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December 1999/January 2000
2000 — A New Era for Beer

Millennium madness seems to be having a pervasive effect and consequence on every segment of human endeavor. Those who are wont to take an evaluative look back at a year gone by are positively bewildered by the enormity of the passage of a thousand years. For others, it’s just “in one era and out the other.” Actually, it is simply one day turning to the next with arbitrary numbers attached to it, but let’s let the mavens of the millennium have their moment of reprise.

I was delighted to read the sage words of wine philosopher Alexis Bespaloff in the November 1999 issue of Appellation: “It’s not unusual for connoisseurs to look back with regret at having missed the golden age of their particular interest — the Elizabethan age for poetry, perhaps, the seventeenth century for Dutch painting, or the heyday of Bach or Mozart — when quality, variety, and innovation combined to produce exciting and remarkable works. For oenophiles, however, this is the golden age, and there’s every reason to predict that this specialized world will shine even more brightly in the next millennium.”

As Slim Pickens said in “Blazing Saddles,” “Ditto!” One might as easily and correctly apply Mr. Bespaloff’s observations to the subject of beer. We might look backward with interest at the character and quality of ales brewed in the inns of the English countryside in the 1700s or the discovery of cold-fermenting lagers in the middle 1800s. But were they superior to the products of the brewer’s art being made at the best breweries today? Experience, technology and scientific method provide us with some of the best possible brewing yet — and, concomitantly, some of the most uninteresting but profitable.

Having been a beer lover back during the “glorious age of the beer renaissance,” I am here to tell you that there was some very funky beer being made and consumed under the impression that “home-crafted” beer should taste like that. I sold New Albion, De Bakker and Palo Alto Real Ales in my shop in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Like the little girl with the curl on her forehead, “When it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad…”

Today, honest, characterful beer is, dare I say, commonplace. One can still find an occasional unenlightened brewer with flawed beer in the marketplace. Thankfully, that is rare. More often we find a frothy ocean of wonderful brew looking for a passionate buyer who will appreciate it.

How wonderful it would be if we consumers thought to reward such activity with our purchases, tipping extra for great effort like we do in a restaurant. Instead, it seems we beer lovers are notorious for searching out the “bargains” and distress sales of marginal players to stock our refrigerators rather that exhibiting our exquisite taste and knowledge by buying up-market and compensating artisan quality.

This is truly the “golden age” of brewing and a great time to be a beer lover. Wine lovers pay huge amounts for a single bottle of the object of their affection. Indeed, ultra-premium wine consumption is up some 10 percent, and luxury top-end stuff is up 14 percent. As we swing into the new year, let’s pledge to do our part to reward brewers whose perseverance, innovation and commitment to quality are legend. Let’s make 2000 the era of good beer and, in the process, show those cork dorks a thing or two about our passion for great beer.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Dec 1999/Jan 2000)

Dear Editor:
Just a note to clarify and give proper credit where credit is due. Though I am responsible for the formulation and did help brew the first batch of Ramm's Head Ale at Whaler's in Kauai [see Celebrator, October 1999], I was not the founding head brewer. I was honored to be a guest for a day in the brewhouse as a close friend of the REAL founding head brewer, Mike Hall.

Mike is the best brewer on the planet, IMHO. There is an explosion of commercial microbrewing in California's Central Valley and Sierra Foothills. Mike has a hand in a great deal of it.

Andy Ramm
Not the Founding Head Brewer of Whaler's
Via email

Dear Andy:
Graeme Merrin, the owner of Whaler’s, was extraordinarily generous with beer samples when I wrote that story. My notes were, shall we say, somewhat undependable. I do recall having several pints of the Ramm’s Head Scotch Ale, which was quite remarkable. The record shall be corrected and Mike Hall’s rightful place as “founding head brewer” restored. Thanks for setting us straight. — Tom Dalldorf, cub reporter

Dear Editor or Fred Eckhardt:
The article [by Fred Eckhardt] in your October 1999 issue was mean-spirited and inaccurate. The first sentence in the article sets the tone. First off, Paul Shipman doesn't have a posh office in Woodinville. He does have a partitioned cubicle in Seattle/Fremont. Secondly, at the 1997 Craft Brewers Conference, Mr. Shipman matter-of-factly told the truth about the future of craft brewing, which, I might add, was quite prophetic. He stated that there was too much product on the shelf, that small brewers would have trouble distributing their beer nationally, that there would be a shakeout for shelf space and that middle-tier regionals were doomed... All of these things have come true!

Euphoric craft brewers of ’97 didn't want to hear the truth... Northwesterners in particular don't like to hear bad news. Like the Jack Nicholson character in “A Few Good Men," it was like, “the truth... you can't handle the truth.” Yet here we are! Read his keynote speech at that convention again. The guy wasn't rejoicing, but telling it like it was — and is.

There was another inaccuracy. Pabst didn't get tired of owning Blitz-Weinhard, as stated in Mr. Eckhardt’s article. Pabst was forced to sell Weinhard's in an antitrust order from the feds. You see, the government didn't want Pabst to own Blitz-Weinhard and Olympia — too close together and too much regional market share. (Pabst couldn't keep Blatz in Milwaukee either, for the same reason.) The Dean of American Beer Writers should get his facts straight.

Thanks for letting me set the story straight myself.

Ken Jennings
Via email

(Reply to Mr. Jennings by Fred Eckhardt)

Dear Mr. Jennings:
Apologies. I've been a friend of Paul Shipman for at least 15 years. I have no ax to grind about his office space, only his views about contract brewing and the value of America's wonderful old-line, mid-sized breweries. His office in Fremont was (the last time I visited there in 1990) adequate, and certainly not a cubicle. However, I didn't know that he had not moved to Woodinville, where I assumed he'd have had something better than his old Fremont Street office. I apologize, but "posh" is not an insult.

In the "bad news department" à la Jack Nicholson, I can only add that one man's truth is another's barf. As for Pabst being forced to sell because of government antitrust ORDER, I didn't read it that way, and in any case I was trying to remember Blitz, one of my favorite old breweries.

In 1985, General Brewing's Paul Kalmanovitz offered to buy Pabst — this after Pabst agreed to be acquired by G. Heileman in 1983. These were complications I didn't feel compelled to ramble on about. I was trying to shorten that part of the article. Perhaps I should have spent another thousand words on the subject, but it wouldn't have changed anything in the final analysis. Pabst ended up selling Blitz to Heileman while keeping Blitz's best label (Olde English 800), and that was what I was trying to get across. The government's machinations in these matters are something someone else will have to go into; I have little interest in that aspect of the thing.

As for Paul Shipman's comments at the 1997 Craft Brewers Conference in Seattle, I was quite angry when I heard him speak, so much so that I bought the tape, just to get the facts straight. I just listened to those inane ramblings one more time to see what I might have missed that Jack Nicholson could have noticed. Shipman's theme, "Unity and Craftsmanship" (his own title for that babblement), was anything but that. No unity, and other people's craftsmanship and jobs placed on the chopping block. In fact, he spent his whole time railing against contract brewing. That's OK; I have no great love for contract brewing. But it's abominable to demand the elimination of our beloved old middle-line brewers, including the sacking of their employees’ jobs, just to stop Jim Koch and his Boston Beer Company.

It was Jim Koch who kept alive both Heileman's Pittsburgh (home of Iron City Lager, an exceedingly ordinary brew but one beloved by a number of locals in that city) and our own Portland Blitz, also beloved by many. I have no love for Koch's wretched marketing; some folks tell me it “sucks,” and I don't argue with that. But I must tell all and sundry: Jim Koch does brew great beer, using true craftsmanship, and he has introduced a whole generation of Americans to great beer with taste. He has made a huge number of converts to craft beer, and they have gone on to drink a lot of microbrewed beer. He has done more for craft brewing than Redhook ever has managed, especially regarding its alliance with Anheuser-Busch, which company has nearly destroyed the American craft brewing industry à la the great Budweiser-NBC-Stone Phillips infomercial the previous October (1996). And that's one of the major reasons the craft brewing industry is having a difficult time. Tell that to Jack Nicholson! I no longer drink Redhook when I have a choice.

Mr. Jennings, if you are ever in Portland, look me up. My phone number is in all of my books. We can have a beer; you can tell me about Jack Nicholson, and I'll tell you about Stone Phillips, who used to dabble in news for NBC. He does infomercials now.

Fred Eckhardt
Portland, Ore.

October/November 1999
Wall Street Journal Editorial Slams Wholesalers on Interstate Shipping

On August 12, 1999, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial in the "Review & Outlook" section called “In Vino Veritas.” It could have been called “In Cervesa Veritas” just as easily. The sarcastic tone of the title is followed by an insightful analysis of the complex issue of interstate shipping of beer and wine.

In part, the editorial stated: “Raising the hobgoblins of teenage drinking and tax-shirking out-of-state business, the House passed the ironically named "21st Amendment Enforcement Act." As we noted earlier in this space, the fight has less to do with morals than monopoly: Pushed by big wine and beer distributors, it is an attempt to protect their favored status since the repeal of Prohibition by restricting out-of-state competition — primarily but not exclusively on the Internet. The danger extends beyond alcohol to the encouragement it might give other states to push provisions that discriminate in favor of in-state business.

“States have the right to be wet or dry as they see fit. But they don't have the right to favor in-state businesses over out-of-state ones. And the laws regulating alcohol sales are themselves of dubious vintage, a legacy of post-Prohibition attempts to create a distribution system the mob could not control. Hence the legislation providing for a state-licensed middleman between you and the producer; hence too the dozens of related laws, such as the one in New York prohibiting alcohol chains, that today raise prices and keep out competition.”

The wholesale and distributor monopolies perceive a real economic threat to their lock on distribution. In reality, it is only a very small and highly sought-after specialty beverage niche that is being curbed by a distribution industry not interested in dealing with such small potatoes in the first place.

The WSJ continued: “Beer being heavy and expensive to ship, it's not likely that the Budweiser market will move from local distributors to the Internet. The more likely niche is for microbrewers, or the 1,600 small family vintners who now compete for a mere 10% of the wine market and will have a much harder time marketing their products should this bill become law. The discrimination against them is the kind of mischief the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Commerce Clause.”

The National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association have dedicated huge amounts of money in favor of restricting interstate beer and wine sales. They have launched a media campaign decrying so-called Internet bootlegging and have even allied themselves with the antialcohol forces, including Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch in support of exclusivity. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Be careful who you wake up with the next morning.


Dear Editor:
I don't buy your lame attempt to "distance" beer from "other drugs" [CBN Editorial, August/September 1999]. The fact is, whether you like it or not, that alcohol IS a drug. It is a chemical substance that is psychotropic, i.e., it affects the mind, the mood, consciousness. Alcohol, like marijuana, cocaine and LSD, is an intoxicant.

The fact is, whether you like it or not, that the unwise use of alcohol creates far more problems in our society than the unwise use of all the substances you call "street drugs" put together.

The fact is, whether you like it or not, that, as the nonpartisan Drug Abuse Council reported nearly 20 years ago in its final report, after five years of the most lavishly funded investigation conducted on the topic up to that time, "alcohol and secobarbital — both legally produced psychoactive substances — are the drugs most likely to be involved with subsequent assaultive behavior," and "there is no substantial evidence to link the use of any other drug, licit or illicit, with assaultive crime."

The fact is, whether you like it or not, that marijuana "is enjoyed in this country (and indeed around most of the civilized world) by many millions of people," just like beer.

I say all this, not as a prohibitionist, but as an avid, enthusiastic beer drinker who loves your publication and believes ALL intoxicants ought to be legal. Contrary to the uninformed assertion of Earl Dodge of the National Prohibition Party (profiled in the same issue), one who seems to have agreed with me on this was Abraham Lincoln. He said, in December 1841, early in his political career, that "a prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Jeff Riggenbach
San Francisco, Calif.

Dear Jeff:
Whoa there, big fella. One crusade at a time, please! Our editorial simply addressed the use of federal funds to put antialcohol ads into the antidrug campaign. Are you with me so far? Rather than address the nation’s bankrupt policies on drug enforcement, we are simply trying to keep a legal beverage, beer, from being lumped into that bankrupt drug policy. (Although it didn’t happen this year, wait until next year.) Reread your argument and stop at the part where you said, “the unwise use of alcohol creates far more problems.” You bet it does. We are, however, talking about the wise use, the moderate consumption of beer, which does not take on the psychotropic attributes of a drug. Our point remains that teaching little Johnny that drugs are bad and that dad and mom’s beer and wine are drugs dilutes whatever good an antidrug program might do. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
My local brewery, John Willie Lee's, sells its two strong ales, Moonraker and Harvest Ale, across the U.S.A. Do any of your readers drink in any bars that sell these products? John Willie Lee's has a regular newsletter that it circulates among its pubs and would like photographs of any U.S. bar where its beer is on sale to print in their newsletter. If any reader could forward any suitable pictures (preferably showing a couple of bottles of the JWL product in "true" American surroundings), I will forward those to the brewery. If sending by e-mail, please send as .jpg file.

Paul Roberts
Middleton, Manchester, England

June/July 1999
Don't Be a Dick, Drink Real Beer

The Wall Street Journal covered the story repeatedly. Ad Age wondered why they were self-destructing, continuing to use the same agency. Distributors were furious. Owner Phillip Morris finally fired the CEO along with the sales AND marketing honchos — all over the advertising in support of Miller Brewing Company. Miller’s “Dick” campaign, named for the imaginary Gen-X ad “genius” Dick, irritated viewers, baffled industry observers, pissed off distributors and finally caused corporate parent and cigarette mogul P. Morris to pull the plug. Why so much riding on beer advertising?

Big Guy beer, “made in vats the size of Rhode Island” (according to one Miller ad), pretty much all tastes the same. Sales are dependent on advertising and marketing — treating beer drinkers like, well … a bunch of dicks. Your Big Guy beer of choice is mostly the result of what sort of image the company’s advertising has provided for you — how well it reinforces your own sense of self. And you thought you were just ordering a beer!

Millions upon millions of dollars are spent to make you comfortable with your beer choice. Continuous ad images and a barrage of promotions let you know that you are selecting a winner — a beer that supports YOUR sport, YOUR team, YOUR lifestyle, YOUR sense of humor, YOUR ability to score, dude. And those little frogs that say “Bud… Weis… Er…” are cute no matter how old (or young) the viewer, and their familiar croak is most effective in triggering a positive response when you finally make your beer choice.

Craft beer and imports (better beer) are about 12 percent of the U.S. market. Heineken reinforces your notion that you are drinking quality — without talking about the beer or the brewing process. Corona’s wordless ads reinforce the notion that you’ve kicked back, cut loose and turned off. (Clear bottle, bright sun… Hello, Skunk City!)

Craft beer drinkers are equally baffling to beer marketers. They actually taste the beer, talk about the beer, compare and contrast new beers and seek out new taste experiences. This “market” is a challenge. Advertising to it tends to be product- rather than lifestyle-oriented. Informational rather than emotional. Enduring by association with the publication rather than irritating by repetition. Sort of "Dick-less."

Ultimately, you vote with your wallet in making your beer selection. Choose wisely, eschew the banal, seek out the exceptional, support your local brewer and please, don’t be a dick.


Dear Editor:
I am intrigued by Stephen Beaumont’s article “Two Days in the Valley… Napa, That Is” in your April/May 1999 issue. Most interesting is the fact that none of the breweries visited is actually in the Napa Valley, or anywhere in Napa County. In fact, the Culinary Institute of America was apparently the only Napa Valley stop on the two-day tour, though it is not in Napa, as the article suggests on page 12, but in St. Helena, as the caption states on page 48. All the breweries visited are actually across the line in Sonoma County, or up in Mendocino County.

In the article’s last paragraph, the author ponders making a future trek back to Northern California, “maybe even taking a little more time to do so.” I hope Stephen does make another trip. Even better, when he comes back, I hope he will spend enough time here in our neck of the woods to figure out where he really is.

Byron Burch
The Beverage People
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Dear Byron:
Please forgive Stephen’s apparent locationally challenged prose. Your humble publisher/editor is partly at fault. I was driving Steve around in my usual cavalier manner, steering with my knee while working the mobile phone, taking pictures, reading maps, taking notes and what-not. Steve, something of a slave to public transportation, was unaccustomed to such apparent reckless disregard for his safety and kept his eyes glued to the road, thereby missing a good deal of the splendid scenery. Please note that authors are responsible for their text, and captions are the domain of the editor. Next time, an impromptu visit to The Beverage People will be requisite! — Ed.

Dear Celebrator:
My friend Amy cannot have "any wheat" anymore. She loves beer — what kind can she drink?? Please help!!!

Cindy Carter
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Via email

Dear Cindy:
Most "craft" beer is made with all-barley malt. However, some breweries will make an ale and use a little (5 to 30 percent) wheat to lighten it and give it more effervescence. It will not be called a wheat beer, however. Tell Amy to stick to REAL ales and lagers and feel free to call the breweries and ask about the wheat. They love to talk about beer! Glad to know that someone in Beverly Hills loves beer. — Ed.

Dear Celebrator:
Upon reading your winter issue during a plane ride back to Prague, Czech Republic, where I live now, I was horrified by an omission made by your traveling beer guy (name forgotten at the moment) [Beaumont again! — Ed.] who visited this beer-drinkingest of all nations recently. The Czech Republic is justifiably famous for its remarkably smooth and delicious Pilsners, and this high standard is upheld throughout the country. But a more delicious beer cannot be found than at Pivovarsky Dum, in the center of Prague, where they produce an intensely hoppy, unfiltered pale lager, not to mention a delicious dark lager that is remarkably un-sweet in a land where dark beers have quite a heavy taste and smell of caramel.

Your traveling beer-dude not only failed to taste these awesome beers, instead opting for Pivovarsky Dum’s banana, coffee and champagne specialty beers (a crime against his own person), but failed to report their existence to his readers (a crime against humanity). For this he must be punished — no Czech beers for one month.

As for readers who intend to drink beer in Europe, I implore you not to miss the Czech Republic, and particularly, those beers produced at Pivovarsky Dum. Let me know if you’ll be in town. I’d love to meet other Celebrator readers for a beer. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Brett Aarons
Prague, Czech Republic

Dear Brett:
In vowel-deprived Eastern Europe, you certainly have a lot of A’s in your surname. A bit piggy, don’t you think? Thanks so much for calling our attention to Mr. Beaumont’s omission. He will be severely flogged with a whip of Saaz hops! I’m equally sure that, had our peripatetic pivo precursor known about the existence of Pivovarsky, he would have sought it out. In my short time in Prague I barely had time to visit U Flecku and a few other high-profile breweries. Next time, we’ll call you first! (Seems to me this is the second time I’ve had to make excuses for Beaumont in one issue. Hmmm…) —Ed.

April/May 1999
A Modest Proposal : .02%BAC - Lose Your Car!

Mayor Rudi Giuliani of New York is on to something. Police in the Apple Grande can now confiscate the cars of drivers accused of driving drunk. No messy trials, no presumption of innocence; you drive and appear drunk, they take your car. Our more liberal brethren in the Middle East at least wait until you are convicted to lop off your hand for stealing — or your head for making the sign of the three-toed aardvark with someone not your marital partner.

Currently, several states are pushing the BAC limit below .08%, bowing to political pressure from neoprohibitionists to get the “drunks” from behind the wheel, even though data continues to support the evidence that the vast majority of DWI deaths are caused by drivers whose impairment is well beyond .10% BAC. Latest among them is the state of Washington, which has a bill in the legislature that would make it illegal to drive with as little as .02% BAC! Pity the poor driver with the morning’s orange juice fermenting in his stomach.

It shouldn’t take local governments long to figure out that a new source of much-needed revenue can be obtained by combining the .02% law with the vehicle confiscation law. Soon, police will routinely pull over expensive cars with the slightest cause, in search of new revenue. This could put local governments on a sound financial footing in no time!

Now it’s your turn. Write your representatives. Let them know what you think of this war on social drinking. The car you save might be your own.


Dear Editor:
Thanks once again for the latest edition of your excellent Celebrator. However, I must disagree with your comments on canned beers. In the U.K. now there is a trend towards quality BCAs — bottle-conditioned ales. I would urge your readers to lobby your U.S. craft brewers for similar. You have some excellent microbreweries in the States — don't support ones that start to sell inferior products in cans.

he British canned beers you mentioned are public enemy number 1 in the eyes of CAMRA and all discerning beer drinkers here. Nitrokeg beer is currently being churned out by the big brewers in Britain and is replacing real cask-conditioned beers in many pubs. A bottle of Bud is far superior to any canned beer on the market. Doesn't that tell you how bad canned beer really is!

Paul Roberts
Manchester, England

Dear Paul:
Thanks for your response to the "canned crap" article. I have discussed the difference between CAMRA's agenda and ours with Roger Protz and others on several occasions. We are still trying to get the 90+ percent of the beer drinkers in America to stop swilling copious quantities of adjunct light lagers in favor of all-malt ales and lagers. You CAMRA chaps have another battle — one of large commercial breweries no longer willing to invest the time and money in presenting real ales in favor of gas-infused kegged products, both CO2 and nitrogen.

Please be aware that the canned nitro ales you loathe are a significant upgrade for our corn-and-rice-brew–swilling public and can be a transition to even better beers served fresh on draught. Also, I'd put a can of Guinness up against your bottle of Bud any day, partner. Autre temps, autre moeurs… — Ed.

(In a later email...)

Dear Editor:
I flew British Airways Heathrow to Manchester over the weekend and was surprised to see BA offering cans of London Pride! While nowhere near as good as bottled LP (and, of course, the draught is far better still), the canned version did have some taste and was superior to the usual BA offerings! So when one is dying of thirst and offered a free drink, I will agree that canned beer can be better than nothing!

Paul Roberts

Dear Paul:
Ah ha! Gotcha! It's really the contents, not the container. Agreed, there are much superior methods of beer service — but on an aeroplane … I can see the Celebrator headlines now: "CAMRA Endorses Canned Crap!" (Just kidding.) — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Mostly on the strength of the glowing report from last year's festival, I attended this year's Great Alaska Winter Brew & Barley Wine festival during "Fur Rondy" in Anchorage. As suggested by the article from last year (Vol. 11, No. 2), the festival this year was nothing less than fabulous; especially if one's idea of a great festival includes an opportunity to try unusual and often rare beers from a variety of outstanding Northwest brewers.

What I don't understand (especially as it was advertised that Mr. Dalldorf would be participating as a judge at this event) is why there was absolutely no publicity in the Celebrator for this event — not even a listing under the calendar of events. Outside of the GABF, I cannot think of another brew festival I've enjoyed more or found more interesting than the Great Alaska Winter Brew & Barley Wine festival. Shame on you for not doing a better job of bringing this event to the attention of your readers!

The editors of Celebrator should be forced to go without any Bigfoot or Old Foghorn for at least a month (or, worse still, never, ever, be allowed to taste the incredible barley wine from Alaskan Brewing or Glacier Brewhouse's "old/big woody"). Otherwise I think your magazine's generally pretty excellent…

John Michaelsen
Sacramento, CA

Dear John:
Please be advised that we always list beer events in the calendar for free — IF the organizers will send us a notice in time for the issue. We also LOVE the Alaska Barley Wine Festival (see our story on page XXX). We are assured by the organizers that next year’s event will be scheduled in plenty of time for magazine deadlines. Thanks for sucking up to us at the end of your letter. We like you, too! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Read about New Mexico's effort to change the legal BAC from .08% to .05%. Just thought you'd like to know that, here in South Carolina, there is NO legal BAC limit of any kind. The sole determining factor of DUI is the judge's discretion. There has recently been a law introduced that seeks to establish a legal limit of (get this) .16% as the definition of legal intoxication.

Scott W. Goodwin
Charleston, SC

Dear Scott:
You may be interested to know that the state of Washington has a bill to make it illegal to drive with a .02% BAC! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
On the cover of your Feb/Mar issue there is a picture in the upper right-hand corner of the canned beers. I need to know where you got the Kilkenny Beer (Smithwick's) that is shown at the far left. I am a homebrewer, and the reason I started brewing was to try to emulate that beer! Now it's too late to stop (it is my life, now). But I would still like to buy some. Please let me know where I might be able to buy it. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Russell Berg
Via email

Dear Russell:
Those canned beers already got me in trouble (see above). We brought most of them back from a recent trip to England. The Kilkenny is not available in the U.S., as far as we know. Try making Caffrey’s — it’s available! Don’t ask Paul Roberts about it, however. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
I picked up this beauty (circa 1950). It’s a beer tray with “Mercer’s Meat Stout” printed on it. I thought you might like to query your readers to see if they know anything about the style “meat stout.”

Best wishes,
Ken Harootunian
Cazadero, CA

Dear Ken:
Thanks for the photo. Haven’t heard of a meat stout. Perhaps one of our readers will respond with some information. Their motto, “Meat Stout is better for you,” is a little weak. Better than what? They should have said, “You Can’t Beat Mercer’s Meat!” THAT would sell beer! — Ed.


Dear Hop Caen:
Just a note to let you know I really do enjoy your column in the Celebrator. Did Rick Fay ever find out who the mysterious BEER KING in Santa Cruz was? Hope it was a brewpub owner and not some importer! Loved hearing about the Englishman who is planning a six-month tour of dark duty to defend his mother's grave honor and recapture The Fine and Private Place title. Keep up the entertaining work.

Don Quine
Via email

Dear Don:
Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! Glad you "dug" the buried-at-the-pub story. No further word on who the “Beer King” might be. Mr. Busch rarely leaves St. Louis. And as to the “hope it’s not some importer” comment, remember that they bring us some of our finest beer experiences. Dare I say, Belgian?

Hop Caen

To Whom It May Concern:
Southern California gratefully lost the L.A. Rams some pigskin years ago. So it was with some amusement that on your “What’s Doin’ in Brewin’” page, I was informed that the first tapping outside of Seattle of Celebrator, the legendary German Doppelbock, took place at the irrefutable Toronado Pub in San Francisco, November 4, 1998.

For the record, we’ve been hoisting pints of that rarin’ dark Ram since late September 1998 at Pasadena’s Lucky Baldwins (17 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA; advertisement in CBN, 12/98-1/99, p. 29). Set the record straight, please!

Mark Granger
cc: Lucky Baldwins, Pasadena
cc: Toronado, San Francisco

Dear Mark:
Thanks for setting us straight on the first pouring of draught Celebrator, our namesake. Since Seattle is the home of the beer’s importer, Merchant du Vin, we assumed that it was available there. We were informed by the local distributor, however, that the Toronado was the first in California to pour this elixir. Congrats to Lucky Baldwins for having the good taste to get this fine brew. —Ed.

Dear Editor:
Remember the piece I did on Tokyo Alehouses? Apparently, stray Americans with photocopies of that article have been spotted in at least two of the places I wrote about, so Celebrator Beer News is being read — and used — by Tokyo-bound readers. You and yours have a happy holiday season.

Bryan Harrell
Tokyo, Japan

Dear Bryan:
Great to hear from you. Glad to hear that your pearls of wisdom are being used in such a definitive manner. Quite a few people have been heard from who have been exploring the sake bars of San Francisco you wrote about recently. The power of the provocative pen! —Ed.




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