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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Good Reads

All About Beer lives up to its name today, with three articles you'll want to check out. The first comes from Oxford-based writer Tim Hampson and concerns the latest developments in English hops.
“The British climate is maritime with even fairly even rainfall throughout the year. The majority of other hop-growing regions in the world are much hotter in the summer and much colder in the winter, and all require irrigation. It is the terroir created by our unique climate that produces hops with lower levels of myrcene than in the same hops grown elsewhere in the world. Lower levels of myrcene deliver a more delicate aroma and leave room for more of the other hop oils, which provides the complexity of flavor."
Next we have a Cinco de Mayo post from Jeff Cioletti on mezcal. It's tequila's more rustic cousin, and it is by far more interesting and tasty (in this drinker's humble opinion). It's the smoky Islay malt to tequila's Highland.
Before the agave is fermented and ultimately distilled, artisans bake the heart of the plant in underground charcoal-heated ovens, imparting the not-so-subtle smokiness. Tequila distillers, on the other hand, steam their agave, which has no such effect on its taste.
Finally, the last bit is a piece I wrote about the wild, wonderful cocktails of centuries past, now documented and reproduced by local Portland mixologist Jacob Grier. You ain't drunk cocktails 'til you drunk a mulled, curdled-milk cocktail made with eggs.
I think it’s human nature to believe that the olden times were boring and monochromatic. The people were more innocent, their interests less racy, their choices few and limited by what would grow on the back forty. That may be true of most things, but not beer. Beam back 300 years, and you’d find an orgy of exotica inhabiting the average pint glass. One of my favorite descriptions, from a 17th-century source, suggests starting with wheat and oats and “one bushel of beans.” It continues: “once fermentation begins thirteen flavorings are added, including three pounds of the inner rind of a fir tree…” Another source, from the 1500s, mentioned laurel, ivy, henbane (a poison) and chimney soot. Tasty! 
Perhaps some reading you can do over your lunch hour.

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