I Like Beer

A Blog Post From The Future

…//TEXBEERNET – DISPATCH – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE //  Monday, October 3, 2022 //…

Byline: CE

 

                Once again, the Texas beer scene broke all previous records at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival  — and for the first time ever, the Lone Star State went home as the bride instead of the bridesmaid.

                After finishing second in total medal count in 2020 and 2021, Texas finally took the championship this past weekend, finishing with 49 total medals to recent rival California’s 47. While several recent newcomers to the Texas brewing scene contributed to the medal count, it was the familiar names that tipped the balance in the final reckoning. Medals went to classic Texas breweries like St Arnold’s Brewing (in business since 1994), Real Ale Brewing (1996), and Texas legend Spoetzl Brewing, makers of Shiner Bock (1909). These small breweries paved the way for some of the later winners like Austin Beerworks, Oasis Brewing, Grapevine Brewing, Hops & Grain, 5 Stones Brewing, and Thirsty Planet – all of whom added to the medal count this weekend.

                “It’s a long way from 2014, when Texas breweries took 16 medals,” said Duke Egbert, head of the beer department for 118-store Twin Liquors, based out of Austin. “I thought then that Texas had potential to be the next Colorado or Oregon, and I think the results this weekend really show that. For those who discovered Texas beer back then – or even earlier – it’s been one Lone-Star-sized good time.”


 

                Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the Texas craft beer scene is growing by leaps and bounds, and it seems every month brings us something new and wonderful to try. I’ve personally had over 250 Texas beers, and I can honestly say I can only recall a handful that didn’t make the grade. You owe it to yourself to try Texas beers, ciders, and meads – and there is no better time than now, during Texas Fest, at your local Twin Liquors!

I Like Beer – A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not? “

–LeBron James

Whatever it is you’re interested in, go do it. There is no winning or losing. You find out when you do it what the experience is. “

–Kurt Russell

     It’s October. Four years ago this month, I started working for Twin Liquors, and in that length of time I have watched Texas beer grow, and prosper, and receive international acclaim. Given where we were four years ago and where we are now, it seems nothing short of miraculous. Amazing things are being done locally and state-wide, and there has never been a better time to be a beer drinker. Continue reading

I Like Beer – A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.”
–Paul Carvel… (Belgian author)

 “The good Lord has changed water into wine, so how can drinking beer be a sin?”
–Sign near a Belgian monastery

If we are bilingual, it is usually English and Spanish rather than Flemish and French. Our capital is Austin, not Antwerp. (The similarity of Austin and Belgian traffic jams is a coincidence.) But at least when it comes to locally-brewed beer, it seems like Austin is enjoying a little bit of Belgian style. Continue reading

I Like Beer – A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Mark Twain

Other people’s beliefs may be myths, but not mine.
Mason Cooley

I heard you all missed me, so I’m back.

It’s been a time of change for your faithful Twin beer correspondent. As of January 1, I have more responsibilities, and I’ve moved from the Galleria Marketplace to the main offices. (Worry not; the beer section at the Galleria is in excellent hands.) So I thought I would come back with a bit of a bang – it’s time once again to joust at the windmill of common belief and explode a few more beer myths. (I do wish I was as cool as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman sometimes, but I’ll get over it.)

Sacred Cow Number One: Beer is best served ice cold.

Now, I know some of you are oenophiles as well, so I’m going to ask you one question: do you drink all your wine ice cold? Usually not – red wines are typically drunk a little cooler than room temperature, so as to make sure the richer and stronger flavors come out. The same thing applies to beer. Don’t drink your Guinness or your Jester King Black Metal right out of the refrigerator. Give it a little time to warm up; somewhere between 45F and 60F is the usual range. You will taste more of the nutty, roasty, and umami notes that dark beer abounds with. Lagers and other pale beers can be drunk ice-cold, but you might find that allowing a little more warmth may change or even improve the flavor of your favorite lawnmower beer. This is all about experimentation, and that means you get to drink more beer. It’s a win-win situation.

Sacred Cow Number Two: Imported beers are stronger than light beers.

Tell that to the English, who are fond of mild session beers, some of which clock in as low as 2%. Or to the Germans – it’s a rare German beer that clocks in over 6%. Guinness Draft has an alcohol content of 4.1%; the Irish share their love of easy-drinking, lower alcohol beers with the English and the Scots. Foreign beers may taste different, but they’re not stronger. The corollary to this that you hear a lot is that dark beers are stronger than light beers; again, incorrect. The color of a beer has to do with how the malt is roasted, which has no effect on alcohol content.

Sacred Cow Number Three: Draft beer is better than bottled beer.

Both draft beer and bottle beer quality depend more on other variables. Is the beer fresh? Is this a reputable draft establishment that cleans and maintains their draft system properly? Is the beer bottle-conditioned – or, to put it in less beer-geek terms, is the beer bottled with life yeast so that it continues to ferment, thereby gaining complexity and flavor? Saying that one type is always better than another is fallacious; the first old draft beer you have, or the first really  good bottled beer, will shatter that myth once and for all.

There is one grain of truth to this myth, however. Beer has three great enemies; oxygen, sunlight, and temperature extremes. In general, draft beer is better protected from all three of these – so if everything else is equal, draft beer has a small advantage. But it’s nowhere near as clear-cut as the cow would have us believe.

Until next time, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malt toasty, and your hops snappy.

Duke Egbert

I LIKE BEER — A TWIN LIQUORS BEER BLOG

“Love is the only game that is not called on account of darkness.”

                                                                — Thomas Carlyle

                До́брое сло́во и ко́шке прия́тно. (Soft fire makes sweet malt.)

                                                                — Russian proverb

November in Texas, while not the bone-chilling exercise it can be at points north, can still have a touch of cold to it. There’s been a couple of mornings recently when the heat has been turned on in my house, as hard as that can be to believe; it was just a month ago I was running the air conditioning. Continue reading

I LIKE CIDER — A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

Autumn is the bite of the harvest apple.  — Christina Petrowsky

One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to come up to you and show you a nice brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the Jack of Spades jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not bet this man, for as sure as you are standing there, you are going to end up with an earful of cider. — Damon Runyon

The second quote above really has little to do with our column today — I just like Damon Runyon. That said, it’s October! The temperature is bearable! Let’s talk about something other than beer this month. Let’s talk about hard cider — the tipple that some say allowed William of Normandy to successfully invade Saxon England, Charlemagne’s favorite beverage, the stuff that presumably allowed Johnny Appleseed to walk as far as he did. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER — A TWIN LIQUORS BEER BLOG

If it’s flipping hamburgers,… be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.                                                                 — Snoop Dogg

       I would rather be having a burger and beers with my mates but I can’t do that when I know I’ve got to dance.                                                                       –Michael Flatley

I knew there was a reason I decided not to be a dancer.

At any rate, we’re at the tag end of summer — an unrelentingly hot, dry, and dusty summer. But sometimes new things happen in the fall; out here in the lake area, we’re about to get a P. Terry’s, which means yet more opportunities for good burgers. And I’ll be honest with you; I’ll go a long way for a good burger and a good beer. So while you’re thinking about your Labor Day cookout (which, depending on your local fire code, may be in your broiler), here’s some beer and burger ideas for you to wrap a bun around. (Note I say burger, not ‘hamburger’. Feel free to make your chosen delight out of beef, turkey, soy bits, or whatever you like; we’re fully supportive of your dietary choices, since none of them mean we can’t drink more beer.)

First off, I like big, flavorful, strong, stinky cheese. So one of my favorite burgers is the Blu(eu)e burger, topped with, say, Stilton or Gorgonzola. If you want to stay domestic, you could use Maytag from Iowa — which in my opinion is one of the reasons I love America. Match the big flavor of this burger with Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout from Tadcaster, England. The aggressiveness of the cheese meets its perfect foil in the stout’s rich, smooth, fruity overtones.

I love mushrooms. I wouldn’t eat them as a child, and now I regret all the mushrooms I missed. Please, don’t make my mistake — pile your burger deep with sautéed mushrooms and onions. While the food cognoscenti enjoy exotic mushrooms, I kinda like plain old white buttons with butter and black pepper. No matter what your fungal choice, I think a Kolsch goes perfectly with those savory and earthy tones. Kolsch is “Germany’s only true, all-barley, pale ale” (Definition from the German Beer Institute). It’s close in spirit to a blonde ale, but has a soft earthiness to it that’s unique. There is, as of this writing, only one true German Kolsch in Texas — but it’s a decent one. I carry Sunner Kolsch in a 16.9 ounce bottle for $3.39 here at the Galleria.

Finally, the best food we can eat is the food in our memories — the things that mean more than just dinner on a plate. My home town had a strong Italian presence, so several of the local joints served a pizza burger. With garlic in the meat and pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese on top, these hybrids were some of my favorite things growing up. I haven’t had one in a long time, but I think I may have to change that soon — and I’ll probably enjoy it with a Victory Headwaters Pale Ale.  This American pale ale has great citrus and herbal notes, a perfect echo for oregano and tomato acidity.

Until next month, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malt toasty, and your hops snappy.
Duke Egbert

I LIKE BEER — A TWIN LIQUORS BEER BLOG

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

                                                                                –Nelson Mandela

If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.

                                                                                –Herodotus

                Times change, and people change. When I was a kid — which was more years ago than I care to admit — canned beer was a sign that you were having a pretty common good time. Strohs, Carlings Black Label, Falstaff, Hamm’s, and Heileman’s Old Style were pretty common in my house, and nine times out of then they were a canned sixer from Herman’s Liquors on the west side of town. My mother’s beer tastes were considered exotic because she liked Beck’s Dark — which did not come in cans. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER — A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
                                    –Plato, “The Republic”

            “He was a wise man who invented beer.”
                                    –Plato

             It is a heck of a time to be drinking beer in Texas, and specifically in central Texas. It seems you can’t swing a cat without hitting a new brewery, and I look forward to the excitement of trying the first fruits — or grains — of a lot of people’s big dreams. For its population, Texas is terribly undercapitalized in terms of beer brewing; one statistic I have heard quoted says that Texas is forty-seventh in the US in gallons of beer brewed per capita. This month, let’s take a look at some hearty souls who have put up their lives, their fortunes, and their mash recipes to attempt  to raise our rank. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER: A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

Old Time, that greatest and longest established spinner of all!…. His factory is a secret place, his work is noiseless, and his hands are mutes.  — Charles Dickens

 

                I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve had this conversation.

                Me: “…and if you lay this beer down for a year or two, it’ll mellow, the flavors will change, and it’ll be even better.”

                Customer: “You can age beer?”

                So the short answer is yes, you can age beer. Often, in fact, aging beers creates different, more mellow or complex flavors. Sharp corners get ‘sanded off’, fermentation continues, and much like wine the beer changes — often for the better. I have some beers laying down myself, and hopefully in a year or more they’ll be that much better. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER: A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

                Activities that seem to represent choices are often inert reproductions of accepted practice.                                                                                                –Shoshana Zuboff

 

                And now, on I Like Beer, we will have a little bit of your author revealing his character.

                I have been working up to this blog post for some time — trying to come up with a politic and comprehensive way to write it. Believe it or not, I have a temper; I can be a bit sarcastic at times, and I get frustrated with choices I don’t understand. So I’ve been sitting on this for a while until I was sure I could write it with a smile on my face. Continue reading

I LOVE BEER — A Twin Liquors Beer Blog

“I live on good soup, not on fine words.”
                                    Moliere

            “A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.”
                                    Abraham Maslow

 

            As I write this, it’s warm — almost springlike — outside. But Texas winters are like fickle lovers or fair-weather friends; they will turn on you at a moment’s notice, and before you know it the temperature looks like the average point total for this year’s Cowboys offense. Continue reading

I Like Beer — A Twin Liquors Blog

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji

Nothing’s as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas.  ~Kin Hubbard
 
            All commercialism aside, what I like the most about the winter holiday season (or, as I like to call it, ChristKwanYuleHannusticemas) is the sense of joy that surrounds all of us. Too often, I think, we don’t allow joy into our lives — in the end,  what the season is about for me is the embracing of light, of joy, of giving, and of the part in all of us that never got older than six. The only trick I’ve found about getting older is that I try not to grow old. This season is about joy, and wonder, and giving people what makes them happy. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER: A Twin Liquors Blog

  “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.  This is not coincidence.”

                                                                          ~Erma Bombeck

            You know what, oh faithful readers? I’ve been kind of mellow these last two posts. It’s time to dust off the I Like Beer Official Soapbox and preach a little about Thanksgiving. Continue reading

I LIKE BEER: A TWIN LIQUORS BLOG

‘s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.

                                                                —Barbara Kingsolver

                Greetings and happy Fall Equinox, faithful readers. Sorry for missing my September post. Take this slightly longer post as a partial apology.

                There is no word in English for how I feel this time of year. Fall to me — and even here in Texas, it’s starting to feel fall-ish — is equal parts joy and sadness, a particular wistful amusement when I look back at what’s past and look forward to what’s ahead. An edge of chill on the breeze, a couple of days without sun, and I wander down memory lane with wild abandon. Continue reading

I Like Beer: August 2010

“You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be“
               –Chuck Palahniuk

 

brent3-1  I originally started writing this blog because I was encouraged to do so by a few people. One of those people was Brent Herrmann. Brent was one of our IT guys here at Twin; he passed away on Sunday, July 18, very suddenly, and very young.

  Those of us who work here at Twin are all a family. We all at least know of each other, and the folks who work out of our corporate offices are known to everyone in the various stores. I probably talked to Brent weekly, if not more. I know he liked electronic gadgets, I know he was an amateur filmmaker, I know he had a great sense of humor, and I know that he was one of the most positive and upbeat people I have had the privilege to know . He had spoken to me a few weeks before his death about writing a screenplay for him; he enjoyed my writing, and encouraged me. I would go so far as to say that people around Brent loved him, and that’s not a word that I bandy around lightly.

  I wish I’d known him better than I did. I wish I’d had the time to know him better. Every day, as I walk through life, I try very hard to remember that every person I meet is their own story; they have loves, fears, passions, wants, needs, secrets, aspirations. I am entering the age where I start losing the chance to learn some of the stories around me; I have seen two friends and two co-workers die in the last four years. As Chuck Palahniuk said, every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. Brent’s death sorrows and saddens me — and I choose to take the gift he gave me, his encouragement, and turn it into something else.

  Partially because of my loss, I choose to do more, to write more, and to stay aware that every day I am surrounded by a thousand stories. I choose to remember Brent by focusing on the things I did that he enjoyed. It is, in the end, the only substantial answer I have to his loss.

What is remembered, lives. Thanks, Brent.

 

 

  As for beer this month, well — I don’t really have an overarching theme or topic. I just have a few beers that I’d like you to try; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  While it is not official yet, there is a growing movement among American brewers in the Pacific Northwest to officially recognize a new style that they’ve create — the Cascadian Dark Ale (see this month’s BVB for a definition). Deschutes’ Hop In The Dark CDA is one such beer; it opens with citrus and resin flavors from American hops, but finishes with chocolate and espresso tones reminiscent of a good dry stout. It’s a limited, seasonal beer, so check it out now; I have a small supply at the Galleria store.

  While we’re on the subject of limited edition beers, I want to make sure I tell you about the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Saison.  Sorachi Ace is made with the rare Sorachi hop. Developed by Sapporo Brewing, the Sorachi is an incredibly fragrant hop with lemon flavor and aroma. When you combine it with Saison — a style that Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver loves — it’s an incredibly refreshing punch. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so grab some now.

  Finally,  I want to mention one of my favorite summer tipples, Southern Star Brewery’s Bombshell Blonde. Southern Star was one of the first small breweries to can, rather than bottle, their beers; made just down the road in Conroe, Texas, the Bombshell is a hoppy, malty, light refresher that still has considerable substance behind it. This is probably my favorite beer currently being brewed in Texas, and it’s perfect for late summer and early fall.

Until next month, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malt toasty, and your hops snappy.

THIS MONTH’S BVB (Beer Vocabulary Builder):

  CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale) — Cascadian Dark Ales are hoppy and dry like an IPA, but are made with dark or black-roasted malt for an intense smoky, toasty flavor that balances the hops nicely. The style was first developed in the Pacific Northwest, and most examples still are brewed there.

I Like Beer

Duke_NewCastle“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. “
                -Sir John Lubbock, English entomologist, essayist, and politician

Amen, brother John. Amen.

    Now we are under the magnifying glass of a July Texas sun, as insistent as a three-year-old and as hot as extract of ghost chili. However, this summer seems different; the grass is still green enough that you can lie on it without minor lacerations, you can still hear running water in its natural environment, and the evenings have been almost pleasant. In such a time, I find it one of life’s small pleasures to, in the words of Sir John, rest. Sometimes I forget to take it easy — to just be in the middle of vacation and swimming lessons and work and the hurried pace of my life. So in that vein, this week I want to look at a few sipping beers — beers to take your time with, to experience. Continue reading

I Like Beer: June 2010

 duke2“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. “
                –Bern Williams


    “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…”
                –The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride

    Once again, it’s June, the time when nature and nurture run riot, weddings come fast and furious, and hot starlit nights may result in lives becoming delightfully more complicated. You can keep your February — it’s too darn cold to stargaze, skinny-dip, or run through a field of flowers. There’s a reason Shakespeare didn’t write A Latewinter Night’s Dream.
Continue reading

Beerbusters II: The Numbers Are In

The intention of Beerbusters II was to evaluate American and Belgian beers of the same style and see which ones were superior in the opinion of a randomly selected group of tasters. (In other words, whoever walked in and agreed to taste ten beers and tell us what they thought of them.) The other purpose was to have a good time. In an amazing juxtaposition of work and play, we managed to do both, and we got some interesting numbers out of the whole deal. Continue reading

I LIke Beer: May 2010

Duke_BlackVelvet1“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
                –William Claude Dunkenfield, better known as W.C. Fields

    Spring is here in full bore, rapidly rolling downhill towards the unflinching light and heat of a Texas summer. Last month’s interesting moments for your faithful correspondent included adding ‘snake wrangler’ to my Twin Liquors business card. Turns out we had a baby Texas garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis annectens, for the scientific-minded) lurking under one of our geranium planters here at the Galleria. Being the heroic type I am, I removed it. (We had a customer who was refusing to leave the store until it was gone.) After that brush with nature, I needed a long, cool drink. In fact, in most circumstances this time of year cool drinks sound like a good idea – but what about enjoying a mixed drink made with beer? Continue reading

I Like Beer: April 2010

duke2“Spring is here, oh spring is here,
Life is skittles and life is beer,
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring, I do! Don’t you?
…course you do.”
        –“Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”, Tom Lehrer

    I wish to state, first off, that I in no way advocate the random elimination of wildlife.  But let’s face it; Spring is here in her best new gown, and given that it seems sometimes spring and autumn in Texas last about three hours, let us seize the day and talk about beers for Spring – which, as far as I’m concerned, means beers for food. After all, many of us are dusting off the charcoal grill or haunting the local farmers’ markets for spring produce – not to mention the Spring holidays and family meals.  And really, I think we can do better than skittles to match our beer, don’t you?

    When I’m asked what brewmasters I respect, my usual first response is Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery. His enthusiasm for beer paired with food is palpable, and his book The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering The Joy Of Real Beer With Real Food  is a must-read for the beer aficionado. One of his favorite choices to pair with almost anything is Saison Dupont from Belgium’s Brasserie Dupont. Saisons were traditionally brewed in the autumn and winter to refresh farm workers in the summer, but as far as Oliver – and myself, though I’m not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath – is concerned, this is a drink anytime, drink anywhere. The bitter hop finish is a perfect counterpoint to grilled food – try it with chicken rubbed with lemon and rosemary or shrimp skewers.  Saison had almost died out as a style as recent as twenty years ago, but the craft beer revolution has brought it new life.

    Spring in Texas means a lot of new growth. Driving to work down 620, it seems that the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes have decided to go for broke this year, and they are everywhere. I love wildflowers in Spring – but I also love asparagus. You can steam it, you can microwave it, or – my personal favorite – you can roast it with a little pesto and Parmigiano Reggiano. While you’re doing that, open up a Long Strange Triple from Boulevard Brewing’s Smokestack series. Long Strange is the best of the American tripel ales – the fruit, bread, and citrus notes in it really makes asparagus and sharp cheese sing. Once you’ve done that, invite me over.

    Finally, depending on your cultural and religious background it’s quite likely you will either be consuming baked ham or roast lamb sometime this month. I love ‘em both – then again, given my photo above, it’s hard to imagine there are foods I don’t love. (For the record – olives, green bell peppers, cooked whole tomato, mussels, water chestnuts, baby corn, and kidneys.)

    Pairing beer with both of those spring staples is easy. For the ham, I would recommend a helles bock (for the definition, check out this month’s BVB, below). I like Hofbrau Munchen Maibock. This classic German beer has the nuttiness and spiciness to counter the smoked saltiness of the ham. For lamb, I would recommend a classic Scotch ale like Belhaven Scottish Ale. Belhaven is, for my money, one of the most reliably good producers of ale around, and their flagship product has earthy notes that match up well with the gaminess of the lamb.

    Until next month, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malt toasty, and your hops snappy.

THIS MONTH’S BEER VOCABULARY BUILDER (BVB):

    Helles Bock (also known as Heller Bock): “Helles Bock or Heller Bock Maibock (literally: light Bock) is essentially a synonym for Maibock, the Bavarians’ strong, golden lager favored during the brief transition transition between the long Bavarian winters along the northern edge of the Alps and the equally long, hot summers. In spite of its name, this brew is not light in body or strength, just in color.” (Definition courtesy of the German Beer Institute, http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com).

    Duke’s take: This will get your blood moving in spring. It’s heavy enough and alcoholic enough that it may not be a good summer drink, but from March to May it’s one of my favorites.

I Like Beer: March 2010

Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.
    –Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, Book 1

   When beer and March intersect, it is often a flurry of pseudo-Irish cliches. Once again, I have decided to take the road less traveled this month; I’m sure that if you want information on Irish beers, you will just come see me. Meanwhile, let us also remember that March contains the Ides of March, the day when the Roman dictator Julius Caesar should have called in sick to work. As history tells us, Caesar ended up calling in dead the next day, which made governing Rome nigh-on impossible. Continue reading

I Like Beer: February 2010

“Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. — Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask — leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working — Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.”
        –From George Washington’s personal papers, kept at the New York Public Library

    Ah, February. Love is in the air, cherubs everywhere, and card and candy companies dive into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck taking his afternoon swim. Continue reading

I Like Beer: January 2010

Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

    I am not the sort of person to make New Year’s resolutions; I tend to find that I keep them no better or worse than any other promise I make myself, and making a big fuss over them tends to guarantee that I will, indeed, probably make a fool of myself. However, sometimes I make a point of trying something new, getting something different going for myself in the New Year. Continue reading

I Like Beer: December Edition

How bittersweet it is, on winter’s night,
To listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,
As distant memories, through the fog-dimmed light,
Rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.
–   Charles Baudelaire, The Cracked Bell

December is about memories, and traditions, and family – at least for me.  The American fantasist John Crowley said that every Christmas seems to follow another; that the time between is just a dream, not real. While I’m not sure I’d go that far, I do know that for me the December table is about tradition. In my household, we try to maintain an unbroken chain of practices and traditions that reach back through the years — we light Chanukah lights in honor of one of my best friends and former roommates, a Ukranian Jew; gingerbread is always served Christmas morning, a longtime practice of my wife’s family; and at some point, someone will take a picture of me with a discarded bow on my head. (This is in memory of my late mother, who felt Christmas morning just wasn’t complete without wearing some of the discarded packaging.) Continue reading

I Like Beer: November Edition

“No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!”
–“November”, Thomas Hood

It seems obvious to me in retrospect that what Thomas Hood needed was a beer or two.

            I rather like November, in truth. Certainly here in Central Texas it’s cooler, — the sky never gets as quite as blue as it does on a clear November day, the wind never as crisp. Of course, it’s also a time of cooler temperatures. When November rolls around, it means heartier food — and what best to go with it than heartier beer? This month I want to tell you about one of my favorite styles of beer: the witbier or biere blanche. Continue reading

I Like Beer: October Edition

“I like beer. it makes me a jolly good fellow,
 I like beer. it helps me unwind
 and sometimes it makes me feel mellow (makes him feel mellow)…”
  –Tom T Hall, “I Like Beer”

My name’s Duke, and I like beer.
     Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like wine and spirits of most kinds as well. But when it comes right down to it, when I come home after a long day, when I want something that’s familiar and friendly, I’m likely to drink a beer or a cider. Beer is something I’m passionate about; it makes me feel connected with all the history that has gone before me. Continue reading