Let’s Get Crafty

Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Three Cheers for Holiday Beers!

By Timothy Long It was 1995, a few days before Christmas. I was arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport, visiting my family for Christmas. As usual, my father was there to pick me up. Mom was home making Christmas cookies. A yearly job that none of us would ever dream of interrupting. In my unbiased opinion as her son, the woman truly made the best Christmas cookies in the world. When Dad picked me up, he always liked to stop for a drink on our way home.  It had become a tradition. A little father and son time before arriving home and being swarmed by the family. I, of course, was always game. On this occasion, I did ask that, before we stopped for our yearly Christmas drink, we visit a local wine and beer store that was nearby. Dad replied that he and my brother had already picked up beer and wine for Christmas. The thought of this nestled into my gut like a lump of coal. My father did not drink beer, so he was no connoisseur. And I know what beer my brother would have purchased, Budweiser, the King of Beers. This had to be handled gently. I needed to dethrone the King of Beers with tact and poise. “Dad, I want to buy good beer.” OK, not very tactful. “What’s wrong with the beer we bought?” A typical Irish American steelworker father response. “Nothing. I just thought adding something different might be nice.” There’s the tact. “Son, I’m not sure we need any fancy beers.” The problem with the conversation so far, we had not even discussed the wine yet. I could picture a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco sitting on the downstairs bar. “Dad, it’ll just take a minute to stop.” After a while, he agreed. I…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

If I Put Water in my Whiskey, Am I a Bad Catholic?

By Timothy Long I’m not a good golfer. I can say that because I’m an honest person. Anyone who tells you that they’re a good golfer is probably not an honest person. Eighty percent of golfers never get a score below one hundred. Saying that you’re a good golfer is the same as saying that you’re a good Catholic. I was raised Catholic. There’s no such thing as a good Catholic. In fact, just saying that you are a good Catholic makes you a bad Catholic. By stating it, you have committed the sin of pride, which makes you self-righteous and a bad Catholic. Golf is similar, although not as intense. No one will tell you that you’re going to Hell for being a bad golfer. Although, a bad game of golf can feel like you’re in Hell. A few of years ago, I was on a golf weekend for a friend’s bachelor party. I took the sport up later in life so, I had not been golfing for very long at that point. If I had taken up playing golf back when I took up drinking beer, I’d probably be a great golfer by now. But alas, I didn’t. Anyway, I was getting ready to tee off on a one-hundred-and-fifty-yard par three hole. The shot would be over water. Most players I know would hit a 5 or 6 iron on that shot. But, being fairly new, I chose to pull out a higher club, a 4 hybrid. One of my friends began to heckle and roast me for it. You know, guy stuff. Actually, in this case, fraternity brother stuff. After a few quick words in retort, I addressed the ball and hit my tee shot. The ball sailed perfectly straight and over the water, a rarity for…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

The Long Journey of the IPA

By Timothy Long “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life—are you man enough to drink it?’ It’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had—are you man enough to eat it?’” – Master Brewer of Brooklyn Brewery in 2008 My friends joke about how easy it is to find me in a bar. All you need to do is listen. It’s true, that’s why it’s funny. My mom always told me that my voice carries, which is a nice way of saying that I’m loud. In elementary school, I was the kid who got in trouble whenever the teacher left the room. I would be admonished when they returned. “Timmy Long, I could hear you all the way down the hall!” I wanted to be quiet. I just didn’t have the ability.  My wife often leans over to me and says, “Honey, inside voice.’ If you ever do find me in a bar, again, which is not hard to do, you may catch me staring at the beers taps. I am often in awe of beer taps. Those taps reflect the choices of the bar manager who set them up. My awe is not always a good sign. Sometimes it’s like looking at a car wreck. It can be a real “What were you thinking?” moment.  They think that they have a variety of beers on tap, but what they have is a variety of IPAs. Ah yes, the IPA, the Indian Pale Ale. The over-hopped little darling of the American craft beer industry. It’s been the favorite of American brewers, and bar managers, from the beginning of the craft beer trend. This coveted style of beer has gone through…

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What Oktoberfest Means to Me

By Timothy Long Remember those terrible assignments in school? I hated them. Mainly because the subject was always dictated to you. It was things like country, family, friends, school, or worse, the church. One such assignment stands out to me from elementary school. The name of our school was Broadview Elementary. It was right down the road from the Broadview Inn, a local pub. The joke was that the school was named after the pub, which is hilarious when you are seven years old.  The assignment was called “What Broadview Means to Me.” The students got to vote on the best essay, which was to then be submitted to a state contest. The title of my essay was “What Broadview Means to Me, A Penitentiary.” I likened the school to a prison. I described it as a place void of freedom. A building where the expression of ideas was restricted, and democracy was dead. We were to read our essays to the class. My classmates roared with laughter and cheered at the end of my dissertation. If they could have, they would have hoisted me on their shoulders and carried me through the halls of the school. I was a hero. No, I was a god! I was Zeus, using my pen to hurl my lightning bolts and smite my enemies. Well, at least I thought I was. Even though I won, the school never submitted my essay. The teacher just rolled her eyes and said, “Very nice, Timmy.” The kid who was awarded the win wrote about how nice the teachers were and about how much she loved spelling, math, and Pizza Wednesday. Really? No one loved math! They were looking for conformity, not creativity. I’ve come to terms with it now. Well, at least after I wrote that…

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For Your Summer Drinking Pleasure…The Shandy

By Timothy Long It gets hot in the DC area in August, real hot. It can be unbearable. This is the time of year that reminds us that large parts of our area are reclaimed swamp. If the humidity doesn’t remind you of it, the mosquitos certainly will. For many, it is a time for cooler, lighter drinks. The stouts and ales become less popular. And the Shandy takes center stage. That’s right, the Shandy. Or its German cousin, the Radler. No matter which of the names you choose, it’s a beer with either fruit soda or fruit juice in it. As my readers know, I am not usually a fan of any kind of flavored beer. My sister once tried to hand me a Bud Light Lime when I asked her if she had any beer. My first impulse was to disown her. I didn’t. But when we are together, I now tell people that she is a distant cousin from a foreign land called Cleveland. Yes, I am a purist when it comes to beer. And now I’m recommending a beer with fruit juice in it.  Yes, I am once again being a hypocrite. But summers are hot, and adjustments can be made. These traditional summer delights are refreshing and quite enjoyable. The trick is to make them correctly. More to come on that point. People argue over beer all the time. Fisticuffs have ensued over which beers are the greatest. Belgian and German beers are often at the center of these arguments. The answer is, of course, German. The German purity laws, the Reinheitsgebot, are second to none. The German’s approach to beer is as pure as a bee’s approach to honey. And both the bee and the German bring us perfection. Do not take me wrong,…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Oysters and Beer

By Timothy Long “The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork.” – Oscar Wilde Oysters and beer, one of the greatest culinary delights known to man. A delicacy of indulgence beyond any other. The two go together like eggs and bacon. Back in the 90s, my buddy Devo and I walked into a bar that we knew had great oysters. We wanted to watch the WVU/Syracuse football game. The bar was running a Saturday afternoon special, 25 cent oysters. Good luck finding that price now. We sat at the bar, got a pitcher of beer, and ordered 5 dozen oysters. The bartender gave us a derisive look and informed us that she was not shucking 5 dozen oysters. Fair enough. I then asked for a dozen and that we would order more as needed. We ate 6 dozen while watching WVU lose to Syracuse. The oysters saved what would have been a disastrous afternoon. Oysters are wonderful, but don’t eat one in a month without an “r” in it. That’s the rule! Don’t do it! You’ll be sick for days and vomiting so hard that you’ll see your shoes drop into the water! I have questioned this ‘R” rule from the first time I heard it. Really? What the hell does the spelling of a month’s name have to do with getting a bad oyster? The answer is almost nothing. Although, there was a time when this rule did have merit. According to the New York Times article, Oysters, Despite What You’ve Heard, Are Always in Season, this rule dates to an English cookbook from the 1500’s. “The adage of eating oysters only in “r” months goes back (at least) to 1599, when it appeared in an English cookbook, Dyets Dry Dinner, What it really means is: Say no…

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St. Barths: Rhum, Ti’ Punch, and Cuban Cigars

By Timothy Long The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine I feel like I’m in France. That’s the best way to describe St. Barthelemy, or as it is referred, St. Barths. The island is part of the French West Indies and is located near St. Martin. Our villa sits on the side of a mountain. Almost every villa here sits on the side of a mountain. The view is stunning. Island mountains rising out of the perfect blue Caribbean Sea. The local language is French as many of the islanders are from France. Most of them speak some English as well. But alas, my Kitchen Spanish was of no help to me here. And I used all my French on our first day: bonjour, merci, and toilet. I’m not sure that toilet even counts. Oh, and buku. I learned that one from Vietnam movies. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh and I’ve hiked the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I’m used to winding mountainous roads but I’ve never experienced mountain roads like these. The road leading up to our villa can be best described as a spiral staircase that turns in several different directions. It’s that tight, that steep, and that winding. And to make things even more exciting, it’s a two-way street which is barely wide enough for one car. The cars here are mostly small, which is helpful. I asked our driver what happens if a car is coming the other way. He said that they figure it out. Unlike in the States, everyone here drives very cautiously and courteously. The terrain demands it. I find the roads a bit unnerving and my New Orleans-raised wife finds them terrifying. As our ferry arrives in the town of Gustavia,…

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Spring Is Here, Let’s Have a Beer!

By Timothy Long Spring has sprung!! As I begin work on this article, I pause to look out the window. It’s not really a pause, I’m contemplating just what the hell I am going to write about this month. I notice that the trees are starting to bud. Tiny bursts of green that will soon fill the branches as they grow. I can hear birds outside in the courtyard. They’re squawking and squabbling over nesting spots. I’d prefer singing and chirping.  But still, it’s a sign of Spring, La Primavera. I start to dream of sunny days, baseball, relaxing at the pool, the beach, women in bikinis, women in bikinis playing volleyball. Tim stop it! You’re supposed to be writing an article! OK, it’s Spring. So, it’s time to change what beers we are drinking, right? Wrong!! Spring cleaning does not have to include dispensing with some of your favorite malted beverages. Yes, our dietary trends start to change as the days grow longer and warmer. But that is mostly due to the seasonality of food. Much of the cuisine we enjoy is seasonal. As seasons change, we wait to enjoy certain items that either become available or greatly improve in quality. Spring makes us anticipate tomatoes, avocados, blue crabs, ramps, etc. None of this has anything to do with beer. Beer is a year-round delight. Yes, your local craft brewery may stop producing some beer styles due to lack of demand. Plus, they enjoy putting out a Spring collection of beers, most of which will be of the lighter variety. This does not mean that you must give up your stout or IPA. The brewer’s thought process is this: As Spring comes and Summer looms, everyone wants a lighter beer. It’s the same way chefs approach food. They know…

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Charity, Compassion, and The Love of Beer

By Timothy Long “God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy.” The above quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. However, there is no proof that he ever said it. But we love believing that he did. Beer has been associated with health and happiness since ancient times. Oddly, none of the early cultures that brewed beer recorded much about the process. There are not many writings from them about their beer. Probably because, like bread, it was so much a part of everyday life that they didn’t give it much thought. They knew it made them happy. They also considered it nutritious and healthy. The health association stems from the fact that they could drink beer without becoming sick. Something one couldn’t say about water back then. It took mankind thousands of years to discover that it was the brewing process that made beer safe to drink. When brewing beer, the boiling kills any pathogens. To us, it’s just science. To them, it was magic. To this day, people will still raise a pint to someone’s health. Beer also found its way into ancient religions. One example, according to an article in Wine Enthusiast entitled “Beer Is What Makes Us Human, How Beer Influenced Humanity Worldwide”: “To the Sumerians, beer was considered a gift from the gods meant to promote “human well-being and happiness,” according to a 2019 research paper, The Beverage of the Ages. Four Sumerian deities were closely associated with beer, like the goddess of beer Ninaski.” Since beer has always been associated with health, and found its way into religion, it makes sense that beer became associated with charity as well. Beer is a huge part of celebrating in our culture. Fun and happiness are associated with it. Most charity fundraising events…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

A Stout or Porter, What’s The Difference?

By Timothy Long I asked one simple question: What’s the difference between a stout and a porter?  The answer opened the craft beer equivalent of Pandora’s Box. You’d think that the answer would be straightforward. Here’s how you make porters and here’s how you make stouts. And it seems that at one time, it was. These two beers have a close relationship. One even begot the other. But as many relationships do, theirs became complicated.  Over time, the definitions of both became intertwined. So much so that today, they are almost the same. Well, kind of. It depends on who you ask. I posed the question to Tim Quintyn, the Tasting Room General Manager at Port City Brewing Company. I trust Tim’s opinion on matters of brewing and beer. I sat across from him at one of their high-top cocktail tables. He had just poured me a taste of their Colossal One, a newly released Imperial Stout. To state that it was amazing would be an understatement. It is brewed with Belgian Hops. The flavor is smooth and sweet upfront with hints of chocolate and a light bitter finish. The ABV is 9.5, so it’s a true stout. More on that point later. As I finish adoring the stout, I look Tim in the eye and fire off my question. “What is the difference between a stout and a porter?” Tim looked me in the eye and chuckled, “How much time you got?” He then began to confirm what I had found researching the subject. There are a couple of things most craft beer brewers agree on. The first is that porters came first. The first porter arose in England in the 1700s. Legend has it that a bartender, or barman as they would have said, took a few lighter,…

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