Happy Burns Night

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Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:

Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.

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John Barleycorn

There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.

The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.

His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.

And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

Here’s an analysis of the poem, and below is a video of the Scottish St. Andrews Society of Greater St. Louis‘ Burns Night in 2011 and the recitation of John Barleycorn by an Allan Stewart.

And although it has little to do with Burns Night, I still love the version sung by the band Traffic, with frontman Steve Winwood, which appeared on their 1970 album John Barleycorn Must Die.

A History Of Hops In The Willamette Valley

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Here’s an interesting look at the history of hops in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the second-largest growing area for hops in America. Although the production values remind me of an elementary school slideshow presentation, complete with monotone narrator, there’s a lot of good information nonetheless. Based on some of the information presented, I’d guess it was made in the pre-craft era before 1980, but when exactly is anybody’s guess. All told, the three parts of the documentary run a little less than 30 minutes. Thus endeth the lesson for today.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Willamette Valley Hops

Craft: New Documentary About California Breweries

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This looks interesting. Jeff Smith and Fran Ellsworth are directing and producing a new documentary film about California breweries entitled “Craft: The California Beer Documentary.” They recently released their first trailer, which you can watch below. All I know at this point is from a short description of their project. “A road trip throughout California, learning from the master brewers of the state. It’ll also feature interviews with beer enthusiasts and home-brewers.”

CCBA 25th Anniversary Round-Up Video

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Early last month, the California Craft Brewers Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with a two-day conference in Santa Rosa. I gave a talk on the history of craft beer in the Golden State, and there many other seminars, including a wonderful panel discussion with three craft beer pioneers, John Martin (Triple Rock), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada) and Fritz Maytag (Anchor), moderated by Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River). The Film Squad created a fun video showing an overview of the conference.

Did You Hear That? Only 2 Months Until SF Beer Week

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Remember hearing the music of the ice cream truck, and running outside to meet it so you didn’t miss out on getting a popsicle, or whatever your favorite frozen treat was? Well, it’s about two months until the kickoff of SF Beer Week, and they’ve created a hilarious teaser video, reimagining the ice cream truck, or in this case beer truck, as the clarion call for beer week. Enjoy.

Mickey Mouse Drinking A Beer

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Today is the day when Steamboat Willie debuted in 1928, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the one that made the Disney company the entertainment powerhouse that it is today. But even though Steamboat Willie is the famous one, it actually wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon created. Plane Crazy was actually the first one made, and The Gallopin’ Gaucho was the second, but both were shelved to work on Steamboat Willie, and specifically to add a synchronized soundtrack, which is what helped make Mickey Mouse so famous.

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But the Gallopin’ Gaucho was notable for one other important reason. In the March 1929 cartoon, four years before the repeal of Prohibition, Mickey Mouse can be seen drinking a mug of beer. And not just drinking it, but really putting one away. But as he as south of the border, at the bar and restaurant called “Cantina Argentina,” he probably wasn’t breaking any laws.

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The original, of course, was in black and white.

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Below is the entire cartoon, though the best version I could find was colorized.

Brewing: Love & Talent With Peter Bouckaert

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You’re probably familiar with Ted Talks, but there’s also independently organized Ted events, known as TEDx. Recently Peter Bouckaert, the brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing gave one at TEDxCSU, the Fort Collins extension of the talks. In the talk, “[h]e explains his personal journey of challenging limitations to “brew” together a life of creativity,” and the YouTube page describes Peter as having “made a career through utilizing innovation and working outside the box.”

A Belgian native, he is a Biochemistry engineer, with a specialization in Brewing and Fermentation technology from the University of Ghent, Belgium. Before joining New Belgium in 1996, and moving to the US, he worked in the Belgian brewery world in breweries with difficult to pronounce names like Zulte and the world renowned Rodenbach. He was the 2013 winner of the Russell Schehrer award for innovation in Brewing.

It’s only a little longer than fifteen minutes. I only wish it was longer. Enjoy.

ABI Buys 10 Barrel

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This caught me by surprise. Anheuser-Busch InBev announced today that it is buying 10 Barrel Brewing, the award-winning brewpub located in Bend, Oregon. 10 Barrel is the brewery that Tonya Cornett, formerly of Bend Brewing, moved to a couple of years ago.

From the press release:

“For the past eight years, we’ve been brewing beer, drinking beer and having fun doing it.” said co-founder Jeremy Cox, who will continue to lead 10 Barrel along with his partners, co-founder and brother Chris Cox, and Garrett Wales. “We are excited to stay focused on brewing cool beers, get our beers in more hands, and make the most of the operational and distribution expertise of Anheuser-Busch,” said Cox.

10 Barrel expects to sell approximately 40,000 barrels of beer in 2014. Apocalypse IPA, the brewer’s most popular beer, accounts for nearly half of the company’s total volume.

“10 Barrel, its brewers, and their high-quality beers are an exciting addition to our high-end portfolio,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The brewery is a major contender in the Northwest, an area with a large number of craft breweries. We see tremendous value in the brewery’s unique offerings and differentiated style, which 10 Barrel fans know and love.”

In addition to the Bend brewery, the acquisition will include the company’s existing brewpubs in Bend and Boise, Idaho; and a Portland brewpub scheduled to open in early 2015.

The deal should close by the end of the year, though the terms or price have not been disclosed.

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The founders of 10 Barrel also posted a short video explaining their decision and, perhaps more importantly, asking people to give them the benefit of the doubt before rushing to judgment and “let the beer do the talking.”

CCBA Celebrates 25 Years

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This year the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) celebrates its 25th anniversary, and they just concluded a two-day conference in Santa Rosa. I missed the first day (traveling home from Belgium) but gave a talk yesterday morning on the history of craft beer in California. But the highlight of day two was a panel discussion with three craft beer pioneers, John Martin (Triple Rock), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada) and Fritz Maytag (Anchor), moderated by Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River).

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The trio spoke for around an hour, then the audience asked a few questions. I captured the main part of the talk (not the Q&A) in two parts (due to limitations of my camera) which you can watch below. There’s a short gap in between the two videos, only a few seconds. It’s a fun and fascinating talk. Enjoy.

And here’s Pt. 2.

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After the talk, John Martin, CCBA executive director Tom McCormick, Vinnie Cilurzo, Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman.

Did The FBI Poison Innocent People During Prohibition?

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Why yes, yes they did. Shocking, isn’t it. I wrote about this a few years ago, in Poisoning People During Prohibition: A Disturbing Parable, when Deborah Blum’s book The Poisoner’s Handbook was published. She detailed the story there, as did a few other news outlets at the time. But I bring it up again because one of the YouTube channels my son Porter subscribes to, Alltime Conspiracies, posted a video about this dark tale in our history. It’s entitled Did The FBI Poison Innocent People?, and details how over the final seven years of Prohibition, our government in effect murdered over 10,000 Americans in the name of stopping people from drinking illegal alcohol.