Is that place really a brewery??

The staff of the American Public House Review took a field trip a few weeks ago to our nation’s capitol.  After a few hours of driving, I was ready for a drink.  Our plan was to head straight to the Dubliner, but as we drove past Washington D.C.’s Union Station that plan expanded quite a bit.

Capitol City Brewing Company

Not being from the Capitol, none of us knew what this giant and gorgeous building was next door, but we all were more than a little surprised to find signs that read Capitol City Brewing Company hanging outside.  This building looked like a museum or federal building, anything but a brewery.  So after a jaunt to the Dubliner, we meandered up the street to see if this really was a brewery.

Capitol City Brewery entrance

What we found was a unique and wonderful place, full of friendly people, incredible visuals, and fine brew.  The building in question is the old Federal City Post Office which now houses, along with the brewpub, the National Postal Museum.  I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world where you will find a brewery sharing space with a museum inside a building that looks like something that stood next to the Parthenon.

Prohibition Porter from Capitol City Brewing Company

We had a chance to talk for a while with Head Brewer Ryan Curley, a man who truly knows his stuff.  The fact is that this place does it right.  Besides the incredible surroundings, Ryan and his staff knows what really brings in the crowds…good beer.  And that, along with an indescribable urge to get on the bar and declare opposition to the latest bill in the senate, is exactly what you will find at the Capitol City Brewing Company.

Posted by: David McBride

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One Man’s Pirate…

Errol Flynn from Captain BloodLike so many of my fellow countrymen, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of personal pride and satisfaction knowing that our boys on the fantail of the Bainbridge had bested those freebooting  buccaneers from Somalia. And with the liberation of  Captain Richard Phillips another chapter in this nation’s struggle against Africa’s nautical thuggery  has been brought to a successful close. With the speculation already in progress as to who should be cast in the role of the good captain, so that this tale of treachery on the high seas can be delivered into the comfort of our living rooms, we would do well to remember that one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer.

On the streets of Mogadishu and in villages throughout Somalia the members of this ad hoc ragtag navy are the heroes. If this chaotic shattered nation had any form of functioning governance these seafaring brigands would be operating with a Letter of Marque. The rape of the fish stocks  and the dumping of toxic waste in Somalian waters by foreign concerns fostered the  relationship between starving  fisherman and the street militias whose common goal it was to drive the invaders from their shores. Unfortunately the resulting financial bounty associated with their initial efforts cultivated the current climate of  criminal  behavior.

“For inside the body of many an honorable privateer lurks the soul of a dishonorable pirate.”  Captain Chris “Yo Ho” Poh

Our own history reveals a more than accomodating attitude towards piracy when it served our national interests. From the early eighteenth century during the infamous Triangle trade, through the American Revolution and into the War of 1812 we allowed the maritime mercenary to do our bidding. Perhaps the customary eye patch is less accoutrement and  more  metaphor  for what happens when nations turn a blind eye to the improprieties of scoundrels.

So here I am once again facing that simple fact that we live in a world where there is no black or white other than what we hoist up the mast before firing that first shot across the bow. A Jolly Roger

So I will, as I have done so many times in the past, embrace my inner pirate by pouring myself  a pint of Clipper City Loose Cannon Ale and singing a few verses of “A Pirate’s Life For Me.”

Clipper City Loose Cannon AleYo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even high jack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, we inflame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
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Posted by: Chris Poh, Yo Ho

 

 

Discovering another of Gettysburg’s heroes

Now that baseball is back, I am reminded of a discovery I made out in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago.  While conducting research about the Farnsworth House and the town, I and American Public House Review Publisher Chris Poh had the good fortune to spend the better part of a day listening to local lore and soaking in the ambiance of the tavern. Eileen, the Inn’s manager at the time, had given us an amazing tour of the building and filled that time with one fascinating story after another. Upon completion of our journalistic adventure, we adjourned to the bar to await the arrival of our wives.  

the courtyard of the historic Farnsworth House in Gettysburg, PA

My wife Corinn arrived, donning her best New York Yankees cap, and sat down next to me.  The Inn’s owner, Mr. Loring Schultz, was there getting his place ready for a busy afternoon.  He walked passed us and stopped to comment on my wife’s hat.  He asked her if she was a baseball fan, she replied yes and I said I was as well.  Mr. Schultz then asked us if we knew the name of a Hall of Fame player who was born and raised in Gettysburg.  My wife looked at me for help, and I turned, scratching my head, to Chris.  None of us had any idea.  No matter how many hints he gave us, we had no clue.

“Eddie Plank of the Philadelphia Athletics”, he said.  “Have you heard of him?”

I answered that I had heard of him, but truth be told, a faint memory of the name was the extent of my knowledge of Eddie Plank. Mr. Schultz told us a bit, like how he played for the Philadelphia Athletics and just how good he was, but it left me with a lingering curiosity.  How could I know so little about a Hall of Fame pitcher that was being described to me as one of the best southpaws ever? I was determined to find out more.

I began researching Plank as soon as I returned home.  I first reached out to the folks at the Farnsworth House again, hoping to get some details.  Eileen heightened my curiosity even more when she told me that Eddie Plank once gave Connie Mack a tour of the battle field.  She also stated that Ty Cobb had said he was the greatest pitcher he ever saw.  This guy must have been something else.  So I hit the library and the Internet, and contacted every old-time baseball fanatic I know.

eddie-plank-2

Born in Gettysburg in 1875, Plank grew up on a farm.  At the age of 25, he was enrolled into the Gettysburg Academy prep-school which at the time made him eligible to pitch for the Gettysburg College varsity.  He never graduated from the college, a fact often missed by even the most reputable of baseball historians.

His short time on the Gettysburg College team was enough to earn him an offer from Philadelphia Athletics’ owner and manager Connie Mack.  “Gettysburg Eddie” went straight to the major league club, never once taking the mound in the minors.  His first year was successful, going 17-13 with a 3.31 ERA for the fourth place Athletics.  But Plank would get much, much better. 

By the time Plank retired in 1917 at 42 years old, he left behind a legacy that still fills the record books.  In fact, Plank’s name comes up so often on “all-time” lists that reading through them made me more and more embarrassed that I didn’t know him better.  His 69 career shutouts are more than any other lefty in baseball history and fifth overall, better than Warren Spahn and only 7 short of the great Cy Young.  He’s 13thon the list of all time wins, with 326, and his 2246 strikeouts puts him in the top 50.  This is probably the most accomplished Hall of Famer you’ve never heard of.

While Plank was dominating hitters on the mound with a sidearm delivery that must have had lefty batters ducking for cover, he was also aggravating them to no end.  In an era long before the current trend of pitchers taking their time on the mound, Plank would routinely get on the batter’s nerves, by walking around the mound, fidgeting with his cap, and anything else that would knock their rhythm off.  Opponents complained endlessly, but there was nothing they could do about it and none could argue with the tactic’s success. 

eddie_plank_baseball

With all of Eddie Plank’s achievements and eye-popping statistics, he was considered a “hard luck” pitcher in the World Series.  He appeared in 7 games, and in over 54 innings of work he only gave up 8 earned runs.  From looking at those numbers, you would think Plank would have won more than only 2 games, but 2 and 5 was his postseason record.   In more than one start, Plank’s dominating performance was lost to an error, or an equally dominating opposing pitcher.

One of those dominating pitchers was a man who overshadowed Plank for most of his career, the great ChristyMathewson of the New York Giants.  But on one autumn day in 1913, Gettysburg Eddie got the best of his nemesis.  Leading up to the decisive Game 5 of the World Series, Matty had beaten Plank in their previous two postseason meetings, including Game 2 when the Athletics lost a heart breaker in extra innings.  But the A’s won the next two, and had a chance to win the title.  Despite the pressure, the worthy opponent, and his 38 years, Plank delivered a complete game shutout and the championship for Philadelphia.

After losing yet another hard luck game to the Boston Braves in Game 2 of the 1914 World Series, Plank was traded the following year to the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League, a short lived attempt to establish a third independent major league.  In 1916-17 he pitched for the St. Louis Browns and then retired.  Despite his retirement, he was traded to the New York Yankees, but he was well into his forties and no longer interested in pitching.  Instead, Gettysburg Eddie went back to his hometown and sold cars.  He died in 1926. 

Many ballplayers, especially those from the era before Babe Ruth, are lost to time.  Despite Eddie Plank’s storied success, many baseball aficionados can’t tell you much about him.  But if the folks at the Farnsworth House are any indication, the great southpaw has not been lost to Gettysburg’s time.  In fact, few things ever are.

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Posted by: David McBride

Looking To The West

Looking West Toward The SierrasWhile I attempt to artfully express myself through emails, blog posts and  articles for American Public House Review, my wife Fran is normally engaging her audience with what is probably a much more effective means of communication…she actually writes letters. Her pen to paper dispatches are the types of things one might hear read by some Hollywood legend in a Ken Burns documentary.

The other morning I mailed an envelope addressed to our friends Will and Norma Jean Cormany in Virginia City, Nevada. Immediately images of sunsets, saloons and snow on the Sierras filled my head. I could almost taste those midday bracers at the Old Washoe Club, McBride’s Bucket of Blood, the Ponderosa Saloon, the Gold Hill Hotel and the much celebrated Genoa Bar.

Unfortunately purse string issues will probably keep me corralled in the east for some time to come; but thanks to the keen eye of Michelle Shiflet  we have these memories and images to share with our readers. You can enjoy her western landscapes  by clicking here

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Posted by: Chris Poh

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