and sometimes you might get a chemist on the tour that wants to know everything there is to know about ferulic acid rests. Having some street cred, even if it’s just as a homebrewer, makes it possible to elevate things to the next level. People can walk away having learned something new, which always results in greater appreciation for the next beer they drink.

TT: You have both a BJCP certification and a Cicerone certification. Can you tell us a bit about these programs? Which program has proved most useful in your daily activities with Genesee?

SC: The Cicerone & BJCP programs are both doing incredible things to improve the culture of beer around the world, but in different ways. The Cicerone program is directed at people that work in the beer industry––servers, bartenders, sales reps, and the like––and covers a wide variety of topics.Cicerone - LogoWebsite (black) Two things that make the program unique are draft system maintenance, and beer and food pairings. The BJCP program is directed more at homebrewers and focuses more on sensory evaluation and feedback/troubleshooting regarding how to improve the beer in question.

Working in a restaurant, the Cicerone program is a bit more relevant to my job. It is mandatory for anyone who touches beer at our brewpub to pass the first of three levels of certification in the Cicerone program. It’s really important that our employees are able to have a meaningful conversation with our customers about beer. When someone asks about our IPA, we want them to get a better response than “It’s really hoppy.” Also, we often offer specials where we will recommend a particular beer with the item and, most importantly, explain in detail why the pairing works.

The BJCP certification and judging experience has certainly been helpful from a sensory standpoint. It is very difficult to pick up subtleties like carbonation levels or the substitution of Hallertau Hersbrucker for Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops.BJCP Logo BJCP certification really trains you to concentrate while you’re assessing a beer, and that is more difficult than it sounds.

TT: What aspects of your job do you find most enjoyable? Does it ever become monotonous doing quality control on the same beers day-in and day-out?

SC: The favorite part of my job is hosting monthly guided tastings for our staff. I’ll generally focus on a particular category––for example, dark lagers. After discussing the history of the style and the ingredients used, I’ll pour world-class examples and have everyone write down their perceptions. It’s always interesting to see how different people interpret the same beer.

Quality control can seem monotonous at times, but then you remember how important the job is. Sending out an inferior product could bankrupt your brewery in a flash. Being the last line of defense before your product hits the shelves is not a matter to be taken lightly.

TT: I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks your line of work is appealing. What can beer enthusiasts do to prepare themselves for the kind of work you do?

SC: For anyone looking to get into the field, the industry looks favorably on anyone with Certified Cicerone credentials, which is the second of the three Cicerone levels. Getting certified as a BJCP judge certainly can’t hurt, nor can homebrewing experience. Zymurgy - Cover (2014)

I’d also recommend the Morten C. Meilgaard textbook, Sensory Evaluation Techniques. For those who want a more practical approach, every issue of Zymurgy (available from the American Homebrewer’s Association) has a “Commercial Calibration” section, where four distinguished beer judges fill out score sheets for commercial beers. This is a great way to develop sensory vocabulary. It’s easy for all of us to taste a beer. What’s not so easy is putting into words what we just tasted.

Even better, bring in some beer and sit with a brewer (or homebrewer) and discuss. Offer to evaluate their latest batch. Have them do the same for you.  

TT: What kind of advice would you give to craft beer drinkers who want to get the most out of their tasting sessions?

SC: Fill out a BJCP scoresheet for the beer you’re drinking while comparing it to the style guidelines for that particular beer. This forces you to really concentrate on the beer you’re drinking, and can even result in you being able to enjoy it more! It can also be eye-opening to do a blind tasting. You might be surprised at which ones you liked the most/least when you don’t have the pre-conception of a particular brand going into it.

TT: So you’ve been sampling Genesee beers all day long. When you get home, do you reach for the malt or the hops? Or is beer the last thing you’d like to drink?

SC: My favorite beer is one I’ve never tried before. It keeps me on my toes and helps me to continue developing my palate. That said, sometimes it’s really nice to go home at the end of the day and just enjoy a nice big glass of water. Genesee - No2 Kettle (genesee-com)Odds and Ends

Sean Coughlin took Best of Show at the New York State Fair where we judged together this past summer. He took gold with his Abbey Cat, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, besting two-hundred seventy-eight other entries. He also took third place in the Light Lager category with a Munich Helles. If you stop by the Brew House in Rochester, be sure to congratulate him.

The Genesee Brew House is located at 25 Cataract St., Rochester, NY, 14605. Opening hours are: Monday to Wednesday, 11am-9pm; Thursday to Saturday, 11am-10pm; and Sunday from noon to 9pm.

The Brew House was established in 2012 in a building that was once part of the original Genesee Brewery over a hundred years ago. The multi-purpose facility is now home to a brewpub, a gift shop, and a pilot brewery that you can tour seven days a week.

With the exception of the Cicerone and BJCP logos and the cover of the November/December 2014 edition of Zymurgy, all images from www.geneseebeer.com.

Related Tempest Articles in the Industry Series

The Industry Series: Tasting Tips from Cornell Flavour Chemist, Gavin Sacks

Beeronomics: An Interview with Trey Malone

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© 2014 F.D. Hofer, Sean Coughlin, and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Seven Steps to Surviving the Great American Beer Festival

It’s that time of the year again when the leaves start to turn and the National Hockey League season begins. It’s also the time of year when thousands of thirsty craft beer enthusiasts converge upon Denver for that annual pilgrimage known as the Great American Beer Festival.

GABF 2014 1

Equal parts serious beer connoisseurship, Bacchanalian revelry, and street carnival, the GABF may not be as large as Munich’s Oktoberfest, but it boasts a truly impressive cross-section of American breweries and an array of beers to match.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who scored a ticket to this year’s GABF. Or maybe you’re putting your trust in all that “beer karma” you’ve built up on Beer Advocate and are heading to Denver in the hopes that you don’t get hosed too badly on a last-minute Craigslist deal. (It has worked for me in the past.) Whatever the case may be, and whether you’re new to the beer fest circuit or a seasoned veteran, I’ve compiled a few tips to ensure that you don’t expel all your hard-earned Untappd badges into your tankard at the end of the night.GABF 2014 (Alaska-GABF FB)But first, some fun facts from 2013:

The annual GABF offers the avant-gardists of the craft beer world plenty of compelling styles and ingredients du jour. 2013 was all about key lime (usually in saisons and lagers) and cocoa nibs (often in conjunction with coffee). Speaking of coffee, the seemingly perennial chili teamed up with shots of java and sometimes chocolate in many a stout and porter, often to convincing effect. Central American hot chocolate, anyone? Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops featured prominently, especially in American-style pale ales and IPAs. Cucumber also made the occasional cameo (Cigar City, Trinity, Wicked Weed), lending those beers an intensely refreshing quality reminiscent of running through the sprinkler on a sun-baked day.

  • Attendance: approximately 49,000
  • Competing breweries: 747
  • Judges: 208
  • Beers judged: 4,863
  • Number of categories judged: 84
  • Number of IPAs entered: 252
  • Fewest beers in a category: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest (29)

Now, that’s a lot of beer and plenty of stylistic variation to take in. How are you going to come out on the other end with any lasting impressions of your GABF experience?

Eat.

Eat a huge breakfast and then follow it up with an ample lunch. Avoid intensely-flavoured foods that will linger on the palate, but don’t be shy about indulging any latent desires for waffles, pancakes, or French toast. Food is available for sale inside the convention center, but perhaps you’re broke because you’ve just dropped upwards of $85 on a ticket, gave blood so you could pay for your over-priced accommodation, and spent your last pennies on those rare beers being tapped around town. What’s a hungry but penurious beer drinker to do? Once you get yourself past the deluge of people lining up to get their beer on, head straight for the cheese tables and stash away as much of it as you can for later. The pretzel necklaces work in a pinch, too.

Drink. (But of course!)

Every seasoned imbiber knows this––and then promptly forgets. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And then repeat. And then repeat again after every booth you visit. Wear a CamelBak if you have one. You’ll fit right in with all the other mad hatters wearing scuba gear, Viking helmets, Lederhosen, pretzel necklaces, and sundry beer paraphernalia. The downside of all this hydration? You’ll probably spend more time in those interminably long bathroom lineups than you’d like.GABF 2014 (Floorplan-GABF website) But hey, it’ll give you a chance to meet new people, or to mentally sort through the last fifty-odd beers you’ve sampled.

Cartography 101.

Dust off your map-reading skills, folks! Google Maps won’t help you pinpoint where your favourite brewery will be pouring its libations. You’ll receive a map of the (cavernous) venue along with your tasting glass and program when you get in the door. Before you start running around like a kid in a candy shop (it happens to the best of us), take a look around and familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. The convention center is laid out regionally: Great Lakes; Mid-Atlantic; Midwest; Mountain; New England; Pacific; Pacific Northwest; Southeast; and Southwest. Circle your top picks, but give yourself some leeway to explore. You might find that you’d rather not stand in line for fifteen minutes for a sip of one of those “must-taste” brews.

The Serendipitous Find.

Alternately, put that map in your back pocket and just wander around. You’ll find an inordinately high number of quality brewers whose booths have no lineup whatsoever, especially from regions of the country less renowned for their craft beer scene. Advice: Head to the tiny Midwest section (Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Oklahoma). After that, go south. And then head east. You’ll find some real gems.

The Notebook.

Did you really think you were going to remember all those beers? Bring a small notebook or, at the very least, a pen so that you can jot down notes in the program you received.Muji Notebooks 2 If you really must, enter all your beers into everybody’s favourite “record and forget” trophy app, Untappd. Regardless of your chosen method, keeping track of all those beers is going to be one of the toughest things you’ll do at GABF––especially if you’re with a group of friends. But stick with it. You’ll thank me for the tip when you get home and can remember what characterized even a few of the beers you liked.

The Time Out.

Sure, we came here to sample the beer, but it doesn’t hurt to check out what’s happening away from the main stage. Our arms may not get very tired from repetitively hoisting a four-ounce sample glass,GABF 2014 (TastingGlass-GABF FB) 2 but our palates will most certainly suffer a minor beating after drinking all those sours, Brett beers, IPAs, and Imperial Stouts in quick succession. Give yourself a break from all that hard work!

Want a quick primer in judging beer? The Cicerone program offers half-hour workshops that’ll help you put a finer point on what you’re tasting at the festival, or identify common flaws in beer. How about a quiet respite from the colourful mayhem surrounding you? Step into the comparative sanctuary of the “bookstore” and strike up a conversation with beer writers like Garret Oliver, Stan Hieronymus, or Jamil Zainasheff.

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One last tip thrown in for good measure: Stay in Boulder and take advantage of the reasonably-priced and very convenient public transit that runs between the two cities.

Most importantly, enjoy!––or, as the organizers of the GABF put it, “Savor the flavor responsibly.”

Related Tempest Articles

Crystal Springs and the Music Teacher Turned Brewer

Milling Against the Grain: Grimm Brothers Goes All-Germanic

Crystal Springs is in the Boulder area; Grimm Bros. is near Fort Collins. Stop in for a visit if you’re touring Colorado’s Front Range beer scene.

Sources

2013 Great American Beer Festival. Official Program.

2013 Great American Beer Festival. Winners List.

GABF Festival History/Facts and Figures

Images

GABF Site Plan 2014: www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com

Notebooks: www.muji.us

All other images from the GABF Facebook page.

© 2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Madison County Hop Fest 2014

Got plans for the coming weekend?

Maybe you’re in need of a quick getaway from any of the countless metropolitan areas within three hours of the I-90 corridor that runs between Syracuse and Albany. IMG_0463Perhaps you’re a student at one of the many colleges and universities in central and upstate New York and are already yearning for a break from the shock of the new semester. Or maybe you’re a craft beer enthusiast who hasn’t yet had a chance to taste the excellent beer flowing forth from New York State these days. Whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in the heritage of hop production in New York State and in drinking the fruit of the bine, head out to Madison County’s Hop Fest in Oneida, NY, this weekend (September 12-13, 2014) and celebrate the bounty of the year’s hop harvest.

While you’re partaking of the Paired Beer Dinner on September 12, or sampling the elixirs brewed by local and regional breweries using not West Coast but New York State hops on September 13, raise a glass to the history of hop bags, burlap, kiln cloth, brimstone, and hop kilns in central New York.

* * *

Madison, Otsego, and Oneida Counties once serviced over eighty percent of North America’s hop needs. That was before the combined impact of crop disease and Prohibition dealt a near-fatal blow to the industry. Hop farming had all but disappeared from the New York landscape by the 1950s,Madison County Hist Society - Logo but a few intrepid farmers and craft beer brewers have since breathed new life into the hops of New York State.

Organized by the good people at the Madison County Historical Society, the Hop Fest is now in its nineteenth year. Given the rich history of hop cultivation in New York, though, it should come as no surprise if we hear the echoes of harvest festivals of times past at the Madison County Hop Fest.

* * *

Carl M. recalls that the annual “big day” inaugurated in 1878 at Oneida’s Sylvan Beach was “an institution.” So renowned was the Hop Growers’ Picnic that tourists arrived on special excursions from as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York City on the Ontario & Western Railway. At its zenith, the Hop Growers’ Picnic attracted several thousand people: “the greatest crowds in the horse-and-buggy, toot, and toot-toot ages of transportation [that] ever attended picnics, carnivals, or call ’em what you will.” Some of the best bands and drum corps of the day kept the visitors dancing, and Cottman’s Carousel, reputedly one of the best merry-go-rounds in central New York, ran from early morning till the daylight hours dwindled.

Of course, our nineteenth-century prototypes of the contemporary craft beer festival denizen arriving from far-flung places were not the only people in attendance. In the days before mechanized farming, hop production was nothing if not labour-intensive. Recounts Carl M.: “Hired men who worked the summer-long at tasks more or less pleasurable and arduous, with seldom a ‘day off’ from steady work, often engaged upon a summer’s work––usually from April to the last of October––with the ‘understanding’ that for ‘The Hop Growers’ they wantd [sic] a ‘vacation’ for the whole day––with no loss of wages.”

The hop yard owners, too, brought their entire family to the picnic site resplendent with tables bedecked with cookies, jams, and jellies. “Mothers provided the dainties not usually on the family table, including fried chicken as only [m]others of the era knew how to fry ’em.”

* * *

The latter-day versions of this annual tradition might not feature a merry-go-round, and mothers likely won’t be called upon to provide the dainties, but the contemporary Madison County Hop Fest will be well-provisioned with delicious local beer and food. So point your wagons and buggies in the direction of Oneida, NY, and do what people have been doing there intermittently since the 1800s:Madison County Hist Society - Bldg (www-mchs1900-org) celebrating the hop harvest and participating in cultural history in the making.

With the exception of Friday’s Paired Dinner, all events will take place on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society.

Address: 435 Main St., Oneida, NY, 13421

Friday:

Paired Dinner at Kenwood and Vine. 6:00pm. Tickets: $55. Reservation deadline has passed, but worth checking to see if they still have tickets.

Saturday:

Taste of Hops: A Food and Beer Pairing. 12:00-2:00pm. Tickets: $20 in advance/$25 at the door. Participating eateries from the region include: Hamilton Inn; Colgate Inn; Cakes and Other Goodies; Kenwood and Vine; The Ridge; No.10 Tavern; Madison Bistro; and Ye Olde Landmark Tavern.

Beer Sampling. 2:30-5:30pm. $25 advance/$30 door. Around twenty-five breweries will be on hand to pour beer. Local/NYS breweries include: Good Nature; Empire; Cortland Brewing Company; Erie Canal Brewing Company; Henneberg; Ommegang; Sackets Harbor; Southern Tier; Middle Ages; Binghamton Brewing; Saranac; and Brooklyn Brewery.

Presentations/Exhibitors. 11:30am-5:30pm. Free Entry. Speakers include Steve Miller (Cornell Cooperative Extension, Madison County), Dan Cazentre (Syracuse Post Standard), and Al Bullard (collector, consultant, and 2005 Madison County “Hop King”). Representatives from the North East Hop Alliance, Foothill Hops, and Clark Hollow Hops will also be on hand.IMG_0204

Sources

Carl M., “The ‘Hop Growers’’,” Business and Industry File––Hops––Growing and Curing Hops, Madison County Historical Society, undated.

Images

Hop cone: F.D. Hofer

MCHS logo and building: mchs1900.org

Hop kiln near Hamilton, NY: F.D. Hofer

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For more information, see the Madison County Hop Fest website.

To learn more about the important work done by local historical associations like the Madison County Historical Society, see the MCHS website. You might also consider donating to them while you’re at Hop Fest so they can continue to staff their institution and stock their archive.

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© 2014 Franz D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Save

Tempest Turns Nine Months Young: An Index of Writing to Date

Cue up all the old clichés about time’s swift passage, for it has been three-quarters of a year now since I posted my first article on A Tempest in a Tankard. Thanks for all the support over these past several months! I’ve learned plenty from all of your insightful comments.IMG_9931 I’ve also learned much just by traveling around to do the interviews and research for Tempest’s articles, to say nothing of the people I’ve met who have led some fascinating lives. No two brewers took the same journey to their brew kettles and fermenters.

On the occasion of Tempest’s nine-month birthday, I’m putting together an index of articles that I’ve written to date. I’ve decided to do this for a few reasons. First and foremost, I’d like to introduce newer readers of Tempest to some of the previous articles buried deep in the virtual archives of the blog.

Second, I don’t really write pieces that are “of the moment.” I’d like to think that much of what I write––brewery profiles, travelogues, recipes, reflections on craft beer and culture, beer evaluations––has utility beyond the few days after I post it. Blogs are sequential by nature, making navigation difficult even with the aid of the categories listed across the top of Tempest’s home page.IMG_0153 Pieces written months ago tend to get lost under the weight of a temporality that favours the most recent post.

Finally, I don’t usually write my serial posts sequentially, so an index will give me the opportunity to group series pieces together––and will give you the opportunity to read them as a series, if you so choose. With a few weeks left of summer travel, the regional spotlights and brewery profiles are particularly timely.

I’ll post this index in two installments. First on deck is a list of my articles on beer and culture, together with my regional spotlights. Next up: a list of my brewery profiles and beer reviews, along with recipes I’ve posted to date for those interested in cooking and food/beverage pairings.

If you haven’t already signed up to have A Tempest in a Tankard’s articles delivered via e-mail, please consider subscribing so you can read the articles as they’re posted. Cheers!

Reflections on Beer and Culture

Never the Twain Shall Meet?

My very first article for A Tempest in a Tankard, one that I posted when I had all of three regular visitors to the site. The article answers a provocation unleashed by another beer blogger on the occasion of a monthly beer writers’ forum called The Session. The question: “What the hell has America done to beer?, AKA, USA versus Old World Beer Culture.”

Celebration Time? Women in the Craft Beer World

Times, they are a changing, but the gender gap is still quite wide in the craft beer world, especially on the marketing end. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that women prefer fruity beers.

Drinking Lager in an Age of Extreme Taste

A few thoughts on how our taste is shaped by trends and tastemakers. I don’t mind hops, and Imperial Stouts are up there among my favourite beer styles. But by indulging our drive toward ever more intense and novel flavours, we have, perhaps, devalued more subtle beer styles in the process.

Terroir and the Making of Beer into Wine

Guest writer Kevin Goldberg’s insightful piece debunking the notion of terroir, which generated so much interesting discussion that I wasn’t able to confine my own response to the comments section of the article.

The following three articles approach the notion of place and locality from different angles. A fourth piece will appear at some point that redeems some elements of the notion of beer and place.

Of Isinglass and Other Fine Additives

This response to the “Food Babe’s” article on the “shocking” ingredients in beer is my most widely-read piece to date, likely because the issue of fish bladder in beer flares up at regular intervals on the interwebs.

Celebrating Craft Lager Day

As much as it is an article on a particular beer (Kapsreiter Landbier), it also represents a challenge to prevailing sentiments that sometimes confuse IBU levels with quality.

The Curiosity Cabinet

Donuts? Bacon? Ancient recipes? Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée features here, but expect other articles on beers in my curiosity cabinet in the coming months.

City and Regional Spotlights

Austin: A User’s Guide for the Craft Beer Enthusiast:

This is a comprehensive series that you can take with you as you visit Austin. Break it down into parts, or read the series as a whole.

  • Part I––Brewpubs
  • Part II––Breweries. Saké, too.
  • Part III––Taprooms and Bottle Shops. Craft Pride and Sunrise Mini-Mart. ’Nuf said.
  • Part IV––Tempest’s Tankard Ratings and the Best Brews in Austin. The tankard system unveiled. You’ll see more of this in the future, much as I dislike ranking beers.

The Epic Stillwater to Vancouver Road Trip, Spring 2014:

  • Tempest Hits the Open Road: Dispatches from the Beerways of North America. Not much about beer, but the piece––one of my personal favourites––lays the groundwork for the rest of my Stillwater-Vancouver road trip this past April and May.
  • Wyoming––A Snapshot from a Moving Vehicle. Cheyenne kicks things off, followed by Coal Creek in Laramie.
  • Idaho and Montana––Of Roadtrips and Aleways. I’ve always been fascinated by the routes we travel. The “discovery” of this trip is Trickster’s Brewing in Coeur d’Alene. Missoula has plenty to offer, too, including Kettle House’s Cold Smoke Scotch Ale.

Gorges and Good Beer in Ithaca and Environs:

  • Part I: A brief history of the Ithaca area, followed by a visit to Ithaca’s oldest craft brewery.
  • Part II: Includes features of the newer faces on Ithaca’s craft beer scene: Bandwagon Brewpub, Hopshire, and Rogues’ Harbor.
  • Part III: A guide to some of the best craft beer watering holes and bottle shops in Ithaca.

IMG_1114

Images:

Capital Brewery (near Madison, WI): F.D. Hofer

Malted grain at FarmHouse Malt (Newark Valley, NY): F.D. Hofer

Hop bines and grape vines at Abandon Brewing Co. (Penn Yann, NY): F.D. Hofer

 

Word of the Day: Cenosilicaphobia

Despite the relative dearth of posts over here at A Tempest in a Tankard, it’s been quite an action-packed week. Kevin’s provocative article on beer and terroir generated an equally thoughtful (and ongoing) discussion, both in the comment section to the article, and in a Beer Advocate thread that took up Kevin’s challenge to consider the implications of terroir. If you haven’t already joined the conversation, feel free to leave a comment in the “Replies” section to Kevin’s article. A brief contribution of my own to the ongoing debate is in the works, but before I put pen to paper, my cenosilicaphobia needs attention.

And what better way than a visit to Austin is there to keep my tankard full? In the few days that I have been here, I’ve managed to visit several breweries and brewpubs while meeting some interesting characters. A visit to Texas Saké Company is also on the agenda. The beer’s been great, the conversation even better. Stay tuned for profiles on individual breweries, along with a general write-up on what and where to imbibe should you find yourself in Austin.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for last-minute holiday gift ideas for the craft beer lover in your life, check out my write-ups on beer-inspired books and provisions – perfect antidotes for any symptoms of cenosilicaphobia you may be experiencing this holiday season.

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© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved

Terroir and the Making of Beer into Wine

In this, the first of many guest posts to come on A Tempest in a Tankard, I’m extremely happy to welcome wine scholar, Kevin D. Goldberg, a friend and fellow German history colleague who has researched and written extensively on the nineteenth-century German wine trade. In his contribution, Goldberg trains his critical lens on a concept taking root in the craft beer industry: terroir. As many drinkers of craft beer know, the craft beer renaissance was touched off by a profound dissatisfaction with the factory-produced and mass-marketed beer brands that dominated North American markets in the wake of the Second World War. As part of the larger counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the nascent craft beer industry eschewed factory-produced food and beverages, and encouraged us to consume locally. But as Goldberg reminds us, this turn to the local is laden with historical baggage. As we craft beer producers and enthusiasts attempt to set ourselves apart from mass-produced beers by grasping at vaguely construed notions of “nature” and “terroir,” Goldberg forces us to ask if our sometimes ambiguous and unreflexive deployment of these terms has obscured what craft beer is: a product of the “talent, ambition, and hard work of generations past of beer makers who fused together technological know-how and gustatory delight.”   

Barley Field (Wiki)

Terroir is dead. Long live terroir. Speaking on behalf of the wine world, let me welcome you to the passé-chic realm of the exotically obvious; that an agricultural product is, in some immeasurable way, influenced by its roots in the world. Tillers of the soil have known this for millennia, pushers of the pen are still trying to sort it all out. Derived from the Latin terra, meaning of the earth or land, terroir has become a kind of commonplace refrain to verbalize the indefinable effects imparted to a wine by the soil and climate of the origin vineyard.

Image via Uncorked Remarks

Image via Uncorked Remarks

Writers and readers of wine magazines and wine-themed blogs have exhausted themselves in debating terroir, but without reaching much consensus. We might very well say that terroir’s appeal is precisely its uncertainty. If we could in fact measure the uptake of “place” in our wines it would surely be much less deserving of popular conversation (how long does the fun really last even in semi-spirited discussions of residual sugar and tannins, both among the many measurable or perceptible qualities of wine?). Proust (F Wiki)Terroir remains something that we all want to believe in. It gives us something to think deeply about. It’s our Proustian transporter to vacations past. It justifies more and greater purchases. It satisfies our thirst for subtle social differentiation. Terroir is a matter of faith, and faith is, if nothing else, an unyielding belief in the unknowable.

In spite of its hazy existence, some generalized assertions about terroir are possible, two of which I’d like to mention here. First, place does matter. Campaigners for terroir are selling more than just tulips in Amsterdam. There is a legitimate product behind the claims. The American wine critic David Schildknecht stands as one of the most sensible and passionate advocates of terroir. Equally passionate (if a bit more quixotic) is Terry Theise, a renowned importer whose heartfelt catalogs have become cult reading among terroir buffs. These intelligent and experienced voices leave us no doubt that soil and climate have some role to play in shaping taste in wine. Second, terroir is marketing. In spite of terroir’s genuineness, doubters and naysayers can and do have reasonable suspicions. Growers, importers, distributors, critics, and merchants have frequently been less than forthcoming about the technological side of the winemaking process. The fact is that the taste profile of the great majority of wines purchased in the U.S.—smoke, vanilla, espresso—is determined not by nature but by overt and intrusive cellar practices. To be clear, this is not unethical or even out of the ordinary, but in spite of what the label may say, this is not terroir.

That beer terroirists now look to wine terroirists for direction is a bittersweet irony (deny it all you want, but craft beer enthusiasts have by now been long-intoxicated by vinous plotting and scheming). The concept of terroir—if not direct use of the word by consumers—was mainstream in the wine trade by 1900. The dual phenomena of industrialization and urbanization in the 19th century brought with them massive changes in alcohol consumption. The mechanization of factory production allowed for the inexpensive manufacture of consistently good beer. From Chicago to Manchester to Hamburg, the spectacular growth of cities gifted beer companies their bread and butter; the wage laborer.Wine-Terroir Beer would become the drink of the modern man in the modern age. As a result, winegrowers and wine merchants, already feeling the pinch of their exclusion in the working class tavern, decided to fight back against the tide of steam, steel, and the 12-hour workday by making appeals to the very thing that industrialization and urbanization had abandoned: the good earth.

Historians have actually documented well the middle class reaction to the rapidity of change in this period, explaining how respectable men and women came to understand their evolving relationship with nature in marvelously new ways. Seemingly timeless things like dirt, love, sex, and well, even time, were given new meanings as human sociality shifted from the farm to the city. As part of this shift, pitched battles were fought over the production of food. Many food and beverage trades, including meat, dairy, and wine, were rocked by adulteration scandals grounded in the then contemporary conflation of food grown/raised in nature and food made or altered through technological processes. These adulteration scares, as well as the continuous losing of market share to beer consumption, helped spark wine’s return to nature.

This is a literal claim. Unlike factory-manufactured beer, winegrowers and other wine tradesmen saw themselves as resisting the onslaught of modernization by remaining tied to nature, with wine still a product of natural processes. Of course, an irony within the irony here is that this was also a remarkable period of growth for viticultural technology and the science of enology, both of which fostered a sense of urgency in those seeking to reclaim wine’s natural origins. In Germany and the United States, where industrialization and urbanization were most intense, advertisements for “natural wine” were most ubiquitous. The concept of natural was the central feature in the increasingly popular “single-vineyard” wines of Europe, with astronomical prices being paid for wines from well-known vineyards along Germany’s Mosel and Rhine Rivers, and in the French regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux. By 1900, the two essential components of terroir—naturalness and place—were firmly in place.

As with anything else, though, the terminology of wine and beer discloses a system of established, underlying beliefs.Hallertauer Hop Flower (Wiki) “Winegrower” is a far more terroir-friendly occupational status than “winemaker” presumes to be. The former apparently guides the wine already provided by nature while the latter seemingly makes the wine out of whole cloth. But rather than artificially imposing the language of terroir on the production of beer, I suggest that beer enthusiasts embrace the notion that beer is more a product of human hands than of terroir. Similar to the way a term like “winemaking” points to human decisions and interventions at every stage of the process, a term like “craft beer” has the virtue of honesty: it describes that very human element of beer production. DebatingTerroir - appellationamerica - GoldfarbAcknowledging craft beer for what it is – as much an industrial as an agricultural product, even at the artisanal level – means refusing to conceal the human in the language of terroir. Rather than making beer into wine, I would suggest recognizing the talent, ambition, and hard work of generations past of beer makers who fused together technological know-how and gustatory delight. In a word, what differentiates beers is the quality of the craftsmanship, not the origin of the hops.

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In addition to the many Schildknecht pieces widely available on the internet, you can hear his and other intelligent explanations of terroir on graperadio.com’s 2008 podcast: http://www.graperadio.com/archives/2008/04/07/soil-weather-terroir-and-wine/.

Terry Theise’s most recent catalogs can be found here: http://www.skurnikwines.com/msw/theise_catalogs.html

Jonas Frykman and Orvar Löfgren, Culture Builders: A Historical Anthropology of Middle-Class Life (Rutgers University Press, 1987).

Amy B. Trubek, The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir (University of California Press, 2009).

Kevin D. Goldberg (Ph.D. History, UCLA) is an instructor of History at Kennesaw State University. From 2011-2013 he was a Cogut Center Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University, where he organized a symposium on “Terroir in the Humanities.” Recent publications include articles in Food & Foodways and Agricultural History, as well as a forthcoming translation of Weinatlas Deutschland (Wine Atlas of Germany, University of California Press). Goldberg is currently writing a book, The Fermentation of Modern Taste: German Wine from Napoleon to the Great War.

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Image credits:

Barley Field: Wikipedia Commons

Proust: Wikipedia France

Soil-Encrusted Bottle: Allwine

Hallertauer Hop Flower: Wikipedia

Terroir/Winemaker Cartoon: Appellation America.