Altamont, Jan. 16, 2014

Jim and I enjoy cruising for many reasons as you well know, if you are a regular reader. Of course, we like the food, the royal treatment and the relaxation. However, we enjoy the opportunity to learn new things each time we get off the ship and take a tour. Some of the learning experiences are available right here at home, but it may take a tour to see something that peaks your interest.

We were on a trip to Grand Bahama Island and wondered about Grand Cayman’s ability to deliver interesting travel experiences on par with some destinations we have visited over the years. In places like Barbados, Nevis and Tobago, you’re off the beaten path the minute you step off the ship. In more popular destinations, you have to seek out the uncommon.

We found that Grand Cayman Island is full of surprises, not the least of which is their homegrown beer. We expected the tour of the island that would be a quick trip past buildings, fountains, and some local other attractions. Part of this tour was usual, however, this time we had a surprise, a tour of the Cayman Island Brewing Company. The Cayman Island Brewing Company produces three different beers. I would like to mention the breweries flagship brand, Caybrew.

Caybrew is a smooth, full-bodied premium lager, with a crisp, clean hop character which was awarded the international gold medal for quality by the Monde Selection Jury in Brussels 2008. That award is significant not just because it’s a nice honor, but also because Caybrew earned the prestigious medal after only about a year in production. They first started pouring in March 2007, which really speaks to the quality of this fine beer.

The quality is in what goes into making Caybrew – German malts, hops from the Cascade Mountains and super-clean local water. The Caymans are famous for their pristine desalinated water, but the Cayman Island Brewery enhances the cleanliness factor by purifying the water they use to 99.9 percent. The freshness of the water makes Caybrew the freshest beer in the Caribbean.

The Cayman Islands Brewery produces and distributes Caybrew, Caylight, Ironshore Bock and White Tip Lager. They produce them right on the island, and are the only beer supplier that recycles the bottles and cans.

Beer is an alcoholic beverage produced by the conversion of starch into simple sugar and fermentation of the resulting sugar. The starch and saccharification enzymes are often derived from malted cereal grains; most commonly malted barley and malted wheat. Most beer is also flavored with hops, which add bitterness and act as a natural preservative, though other flavorings such as herbs or fruit may occasionally be included. The preparation of beer is called brewing.

Beer is the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. Some of the earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer. The Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating beer and beer parlors, and The Hymn to Ninkasi, a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, served as both a prayer and as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people.

Today, the brewing industry is a worldwide business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.

Brewing beer is subject to legislation and taxation in developed countries, which from the late 19th Century largely restricted brewing to a commercial operation only. However, the United Kingdom government relaxed legislation in 1963, followed by Australia in 1972 and the United States in 1978, allowing home brewing to become a popular hobby.

The purpose of brewing is to convert the starch source into sugary liquid called wort and to convert the wort into the alcoholic beverage known as beer in a fermentation process affected by yeast.

Today’s home brewers not only enjoy the resulting product of their efforts, they also learn a new vocabulary. The first step, where the wort is prepared by mixing the starch source (normally malted barley) with hot water, is known as mashing. 

Hot water (known as liquor in brewing terms) is mixed with crushed malt or malts (known as grist) in a mash tub. The mashing process takes around 1 to 2 hours, during which the starches are converted to sugars, and then the sweet wort is drained off the grains. The grains are now washed in a process known as sparging. This washing allows the brewer to gather as much of the fermentable liquid from the grains as possible. 

The process of filtering the spent grain from the wort and sparge water is called wort separation. The traditional process for wort separation is lautering, in which the grain bed itself serves as the filter medium. 

Some modern breweries prefer the use of filter frames which allow a more finely ground grist. 

A microbrewery, or craft brewery, is a modern brewery, which produces a limited amount of beer and often incorporates a pub or other eating establishment. 

While there are many types of beers brewed, the basics of brewing beer are shared across national and cultural boundaries. The traditional European brewing regions — Germany, Belgium, England and the Czech Republic — have local varieties of beer.

On a hot summer day, after building up a thirst from mowing the lawn, many people come into the house looking for a nice cold brew. What each person pictures could be very different. One man may imagine a wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses and think, “I’ll have a Bud”. 

The Budweiser Clydesdales are a group of Clydesdale horses used for promotions and commercials by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. They are well known for their advertisements during the Super Bowl game each year.

Although we classify anything that has been brewed as beer there is more than one brew.

Pale ale is a beer which uses a top-fermenting yeast and predominantly pale malt. It is one of the world’s major beer styles. Stout and porter are dark beers made using roasted malts or roast barley, and typically brewed with slow fermenting yeast. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, dry stout, and Imperial stout.

Mild ale has a predominantly malty palate. It is usually dark colored with an alcohol by volume of 3 to 3.6 percent, although there are lighter hued milds as well as stronger examples reaching 6 percent and higher.

Wheat beer is brewed with a large proportion of wheat although it often also contains a significant proportion of malted barley. The flavor of wheat beers varies considerably, depending upon the specific style.

Lager is the English name for cool fermenting beers of Central European origin. Pale lagers are the most commonly consumed beers in the world. 

Brewers stored beer in cool cellars and caves during the warm summer months. These brewers noticed that the beers continued to ferment, and to also clear of sediment, when stored in those cool conditions.

Lambic, a beer of Belgium, is naturally fermented using wild yeasts, rather than cultivated. Many of these are not strains of brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and may have significant differences in aroma and sourness. Yeast varieties such as Brettanomyces  Bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus are common in lambics. In addition, other organisms such as Lactobacillus bacteria produce acids which contribute to the sourness.

The modern pale lager is light in color with a noticeable carbonation and a typical alcohol by volume content of around 5 percent. The Pilsner Urquell, Bitburger, and Heineken brands of beer are typical examples of pale lager, as are the American brands Budweiser, Coors, and Miller.

 Dark beers are usually brewed from a pale malt or lager malt base with a small proportion of darker malt added to achieve the desired shade. Other colorants, such as, caramel are also widely used to darken beers. Very dark beers, such as stout, use dark or patent malts that have been roasted longer.

Draught beer from a pressurized keg is the most common method of dispensing in bars around the world. A metal keg is pressurized with carbon dioxide gas which drives the beer to the dispensing tap or faucet. 

Some beers may be served with a nitrogen/carbon dioxide mixture. Nitrogen produces fine bubbles, resulting in a dense head and a creamy mouth feel. Some types of beer can also be found in smaller, disposable kegs called beer balls.

Many beers are sold in cans, though there is considerable variation in the proportion between different countries. People either drink from the can or pour the beer into a glass.

Cans protect the beer from light thereby, preventing skunked beer, and have a seal less prone to leaking over time than bottles. Cans were initially viewed as a technological breakthrough for maintaining the quality of a beer, then became commonly associated with less expensive, mass-produced beers, even though the quality of storage in cans is much like bottles. Plastic bottles are used by some breweries.

The temperature of a beer has an influence on a drinker’s experience; warmer temperatures reveal the range of flavors in a beer but cooler temperatures are more refreshing. Most drinkers prefer pale lager to be served chilled, a low- or medium-strength pale ale to be served cool, while a strong barley wine or imperial stout to be served at room temperature.

 Last week, I said that I would tell you a little bit about beer. This interest and knowledge came from a tour of the Cayman Island Brewery. The desire for me to have a cool brew just came over me.

 Don’t forget, “If you drink, don’t drive. Also drink responsibly.”

Last call

Burns Night at the Celtic Hall is being held on Saturday, Jan. 25.  St. Andrew’s Society has reserved tables.  If members would like to be included. please e-mail . Reservations needed to be made by today, Jan. 16. 

Schools closed

The schools in the Guilderland School District will be closed on Monday, Jan. 20, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

PTA meeting

The Altamont PTA meeting  has been rescheduled to Jan. 21.  It will be held at 6 p.m.  

Board of education

The Guilderland Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Guilderland high school large group instruction room.

School time

Parents are reminded that the school day at the Altamont Elementary School begins at 7:50 a.m.  Students who arrive after that time will be marked tardy in the attendance record. Please be sure that your student arrives before the school day begins to be properly recorded.

Students help pantry

The boys and girls at the Altamont Elementary School will again work together to support the Altamont Food Pantry.

The foods recommended for the students by grade level are as follows:

Kindergarten, paper towels, ketchup, mayonnaise; 

Grade 1, napkins, peanut butter, jelly;

Grade 2:  cereal, toilet paper; 

Grade 3:  canned soups, stews, dish detergent; 

Grade 4: canned fruit, laundry detergent; and

Grade 5: spaghetti sauce, pasta.  

Families can donate any of the above-mentioned items.

All donations can be brought to the school through Feb. 9.  The food will be delivered to the food pantry the week of Feb. 17. 

AES music

Music groups at the Altamont Elementary School meet as follows: 

Band after school on Mondays; 

Chorus after school on Tuesdays; and 

Orchestra students will be transported to Westmere Elementary School on Thursdays.

Lost and found

The Farnsworth Middle School has had lost items on display in the foyer of the middle school.  The foyer is open for both students and parents to look through the items found from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. After the close of the school on Jan. 17, the items will be donated.


Happy Anniversary wishes are extended to Pam and Peter Brunk who will celebrate their special day on Jan. 23.


Happy Birthday wishes are extended to: 

— Lee Capuano and Griffin Peck on Jan. 17;

— Ray Smith on Jan. 19;

— Doris Orsini and Doug Schiltz and on Jan. 20;

— Harriet Flower, Lisa Sands, Travis Miller and Lisa Sandson Jan. 21;

— Brendan Flood, Scott Suriano, and Casey Van Alyne on Jan. 22; and

— Mary Alterwisher, Jean Monaco, and Andrew Shaw on Jan. 23.