A few weeks ago, John introduced me to the works of a man named A.J. Jacobs. The first article I read by this sarcastic gem of a man was titled “I Think You’re Fat” and it rocked my world. Not only has Jacobs written articles for Esquire and The New York Times, he’s also written quite a few books, one being “The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World,” where he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and wrote about his experience. Upon discovery of the existence of this book, I decided to emulate Jacobs’ experience by reading The Oxford Companion To Beer by Garrett Oliver, which is the ultimate beer encyclopedia. I thought it was about damn time for me to learn something; fill my ginormous brain with something other than the Pulp Fiction script and decoding of a cat's meow (a few short meows upon entry to my apartment means Marsellus is happy I’m home).
Note: I did not actually read Jacobs’ book quite yet, but it is on my list of things to do. Hopefully I did him/his book justice.
Here goes nothing:
Abbey Beers: The very first entry in this very long book. The entry itself was fricken long as hell, too. Basically knock-off Trappist beers, these beers are not made within a monastery by monks who are trying to support their monastery. People used to fake it way back when and just smack the Trappist name on their bottle with a photo of a happy monk, but in February of 1962, a law was passed so that these beers had to be classified as Abbey beers. The International Trappist Association makes sure this is being followed to this day.
Abbey beers consist mainly of these styles: Tripel (strong golden ale, 7%-10% ABV), Dubbel (dark ale, 6%-7.5% ABV), Abbey Ale (intensified Dubbel, 8%-9.5% ABV), Quadrupel (even more intense, up to 14% ABV), and Abbey Single (light beer, 5% or less ABV).
Acetaldehyde: Turns Asians red.
Acid: Trippy shit. Influences flavor. Can be good or bad. Vague enough for ya?
Adhumulone: What the hell did I just read? I think this guy just needs its buddies (cohumulone, humulone, prehumulone, and posthumulone) to contribute to a beer's bitterness.
Admiral (hop): I like that this English hops’ aroma is described as “pleasant” as opposed to “awful” or “dogshitty”...” Yummy. Also, I like when people say “admiral” in an English accent. English accents are attractive.
Adulteration: This word makes me think of adultery. In reality, it’s when some commercial product is fraudulent. For example, adding vinegar to a brand new beer to make it seem aged, or adding spices (horseradish, chilies, etc.) to make a beer seem warming and therefore higher in alcohol content.
Advertising: The first sentence in this entry is perfect, “Sitting quietly in a glass, cask, or bottle, beer is not always its own best spokesperson, and needs some help getting the word out about its quality, availability, and origin.” Word.
In ancient Sumeria, people could tell if a brewpub had beer by the placement of a bush above the front door. Looks like Solemn Oath should stick some bushes above the door.
Ale-Conner: Many a mans dream job. Someone who is chosen to be the official beer taster in a certain area and goes from brewery to brewery to make sure the beer is of good quality and drinkable. Some legends say that the ale-conner did not drink the beer to test it, but instead poured it on something wooden and sat in the puddle for thirty minutes. If he stuck, the beer was unfit for consumption and not brewed properly. I like to envision the ale-conner getting progressively more and more wasted, stumbling from brewery to brewery, eventually so intoxicated that he thought it funny to “test” the beer with his butt. I imagine he would look something like Paul, with suspenders and a thick English accent.
Ale-Wives: Women whose job was to make sure the men had enough beer. Basically, women were beer slaves. I hope they slipped some Ex-Lax in the dudes’ beer every now and then.
Later, this term went on to mean a woman who brewed beer. Hell yeah! Girl power!
Anheuser-Busch InBev: The biggest and baddest beer company. Ever. In the World.
InBev bought Anheuser-Busch in 2008 for the tiny sum of $52 billion. The two company names were combined to form Anheuser-Busch InBev. How freakin’ clever.
Their headquarters are in Belgium and they employ over 120,000 people. Over 200 brands of beer are owned by them, including Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.
Antioxidants: They are in beer. Beer is good for you, so drink up.
Aphids: Stupid bugs that eat the sap from the hop plant. They also transmit viruses to the plant. If you are growing hops in the Northern Hemisphere, watch out for those sneaky aphids.
Ayinger Brewery: The last “A” entry. Also, a brewery in Germany that has been doing its thing since 1878. Ayinger is family-owned and brews classic Bavarian while using “ecologically sound and sustainable practices,” sourcing its ingredients from nearby.
B1202 (barley): The top dog. Longer, fatter, and only 13 years old.
Bacchus: Makes you feel gooooood.
Ballantine IPA: The original who paved the way for many. R.I.P., Great One.
Bamberg, Germany: A place that taproom worker Lou always talks about (he spent some time there). Taproom worker Lou loves smoke beers and Bamberg is known for ‘em. Personally, I am not a fan. Of smoke beers that is… I like Lou.
Barley: Vital shit. The starch from this cereal grain is converted into fermentable sugars. Also, Barley is the last name of our owners, John and Joe.
Beer Gardens: I wish it wasn’t fricken freezing outside right now, dammit. TEASE.
Beer Gods: There was a God named Osiris in the Egyptian culture that apparently told people to stop eating each other (fricken cannibals) and to start planting things in the ground instead. He also taught people how to brew their own beer. Osiris ended up getting drunk one night and his brother killed him. Osiris then went on to become god of the underworld. My next tattoo has now been decided upon.
Bitter: What girls become when their BFF totally buys the same mini dress, looks better in it, and attracts attention from all the hotties with the spiky gel hair. Also, that nice, hoppy beer you wish you had in your hand right now.
Blue Moon Brewing Company: My mothers loves a Blue Moon once in a blue moon. Usually she just drinks tequila.
Brandhefe: Means “burnt yeast” in German. This should be removed from the fermenter before using it again, but sometimes its not fully removed and leads to a harsh bitterness, especially noticeable in pilsners.
Brettanomyces: I love me some sour beer.
“cakes and ale”: Means “the good life.” Try to use this at least once this week.
Calagione, Sam: An extremely nice man that owns Dogfish Head Brewery and is passionate about bocce ball.
California: Gold panners from the Gold Rush drank a lot of beer here. San Fran alone was home to over 800 bars and pubs.
Also, home to the “California Common,” not quite a lager and not quite an ale. An aleger. Good stuff.
I will live here someday. (Ed. Note: Probably after leaving SOB in disgrace.)
Calories: These give you energy and/or make you a fatty.
Canada: Where the Biebs is from.
Cereals: Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, etc.
Chicha: What you can call beer that is made from corn. It literally translates to “saliva.”
Chips, Potato: What I’m eating right now.
Chinook (hop): A piney hop from the US that we have used many times at Solemn Oath. Also, I think it would make a good name from a sleddog.
Clarification: Anything you do to remove solid particles from beer. There are many methods such as filtration or centrifugation.
Cling: Lacing. Or that girlfriend that never lets you out of her sight.
Coaching Inns: Beer has a history with horses outside of clydesdales, who knew. The teams of horses that pulled stage coaches and mail coaches stopped every seven to ten miles at these and the consumption of beer at one of these inns in Stony Stratford, England led to the legend of the beginnings of the phrase "cock and bull story." Now I know the root of every story John tells.
Concrete: Whoa, fermenters constructed from concrete were apparently the jam of breweries in Europe and the US up until the min-20th century. The problem was apparently getting the resin or wax to adhere as lining inside the tank. Seems to me that affect some of the flavor profiles a bit. Went out of fashion after WWII.
Coolship: Solemn Oath needs to make a coolship beer. That is all, I'll work on the guys.
Coors Brewing Company: Here it gives a brief history of Adolph Kuhrs, "an enterprising man, he worked several jobs in Illinois before landing in Denver in 1872." Funny thing is, that was here in Naperville with the Strenger Brewery and there are two stories (not told in this book) as to why he left. Version one of history says that Adolph was tabbed by old man Strenger to marry one of his three daughters, but he wasn't about it. And version two is that he loved one of the Strenger daughters and she wasn't into him so he took off and headed west.
Crown Cap: Between 1882 and 1890 the US Patent Office received more than three hundred patents for bottle stopper designs, this one just won out and has changed very little since its original design.
Shit SOBs Say is just that, stupid shit that the Solemn Oath Brewery crew is caught saying. Sometimes it’s big shit, and sometimes it’s little shit, but I’ll dish it out here at Sob Stories in heaping piles. Sometimes that shit is written shit that I have sifted through. Check back in a few weeks for more.