I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co.

While doing some volunteer work in the New Orleans area, I had the chance to visit a friend in Diamondhead, MS. I asked him about a local microbrewery, Lazy Magnolia at Kiln, MS.

They survived Hurricane Katrina, though they lost one of their loyal customers, Warren Fuller, to a heart attack after the hurricane. Warren and his wife Midge have been regulars at many of our regional beer can shows for years. There is a touching tribute to Warren on the brewery website. Warren and Midge had sought out the brewery and were the first to tour the brewery.

My friend Paul showed me some of the Lazy Magnolia offerings at a local grocery store. They are using small draft dispenser called a Party Pig that holds the equivalent of a case of beer. I didn't have the cash to purchase one of the Party Pigs nor did I have a way to bring it back in someone else's packed van. But my friend had heard that the brewery had won some awards, so it might be worth your while to give a look for Lazy Magnolia products if in Southern Mississippi.

Also while in the general area, you could visit the Abita Brewing Co., at Abita Springs, LA. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a special pilsener beer. [Update: My friend Neal sez the anniversary pilsener is one of the best beers ever made by Abita. If it is still on store shelves when I next get a paycheck, I will give it a try.]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

A reader sent me this link to a new invention. Many of us will slap and kick ourselves for not thinking of this.

It is the "Beer Octopus", actually it is a keg tapper with four spigots, so four cups of beer (or mouths if you are already on the floor) can be filled at once.

Just think, fewer "bottlenecks" at the keg.

However, bottlenecks at the keg are a good excuse to talk to someone, perhaps offer to fill a lady's glass for her, so she doesn't have to stand in line. So there might be some downsides to this.

Maybe the reason that this hadn't been invented before is that any inspiration, born of standing in line waiting for the single tap to fill a glass, was lost to alcohol later in the evening. One beer might be good for the imagination, but multiple beers might make you forget any new ideas.

Yada, yada.

Will be in New Orleans for the next few days to help with a church-related volunteer effort. Will probably be no where near the French Quarter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Updates From the Land of Pleasant Living

I haven't visited the National Bohemian blog as I should have recently, but it is painful to read about my favorite cheap beer if I can't buy it.

But there was a post from earlier this spring stating that National Bohemian was on sale again at Camden Yard, in Baltimore at kiosks and at Camden Club in the stadium. Cans are available at the kiosks, but at a cost of $5 per can. Ouch! But it is nice to see that bit of brewing history being kept alive by the Lion Brewing Co. of Wilkes Barre, PA.

I recall getting a cup of draft Natty Boh from a kiosk in Washington, DC, while visiting there in 1986.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Point - Well Made, Point - Well Taken

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped at one of the liquor stores in Doraville, GA, one of the exurbs of Atlanta. This particular one, Tower Liquors, is a favorite because they allow the sale of single 12 oz. bottles or cans of American beers.

Most other liquor stores don't seem to want to bother allowing the sale of singles of microbrewery beers. They seem to miss the idea that some people might want to sample these more expensive beers before springing for a six-pack. That is my viewpoint and I like to have a variety of beers in my fridge at any given time, also.

While checking for new varieties of microbrews, I found a regional beer that I had not had since 1982, when I visited Wisconsin.

Point Special Beer, from Stevens Point Brewing Co., Stevens Point, WI, was on sale, as well as Point Cascade Pale Ale, Point Honey Light, and a German-style Weiss Beer (I didn't buy one, so I don't recall the exact name).

I picked up a couple of bottles of Point Special and one of the Point Cascade Pale Ale. The Point Special was very fresh and enjoyable, the Pale Ale was hoppy, but not intensely so, a la Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Stevens Point Brewing Co. is one of those local brands that has resisted the temptation to grow beyond their means. Years ago, Mike Royko pronounced Point Special to be one of the best beers in the country and the publicity resulted in demands that Point be sold outside of their traditional sales area. The brewery resisted, so as not to over-extend themselves and lose control over freshness and quality.

A number of breweries grew when a "fad demand" sales "boom" initiated, but often the breweries overbuilt to meet what turned out to be a short-term growth spurt. When the fad went away, there was debt to be paid on the now-excess capacity. That is one of the things that started the downfall of Stroh Brewing Co.. They built and bought other breweries to meet fad growth and when sales leveled off, they were beset with debt obligations.

Coors Brewing Co. avoided the problems because of the Coors family's longstanding policy of not borrowing money for expansion. They would simply save money until they needed to build, so if sales slacked off, at least there wasn't the bank to deal with.

Another local brewery, Straub Brewing Co., of St. Marys, PA, has also avoided the temptation to grow to meet short-term demand. A friend gave me a bottle of Straub last year, that had been purchased in eastern Ohio. It was another beer that I had not had since 1982.

I hope all is well with Stevens Point Brewing Co.. I have a lot of memories associated with travels during the Summer of 1982, including the horrid, hungry mosquitoes in Chippewa Falls, WI. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of my photos of glacial features, because when I went to change film in my 35 mm Pentax, I had forgotten to reel the film back into the cannister. Doh! But I didn't lose my brewery photos, which were on another roll of film.

The other Wisconsin breweries visited that summer were Leinenkugels at Chippewa Falls (owned by Miller for the last few years), Huber at Monroe, WI (now Berghoff-Huber), and Walter Brewing Co. at Eau Claire (now closed).

I wanted to drive over to Minnesota to visit the August Schell Brewing Co. at New Ulm and Grain Belt (Minneapolis Brewing Co. - now closed), but time and money did not permit that side trip. I did visit Hudepohl and Schoenling in Cincinnati on the way to Wisconsin and Straub on a separate trip to PA.

The next year I met my wife Marla and we visited a few breweries in PA and NY while traveling to a friend's wedding in NJ. We still try to visit at least one brewpub on each trip to TX and OK, when the schedule permits.

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