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EDITORIALS & LETTERS 2002 » BACK TO EDITORIALS & LETTERS INDEX
 
December 2002/January 2003
Belgian Beer & Beer on the Boob Tube

 
A recent trip to Belgium reaffirmed the notion that America has a long way to go to become a great beer-loving nation. Granted, we consume a lot of beer. We rank slightly behind the Czechs and ahead of the Chinese in per capita consumption. However, nearly 90 percent of all beer sold in this country is industrial adjunct lager.

Belgium’s beer diversity (and regional pride in its breweries) is extraordinary, and the beers produced are inseparable from Belgium’s cuisine. For many Americans, beer is something one uses to “wash down” whatever one happens to be eating. How sad that our truly great beers aren’t given more play in the popular press and on TV. Beer on sitcoms is drunk from the bottle, exhibiting not only brand loyalty but lack of class as well.

Thank Gambrinus for the Food Channel! On an increasing number of programs, beer and beer culture are in the spotlight. Recently, three hours were dedicated to food shows featuring beer. If you could suffer the egomaniacal Emeril, you could watch a whole show devoted to cooking with beer. The Thirsty Traveler, though ignorant of even the basics of beer culture, has visited some of beer’s most cherished shrines. NBC’s Al Roker did an hour on brewpubs, even if some of his choices were a bit odd. And a delightful hour on Belgian beer culture was featured, although it unfortunately contained a scene of the host encouraging a hapless tourist to chug a glass of Kwak simply because that beer’s traditional glass is a yard. Sad, but thanks for the great scenes of a wonderful beer destination.

When the Celebrator Beer News started some 15 years ago, there were only 20 breweries in California and only a smattering across the country. Now we have breweries in virtually every state and have exceeded Germany in the total number of breweries in our country. Good beer is to be found almost everywhere, and new consumers are exposed to quality brewing every day. In the next 15 years, the Celebrator hopes to document an expanding beer culture in which various beer styles are incorporated into daily meals and food is prepared with beer to be enjoyed with beer.

As a Celebrator reader, you are empowered to bring this mantra to your fellow man (and woman!) in the pursuit of the beverage of moderation, of flavor and of favorable price point. Fine wine has become prohibitively expensive, whereas some of the greatest beers available are still bargains at $3 to $5 a bottle. Do yourself, the small beer industry and your friends a favor and introduce people to beer you think is significant. Your local brewer will love you for it.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Dec 2002/Jan 2003)

Dear Editor:
Fred Eckhardt's conversation with Don Younger [Celebrator Beer News, October/November 2002] brought back fond memories for me. In 1968, a couple of 21-year-old hayseeds from Walla Walla decided to venture off to the big city of Portland. We hadn't been in town more than a few hours when we were directed to the Stein Haus tavern on 82nd at Division, where we found community not so unlike our own back home. One of the fellows sitting on a stool there regularly was Don Younger. The pub was owned by the infamous J. L. Maxner, and there was never a dull moment. (On Sundays a guy would show up in a gorilla suit and go out and stop traffic on 82nd.)

Don Younger mentions J. L. Maxner, and rightfully so. He was the P. T. Barnum of Pubs. After 34 years and four pubs, I wholeheartedly agree with Don Younger that it isn't about the beer; it's about bringing people together. I regret to hear that J. L. is no longer with us. I'll look forward to my next trip to Portland and drinking a pint at the Horse Brass. Thanks, Don. Well said!

Gary Johnson, Owner
Mill Creek Brewpub
Walla Walla, Wash.

Dear Editor:
Was in the U.S. last week and picked up the Celebrator at the Monte Carlo in Vegas. Brilliant!

I help to run www.craftbrewer.org, which is homebrew-focused. In addition to my day job, I also sell brewing consumables. The Celebrator is the best beer news feature magazine I have ever seen in all my travels, and I am disappointed to have never seen it before.

What is impressive is the balance of the magazine. The Celebrator is uniquely informative to all levels of beer-makers AND consumers. But I am remiss. The Celebrator shows how far advanced the U.S. craft-brewing industry is compared to a country like Australia, and how far we have to go. For this I am forever jealous and have sent a copy to a few of my industry colleagues with a large post-it note saying, "WOULD YOU HAVE A LOOK AT THIS!"

Without the support of a publication like the Celebrator, the craft-beer industry would be a very different place. What you have is something that we Southerners can only dream of, you pack of lucky bastards.

Subscription dues will be arriving soon, don't you worry about that.

Scotty Morgan
Australia

Dear Scotty:
Thanks for your kind comments on the Celebrator Beer News. I take it from clues in your e-mail that you're down under. Our foreign rate is $28 U.S. per year (just covers the postage, mate). – Ed.

Dear CBN:
Please find my check enclosed and continue my subscription. Many thanks for a great paper which gets more sophisticated every year.

Peter Vdovin
Concord, Calif.

Dear Peter:
How good of you to have noticed our singular accomplishment, sophistication-wise. We’ll get over it, I’m sure. Thanks for your continued support, which helps cover our bar tab. — Ed.

October/November 2002
Malternative Fad a Bust? Already???

 
The New York Times has declared the malternative beverage a “fad” rather than a “trend,” and the expected advertising windfall Madison Avenue was salivating over looks to be not forthcoming. The Times article by Stuart Elliott, which appeared in the September 12 issue, noted that the alcoholic beverages known collectively as “malternatives, flavored malts, alcopops or clear malts” and known in the industry as RTDs (or Ready to Drink). These beverages began simply as flavored malt-based drinks like Zima and Hooper’s Hooch, which were added to the beer category since they contained malt and usually copious quantities of high-fructose corn syrup. Yum.

Things got interesting when the mega-huge multinational spirits companies got involved. Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company, scored big with its Smirnoff Ice trading on its popular Smirnoff Vodka brand. In 18 months, that product grew to equal half the production of the entire craft-brewing industry! Profits soared and advertising spending was lavish. The residual benefit to the Smirnoff brand was less regulated advertising for a spirit “inspired” product, with the added benefit of access to the prime drinking demographic — young urban professionals.

Spending on the malternative brands for the first half of 2002 included $26 million on Smirnoff Ice and $9.4 million on Captain Morgan (both Diageo), $25.6 million on Bacardi Silver (Anheuser-Busch) and $24.4 million by SAB Miller on Skyy Blue, Sauza Diablo and Stolichnaya Citrona. Jack Daniel’s Original Hard Cola (also by Miller) is just getting started, albeit a bit late. An analyst for Morgan Stanley estimated that sales for the category peaked in July and that many of the new products are “nonstarters,” according to the article.

Meanwhile, shelf placement for “malt beverages” by retailers continues to yield to the free-spending malternatives at the expense of craft-brewed beers. It looks, however, that the category may share the fate of the wine cooler some years back.

This issue, General Manager Jay Brooks continues his visits to brewing sites in Germany. Check out the reports from various Celebrator writers on beer festivals around the country. Marie Oliver visits cideries in New England. Chuck Cook files a story on the fabulous Brewer’s Art in Baltimore, and a slightly titillating story on adult beverages and adult entertainment. Dr. Fermento (Jim Roberts) checks in from Anchorage with the brew news from the far north. Dan Rabin covers the mead scene with a story on the Redstone Meadery, and Fred Eckhardt travels across town to interview legendary publican Don Younger, owner of Portland’s Horse Brass Pub. Certainly several pints’ worth of entertaining beer news and views. Enjoy!

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Oct/Nov 2002)

Dear Celebrator:
Enclosed is a check to renew my subscription — the first check in a long time that I’m happy to write!

Anne McDonald
San Francisco, Calif.

Dear Anne:
Happy checks are always welcome at the Celebrator office! Thanks for your kind support and for helping spread the word of good beer. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
FYI, "Alki" is an Indian word meaning "bye-and-bye" (sic). It was part of the original half-serious name for Seattle (New York Alki) long before "alky" (with a y) ever became slang for an alcoholic. The Washington Cask Beer Festival at the Alki Room in Seattle is a fine event, the only one of its kind in the Northwest. Why do you keep trashing it this way?

Alan Moen, Editor
Northwest Brewing News

Dear Alan:
Thanks so much for the history of Alki. The reference was in our Hop Caen column, a “humor” section of our magazine. We really weren’t “trashing” the event in Seattle, but simply having a bit of fun with a name sure to appeal to the Bart Simpson and Beavis and Butt-head in all of us (OK, some of us). And yes, we did have a similar joke a year ago. Good eye! You must really devour each issue! Old Hop (he’s nearly 147 years old!) tells us that there are no new jokes, only new audiences. — Ed.

August/September 2002
Growing with the Beer World

 
As we approach our 15th year of publication, the Celebrator Beer News continues to expand its coverage of beery venues and places around the country and, indeed, the world. Thanks to the efforts of the Celebrator’s General Manager Jay Brooks, our page count continues to increase, allowing us to bring you more coverage of the good beer story. Our writing corps from around the beer world checks in regularly with news and views on our favorite topic, but sadly we rarely have the space to include it all. Additional pages means more news of brews for yous! We also were able to upgrade the paper used to print the Celebrator, which will enhance the readability along with the drinkability.

This issue is as stuffed as an Imperial IPA with new breweries, festival happenings, travel, cider, food and more! Check out festival reports from Bob Barnes (Las Vegas), Jay Brooks (Reno), your publisher (Portland), Priscilla Estes (Belgium), Mike Pitsker (Morgan Hill, Calif.) and Don Scheidt (Chicago).

Marie Oliver checks in with additional coverage on the cider story in pursuit of cider’s Holy Grail. Bryan Harrell finds English-style cask-conditioned ale in… Japan! World traveler Jay Brooks just returned from a trip to Dresden with a great story on the rebirth of Germany’s original pilsner, Radeberger.

Closer to home, Don Erickson and Rich Link cover the Southern California scene, while Michael Rasmussen and Don Scheidt hit the Northwest beat. Jack Curtin continues his coverage of Philadelphia brewing with his Golden Age tour. Bobby Bush has the Southern beer territory down and also visits beer places in St. Louis. Marty Jones checks in with news on Rocky Mountain brews, while Bob Barnes has the scoop in Nevada and Arizona.

Our continuing Blind Panel Tastings conducted by Jay Brooks will examine porters in this issue and take on significant cider releases as well. Our favorite beer couple, Bob and Angela Wagner Coleman, cover the West Coast debut of Chimay on draught and a beer dinner featuring Russian River Brewery.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Legend of Beer Jim Kennedy for an interview on his life in the beer industry — this at a “living wake” hosted by himself and wife Bobbie. The beer world has no finer emissary or more knowledgeable proponent than Jim.

With great beer readily available and people like Jim Kennedy to inspire us to seek the very best, our job at the Celebrator continues to be to offer our readers information and direction toward a fulfilling beer experience. When you enjoy great beers this summer, think of the pioneers like Jim Kennedy whose curiosity, passion and commitment enabled the commercial opportunities for good beer to be widely distributed.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Aug/Sep 2002)

Dear Celebrator:
I received a packet from you guys supposedly containing the most recent issue of the Celebrator Beer News. The envelope was empty and stamped by the USPS as "Received without contents." Would you mind sending me another issue?

Buck Sterling
Spokane, Wash.

Dear Buck:
Oh, sure. You expect us to believe that the USPS carriers love beer so much that they would… hey, maybe you're right! We'd better get the postal dudes their own copy of the Celebrator. Your fresh copy is on the way. P.S. Btw, isn't Buck Sterling a porn star?? ;) — Ed.

Dear Editor:
In response to Fred Eckhardt’s article “Beer and the Irish” [February/March 2002], I was a bit surprised that Fred failed to mention the recent addition of microbreweries and brewpubs to the Irish beer scene. Some of these breweries have won international acclaim at Stockholm and Burton as well as at the independent Irish Brewers Competition held annually and judged by Michael Jackson.

Before the arrival of Irish craft brewers, the Irish beer consumer had repeatedly fallen victim to buyouts and consolidation by Guinness, as well as corporate breweries dictating what would and would not be dispensed from a pub’s taps! For example, Miller brewed under contract at Beamish & Crawford and Budweiser brewed under contract at Guinness. And “Murphy’s Ireland” changed its name to “Heineken Ireland.”

The following is a list of microbreweries and brewpubs currently in operation in the Republic of Ireland: The Porterhouse, Dublin Brewing Co., Messr. Maguires (Dublin), Franciscan Well Brewery, Kinsale Brewing Co. (Cork), Carlow Craft Brewers (Carlow), Dwan Brewpub (Tipperary), Biddy Early Brewery (Clare).

Sincerely,
Russell Garet, Brewmaster
Franciscan Well Brewery
Cork City, Rep. of Ireland

Dear Russell:
Thanks for the update on the Irish brewing scene. I’ve been to Porterhouse and Dublin Brewing and thought the beers were outstanding! We hope to do a story on developments in Ireland soon. — Ed.

June/July 2002
BATF Clamps Down on RTD Labeling

 
It didn’t take the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms long, after publication of our last issue’s editorial rant, to move on the “malternative” (or ready-to-drink) category for claiming that such beverages contained spirits. The BATF said recently that it would forbid labeling and advertising claims that suggest that RTD malt-based beverages contain distilled spirits, a practice it called confusing to consumers. We agree. Duh! The whole point of the product is to capitalize on the brewers tax rate rather than the much higher distilled spirit tax rate.

Brewers of RTDs, including Diageo, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors, are not allowed to add distilled spirits to malt beverages, but alcohol-based flavoring can be added. Therefore, the bureau stated it “considers it misleading to represent that a malt beverage contains a particular class of distilled spirit when it contains only an alcohol-based flavoring.” But, as we said in the last issue, “The fact that there is no vodka in a bottle that looks like a vodka bottle and has a vodka producer’s name on it doesn’t seem to bother the BATF.” The seductive frosty bottle with the vodka makers’ name on it is still quite an attraction for the unsophisticated drinker wanting a quick buzz without the adult beverage flavor challenge.

The term “ready to drink” implies that the product is a mixed drink — mixed with spirits. But, this category is prohibited from having spirits in its contents. The multinational spirits conglomerates are enjoying a branding bonanza, infusing the image of cool into their ersatz booze spritzers while making huge profits from unsophisticated thrill-seekers. Meanwhile, a new generation of potential real beer drinkers is being hijacked by vast promotional spending that real beer makers can never match. Be true to your brew, while you still can.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Jun/Jul 2002)

Dear Editor:
Thank you for your editorial on the RTDs (or malternatives/alcopops) [April/May 2002]. It is nice to see someone tell it like it is. RTDs represent a threat to the craft-brewing industry on so many fronts (a bad political face, taking up shelf space, stealing our customer base). RTDs are the antithesis of everything that craft brewing is about. They are not about tradition or quality or fine ingredients. They are not about an artisan's skill, or savoring the complex flavors, or pairing with foods, or finesse. They are not about moderation or responsible consumption or appealing to an adult audience.

As you stated, they are about money and market share — pure and simple. According to Smirnoff Ice, 70% of their customers come from beer drinkers. Fad or not, beer drinkers should eschew the alcopops, or maybe we won't have so many craft beers to choose from in the future.

Fal Allen, General Manager
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Boonville, Calif.

Dear Fal:
Choir-wise, you’re preachin’ to us! Thanks for giving us a brewer’s viewpoint on this trend toward alcoholic soft drinks (hard drinks?) and its impact on craft brewing. Without eternal vigilance… — Ed.

Dear Editor:
As longtime subscribers, we enjoy your magazine. We were especially excited to see the article in the February/March 2002 issue on Sydney, Australia. We were there in July of 2001 and stayed at the Lord Nelson. As Bryan Harrell can attest, there is some wonderful beer on the “Rocks” in Sydney.

We would also like to mention that we spent some time in rural Victoria and came across a FIND in a little town called Boorhaman, Victoria (03-5726-9215). The name of the brewery is the Buffalo Brewery. When we say rural, we mean rural. There is a sheep pasture across the street from the brewery. Other amenities include a seven-hole golf course up the road, great food and, of course, the beer. This brewery makes a Ginger Beer that is “nectar from the gods.” They also have a collection of humorous Aussie gadgets and a bar that has some of the most friendly people we met while there. Our only regret is that we didn’t buy the little house that was for sale next door to the brewery!

Also, Melbourne is a great town for beer and food. The city just doesn’t seem to get as much press as Sydney. Most Australians seem to prefer a lighter ale, such as Victoria Bitter, sold by the “slab” there (their slang for “case”). We certainly plan to return someday and continue on our “beer” pilgrimage. Cheers to Bryan Harrell’s article and to the Celebrator.

Sincerely,
Dale and Laurie Bolt
Hamilton, Ala.

Dear Editor:
I’ve been a big fan of your most excellent publication since 1991 and have eagerly sought out each issue when released every two months.

My favorite things about your magazine are (1) the Golden Beer directory, the microbrew bible for micro-enthusiasts who use it to explore brewpubs in California and elsewhere. Using your directory, my brother and I have visited over 90 brewpubs so far; and (2) the Openings/Closings/Still Fermenting section. This gives me the latest news about whether my favorite brewpubs are still open or not, and which ones might be opening in my area.

Things that could use some improvement would be (1) in the Golden Beer directory, under San Francisco, 20 Tank Brewery is still listed as closed, even though it closed in June of 2000; (2) I have not seen any articles discussing closed microbreweries — why and when they were shut down. Reading about a closed brewpub months after it went out of business in the Closings section doesn’t answer enough questions; and (3) the Golden Beer directory does not seem to be up to date with new brewpub openings. For example, Eldos opened in January 2002 on the site of the former Golden Gate Park Brewery in San Francisco. In the directory of your April/May 2002 issue, Eldos is still not listed. What’s going on?

Thanks for all the great years of enjoyment your magazine has given me. Congratulations on your 14th anniversary, and have many more years of success!

Cheers,
James Jarvis
San Francisco, Calif.

Dear James:
Thanks for the input. We try to keep up with the rapidly changing beer scene and rely on help from our readers. 20 Tank? Well, we just hated to pull it. Closed breweries? Hardly anyone calls and says, “Hey, we’re closing.” Sadly, the stories on why they closed are mostly the same: wrong location, bad management, no money. Eldos? That’s a restaurant. As soon as it gets a brewery up and running, we’ll do a story and list them. Promise! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
My wife and I celebrated the birth of our first child this year on March 12. Julia Makayla Jeralds was born at 6:09 a.m., weighed 7.5 lbs. and was 19 inches long. I would like to thank my brewer, Matt Johnson, for brewing Julia's ESB — (E)xtra (S)pecial (B)aby — at Tustin Brewing Company. If you could put my daughter’s name in print, I would be very thankful. Keep up the great work!

Jason Jeralds
Tustin, Calif.

Dear Jason:
Not a chance! Your pal, Ed.

April/May 2002
Notes from the Publisher

 
Our 14th anniversary party rocked the Englander Pub in San Leandro, Calif., on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Special thanks to Mendocino Brewing Company and all of the sponsoring breweries that made it possible. Great beer, food, music and a wonderful turnout of Celebrator readers and beer-industry veterans made the evening a huge success! Read all about it in this issue.

See also our continuing coverage of the cider industry. Portland, Ore., writer Marie Oliver checks in with an article on pressing news of the cider world in her area. We will be including cider coverage as a regular feature in future issues.
Jack Curtin wrote a piece on doings at Dogfish Head that gets into the spirit — rum, that is. See also Fred Eckhardt’s article on saké on the Internet. In honor of the Bard of Beer’s birthday, Bryan Harrell did a story on Michael Jackson’s first visit to Japan and his favorite drinking spots there.

A slew of beer festivals get extra coverage in this issue, including the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Fest, the Toronado Barleywine Fest, the Double IPA Festival, the Real Ale Festival and the Strong Ale Fest in San Diego. Quite a wealth of winter doings!

Angela Wagner Coleman does a profile on malt maven Joe Vanderliet, and husband Bob Coleman gives us a profile on industry vet Bob Stoddard and his new pub opening plus a piece on the historic Gruitbier at Magnolia.

Check out Jay Brooks’s article to see how his cliff-hanger ending will be resolved in his Tom Wolfian romp through the beer pastures of western Pennsylvania. Be sure also to read the results of our Blind Panel Tasting of nearly two dozen pale ales. There is no drought in good-beer news.

The pride of America’s brewers and distillers will invest some $350 million this year in marketing and advertising to convince young people that its new parade of alcoholic beverages are cool, according to a recent rant in The New York Times. These beverages are referred to in the trade as “malternatives” or “RTD” (ready to drink), or pejoratively as “alcopops.” (We thought beer already was “ready to drink.” Silly us.)

Sales of these sugar-sweet malt-based concoctions are growing far faster than those of beer or distilled spirits. Diageo/Guinness hit the jackpot with its Smirnoff Ice selling 3.6 million barrels since its launch last year! (That’s roughly equal to the production of all 1,450 craft brewers in the United States.) The seductive frosty bottle with the vodka maker’s name on it is quite an attraction for the unsophisticated drinker wanting a quick buzz without the adult beverage flavor challenge. The fact that there is no vodka in a bottle that looks like a vodka bottle and has a vodka producer’s name on it doesn’t seem to bother the BATF, the federal agency charged with label approval that seems more concerned with font size on labels than contents of bottles. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is challenging the Smirnoff Ice labeling even as the Smirnoff girls work the nightlife scene around the country.

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch launched Bacardi Silver (which is having production problems), and Miller, not known for its marketing acumen, is planning a flurry of joint ventures, including Jack Daniel’s (Miller DOES know Jack!), Sauza Diablo and Stolichnaya Citrona with Allied Domecq, and SKYY Blue with the SKYY Spirits division of Campari. Diageo is countering with its Capt. Morgan Gold. All should appeal to kids raised on Kool-Aid and soda pop, and should offer fertile ground for further attacks from MADD and neoprohibitionists who don’t share our esteem for alcoholic beverages of any kind.

And what is to be won with this current rush to market with training-wheels liquor bottles? New fans for real ale? Hardly. The goals are profits and market share, pure and simple. Several corporations were left holding the bag with expensive brands when the wine-cooler fad burst its bubble years ago. A certain corporate karma at work, no doubt.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Apr/May 2002)

Dear Celebrator:
Best thanks for all the issues of the Celebrator Beer News. It’s a very good magazine.

Best regards,
Horst Waldenmeier
Remshalden, Germany

Dear Horst:
Thanks for the kind words and your continued support from the land that knows great beer. We hope you’ll get a chance to come over and try some of our brewers’ efforts. Prosit! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Thank you for a great magazine. Ever since I got your magazine about a year and a half ago, I spend most of my weekends visiting microbrewing pubs. I take my family along — my wife, one-year-old daughter and 10-year-old daughter. They sample the food; I sample the beer. Everyone goes out on weekends, so why not a microbrew pub?

My education for microbreweries started at Santa Fe Hops Beer Appreciation Nights on Thursdays. Miss that brewery. P.S. Every microbrewery should always have stout on tap. This is year-round beer, not seasonal.

Live on,
Brian
Southern California

Dear Brian:
We couldn’t agree more with your stout dictum! Wine critic Alex Waugh said that the first obligation of a wine is to be red. We feel that every beer would be stout if it could. Thanks for your support. — Ed.

February/March 2002
Notes from the Publisher

 
We begin our 15th year of publication with an astounding lineup of the nation’s best beer writers contributing on a variety of beery subjects. In addition to our regular roster of columnists and regional reporters, welcome back Marie Oliver of Portland with profiles of notable African-American brewing personalities, helping us give a nod to Black History Month. Founding publisher Bret Nickels checks in from frozen Winnipeg with reminiscences of the early days at the Celebrator. Associate Editor Don Erickson, our first roving “grognard,” began writing for Bret in the second issue and contributes his take on our formative years.

Our Japan correspondent, Bryan Harrell, assuages his wanderlust with a trip to Sydney, Australia, and files a report on top-fermentation Down Under. Bay Area reporter Bob Coleman heads up a St. Patrick’s Day preview by our regional correspondents, including input from Mike Rasmussen in Portland and Don Scheidt in Seattle.

Finally, we are delighted to introduce Celebrator General Manager Jay Brooks to our pages with a beer-focused tour of his home state of Pennsylvania.

The Celebrator would not have survived all these years without quality writing and the support of our many fans around the country. Thanks and cheers!

When the Celebrator Beer News launched in Sunol, Calif., in 1988, few thought that a 12-page “brewspaper” covering some two dozen breweries would still be going strong in the next century — or that there would be over 1,450 craft breweries in the United States selling over $3 billion in good beer per year! In its 14 years of existence, your CBN has built a national reputation as both the Wall Street Journal and the Rolling Stone of beer journals! We are obviously very proud.

The Celebrator will celebrate 14 years of covering the incredible ups and downs of the microbrewery industry on Sunday, March 3, at the Englander Pub in San Leandro, Calif. Live bands (including the industry-staffed Rolling Boil Blues Band), fabulous food and beer — lots of great beer! — from 10 sponsoring breweries and the Englander's 120 taps will be on the scene at the beer industry's “party of the year.”

The beer-loving public is invited to attend. General admission is $25, which includes live music, food, five beer tokens, a souvenir glass and the chance to mix and mingle with Celebrator staff, writers, brewers and others who love good beer. The party will run from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Englander Pub, 101 Parrott Street, San Leandro, Calif. To order tickets, call 800-430-BEER (2337).

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Feb/Mar 2002)

Dear Celebrator:
I've read your fine publication for many years. It was easy to get a copy from a friend or at a brewpub when I lived in the Chicago area. But now that we live in central Illinois, not exactly a hot spot of craft brewing, it's time to subscribe. We've been to more than 500 brewpubs and the Celebrator has guided us to many of them. I eagerly await the next issue.

Rich La Susa
Champaign, Ill.

Dear Rich:
That’s the ticket! Picking up the Celebrator is cool, but subscribing is even cooler! You get it every two months (just like being married), and we get a small but welcome revenue stream. We hope this concept catches on! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
I read the article in the recent Celebrator about three brewpubs in Marin County: Ross Valley Brewing Company, Broken Drum and Willow Street. I agree with the writer that all three of these pubs have good beer. But I have visited all three several times, including once each in the last two weeks, and only the Ross Valley Brewing Company serves its beer with respect. The two others keep their beer glasses in a freezer. At the Broken Drum, I asked for an unchilled glass. The only unchilled glasses available were the old-style Coca-Cola glasses. At Willow Street, the bartender expressed surprise that I wanted a "warm" glass and served my beer in a glass that had not been in the freezer for very long.

When beer is served too cold, it is difficult to taste. It's fine with me if some people want a chilled glass, but these are the people who should ask for special treatment at a brewpub, not the ones who really enjoy the taste of beer. I recommend that beer lovers who seek good beer in Marin go to the Ross Valley Brewing Company, Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, or Moylan's in Novato.

Herb Miller
San Anselmo, Calif.

Dear Herb:
Choir-wise, you're preaching to us! The idea that beer should be drunk freezing cold from a bottle or poured into an equally frozen glass is a statement about the quality of the beer. The colder the better, if you don't want to taste it or smell it. Face it, most American beer drinkers don’t like the taste or smell of beer. If beer is made from quality ingredients with color, aroma, flavor and character, intense coldness will mask the very qualities you want to enjoy. Hopefully, more good beer places will heed your comments, Herb, and ban the obnoxious frozen glass! BTW, the “old-style Coca-Cola glass” sounds like the English pub glass. That’s a good thing. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Really enjoyed your take on that Consumer Reports article [rating beer] (CBN, October/November 2001). A long time ago, CR had a review on cameras, and they gave my camera a bad review. It came down to "It was too big for a woman's hands." I have never had any faith in CR since.

Also, I bought a small apartment-size refrigerator and converted it with a tap system, and I have a 2 1/2 gallon "kegger" that I get filled at Beermann's in Roseville, Calif. I'm sure you know that they have great beers.

Thanks,
Marv
Via email

Dear Marv:
We're hoping that Consumer Reports sticks to weed whackers and leaves beer tasting to people who care. Expect a visit from your friends at the Celebrator, looking for your stash of Beermann's great beers! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
It's always a pleasure to be mentioned in the Celebrator Beer News, and thanks to Hop Caen for tipping his hat to the words I wrote on September 12. Facing the same questions as everybody else that day, groping for meaning, the mash tun gave me solace. Making good brew, I concluded, was an ample, even noble, raison d’être. Too bad I only get to write about it most of the time… OK, drink it too! May we continue to be cohorts in the amplification of great beer!

Tony Forder
Editor, Ale Street News

Dear Editor:
I'm writing to voice my concern over something in "Hop Caen's” column (CBN, December 2001/January 2002). Barb Miller's quote regarding the GABF, about attending before one's liver ceases to function properly, was a bit disturbing. What your columnist related next about the "best" (strange criteria…) T-shirt he saw in Denver, “The liver is EVIL and must be PUNISHED,” I found absolutely horrifying — not the image true beer lovers would wish to cultivate. I'm no "prig" or "closet A.A. zealot" (I come from a long line of hard-drinking Welshmen), but that remark hit too close to home.

I love beer like you and your readers and enjoy it responsibly like the vast majority of us. However, I found that bit of "humor" in his column (unintentionally) offensive and counterproductive to how we beer aficionados would like to be seen — neither effete snobs nor liver-killing lunatics.

I enjoy the Celebrator very much, found great pubs because of it in your East Bay locale, where my brother lives (love the Englander for live football "soccer" and their astounding beer list, and the Hop Yard, just down the road from him). Learned a lot about beer and met terrific people along the way. Keep up the fine work.

I do not otherwise find Hop Caen's column objectionable, just that one part that brought past pain and present worry for my very ill friend into clear focus.

All the best,
K. Allen
Vista, Calif.

(Hop Caen replies)

Dear Mr. Allen:
Sorry the “liver” quip hit home in a cruel way. We beer enthusiasts must always consider the health consequences of our liquid passion. In finding humor in such a T-shirt, we are also bringing to the fore the medical consequences of overindulgence without being preachy. Sometimes a little wink will produce more awareness than a lecture.

Your words should be taken to heart by everyone who enjoys good beer regularly, all the while remembering that if God had wanted us to drink filtered beer, She/He wouldn’t have given us livers in the first place. — Hop Caen

 

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