Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

This ‘wine mom’ never questioned her drinking. Then she stopped for a month.

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Cathy Alter has an interesting article in the Washington Post on how she interrupted her drinking. It was particularly interesting to me because I have realized that I have stopped drinking without having made a conscious decision to stop. I have always enjoyed alcohol in the form of wine and spirits and (good) cocktails, but when I started tracking my budget more closely, I realized how much wine and spirits cost, so I decided to cut back on buying them. And as I read more about the effect of alcohol on health, I realized that in fact drinking alcohol significantly increases health risks. The health risk from a single glass of wine or just one cocktail is insignificant, but as I discussed in an earlier post, the “compound-interest” effect of consistently (e.g., daily) doing something that, on any one day, makes but a small difference, will over time result in major gains (e.g., Nordic walking) or major losses (e.g., smoking cigarettes).

One Nordic walk will not do much to improve one’s fitness; daily Nordic walking for a month will make a noticeable improvement. One cigarette (or one drink) will not do much to damage one’s health; daily smoking (or drinking) will in time do considerable damage.

At any rate, once I started tracking my weekly grocery/miscellaneous budget, I stopped buying alcohol. That was at the beginning of this year, and since restaurants are no longer really a thing for me since Covid, I haven’t eaten out much. (When I had dnner in a restaurant, I usually had a drink before dinner and a glass of wine with the meal.)

So, without really meaning to, I did stop drinking, and once I had gone several months without a drink, I realized I didn’t much want a drink because I didn’t like the fuzziness of mind that it produces.

I doubtless will have a drink at Thanksgiving and at Christmas as part of a family celebration, but the occasional and rare drink doesn’t present a problem. It’s the day-in, day-out glass of wine or evening cocktail that presents the compound-interest outcome and, eventually, a serious problem — just as the day-in, day-out Nordic walk results in a significant improvement in fitness (an improvement that is not really noticeable when comparing one day to the following day).

At any rate, I found Cathy Alter’s article (gift link, no paywall) in the Washington Post quite interesting — and the comments also are interesting. The article begins:

It all started with a news release. As a journalist, I get multiple pitches a day: “Best and Worst Cities for Healthy Dogs,” “Why the Buzz about Glutathione?” and, sit down for this one, the opportunity to talk to the founder of Parting Stone, a start-up that turns the ashes of loved ones into smooth rocks and pebbles (40 to 60 of them).

But this email, from Dry Together, really got my attention. Despite sounding like a communal bathhouse, Dry Together is an online hamlet for midlife moms who are seeking ways to cope — with work, with family, with life — that don’t involve a tumbler of alcohol. Founders and former college roommates Holly Sprague and Megan Barnes Zesati, who are both nondrinkers, were inviting women ages 35 to 60 to participate in their second annual Dry January challenge, which would include, among other avenues of support, a weekly one-hour Zoom get-together facilitated by Sprague and Barnes Zesati. “A month without alcohol is sometimes just what moms need in order to

Also by Cathy Alter: When the ‘mean girl’ is a woman

Being the 56-year-old mother of a 10-year-old named Leo and having a nightly habit of a glass or two of boxed red, I met the criteria and, to some degree, the “wine mom” stereotype. I do own a pair of socks that read “My Favorite Salad is Wine.” I once considered bringing a colossal wine glass — a gag gift capable of holding an entire bottle — to my book club. And I texted friends the link to that “Saturday Night Live” sketch where Aidy Bryant unwraps her birthday gifts, a series of increasingly barbed wooden signs reading, for example, “I like you better when I’m effed up.” (Scary Mommy wrote a piece entitled “ ‘SNL’ Wine Skit Is Hilarious Because It’s True.”)

The fact that I was a stereotype gave me pause. Perhaps it was time for me to take a break and, as suggested by Dry Together’s promotional email, consider my relationship with alcohol. I also had recently lost 30 pounds gained in a covid stress haze and had been talking to my husband, Karl, about wanting to get healthier. January, after all, is a time for new beginnings.

I hadn’t gone cold turkey since I was pregnant. But in less time than it takes to say Beaujolais, I paid the $39 monthly fee and awaited instructions.

According to a recent study, while Americans drank 14 percent more compared with before the pandemic, women increased their alcohol intake by 41 percent. I saw this play out in real time, not only in my own uptick (think three glasses of wine on “Bachelor” nights), but also in the renewed habit of a dear friend, an empty nester and recovered alcoholic who had been sober for 40 years.

“Once covid hit, and I was alone in my apartment, I started drinking a glass or two of Prosecco every night — just to ease the loneliness and fear,” she told me. She assured me that she has since stopped, adding: “The precipice is deep and always close.”

Dry Together, which has 40 members, does not ask anyone to identify as an alcoholic. It doesn’t even ask its members to quit drinking — during the month or forever. Abstinence is a choice and, as I learn the first night, a few of the women present were already planning to go back to drinking come February, while others weren’t sure what they would do. It’s a delicate dance, this come-here-go-back dalliance with booze.

As we went around the Zoom room, the 15 women — . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2022 at 6:39 pm

What Prohibition was really about

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Mark Lawrence Schrad, professor of political science and director of Russian area studies at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and author of Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition (2021), writes in Aeon:

I have only the highest respect for the documentarian Ken Burns. He’s America’s storyteller: an unrivalled filmmaker whose creativity, passion and style shine through every history he portrays. My intent is not to dunk on anyone, but rather to start a conversation about how Americans as a society grapple with our own contentious history. Our identities are shaped by the collective experiences of our past, and how we see ourselves in relation to them. Together, we constantly reframe and revise the past to make it make sense to us in the present.

It just so happens that the best place to start that conversation is with Burns and Lynn Novick’s five-and-a-half-hour TV miniseries Prohibition (2011), which covers that most misunderstood chapter in US history, from the 1919 ratification of the 18th Amendment – prohibiting ‘the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors’ – until its repeal by the 21st Amendment in 1933. Prohibition deserves our attention because it reflects what we think we know about history, rather than the actual history itself. It is what the comedian Stephen Colbert called ‘truthiness’ in truth’s stead. The problems start within the first five seconds of the film. The filmmakers set the narrative tone for the entire series with an epigraph – stark white letters centred against a black background:

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky.

It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.

– Mark Twain

Direct. Eloquent. Authoritative. Damning. The framing is clear: temperance activists are the bad guys, ‘fanatics’ hellbent on changing other people’s habits who are dumb enough to ‘never learn’ the most obvious lessons staring them right in the face. The problem is that Twain never really said that. Instead, it is a mosaic of unconnected quotes, spanning different works of fiction and nonfiction over the years.

‘Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits’ comes from Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894): Twain’s serialised novel about race, slavery and small-town religion. ‘Fanatics will never learn that …’ was scrawled in Twain’s travel notebook while in London in November 1896 as he extolled the virtues of ‘temperate temperance’. And ‘it is the prohibition that makes anything precious’ came 11 months earlier while in India, as Twain ruminated about Adam, Eve and forbidden fruit during his visit to Allahabad.

When stitched together, they make for a compelling framework for what we feel to be true about temperance and prohibitionism. In the 11 years since the release of the TV series, nobody seems to have noticed this. Still, the epigraph sets the stage for what’s to come. Burns and Novick are gifted storytellers, and every story needs conflict – heroes versus villains, good guys versus bad guys. They’ve cast prohibitionists as the bad guys, as they so often are when prohibition is remembered: hard-headed fanatics intent on dictating ‘other people’s habits’ in a manner most undemocratic and un-American.

The key to really understanding temperance and prohibition history can be boiled down to one word: traffic. Generations of social reformers and activists – both in the United States and around the world – focused not on the alcohol in the bottle, nor on ‘other people’s habits’, but on what they called ‘the liquor traffic’: unscrupulous sellers who got people hopelessly addicted to liquor for their own profit. The difference between opposing liquor and the liquor traffic is subtle, but hugely important. Liquor is just the stuff in the bottle, but trafficking is about profit and predation; like human trafficking, diamond trafficking or the traffic in narcotics and opioids.

The ‘traffic’ gets mentioned only three times in the Prohibition series. In the first minutes, the 19th-century Presbyterian minister Lyman Beecher – who inspired the modern temperance movement with his series of sermons condemning alcohol in 1826 – declares that ‘like slavery, the traffic in ardent spirits must come to be regarded as sinful.’ After that, the traffic – the thing prohibition was all about – all but disappears from the Prohibition documentary.

Beecher’s Six Sermons on Intemperance (1827) are often credited with kick-starting temperance, though not because they were ‘eloquent’, as Prohibition suggests. Rhetorically, they were pretty unremarkable. Instead, they began an entire social movement by providing a blueprint for action: a boycott to undermine the profit-driven traffic. ‘Let the consumer do his duty,’ Beecher suggested to his temperance followers, ‘and the capitalist, finding his employment unproductive, will quickly discover other channels of useful enterprise.’ Rather than invoking Biblical tales of drunken sinners, Beecher’s Sermons repeatedly cite one verse in particular: Habakkuk 2:9-16: ‘Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunk also.’ From its very inception, then, temperance was a movement for economic justice and community betterment, rather than a gaggle of religious cranks as they’re more conventionally portrayed.

Prohibition articulates the conventional narrative, as the voiceover by Peter Coyote proclaims that America’s prohibition experience ‘would raise questions about the proper role of government’ and ‘who is – and who is not – a real American’. The framework is clear: the ‘drys’ are the bad guys, and the ‘wets’ are the true patriots, fully exercising their freedom to drink.

In building their case about the ubiquity of booze in early America, Burns and Novick then line up some of the greatest leaders in US history. Yet painting them as pro-liquor patriots requires a very selective reading of the historical record. ‘For most of the nation’s history, alcohol was at least as American as apple pie,’ Prohibition’s narrator explains:

At Valley Forge, George Washington did his best to make sure his men had half a cup of rum every day, and a half a cup of whiskey when the rum ran out … Thomas Jefferson collected fine French wines and dreamed of a day when American vineyards could match them … Young Abraham Lincoln sold whiskey by the barrel from his grocery store in New Salem, Illinois. ‘Intoxicating liquor,’ he later remembered, was ‘used by everybody, repudiated by nobody.’ A young Maryland slave named Frederick Douglass said whiskey made him feel ‘like a president’, self-assured ‘and independent’.

In reality, each of these men – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Douglass and scores more – could rightly be listed among America’s great prohibitionists. But how is that possible? Simple: by again recognising that prohibition was not about the stuff in the bottle, but against the predatory capitalism of the liquor traffic.

Did General George Washington ensure that his men had liquor at Valley Forge? Sure. But he also understood that the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania had – at the request of local Native American tribes – a strict prohibition against trafficking the ‘white man’s wicked water’ dating back to William Penn’s Great Law of 1682. That the early colonial Pennsylvania was arguably spared the bloody Indian Wars that plagued the other colonies is credited to the justice and fair play between colonisers and natives embodied in the Quaker prohibition.

When ragtag militias from across the colonies arrived in Valley Forge in 1777, they often supplemented their meagre provisions by trading their liquor with local tribes in defiance of the Quakers’ prohibition. The backlash was so great that General Washington ordered his own prohibition against liquor trafficking, commanding:

All Persons whatever are forbid selling liquor to the Indians. If any Sutler or soldier shall presume to act contrary to this Prohibition, the former will be dismissed from Camp, and the latter receive severe Corporal Punishment.

Washington also required prohibition to maintain discipline in the ranks. Eleven soldiers in each brigade were charged ‘to seize the liquors they may find in the unlicensed tippling-houses’ and ‘notify the inhabitants or persons living in the vicinity of camp that an unconditional seizure will be made of all liquors they shall presume to sell in the future.’ During the Continental Army’s military campaigns, any . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2022 at 2:00 pm

Is It Better to Drink Little Alcohol Than None? Do Any Benefits Outweigh Risks?

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Full disclosure: I will, on occasion — if it is an occasion, such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or the like — have a drink, but I drink rarely. That was not always true, but I’ve drifted into not drinking and I now enjoy the feeling that results. 

The following video is particularly interesting in the light of a report in the NY Times (gift link, no paywall), “Drink Up, Japan Tells Young People. I’ll Pass, Many Reply.” The blurb seems outright astonishing to me: 

The country’s tax agency, hoping to reverse the alcohol industry’s pandemic doldrums, is holding a contest to encourage more drinking among the young.

I wonder whether cigarette sales are down, and if they would then encourage young people to take up smoking.

Written by Leisureguy

19 August 2022 at 11:04 am

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most effective path to alcohol abstinence

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For a long time there were no studies on the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous because the organization’s insistence on anonymity meant that studies involving individual members were impossible. Apparently that changed, as Mandy Ericson reports for Stanford Medicine. The report begins:

Alcoholics Anonymous, the worldwide fellowship of sobriety seekers, is the most effective path to abstinence, according to a comprehensive analysis conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators.

After evaluating 35 studies — involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants — Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that AA was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving abstinence. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs.

AA works because it’s based on social interaction, Humphreys said, noting that members give one another emotional support as well as practical tips to refrain from drinking. “If you want to change your behavior, find some other people who are trying to make the same change,” he said.

The review was published March 11 in Cochrane Database of Systematic ReviewCochrane requires its authors to undertake a rigorous process that ensures the studies represented in its summaries are high-quality and the review of evidence is unbiased.

Cochrane Reviews are the gold standard in medicine for integration of all the research about a particular intervention,” Humphreys said. “We wanted to do this work through Cochrane because of its rigor and reputation.”

The other co-authors are a researcher from Harvard Medical School and a researcher from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Though well-known, AA faces skepticism

Although AA is well-known and used by millions around the world, mental health professionals are sometimes skeptical of its effectiveness, Humphreys said. Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people on the wagon.

Early in his career, Humphreys said, he dismissed AA, thinking, “How dare these people do things that I have all these degrees to do?”

Humphreys noted that counseling can be designed to facilitate engagement with AA — what he described as “an extended, warm handoff into the fellowship.” For the review article, Humphreys and his colleagues evaluated both AA and 12-step facilitation counseling.

AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one’s inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model — open to all and free — has spread around the globe, and AA now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups.

Though the fellowship has been around for more than eight decades, researchers have only recently developed good methods to measure its effectiveness, Humphreys said.

For the Cochrane review, the researchers found 57 studies on AA; of those, 35 passed their rigorous criteria for quality. The studies used various methods to measure AA’s effectiveness on alcohol use disorder: the length of time participants abstained from alcohol; the amount they reduced their drinking, if they continued drinking; the consequences of their drinking; and health care costs.

AA shines

Most of the studies that measured abstinence found AA was significantly better than other interventions or no intervention. In one study, it was found to be 60% more effective. None of the studies found AA to be less effective.

In the studies that measured outcomes other than complete abstinence, AA was found to be . . .

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When I was young, an older person who had struggled with alcohol told me, “Alcohol is tricky,” and went on to talk about how easily people deceive themselves about their drinking. I listened because one of my grandfathers had been an alcoholic. He died before my first birthday, so I never knew him, but having it in the family, so to speak, has always made me wary. And I think alcohol is sneaky.

The information about AA is interesting. Glad they finally could do studies. Knowledge is ever so much better than ignorance, even well-intentioned ignorance.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 2:31 pm

Ancient Beer Is Craft’s New Frontier

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Sara Toth Stub, a journalist living in Jerusalem, writes in Sapiens of the modern brewing of ancient beers — and the article has a local angle, with one of the beers brewed just up-island in Nanaimo:

One morning in May 2019, a crowd of journalists gathered around the Biratenu bar in Jerusalem, snapping photos as a bartender poured golden, frothy beer into plastic cups. The story of the beer was both new and very old: The yeast that fermented it came from a 3,000-year-old jug found at a nearby archaeological site.

It’s actually a pretty good beer,” says Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the director of excavations at the site of Tell es-Safi. Scholarly, but determined that archaeology should be fun, Maeir, upon first tasting the beer, joked that as long as no one died from it, it would be a successful project.

Maeir and his colleagues found the jug at the Tell es-Safi site. Three millennia ago, the Philistines, a Mediterranean seafaring people, lived in the area and created and used such ceramic ware.

Archaeologists had assumed the jug was for beer because it had a strainer component, consisting of small holes between the container’s main compartment and its spout. This feature could have filtered out bits of grain left over from the fermentation process.

To investigate further, Maeir joined a team of biologists, other archaeologists, and a brewer who isolated yeasts from several ancient yeast colonies discovered within jugs from Tell es-Safi and three other sites in Israel that ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians had inhabited or controlled. They then used these microorganisms to make different types of beer and mead, a few of which they unveiled during a press conference at the Biratenu bar. The scientific team concurred that the one made with the yeast colony from the Philistine jug was the best tasting. In fact, that species of yeast is still used in commercial beer today.

These beverages were the first brews crafted from an ancient yeast colony. This feat demonstrated that the microorganisms driving fermentation had managed to reproduce and survive for thousands of years. It also settled any debate over the vessels’ purpose—confirming that the jugs with strainers once stored beer for the Philistines some three millennia ago.

But this re-creation is just one among many recent archaeological projects dedicated to the study of beer. Boosted heavily by the current popularity of craft beer in many countries, the archaeology of beer is now generating surprising insights into the past all over the world.

These investigations have led to many creative collaborations. Half a world away from Maeir and his team in Israel, archaeologist Marie Hopwood, of Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, Canada, collaborates with Love Shack Libations brewery to re-create ancient beers based on archaeological evidence. “Beer is telling us about everything from gender roles to agriculture,” Hopwood says.

Indeed, multiple breweries are now making beer inspired by ancient beverages, often in cooperation with archaeologists who want to learn more about how people used various ingredients centuries ago. In the process, these efforts may illuminate big questions about shifts in human societies and cultures.

Communities have been drinking beer for thousands of years for nutritional, social, medicinal, and religious reasons. During many periods of history, beer, like other alcoholic beverages, offered a safe

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2022 at 12:31 pm

Georgia Gold and my post-walk smoothie

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George Gold Combo Pack

I blogged earlier about my walk today, after which I felt pleasantly energized, and so I walked to the supermarket to pick up some things for a smoothie. 

Georgia Gold

One ingredient I want to mention in particular: Georgia Gold Turmeric Puree. The Eldest gave me a packet of Georgia Gold Turmeric Powder, and after I tried it and read more about it, I ordered both the powder and the puree. I mix a teaspoon of the powder in my breakfast bowl (grain, greens, beans, other vegetables) along with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and about a teaspoon of ground black pepper. (Pepperine helps absorption of curcumin from the turmeric.) Turmeric, as the Cleveland Clinic notes, has quite a few health benefits.

The smoothie

The smoothies I make vary depending on what’s on hand. My smoothie tonight began with putting the following into the beaker that came with my immersion blender:

• 2-3 Tbsp redskin peanuts (unsalted)
• 2 Tbsp cooked intact whole grain khorasan wheat (from the fridge)
• 2 Tbsp cooked brown lentils (from the fridge)
• 1 tsp Georgia Gold turmeric puree
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp Bragg’s nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp alma (indian gooseberry powder)
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 2 tsp dried mint
• 2 tsp ground black pepper (for turmeric)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large jalapeño cut into segments
• 1 Meyer lemon, ends cut off and discarded, cut into pieces (with peel)
• 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks
• 1 cup frozen mixed berries
• 2 Medjool dates, pitted
• room-temperature tea — enough to not quite cover the above

The tea I used I had steeped this morning (in a 25-oz teapot) using:

• 1 Tbsp hibiscus tea,
• 1 Brassica tea bag,
• 1 Tbsp Murchie’s Turmeric Elixir, and
• about 2 tsp ground black pepper

The smoothie required only some of the tea; the remainder I’m drinking now as iced tea.

I used my immersion blender, and the resulting smoothie was just the right consistency: thick but drinkable — and extremely tasty.

Those who have read How Not to Die, by Michael Greger MD, will understand the reasons for the various ingredients. 

 

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 6:34 pm

Brassica Tea and me

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The Eldest recently gave me (and others) some Brassica Tea. From the link:

Brassica® Tea with TrueBroc® is a delicious, gourmet tea with 15 milligrams of TrueBroc® from broccoli added to each tea bag. The natural antioxidant found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts has been shown to last longer than Vitamin C, E, and A in removing free radicals from our bodies.  TrueBroc® activates the body’s own natural antioxidant defense system, including Phase 2 detoxification enzymes.

According to abundant evidence, consuming the phytochemical glucoraphanin – a key active ingredient found in broccoli – provides many benefits associated with strengthening and maintaining a healthy immune function. Glucoraphanin is the active ingredient in TrueBroc®. When TrueBroc® is ingested, myrosinase in our gut bacteria hydrolyzes it to Sulphoraphane.

An abundance of evidence shows the major role of SF in promoting and maintaining immune health. Wide-spectrum antioxidant support for immune health. Supported Claims:

• Delivers powerful antioxidant protection,
• Delivers immune system-boosting antioxidants,
• Protects DNA from damage ,
• Helps fight against free radicals,
• Provides long-lasting antioxidant protection (as long as 72 hours or 3 days),
• Provides persistent antioxidant activity, and
• Protects all aerobic cells in the body (whole body protection)

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Brassica® Teas with TrueBroc® is donated to The Brassica Foundation for biomedical research on vegetables. Brassica® Teas are the only teas on the market with TrueBroc® and are patented and licensed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They are available in 7 varieties, 3 of which are decaffeinated.  Our Tea Bags are made from Oxygen Whitened Paper, and Do Not Contain any Plastic or Microplastics.  Kosher Certified by Star K.

I include Brassica Tea (along with hibiscus tea and Murchie’s Turmeric Elixir) when I make my pot of tea that I will drink as iced tea during the afternoon and evening.

I’ve tried only the Black Tea version, and it tastes just like regular black tea.

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 10:26 am

The Business of Beer Back When

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Anton Howes writes in The Age of Invention:

1620 was a dramatic year for England. As I mentioned last time, the rashness of the king’s son-in-law threatened to pull the country into a major European conflict. Religion, honour, and family — James I’s grandchildren were set to lose their inheritance, the Palatinate of the Rhine — dictated that the king should break his decades-long habit of peace. But war was hugely expensive, and the king already heavily in debt. He was forced to summon Parliament so that it could vote him the taxes he would need to wage war.

Parliament was already a major source of annoyance to James I. After 1610, he had done everything in his power to rule without its aid, at one point even comparing its lower house, the Commons, to a “House of Hell”. Yet the MPs of 1610 would come to seem almost angelic compared to those who assembled in Westminster in 1621. The Commons of 1621 would get completely out of control — all thanks to beer.

Beer (and ale, made without hops) was the most important source of calories after bread, and the first choice for hydration — cheaper than wine and safer than water, with coffee, tea, and spirits only becoming popular much later. It financially supported inns, the crucial infrastructure for travellers. Alehouses also provided a major focal point for socialising. If you controlled beer, you controlled society — second only, perhaps, to religion.

If beer was too strong, it could lead to drunkenness and unrest. If inns went unpoliced, they could become havens for criminals, heretics, sinners, and rebels. If brewers used too much malt, made from grains like barley, they could drive up the price of bread and cause famine. If beer-brewers demanded too many hops — used as both a preservative and a source of bitterness compared to sweeter ale — they could also put pressure on otherwise scarce land for food. Regulating the drinks industry correctly was thus a major priority for those in charge.1

The making and selling of ale had originally been dominated by brewsters — that is, by female brewers.2 (Compare with the more persistent word spinster, to mean a woman who spins thread. Spinning remained women’s work long after the brewsters had been driven out of their industry. Only later, because of the independence that earning one’s own money brought, did spinster come gain the more general meaning of a woman who was unmarried.) Meanwhile, hopped beer had been the preserve of immigrants. As one popular ditty put it, “Hops, Reformation, baize, and beer, Came into England all in one year”, though it had actually happened more gradually over the course of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.3

Yet with population growth, and the dramatic expansion of London in particular, the market drinks market became larger and more concentrated, while hop-less ale gave ground to the rise of beer. Male, English ale-brewers seized an opportunity to suppress their competition. London’s Ale Brewers’ Guild, for example, abandoned the use of hucksters — predominantly female ale-sellers — and then in 1556 absorbed the Beer-Brewers’ Guild, which had largely consisted of immigrants. The newly-amalgamated Worshipful Company of Brewers then barred immigrants from becoming members, while the English ale-brewers switched to producing beer. In 1574, they even successfully lobbied for the city to bar foreigners from being members of any guilds at all, including even second-generation immigrants born in England.4 The bigger the business, the more ruthless it became.

And the more ripe it appeared to policymakers, as a potential source of revenue. From the 1550s, local authorities regularly raised money from the beer industry via the Justices of the Peace, who sold licenses for alehouses, shutting down or imposing fines on those they deemed too disruptive to the social order — or perhaps just those who fell afoul of corrupt local powerbrokers. Alehouse licencing became an important plank of local government.

Yet the drinks industry’s growth also drew the attention of the central state, which at the time meant the Crown. In 1570, Elizabeth I had granted the courtier Sir Edward Horsey a controversial patent to license taverns, which specialised in selling wine. The patent had then gone to her favourite Sir Walter Raleigh in 1583. The Crown had also taken a census of almost 20,000 alehouses in the late 1570s, in an unsuccessful bid to raise cash for the big English infrastructure project of the age, the rebuilding of Dover harbour. But under James I the Crown would significantly step-up its efforts to directly control alehouses, taverns, and inns (in rough modern terms: pubs, wine bars, and hotels).

In 1604, MPs would try to get the licensing of taverns brought under local control, much as was the case with alehouses. They would try again in 1606, 1610, and 1614. But their bills never made it past the House of Lords, and the patent soon went to Charles Howard, the earl of Nottingham, and then to his son. Tavern licensing could be especially lucrative. A syndicate of courtier-bureaucrats paid the Howards a gigantic sum of £3,000 a year to administrate the patent for them, keeping any additional revenue from licence fees for itself. But enforcement was difficult, with many wine retailers simply refusing to pay.5

With taverns and wine, licensing had always been in the hands of the Crown. But beer had long been a local matter, and inns not licensed at all. The Crown at first began to . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2022 at 5:00 pm

Like coffee? Want to know more about brewing coffee? Have I got a YouTube channel for you.

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Take a look at this channel. Here’s a sample:

Written by Leisureguy

10 January 2022 at 6:54 pm

Study holds warning on pandemic drinking

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Tracy Hampton writes in the Harvard Gazette:

Scientists estimate that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic will result in 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure, and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.

In the short term, alcohol consumption changes due to COVID-19 are expected to cause 100 additional deaths and 2,800 additional cases of liver failure by 2023.

The new research, published in Hepatology, was led by investigators at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Using data from a national survey of U.S. adults on their drinking habits that found that excessive drinking (such as binge drinking) increased by 21 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, investigators simulated the drinking trajectories and liver disease trends in all U.S. adults. The researchers noted that a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than one year could result in 19 to 35 percent additional mortality.

“Our findings highlight the need for . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2022 at 8:45 pm

The reason that drinking “moderately” seems to improve health outcomes

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Michael Greger has a very interesting video that explains why “moderate” drinkers seem to have better health outcomes than non-drinkers. I put “moderate” in quotation marks because the definition varies widely. Some say 1-2 drinks a day, some say 3-4 drinks a week, and some would say a couple of drinks a month — and a “drink” is also poorly defined.

I recall a joke on the Dean Martin Show some years back. Dean Martin was telling the audience he drinks only moderately, when he was interrupted by a stagehand coming up to him and saying, “The delivery guy’s here with another case of Moderately. Where do you want it?” Martin replies, “Just put it in my dressing room,” and then goes back to talking to the audience. For most people, “moderately” means “the amount that I drink.”

So far as we can tell, alcohol harms health. Taking one drink one time does only a tiny amount of harm, but regular drinking, even in small amounts, is more harmful than not drinking. Of course, many are willing to accept the harm because they enjoy the effects — but that does not make alcohol harmless. (I myself will from time to time have a drink, but I do recognize that it is harmful to health.)

But what about those findings that moderate drinkers do better than abstainers? It turns out, as Greger explains in this brief video, that the finding is due to including in the “abstainer” group two different sorts of people: both those who never have used alcohol and those who formerly drank but have quit. If the “abstainer” group consists solely of those who have never used alcohol, the “benefits” illusion vanishes.

If you watch the video on Greger’s own site, NutritionFacts.org, you’ll find a tab beneath the video that displays the transcript of the video. The transcript does not,however, include any charts and graphs, so it by no means replaces the video presentation. The site also includes links to related videos, and for this video the links are:

Hold on. HDL isn’t “good” cholesterol anymore? Check out my ashtray and gym shoes analogies in reference to causal risk factors in my Coconut Oil and the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol video.

How much cancer does alcohol really cause, though? You might have missed the first video of this series: Can Alcohol Cause Cancer?.

What about resveratrol and the French paradox? See The Best Source of Resveratrol and What Explains the French Paradox?.

For the fourth and final video in this series, see Do Any Benefits of Alcohol Outweigh the Risks?.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

I still plan to have a glass of wine at Christmas, but I do recognize that this includes some harm — tolerable harm, in this case. But a drink every single day? I would say that is not such a good idea.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2021 at 9:15 am

Alcohol is a bigger health risk than many realize

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The image above is from the Consumer Reports article “Bigger Wineglasses May Lead to More Drinking: How not to be fooled into downing too much,” by Julia Calderone. The reason 5 ounces was chosen is because that is one drink (or, as the CDC puts it, “one unit of alcohol”).  I was led to the article and the image when I was reading the CR article “How Much Alcohol Is Okay? The science is shifting. Here’s what you need to know, by Kevin Loria. He writes:

No doctor would advise drinking alcohol strictly for its health benefits. But moderate consumption—defined as no more than one drink per day for women and two for men—has been considered low-risk, possibly even good for you. Yet recently, the expert advisory committee for the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines took a more cautionary position, recommending that the daily limit be lowered to one drink for men.

“We realized that the risks of alcohol have probably been underestimated,” says a committee member, Timothy Naimi, MD, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. “If you drink alcohol, less is better for your health than drinking more.”

That message is key now that alcohol consumption has risen during the pandemic. In a recent CR nationally representative survey of more than 2,500 adults in the U.S., 23 percent said they drank more after COVID-19 hit than before. But even prior to that, heavy drinking was on the rise among older adults. A 2019 study estimated that 11 percent of people 65 years and older were binge drinkers (at least four drinks at one sitting for women, five for men).

Loneliness, isolation, and health concerns can increase stress, leading some to drink more now, says Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Although the final dietary guidelines don’t include the committee’s recommendation, experts are still divided on the role of alcohol in a healthy diet. Here’s what we know about alcohol and health, and how to cut back if you’d like to.

Potential Benefits, Real Risks

The question of whether drinking alcohol is beneficial is a controversial and complicated one, according to Naimi.

Several studies have linked having a drink or two per day—one is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor—to certain health benefits. For instance, a 2020 study in the journal JAMA Network Open found that middle-aged and older adults who consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol had better cognitive function than those who never drank. Another study, which involved 333,247 people and was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that when compared with lifetime abstainers, light and moderate drinkers were 26 and 29 percent less likely to die from heart disease, respectively.

But while some . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

For older adults, “the risks and unpleasant effects of alcohol get more pronounced,” Naimi says. Even modest drinking may increase feelings of fogginess or sleepiness, or increase the risk of falling. Plus, it can interfere with drugs for many conditions, such as sleep problems, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

I have recently noticed that a single drink of spirits no longer works well for me. I don’t sleep well, and the next day I have a hangover. So I now must abjure spirits altogether. I do think that, with a meal (as on a festive occasion), I can drink 5 ounces of wine — note (from the image above): not “a glass of wine.” Glasses vary too much.

The first article I linked to provided some useful strategies:

Measure. Because eyeballing a standard drink (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of distilled spirits) can be challenging, use a measuring cup or shot glass to get it right.

Track your drinks. Keeping tabs on how many drinks you have per day or week can help you stay within your limit.

Water it down. Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or club soda, or sip wine spritzers, with half club soda and half wine.

Talk to your doctor. If you’re at all concerned about your drinking, bring up the issue at your next checkup.

Written by Leisureguy

14 December 2021 at 3:31 pm

New ferment: Red-cabbage sauerkraut with red onion

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Red-Cabbage Kraut

Dismal day, staying indoors, restless — I know! I can start a new ferment. I decided to do sauerkraut, very traditional, but I have red cabbage rather than green, and since I have red onion, the recipe writes itself.

I went with just a single 1-liter jar. I used my Oxo hand-held mandoline on the thinnest setting to slice 1/2 large red onion and about 1/3 head of red cabbage, and I have to say it did an excellent job — better than I expected. I don’t use their (awkward) little hand protector but instead wear a cut-proof glove. (It is, in fact, important to protect one’s hand when using a mandoline. ⇐ voice of experience)

After shredding cabbage and onion sufficient to fill the jar, I added about 1.5 tablespoons Celtic grey coarse sea salt and massaged it throughly into cabbage and onion for about 6-8 minutes. I then packed the jar (using a canning funnel, a big help) and poured in about 1/2 packet of starter culture that hand been hydrated. I was going to try it with no culture, just to see what happens, but I’ll do that another time.

Gonzalez Byass – Oloroso Nutty Solera

So now I’ll wait until Dec 2 for the transformation of cabbage into kraut. 

In the meantime, I got a wonderful-looking bunch of red chard yesterday and just cooked that in a little olive oil with the other half of the red onion, a medium beet I had on hand, a diced onion, some minced fresh local ginger root, a splash of vinegar, and a splash of sherry (also a small glass of it, shown at left). 

Today was to be knife-sharpening day, but my resolution is weak, so as a compromise, I’m going to get out the sharpener and get it set up. That may provide enough momentum to do it, but if not, it will make tomorrow’s start easy while reducing the task today. Dividing a task into simple subtasks and tackling those has always been a good strategy for me. 

Update: Chard was excellent! Some left for tomorrow.


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Dec 3, 2021. Yesterday, I took the red cabbage kraut from the jar and put into a storage container and put that into the refrigerator, so the fermentation was exactly two weeks. I had a bowl this morning, and it was excellent. This one will definitely be repeated, and the next batch will be two one-liter jars.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2021 at 2:03 pm

Marketplace tested Perrier, LaCroix, Bubly sparkling waters to see which is most acidic

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Your carbonated beverage might be eating away your teeth. Charlsie Agro and Jenny Cowley report for CBC News:

When it comes to your teeth, sparkling water isn’t always as safe as you might think it is.

Some flavours could be hazardous to your oral health.

To see which products pose the greatest potential risk to your smile, Marketplace tested a number of Perrier, Bubly and LaCroix sparkling water flavours available on Canadian store shelves to find out which are most acidic.

Everything we eat and drink has a pH level; the lower the pH level, the higher the acidity. Food and drinks that are acidic can pose a risk to your teeth because they can weaken a tooth’s enamel (the outer, protective layer of your teeth).

The Canadian Dental Association says people should be mindful of drinking some carbonated water drinks because “the higher acid levels significantly increase the risk of damage to tooth enamel and can increase the risk of erosion of the enamel and tooth decay.”

Unlike regular water from your tap, which has a neutral pH of between six and seven, some flavoured and sparkling waters can be acidic.

“When we have a pH below five, this can be a danger,” said Dr. Walter Siqueira of the University of Saskatchewan’s school of dentistry.

Previous studies have found some flavoured carbonated waters to have pH levels as low as three, just slightly better than Coca-Cola, which has been found to have a pH of just over two.

Using a pH meter and pH test strips, Siqueira and his team at the University of Saskatchewan measured the acidity of the selected drinks. All were found to have a pH of below 5.5, and some were considerably more acidic than others.  . .

Continue reading to see a table of relative pH levels of various beverages.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2021 at 6:14 pm

My Canadian take on an Old Fashioned

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Making an Old Fashioned normally begins by filling an Old Fashioned glass with cracked ice (not ice cubes, not crushed ice — cracked ice). I have a canvas bag and a wooded mallet so that I can crack ice cubes (or, for a Mint Julep, beat them to a powder). Then one adds rye whisky, a teaspoon of simple syrup (the muddling of a sugar cube with the bitters is mere showmanship), and a dash of bitters — typically Angostura (because of its pervasive marketing, back in the day using cartoons by Virgil Partch (aka “Vip” from his signature). However, I often use Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters or Fee Brothers Peach Bitters (particularly if I’m having a Bourbon Old Fashioned). And over the last decade or so, many new independent bitters-makers have established themselves.

Tonight, In the aforementioned glass of cracked ice, I added 1 teaspoon amber maple syrup (in lieu of the simple syrup), a good dash of BC-made Moondog bitters (from Bittered Sling), and a couple of ounces of Forty Creek Barrel Select Canadian Whisky, which, while not 100% rye, does contain rye and is certainly Canadian. (BTW, Forty Creek also makes Nanaimo Bar Cream, something I don’t buy because I fear I would just use a straw and drain the bottle.)

From the link for the whisky:

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Whisky is crafted from rye, corn, and barley grains. Once the grains arrive at the distillery, Hall distills each grain separately through traditional copper pot stills. Then, the whisky crafted from each of the three grains is matured individually in American oak barrels. [This is the difference between Canadian blended whisky — separate aging of the spirits from each grain — and American blended whiskey — grains mixed and spirits distilled from the mixed mash. – LG] This process brings out the fruitiness and spiciness of the rye, the nuttiness of the barley and the heartiness of the corn. After the three whiskies have matured, Hall marries them together in casks that were previously used to mature sherry. During this secondary maturation process, the ex-sherry barrels contribute notes of dark fruits, toffee and berries to the whisky.

As a result, Forty Creek Barrel Select has an aroma of stone fruits, vanilla, caramel and roasted walnuts. Notes of toffee, white pepper and malt spices dominate the palate, and lead to a balanced and smooth finish.

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Whisky earned the Gold Medal at the Beverage Testing Institute Competition and the Wizards of Whisky Awards in 2014. In addition, it earned the Silver Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.

Despite tonight’s Forty Creek Canadian whisky, I often use Canadian Club 100% Rye or Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (90% rye).

I really like the classic trio of cocktails: Martini (made of gin, served up); Old Fashioned (made of rye whisky, served over cracked ice); and Manhattan (made of rye whisky, served up). I also like a Bourbon Old Fashioned and a Bourbon Manhattan, and even a Scotch Manhattan — aka a Rob Roy. Variants are always interesting — cf. the Scotch Martini, aka the Berlin Station Chief — but, as Jack Aubrey astutely observed, “The old ways are best.”[1]

The Scotch Martini retains gin as the base spirit, adding a hint of scotch just as a flavoring. Another variant I like sometimes is using Amontillado or Fino sherry in place of dry vermouth.


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[1] I misremembered the passage but not the sentiment. Here is the direct quotation from Master and Commander. The Ordnance officer has released two twelve-pounders to Jack Aubrey, but those the master-parker of the ordnance wharf showed him the guns immediately, but then somehow could not move further — others ahead in line, short-handed, and so on. Aubrey paces to and fro, and then he realizes.

‘By God,’ he cried, clapping his hand to his forehead. ‘What a damned fool. I clean forgot the oil.’ Turning short in his stride, he hurried over to the shed…. ‘Master-parker,’ called Jack, ‘come and look at my twelve-pounders. I have been in such a hurry all morning that I do believe I forgot to anoint them.’ With these words he privately laid down a gold piece upon each touch-hole, and a slow look of approval appeared on the parker’s face. ‘If my gunner had not been sick, he would have reminded me,’ added Jack. ‘Well, thankee, sir. It always has been the custom, and I don’t like to see the old ways die, I do confess,’ said the parker, with some still-unevaporated surliness: but then brightening progressively he said, ‘A hurry, you mentioned, Captain? I’ll see what we can do.’

And five minutes latter the first of the twelve-pounders was being lowered onto the ship.

“I don’t like to see the old ways die.” That was what I imperfectly remembered.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2021 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

Why the World Overlooked Canadian Whisky

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Dan Nosowitz had an interesting article in Atlas Obscura a little over a year ago that just came to my attention. It begins:

CANADIAN WHISKY IS ALL CONTRADICTIONS. It’s unknown and yet somehow incredibly popular. It’s critically dismissed but wins global whiskey awards. It’s blended, which whiskey drinkers have been indoctrinated to think means it’s inferior, yet blending is what gives it its quality. Canadian whisky is among the most fascinating liquors on the market. And yet, chances are, if you’ve bought some, you did it by accident.

“What shocked me the first time I wrote a piece about it was how big Canadian whisky was,” says Lew Bryson, a drinks writer and author of several books on whiskey. “It was like an iceberg. So much of it was below the surface, you never noticed it.”

Let’s start with the spelling. Canadians spell it “whisky,” Americans spell it “whiskey.” The former comes from Scotland, the latter from Ireland. Canada has a much larger Scottish influence than the United States does. In distillery-dotted Prince Edward Island, for example, more than 40 percent of the population claims Scottish ancestry, and Nova Scotia literally translates to “New Scotland.” Many of the country’s founding fathers—James Douglas, John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie—were either Scottish or Scottish-Canadian. In any case, the production of Canadian whisky is more similar to Scotch whisky than it is to Irish or American whiskey, so the spelling makes sense on several levels.

While American whiskey, especially bourbon, has lately carried the connotations of rural, traditional, authentic, and endemic, Canadian whisky largely doesn’t feel like any of those things. That’s probably due to the way the Canadian whisky industry began. The earliest Canadian distillers, which were founded much later than American distillers, in the 1830s or so, weren’t actually distillers, at least not primarily. Instead, they were millers. As a way to use up waste wheat, they fermented and distilled it into liquor. Canadian whisky didn’t start out with small craft distillers; it started with big companies. “It didn’t take long before spirits, whisky, became the major profit centers for these businesses,” says Davin de Kergommeaux, whose book Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert introduced the world of whiskey criticism to the wonders of the Great White North.

For the first century of Canadian whisky, there wasn’t really a Canadian style. Individual distillers went their own way; some were English, and a surprising number, including important ones such as J.P. Wiser’s and Hiram Walker, were American. When the American Civil War disrupted the entire American whiskey industry, Americans imported whisky from Canada, and Canadian distillers even brewed “American style” bourbons specifically for export. Soon Canadian whisky was the best-selling whisky in North America.

But in a continuation of the long tradition of Canada being buffeted about by whatever dumb stuff the United States was doing, the Canadian whisky industry was battered by American Prohibition. Many distillers sold for pennies on the dollar, and Canadian Club sold for less than the value of the whisky in their warehouses. A couple companies did sprout up or thrive by figuring out how to supply the bootlegging market—the Bronfman family of Montreal did it so well that they were able to buy Seagram’s, a longtime Canadian distillery, a few years before Prohibition ended.

While many American distillers and brewers returned to their pre-Prohibition recipes, Canadian whisky evolved, turning into something new. Although de Kergommeaux says there’s no documentation, and no specific date of its creation, the Bronfmans are generally credited with creating the technique of making what we now know as Canadian whisky. By the 1940s, there was a definable style, one extremely unlike American whiskey. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

To make American straight whiskeys, different grains are mashed together, then fermented, distilled, and aged. Canadian whisky is totally different. Instead of mashing all the grains together, Canadian distillers mash, ferment, distill, and age each type of grain separately. Then those finished whiskies are combined. That gives the blender an incredible amount of freedom—each individual grain can get individual attention.

Maybe you want to use toasted new barrels for your rye, heavily charred barrels for your corn, and very old barrels for your barley. Maybe you want to use a rye whiskey that’s been aged for a decade and a barley whiskey that’s brand new. It’s even permitted to add in up to 9.09 percent of finished other liquor. So if you want some sherry tones in your Canadian whisky, well, just add a percent or so of actual sherry. “There’s a lot more paint on the palette,” says de Kergommeaux.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts the vigorous activity of small independent craft distilleries in BC and the really excellent and unusual spirits they produce — not just whiskies, but gins, eau de vies, akvavits, rums, single-malt Scotch-like whiskies, vodkas, and liqueurs. It’s an amazing array of offerings and most of it is of exceptional quality and interest. They are distilled from corn, barley, honey (mead), and even fruit — like Kiss.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks, History

On Milk

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Alicia Kennedy has a post on “vegan milk”. The URL is odd — as though it doesn’t link to a specific post, but just to her most recent post, so the article may later be hard to find. It begins:

The way people talk about non-dairy milk, you’d think it was a fad dreamed up by vegans in the ’90s and gradually force-fed to the populace via overeager baristas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Swedes of Oatly. Unfortunately for people who’d like to simplify all narratives around not using animal products, almond milk dates back to at least 1226, when it was mentioned in A Baghdad Cookery Book. Soy milk came onto the documented scene in 1365, and almond milk had made it to Europe by 1390, when it became popular during Lent. The first written mention in English of soy milk was in 1704. Thank you to the SoyInfo Center!

Contrast this with a “Shouts & Murmurs” in the August 23, 2021 issue of The New Yorker begins its “A History of Alt-Milk” in 218 B.C. with, “Elephant steps on errant walnut” and skips over all actual developments in the name of “humor,” because there is nothing funnier than not drinking the breast milk of another species.

Historically, human diets have been much more diverse and localized than in the West of the past 100 years or so, and the idea of cow’s milk dairy as the most neutral and “normal” is a European invention. “Most people who retain the ability to digest milk can trace their ancestry to Europe,” as Scientific American reported back in 2013. According to this 2002 (yes, old) study, that’s only 35 percent of the global population. That’s the thing we’ve been force-fed: a non-diverse diet based on European taste and genetics, with animal exploitation a given at an industrial level of production. In the U.S., dairy producers received subsidies totaling $3.5 billion in 2020, whereas oat producers received $44 million. The power is not with dairy alternatives, despite whatever guilt the media folk of New York City have observed among their peers.

It doesn’t get everyone on Twitter’s panties in a knot to realize this, though, and panties in a knot are what drive traffic. Better to talk about how “sensible” one’s experience of summer 2021 in Europe was and announce that hot girls are bringing back whole milk, as this Grub Street piece published last week states based on a couple of tweets. Apparently non-dairy milk’s popularity and creep toward culinary normalcy has been manufactured by the wellness industry, and people haven’t felt like they’re “allowed” to have cow’s milk. This idea, in the piece, comes from someone who works in artisanal cheese. It reminds me that the IDFA (International Dairy Foods’ Association) lobbied for more milk in schools against the advice of nutritionists because they see sales declining.

“In 2018 alone, the IDFA spent around $300,000 a quarter lobbying on issues including school lunches,” wrote The Guardian in 2019. “‘Any government program is going to be a huge moneymaker for them and that includes schools,’ said Levin. ‘That’s where a lot of excess surplus product is dumped; it’s dumped in schools, it’s dumped in prisons.’” That’s hot, just like having that European gene for lactose tolerance!

And as Austin, Texas–based barista Katie Hatch tells me, whole milk probably isn’t making a comeback. She has anecdotal experience, yes, but that’s also what the beloved free market tells us: Oat milk sales grew 170 percent in 2020. It seems to be the only consumer choice people are making on a big enough scale to have an actual impact on industrial animal agriculture.

One hypothesis Hatch has is that people realized they don’t want to drink ounces upon ounces of cow’s milk in the morning—that it’s indeed one easy dietary and ethical change they can make in their lives to feel good about.

“I’ve worked in coffee the past seven years and everyone was into the local, low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized milk in 2014–18,” Hatch tells me. “Since oat milk made its U.S. debut three to four years ago, it has completely changed the game. Cafés are making their in-house chocolate ganache oat-based, featuring seasonal menu items that complement the oat flavor, and making sure they have a vegan or dairy-free version of just about every menu item. I clear a fridge full of oat before I go through four gallons of whole milk these days! Hot girls drink iced oat lattes and tip at least $2. Rich people drink iced Fronk’s lattes (locally made almond, cashew, date blend that has a five-day shelf life and is a $2 upcharge), but mostly because rich people can’t deny the most expensive version of something and Austin can’t deny a local brand.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like milk, so I have a pretty fierce anti-milk bias. I use full-fat coconut milk in most recipes, sweet and savory, and also have Costco packs of almond or macadamia around to put in cakes, but I take my coffee black. When I was in college, I would order a double tall soy mocha from Starbucks on my way to school sometimes, because I had been proven lactose intolerant about 100 times over and I was sick of running to various bathrooms (most notable of these vivid memories of gastrointestinal distress involve Dunkin’ Donuts, whether on the Hutchinson River Parkway or Main Street in Port Jeff).

A new restaurant in San Juan, Pío Pío, has challenged my resolve by serving the most exquisite Irish coffee I’ve ever tasted. I drink it, because it is good and because by the time dessert rolls around, I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. Then I pay the price.

I grew up in a whole cow’s milk house, though I would never drink a glass of it on its own, nor would I ever eat anything cheesier than a slice of pizza, because I’ve always been averse to what I would later realize I’m intolerant of. Because of that intolerance and my later strict veganism, I have a very judicious relationship with dairy as a whole. To me, all milk is just . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 September 2021 at 7:12 pm

Today’s delight: A bottle of Kiss

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I’ve wanted a bottle of this ever since we moved here in 2017. Once when I was at the Devine winery/distillery/tasting room I tried to buy it, but was told the last bottle of the current batch had been sold the day before.

Then things intervened, and I missed my chances — but this year, I signed up in advance and bought a bottle online the day it was available, and today The Wife is picking up two bottles, hers and mine.

Devine describes it in this wise:

A one-of-a-kind spirit only available in the de Vine summertime; it is highly anticipated by our most loyal fans. The first craft spirit we ever released, the Kiss is made from one ton of Peninsula grown strawberries and nothing else. Distinctly clean and refreshing with an extraordinary real strawberry taste.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on our most limited release of the year, enjoy your Kiss on ice with lemon or mint, or with tonic, soda, or sparkling wine.

Summer Seasonal Release Coming August 16th!

As you can see, I was johnny on the spot this year. I was told by a person at the distillery, “this is the best batch we have ever made,” so I’m particularly looking forward to it.

And on a sad note, the notification I received yesterday said, “We don’t know when we’ll be able to find this many local strawberries again.”

I’ll update this post after tasting Kiss. BTW, note the amount of glass in the (very heavy) bottle. I’ve noticed that local distilleries — particularly Devine — use extraordinarily heavy (and thus robust) bottles, I imagine because (unlike national brands) they don’t have to worry about shipping costs.

Update:  I just tried Kiss in two ways:

First, neat, in a scotch snifter. I loved the aroma — the strawberry comes through, and with interesting overtones — but it was a little stiff in taste for me — not raw or rough, just a little hard-hitting.

Second, on the rocks in a lowball glass. I liked that much better: the slight dilution made the sip easier. The flavor is excellent. The aroma is more muted, but still present in the aftermath of the sip.

Wonderful stuff. Their suggestion: with sparkling water or club soda, ice, and a spring of mint — and I would crush the leaves.

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2021 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

Alcohol Use Linked To Over 740,000 Cancer Cases Last Year, New Study Says

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For some reason — God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform — my online reading this morning keeps presenting me with various health risks due to lifestyle habits (smoking, poor diet, and now alcohol consumption). Susan Brink reports at NPR:

The link between smoking and cancer is well-documented and widely known. But alcohol?

“Fewer than one in three Americans recognize alcohol as a cause of cancer,” says Harriet Rumgay, researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. “That’s similar in other high-income countries, and it’s probably even lower in other parts of the world.”

A new study shows just how much of a risk drinking can be. At least 4% of the world’s newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers in 2020, or 741,300 people, can be attributed to drinking alcohol, according to a study in the July 13 edition of Lancet Oncology. Men accounted for three-quarters of alcohol-related cancers. Of the 172,600 alcohol-related cancer cas

It’s the first time, Rumgay says, that research has quantified the risks of different levels of drinking. “Our study highlights the contribution of even relatively low levels of alcohol to the risk of new cancer cases,” says Rumgay.

What’s the connection?

There are a few biological pathways that lead from alcohol consumption to a cancer diagnosis, according to the study. Ethanol, the form of alcohol present in beer, wine and liquor, breaks down to form a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA and interferes with cells’ ability to repair the damage.

Alcohol can also increase levels of hormones, including estrogen. Hormones signal cells to grow and divide. With more cell division, there are more opportunities for cancer to develop. Alcohol also reduces the body’s ability to absorb certain cancer-protective nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E and folate.

What’s more, the combination of drinking and smoking might indirectly increase the risk of cancer, with alcohol acting as a kind of solvent for the carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco.

The more a person drinks, the greater the likelihood of biological damage.

To come up with their statistical estimate, researchers crunched three sets of data: estimated global alcohol consumption estimates, specific cancer risks from alcohol, and estimates of the global incidence of those cancers in 2020.

They found that . . .

Continue reading.

See also: Our World in Data on alcohol consumption and these NPR recipes for alcohol-free mocktails.

Written by Leisureguy

18 July 2021 at 9:26 am

New use for shaving brush

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Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2021 at 2:18 pm

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