Saturday, August 15, 2009

General silliness & looking back

Seems like a good year to do a GABF poster a la the three days of peace & music.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009

This has nothing to do with beer, although beer and guitars go quite well together.

Les Paul died today, and for anyone who's been keeping track this year, Grim Reaper Class of 2009 has some big names in it.

Les Paul is one of the biggest.

Never mind for a minute the iconic, single-cutaway, solid-body electric guitar that bears his name and Jimmy Page's testimony to rock 'n' roll. The recording industry was stood on its ear by Les' innovations and his pursuit to put in his hands, and the hands of others, that which he did not have. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Les Paul was a member of that family.

Indeed, The Beatles would never have been able to go out on the high note that was Abbey Road were it not for Les Paul and multi-track recording.

The photo above, depicting his irreverent sense of humor, was shot in March 2006 during one of Les' Monday night stands at the Iridium in Manhattan, the second occasion we were fortunate enough to see him. He was 91 then and could quite ably hold a room with his guitar playing.

Les was a class act. And he's already missed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jersey at GABF

The lineup of participating breweries for the Great American Beer Festival (Sept. 24-26) is out.

Five Jersey brewpubs and one production brewery, namely 2008 silver medalist Flying Fish of Cherry Hill, are on the list for Denver.

Hometown Beverages, which contracts with the Lion in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to make its tri-state-named flight of lighter lagers, is also going.

The brewpubs are: Original Basil T’s from Red Bank; Gaslight in South Orange; Long Valley from scenic Long Valley in Morris County; and Triumph in Princeton (as well as New Hope, Pa., and Philadelphia). Iron Hill is also in there but listed as coming from Delaware.

Here's a heads-up: The Saturday afternoon session (Sept. 26th) has just about closed the books on available tickets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Charlie Papazian and the Jersey brew tour

John Holl at has a word on the dean of homebrewing's swing through his native New Jersey late last month, and how one of the big names of the craft beer movement was thinking Jersey and drinking Jersey.

Here's a tidbit we picked up on our own: Long Valley brewpub was closed for renovations at the time. But when Watchung's own Charlie Papazian asks if he can drink from your taps, you pour man, you pour.

Brewmaster Joe Saia, who happened to be at the pub brewing that day, says they summoned some Chinese takeout to go with their pints (Charlie had the German Valley Amber; his wife had a cask-conditioned ale).

Week before last, Joe tried, via his assistant at the brewpub, to get us a picture of Charlie's time at Long Valley. Alas, it never arrived. Thanks anyway, Joe.

Nonetheless, welcome home, Professor Surfeit, and don't be a stranger.

And oh, don't you think it's about time the American Homebrewers Association picked the Garden State as the site for a National Homebrewers Conference?

We do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

House call

In a joint statement last week and again this week, the Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association put out a call for beer enthusiasts to urge their reps in Congress to join the House Small Brewers Caucus, meaning you should write emails or letters to those reps suggesting they make themselves part of that body formed two years ago to lend a voice to the interests of small commercial brewers and homebewers alike.

Not surprisingly, New Jersey beer, whether produced by the make-your-own crowd or microbrewers, has no representation on this body. (New York has four federal lawmakers on it, while Pennsylvania has three.)

In New Jersey the congressman who’s in line for the most pressure from such cajoling efforts would be Leonard Lance, whose sprawling, one-side-of-the-state-to-the-other 7th Congressional District is home to five Jersey brewers: Climax in Roselle Park; JJ Bitting in Woodbridge; Trap Rock in Berkeley Heights; Pizzeria Uno in Edison/Metuchen; and the Ship Inn in Milford.

About Rep. Lance:

Lance is a freshman on Capitol Hill (elected in 2008 and sworn in to office back in January; he also bears a resemblance to actor Strother Martin of Cool Hand Luke fame). Before Mr. Lance went to Washington, he was a legacy in New Jersey politics, a fixture in Trenton whose father, as a state senator before him, helped redraft the state’s constitution 62 years ago (the one we operate under now).

A self-described fiscal conservative, Lance was never one to shy away from taking a crack at money wasters. One of his confirmed kills in Trenton was icing (via a lawsuit) ex-Governor Jim McGreevey’s trick of borrowing to even out the state’s finances. In his so-far brief stint in D.C., Lance voted no on the Obama stimulus package but supported giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco and how it’s marketed. His congressional Web site is here.

Rounding out the list of Jersey reps with breweries or brewpubs in their districts are:

Rodney Freylinghuysen, Republican. Production brewers Cricket Hill (Fairfield) and High Point (Butler), and Krogh’s brewpub (Sparta) are in his 11th District.

Frank Pallone, Democrat. Brewpubs Original Basil’s T (Red Bank) and Harvest Moon (New Brunswick), as well as contract brewers Hometown Beverage (Oceanport/Manasquan) are in his 6th District.

John Adler, Democrat, another 2009 freshman to Congress. Flying Fish (Cherry Hill) and Basil T’s (Toms River) are in his 3rd District.

Frank LoBiondo, Republican, 2nd District. Tun Tavern (Atlantic City).

Rob Andrews, Democrat, 1st District. Iron Hill (Maple Shade).

Bill Pascrell, Democrat, 8th District. Gaslight (South Orange) and Boaks Beverage (Pompton Lakes).

Rush Holt, Democrat, 12th District. River Horse Brewing (Lambertville).

The folks at the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado, point out that while only 49 reps belong to the caucus, there are 344 congressional districts across the country that are home to at least one small brewery. And it’s a good bet that every one of the 435 districts is populated by some homebrewers and beer enthusiasts.

Hence, the Brewers Association and AHA put out their call. But the timing is pretty bad, no matter how solid of an idea this is. Here’s why: Healthcare reform right now sits on the plates of all 535 federal lawmakers (Senate and House) like that broccoli George H. W. Bush said he hated to eat. Suggesting right now that a congressman sign onto the small brewers caucus, well, it’s just not going to rise above the din of town hall scrums and the crossfire of healthcare debate.

On the other hand, the Brewers Association Points out: In these uncertain economic and legislative times, you can imagine how important it is to educate Congress about the community of homebrewers, beer enthusiasts and small brewers.