Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Lunch With Keith Greggor, New Anchor Owner

OK, not my lunch with Keith Greggor, but rather Jay Brooks' lunch with Keith Greggor; Jay's a lot closer to the action than I am anyway, and a better writer besides. Jay gives us a lot of details about the sale, its timing, and the new owners' plans for the future of the Anchor beers.

Rather than post excerpts and analysis, you should read it all for yourself at The Brookston Beer Bulletin.

HP Buys Palm

Big news on the smartphone front today: Palm has been acquired by HP for $1,200,000,000.

I don't anticipate that this will affect app development nor deployment, and I still intend to update the Palm version of the Beer Me! mobile app as soon as I finish the initial Android version.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On the potential presence of beer or beer-like liquids in or resulting from volcanic emanations

It's an amusing hypothesis, worthy of an Ig Nobel nomination.

Given this “witches brew,” if you will, of simple organic compounds both in volcanic emanations themselves and in the waters surrounding volcanoes, it is far from unlikely that some beer-like compounds were formed over the course of geologic time at some ideal environment of formation, perhaps a fresh-water lake located at the base of an erupting volcano located in a convergent plate tectonic boundary. While evidence for such volcanic or near-volcano emanations has not yet been observed today, that may simply reflect our not looking for it, or, perhaps, that under current environmental conditions, such beer-like compounds may disappear before they can be detected. [...] With this in mind, the presence of beer or beer-like compounds in volcanoes or in the environments surrounding them on Earth cannot be discounted.

Read Sanford Kaplan's entire one-page paper at The Science Creative Quarterly.

The big stand for firm things

Please help Igor to decorate his bar.

I the manager of a small bar "Altair" in our city.
We search for new techniques of attraction of visitors
in our institution. For attraction of visitors we wish
to create the big stand on which firm things with a
logo of your brewing company known in our city
(posters will be exposed, mugs, T-shirts, caps, packs
for game in poker, opener for beer and it is much
another) which we ask to send us.
I hope you support us!
Send your souvenirs on our address:

Contact Name: Igor Cherepanov
Address: Magistralnaya Str 18-38
City: Tutaev, Yaroslavl region
Zip: 152303
Country: Russia
E-Mail Address:

Best regards, Igor

Google Translate is a wonderful thing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anchor Brewing has been sold

Here's the press release:


Acquisition Continues the Legacy of a San Francisco Icon

(San Francisco, CA) — April 27, 2010 — The Griffin Group, an investment and consulting company focused on beverage alcohol brands, announced its acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company which includes its portfolio of craft beers and artisan spirits, including the award winning Anchor Steam Beer.

The Griffin Group is led by beverage alcohol veterans, Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, two longtime San Francisco residents who have been working with Anchor Brewing Company’s owner, Fritz Maytag to maintain the iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco.

“Anchor Brewing Company has a long history in San Francisco and The Griffin Group is ushering in an exciting era while maintaining our proud, time-honored history,” said Fritz Maytag. “Combining Keith and Tony’s passion for the Anchor Brewing Company, their industry experience and expertise only means that Anchor will be enjoyed in San Francisco for generations to come.”

“Since 1896, Anchor Brewing Company has been an icon of San Francisco’s history and culture,” stated Griffin’s Founding Partner, Keith Greggor, “I am honored to bring Anchor Brewing Company into our family of craft beers and artisanal spirits through establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC.”

Anchor Brewers & Distillers intends to establish a “Center of Excellence” in San Francisco for craft brewers and artisan distillers from around the world. An epicenter of development, education, entertainment and innovation, all designed to further contribute to the culture and heritage of craft beer and artisan spirits.

“San Francisco is the perfect place to establish this center,” stated Tony Foglio, “Through our extensive portfolio of craft beers and fine spirits our focus will be to educate and satisfy the increasing consumer demand for authentic, quality and natural products that reflect the passion of their creators.”

Continuing the Anchor heritage, Mr. Maytag has been named Chairman Emeritus of Anchor Brewers & Distillers.

The Griffin Group operates as both boutique merchant and investment bank for premiere craft beers and artisan spirits. In addition to the Anchor Beers, The Griffin Group will assume control of the spirits brands including Old Potrero Whiskey, Junipero Gin and Genevieve Gin through the acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company. Additional affiliated companies to be held under Anchor Brewers & Distillers include Preiss Imports, a leading US specialist spirits and beer importer, and BrewDog USA, LLC, the US division of the leading UK craft beer.

The Griffin Group is headquartered in Novato, Marin County, California.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beer Wars as it relates to you.

Nate Bell's Nebraska Beer Blog brings the Beer Wars story home. Here's the short version:

  • Nate asks for a particular Nebraska-brewed beer at his local bar.

  • Bar owner says he's been ordering it.

  • Wholesaler says it's out of stock.

  • Nate calls the brewer.

  • Brewer calls the wholesaler.

  • Wholesaler says it's been in stock the whole time.

  • Wholesaler advises the bar owner to keep ordering the beer again and again, and maybe it will show up someday.

Read Nate's well-written story at the Nebraska Beer Blog, and then ask yourself:

Exactly what purpose does the wholesaler tier serve, besides jacking up the cost of doing business as a brewer and inflating the cost of retail beer?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Escape artist emerges from 240-litre tank of beer

I heard he got out three times to pee.

Dean Gunnarson risked drowning a lot more than his sorrows Saturday night.

The world-renowned escape artist was handcuffed and locked in a 240-litre metal drum filled with beer before fans at a bar in his hometown, as part of a fundraising event for local food banks.

The drum spilled over with beer as Gunnarson was immersed in it by helpers. The lid was then chained shut with a combination lock, and a fist-sized hole in the lid was his only route out.

With an emcee working up the crowd and counting the seconds as they passed, the drum started shaking. After two minutes, a hand popped out of the hole in the lid and started frantically working the combination lock. Some 35 seconds later, Gunnarson undid the lock and pushed the lid open.

Read the whole story and watch the video at The Toronto Star.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 World Beer Cup Results

Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to Nebraska Brewing Company, our state's only medalist!

If ever there were a beer that deserved recognitiion, it's the Hop God

The complete list of results is available at

Also, this related belated note: Congratulations also to Thunderhead Brewing for pulling down a Gold and a Silver Medal at this year's Mazer Cup for their fine braggots, Tiny Tim and Golden Frau!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Long Day in Atlanta

Yesterday: Last Day in Dublin

Woke up at 6:30am IST. Got to Dublin airport on the bus in just under an hour instead of their advertised 85 minutes. Plane left almost 40 minutes late. ATL security was its usual efficient and friendly self. Got to the Omaha gate just in time for the earlier flight, but it's oversold. I'll be here for the next six hours. Time to find some overpriced airport beer and a power outlet.

I should be home by 11:15pm CDT.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Day in Dublin

Yesterday: Nice Day in Galway

Another Real Nice Day here in Dublin. Even the locals on the Luas were commenting on it.

Choo taught me last summer that you gotta get some culture when you travel. So on the recommendation of Monte, our local Irishman back home, I visited Kilmainham Gaol in the western part of the city. It's Ireland's version of Alcatraz, only it was in operation for 228 years starting in 1796. It was home to common criminals and political prisoners, and many of Ireland's revolutionary heroes met their ends here on the gallows or against the wall.

Kilmainham Gaol's main gate. The five chained snakes above the door symbolize the prison's ability to control any evil, even The Serpent himself. Public hangings were conducted by dropping the condemned from the balcony above the gate.

I have to think this was written after the prison was abandoned in 1924: Beware of the risen people that have harried and held, ye that have bulled and bribed.

A row of cells from the original 1796 cellblock

The three-story, 96-cell Victorian Wing, built on the Panopticon principle.

Cell in the Victorian Wing

Prisoner exercise yard at Kilmainham. Exercise consisted of two concentric counter-rotating rings of prisoners walking heads-down, hands clasped behind their backs, silently, for an hour. The tour guide demonstrated this using very young children, which amused me.

Cross marking the spot where the Easter Rising rebels were executed by firing squad in 1916

Plaque commemorating the Easter Rising rebels executed at Kilmainham Gaol in 1916. James Connolly had been seriously injured in the fighting, so he was carried in on a stretcher and tied to a chair, then shot like the rest of them.

An awful picture of a nice model of Kilmainham Gaol

After all that, a bloke needs a pint, and The Patriots Inn is very conveniently located.

The Patriots Inn, Kilmainham, Dublin: This old pub standeth on sacred ground, surrounded by the high walls of Royal Kilmainham Hospital, by the ancient cemetary of Bully's Acre and the dungeons of Kilmainham Jail. The Patriot's Inn has been closer to the pulse of Irish History than any other contemporary pub. Interestingly, the flags flown over the door are Irish, American, and Scots.

The Guinness Brewery as seen from Heuston Station. The Gravity Bar is just visible above the black gate.

The Guinness Brewery as seen from the National Museum on Benburb Street. The dozens of silos with little domes on top are actually fermentation tanks.

Daniel O'Connell standing between his eponymous bridge and Dublin's big steel pointy thing. O'Connell Bridge is notable for being wider than it is long.

Porterhouse Central appeared as if by magic before me, beckoning me to have one last pint of Hop Head. Or two.

And now I'm back at the hotel with the required pint(s) of Guinness. Tomorrow will come early, and has the potential to be an annoyingly long day. The bus leaves at 7:00am.

Tomorrow: Long Day in Atlanta

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

National Beer Day

Everybody raise your glasses right now and toast National Beer Day!

Nice Day in Galway

Yesterday: Rainy Day in Dublin

Absolutely beautiful weather for today's trip to Galway. Made me wonder if I was actually still in Ireland.

View Larger Map

Had I gone by car, this would have been the route

Out of the hotel at 8:00, ten-minute walk to the Luas, forty-minute ride to Dublin City Centre, ten-minute walk to the other Luas because they don't connect, fifteen-minute ride to Heuston Station, two hours and forty minutes on the train, and a five-minute cab ride got me to The Oslo Bar, home of the new Bay Brewery, around 12:30.

Heuston Station, Dublin

The Oslo Bar and Bay Brewery, Galway

Two beers on tap here, Bay Lager and Bay Ale. Both are unfiltered beers, smooth and sweet and bready. The Ale is a bit more assertive malt-wise, but both are clean and refreshing.

Bay Lager, Galway

Bay Ale, Galway

A second pint of Bay Ale the thing to wash down a bowl of Beef and Guinness Stew, but then it was already time to find a cab to take me back to Ceannt Station to catch the 3:05 train back to Dublin. A sleepy three and a half hours later, I'm back at the hotel with a pint of Guinness before me.

Galway looks to be a nice town, and I wish I had more time to spend there — it's certainly worth a weekend. If you happen to be in the area the first weekend in May, they're hosting the Brewers on the Bay fest with eleven Irish breweries expected.

Tomorrow is my last day here, and I don't have any plans at the moment. I guess that's tonight's Guinness-fueled activity.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rainy Day in Dublin

Yesterday: Bank Holiday in Dublin

Rain and wind all day today. The first order of business is the Jameson's Old Distillery Tour. (Getting there also allowed me to gauge how much time I'll need to catch the train to Galway tomorrow: about 75 minutes.)

Jameson's Old Distillery, Dublin

Model of an Irish pot still distillery

The cat, "Smitty", is reportedly an employee from some 70 years ago who did such a fine job as a mouser that he's been immortalized for the tour. Christopher the tour guide worries that the same fate may await him when he retires.

As it happens, John Jameson was a Scotsman from Alloa. The distillery opened on Bow Street in Dublin in 1780 and operated continuously there until 1971. The company merged with another distiller and moved all production to Cork, and the original property was abandoned. The current "Old Distillery" is a re-creation of the original plant, although some of the equipment displayed is at 1/10th scale.

Jameson's barley is sourced from within 50km of the distillery. It is dried using smokeless heat, which is the main thing that sets it apart from the whiskies of Jameson's homeland. The barley was floor malted back in the day (and may still be) and the grist is a blend of malt and raw barley, the proportions of which are a trade secret. The mash is conducted much like a beer mash, but it lasts four hours. Fermentation is quick by beer standards, just 80 hours, and it results in a "wash" containing 8% alcohol.

Jameson's mash paraphernalia

Jameson's fermentation schedule

Jameson's notes that most whiskeys are distilled twice, and most American whiskey is distilled only once, and they're adamant that the smoothness of their whiskey comes from their triple distillation process. The wash is distilled first in the wash still, then the feints still, and finally the spirit still, resulting in a spirit of 82% alcohol. This is cut to about 60% before maturation.

Jameson's three stills

The whiskey matures in oak barrels that have previously contained alcohol, claiming that the flavor imparted by new oak is too strong. Every year, they use more than 110,000 barrels from Kentucky distillers. Barrels from Port producers are also used for some of their higher-end brands.

A typical small barrel at Jameson's

Irish law says it's not whiskey until it's been in the barrel for three years. Jameson's main product is a blend of four- to seven-year-old whiskies which they call "Five Year". Some is kept for ten, twelve, and eighteen years before bottling. Some 2% evaporates through the wood every year. This "angel's share" amounts to 6,000 bottles per day at the modern distillery in Cork.

Visualization of the "angel's share". Bottom row, left to right: T=0, 3 years, 7 years. Top row, left to right: 10 years, 15 years.

Finally, a taste of Jameson's 5 Year Irish Whiskey, straight. I am definitely not a whiskey drinker and no expert in its nuances, but here are my notes anyway:

  • Appearance: Rich golden amber. Strong legs.

  • Aroma: Warm. Vanilla. Honey. Oak.

  • Mouthfeel: Smooth and a little sweet. Nice honey flavor. Lip-numbing alcohol. Wood notes in the background. Lingering honey flavor, with some grassy oak.

Half of my glass of Jameson's Whiskey

The volunteer panel charged with identifying the differences among Jameson's, a Scotch whisky, and an American whiskey. Two of the eight preferred the Scotch.

Overall, I found it surprisingly smooth and flavorful and not overwhelmingly alcoholic. I don't know that I'd buy a bottle, but I might enjoy a glass once in a great while.

The Jameson's Old Distillery Tour is located very near the Smithfield stop on the Luas Red Line. It's open 363 days a year, 10:00am-5:30pm. Like the Guinness tour, you don't learn anything about the way it's done now, but it's interesting nonetheless.

I walked through the light rain looking for an ATM. Past the Bull & Castle, the Porterhouse, and down the length of Temple Bar, where I reached my goal. That accomplished, I continued to Messrs Maguire to see what new beers they had since my visit in October. Oddly, the new beer is an Oktoberfest called "Munich".

My sources indicate that Bowes Lounge on Fleet Street has beers from the Hilden and Whitewater breweries in Northern Ireland, so that would have been the next stop. Only it wasn't open.

Bowes Lounge, Dublin

Porterhouse Central is also right along the way back to the Luas, just off Grafton Street. I stopped in there to see what's new since six months ago, and for an afternoon snack. The snack was a plate of delicious corned beef and potatoes in a white sauce. The what's new included Whitewater Copperhead, Carlow O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale, and Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle Stout. While I was there, an older gent came to the bar and asked for a pint of Heineken. The bartender responded, "We don't do pints of Heineken. You're in a brewery. Let me pour you one of our own." Good on her.

Back at the hotel, I tucked into some Guinness until Paris was done with the day's work.

Tomorrow: Nice Day in Galway

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bank Holiday in Dublin

Yesterday: Sunday in Leopardstown

Yesterday it was Easter Sunday, and everything in Ireland was closed. Today was Easter Monday, a bank holiday, and everything in Ireland was closed except the pubs.

We got a very late start, sleeping until after noon and then having a breakfast of four or five pints of Guinness in the hotel bar before heading into town.

The first stop was the famous Bull & Castle. Dinner — actual food — was accompanied by Galway Hooker IPA, College Green Molly's Chocolate Stout, and College Green Headless Dog from the cask.

"As not seen on TV"

Bull & Castle, Dublin

Another beer seemed to be in order, so we walked a few blocks to the Porterhouse Temple Bar where we enjoyed their Oyster Stout — yes, it does — and also a pint of their tasty Red Ale.

Porterhouse explain the difference between their beers and others'

The Luas got us back to the hotel by 10:30pm, and after I finish typing this I'll check around the Web to help me decide whether to go to the Jameson Distillery tour or the new Bay Brewpub in Galway tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Rainy Day in Dublin

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday in Leopardstown

Our flights flew and our bus bussed, and we got to the hotel before 10:00am. And there we stayed, as Ireland is closed on Easter Sunday. Without a car, we probably couldn't have traveled to the Easter Beer Festival at Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork even if we had been up for it. But the hotel bar was happy to pour Guinness for us all afternoon, and we turned in early.

Tomorrow: Bank Holiday in Dublin

Friday, April 2, 2010


Paris and I are about 18 hours away from another trip to Dublin. According to The Beer Nut, I hit pretty much all of Dublin's beer highlights during my last trip, but if you've got any ideas, please pass them along.

Irish Rail doesn't seem to run as often as Deutsche Bahn, but I'm thinking of taking a day trip or two to Cork, Galway, and/or Belfast. I should be able to spend about three hours in each city before having to catch the train back to Dublin. Again, if you've got any tips about those towns, please let me know!