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Saturday, August 31, 2019


Blue Bottle Director of Coffee Culture Michael Phillips adds the final touch to his Bright Negroni, rubbing the glass rim with a fragrant strip of orange zest.
Michael Phillips is Blue Bottle Coffee’s Director of Coffee Culture and he spends a lot of time dreaming up savvy ways to let people know about and enjoy his company’s coffee products.  Latest coming out of the Blue Bottle Coffee Lab is a can of cold brewed coffee that can be paired with Negroni.

 “The classic Negroni is a staple of hot Italian summers—and a personal favorite of mine,” says Blue Bottle Director of Coffee Culture Michael Phillips. “It holds the perfect balance of sweet and bitter and has won hearts for ages. There is a newer more summery twist on this drink called a White Negroni, which replaces Campari with a spirit call Suze, a French aperitif made from Gentian root. It plays with that same balance of bitter and sweet but has a lighter, more refreshing feel. Our Blue Bottle Bright Cold Brew coffee does an amazing job adding a little pick-me-up to this drink and brings a crisp fruity note to the cup as well.”

3 ounces Blue Bottle Bright Cold Brew
1½ ounces dry gin, such as Aviator
½ ounce dry white vermouth, such as Noilly Prat
½ ounce Campari or Suze
2 dashes grapefruit bitters, optional
One 2-inch strip orange zest

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Blue Bottle Bright Cold Brew, gin, vermouth, and Suze and stir until a light frost appears on the outside of the shaker. Place a single large ice cube if you have one into a 10-ounce rocks glass or fill the glass with ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass. If using, add the dashes of bitters to the top. Rub the orange peel along the edge of the glass before tucking it into the drink next to the ice cube, and enjoy.

How to do a Blue Bottle Bright Russian.  Click here.

Friday, August 30, 2019


Melvin Brewing East Village head brewer Bobby Oliver (top left) on brew day with winners of the company's first-annual homebrew contest, The Boil Rumble. (Photo courtesy Melvin Brewing)
GUEST BLOG / By Brandon Hernandez, Senior Editor, competitions allow recreational beer-makers to test their abilities against like-minded craftspeople. While such contests can include team awards for homebrew clubs, beer entries typically come from individuals, which makes The Boil Rumble out of the ordinary. In its first year, this annual fermentation melee from Wyoming-based Melvin Brewing (which operates four brewpubs in three states) is exclusively for established clubs. Even though its new to the recreational-brewing scene, the inaugural edition of the contest garnered entries from 102 different entities.

Winners were recently announced, and Rhode Island’s Eastbay Homebrew Club (EHC) took top honors with its “New England Breakfast Ale.” As a result, its team will receive a MoreBeer! brew sculpture system (a nod to the 20-gallon system Melvin was founded on in 2010), interview session on The Brewing Network, and an entry in the Great American Beer Festival’s Pro-Am Competition this October in Denver, Colorado. Perhaps most exciting for the winners was having the chance to not only have their creation canned and available in the 18 states where Melvin beers are sold, but getting to select which of the company’s brewing locations they’d like to visit for its preliminary manufacture.

The EHC crew selected Melvin’s brewpub in San Diego’s East Village. So, too, did the third-place winners, Merrimack Valley Homebrew Club (located a mere hour-and-a-half from Rhode Island). While the latter’s experimental IPA will also be canned, it will only see distribution in the club’s home region of Massachusetts. Given the extravagantly enjoyable time the EHC team had during their trip to San Diego, that minor limitation will be rendered mostly moot. EHC’s Saturday in San Diego included stops at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, White Labs, Modern Times Beer, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, AleSmith Brewing’s anniversary party and, last but not least, a late-night session at Hamilton’s Tavern. At each stop, they had time to converse with staff and geek out over beer and brewing.

“They treated us like royalty and really took care of us,” said EHC member Chris Darling. “The White Labs facility was intense and eye-opening. Being able to taste beers side-by-side and understand the nuances in the yeast was very interesting and gave our club ideas for some of our next brews.”

Melvin's Downtown San Diego operation
Speaking of understanding nuances, what exactly is a “New England breakfast ale”?

“We wanted to set ourselves apart from all the IPAs we figured would be entered,” says EHC’s Steve Amaral. Melvin confirmed that most of the contest’s entries were IPAs, as were half of the six finalists. “As a group, we decided to add coffee and maple syrup to a brown ale. Our club members have brewed nearly a dozen coffee beers and we have all decided that dry-beaning is the best way to make this style, so that’s what we did.”

“This club came to us with a stylistically correct recipe so all I had to do was build it up and brew it,” says Melvin’s East Village head brewer Bobby Oliver. “We tweaked a couple of the bittering hops and changed the coffee brand to Mostra Coffee, but other than that we were able to copy the recipe, using the same maple syrup…not Log Cabin.”

Come November, the New England Breakfast Ale will be brewed on a larger scale at Melvin’s Wyoming headquarters, then released in cans on a broad scale. Meanwhile, the draft version will soon be on-tap at the East Village brewpub, including a nitro version. Oliver will also transfer some of the 5.4% beer into barrels to age. 

“It’s hard for a homebrewer to tell if our beer is actually on-point because our friends say it’s good, but does that actually make it good?” asks EHC’s Mark McMahon. “The validation that our homebrew is a great beer and the positivity surrounding this contest is great. It was an incredible experience and way more than we could have ever expected. We had ridiculous amounts of fun.” is a media co-op with WestCoaster Beverage News, based in San Diego.  Originally published on August 22, 2019.
Click here for a free download of WestCoaster’s August, 2019 edition.

Thursday, August 29, 2019


GUEST BLOG / @tomgable--For decades now, journalist, writer, and wine critic Tom Gable has been discovering amazing wines at popular prices.  His latest find is from Loire, France, a 2017 Patient Cottat Sancerre Anciennes Vignes at about $20.  Unfortunately, wines like these at fair prices and excellent taste don’t last long. 

The 2017 has a sharp mid-24k gold appearance with a nose of straw, new-mown hay, and citrus.  Mid-body; balanced; good acids and fruit; nice Sauvignon Blanc style for the money; long crisp fruity finish (12.5 alc).

Wednesday, August 28, 2019



You may have heard some buzz around a new film starring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman and David Schwimmer. Here’s the scoop.
International Consortium of Investigative Journalist prepared a question and answer post about the 2016 Panama Papers banking scandal and more on Steven Soderbergh’s movie “The Laundromat.”  Catch up on Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers.  Click here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


"Charging Bull," a Wall Street district sculpture 
by Arturo Di Modica.

Editor’s note: receives weekly stock market updates from Edward Jones, one of America’s largest financial investing firms.  Occasionally we share this input so our readers can compare their financial advisors' input with an Edward Jones economist.
GUEST BLOG / By Craig Fehr, Principal, Investment Strategist with Edward Jones.  Data is current as of August 23, 2019.

Stocks were on track to finish higher for the week until China unveiled a new round of retaliatory tariffs and President Trump vowed to respond, unnerving markets. In this new episode of escalation in trade tensions, China announced that it will impose tariffs ranging from 5% to 10% on $75 billion U.S. goods in two batches, effective on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, including a 25% tariff on U.S. cars. At the annual central bank summit in Jackson Hole, Fed Chair Powell left the door open for another rate cut when the committee meets next month, acknowledging the risks to global and U.S. growth from trade uncertainty. While the Fed and trade dominate the headlines, it should not be lost that economic and corporate data remain fairly positive. Earnings from several high-profile retailers last week were solid, indicating that the consumer - the main driver of the U.S. economic engine - remains in good shape.

Craig Fehr
Not Out of the Woods

Markets regained a bit of composure for most of last week. That limb wasn't too tough to reach given the comparison is a frantic August in which the Dow rose or fell by more than 300 points in seven of the preceding 10 days. After rising for most of the week, a tariff-induced pullback late on Friday led U.S. stocks lower by 1.4%, extending August's streak of weekly declines1.

So where do we go from here?  In our view, the data and recent market moves are consistent with an aging bull market that still has plenty of green leaves. That said, we believe the interest rate and trade gusts that have recently shaken some leaves off the trees will continue to blow. So, when it comes to market volatility, we're not out of the woods yet.
·       Limber, not "TIMBER!" – The range of market moves has been stretched out lately, and we think the stock market will remain more limber as investors react to incoming data and headlines. After logging just three total days with a 1%-plus daily move over June and July, the stock market has moved by more than 1% in half of the days in August1. The recent brushfire has been caused by sparks from the trade spat with China and an inverted yield curve.  We don't think either will burn the bull market down. However, while not to the tune of regular 800-point daily swings in the Dow, we do think they will continue to be sources of anxiety that keep markets swaying.
o   Another branch on the trade saga – China announced last week it would implement a new set of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, which was then met with a tweeted response from President Trump suggesting U.S. companies seek "alternatives to China" -- marking the latest installment in the trade spat that we think will lurch on well into 2020. Exports represent less than 13% of U.S. GDP, and net exports (exports minus imports) are not an overly large contributor to our economy's growth rate. Thus, trade disruptions are a relatively small direct threat for a recession. Our larger concern is the indirect threat that trade poses, to the extent that the uncertainty seeps into overall business investment. Capital spending by U.S. firms and the small business optimism survey have weakened a bit lately (but not collapsed), highlighting this potential spillover effect. Last week's retaliatory rhetoric suggests the gap could get wider before it narrows, as we think U.S. and Chinese policymakers will continue to posture tough respective stances as negotiations continue. Ultimately, however, we think both sides will approach some form of a deal to stave off irreparable economic harm, though the risks of collateral damage are rising. An eventual deal would be good news for the economy more broadly, but the path there is likely to present further knee-jerk market reactions along the way.  
o   Inverted yield curve continues to throw shade – The inverted yield curve (when long-term rates are below short-term) continues to cast a shadow on stocks amid fears that it's signaling an imminent recession. We're careful not to dismiss this warning because the yield curve has a solid track record.  We're also careful not to follow the crowd, as a more detailed assessment of the yield curve shows important differences from the past. Long-term rates have dropped below short-term rates in small part because the outlook for growth has waned (a negative sign), but also in large part because negative rates abroad have attracted buyers of U.S. Treasuries (where yields are low but still well in positive territory), pushing yields lower than they otherwise would be based simply on the domestic growth and inflation outlook. Additionally, the curve has not inverted from steady rate hikes from the Fed (as has been a catalyst for prior inversions).  Of the multiple inversions over the past half century, false positives have occurred a quarter of the time, with prior "head fakes" seeing the stock market rise by an average of 14% over the following year2.   
We think the current risks are credible, and short-term market pullbacks should be expected. That said, we've seen repeated threats to this bull market over the past several years, including worries over rates and tariffs. 10-year rates fell sharply near current levels in 2012, 2013 and 2016, and the yield curve has inverted twice before in the past 12 months. Stocks fell by an average of more than 5% in response to these factors, followed by double-digit gains over the following year.  Similarly, tariff escalations have spurred several pullbacks over the past two years, all of which proved to be temporary.
·       Strong roots – The attention has been squarely on the risks of late, but last week the market was stabilized by data showing this expansion still has healthy roots. Consumer spending is more than two-thirds of U.S. GDP, and corporate earnings are the food source for long-term market performance. News last week on the latter gave renewed confidence that the former is still in a position to support the expansion. Very strong earnings results from companies such as Target, Home Depot and Lowe's not only bolstered the corporate profit picture, but provided a read-through showing that the U.S. consumer remains in good shape.
Weekly jobless claims last week fell to their second-lowest level in the past four months, wages have now grown above 3% for 12 consecutive months (the longest such streak since 2007), and the unemployment rate (3.7%) is down from 4% at the beginning of the year and just one-tenth above the 50-year low. The recession signal from the inverted yield curve is getting much of the attention, but household spending will be a key determinant to the economy's future. Looking at the past four U.S. recessions, the unemployment rate had risen by a minimum of 0.5% before each recession began, signaling that the deterioration of consumer conditions is a key ingredient in the recession recipe, and not one that's on the list currently.  
·       Is the Fed holding an axe or a watering can?  - In addition to tariff squabbles and corporate earnings, the Fed was another headliner last week as officials gathered at the annual central bank summit in Jackson Hole, Wyo. With a strong U.S. consumer plus healthy employment conditions on one hand, and a manufacturing downturn, low inflation and trade risks on the other, the markets are looking to the Fed for a policy response to help sustain the expansion.  Comments from Fed officials seemed to confirm that the U.S. central bank is likely to cut rates further this year in acknowledgment of the swirling risks.
Our view continues to be that the Fed will lower rates, though we're not yet convinced they will be as aggressive in cutting as the market seems to be anticipating.  The economic data suggests moderate cuts may be appropriate to support a soft patch in growth. But to the extent the Fed incorporates trade risks (which were dialed up by the White House last week) into its response, we could see a more aggressive approach to rate cuts.  In the end, policy easing from the Fed is a broadly supportive factor for the stock market, though we think any disconnects between market expectations and actual Fed rhetoric/actions will be an additional catalyst for near-term swings in stock prices and interest rates. 
The Fed is embarking on a mid-expansion easing cycle. We saw a similar response in the mid- and late-90s expansion, when the Fed cut rates multiple times before resuming rate hikes as the economy exhibited resiliency. It's reasonable we could see a similar outcome this time, as the expansion regains some footing on the back of low rates, household spending and diminished trade fears/rebounding business investment.
·       The forest for the trees – It can be easy for investors to miss the forest for the trees, as the wide trunks of trade tensions, yield curves and sharp market moves can obscure the broader landscape. Perspective is a very valuable tool, so consider the following:
o   Volatility is the norm, not the exception.  Since 2010, the stock market has experienced 28 5% drops and six 10% sell-offs3. Each was hailed as the beginning of the end, and yet this bull market is now more than 10 years old.  This one, too, will reach an end at some point, but we don't think this choppy patch is the beginning of the end.  For all the hullabaloo surrounding the stock market's August skid, a wider lens reveals a much more encouraging picture. U.S. equities are down a little more than 5% from the all-time high, putting them at the same level as June, when the general sentiment was rather positive and calls for an imminent recession were not deafening.  Moreover, the U.S. market has returned 60% over the past five years, more than 21% over the past two years, and has gained better than 15% in 20194
o   Importantly, long-term investing is not simply about stock market returns. A balanced portfolio means you don't have to endure every twist and turn and can travel a smoother path over time. Bonds have gained 2.5% during August5, providing a ballast for portfolios during stock market volatility.
Sources: 1. Bloomberg, daily change in the S&P 500 index. 2. FactSet, yield curve measured by the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate minus the 3-month T-bill rate, total return in the S&P 500 index. 3. FactSet, declines in the S&P 500 index. 4. Bloomberg, total return in the S&P 500 index. 5. Total return of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate bond index.