Bacon Brown Ale

As this blog enters its fifth (gulp, yes, fifth) calendar year, it has covered many bacon-related concoctions. There was of course this bacon flavored vodka in 2009 and this bacon flavored beer in 2010.

Although it’s not clear that any of the earlier-featured bacon-related products contained actual bacon, it was only a matter of time until something like Bacon Brown Ale came along. It is Ale Brewed with Buckwheat and Bacon, made by Uncommon Brewers, of Santa Cruz, California. The brewer explains:

We’re not faking our flavor with smoked malts, Bac-O Bits or other tricks that some breweries are using to create their bacon beers … . There’s real cured pork in that beer.

Even though the government would probably not allow anything resembling a health claim regarding normal beer, wine or spirits — whether tongue in cheek or not — everyone seems to have a soft spot for bacon. The TTB-approved label does indeed proclaim that “bacon makes everything better.”

Old Bay Beer

I do believe this Olde Bay Saison label raises at least a few legal issues. First of all, I sure hope the brewer had permission to use this famous branding. McCormick owns the Old Bay seasoning brand and probably would not have a sense of humor about any unauthorized uses. Even if the beer is loaded up with the same seasoning, and even if the reference tends to be flattering. I can not imagine that changing one letter (from Old to Olde) is likely to help any more. The total production for this ale with spices seems to have been tiny, so that may help somewhat more to avoid problems.

A second legal issue is that, such a beer needs formula approval, before label approval and production. To get formula approval, it is usually necessary to provide a detailed ingredient list to TTB. It can be very difficult for anyone to get ingredient details (beyond what FDA typically requires on a food label’s ingredient list) about famous and protected products like Coca-Cola, Angostura Bitters, or Old Bay. TTB typically needs to check for artificial flavors, allergens, colors, and use-rate limitations, and this can be very difficult to do without a complete ingredient list of the sort that McCormick would be unlikely to provide to the brewer here (The D.O.G. Beverage Co. of Westminster, Maryland). So this raises the question of whether this beer actually contains Old Bay seasoning, or TTB did not require details about all 18 ingredients, or D.O.G. somehow got hold of the ingredient list.

Molotov Cocktail

Because the term “Molotov Cocktail” has been so widely used (for at least 70 years), I would have expected somebody to grab onto it and apply it to alcohol beverages sooner. It was not until July of 2011 that somebody grabbed onto it, as in the case of Evil Twin Brewing above. In this case the name relates to the “explosive” and “arrogant” amount of hops in this beer. A few years earlier, Molotov Hoptail had roughly the same idea. Hoptail gets extra points because the brewpub is just down the street and a delightful addition to the neighborhood.

I probably would have expected the term to get applied to something more akin to a traditional “cocktail” and less akin to a traditional beer. But perhaps TTB would have been concerned about the use of cocktail-type language on a spirit that is other than a “recognized cocktail.” TTB has various rules about recognized cocktails, such as pre-mixed margaritas, daiquiris and the like. For example, the BAM says a daiquiri must contain rum and lime, and a margarita must contain Tequila, triple sec and citrus. A few of these cocktails are vaguely reminiscent of the above, at least as to sound: Black Russian, White Russian, Brandy Alexander, Bloody Mary.

Poor, Unprintable Stu

Last week The New York Times had a good article entitled “With Rude Names, Wine Stops Minding Its Manners.” The article focused on the wide variety of Bitch-themed wines in the US marketplace. The article describes Royal Bitch as:

one of a teeming sisterhood of cabernets and chardonnays from a variety of producers with labels like Sassy Bitch, Jealous Bitch, Tasty Bitch and Sweet Bitch. They’re reinforcements for a growing army of rude, budget-priced wines that have shoved their way into wine stores and supermarkets in the past few years — most recently Happy Bitch, a Hudson Valley rosé that made its debut last month.

The article closes by saying:

Winemakers have some way to go before equaling the shock value of Jersey’s Toxic Waste, a specialty spirit. But the bitch category may yield dividends. Take Rae-Jean Beach, a blended white wine. (The name needs to be said aloud.) She’s got a husband, a zinfandel. Sorry, but the name is not printable here.

Though Mrs. Pedasso’s husband may be too “rude” for publication within the august confines of The New York Times Dining Section, it is my pleasure to bring back Mr. Stu Pedasso and his lovely wife, Rae-Jean Beach.

Pawpaws in Beer, on NPR, etc.

I was driving along and heard perhaps the perfect confluence of beer, TTB, fruit, and a multimedia extravaganza (plus history, my sister in law, etc.).

NPR ran a story about The Pawpaw: Foraging For America’s Forgotten Fruit on September 29, 2011. The pawpaw is a creamy, mango-like fruit that grows along the banks of the Potomac River. Experts say the pawpaw is “every bit the rival of a perfect peach or apple. And these fruits have had thousands of years of breeding to make them taste good.” So good that a pawpaw newbie exclaims (at about 3:50): “Mmm, very good. Wonderful flavor. On my tongue, it says this is something new and wonderful and that I should continue it.”

It did not take long for a beer company to grab onto the pawpaw fervor. In discussing how the fruit plays into locavore trends and does not travel well, NPR’s Allison Aubrey talks with Garin Wright of Buckeye Brewing (at about 6:10):

AUBREY: But at a pawpaw festival earlier this month in Ohio, people were showing off, at least one way of extending the pawpaw season. They make pulp from the fruit that can be canned and frozen. And even use it to make beer. Garin Wright of the Buckeye Brewing Company in Cleveland wasn’t convinced the taste of the pawpaw would come through in his brew, but it did.

GARIN WRIGHT: I really think that I got freshness out of that pulp that you can really smell and taste in the beer I made, so it’s awesome.

Garin’s label is here. I say extravaganza because the blog post is here, the audio is here, the video is here, 163 comments are here, recipes are here, the transcript is here, and so on. I say sister in law because my kids started calling Aunt Paula “pawpaw” from their earliest months. I say TTB because NPR’s street interviews (on the video) are 100 feet from the old TTB building (across the street from the current NPR building). Finally, I say history because Lewis & Clark, and Thomas Jefferson, were apparently big pawpaw fans according to NPR.

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