Random Beers: Christmas Edition

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ah, the Holidays! The gifts, the family....the stress. What better way to relieve that stress than to quaff away at a fine selection of Christmas-themed beers; to float through the Holiday season on a fluffy cloud of beer-buzz? I can think of none.

Without further ado:

1) Delirium Noel. This beer is indeed Christmas in a bottle. Sweet nose, literally like baking sugar cookies. Tasted spicy, like mulling spices were used (you know...like mulled cider). Fruity, like cherries...sweet fruit, like a Christmas fruitcake. It's a good feeling, happy memories brew. 8/10, for being interesting and warm. Awwww....

2) Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale. Much like Delirium Noel, just slightly ever so less refined. Same sugar cookie scent, thugh this is a little more on the caramel side. Big huge sweet maltiness with little hops character; almost none, just a hint. Any more would be to get in the way of the mulling-spice taste and thick feeling you get in your mouth, like drinking sweet syrup. A "winter warmer" indeed. 7/10.

3) Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. They produce this beer every November/December for the holidays, and it is different every year. First and foremost, lots of grapefruit on the nose and taste, with piney hops throughout. The hops linger, giving it a nice, full taste. There was a hint of something like coriander in it too. I just can't get over the grapefruit. Great holiday offering. 8/10.

4) Bourbon-Barrel Christmas Ale. This is really really special. Murky, dark walnut color, creamy tan head. Smells incredibly like bourbon, also heavy on the vanilla, maple and allspice. Big huge bourbon taste; also vanilla, nuts, figs/prunes, molasses and mulling spices. HUGE beer, and mightily complex. The up-front burbon sting is tempered by that oakiness described above. 9/10.

5) Great Divide Hibernation Ale. Another big beer. Amber red, tan 1-inch head. Smelled of warm bread, spicy hops; almost peppery. Comes across at first like an IPA, but balances with a warm mulled-cider sweetness. 7/10.

6) Brouwerij De Dolle Stille Nacht. A mouthful to pronounce, for certain. Also, a mouthful of beery goodness. Pours hazy amber/oak-white with tons of sediment floating around. It's supposed to be a dark ale, but damn if it's not a Belgian Trippel; coriander, spices, fruity scent. Almsot tastes as sweet as a white wine, with sour fruit (apple, lemon), zest, syrup and an alcohol tang at the end. All in all, not bad. 7/10.

7) Sam Adams Winter Lager. Sam Adams is always a great fall-back beer. This is no different. Dark brown with amber hues. Smells of caramel and warm Christmas bread. Tastes very much of caramel, toffee and lots of cinnamon. Sweet, chewy, and warm. A great, balanced winter warmer. 7/10.

So, only 7 insteqad of 10, but we'll all live, I am sure. Enjoy these "winter warmers" and have a Merry Christmas!


My Liver is Starting to Hurt

Friday, December 16, 2005

Good God. Week after week, beer after beer. While I love all the practice I'm getting tasting and rating beers for the Beer Judge exam.....I think it's taking its toll. The good news is the brewer's yeast keeps me.....regular. The bad news is that my body may soon completely reject plain water. It's tough to stay hydrated solely on beer.

At any rate....what's in my fridge this week?

1) Brouwerij Corsendonk Pater Abbey Brown Ale. This is a Belgian Dubbel/Abbey brown ale. It pours nutty brown with hints of red, and such a huge and active head (about 5 inches) that I couldn't get a 12oz. bottle in a 16oz. glass on the first pour! Smells of toasted malt and burnt hops. Strong taste; big hops immediately followed by a powerful nutty taste, mellowed by...apples? Tasty, smooth, medium-bodied beer. 7/10.

2) Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Oh. My. God. Just f-ing try this beer. Shut up. Don't ask questions. Shhh.. Pours as thick as motor oil, but is soooooooo complex. Currants, raisins. Dark, bitter baker's chocolate. Sweet hops. Warm alcohol finish. Over 9% abv, by the way. If this beer was a woman, I'd....well, I don't want to be crude. 10/10. 10/10. 10/10. Fuck.

Screw Guinness. I found my new Gold Standard of beer. Stone Imperial Russian Stout. You heard it here, folks. I am dumping Guinness for a new girlfriend. Oh, me and Guinness can still be fuck-friends, but I found my new soul-mate of beer.

3) Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale. Pours amber red with little champagne-like bubbles. The back of the bottles says right-off that you're not worthy to drink this beer. Pretty much, yeah. Oily hops, piney, mixed with peaches. Tasted about the same, with bready yeast. Bitter hops linger on the tongue. Another amazing selection from Stone. 8/10.

4) Bell's Expedition Stout. This is another Russian Imperial Stout style beer. As good as Stone's? Not quite (especially since me and Stone RIS are now dating), but a close second so far. Espresso, vanilla, molasses. Tastes pretty much the same, but finish with a coffee residual and a hint of raisin. It'd be better with just a bot more carbonation,. but a damn fine full-bodied beer. 8/10.

5) Sapporo Premium Beer. Meh. It's okay. A step-up from Bud/Miller, which isn't saying much, but it's clean. Very little hops presence; none really. Cereal-like taste, like corn flakes, with some corn husk grassiness still in it. Fizzy. Yellow. 6/10.

6) Delirium Noel. Ah! A Christmas beer! And it is indeed CHristmas in a bottle. Sweet nose, literally like baking sugar cookies. Tasted spicy, like mulling spices were used (you know...like mulled cider). Fruity, like cherries...sweet fruit, like a Christmas fruitcake. It's a good feeling, happy memories brew. 8/10, for being interesting and warm. Awwww....

7) Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale. A Christmas Beer theme! Much like Delirium Noel, just slightly ever so less refined. Same sugar cookie scent, thugh this is a little more on the caramel side. Big huge sweet maltiness with little hops character; almost none, just a hint. Any more would be to get in the way of the mulling-spice taste and thick feeling you get in your mouth, like drinking sweet syrup. A "winter warmer" indeed. 7/10.

8) Victory Brewing Company HopDevil Ale. Pours rusty orange and hazy, perfectly as an American Pale should, with a slight orange head. Sweet hops nose, sort of like honeysuckle. Earthy hops right up front, big bite, mellowed pretty quickly with caramel. Very refined, and very very strong. Hops stays on the tongue, but is definitely not over-hopped like some smaller micros do it (like they just discovered hops for the first time). Dry and crisp. This is simply a perfectly-done APA. 9/10.

9) Rogue Brewery Shakespeare Stout. This is a massively-hoppy stout, with less nuttiness and toastiness as many stouts, especially Imperials. It certainly sets it apart from the crowd, relying more on hops for big taste, like pale ales do. Chocolate and nuts up front on the taste, which is tempered immediately with a dry hoppy finish, which is the opposite of what you'd expect. 8/10 for uniqueness.

10) Ommegang Brewery Abbey Ale. Dark borwn wit a decent head. Great lacing on the glass. Fruit and flowers on the nose; a perfect blend of the two. Big roasted taste up front, with some sweet cherry fruit and roses on the laste, with a lingering hop finish. Active carbonation, but a surprisingly smooth and mellow brew. Great belgian abbey ale, brewed in New York. 7.5/10.


What's In My Fridge This Week?

Friday, December 09, 2005

More swill!

Please allow me to share with you my Friday Random 10 beers. I crack open my fridge, bottle opener in-hand, and share with you, fellow beer advocates, the beers in my fridge.

1) My homebrew. I don't have any clever names for my homebrew, because that's just weird. It's an American Pale Ale, and has all the trappings thereof: hoppy nose, pretty floral, maybe a little grassy. Big hops bite up front, followed by an immediate mellowing by sweet malt (I used 6 poiunds of it in the brewing process afterall). Finishes clean, but after about 2/3 of the glass, it got just a tad "tinny." Not bad, if I do say so myself, which I do. 7/10.

2) Brouwerij Lindeman's Framboise Lambic. Raspberry beer. It pours rose red with a pink head, and has no discernable taste of malt or hops. It's all raspberry, folks, which is exactly what a framboise lambic should be (framboise being French for raspberry...). It was tart, but not heavy or syrupy. Very drinkable; it drank like champagne. Interesting, and worth a try. 8/10.

3) Sam Adams Black Lager. This is outstanding. Poured into the glass black as coffee, with a brown head that dissipated quickly. Smelled spicy, with slight chocolate and coffee. Tasted big coffee, chocolate undertones and a sweet malt. This is a great winter beer, though just a tad thin. No hoppy bitterness at all, so people who like sweeter beers will enjoy this solid offering from the Brewer and Patriot. 8/10.

4) Bell's Batch 7000. Holy moley. This beer is amazing. I could offer this beer in slices instead of in a glass. Thick and chewey. It poured midnight black on a cloudy night with no lights black. I smelled coffee and currants, with a little chocolate. The taste was an explosion. Just incredible. Coarse coffee, like Espresso, with a slight bakers/bitter chocolate taste that combines to yield a really heavy molasses taste; that really bitter molasses you use to make cookies, that turns out sweet and thick in the end...that kind of molasses. This was a huge-bodied beer that they'll only brew this once, so when it's out, it's gone forever. 9/10. No, screw it. 10/10.

5) Michigan Brewing Company Superior Stout. Smells of roasted coffee mixed with either dark chocolate or bakers chocolate. I tasted the roasted coffee up front that mellowed to a buttery taste. I really like that about this beer - the buttery taste at the end. Floral hops throughout. 7/10.

6) Bell's Two Hearted Ale. This is the Bells version of IPA. Pours a huge head, with massive, piney hops nose and flavor. Easy on the malt, but it's a hops-lover's hoppy IPA. Hippety hop. 8/10.

7) Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. First and foremost, lots of grapefruit on the nose and taste, with piney hops throughout. The hops linger, giving it a nice, full taste. There was a hint of something like coriander in it too. I just can't get over the grapefruit. Great holiday offering. 8/10.

8) Founders Breakfast Stout. Why breakfast? Coffee. Giant coffee aroma, hugely roasty, very similar to a can of Folgers with hints of prune and nut, toffee and chocolate. Real coffeehouse mocha cappuchino, chocolate syrup, with a dryer, cocoa powder bittersweetness easing into the finish. Complex, but quite delicate and smooth. 9/10.

9) Dogfish Head Raison D'extra. 20% ABV. Beer meets wine. This is a sweet malt-bomb. Raisins, currants, plums, brown sugar. Heavy and slippery on the tongue. They brewed this beer with loads of raisins in the end. Really interesting, quite heavy. I could only do 1 in a sitting. 7/10, because it's so...different.

10) Michigan Brewing Company/Celis Grand Cru. This is a great example of a "double wit." This tastes heavy on the citrus and spices, like a good Belgian should. Crispy beer, with bubbles as violent as champagne. Yeasty notes with the appropriate fruit/banana esthers. Solid beer from a brewery that started more than 50 years ago in Belgium, the exact recipe of which has now made its way to Texas and finally rests with the Michigan Brewing Company, of all places. 7/10.


It's Done!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The beer is done! After weeks of fermentation, both in the fermenter and in "bottle conditioning," the beer is ready for the drinking.

The pictures posted here show the thick, rich head at the initial pour, and again about 5 minutes later, after the head reduced a little. The head stayed all the way to the bottom, and left a decent lacing, as you can see.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with our creation. It smells nicely of floral hops, maybe a bit grassy, though. Big hops bite right off the bat, mellowing almost immediately with a sweet malt taste. My only real moan is that after about 2/3 of the glass, it was juuuust a tad "tinny." All in all, though, I think it's a great effort, very drinkable, and Chief Asst. Brewmaster Mark and I are pleased as can be with our beer!


Fun with Bottles

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chief Assistant BrewMaster Mark and I are every-so-delicately bottling our lovely concoction into bottles for a week or two worth of conditioning. If you enlarge the picture, you may be able to see a glimpse of the able hands of Chief Beer Intern and Bottling Assistant Vicki helping with the project. Kudos to Beer Spouse Jen for taking the picture.

The yeast in the beer has slowed a bit, so corn sugar is added to wake it back up. It is poured at this point into bottles for the yeast to feast on the sugar and make the beer's final alchohol content, as well as give it the natural carbonated fizziness we all expect in beer.

MArk and I were able to deftly keep a majority of the junk out of the beer as we bottled it, so there won't be so much sediment in the bottles. There always is some in bottle-conditioned beer; that's just the way it is. Gives you GREAT gas.

Within a week, we will crack a brew and see if we did it right. If it's flat, we wait another week. If it's flat after that....we biffed it. Good thing we have a Chief Beer Intern and Bottling Assistant and a Beer Spouse to blame, because it couldn't possibly be Head Amateur BrewMaster Me or Chief Assistant BrewMaster Mark...


Gluttony: the Fifth Cardinal Sin

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ah, gluttony. When the Church came up with this one, they certainly didn't mean beer.

What's in the fridge this week?

1) Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Amazing; like drinking chocolate milk. Smells of chocolate and roasted nuts. Huge chocolate on the taste, followed by a nice sweet toasted malt, mild hops throughout. Heavy stout, fantastic overall. 8/10.

2) Michigan Brewing Company Superior Stout. This stout is exactly what a stout should taste like. That means that it's good, but unremarkable, since it is exactly right. Smelled of roasted coffee and bakers chocolate. Same roasted taste, but about half way through the beer it took on a buttery aftertaste, which is really nice. 7/10.

3) Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. I've reviewed the 60-,inute before. Now the 90-minute. SMACK! go the hops. Wow. Pine, citrus, herbs, overall bitter and oily hops, which is exactly perfect. This is a HUGE Double IPA. Definitely for "hop heads." 8/10.

4) Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. It was ok. Chicory is a root that is added to coffee in New Orleans to give it an extra bitter-kick. It just doesn't work for this stout. Good overall stout, but the chicory sort of got in the way for me, as did an astringent quality. 6/10.

5) Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier. This is an old stand-by for me, and one of my favs. Posted reviews before. Love it to death. 8/10.

6) Fuller's ESB. This is the ESB that created and defines the style. Medium body, smooth, a little fruity, followed immediately by a coarse, earthy, almost woody hops. Just a touch of roasted malt, but the hops character last all the way through. It's a celebration, bitches. 8/10.

7) Anchor Steam Beer. This is an original. Back in the late 1800s, refrigeration was unheard of, but Californians wanted to brew lagers (which ferment at low temperature). So, they created shallow fermenters and used yeast that fermented faster at higher temps. Immediate bitter, salty, citrusy taste moving to well-toasted malts, with a dry, citrus finish. This is truly one-of-a-kind, and its immitators pale in comparison. 9.5/10.

8) A can of Miller Lite. My sister in law can be so boring. Meh. 4/10.

9) Crazy Ed's Cave Creek Chili Beer. Barf. Take a Corona, and instead of a lime, cram a jalapeno in it. WTF?!? The pepper that sits in thebeer made it spicy. I don't drink my beer like I eat my salsa. The pepper further killed a mediocre beer. 4/10.

10) Harvey's Tom Paine Original Brown Ale. This is not bad. Smells a little like caramel and cinnamon. Creamy mouthfeel, buttery-sweet caramel taste, low carbonation, with nary a hint of hops. Highly drinkable, if not a bit boring. 7/10.

Hmmmm....6.95 this week. All those good beers RUINED by Miller and Crazy Ed. Ed, you bastard. Crazy Ed's that guy who shows up to your house party at 3 a.m. in a coon-skin cap. He's still there asleep on your couch in red Union Soldier pajamas 2 days later.


Nice Rack! Moving the Beer...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The beer saga continues. Making beer is strange in that if you think about it, all the little yeast spores are eating sugar. The catch is that they poop alcohol. Yummy!

Anyway, lovely assistant brewmaster Jennifer helped me rack the beer this evening from the first fermenter, where the reaction had slowed a bit, into the secondary fermenter, where the yeast will be given a chance to finish eating and shitting, and settle into the beer. This will take around 2 weeks.

The picture you see here are the two fermenters; the one on the left is the newly-racked beer, still bubbling away in the little airlock, and the nasty original fermenter.

The original, without the beer in it, smells quite a bit like wet bread, which is not evil, but still pretty pungent. The beer, as it was poured into the second fermenter, smelled faaaaaaantastic. This will be good beer.

I took a little taste. It's pretty flat still at this point in the process, but tastes about 75% of what the finished product will be. Mostly, you taste here to make sure you haven't killed it, which I don't think I have.

Brewmaster Mark will join me in about 2 weeks to bottle-condition our concoction.


What's In My Fridge This Week?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Friday, another beer buzz. I feel like I'm posting in a vacuum here, folks, so give me your beer reviews too!

This week's selection was beautiful, until some hack showed up with with some of the lamest macro-brews ever made.

1) Founders Brewing Company Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale. Rrright then, lads. This is a wee heavy ale, no for the weak, aye? Molasses, raisins, and then the coup de grace, that heavy smoked-peat taste like you get out of a good single malt scotch. Thick and creamy. Heavy and complex enough, though, that drinking more than 1 at a time would ruin it. 9/10.

2) Dogfish Head Brewery 60 Minute IPA. Hazy amber color, citrus and pine hops on the smell. Big hops taste up front, moving from piney to fruity to a crisp grassy taste. Solid hops aftertaste, clean and crisp, without that nail polish taste you get with some. An extra bonus: this beer is bottle-conditioned, so you get some GREAT yeasty farts about an hour later. This is now a permanent addition to my fridge. 9/10.

3) Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat "Duvel": Perfection. Cloudy oragne, with a thick, chunky head that lasts throughout. Smelled of subtle spice, pepper and sweet malt. Smooth and extremely creamy, busy carbonation that lends a crispness to it. Prominent fruity esters, bitter up front, lending to a sweetness, then a bold spiciness like orange rind that mellows as it goes. 8.5 alcohol by volume..powerful. This is is simply amazing. 10/10.

4) Dogfish Head Brewery Punkin Ale. Another wonderful offering from this Delaware Brewery. Kind of a murky tea color, with a major pumpkin pie aroma. Like Thanksgiving! Smooth and creamy, just like pie. Sweet malt, kind of buscuity. FInishes with a strong spicey flavor, balanced by lingering sweetness. One of the best pumkin ales I've had. 8/10.

5) Great Lakes Brewing Company Cleveland Brown Ale. Drak brown with lovely frothy lacing floating around on top. Smelled of toast set on "dark" on the toaster with coffee brewing in the background. Medium body with a bready malted sweetness. Toasted flavor is prominent, followed by chocolate and ending with a hint of hops, slightly oily. Aftertaste is like toasted hops, if that's possible. Just a pleasure to drink. 8/10.

6) Great Lakes Brewing Company Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. This is exactly the way a porter should be. Carmelized sugar and chocolate smell, dark, alomost black color. Full body with enough of a malty taste to be damn near chewy. Caramel, creamed coffee, ending on a really biter hop to balance all that sweetness up front (otherwise it'd be like drinking syrup). It finished like...a brownie. Goodness me. 9/10.

7) Michelob Ultra. The person who brought this over to my house is never invited back again. YOUR HEAR ME??? NEVER!! Pale, smells of corn husks. Thin, watery, almost no maltiness, with an attempt at adding an "edgy" bitterness absent in most macrobrews that is laughable. Bleh. Insulting. Brewed to make money off of the low-carb craze. As boring as the poeple who care about that shit. Profiteering dicks. 2/10.

8) Coors Light. The same freak who brought the Mich Ultra brought this swill. This is the crap I use to cleanse my palate between real beers at beer festivals. Yellow-colored water with no flavor and all fizz. 2/10.

9) Pete's Wicked Ale. Now we're talking again. This is a great American Brown Ale. Ruby Red color, sweet malt nose, esters, with a mild hop aroma. Crisp crystal malt taste with...apples? The hops are not big in this ale, but leave a nice dry finish. This is a great fall-back beer, just like Sammy A Boston Lager. 7/10.

10) Coors Blue Moon. Yes....Coors brews Blue Moon. My universe collapsed a little when I found this out; a bit like finding out that Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that my wife and her friends don't have pillow fights in their underwear every time there's a "girls night out." All in all, this is a standard, middle-of-the-road Belgian-style white ale. Cloudy orange in color with a vague citrus/orange peel on the nose. Lemony, fermented wheat tang, with vague spices and plenty of coriander. Very refreshing, crisp, semi-dry. Good all-around beer. 7/10.

That's a 7.1. I was on the way to a high-8 or a low-9 until the dork showed up with a few bottles of carbonated water. Damn him.


Boil, Boil, Trouble and Toil...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The beer ferments away. This is what beer looks like when yeast reacts with sugars from the barley and malt to make alcohol. It's a pretty cool chemical reaction.

About 2 1/2 more weeks to go until bottling, then about a week from there.


I am a Health Nut

Monday, November 07, 2005

I knew it. I just knew it. This article from ABC News shows that drinking beer has healthy effects.

Apparently hops, which give beer flavor and aroma, have a compound in them that has shown in some research to help prevent cancer. Again: prevent cancer. Drinking good, hoppy beer can help fight cancer!

Now, here's the catch: most American beers, the article says, are low on hops. BUT...porter, stout and ale are high in this particular compound.

What does that mean?

It means drink microbrews!! Bud and Miller, the Shit of Beers, will kill you!! Drink craft beers and live forever!


Homebrew Heaven

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A necessary step towards my somewhat mindless journey to become a Certified Beer Judge is a return to homebrewing. I had done this for several years, and only stopped because life happens.

A good beer-drinking friend of mine, Mark, joined me in a journey to Things Beer, a wonderful store attached to the Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, Michigan. Of course, before we shopped at Things Beer, we had a few pints of their lovely beers...reviews forthcoming.

It's nice to be brewing again. The whole house smells like a huge bowl of wet cornflakes during the process, which is pretty cool.

So here we are in Things Beer, running amok like a 6-year-old at Toys-R-Us. Or a 30-year-old at 20th Century Games (shout out to geeks who know what that is...). Equipment! Hops! Malts! What do we make?!?

Mark and I settled on an ale...specifically, an APA. Not as hoppy as an IPA, but a little more bold than some classic English ales. We chose what is essentially a clone "kit" of MBC's Mackinac Pale Ale. It was my first time back after a long time off, and Mark's first time really ever. This would reintroduce me to the characters of a few different kinds of barleys and hops to start to remember what mixes best with what. In future posts, I'll put the recipes on, but since this was a kit, and a knock-off of a great MBC beer, it just doesn't feel right to post it withour permission. Don't want to develop bad beer karma after all...

I must say it was smooth sailing. Mark is an extremely conscientious brewer and beer drinker, and the help is always nice, especially since brewing takes upwards of 5 hours. You need someone to talk to or you go nuts.

The ale now sits fermenting in the basement. It is going crazy; the fermenter was about 4/5 full, and the yeast is working so well, that last 1/5 is all foam. When it settles by about Tuesday, I'll switch it to the next fermenter for a week or so. It should be ready for drinking around the first week of December.

A huge thanks to Mark, and I am looking forward to cracking the beer.


Ten Beers in My Fridge

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's Friday. It's been a long week. I want to drink beer. What's in my fridge? And what do I think of it?

1) Michigan Brewing Company Peninsula Porter. Another consistent beer from this consistent brewery. It misses the standard porter mark ever so slightly, but still has a strong roasted nuts and smoke smell and taste. Heavy beer...drink with red meat. 7/10.

2) Dogfish Head Brewery Aprihop. WOW. An India Pale Ale brewed with real apricots instead of artificial fruit flavor like so many other brews. What you get is a lovely, strongly-hopped IPA with a beautiful balance of sweetness barely in the background. WOnderful....except the finish was a bit heavy on the alcohol taste. Damn. 8/10.

3) Michigan Brewing Company Mackinac Pale Ale. Great copper color, with a taste bigger than its smell. It smelled weak, but I was amazed at the variation in flavor from biscuity hops to carmelized sugar to rose-flavored hops. Damn good beer, this one. 9/10.

4) Michigan Brewing Company Bavarian Dark. Yes, I visited the brewery this week as I picked up some brewing supplies and took home a few mixed 6ers. Anyway, this was not as heavy as other beers of this style. I didn't smell a ton of hints as to its taste, but the taste itself was great. Big-time toasted malt, subtle (but not weak) hops. Lighter body than I expected; thin and wet, a little hops bite at the finish, which pleased me just as well. 9/10.

5) Rogue Ales Brewery Dead Guy Ale. Clear amber with a thick, foamy head that left a beer-stache like a Guinness does. Toast, malt, wonderful honey/clover-flavored hops. Very well-balanced ale. 9/10.

6) Arcadia Brewing Company Lake Superior ESB. This is drinkable; I won't kick it out of my fridge. It doesn't hold a candle to Fuller's ESB (see last week's 10), as it is a little weaker and watery. What it is missing is prominent hops. It's like they are trying to market an ale as an ESB, so I was looking for stronger hops that weren't there. Not terrible, though. 6/10.

7) Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier. I've you've been brewing beer since 1040AD (yes...26 years BEFORE England as we know it), you've pretty much got it down. Chrystal-clear amber, little streams of bubbles all the way up, with a head like lemon meringue. Sweet, balanced by a tangy wheat flavor. More cloves than banana, which is unusual for a weissbier, and just fine by me. Great damned beer here folks. One of my favorites. 10/10.

8) Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. Yummy! Roasted coffee, balanced by sweet oatmeal that leaves a bit of a bitter chocolate aftertaste. Dark brown, tan, frothy head. Great, solid, basic oatmeal stout. Thick, but not oily, which so many oatmeal stouts can be. Well done! 8/10.

9) St. Pauli Girl. Dammit, I hate green-bottled beer. It could be good, but most stores store it in bright lights, so it is skunk city. This is a pretty weak pilsener to begin with; big blast of hops up front followed by that all-familiar skunky aftertaste. Meh. 4/10.

10) Iron City Beer. I blame my buddy, who is from Pittsburg, for this beer. But I am torn. This is a tailgate beer. It is light, easy to chug, and has a little more flavor than Miller Light of Bud Light. So, I swill this beer when I am getting smashed enough to watch MSU nearly win or nearly lose every Saturday. On the other hand, it's tart, acidic, with that oh-so-wonderful aluminum can aftertaste we've grown to expect out of a "macro." I'd rate it lower, but because this beer is connected in my head with tailgating and BBQ, 2 of my favorite things, it gets a 6/10.

So there you have it. An average of a 7.6 gives me a darn good buzz. Whatis in your fridge?


Fruit Beers are Not Just for Chicks

Monday, October 31, 2005

"Feh!" cry my friends who are only remotely (as in Pluto is remote from the sun) in touch with their feminine sides. "Fruit beers are for chicks and guys afraid of real beer!"

These are the same guys who classify Miller Genuine Draft as "great beer." It is beer, but I don't know about great.

I must admit, I am normally not a fan of fruit beers, especially given that many of them use a fruit concentrate, and quite a bit of it, instead of real fruit. It makes them sort of artificial. It tastes like drinking beer with a fruit roll-up in your mouth at the same time. I normally love Sam Adams and anything they put out, but I do believe their cherry wheat falls into this category.

So I'm at my favorite beer store (where they have, at last count, 645 beers in stock), and I see Dogfish Head Brewery's Aprihop beer. Anyway, this beer boasted that it was an IPA, brewed using real apricots. Everything else I've had from Dogfish Head has been really solid, so what the heck. As it turns out, this was no ordinary fruit beer.

It poured copper, slightly cloudy, with a slim head that dissipated and left some decent lacing. Smelled of bready yeast and you guessed it..apricots! It also had all of the scents you'd normally expect from an IPA; floral hops, sweetness, slight bready scent. Kind of like the Samuel Smith's India Ale I rated some time ago.

Again, I was worried that the fruity taste would be overpowering, but this was not at all the case. In fact, this tasted very much like a well-balanced IPA, great strong floral hops balanced by sweet malt, but with just a tiny hint of apricot. It's like drinking a beer after eating an apricot. The flavor isn't wahsed away by the beer. I wonder if some of the hoppiness was balanced not so much by malt, but a little by the apricots themselves? I thought it had a bit of an alcohol finish.

Good mouthfeel, nothing lingering, definitely not thin. Just solid.

Aprihop is very drinkable. I'll get this again, and take back everything bad I ever said about anyone who drank any kind of fruit beer. In this case, I was proven worng, and soooooo happy I was.


Eating...er...Drinking My Words

Friday, October 28, 2005

So I said that I wasn't gonna hold my breath. Well, guess I was wrong. Looks like I. "Scooter" Libby was just indicted today. Tough luck.

In retrospect, there is always a fall guy for this administration, and listening to the comments made and the finger-pointing and blame-shifting, Libby had "scapegoat" written all over him. Too bad they didn't get Rove. Looks like he escaped this one, but at least he's still under investigation.

And now we watch Congressional Republicans put still more gone between them and the WHite House.


Beer of the Week/Cheer of the Week

A favorite blog of mine, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Nachos, has a great little schtick every Friday where they go to their ipods, hit random, and give their impressions of the first 10 songs.

At Around the Keg, we (I) have decided to do the same this week, but of course, with beer. So this week's "beer of the week" is the first 10 beers I saw when I opened my beer fridge. With bottle opener in hand....

1) Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest. Hugely sweet, almost like maple syrup with beer in it. I would drink this beer every day AND have it on my pancakes. This is a perfect Oktoberfest, made by the people who...you know...started it. 9/10

2) Bells' Twentieth Anniversary Ale. Sweet malt mixed with rose-scented hops. Pretty complex, ended with a kind of melon aftertaste. Good for show their 20th year. 8/10

3) Spaten Oktoberfestbier. This is nothing like Oktoberfest. It is re-packaged Heineken, with all the skunk of St. Pauli Girl. Drinkable, but not Oktoberfest, and only an average beer to begin with. 5/10

4) Theakston Old Peculiar. This is a great Old Ale. Molasses, raisins, a little chocolate. Well-balanced, not as sweet as Oktoberfests. 8/10

5) Brouwerij Huyghe Delerium Tremens. Holy moly. This is a Belgian strong pale ale...and strong it is. Grabbed my taste buds and said "you WILL like me, punk." And I did. This is a favorite. 9/10.

6) Michigan Brewing Company Sunset Amber Lager. This is a perfect lager. Lots of complex hops mixed with pilsener yeasts, but fermented at about 33 - 40 degrees instead of cellar-temp. Everything about this lager is exactly what you read about lagers in beer textbooks. Consistent beer from a consistent brewery. 9/10.

7) Blue Star Great American Wheat Beer. Nice, crisp wheat beer. Just that: nice. Not spectacular, certainly above-average...just nice. Got all the right trappings: floral scent, fruity/banana taste, cloudy. 7/10

8) Hacker-Pschorr Dunkle Weiss. I could drink this every day and not get tired of it. Hazy mahogany color, cloves and fruit om the scent. Bananas, smokiness, malt and chocolate on the taste. Gotta love the Germans for their beer (and their cars). But not so much for their art. 8/10

9) Bell's Brewery Two Hearted Ale. This is lovely. Floral and grapefruit smell. Caramel initially on the taste, followed up by the great grrapefruit taste. Gods, but this is good friggin' beer. Another consistent beer from a consistent brewery. 8/10.

10) Molson Canadian Lager. Dammit! Who left this in my fridge?!? After all these great beers, to end on such an average note is disappointing. Well..for a macro-brew, Molson does a fine job. Not too hoppy, in fact, almost no hops, mostly overshadowed by a simple beer flavor. Really, at the end of the day, I like this beer. I drink it at hockey games. I feel good drinking this beer. It's just not spectacular. Nice and fizzy, WAY better taste than Bud or Miller. At least Canadian macro-brews still brew beer that tastes like it.. 6/10.

My average this week is 7.7/10. I guess that makes me pretty happily hammered!


Miers Withdraws

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Does anyone feel kinda bad for Harriet?

They threw someone whom they knew was terribly unqualified at this process. I know what the Misadministration was thinking...she's a woman, she has no record that can be examined and Republicans will simply go along with what Fearless Leader tells them, right?


This Miers debacle is embarrassing for two people: Harriet herself, for being thrown into a circle she just ain't cut out for, and Bush himself, who has now proven he has no more clout on the Hill.

It is fun to watch Republicans in Congress put a whole lotta gone between them and Fearless Leader. With the rash of scandal, mistruths, misadministration, and insiders' claims of cabals, Congressional Rs are like the Roadrunner pouring on extra speed, leaving Wile E. Bush holding the lit stick of dynamite, running down the road in the desert all by himself.

More and more, they buck whatever comes out of the Whitehouse as if to say that they have their own minds and are unconnected to anything from the Administration. They even bucked Bush last night in a vote over greater restrictions over Fannie Mae! Bush said it didn't go far enough, so Congress said it went plenty far and voted for it. Even the little things are against them.

And I see why. With Republican Congressional candidates bailing-out of their races in swing districts, any ties to the Ship of Fools will only assure their defeat.

To bring it full circle, then, Harriet's withdrawal shows that Fearless Leader can no longer lead us. It shows that his word has no value, even amongst his friends. From now on, in order to get anything done, he's gonna have to prove it to the people who may actually lead us now: Congress.


The British Empire Lives Strong in India

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quite simply, Samuel Smith's Pale Ale blew me away. It is brewed in the fine tradition of British-based India Pale Ales.

It's 9:00 on a brisk morning, on the campus of Michigan State. It's a tailgate. Besides my morning coffee, spiked with a bit of John Jameson and Son's finest, my palate was undisturbed. I reach into my cooler full of Molson Canadian (I'll review that one later) and pull out my bottle of this IPA. I had been looking forward to this moment, as IPAs generally present a very hoppy beer, full of taste.

A bit of history, being that I was on a college campus. Education is everything, afterall. The reason IPAs are so hoppy is because hops are a natural preservative. The only way beer would survive the long trip from Her Majesty's front door to the streets of Bangladesh was to imbue it with a ton of hops. The result is a beer along the lines of a slightly-more-bitter Extra Special Bitter (I'll review one of those later). Americans do a decent IPA, like Sierra Nevada, but ours are often over-hopped, because that's how the legend goes. The hops used are great, but sometimes too many. But in this fine example, the British show their handle on their own traditional beers is still as strong as ever. Long live the Queen!

I digress...I cracked open the bottle, and was immediately hit by a wonderful floral smell. I smelled plenty of hops, as I would with any IPA, but not so strong as Sierra Nevada. This woke my brain up out of its early-morning fog. Quivering with anticipation, my tastebuds ready for the shock of a mega-hoppy IPA, I nearly fell over at what I perceived to be an amazingly well-balanced IPA. Incredible. Sure, there were loads of hops....it's an IPA. That's what they do. But these hops I thought were extremely-well balanced by a nice sweet maltiness. In fact, the extra maltiness really took the sting off of what I would have normally expected. I exclaimed out loud that it was the best IPAs I'd had in a long time. Sorry Sierra Nevada...I found a new one. Mouthfeel was slightly dry, as it should be with IPA. Drinkability I think speaks for itself. I will buy this beer over and over again. 9/10.


Taste as Big as the World

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware has made an incredible stout called World Wide Stout. This is a very apt name.

I pass by this particular brewery's fares every time I go to my favorite beer store (shout out to Oades Big 10 in East Lansing), and have been tempted. What usually keeps me from buying, though, is that so many times, a craft brewery's stout is bitter, and so complex that it's like they threw all of their left-over ingredients into a pot. You know, like leftover night; a shred of beef brisket, 3-day-old mashed potatoes, withered salad, a chicken leg, some totino's pizza rolls and some very suspect green beans. There's no balance and no plan.

But what the Hell. Don't knock it till you try it. SO glad I did.

This was the best stout I have even had (next to Guinness - amen - of course). It was black black BLACK...like Splinter Cell black. Ninja black. Hiiiii-YA! It had a nice off-white, toasted almond-colored head that didn't last terribly long, but left nice lacing as I quaffed this masterpiece.

Enough about the look. It's like the part in a porno when the actress prances around in lingerie. Why?? Anyway...

What I smelled in this beer were characteristics normally attributed to wine: currants, coffee, spice. Good hop character. I raised the beer glass to my lips....the beer hit my tongue...

...and after a few minutes, I regained my sight. Surely, the bright flash I saw was God's smiling approval of this beer. Currants. Chocolate milk. Coffee. Roasted barley, like fresh out of an oven. There is a slight alcohol tinge, given that this beer is like 18% or something of that nature, but I found it to be a great compliment to the beer, and reminded me to savor it, not chug it like a glass of silky chocolate milk. This stout has balance. This stout has a plan.

The mouthfeel was like drinking silk. It has the consistency of drinking a glass of Ovaltine. I recommend this beer. I give it 9/10.


Beer of the Week/Cheer of the Week

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tomorrow, Michigan State plays Northwestern for homecoming. I will, as any true and loyal Sparty, be tailgating as early as possible. The only real way to enjoy Spartan Football is to be plowed like a Northern Michigan street in February.

Given that it's football season, what better thing to do than review a few tailgating classics.

It's 6:45 a.m. There's a crisp breeze, and since the sun isn't up yet, it's about 35 degrees. The oil in the turkey deep-fryer is heating up. There's a flask of Jameson in your back pocket. Time to crack that first beer. What'll it be?

This week's tailgate has Busch Beer, a far cry from what Adolphus Busch brewed back in the Old World before trying his craft here. Whip out the folding chair, put your feet up on your cooler and BUUUUUUUSSSSSSCCCCHHHHHH.....

I bring the can to my nose. I smell no hops, definitely malt and even an adjunct...rice maybe? And oh, I can smell the alcohol. My stomach churns, given that Arthur Guinness and I had a ton of craic doing some pre-tailgate celebrations that ended just 4 hours and 45 minutes ago. Hmm. But my liver screams to me that I'm a wimp for quittin' so early, so down the hatch! Busch is very watery, and highly-carbonated, almost to the point where the extreme amount of carbonation and alcohol burn the back of the throat. This has the typical "macrobrew" taste to it, meaning no evident hops, a slightly skunky malt and a generally bland, generic feel to it. I imagine this is to beer what the "tea" on board the Heart of Gold was to Arthur Dent. The normal characters that barley and hops are absent in what is truly carbonated water with alcohol added.

That was the real review. The tailgate review?

It's 6:45. It's 35 degrees. I just stopped drinking a few hours ago; long enough to have one of those still-awake-hangovers. I feel woozy. I want to puke. I slam my first. Thank God it has no taste, because taste is the last thing I need. Awesome. I chug the second, and half way through, my buddy wants to see me shotgun a beer. That never gets old for him, so I'm happy to oblige. I punch a hole in the bottom, crack the top and down it goes. It's now 6:50. I nip the Jameson in the flask in my back pocket, and chase it with another can of Busch. The carbonation burns, but produces some GREAT belches. I no longer want to puke. My lips are a little numb...is it from the beer, or just because it's cold? Friends show up. We deep-fry turkey. We eat. I am 12 cans into the morning, so pretty much everything is funny. Michigan State is a wet campus, so I can carry beers with me to the stadium. Good thing, because to remain buzzed enough to last the frist half so I can yell at the refs and enjoy the Spartans, I'll need 4 more.

The point is, while not a great beer at all, it is a beer centered around comaraderie, football and grilled food. This beer is great because it is meant for getting a buzz with your friends. No more, no less. Enjoy Busch.

And for the Cheer of the Week: Go State! 2 losses in a row, bad coaching and the worst kicker I believe in college history. I raise my 15th Busch in the air before stumbling into the stadium and proclaim Go SpState! Beathose fuggers! Hicc! Urrrrp.....ohshit....


A New Post, A New Look, A New Focus

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's time for change. It was fun to equate political and social events with beer. But after a time, I began to realize that the truth itself became so absurd and twisted that to continue to give it parody became empty. The naked truth about politics today doesn't need parody. bIt stands alone as great comedy. The writers at The Daily Show don't even have to try. They splash what the president or one of his minions actually said, John Stewart gives a look, and everybody laughs.

Plus, to equate these "truths" with beer began to make beer unpleasant for me. Why would I use something I love so much as a metaphor for something that makes my blood boil? That just can't be.

There's lots of folks out there like these brilliantly funny bloggers, these hilarious lunatics and this talented writer who do a wonderful job of pointing out the absurd. It is a pleasure to read their blogs, which are updated several times a day in some cases.

It's time for something new for me. It is time to turn my anger into something positive...for me at any rate. From now on, Around the Keg, while still interspersed with rants and humor, will focus mostly on my quest to fulfill a dream:

To become a Certified Beer Judge.

It is my goal to take the appropriate tests and gain the correct knowledge to become a certified beer judge. With this prestigious designation, I will be able to attend beer festivals not just as an observer, but as one of the panel of judges.

There is a long road ahead of me. I need to meet brewers. I need to talk to homebrewers. I need to study and take the test provided by the beer judge certification program. Then, I need to keep up on the certification by participating as a judge in several beer festivals per year. As I gain experience, I start to get invited to more and more prestigious festivals, and the chain goes on.

Thus, the new look too. The picture on this template looks like a blury picture of hops. It's green, which, coincidentally, is the same color as hops. I have included links not only to great blogs on the net, but also breweries and beer information sites.

This is a quest to seek and understand better beer. This is my dream, as simple as it is. I will become a certified beer judge.


Beer of the Week/Cheer of the Week

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's that time again. It's Friday. It's time to drink beer.

My beer of the week this week is Delerium Tremens. This is a fine beer in the Belgian Wheat category.

First off, the bottle. It comes in an opaque, white-ish gray bottle with pink elephants in a ring around the bottle. Pink elephants. You'll see plenty of those if you drink enough of Delerium Tremens.

The name is cool. Delerium. Tremens. Crazy trembles, people. I get the crazy trembles just thinking about this beer.

In the right glass, it pours a nice 2cm head and smells strongly of cloves and bananas (B! a-n-a-n-a-s!). It has a strong spicy-floral taste, which tells the tale of a wonderful balance of hops with the right kind of yeast to create the floral and clove taste. Just delicious.

I drank this beer (well....several of these beers) at Dusty's Taproom in Okemos, MI. It is a regular on the beer list, and goes with many of the things on the menu. Drink this beer. I think you can buy it at Oades Big 10 on Kalamazoo St.


Beer of the Week/Cheer of the Week

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ah....Friday. Time to enjoy the Beer of the Week.

This week, among the hundreds of beers consumed, the one that stood out was Weihenstephaner Kristalweissbier. Yummy.

Weinhenstephaner is the oldest brewery in the world, straing ca. 1040. Yes...26 years earlier than William the Conqueror's big win and the beginning of England as we know it. That's old. While the Dark Ages prevailed, these guys were brewing great beer.

So with almost 1,000 years.....again...almost 1,000 years......almost a milennium....of brewing experience, you'd think they've got it down by now. And they do.

This is a perfectly-pale straw-colored brew, lots of carbonation, and a great fruity taste. Definite banana (B! A-N-A-N-A-S!) scent on the nose. Poured a great head too. Clean finish...I tell ya, these Germans have it down pretty well. Especially after, oh, 1,000 years. This is truly a great-tasing beer. It is not as strong as a traditional weissbier, but is a solid intro-to-weissbier for the uninitiated and a great, solid, drinkable beer for the true connoisseur. Its only imperfection lies in its lightness. It is truly uoffensive. I give Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier an 8/10.

For the Cheer of the Week:

Normally, this would be a snarky politicl diatribe or a strange piece of news. But no...here in Michigan is the biggest in-state rivalry, Michigan State University v. the (lower-case "t") University of Michigan. The huge rivalry that the rest of the nation doesn't know about. MSU is 4-0 so far this season, and U of M is 2-2. This is role-reversal, as usually it's always the other way around. MSU has a great chance this year to beat U of M....so CHEERS to MSU. Go State.


Beer of the Week/Cheer of the Week

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ah, happy Friday. I make no promises about this next statement, as work has kept me quite busy to post regularly, but I will attempt to honor a great beer each week, and offer a "cheers" to various ridiculousness. For, and so you understand my palate and opinion, Natural Light and its ilk are a 0. Guinness in the UK is a 10. Guinness in the States is an 8.

This week, I would like to honor the Sam Adams Octoberfest.

Sam Adams is one of my all-around favorite beers. I find it well-balanced and extremely consistent. Another quality I enjoy about Sammy A is that their seasonal selections vary season-to-season. They are constantly working on their Summer Ale, their Octoberfest, Winter Lager (another fav), etc.

This year's Summer Ale was pretty weak by Sammy A standards, and that really disappointed me. Not to the same level as finding out that there is no Santa or that U of M cares more about Ohio State than MSU. In other words, I didn't have to re-evaluate anything in my life because it was weak this year. Just be disappointed.

So, I was skepticle about Octoberfest. I was worried that like the Summer Ale, the normally-nonpareil brewers in Boston would have so perfectly-balanced a beer between hops and malt that it comes out....neutral. No kick. But when I cracked my first bottle a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised.

This year's Octoberfest is an amazing blend of four different types of barley with a heaping amount of malt. With this combo, you get what I think is a great toffee or caramel taste. This is balanced with juuuuust enough hops to make it heartier than summer beers but no so heavy or sweet. I give Sam Adams Octoberfest an 8.

And for this week's Cheers:

Actually, I have 2 this week, both from Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird.

First, because with September being Octoberfest around the world, In Kimberly, British Columbia, in July, trying to establish a Guinness Book record, 644 people at a music festival played their accordions simultaneously for half an hour.[Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 8-11-05] So with earphones blaring death metal into my ears, cheers on breaking the record!

Next, in the Best Influences from America with which to Rebuild Your Country category, "Abu Mustafa" (a nickname) is part of a small market of vendors of pornographic videos operating in Baghdad, according to an August Reuters dispatch, and sells about 50 DVDs a day, with movies from Lebanon and other Arab countries the most popular. "I tried lots of other jobs," he said, but this was his most promising opportunity (although he said the righteous Shi'ite Badr Brigades have threatened to kill him and his approximately 30 competitors in the Bab al-Sharjee neighborhood). [Reuters, 8-10-05] So with my left hand grasping a beer and my right hand, uh, busy...cheers on your success as a pornographer!


Dear Dear Dear Dear God.....

Monday, September 05, 2005

I found the best song ever written. This may be the coolest band ever. It is a metal (my favortie type of music) song......about beer. I enjoyed. I played again and again. I wept.

The band is Psychostick. The name of the song is "Beer." Check it out here. Support this band.


HUGE Party Foul

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina really really sucked.

Upwards of thousands dead? The mayor of New Orleans evacuates the entire city....for months???

And as a proud new father, an interesting wrinkle: 11 premature babies were flown to a hospital in Texas. This hospital is now in the process of trying to track down these premies' parents. Holy holy holy crap.

I called the Red Cross today. They said if you want to help, call 1-800-HELPNOW or click this link for the Red Cross Web Site. They need $130 million for this relief effort. They are urging not to send food or other items, because it is logistically too hard to get down there, especially in time to be useful. They can use money to purchase what they need and make it work out better and more than a donation of food.


Monkeys Will Always Be Funny

Monday, August 29, 2005

Okay...so nothing beer in this post, but c'mon. It's got monkeys in it.

From CNN earlier today:

"Government offices in the Indian capital are under siege from marauding gangs of monkeys. The gang of Rhesus Macaques are increasingly aggressive and daring in their raids on offices including the defense, finance and external affairs ministries and even the Prime Minister's department. The animals are considered sacred in India's main Hindu religion so killing them isn't an option."

Hmmmm.... Government being overrun by marauding gangs of monkeys? Hmmm.... Where else could that be happening? Hmmm.... Seems like I almost have my finger on it.... Hmmm....


A Traveling Keg

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sorry...no post for the next few days. The world is safe. I will be screwing around and playing in the golf haven that is Northern Michigan.


California: Why?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Prop 109. Ward Connerly. Hollywood. Alec Baldwin. The Governator. And now....Prop 77, which is tied to soft money.

In a bold move of overt, callous carelessness, Cuhleefornee-uh has allowed its Congressional delegation to raise of unlimited amounts of soft money around ballot initiatives and "voter" issues. This is because the Governator, according to state law, can already do that, but members of Congress were limited in the amounts of soft money they can raise.

The Governator has been going around the country raising upwards of $50 million (which is its own blog subject...) in an effort to re-draw political districts by removing the legislature from the process and turning it over to Ahnold and a panel of retired judges. Congress is not able to do nearly as much, thanks to the McCain-Feingold law (and I actually mean 'thanks'). But under this ruling, they could in California ballot proposals.

But soft money for any reason allows a candidate or potential candidate to raise money in support of the issues they support, which drums up inordinate support for them. That was why McCain wanted to change the law in the first place!

So to level the playing field in Cuhleefornee-uh, the FEC chose to allow anyone to raise unlimited amounts of soft money, which, just a few years ago, a majority of the majority and a majority of the minority thought was a terrible idea. Instead....maybe the answer could have been to limit the Governator's ability to raise soft money? Just a suggestion...you know...rather than open the doors the problem that unlimited soft money creates.

The only thing good out of Cuhleefornee-uh right now is Anchor Steam. So tasty...

Sorry....my 2-month old is waking up...no time to think of a clever beer reference on this one...maybe one of you?


It's All About the Buzz

Detroit Mayoral Race Offers a Clear Choice...But Will Detroiters Take It?

I thought drinking for the sake of getting drunk was only somethign that lasted into someone's mid-twenties. Well...on purpose anyway. There's been many a post-football Saturday...

Somehow, for Detroiters, it is a city-wide phenomenon. They could stop drinking so much. They could choose better beer. But it must be all about the bad-beer buzz.

The theory is that bad-beer buzzes are those buzzes where you starting talking depressed. As you fall deeper into that buzz, you start to love it, for the sake of being able to bitch more. The buzz and the comfort of constant complaints drives people to drink more of that bad beer together...misery loves company. This turns into marathon drinking sessions....pounding beers to wallow together in misery. The hangover is so bad it drives you to drink more, and bitch about it.

I have developed this theory because that is the only reason I can think of that Detroit will always decide what is worst for it. Given a clear choice of good beer versus bad beer, Detroit picks bad beer and then complains about its miserable condition, as it nurses its collective hangover with more bad beer.

There is a clear choice in Detroit now between Miller Genuine Draft (a solid beer) and....Moosehead (the skuniest of skunk). Before the primary, Strohs and Icehouse wwere in the race too. Strohs didn't make it because although barely anyone drinks it, you figure it will suck, so you don't. Icehouse didn't make the cut because it's cheap, gets you mercilessly hammered faster, and then runs out of stock for a while.

MGD, a time-honored tradition, and Moosehead. Detroit could choose to minimize the bone-crushing hangover and actually collectively make it to work on time the next morning, a little hazy, but there. THEN....progress can happen...because you actually made it to work.

I fear Detroit will choose Moosehead. The sheer density of the hangover will make yet another collective sick day. Nothing changes, but everyone still gets to whine about how bad it is, and chug mor skunk to get the taste of overripe meat out of their mouths. I fear they will choose what is collectively bad, as they always have (a-la Coleman Young and getting rid of Archer), for the sole purpose of not having anything to complain about anymore.

Drink beer, Detroit, that doesn't present itself as better than it is! Drink beer, Detroit, that doesn't market itself as a tasty microbrew but instead turns out to be PBR that went bad in a green bottle!


A Farewell Toast to Peter Jennings

Monday, August 08, 2005

Around every keg, at some point, fellow imbibers offer a toast. Sometimes for fallen heroes, sometimes for lost friends or relatives, sometimes because a toast is hilarious, a toast is a way to convey feelings, communicate respect, or tell an eloquent joke.

None of us here knew Peter Jennings well enough to mourn, so we won't participate in ridiculous discussions about mourning his passing. This is in addition to the fact that mourning around a keg is a buzzkill. Instead, we will offer toasts to show our respect to a media mogul who never lost his vision about the true function of a free press.....who still found ways to dig and barb the trite and grossly inept Administration without losing his job....

Allow me to start. I offer:

Bring the white blossoms of the waning year;
Heap with full hands the peaceful conqueror's shrine,
Whose bloodless triumphs cost no sufferer's tear!
Hero of knowledge, be our tribute thine!

And also:

May you meet the gates of heaven
Half an hour before the devil knows you're dead!


You Get What You Pay For

Thursday, July 28, 2005


When you want good beer, you pay for it. We all recognize that the good stuff costs money, the bad stuff is cheap and "no" stuff is free.

I am alarmed that there exist people who think the good stuff should cost as much as the bad stuff. Then there are those who think the bad stuff is good enough for everyone and the good stuff is too much for anyone and unnecessary. Finally, there are those who want to drink beer but don't see that it costs money.

The first group, the Bargain Hunters, want good beer. Everyone who needs it can get good beer. But they refuse to look at the price and only bring enough money for bad beer. The Bargain Hunters act suprised at the register that they don't have enough money. They buy the bad stuff, bring the bad stuff to the kegger, and promise to bring the good stuff 'next time' when they have 'more money.' We all hope for the good stuff in the future and don't understand that all we'll ever get is bad beer. Damn Skunk Merchants...... We're duped by the Bargain Hunters into the promise of tomorrow. Tomorrow, however, is always one step ahead of us in the future. We all grow accostomed to drinking bad beer, or so these folks hope, and never question the annual promise of a future full of Irish Stout or Belgian Wheat.

The next more devious group are the Stingy Hosts. The Stingy Host will only and forever offer you Schlitz, Natty Lite or whatever is cheapest. Let there be no bones about it, the Stingy Host sees beer as beer and why pay more for it? For them, beer is about the drunk and not about the joy and taste. You'll get The Beast and like it! It's not that they can't pay....it's just that they don't want to. There's no use to them and they don't care. If you puke, to the Stingy Host it's your own fault. The Stingy Host never pukes....but he never drinks what he offers you....watch our for these guys. They have a secret stash.

The final group is the Ignorant Mooch. The Ignorant Mooch expects to show up to the party and drink great beer if they want it or need it. If the beer is gone, they complain. If the beer is swill, they complain (but drink anyway). But if asked to chip in, it becomes "not their responsibility." If money runs low (or out) they complain that everyone is entitled to great beer. But they are unwilling to buy any beer. They have "better uses for their money."

Folks, it's a kegger. The responsible host pays for good beer. Responsible guests chip in everything they can to get good beer. What we're entitled to is exactly what we pay for. I believe the majority of people out there are willing to sheel out a few extra bucks to assure that great beer makes it to the party. The hard part is that there are demogogues refuse to go ahead and get the good beer, give us all our money back, and won't accept the money we're willing to offer in order to get good beer. They tell everyone the keg's dry and ignore everyone's offered contribution.

There's more of us that want good beer than those who don't. Don't listen to the vocal minority. Everybody chip in and let's get better beer.


Guinness Is A Uniter, Not A Divider!

Monday, July 25, 2005


Have you ever noticed that beer does not engage in negative campaigning?

Have you ever seen a beer commercial bash another?

The answer used to be "no" until Bud Light (swill...see my first post) and Miller Light (swill...see my first post) engaged in a mock political campaign, pitting the Bud horse, who never spoke, against a charismatic well-dressed spokesman holding a Miller. Bud responded with its own series of ads that bashed Miller.

Oh dark days! A sad day when beer, the beloved beverage, lowered itself to the depths of politicians and political parties. Miller and Bud, two bastions of American beer, played on our base instincts in a misguided attempt at humor.

Oh, I am guilty. I laughed. For shame! I felt guilty for laughing...until suddenly I recognized that a point I made earlier was made. Remember my contention: that light beer is swill, enjoyed by people who are noncommittal and who are afraid to face the consequences of their actions. But why? They are driven to that by mediocrity.

What do I mean? Take my example of voting. Two parties in out political system, each of whom hand us a candidate either actually too liberal or too conservative for our own taste. Each of whom hand us a candidate who, by educated programming, changes their platform to suit what polls say are the hot-button issues. We are handed, then, candidates as noncommittal about what they actually believe in as trying to enjoy beer without suffering the caloric consequences!

And so here we have Miller Lite and Bud Lite, who inundate us with constant ads until it seems our only choice, like in a Presidential race, is between two candidates we should reject, but end up tolerating as safe.

Challenge the paradigm! Drink beer that is not advertised. You'll find, as a whole, it is better. Best of all, drink beer that unites! In Ireland, everyone can agree on Guinness. Guinness unites a country. It doesn't force the country into contrived conflict like Miller and Bud. In Germany, there is a multitude of beer, and it's all good. It doesn't matter what you pick, because it is all wonderful! Nobody has to fight for market share, because they all offer something for every individual. Nobody has to tolerate mediocrity. In France, they don't even DO beer because they have a product that they've perfected; a product that has created one unifying national identity.

Don't fall into our mediocre trap! Demand quality! Demand unity!


Immigration and Beer

Friday, July 22, 2005


When France (who, while they produce great wine, doesn't really have much much in the way of beer) gifted us the STatue of Liberty, we faced her towards the Atlantic. We implored on this lovely symbol of freedom that countries send us their poor..their tired...thier hungry. But we forgot to have them send us their thirsty! Their beer!

Well, as luck would have it, as people flocked to America, they brought their beer with them. And now, other countries send us their beer! This is a special kind of immigration. Oh sure...legally, I guess it is importation. But ideally...we are gaining a heritage, some personality and an ehnancement to our own enjoyment. What goes into truly excellent beer is the same love and effort that goes into a family.

Take for instance: Hacker Pschorr. This is a German brewery that has been around since the mid-1400s. We haven't even been a country as long as they have brewed beer! We are lucky that they have seen fit to travel across the Atlantic and settle on our shores! 600 years of brewing excellence! 24 generations of consistency! This is not a product import...this is the immigration of an entire family and history.

This brings me to a poll.

Which country has sent us their most consistently best "immigrants?" Is it Ireland with their Guinness and Murphys? Germany with their Hacker-Pschorrs and Warsteiners? Belguim with their multitude of wheat beers? Anyone else? Or in this great melting pot, have we taken all the best and incorporated it into our own microbrews...are we now the best with our Sam Adams-es and Sieraa Nevadas?

Post your opinions....who brews most consistently the best (not widest variety...that's another question for another day)? One great beer after another...who does it?



Monday, July 18, 2005

Way I figure it, if blogging is easy enough for some of my friends, I can do it too.

So here I have created my own little section of cyberspace called "around the keg." Anyone who is my friend can tell you that that is the most comfortable space for friends and conversation that I can think of. Why? Beer.

Beer is America! Beer thumbs its nose at convention! Beer is loud laughter, passionate debate, and chicks in bikinis. Beer gives chubby dudes a chance. Beer is for workers and people who enjoy a good joke. Beer is for men and women who find endless humor in a solid fart. Best of all, beer is, according to an NIH study, the most-consumed beverage in the United States, consumed more by college-educated folks than any other beverage. Beer is great political conversation...beer was at the cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence. One of my favorite beers says it all: Sam Adams.....Brewer....Patriot. Oh, Sam was a patriot, alright. But he was a beer drinker first.

Join me around the keg for politics, literature, movies, or whatever strikes your fancy. Just be sure to mention beer in your missives.



Potential Drunks

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