Beer In Ads #2152: Lauritz Melchior For Pabst


Tuesday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1948. In the later 1940s, Pabst embarked on a series of ads with celebrity endorsements, photographing star actors, athletes, musicians and other famous people in their homes, enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. This one features Mr. and Mrs. Lauritz Melchior. He “was a Danish and later American opera singer. He was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type. Late in his career, Melchior appeared in movie musicals and on radio and television. He also made numerous recordings.”

In the ad, he’s with his wife in their “California home,” having ginormous glasses of beer from a single bottle. Amazingly, the opera singer is also smoking a cigar. Perhaps they’ll be playing bridge soon. Apparently, “[h]e played contract bridge, and holds the world record for the lowest score (13%) secured in a duplicate bridge tournament.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: William Copeland

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Today is the birthday of William Copeland (January 10, 1834-February 11, 1902). He “was a Norwegian-American brewer. In 1869 he established the Spring Valley Brewery in Yamate, Yokohama, Japan. Spring Valley Brewery was one of Japan’s first beer breweries, and in 1907 became the founding production facility of Kirin Brewery Company, one of Japan’s largest domestic beer producers.”

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Here’s his basic biography, from his Wikipedia page:

Copeland was born Johan Martinius Thoresen in Arendal in Norway. In the 1840s, Copeland worked for five years as an apprentice to a German brewmaster a few blocks from his home before immigrating to the United States and changing his name to William Copeland.

Moving to Yokohama, Japan in 1864, Copeland first worked in the dairy business and then set himself up as a brewer in 1869 with the Spring Valley Brewery, which was located at the site of a natural spring next to the Amanuma Pond below the Yamate foreign residential neighborhood, where he dug a 210-meter cave into the side of a hill and used its low fixed temperature to help the beer mature. After Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization, Copeland was quick to adopt the new technique in his factory. Copeland produced three varieties of beer: a lager beer, a Bavarian beer, and a Bavarian Bock beer. His beer was principally sold in casks to local Yokohama taverns with a small amount of bottled beer being made available to foreign residents in Yokohama, and then was shipped to Tokyo and Nagasaki. He went back to Norway and married Anne Kristine Olsen in 1872. They lived in Japan but she became sick and died seven years later. Although Copeland showed talent as a beer brewer, he was a poor manager, and in 1884 Spring Valley Brewery was put up for public auction.

With the assistance of Scottish merchant Thomas Blake Glover, the Spring Valley Brewery was sold in early 1885 to a group of Japanese investors and renamed The Japan Brewery. German brewmaster Hermann Heckert was hired to oversee production. Glover was also instrumental in establishing a sales agency contract with Meidi-ya for the relaunched brewery, Kirin Beer, which was launched in May 1888.

William Copeland’s grave, maintained by Kirin Brewery Company, is located in the Foreigner’s Cemetery in Yamate, Yokohama. The site of the former Spring Valley Brewery is now occupied by Kitagata Elementary School. Monuments and water wells visible at the edge of the school grounds attest to the site’s history.

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The tourist website Japan Travel has an article, Yokohama Beer Pub, Spring Valley, which gives some additional details about Copeland:

Copeland was born in Arendal Norway in 1834. His original name was Johan Bartinius Thoresen. There was a beer brewery near his house and he was apprenticed to the brewery for five years. After working there, he immigrated to America and changed his name to William Copeland. In 1864 he came to Japan and invested in some companies for a few years. He saved some money and eventually established his own beer brewery, Spring Valley Brewery, in 1870. He came up with various ideas on how to brew delicious beer; He dug a 210-meter cave into the side of a hill and used its low fixed temperature to help the beer mature. After Pasteur invented pasteurization, Copeland soon adopted the new technique in his factory. His beer rose in popularity among foreign residents in Yokohama and then was shipped to Tokyo and Nagasaki as well. He went back to Norway and married Anne Kristine Olsen in 1872. They lived in Japan but she became sick and died seven years later. Although Copeland showed talent as a beer brewer, he wasn’t a good manager. In 1884 Spring Valley Brewery was put up for public auction.

Kirin took over Copeland’s brewery and eventually expanded the business worldwide. The place where Spring Valley Brewery used to stand is now called Kirin-en Park. There is a big monument there to commemorate the brewery.

Copeland remarried a Japanese woman, Umeko Katsumata, in 1889 and took trips to Hawaii and then Guatemala, trying to establish new businesses but chronic heart disease and arthritis, as well as financial difficulties, prevented him from doing so. Finally the couple came back to Yokohama in January 1902, and Copeland passed away the following month at the age of 68.

By the way, his wife Umeko was the second daughter of the proprietors of Ise-ya—a famous, long-established inn in Hakone’s Ashino-yu district. These days, Ise-ya is called Kakumei-kan and is still doing very well.

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William, his Japanese wife Umeko and her parents.

In 2014, the Kirin Brewery reopened a new Spring Valley Brewery as a brewpub, and there are currently two locations, one in Tokyo and another in Yokohama, which is near where the original brewery was built.

The new Spring Valley Brewery website has this history of Our Brewer’s Passion:

150 years ago, one beer brewer stepped foot on a newly opened seaport of Yokohama. His name William Copeland, a Norwegian-born American, founded the Spring Valley Brewery in Yokohama located far from his homeland.

During the time, Japan was in the midst of cultural enlightenment and supplies of ingredients and equipment for brewing beer was scarce. However, he exercised his ingenuity to overcome these struggles by installing a naturally powered water wheel to mill malt and prepared wort during the winter season to keep it cool.

His beer attracted the interest of many foreigners who lived in Yokohama’s foreign settlement, which eventually caught on to the Japanese locals. This popularity made Spring Valley Brewery become the first brewery in Japan to achieve commercial success.

Copeland devoted his life to his passion for beer, not just as a brewer, but also by making Japan’s first beer garden in his own yard, later passed down to Japan Brewery, the forerunner of Kirin Brewery.

Brewers who studied under Copeland found their own paths to cultivate the production of domestic beer, thus often, William Copeland is referred to as the father of Japanese beer.

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Liberty IPA

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When Anchor’s Liberty Ale was first released in 1975, few people knew what to make of it, and in the intervening years, I’ve heard debates on both sides about whether or not it’s a pale ale an IPA or something else altogether. Certainly it was the first beer to be brewed with Cascade hops. But Anchor seems to have an answer at last to that eternal question with the announcement today that they’re releasing a new beer, Liberty IPA, based on the original Liberty Ale. The press release is below, but all you need to know is in this sentence. “Liberty IPA is Anchor’s reimagining of the craft beer classic Liberty Ale, envisioned through the lens of today’s IPAs.”

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Today, Anchor Brewing Company announces the release of Liberty IPA™, a bold and modern twist on an original craft classic, Liberty Ale.

Like its predecessor, Liberty IPA (6.3% ABV) is made with two-row pale malt and Cascade hops. It is the combination of Cascade with new hop varieties—Nelson Sauvin and El Dorado—that creates the mouthwateringly complex and robust aromas of pine and citrus in this crisp, American-style IPA.

“Liberty IPA is a revolutionary brew—reimagined,” said Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann. “The beer is a bright straw golden color and boasts aromas of dank and resinous pine up front, with bold citrus and grapefruit notes on the back end. You can really taste the assertive bitterness, with hints of a light biscuit malt base and a smooth, dry finish. Liberty IPA is a celebration of the Cascade hopped IPA’s that Anchor first popularized back in 1975 and remain at the forefront of American craft beer trends.”

Liberty IPA is Anchor’s reimagining of the craft beer classic Liberty Ale, envisioned through the lens of today’s IPAs. Liberty Ale was first brewed in 1975 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and was the first American IPA brewed after prohibition. This revolutionary forerunner of the modern IPA introduced America to the Cascade hop and the nearly lost art of dry-hopping, a steeping process to infuse beer with bold hop aromas.

Taking cues from the original Liberty Ale packaging, the newly designed Liberty IPA label features the bald eagle, a symbol of strength and freedom.

Liberty IPA is available starting January 2017 nationwide for a limited time in 6-pack bottles and on draught at select bars, restaurants, and stores as well as at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

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Beer Birthday: Todd Alström

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Today is the 48th birthday of Todd Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate. With his brother Jason, Todd has created one of the killer apps of the beer world online and the only monthly beer magazine. Though we only run into one another from time to time, we always have a good time. We also shared a week in Bavaria on a press junket in 2007, and had a terrific fry crawl in Boston a number of years ago, before he relocated to Denver a couple of years ago, and more recently became a father. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Todd (at right), with brother Jason and Jaime Jurado, head brewer from Gambrinus, at the 2008 GABF.

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During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason Alström and Todd Alström.

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Todd with Rhonda Kallman at the Blue Palm in L.A., after the premiere of Beer Wars.

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Me, Todd, Jason Alström, Joe Tucker and Greg Koch showing off our sample bottles of Enjoy By 12.21.12 in San Diego four Decembers ago.

Session #119: The Discomfort Of Burning Mouth Beer

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For our 119th Session, our host is Alec Latham, who writes Mostly About Beer …. For his topic, he’s chosen Discomfort Beer, by which he means a beer which initially tasted funny, or odd, or off, or something, but which later became a favorite. Or maybe it didn’t. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that very well, so I’ll just let Alec take over and describe what he means:

What was your first ever taste of beer like? For me, it was like chilled copper coins mixed with tonic water and was disgusting. This is a process us committed beer drinkers can revisit every time we try something new.

A few years ago, I visited a pub in Pimlico called the Cask and Kitchen. There was a beer called Wild Raven by Thornbridge Brewery. Making assumptions based on the title, I ordered a pint as I love stout. I remember opening the sluices and then seizing up. Something wasn’t right. It had the chocolatey flavour of a stout but there was an intruder – lemon rind hissed in my nostrils and tainted my palate. Citrus grappled with the roast malt. Was it supposed to taste like this? Was it infection? Detergent? I spent some time staring at the floor in a suspended double-take.

That was my first ever Black IPA and at the time I wasn’t sure. Initially, I didn’t like it but whilst deciding whether or not to return it to the bar I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt. The dislike diminished. The acceptance grew. The pint gradually drained.

Black IPA is now one of my favourite styles but it could have gone the other way.

And does a Black IPA still get me blinking at the floor in a state of disquiet? No. Neither does the astringent character of Brett nor the dry bite of Lambic. All styles have been comprehensively “locked in”. Ultimately, familiarity devours discomfort.

For Session 119 I’d like you to write about which/what kind of beers took you out of your comfort zones. Beers you weren’t sure whether you didn’t like, or whether you just needed to adjust to. Also, this can’t include beers that were compromised, defective, flat, off etc because this is about deliberate styles. It would be interesting to see if these experiences are similar in different countries.

I think this could be a good archive for people researching fads, the origins of styles and the dearths of others – but especially how new ones were initially perceived.

Over the past year I’ve had a black barley wine, a braggot, a rye wine, a seaweed and cloudberry Gose, a beer made with Saki yeast and several made with Champagne yeast. I’ve sipped stout with Tonka beans, drank mulled lager and many tea beers – some with the tea complementing the hops – others completely replacing them. This has also been a year where 9 ABV hop-forward beers have become standard (from the UK perspective).

Some of the above I loved, others I liked and some I hated. What remains to be seen is which will catch on and which are just brief social media cameos.

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The beer that brings me the most discomfort I first tried in the mid-1990s. It was Ed’s Cave Creek Chili. Every bottle has a whole chili pepper inside of it. Why? Besides being novel, and eye-catching, some people — many people — like hot and spicy food. I am not one of those people, which immediately puts me at a disadvantage. It came across my desk as the chain beer buyer for Beverages & more. And so I tried it, and instantly regretted it. And still do to this day. Besides the pain of the barrage of hot and spicy flavors, these beers completely ruin me for any other beer I might want to drink, or really anything I might to eat too. Basically, it makes me unable to taste anything else for a period of time, and not just a few seconds; more like minutes, sometimes well over an hour.

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Of course, we brought it in. Just because I don’t like something shouldn’t mean others wouldn’t want to try it. And there was some obvious appeal for people who like that sort of thing, and it sold reasonably well, probably to just the sort of person who loves four-alarm (or is it five-alarm now?) chili or ghost peppers. People who must go to the extremes, who never met a challenge they wouldn’t try.

The beer is still around, though it’s now called Cave Creek Chili Beer, and is brewed in Mexico. As far as I know, it was the first modern chili beer. It was certainly the first one I ever tried. And they appear to even be growing in popularity. Chili Beer was in a subgroup for GABF and World Beer Cup judging, but recently were broken out into their own category. That only happens if they’re getting a growing number of entries each year. I always bow out of judging that category.

To be fair, I don’t like hot or spices in anything, food or liquid. I am unabashedly a spice wuss. I grew up in rural Amish country Pennsylvania, and like to joke that my family only used two spices: salt and lard. But that’s not far off, as most of the dishes I remember eating were fairly bland; corn pie, meatloaf, casseroles, stews, potato soup, stuff with very few spices. Maybe it was just my Mom, but most of her recipes came from other family members, so I don’t think so. Anyway, to this day I don’t even eat mustard or mayonnaise, no pepper, never touch any Indian food, and will eat only the plainest Mexican fare. After over twenty years, my wife will still hand me something, saying it’s not too hot, and I’ll gag from the spiciness. Of course, this usually makes her laugh, so maybe she’s been doing it on purpose all this time.

But that aside, I don’t think that beer should compete with my food, or even my tongue, for attention. It can wash down and compliment or even contrast my food, but if it renders me unable to taste the next bite, then to my way of thinking it’s not doing its job. It should also be pleasant and ultimately enjoyable. And burning the inside of my mouth has never accomplished that, even though I realize that is actually a goal for some people.

But using any more than the barest amount of chili peppers usually results in it overpowering whatever the base style of beer is, effectively removing its beeriness. I have the same issue with many barrel-aged beers, when they take on so much of the barrel character, or whatever had been in the barrel previously, that its essence is gone, having lost its beeriness in the process. If I want bourbon, I’ll just drink bourbon. In any flavored beer, the adjunct or wood should add to the beer, but not mask, remove or overpower its essential beeriness, otherwise it becomes something else entirely. And for almost every chili pepper beer that’s what happens. I have had one or two examples where it was subtle enough that it did just add to the flavors and not overwhelm your senses, but that’s rare enough that it’s an exception rather than a degree of that type of beer. The majority, I feel, want to hurt me, and wear that goal like a badge of honor, daring me to try it. I don’t think of drinking beer as an endurance test, something to make it through, or a challenge to meet.

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So unlike Alec’s experience with Black IPAs, or many people, including myself, warming to a new type of beer, chili beer seems like a love it or hate it kind of beer, with little ground in the middle. And you won’t be surprised to learn I hate them. How could there be any middle ground? Maybe your tolerance for spiciness increases over time, but that has not been my personal experience. My wife has been trying for over twenty years, as did many girlfriends before that. And while I do, believe it or not, eat many more foods today than I did when I was a child and in the intervening years, many people are still shocked at how picky I am and usually chuckle at what I consider to be too spicy. C’est la vie.

So maybe I could, through a concerted effort, patent sampling, building up a tolerance over time, learn to better appreciate chili beers. Then what? They’d still be too much for everyday consumption. I can’t imagine a scenario or situation where that’s a beer I’d ever reach for willingly. What occasion would be appropriate to drink something that will burn my mouth and cause me to be unable to taste anything else? Maybe it’s pure hedonism on my part, but I don’t want to have to work at enjoying a beer. A good beer should, at the very least, just be enjoyable on its own, part and parcel of its beeriness. That is, and rightly should be what beeriness means: something delicious that you want to drink, and is enjoyable during and afterwards, or something that does not cause any discomfort.

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Beer Birthday: Nancy Johnson

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Today is Nancy Johnson’s birthday. Nancy is the Events Director for the Brewers Association, which includes being the director of the Great American Beer Festival, among others. She’s been doing that thankless job for a lot of years now and always manages to keep a smile on her face. Join me in wishing Nancy a very happy birthday.

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George Wendt, Nancy, and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper at the 2009 GABF Awards Ceremony.

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Nancy with Chris Black, the owner of Falling Rock, at GABF in 2006.

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With Tom McCormick, from the CSBA, at the Roadhouse in Boston, Mass.

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Tom Nickel (owner of O’Brien’s in San Diego), Nancy and the late Danny Williams, at Slow Food Nation 2008 in San Francisco.

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With Matt Brynildson and Sean Paxton after the World Cup Beer Dinner in Chicago in 2010.