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/// HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
 
DECEMBER 2007/JANUARY 2008 » BACK TO HOPVINE INDEX
 
HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
My good friend and colleague Gregg Glaser, editor of Yankee Brew News, fairly oozes obscure references to cultural phenomena. On a recent visit to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, he asked me if I had heard of quadroons. These, he patiently explained, were ladies of New Orleans in the late 18th century that were held in high regard by well-to-do suitors at dances of the era. They were of Spanish decent but had a quarter African-American in the mix to liven up their demeanor (not to mention their skin tone). Gregg also shared this with Ron Page, brewmaster at City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford, Conn. This might explain Page's new beer, Quadroon IPA, which promises to be 25 percent darker than usual…

In California, a brewer mentioned that his bosses had vetoed his proposed name for a new beer. The disallowed moniker? Morning After Pils…

On November 11, Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver, Colo., offered kegs of a special beer brewed in tribute to the late author Kurt Vonnegut (who was born on that date). Kurt's Mile High Malt is a malty, export-style Dortmunder lager made with a dash of coffee beans to give it subtle accents of roasted flavor. Definitely, the breakfast of champions. We'll assume it was boiled at Fahrenheit 450. The beer was based on a bygone recipe created by Vonnegut's grandfather, Albert Lieber, of the late Indianapolis Brewing Company. Vonnegut and Wynkoop founder (and Denver mayor, also unstuck in time) John Hickenlooper became friends years ago. Wynkoop was the site of the official after-party for the Vonnegut memorial celebration, which included readings of Vonnegut's best material and a lighthearted contest for the "worst" Vonnegut-style essay. And so it goes…

When Elephants Go Wild: Six Asiatic wild elephants were electrocuted as they went berserk after drinking rice beer in India's remote northeast, according to an AP report. Nearly 40 elephants came to the village, looking to party again after making regular visits over the years. Farmers ferment a rice beer and keep it in tubs in their huts. The elephants got drunk and, in a fit of sophomoric bravado, uprooted a utility pole carrying power lines and were electrocuted. Locals found the drunk elephant episode to be "shocking!"…

Michael Jackson - A Sign of the Times: The late beer authority Michael Jackson, no stranger to autograph seekers, was once asked about the strangest thing he had ever been asked to sign. "Well, last night two women asked me to sign their beavers," Jackson said with a mischievous grin. He paused for effect. "They both had those… I think you call them Beanie Babies." Nice, Michael…

Mark your calendars to commemorate the London Beer Flood, which occurred on October 17, 1814, in the London parish of St. Giles in Britain. Meux’s Brewery Company, Ltd., had a huge vat containing over 135,000 gallons of beer that ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 gallons of beer gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the walls of the Tavistock Arms pub, leaving nine people dead — eight due to drowning one from acute alcohol poisoning. Naturally, survivors rushed to save as much of the beer as they could. It took weeks for the smell to subside. The brewery was eventually taken to court, but the disaster was ruled to be “an act of God" by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible for the great beer flood of 1814…

High Schoolers Push the Limit in Durham, N.H.: To commemorate their achievement, the class of 2008 at Oyster River High School made T-shirts that had the school name on the front with 08 Pushing the Limit on the back. A little paw print that resembled a decimal point before the numbers set the tone. Some students, a lot of parents and school officials were not amused. The shirts, obviously, created quite a buzz in the community…

Going Against the Grain Dept.: German farmers are abandoning barley! screamed the headlines. Sacred barley, the raw material for beer, is being dropped to plant other crops now subsidized for sale as environmentally friendly biofuels. European leaders have decided that at least 10 percent of fuel consumption must come from biofuel sources by 2020. A meager barley harvest last year compounded by crop diseases resulted in the doubling of the price of barley…

Consequently, organizers of Munich’s Oktoberfest had to jack the price of a one-liter mug of Munich's finest to $10.70 this year — the highest price ever. Farmers argue that for years there was an oversupply of barley and they weren’t making any money. Now that biofuel crops are subsidized, the production of corn more than doubled while barley went down by 5.5 percent. Brewer associations are demanding that the government stop its subsidies for biofuel crops immediately and get back to something that can produce beer. We couldn't agree more. Maybe Al Gore could extend some carbon credits for the barley legals?…

 

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