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AUG/SEP 2005 | COLUMNS | HOP CAEN

Heard It Through The Hopvine
By Hop Caen

What's in Your Refrigerator Dept. It's a traditional question for brewers and beer lovers, but for the San Francisco Police Department it got a little embarrassing. Some rather intoxicating evidence turned up after a phone tip led to an examination of a refrigerator at the SFPD's Tac Squad building at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard — a bottle cap-toss from the historic 19th-century Albion Brewery. The fridge was stocked with beer and a few bottles of the hard stuff in the freezer. No word on who, why or when, but we'd like to know the Tac Squad’s preferred brands … Speaking of macho beer-drinking, after watching the Tour de France and the Iron Man Triathlon, I'm thinking we need such an over-the-top event for extreme beer lovers. How about the Iron Butt Competition! The event would include drinking 12 pints, eating 1¬2 hamburgers with fries and power-napping 12 hours. I'm in training starting … NOW! Can't wait to see the T-shirt … XXXXL, of course…

This Bud's for Us Dept. Beer giant Anheuser-Busch may need to retap fired workers, according to published reports. A federal appeals court sez the Saint Louis–based beer-maker may have to reinstate several employees who were fired for smoking pot at work. That's because the company used hidden cameras without informing the employees' union. The company insists that the cameras were in an area where the employees weren't supposed to be. At least now we know Big Bud-er is watching…

A Belgian politico canceled a meeting with a visiting Iranian counterpart because the visitor refused to lunch with someone enjoying a beer. Now we're getting somewhere! The "When in Rome" dictum obviously doesn't apply to our fundamentalist Muslim brothers. Herman De Croo, president of parliament's lower house, had planned to entertain the speaker and members of the Iranian parliament during their visit to Belgium — a country famous for its diversity of beer brands. The culture clash continued after Iran's parliament speaker Gholamali Haddad-Adel insisted he would not shake hands with the female president of Belgium's senate, Anne-Marie Lizin, who then canceled their meeting. She said in a statement that Iranians should respect local customs in Belgium, just as Belgians should in Iran. Imagine how much we could accomplish if we could just sit down over a good beer…

Can Cans Contain Quality Craft? A recent edition of the esteemed New York Times had a review of the nation's top pale ales. Said America's journal of record: "… our top selection, Dale's Pale Ale, made by Oskar Blues Brewery of Lyons, Colo., was one of the more aggressive ales in the tasting, with assertive floral and citrus aromas. But the ale was so well balanced, so lively and dry, that its extroversion simply did not matter." The story went on to lament the fragility of good beer and the importance of freshness and protection from light. Said the Times: "One possible solution to the light problem, at least, was staring us in the face right after the tasting, when the identities of all the brews were revealed. Our No. 1, Dale's Pale Ale, came in a can. A can! Not long ago, cans represented all that was wrong with the assembly-line American beer industry. No craft brewer worth a copper brew-kettle would even consider putting his precious ale in a can. But times have changed, and some brewers say that cans are lighter and easier to recycle than bottles, and offer complete protection against light." And you can bet the folks at Dale's in Lyons ain't lyin’ about the can-troversy…

This summer, Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, N.Y., sponsored a White Nights Ultimate Frisbee Tournament celebrating the arrival of summer, the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, flying Frisbee-snagging dogs, and Ommegang Witte beer, which they call “the Ultimate Beer for the Ultimate Weekend.” Some 24 Ultimate teams competed in the two-day tourney. The grand prize was the winning team’s collective weight in the Ommegang beers of their choice. Mmmmm … With the merger last year of Portland/MacTarnahan Brewing and Pyramid Breweries, the new company is still called Pyramid Breweries. Surely the branding geeks could have come up with something more inclusive of its distinguished parts. How about PorTarnAmid? OK, how about MacPortAmid? No? Pyrtarnaport? PyrPortlamac? Your turn…

Veteran brewer Fal (Algernon) Allen, ex-Anderson Valley, ex-Pike Brewing, is on his way to Singapore to bring the blessings of great beer to that light lager–loving land. Said his Fal-ness, "I am brewing three test beers for APB at the Elysian in Seattle. I am very excited to be brewing again! A keg of each of the beers will shipped out to Singapore, and the Elysian will pour the rest across the bar. We will be making a traditional English pale ale, a Belgian wit (with Asian accents) and an American blonde (with a big rack). Should be fun." Big rack is, of course, brewer-talk for "transferred from large tanks." We wish you success, Fal! You never forget your first Singapore Girl (is that a beer?)…

Send any items you might have to hopvine@celebrator.com.

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