Raise Your Glass Around the World

An anonymous Egyptian from 2200 BC said “The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer.” Apparently not only were the Egyptians incredible engineers and builders, but also great philosophers.

Every country in the world has some sort of traditional drinking toast. They are usually just one or two words, but sometimes they take the form of short speeches, or prayers. One of my favorites is often credited to the Irish.

“May those that love us, love us. And for those who don’t may God turn their hearts. And if He can’t turn their hearts may he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limp!”

With few exceptions toasts should be brief, especially if a meal is being served. There’s nothing worse than listening to some someone drone on while your food is getting cold.

Most cultures have just one or two standard toasts, usually wishing others good health, or more drink. However, where the English toast “Bottoms up!” might refer to the bottom of the glass, the Hawaiian toast “Okole Maluna” literally means “buttocks up”.

Here is a list of multi-national toasts to impress your friends or use as a sign of respect to someone from another country. This is just a sampling of simple drinking toasts from around the world and is in no way meant to be definitive.

Armenian- “Genatzt” (Jen’ at set)

Chinese- “Gan Bei”

Czech- “Na Zdravi” (Naz dravyeh)

Danish- “Skål” (Skol)

Dutch- “Proost”

Estonian- “Tervist”

Finnish- “Kippis”

French- “Sante”

German- “Prosit”

Hebrew- “Le Chaim”

Hungarian- “Egeszsegedre” (Eggaysh egguhdre)

Irish- “Slainte”

Italian- “Salute” (formal) or

Italian- “Cin Cin” (informal)

Japanese- “Banzai” (long life) or

Japanese- “Kanpai” (dry glass!)

Korean- “Konbe”

Lithuanian- “I Sveikata” (Ee, say katta)

Pakistani- “Sanda Bashi”

Polish- “Vivat”

Portuguese- “Saúde”

Romanian- “Noroc”

Romany/Gypsy- “Bahkt Tu Kel”

Russian- “Za Vashe Zdorovye” (Vashez darovya)

Spanish- “Salud”

Ukranian- “Bud Mo”

Welsh-” Lechyd Da” (Yakee da)

Zulu- “Oogy Wawa”

No matter how you say it, the sentiment is nearly always the same. May you always have good health, and may your cup never run dry. Cheers!

Moon River Brewing: Toast with a Ghost!

Founded in 1999 by Gene Beeco and John Pinkerton, Savannah’s Moon River Brewing Co has a great atmosphere, great food, amazing beer, and is located in one of the oldest, and most historic buildings. It was built in 1821, and was not only the first hotel in Savannah, but it also housed the first US Post office in Savannah, and a branch of the Bank of the United States.

The building changed hands many times and sat empty for 20 years until it was finally purchased in 1995, remodeled, and reopened in 1999 as the Moon River Brewing Company. The brewery has all the character that you would expect from a building that is nearly 200 years old, with a warm, relaxing, and inviting atmosphere.

Some of Moon River’s year-round brews include:

Captain’s Porter– a rich, slightly sweet porter with notes of caramel and chocolate
Yoga Pants Pale Ale– a light golden color, light malt, not too hoppy session ale.
Wild Wacky Wit– a witbier, Belgian wheat ale, with a cloudy pale golden color and a mildly fruity aroma with a hint of citrus and breadlines in the taste.
Swamp Fox IPA– a cloudy amber orange color, citrusy aroma with a hint of pine. Not as hoppy as you might expect from an IPA, but still very enjoyable.

In addition to some great beer, this brewery also boasts a full restaurant with menu items that range from simple comfort food to eclectic gourmet. Items such as the classic fried green tomatoes, Creole style chicken and sausage, St. Louis style ribs, and a sausage and potatoes platter made with chargrilled kielbasa and andouille sausages, and grilled onions with smoked Gouda escalloped potatoes and southern coleslaw- just to name a few.

But there’s another side to Savannah’s most popular brewery. In 2003 the American Institute of Paranormal Psychology named Savannah the most haunted city in America. This building is widely considered to be one of the most haunted places in Savannah. The brewery has also been featured on tv’s Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventurers.

During its long history many people have been said to have passed away there. The building was used as a makeshift hospital during Savannah’s numerous yellow fever outbreaks, and hundreds of people were reported to have died on the upper floors of the building during these outbreaks.

Numerous guests and employees have reported encounters with the building’s living impaired inhabitants. According to Ghost City Tours one woman claimed she thought her date was squeezing her thigh under the table, at least until she realized both his hands were on top of the table.

If you ever find yourself in Savannah GA, you owe it to yourself to stop by and sample the excellent beers and table fair at Moon River Brewing Co. While you’re there, raise your glass, and offer a silent toast to the unseen patrons who sadly can no longer enjoy the simple pleasures Moon River has to offer.

Domestic vs Craft and Specialty Beer

You ever notice that beer menus in restaurants and bars are usually divided into 3 categories: Domestic, Craft, and Imports? Yes? Then have you ever thought about the fact that all the “Domestic” beers are actually owned by foreign companies, and that the only actual domestic beers (beers brewed by American companies) are labeled as Craft or Specialty?

Maybe you think that it really doesn’t make a difference. If it is brewed right here in the USA, then it’s a domestic beer. If you believe that then  I have another question for you.  Toyota builds their cars here in the USA because it’s cheaper than building them somewhere else then ship them here.  Since they are built here in the USA by American workers, would you consider Toyota an American product?  Is it a domestic vehicle?

“Domestic” brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice, Bud Light Lime, Busch, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Landshark Lager, Goose Island, 10 Barrel, Blue Point, Elysian, Redbridge, Natural Light, Shock Top, Wild Blue, Johnny Appleseed Hard Cider, and others are owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev- a Belgian company.

“Domestic” beers like Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Extra Gold Lager, Icehouse, Keystone, Killian’s Irish Red, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller 64, Milwaukee’s Best, Steel Reserve, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s, Redd’s Apple Ale, Crispin, Smith & Forge, and others, are brewed by MillerCoors which was a joint venture between SABMiller (Owned by South African Breweries) and Molson Coors (a Canadian company) until they were bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016.

So I ask the question again. If Toyota is considered to be a foreign brand, despite being manufactured in America, then why are Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Landshark, Goose Island, Blue Moon, Coors, Miller, Milwaukee’s Best, Icehouse, and the others considered domestic?

Why are all the American owned beers considered “Specialty”?  When did something made in America by American companies stop becoming domestic?

Strange Brew

With the craft beer boom of recent years, many brewers have begun pushing the boundary of beer styles, creativity, and taste. Brewers have started experimenting with ingredients that you would not normally consider when brewing beer.

We all know the different kinds of beer, or at least the majority.  First there are only two types of beer: Ales and lagers. Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeasts which work best at what most would consider room temperature, and lagers are fermented with bottom fermenting yeasts at cooler temperatures.

Within those 2 types are many different styles of beer. Within ales there are blonds, pale ales, IPAs, ambers, browns, porters, and stouts, and more.  Within lagers there are of course lagers and pilsners, bocks, dunkels, marzens, and others. And within these styles there are even more styles. For instance stouts can be Imperial, milk, chocolate, Irish, and coffee. You can also bend elements of different styles to make even more styles of beers.

And then there are the really creative beers. Ones that can make you scratch your head and say, “Hmmm.” Here is a short list of some experimental beers from across the country. Most are not currently in production, but some are still available.

Catawaba Brewing in Asheville North Carolina brewed a beer they call Peanut Butter Jelly Time, which is apparently brewed with raspberries and aged with peanuts.

The Veil Brewing in Richmond Virginia released an Oreo cookie chocolate milk stout, which is conditioned with real Oreo cookies. Many described it as tasting like Oreos dipped in melted chocolate- and no one is saying that’s a bad thing.

Herbert B Friendly Brewing in Renton Washington brewed a Nutella Stout. It had a complex, slightly sweet taste with the flavor of chocolate, a bit of coffee, peanut butter, and hazelnuts.

Coney Island Brewing in New York brewed a Cotton Candy Kölsch. It’s a light golden beer with a pink tinge, a fruit-forward strawberry and floral aroma, and a caramel malt and strawberry flavor.  The taste is remarkably similar to cotton candy.

Hardywood Park Brewing in Richmond Virginia has a Peach Cobbler Ale that smells like you have your nose in a desert dish. The aroma takes me back to Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house and the fresh hot cobbler we would sometimes have after dinner in the summer. The taste is only slightly sweet, with a nice roasted caramel flavor with a light taste peach and a medium hoppiness.

Wynkoop Brewing in Denver Colorado brewed Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Now I know what some of you are thinking. What’s strange about that? Oyster stouts are great. Right? Well rocky mountain oysters are not the type of oysters you get in a seafood restaurant. This beer is brewed with roasted barley, seven specialty grains, “steerian” golding hops, and roasted bull testicles. And how does it taste? I don’t know. I will never know.

Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn New York brewed bacon beer. It’s a brown ale infused with bacon fat and aged in bourbon barrels. That’s right. Bourbon, bacon, and beer. Sounds like the makings of a perfect Saturday night.

Shorts Brewing in Bellaire Michigan brewed Key Lime Pie beer. It’s made with fresh limes, milk sugar, graham crackers, and marshmallow fluff. Sounds good? Well, it is. This beer’s sweet-meets-tart flavor won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010.

3 Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan Wisconsin has brewed Squid Ink beer. It’s an IPA made with squid ink imported from Italy. It had an almost black color with a purplish grey head and a mild citrusy aroma.

Clipper City Brewing and Heavy Seas

The Clipper City Brewing Company was founded by pioneer Hugh Sisson, with the intention of restoring a rich brewing tradition to the entire Baltimore area.  While focusing on classic beer styles made with fresh ingredients and high standards, Clipper City became the largest brewing company in Baltimore, giving the entire Bay area residents reason to celebrate.

According to their web site, Hugh’s family owned a tavern called Sisson’s, and in 1980 Hugh went to work there with the intention of help out for a short while. However, on very his first day his father tossed him the keys to the pub and said “OK, don’t f*** up!” and promptly walked out the door.

In 1987, Hugh and many others lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation to make brew pubs legal in the state. When they succeeded, Hugh promptly converted the family tavern into a brewpub, making Sisson’s Maryland’s first pub brewery to operate since Prohibition. He finally left in 1994 to found Clipper City Brewing.

For a time, Clipper City Brewing marketed and distributed their beer under the name Heavy Seas. However in 2010 Clipper City was absorbed into the Heavy Seas brand and became no more.

The Heavy Seas Brewing Company produces a number of regular year-round offerings such as: Loose Cannon Hop³ IPA, Double Cannon Double IPA, TropiCannon Citrus IPA, Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Cutlass Vienna-style Lager, and Powder Monkey Pale Ale.

They also have an extensive line of limited release beers such as The Alpha Effect Hazy IPA, Smooth Sail Summer Ale, Treasure Fest Oktoberfest Lager, Winter Storm Imperial ESB, Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels, and Blackbeard’s Breakfast Imperial Coffee Porter aged in bourbon barrels (just to name a few).

For many years, Clipper City was the dominant brewing company in the entire Baltimore area.  Now as Heavy Seas they are continuing to set standards for what a craft beer should be.

Alaskan Brewing

The Alaskan Brewing Company is the oldest operating brewery in Alaska and they brew a wide variety of year-round, seasonal, and limited-edition beers, with their amber beer being their most popular.  If you’ve never had one and you enjoy a good amber beer, Alaskan Amber will not dissapoint.

As you can probably guess, brewing beer in Alaska is not an easy thing to do.  The coastal community of Juneau where the brewery is located doesn’t have road connections to the lower 48 states. This means everything arrives and leaves by water or air, assuming the weather permits.

There are some benefits to brewing in Juneau AK. Arguably the most important ingredient in brewing an exceptional beer is the water, and Alaska has just that. The 1,500 square mile Juneau Icefield supplies the brewery with a truly remarkable source of water.

In 1986 the Alaskan Brewing Company became the 67th brewery to operate in the United States, and the only one operating in Alaska.  Since then, Alaskan Brewing has received more than 49 medals and awards at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, most recently winning gold in 2017 for their Heritage Coffee Brown Ale.

Over the years the popularity of their beer has made it difficult at times to keep up with the demand from consumers, and has required increases production and most importantly efficiency. They hold the unofficial record for the production on a 10-barrel brewing system, which produces an amazing 42 batches a week. Unfortunately these award winning beers are currently  only distributed and available in about 20 states.

Here are just a few of the Alaskan Brewery’s most popular beers:

  • Amber – This is the company’s flagship beer and is based on a turn of the century recipe that was used during the Gold Rush era.  It provides a smooth, malty, rich taste that goes well with meals – or friends.
  • Big Mountain Pale Ale – This beer is fresh, crisp, and inviting.  The aroma of Asian pear, citrus and pine are beautifully balanced by the complex combination of biscuit, toasted pine nuts, and caramel flavors from the malt.
  • Freeride APA- If you like hops, the combination of cascade, Citra and Centennial hops in this beer will amaze your nose while providing a wonderful crispness to both the flavor and the finish.  This beer is great with spicy food, wild game, and other wintery food.
  • Smoked Porter – This very exclusive Alaskan porter has a world class reputation for excellence.  Brewed in the fall with malt that has been smoked using alder wood, this beer has a unique flavor that is anything but ordinary.
  • Winter Ale – This amazing brew uses the tender new growth from the tips of Sitka spruce trees to give this beer a subtly sweet floral flavor. The practice of using spruce tips in brewing has been used in Alaska since the late 1700s.