Celebrate Earth Day with Beer

April 21, 2008

organic barley, flaked rye and caraway seeds make this a better beer for a better world.I just returned from five days in San Diego at the Craft Brewers Conference. Over the next few days I hope to post a bit of what I learned there. But first I want to celebrate Earth Day with a beer that’s better than most for people and the planet.

Reunion ’08 is the result of a multi-tiered cooperative effort. Pete and Alan of Pete’s Wicked joined forces with Dan Del Grande of Bison Brewing, who in turn has a partnership with Butte Creek Brewing in Chico, CA.

Labeled as an Organic Red Rye Ale and billing itself as “A Beer for Hope,” Reunion may sound like a plug for Obama but the hope referred to here is related to the fact that all the profits from this beer are donated to the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research in honor of Pete and Alan’s friend Virginia MacLean who succumbed to myeloma last year.

What better way to honor Earth Day than with a beer that celebrates a cancer victim’s life by using barley, rye and caraway seeds that are free of cancer-causing pesticides? Given its northern California origin, this is unusual in that it is not a California hop-bomb but instead its malt emphasis evokes caramel and fruitcake, an American evolution of the traditional English brown ale.

And on a tangential note, here’s another beer-inspired Earth Day sentiment from Don Russell in his Joe Sixpack column in the Philly Daily News – what ever happened to refillable beer bottles?

Session #13 Reminder: Organic Beer, Friday, March 7

February 28, 2008

Organic Beer SessionOne week until Session #13. The theme for this Session is Organic Beer.

The Short Version
The Session is a monthly group beer-blogging event. To participate, just publish a blog post about organic beer by next Friday, March 7. Then let me know that you’ve blogged (by commenting here or on the original announcement post, or using the contact link above) and I’ll publish a summary with links to all the posts.

The Long Version
Click here to read my original post announcing Session #13 that includes an overview of organic beer and instructions for participating in the Session. For ideas about organic beer, browse the Organic Beer links in the side bar of this blog, and check out all my past posts on the topic by clicking the “Organic/GMO” link in the categories links in the side bar.

Now it’s time to go out and find yerself an organic beer. They are common enough that you’ll find them if you look, but still rare enough that it’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt – you’re really excited when you do find one!

Fair Trade Coffee Stout from Short’s Brewing and Higher Grounds

December 1, 2007

Regular readers may know that I am working on my second book right now. In this one the idea is to do for coffee what Fermenting Revolution tried to do with beer – tell the story of equity and sustainability by reading the coffee grounds, so to speak.

That’s right I said “we” because the new book is a joint project between me and my friends Chris and Jodi Treter at Higher Grounds Trading, which is their 100% fair trade, organic coffee roasting business (and new cafe!). But Chris and Jodi and I share something else in common: a deep love of beer.

Cup a joeThat’s why they recently partnered with their local brewery, Short’s Brewing Company, to produce a fair trade coffee stout. I haven’t been up to Bellaire, MI yet to taste it (they invited me up to celebrate its release and I cried in my beer when I had to tell them I couldn’t make), but here’s what the reviews are saying about it.

Short’s concocted a mean Coffee Creme Stout using Mayan Magic Espresso Blend coffee from Higher Grounds, whose owner (and my friend and current co-collaborator on the new coffee book) Chris Treter sipped on a few last week when he visited Joe Short and his crew to celebrate the new beer.

He reported tasting “notes of chocolate with a creme-like body” fill his mouth “as the all-too-familiar dark roasted coffee flavor graces the aftertaste with each sip.”

Golden RuleShort’s also has at least one organic offering, called The Golden Rule, this IPA is brewed with 100% organic malts and hops, described as emitting an “earthy perfume with hop oils and resins that intrigue the palette.”

For more about beer and coffee, check out my article in Mid Atlantic Brewing News, entitled, predictably enough: “Beer and Coffee.” Stay tuned for a follow up article appearing in the next issue of New Brewer magazine.

Is Beer the Only Thing Holding Belgium Together?

September 21, 2007

Apparently not. There’s also chocolate and a king.

But this article in the New York Times suggests that Belgium might be on course with a beer bust up – a national split up caused by petty ethnic hatreds. Radical Flemish separatists want to capitalize on the chaotic state of the current government (or lack thereof) and strike out on their own, leaving their Wallonian cousins to the South to fend for themselves.

Will Washington’s two Belgian Beer Knights be called to the battlefield? Bill Catron, of Brasserie Beck, and Dave Alexander of the Brickskeller and RFD are both inducted members of La Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs (the Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mashstaff). The two belong to a phalanx of thirteen American knights of Belgian beer. This may be more important than it sounds. Quoting from the NYT article:

“We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer,” said Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Bloc, the extreme-right, xenophobic Flemish party, in an interview. “It’s ‘bye-bye, Belgium’ time.”

Naked Defiance, So Much Better than Chanting Slogans

August 19, 2007

This morning I noticed that someone had arrived at my blog by searching for the phrase: “naked photo session green peace activist.”

Intrigued, I googled that phrase, partly curious to see what page on my site showed up in the results, but also because I was intrigued to find whatever the person was actually seeking.

Turns out that Greenpeace is carrying on a tradition that became popular at the beginning of the Iraq war – peace activists bearing witness by baring it all. Greenpeace organized a publicity stunt in the Swiss Alps at the Aletsch Glacier that involved 600 people getting naked in order to draw attention to global warming.

Click the photo to read the article and watch a video of the event. Warning, the images contain lots more naked people.

Naked activists

What’s this got to do with beer? Check out my recent post about how beer is helping to slow climate change.

This story did make me think about my own lack of personal action to stop global warming and the war (which is largely about oil and therefore global warming). I do a lot in my job promoting renewable energy and I live a relatively low-impact lifestyle compared to many Americans, but I haven’t engaged in any public demonstrations lately. Maybe I’ve just been sitting around drinking too much beer. But nude protests? That would get me back out in the streets. Add some beer to it and you’d really have my attention. Hey, now there’s an idea!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I had on my site that lead that web-searcher astray, it was my post in this month’s Session about Mfula Mfula homebrew in South Africa. Go figure.

Delocator: Find locally-owned coffee shops, bookstores, theatres

August 8, 2007

Any time I travel, I look for local brewpubs and breweries. So a few weeks ago I added a section of links over in the right hand column called “Find local beer.” I used to reference the listings on beertown.org but have since fallen in love with the beer mapping project, which takes the static listings on beertown a step further by pinpointing brewery locations on interactive google maps.

delocatorLast Saturday we drove from Washington D.C. to Emerald Isle, North Carolina, so I used the beer maps to find a brewpub where we could stop for lunch on the way down. Bingo, we hit Ham’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Greenville, NC where we had a quick sandwich and a sampler of excellent beers.

I just found another cool tool that lets you find locally-owned bookstores, coffee shops, and theaters. It’s called “delocator.” Like the beer maps project, it relies on users to help create the content, tapping the vast “local” knowledge databank of the population at large to develop a very comprehensive and up to date resource.

This means you have no good reason to ever visit a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble ever again.

Fifteen Beers, I Mean Years, from Now

July 15, 2007

Siel, over at greenLAgirl, “tagged” me to participate in a “future’s meme.”

Some of you are asking: “Wtf is a meme?”

I first read this term in Adbusters magazine about eight years ago. I didn’t totally understand it back then so I relooked it up just now at Dictionary.com and combined several citations to compose my own definition of ‘meme’:

a unit of cultural evolution; an idea or behavior passed on through culture; a gene passes on traits through biology but a meme passes on concepts or practices through cognition or repeated social conduct. In this way, humans select ideas and behaviors conducive to survival, much the way that genes mutate and adapt to aid survival biologically. Coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976.

Clear as mud? Okay, here’s an example: the craft of brewing beer. We are not born with the knowledge of brewing, it is not passed on genetically. But cultures, like Egypt, that learned how to brew and passed on the knowledge through cultural beliefs (religious ritual in praise of grain and fermentation) and technical know-how (rules governing and techniques advancing the art and science of brewing) were able to thrive.

Okay, so what’s a “futures meme?” I think the idea is for us to conceive of, and therefore help to direct, the future in ways that will help us adapt. In other words, discard ideas about the future that are counterproductive to our survival, such as “there is plenty of oil and it doesn’t cause any problems so we can just go right on using lots of it,” and replace them with ideas like “using oil is bad for our health and it causes lots of unhappiness so we need to invent a positive future that doesn’t need it.”

I think this is all just a way of saying that ideas matter, but frankly I’m still a little confused myself. In any case, the task for participating is to answer these three questions in a no more than a few sentences each, so here goes:

1. What do you fear we’ll likely see in fifteen years?
A world paralyzed by fear and insecurity, and where there is no good beer to provide at least a modicum of comfort.

2. What do you hope we’ll see in fifteen years?
A thriving community center (i.e. brewpub) on every corner.

3. What do you think you’ll be doing in fifteen years?
Hanging out at the brewpub, I mean community center, chatting with my neighbors at the end of each day. I pretty much guarantee that this is in my future.

I’m also supposed to “tag” five friends to participate in this “futures meme” so here there are: Dave at Via Negativa, Rob at Marginal Utility, Carolyn at Phrases that Stir the Grinding Water, Antonia at Bush Agenda, and my brother Tim at UH Students Against Sweatshops.


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