Today is the 55th birthday of John Hansell, publisher of Malt Advocate, the whisky magazine in America, which also puts on WhiskyFest in several cities, including San Francisco. John’s a terrific person I don’t see nearly often enough. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.
A boozy chart of every variety of alcohol, from fermented concoctions such as beer and wine to distilled delights such as a gin and rum, this print features everything from favorites like wine and vodka to less lauded tipples such as caium and arrack, all pressed in copper metal inks.
The Distilled Spirits Council, a trade organization for producers of distilled spirits, just released their annual report on how spirits are doing relative to the other alcoholic beverages. Vodka continues to lead the spirits parade, with rum in second and tequila in third.
While beer continues to be the most popular adult beverage, spirits once again took market share from beer, which was up 4% by sales in 2011 over 2010. According to their figures, beer currently enjoys 49.3% of the alcohol market, with spirits having 33.6% and wine 17.1%. [Note: I can’t account for the 0.1% difference in the two charts. They’re supposedly taken from the same source, though the one below is directly from the Distilled Spirits Council.]
While 49.3% sounds pretty good, the year before it was 49.8%
And in 2000, only 11 years ago, it was 55.5%, meaning beer has lost 6.2% marketshare in just over a decade. Hey, beer people; you’re just not pulling your weight. Drink a few more beers tonight. A can (or bottle or pint) a day, that’s all we ask.
Our 59th Session is something of a departure, as the topic could just as properly be about beverages other than beer as beer itself. Our host, Mario Rubio from Brewed For Thought was looking to branch out of beer and explore our other liquid passions. Seizing upon a suggestion I made regarding the Dos Equis pitchman — a.k.a. The Most Interesting Man in the World — who’s fond of remarking “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do….,” Mario turned it on his head, and is asking us to opine about the opposite, as in “I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t….” But I’ll let him explain:
With the New Year looming and a month of Christmas and Holiday parties to enjoy there are plenty of opportunities to get into a different beverage besides beer, alcoholic or otherwise. It was with this in mind that I was reminded of a conversation I had one day with Jay Brooks. Looking for advice on how to squeeze some blood from this stone of beer blogging, Jay told me a lot of writers have to look outside of beer to help make a complete income. Upon bringing this up as a Session topic he even offered up a much better title than I would have thought up.
So as we are all incredibly interesting people, and almost always drink beer, let’s talk about what we drink when not drinking beer. Maybe your passion for coffee rivals that of craft beer, or it could be another alcoholic beverage such as scotch. My daughter being a root beer fan would appreciate her dad reviewing a few fizzy sodas. Maybe you have a drink that takes the edge off the beer, be it hair of the dog or a palate cleanser during the evening.
Beer cocktails, wines, ciders, meads, you name it as long as it’s not beer. Try to tie it in with craft beer in some way for extra credit. Be creative and I’ll see you guys in the new year.
This one was generally pretty easy for me. In addition to beer, I’m obsessed with a number of other beverages, though some are non-alcoholic. For example, I love unsweetened Iced Tea. Love it. It’s my caffeine delivery system of choice and I drink at least a liter bottle of Tejava — my favorite pre-packaged brand, hands down — each and every day, and usually more. I’m also rather fond of good lemonade, which is harder to find than one might suppose. I don’t really drink any soda — that stuff is really unhealthy — but I will have the occasional root beer or birch beer, which is a bit of nostalgia for me. A-Treat sodas from Philly were what we had around the house growing up, and apart from the Grapefruit Dry, root beer and birch beer were my favorites. A lot of the folk fairs my parents took me to had demonstrations of how they were made in the old days, which I found endlessly fascinating. I also confess to drinking quite a lot of water, especially when I’m also drinking a lot of beer.
But as for other alcoholic beverages, I am a self-avowed cross-drinker. I do like wine, though to tend to favor big reds and champagne, which I have a weakness for. The more delicate whites are usually lost on me, but I won’t dismiss them out of hand. I just don’t know a great deal about them, apart from what I like which I decide purely on sensory considerations and find wine ratings even more useless than beer ones. They’re perhaps a necessary evil, and one I have to live with, but they’re often so subjective that they’re often meaningless.
I like single malt whisky and many other spirits, but again my knowledge of them is rather thin. I’ve attended a number of whisky tasting events and dinners, and always had a great time, but find that I rarely reach for a bottle when I’m at home. I like tequila, but it does not like me. As a result of some bad experiences when I was younger, I never ever touch the stuff. I’m also not a huge fan of rum, ouzo, brandy or many other similar liquors and liqueurs. I like vodka and absinthe well enough, though usually only in small doses.
Hands down, my favorite non-beer, alcoholic drink — especially after drinking a lot of beer — is gin. I especially find that a gin and tonic cleanses my palette like nothing else can. I prefer Bombay Sapphire, of the common gins, and Anchor’s Junipero Gin, when I can find it; though in truth I’m not too picky as long as it’s not a rotgut bottom-of-the-barrel variety. There’s nothing quite like it after a day’s beer judging to reset my mind and body for the evening.
Saturday after the Oregon Brewers Festival, Tom Dalldorf, Stephen Beaumont and I went to the Rogue Brewpub on NW Flanders. Stephen wanted to try Rogue’s new rums and Tom and I were game to come along.
The Rogue Distillery sits above the brewpub.
Where they make two kinds of rum, a white rum and a dark rum.
John Couchot, who runs the new Rogue House of Spirits in Newport which opened June 10, shows us the still and gives us a little tour.
While Stephen Beaumont and Tom Dalldorf listen. Barrels along the walls age rum.
Tom gets a snoot full. We did have a barrel tasting of the white rum, which was excellent.
My friend Adam Lambert works for Rogue and his palatial office is above the distillery.