Monday’s ad is for Miller Brewing, from 1941. This ad features yet another magic bottle of Miller High Life and a full pilsner glass sitting on a chess or checkers board, with several people engaged in various sporting pursuits.
Archives for December 10, 2018
Today is the 51st birthday of Paul Holgate, who’s the co-founder of the Holgate Brewhouse is Melbourne, Australia. I met Paul in Melbourne a few years ago, when I was there to judge at the Australia International Beer Awards. Getting to know Paul was great fun, and, like me, he’s an old timer in beer terms. Join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday.
For our 142nd and final Session, our host is Stan Hieronymus, who founded the Session, and writes the Appellation Beer Blog. I could think of no better person than the man who started it all with the first Session back in March of 2007. For Stan’s topic this month, he’s chosen One More For the Road, which he sums up as going out with a bang, um … I mean beer; going out with a beer. So what beer would you choose? If you only have one to pick — and you do — what would it be? How would (will) you decide? You only have one more beer to drink, make it count.
Here are Stan’s simple instructions, in full:
When Jay Brooks and I exchanged emails about the topic this month I flippantly suggested “Funeral Beers” [which] seemed appropriate. You can call it “Last Beers” if you’d rather not think about how your friends might toast you when you no longer are participating. Or “One more for the road”* because that has a soundtrack.
Pick a beer for the end of a life, an end of a meal, an end of a day, an end of a relationship. So happy or sad, or something between. Write about the beer. Write about the aroma, the flavor, and write about what you feel when it is gone.
For me, it’s the end of The Session itself, a bittersweet event because I’ve been helping to shepherd the project almost since its beginning and feel a deep sense of loss over its conclusion. That’s despite the fact that I also helped pull the plug, but because the writing was (or in this case no longer was) on the wall and it seemed to have run its course. But that didn’t make it any easier to decide. I think it was the right thing to do, but I’m still sad about it. So what beer did I decide to mark the last Session? I opened one of our garage refrigerators and looked for something appropriate, finally settling on something sour to match my mood. It’s one of my favorite beers, one of the early sour beers I really fell in love with, and over the years I’ve been surprised to learn that not many people love it as much as I do — finding it okay, or good, but not great. I think they’re wrong, but hey, tastes are somewhat individual. Plus, I think it just occupies a special place in my heart because it was one of the first sour beers I loved. I’m talking about Duchesse de Bourgogne, a West-Flemish red brown ale brewed by Brouwerij Verhaeghe, in Vichte, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
I don’t actually remember when or where I first tried Duchesse de Bourgogne, but I know I was immediately smitten. I remember how vinegary it was, especially in the aroma, but also the sweetness and malt character, with loads of fruit, how heavy on the tongue, the weight of it on my mouth. And ultimately, how satisfying it felt to drink it.
This is the brewery’s description of their beer:
“Duchesse de Bourgogne” is an ale of mixed fermentation. It is a sweet-fruity ale with a pleasant fresh aftertaste. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. After the main fermentation and the lagering, the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” matures further for many months in oak casks. The tannins in the oak give the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” its fruity character. “Duchesse de Bourgogne” has a full, sweet and fresh taste: it is a ruby red jewel of 6.2 % alc. vol., that best is served in a chalice-shaped glass between 8 and 12°C. A perfect beer.
And this is how it’s described on Wikipedia:
Duchesse de Bourgogne is a Flanders red ale-style beer produced by Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. After a primary and secondary fermentation, this ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of a younger 8-month-old beer with an 18-month-old beer. The name of the beer is meant to honour Duchess Mary of Burgundy, the only daughter of Charles the Bold. She was born in Brussels in 1457, and died in a horse riding accident. Like all Flemish red ales, Duchesse de Bourgogne has a characteristically sour, fruity flavour similar to that of lambic beers.
The beer, of course, was named for Mary of Burgundy. Several years ago, I wrote this about Mary:
Beer aside, the history of the Duchesse is fascinating. Her anglicized name was Mary of Burgundy, though she was born in Brussels on February 13, 1457, the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Isabella of Bourbon. Needless to say she was quite a catch, especially after her father died in battle (at the siege of Nancy, not a particularly awful sounding name) in 1477, when she was nineteen. Louis XI of France tried to take Burgundy and the Low Countries for himself but was frustrated when Mary signed the “Great Privilege,” by which she gave Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and all of Holland autonomous rule (leaving for herself the remainder of the Low Countries, Artois, Luxembourg, and Franche-Comté). She then married Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was later the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and part of the Hapsburg Austrian dynasty. This sparked a long-standing dispute over the Low Countries between France and the Hapsburg family.
One of Mary’s favorite hobbies was falconing, which was popular among royals in the day. Falconry is basically training and hunting using a falcon. While engaged in this pursuit, in 1482, Mary’s horse tripped, tossing her onto the ground where the horse then landed on top of her, breaking her back. A few days later she died. Mary was only 25. The beer label’s portrait pays homage to her love of falconry and her ultimate death because of it.
Her young son Philip became heir after her death, though Maximilian was in charge until he reached adulthood. King Louis forced Maximilian to sign the Treaty of Arras the same year, and it gave Franche Comté and Artois to France. But Philip was a virtual prisoner until 1485, and then it took Max another eight years to take back control of their lands in the Low Countries. The Treaty of Senlis, in 1493, finally established peace in the area, but Burgundy and Picardy remained French.
So during her short life, Mary had such great impact on European politics that they can be felt even now in the present. So it’s quite appropriate that she have so wonderful a beer that bears her name and her portrait. It’s a fitting legacy.
Unfortunately, I don’t drink it all the time, just once in a while. Maybe I don’t want to ruin the experience by drinking it every day, or even once a week. As a once in a while beer, it stays special, every time. I usually try to keep a bottle in the ‘frig at all times, so when I want one, it’s already there, waiting for me. But it has been almost a year, maybe longer, since I’d cracked open a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne. I was looking forward to it, but also I always wonder how it will taste this time, will it taste the same? As good as I remember it? But it’s always an adventure.
So how did this bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne fare? After a long week, driving half a high school basketball team back and forth to another town, an hour away, four days in a row, then scoring each game, plus trying to do all of my other work took its toll. Finally, Sunday came, a day of rest … eventually. The Packers actually won for a change, which certainly improved my mood. By nightfall, it was quiet enough to open a bottle and spend some time with it. So I opened the cage, popped the cork, and poured a glass of Duchesse de Bourgogne. I let Sarah nose it, and she predictably hated it. She loves most beer, but has never warmed to sour beers in any way, although she loves Kombucha. I hate sour foods, but love it in beer. People certainly don’t make sense. I’m living proof of that.
But I loved the nose. A little less vinegar than I remembered from before, but still there, and still loads of fruit; plums, cherries, maybe burgundy. But it’s the flavors I really respond to, it’s just thick and chewy; lays on my tongue like a weight, until swallowed. I like to let it sit there, roll it around, keep the flavors assaulting my taste buds until they start to dissipate, like chewing gum you’ve been chewing for too long. Then flush it down my throat, feel the sourness burn all the way down, as it evaporates on my tongue, preparing the way for another sip. I love this beer. I remember why as that second sip repeats the first, as complex flavors abound, with vinous notes, wood, dark fruit, figs, tart cherries, a smidge of vanilla, port wine, both sweet and sour dancing together. This is a beer that ideally you should take as long as possible to finish, it should not be hurried. It changes as it warms, which adds yet another element to the experience, so it’s not quite the same beer it was in the first few sips as it is when you drain the last remnants of the bottle. And when it’s empty, I’m a little sad, which is how I feel about the Session ending, too. So for this Session, it’s perfect. A perfect beer, a perfect end.
So that’s it. It’s been great fun, a great run. 142 Sessions over 11+ years. Thanks to everybody who hosted and everybody who participated, and especially Stan. Thanks, Stan.
Today is the birthday of Eugene O’Keefe (December 10, 1827-October 1, 1913). He “was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist, well-known in the brewing industry for his signature brews. He founded the O’Keefe Brewery Company of Toronto Limited in 1891.”
Here’s his biography from his Wikipedia page:
Born in Bandon, County Cork, he moved with his family to Canada when he was five eventually settling in Toronto. He married Helen Charlotte Bailey in 1862. They had a son and two daughters.
From 1856 to 1861, he worked at the Toronto Savings Bank. He later was president of the Home Bank of Canada. In 1861, he was one of the purchasers of Toronto’s Victoria Brewery (founded by George Hart and Charles Hannath c.1840s as Hannath & Hart Brewery), at the corner of Victoria and Gould Streets, with had an annual production of 1,000 barrels. In 1891, he incorporated it as O’Keefe Brewery Company of Toronto Limited. The brewery would expand to a capacity of 500,000 barrels. He sold the business after his son died in 1911. The company would later be part of Carling O’Keefe Breweries.
In 1909, Pope Pius X made him the first Canadian layman to be made a private Papal chamberlain. He died at his home on Bond Street in 1913, aged 85.
The O’Keefe name is well established in Toronto due to the many charitable donations Eugene O’Keefe made throughout his life. He donated millions of dollars to the Catholic Church in Toronto; built five churches in Toronto; built the St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough; and built Toronto’s first low-income housing development. The O’Keefe name was used as a tribute on the new O’Keefe Centre when it was built in 1960 by E. P. Taylor, then the head of O’Keefe Brewing Company. In 1996, the name was changed to the Hummingbird Centre. In 2007 the name was changed to the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. His former mansion (O’Keefe House), located across from the former O’Keefe Brewery serves as a residence for students at Ryerson University and the brewery itself is now the Image Arts faculty building.
Since then, a handful of individuals have been actively trying to reestablish the O’Keefe name due to the vital role the man played in shaping the city during the Victorian period. It was not until 2006, when the official biography was written on O’Keefe; the delay due in large part to scant information and lack of personal and company records.
And this biography of O’Keefe is from the Canadian Encyclopedia:
Eugene O’Keefe, brewer, banker, philanthropist (born 10 December 1827 in Bandon, Ireland; died 1 October 1913 in Toronto, ON). O’Keefe is best known for founding the O’Keefe Brewery Company of Toronto Limited. A successful Catholic businessman and philanthropist, he was the first Canadian layman to be made a private chamberlain to the pope.
Early Life and Banking Career
Eugene O’Keefe (born Keeffe) came to Canada in 1832, when he was five years old. The family appears to have changed its name to O’Keefe after immigrating to Canada. O’Keefe was educated in Toronto schools. In 1856, he began working at the Toronto Savings Bank, which had been established two years earlier by Bishop Charbonnel and members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. O’Keefe worked at the bank until 1861, but maintained ties with the institution, serving as board member, director, vice-president and eventually president (1901) of what would become the Home Bank of Canada.
In 1861, O’Keefe partnered with two other men to buy Toronto’s Victoria Brewery (owned by Charles Hannath and George Hart). At the time, the brewery produced about 1,000 barrels of ale and stout per year. By the 1890s, O’Keefe was one of the largest brewers of lager beer in Canada, and had implemented new technologies including refrigeration, plant electrification, crown-cap bottles and motorized delivery vehicles. The company was incorporated as the O’Keefe Brewery Company of Toronto Limited in 1891. Devastated by the death of his son in 1911, O’Keefe sold his brewery shares to his partner, Widmer Hawke, and to Sir Henry Pellatt. By that time, the brewery could produce 500,000 barrels a year. After Hawke’s death, the brewery was sold to a holding company, O’Keefe Limited, under Pellat, Sir William Mulock and Charles Vance Millar. This company was bought by E. P. Taylor in 1934 and incorporated into his Brewing Corporation of Canada Limited (later Canadian Breweries Limited).
O’Keefe donated much of his wealth to charity, particularly the Catholic Church. He financed several new churches in Toronto, including St. Monica’s Church and St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, and donated $400,000 to build St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough. In 1909, he was recognized for his benefactions to the Roman Catholic Church when he became the first Canadian layman to be appointed private chamberlain to the pope.
And this is from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:
O’KEEFE, EUGENE (baptized Owen Keeffe), businessman and philanthropist; b. 10 Dec. 1827 in Bandon (Republic of Ireland), son of John Keeffe (O’Keefe) and Mary Russell; m. 23 Jan. 1862 Helen Charlotte Bailey (d. 1899) in Toronto, and they had a son and two daughters; d. there 1 Oct. 1913.
Little is known of Eugene O’Keefe’s early life. His family came to the Canadas when he was five; two years later they settled in Toronto. It seems the family adopted the O’Keefe spelling when they immigrated. John O’Keefe was possibly the tavern proprietor and, later, the sailor listed in Toronto directories. Eugene was educated at the private school run by Denis Heffernan and at “the regular church schools.” In his youth he acquired a reputation as an expert bowler, oarsman, and horseman. Apparently he was an ensign in the local volunteer rifle company. Its captain, Denis K. Feehan, was a close friend, and the two men had much in common. They were Irish Catholics in a distinctly Protestant city and members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the principal conduit for Catholic charity in Toronto.
O’Keefe’s brother-in-law, John Murphy, operated a hotel and when he died O’Keefe helped his sister run it. He reputedly spent some time too in the grocery business. In 1856 he became a clerk at the Toronto Savings Bank, established two years before by Bishop Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel* and members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Perhaps Feehan, who had promoted the bank, played a role in O’Keefe’s appointment. O’Keefe worked for the bank until 1861, acquiring in the process a thorough knowledge of business practices, particularly accounting. His association with it did not end then, however. A director before and after its reorganization in 1872, he stayed on the board after the assets of the bank were taken over in 1879 by the Home Savings and Loan Company Limited. Later the same year Archbishop John Joseph Lynch* sold this company to Frank Smith*, a wealthy Catholic politician who made himself president and O’Keefe vice-president. O’ Keefe succeeded Smith in 1901 and oversaw another name change, to the Home Bank of Canada, which enjoyed its most prosperous years under his leadership.
In 1861 O’Keefe had made a business decision that was to have a profound effect not only on his own fortunes, which were far from secure at the time, but also on the welfare of the archdiocese. When the Victoria Brewery, at the corner of Victoria and Gould streets, came up for sale, he formed a partnership with George Macaulay Hawke and a brewer, Patrick Cosgrave, to purchase this small but reputable operation. Its annual production was 1,000 barrels of traditional English ales and stout. Within a year Cosgrave left, but O’Keefe and Hawke continued in association as O’Keefe and Company. When their partnership ended in 1882, O’ Keefe joined with Hawke’s son, Widmer, and Joseph Hooper Mead; the following year the firm was narrowed down to O’Keefe and Widmer Hawke. In 1891 they had it incorporated as O’Keefe Brewery Company of Toronto Limited.
On entering the business O’Keefe had known nothing about brewing, but, according to one biographer, “his business training had shown him that here was an industry with unlimited capacity for expansion.” Before long he had increased productivity to 7,000 barrels a year. Ambitious and forward-looking, O’Keefe supervised additions to the plant in 1872, 1882, and 1889. Shortly after incorporation the entire brewery was replaced by a modern facility equipped with a 60,000-bushel malt-house. This plant lasted until 1911, when a brewery with a capacity of 500,000 barrels was built.
Brewing in 19th-century Ontario was a highly conservative and tradition-bound business. The source of O’Keefe’s rapid success was his willingness to be innovative and aggressive at every level of production and distribution. In 1879 he had introduced the large-scale production of lager; in 1898 he was the first brewer in Canada to install a mechanically refrigerated storehouse; and later he began using motorized vehicles. As early as the 1880s he was outselling his competition everywhere in Ontario. Recognized within the industry, he served as a president of the Ontario Brewers’ and Maltsters’ Association.
The premature death in 1911 of his only son, Eugene Bailey, effectively ended O’Keefe’s interest in his brewery’s long-term future. He sold his shares to Hawke and Sir Henry Mill Pellatt*. The sizeable proceeds were applied to O’Keefe’s favourite charities, such as Peter’s pence, St Michael’s Hospital, and the repair of the rectory of St Michael’s Cathedral, of which he was a member. O’Keefe, who rarely did anything on a small scale, had already set out to erect new Catholic churches. For example, in 1907 he built St Monica’s Church on Broadway Avenue as a memorial to his wife. Four years later he purchased West Presbyterian Church on Denison Avenue and turned it over to immigrant Poles, who renamed it St Stanislaus Kostka Church. In each case he spent $30,000. His most impressive and lasting legacy is St Augustine’s Seminary on the Scarborough Bluffs, which opened in August 1913. O’Keefe gave the colossal sum of $400,000 towards its construction. Even in death he was generous. His will, which confirmed his status as the Catholic Church’s greatest benefactor in Toronto, directed the distribution of additional sums to church and civic charities, out of an estate worth $968,300; eventually $184,776 was given out.
Eugene O’Keefe was a Conservative in politics and a moderate nationalist in Irish affairs. He went to Ottawa in 1887 in an unsuccessful bid to stop William O’Brien, a fiery Home Ruler, from appearing in Toronto at the same time as Governor General Lord Lansdowne [Petty-Fitzmaurice*]. One of Toronto’s richest men, O’Keefe carried more weight in the field of philanthropy. He exercised considerable influence over the work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Catholic League, and the local branch of the United Irish League, and he was a trustee from 1906 of the Toronto General Hospital. As well, he was an original director of the Catholic Church Extension Society, and he sat on numerous parish committees at the cathedral. For his munificence and dedication to the church, he was the first Canadian layman to be made a private chamberlain to the pope, on 9 Jan. 1909.
O’Keefe died on 1 Oct. 1913 at his home, which he had built in the 1880s on Bond Street, across from his brewery. He was survived by one daughter, Helena Charlotte French. Three thousand people, including hundreds of brewery workers, attended his Requiem.
The original rogue, Jack Joyce, who founded Oregon Brewing — better known today as Rogue — would have celebrated his 76th birthday today. Sadly, he passed away in late May of 2014. Join me in drinking a toast to Jack’s memory today.
Brett and Jack Joyce from an interview by World Class Beverages in 2010.
One of the best photos of Jack I’ve seen. This was taken by Leah Nash for a New York Times article entitled Food and Fuel Compete for Land.