Thursday, July 24, 2014


The great Luna Stout.

Last week, I traveled with my pal English III to Milwaukee, where we caught the friendly between Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara and our club, Swansea City A.F.C., who compete in the English Premier League. The lively and sometimes chippy match at Miller Park, home of the Brewers, showcased two teams still developing in pre-season training. Swansea dominated the first half but didn’t score until the second half; Chivas dominated the second half and converted a late, controversial penalty to earn a draw. More than 31,000 people attended the fixture, the majority of them erupting when Chivas equalized in the 90th minute. Nathan Dyer, a Swansea hero, netted the first goal ever scored in Miller Park, a stately venue well worthy of such a fabulous international football contest.

The Miller Brewing Company, of course, paid for the rights to name the Brewers baseball stadium. Miller, a long-time Milwaukee macro-brewing operation, produces a variety of beers, mediocre or worse, such as Miller Lite, MGD, and Milwaukee’s Best. (To be fair, I don’t mind High Life, if one must drink an American adjunct lager.) Neon Miller signs glimmer all over town. Fortunately, the craft beer scene in Milwaukee does not disappoint. During our two-day voyage, English III and I drank beer at three brewpubs and one craft pub that featured an extensive beer list. At each stop, we received great service. The staff and managers conversed with us; we received either 16 or 20 ounce pours; we rarely paid more than $5 for a beer. These local practices impressed.

No consumers have enjoyed the craft beer revolution more than English III and I, and yet, we feel as if the pours, pricing structure, and other elements, of late, have begun to erode some of the fundamental properties of drinking beer in many American cities. We therefore cobbled together this Bill of Rights. We hope you agree with its principles.

Five Basic Rights

The Pour should be 16 ounces, the size of an American pint, but nobody would fret over a 20 ounce pour, the size of an “imperial” pint. The cap, or foam, should not count as part of this total, but ought to accompany the beer. In Milwaukee, we received 20 ounce pours of Polish Night Milk Stout and Sheepshead Oatmeal Stout at Milwaukee Ale House.

The Glass should contain 16 ounces below the foam. To aid in these matters, the glass ought to contain a line that would signal the bartender. At Water Street Brewery, we were served IPA and Black IPA in mugs which contained 16 ounces of beer below the line, an inch of foam above the line, and a handle which kept our hands from warming the beer.

Full pours of IPA and Black IPA at Water Street Brewery. 

The Price should not exceed $5 for most pours of sessionable beer. In addition, pubs should offer happy hour specials that would make good beer more accessible to us working folks. The vast majority of our Milwaukee beers cost us $5 a pop, including Silver Creek’s Big Honkin’ Stout, an impressive 7.6% beer served at the Rumpus Room bar.

The Beer ought to be good, of course. Each craft beer pub should be lucky enough to employ a beer director like the Rumpus Room’s Jamie Shiparski, who explained how he assembles a world class beer list. In addition to the Big Honkin’ Stout, we also drank the Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Great Lakes / Cigar City Wandering Pelican Schwarzbier, and Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. (Indeed.) 

The Menu should offer a wide array of types and/or styles of beer. For instance, a patron of Hinterland Brewery Restaurant on Erie Street, in Milwaukee, can order the Cherry Wheat, White IPA, English Pub Draught, Pale Ale, Saison, IPA, Nitro IPA, Maple Bock, and the belle of the ball, the Luna Stout, a beer brewed with locally roasted coffee.

Disillusioned in the DMV

I drink beer in many D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area pubs, where these requirements often go unmet. Baltimore does boast, in all fairness, better attention to the Bill of Rights than does Washington, but not in an overwhelming way. According to the Brewer’s Association, 114 craft breweries operate, collectively, in Delaware, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, producing 526,742 barrels of beer annually. If we count Pennsylvania, then we add 108 craft breweries with an annual yield of 1,788,556 barrels. Many local, easy-shipping options, therefore, present themselves. A six-pack of craft beer rarely exceeds $12, or $2 per beer, at a beer store, but at a pub, a 12 ounce pour frequently devours a $10 bill, and smaller pours—in the dreaded “snifters”—often cost more. Craft beer, right now, trends toward an elite experience for the privileged among us; I call upon breweries and pub owners alike to adopt this Bill of Rights and return beer to the people!

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