The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

May 1, 2012

Top Fermentation - May 2012

tombiowebThe Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer President Tom Schlafly

Alice B. Toklas is perhaps best remembered for her recipe for marijuana brownies and her autobiography. Interestingly, she wasn’t the author of either. The former (actually for fudge laced with hashish) came from a painter named Brion Gysin and was included in Toklas’s 1954 cookbook without her fully realizing the implications of what it was. The latter, which was published in 1933, was written by her lifelong companion Gertrude Stein and was more about Stein than about Toklas. As for Stein herself, she’s probably best remembered for her immortal line: “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”


While Gertrude Stein has earned lots of critical acclaim over the years, not everyone was or is a great fan of her work. Consider, for example, the anonymous limerick:

There’s a wonderful family named Stein.
There’s Gert and there’s Epp and there’s Ein;
Gert’s poems are bunk,
Epp’s statues are junk,
And no one can understand Ein.

The allusions other than to Gertrude are to Sir Jacob Epstein, an American-born British sculptor with whose work I’m not sufficiently familiar to pass judgment; and to Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity many of us can quote readily and glibly, but which I, as a liberal arts major, can’t even begin to understand. That said, I do know that according to Einstein’s famous theory nothing with mass can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. That is to say, nothing in the real world travel faster than the speed of light. In the world of poetry, however, anything’s possible:

There once was a lady named Wright
Who traveled much faster than light.
She left home one day
In a relative way
And came back the previous night.

I should add that it was also possible to travel faster than the speed of light in the scientific world of Professor Antonio Ereditato at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland. Last fall Professor Ereditato excitedly announced to the world that he had clocked neutrinos traveling 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. Subsequent investigations revealed that a loose fiber optic cable and a malfunction in the experiments’ master clock had produced erroneous results. Whoops. Einstein was right after all.

Even more impressive than the fact that Einstein’s theory of relativity has withstood the test of time is the young age at which he came up with it. In 1905 (sometimes called Annus Mirabilis) Einstein, who was only 26 years old, published four articles that forever changed the scientific community’s views of space, time and matter. These four articles, one of which gave rise to quantum theory and another to the theory of relativity, formed the foundation for modern physics.
Unlike Einstein, I didn’t get around to doing lots of things until much later in life. For instance, I started playing hockey in 1983 at 35, an age at which most NHL players have retired. I played for a team called the Stingers in the National Novice Hockey League (NNHL). Our team ended up winning the league championship for St. Louis with a minimal contribution on my part. Coincidentally, this was the same year the Blues nearly moved to Saskatoon. One of the local investors who stepped up to keep the team in St. Louis was Bill Love, my first cousin once removed, whose house I ended up buying in 1995 after his widow died. Perhaps my cousin’s ghost is partially responsible for inspiring me to become part of the Blues’ ownership group led by Tom Stillman.

Nineteen eighty-three was also the year I spent two weeks at Oxford University, ostensibly learning about the English legal system. As I’ve said many times before, I learned more about English beers than English laws. It was this experience that led me to link up with Dan Kopman, who was working for an English brewery at the time. And it was Dan who convinced me that St. Louis was ready for a brewery producing styles of beer different from those offered by mainstream industrial breweries.

Twenty-nine years later our instincts have been vindicated. Whatever Gertrude Stein might have said about roses, a beer is not a beer is not a beer is most definitely not a beer.