January 4th, 2010 Joe Sixpack
Here’s a great time-waster: The Vintage Ad Browser. Among its 100,000+ ads are about 2,000 beer oldies. This one is from Budweiser’s 1930s campaign that urged drinkers to try Bud for 5 days. “On the sixth day, try to drink a sweet beer. You will want the Budweiser flavor thereafter.” (The largest of the medals in the ad is from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial.)
October 30th, 2009 Joe Sixpack
I received lots of nice notes from readers after my piece about the old Ballantine Beer scoreboard at Connie Mack. Here’s a few of them…
I loved your story today. As a batboy for the Reading Phillies in the early 1960’s I had the opportunity to batboy for a game they played at Connie Mack around 1966. We had to change in a school across the street as the Phillies played after us and there wasn’t room in the locker-room for us. The first thing I did after getting on the field and dreaming of what it would be like to actually be a major leaguer was to grab a fungo bat and a bag of balls. I started out at 2nd base and proceeded to try to hit one over the clock atop the scoreboard. I wasn’t even close so I proceeded to move into center field until I finally got one over the scoreboard from about 100 feet from the wall. The neighbors must of wondered who was taking batting practice and hitting so many into the street. I probably needed 25 swings to accomplish my task and I proudly share it with my children and anybody else who cares to listen.
PS I never made it as a player but I am a proud fan. You can take the boy out of Philly but you can’t take Philly out of the boy. Go Phillies!
Do you remember the old Ballantine TV commercials? Rich Ashburn, Del Ennis, Bill Campbell, and Curt Simmons were playing ball at Connie Mack Stadium. immons would pitch and Ashburn/Ennis would battle for hits.
Another set was when they sang the Ballantine jingle with Paul Richardson at the organ:
“Hey, get your cold beer! Get your cold brewed Ballantine Beer!
Taste a beer that’s crisp and icily light;
Cold-brewed taste that’s precisely right;
The crisp refresher;
Cold-brewed Ballantine Beer!“
Thanks for the memories.
I was there and saw Wes “Bondbread salesman” Covington stroke one over the top, as did Carl Swatski and I think Clay Dalrymple as well. Allen hit one to the left on the scoreboard and several over the 447-sign batting cage storage area, just ask him. The biggest shot I ever personally witnessed was Frank Howard’s titanic shot between the light standards above the Alpo sign in left center.
Lawrence “Larry” Levin
October 28th, 2009 Joe Sixpack
Not the best photo, but that’s the old Ballantine scoreboard in the background at Connie Mack Stadium. Did you know that the Phils actually bought it used from the Yankees?
Today’s column is a walk down memory lane.
August 26th, 2009 Joe Sixpack
I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Pete Brown’s new book, “Hops & Glory: One Man’s Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire.” I’ll be devoting a column to it soon, but in the meantime here’s something that jumped off the page at me:
In the 1870s… “brewing was the second-biggest industry in Britain, behind cotton.”
Now, while that statement is impressive, it’s Pete’s footnote observation that really struck me:
“The fact that you almost certainly didn’t know this (I didn’t until just now) is perhaps the most significant victory of the temperance lobby. I clearly remember studying Victorian industry at school. We learned all about cotton, coal, steel, steam and railways. Brewing - which at this stage was contributing over a third of the Exchequer’s total revenue and employing 1.5 million people - wasn’t mentioned once.
And, I’m thinking, yeah - I don’t remember a single lesson about the American beer industry in any of the history classes I ever took, either. We all learned about Louis Pasteur, for example, but it wasn’t until 20 years after I graduated that I realized that one of his most important works was “Etudes sur la Biere.”
I don’t know if the temperance movement is to blame, but I can’t believe every one of my teachers was a teetotaler. God knows I gave them enough reason to drink.
August 12th, 2009 Joe Sixpack
One of my favorite local buildings is the Mercer Museum, that strange-looking, concrete castle up in Doylestown. The place is packed with all kinds of hand tools - the kind of stuff that Roy Underhill uses on “Woodwright’s Shop.”
Which makes it a fitting location for the brewing historian Rich Wagner to offer a presentation on early Philadelphia brewing techniques. It’s part of the 4th Annual Brew Night program on Friday (8/14) @ 6:30 p.m.
The evening will also feature a tutored tasting with Keystone Homebrew and Yards Brewing. Tix: $27. Call for reservations: 215-345-0210, ext. 123.
May 4th, 2009 Joe Sixpack
With folks losing jobs left and right, here’s a rare bit of good news on the employment front. Dr. Patrick McGovern, the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, reports that he’s going to get to keep his job - at least or the next three years.
You might recall that the museum tried to boot McGovern just before Christmas last year, citing budget cuts and its goal to turn the museum into more of a tourist magnet.
(For beer drinkers wondering why this is at all important, click here. McGovern is the scientist behind Dogfish Head Midas Touch, among other historic beer and wine re-creations.)
I know a number of readers told me they wrote to the museum on behal of Pat, who acknowledged that support in his email today.
” I greatly appreciate and thank you for your moral and very tangible support over the past six months. It was manifested in advice, personal letters on my behalf, signed petitions, articles in the press and on the internet, telephone calls, and meetings.
“My goal now is to build upon past research efforts, which [museum director] Richard Hodges has described as ’stellar,’ and make more advances in scientific archaeology.
More advances? Sounds like more beer to me!
December 22nd, 2008 Joe Sixpack
For many beer freaks, the name of Dr. Patrick McGovern is almost sacred. This is the guy whose work as a molecular archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum helped establish the historical importance of beer in the civilization of mankind. He discovered the first chemical evidence of beer on the planet, dating from about 3500 B.C., in Iran.
He’s best known in beer circles for his studies of residue found in goblets taken from King Midas’s 2,700-year-old tomb in present-day Turkey. Those findings, of course, led to Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir. More recently, he was instrumental in the development of Dogfish Head Jiahu and Theobroma
Just weeks before Christmas, Dr. McGovern was axed by Penn, apparently the result of budget cuts and in an attempt to re-invent the museum as a popular “tourist magnet.”
I don’t know if beer freaks carry any clout, but I thought I’d pass along a letter that’s been circulating, with addresses where you can write to complain. At the very least, this lays out Dr. McGovern’s contributions to our little part of the world.
The recent precipitate firing of researchers at the Penn Museum includes another world-class scholar and scientist in Near Eastern archaeology and archaeological science among its casualties. Why was Patrick McGovern, who heads MASCA’s [Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology, the museum’s scientific division] Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory, fired? McGovern, who received his Ph.D. at Penn in Near Eastern Archaeology, has made a series of stunning discoveries and set a standard for how the sciences and the humanities can be effectively integrated together in his 40+ year career at Penn (C.V. posted on his personal website, below). Indeed, McGovern’s academic achievements embody the interdisciplinary research that the university espouses in The Penn Compact and its new PIK (”Penn Integrates Knowledge”) Professorships.
His Vita reads like a compendium of major scientific breakthroughs and accomplishments:
- Pioneered the rapidly developing, interdisciplinary field of Biomolecular Archaeology. This field is at the technological cutting-edge of modern archaeology.
- Discovered the earliest Royal Purple (the famous dye of the Phoenicians), grape wine, barley beer, alcoholic beverages generally (China, ca. 7000 B.C.), and chocolate.
- Published these findings in high-impact scientific journals, including three in Nature (one as the cover story) and two in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (one as the cover story) .
- Published 10 peer-reviewed books, most recently Ancient Wine (Princeton University Press), which garnered numerous awards. Uncorking the Past (University of California), in press, traces alcoholic beverages around the world and as far back in time as possible from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Published 50 peer-reviewed articles, ranging from geophysical prospecting for archaeological sites to some of the earliest steel ever found to the earliest DNA evidence for wine yeast, and another 70 additional articles, reviews, and book chapters.
- Directed major excavations in Jordan, and collaborated on archaeological projects throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. His Baq`ah Valley Project was one of the first excavations in the Near East to successfully incorporate scientific methodology in the field and the laboratory (published as a museum monograph). An older excavation (Beth Shan, Israel), part of the museum’s Near East collection, was subjected to similar scientific scrutiny (published as a museum monograph).
- Built up a state-of-the-art laboratory in MASCA for archaeological chemical research (with Fourier-transform Infrared Spectrometer, High-performance Liquid Chromatograph, and other instruments). It is one of the few such facilities in the U.S., and is staffed by Ph.D. chemists and Penn students. Numerous close collaborations with laboratories at Penn and around the world have given his lab access to the latest, most sensitive instrumentation.
- Developed an innovative, cost-effective ceramic analysis program which combines multiple analytical techniques (Neutron Activation Analysis, petrography and heavy-mineral analysis, xeroradiography, etc.) to solve important anthropological questions.
- Established an academic program in the archaeological sciences by teaching (cross-listed in Penn archaeological and science departments). Students, who were trained in his lab, have gone on to careers in archaeology and conservation science.
- Received grants from the NEH, NSF, American Philosophical Society, Wine Institute, Fulbright Foundation, universities, and many other funding agencies and private individuals world-wide, together with in-kind contributions (i.e., equipment donations, gratis analyses at outside labs, and the expertise of volunteer chemists). These monies, combined with the value of his publicity for the museum and university, amount to millions of dollars. He has leveraged a very small budget into a very productive research program.
- Re-created the “King Midas” funerary feast, the first time that a historic meal has been reconstructed by chemical analysis of ancient organic residues
- His ground-breaking research has resulted in 15 international stories, and widespread public and scholarly exposure and acclaim. It has been profiled in ten video programs, including a full-length feature filmed at the Midas Tumulus in Turkey, and has been the focus of museum exhibits in Philadelphia, Athens, the Napa Valley, France, and elsewhere.
- Given keynote addresses around the world (most recently at the National Museum in Tblisi, Georgia, after the Russian invasion), and has collaborated with over 400 scientists and archaeologists in museum and academic institutions in more than 30 countries.
- On-going studies include testing ancient compounds for their anti-cancer and medicinal effects (Abramson Cancer Center and Penn Medical School), grape and yeast DNA, prehistoric Chinese fermented beverages, New World chocolate, and early wine, ranging from Neolithic villages in the Taurus and Caucasus Mountains to Iron Age shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
In short, McGovern has made a huge contribution to both Near Eastern Archaeology and archaeological science. Few other museum researchers has the distinction of so many peer-reviewed books and articles, which is the ultimate measure of research success.
At a time when science and technology have become increasingly important in our society, why would a museum, which is supposedly looking to the future, fire a researcher of McGovern’s caliber? To destroy a laboratory which took years to create, in a matter of days, is not only short-sighted, it is contradictory to the very essence of a university and museum in advancing human knowledge and preserving the past. The loss in human capital and facilities is incalculable, and not easily rebuilt.
Why weren’t other, less draconian, measures explored before firing McGovern? During the Great Depression, all Penn employees pulled together and took an across-the-board 10% pay cut. Some of the fired researchers might even have been willing to take larger cuts, to continue their careers. Moreover, if McGovern had been evaluated as an individual, based on his annual performance evaluations, peer-reviewed publications, grants received, teaching, etc., he could never have been fired.
We urge our colleagues, who have benefitted from Dr. McGovern’s research, to not let this decision stand, but to express their objections to the museum Director Richard Hodges, the Deputy Director Brian Rose, university President Amy Gutmann, and Provost Ronald Daniels (addresses, below).
Specifically, we encourage our colleagues to stress that by firing McGovern, the professions of Near Eastern archaeology and the archaeological sciences, the museum, the university, and the academic world generally will suffer serious losses. The Penn administration needs to find another solution in keeping with McGovern’s significant contributions and world-wide reputation. If enough colleagues register their dissatisfaction with the decision and highlight different aspects of McGovern’s career, the combined effect might well provide a compelling argument for the administration to find another solution.
Please consider submitting one such letter, and feel free to forward this request to other colleagues.
Addresses of Penn administrators:
Dr. Richard Hodges, Director
email: rhodges at sas.upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania Museum
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dr. Brian Rose, Deputy Director and Chief-of-Curators
email: roseb at sas.upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania Museum
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dr. Amy Gutmann
email: president at pobox.upenn.edu
Office of the President
University of Pennsylvania
100 College Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380
Ronald Daniels, Provost
email: provost at upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania
122 College Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303
More info here:
November 17th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
The Allentown & Bethlehem Brew Works just announced the return of an old local favorite, Neuweiler Ale. The beer, once brewed in Allentown, was most recently made by Ortlieb’s in Philly before it shut down in the 1980s.
This new version was developed by the Brew Works’ Beau Baden, in conjunction with Joe Ortlieb. Together, according to the press release, they went through “a recipe development process to capture the historic qualities of the hometown favorite with slight updates for modern brewing equipment. ”
I have vague memories of Neuweiler’s as one of those value brands that wasn’t particularly full-flavored but was at least different from the usual dreck. I think the most common variety was a cream ale, which James D. Robinson’s “Connoisseur’s Guide to Beer” (1982) described as having “a sweet vegeta-metallic aroma, sweet malt taste with undertones of decayed vegetable material.” Hmmm…
According to the press release, Neuweiler’s Sons was the first brewery in America to introduce a special process of dry hopping, providing extra aroma and bouquet. The new beer is described as an American-style amber ale, dry-hopped with Cascades hops, with a copper color, a toasted malt flavor followed by a crisp pleasant bitterness and piney hop aroma. “It is similar to beers like the iconic New Belgium’s Fat Tire or Pyramid’s Copper Peak. ”
Look for it to be released officially on Wednesday (11/19) at a press conference at the Brew Works’ Allentown location (free samples!). Bottles should be on local shelves soon.
November 17th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
Dock Street Brewery (50th & Baltimore, West Philly) offers a nod toward the city’s oldest-standing tavern with its freshly tapped Man Full of Trouble Porter. The beer’s description notes: “This brown porter was brewed with ‘old-world’ style in mind. Black and chocolate malts create its deep mahogany appearance and creamy nutty flavor. A blend of American Centennial and English Fuggles hops lends a delicate hop presence.”
Now, if we could only get the University of Pennsylvania to do something with this old tavern. The mammothly endowed school was bequeathed the colonial-era Man Full of Trouble building at 2nd & Spruce 14 years ago and, other than a few necessary improvements to keep it from falling apart, has done squat with the treasure. Little or nothing has changed since I wrote this two-and-a-half years ago.
Over recent months, I’ve heard from at least two parties who are interested in working out some kind of deal with the school - either a purchase or lease - that would re-open the building to the public. No word on their progress, but I’m not holding my breath.
Personally, I’d like to see it used in connection with a program to celebrate the city’s taverns’ role in the founding of our country. But anything has got to be better than Penn’s misuse of public trust in its stewardship of this property. Letting it sit vacant for so many years is irresponsible and a missed opportunity.
If Amy Gutmann’s listening: YO! Wake up and do something with the Man Full of Trouble. We can talk about it over a porter at Dock Street.