20110523

' O'bama' wows 'em on the Ould Sod

The President quaffing a pint at a local.
MONEYGALL, Ireland -- Following the tradition of so many of his predecessors, President Barack Obama today paid a visit to the Irish town from where an ancestor hailed.

In this instance, his great-great-great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney left this village of 300 or so to seek a better life in America in the mid-1800s.

For those keeping track of such things, Moneygall sits astride the border between Tipperary and Offally counties, between Dublin and Limerick.

During a trip to a local pub, the President downed a Guinness in four gulps, which earned him a round of applause from the locals.

Fittingly, the name Moneygall is derived from the Gaelic phrase muine gall, meaning "foreigners' thicket."

As far back as John F. Kennedy, whose family also came from County Tipperary, U.S. presidents with Irish roots have made the trip. Since then, the list has included Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Before the JFK pilgrimage, other presidents who claimed Irish roots began with George Washington and extended through James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. That is exactly 50% of all presidents.

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20110521

Maryland hikes taxes on all alcohol

From The Washington Post

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- In a budget season filled with controversies over taxes, deficits and cuts across the country, Maryland just took a historic step: The General Assembly passed and Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the first increase in beer and wine taxes in 38 years, and the first increase in distilled spirits taxes in 55 years.

The case for the new alcohol tax -- a 3-percentage-point addition to the state’s 6 percent sales tax -- was strong. It will save lives, prevent crime and help to avert thousands of cases of alcohol abuse or dependence. It will also raise at least $85 million in revenue a year. In the first year, these funds will be used to restore much-needed services for people with developmental disabilities, shore up school budgets and support school maintenance and repairs. In future years, the funds can be used to support expanded access to health care; services for people with developmental disabilities or mental health needs; alcohol, tobacco and other drug-use prevention and treatment, and health-care worker training.

Every year, numerous states try to raise their alcohol taxes, and few succeed. Efforts were made in at least 23 states in 2010; none succeeded.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20110520

Brewery restaurant chain entering NYS

BUFFALO, NY -- A Tennessee-based restaurant chain will open its first New York State location in the fall.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant plans to open in the Walden Galleria in Buffalo in October. The original opened in 1988 in Palo Alto, CA. It was acquired by the Big River Brewing Company in 1999 and since has expanded to 29 restaurants across the country and three locations in Taiwan.

The chain brews its own German-style lagers. Its seafood dishes include seared tuna, cedar plank salmon and lobster-and-shrimp mac 'n' cheese. Its menu also includes steak frites, lobster-and-shrimp tacos, and sweet-and-spicy cashew chicken stir fry.

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20110518

NYC beer crawl a very home-y affair

Beer crawls can be short or long. Seldom are they intimate. That's why this posting on the Beer Menus website struck me as so interesting:

"Despite New York’s gnat-size apartments, NYC homebrewers refuse to let space limitations detract them from their mission: crafting some of the city’s tastiest beer. On this tour, you’ll venture inside the homes of three of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s finest amateur brewers, who will display their set-ups, discuss their craft and, most importantly, open up their stash of superlative beer. There will be several stops throughout the afternoon. Bring a Metrocard. And eat a big lunch. Your guide is NYC beer journalist Joshua M. Bernstein."

Tickets are available online.

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20110509

Rochester becoming microbrewer central

Al Rogers
• From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

ROCHESTER, NY -- The first sip from a fresh pint of Rogers Pale Ale hits the back of the tongue with a strong, hoppy punch.
A beer aficionado working in sales for CAR Engineering and Manufacturing, a Victor tool and die company, Al Rogers (right) went into the beer business with his wife, Lauren, in late 2010. 

Their pale ale is permanently on tap at Lento Restaurant at Village Gate and has made rotations of taps at a variety of establishments around the Rochester region.

"I wanted my own business, and I love beer," said Rogers, 31, of Penfield.

And the Rochester region is seemingly learning to love local craft beers. Recent months have seen numerous locally made beer options bubble up -- from Three Heads Brewing of Brighton introducing its line of beers to various establishments in December around Rochester; to Ontario County microbrewery Naked Dove Brewing Co. and Steuben County microbrewery Finger Lakes Beer Co. both opening in November.
 
Another microbrewery, Roc Brewing Co. LLC, expects to start operation in Rochester later this year.

Those new offerings join what already had been a wide array of regional beers, including those made by Steuben County's Keuka Brewing Co., which opened in 2008; Ogden brewpub Rohrbach Brewing Co., which in 2008 expanded its capacity by moving its brewing operation to a building in northeast Rochester; and by microbrewery Custom Brewcrafters, which in 2008 opened its $1 million facility Honeoye Falls with a bottling line and more than double the brewing capacity of its previous facility.

And all of this is happening in the shadow of once-struggling Genesee Brewing Co., which has seen sizable investment and rebound since its 2009 purchase by private equity firm KPS Capital Partners.

[Go here for the full story.]

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Poll: 30% drink weekly, and beer is preferred

Thirty percent of Americans 21 and older say they drink alcohol at least once a week, with 5% drinking daily and 10% drinking several times a week.

Those are among the findings of the just-released Harris Poll of 2,379 adults surveyed online between March 7 and 14 by Harris Interactive. Among other results:

• 22% of Americans say they never drink alcohol.

• Men are more frequent drinkers than women, with 38% of men saying say they drink at least once a week compared to 21% of women.

• Among those who drink at least several times a year, beer is the top choice: 63% say they drink beer and 54% drink domestic wine; 41% drink vodka; 34% drink rum; 28% drink tequila; 28% drink foreign wine; 20% drink various types of whiskies such as Irish or Canadian.

• Further down the list of preferred alcoholic beverages are champagne (17%), cordials and liqueurs (17%), bourbon (15%), gin (14%), scotch (11%), cognac (8%) and brandy/Armagnac (7%).

The survey was accompanied by variety of tables showing both general and specific categories of drinking. (Double click on images to enlarge.)





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Q: What's smaller than a micro-brewery?

We knew of large commercial breweries, then small commercial breweries, then even-smaller ones called craft breweries, and even-smaller ones called micro-breweries. But, nano-breweries?

Says Ethan Cox, co-owner and co-founder of the Community Beer Works in Buffalo, NY, which describes itself as a nano facility:

“There’s not a definitive answer for what a nanobrewery is, just that it’s smaller. We’re going to be putting out 1.5 barrel batches, or about 47 gallons, which is really small. Most guys in the industry have agreed, if you’re three barrels or less, you’re pretty much nano, but even that’s a wide range. You have guys rocking the same system they were home brewers on; they’ve just applied for license.”

He was quoted in an interview by Julia Burke, beer editor of the online New York Cork Report, reporting on the new phenomenon. You can get the full story here.

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Newcomers sweep TAP NY competition

HUNTER, NY -- A pair of comparatively new breweries swept the major cup awards at this weekend's 14th annual TAP NY Brewer's Festival competition.

Barrier Brewing of Oceanside, Long Island, which was founded in 2009, earned the F.X. Matt Memorial Cup, emblematic of "Best Brewery in New York State" status. The micro operation is run by Evan Klein and Craig Frymark.

Crossroads Brewing of Athens, Greene County, which was founded in 2010, won the Matthew Vassar Brewers' Cup as "Best Brewery in the Hudson Valley." In addition, it won the new John Calen memorial Award for "Best English Style Pale Ale." The company was founded by Ken Landin and Janine Bennett.

Barrier Brewing is located at 3595 Lawson Boulevard, Oceanside. Phone: (516) 316-4429.
Crossroads Brewing is located at 1 Second Street, Athens. Phone: (518) 945-2337.

Brown’s Whiskey Porter, made by Brown's Brewing Co. of Troy, was named "Best Beer in New York State" for the second consecutive year after earning a silver medal in 2008.

Other award winners:

New York State category: Silver: Cortland Brewing Flight Level 410 Olde Ale; Bronze: C.H. Evans Hefeweizen.

Hudson Valley category: Gold: High Point Brewing Double Platinum Hefeweizen; Silver: Brown's Brewing, Whiskey Barrel Porter; Bronze: Crossroads Brewing Outrage IPA.

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George Washington's beer coming back to life

DOCUMENT IMAGE COURTESY OF THE N.Y. PUBLIC LIBRARY

NEW YORK -- First we had the re-creation of George Washington's rye whiskey from his own recipe. Now we're about to have his beer formula brought back to life.

The New York Public Library, which owns the beer recipe, announced today it is teaming up with the Coney Island Brewing Company in Brooklyn to make 25 gallons to celebrate the library's centennial this year. It will be called "Fortitude's Founding Father Brew."

Unfortunately for fans of craft brews, it will not be commercially available. Fortunately, members of the public will be able to sample it on the beer on Wednesday, May 18, at Rattle 'N' Hum, a Manhattan bar, and at the library's 100th birthday gala on Monday, May 23.

The handwritten recipe is part of a collection of Washington documents housed at the library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue.

"We are thrilled to transform Washington's recipe into an even more complex and flavorful robust porter using a delicious array of the best small batch dark malts and hop varieties to produce a truly spectacular celebration for the contemporary beer connoisseur," said Jeremy Cowan, founder of Shmaltz Brewing Company, the parent of Coney Island Brewing Company.

Here's the first president's recipe "To Make Small Beer" (letters in parentheses have been added for clarity):

Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses (sic) into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask—leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working—Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed."
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First Albany Craft Beer Festival on tap

ALBANY, NY -- With the Albany Craft Beer Festival less than a week away, here's a lineup of the promised labels available, according to the event producers.

The inaugural event will be held at The Armory Sports & Convention Arena (Washington Avenue Armory) next Saturday, May 14. In addition to 15 tasting tickets per admission and a souvenir glass, food tastings will available and several brewers will conduct seminars. Designated drivers will be admitted at no charge.

Tickets for the beerfest are available online or by calling the Armory Box Office. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of event. Designated driver tickets are $5.00 and available at the door. Beer friendly food will be available, a la carte, from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Bayou Café and Armory Caterers.

The participating breweries:
Samuel Adams
Blue Moon
Saranac
Sierra Nevada
Magic Hat
Harpoon
Long Trail
Woodchuck Ciders
Peak Organic
Anchor Brewery
Brewery Ommegang
Otter Creek
Lake Placid Brewery
Olde Saratoga Brewing Co/Mendocino
Adirondack Brewery
Switchback
Ithaca Beer
Boulder Beer
Dundees Ales and Lagers
Blue Point
Brown's
Butternuts
Clipper City
Dogfish Head
Full Sail
Keegan Ales
Lagunitas
McNeill's
Sly Fox
Smuttynose
Southern Tier
Stone
Three Heads
Troegs
Clown Shoes
Brooklyn Brewery
Blue Moon

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Friday's adds craft beers, beer dishes

Guinness Stout ice cream soda.
T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants are introducing a lineup of craft beers as well as several new dishes, including dessert, inspired by the microbrew movement.

The summer menu will be offering craft beers that vary by state, including such regional favorites as Magic Hat, Fat Tire, Harpoon, Goose Island and Shipyard.

The beer-inspried foods:

Black Angus Brew House Steak: An 8-ounce flatiron steak marinated in a brine of beer and citrus then grilled and served with a craft beer sauce, potato salad and green beans.

Parmesan-Crusted Crab Flounder: Pan-seared fish fillets are flavored with beer, topped with deviled crabmeat and Parmesan breadcrumbs and served with sides of jasmine rice pilaf and green beans.

Ale House Baby Back Ribs: Baby back pork ribs are grilled with beer, glazed with a Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce and served with sides of potato salad and green beans.

Dijon-Crusted Beer Chicken: Chicken fillets are marinated in craft beer and lightly breaded with seasoned breadcrumbs. The dish is served with a tossed salad of mixed greens and grape tomatoes drizzled with a Caesar vinaigrette.

Ale House Shrimp and Chips Appetizer: Beer-battered broccoli, sliced red peppers and Cajun-spiced shrimp are served on home-style potato chips with cucumber-wasabi ranch dip and a stout-beer remoulade sauce.

Guinness Stout: A Guinness Stout beer is blended with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream, for adults. 

Mandarin Dreamsicle: Orange liqueur is added to an orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream shake that’s topped with mandarin oranges and whipped cream, for adults.

Ice Cream Strawberry Shortcake: The non-alcoholic dessert is topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

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Brewers’ new buzz word: Sessionability

From Advertising Age

Redhook was not the first craft brewer in America, but it was certainly among the pioneers when it poured its first brew in Seattle in 1982, a spicy Belgian ale. And in the nearly 30 years since then, it and other craft brewers went on to find great success with fuller-bodied, more complex beers than your average Bud or Miller Lite.

Today Redhook is on the leading edge of what looks to be another trend, adding a pilsner beer to its full-time portfolio -- a style more known for its refreshment than its punch. "It's the kind of beer that you can sit back with and have friends over for a barbecue," said brand manager Robert Rentsch. It also has just 5.3% alcohol by volume compared with the 5.8% of its flagship amber ale. You can "have four or five of these … and get a lot of enjoyment out of the beer and not be overstuffed," he said.

While so much of the buzz around craft beer these days is about exotic, extreme ales -- including some with soaring alcohol content -- there also is a growing recognition that these blends must be balanced by easier-drinking brews. In the trade it's called "sessionability," which basically means you can drink more than a couple and not be stumbling drunk or so full that you're looking for the nearest couch. And there's a business side effect of so-called session beers: More people will drink them.

"A lot of the breweries are coming out with really sessionable beers … because I think they are recognizing that if they want to grow their share, if they do want to double it or triple it, they are going to have to make those 'bridgeway' beers to bring more drinkers into the fold," said Jennifer Litz, editor of Craft Business Daily.

[Go here for the full story.]

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