Containing Beer

On Saturday, I had dinner at Egg, a great restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With the meal, I ordered a Narragansett Bock, 16 oz., and my husband had a Sly Fox Pale Ale. The restaurant didn’t have any beer on tap.  The two beers came in cans which surprised me. I know that some craft brewers have been producing beer in cans and Oskar Blues Brewery only produces beer in cans and has done so since 2002. ( For an article about canned beer and session beers, another trend in craft brewing, click here.)

Narragansett is an old brewery that has been recreated as a craft beer. At one time, Narragansett, based in Rhode Island, was a top selling beer in New England. Falstaff Beer bought the company in 1966. The brewery closed in 1981. In 2005, Rhode Island investors purchased the brand.

Usually when I go out to eat, I drink whatever beer is on tap and the same is true when I go to a bar.  I probably retain the negative association of bad beer with cans. The Narragansett Bock was okay but there really wasn’t anything special about it. My husband said the same thing about the Sly Fox.

To really evaluate if drinking from a can makes a difference in taste, I would have to drink the bock from a bottle or on tap and then compare.

A few weeks before the dinner at Egg, we went to Yankee stadium to see the Yankees play the Red Sox. Our seats were not that great and far away from any food or beer. It was hot so I got a Miller Lite – only 110 calories – in a plastic bottle. Miller Lite is a terrible beer and mostly tastes cold and wet. It would be impossible for the plastic to make it worse.

It is funny that soda comes in all different containers and no one thinks that   from a can instead of a bottle makes it taste worse. The new cans that craft brewers are using are not supposed to affect the taste at all and are lighter and easier to recycle.

I still think that the association of bad, macro beer with cans will limit how many craft brewers embrace brewing in cans.


Blizzard of 2010 - The Bronx

I have been watching with some amazement how New York City is dealing – or not- with the blizzard of 2010. Where I live we had about seven inches of snow. It was all clear by the end of Monday. The roads were back to normal by Tuesday morning. Of course, the population of my town is but a fraction of New York’s.

The problems the city has behaving, however, seem to be more related to poor planning and communication rather than the size of the city or the storm. In 1969 I was in high school in New York and we had a snowstorm that closed schools for a week. Because it took  at least that  long to clean up Queens, Mayor John Lindsay’s popularity plummeted. The next year he was defeated in the Republican primary and ran on the Liberal Party line instead.

Mayor Bloomberg has already overstayed his welcome, gaining a third term through questionable means.  His failure to manage the snowstorm may mean the end of any presidential ambitions he might have.

In my capacity as a nurse, I belong to the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). As part of our training we  practice and re-practice immunization drills. As a result, last year, when we had to have multiple flu clinks to give flu shots,  all went perfectly because we had trained so much.

When the governmental response to a crisis is  poor as in the case of Hurricane Katrina and the blizzard of 2010 it indicates lack of planning and training. New York City has emergency plans; they just did not use them. This means that some people in charge failed to understand the gravity of the storm. This is another problem with emergency responses. Humans are in charge so the possibility of an error in judgment always exists.

John Lindsay

The Punch Bowl is Still The Punch Bowl

In February, I had a post about the Bronx and the neighborhood I grew up in. I mentioned The Bronx Ale House. I was under the impression that the Ale House had taken over an old Irish neighborhood bar, The Punch Bowl. Today I was actually in my old neighborhood and saw that The Punch Bowl is still there on the corner of 238th and Broadway. The Bronx Ale House is also on 238th, a couple of doors down. Now all I have to do is to go to both and see if The Punch Bowl is still the same and what kind of craft beer the Ale House has.

George Steinbrenner – Rest In Peace

Yesterday George Steinbrenner died at the age of eighty. Steinbrenner was majority owner of the Yankees for over thirty-seven years. During that time, the Yankees won eleven American League championships and seven World Series. A controversial and commanding personality, Steinbrenner was probably one of two great Yankee owners. He also contributed greatly to the growth and commercial success of baseball through his ownership of the YES cable network.

I have been a Yankee fan since the early1970s and for many of the years I disliked Steinbrenner and his antics with managers and players. However, more recently I watched “The Bronx is Burning”, the ESPN series about the Yankees during the 1977 season.  Oliver Platt’s portrayal of Steinbrenner was nuanced and empathetic. I appreciate the dedication and commitment Steinbrenner provided to making the Yankees the great team they are.

The other great Yankee owner was Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert created the Yankees through his purchase of Babe Ruth and building of Yankee Stadium. He was also a major figure in the brewing industry. Here is an excerpt from Brewing Battles about Ruppert’s death:

“On January 14, 1939, Jacob Rupert died at the age of 71. He had been sick since April, and his death was front-page news in New York. Besides Rupert’s family, Babe Ruth was the last person to see the Colonel.
When Ruth arrived at the Rupert apartment, the Colonel was in an oxygen tent, in which he had been placed at 4:30 o’clock. He was removed  from  his tent at 7:15 P.M., and the first thing he said, according to his nurse Ann McGill, was:
“I want to see the Babe.”
“Here he is, right beside you,” she said.
The dying man opened his eyes and reached out his hand to Ruth, but was
too weak to speak. Ruth patted his hand.
“Colonel,” he said, “you are going to snap out of this, and you and I are going to the opening game of the season.”
The Colonel smiled faintly but still could not talk. Ruth turned away and started to leave the room, but the Colonel summoned up his strength and called to him weakly. Ruth returned to the bedside, and the Colonel again held out his hand and murmured the one word “Babe.”
“It was the only time in his life he ever called me Babe to my face,” Ruth said after he heard the news of the Colonel’s death. “I couldn’t help crying when I went out.
(New York Times January 14, 1939)

At the time of his death Ruppert had a wealth of more than $100 million. Descended from German immigrants, he had risen to the upper echelons of New York society. Much of his fortune was in real estate. His brewery holdings included Hell Gate brewery which he had purchased from the heirs of George Ehret in1935. Under his leadership the Yankees won ten American League pennants and seven World Series. After purchasing Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for $100,000 in 1919, he made him the highest paid baseball player for many years. Prominent honorary pallbearers at the funeral included Joe McCarthy, manager of the Yankees, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, former Governor Alfred E. Smith, Senator Robert F. Wagner, Julius Leibmann, President of Leibmann Brewery, Babe Ruth,Edward J. Schmidt, Philadelphia brewer, C.D. Williams, Secretary of the USBA, Lou Gehrig, representing the Yankees, and Rudolph J. Schaefer, President of F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company.

Over 15,000 people attended the services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Among the mourners was a delegation of beer distributors from New England. Lou Gehrig expressed his condolences as follows, “His loss is a great one. He was one of the outstanding sportsmen of the era, and a most loyal friend.” Seven months later, the talented and durable first basemen would ceasse playing, a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Iron Horse declared himself “the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

Jacob Ruppert and Miss Harwood at Yankee Stadium, 1921
Jacob Ruppert and Miss Harwood at Yankee Stadium, 1921


Yesterday we went to the John Hancock Center and went up to the observatory on the 94th floor. You could see Chicago and beyond in all directions as well as how Lake Michigan curves and the coastline of the lake. The lake is a wonderful resource for Chicago and they seem to have known that from very early on. They did not build factories on the coast and now there are beaches along it. Although there are highways that run along the lakefront, there are various access points for non-vehicular traffic.

The observation experience at the Hancock was well done. You got a hand held device with earphones and narration for what you were seeing. Many of the views were of Navy Pier with the big Ferris wheel in the middle. It looked very inviting so we went there next.

Navy Pier is a mall, a museum, a marina and an amusement park all in one. The amusement park includes three rides; one of which is a recreation of the original Ferris wheel, built for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I did not know until yesterday that there was an actual creator of the Ferris wheel named, – surprise, surprise – George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris, Daniel Burnham and others wanted to build something for the Chicago World’s Fair that would rival the Eiffel Tower that had been built for the 1889 Paris Exposition.   Since the original wheel created in 1893 was demolished in 1906, the creators did not succeed. However, subsequent Ferris wheels continue to provide entertainment for countless people.

The other thing I learned at the Hancock building is that it is part of the World Federation of Great Towers. I have been in four of them, Hancock, CN Tower, Toronto, Space Needle, Seattle and the Empire State Building, New York.

Hyde Park Is Not That Convenient

We are staying in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. It is pretty with tree-lined streets and several parks. The apartment is about a twenty-minute walk to the University of Chicago. The problem is that there is no subway here and so far, everywhere we have thought about going is a long bus ride away. Also, I am used to college neighborhoods having restaurants, bars, bookstores, and pizza places. We have not found anything like that yet. It seems more like Raleigh than a first rate city. Maybe I am just used to New York. However, even Amherst, where the town is about three or four blocks, appears to have more going on.

A short walk from the apartment is a little strip mall with a small market, two restaurants, some stores and a CVS.  We ate at Cedars tonight and it was good. Tomorrow we are going downtown – long bus ride – and maybe we will see the real Chicago.

Beer in Other Places

In the past week there have been some interesting items about beer in different places as well as some different beer customs.The New York Times had a very interesting story about beer in Vietnam. The local draft beer is bia hoi, “a crisp, cold beer with a clean taste suggesting rice and an almost subliminal whisper of something like hops.” I think most of the Americans who go to Vietnam are Vietnam War vets but I loved China and it would be very exciting to visit other parts of Asia.

The Alcohol and Drugs History Society website has a story today about Green Beer Day at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. David Fahey teaches there. It is apparently a pre- St. Patrick’s Day beer crawl. This year there were twenty arrests.

A Good Beer Blog writes about proposed beer regulation in Botswana. One of the local beers is chibuku is made from sorghum. They also have a higher alcohol content beer made from honey and sugar, khadi. The Chinese make  Baiiju from sorghum. It is very strong and viscous. I didn’t really like the taste.

The final item comes from the Mount Hope Monitor, a Bronx newspaper. Apparently Burger Kings plans to sell domestic beers – Budweiser – in some New York locations.  I do not know if that will make Burger King more or less appealing.

The Bronx

Today’s New York Times has an article about the Kingsbridge neighborhood, in the Bronx. I lived in this area from the age of eleven until I went to college. I have been in every place mentioned in the article many times. I have also traveled on the No.1 train more times than I can remember.

No. 1 Train (Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)
No. 1 Train (Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)

I first saw this article on the website, Bronx News Network. One of the places mentioned in the article, The Bronx Ale House, was the feature picture of the BNN in November and will be the site of a fundraiser for the website.

Years ago, the Bronx Ale House was The Punch Bowl, a standard Irish bar like many others in the Bronx during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I hope to visit the Bronx Ale House, which is now a craft beer bar,  the next time I visit my family or go to a Yankee game.

Bronx Ale House
Bronx Ale House

The Times article also mentioned S&S cheesecake. This is the best cheesecake I have ever had and I highly recommend it.

This post is my 100th post on word press. If you count the thirty-eight posts I did manually on my website,, I am closing in on 150 altogether.

New Year Plans

My friend Jan, who blogs at Restaurant-ing Through History, has an excellent post with ideas for her blog in the coming year. I like what she did so I thought I would do the same.

I hope to post more about our recent research trip. On the way home, we stopped at Gettysburg and I have few things to say about it. We are planning more research trips so those will probably generate posts as well. One place we are thinking of going is Chicago, which would certainly enable me to compare another big city with New York.

I also hope to post more about my new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. The upcoming political year promises to be very challenging so it is more than likely that I will have something to say about that.

I also plan to change the look of musings a bit. Some blogs will be leaving the blog roll and new ones taking their place. It is nothing against the ones I am removing; I just feel it is time for a change. I am now on twitter and I am hoping to display some of my tweets.

I wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year. Cheers!


As part of my research for my new book, I have been reading short stories from various eras of Harper’s Magazine. One written in 1949, “The Lady Walks,” by Jean Powell, deals with a faculty wife who has breast cancer. Although my original interest in the story was because of the faculty wife character, Ravita, as a nurse I found the description of the cancer treatment clinic she goes to unsettling. The description did not seem that different from clinics I have worked at various times in the past fifteen years.

After reading the story, I have concluded that things have not changed as much as we might think or like in the area of treatment of cancer. Today I participated in a Cancer Care teleconference, “The Latest Developments Reported at the 32nd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.”  It was very interesting; there are new drugs that might prevent bone loss in cancer patients as well possibly prevent the re-ocurrence of cancer.  However, treatment for certain kinds of breast cancer is a five-year process, which seems extraordinary long.

Around Thanksgiving, I read a story in the New York Times about a recreational lounge for cancer patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a hospital in New York City. One of the patients is Seun Adebiyi, a young Nigerian immigrant and a Yale Law School graduate. He has lymphoblastic lymphoma and stem-cell leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. He is also trying to be the first Nigerian to compete in the Winter Olympics in skeleton. His goal is 2014. I have participated in a bone marrow drive but I have never received a call to donate.

I have had friends who have died from ovarian cancer and relatives who have experienced lung cancer. Although we may not have made as much progress in the last sixty years as we would have liked, let us hope that we can make significant progress against cancer in the coming days.