Friday, April 27, 2007

Today's offering makes we wax poetic:

A long time ago, way back in history,
when all there was to drink was nothin but cups of tea.
Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops,
and he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops.

He must have been an admiral a sultan or a king,
and to his praises we shall always sing.
Look what he has done for us he's filled us up with cheer!
Lord bless Charlie Mops, the man who invented beer beer beer
tiddly beer beer beer.

I like that poem a lot better than the one this beer is named after:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Today's offering, and the reason for poetry and beer, is New Holland's The Poet.
New Holland, in Holland, Michigan, has since changed their label to include a raven perched on a "pallid bust." Just so there's no confusion about which poet they meant. Why Edgar Allen Poe? Because this is a deep, dark, thick stout.

This beer has excellent head retention, pouring a chunky 2-finger tan head, leaving a thin but healthy lace. The beer itself is nearly black, with gorgeous glowing garnet highlights.

The scent is terrific. Up front, there is a lovely creamy malt aroma with bare hints of a woody charcoal (like a fireplace late in the night after it's gone out) and a bitter bakers chocolate.

The taste is so interesting. There is a nice crispness to the beer, most likely from the judicious (not copious) amount of oatmeal. It meets well with a full-bodied, silky-smooth mouthfeel. There is the perfect balance of sweetness from the malt with and a mild char tang of roasted coffee and dark chocolate emerge. The hop bitterness is just enough for balance; really, the bitterness comes mostly from the dark roasted barley. It finishes with a very fine smoked flavor. Delicious the way it just sits on the palate, urging another quaff.

This is by far one of the best stouts of the non-specialty brews I can think of (meaning a basic style without "oak aging" or "burbon barrels" or "ingredient X"). It has all of the elements of a great oatmeal stout, from well-balanced big flavors to the silken mouthfeel unique to the style.

Some oatmeal stout history: Its history dates back to the mid- to late 1800s, with the discovery that adding oats to beer made it healthier. This new creation was often considered a table beer and prescribed to nursing mothers and ailing children, and believed to be a remedy for sickness in general.

What separates the Oatmeal Stout from other stouts is a simple addition of oats. Oats will make up only a small amount, less than 10%, of the total grain bill. This helps to avoid problems in the brewing process due to its thick consistency when it is hydrated -- a big bowl of oatmeal, anyone? It makes a big pile of mush in your kettle and fermenter.

Oatmeal Stouts also tend to be sweeter than the other stouts which comes not from the oatmeal, as many people think, but from the amount of malt used and the use of a yeast strain that doesn't consume too much of the sugars. This leaves a great balance between the roasted character of the dark roasts (which make a stout) and sweetness, while the oats add to the silky smoothness and cause the body to be fuller than normal.


Jefferson Jackson Dinner

Sunday, April 22, 2007

In Michigan, there are a series if events that act as a coming-together and fundraiser for each party. The Republicans do a Lincoln Day Dinner. Every county party in Michigan hosts a dinner on this particular day. The Dems do one big huge inner in Detroit for as many people as they can get. It's called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner; Jeff-Jack for short.

The usual fare transpires. Stabenow and Levin speak, and one or two of the Congressional delegation speaks, along with the State Party Chair and, since our Guv is a Dem, the Guv and Lieutenant Guv. Blah blah blah. We all eat part of our salad, some rubber chicken and rice combo and cake with the Michigan Dem Party logo on it. Yea. And as a lobbyist, whatever my political leanings may be, I have to go and "be seen."

But this year, the keynote speaker was more interesting than in the past. This year our speaker was John Edwards. I gotta say, I was duly impressed.

He really seemed more serious than last year, despite his "shoo-in" chances. He certainly came with prepared remarks, but completely discarded them in favor of unveiling his plan. What really struck me this year was not just that he "has a plan" and that he "has written it down;" he actually gave details. He described a dual-payer universal health care system and a funding mechanism. He described an investment method to create business opportunities for the development of alternative energy as well as a goal of reducing emissions by 80% by the year 2020. He discussed a long-term stragtegy for the Middle East, involving of course Syria and Iran in promoting a stable Iraq. It wasn't just "withdrawal and timeline" stuff. It actually involved troops, investments and diplomacy.

He dropped some big pro-union statemnts as well. I say this because you have not yet heard, nor do I suspect you will hear, massively pro-union statements from the other Dem candidates. They'er too chicken because of how polarizing that can be. But Edwards seemed unafraid, because, to paraphrase, unions really still form the backbone of the middle-class American workforce, and thus if they form the backbone of his voters, he's happy. One of the strongest statements he made was not just the since-I'm-in-Michigan-I-support-unions statement. It was to promote as a priority of his administration the Freedom to Work act, which makes it much easier to join a union, and anyone, regardless if employment, can choose to join one.

This will make much political hay amongst Republican challengers, but we'll see if he has the nuts to keep backing his statements and priorities. The response is that with corruption and problems within unions of keeping members, a vote among those who wish to unionize is still the best way to do it, not just signing a card.

All in all, it wasn't just a standard stump speech. He actually laid-out real priorities and discussed funding mechanisms. Of course, one of his funding mechanisms is to roll back the Bush tax cuts. That may be easy for Republicans to answer as a fairly populist idea with no real support, but if it's just politically expedient enough to get him in office, that' how it goes.

So again, it was much more than a stump speech and I am interested to hear the actual details of plans the other Dem candidates have put together and, besides for the pro-union stuff, how similar they all are. Is that a sign of party unity, or fear of stepping forward with different ideas? My money's on the latter.


You'll Get Nothing and LIKE IT!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yeah, so no beer review today. I'll do it tomorrow. Today is one of those rare days in Michigan where there's not a cloud in the sky and it's about 70 degrees. Light breeze.

So instead of slaving away for you on such a fine day, writing a beer review, I have chosen instead to golf.

Beer review tonight or tomorrow morning.


Back From Denver, Barely

Thursday, April 19, 2007

So I made it back. Barely. Consider this vacation more of a four-day bender than anything else.

The big news is my buddy's restaurant, at which I ate every day, mostly all day. His name is Hoss, which is an accurate indicator of his size and mannerism. His restaurant? Big Hoss Barbeque. Pardon the picture quality, as all pics were taken on my phone.

He actually has 2 businesses. One is his sauce, which he bottles and sells in his restaurant as well an at Whole Foods and Sysco. It is simply incredible and versatile. The second is his restaurant. It's a medium-sized place, sitting about 120, and was absolutely packed every night I was there. Every table, every spot at the bar, and a line. It was surreal and cool to be standing...in my buddy's bar.

His kitchen is small, but he has custom-built a 6x6 brick smoke box with iron doors to prepare his food. At any time, he's got 16 or so racks of pork and beef ribs, 6 or so briskets and several chickens.

He owns the place, and does the majority of the cooking and prep. The food is spectacular.

Most importantly, his beer list: Guinness, Beamish, Stone Pale Ale, Fat Tire, Abbey Brown, PBR, Great Divide Denver Pale Ale, New Belgium Sunshine Wheat, Pilsner Urqell, Smithwicks and "the usuals." That is a fine beer selection for pit-smoked BBQ indeed.

So I said we'd get to Gret Divide. Well....we did make it into downtown-proper (they live in Denver, but on the NE side)...but made it as far as a Mexican place that serves margaritas called "Ethanol" and an Irish Pub. From there...if we did make it to Great Divide, I certainly couldn't tell you what I drank.

While it snowed in Michigan, it was sunny and 75 every day in Denver. I was with two of my best friends and ate and rank like a king all weekend.

Good to be back. And nearly sober.



Friday, April 13, 2007

So sometimes, I get some time off. I am flying to Denver this weekend. So, no beer report today, which I know will truly disappoint all 3 of my readers. BUT, I will be visiting Great Divide Brewing Company and will provide a full report next week, as soon as I sober up.


Imus Have Been a Racist

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Snark is a mainstay of the blogosphere. We thrive on pointed snarkiness; it serves as humor as well as punctuation. But the difference between snarky bloggers and what Don Imus said is galactic in scale. Snark is snark, not racism

I understand the Shock Jock thing, and quite honestly don't listen to Howard Stern either (meaning including Imus). Milquetoast bathroom-humor jocks like Bob and Tom are no big deal. They're good for a laugh and never take that step too far. But guys like Imus...I guess I don't know what it is you have to turn off in your head in order to make it okay for yourself to call a National Championship group of athletes "nappy-headed hos." Or what is already turned-off in your head that your head even goes there in the first place.

So Imus gets a 2-week suspension to get his shit together and do some apologizing. And he is...he's done the obligatory Sharpton and Jackson apologies, and he's actually setting up a meeting with the Rutgers to apologize to them face to face. Gotta admire the stones, but he owes it to them.

He's been admonished by everyone including Matt Lauer, The Admonisher(tm).

But what gets me, again, is that his problem won't go away. This loud-mouthed, no-holds-barred radio schlock that mouth-breathers really love is going to stay, and if not Stern or Imus, It'd be Opus and Andy or some other bigot trying to be funny with a microphone. Jackson (in a rare instance where I agree with him) states:

“This is a two-week cooling off period,” Jackson said. “It does not challenge the character of the show, its political impact, or the impact that these comments have had on our society.”
In defense of his show, Imus states:
He has urged critics to recognize that his show is a comedy that spreads insults broadly. Imus or his cast have called Colin Powell a “weasel,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson a “fat sissy” and referred to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, an American Indian, as “the guy from ‘F Troop.”’ He and his colleagues also called the New York Knicks a group of “chest-thumping pimps.”
Colin Powell being called a weasel is hardly a racial slur. Bill Richardson being a fat sissy is...well, let's just say it's not racist. Offensive, sure. Senator Campbell being called "the guy from F Troop" is one step...one teeny tiny step...from overtly racist. And calling the Knicks team chest-thumping pimps is pretty much on-the-nose racism. See, what Imus and guys like him miss is that spreading insults broadly, as well as spreading racist comments around, is equally bad. Spreading insults is fine. We do it here. But covering all of your racist bases doesn't make racism okay. Only attacking blacks is no less evil than attacking all racial minorities, yet that's what Imus's response implies; "hey, I call everyone by their epithet, so I'm not racist because I'm not just after 1 specific group. I spread the hate around."

What kills me is that he still has an audience. And I don't mean after he made these comments. I mean at all, over time. There are people out there who will continue to worship at his shrine and listen to his show, including this guy:
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, whose presidential candidacy has been backed by Imus on the air, said he would still appear on Imus’ program.

“He has apologized,” McCain said.

With friends like that...


Some comments from the Rutgers' Women's Basketball Team. Classy and well-spoken comments, I might add, and completely unlike the incoherent grunts of a washed-up radio jock:
"I would like to express our team's great hurt, anger and disgust toward the words of Mr. Don Imus," Carson said. "We are highly angered at his remarks but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed."

"Our moment was taken away -- our moment to celebrate our success, our moment to realize how far we had come, both on and off the court, as young women," said sophomore forward Heather Zurich. "We were stripped of this moment by degrading comments made by Mr. Imus last Wednesday."

"I would like to speak to him personally and ... ask him, after you've met me personally, do you still feel in this category that I'm still a 'ho' as a woman and as a black, African-American woman..."

"Before you are valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies, and yes, even Girl Scouts," she said. "They are young ladies of class, distinction, they are articulate, they are brilliant, they are gifted. They are God's representatives in every sense of the word."


He Shoots....HE SCORES!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

National Champions!! National Champions!!! GO STATE!!!!

3 - 1. My Spartans are National Champions!


Here is a nice index page of all the goods on the game, and here is a link to a detailed article.

And this article has a neat little video embedded in it for the Spartan Fan.


Weekend Audio/Visual Roundup

Welcome to the Nerdery Edition of Around the Keg. In this weekend edition, I will (in as lazy of a fashio as possible) offer you a wide variety of entertainment to wile-away your weekend hours.

There are enough vids to post that I wont't embed them, but rather link.

You'll Never Look at Kermit the Same Way Again
Kermit makes his video singing Nine Inch Nails' Hurt. Kermit barfing is funny. But Kermit shooting-up and masturbating to a picture of Miss Piggy? Comedy genius.

Another Kermit video is a montage video of Kermit performing Creep.

Watch and hear the rest of the Kermit horror-show here at SadKermit.com.

Hip-Hop, Folk-Style
Thanks to Wes over at Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Nachos, enjoy this version of Baby Got Back, done in a boy-band-meets-singer-songwriter style.

Then, have a listen to Straight Outta Compton sung by a sweet-sounding Nina Gordon. It is truly to laugh when you hear "motherfucking" sung in such a sweet voice.

And, as an encore, here is Alanis Morrisette singing "My Humps." She finally got "ironic" right.

Got any other goodies to post? Put 'em in the comments.


Lenten Fasting

Friday, April 06, 2007

During the 17th and 18th century, Monks relied on beer to fulfill basic needs. Beer was more than a pleasant drink; it was an important source of potable water and nutrients. Followers of St. Francis of Paula (hence, the Paulaner line of monks and the Paulaner brewery, which brews Salvator) came to Munich from Italy help maintain Catholicism in Bavaria. The calendar played an important part in daily monastic life, dictating what was brewed. Twice annually Paulaners fasted for extended periods: the four weeks of Advent preceding Christmas, and the forty days of Lent leading up to Easter.

During these fasts, no solid food was allowed. However, liquids were not restricted, including beer. The often repeated nickname “liquid bread” was literally true in this case; as the Monks worked hard to brew the most nutritious beer they could for these times.

Double Bocks, or, Doppelbocks are huge beers with enough malt packed in them to consider them a meal in its self. Generally having a very full-bodied flavor and darker than other bocks with a higher level of alcohol also. The range in color from dark amber to nearly black. Dark versions may have slight chocolate or roasted characters

Ayiner means that the brewery comes from the town of Aying in Germany. Most doppelbocks, especially the true German doppelbocks usually end in "tor"; hence, SalvaTOR, CelebraTOR, etc. So from the brewery in Aying, Germany, we are treated with the finest of doppelbocks, Celebrator:

This brown bottle comes with a plastic trinket goat tied around the neck (goats were associated with bock beers, not Satanism). No freshness date on the bottle, not to worry though as this brew has a longer shelf life that normal beers due to the sugar and the higher alcohol content.

Appearance: Dark and intense, a deep mahogany, with a big, frothy, tan head that lays on top andliterally sticks around as long as the beer is there. Huge, thick, Guinness-like lacing

Scent: Molasses and faint caramel mix with a dark bready, toasty aroma. Slight spicy alcohol, with a barely-detectable herbal hop aroma. It ends with a chocolaty note.

Taste: Huge chewy malt of molasses and toasted bread with a smooth milk-chocolate finish. Spicy alcohol warms the tongue. Not too dry at all. There are tons of residual sugars, lingering dark sugars (like a brown sugar) and fading grain in the end.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and creamy. Light carbonation lends to a smooth teture. Chewy; syrupy.

OIverall: This is the mother of all Doppelbocks. This is what a doppelbock should strive to be. This is what that shit from Michelob (Amber Bock) wishes it was, but it's not even the same family. This beer is why monks were so happy. Trust me: I'd forego food too if I got to drink this for 40 days straight.


What Would Ahmadinejad Do?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A busy mid-week has kept me from rapid and relevent posts, but I have been thinking a lot about Iran, the British sailors and Marines, and exactly what Ahmedinejad got out of this whole ordeal. Why would he do this? Why would he essentially kidnap British troops who were, according to GPS systems, well within Iraqi waters?

Clearly, Ahmedinejad is the head of an insane regime who is potentially significantly more dangerous and threatening to Mid-East peace than, say, Syria. But what he did was win a "moral" victory (for lack of a better way to put it) by broadcasting video of the captives, in Iran, eating, drinking, laughing, smiling. Consider the picture right at the top of this article. Certainly nothing at all like this picture. A strong message indeed.

Take a listen to this report from NPR's Morning Edition this morning. They crew came off of a jet from Iran wearing fresh uniforms and bearing gifts, like pistacchios, from the Iranians. Several of the crew, including the woman, Turney, were recorded upon landing saying that they were treated with dignity and repsect, and never once felt as though they were in danger. Again, it draws a distinct contrast between Iran's treatment of prisoners (despite is "barbaric" moniker) and the United States' treatment of the same.

Now, I do see that our detainment of individuals arises from those whom we are actually fighting in an armed conflict with: Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither we nor the British have such an armed conflict with Iran. That said, most certainly did Ahmadinejad seize an opportunity to display such a massive disparity in conduct. It is most likely dishonest as its core; I believe him to be a demagogue of the sort that Hugo Chavez is, who will create opportunities to draw contrasts, however contrived. I believe that this was certianly contrived by a great Showman.

But in that contrivance lies a kernal of truth. If nothing else, it should serve to remind us of just how shitty of a job we're doing in Guantanamo Bay. That is partly Ahmadinejad's mission, at least as far as I can read his mind. I think he was trying to go a few steps further: look at how great we treat people who do us wrong, look at how generously we pardon them, look at how we're not positioning ourselves for an armed conflict. Who knows...what if we did enter in an armed conflict with Iran. Would they treat prisoners the same still? Would they still give them pressed suits and food? I doubt it pretty strongly.

In the end, this was Showmanship, not statesmanship. But Ahmadinejad did accomplish something significant: he held Britain's balls for just a mere moment, and made a giant take a pause. It said that while the UK and the US are stretched ever so thin, that one little motion from one little man in Iran could cause untold havoc; "come and get me....psyche. Here's your troops back. Ready to negotiate with me yet on better terms?" But how else was he going to be able to negotiate from a position of power? He is not generous, nor especially giving. But I think he found a way to get a seat at the table more effectively than this lunatic ever could on his best day.

The Brits say that this has "opened new lines of communication" with Tehran. And accordingly, the nuclear talks have re-opened. The ball is in our court now. What will we do?


I Hate Florida

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This sucks ass.
I hate Billy Donovan. I hate Florida. I hate the SEC. And what I hate most of all is that the 84 - 75 victory over Ohio State (whom I also hate, but was forced to root for because they are at least a Big 10 school) confirms everything that the talking heads at ESPN have been gushing about for what feels like 6 months (but was really only a couple of days).

And in equally-disappointing news, there was the Tigers' opening day. 5 - 3 loss to the Blue Jays in 10 innings. Yes, boys, you still actually have to play baseball in order to win.


Okay, so there is still humor to be found today. I know you can normally post You Tube clips to Blogger, but I want this done quick and dirty. Go check out this video parody of My Humps by Alannis Morrisette. Hysterical.


All The News That's Fit To Miss

Monday, April 02, 2007

Well, it's Monday. Nothing big really happened to me this weekend. It's too early in the week to turn the Outrage-ometer all the way up, so instead, a Monday News Roundup:

1) Some people are too sick for words. Enough said.

2) Somebody has to take some leadership. I am a little grumpy about the title of the article on CNN, because her visit is much more than a pro-Israel, anti-Hezbollah tour de force. The Whitehouse continues to employ their "if we don't like 'em, we ignore 'em" policy, whereas Syria, if not ignored, could play a major role in MidEast peace and reconstruction.

3) THIS is a safe neighborhood walk? Jesus. Sure, when you have a small army accompanying you, anything is pretty safe.[thanks to Think Progress] But to insist there is a drop in violence flies in the face of the facts. 6 more soldiers dead that very same day. Read the whole article. Lots of blood.

4) This is what "one of the world's worst terrorists" got for a sentence on the charges levied against him. Do I think it should be more? Not the point. The point is that the case against him, as well as the "system" that is keeping these people is weaqk at best. World's worst terrorist got the sentence of a shoplifter.




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