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Time passed and beers grew, breweries like Three Floyds, Founders, Goose Island, and a host of other breweries began to make their mark. But one thing never changed, each year I would look forward to my seasonal favorites. I would meander in, just I had done in Peas & Pickles, and pick that favorite seasonal up off the shelf of my local beer store. Founders KBS, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, and Brooklyn Monster. They all remained on shelves for weeks. But then something happened one spring, Founders KBS never appeared on the shelf, it had sold out before it even appeared. A mystical and invisible transformation had taken place behind the scenes, no longer out for discovery by happy-go-lucky beer enthusiasts, no longer an ale that regular beer drinking eyes would ever land their gaze on, KBS didn't exist in the shelf universe anymore. Hidden from prying eyes in the dark back room, where only the beer gods could see it, where clumsy stock boys would never bump into it, and only cosmic forces could bring it to those on the now months old, pre-order short list, of elite ale connoisseurs.
With enough begging, driving around town, making phone calls, and pretty much pure insanity for a day, I was finally able to get some, for a price. Never would that happen again, I had to start building my beer network, Steve, Dave, Victor, Ajay, Rishi, the stewards of the back rooms. While still subject to the cosmic forces of beer distribution, these Wizards could, if called upon, conjure up the necessary magic, to at least increase the likelihood of ones being blessed by rare beer. But this was really all overkill, after all it was just one beer. Even Goose Island Bourbon County Stout remained on shelves for weeks, sometimes months. Why all the hoopla about KBS. But then the winds of fall came, and with them they carried the harrowing threats of shortage. Bourbon County Stout might not even appear, not even in back rooms, no one knew what the cosmic forces were even up to. Once again it was time to call upon the gods, the wizards, and they came through.
Despite all this retarded geekdom, I still had my brews, like Plead the 5th from Dark Horse, just a little unknown Imperial Stout from a brewery, that was so small, and so insignificant I passed it many times without seeing it. Hidden back behind Wacky's a little hole in the wall shack, a gas station without gas, by the tracks in Marshall, MI. Certainly this beer would appear on shelves. No need to rush fifty miles through a blizzard for this brew. It would still be there the next day after it arrived, and then it happened. It too was gone. There I was, driving around, making phone calls, until Victor picked up, a powerful wizard who had taken a couple days off from his magic, and had not got time to sell off his soon to be extinct Plead the 5th.
Dark Horse lead the way for Russian Imperial Stouts with this years Barrel Aged Plead the 5th. Next in line was Waldorf with their full bodied, caramel sweet, Old Woody Imperial Stout, their Braggot was also good, not amazing, but good. Third inline for Imperial Stouts was Jaden James - what an amazing Imperial Stout. I chatted with Chris the brewmaster, and he explained that he had aged it on French Oak Cubes, but pulled it off a little too soon. His six hop IPA was excellent as well, cloudy due to rough handling before arrival at the festival. He was less than trilled that his crystal clear ale had been stirred into a dust bowl.
Green Bush stood out among the new breweries, their LTD "Old Fashioned" Style Ale was excellent, and many of their brews got great reviews. Other worthy mentions are Old Boys Black IPA with a perfect hop aroma, Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Dawn Stout with nice fruity notes, and while I did not get to sample it Dark Horses Bourbon Barrel 666 ran out in a hurry.
I was disappointed in White Flame, their watery Ugly Stick Oatmeal Stout convinced me a drive to Hudsonville would be nothing short of complete disappointment. Cool logo, now they need to work on the brewing part of the business. Friendly folks though.
BEER HERE: BREWING NEW YORK'S HISTORY EXHIBITION ON VIEW
MAY 25, 2012 - SEPTEMBER 2, 2012
New-York Historical Society Exhibition Traces the Largely Unknown Cultural History of Beer in New York City from Colonial Times until Present Day
Beer Here: Brewing New York's History at the New-York Historical Society. The exhibition traces 350 years of the production and consumption of beer in the city--from colonial New York, when beer was a vital source of nourishment and tax revenues, to the current artisanal revolution occurring in microbreweries throughout the state. This exhibition is on view at New-York Historical through September 2, 2012.
Beer has been brewed in New York City since the days of its earliest European settlement. Beer Here: Brewing New York's History will begin with an exploration of the colonial period in New York when beer was often safer to drink than water, and noted citizens brewed beer as just one aspect of their business activities. It will then take the visitor up to the present popularity of microbreweries and homebrewing. Topics include the nutritional properties of colonial beer and early New York brewers in the age of revolution; infrastructure innovations and the importance of access to clean water; large-scale brewing in nineteenth-century New York and the influence of immigration; temperance movements and the impact of prohibition; bottling, canning, refrigeration and other technological advances; and the promotional efforts of the City's breweries in the age of mass production. These topics will be highlighted through a display of historical objects and documents such as a 1779 account book from a New York City brewer who sold beer to both the British and patriot sides; sections of early nineteenth-century wooden pipes from one of the city's first water systems; a bronze medal that commemorates an 1855 New York State temperance law; beer trays from a variety of late nineteenth-century brewers; souvenirs from the campaign to repeal prohibition; and a selection of advertisements from Piels, Rheingold and Schaefer, beloved hometown brewers. The exhibit will conclude with a small beer hall that features a selection of favorite New York City and State artisanal beers.
"Beer is an important cultural influencer," explained Debra Schmidt Bach and Nina Nazionale, curators of Beer Here: Brewing New York's History, "and is not a topic typically covered in an exhibition at an Historical Society. We were intrigued by the longevity and popularity of beer in New York throughout the past 300 years, and wanted to bring together objects and documents of historical and cultural importance to investigate this venerable tradition."
New-York Historical will host a special summer public program, "Beer Appreciation: The History and Renaissance of Beer," featuring experts Garrett Oliver and Steve Hindy from Brooklyn Brewery, at which local craft beers will be served on Tuesday, July 10, 6:30 pm. Beer Here: Brewing New York's History curators Debra Schmidt Bach and Nina Nazionale will join the conversation.
Beer Here: Brewing New York's History is organized with support from both Brooklyn Brewery and Heartland Brewery.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting art and history exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society; and Nueva York. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world's greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.
- I received the press release above from the New York Historical Society. Sounds like a cool exhibit.
Your politics is your business. However, if you homebrew this is something you
should consider signing. If it wasn't for people doing this in 1978 it
would be 5 Years, $5,000 for homebrewing. Petition the Obama Administration to Legalize small-scale home distillation http://t.co/xS8LjRUp
Not convinced it's a good idea? Read my post Free Spirits in America, and watch this video. Yes there is a small bit of intelligence required to distill, and yes, there is a risk of fire if done over an open flame by a fool. But remember that this is American were fools are allowed to:
- Operate motor vehicles (yes I agree, stupid people should be banned from the road. Call your senator and get em' off the road).
- Operate a chain saw.
- Operate an acetylene torch.
- Use Knifes.
- Own semi-automatic firearms.
- Use a lawn mower.
- Walk on ice.
- The list goes on.
But if someone stupid wants to walk on ice, a five year prison sentence is a little harsh. Also keep in mind that legalizing is not the same as complete deregulation. But it would open doors for craft distillers in the making.
Update: There is a decent conversation going on over on reddit.com/r/homebrewing about this. My response to the prohibition era fear mongering that goes on during these discussions is the following.
Distilling is legal for your tractor, just not for you. So all the bit about fire, while it is a danger is a moot point. Its not the reason its illegal.
Nothing comes out the still, that didn't go in. If your homebrew was safe to drink going in, its safe coming out. Yes it is more concentrated and if done poorly might give you a headache.
The reason it's illegal is the same reason we have a three tier system in so many states, the same reason you can't legally homebrew in MS. See my blog post link above.