Given that today is the 70th anniversary of Champion Brewing changing their name to Lone Star, it seemed only appropriate for Monday’s ad to be for Lone Star Beer. And it’s an odd one, in several ways. I’m guessing from the art that it was published in the late 50-early 60s. Are the couple at the beach? At night? It looks like a starry background and possibly ocean waves, but it’s awfully bright. Must be a full moon. There are a couple of humorous taglines. First, they’re “now in GLASS cans!” That’s an interesting way to market Stubbies. I knew that Stubbies were created by glass manufacturers to compete with the popularity of cans, but I hadn’t heard that so nakedly admitted in an ad before. And Lone Star claims to be the first “Certified Quality Beer,” with the footnote reading “Certified ‘As Fine A Beer As Is Brewed In The World,'” whatever that means. But the real crack-up is just how happy they seem to be with their food. The main tagline might be “have FUN with your thirst..,” but they’re looking at that sandwich and especially the hot dog way too longingly.
This is strange and perplexing, especially given all the attacks on alcohol in both this country and, as I’ve recently been highlighting, in the UK as well. Beer columnist Eric Braun, who writes for the San Antonio Express-News, in his most recent column began with this incendiary headline: Beer Is Not Health Food. Except that is actually is. Braun seems peeved by that classic of slights, the imagined one. He’s bothered by the fact that during a nearby Houston conference on cancer, the program included — what to regular readers here is old news — the study that xanthohumol (a substance found in hops) is effective in combating cancer. His problem with that comes “when headlines and television announcers start touting that “’beer might actually be good for you.’”
He brings this up because there isn’t enough xanthohumol in the average glass of beer to make any difference and he’s afraid people will use this as excuse to drink more. As someone who read this study when it was first published (and countless more like it) the majority of scientists both in this specific study and those who do this type of work are very, very careful — I’d even say too careful — to NOT suggest that people should use their results to justify increased drinking. I’ve never read one of these studies or their abstracts that come even close to saying people should take their results to mean they should increase their imbibing. Not once. His fears seem misplaced to me. It’s not the scientists at fault, but shoddy journalists who go for style over substance, the “headlines and television announcers [who] start touting that ‘beer might actually be good for you.’” But instead he blames the beer, saying it’s not health food.
Buried toward the end of his piece, Braun finally admits that “[t]he good news is that beer, in moderation, is perfectly healthful for most adults and has been shown to have at least some positive health effects.” I figured he must have known that, but the damage is already done. People will see that headline, conclude what they already believe and what neo-prohibitionists have been telling them — that beer is bad for them — and never even reach the thirteenth paragraph. But it’s the conclusion where he goes off the rails.
The larger point, however, is that if you are drinking to get healthy, you’re doing it all wrong.
Beer should be how you reward yourself for a good day’s work, celebrate a victory for the home team or toast the good life.
That’s just wrong. I think it’s bad advice and nearly irresponsible, in my opinion. The fact is that beer is indeed health food, and can be good for you. The reason Braun has noticed that “several times a year a new medical study is released stating that drinking beer or wine is actually healthful,” is precisely because it is, and evidence keeps mounting to confirm what people have known since the dawn of time. Beer wasn’t called “liquid bread” throughout most of history because it was a cute name, but because it shared the same ingredients and nutritional value and furthermore was safer to drink than water. But beer is, especially good beer, a living food. Real food. That’s been true historically and today beer is far better for you than an equivalent amount of soda, which is loaded with sugar and other chemicals.
But I adamantly disagree that beer should only be a reward, a celebration or used to toast something special, as Braun concludes. That suggests it’s set apart from a healthy lifestyle. He seems to be equating it with dessert, something to have only once in a while. But the fact is that regularly drinking moderately is healthier than either abstaining altogether or drinking heavily. To me that means moderate consumption of alcohol is part of a healthy lifestyle. How could it be otherwise? Drink responsibly and you’ll live longer. How is that not a health food?
From Professor David J. Hanson’s wonderful Alcohol Problems and Solutions:
Moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers. In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer hypertension or high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and the common cold.
Sensible drinking also appears to be beneficial in reducing or preventing diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, bone fractures and osteoporosis, kidney stones, digestive ailments, stress and depression, poor cognition and memory, Parkinson’s disease, hepatitis A, pancreatic cancer, macular degeneration (a major cause of blindness), angina pectoris, duodenal ulcer, erectile dysfunction, hearing loss, gallstones, liver disease and poor physical condition in elderly.
I hate to call out a fellow colleague, another beer columnist, but I just can’t figure what Braun’s angle is in this article. What point is he trying to make? Can it really be as simple as he honestly doesn’t believe beer is healthy? He can’t really be worried that someone might read those health claims, even if inflated, and actually decide to start drinking heavily, can he? Looking over some of his other recent columns, it seems like normal run-of-the-mill stuff, talking about favorite craft beers from last year or what beer to drink during the football playoffs.
But there it is, hanging in the air, “beer isn’t health food,” and me silently screaming at my computer screen. “Yes it is! What is the matter with you? Why would you say that?” I just don’t get it. Aren’t there enough attacks on alcohol already?
Today’s works of art is by a young Texas ex-marine, who chose to serve his country before pursuing a career in art. Randy Dillon spent six years in the military and was stationed in the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom before returning to his art studies at the University of North Texas. He’s recently painted several beer-themed paintings, the first of which is below. Called Six Bottles of Beer and was painted with acrylics just a few months ago, in August 2009.
And here are several more of his recent paintings, all beer-themed in some fashion.
King Holding Bottle of Beer wearing Bluetooth Headset, painted in July 2009.
Beer Bottle, painted in late July 2009.
Man Holding Beer, painted in October 2009.
Bottle of Beer, painted in January of this year.
Bottles, painted in July 2008. I love the colors and the simplicity in this one, quite possibly my favorite of Dillon’s bottle work.
You can see much more of his artwork at his own gallery and also his online store and his Flickr Photostream.
Since we’ve been in Asheville, North Carolina all week, I was happy to stumble on a local artist at a Cuban restaurant we ate at, called Havana. The artist’s name is Stan Ruszala, and he had a little exhibition going on in the back room of the restaurant. He appears to live near Asheville and paints beer and other alcohol subjects in Dublin, Las Vegas, New York, and, of course, Asheville. Here’s his painting of the bar Jack of the Wood (which also brews Green Man Ales down the road).
And here’s one of the city’s best places for local beers, Barley’s Taproom.
His biography from his website gives some more detail about him:
Stan Ruszala was born and raised in Springfield Massachusetts. Although he has always had an interest in art, he began painting prolifically about five years ago when his wife noticed artistic talent in sketches and doodles he would leave around the house. She promptly bought him everything she thought he could possibly need to pursue a career in art. Stan picked up a brush, and you are looking at the result. He finds most of his inspiration from city scenes at night and chooses to paint mostly crowded streets in front of local or famous establishments. His use of a black canvas to begin, and fluorescents to highlight help distinguish his unique style. Stan has had numerous art shows, sold several pieces and is being displayed all over the world. He lives near Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Mickey and their ~13 pets.
And while not strictly a beer place, we did eat at the famous Tupelo Honey Cafe, depicted here by Ruszala, one of two paintings of the restaurant.
And the kids just loved the pizza at Mellow Mushroom, and the beer list was pretty darn good, too.
I think my favorite painting of Ruszala’s was an untitled one that wasn’t on his website but which was in the exhibit at Havana. Unfortunately, the colors are washed out a little bit in my photo, but it’s a dramatic moment captured on canvas.
If you did a search for the Bulletin lately, using Google or Yahoo, or any of the common search engines, clicking on the results would take you to a Web Pharmaceutical company. A big thanks to Keith Brainard, who first brought this to my attention almost two weeks ago. After determining that someone had hacked into my website and inserted an insidious script, we tried to remove it, but it kept coming back. It turns out that there was some even more pernicious code that kept re-inserting the script every time you removed it. Today we thought we finally solved it and I upgraded my software to — hopefully — make it more secure and make sure this doesn’t happen again but the code instead ended up bringing down the website for the better part of today. Obviously, we’re back up again but missing everything I’ve written since January 25. And I still have to try upgrading the software again. Hopefully, things will be back to normal in a day or two. Thanks for your patience.
In related Costco news, Miller’s Brew Blog is reporting that the big box store chain will be creating three private label beer brands under the Kirkland name: a hefeweizen, amber ale and pale ale. The Gordon Biersch production brewery in San Jose, California — who also makes competitor Trader Joe’s private label beers — will be brewing the beer for Costco. Private label products tend to have higher profit margins than regular brands, so undoubtedly that’s the motivation here, as well. Given that most Costco stores carry only a very few beers, and even fewer craft beers, this strikes me at first blush as another bad omen for better beer. I doubt they’ll be increasing the number of beer skus each store will carry but more likely will shove less well-established local brands out the door to make room for these.
While searching for a generic beer label for my previous post, I stumbled upon the Free Beer organization, a Danish art project applying the open source or Creative Commons idea to beer. The Creative Commons is a more open approach to copyright law, created by people who think copyright law as it exists today does more to stifle creativity than allow it to flourish. If that seems at first counter-intuitive, I would recommend you read Lawrence Lessig‘s wonderful book, Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity and/or see the film Revolution OS, which has as much to do with this fascinating idea as it does with the history of computer operating systems (and it details the contributions of Richard Stallman). Anyway, the idea of a looser way to reserve some rights but allow people to build on previous efforts to collectively come up with better solutions and products because they’re designed in the open by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people working on them is at the heart of this idea. Originally, of course, this notion was applied to software. This blog you’re reading, for example, runs on WordPress, an open source blogging software that is essentially free to use and has been created by untold numbers of programmers who are working constantly to make it better.
From the Free Beer website:
The project, originally conceived by Copenhagen-based artist collective Superflex and students at the Copenhagen IT University, applies modern free software / open source methods to a traditional real-world product — namely the alcoholic beverage loved and enjoyed globally, and commonly known as beer.
It seems to me that homebrewers already share recipes fairly freely, and I know of instances where commercial brewers have all made the same beer (using the same hops or to celebrate Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday, for example) so I’m not sure how novel this is, but it’s still a worthwhile idea to promote, at least in my opinion.
The English version of the Free Beer label.
Boscos, the small brewpub chain with locations in Tennessee and Arkansas, has completed work on their new production brewery in Memphis. The first batch of beer was brewed December 31 of last year by my friend Chuck Skypeck, who also sent along a few photos of the new facility. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough pictures of brewing equipment.
The outside of Boscos new production brewery, where the headquarters were moved about a year ago. The building itself is curved to follow the distinctive path of the road in a part of Memphis south of downtown currently going through a resurgence. It used to be a meat packaging plant with some elements they needed already in place and the rest they remodeled, keeping a number of the retro industrial architectural elements intact, like green tiled walls and chrome swinging doors.
Head brewer Mike Campbell, formerly with Tractor Brewing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who’s been on hand to help build the brewery since the beginning.
The production brewery will be used primarily for off-premise sales of growlers and kegs, which is not permitted from their brewpubs under Tennessee law, and also to provide beer for additional Boscos that will not have their own breweries. The first of these, in Cool Springs, Tennessee (south of Nashville), is slated to open this spring. They’ll also begin distributing their beer to a select number of area restaurants.
If you’re a beer lover, I imagine Mississippi must not be the best place to live. During the last thirty years, while most of the rest of the country was discovering craft beer with wild abandon, less than a half-dozen microbreweries or brewpubs have opened. Of those, only two are left. And one of those, Kershenstine Diamond, is a contract brewery that makes their beer elsewhere in the Midwest. So that leaves just one brewery currently brewing in the entire state.
That brewery, Lazy Magnolia, is located in Kiln, Mississippi, which perhaps more famous as the hometown of Brett Favre, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. They have also recently become the first brewery in the state to produce bottled beer with the release of their Southern Pecan, a nut brown ale, in six-packs. In fact, it’s the first time since Prohibition that bottled beer has been brewed and bottled in Mississippi.
From an article in a local newspaper, the Clarion Ledger:
The brewery sits alongside the airport runway in Kiln, a Hurricane Katrina-ravaged town of 2,000 on the Gulf Coast. The company’s warehouse building is nondescript to the point of invisibility, the kind of place you pass three times before realizing it’s occupied.
But two of the beers crafted there took podium finishes at the 2006 Beer World Cup. Lazy Magnolia’s brands hold cult status with shaggy young men and middle-aged lawyers in dim roadside bars throughout Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Henderson plans to expand to Tennessee and south Louisiana this year.
I’m sure it will be some time before we see this beer in California, but I certainly applaud their efforts in being a pioneer in their own state. Well done.
The only explanation I can come up with for this is that Baptists must live in some kind of parallel universe. According to today’s Baptist Press, Baptists in Texas, and presumably everywhere else, are mobilizing their forces to protest a grave new threat to their youth. What horror could possibly be the cause of this dire situation that threatens not only their very way of life, but the very lives of their children? Apparently the theme park in Arlington, near Dallas/Fort Worth, Six Flags Over Texas, has applied for — gasp — a liquor license in order to sell beer at certain locations in the park.
Now I don’t want to make light of someone else’s cherished beliefs, but listen to what the Baptist Press is reporting:
“Do we really want to send our youth groups — our church youth groups — to places where alcohol is served?” local Christian leader Linda Rosebury asked in an interview with KCBI-FM, the radio station of Criswell College in Dallas.
Do you mean the world? Because the last time I checked alcohol could pretty much be found anywhere you look. Have they heretofore been living in some Utopian fantasyland where there is no alcohol, like Iran? Can they really be saying anywhere that alcohol might be found is a dangerous place? Yes, apparently.
The sale of beer, Rosebury said, threatens the park’s image as a safe place for families.
So the real world, where beer is sold each and every day, is unsafe? If so, why are those families still there? Do people really walk around, see some heathen drinking a beer, and decide that it’s no longer a safe place? I’m pretty sure that you could live right next door to someone who drinks and still feel perfectly safe. In fact, my own next-door neighbor no longer drinks, and I believe he doesn’t feel that I’m a threat by virtue of my proximity to him in any way, shape or form.
You can even get a beer at Disneyland, and if they can pull it off and maintain their annoyingly hypocritical squeaky clean image, why not Six Flags? Perhaps Disneyland is not part of the Baptist parallel world?
I realize I’m probably being insensitive, but I can’t help myself. I find this sort of nonsense so patently ridiculous that I can’t really take it seriously. If you don’t want your child to even “see” a beer, don’t let him go to Six Flags, make him a shut-in. Shield him from every imagined horror you perceive out there in the world. I’m sure he’ll turn into a terrific young man or woman, with no problems whatsoever. I would personally never abuse my own kids in that way, but I’m not about to tell you how to raise your children.
As of January 8, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has gotten 600 phonecalls and twelve letters of protest regarding Six Flags ability to sell beer to adults. On February 17, state officials will decide whether or not to hold a public hearing on their application and the Baptist Church is trying to get enough of its members to complain so that they’ll have the hearing.
Some of the current complainers are urging the TABC to “conduct an alcohol impact study to determine the threat to public safety.” Isn’t beer sold enough other places in the universe, including many other theme parks, that we can figure out with reasonable certainty what the impact would be? It would be zero, of course.
The people from Six Flags, naturally, have “pledged that such sales would be handled responsibly and would safeguard guest safety,” just like every other public place that serves such legal beverages as beer. In their own defense, Six Flags also offered the following.
Noting the park’s pledge to offer quality guest services, John Bement, Six Flags in-park services senior vice president, told the Southern Baptist TEXAN, “For quite some time, many of our guests have requested beer as an option while dining or visiting the park. In fact, several of the parks in the Six Flags system already provide such amenities and have done so successfully and responsibly for many years.”
How utterly reasonable. I’m sure that will mollify the faithful. Hardly, an attorney from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention spells out exactly how to lodge a protest, and even offers some helpful legal arguments that one can use in their complaint.
Heaven forbid anyone with a different view of the world might want to go to Six Flags. Apparently this is their world, the rest of us just drink in it.