Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old "Hop Juice" Unearthed in 1909 on Minto Property

When we last saw John Minto, around 1895, he and Governor Lord were staggering home "pretty well lit," tailed by goody-two-shoes Oswald West.

About 15 years later, in the summer of 1909, after Minto had spent some time in Portland, workers excavating for his second home found evidence that a brewery had been there!



While workmen were clearing the ground on Mission street for the new home of Hon. John Minto, former postmaster of Portland, who, by the way, has come to Salem to live, and were te[a]ring down the old building that in bye gone days was used as a brewery, and in which the now celebrated Salem beer was first manufactured, an old bottle full of fine, good beer was unearthed. That they made good beer in those old days, not less than twenty years ago, was evidenced by the fact that this bottle was well preserved and had gained in quality since its manufacture. The bottle was unearthed by a pick-axe and was broken but the aroma that issued made the mouths of the men water like as they had never watered before. Lying in the cool bosom of the earth for so many years it bore evidence that hop juice was well made then.

Besides myriads of broken beer bottles, there seems to be millions of bricks and brick bats. That old house was first used as a brewery about forty years ago, and furnished the "joy juice" for the early fathers of old Salem. Inside the house there were several old U.S. Licenses for brewers of malt liquors. Many old timers will remember this historical building which now passes out of existence and lives only in the memory of man.

According to Ben Maxwell, writing in 1946, in 1866 Louis Westacott and a person named Miller
started a small brewery at the foot of Mission street, then a county road. Westacott died May 23, 1889....Westacott's brewery in 1870 represented an investment of $5000. Horse power was used to operate pumps, the malt mill, and other machinery. Wages for the year amounted to $700 and lager beer was produced to the value of $4500.

In this 1895 map, the house directly south of the brewery on Saginaw sits on what I believe was Minto's property (at least by 1909 it was), but the footprint is not that of his 1869 original home.

Today, the Meridian's parking lot sits on the site of the brewery. Around the corner, there are three standing houses associated with John Minto on the corner of Mission and Saginaw.

The addresses and building dates are somewhat confusing. 835/821 Saginaw in particular have not been used consistently, and a 1926 map suggests the second lot from the corner used both addresses at various times. Additionally, houses may have been moved. And more than one house may have been torn down on the site. It is not clear that the house built in 1909/10 is still standing: Two of the standing houses are associated with the 1920s, and the first with 1869.

In any event, in 1915 Minto died in a house at 821 Saginaw, which appears to be the one built in 1909/10, not the first one - and certainly not the ones from the 1920s!

As for the article's claim the Salem beer was first manufactured there, according to Maxwell in 1946, Samuel Adolph had been the first brewer in Salem, not Westacott, and started brewing in 1862 at Church and Trade. It may not be possible to settle the question definitively.

The idea of the old beer being sound is interesting. Jared has written about crazy hopping rates circa 1870, and the fact that after 20 or more years the beer was still aromatic (accounting for some newsy hyperbole, of course) suggests the beer here might also have been more highly hopped, malted, and alcoholic than the light industrial lagers against which craft brewers have defined themselves.

Update - here's an 1866 newspiece about Westacott's brewery.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Toast to Ben Maxwell

The obituary writers called him "the sage of Polk County" and "the bard of Eola Hills." Ben Maxwell died 42 years ago today. He was born on the 25th of February, 1898 and died on the 25th of December, 1967.

Maxwell was a raconteur and journalist. He loved stories. His articles and notes are the essential starting point for any research in Salem area history, though as a story-teller Maxwell's taste for flavor and color sometimes caused him to overseason the facts. He is unfailingly reliable for the big picture, but in the fine detail he cannot always be confirmed.

While this more than occasionally vexes Capital Taps, we also acknowledge our debt. And with our holiday tipple, we raise our glass. Prost!

Maxwell wrote for the Capitol Journal, the periodicals of the Marion County Historical Society, as well as for national magazines.

He was also a great collector of photos and clippings, and he donated over 5000 photos to the Salem Public Library. They constitute the Ben Maxwell Collection, images from which regular readers will often see here.

His obituary said:
Ben Maxwell - "the sage of Polk County"; "the bard of Eola Hills" - is gone. Living on, in the wake in life he created, is his memorial to the past he loved so well. Maxwell died of a liver ailment on Christmas in a Salem hospital, 68 years and 10 months from the day he was born into a pioneer family.

He was generally recognized as the Mid-Willamette Valley’s chief historian, particularly for Salem and Polk County. He said once, "The historical inclination grew on me like any other disease." Later, explaining why he continued his research and gathering of printed and photographic memories of history, Maxwell said: "It’s more comfortable to live in the past than in the present, because you can eliminate what you don’t like about the past. You have to live with what you have in the present."

Yet Maxwell lived in the present, too, and became well-known not only because he was a walking history book but for his colorful turn of speech. He described one politician as "nothing whittled down to a fine point." And he said of another that he "could hang a gate and daub mud on the inside of a chimney, but he never will write poetry."

Another of Oregon’s noted historians, state archivist David Duniway, called Maxwell "A great figure in the historical world. His work has been tremendous. He knew more of the history of Salem and Polk County than any other member of the community, and he expressed himself tersely and effectively in describing. it."
About his writing, Al Jones said
Ben's vocabulary added flavor to facts without loss of accuracy. He might refer to a certain politician as being “whittled down to a fine point” or to another early character as one who “could hang a gate or daub mud on the inside of a chimney, but could never write poetry." In describing early Salem hotels, he said: “In pioneer times, most so-called hotels were little more than flop-houses without facilities. The flea bag who scratched when he applied for a room was just as welcome as a dignified citizen who wore a plug hat and squirted tobacco juice through his whiskers."
The slight variations on the favorite phrases are amusing - and characteristic.

According to Jones, he also said:
I’ve always regarded Salem as a good place to be born, a nice place to die in, but a dull place to live.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beer Poetry: Sir Walter Scott on Christmas

The longest night of the year seems like a good time for more beer poetry. This comes from Sir Walter Scott. Before he was a novelist, he'd established himself as a poet. Marmion came out in 1808. Maybe you too read Ivanhoe long ago - but I knew nothing of his other novels or poetry.

I like the idea of a "mighty ale." To Jared's question, "Are we no longer looking for a gullet warming thick malty brew for those cold January evenings?" I think the answer is that winter indeed calls for the mightiest ale!

(Image: The mansions of England in the olden time by Joseph Nash.)


Heap on more wood!-the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall,
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall,
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone,
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly-loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.

And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair.’
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide:
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek’d; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie:
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Monmouth Moots Post-Prohibition Prosperity

Who says Prohibition's not relevant these days?!

In the Statesman recently was news that Monmouth citizens are petitioning voters to repeal the ban on hard alcohol.

This was surprising.

Monmouth is proud of its heritage as a dry town, of course. The city's walking tour says it right at the top! (Though perhaps that's more like making lemonade out of lemons...)

But I thought they were selling and serving alcohol now. Turns out it was just beer and wine. According to the article petitioners needed to get 676 valid signatures by December 15th to place on the ballot a proposal to broaden the list of currently permitted liquors. The earlier repeal effort was more narrow:
In 2002 petitioners spirited a drive to allow the sale of beer and wine. Proponents of the current drive cite economical factors favoring the sale of hard liquor and hard-liquor drinks as central to their objective.
Monmouth is a college town, after all.

In a tourism report released September 2009, the lack of restaurants was a barrier to visitors and tourism in Monmouth.
[S]urvey respondents expressed concerns that the current liquor laws might be restricting interest by restaurants.

The Monmouth City Code on alcohol is curious - maybe even draconian. Section 40 of the City Code contains the laws against selling liquor of more than 14% alcohol - so even many wines, strictly speaking, would not be legal. Hardly any American Zinfandel or California reds would qualify, and certainly no fortified dessert tipples. The consequences for violating the code? A $250 fine plus confiscation:
40.320 - Confiscation of Liquor. Whenever any officer shall arrest any person for violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395, such officer shall take into his possession all intoxicating liquor or other property which the person arrested has in his possession, or on his premises, which apparently is being used or kept in violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395. Upon the conviction of such person or forfeiture of bail by him should the court find the intoxicating liquor and other property has been used or kept in violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395, the court shall enter an order forfeiting the liquor to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the other property to the city (Ord. 697, sec. 9).

This is clearly directed towards someone operating a speakeasy or otherwise dealing in liquor in quantity. But still!

So anyway, Prohibition's hardly just a relic from the last century! Raise your next glass to Monmouth or buy 'em a drink!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Anchor's Fabulously Fusty Label

One of the special delights of winter are the winter beers, especially the holiday ales.

And one of the greats is Anchor Christmas Ale. Anchor has been brewing it since 1975, each year with a different recipe and different label. At the site you can see a slide show on the label design and typography, links to all the labels - and even merchandising tips and aids! Fritz Maytag is amazing!

Here's a review of this year's recipe.

It's part of a Beer Advent Calendar, which is as nice a way as any to count down the days to Christmas! Jared's got notes on several other holiday beers in his review of the Holiday Ale Festival. There are also several other beer advent calendars around the intertubes.

Anchor is a special favorite because for a long time steam beer was a unique style. There are copycats now. But so much of Anchor is rooted (both sincerely and for marketing ends) in its pre-prohibition and indeed pre-1906 earthquake history. In its branding it deliberately cultivates more than a few fusty whiffs of the 19th century.

And this retro look works to evoke wintry mysteries, whether of Christmas or the Solstice or any of the other Holidays, better than something more modern.

Capital Taps is a sucker for it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

f/stop Fitzgerald: Certified Purveyor of an Honest Pint

Jared's mentioned f/stop Fitzgerald's a couple of times, but I haven't managed to get there yet.

Last week Beervana recognized the f/stop for its honest pints.

That's great news! Salem now has two Certified Purveyors!

Here's the f/stop facebook page, which contains some taplist info and discount secret passwords.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

W. T. Rigdon & the Ike Box - From Funeral Home to Foster Home

The Ike Box is an all-ages music club, coffeeshop, and refuge. It is, of course, also alcohol-free. Though it may not have a central place in Salem's temperance movement, it has a long association with temperance advocates, and its current mission perhaps better and more poetically fitted to the building than even many of its board members may know.

On the 16th, the Ike Box and Isaac's Room will celebrate its 5th birthday. But the building has a much older history.

It was built in the mid-1920s, right in the middle of Prohibition. This ad is from the 1930 Polk directory. The building first appeared in the 1926 directory, advertised as "The New Rigdon Mortuary."

W.T. Rigdon was an important figure in Salem history. He probably buried more Salemites than any other undertaker. He buried courtesan Pauline Phillips, early architect Wilbur Boothby, and publisher Asahel Bush. The Salem Pioneer Cemetery lists almost 2000 burials associated with him or his firm. Before operating a mortuary, having bought the undertaker's business in 1891, he had been a teacher and state Representative. (Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library.)

Rigdon was the epitome of the self-made man on the frontier. From the 1882 Pen Pictures of Representative Men of Oregon
HON. W. T. RIGDON [i]s one of the Representatives from Marion county on the floor of the House. He was born in Powesheik county, Iowa, in the year 1849. In the year 1850 his parents immigrated to Oregon and sought a "home in Marion county, where he has ever since resided. In 1852 the father of the family died, when young Taylor was but three years old.

Left without a father at that infantile age, his story is that of many another boy who, deprived of the blessing of a father's presence and the consequent advantages that accrue therefrom to boyhood, has had to battle with the world alone and single-handed, and to his honor be it said that by application to his book around the family fireplace and working during the day for the maintenance of his mother and a large family, he, by his own efforts, obtained a good education and grew up to a useful and respected manhood.

At the age of twenty-four he became a teacher in the Jefferson Institute, where he remained two years, and afterwards taught three years in the district schools. Mr. Rigdon was married to Miss Mattie J. Smith in the year 1878, and their union has been blessed with two little daughters.

Although this is the first time that Mr. Rigdon has been before the people as an officeholder, he has always taken a leading part in the politics of Jefferson, is an ardent advocate of the cause of temperance and an active member of the M. E. Church. He is a Republican, and has done good service in the present session, having taken a particular interest in the passage of temperance measures.

Clearly loving words, Rigdon donated to the Oregon Historical Society a copy of Noah Webster's second dictionary.

His daughter, Ethel, was also a teacher, and she died in an accident on November 27th, 1916. In grief, W. T. Rigdon turned to poetry. This creative transmutation engendered several books of poetry, most notably Truth in Pleasant Rhyme.

Isaac's Room is the result of a similar expression of creativity and tribute. Its founders, Mark and Tiffany Bulgin, write:
Isaac was our first son. Born in October 1998 with a heart problem, he only lived for two months before we lost him on December 29 of that year.

Isaac's Room is our effort to extend the family love and support that we would eagerly have given Isaac throughout his life to the young people in our community who have suffered from a shortage of it throughout theirs. Just as the room that Isaac was supposed to live in is physically empty and therefore available, the space we make in our lives for our own kids is now available through Isaac's Room.

The mission of Isaac's Room is explicitly religious:
Isaac’s Room is a faith-based organization whose mission comes from a biblical calling. Our effort springs from a collective devotion to the clearly articulated concerns of God: to father the fatherless, the pure religion of looking after orphans in distress and guarding against polluted thinking or habits, and the establishment of his kingdom of justice and mercy. Our strength is formed and our energy is sustained in personal discipleship to Jesus.
The rhetoric of "purity" and "pollution" traces out a direct line to 19th century temperance concerns.

More interesting from Capital Taps' perspective is the way the Ike Box fosters creativity and music-making. Though on the 16th Isacc's Room and the Ike Box will be holding a celebration for the 5th anniversary, another way to honor Ike might be to dance like crazy to "songs in the key of life." The next show is on the 12th, and Explode into Colors is playing along with Massive Moth and Wampire.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrate the Constitution: Toast the 21st Amendment!

Beer lovers, it's your Patriotic Duty to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition! Saturday is Repeal Day, December 5th, the date in 1933 the states and nation formally ratified the 21st Amendment.

On the 6th, the Statesman reported
[Passage] found the federal government prepared to control the flow of liquor in wet states through a virtual dictatorship over the industry, and to protect the arid ones. Several of the 18 states where liquor could be sold immediately, however, were without regulations.

Repeal celebrations, however, found liquor supplies for immediate consumption restricted in some sections.

In a hurried effort to meet the demand and thereby thwart the bootlegger, the government today decided to allow large importations of American type bourbon and rye whiskies from Canada. It also planned to release for beverage purposes medicinal liquors held in bonded warehouses and customs houses.

Here in Oregon supply was definitely a problem, and the only reliable supply of booze seemed to be "medicinal" hootch.
The passing of prohibition found Oregon theoretically wide open but actually arid as far as legal liquor was concerned as before repeal of the eighteenth amendment.

The Oregon legislature, now meeting in special session, had not yet passed a measure to regulate liquor and only the restrictions imposed by municipalities were in force. The supply of legal liquor, however, was little if any larger than in pre-repeal days, being limited virtually throughout the state to "prescription liquor."

Most interesting was the problem of bootleggers, who had already built sophisticated warehousing, delivery, and accounting systems. The current three-tier system with the state controlling liquor and an inflexible system of producers, distributors, and retailers arose as the response to making bootleggers legit. The paper reported that
Speakeasies continued to do their average business in Portland, it was reported, as citizens wishing to buy anything more than 3.2 per-cent beer were unable to find any places of retail other than the drug stores where certain types of liquor, mostly whiskey, have been available since last August.

Oregon faces the problem of a well-organized group of bootleggers and racketeers and the only way to curb these individuals is to take the profit out of liquor, Senator Goss told members of the senate alcoholic traffic committee at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

"When you take the bootlegger and racketeer out of the liquor business he will continue his criminal operations and eventually find himself in the penitentiary," Goss continued. "You cannot obtain adequate punishment for these men under any law which gives them an even break."

Over at the Weekly Brew, Jared's got a nice discussion of the three tier system. He's also got a nice post on the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, which unquestionably has the most alluring beers for a toast. Closer to home, Beervana honored Venti's as a Certified Purveyor of an Honest Pint. Read more about it on the ventiblog.

So go toast the Constitution!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lincoln, Thanksgiving, and the Costs of Abundance

This morning's Statesman reprints Lincoln's 1863 proclamation that established the Thanksgiving Holiday.
I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
National perverseness and disobedience. Hard to imagine a serious politician (as opposed to a "nattering nabob" or pretentious pundit) uttering words like this today. And not just because of the difference in mid 19th and early 21st century rhetorics.

Lincoln understood and talked about tragedy, ambiguity, ambivalence in a way that today's politicians and our collective political expectations do not permit. If he spoke sometimes in nuanced periods, whose components required time to unfold and finally join, today we generally have the sound-bite.

In the library's photo collection are a bunch of mid-century photos of a thriving turkey industry. The photo here is from 1957 near the Capitol.

According to the Salem online history,
At one time, Oregon produced 30% of the West Coast supply of turkey. But, several years ago, the Oregon turkey industry--which, at its height, produced nearly 3 million birds annually--ceased to exist. This was due to a bankruptcy of Oregon's primary turkey processor, brought about in part by a recall of about 70,000 birds just before Thanksgiving. While this signaled the end of commercial turkey production in Oregon, a few small producers continue to produce birds for local markets and many Oregon customers.

Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals, has just come out, and while reviewers have pointed out that both Michael Pollan and Peter Singer have said it before and in many ways said it better, Safran Foer's points remain: The large-scale, industrialized factory farming of animals for food is awful for the animals and awful for the environment, and in both indirect and direct ways often awful for humans. The online history doesn't specify the reason for the turkey recall, but it was almost certainly a consequence of industrial factory farming and processing.

Going totally vegetarian is not for everyone. I crave animal protein from time to time. My experiments in going totally vegetarian have left me cranky; I find I need meat once a week or twice a month. But it's undeniably true that Americans eat too much animal protein. As Pollan says: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The loss of industries like local turkey farming and processing is real. At the same time, the production of animals for human consumption will become sustainable for the future only when done in the context of smaller farms whose entire life cycle of plants and animals is sustainable. If not reformed our current food supply chain will have tragic consequences on a much larger scale than it already has. Things that appear to be goods, like our current abundance, often harbor hidden adverse consequences.

This Thanksgiving, CT gives thanks for our current abundance, and hopes for "the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beer Drinkers: Mix it Up and Taste Wine Next Weekend!

Especially during the crazy long days of harvest, wine makers often say that the most important ingredient in good wine is...good beer!

Beer drinkers should return the favor, and take some time to check out our great wine region next weekend.

Readers of CT know that CT has a thing about beer imitating wine. We'll get to that in a minute...but sometimes wine by itself is a wonderful thing.

Along with Memorial Day weekend, Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest wine events around here. Many wineries are open only on these two weekends.

Perhaps because it is big and mainstream, Willamette Valley Vineyards offers the most interesting development. Already, in collaboration with Travel Salem they have a tasting bar at Travel Salem. Thanksgiving weekend they will open the Wine Center in McMinnville. Though they do plenty of self-promotion at both, the core concept is to educate about Willamette Valley Wine generally and to promote the entire region - the rising tide floats all boats! According to an Oregonian article
Perhaps most inclusive of all, the center will offer tastings of not only Willamette Valley Vineyards' wines, but those of a rotating list of competitors, as well.

"We won't sell any wines here but our own," Murray said. "But we are happy to feature other wines, along with information about them and how to get there from here.

One of the "other" wines being served is a Bethel Heights Vineyard 2007 pinot noir. Marilyn Webb, a co-founder of the Salem-based winery, welcomed the opportunity.

"As far as we are aware, there isn't another facility like this anywhere in the Willamette Valley," she said.
These are interesting experiments that offer a beguiling mixture of self-promotion and disinterested industry-promotion, and they will be interesting to follow.

(If you've got money to burn, for those of you looking for something new in white tablecloth dining, the Oregonian reviews very favorably the big new wine-country restaurant Jory at the Allison Inn & Spa (warning: terrible website see comment thread for update). Though the jory soils of the red hills of Dundee have won the name-recognition game, there's plenty of the red, clayey jory soil in the south Salem hills. And, in fact, the Jory family were important early settlers, having arrived at the Rosedale area in 1848, and we remember them in Joryville Park and the Jory Cemetery.)

Anyway, so mix it up and get out and taste some wine! The Willamette Valley Wineries Association has the details!

Back to beer...CT fears that beer and brewing is overreaching towards an era of decadence and decline. (wait...like wine country spas? oh, nevermind)

For a terrific example of this decadence in wine see the Rodenstock scandal. It shows the dark side: exclusivity, snobbery, rarity, and status leads to fraud and the "billionaire's vinegar." Over at the NY Times, last month Eric Asimov reported that the UK libel suit based on the book has just been settled.

The matter seemed relevant here last month in conversation over the Ft. George Brewer's Dinner at Venti's. At the Weekly Brew, Jared had posted a note about it about a month ago, and CT weighed in with an opinion: too fancy, too much beer-is-like-wine.

The next day, "Beer-sentric" posted a comment about a crazy Belgian dinner. It started like this:
Charcuturie Platter

homemade pork pate infused with Rochefort 8 soaked figs and pistachios, Chimay Red duck rillettes, easter egg radishes, De Ranke Père Noël poached bosc pears, dried apricot and Hanssens Oude Gueuze mustard and with local breads

Petrus Oude Bruin
Affligem Noel
And continued in the same vein for another eleven courses. Each course was precisely branded by a fancy beer name, even though the cooking heat and other ingredients usually conceals the exact nature of the beer's influence.

Nuts! - fussy and pretentious, CT thinks. Beer should never go down this path.

But in some ways it already has. Jared offers a note about fussy tasting notes, and uses Thurber's cartoon about "a naive domestic Burgundy." Another about creeping price points - which often act for exclusivity, snobbery, rarity, and status. And a third about stunt beers. Beervana also weighs in on beer prices. Beer as collectible and status-symbol is disheartening.

So if wine sometimes has an image problem, why go wine tasting? The best reason to go wine tasting is for comparison. Over at Beervana, the beer guys obviously haven't had enough bretty wine, and all of them, except for the wise Samurai Artist, seem to think that brett makes for yummy sour beer.

At Venti's Russian River Damnation is on tap, and it's a bretty beer. It tastes like 'ffing brettanomyces, not like beer! And it's not sour!

This is by design. Russian River has a specialty in funky beers. About the yeast they say:
Brettanomyces (also known as Brett) is feared by most brewers and winemakers alike. In fact, there are some local winemakers who will not set foot in our brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa due to our use of Brettanomyces....Brett is very invasive and if not handled properly can become out of control in a winery or brewery, but, if used properly with care, it can add rich aromas and flavors of earthiness, leather, smoke, barnyard, & our favorite descriptor-wet dog in a phone booth.
Does this sound positive? Sounds practically apocalyptic to me! Being able to court "wet dog" aromas and "out of control" yeasts certainly is decadent.

CT just can't get on board with the whole funky beer thing. Sure it tastes different - but does it taste good? And is the beer layered with a multitude of flavors and aromas or is it monolithic?

Beer geeks and wine geeks should cross-taste and learn more about conventions and balance in each other's gustatory domains. If you do like bretty beer, make sure to taste some bretty wine - understand what brett does to aroma and flavor in all fermented beverages, not merely in a single one.

So this is a long way of saying, if you like wine, make sure you drink some new beer next weekend, and if you like beer, go winetasting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brenda Hillman & More Beer Poetry

Hillman might be a great poet, but at least one of her speakers has bad taste in beer!...in honor of her Willamette University reading on Wednesday (as reprinted in Nerve - likely nsfw, please note!):

Male Nipples
by Brenda Hillman

— not utter, not
useless, the uselessness of desire, the slight
depression around the center

— When the motorcycle boy would light
His cigarette, I longed
For the flat nipples, the scars, the contralto 'when'

and after you saw that the flower
of hell is not hell,
but a flower —

How the beautiful boys' nipples in the pool
In Arizona looked
"underwatery" — pennies which have been thrown in

— and after you saw
that the flower of hell
was not one bit hell, but a flower —

convince him to take only
his shirt off. They were, well, one
was brown and one was like the inside of a story —

— the ones of divers,
how they point down under the wetsuits:

when I first put
my tongue on his (having decided
he is not my mother) —

Oh, the bodies I loved were very tired.
I liked their skin. And
I was not sad animal no graveyard —

And after you saw that desire
is hell, that the flower of hell
is not hell but a flower, well,

— So I told the little hairs
around his nipple: lie flat! and they did,
like a campfire, without the stories —

those of soldiers in the desert war and often
his left one tastes metallic as in
childhood, when I licked my brother's BB gun

Kept not finishing
people I loved.
I tried, — but.

The top lip of a Corona beer
is about the size
of one of his —

And after you saw that the flower
of hell is desire, the almost, well,
you still had desire —

— So the moon came up
pink tonight
like one of what had been missed

"Male Nipples" reprinted from Loose Sugar,
© 1999, Wesleyan University Press.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ignition at Northern Lights

Ignite is tonight!

Last time, one of the highlights was a bit on Salem's "dark side," a matter of interest to CT. Drawing on the stories of Ben Maxwell, Elizabeth Schulte gave a nice little talk about Salem's Chinatown, drugs, crime, and prostitution in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Who knows what this evening's version will bring!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Madam McGinnis Buries Pauline Phillips: "Suicide of a Courtesan"

Daniel Fry's description of Peppermint Flat captures the ambiguous image of the prostitute in Salem: He burnishes it up as a little glamorous, but the details reveal it as confined and constrained in awful ways.
The people who lived on Ferry Street were the gay ladies of that day. This was a legal profession at that time, and they often drove around in horse-drawn cabs, showing their fine clothes and seeing the city which was about the only way they had a chance of doing so.
Gleaned from newspaper pieces, which of course have their own silences and appeals to glamour or sensationalism, the tragic story of Pauline Phillips shows the confinement and constraint, and the apparent impossibility sometimes of getting out.

Phillips had come to Salem from Denver, Colorado. Newspaper reports give her age as about 24 (the 1900 census as 23), and as having an 8 year old daughter. She was born in May, 1877, in New York City, and grew up as Emma Reisner. If the ages are correct, she had been a teen-age mother, bearing her child at 15 or 16. She had been married to James McDogget and subsequently divorced. It's not certain whether James fathered the daughter. Between the divorce and young motherhood, she may have felt herself to be the source of some scandal - or others may have saddled her with disgrace.

At any rate, Phillips came to Salem around 1896, not yet 20 years old. She did not have her daughter. Even without any scandal or shame in Denver, it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where Reisner was fleeing abuse of one kind or another and sought to remake her life. She adopted the pseudonym, "Pauline Phillips," and must have sought work. Whether she first turned to prostitution or did so only after failing to find regular employment is unclear. But for whatever reasons, prostitution seemed best or the only escape. It likely paid more than regular work.

In time, despair and possibly addiction engulfed her. The paper reports
The woman had been very dissipated for some time. About two months ago she smashed a plate glass window on Commercial street while crazed by liquor. She was then committed to the asylum, but was released after six weeks treatment. She has been very despondent since, and has threatened to take her own life.
Another account added that she was in love with "a local sporting man, who did not reciprocate her affections." Perhaps this man toyed with her affections and seemed to offer a new escape. And she was separated from her daughter. Whether she was what we would today consider mentally ill, her life had all the ingredients for profound and desperate unhappiness.

Finally, on July 19th, 1900, she did take her life.
Pauline Phllips, an occupant of a house of ill-fame at 142 Ferry Street committed suicide Thursday afternoon by drinking carbolic acid.

The poison was taken while the other occupants of the house were at supper in another room, about 5:30 p.m.

Drs. Shaw and Robertson were called in, but nothing could be done to save the woman’s life.

Phillips body was taken to the undertakers, Rigdon & Clough (the successor business still extant, and an Oregon150 history here) and an inquest confirmed the suicide. Hattie McGinnis made burial arrangements.
Madame McGinnis, in whose establishment the unfortunate woman ended her life, acting for “the fraternity” made all arrangements to give the poor girl a decent burial.
Phillips is buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery. Her gravestone, once standing, but now knocked over, is a little overgrown with grass. McGinnis apparently did indeed raise enough money for a proper headstone. The grave is not one of a pauper's, though today it is unremarked upon and neglected.

A couple of days after the funeral, a note thanking the Woman's Christian Temperance Union appeared in the paper:
CARD OF THANKS We take this means of extending our heartfelt thanks to the ladies of the W.C.T.U. for the kindness and courtesies extended on the occasion of the funeral of the late Pauline Phillips; we also wish to thank Rev. Dr. John Parsons for conducting the funeral services. MABEL RHODES MRS. HATTIE McGINNIS

Though we might think of the WCTU as temperance zealots, this notice points to one way that women collectively stood together against sexism. It was women banding together to fund a decent burial for Phillips, not the men who purchased sex. By placing social and political critique under "morality," temperance forces were able to be more active. The absent father, whether he was drunk in a saloon or visiting a prostitute, was presumably harming the lives of his children and wife. The WCTU also knew that there were limited ways for women to make a living. And, of course, the WCTU was also involved in agitating for women's suffrage. So the WCTU was not merely saying "no" to real pleasures that might be abused, but was aiding more progressive causes.

Note also the presence of a priest at the funeral. McGinnis is hardly shunned. The prostitution at Peppermint Flat and Hattie McGinnis' activities appear to be a largely accepted part of Salem society at this time, just as Fry had said.

A few days after the burial, the weekly Capital Journal made some effort to publish information about Phillips' relations.
The correct and maiden name of the dead woman was Emma Reisner, but she was the divorced wife of James McDogget...The woman’s parents reside at No. 3934 Winter street, Denver, Colorado....She had told her companions that she had a daughter eight years of age, who is probably with her grandparents.

It is not clear why this was published. Was it intended to shame the parents? We'll see if we can find out more about the Reisners and McDoggets.

In 1900 the whole of Marion county had a population of 27,713. Salem was mostly bounded by Mission on the south, Union on the North, and 17th on the east. There were pockets of houses to the north and south - but Salem was a small town, a little smaller than Monmouth-Independence is today.

Still, there was lots going on that we've forgot. Hattie McGinnis worked a seam between the licit and the illegal, between the accepted and the immoral. She exploited her workers and took care of them. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to help Phillips enough before Phillips decided to end it all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Madam McGinnis goes to the Oregon Supreme Court

After the October 1909 trial of Hattie McGinnis, the appeal was set for March the following year. The details of the appeal are mostly technical, regarding the way an amended law affects evidence gathered under a previous version of the law.

What is interesting, though, is the way the law, an Oregon statute, seems to have been written to enable vigilante purity groups to exercise quasi-law-enforcement and judicial functions. Everyone was quite open about the use of ordinary citizens to “spy” on others, not merely to tip authorities to the possibility of wrong-doing, but actively to gather evidence that would be used in court.

From the March, 1910 preview of the appeal:
Considerable interest attaches to these cases because of the fact that there has been considerable of a crusade waged against the women by a reform element in the city, and should the law point raised by the defense before the supreme court be upheld it will put a cessation to these crusades as it will practically be impossible to secure evidence which will convict….

When the legislature passed a law declaring it to be unlawful for any person to maintain and conduct a bawdy house, it also passed a rule of evidence that a conviction of the offense might be had by proving the common reputation of the house. Beyond the evidence of a few detectives employed by the reform element to spy on the women for the purpose of securing evidence against them, the greater portion of the evidence adduced, came under this rule of evidence.
At the trial itself, the paper once again underlined the “reform crusade which had swept over the city.” The article went into further detail and outlined the three main questions to decide in the appeal. First, the nature of hearsay and evidence regarding “common reputation.”
Beyond the testimony of a hired detective or two, there was no other direct testimony against the women, and their conviction was secured by the introduction, under a state law on evidence, as to the common reputation of the houses conducted by them.

Additionally, there were two parts of the jury instruction that were problematic, and the attorneys for the McGinnis wanted to use what looks like a form of jury nullification.
Attorney Kaiser, it appears, took occasion in making his appeal to the jury to revert to the Scriptures and in the course of it said: “let him who is without sin first cast a stone at her.” Judge Burnett, in instructing the jury said: “it is not a question for the jury who cast the first stone or any other stone, the jury has nothing to do with that;” and this it is contended made the argument of Attorney Kaiser ridiculous in the eyes of the jury and operated to the prejudice of the defendant.

Another point relied upon by the defense was the judges instruction on the subject of what constitutes reasonable doubt. After giving the ordinary definition of reasonable doubt, he made this addition: “The jury is not entitled to resolve itself into doubting Thomases, who refuse to be convinced by the testimony.” This, it was contended by the defense, had an effect upon the jury which was prejudicial to the defendants, and was reversible error.

Finally, on April 12, 1910, in STATE v. McGINNIS, 56 Or. 163, 108 Pacific 132, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled.

The court disposed of the contested jury instructions quickly.
It is fair to assume that by the argument advanced the Jury were in effect admonished by defendant's counsel that, unless they were guiltless of the particular offense of which she was then being tried, they should follow the declarations of the Saviour, made when a woman was brought before him charged with adultery…The duty of jurors is to determine an issue according to the rules announced by the court. It is not their province to base a verdict on their preconceived notion of justice, their passions, prejudices, or personal experience acquired in violations of the moral code. The instruction correctly started the law and no error was committed in giving it.
More interesting is the discussion of evidence. The court recognized that participants in prostitution are not likely to be caught In flagrante delicto.
It is not to be supposed that the crime of adultery or fornication will be committed in public, or that parties guilty thereof will be taken in the very act.
The court held that “reputation” was admissible. This had, it seems, two parts. The first part concerned the reputation of the house itself – that everyone knew prostitution occurred there. The other part concerned the ownership of the house, as “common fame,” rather than legal documents like a title or lease, established that McGinnis possessed or owned the house.
The court, over objection and exception, permitted witnesses to testify as to the reputation of the defendant's ownership of the house alleged to have been used for immoral purposes….

Our statute does not limit "common fame" to the evil behavior prevailing in a bawdyhouse, and such phrase may be as well employed to establish the other averment of the indictment respecting the ownership of the property or the right to its possession as the general reputation of the building, and, such being the case, no error was committed in admitting the evidence in question…..
And the court concluded that
"Common fame," which serves to establish a character either of a person or thing, was competent evidence.
I have not meaningfully researched the history of “common fame” or its current usages, but some cursory googling suggests it mostly appears in 19th century citations and in religious contexts, especially religious purity laws. Whatever we may think of prostitution, the means here to prosecute it appears to rely dangerously on rumor and reputation rather than on hard evidence. The reporter appears to understand this when he wrote that the appeal threatens a "cessation to these crusades."

After this McGinnis disappears from the city directories. Perhaps she moved away, perhaps she was shunned or otherwise became a non-person in society. Hopefully we’ll find more.*

At any rate, two years later Oswalt West completed the "cleansing" of Peppermint Flat, and drove remaining prostitution activities underground.

(*We do have more on the earlier activities of Hattie McGinnis, so look for more installments on Peppermint Flat.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Peppermint Flat & Potiphar's Wife: Madam Hattie McGinnis in 1909

For a little over a decade, Hattie McGinnis, whom we met in 1900, was likely Salem's most famous madam. Almost exactly a century ago, in October 1909, she and four others, were tried for "conducting a bawdy house."

Though little is said about it today, for a quarter-century, Salem possessed an infamous red-light district on the edges of downtown Salem. The district, hardly more than a block or two, was called Peppermint Flat, an area on Ferry Street between High and Liberty. McGinnis' boarding house, the purported bawdy house, was on the alley on the south side of Ferry. In the old addressing, it was located at 142 Ferry street. You can see a note on 122 Ferry that the house elevated on posts - "on posts, open under."

In Historic Marion, Winter 1998, “The Saga of Daniel J. Fry, Part 3…My Youth on Gaiety Hill," Daniel J. Fry, jr. (see notes on now-demolished Fry warehouse here) said:
Ferry Street was a no-no street. It was really all built up on stilts. Water stood in that part of town nearly all summer long. The people who lived on Ferry Street were the gay ladies of that day. This was a legal profession at that time, and they often drove around in horse-drawn cabs, showing their fine clothes and seeing the city which was about the only way they had a chance of doing so. There was a very narrow, high walk along Ferry Street over this sunken part of the city, and I was riding my bicycle along there one day and gawking into the windows to see what I could see, when I ran off and broke my arm. I was very much chagrined because I shouldn't have been there in the first place because we children were never supposed to go that way.
And in Lewis E. Judson's book, Reflections on the Jason Lee Mission and the Opening of Civilization in the Oregon Country, cited in the Pringle, Glenn-Gibson, Claggett and Mill Creeks Watershed Assessment (chapter 3 here), Judson says:
there were places in Salem where people who respected their reputation did not go. The principal one of these was the block of Ferry Street between Liberty and High Streets which was left to public women. This was known as ‘Peppermint Flat’ where the houses and walks were built on stilts over a lagoon-like former channel of the Willamette River. A trace of that old channel still exists in the depression centering at the intersection of Ferry and High Streets and the alley through the block southwest of that intersection. That ancient channel ran from a broad front on Pringle Creek between Commercial and High Streets, north on Liberty to Ferry, then east to the center of the block on State Street south of the courthouse. From there on north to Mill Creek was low ground. During the high water of 1861, a steamboat followed this channel and tied up in State Street opposite the courthouse.

McGinnis had earlier been "haled before the municipal courts of Salem, but due to defective local laws, they were discharged." It's not clear exactly when this occured, but McGinnis was charged with vagrancy in the winter of 1906. In February 1906, the paper notes
the pleadings did not set out with sufficient force that defendant was a vagrant. She showed tax receipts on property. [neither] The code nor the ordinances define vagrancy and it could not be confused with disorderly conduct, and breaching of the peace....The city had a right and had the power to define vagrancy, [the city argued]. The court could not agree with him. The city had no right to say that an idle person was necessarily a vagrant. The ordinance was held invalid, and the complaint was insufficient. The case against Mrs. McGinnis was dismissed.
It is not clear whether the 1909 case refers to this or to an attempt in 1908 or 1909 to charge her. The gap between attempts may indeed be three years. As Fry noted, at the end of his life, prostitution was essentially "a legal profession," and seemed to be more tolerated than not. vice flourished in many forms. Opium use was an open secret.

But not everyone tolerated the vice, and prohibition forces were growing in the early 1900s. By late 1909, law enforcement shifted tactics to county court. On October 6th the Capital Journal reported
True bills were handed down late yesterday afternoon by the grand jury against Emma Thomas, Julia Downie, Rose Leland, Hattie McGinnis and Dollie Richie. These women are charged with conducting a bawdy house in the city of Salem. This morning all five of the defendents were arraigned before Judge Burnett in the circuit court, and after District Attorney McNary read the indictment, Attorney Wm. Kaiser, representing the defendents, asked until 10 o’clock tomorrow morning in which to plead, which was granted by the court.

Just what the outcome of these cases will be is difficult to foretell, but it is the opinion of many that some interesting points of law will be introduced by the attorneys before the cases are decided.
10 days later, on October 16th, the paper reported that
Hattie McGinnis and Emma Thomas, were tried and found guilty yesterday in the circuit court of conducting a bawdy house…
The trials for the other women followed in short order. The first jury took 7 hours to deliberate, but the following ones were quick. About the third trial the reporter noted
The jury was out but a few minutes, which shows it is much harder to fire the first dornick.
Jury selection, too, took time, and one can only wonder about the reasons a juror might have been "unsuitable":
The examination of the jurors consumed two hours time yesterday morning before 12 suitable men could be passed upon.
The defense in the first trial, which I believe was McGinnis', offered no witnesses, but the state had many. The paper describes the state's evidence:
U. G. Kellogg was the principal witness for the state. He testified that he had called at the resorts of ill fame on Ferry street conducted by Hattie McGinnis and Emma Thomas, where he witness acts contrary to the public morals and dignity, and that he had “purchased a malt liquor known as beer in these two houses.” Mr. Kellogg testified that the proprietoress had behaved like Potiphar’s wife, while he took the part of Joseph…[He said that he was a member] of the Law Enforcement League and had called at these two houses for the purpose of securing evidence….
The vigilantism of the Law Enforcement League is both alarming and humorous. The puritanical self-importance suggested by the biblical citation even funnier!

On the 22nd or 23rd of October, four of the women were sentenced to 30 days in jail, and McGinnis fined an additional $300.

The verdict was appealed. In a second note, we'll see what happened during the appeal. [updated with link]

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hoponomics: Hop Harvest 1902

Just the other day, the Oregonian had a front-page article about the hops market, the shortage of 2007 and the current glut.

Over at the Oregon Economics Blog, in his beeronomics posts, professor Patrick has been analyzing beer markets of one kind or another. Jeff at Beervana occasionally does the same.

A century ago, hops were even bigger than they are today, and many column inches were spent on hop updates. Here's part of a January 1st special insert in the Statesman of 1903. It featured portraits of "some of the leading hops dealers of Salem, Oregon": John Carmichael, Squire Farrar, E. C. Herren, Louis Lachmund, Kola Neiss, H. J. Ottenheimer, and T. A. Livesley. Livesley is the only one we really know today, and we remember him for two buildings, Mahonia Hall and the Livesley building.

In the Oregonian article, John Foyston notes that in 2007/08 hops cost from "$2 and $3 a pound to more than $30 in some cases." In 2008, the total value of the hops crop was about $38 million, a little over 6,000 acres were planted, and 10 million pounds harvested.

By comparison, in 1902...
The Willamette valley has again demonstrated to the world the superior quality of its soil and climate for the successful raising of choice hops over all other hop growing countries, and the year 1902 has been a very prosperous one for the Oregon grower…

In the cost of production everything is in favor of Oregon, where it is estimated that it costs from 8 to 9 cents per pound to raise hops. In New York state it varies from 10 to 12 cents, and in England it is claimed that the average cost is from 12 to 15 cents per pound, and that in a year of short crops such as this season, the cost in a great many cases reaches as high as 20 cents per pound. It will therefore be readily seen that Oregon is destined to be the hop growing country of the world, and that ultimately New York State and England will have to abandon the field to her and her sister states, California and Washington….

Probably one-third of the crop was contracted by the growers in the spring at prices ranging from 12 to 15 cents per pound, and the bulk of the balance sold at 25 cents, leaving a good margin over the cost of production. In fact, some large fortunes were made in hop growing this year, and growers not only got out of debt, but put money in the bank. However, the money that was made this year will hardly offset the losses of previous years, when many of our substantial farmers almost lost their farms, due to the series of low priced years. It is believed that the era of low prices has passed and that the future will see a higher plane of values. In fact, such a condition is essential for the welfare and success of the industry, because wages and material have advanced considerably in recent years and, in addition to this, the price of all lands in Oregon and especially hop lands, has gone up….

There is at present about 17,000 acres devoted to the culture of hops in Oregon, from which a crop of 80,000 bales or 15,000,000 pounds was harvested. At the average price of 20 cents per pound, it will be seen that the income from this source amounted to three million dollars.
The unnamed writer says that in 1903 growers hope not contract harvests in advance any more, but to rely on the spot market demand at and after harvest to keep the prices up. Not sure if that worked...

As with many agricultural products, the yields are much higher today: 6,300 acres and 10 million pounds vs. 17,000 acres and 15 million pounds. Hops are susceptible to fungal diseases, and modern industrial chemistry has helped with fungicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Hops are one of those crops that CT sometimes doesn't want to know too much about...there has been signficant debate over the fact that "organic beer" usually doesn't contain organic hops and is not required to.

In any case, hops are a commodity, and the prices have oscillated through many booms and busts, and even just from year-to-year. The cycle of shortage-glut in just a couple of years is hardly unusual. We'll likely see it again many times, over-n-over.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fresh Hop Ales & the There There

Over at the Ventiblog, if you haven't been reading it, Jack is really getting into beer! He's got a terrific post about the fresh hop beers on tap, and if you are wondering what the fuss is about, Venti's has you covered!

CT is still working on figuring out fresh hop ales, and finds they vary widely. In some cases other brewing components overshadow the fresh hops, and at least for this taster, in a blind tasting it would not be easy to discern them as fresh hop ales. Others taste remarkably different from beers brewed with dried hops.

If you want to get in on an emerging style, one with great quirks and unevenness and occasional brilliance, and one that is almost uniquely suited to NW brewing, this is the thing to explore! It points, in fact, to one way that beer can successfully mimic wine: terroir & the expression of place. In the best fresh hop ales, you can begin to get a sense of the there there. For they just couldn't be brewed anywhere else.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rampaging Roosters, Horrific Hens: Fowl Fear

The chicken here, rendered in stark black, appears ready to pounce. It is in the attack posture. In a self-consuming frenzy, it will become a mini-berzerker, drawing blood and lacerating flesh.

Some time ago, an urban anthropologist and folklorist suggested that one of his chief informants, Tommy Elliot, might have collected ballads, songs, or other sayings about chickens. This cannot come soon enough. For a poetics of poultry is urgently needed.

Still, until we can get a more definitive reading, it seems clear that Visions of Wasting and Apocalypse lurk behind the urban chicken. Adding to a newspaper piece this morning, one commenter wrote:
But what about our race to embrace Third World cultures?
Affluence could hardly be more anxious. Get these people a beer!

Update:Over at DSS, Emily has turned up some rooster rhymes! They're a little bawdy and the first stanza starts like this -
It takes me back to the good old days
when chickens ran the yard.
My cock would come out every morning
and stand up straight and hard.
Head on over to read the rest!

(Chicken in Bush's Pasture, circa 1900 - Salem Library Historic Photos Collection)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brewers Bash at Brown's this Saturday

Information's a little scarce right now, but this Saturday at Brown's Towne Lounge will be a brewers festival. From the Salem Monthly Calendar:
1st Brewers Bash
4:00 pm- 10/10
Six local brewers bring their brews for tasting. Ninkasi, McMenamins, The Ram Big Horn Brewery, Seven Brides, Callapooia and Oakshire are all in attendance. Live music with Andrew Hussey presented. Guests must be 21 and over. Free.
Located at: Brown's Towne Lounge, 189 Liberty St., NE Suite 112, Salem, 503.391.9977
I like this a lot. The brewers are local, and we'll get to see perhaps some unusual or seasonal offerings from Thompson's/McMenamins. It's also manageable - a person could actually have a taste of all the beers without getting schnockered, and maybe even have room for a pint of your favorite.

Nice going Brown's!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Forget Guinness...Think Independence!

INDEPENDENCE NATIONAL BANKOver at The Weekly Brew, Jared's got a note about Guinness and the big 250. But right here we've got our own beery celebration: The Independence Hop & Heritage Festival, starting tomorrow and running through the weekend. Rogue offers a short bit on the history and events:
The "original" Hop Festival, also known as the Hop Fiesta, began in early 1930's. The festival grew out of the celebrations in the migrant camps at the hop fields. These celebrations marked the end of harvest. At last the celebrations were combined into one large party in Independence, which continued until the mid 1950's, missing only years when the US was most deeply involved in World War II.

The festival eventually stopped, for a number of reasons:

* Rebuilding of Germany included agreement to buy their product - they were a main producer of hops
* A blight attacked the hop vines and ruined crops
* Women left at home during war time developed a taste for a gentler beer using fewer hops, thus reducing demand

In 2001, Mayor McArdle decided to bring back the Hop and Heritage Festival, which opened with a huge attendance and patriotic display following September 11th.

The festival continues to grow each year, and we’re a big part of the celebration for 2009, with the Rogue beer garden, Rogue Nation sign ups, and hop farm tours.

The Festival includes a Ghost Walk and BBQ in the park on Friday night, with 40+ “ghost hosts,” where people are invited into homes, businesses, and restaurants to hear haunted stories.

On Saturday the Hop Festival continues with vendors, bands, a parade, tractor pull, and Xtreme Lawn Games – including crochet played with bowling balls and sledge hammers.
Last year Rogue was pouring a fresh hop tea - a non-alcoholic decoction of hops, water, and a little sugar. This was a great way to dial into the flavors and aromas of hops straight up. I hope they have it again!

For more on the Independence Bank and hops see this note on Walter Pugh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toast Pioneer Brewer Sam Adolph this Oktoberfest

Sam Adolph was likely the earliest brewer in Salem. It is certain, at any rate, he was the first brewer who became established and passed away in Salem. He died on September 17, 1893, 106 years ago. On the 16th he'd been thrown from his carriage by a runaway horse. Shortly after midnight, on Sunday the 17th he died. I believe he died in his home, also on State Street. (Here's his son's home on Commercial.)

Like Henry Weinhard and most other early brewers across the country, he was German. He developed the block that today houses Wild Pear and Cooke's.

The Mt. Angel Oktoberfest starts today. They will be pouring
Budweiser, Bud Light, Beck's Beer from Germany, Widmer's Okto, Hefeweizen and Drop Top Amber.
Kinda Pedestrian.

So if you want to honor some real history, step into Wild Pear and toast Samuel Adolph. (For more on the history of Sam Adolph and the Adolph Block.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Taps at Venti's

At the Ventiblog, JR has a detailed series of posts going on what they've been pouring. As a snapshot of the Salem beer geek market, it's illuminating. JR divides the taps into four classes:
1. a crisp / clean lagers [Kölsch, Pilsner, Bock] or a thirst-quenching Golden or Pale Ales
2. an amber / red or brown ale, porter, or stout; typically, malty
3. an India Pale Ale
4. a Double IPA, an Imperial Stout, or a Strong Ale
and then lists for July and August the number of beers in each category.

By this count, over these two summer months, the hottest of the year, only 20% of the beer poured at Venti's has been in the first class of "crisp, clean, or thirst-quenching" beers. 25% have been in the second class of malty beers, 8% were IPAs, and an astonishing 48% were "double, imperial, or strong" ales.

During the peak of summer, about three-quarters of the beer at Venti's was winter beer from the second and fourth types!

Capital Taps thinks that's nuts. But I guess that's what the market demands. Still, it's a little disappointing that it wasn't until just this week that a witbier came on. At least it's sunny and warm just now!

But this is nitpicking. Thank you Venti's for the thought & care you put into beer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Autumn Begins" - Beer, Football, and a Poem by James Wright

Saw Ichiro get his 2,000th hit this afternoon. He is the second fastest in the modern era to reach this milestone. Barring catastrophe, in the next few days he will be the first player to get 200 hits in 9 consecutive seasons.

The rains today coincided drearily with the start of football. Fall means football - grown men rush to crash and crush each other. Beavers and Ducks, Saxons and Vikings: Thus starts the long, slow arc of winter.

Jared's got a note about fall and winter beers he's looking forward to. I'm not ready to commit to them yet.

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
Hear James Wright reading here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof Once Wrote about Beer

Sometimes when you're researching other matters, the darndest stuff shows up. I wasn't willing to spend too much time researching and verifying this, so maybe I'm off base here. But the New York Times columnist and human rights advocate Nicholas Kristof grew up in Yamhill, Oregon. I can't imagine that there are two journalists named Nicholas Kristof! So until someone tells me I'm wrong, I'm going to present this as an early article Kristof wrote before joining the Times in 1984. It is from August, 1979.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Wednesday Street Closures!

The Statesman reports:
Traffic on two additional downtown blocks will be stopped tonight for First Wednesday back to school events, officials said.
The closures will be:

Commercial Street, from Chemeketa to Court streets, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Court Street, from Front to Commercial streets, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Chemeketa Parkade will still be available for parking, Salem Public Works officials said.
It's free! That's how Summer in the City should have been.

Go enjoy a fine summer's evening! Cheer on the kids! Drink some beer!