Michigan Winter Beer Fest: The Aftermath

Sunday, February 25, 2007

So, all in all, I am doing better than I anticipated. Because I paced myself way smarter this year, I am actually functional. I can concentrate on moving objects and not get ill. I can eat solid food without barfing. I can move around and do chores without getting queasy and having to sit down for a few.

But don't let the fact that I didn't wake up this morning blowing a .14 let you think I didn't have a riot. I did.

All in all, Founders took the show from my viewpoint. Mind ou, the fest is not a competition. But you taste a ton of beer, you get a good idea of who is awesome. And it was Founders. They rereleased their Kentucky Breakfast Stout, but toned down the bourbon-y taste this year so it was much smoother and less sickly-sweet. They also tried aging their Dirty Bastard (Scotch Ale) in bourbon casks and called it Backwoods Bastard. The result: amazing. The sweetness of the scotch ale was perfect in combination ith the residual bourbon sweetness. They alo brought their Devil Dancer TIPA, which is always a treat.

A close second this year was Darkhorse, out of Marshall. A great showing of 5 beers that ran the spectrum of tastes. Also crammed in the same corner was Dragonmead, which is a Michigan standard of brewing excellence.

The poorest showing this eyar was Bo's brewery's Total Eclipse Russian Imperial Stout. It weighed in at 20% abv, but had no malt or dark roasted malt to balance the juhe amount of alcohol. The result was a massive vodka-like alcoholic burn, the consistency of motor oil, and no other taste beyond that.

Also in a strong showing this year was smoked lager from Grizzley Peak in A2 and another from Rochester brewery. Great smoked malt flavor over the top of a sweet, dopplebock flavor from each of the showings. Great beers.

Not as many boubon-cask ales as last year; the trend must be slowing down a little as brewers are gtting back to some good basics and other beers not normally brewed but have fine traditions (like the smoked lager).

All in all, it was again a happy, congenial crowd full of people there to mock winter and celebrate beer!


Guess What I'm Doing Tomorrow....

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Wait for it.....


So, no beer review today. Because tomorrow? Tomorrow is aaaalllll about the beer. Beers from all over Michigan. All their high-gravity, big ABV stuff. Founders, Kheunnenn's, Dragonmeade, you name it. All beer, all day.


A Long Week

Friday, February 16, 2007

Deserves to end in beer!

Let me again express my utmost joy that an intelligent and fine distributor in Michigan has finally started carrying Stone Brewing Company. So thrilled in fact, that I will again review another of Stone's fine selections: Ruination.
This is a beautifully-crafted American Double IPA from what has become one of my favorite breweries.

Normally, an American IPA, which is a more accurate throwback to original IPAs than what British IPAs currently taste like, give you such great hop character that one would think a Double- or Triple-IPA would taste like nothing but tin cans from the bitterness. Not so. The brewer has to very delicately balance the additional hops with enough male to bring harmony but not be cloying.

Stone does this consistently well.

Ruination? Certainly. You need tough tastebuds for the 100 IBUs this beer carries.

This is simply a magnificent looking beer; a pale sunset orange color, just a touch of cloudiness (expected as this is unfiltered), and topped with a patchy, frothy, pure-white foam head. Great thick lacing down the glass.

The smell is amazing. Perfumy-sweet hop oils with a big citrusy scent on top, with a bit of pine and...tobacco? Some alcoholic esters, soft toasted malt, almost bready, and a pleasant fruitiness makes for a very aromatic brew with a great diversity of aroma.

The taste is surprisingly smooth for such a hefty, bitter beer style. The malt flavor is both bready and toasty up-front with a lucious, velvety, creamy mouthfeel. The tongue then begins to discover all of the different hops used to make this beer as complex as it is. At first there is an initial rush of floral hops, soft but evident. Next is the barrage: piney, citrus rind and leafy / woody. But interestingly, it's all about the malt and alcohol with this beer. The hops bash like a battering ram against a door, but get qualled and smoothed into the overall sweet malt character. The hops are still extremely flavourful with woody, herbs and flowers and a tangy citric edge, which all melts in with the prickly alcohol. And the alcohol is persistent and very warming.

The finish is a tad dry, with some toasty flavors in it, and a bit yeasty (again, it's unfiltered, so not surprising). Great, creamy mouthfeel.

This is truly an amazing and challenging beer. But don't try to taste anything after this beer; not another beer, not food you really like, not anything. Your tastebuds will be either too tired or too shocked. But it's such an amazing beer, so well-balanced and not over-hopped despite the label as a Double-IPA, that it really doesn't matter that your poor tongue will need a break.


These Aren't Toy Soldiers

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This post should have been up last night. Long story.

Given that, thanks to Balloon Juice, who thanks Obsidian Wings for this post. As Cole on Balloon Juice says, my first reaction was "this has me so god damned mad I can’t even write a restrained and reasonable post."

But I did some thinking about it, and am basing my response on what I know Executives do to budgets at the State and Federal level, drawing on my experience as a lobbyist. It is equally infuriating and equally depressing, but I see why it is happening, or at least it's what I think is going on. To set the stage for those of us who are a little lazy to click the links:

Iraq War veteran Christopher Carbone said he wouldn't mind a decrease in his medical benefits if it meant that additional federal dollars would be used for armored Humvees on the battlefield.

But Carbone, a survivor of an improvised explosive device attack in Iraq in October 2005, couldn't help being a little jarred when he learned the Bush administration planned to cut funding for veterans' health care by 2 percent in 2009 in order to balance the federal budget by 2012.

"It's kind of surprising," Carbone, 28, of North Haledon, said Monday. "It's one of those things that you always expect to be taken care of after everything you do." (...)
That's where my blood begins to boil. To the men and women who are shot, blown up, depressed, etc., we at least owe them the resources to become whole, or as close to whole as they can become. I disagree with the Chairman's explanation and thoughts on what this surprising cut means.
The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends, sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better, critics say.

"Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget, "or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions."
OK. Maybe I can see that this Administration might base something on unrealistic assumptions. They kinda have that track record. But I don't think they are willingly proposing massive cuts in VA healthcare.

A common tactic from the Executive level when introducing a budget proposal is to cut deep into some sacred cows. You do some sacred cows of your opposition party to show solidarity within your own, and you do some of your own to provide political cover to your own party for them to support a program that may not be possible to pay for without cutting the opposition's sacred cows.

So Bush proposes a cut to VA benefits. This throws people into fits while at the same time forcing them to vote for increases in the VA and DOD budgets that they may not have otherwise. It provides cover to the Rs to go the way the President needs them to go; it allows them to "buck the President" and become hometown heroes by restoring funding to VA benefits. It's good for the Rs because it allows them to again separate themselves from the Prez and add it to the "stuff they've done right." It allows the Ds to beat the shit out of the Prez a little more, but it certainly diverts their attention away from the Rs in Congress.

Thus, the plan all along is to fully-fund VA benefits. Other stuff is going to have to get cut to do that, and the Ds will suffer themselves some of their own sacred cows so they don't have to cut VA benefits. The Rs get to buck the Prez, show some leadership, and also increase VA benefits. The Prez? He gets an increase in VA benefits on his watch. Everybody wins, and the Rs may come out a little on top in that the Ds may have to cut some other Really Important Programs in order to fund the VA benefits.

The depressing part here is the field the game is being played on. They're not cutting Bridges to Nowhere or corn production studies at Mid-West Universities. They are playing an unbluffable poker game on the backs of our troops that got broken. In my mind it is more cynical and shameful that a common budgetary game is being played on the emotional ties of the troops and their families who want to see them fixed. A game of this magnitude, on the backs of these types of programs, have devastating results. Play this game with Corn Studies. Then, a grad student has to wait a little longer before she gets her project funded. This poker game takes a while to resolve itself. Given the time it takes, this is what happens.

Sad, and infuriating.


Reconstruction Deconstructed

Monday, February 05, 2007

Let's set the stage. Bush unveiled his budget today (and by unveiled, I mean like the kind where you went to a strip club, but it turned out to be a drag show...that kind of "unveiled) for a whopping $2.9 Trillion.

Of that $2.9 Trillion, including $624.6 billion in Defense spending, which is an 11.3% raise from last year.

On its face, this is not awful. It includes, among other things, a 3% raise for troops. A whopping 3% raise. Thanks George. Inflation, by the way, is at 3.1%.

Here's where it gets fun. The figure includes $93.4 billion in aditional money for the war this year, and $141.7 billion in "anticipated" costs for next year to repair, replace and retool. No problem; war tends to beat equipment up.

Interestingly, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments:

Steven Kosiak, an analyst with the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the president's proposed increases bring the Defense Department budget back up to where it was during the 1980s, a peak period for Pentagon spending, when calculated in today's dollars.

"An 11.3 percent increase is the kind of increase we had right after 9/11 and in the four or five years of the (President) Reagan buildup," Kosiak said. "So by historical perspectives, it's a pretty big jump."
The stage is set.

I seem to remember Paul Wolfoqitz saying:
“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” [Source: House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03]

Remember, back in '03, how Wolfowitz dressed-down the General at the time by saying the war wouldn't cost as much nor would reconstruction require the level of troops that the General (Shinseki) said it'd require? A reminder, compliments of the February 28 edition of the New York Times:
Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables.

Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.
Just sayin'.

And speaking of the "cost" of war, take a quick listen to Ted Koppel's report about who we don't hear about: the number of civilian contractors killed in Iraq. Their casualty figures are not reported in the DOD statistics, and they are used more now than ever before (Koppel's report focused on comparing contractor involvement in Vietnam and Iraq. And keep them as much in you thoughts as anyone else.


Da Bears Choke

This about says it, concerning Rex Grossman's offensive drives. And by offensive, I don't mean the opposite of defensive.

I know that usually, the leading Offensive player gets the MVP. But I just want to give a nod to Brian Urlacher, who played an intense and massive game. He was all over the field, and you saw number 54 on every single play on the defensive side. Every one. I have not yet seen the stats, but he had to have at least a third of all of the tackles yesterday. He, and the rest of the Bears' defense, truly showed up.

But the one guy who didn't show up yesterday was Rex Grossman. I haven't seen so many injured ducks wobbling through the air since hunting season. He threw passes aboslutely meant for the defense to pick-off, and the Colts' D returned the favor by grabbing as many balls out of the air as they could. The rest of the offensive playbook last night was uninspired, though Chicago's running game certainly showed up to play. The running backs and Offensive line certainly wanted to win the game. Hell, Moose Muhammed tried as well as he could. But Grossman just sucked. So we'll see you next season, Brian Greise.

That said, I feel good for Manning. And I feel even better that Chris Berman will finally shut his wobbling yap. But Manning played a good game, that really improved after half time. Got his jitters out and led a solid, dominant second half.

One surprise of the game was Vinateri missing a field goal.

So that's about it. Just some random thoughts about the Bowl. Not bad this year; good back-and-forth, good turnovers. Both teams worked hard. The second half wasn't riveting, but it wasn't a blowout.


Finished Before He Started

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ah, that Joe Biden. Such a joker.

On Tuesday, Joe Biden announced that he is running for President in 2008. Joining the 2,346 other candidates. In fact, I may announce my own candidacy next week. A Beer in Every Fridge.

Then, right away, he put his foot in his mouth.

In case you missed the hype, here's his words about Barak Obama:

[Obama is the] first mainstream African American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.
Awesome. Because Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton, two other African-American Presidential hopefuls, are scandalous and inarticulate? Not at all. As Obama said: "African-American presidential candidates like [those I just named above] gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

So Joe Biden insists he didn't mean it, and called Obama to apologize. Obama claims to have taken no offense. But I suspect that's because that phrase sealed Biden's fate as a go-nowhere candidate. Again. If Biden posed a real threat, I suspect Obama may have taken more offense. But when an opponent drops a latently-racist comment, it makes your job easier.

If you remember, back in June, Biden was nailed saying
You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts [in Delaware] unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking.
Yeah, this is the guy we want as President. Maybe he'll take this guy as a running mate.



Potential Drunks

Search This Blog

  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP