Archive for the ‘breweries’ Category

Local Lager, Lager, Lager
August 8, 2010

Bud Girl from 1904

A brief googling of “beer and women” turns up a dark parade of lager and misogyny.  It’s hard to separate the two.  Even with the new shiny-retro Stella ads aimed at women, it’s enough to turn a girl off the style.

I don’t expect much from a good lager and to be honest, they don’t expect much of me, either.  They’re like that friend you have that doesn’t mind a bit of dumb fun while crawling around the mall or dancing to 80s music. But the trick is to find someone who’ll do those things but not annoy you. They’re rare.

Munich is the place to find such companionship in a beer garden, in a brewery canteen. But what if you’re not in Munich?  What if you’re in London?

The Bunker brewpub in Covent Garden used to brew a perfectly fun lager but then they changed the recipe, labeling it as Freedom lager and it just wasn’t that good anymore, and now they are no longer.  Though you can still get Freedom lager around, it’s a bit like seeing that friend that used to be fun but then adopted some seriously green middle class lifestyle and lost their sense of humor in the process.

And then there’s shiny Meantime Helles and Pils– both totally drinkable yet I don’t choose to drink them very often because usually wherever you find these beers there’s a wider selection of something that’s just more enticing.

Brodies, an East London brewery that’s brewing some really compelling beers, does a London Lager but I’ve never had it.  They have a brewery tap, King William the IV in Leyton, which seems worth a field trip!

Last night we met some friends at the Regent in Islington, which has the best pizzas in London but the beer selection is a bit lackluster.  Chalkboards around the shabby-chic interior proclaimed a new Cotswold Lager on tap.  I was a bit wary but by the time I had my second half I was won over completely.  This beer was easy to drink and went down well with the pizzas.  The sweet malt character gave it just enough backbone to not be boring, but it was dry enough not be annoying.

That is, I wasn’t annoyed until I read the Cotswold Brewery website’s description of the beer, a complete throwback cliche describing the beer as if it were a woman being offered up for sexual consumption: “If you think lager doesn’t taste of much then it’s time you pressed your lips up against a pint of Premium. She’s a full flavoured seductress who will soon have you head-over-heals with her crisp, dry taste and flirtatious bitter kick. It’s love at first sip.”

Read on with mild horror the description of their Dark Lager: “This one is a dark little number who can really pack a punch. She’s bursting with flavour and lashings of taste, yet retains a smooth finish that will warm even the most frozen of your cockles. She is normally only available during the winter but has proved to be a popular little number so we have kept her on for the summer.”

The wording of the description is wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.  Their lager really deserves a better public face.  It’s another example of a good British brewery in dire need of a marketing makeover.

Suffer the children, for the Old Brewery belongs to such as these
May 13, 2010

The Old Brewery, Greenwich

Last weekend I met Chris at the Old Brewery in Greenwich, a place I’d been eagerly waiting to visit since I’d heard plans of its construction a year ago.  I am a fan of Meantime’s beers, and what Alastair Hook the brewer has done in redefining historical beers is truly exciting. With the Old Brewery, Hook has used part of Wren’s grand Old Naval Hospital  for his new brewpub, making beers inspired by the space, including a porter.  It is a glorious idea, but one that, on the afternoon I visited, felt much like stepping into a brochure, a concept rather than a welcoming space. Perhaps this is the problem with so much history– to respect it is to care for it and make it live somehow, but in doing so how do we make room for ourselves in it?

Hook has done a wonderful job surmounting this paradox by brewing traditional London beers but using processes and philosophies from both the German brewing tradition as well as the American craft brewing movement.

I had read much about the brewpub on blogs and other reviews, so I imagined something a little different.  It is a brew pub, in that the beer brewed is served there, and you can even sit near the gorgeous copper vats. Though you will be surrounded by a sea of buggies and families who, though I’d like to think are admiring the shiny beer apparatus, aren’t there for the beer at all, but for the space which they are using as a pit stop on their day out visiting the “interactive learning stations” (this curmudgeon shudders) of the Discover Greenwich exhibition next door.  On the day I visited, this cafe/brew pub felt more like a National Trust tearoom.  In the main room there are aproned staff serving up chocolate muffins and sandwiches, and in the bar there are many very efficient and helpful staff, there’s just not enough space or tables to sit comfortably.  On the rare occasion the weather behaves, the outside beer garden looks promising if a bit overly-groomed.

The Old Brewery

I didn’t take any pictures.  These are promotional photographs.  Much like estate agent documentation, they distort the space slightly, offering a perfect angle. The place just isn’t that big, which shouldn’t be a criticism but if it’s going to be an overblown creche, I would prefer to drink elsewhere.

But drink we did.  Between Chris, Mr. Malting and myself we must have tried almost all the Meantime beers on keg.  They were all quite tasty and refreshing, though in danger of being somewhat interchangeable, their differences were so subtle.  The exception was the wonderfully named Hosptial Porter which was exceptional, and at 8% quite dangerous. A delicious lactose note laced with  lots of deep chocolate, quite balanced with a soft mouthfeel and no sour note or alcohol tang as I had been expecting.  It did seem to have medical properties, lightening my rather grumpy mood.  (It’s not that I don’t like children, I just resent the private space of the parenting endeavor invading on the public space of the pub, which it too often does, becoming an obnoxious spectacle of entitlement, but at the risk of losing my readership I will stop now). Chris commented that Meantime’s dark beers are much better than the lighter ones and I fear he may be right.  The London Pale Ale, so blissfully zingy in the bottle, remained a ghost of itself in the keg (MarkBeer Nut, Knut and I found this to be the case when we visited the Union Pub last year, and our consensus must remain.) However the London Porter as well as the stout are outstanding beers both on keg and in the bottle.

I wonder if in the evenings the cafe is transformed into something closer to the promotional images?Though to be fair I’m a bit put off by the white tablecloths.  That is really taking gastro to the extreme– I look at it and think where’s the awkward wedding seating chart? I don’t know if I would travel the hour and a half it takes for me to get to Greenwich unless I can be promised something between the creche and the precious, upmarket dining experience, no matter how good the beer is.  Though, if they do that Tudor recipe, and put it on keg, the anachronist in me is just going to have to brave the buggies.

A Community Brewer
May 7, 2010

Bob Tower, brewer behind the Echo Park Private Brewery

This month’s Beer Blogging Session is hosted by The Hop Press and they’ve chosen collaboration as a topic.

The most obvious approach is perhaps to discuss micro-brewery collaborations between BrewDog and Mikkeller or other joint ventures that create a buzz in the beer world.

But that would have nothing to do with how I came to beer, which was through a different kind of collaboration.  There is a vibrant arts and d0-it-yourself, indie community of creative people in Los Angeles and one locus of this community was The Echo Park Private Brewery, or Bob and Edie’s home. There was always some new and amazing brew on– from Malt Liquor to Mead and fascinating combinations in between. Bob would  send out humorous and informative emails detailing the style and process.  He has turned hundreds of people on to beer and brewing, and I’m one of them.

Bob sees beer as a collaboration with the drinker, with artists and other brewers.  He has made beer as part of international art installations where participants designed the beer labels— each one different, hand made and sewn. This beer was given away at art openings and community events across Holland.

One of my fondest memories of those nights drinking beer with other artists, writers and community organizers in Bob & Edie’s kitchen was the Chicha night, where we tried to help Bob prepare the maize for the traditional South American fermented beverage.  There were about fifteen of us chewing the maize, rolling it into little balls and flattening it to dry.  (The enzymes in saliva break down the starch into maltose.)  So what if that brew didn’t exactly turn out?  We were all doing it together, part of a big experiment, and it put me in mind of what brewing might have been like when it was a community endeavor marking the seasons.

Sometimes I wonder what the Echo Park Private Brewery could do with a huge influx of capital.  What if Bob Tower’s beer could be available on a larger scale?  His clever vision and mastery of the craft could be shared by many more drinkers.  In the meantime, he has used local resources and creative alliances to continually reinvent what he brews.  Echo Park is indeed lucky to have its own community brewer.

Beyond the light and dark: Beer in Berlin
November 21, 2009

Cotton wool beers at Marcus Brau

Beer in Berlin: the consensus in the (English speaking) beer-o-sphere is that it’s a bit of a limbo; there’s nothing much going on.  I arrived armed with Ron Pattinson’s pub guide and an open mind.  In many bars I went to they just ask you if you want a light or dark beer, and that’s it.  Dunkel or pils, basically.  Maybe they were just simplifying things for the tourist, but I doubt it.

Light or Dark? Commemorative beer mats by artist Jean-Ulrick Desert

Much of my visit to Berlin, a very white town, could be shook down to that question.  The troubled notion of race here coupled with the amazing history of survival, heroic struggle and attrocity makes that simple question poignant. At the Schwules or Gay Museum, I spied Artist Jean-Ulrick Desert’s commemorative beer mats from Negerhosen 2000, a performance piece where he traveled around Bavaria in traditional costume, having his picture taken with Bavarians.  The project was essentially a playful take on Bavarian conservatism, and the artist is very much a Berliner, and the piece is very Berlin– ironic, sly, complex.  I wondered what would be the beer that would go with the mats? Something trad but playful, throwing something new into the mix.  I looked, but have yet to find that beer.

My go-to beer for the trip was a beer not brewed in Berlin, and yet it was everywhere: Warsteiner, which I first had with amazing vegan pho at a little nameless place in Danziger Strasse– the white grape note of the beer stood out brilliantly against the fresh basil and chili.

BarMas at the BittenBullet has a recent take on conservative German attitudes to brewing, and it’s true that the Reinheitsgebot, or the 16th brewing purity laws which most brewers still follow, would limit the chances brewers could take, and in turn the styles that are brewed.  Most German beer I’ve had  is perfectly pleasant, consistent– it asks little of the drinker.  Various smoky rauch beers aside, it is rarely extreme.

Mit or red?

Except when you consider Berliner Weisse, a young beer which, without the compulsory syrup, tastes very much like a Belgian lambic.  Sour in the extreme, what I consider refreshing others might see as undrinkable.  The mouthfeel is less of the lambic’s barley wine and more of a lively ale.  The most popular beer in Berlin in the 19th century, it’s now only brewed by Berliner Kindl. I drank it both with and without syrup, and confess to really loving the grün, or woodruff syrup, called waldmeister or forest master– a candy cocktail suitable for the great god Pan.  It’s normally drunk in the spring but if it was on the menu, that’s what I ordered.  I was pretty smitten with the unusual sourness and the lively mouthfeel.  Drinking it mit schuss made me feel like I was celebrating something. Others have compared drinking the cocktail to an alcopop, but I don’t see it– at 3% it’s not exactly a “get hammered fast and sweet” sort of drink.  It didn’t taste like a softdrink.  Even with the syrup you could taste the earthy wheat of the beer and a chamomile-like fruitiness, but of course these were more pronounced without the sweet additive.  Why it is served with a straw I’ve no idea!  Berlin is a cocktail-crazy town, full of fun little bars offering swanky, original takes on trad cocktails and it’s in this spirit the Weisse should be had.  In one particularly inspired version I had it with passion fruit liquor.  Still, no matter what local tradition dictates, I’m not drinking beer through a straw.

Light or Dark? At the Marcus Brau Microbrewery

I went to two microbreweries in Berlin– there might be more but I couldn’t find them.  The first was Marcus Brau, a microbrewery housed in a side street of tacky shops in the rather grim shadow of the Fernsehturm, on the outskirts of Alexanderplatz. Like many other bars, the choice here is simple: light or dark? Young Marcus himself, rather bored and annoyed to be interrupted from his web surfing, served us.   Mr. Malting had the pils and I the dunkel. we sat in a wooden booth, surrounded by blinking fruit machines and homey decorations from the 1970’s, possibly older than the brewer himself!  A table of three regulars consumed what little service there was to be had.  Mr. Malting wanted another pils and the guy couldn’t seem to be bothered. When he finally ordered, Marcus forgot to bring the beer.  I couldn’t finish the dunkel.  I know Boak and Bailey have often used homebrew-like as a pejorative and I didn’t quite get it until now.  The dark beer tasted like something had gone wrong, there was a iodine-aniseed note that was really hard to get past and I just kept thinking, homebrew. The pils was free from this aftertaste.  It was drinkable, but pils is not my favourite style.  It had a very subtle cilantro note, and was a bit grassy in a pleasant way.  Still, nothing special and certainly not worth waiting 20 minutes for the brewer to quit talking to the regulars and bring it to you.

photo of Brewer Philipp Brokamp of Hops and Barley by skpy on flicr

The other microbrewery we tried was far better. Hops and Barley brewpub in the happening neighborhood of Friedrichshain is an elegantly tiled bar with a smoking and non-smoking room (a big deal in Berlin if you are a non-smoker!).  This place has a real welcoming, community feel and is run by two friendly guys, one of which is Philipp Bokamp the brewer.  They let me taste everything, and even asked me if I was a homebrewer, and what styles I liked to make.  It’s clear they are passionate about beer here! The one guy kept chiding me about my “little black book of beer”– the Moleskine notebook where I was taking notes.  They wanted to know what else we’d had in town and what we thought of it.  I loved the beer I had there– everything tasted very clean and fresh.

The Friedrichshainer Amber was my favourite– with a kumquat nose and strong presence of Brewer’s Gold hops. Philipp said there was another kind of hop in here as well, something that grew near a large lake in Southern Germany, but I didn’t write it down because I confess I was rather tipsy.  The dunkels had a big chocolate front with a very light mouthfeel, making it easy to drink more of it despite the richness.  My second favourite though was the delightful cider: cloudy, tart and just sweet enough to round out the yeasty, grassy middle.  Beautiful stuff!

At one point I asked Philipp if he would ever consider brewing his own version of the Berliner weisse (the name is proprietary– technically only breweries in Berlin can make it.)  He explained, politely, no way.  It would be too much of a risk for a small scale brewery to willfully use lactobacillus, something that is considered an infection in a normal beer. He felt that weisse is basically a brewing error now marketed to people who don’t know any better, and if he were to make it no one would drink it, and if no one drinks his beer he would have to close up shop.   That would be a very bad thing, indeed.

(My discussion of my (non-beery) Mauerfall visit to Berlin can be found at Feral Strumpet Teatime. )

Bad Sheep, Good People, Better Beer.
February 28, 2009

BrewDog has done it again, producing a lovely, drinkable beer that still challenges the modern, mass market idea of a lager.  Their black lager, Zeitgeist, was launched on Thursday night to a packed crowd at the Austin Gallery in Bethnal Green.  Congratulations to the staff who were welcoming and well organized, as well as the entire BrewDog posse who were just good people.

Zeitgeist label art by Heather Brennan

Zeitgeist label art by Heather Brennan

The gallery itself is an intimate space with a spirited mix of DIY and polish.  Downstairs Heather Brennan’s silkscreens for the labels were hung with clips, as if the beer and the spooky sheep-masked people had swooped into London, giving the evening the feeling of a Temporary Autonomous Zone. The masked everywomen/men in artwork were a little bit Wickerman, a little bit baphomet.  It’s sly nod to the wolf in sheep’s clothing, an apt metaphor for a reinvented lager, which is a style made yellow and insipid by herd-market brands.  But Zeitgeist is pitch black and full of flavor.  The masks are off!

Drinking this dark-as-night lager throughout the night contributed to this feeling that we were getting away with something.  The beer was one of the prototype brews where James and Martin asked drinkers to vote for the beer they would like to see added to their range. (I was most interested in Bad Pixie, a 4.7% wheat beer brewed with juniper berries and lemon peel).  I’ve been following their video blog with glee– the brewers put forth arguments for different styles and ingredients and let the readers decide.  BrewDog has plans to continue this drinker-participation with their website for the Zeitgeist, where drinkers will be able to upload missives and visual subversions inspired by the beer, thus making even the marketing of the beer a collaboration between the drinkers and brewers.   Portman group, I’d like to see you try to stop this!

What interested me most about the beer is that it seemed to combine my own beery dilemma with elegant balance.  What should I brew next? I love chocolate malt, but then I also love American-style hoppage, so as I was musing on the possibility of brewing another chocolaty mild or a daring American Pale Ale.  Then BrewDog comes along and makes a lager that combines these two beloved notes– chocolate and estery Chinook hops.

The highlight of the evening though was meeting James Watt, the brewer.  Brewers in general are generous people who have a love of life, and James is no exception.  What most impressed me about him was his passion for brewing and his sincerity.  These characteristics carry through in the BrewDog beers which push boundaries while remaining trad.  They’re daring while never underestimating the drinker.   This is what I love about the brave guys at BrewDog: they embrace paradoxes with veracity– no surprise my favourite of their beers goes by the same name.

Waiting at the Rake
December 1, 2008

On Friday I went to the Rake, the smallest bar in London.  I’d been to the Rake before a couple of times after work.  It’s essentially a room with a vast beer selection (basically a representation of what’s on offer at the comprehensive Utobeer, the sister stall in the Market) There are a couple of tables and chairs and a fenced-in ‘garden’.  I’m glad the place is doing a good business but I’ve never been able to actually sit down inside because it’s so rammo– I’m reminded of how often having ‘fun’ in crowded, pricey London is a lot of work.

I was invited via this blog to the kick-off of the BrewDog week at the Rake– a tasting at the bar at 4:30. I was gleefully excited to get this invitation, as BrewDog is my favourite British brewery, consistently making potent and daring brews, pushing traditional styles.  Edgy juxtapostions mark the flavors of their beers.  I also love their puckish branding, their playing David to the Portman Group’s Goliath.

I showed up at 5 for the tasting, thinking it would already be in full swing.  The bar was packed with people drinking beers, only they weren’t BrewDog beers.  Weird. I had brought my friend Petra who is a journalist for National Public Radio back in America, telling her about BrewDog and the complications of the Portman Group troubles, which interested her. Earlier in the week we tried some BrewDog Storm my friend Liza had stashed and Petra announced it was like drinking a house on fire.  Precisely!  Though my palate delighted in this, hers did not.

On the occasions I’ve gone to the Rake I have had the naive expectation that the people working the bar might enthuse with me about the beers, maybe suggest something or explain what’s on tap.  Bars like this in America would definitely have this forthcoming attitude, but there is the typical London service going on– cursory or cowed. Could it be that places earn their names, and the Rake is ultimately a cad, a heel of a beer joint?  (Hogarth’s progressed to Bedlam.) My verdict is still out.

On Friday the vibe was no different. I overheard a guy who I thought was the proprietor talking about BrewDog and I butted in, apologizing for interupting–  asking after the BrewDog beers and if there was a tasting on.  He told me the beers would be on hand  pump next week and I should come back then.  I mentioned the press release I’d been sent, but he turned back to his friend to say what a coup it was that they had the BrewDog beers on offer for a week, and clearly the conversation with me was over.  I had no idea that the tasting was actually going on upstairs at that very moment.  I didn’t even know there was an upstairs at the Rake.  I only learned of this the next day.

On Friday we sat outside looking to recognize someone.  (I was told in the invitation that the brewers would be at the bar.)  As I waited, I marveled at the crowd the Rake attracts–  well-dressed media types and boomer-aged foodies who love beer so much, or the hipster craic that comes with drinking £4 bottles of beer, that they will stand outside on a rainy midwinter night to drink it. I was no different, and probably worse, as I sat on the rain-wet bench for two hours, waiting to perhaps see another beer blogger or even the brewers I’d come to meet.  I actually spurned my usual investment-banking-office-wear that day and dressed festively in my favourite black dress which remained hidden the entire night under my bulky winter coat. If a non-beer person asked me what I did on Friday, how could I even explain this behavior?

While I waited I had some of BrewDog’s Trashy Blonde and then the Speedball, but I took no tasting notes, my heart just not being in it.  Petra was after a Kriek, and all they had on was Boon, which I’ve never tried.  She had some Morte Subite Olde Gueuze which she affectionately dubbed ‘pickle juice beer’ and then switched to the candy-coloured comfort of Sam Smith’s cherry lager.

This week a full range of BrewDog beers are on at The Rake in Borough Market, along with some in the cask on hand pumps.  Initially I drew up a list of the beers I wanted to try, in specific order.  But now can’t motivate myself to go and stand outside on a winter’s night drinking them silently amongst strangers, no matter how fascinating the beers themselves might be.

Ebullient Redemption
May 22, 2008

As Pete Brown suggests in a recent post, sometimes taste, whether we like a beer or not, is all about context.

I must begin my discussion of this beer with putting it in the context of several other beers I tried around the same time. Last year I was traveling in Scotland and saw signs for the Black Isle Brewery. I convinced Mr. Malting it would be a good idea to check it out, a decision I later regretted. In the brewery store we just wanted to grab some beers, but clearly if you stopped it meant you wanted a tour of the brewery. We waited for the brewer to finish his conversation with a well-dressed couple who were chatting with him endlessly about their green lifestyle. Having come from Los Angeles this sounded weirdly like beer schmoozing, but we waited. And waited. He offered samples to the M&S wearing Brits but not to us, even though there were only five of us in the room. It was awkward. We waited some more. I considered leaving, but in one of my Larry-David-esque moments I decided that I was going to see this through. So of course once we purchased a range of beers to try later, they were already clouded with my vague annoyance. I’ve also had bad luck with several organic beers (why is it so hard to find a really good organic pint? I have had a few nice ones, but that is a subject for another post.) I tried the Irish red, the “Beat the Drum” ale and the Yellowhammer IPA. They were that rare thing– beers I couldn’t finish. I did finish the porter, but barely, being the one style I’m very forgiving about.

It all left a bad taste in my mouth, literally. So the next day when we stopped at a tourist shop to use the loo, I perused the shelves of coats-of-arms mugs that Americans buy to take back with them to prove they have roots somewhere, and in between the plush Nessies and clan tartan neckties, there was a small beer section. I fell for the Ebulum label– I am not immune to the whole Pictish-Celtic marketing aesthetic. But it was also black, flavoured with elderberries and was 6.5%. I was sold. And you know, after the bad-beer luck I was having, this beer wasn’t just good. It was redemptive.

The Plough Inn, Crowmarty

The next day we went drinking at the Plough Inn in Rosemarkie, where an old man played the accordion for the almost empty room. There was a gentleman there with a big black dog named Molly. When this man saw me he exclaimed, “You are a strange one, you are,” pointing at me as if I should know it.

“I’m a stranger.” I agreed. And once that was settled we got to talking. He’d lost his wife “two years to the day.” He bought me a pint of Tennent’s Velvet, which was really quite lush, and I told him I had been to the Black Isle Brewery. He then gave me an earful of gossip! He also asked me what I thought of the beer and I told him honestly.

He said, “The red one?” and then made a choking gesture, “It’s like Buffy the vampire was choking me!” I had to forgive him for mucking the pop culture reference– I was just happy to have someone concur.

And now, curled up with my laptop and cat in my little flat, that Ebulum holds up to a second try in these more familiar surroundings. The berries mix with a dark tea-tannin deliciously, any Ribena subsumed in warm barley, and the vanilla-malt nose floats over it all. Cheers to Molly and the widower and that old man playing the accordion, faraway on the Black Isle.

Eats: belgian chocolate truffles

While listening to: In Gowan Ring

In the Meantime
May 14, 2008

While real ale in itself isn’t going to change white, male “boy’s club” feel of beer drinking in the UK, it does have the potential for wider appeal with women and people of color. How is this going to happen?

One possible way is that beer will be marketed to separate race and gender demographics. People will buy it from supermarkets and drink it in front of the telly.

Where is the fun in that? Beer is a social thing, a bonding agent. Beer has the potential to really bring people together joyfully. What if real ale culture harnessed that anew, starting with pubs and festivals radically rethinking their base?

Perhaps the nationalistic, tradition-based advertising approach of many British pubs, festivals and breweries is not ultimately the way forward if real ale is to have more appeal. In the changing landscape of Britain it must have wider appeal to really survive and grow.

Meantime– which doesn’t produce cask-conditioned ale– is an amazing example of British beer adopting international styles and learning from the American microbrewery revolution. Easy-drinking kolsh and Munich styles plus Strawberry cream, blackcurrant porter and raspberry ale are beers that will appeal to women, but they aren’t marketed patronizingly at us. Also the packaging in the grocery store and the pub spoke to me: bottles with a beautiful font and a great name. They were elegant, back to basics and yet full of London magic (Greenwich Mean Time– time begins here–).

The Greenwich Union pub did not disappoint, and echoed the branding effortlessly. Everything was perfect down to the details: the glasses were appropriate to the style and brewery branded, and even carefully sprayed down after pouring by the bar staff so they wouldn’t be sticky. The beer itself was perfect in every way– the kolner seemed quite accurate especially– I suppose it can’t be called a kolsh because you can’t hear the bells of the Dom in Greenwich! The dunkel rivaled my favourite of that style– Andrechs. The raspberry was specially perfect for drinking outside on a summer’s day. The sunny Union garden did remind me of happy times with friends in the beer gardens of Bavaria. It was a Sunday afternoon and there were many more women here drinking– maybe even outnumbering men. Though it was still a predominantly white crowd.