Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Gluten-Free Chicano. Diga Me! On-Line Floricanto at Month End.

Birongas for The Gluten-Free Chicano
The Gluten-Free Chicano returns to La Bloga the final Tuesday of every month. This month, el gluten-free chicas patas assesses gluten-free beer. 

Michael Sedano

Beer makers roast grains like barley, wheat, or rye, to produce malt. Malt, blended with hop flowers in water, is what gives each beer its distinctive flavor and character. These grains, however, make that sparkling glass of beer an ugly taunt to the thirsty gluten intolerant beer lover.

One’s body can withstand a couple of ordinary beers, but all things considered, champagne has long served as the better choice for this Gluten-Free Chicano. But beer times are a'changin'.

Gluten-free beer is out there. An expensive, hard-to-find specialty, but gluten-free birongas are out there. Brewing behemoth Anheuser-Busch led the hunt for the gluten-free dollar in my neck of the woods. Budweiser clone Redbridge gluten-free beer was earliest on my local shelves a few years back, shortly followed by New Grist then UK import, Green’s.

Recently a miracle of marketing savvy has brought a small wave of gluten-free beers to market. Only an armful of labels so far. Après estas, le deluge. Ojalá.

Here in Pasadena and perhaps in other places, most markets do not sell gluten-free beer, despite now selling a smattering of gluten-free bread-like products and pastas. Trader Joe’s, that boasts its gluten-free products and global beer offerings, fails to see a market in gluten-free brews. They have eyes, but...

Only BevMo and Whole Foods sell gluten-free beer in my area. Frustratingly, both are unreliable. This Gluten-Free Chicano prefers stores not sell at all than be undependable.

BevMo dependably stocks US brands Redbridge and New Grist, and some Green’s. BevMo irregularly stocks Bard’s, although clerks reliably promise “next week.” A fundamental principle of excellent customer service is training clerks to tell the truth. Say “I have no idea, I’ll check” rather than allow facile lies. Lies produce dissatisfied customers who tell everyone they know about that crummy store.

Whole Foods, aka Food4More, stocks Redbridge, New Grist, and Green's. Lately one Pasadena location added England’s St. Peter’s Sorghum. The other Pasadena Whole  Foods store not only reliably stocks Minnesota’s Bard’s Beer, they sell cold six-packs.

Sadly, Bard’s is reliably out of stock at my preferred Food4More location. However, reflecting keen market awareness, the location recently added Colorado’s delicious New Planet gluten-free craft beers to the shelves.

In all, The Gluten-Free Chicano has identified nine labels on sale in three Pasadena grocery stores. BevMo  has a few, but mostly, good gf beer comes from one or another Whole Foods. In order of discovery: Redbridge, New Grist, Green’s Discovery (now dubbed “Dubble Dark Ale”), Green’s Endeavor (now “Amber Ale”), Green’s Quest (now “Triple Blonde Ale”), St. Peter’s Sorghum, Bard’s, New Planet Tread Lightly Ale, New Planet Off Grid Ale.

But does it taste good?

Analog products for gluten-free wretches are abominations. Gluten-free bread and bagels are purely disappointing. Cookies and brownies suck. The graininess of bean and corn flours, absence of stretchy tender gluten, and use of xanthan gum, lend fake food a heavy texture and off taste that gives the lie to the word “bread.” The rare exception is far too rare.

Gluten-free beer stands tall. There are several drinkable gluten-free brews out there that even expert beer drinkers find acceptable.

To explore that hypothesis, La Bloga’s Gluten-Free Chicano invited two beer experts, Alfredo "Frito"  Lascano and Mario Trillo, to a real-world La Bloga gf beer tasting. Frito generally prefers Pacifico, Mario Bohemia, so today's choices offer something for both the lighter beer aficionado and one who enjoys a more robust ale.

Mario Trillo, Michael Sedano, Alfredo Lascano

Whole Foods in eastern Pasadena had stock of six of the nine labels currently on sale in the region and those six form the line-up for the tasting.

Cigars, tostadas de ceviche de pescado, tacos de chicharrón de carne, frijolitos fritos, a pair of tequilas, conversation y más, filled the spaces between brews. Eat, drink, laugh, repeat as needed for a good time. That, after all, is how even non-gf gente drink beer, hence this defines La Bloga’s methodology. (Leave a Comment below if you want to be included in a future gluten-free beer tasting.)

As a scientific control and because it was available, the tasting started with a home brew, John McDonald’s Russian Imperial Stout. Nothing--absochingaolutely nothing--outshines the taste of home brewed beer. John's stout lives up to its name.

After this tribute to “real” beer, the tasting of gluten-free beer wound its course. The final rankings come with controversy. Second and fourth switch places on Frito’s and Mario’s rankings. The unanimous middle choice held on to Third best and Green's Amber got demoted owing to Green's sweetness and Off Grid's genuine beer-like character.

There’s unanimity that St. Peter’s Sorghum in the distinctive green flask bottle, is best. Mario declared that St. Peter’s tastes as good as Bohemia used to taste.

Unanimity, too, comes on the last place finisher. Although there were only six in the running, Mario declared Redbridge "number ten." Frito declared Redbridge “do not serve.” The Gluten-Free Chicano agrees, but notes the absence of New Grist, a likely challenger for next-to-last place.

Here is the final rank with selected comments and The Gluten-Free Chicano’s own rankings. The absence of Bard’s skews the results. Bard’s would have finished first, if Whole Foods in east Pasas were a dependable supplier:
St. Peter’s Sorghum (2) (could drink it regularly)
Green’s Dubbel Dark (3) (almost like beer)
New Planet Off Grid Ale (1) (a reputable beeriness)
Green’s Amber (sweet like Michelob) (4)
Green’s Triple blond (way too sweet) (5)
Redbridge (tasteless, no character) (10)

Gluten-free beers cost about a dollar higher than premium beers. Así es.

La Bloga encourages gluten-free chicanas chicanos to ask their grocery store to carry quality gluten-free beer. Here are websites to help the store improve its customer service:

Redbridge from Anheuser Busch

New Grist from Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee

Green’s, UK

St Peter’s, UK

Bard’s, Minneapolis

New Planet, Boulder

Click here to print the above list to hand to your grocery store manager.

Digame! One Time Only

In one of the biggest, busiest weekends of 2011, the holidays kick off with Hallowe'en fests and  numerous Dia de los Muertos events. These come on top of the current extravaganza of art exhibits featuring chicana chicano artists. As reported in last Tuesday's La Bloga, Saturday 29 October also brings the fabulous spoken word event, Diga Me! featuring raza writers who read at the first floricanto at USC in 1973, and again at the reunion floricanto at USC in 2010.

Short fiction by Ron Arias, Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlain, and Alejandro Murguía will be read by actors Matt Ferrucci (Wilde Salome), Marina Gonzalez Palmier (Desperate Housewives), Holger Moncada (Prison Break).

After the readings, La Bloga's Michael Sedano joins the authors for a colloquy on writing, el movimiento, and speculations on a Chicano Renaissance.

Presented in cooperation with the Fowler Museum at UCLA's Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement.

Traffic Alert
Gente motoring to the Fowler from the north via the 405 Freeway will encounter heavy construction along the route, particularly at the Sunset exit for UCLA. Ni modo. Arrive muy early to allow you time to enjoy a pair of fabled exhibits, Icons of the Invisible and LA Xikano.

Late-Breaking News

On-Line Floricanto at October's End

This week, Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding To SB 1070 welcomes José Hernández Díaz as a new Moderator of group. José joins Francisco X. Alarcon, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Hedy Trevino, Carmen Calatayud, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Meg Withers, Abel Salas. This week, the moderators recommend five poets' work, Iris de Anda, Jesus Cortez, José Hernández Díaz, Victor Avila, Raul Sanchez.

"Sí Se Puede" by Iris de Anda
"My Soul-less Journey" by Jesus Cortez
"El llano y sus flores" by José Hernández Díaz
"Rise Up!!! (Occupy America)" by Victor Avila
"Apple Pie" by Raul Sanchez

Sí Se Puede

by Iris De Anda

you sir took the words from Mi Gente to win your campaign of “HOPE”
YES WE CAN means SÍ SE PUEDE & if my memory serves me correctly
it was never up for sale...we were never up for sale
you promised immigration reform
you pretended to be of the people for the people
but at night when the lights are out
you strip of ancestral memories
where once we were all the same
no borders, no money, no blame
you promised to bring our soldiers back
you pretended to care for the boys & girls who risk their lives for the red, white, & blue
but at noon when the sun is hot
you abandon the route to change
where once we were to be free
no war machine, no blood for oil, no greed
you promised things that were not yours to promise
you pretended in all the right places
but at dawn when the light comes up
you will remember a place
where once we were bearers of our own destiny
no wishes, no promises, no “HOPE”
you can keep your change, your “hope”, your yes we can
because mi gente is born of struggle, born of cosmic ancestry, born of the maize
SÍ SE PUEDE is ours to shout, to claim, to keep
SÍ SE PUEDE without your corrupt system
SÍ SE PUEDE without wall street
SÍ SE PUEDE without your pyramid of lies
SÍ SE PUEDE is respect to la madre tierra
SÍ SE PUEDE with the truth
SÍ SE PUEDE with peace
SÍ SE PUEDE with love
you sir took the words from Mi Gente to sell your campaign of “HOPE”
YES WE CAN means SI SE PUEDE & if my memory serves me correctly
it was never up for sale...we were never up for sale

My Soul-less Journey

by Jesus Cortez

My soul remained,
in the land where
my umbilical chord
was buried as my body
took a one way trip North,
anxious, sick, confused,
as my eyes saw monuments to a
land that was my "home"
but I met passing by, the mountains,
the hills, the cities, the soldiers
who searched us for "drugs"
they said, lined up as criminals,
with my 1 year old nephew
and my skinny 16 year old sister,
looking with anguish as they
looked upon us, and older ladies
with faces tired as the dreams of
a better tomorrow, in a land we
had to leave, because our bodies were
tired of malnourishment, even
if our souls desired to stay.

El llano y sus flores

By José Hernández Díaz
dedicado a Jan Brewer
y Micky Hammon...

the eagle warrior

darts across the
orange sky

and guides our
step along the
desert plain

we will not
be intimidated
by xenophobic

we are the
of truth
and dreams

our veins know
the lineage of
ancient streams

we embrace who
we are as
a native people

we are not
the fabricated
that you think
we are

we are a
down to earth
and blossoming

our roots know
the lineage of
sacred omens

our eyes have
seen smoke
on the hill
of the serpent

our hands have
built pyramids
to the sun
and the moon:

we will not fall;
we are not you.

Rise Up!!!(Occupy America)

by Victor Avila
for Matt Sedillo

From every corner of America
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

From every barrio, 'hood, and Main Street
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

For now is the moment.
Our voices will be heard.
Vampiric banker and corporate zombie
I demand you keep your word.

For there is a social contract
which you will not betray.
And you will be held accountable
for today is Judgement Day.

So from every school and union hall
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

And from every factory and prison
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

The 99% are no longer scared
of your tear gas and batons.
Why defend the privileged few
who laught at the puppets you've become?

So join us, don't beat us-
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

Them belly full, but we hungry
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

I see the ghost of Nat Turner urging us
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

One more push and the house of cards falls
Rise up, rise up, rise up...!!!

The vipers are driven into the street.
Economic justice is not a dream.
And the snakes that infest the pit scream
but there's no one left to drive the limousine.

Rise up,
Rise up,
RISE UP...!!!

Apple Pie (acrostic)

by Raul Sanchez

American Immigration law sucks
Previous generations didn't have this
Problem generated by xenophobic
Laws segregating humble workers
Endangering their family ties

Pushing them to take extreme measures
Instigating a massive
Exodus, so pick your own apples now!

Owing to an early deadline, this week La Bloga On-Line Floricanto presents a single bio.
"Sí Se Puede" by Iris de Anda
"My Soul-less Journey" by Jesus Cortez
"El llano y sus flores" by José Hernández Díaz
"Rise Up!!! (Occupy America)" by Victor Avila
"Apple Pie" by Raul Sanchez

José Hernández Díaz is from Los Angeles, Ca, and his parents are from Guanajuato, México. He is a UC Berkeley graduate with a BA in English Literature. José has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading Anthology 2011, La Gente Newsmagazine of UCLA, Bombay Gin Literary Journal, Indigenous Writers and Artists Collective, Hinchas de Poesia, among others. José has ten poems published in La Bloga. José has had poetry readings in Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley, at The Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco, and at The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, Ca. Next month, he will be a speaker/reader at the IX Festival de Literatura del Noroeste en Tijuana, México. José is an active moderator of the group, 'Poets Responding to SB 1070.'

1 comment:

Stu said...

Such a great article it was which Beer makers roast grains like barley, wheat, or rye, to produce malt. Malt, blended with hop flowers in water, is what gives each beer its distinctive flavor and character. These grains, however, make that sparkling glass of beer an ugly taunt to the thirsty gluten intolerant beer lover.Thanks for sharing this article.