Beer Outmaneuvering Wine

beer-vs-wine
Here’s some interesting news from the wine world, h/t to Jenn Litz from Craft Business Daily. Charles Gill, who runs Wine Metrics, which creates “on-premise wine distribution information in the U.S. market.” According to Litz, Gill has been saying lately that he believes that craft beer is taking market share from wine, which is curious, because “trade show rhetoric has often been the exact opposite.”

On Gill’s blog, Wine List USA, he claims that Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine, and lists ten ways in which he believes that’s happening. Here’s his raw list.

  1. Value
  2. Innovation
  3. Promotion
  4. Community
  5. Venues
  6. Cross-Fertilization
  7. New Traditions
  8. Customer Loyalty
  9. Food Compatibility
  10. Gatekeepers

For a better understanding of that list, read his explanations for each one at the source, 10 Ways Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine. I don’t tend to think about wine and beer as an us versus them proposition, but obviously the pie that is all alcohol consumption is divided into wedges of how much is spent on each type. There’s no getting around it. If more people buy beer, something else isn’t doing as well. It’s theoretically possible that the pie is just growing and people are buying more beer, but are not buying less wine, spirits, cider or what have you, but that’s not exactly realistic. If anything, the pie’s been shrinking, sad to say, as people are drinking less overall than they used to.

As to Gill’s list, I definitely agree with Value, Innovation and some of the Community aspects he mentions. And I also think Food Compatibility and most of what he says about New Traditions ring true, but I’m less convinced by the others. Do you agree? Or Disagree? If, so why, and to which ones?

beer-wine

Time For An Utepils

norway
The trivia website Dose recently had a list they posted of 21 Words That Don’t Exist In English, But Should. Essentially they’re words in other languages for which there’s no English equivalent, which Dose argues should be added to our dictionaries. Given our history of liberal “borrowing” of foreign words, I can’t see why not. The one word that caught my attention was Utepils (pronounced “oot-er-pillss”), a noun meaning “to sit outside on a sunny day enjoying a beer.”

According to the book “The untranslatables’,” by C. J. Moore, “you have to live through the long dark months of a Norwegian winter to appreciate the annual Norwegian rite of utepils. Literally it means ‘the first drink of the year taken out of doors.’ Easter is barely past, with its tradition of hyttepåske — your Easter visit to your remote cabin — and the days are at last getting longer. Although it’s still practically freezing, everyone is queueing up to invite you to a first utepils get-together ar their favourite bar.

Apparently that’s not exactly correct, and a native Norwegian writing a blog entitled An Enthusiast’s Lexicon, describes utepils more fully:

Actually, utepils simply means any beer enjoyed outside, at any time of the year, but it is true that the first one of the season is a much anticipated ritual. You know spring is on its way when norwegians brave the chilling temperatures and gather around their pints, sometimes even wrapped in blankets. The practice continues throughout the year though – nothing says summer like utepils.

The word itself is made up of two words, ute (‘outside’) and pils, which is simply short for Pilsner, the type of lager beer most commonly consumed in Norway. Interestingly, pils is also used as a slang verb (‘å pilse’), meaning simply ‘to drink beer’. So when you are getting together for an utepils you are pilsing.

Anyway, as our weather in Northern California has been decidedly warm the last few days, I think it’s time I sat out on our back deck, basking in the sunshine with a beer in hand, and enjoyed me a good old-fashioned Utepils. Who’s with me?

Utepils

The Effect Of Color On Taste

color
I’ve seen several different studies examining the effect of the color of food or a beverage on how it tastes. But this is the first one I’ve seen where they’ve looked at the color of the room in which the tasting is held. This study used wine, but it would undoubtedly be the same for beer, or any other drink. It certainly makes sense that your environment would effect the experience of tasting. Or as this short article in Drinks Business puts it, the “environment in which you experience a wine has a ‘profound’ effect on how you will perceive it to taste.” The study, conducted by Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, concluded that “Lighting and music can act as digital seasoning for food and wine.” I”m not quite sure about sound, but perhaps. Anyway, it brings up all sorts of possibilities about how we taste, and where. I’d certainly like to see more of this kind of research.

colored-rooms
Be careful what room you drink in, especially what color it is.

Beer Glassware Catalog 1892

stein-dimple
Here’s an interesting historical artifact. It’s a trade catalog for bars and restaurants from a company in New York, the L & M Goldsticker company, which published an “illustrated catalogue” of “bar room glassware and bottlers supplies” in 1892.

Here’s the cover of the 80-page catalog:

Goldsticker-cover

And the back cover shows the brick and mortar store on Fulton Street in New York City.

Goldsticker-back

They carried a surprising array of beer glasses for the discerning bar, including some for specific types of beer, along with a number of other accessories and equipment. You can see the entire catalogue online at the Hagley Digital Archives. Below is a majority of the pages with beer glasses on them.

Pages 6 and 7:
Goldsticker-pg-6-7

Page 12:
Goldsticker-pg-12

Pages 14 and 15:
Goldsticker-pg-14-15

Pages 16 and 17:
Goldsticker-pg-16-17

Pages 22 and 23:
Goldsticker-pg-22-23

Pennsylvania Anti-Privatization Propaganda

plcb
I’ve considered myself a Californian since 1985, when I moved to the Golden State. But I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. On my Mom’s side, my family first came from Berne, Switzerland, to the Reading area in 1745. I have a relative who participated in the Revolutionary War and another who fought at Gettysburg, and whose name is enshrined on the Pennsylvania Monument there. As a result, I tend to feel a connection to the Commonwealth and try to keep a closer eye on what goes on there.

The Keystone State is a peculiar one, especially when it comes to alcohol. State Stores there enjoy a monopoly on liquor and wine sales, and beer is sold only by the case (with some expensive exceptions) in heavily regulated and licensed beer and soda stores known as “distributors.” When I turned 21, in 1980, the state still didn’t have photo driver’s licenses and I remember having to fill out a form and attach a photo so the state could create my PLCB photo card, whose only purpose was to buy a drink, in effect a drinking card. The drive to change the state’s weird, and antiquated, alcohol laws has been a topic of conversation literally since I was a child, and I can recall my parents debating its merits. They were in favor of privatization, as apparently a majority of Pennsylvanians still are.

But efforts to privatize Pennsylvania’s alcohol trade and get rid of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, or PLCB, always seem to stall, and nothing ever seems to change. Watching from afar that seems as true today as it did when I still lived there. Everybody I know hates the system the way it is, but no one’s been able to change that due to what I can only assume are powerful forces who want to keep the status quo the way it is. But over the last few years, momentum appears to be building again to bend the state’s laws toward the will of the people and privatize the sale of beer, wine and spirits.

And they must be making some progress, because a few days ago I saw this:

It’s easily one of the most obnoxious, dishonest and insulting pieces of propaganda I’ve ever seen. Right out of the gate they insult every other state where alcohol is sold in grocery stores and other places where people already do their shopping, a.k.a. the civilized world, when they state that it “would be so dangerous for kids.” Hey lady (scriptwriter, really), I’ve got news for you. We can buy beer in all manner of stores throughout California, and my kids are just fine, thank you very much. There’s so much dishonesty in the ad that it’s almost not worth going through it point by point. But the capper is how they end it, by saying “it’s about greed, pure and simple.”

What’s so dishonest about that is that the ad is indeed about greed, but the greed of the people who made the ad who want to keep the status quo, and the money flowing to them. The ad was created by the UFCW PA Wine & Spirits Council (a front organization) and the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1776 (UFCW 1776) (and was produced by Strategic Communications). As I’ve written many times before, one of the most pernicious tactics of these campaigns is invoking “it’s for the children,” when it’s really not about that at all. But this one takes it to a new low with their new catch phrase: “It only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child.”

You might ask what kind of a person would come up with something like that? It’s most likely UCFW 1776′s “president for life” Wendell W. Young IV, who apparently has made a career out of this sort of thing, as detailed nicely by my friend and colleague Lew Bryson in Wendell Young lies and I can prove it on his blog all about Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished.

As he points out, the ad is so ham-fisted and absurd that it’s made the state a laughingstock, with news reports lambasting the ad from Forbes to the National Memo, which declared it the “craziest political ad of 2014.” Also, the Commonwealth Foundation points out how the statistic about North Carolina’s children dying at a rate of one per week is false. The Foundation also has a good overview of the Principles of Liquor Privatization.

But it’s another example in the ongoing sad saga of just how far people will go to push their self-serving agendas, something anti-alcohol groups are amazingly good at doing. At some point, the creators of this, the sponsors and people paying the bill all looked at this ad before airing it to the public and never once concluded it went too far, might be over the top or played fast and loose with the truth. And that, I think, tells you everything you need to know about the hearts and minds of the UCFW 1776. It really does only take a little bit of greed, doesn’t it?

Rusty Crowns As Art

anchor-rusty-cap
I meant to write about these before, but they got away from me. British photographer — and current Bay Area resident — Charly Franklin is making some amazing art … with rusty beer caps. And not just rusty, but “rusted, bent, discolored and generally distressed.” He’s taking very detailed photos of these crowns and blowing them up large, over three feet in some cases, which gives them almost an otherworldly appearance. Or in Charly’s own words, an “extraordinary quality and graphic dynamic that looks amazing.” And I have to agree. The patina of the rust, along with the colors and texture of the bottle caps looks really cool. Check out some samples.

Here’s a black crown from Lagunitas:
rusty-crown-lagunitas-black

And one from Anchor:
rusty-crown-anchor

Check out the catalog of over 200 different available crowns from breweries around the world, but with quite a few from California and many craft breweries.

Here’s one from Trumer:
rusty-crown-trumer

And other of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum:
rusty-crown-hoptimum

Prints are available on framed canvases, in five sizes, including 18×18, 24×24, 30×30, 36×36 and 40×40 inches. Shipping is free within the U.S.

rusty-crown-framed

Finally, here’s two more, starting with Bear Republic:
rusty-crown-bear-republic

And here’s Drake’s:
rusty-crown-drakes

What Kind Of Drinker Are You?

look-magazine
Here’s a fun little piece of history. In the September 2, 1947 issue of Look magazine, journeyman freelance author Don Wharton wrote an article examining the different types of drinkers one might encounter in mid-20th century America, as long as one kept to the mainstream America filled with white, affluent males. In his introduction to What Kind of Drinker Are You? he alludes to eleven different types, at least “according to doctors, psychiatrists, bartenders and drinkers of all types.” They admit that their types couldn’t cover everyone, but believe 95% of the population should be able to find themselves among the types. I thought the article I found online was complete, but it only shows ten. However in the text describing “Pick-Up Drinkers,” they refer to the “Week-End Drinker,” so that must be the missing eleventh type of drinker.

  1. Convention Drinker
  2. Before-Dinner Drinker
  3. Pick-Up Drinker
  4. Sneak Drinker
  5. Abnormal Drinker
  6. Hard Heavy Drinker
  7. Convivial Drinker
  8. Polite Drinker
  9. Petty Drinker
  10. Party Drinker
  11. Week-End Drinker

The descriptions of each type of drinker provide a fascinating insight into how people thought about drinking in the late 1940s, shortly after World War 2 ended.

What-Kind-Of-Drinker-01

What-Kind-Of-Drinker-02

What-Kind-Of-Drinker-03

What-Kind-Of-Drinker-04

What-Kind-Of-Drinker-05

Which type are you?

Budweiser Beer Tumbler 1879

pint-glass
I came across this interesting patent design for a beer tumbler this morning for Budweiser that was patented on June 10, 1879 by C. Conrad. Liquor importer Carl Conrad is one of the more forgotten names from the history of Anheuser-Busch. He was at least partially responsible, along with his longtime friend Adolphus Busch, for the original recipe of Budweiser and in fact early bottles of Bud, prior to the 1920s were sold under the company name “C. Conrad and Co.” before A-B got the rights from Conrad. He apparently also designed this glass for the beer in 1879. I”m not sure if they were ever made, but they certainly look somewhat familiar. Anybody know?

bud-beer-tumblr-1879

The Hoplist

hoplist
I got a press release yesterday from a Julian Healey about a project he’s just launched. His new website from Australia is The Hoplist, and includes information on at least 268 varieties of hops, which they claim is the “biggest list of hops … ever.” And that seems right, most of the hop guides are put out by the hop growers and sellers, and focus on just the varieties that they carry, whereas the Hoplist is at least attempting to be complete. For each hop, there’s a description of the hop and nearly two-dozen bits of information about it. I’ll be in Melbourne in just over a week, so perhaps I can share a beer with Julian. I think I’ll suggest something hoppy.

hoplist-screenshot