20111231

Happy birthday, dear Guinness ...

Arthur Guinness
Pssst. See that guy over there on the right? He's responsible for the Irish government's major income stream, something more important than ever now that the economic chaos that has roiled around the world has hit Ireland a rollicking good thwack.

Today is the 252nd anniversary of the founding of the iconic Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin by that fella, a man by the name of Arthur Guinness. At one time, it was the largest brewery in the world.

Guinness Brewery
(Travelpod photo)
Guinness leased the property for a term of up to 9,000 (no kidding) years at an annual rent of £45 per year. That means the lease will come up for renewal in the year 10759 A.D.

The adjacent Guinness Storehouse is Dublin's No. 1 tourist attraction. The converted brewing factory is a seven-story Guinness museum, the topmost of which is home to the Gravity Bar, where visitors can get a free pint of "the black stuff," as the dark Guinness stout is known.

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20111230

Even in death, Grandpa was a good host

A drawing of St. Ansegisel
I've been researching and writing my family history off and on for several decades. As more and records, documents, church archives and the like are put online, it has become less tedious to reach back many generations to see my roots.

I recently discovered that one Saint Ansegisel, the Bishop of Metz, France, was my 30th great grandfather on my mother's side of the family tree. He lived from 582 to 641 A.D. He also was known as Arnulf, or Arnold in English.

He earned a mention in this column because of one of the legends/miracles attributed to him, "The Legend of the Beer Mug." The story goes that on an extremely hot day in July 642, after Arnold died at the Abbey of Remiremont where he moved after his retirement, the parishioners from Metz showed up to claim his remains.

"They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable," says the story. "At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave ... one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed, 'By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.' Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims' thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz."

And, that's why he became a patron saint of brewers. Not a bad miracle to have in the family archives.

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20111227

Study: Draw one, mix one for health

We've been trying to keep up with the regular stream of studies suggesting wine has all sorts of magical, mystical medicinal properties that will lead to better health, longer life, etc. Now, brews and spirits are getting some extra support.

A two-decade study published in the January issue of The Journal of Studies On Alcohol and Drugs reports on connections between the moderate consumption of all types of alcohol and increased longevity.

It also supports the findings of prior studies that wine has more beneficial effects than any other alcoholic drinks. However, in a twist that always seems to pop up in any study, researchers said that may because the people who choose wine tend to be more naturally healthy anyway. Go figure.

The study of 802 men and women ages 55 to 65. Of that number, 281 "low wine drinkers" consumed less than one-third of their alcohol intake from wine, 176 "high wine drinkers" consumed two-thirds or more as wine, and 345 abstainers. The drinkers had one to two drinks per day, and researchers followed them for 20 years.

Among the findings: Wine drinkers lived longer than abstainers, and high-wine drinkers lived longer than low-wine drinkers.

Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas and lead author of the article, said there may be benefits for older moderate drinkers no matter what kind of alcohol they consume. But, he cautioned, "The study does not encourage initiating wine consumption as a pathway to better health."

Ya gotta love those disclaimers.

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20111216

Barrel-aged beers gaining in Canada

From the Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL, Canada -- On the short list of things that get better with age, beer is not generally included. But with all the talk of oak-aging, vintages and grand crus in the brewery scene these days, it’s starting to sound a lot like wine or whisky. Beer that’s designed to be aged -- whether for months in bourbon barrels or for years in the bottle -- is in high demand this holiday season.

With the rise of the craft movement, sophistication among beer consumers has been growing, and with it the market for artisanal production. In the last few years, brewers around the world have begun taking a page from history, and experimenting with premium products aged in barrels.

Examples range from Innis & Gunn in Scotland, which uses Highland scotch, rum and Irish whiskey casks for its line, to Belgium’s formidable Cantillon brewery, which produces a rare and traditional oak-aged lambic called Bruocsella Grand Cru, to Sam Adams, the Boston-based label, which launched its Barrel Room collection a couple of years ago. With its active microbrewery scene, Quebec is right in the thick of things, reaping awards for innovative beers that make use of barrels that once contained Kentucky bourbon, white wine and apple brandy.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20111215

Some funny beer commercials



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Schumer pushes 'I Love NY Brew' campaign

Schumer at Brown's Brewing in Troy in February.
(Archival photo)
Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer toured a series of Upstate New York breweries to display his support of the industry. On Wednesday, he took the lead role in announcing creation of his “I Love NY Brew” campaign.

The campaign was created, says Schumer, to place more locally-brewed beer in restaurants, bars and store shelves around the state.

In a letter to the National Association of Convenience Stores and Fuel Retailing and to the New York State Restaurant Association, Schumer urged both associations to offer more beer brewed at the 77 micro-breweries, regional craft breweries, and brewpubs across the state that supports what the senator says is "nearly 60,000 New York jobs."

“Craft breweries have catapulted New York to the top shelf of beer states," the statement said, "and our beers are more than ready for prime time. Whether you are searching for a six-pack at your local 7-Eleven or grabbing Buffalo wings with a beer after work, you should have a wide assortment of locally brewed beers to choose from. I’m strongly urging New York restaurants, bars and convenience stores alike across the state to take a close look at New York’s beers, and consider putting them on their shelves or on their menu. It would be a win-win, both for those selling the beer, and for the breweries making it.”

David Katleski, president of the New York State Brewers Association, chimed in, noting, “The growth of the craft brewing industry in New York State is tremendous. Continued growth will greatly contribute to the number of jobs, tax dollars, and economic benefit to New York. Of all the beer sold in New York State, New York craft beer currently represents a 7.5% market share. One can only imagine the economic impact to our state if craft beer sales here reflected that of craft beer sales in Oregon, where they’re 30%.”

Schumer is asking the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) to encourage member restaurants to offer locally-brewed beer on their menu. In addition to getting more beers into restaurants close to where it is brewed, Schumer will be pushing the New York City members of the NYSRA to consider offering beers brewed across Upstate New York and Long Island. While some beers like Genesee and Saranac have gained popularity in the downstate market, Schumer and New York brewers believe this market is vastly underutilized and represents the chance to dramatically grow craft brewing across the state.

Here is Schumer’s breakdown of local brewing businesses and their production levels by region:

• In the Capital Region, six breweries brewed 4,922 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open two new breweries.

• In Central New York, six breweries brewed 287,883 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open three new breweries.

• In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, four breweries brewed 511,063 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open three new breweries.

• In the Southern Tier, 11 breweries brewed 42,279 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open seven new breweries.

• In Western New York, four breweries brewed 31,349 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open two new breweries.

• In the Hudson Valley, seven breweries brewed 11,895 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open seven new breweries.

• In the North Country, five breweries brewed 8,728 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open at least one new brewery.

• In the New York City, five breweries brewed 132,073 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open nine new breweries.

• On Long Island, 10 breweries brewed 54,122 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open five new breweries.

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20111210

Smuttynose Brewery expanding in NH

• From seacoastonline.com

HAMPTON, NH -- The moving of an old farmhouse this week on a 14-acre property on Towle Farm Road signaled the official start to the construction of a new $16 million Smuttynose Brewery and restaurant.

Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston said the farmhouse is being moved 40 yards east to make room for the new 42,000-square-foot brewing facility. Building will begin in spring 2012.

"We will be jumping into this full force in the spring time, and we hope to be moving into a new brewery by the summer of 2013," Egelston said. "What we are doing now is getting a little bit of a head start before the winter sets in, as we all know it will."

Crews are working this week to jack up the farmhouse, raise it from its foundation and roll it to its new location.

[Go here for the full story and photos.]

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