Rye Not?

RYE IS A dirty grain – bitter and black and somber-looking. It is unfit for human consumption, except during famine. It is very “disagreeable to the stomach.”

This point of view is not mine, for I count myself among those delicatessen faithful who kneel in the presence of pastrami piled high between slices of rye.

Instead, these are the learned words of no less than Gaius Plinius Secundus, a/k/a Terrapin Rye Pale AlePliny the Elder, ...

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I Drink, Therefore I Am

IT’S HEARTENING to see our nation’s colleges are still tackling the existential quandaries of man. Case in point: “Philosophy on Tap: Pint-Sized Puzzles for the Pub Philosopher” (Wiley-Blackwell, $19.95), by Matt Lawrence, a philosophy professor at Long Beach City College.

This fun paperback considers the Big Questions that have troubled college sophomores since Aristotle had his tenure. Like:

If a pint spills in the forest and no one is there to hear it, would it still make a sound?

What is the sound ...

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Oyster stout edges into popularity

“HE WAS A BOLD MAN,” wrote 18th-century Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, “that first eat an oyster.” But no less bold was the first brewer who added oysters to his stout. After all, salty, squishy and arousing are not adjectives one normally associates with beer.

And, yet, lately we’re seeing an unexpected surge in the quirky style known as oyster stout:

¶Harpoon Brewing (Massachusetts) has released the latest in its 100 Barrel Series, Island Creek Oyster Stout, made with freshly harvested Massachusetts oysters.

¶Upright ...

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Beer the New Wine at Catholic Mass?

IN A REVOLUTIONARY GESTURE intended to draw more American Catholics back to the church, Pope Benedict XVI has signaled his acceptance of a plan to offer parishioners beer instead of wine during Holy Communion.

The astonishing change, revealed in documents obtained by this reporter, is seen as recognition of both the decline in weekly church attendance as well as the continuing growth of full-flavored craft beer.

“Some people are going to be ...

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Report from the Earthquake Zone

If mass casualties, flooding and nuclear meltdown aren’t bad enough, Japan’s beer industry is in a shambles, too.

Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo breweries have all reported extensive damage to their Destruction at Kirin Breweryplants in the weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Several breweries have closed, others have ceased beer-making operations to bottle water for survivors.

I’ve been trading emails with Toshiyuki Kiuchi, ...

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In spring, our fancy turns to…spring beers

WHAT DOES the label mean when it says “spring beer”?

I know what it used to mean: bock. Bavaria’s seasonal beer of Lent. Brewed dark, malty and strong to sustain fasting 17th-century monks, bock beer’s annual appearance on the shelves stemmed from a longstanding historic tradition.

These days? “Spring beer” means anything a crafty copywriter can come up with, which is to say it means absolutely nothing.

It could be Blue Point Spring Fling, a copper-colored ale whose “special German Otter ...</p><a class= Continue Reading →

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The rise and fall of mighty bock

IMAGE THE SCENE:

The winter has ended, the sun is shining and the sidewalks are packed with milling crowds. A stream of beer trucks parades down the avenue. Celebrities judge a beauty pageant for goats in the city park. Brass bands play Strauss in outdoor gardens.

And a quarter-million barrels of strong, dark, malty lager are about to be tapped across town.

Munich at its finest?

No, New York City, circa 1934.

It was the first spring after the end of Prohibition, and — aside ...

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This St. Patty’s day, forget green – go for Irish red

ST. PATRICK’S DAY is upon us, and you’re going to hear a lot of people insist that if you really want to be Irish for a day, you’ve got to drink black-as-ink stout. Either that, or green-dyed beer.

Here’s another color for you to consider on this holy day of beer drinking: red, as in Irish red ale.

Hundreds of years before Arthur Guinness made his famous stout, Ireland was famousSamuel Adams Irish Red for ...

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Micro malt farms join ‘localvore’ movement

There’s a reason most breweries stopped malting their own grain about 100 years ago: It’s really hard work.

Just ask Andrea Stanley, a 34-year-old mother of three from Hadley, Mass., who partnered with her husband, Christian, last year to open their own micro malt house.

“Sixty percent of what we do,” she sighed, “is seed cleaning.”

They clean the grain when it comes off the field; they separate the seeds by size; they remove the tiny rootlets that grow during germination; they hand-turn ...

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New beer springing up all over

WE’RE JUST two cold, gray months into the year, but 2011 is already showing sunny promise. Here are six signs that better days are on the horizon.

The Grainery

Center City will get a new brewpub as early as next month, at 1113 Walnut St. OK, the owners (the same folks behind East Falls’ candlelit Fork & Barrel) say it’s not really a brewpub because just four of its 26 taps will feature beer brewed on the premises.

Nonetheless, local beer fans ...

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