An Overview of Beer Microbreweries in the United States

The microcrobrewing industry in USA is the largest segment of the craft beer industry. It is also the segment with the most rapid growth. The big three control 92 % of the American beer market with micro and imports sharing the rest. Microbrewers have moved past the import market and have started taking a bite out of the big guys. Then who are the ones in the middle major-micros or mini-majors.

It was almost entirely craft brewing in America until about 1910. This is when the use of pasteurization and refrigeration began to separate the winners from the losers. Prohibition during the twenties just exacerbated the closing of plants. Over the nest fifty years the number of breweries dropped from 1500 to 230.

Fritz Maytag’s purchase of the Anchor Brewery started the revolution in 1969. He began brewing specialty beers. In 1977 Jack McCauliffe brewed the first American specialty ale and the race was on. Microbrewing took off West of the Mississippi and has been in growth mode ever since.

Two of the earliest to gain national recognition were Pete’s and Sam Adams. They chose to brew in all ready established breweries and instead of infrastructure they concentrated on product development, advertising and distribution. Looks like it worked as both groups have had great success. Are they really microbrewers? Well not anymore, but are they still craft brewers?Only you can decide.

Anhueser-Busch would like to crush them all. In markets where they haven’t been able to get the crush in, the squeeze on distributors to drop those pesky microbrews is in. Some small brewers bite the dust; others have simply given up the fight and joined the big guys by selling a percentage of their operations to them. Price wars, distribution scandals, craft brewing limited to regional existence where will it go?

Microbrewer total volume of barrels brewed was up 12% in 2006. Anti-trust suits over distribution strong arming by Anhueser-Busch have yet to be decided. Coors hooks up with Molson and sells Killian’s Red and Blue Moon as if they were craft brews. The President of the Oregon Brewers Association sells 31 % of his company to Anhueser-Busch. Who knows where it will end?

If Americans have really fallen in love with microbrews and it’s not just a passing fad, they will be with us for a long time. Does the American public want a product that is crafted with love or something mass produced? Right now the microbrewers are still in the batters´ box, but the big three have a mighty pitching staff with plenty of guys in the bullpen.

Budweiser in 2006 remains as the number one beer worldwide, with its little brother Bud Light coming in second, just a little food for thought. Speaking of food with beer as a basic food group in my life, think I’ll go pop a Sweetwater 420 and dream about my local microbrewery staying open for a long, long time.

all statistics from these sites

1. List of breweries in the United States – Wikipedia, the free …
2. Is Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Safe to Weight Loss
3. Number of Breweries and Brewpubs in U.S. – Brewers Association

Image Credit

Beer Review Shepherd Neame Spitfire

I had to work down in London last week so obviously promised Mrs P that I wouldn’t be scooping up every night. With a straight face, I told her I wouldn’t be heading off to the pub at every opportunity and I certainly wouldn’t be pouring copious amounts of Youngs and/or Fullers down my neck. Luckily, I had my fingers crossed at the time. Besides, I never mentioned anything about Shepherd Neame. Not that she cares anyway!

Shepherd Neame, founded in 1698, claim to be Britain’s oldest brewery, and who am I to dispute that. It’s hardly surprisingly really, as Kent is the centre of English hop production and ales have been brewed in the Faversham area for a lot longer than that. Still, not everything improves with age, I’m testament to that, but I dare say their ales are a little fresher than I’m.

As befits an historic brewery, they’re family-run and use traditional methods to produce a wide range of beers, including Bishop’s Finger, or nun’s delight. But I’m only concerned with one at the moment, and that is a beer that originally appeared as a special in 1990 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Spitfire. It has proved to be a flyaway success, so much so that it’s a regular now and is, in fact, their top-selling cask conditioned ale.

It’s available in pubs, supermarkets and off-licenses the length and breadth of the country. Prices vary – it’ll cost around £1.50 for a 500ml bottle (conditioned) in a supermarket, whereas Wetherspoons will dish you out a pint and still give you change from £2. However, if you’re unfortunate enough to get ripped off in a suburban London pub, it’ll cost nearer 3 quid.

What they said at
“Crafted from traditional varieties of English malt, this golden ale combines an underlying depth of maltiness, tinged with a subtle hint of toffee, with the bold citrus and fruity spiciness of Kentish hops, to produce a well-balanced, thirst quenching, popular drink.”

Spitfire pours a bright and clear, orangey copper colour topped by a half-inch or so of tan-coloured, creamy foam which lasts about as long as a Junkers 88 flying over Biggin Hill did. Lace? that baled out at the first sign of trouble.

The aroma literally hops with earthy, woody tones, with a hefty slice of citrus keeping it light and fresh. It’s quite floral too. It’s not all hops though, oh no. There’s some caramel malt and a distinctive, dusty yeastiness in there too which leads to a wonderful balance.

It’s medium bodied with a smooth mouth feel and the initial taste is of roasted nuts and toffee. Where the aroma was more influenced by the hops, the flavour is dominated by malt, caramel mainly. At least, it is up front. It turns progressively drier and more bitter as you drink it and the citric hops make more and more of an impression. It finishes with a long and lingering, drying tanginess that has you reaching for that tumbler for another drink.

At 4.5% ABV, this is a lovely drop of ale. It’s an aromatic delight with lots of ‘in-yer-face’ hop nuances wafting around, but it tastes pretty good too. Fresh and lively, it’s a very easy-drinking pint that easily lends itself to a session. Naturally, I wasn’t in the pub for a session but primarily for something to eat and only had a beer as an accompaniment to my bangers-n-mash (which it went really well with). And yes, I had my fingers crossed while typing that last sentence…no easy feat, I can tell you.

In conclusion, Spitfire is a cracking pint. Lots of aromatic hops and plenty of sweet malt balance on the palate, I can’t find anything bad to say about it…so I won’t.

Would I drink it again? – Planely, I would

1. Shepherd Neame Brewery
2. Foods Combining Diet
3. Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd | BeerAdvocate

Image Credit

Actimel Danone Coconut Probiotic Yogurt Drinking Yogurt

My favourite Danone Actimel is the Coconut flavoured. I started to drink it when I was pregnant as I had some problems with my digestion. 

About Danone Actimel 
It is said that it is a scientifically proven product that helps support your body’s defences. Actually it is a kind of yogurt that has no fruit pieces in it just flavoured. It contains L.casei Imunitass which is a unique bacteria that helps to top up the good bacteria. For more information visit 
It is available in 13 different flavours: 
– Blueberry 
– Cherry 
– Coconut 
– Forest Fruit 
– Multifruit 
– Orange 
– Original 
– Strawberry 
– Vanilla 
– Original Fat free 
– Peach and Mango Fat free 
– Raspberry fat free 
– Strawberry fat free 

Price and package 
Usually I do the shopping in Sainsbury’s but my favourite Actimel is not available there so I buy them in Tesco. I buy two packs of 8 for 4 pounds. My husband drinks it only occasionally but I drink it every day. The Danone Actimel is packed in little white plastic bottles. The bottles are not transparent at all. There are 100 g of yogurt in a bottle. They are sealed with a silver foil (I think it is made of aluminium). There are packs of 4 or 8 but when they are on offer you can se packs of 12 as well. 

The coconut Actimel 
Actually it is very similar to the other ones the only difference to the original is its coconut taste. It is odd white coloured and thin as a drinking yogurt. The lovely taste of the coconut can be felt very well. I really love it. 

Yogurt, Skimmed milk, Sugar/liquid sugar (sucrose: 8.9%), Coconut (1.5%), Dextrose, Stabilisers (modified tapioca starch, pectin, guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan), flavouring, Acidity regulators (citric acid, calcium citrate), L.casei cultures. 

Contains milk. Suitable for the family, from the age of 3 upwards. Suitable for vegetarians. 

My opinion 
I am lactose intolerant but I can drink the Danone Actimel without any trouble. I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you suffer from lactose intolerancy I just say that for me and my husband doesn’t cause any trouble. Actually I found that it helps my digestion. Since I drink it I don’t have to take any laxative pills. It is affordable and tastes really good. As it is available in fat free version too and 10 other flavours you can surely find your favourite one.

Summary: I recommend you if you like the taste of coconut, otherwise try another flavour.

1. Actimel
2. The main differences between Flaxseed Oil vs Fish oil
3. Actimel Coconut Drinking Yogurts 8 x 100g from Ocado

Image Credit

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and mash is the colorful and descriptive British name for sausages and mashed potatoes. Anyway you say it, it is a comfort food, delicious, hearty and satisfying. 

Tradition has it, that at some point during WWII, someone came up with the name banger for the English sausage. Apparently, back then, there was a lot of water in the sausage, and, when it cooked, it popped, or banged. Since that time, the formula for the sausage has changed, but the name remains. This dish was once thought of as a poor man’s fare. It was usually served in pubs, and was inexpensive and easy to fix.

Technically, any kind of sausage can be used in this dish, including those made from pork or beef. However, the sausage of choice in England is the Cumberland sausage. This sausage originated in Cumberland County, which is now part of Cumbria, and made from the Cumberland pig. This important breed nearly died out about fifty years ago, but was recently revived.

These are long sausages, sold in long, flat coils, although there are shorter versions. All of these sausages are seasoned, and the amount and types of seasonings depend on where they are made. Herbs, spices, salt and pepper are added, but no other additives or preservatives. Cumberland sausages are not made from minced meat. Instead, chunks of meat in the sausage give it a distinctive texture. The meat is mixed with the seasonings and then stuffed into the casings, which are normally pig or sheep intestines.

This special  sausage is so well thought of that there is a proposal in the works to classify it under a British Protected designation of origin. This would mean that only authentic Cumberland sausage, made in it’s original region could be called Cumberland.

To prepare bangers and mash, you first have to cook the sausages. This can be done by frying, grilling or baking them in the oven, until done and browned. Of course, the other ingredient in this combination is the mashed potatoes. Any way you like to fix your mashed potatoes works, but the original method is to mash the potatoes by hand and whisk them up with milk or cream and butter,  leaving as many lumps in them as you like.

The crowning touch of the whole meal is the onion gravy. Onions are sautéed in butter until transparent, then added to the gravy. The gravy is made by making a roux of butter and flour, which is cooked together and stirred into a paste. Chicken broth is stirred into this to make the gravy. This is served over both the bangers and the mashed potatoes.

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have Cumberland sausage, this is a dish that is worth fixing and a traditional family favorite.

1. Bangers and mash
2. Grain-Fed vs. Grass-Fed: Which Beef is Healthier?
3. Bangers and Mash Recipe : Ina Garten : Food Network

Image Credit

Addiction to Energy Drinks

When it comes to energy drinks it must be said that I have some serious problems. I’ve been addicted for several years now, I just can’t function until I’ve got some energy drink inside of me. I’m not at all fussy, I’ll happily drink down the nearest can of Rockstar, Red Bull or whatever else happens to be close to hand. I start every day with caffeine, and the easiest way to get me moving in the morning is to down a can of energy drink.

My problems with energy drinks started due to my need to cram as much into each day as humanly possible. I’m a writer and no matter how much I write in a day I’m never quite satisfied. So many things I want to do with my days, at times I have more going on in my life than I can handle; this is how I like it though and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Always I aim to write more, no matter how much I do in a day I’m never quite satisfied and energy drinks therefore help me stay up for greater periods of time and thus I can get more done.

The great thing about energy drinks is that when you drink them you can feel an immediate buzz and they really kick you into action. You feel more alive and everything you can do at a faster pace than is usually possible. The downside of energy drinks is that after the initial buzz there comes a huge comedown. To avoid the comedown you must carry on drinking more energy drinks and so the addiction begins. Once you’ve started your addiction it’s a hard situation to get out of, you want to quit but you just don’t feel that you can function without them. Caffeine is a drug, and like any other is an incredibly difficult addiction to conquer.

The first energy drink I ever sampled was Red Bull, a TV advertising campaign made me want the drink and right from the very first moment I tried it I was hooked. Red Bull was my new favorite drink and thereafter my addiction began. Many energy drink brands have come and gone over the years but always Red Bull and Rockstar have been my favorites. There was a time when I required to drink at least three cans per day, my addiction was becoming more and more extreme and I really needed to cut back. Drinking energy drinks all the time is not good for you, it is the caffeine in the drinks that is particularly dangerous. Consuming vast quantities of caffeine over prolonged periods of time can be dangerous as caffeine in large doses can cause headaches, increased heart rate, and even convulsions in the most extreme cases. When not consuming caffeine you can suffer from headaches and nausea, and to remove these symptoms you must continue to drink more and this of course heightens the addiction.

My personal addiction to energy drinks is not as extreme as it once was. I’ve drastically cut back on my caffeine intake and now drink energy drinks far more sporadically. I still have an addiction, it’s just a lot less extreme than it was. Always there are energy drinks in the house, there are times when I really need an energy drink fix and I’m therefore completely prepared at all times. Addiction to energy drinks can not only be quite dangerous but also extremely expensive, when you crave for the best brands then the price tag does not come cheap and energy drink addiction can therefore not only negatively impact upon your health but will also drain your bank balance. Energy drinks can be helpful occasionally when you’re feeling a bit drained, my best advice is not to drink them too often however as if you do so you may just end up addicted like myself.

1. 12 Signs of an Energy Drink Addict – Caffeine Informer
2. Diuretics Definition
3. Hello, my name is Tired, and I'm addicted to energy drinks – The …

Image Credit

The only way to Make Artichokes

This writer learned many years ago from her mother-in-law how to make stuffed artichokes. They are a family favorite and, though they take a bit of work, are well worth it. Artichokes in the northeast are not at their best all year. When they come into the grocery stores and are well priced, that is the time to make this delicious dish.

In order to stuff them, you need to pick the perfect artichokes. You want them to be as square as possible, avoid buying the ones that are pointy. When you are purchasing, be sure to look for black spots, you want to avoid these. Take a good look at the stem and make sure that it is nice and firm, squeeze it a bit. It should not give way under pressure.

When you get your artichokes home, it is best to cook them as soon as possible. The first thing to do is to cut the stem off very close to the bottom. Be careful as you do this next step because the ends of the leaves are very sharp like a thorn and you will end up cut and bleeding if you are not careful. You need to remove any damaged leaves and cut the ends off the rest of the leaves. You then cut off the top of the artichoke, just lay the artichoke on its side and cut it down about three quarters of an inch. This next step is important. Take the artichoke by the bottom and slam the whole choke top down on your cutting board. Oh, by the way, this writer uses a wooden cutting board. Sometimes you will need to slam it more than once to help it open up, then use your hand to stretch it open.

Fill your kitchen sink with water and throw the artichoke in there while you cut and trim the remaining artichokes.

Set out a large plate and get your flavored bread crumbs. Have several large Dutch ovens available to put the stuffed artichokes in. Place your first artichoke on the plate and pour bread crumbs over it, shake it and stretch the leaves and pour more breadcrumbs, keep stretching and pouring until no more will fit. Be sure to pull all the leaves out even the outside ones. Place the artichoke in the pan. Add enough to make a nice tight fit. Pour olive oil slowly over the artichokes to set the crumbs. Now slowly fill the pan to within and inch of the top of the artichokes with water being sure to gently pour water over top the artichokes.

Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for about forty five minutes checking periodically and using a spoon to pour the water over the artichokes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove. Eat and enjoy. You remove one leave at a time and scrape the crumbs and the meat off with your teeth. You will know your artichoke is perfectly cooked when there are no dry crumbs, all of them should be moist. When you get to the hairy part, stop. Dig out the heart and enjoy this delicacy.

This is not the only way to cook artichokes, but in our family, it is the only way we like.

Turmeric for Health

Turmeric (Curcuma longa, Jiang Huang/Yu Jin) is known primarily for its use as a spice in the culinary delicacies of India, China and Southeast Asia; it has also been shown to possess abundant medicinal properties.  

The turmeric rhizome itself is yellow and gets its color from curcumin, the actual chief active component of the plant.  The turmeric root is comprised of two parts:  an egg-shaped body and secondary projections similar to garlic bulbs in appearance.  Both parts of the rhizome are used in Chinese medicine; the body and the bulbs having different healing actions.  The egg-shaped body is known as Jiang Huang and is used to move blood; in so doing it can relieve menstrual cramps and lessen the pain and swelling associated with physical trauma.  The smaller part (or the bulb-like projections) is known as Yu Jin.  It has the same blood-moving action as Jiang Huang, but can also move qi when it is stuck and stagnant.

Turmeric (curcumin) also has strong anti-inflammatory effects, making it a nice option for those looking for natural remedies to treat such inflammatory conditions as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, bruises, sprains and skin eruptions.  In an animal study conducted at The Center for Combat Casualty and Life Sustainment Research in Bethesda, Maryland, ‘curcumin was shown to enhance wound repair in diabetes-impaired healing’ (Sidhu GS et al., 1999).

Along with its wound-healing and anti-inflammatory actions, turmeric also has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.  It can help to reduce excess mucus or phlegm accumulation in the body and is particularly beneficial for the liver, lungs and intestines.

Healthy Turmeric Tea
1.Bring 4 cups of water to a boil
2.Add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes
3.Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup
4.Add honey and/or lemon to taste

Enjoy! This turmeric tea is wonderfully soothing, and the benefits can’t be beat!

*Please note that turmeric is responsible for giving curry and yellow mustard its color;  to prevent staining, be sure to wash your cup (and brush your teeth!) after drinking the tea.