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Solar Power Is Making Changes for Craft Beer Breweries

Craft breweries and beer pubs are rapidly making their presence felt in terms of the variety of beer and food that they are making available to American consumers. Numbering more than 7,000 breweries and brew pubs in the United States and a growing number in the international market, craft breweries and beer pubs have become a significant fact of life for Americans.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is the largest solar energy producer.
Sierra Nevada is the largest solar energy producer among craft brewers.

One of the factors that has made this possible is the reduced cost of solar power. As major consumers of electrical power, breweries are especially aware of the gains to be made through the adoption of solar power. Though it is one of several resources that needs to be brought together to brew beer, solar energy is one that can be used in any number of products or processes. Solar power, especially combined with the supply of cheap batteries, can make solar energy a “go to” energy source in a renewable resource equation.

When you start looking at solar energy, it is important to look at the top solar producers in the brewery market. In 2016, the Solar Resources Guide listed its Top 10 Solar Powered Breweries. The number one producer was Sierra Nevada Brewing Company with 2.65MW off of approximately 12,000 solar units. This puts them just slightly behind MillerCoors who produced 3.6MW. The rise in Sierra Nevada Brewing and the opening of their second facility in Mills River, NC (just outside of Ashville and pictured above) indicates they are in the brewing business for the long haul.

Science on Tap at Old Ox Brewery

The accident on Apollo 13 and response by NASA’s engineers on the ground to save the astronauts in space was an exemplar of the limits of reliability and a study of success in incident response. Hear about state-of-the-art reliability today and how tech companies respond to outages and security incidents in a cloud-hosted, app-driven world. Speaker Sanjeev Sharma is vice president of data modernization for Delphix, a Silicon Valley based startup. Get here early on Tuesday, August 20 to grab a seat, food from Saffron Gourmet, and a beer!

Tech on Tap is presented by Loudoun County Public Library and Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC).

On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, Old Ox Brewery hosted another presentation in a series with the Loudon County Library titled “Tech on Tap.” This session was titled “Innovation Through the Lens of Reliability” and was presented by Sanjeev Sharma, who is a vice president for data modernization for a Silicon Valley start up Delphix. Dr. Sharma is also an author of two books

How World War I Changed Pub Culture, and Beer Itself

History by the Glass by Ron Pattinson | Aug 2019 | Issue #134

The First World War ended 100 years ago. It was a cataclysmic event in more ways than one—not just on battlefields in Flanders. Back in the UK, drinkers suffered, too. And their woes lasted long after the Armistice. The war transformed pubs and even beer itself. Not in a good way.

In August 1914, London pubs were open from 5 a.m. until 12:30 a.m., a total of 19.5 hours. It was commonplace for workers to nip in for a quick pint on the way to the factory. That ended when the Defence of the Realm Act (D.O.R.A.) became law in August of that year.

The government worried that munitions workers would spend their days in the pub rather than making artillery shells. Lloyd George, then Chancellor and later in the war Prime Minister, expressed concerns in a speech in Bangor in February 1915:

“Most of our workmen are putting every ounce of strength into this urgent work for their country, loyally and patriotically. But that is not true of all. There are some, I am sorry to say, who shirk their duty in this great emergency. I hear of workmen in armament Works who refuse to work a full week’s work for the nation’s need. . . What is the reason? Sometimes it is one thing, sometimes it is another, but let us be perfectly candid. It is mostly the lure of the drink.”

“The Control of the Drink Trade” by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, page 47.

Courage X Ale (1914-1920)

As a result of D.O.R.A., pub operating hours were slashed to just 5.5 hours: noon to 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the evening. Afternoon closing—a huge irritation in my early drinking years—lasted until the 1980s.

And some restrictions were just weird. Like the prohibition of treating, buying a drink for someone else. This was taken to the ridiculous extreme of prosecuting men for getting their wives a beer.

Apart from tripling the tax on it, beer itself was mostly left alone until early 1917, when the unrestricted German U Boat campaign started to seriously impact transatlantic trade. So with grain supplies running low, the government imposed a series of restrictions on brewers.

In April 1917 the Food Controller limited annual beer production to 11,470,000 standard barrels—less than a third of the 1914 level. A couple of months later, breweries were forced to brew half of their beer at a gravity of less than 1036º, or about 3.5 percent ABV. In 1914 the average original gravity was 1053º.

That was just the start. A year later, the average gravity of a brewery’s output could not exceed 1030º, or about 3 percent ABV. Maximum prices were also imposed, 4 pence per pint for beer under 1030º, 5 pence per pint for beer 1030º to 1034º. Those fixed prices are why brewers made lots of beer well under 1030º.

There was still money to be made with beers over 1034º, which weren’t price controlled. But for every barrel of beer you brewed at 1035º, you needed to brew one no stronger than 1025º. As a consequence, the strength of popular beers like Mild plummeted. Courage X Ale, a Mild, demonstrates this trend well. Its gravity fell from 1055º in 1914 to a nadir of just 1021º in late 1918. Not a happy time to be a Mild drinker.

As restrictions were gradually lifted from 1919 on, beer strength did bounce back, but it never returned to pre-war levels. On average, UK beer was 19 percent weaker in the 1920s than it had been in 1914.

WWI had a permanent legacy. UK beer became relatively weak and pubs remained closed for much of the day. I suppose it could have been worse. The United States got total Prohibition. ■

Africa is a Continent, Not a country

I just got done reading about how 11 breweries across Africa were being greened with the additional of solar power, water power and water management issues. (If I can, I will send the article.)

But what gets me, is that Africa is not a country, it is a continent, and those countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Seychelles, Nigeria and Ghana) represent just a small percentage of the population. If we are going to represent Africa as a continent, then we have to represent Ghana as a country.

Purple Black Eye

Ocelot Brewing Company

Often times when you discover a really unique blend of coffee and cascara (dried coffee cherries), you stand up and say “Why has it been such a long time for this flavoring to make it here?” Then you stand back and casually read the label of the beer you have been drinking and it hits you – if you were going to have a guess, it would be Ocelot Brewing Company and the blend would be Purple Black Eye.

Purple Black Eye – Ocelot Brewing Company

Ocelot Brewing Company (23600 Overland Drive, Sterling, VA Voice: 703-665-2146; is nothing new to the National Capital area. Nestled to the west of the Dulles International Airport ( on the Loudon County Parkway, I have made note a couple of times of these breweries experiments with deep brewed stouts. This time is no exception with this classic tasting and unique brew.

Purple Black Eye takes two approaches to its coffee laden stout flavor. First, it takes the traditional fashion of using hops to arrive at the the flavor. The Purple Black Eye does this pretty early and begins to bring in the drinker. But then, it socks it to you with in the surprise, a dried coffee cherry, known as a cascara. It is a sweet cherry but it is tempered by its bitter coffee taste. The two flavors taken together with their strong stout base make this a truly flavorful beverage that leaves the drinker wanting more. It is a truly fantastic experience.

I gave this is 4.5 out of five star on Untapped. This is a really outstanding drink – and I think the cascara and coffee combination is headed for bigger things if it is to be realized.


Liquid Distro Tap Takeover

Liquid Distro Tap Takeover
Thursday, 6 December 2018 at 4PM to 11PM
High Side
4009 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

Great News! Our good friends at Liquid Distro are expanding their portfolio and bringing more of their great brews to NOVA. This is their first tap takeover.

Here is their Liquid Distro portfolio:
Central State Brewing
Commonwealth Brewing Company
Deciduous Brewing Company
Hoof Hearted Brewing
Outer Range Brewing Company
Red Dragon Brewery
Resident Culture Brewing Company

See you on December 6 at 4PM!

On the Road Again…Cocoborealis by Chaos Mountain Brewing

Cocoborealis, by Chaos Mountain Brewing

ABV: 6% 31 IBU Color: Dark Aroma: Dark chocolate
Taste: A slight dark chocolate taste, but nothing remarkable. A cavalcade of mild hops that manage to keep it balanced, but other than that there is more in the name than there is in the taste. Another in a long line of chocolate stouts that claim to offer more than they have.

Purchased at Spacebar as a draft. 3 stars on Untappd.