Today would have been the 59th birthday of Publican extraordinaire Ray Deter, who passed away tragically five summers ago after he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in New York City. Ray was the owner of the d.b.a. beer bars in New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn) and also New Orleans. He is most definitely missed by those of us who knew him. Please join me in raising a toast today to the memory of Ray Deter. Happy birthday Ray.
Today in 1994, US Patent 5291004 A was issued, an invention of Michael S. Frank and R. Patrick Garrett, for their “Card-Controlled Beverage Distribution System.” Here’s the Abstract:
A self-service beverage distribution system includes a piping network with refrigerated tubing for transporting beverages, such as beer, from at least one source to at least one output. A drinker purchases a magnetic card which represents a predetermined quantity of beer, and which specifies which beer sources the drinker can have access to. A flow meter measures how much beer the drinker dispenses, and the quantity of beer represented on the card is decreased accordingly.
Today is the 37th birthday of Jeff Bell, whose alter ego was, until a few years ago, Stonch, one of England’s best bloggers. He had retired from blogging to concentrate on his new job as landlord of a London pub, The Gunmakers, in Clerkenwell, a village in the heart of London. I stopped by to meet Jeff on my way back from a trip to Burton-on-Trent a few years ago. And four years back, I saw Jeff several times during GBBF week. But a couple of years back, the blogging started up again, and he moved on from that pub, and last I heard he was the landlord of the Finborough Arms in Earl’s Court, next to the Finborough Theatre. I hope I’ll get a chance to visit his new place on my next trip to London. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.
Jeff Bell, a.k.a. Stonch, at The Gunmakers Pub in central London.
The Brewers Association‘s consumer website, CraftBeer.com, asked visitors to the site to choose their “favorite craft beer bar” in their home state by filling “out a short survey about what makes it so great including atmosphere, staff, beer selection and special events.” Over 9,000 people voted between August and December of last year. More of a popularity contest, so I’m not sure it’s fair to call them the 51 Best Beer Bars in America, but still the results are interesting. California’s top vote-getter was the Twisted Oak Tavern, in Agoura Hills. I confess I’ve never heard of it, but then Agoura Hills is in Southern California, in west L.A. County.
But I can name some pretty great beer bars in California, even quite a few in that part of the state with great reputations. How is this the best one in the state? It’s also a brewpub, sort of, although according to a newspaper article they refer to it as a “restaurant located at the former LAB Brewing Co. space in the Agoura Hills Town Center. The brewery continues to operate on the premises.” They seem to have a full bar, and of the thirty taps, eight of them are house beers, and the rest are mostly local, with another fourteen bottles and cans. But the original LAB Brewing Co. opened sometime around late 2011, and the new space — the one that is the best bar is California — opened March 25, 2015. That means it was open for four months when voting opened, and just nine months when it ended. I’m sure it’s a nice place, but I have a hard time believing it’s better than any number of great bars, like the Toronado (either one), The Trappist, Hamilton’s, Blue Palms Brewhouse, Beer Revolution, 38 Degrees, Urge, Naja’s, Stuffed Sandwich, O’Brien’s, Capitol Beer & Tap Room, Monk’s Kettle, Library Alehouse, Tony’s Darts Away, Boneyard Bistro, La Trappe, The Bistro, Blind Lady, Lucky Baldwin’s, Good Karma, Tiger Tiger, Father’s Office, ØL Beercafe, Barclay’s, Zeitgeist, Live Wire, The Good Hop, Taps, Harry’s Hofbrau, Congregation Ale House, Original Gravity Public House, The Surly Goat, The Hopyard, Jupiter, Lanesplitter and the Public House at AT&T Park, to rattle off a few that come to mind.
It’s not listed at all on Beer Advocate’s L.A. Beer Guide, suggesting there at least fifty better bars just in the L.A. area, let alone the state. In fact, it has no listing at all, though the now-closed LAB Brewing still does. The same is true for RateBeer, too, which similarly does not yet list the best beer bar in California, only its predecessor. So it’s too new for either of the premiere beer listing websites, but still got more votes than countless great beer bars in California. Not knowing how they got the most votes, or why, it’s hard not to consider ballot stuffing, or a campaign of getting people to vote for them. I hate to be so hard on a place I don’t know, but given how many California bars they appear to have bested in being voted the state’s best bar, it’s difficult to comprehend.
To be fair, the Falling Rock won Colorado, which I fully endorse, and the same with Saint Paul’s Happy Gnome, Asheville’s Thirsty Monk and Max’s in Baltimore. Unfortunately, I’m not as sure about many of the rest. Of the 51, only 11 have been open since at least the 1990s or earlier. A perplexing five of the bars on the list opened in 2015, and another three the year before, in 2014. A total of 25, or nearly half of the list, opened in 2010 or afterwards, meaning half of the best beer bars in America are around five or less years old. I’m sure it’s the curmudgeon in me, but that just doesn’t seem like enough time to build a reputation that you’re the best in your state. But despite my objections, congratulations to the bars who got the most votes. I’m sure they’re all worth visiting and enjoying a few beers.
Today in 1947, US Patent 2414446 A was issued, an invention of Carl Vincent Carbone, for his “Illuminated Beer Tap.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in beer taps, the principal object being to provide a beer tap having illuminating means for illuminating advertising imposed thereon.
Today in 1940, US Patent 2186835 A was issued, an invention of John J. Mccauley, for his “Foam Removing Utensil and Strainer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:
This invention is an improved foam removing utensil and strainer and is intended especially for use as a bartenders implement as will hereinafter be more fully set out.
Today in 1934, US Patent 1981627 A was issued, an invention of Ralph S. Merriman, assigned to the Closure Service Company, for his “Coaster.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:
My invention relates to an article of manufacture designed for use as a tray or holder for glass tumblers, bottles or the like.
Today in 1999, US Patent 5980959 A was issued, an invention of Bernard Derek Frutin, for his “Methods and Apparatus for Enhancing Beverages.” Here’s the Abstract:
Enhancing the foam head on a bottled beverage where a pressurized container is housed within the neck of the bottle and above the level of the liquid and so arranged that upon opening of the bottle the pressurized container also opens to release the liquid stream therefrom initially to float on the top surface of the beverage in the bottle.
Today in 1961, US Patent D191695 S was issued, an invention of Harold Austin, for his “Holder for Beer Foam Scrapers or the Like.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:
The ornamental design for a holder for beer foam scrapers or the like as shown and described.
Today in 2010, US Patent 7810679 B2 was issued, an invention of Albert W. Wauters, Ian Anderson, and Edward P. Duffy, assigned to Anheuser-Busch Inbev S.A., for their “Beer Dispensing System with Gas Pressure Reservoir.” Here’s the Abstract:
A home beer dispensing apparatus has a keg having a self-contained bag filled with a beer and a pressure system. The pressure system creates a pressurized air space between the keg inner walls and the bag to assist in the dispensing of the beer. The pressure system has a keg one-way air valve mounted to a top wall of the keg to permit entry of pressurized air into the keg. The pressure system has a pressure reservoir mounted in the dispensing apparatus outside the keg and in fluid flow communication with the keg one-way valve. The reservoir stores a charge of pressurized air and supplies at least a portion of this charge to the keg through the keg air valve when the dispensing apparatus is operated to dispense the beer. The reservoir provides a reserved charge of pressurized gas that is on hand to reduce dampening pressure fluctuations during beer dispensing which can result in beer frothing, especially during the early stages of beer dispensing when the air head space in the keg is small. Further, the apparatus may also have a pressure sensing system adapted to measure time rate of pressure change in the keg. The apparatus has a signaling device responsive to the time rate of pressure change in the keg to produce a signal related to volume of beer remaining in the bag. Preferably, the signal is displayed visually on the dispensing apparatus.