Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

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St. Arnold of Soissons

Today is the Feast Day of St Arnold of Soissons, the Roman Catholic patron saint of hop pickers and Belgian brewers.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “heeding the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Medard in Soissons.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “obeying the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Médard in Soissons.

Later in life he returned to Flanders, where he helped restore peace to a land torn apart by wars of succession.  He established the abbey at Oudenbourg, where he died and was interred in 1087.  The Revue notes that “Students of his life report a great number of miracles.”

Other sources remind us that at Oudenburg, Arnold brewed beer and encouraged the local peasantry to drink beer, instead of water, citing its “gift of health”. One of his reported miracles was his saving numerous lives by insisting that the populace drink beer during an outbreak of disease from contaminated water.

Arnold of Soissons was canonized by Pope Callixtus II in 1120. He is often depicted carryring a brewer’s mash paddle.

When faced with COVID-19, craft beer community steps up

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads across the globe, people are being forced to alter their lifestyles as governments scramble to devise appropriate responses.

Here in the United States, as has been amply discussed in the media, the Federal government has been slow to address the pandemic, leaving state and local governments, and individual businesses, institutions, and persons to figure out what steps to take to mitigate the spread of the infection.

Displaying the solidarious and community-oriented spirit that epitomizes it, the craft beer community quickly stepped up to the plate and got creative. For example, Rolling Rock brewing in Berkeley announced last week that they were stopping the filling of growlers brought in by customers. All to-go beer would be packaged in a crowler or require the purchase of a new growler. Danville Brewing has worked with the City of Danville to establish curbside pick-up of brews and food from their restaurant. Monk’s Kettle restaurant in San Francisco reportedly has been working on a similar arrangement. Brewpubs and taprooms everywhere have stepped up sanitizing routines, shortened hours of operation, or moved to a to-go only model.

Heeding calls for social-isolation, others have voluntarily shut down operations altogether. One of the first to take such measures was Maryland’s Flying Dog, which closed it beer hall and airport taprooms, and cancelled all events at its brewery as early as March 11th. New Belgium, Dogfish Head, and others followed suit in the following days. Just this morning, San Francisco’s Fort Point Brewery announced it would be closing its taprooms and restaurants until further notice. They did so just hours ahead of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for bars, wineries, and brewpubs to close.

Spring is also festival season, and events cancellations are rolling in like falling dominoes. Bay Area events such as Concord’s Spring Brews Fest and Martinez’s California Craft Beer Festival have been cancelled, as has Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Fest in Paso Robles.

On the 12th, the Brewers Association announced the cancellation of the Craft Brewers Conference, on of the largest industry events, which was to have been held in April. At the same time, the Brewers Association cancelled the World Beer Cup competition. Even the American Homebrewers Association pulled the plug on the nation’s largest homebrew competition just hours ahead of when judges and stewards in various regions were to start gathering to judge the first round of entries.

While Big Beer will weather this just fine, small brewers, pubs, taprooms and shops in the craft and homebrew world will have to make further sacrifices that will be undeniably painful. Many businesses, already feeling the pinch from decreased attendance, will undoubtedly incur severe losses in the weeks-long closures to come. For some businesses, sadly, these will be fatal. Even at those that make it through, idled hourly employees will face financial hardships. Many will lose their jobs.

In the meantime, those of us who support those breweries, bars, and shops struggle between the urge to help out our neighborhood businesses weather the crisis by patronizing them before they have to shut down, and heeding the call to stay home and self-isolate.

Memories of NYC: Heartland Brewery

This morning one of those “Your Memories” things popped up on my Facebook feed. It was from five years ago, when I joined my wife in New York City for a few days while she was there on a more extended stay.

The specific “memory” was of our visit to the Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie at the Empire State Building.

We had gone out walking in midtown Manhattan and went up to the top floor of the Empire State Building, only to turn around, put off by the high price of admission to the observation deck. Back at ground level, was passed by Heartland, noticed it was a brewery, and decided to go in out of the cold and to make the most of the evening.

The place was one of those where they’ve gone a long way to make the venue feel old-timey when it obviously isn’t, but it was nice enough. Friendly and warm. Packed with tables and booths, it was obvious that the beer was produced somewhere else, but that’s no matter.

We didn’t order any food, so I can’t comment on that, but I recall the beers all being quite solid. They were all classic styles -pale ales, a stout, a heffeweizen, amber, and so on. I remember particularly liking the stout and the heffeweizen. Not bad for my first taste of NYC local beer!

From what I see online, that location is now closed, but Heartland –an employee-owned company– still maintains two locations near Times Square.

I do hope in plying that touristy area, they’ve kept up the quality of their brewing. However, since they’ve won a few medals at the New York State Craft Beer Competition in recent years, there’s no reason to think they haven’t still got it.

Small Brewery Sunday

In Lima …

I’ve been in Lima a few days, and last night I went out for some beers with my cousin. We ended up at the Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar on Manuel Bonilla Street in the Miraflores district.

I’ve mentioned Nuevo Mundo’s taproom before. As always the beer selection was good, but what made the night even better was running into José Alberto Castro, who was playing music at the venue.

Castro is a fellow beer aficionado and blogger, who writes at tomandoaltura.com. He was probably Peru’s first beer blogger, and his beer reviews in particular are one of the reference points on the local brewing scene. I highly recommend reading his blog.

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