What the Professor Doesn’t Want for Christmas

The Professor can only guess what someone who likes beer may not want. Here are a few beer based gifts that you may want to avoid, with comments. Not in any specific order because only you know who you are giving to, or should know them.

1. BrewMaster: The Craft Beer Game. Not a bad concept, but a poorly executed board game. You win by getting the most trophies and crowd markers. How many trophies you win as a brewer really doesn’t keep a brewpub open and many owners don’t care: it’s often all about the crowds, profit and the owner’s taste; as misguided as that last one may or may not be. The ale yeast card is good only to brew some style called “ale.” “Ale” is really just a matter of what yeast is used for the most part and what temps the brew is fermented/stored at. Stout is an ale. Porter is an ale. But you often can’t use the ale yeast on it. Belgian beers don’t always require two yeasts. For a game that bills itself as educational it might be: for those who wish to belong to some Flat Earth-like beer cult that avoids facts.
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Did you know there are competitions for making serving vessel wassail bowls? Learn more at Stewart King’s site. The bowls carried by those who went wassailing were no doubt a bit more simple, especially when it was the peasant class.

Lyrics posted here are from various songs sang while wassailing.

Wassail! Wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

The song is a bit confusing for some. The “ale” may have been a different drink, not actually the wassail songsters have sung about given to them by homeowners they “wassail-ed.” The recipe for that wassail probably varied quite a bit.

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in an old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny
A hapenny will do
If you haven’t got a hapenny
Then God bless you

Similar to caroling, but some warm wassail was often expected from those who were sung to: often alcoholic. It goes back to at least feudal days when peasants would “wassail” the gentry or nobility. It was permitted because it wasn’t considered begging. The beverage: wassail, was often served to the those who were wassailing. The word, “wassail,” may have been partially derived from the Old Norse ‘Ves heill,” from the Old English salutation “Wes Hal,” meaning “Be In Good Health.”

Another form of Wassailing courtesy The Whimple History Society
Another form of Wassailing courtesy The Whimple History Society

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Ye Olde Scribe Presents: The Not So Bad At All Beer Report

“Presenting carefully fermented observations on the somewhat more pleasant activities of those alien beasties: the Yeasties from the planet Microbiota.”
Ellicotville Brewing in Freedonia, NY

Written by Ye Olde Scribe

Scribe was out getting supplies for his anti-Archie Bunker when he decided to drive out West and rope a few doggies. Well, actually he had gone to Erie to visit a friend and refused to give New York any more money for the most rotten, poorly kept, interstate in the country: The Stealway. Better known by the lie “Thruway.” Gotta bribe the State to get “Thru” at all.

Up, down,slightly rolling hills and, praise the great God: Groucho! HAIL FREEDONIA! YOS stopped for a beer, or two, or three…

Cute little bugger: brick walls, small brewing system; most of the brewing is done at the main pub in Ellicotville a bit east of here, like 60 miles or so over very rolling hills.  But they do brew an occasional here.

The beers were a bit hit and miss. Scribe did pick up a bottle of Dropus Pantius. He’s had this 11.5% before and it is barleywine beatific with even more hops than one would expect.  Scribe even dropped his pants after having a few. Then had to spend a lot of time convincing Homeland Security he didn’t have one big example of WMD growing forth from his nether region. He only escaped by telling so many puns he gave them the slip because they were too busy GROINING to notice. Now if he can only find the female who gave him the slip to begin with, or at least her number.

Beers tried, from yuck to YES!!!!!!!!!!.

Smoked Hefe: who the hell decided to do this? Like drinking a light banana beverage filled with essence of bandaid. Smoked can do this but there’s so little body and complexity it doesn’t make it pleasant at all.

Scotch Ale: too many dark malts and exceptionally sweet for the style. Not carmelized. Just sweet. Drinkable.

Black Jack Oatmeal Stout: oatmeal chewy with a bit too much chocolate malt and little head. Not bad at all. Enjoyable.

Pump King: Ya’d never know this is at least 10%. Deceptively light. Nice spicing with, perhaps, way too much All Spice for some. Like All Spice? You’ll love this. Scribe did.

Hopicity: A perfect APA with wet hops and deep copper. A bit grassy: expected with wet hops. Caramel/hop nose that is so tempting Scribe wonders if caramel hop nose would make a great Halloween candy.
Nice warm pub. Picture a bit fuzzy: just like Scribe before he left.

Scribe recommends. Just get the sampler first so you know what you might like, and ask for one or two other samples then order a pint or more.

Beer and Absinthe Make the Mouth Grow Fonder?

If you haven’t had Absinthe it’s not for the meek; and it is an acquired taste. “Acquiring” that taste is not always possible. Quality of absinthe is also of concern. The worst absinthe may taste a bit like the better product, but usually doesn’t involve the complicated process a sugar cube, ice, special slotted spoon and a specific pouring regimen. The worst stuff: straight up, is like highly alcoholic, liquid, strong, licorice. The best; served properly, is a lot more delicate of a flavor with the addition of fennel and other spice-like flavors.

To make it more palatable for some, in Italy a measure of absinthe is poured into a glass of beer.

Absinthe, at 45%–74% ABV, is an anise-flavoured spirit that dates back to at least the 18th Century, derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, . You may know it as wormwood. The chemical thujone exists in small quantities, so it may have mild psychoactive properties. It is green.

Historical note: the French used it as a treatment for malaria for their troops in the mid-1800s. No proof of medicinal value exists, but the Professor suspects an abundance of absinthe may have made malaria a bit more tolerable. A bit more, almost fun? A lot more then no more malaria, no more problems: no more soldier.

Combining absinthe and beer has been a concern amongst groups working on substance abuse.

Since most absinthe put in beer is added straight up: unlike the light lager used for the beverage mentioned in the link provided above, the Professor suggests using a dark beer with a lot of character/deep roast and body to counter balance the strong absinthe flavor. A Strong Scotch Ale: highest shilling, may work. A barley wine may be a bit too sweet. Experimentation is called for. The Professor suggests starting with a teaspoon of absinthe, at best, then adjust to taste.

Monopolizing America: Big Beer Takes Over

Written by Don Monkerud

Forget about kicking back and enjoying an American beer; a massive wave of consolidation is transforming the industry.

According to a recent report by the Marin Institute, a California-based alcohol industry watchdog, a rush of buyouts and mergers in the last years of the Bush Administration has left two overseas giants in control of 80 percent of American beer consumption.

“How beer is marketed and sold in this country will never be the same,” said Charisse Lebron, corporate responsibility & advocacy manager at the Marin Institute. “Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, controlled by parent companies SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company, are all that really matter in the U.S.”

America is the world’s most profitable beer market, yet the U.S. has lost what was once a competitive industry. As recently as 2004, ten companies fought over world consumption; today Belgium-based InBev (Anheuser-Busch InBev) controls 25 percent of the world’s beer market. SABMiller, the second largest brewer with 15 percent of the market, is a London-based conglomerate that formed when South African Breweries acquired U.S.-owned Miller in 2002.
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Boston Brewer Pushes New Limits on Extreme Beer

Story from Comcast.net. Written by Russell Contreras, AP

BOSTON — It is banned in 13 states and sure doesn’t come in a six-pack.

The maker of Samuel Adams beer has released an updated version of its biennial beer Utopias — now the highest alcohol content beer on the market. At 27 percent alcohol by volume and $150 a bottle, the limited release of the brandy-colored Utopias comes as more brewers take advantage of improvements in science to boost potency and enhance taste.