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Fall 2011, Issue 8

Fall 2011, Issue 8
Fall 2011, Issue 8

Like the first sip of an untested brew, the inaugural step into an unfamiliar drinking establishment confirms that mystery can be an exciting, if unpredictable, companion.

Memories of one spooky experience come to mind. It was the darkest of nights in the northern reaches of the British Isles some three decades ago. I was searching through the evening’s inky spell for the slightest hint of a light signaling the presence of a Youth Hostel located in what evidently was an old farm house. I couldn’t see a damned thing because of so many surrounding outbuildings casting shadows. I finally found the door to a large, apparently empty house. Once inside, the vacant hallway offered an oddly contrasting spell of cold florescent lighting.

It was with some relief I found two young Brits in the common area of the kitchen down the hall.  After the usual exchanges, they suggested a walk across the moors to a nearby pub. Given the creepy alienation of our abode, this was a no-brainer. My two new friends assured me they knew the way. We set out along a narrow road, trudging against a strong but strangely warm breeze. Once away from the buildings, we were bathed in silvery light underneath a low-hanging full moon framed by the helter skelter of naked branches in the barren trees.

We walked and talked for what seemed like a long way. My friends assured me they knew the location of the pub. Sure enough, we came upon a low, single story building behind a stone wall with a narrow path leading to the door. By now, I could hear the good tidings inside. My friends demurred and offered to let the Yank go through the door first. Thirsty and anxious to elude the silvery blackness, I charged ahead, ready to share the warmth and laughter of fellow beer drinkers.

I opened the door and stepped in. Complete silence. A large gallery of quizzical and not entirely happy faces, seemingly enough to fill a Greek amphitheatre, stared in utter amazement. Someone had just walked through the door and was standing in front of …the dart board. On a Saturday night in a crowded rural pub where the dart match was the height of the weekly social calendar and the outcome perhaps even had a few bob hanging in the balance, the pregnant pause went full term until I realized a man was standing eight feet away with darts in hand, his unwavering eyes cast upon the board just behind my head.

Barkeep. Draw one, please…

With that none-too-brief introduction, we invite you to walk through the metaphorical door of our pages and join our writers as they uncover the details on some of the exciting and timely mysteries in the brewing world.

 If you’re seeking a publican who thinks locally and internationally, step into Novare Res in Portland, Maine with Seth Levy. A popular place for revolutions, it seems, New England is the home of another radical new approach to imbibing that caught our attention. We also visited Meadhall in Cambridge, which soars to new heights and is introduced by associate editor Bob Townsend.

For those who want to know the story behind the Anheuser-Busch proprietorship of Goose Island Brewing Company, check out Karen Iwicki’s visit to Fulton Street Brewing in Chicago. Karen toured the physical plant and looked at expansion plans. It remains to be seen if there are any changes to the beer’s content from the days of John Hall’s ownership, but we confirmed you’ll be seeing more Matilda and Bourbon County Stout.

Our regular flagship feature, the Beer Review led by the ever-diligent Charlie Gow, remains one of the best ways to solve the mystery of exactly what’s inside a wide variety of brews.

BC prides itself on long form journalism. In our cover story, Dan Rabin sums up the remarkable career of Charlie Papazian and answers the question of why the founder of the Great American Beer Festival rides with some unique Colorado license plates.

In time for Oktoberfest, Larry Hawthorne whets the appetite for German culinary treats paired with classic brews by following the Autobahn to find Germany’s best big city locals. In another road trip, Roy Stevenson pub crawls through Scotland and outlines the microbreweries in big ale country. (Traditionalists: beware of the BrewDog.)

It’s a mystery to us why women aren’t recognized as beer drinkers more often. Carolyn Smagalski has some interesting stories to tell along gender lines when it comes to malts, hops, marketing and history.

Please come right in and enjoy these stories as well as our other regular pages of insight and information about the good beer life.

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Innovators Series: Charlie Papazian
He wrote the bible of homebrewing, helped launch the Brewers Association and created the Great American Beer Festival.