Monday, January 30, 2012

Mission Mill to Show Beery History this Summer

Well, sun of a gun! In the new quarterly from the Historic Landmarks Commission is a sweet teaser about our favorite topic, beer history!

The summer exhibit at the Mill will be "History on Tap"! Or as the marchers say, "We want beer!"

We'll raise a glass to that!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Peter Kopp's History of Hop Fever in Oregon Historical Quarterly

For the most part our focus is on things in and around Salem, but every once in a while it's nice to step back and look at a little bigger picture.

In the latest issue of Oregon Historical Quarterly, Peter Kopp surveys the history and development of hops as a "specialty crop" in the Willamette Valley.

This is the lingo of trade associations and marketing groups, so it's not surprising that in 2010 at the annual conference of the Agricultural History Society, Kopp presented a paper as a member of a panel titled, "The Falsity of Freedom: A Historical Look at How Agricultural Producers Influence What We Eat":
  • "The Demands of Domesticity: Why Americans Drank Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice in the 1950s"
  • "Creating Brand Recognition for Washington Apples in Eastern Markets, 1910-1930”
  • "Hop Wizard of Corvallis: How Alfred Haunold Changed American Beer"
Haunold is a hop-breeder in Corvallis, and if the word "Cascade" means anything to you, you'll tip your pint! But it also points to what we might say is "a brewery-industrial complex" and the mixing and interconnectedness that takes place at the nodes of that network.

Kopp is particularly interested in analyzing things on a local-global axis, and in this he highlights the role of Ezra Meeker in Washington, who in so many ways was first-in and first-out: In 1869 he secured a deal with Henry Weinhard to supply hops; developed an important supply house, which imported rootstock, sprays, and other vital supplies, and sold them to local farmers; wrote a hops how-to book in 1883; made a fortune; and was out of hops by 1900.

He also talks about Emil Horst, one of the the Horst brothers we have met in the context of Louis Lachmund and the strike of 1933. In 1904 Emil Horst* contracted with Guinness to supply the Irish firm with Willamette Valley hops exclusively and he was one of the largest hop growers in the country.

Along the way Kopp mentions William Wells and Adam Weisner at Buena Vista, whose hop planting of 1867 didn't pan out, but who set the stage locally for hop growers. He also mentions the developing reputation of hops from the Pacific Northwest, and then the overexpansion and glut that depressed prices in the 1890s and early 1900s. With the rise of rail and easy transportation, international growers could source hops from wherever was cheapest, and hops had become a commodity crop, subject to booms and busts.

Kopp also discusses harvest, and highlights that hop picking took a labor force four times that of apples. Consequently, even those growers who desired a "whites only" labor force could not get one, and the hop yard became one of the few distinctly multi-cultural mixing zones in the Northwest.

For beery readers of CT, the international network and reach of local hops will not be a surprise, but perhaps to the greybeard eminences and other readers of OHQ this will be news! We suspect the history of hops don't get no respect - and Kopp aims to change this! Presumably this article is part of his dissertation. We hope it is published as a book.

The piece also suggests that in at least one interesting way, "what old is new again" is also a reversal. In the 19th century, most hopyards were small, 5-25 acres according to Kopp, and the brokers bundled hops and got them to the pre-prohibition breweries across the country and globe. Today's hopyards are much larger (like the Goschie hopyard), and it is the modern micro-brewers that are small and multiple. And the farm-to-pint connection that we see most clearly in the wet- and fresh-hop beers isn't just pre-prohibition, it is positively pre-industrial! So there are distinctly modern twists on the micro-brewing reversion to pre-prohibition patterns.

And it all results in an especially lively ferment. There's never been a better time to be a beer lover than today - more styles and better beers with every year. To which we raise our glass: Prost!

* Check out this film circa 1910 of a Horst Hops Harvest! The Center for Sacramento History suggests it was filmed in California, but since Weister Motion Picture Company is from Portland, there's a chance it was filmed at the Horst Ranch north of Independence. A puzzle!

Here are later, mid-century images from the harvest at Horst Ranch and a sweet memoir about a farm adjacent to the ranch.

Hop picking image from the Oregon State Library

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Goschie Farms Hops Featured in Edible Portland Cover Story

We're a little late getting to this, but last fall EcoTrust's quarterly, Edible Portland, featured a piece on Goschie Farms, located between Silverton and Mt. Angel, and the present-day transition from commodity hop growing to craft beer supplier and farm-to-pint practice.

How great is that!

The story charts the decline of Anheuser-Busch's purchasing after the InBev acquisition and the rise of working more directly with Oregon craft brewers and the new brokers like Indie Hops. As the industry changes, multinational commodity traders are less important. It's also a story of increasing diversity, from industrial monoculture to smaller-batch multiplicity. And finally, it's another one of those "what's old is new again" stories. (Look for an upcoming note on an article about old hop growing!)

Goschie is also working on organic hops, and this past year harvested organic Cascade, Centennial, Fuggle, Liberty, Teamaker, and Willamette hops.

Check it out! You can read it online here, and perhaps find copies locally at E-Z Orchards and Willamette Valley Vineyards. More likely you'll need to find it at a library.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Salem Flood of 1890 Looks Awfully Familiar from High Street Hill

Is there anything interesting to say about a flood? Intensely personal and subjective, the experience of ruin and loss is, like grief, a solitary thing. At the same time, floods happen all the time, and the script seems like so many variations on a theme. Neighbors chip in to fill the sandbags and share the larger experience.

The epic flood of 1861 lives on more in myth, in the catastrophe at Champoeg, than in photos or other easy records.

But the flood of 1890 was almost as big, and it was documented. Here are two images that look awfully similar to what we see today around Pringle Creek and Shelton Ditch.

Floods happen regularly here, even today with the dams, and it makes you wonder why the first statesmen kept the City and Capitol at the confluence of Pringle Creek, Mill Creek, and the Willamette River.

Hopefully you are in a safe place and have plenty of good drink at hand. Venti's Taphouse still has round 3 of the Winter Ale taste-off:
  • 21st Amendment Fireside Chat
  • Fort George North V
  • Anchor Our Special Ale
  • Oakshire Ill tempered Gnome
That might be as good a tipple as any for a bloody, floody day. Call a taxi and drink well.

Jan 20th: Updated with Headlines

The waters started rising at the very end of January, and the first week or so of February was in full flood. On February 4th, Portland learned the Salem bridge was wiped out.

By Valentine's Day, the papers were toting up the damage. And on Feb 19th, a writer judged the flood of 1890 more like that of 1881 than 1861:
From all obtainable information we think it may be accepted as certain that the volume of the flood of '61 was considerably greater than that of the recent one....

Most of the rainfall that produced the flood of 1861 came in the space of about three days, while the rainfall that produced the flood of 1890 was extended over the space of nearly fifteen. Probably there was more precipitation during the storm of 1890 than during that of 1861, but it was extended over much more time. Consequently there was not the same sudden rush of waters, and the flood did not reach an equal height. Some of the tributaries of the Willamette may have been as high as in 1861, or even higher...but taken as a whole the volume of the Willamette at the utmost swell of the recent flood was beyond question considerably less than its volume at the height of 1861.

Images from Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections:
High Street looking north
High Street looking northeast
Click on either image to enlarge.

This one, showing the Courthouse and the First Methodist steeple, is also good.

Updates from the Oregonian, 4 Feb 1890 and 19 Feb 1890.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Salem Airport is a Circus - Really!

Though you might think the hullaballoo around the airport is something of a circus, what with the control tower, runway extension, and Delta-Seaport fiasco, you might be surprised to learn the relation between the airport and carnival rides is very tight indeed.

Lee Eyerly, the man behind Salem's airport was also a manufacturer of carnival rides.
It all started back in the 1930s when Lee U. Eyerly, an oldtime flier, became aware of the amusement possibilities of a captive plane he had designed for training flying students. He converted this device into a ride and he and his two sons, Harry and Jack, have been developing exciting apparatus ever since.
The story started a few years earlier. In November 1927, the Oregonian carried an announcement about the Salem airport. Pacific Airways filed articles of incorporation, with a capital stock of $25,000, and started construction.

By 1930, he'd persuaded the City to float a $50,000 bond and several members of the Chamber of Commerce to sit on the Airport Commission. His flying school had 45 students and reputedly his repair shop did most of the mechanical and maintenance work on the planes.

The next year, he hired a hostess.

Ann Bohrer had been the Secretary of the Eyerly Aircraft Corporation and Mayor Gregory named her the
official hostess for the Salem Municipal Airport... Her duties will include checking all airplanes arriving at and departing from the field, assisting visiting pilots and passengers and serving as an official greeter for the city. She will wear a special uniform.
As with the early Lord & Schryver work, all this took place during the Great Depression!

It seems likely that Eyerly and others were successful in leveraging public investment for private profit and perks, benefits that did not distribute very widely across those who lived in Salem.

This may continue today. Crony capitalism is too strong a word, but the benefits of the airport seem spread rather thinly. The airport then and now was more about boosterism and a municipal "Napoleon Complex" than a critical cog in the local economy.

In a comment on the Statesman article, Claudia Howells, a retired ODOT administrator, observed:
Here is an example of yet another government subsidy that benefits a very few. Salem Airport is primarily a "general aviation" facility, meaning that most of the users are small private planes. Perhaps the city should consider raising landing fees if it wants to pay for staffing the tower. Given the current budget situations and cuts that have been made already in essential city services, I would hope the Council would think twice before back filling the federal money from the city's general fund.
The Carnival ride company went bankrupt in 1990 after a death in Florida on a ride, but in 2008 an Eyerly descendent still worked for Funtastic Rides.

More on the history of the airport here.

Historic articles from the
March 4th, 1948
November 29, 1927
August 17, 1930
December 27, 1931

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Decorations Displace Historical Marker at Conference Center - and Snow!

Remember the historical marker and interpretive panel on the stair landing in the Salem Conference Center, overlooking the intersection of Ferry and Commercial?

It commemorated the Holman and Nesmith Buildings, currently where the parking garage and Umpqua Bank are. The Territorial and early State governments met in the Holman and Nesmith buildings, and you can see the heading "Statehood began here" at the top of the panel.

But the panel is gone, replaced by glittery holiday decorations!

We wonder what happened. We'll let you know if we find out!

The snow and glitter makes us think of this picture: Joseph Holman's house is also gone, leveled or burned in the early 1900s for Max Buren's house (and here).

The Holman and Buren houses were located on Court Street, between Cottage and Winter, where now is a surface parking lot for First Presbyterian Church. Virginia Green has a series of slides on the houses in the Piety Hill neighborhood moved or demolished for State office buildings in the Capitol Mall. The first slide in the series talks about First Presbyterian's move from where the Labor building is now, and the houses the Sanctuary's new location displaced.

And since snow is also top of mind, here's two skating scenes from 1911 and 1914.

Can you imagine a sustained cold spell long enough to freeze over the river and slough?! It's getting warmer here for sure.

Historic images from Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections:
Joseph Holman House
Skaters 1911
Skaters 1914

For more on Joseph Holman, a pioneer of 1839, see the Peoria Party, and biographies in the Oregon Historical Quarterly and the Salem Pioneer Cemetery, where he is buried.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Avoid Flat Beer; Make Sure your Pint is Sharp and True on Wednesday

Though the liquor sellers might want to you have a circle of fifths, a round of pints is so much friendlier!

U Think, Willamette University's successor to Science Pub, returns to Brown's Towne Lounge this Wednesday at 6:30pm.

The topic is "The Musical Brain."
“We’ll explore how we evolved the ability to perceive music, art and beauty. This short talk will consider the physics of sound, the mechanism of hearing, the process of cognition, the building blocks of music and the way they work together to move us to tears or elevate us to ecstasy,” said Grant Linsell, director of the university’s Wind and Percussion Program.
Widmer and Gilgamesh at Ventis

Don't like music? No problem. Also on Wednesday, starting at 6pm is a Widmer party at Venti's.

Two of the main attractions will be the W12 series Dark Saison and Brrrbon, the Imperial Barrel Aged Brrr. Yum, yum!

(On the 23rd is also a beer dinner with Gilgamesh - menu here.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yerba Mate for Prohibition and Apocalypse: What Hath Hippies Wrought?

We guess it's a thing, Yerba Mate beer.

This month, as part of their 12 Beers of the Apocalypse, Elysian will release Nibiru, a Yerba Mate Tripel.
In a year-long run-up to the end of all time (according to the Mayan calendar), Elysian Brewing Company and Fantagraphics Books, both of Seattle, are planning a series of twelve beers, issued on the 21st of each month in 2012 and featuring the label artwork of Charles Burns. Taken from Burns’s weirdly apocalyptic work “Black Hole,” the labels will adorn Elysian’s “Twelve Beers of the Apocalypse,” featuring the creativity and unusual ingredients for which its brewing team is known. What twelve beers would you brew (and drink) if you knew they would be your last?

First up in January is NIBIRU, named for the mysterious planet X supposedly on a collision course toward Earth. The Elysian / Fantagraphics Nibiru will be a Belgian-style Tripel flavored with an infusion of yerba maté. Combining the tasty esters of Belgian yeast and the compelling tea-like flavors of the South American herb mixture, the beer will weigh in at around 7.6% alcohol by volume. A mixture of German Northern Brewer, Czech Saaz and American Amarillo hops round out the uniqueness of this first beer of the Apocalypse. Oddly enough there’s another apocalyptic-themed Nibiru out there: a super volcano currently burbling most dangerously beneath Yellowstone National Park. It too is scheduled to end life as we know it very very soon.
Cumberland Brewery in Kentucky and MateVeza in San Francisco also brew Yerba Mate beers.

We think of Yerba Mate as a modern, hippie or new agey beverage. Curiously, the wikipedia entry on the history of Yerba Mate doesn't discuss its adoption in America.

But it turns out to have an older pedigree, implicated in fact in the temperance movement leading up to Prohibition.

It seems to have been introduced commercially to the US in 1899 or 1900 by the Yerba Mate Tea Company in Philadelphia. They printed a booklet about it.

By 1904, articles promoting Yerba Mate were being seeded as features in local papers. Here's one in the Capital Journal.
A Powerful Stimulant That Contains no Alcohol, That Is Therefore Not Intoxicating, and That Takes the Place Equally Well of Beer, Coffee, Tea or Even Stronger Drinks.

A beverage has been found that threatens to take the place of beer among the hard-working classes and to do away with tea, coffee, and other brain stimulants used by students, brain workers, nurses, and other persons who are required to remain alert and active during long periods.

This beverage is highly stimulatlng, non-alcoholic, non-intoxicating, and a nerve builder and nerve strengthener, instead of a destroyer as is the case with tea, alcohol, and coffee. It has already been introduced into England and will find its way to America as soon as its great merits become popularly known.

Dream of Reformers Realized.

A drink such as this has been long been the dream of temperance reformers for the reason that it encourages itself owing to Its great stimulating and refreshing powers, and because the consumer quickly acquires tho "habit" and becomes to attached to the drink that he will prefer it to more substantial food and often go without his meals for the sake of it.

"Yerbe mate," or simply "mate" is the name for this wonderful drink and it has been used in one of its forms for some time In Paragua and Argentina. The beverage Is brewed from the dried leaves of the ilex, and can be prepared and sold In bottles to suit the particular taste of the consumer, or made at home like tea or coffee....
Plain mate is quite bitter, and, like beer, it is an acquired taste. The first sip gives a distinctly bitter taste, and the drinker sets down his glass with a wry face. Presently, as soon as the bitter effect wears off, the imbiber has a pleasant recollection of the sensation. By this time the powerful stimulating property of the drink has begun to work, and the drinker feels like taking another sip. Mate makes the user of it "feel good," makes him look with a brighter eye on the dark side of life, makes him forgot troubles for the moment, and, best of all, unlike beer, it makes him feel like working or doing something with his brain or hands instead of loafing or gossiping.

No Horrible Awakening.

Chemists who have carefully analyzed mate say that it is perfectly harmless. It has only the smallest percentage caffeine and volatile oils, and it never leaves a bad after effect. Even when the drinker has a disordered stomach or bad nerves the consumption of mate is not followed by unpleasant feelings.

When the mate habit is acquired the drinker is apt to indulge himself freely, even when there is no need of stimulation. Like the alcohol drinker, he takes the beverage "for the effect." Sometimes he gets to be a regular mate drunkard, but wonderful to say, this beneficent drug has no strings, its only effect being of making the "drunkard" a busy, industrious and hopeful man, who gets more out of life for himself and his fellows than the ordinary man who depends on his own body for stimulation.

In a word mate cannot be "abused" any more than water, and there are few who take it in large quantities for the mere sake of the stimulation....
And on it drones enthusiastically, worthy of purity advocates like the Kelloggs (Will Keith and John Harvey) or Sylvester Graham.

(h/t for Nibiru to The New School)