THE BEER BEAT: R.I.P. Jerry “Turoni’s” Turner. Also: New England IPA, Mile Wide, Goose’s disgrace, George Washington, and weighing a keg of beer.

0
22

As I may have mentioned earlier, though probably forgot, the current issue of Food & Dining Magazine (it’s out today) has two contributions from moi: a profile of bar Vetti (lower case “b” is intentional), and a beer column about New England IPA.

Research for the latter brought me to Mile Wide Beer Co. (636 Barret Avenue, Louisville) a few weeks back for their release of Nomah!, which I enjoyed very much.

In some ways I’m surprised by this. Not long ago, I’d have dismissed NE IPA as a fad, but now it makes perfect sense to me. May the style live long and prosper.

Ben keeps his garage fridge packed with regional beer, most of it in cans. Last year during our stay, his larder included lots of hitherto unfamiliar brands of India Pale Ale with mysterious names like Trillium Congress Street, Lord Hobo Boom Sauce and Tree House Julius.

We’d pluck a couple of tall boys, pop their tabs and drink straight from the cans. These ales were an intriguing jumble of sensations – medium-bodied and complex, flavorful and hoppy, yet curiously thirst-quenching and weirdly lacking bitterness.

You’ll have to read the article in F&D for further details. Until then, another (and decidedly Teutonic) NE IPA from Mile Wide was released today.

Dunst Bro – German NE IPA Release

A new twist on a hot style, Dunst Bro is next Northeast IPA in our portfolio. What’s the twist? New world German hops in place of Pacific Northwest hops.

The guys used copious amounts of Hallertau Blanc & Mandarina Bavaria hops for this brew. Expect aromas & flavors of tangerine, grapefruit, and passion fruit along with thirst-quenching smoothness!

At Paste, Jim Vorel gently inserts an interesting point, this being that concerns we now often express about “fake news” apply to the way AB InBev’s takeover of Goose Island went down five years ago. Problems were glossed over by PR flunkies, and many media people accepted what they were given.

Five Things I Learned About AB-InBev While Reading Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out, by Jim Vorel (Paste)

Here’s something that I know is true of myself, and I assume is probably true of a lot of other beer writers: We don’t necessarily read a lot of physical books about beer these days.

Oh, perhaps we did once upon a time. I certainly read beer books voraciously in the late 2000’s, devouring information (as it existed at the time) about beer styles, beer history, homebrewing (thanks, Charlie Papazian!), beer science and the occasional forays into beer politics and economics. But once you become really invested in a subject like beer, or embedded in some niche within the brewery landscape itself, new beer books tend to lose their allure—especially books in the “here’s what’s going on in beer right now” vein. Why? Because for one, they’re likely to be out of date by the time they even reach publication. The more the pace of change within craft beer accelerates, the shorter the shelf life is of those books.

It’s certainly true of almost everything written in print about beer styles. Just look at something like former Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele’s important IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, first published in 2012. When it hit the shelves, beer fans gobbled it up as “the essential book on IPA.” But now, a few years later, IPA is so vastly different that you’d hardly recognize it from the template Steele was working from at the time. That’s just the reality: Any end-all, be-all book on the style published today would have to dive deeply into new IPA substyles—especially hazy IPA—and that book would likely end up obsolete a few years from now when we’re all drinking VIRTUAL IPA’S made with DIGITAL HOP PROCESSING, etc.

Still. There are the rare exceptions when I’m really looking forward to reading a beer book, and that was the case with Josh Noel’s Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out, which officially hits bookstores on June 1, but is already available online. This was for a few reasons:

— I’m from the Chicago suburbs, and Goose Island was one of the first “craft breweries” I ever became aware of while coming of age.

— Their 2011 sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev kicked off the “acquisition era” of craft beer that has continued to this day. When it happened, nobody quite knew how to react, or what it would mean for the next era of craft beer proliferation.

— Given that I’m a longtime Chicago Tribune subscriber (and former newspaper reporter myself), I’ve long read Josh Noel’s beer reporting on my hometown. Full disclosure: We’ve chatted occasionally via Twitter and are friendly, in a colleaguial sense.

I also found myself appreciating, as I tucked into the book, that it functions both as a history and as an illuminating look into how the world’s largest beer conglomerate tends to do business. There’s a wealth of information here present about the acquisitions of not just Goose Island, but all the other breweries since acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev—which now includes Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Four Peaks, Breckenridge, Devil’s Backbone, Elysian, Golden Road, Karbach and Wicked Weed, although you of course won’t find reference to ownership on any of their packaging.

In the course of reading, I was entertained and informed in equal measure. There was a lot about the story of Goose Island I was already aware of, simply by virtue of having been paying attention when it happened. Who could forget, for instance, the incident when Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall ended up in hot water just days after the sale was announced when he started peeing in beer glasses at Chicago beer bar Bangers & Lace? At the time, it certainly felt like a pretty clear admission that not everyone was pleased with the transaction.

However, there’s also plenty in Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out that was new to me, and many of the most interesting tidbits are related to the operations of AB InBev and how they handled the acquisition. And so, allow me to list: Five things I learned about AB InBev while reading Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out.

By the way …

BUDWEISER’S NEW BEER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON, by Jeff Alworth (Beervana)

In short, the beer Washington made wasn’t properly even a beer, it was fermented like an ale, and bore no resemblance to a modern red lager. Budweiser has cleverly exploited Washington’s name without even gesturing at his recipe, and the business media, who know very little about brewing, guilelessly pass it along, effectively laundering AB InBev’s fraud. Ever since the Belgo-Brazilian giant bought Budweiser a decade ago, it’s shattered the brand’s sense of confidence as an American brand, and they’ve been overcompensating ever since. But dragging Washington into it is really going beyond the pale.

As Alworth notes, the Father of His Country’s beer recipe actually explained how to ferment molasses, and this is as good a segue as any into an answer to the questions of beer’s weight.

Ask Bob Brewer: How much should a keg of Anchor beer weigh? (Anchor Brewing)

Jessica (via email): How much should a keg of Anchor beer weigh?

Bob: I’ve been asked this question a lot over the years, Jessica – usually when a bar wants to reconcile their daily receipts with the volume of beer used. The only real way to determine how much beer is left in a keg is to weigh it, but you have to know how much it weighs to begin with.

A full keg of Anchor beer should weigh about 140 lb. The empty weighs about 30 lb., but can vary a bit depending on the manufacturer (we’ve had several), and the beer itself weighs 110 lb. For all practical purposes beer weighs the same as water, which is 8.34 lb. per gallon or 2.2 lb. per liter. A 50-liter keg X 2.2 lb. = 110 lb.

If you want to be picky you can figure in the ABV of the beer and subtract the difference in weight because ethanol weighs 6.584 lb. per gallon. But the difference is slight, something like 1.075 lb. in a 50-liter keg of 5% ABV beer, and is somewhat taken up by the fact that beer contains heaver compounds. That’s why we use water weight as a general rule. It comes pretty close regardless of the beer.

Finally, sad news. Apologies for being late in remembering Jerry Turner.

Evansville Loses a Valued Businessman, Brewery Owner, and Citizen in Jerry Turner, by Mark Lasbury (Indiana on Tap)

Jerry Turner started Turoni’s Pizzeria in Evansville more than five decades ago. He and his family built that single location into three restaurants and a brewery over the years. Jerry worked in the pest control industry before opening the restaurant; he would work a full day and then go to grocery and buy ingredients to make pizzas in the evening. It was that kind of dedication that made him a person to know.

In a Courier & Press interview in 2016, Jerry related the story of how he decided to start a microbrewery. During a trip to Florida, he and his wife stopped at a place called O’Briens. “They had their own brewery, and the tanks were all polished up. They were brass and copper. It looked really neat.” He decided that Turoni’s could make beer too and immediately started investigating.

My friend Joey used to have a job that required him to be on the road a lot, and he had accounts in Evansville. I rode down there with him one day in 1999, or maybe 2000 — as were were only starting to plan the original NABC brewhouse.

As a homebrewer and beer lover, Joey never missed opportunities to find good beer, and pretty much everyone at Turoni’s knew him. We spent a few hours eating pizza and drinking beer, and as some point we were summoned to visit Jerry Turner in his office.

It was a kick meeting him, and we had a nice long talk. I asked him about the name Turner, in the assumption that “Turoni” was the family’s original immigrant name, later anglicized. He laughed; it was the other way around. They’d always been Turner, but thought no one wanted to buy pizza from someone who wasn’t Italian. 

Joshua Pietrowski is one of my favorite Young Turks in Indiana beer. He’s currently running an old-school local tavern and sports bar in Evansville with an old friend as business partner.

“I am where I am today because Jerry Turner took a chance on some kid who promised him that he could brew beer. For an era of my young adulthood, you were a Titan in my life. I’ve learned more from you than I have most men, and every day I try to do at least one thing that would make you proud of me as a young businessman, and as another soul who chose to believe and invest in Jimtown.” Today, Evansville lost a man who fed families, created jobs, and gave back more than most have, ever. I give what prayers I have to the Turner family in this time of grieving and remembrance. Jerry, Thank You.

Belated condolences to the Turner family, and to Turoni’s Nation. They’re great folks, all.

LEAVE A REPLY