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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: beer, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 22 of 22
1. goodnight brew

by Ann E. Briated illustrated by Allie Ogg Bailiwick Press  2014 No. Wrong. Sorry. Not for kids. Terrible parody with no redeeming qualities. Seriously. You would be hard pressed to find a parody of a children's classic more tone deaf and misguided as this. The idea of a children's book parody should have echoes of childhood skewered with a winking eye. Goodnight Brew seems to labor under

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2. When Craft Beer Labels Get Animated

Video editor Trevor Carmick is receiving all sorts of attention for his new side project called Beer Labels in Motion, a collection of beer labels cleverly animated in GIF format.

Carmick was inspired by a set of cinemagraphs that documented a brew session with Dogfish Head. Originally published by The New York Times in 2011, these animated GIFs set a new bar across the Internet. “It’s so hard to look at them and not lose track of time,” said Carmick in an interview with Cartoon Brew. But Carmick’s GIFs do more than cinemagraphs—they imagine unrealized movement, bringing a whole new dimension to a flat graphic.

Carmick’s process usually begins in a location familiar to many animation artists—the beer aisle—where a certain label will catch his eye. He then separates the beer label in Photoshop and fills in behind elements that move, a process he was first exposed to while working on Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America for Mountain Lake PBS.

Carmick is actually surprised no one had thought of animating beer labels before. “It seems like such an obvious thing to do,” he said. “I just thought it would be so cool if these labels came to life.”

To see more examples of Carmicks animated beer labels, visit his site.

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3. Christmas beers

By Garrett Oliver


For those of us who celebrate Christmas, this time of year is resplendent with sights, songs, and smells that bring the holiday instantly to mind. Most of us who grew up with a real Christmas tree in the house are instantly transported by the smell of a freshly cut fir tree. For others, it’s the smell of pies baking. For the ancients, it was frankincense and myrrh. For me… it’s latex paint. Wait, I can explain! As many families do, we always had a lot of people over to the house around Christmastime, and many of them were folks who might only visit once a year. So the holidays were a natural time to spruce the house up, including whatever interior painting needed doing that year. So my olfactory memory of Christmas blends pine needles, interior latex eggshell paint, pies baking, and the unique smell of brand new plastic toys and electronics. At one time, though, especially in Europe, one of the classic smells of the Yuletide was Christmas ale.

Brewers have always made special beers for religious holidays, and over the last few hundred years Christmas ales have been popular during the holiday season. Though Christmas ale is basically a catch-all descriptive phrase, these beers tend to have several things in common. Almost all of them are dark, or at least go for a rich amber color suggesting heartiness. They also tend to be stronger than average, ranging from 5.5% at the low end to more than 14% for age-worthy after-dinner beers. Belgium, England, Scandinavia, and the United States are all major producers of these beers, though in this country we tend to use more inclusive names such as holiday ale. At one time, especially in England, Christmas ales were often spiced and sometimes mulled. Wines, ales, and ciders were often served this way around the holidays and were referred to collectively as wassail, a drink often consumed while caroling. Today, many American craft breweries produce spiced ales at the holidays, harking back to the old tradition.

As you go shopping for your Christmas table, remember that beer can work wonders with a wide array of holiday foods. Belgian saison, Belgian witbier (white beer), and Bavarian weissbier (also known as hefeweizen, the fruity German wheat beer style) are light and spritzy, making them great earlier in the day, especially with brunch. As you move into dinner, French farmhouse ales, called bières de garde, have nice caramel and earthy anise-like flavors, making them particularly good with turkey and ham. Belgian Christmas ales, almost universally dark, strong and plummy, are great with lamb, duck, and goose.

Traditional Mexican cuisine reaches some its greatest heights at Christmas, when people make the complex and time-consuming dark mole sauces, many of them based on nuts, chilies, and chocolate. Served with chicken, duck or the traditional turkey, these can be wonderful with rich, dark porter beers; there the roast character of the beer will pick up perfectly on the chocolate in the sauce. Also from Mexico, one of my favorite Christmas dishes is chile en nogada, a poblano pepper stuffed with spiced minced pork and fruit, covered in a walnut-based frosting, and studded with pomegranate seeds. It’s as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat, and it’s great with those massive West Coast “double IPAs”. The big hop flavors really pick up on the flavor of the poblano pepper, while the bitterness provides the cutting power for this super-rich dish.

After dinner it’s time for big chocolaty imperial stouts and fruity, warming barley wines. While they aren’t sweet, both of these have enough residual sugar to work with desserts, and they’re often a far better match than dessert wines. Barley wines, which are well-aged beers usually over 9% ABV, bring concentrated malt and dark fruit flavors that are great with cheeses, especially the British Christmas classic, Stilton. Many years ago, shortly after Christmas, I visited with a friend in the English countryside. “Mummy always gets a Stilton at Christmas” he intoned, and the Stilton — at least a foot across — was wheeled out on its own purpose-built cart. It looked like it could feed a family of five for the entire winter, and I’ve little doubt that it actually did. Some British barley wine was a magnificent accompaniment. Imperial stouts are at least as good with Stilton, and even better with desserts, especially ice cream, chocolate cakes, tarts, and all sorts of cookies.

Finally, Christmas is a great time to go out and put together a little after-dinner beer tasting. Many of the world’s greatest beers cost scarcely more than a fancy cup of coffee. If you’re having people over or going to visit friends and family, why not gather up ten beers you’ve been curious to taste? There will be plenty of people to taste them with you, and hopefully plenty of time for tasting. After all, Christmas isn’t just for the kids, and although you might not be unwrapping a bright yellow Tonka truck on Christmas morning, adulthood does have its privileges. For the designated drivers (our heroes!), make some ludicrously sinful spiced hot chocolate; my personal favorite is from Jacques Torres. Here’s wishing everyone a happy, healthy, wonderful Christmas — and don’t forget to touch up the paint.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

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Image credit: Pint of beer by the fireside. Photo by Marbury, iStockphoto.

The post Christmas beers appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Kosher beers for Hanukkah

By Garrett Oliver


I always knew that my family was a little different, but it wasn’t until my mid-teens that I realized exactly how weird we were. An African-American family living in the suburban greenery of Hollis, Queens, at the outskirts of New York City, we thought little of the fact that my father’s big hobby was hunting game birds. With dogs, no less. Often on horseback. Around the holidays, my Aunt Emma made wonderful chopped liver, and in the springtime, our table was often festooned with matzoh bread. It never occurred to us that these last two items were Jewish food traditions that rarely made forays into our community, and to this day, none of us are sure how they got there.

In a way, I think that this sort of culinary experience is at the heart of being an American, and as I travel the world, it’s one of the things that makes me proud of this country. As I prepare for Hanukkah celebrations with friends, I’m glad to say that beer is very much at the heart of the holiday meals. Some of my friends keep kosher, and many do not, but thankfully most beers are considered “kosher by default” in most parts of the world. Jewish dietary laws, kashrut, is interpreted by local councils of rabbis. In the United States, Canada and Israel, some people only eat foods that are specifically certified as kosher by rabbis, especially around Passover. At my brewery, we actually have some of our beers certified kosher for Passover, and a rabbi comes and blesses the beer!

Unless your own diet is very strict, there are very few beers that would ever cross your table that are off-limits, so you can tuck right into your holiday beer pairings. It’s nice to start off the meal with light, spritzy saisons, the farmhouse ales of Belgium. They’re dry and lively, and often show appetizing peppery and lemony aromatics. Re-fermentation in the bottle gives them a Champagne-like carbonation and texture, which is one reason why we often drink them out of Champagne flutes. Full-flavored beers can work wonders with the classics on the table, especially beef brisket and latkes. Both of these dishes are fatty, a little salty, and typified by caramelized flavors (no wonder we love them!), and beers with caramel and roasted flavors work well here. British and American brown ales are a good place to start, bringing light chocolate, caramel and coffee flavors that harmonize with everything, even sautéed Brussels sprouts. If you want something more complex, go for dark Trappist and abbey ales, where the dark color and caramel flavors come from highly caramelized sugars rather than grains. This translates into dried fruit and raisin-like flavors, along with rum-like flavors that remind me of Cracker Jacks or the burnt surface of a crème brulee.

When it’s time for dessert, beer really does outshine all other beverages. My favorite dessert beer style is imperial stout, a strong dark beer originally made for Catherine the Great. Brewed with large amounts of malts that have been roasted as dark as espresso coffee beans, imperial stouts taste like dark chocolate, coffee and dark fruit, making them a perfect foil for a range of desserts. With chocolate desserts, they play harmony, rowing in with similar flavors. With pastries such as rugelach, the coffee-like character is perfect, and the beer has just enough sweetness to match without becoming cloying. And these beers are a wonder with ice cream too — many people enjoy making ice cream floats with imperial stouts. Just make sure to have a soft-drink version ready for the kids!

The great thing about serving and bringing beer to the holiday table is that it’s fun. Everyone’s had one at some point or another, and though wine is great and has a wide range of flavor, it rarely surprises people. Beer, however, can be very surprising, because it can tastes like almost anything, from lemons and bananas to chocolate and coffee. Some friends and family might even leave your holiday table having discovered something brand new to like, and wouldn’t that be cool? This time of year I can’t help wishing that my Aunt Emma was still here; I’ll bet that Belgian abbey ales would have been great with her chopped liver, but I never learned how to make it. So among the other things you do this Hanukkah, teach the kids how to make your latkes! Though I’ll bet they’re not quite as good as mine.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only food and drink articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Image credit: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout via Brooklyn Brewery.

The post Kosher beers for Hanukkah appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Life in a brewery

What kind of crazy things happen at a brewery bar? What is some of the interesting stuff you can do with beer? What’s proper beer etiquette? If you don’t like beer, what beer should you try? How do you become a brewer? How do you break into the brewing industry?

Interviews with the Eric Peck, Brooklyn Brewery Tour Guide and Bartender, and Tom Price, Brooklyn Brewery Brewer and Lab Manager, reveal life inside a brewery. Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, Garrett Oliver is brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and is the foremost authority on beer in the United States.

Interview with the Brooklyn Brewery Bartender

Click here to view the embedded video.

Interview with a Beer Brewer and Lab Manager

Click here to view the embedded video.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only food and drink articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

The post Life in a brewery appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. The Nom Nom Nominees For The James Beard Awards

ButterBeer and beef, wine and chocolate, butter and olive oil - all the good stuff is properly represented among the nominees for the annual James Beard Foundation awards, which are given to cookbook authors, food writers, and chefs in numerous categories. The nominees announced today include three of Amazon's Best Books of the Month picks from 2011, including Blood, Bones & Butter, chosen as one of our Best Books of the Year.

American Cooking

Cooking from a Professional Point of View

Baking and Dessert

Beer

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7. The food and drink we’re wishing for this holiday season

By Lana Goldsmith, OUP USA


This year we are delighted that beer geeks, foodies, industry professionals, and many others just curious about all-things-beer have added The Oxford Companion to Beer to their holiday wish list, along with other Oxford companions such as The Oxford Companion to Wine and The Oxford Companion to Food. But we also wanted to know what else the beer connoisseurs and oenophiles are putting on their holiday reading wish lists. Check out some of their recommendations below.

Bob Townsend from the Atlanta Journal Constitutions Drink: A Beer, Wine, and Spirits blog recommends these books:

- Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah by Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan

- Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution by Joshua M. Bernstein

- The Great American Ale Trail: the Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation by Christian DeBenedetti

Jon Bonné at the San Francisco Chronicle recommends:

- Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons

- Terry Theise’s Reading Between the Vines

According to Esquire.com:

- “The New Beer Bibles a Man Should Read” include The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. by written by Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Randy Clemens

But what do the book people want in their kitchen? What are they hoping to drink and eat through the holiday season? We took a survey and put together a list from OUP staff of all the things they’d like to go along with this stellar set of books.

JENNIFER ABRAMS, Senior Demand Planner
Le Creuset Signature Round Wide Dutch Oven:
This item from Le Creuset would be a perfect addition to my current cookware collection. I have a new love of making Jambalaya and this would be a wonderful pot to utilize!

All-Clad d5 Stainless-Steel 4-Qt Soup Pot:
I have recently found a great recipe for Wild Mushroom soup, and I’m looking to change over my cookware to stainless-steel. A soup pot would encourage me to find additional recipes.

TIM BARTON, Managing Director, Global Academic Publishing
A bottle of Barbera from Piemonte in Italy, since it reminds me of a fantastic year I spent there after university, teaching E

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8. Another lesson from Garrett Oliver: rice in beer

Rice is not the first thing that comes to mind when you are drinking a nice, cold beer. And if you’re a beer connoisseur, even less so. For many years, it has been considered to be an affront to the institution of craft beer making to use rice. However, some beer makers are toying with the use of rice in beer again as homage to the practices that occurred before the Prohibition. This counterculture attitude reflects how beer brewers are looking to the past to evolve current drinkers’ palates. The following excerpt from the The Oxford Companion to Beer goes into detail on exactly how rice is used. Enjoy! — Nathalie

Anheuser-Busch is the largest single buyer of rice in the United States. Budweiser beer is brewed with rice making up a large portion of the grist.

[...]

It is commonly held, at least among craft brewers, that the use of rice in beer is to be abhorred. To quote Maureen Ogle, from an article in the LA Times, “Rice is considered by many brewers to be what the nasty, industrialized brewers use to water down their beer” and “craft brewers treat rice almost as if it were rat poison.” The article goes on to state that rice lowers the body, flavor and color of beers made with elevated rice adjunct levels, which seems rather to reinforce the notion.

In fact, German brewers arrived in America to find that it was difficult to make good beer using the high-protein, six-row barleys available in the United States at the time. Looking for ways to dilute the malt, they began to use rice and corn. The end result bears little resemblance to good German or Czech lagers but their customers enjoyed this form of beer and millions of people still do. Although rice may once have been a cheap alternative to barley malt, it no longer is. Sharply rising prices have resulted in much higher material costs for brewers employing rice in their mashes.

Interestingly, despite the assertions by many American craft brewers and beer enthusiasts that rice is anathema, some craft brewers are experimenting with production of “pre-Prohibition” lagers that mimic the beers made in the United States in the late 1800s. These are relatively highly hopped but are very light bodied, the result of the use of up to 20% rice in the mash. Other craft brewers are experimenting with the use of specialized rice types that actually add interesting flavors to the beers.

View more about this book on the

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9. Hosting a holiday party with special guest Christmas ale

Oxford staffers Stephanie Porter, Tara Kennedy, and Lana Goldsmith are here to show you how to pair beer with cheer as we enter the holiday season.  Below is the first of our posts that will be featured every Thursday this month.

Now that the calendar has turned the page to December, holiday season is in full swing. Aside from the lights and decorations flooding streets and buildings everywhere, this is the season of holiday parties! We will be celebrating The Oxford Companion to Beer through the month of December, and to kick off the month, we are turning our attention to hosting a holiday beer tasting.

First, a brief overview of the season’s beer history about the special brews available this season from contributor Chris J. Marchbanks.

Christmas ales is a catch-all descriptive phrase given to special beers made for Christmas and New Year celebrations, often with a high alcohol content 5.5%–14% ABV and marked by the inclusion of dark flavored malts, spices, herbs, and fruits in the recipe. A medieval instance of a Christmas ale was called “lambswool”—made with roasted apples, nutmegs, ginger, and sugar (honey)—so-called because of the froth floating on the surface. Today’s versions tend to be based on old ale, strong ale, and barley wine recipes, using cinnamon, cumin, orange, lemon, coriander, honey, etc. to create a warming, dark, and luscious festive beer. See old ales and barley wine. This tradition is closely related with the “wassail”, a mulled wine, beer, or cider usually consumed while caroling or gathering for the Christmas season. Most country breweries produce a Christmas or seasonal ale, some with long histories—notably in Belgium, England, Scandinavia, and the United States—which are usually matured for many months. There is no fixed recipe for these special ales as it is an opportunity for the brewer to expand boundaries and explore new tasty ingredients for Christmas, as the brewer’s gift to yuletide. The category includes some of the strongest beers brewed in the world including Samiclaus, which is a rich, aged Doppelbock with 14% ABV, originally brewed by Hurlimann in Switzerland but now in Austria at the Eggenberg Brewery. In the United States, Christmas Ale at Anchor Brewing (also known as “Our Special Ale”) contains a different blend of spices every year and helped spawn an interest in Christmas ales in the early days of the craft beer movement.

Since beer can have a cornucopia of flavors in every glass, you and your guests talk about the subtleties of each different beer. I might play a matching game where everyone writes down what they taste, and then the host can read the flavors from the label; or steam the labels off and have each person guess which label goes with which beer based on design. Either way, you will want to know how to create the perfect pour, and luckily, we know just the man to show you.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now that you have the pour down, what can you serve your beer in? It turns out that beer glassware has a long history, and the glass you serve it in matters. Take a quick tour of some of the elaborate glasses beer used to be served in, and grab some ideas of what will best suit your chosen suds.

Click here to view the embedded video.

You may not be an expert, but you are definitely ready to pepper your guests with a little beer wisdom. So have fun, b

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10. runnin

Jimmy Mcfarlane lit another cigarette and shivered in the phone booth. His jean jacket wasn’t made for this cold.
The truck stop was busy at 3 am. Rigs parked all over the place, some refeulling, some arriving and some leaving for the border a few miles north.
A big highway ran all the way from Montreal to Florida. Warmth and sunshine.
The phone rang.
Jimmy fumbled the receiver with cold fingers.
“Yeah?”
“Ok. He should be getting there now. He’ll park at the back of the lot, as far away from the buildings as possible. Got everything?”
“Yeah” Jimmy’s eyes fell to the hockey bag at his feet. Dexedrine, plates, cards.
“OK. Call me from Florida”
“Ok ... in a few days”
Jimmy was already looking into the phosphorescent glare. The rigs glistened under the freezing light of the parking lot. Exhaust fumes rose straight up in white clouds.
He picked up his bag, flicked his smoke into the night, walked down the middle of the parked 18 wheelers. He kept walking past the line of idling trucks to the one parked at the other end of the lot. Lots of drivers do it. Park away from the noise to sleep.
He wasn’t supposed to see the other driver.
A shadow moving in the other direction flashed by. The guy only had to drive it from the border. They didn’t trust him to do the checks. Second nature a year ago. But they got him out of the county slam and asked him to drive a truck to Florida so maybe wanting complete trust was a little too much to expect.
He used the key in his jeans pocket to unlock the door to the Tri Star, climbed into the welcome warmth. Country music playing soft in the background, he threw his bag on the passenger seat and looked over the dash in front of him.
The coloured lights were a relief from the bright illumination of the parking lot.
After a minute of enjoying the comfort he jumped out to do a quick circle check on the truck. The other guy wasn’t driving it to Florida. The rig was probably fine but it never hurt to do a quick visual circle check.
He settled into the driver’s seat after he had adjusted it to lean back further than it was. The last driver must have been a hunchback if he sat like that.
Everything seemed to be good according to the gauges in front of him. He smiled, flipped off the brakes, shifted into low and pulled away.
Staying to the outside of the lot, close to the fence, he checked his mirrors and got his first feel for the rig. It had been eight months, six of it in the county jail.
He stopped to adjust each wing mirror carefully. The mirrors were his eyes.
He pulled into the exit and shifted up till he was moving into the freeway, space given to him by two other trucks whose drivers pulled out to let him in.
Steve Earle sang about drivin down the Eastern seabord as he stopped his signal and settled in.
He was singing along, just at the part that went “you think I’m happy, you’re right, six days on the road and...” when he felt the steel of the gun on his neck.
The scariest time came just then as she moved from the bunk to the passenger seat, landed on the hockey bag and threw it on the floor. The gun in her hand waved wildly the whole time and she grunted as she spoke.
“Just keep ‘er steady, man. I know your story. You’re an excon and this load is illegal”
He kept it steady and didn’t show any emotion outwardly but he felt the adrenalin rush which made him sneeze.
A big, clear snot bubble expanded from his nose. It caught them both by surprise.
She pointed the revolver upward as her eyes searched the dash.
Below it she saw a roll of paper towels and some window cleaner in a rack.
She handed him the roll and suppressed a grin.
“Thanks, uh” he wiped his nose and glanced at the revolver which was pointing at him again.

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11. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 6)

THE HAPPY END: FROM BOOZE TO MILK
(THE WORD BEESTINGS)

By Anatoly Liberman


The word beestings once had its day in court.  About half a century ago, American linguists were busy discussing whether there is something they called juncture, a boundary signal that supposedly helps people to distinguish ice cream from I scream when they hear such combinations.  A special sign (#) was introduced in transcription: /ais#krim/ as opposed to /ai#skrim/.  The two crown examples for the existence of juncture in Modern English were nitrate versus night rate and beestings versus bee stings.  I remember asking myself: “What exactly is beestings?”  Well, it is “first milk from a cow after calving,” considered a delicacy in some quarters, for example, in Iceland, as an old dictionary informs us, and perhaps elsewhere; colostrum is its Latin synonym and gloss.  More or less along the same lines the nonexistent difference between wholly and holy in oral speech bothered phoneticians.  If I am not mistaken, unprejudiced informants treated the members of such pairs as homophones, and the term juncture disappeared from linguistic articles and books, the more so as around that time about everybody agreed that most of pre-Chomskyan linguistics had been a sad aberration, and the terminology that dominated the previous period lost its relevance.  In this drinking bout, bee stings and beestings are connected in a rather unpredictable way: mead played an important role in my discussion (and mead is inseparable from honey and, consequently, from stinging bees), while beestings may share the root with booze and, according to a bold hypothesis, also with beer.

Obviously, -ings is a suffix in beestings, a word that has been attested in numerous similar-looking shapes.  Old English already had the forms with the suffix (bysting) and without it (beost), and beest has wide currency in modern British dialects.  The German, Frisian, and Dutch cognates of beest are unmistakable: they sound alike and mean the same.  A probable Norwegian (dialectal) cognate has also been discovered.  The most authoritative dictionaries call beestings and the related forms words of unknown origin, but, as always, everything depends on how we define “unknown.”  Some words are so impenetrable that nothing at all can be said about their past, while others are obscure to varying degrees.  As a rule, numerous conjectures have been put forward about the derivation of hard words, and, even if the problem remains unsolved (the most common case), some contain the proverbial grain of truth.  “Origin unknown” is a loose concept.  This also holds for beestings.

Early attempts to connect beest with an Old Romance word for “curdled” (such as Provençal betada “clotted” and 17th-century French caillebotes “curds”) have been abandoned, and indeed, Old Engl. beost and betada resemble each other by chance; nor is the resemblance impressive.  A more serious riddle is whether Old Engl. beost has anything to do with Gothic beist “leaven, yeast” (Gothic is a dead Germanic language, recorded in the 4th century).  Many lexicographers combined them (some even us

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12. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 2: Beer)

In March 2006, Anatoly Liberman joined OUPblog, “living in sin” as the Oxford Etymologist. Every Wednesday for the past five years he has delighted us with theories, research, and amusing anecdotes about words and language, and today we celebrate with beer! Professor Liberman, we raise our glasses to you. Cheers! Long live the Oxford Etymologist!

I’m raffling off a free copy of Word Origins to celebrate. If you’d like to enter, just leave a comment, sharing your favorite Oxford Etymologist post and why. While you’re at it, feel free to ask the professor a question. The winner will be contacted early next week.

By Anatoly Liberman


At the beginning of the previous post, I promised to say more about some strange names of beverages.  The time has come to make good on my promise.  In a note dated December 1892, we can read the following: “Shandygaff is the name of a mixture of beer and ginger-beer…, and according to evidence given at the recent trial of the East Manchester election petition, a mixture of bitter beer and lemonade is in Manchester called a smiler.”  Shandygaff and especially its shortened form shandy are still well-known words (like smiler, shandy can also contain lemonade), but it would be interesting to hear from Manchester whether smiler is still current there.  The older the word, the more respect it inspires in us, and we forget that language has always flourished on the rich garbage of human communication, which includes jokes, slang, and all kinds of word games.  Scholars make desperate efforts to find Hittite, Greek, and Germanic roots preserved in the most ancient form of ale, while it may have been some funny coinage like shandygaff or smiler.  Although etymologists exist to remove the accumulation of dust from modern vocabulary, they needn’t treat every speck of that dust as a sacred relic.

To remind modern readers that in England ale never had the ceremonial glamour associated with it in medieval Scandinavia, I would like to call their attention to the obsolete (thank heavens, obsolete) word ale-dagger “a weapon used in alehouse brawls.”  Here is a passage from Sir John Smythe’s 1590 Certen Discourses concerning Weapons.  I will retain the orthography of the original (the words, like certen in the title, are easy to recognize): “Long heavie daggers also, with great brauling Ale-house hilts (which were never used but for private fraies and brauules, and within lesse than these fortie yeres), they doo no waies disallow.”  Good grief!  Heavy daggers with great hilts, designed for the purpose of settling private disputes were “in no way” disallowed!  Speak of the Second Amendment and the right of an individual to bear firearms for self-defence!  In the middle of the 16th century “citizens” did not carry guns in pubs and had to look, speak, and use only daggers.  Primitive, backward people.  Brawls in alehouses were already mentioned in Old English laws.  Human behavior changes slowly, if at all.

After so much etymological ale, we can now tackle beer.  Unlike ale, recorded in all the Old Germanic languages except Gothic, beer is at present a West Germanic word (German, English, Dutch, etc.).  Its Old Scandinavian cognate is usually believed to be a borrowing from Old English; yet no decisive arguments have been adduced in support of this i

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13. A Drinking Bout in Several Parts (Part 1.5: Ale continued)

By Anatoly Liberman


The surprising thing about the runic alu (on which see the last January post), the probable etymon of ale, is its shortness.  The protoform was a bit longer and had t after u, but the missing part contributed nothing to the word’s meaning.  To show how unpredictable the name of a drink may be (before we get back to ale), I’ll quote a passage from Ralph Thomas’s letter to Notes and Queries for 1897 (Series 8, volume XII, p. 506). It is about the word fives, as in a pint of fives, which means “…‘four ale’ and ‘six ale’ mixed, that is, ale at fourpence a quart and sixpence a quart.  Here is another: ‘Black and tan.’  This is stout and mild mixed.  Again, ‘A glass of mother-in-law’ is old ale and bitter mixed.”  Think of an etymologist who will try to decipher this gibberish in two thousand years!  We are puzzled even a hundred years later.

Prior to becoming a drink endowed with religious significance, ale was presumably just a beverage, and its name must have been transparent to those who called it alu, but we observe it in wonder.   On the other hand, some seemingly clear names of alcoholic drinks may also pose problems.  Thus, Russian vodka, which originally designated a medicinal concoction of several herbs, consists of vod-, the diminutive suffix k, and the feminine ending aVod- means “water,” but vodka cannot be understood as “little water”!  The ingenious conjectures on the development of this word, including an attempt to dissociate vodka from voda “water,” will not delay us here.  The example only shows that some of the more obvious words belonging to the semantic sphere of ale may at times turn into stumbling blocks.  More about the same subject next week.

Hypotheses on the etymology of ale go in several directions.  According to one, ale is related to Greek aluein “to wander, to be distraught.”  The Greek root alu- can be seen in hallucination, which came to English from Latin.  The suggested connection looks tenuous, and one expects a Germanic cognate of such a widespread Germanic word.  Also, it does not seem that intoxicating beverages are ever named for the deleterious effect they make.  A similar etymology refers ale to a Hittite noun alwanzatar “witchcraft, magic, spell,” which in turn can be akin to Greek aluein.  More likely, however, ale did not get its name in a religious context, and I would like to refer to the law I have formulated for myself: a word of obscure etymology should never be used to elucidate another obscure word.  Hittite is an ancient Indo-European language once spoken in Asia Minor.  It has been dead for millennia.  Some Hittite and Germanic words are related, but alwanzatar is a technical term of unknown origin and thus should be left out of consideration in the present context.  The most often cited etymology (it can be found in many dictionaries) ties ale to Latin alumen “alum,” with the root of both being allegedly alu- “bitter.”  Apart from some serious phonetic difficulties this reconstruction entails, here too we would prefer to find related forms closer to home (though Latin-Germanic correspondences are much more numerous than those between Germanic and Hittite), and once again we face an opaque technical term, this time in Latin.

Equally far-fetched are the attempts to connect ale with Greek alke “defence” and Old Germanic alhs “temple.”  The first connection might work if alke were not Greek.  I am sorry

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14. The Canadian View

We were snowed in as usual. The cabin fever began to grow. There was barely room for all of us and the animals. Nothing could be left out in this cold.
The wind shrieked and howled while the snow buried our houses with us in them.
The digging started right away, of course. Those of us who were nearest the door were given shovels and plows whether we wanted them or not.
Granny sat by the wood stove. She was blind but she was knitting. There would be a long scarf for the children by the time we tunnelled to daylight.
Children howled and shrieked with joy as they buzzed through the crowded residence. Families and extended families with their neighbours and their extended families sheltered in the humble abode.
Gramps saw it once. One time, so they say, before he passed away, Gramps emerged from the snow tunnel the day before the winter snows descended again. He looked upon the homestead that day, without snow on it and never spoke another word.
Caribou jerky hung from the ceiling. Wood stoves kept the stew stewing.
We took it in shifts. We hoped, in our modest way, to make it out before the snows came again. We aimed to see what Gramps saw.
Farmyard beasts mated in the back, among the hanging furs. Birds sat in the rafters and dropped droppings as we dug for many days.
Once, it became lighter and we thought we had reached the end in record time. We were wrong, of course. A cave-in deprived many of consciousness. Lively Irish fiddle music replaced lively Scottish fiddle music which replaced lively French fiddle music. Then they reversed.
Stew and beer awaited those who participated in the digging. It wasn’t an occupation which promoted good health, but as our neighbour, Mr Clark said,
“Up, up and away! ”
Children were born, old ones passed along, the population’s size expanded and shrunk. The digging went on, but it was slow work.
We were sure to reach the end by the return of the snowstorms, but what then? Did we always have to do this? Is this what life was about?
It was in this frame of mind that I’d become separated from the main group. I don’t know how it happened.
I wandered through a shiny crystal tunnel. I was lost.
The temperature was all right but I had no food or water. A mysterious tugging kept me walking on without fear.
Then it was over as soon as it had begun. I emerged into a warm field full of sunshine and trees and grass and birds.
A small man dressed in green sat with his back up against a towering oak tree. He was fingering a flute, trying out different notes by covering different holes.
I sat down in front of him and watched.
His bushy grey eyebrows flickered as he stared at his fingers in concentration.
He blew a few notes, wrinkled his nose and placed the flute in an inside jacket pocket. From this he withdrew a deerstalker pipe and tobacco.
When he had lit up and enjoyed the smoke, he smiled and looked at me.
”Well now, how are you and the Canadians you know?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt good right then, at that moment.
But how was I really? And the Canadians I knew?
This flashed through my mind in a nanosecond, but the little man’s eyes showed that he was waiting for me to catch up.
It seemed that he was reading my mind. I only had to think something and he would chuckle to himself. It made me examine every thought.
“Fine” I said.
“Fine? Fine?” he chuckled, drew a good draught on his pipe.
When I looked into his eyes I could only think of the digging. Stew, beer and digging.
It wasn’t a happy fate that awaited Canadians. The reality of it struck me in the face like a cold mackerel.
“Well, you seem to have caught me unawares, so I’ll grant you the wish you desire” said the little man dressed in green. He produced a wand and stood at the ready. H

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15. fitness

“And we’ll go lifting weights, twelve ounces at a time.”
Antifreeze by Wammo, as recorded by The Asylum Street Spankers.

Hear the whole song HERE on the josh pincus is crying blog.

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16. Morris men, beer and cricket




Our cricket season draws to a close, heralded by the annual President's Match and beer festival. For the last seven years, since leaving our old home, we have commuted back to play cricket. Andy thought about joining another club, but our hearts and friends are here; they are not things you drop lightly. It's about 15 miles away via the lanes, and as it was a special occasion we stayed the night over with a lovely friend.


The President's game is a friendly between old and existing members of our cricket club; the President picks what he hopes will be a crack team of retired or moved-away players, and the Club - mostly the youngsters - play them. This year the Club wore silly hats. It is a light hearted affair, bolstered by beer and good humour.





Naturally, this being a summer game, held in August, it was cold and windy. We were joined by Eynsham Morris, who usually dance in the tea interval. Eynsham Morris has been in recorded existence since 1856, and is thought to go back beyond, to the 17th and 18th centuries. Cecil Sharpe, the renowned collector of folk dances, witnessed them dance in the now closed Railway Inn, in 1908.

The dancers met me, I remember, one dull, wet afternoon in mid winter, in an ill-lighted upper room of a wayside inn. They came straight from the fields in their working clothes, sodden with mud, and danced in boots heavily weighted with mud to the music of a mouth organ, indifferently played. The depression which not unnaturally lay heavily upon us all at the start was, however, as by a miracle dispelled immediately the dance began, and they gave me as fine an exhibition of Morris dancing as it has ever been my good fortune to see.”
(CJ. Sharp, The Morris Book, part III, 2nd edn. 1924)


The Eynsham Morris website is full of the team's fascinating, rich history and well worth a browse.





They are one of the things I still miss about our old village. They trickled in one by one, standing to watch the game and get an early beer or two in.







When the first innings was over and everyone trooped in for tea (or beer) and to partake of the good spread provided by the President's wife, they began dancing.








The highlight was the village 'in-joke', whereupon a pretty young lady volunteer becomes the centre of the dance; 'Maid of the Mill', otherwise known as the Eynsham Morris fertility dance. Various sweet and, one suspects, suggestive things are whispered to her, as the dancers 'court' her, to the barely concealed amusement of the onlookers, most of whom know how the dance ends.






I spent most of the second inning sat in the pavilion with friends and had one of the most disgusting pints of real ale I have ever had the misfortune to imbibe. It was called 'Grunter' and tasted as if someone had put several cigarette butts in the barrel. Should you come across this revolting and thankfully rare beer - avoid.





We - that is to say, the Club, for whom Andy was playing - lost, pretty rapidly, and not before time. All this cold, grim day was lacking was rain, and sure enough, it arrived. As is customary at the end of every match, everyone shook hands like gentlemen, even though they were all familiar and close friends.



With the near end of the season and the beginning of autumn proper, I have been frantically tackling tasks and chores in preparation for a new batch of commercial work which arrived, as I thought it would, this week. I am almost at the end of my commissions list. Including this chap; a portrait and a little different to what I normally do.






With my new exercise regime still going strong, I have begun recording my almost-daily wanderings in a new blog, 'Cotswolds Peeps' - more for my own pleasure than anything. It's a kind of record of the countryside, and the tiny things that happen in the natural world, which I find interesting. And, of course, the ever-changing weather.





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17. Bustin-Out Beer Bottle

This is one of the many optical illusion trucks that have been painted in Germany. So tell me...if you're a big beer drinker, what would your first instinct be? Swerve around it or try to grab on and POP the cap off? :)

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18. Lite Beer and Donuts, or, Does Spelling Reform Have a Chance?

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By Anatoly Liberman

At the beginning of June, on the technological campus of Coventry University the British Simplified Spelling Society, now called Spelling Society, with Simplified expunged from the title, celebrated its centennial (centenary). As the theme of the conference the organizers suggested “The Cost of English Spelling.” The society and its ally the American Literacy Council were founded at the peak of public interest in spelling reform. Between 1908 and 2008 many edifying publications came out, and some of the best linguists on both sides of the Atlantic showed the weakness of the arguments repeated again and again by the opponents of the reform. However, a century passed, and despite all those activities English spelling has undergone only a few cosmetic changes (like hyphenation in American English), so that there is nothing to celebrate. And yet there may be a glimmer of hope.

The cost of teaching English spelling is enormous. The money spent on drilling the most nonsensical rules in any modern European language and on remedial courses could have fed and educated a continent. (I have the statistics but will skip the numbers.) Although Spelling Society has lost the game, the world at large has not won it. The establishment refused to institute changes, and, as a result, speakers (native, immigrant, and foreign, both young and old) have become less proficient in reading and writing than ever. Now we are dealing with several generations of the illiterate offspring of illiterate parents.

Since the end of the Second World War life in the West has changed dramatically, partly for the better, partly for the worse. Today more than ever in the recent history of our civilization popular culture has the ascendancy over “high” culture. It is not only our age that witnesses the triumph of popular (low) culture: such is the law of all social development. If it were otherwise, we would still be wearing wigs and using declensions and conjugations of the type known from Latin. In language this trend can be observed in both big things and small. For example, the swift substitution of -s for -th (comes for cometh, and the like) signified the encroachment of vulgar speech on the time-honored literary norm. In Shakespeare’s plays, Falstaff’s boon companions use this ending. Even the Authorized Version of the Bible was unable to suppress this novelty. Today no one cometh and no one goeth.

In recent memory (George Babington Macaulay would have said within the memory of men still living) jeans with a prefabricated rent at the knee became fashionable and more expensive than elegant and unimpaired trousers (pants). The vilest language is allowed in songs, on the screen, and in printed production, whereas in 1908 one could not pronounce the words pregnant and underwear with women around. Highbrows made careers explaining to the eager public the profound goals of the hippies and the surpassing value of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Bras and ties were abolished along with other signs of bourgeois hypocrisy. Only our orthography stands like an impregnable rock in this ocean of change. But the “masses” did not remain indifferent to the preservation of this last relic of the past, and here I come to the subject of the moral cost inflicted on learners by conservative English spelling.

The first point on the list can be called serene resignation. When provoked by the most egregious misspellings in students’ papers, I chide the culprits gently (ever so gently), the answer usually is: “Oh, I know, I am an awful speller.” It is sad to teach people who have never taken geography at school or are, to quote one of my listeners, “lost in space and time” on hearing the word crusades, but the pilot will take passengers to their destination without asking them for directions, and the Middle Ages ended before we were born. In contrast, one has to write something all the time. Yet our orthography is such that people are happy to admit that they are dummies. A state-sponsored inferiority complex is a rather high moral cost for sticking to antiquated spelling.

Point two is the opposite of the previous one. The world in which college graduates are unable to distinguish between principle and principal and think that the past tense of lead is lead has produced its ugly antidote, namely the spelling bee. The contestants cram hundreds of useless words and come away empty-handed because in the last tour they may miss bogatyr “a Russian epic warrior” (the word is not in the memory of my computer). Wouldn’t it have been more profitable to read Russian fairy tales rather than wasting the brain cells on the words one will never see or use? It is an open secret that the most ambitious parents hire coaches to prepare their children for collecting bitter spelling honey. Prestige and prizes are involved in this losing game.

The masses, as I said, have been reduced to the state of blissful illiteracy and will support spelling reform. They have already abbreviated everything. University is simply U. I teach at the U. of M. (University of Minnesota), students in Salt Late City go to the U. of U. (the University of Utah), and if u (= you) want to move south, hire a truck with the sign “U Haul” (that is, “You Haul”) and go there (their) real quick. U Haul to the U. of U., jingling all the way! Text messaging (called texting in British English) and so-called emotics follow the same route. BRB “be right back” cannot be misspelled. Ads vacillate between two extremes: they play on fake nostalgia and invite us to visit their “shoppe,” as in good “olde” times, but also offer lite beer and donuts (curiously, dictionaries now recognize donut as a variant of doughnut—a revolution from below). Simplified spelling is with us, unless you have noticed it. If Spelling Society succeeds in harnessing the energy of popular culture and steers clear of its excesses, it may eventually turn the tide.

However, there is a fly in the ointment. The reformers have always tried to achieve all at once, forgetting the fact that educated people are averse to rapid shakeups of spelling. Any reform that writes giv and hav on its banner is doomed to failure: it will be rejected unanimously by the left and right. Initial changes should be almost surreptitious: first persuade the powers that be (I have no idea where, in the absence of language academies, such powers hide) to abolish the difference between till and until, spell and dispel. Then remove k- in knob and knock (but retain it in know, to preserve its union with acknowledge). Get rid of c in scythe, as well as in excellent, acquaint, and their likes. Dispense with final -b in dumb (pretend that it is a back formation of dummy) but retain it in numb and thumb because of their weakly sensed affinity with nimble and thimble. It is only the underhand “donut way” that may guarantee success: chip away at one word after another. The process will take several decades, if not longer, but, once people agree that change is needed, they will allow the reformers to introduce proksimity, telephone, and perhaps even krazy (not a Romance word!) and wipe out the difference between descendent and descendant.

Necessity has taught us to recycle all kinds of products. Pubs have gone smoke free. We are saving energy, albeit on a small scale. People do all such things, for they realize that they either comply or perish. There is no joy in raising children who know that they are dum(b) and see no means of improving their status. Nor do we want all words being reduced to capital letters. WBA (it will be awful). Investing money in teaching English spelling as it exists will have the same effect that investing millions in Soviet collective and state farms had. But drawing on the experience of that country, we should beware of repeating its other mistake. Post-communist reformers preached that one cannot jump over a chasm in two steps: democracy, market, and privatization—all overnight. A jump indeed presupposes a single effort. But why not build a bridge over a chasm? If spelling reform becomes reality, the English speaking world will emerge from a dark cell into dazzling daylight. This can be accomplished only by passing through many intermediate stages. Lite beer and donuts are the right sustenance on this way.


Anatoly_libermanAnatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to blog.us@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”

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19. Pottsville, Pennsylvania

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Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Coordinates: 40 41 N 76 12 W

Population: 15,549 (2000 est.)

Responsible for the dismissal of a Harvard University president, enjoyed by the Founding Fathers (in all of their wisdom), and commercially available since 1612, beer has been an ever-present commodity in United States history. (more…)

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20. Live From BEA

Happy Friday to everyone.  I am back from my UK trip and at the Javits center today for Book Expo America.  What an experience!  A literal city of book lovers, I am in heaven.  The OUP booth is 2357 so if you are nearby come say hi.  We are having beer and popcorn to celebrate the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink at 3:30 so come introduce yourself!

More updates to come…

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21. National Dictionary Day: German

Earlier today we introduced you to some of the words you can learn in the French section of Oxford Language Dictionaries Online, which are freely available through the 21st. But perhaps French isn’t your thing. Well, how about German? Take the quiz below to see how much you know and if you get stuck turn to OLDO for help. Be sure to check back this afternoon for me Dictionary Day fun from OLDO!

Question 1: Your German friend tells you in conversation, “Das ist nicht mein Bier.” But you’re not drinking beer! What does he mean?

Question 2: English speakers say “kill two birds with one stone”. What do German speakers say?

Question 3: If a German offers you Himmel und Erde, what should you expect?

Question 4: English speakers say “it’s no picnic”, but how would you say this in German?

Question 5: What do Germans see instead of “pink elephants”? (more…)

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22. Thursday

Can you tell who I tried to caricature here? I'm terrible at capturing a likeness...



And here's the invite to my little company Xmas thing, see you there!




My blog

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