Eh, hosehead, once you get there you can have all the free beer and sausages you want.

Monday, July 30, 2007

This weekend, Mrs. Smitty and I took a little trip to Toronto. What a riot. First, I have to tell you, Mrs. Smitty is the best wife ever. Does Mrs. Smitty want to go to Toronto to see a show? No. Mrs. Smitty wants to go to Toronto to see Rogers Stadium and Air Canada Arena. And even better: is it because she likes the Jays and the Leafs? No. She wanted to go swear at 'em. She says, in the middle of Air Canada Arena, "hey, this place isn't so great. Their freakin' goalie's a seive and the Leafs are criminals."

I love Mrs. Smitty.

And then we went by the Hockey Hall of Fame. Her idea. I won, boys. I won. Best wife ever.

But the other awesome part of our Toronto getaway (besides for the fact that Smitty Jr. was under the watchful eye of Mom & Dad Smitty back in the States) was the beer. Mrs. Smitty and I ate and drank at a fine little brewery called the Mill Street Brewery. Their coffee porter was absolutely everything I like in a porter. Expect an Official Review this Friday. Mrs. Smitty enjoyed a few pints of their Tankhouse Ale which was an amazingly well-balanced red ale. The Mill Street Brewery in in a little section of Toronto called the Distillery. It's an old whiskey distilling complex that has been converted into multiple restaurants and shops. Great feel to it.

Anyway, taking the Street Car back from the Distillery district towards downtown-proper, we passed a place called the Beer Bistro. We made a simultaneous grab at the little yellow cable that tells the driver to stop, and off we raced like kids at Disney Land.

Here's a pic of the beer may not be able to read it, but that's how extensive it was.
I was vastly impressed and we spent a good deal of time there. What was unique was that their list was built for the novice beer drinker. Instead of being llisted in terms of style (poter, stout, beligan. etc.) it was listed in terms of taste (refreshing and fruity, robust and heavy, etc.). They did a really nice job of putting the right beers in the right types of flavors. What a great and creative way to have beer reach a non-beer-drinking crowd.

Some highlights: Our first night, we ate in a restaurant called Verona, on Front St. Wow. I had a grilled lamb tenderloin that melted when it hit my tongue. I didn't even have to chew it. Mrs. Smitty at a lobster ravioli. Granted, the cognac sauce it was drowned in was cloyingly sweet and a little strong, but it too was actually breath-taking. This restaurant comes highly recommended. We drank a a pub that night on Madison St. (the Madison St. pub, strangely). Great atmosphere; it's just off of the intersection of Bloor and Spadina near the U. of Toronto. Big college-aged crowd there...but apparently their college kids aren't nearly the self-centered dickhead college kids that we breed in the States. Nice kids. Nice pub. Go there. Our second night, after a whole day of drinking, we didn't start looking for dinner until like 9:00 that night. Stumbled on a great sushi restaurant on Yonge St. Don't know its name; I can't read kanji. All I know is that their cuts of fish were fresh as can be with great texture; the salmon was melt-in-the-mouth smooth and the uni (sea urchin) was nicely chilled and beautifully robust. And the amount of fish we got was worth at least $80 in the States...and we got it for under $40. So much, we couldn't finish it.

All in all, despite waits at the border of an hour in and an hour and a half back out, Mrs. Smitty and I enjoyed a great city and some great beer!


Joel's MONOlogue of the Day

Friday, July 27, 2007

In the spirit of Warmachine, which Noah and I dare to participate in from time to time as a means of escaping what has otherwise started to become a somewhat "meh" point in our lives, I have begun to think about the little "hits and misses" in life that can mean so much. For the uninitiated, Warmachine is a tabletop "geek game" where you move your pieces in a tactical manner against an opponent's army of pieces. Each piece lends it's own special abilities to the battle. Movement is measured in inches... just like football... just like life...

Tony D'Amato's (Al Pacino) speech to his football team from ANY GIVEN SUNDAY:

"...You find out life's this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game - life or football - the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that's gonna make the f--king difference between winnin' and losin'! Between livin' and dyin'! I'll tell ya this: In any fight, it's the guy who's willin' to die who's gonna win that inch. And I know if I'm gonna have any life anymore, it's because I'm still willin' to fight and die for that inch. Because that's what livin' is! The six inches in front of your face!! Now I can't make you do it. You got to look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes! Now I think you're gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you're gonna do the same for him! That's a team, gentleman! And, either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That's football, guys. That's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?"


Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. You Are Not Worthy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Usually, I try to think of some relevent title. But in this case, I just put the name of this beer right away in the title. Why? For the same reason that God is spelled with a capital-G. Why beat around the bush? If you have not tasted this beer, go buy some at your local beer mecca. Now. Stop reading this post, go buy some, try it, then come back and read it. Share in my joy.

Bring your drinkin' livers. This badass weighs-in at 21% abv. 21%, people. Wine is weaker than this beer. Champagne is weaker than this beer. Some liquors are weaker than this beer. Some people I know are too weak for this beer. But you, my loyal readers, are not too weak for this beer. This is the beer you've been waiting for. This beer is America: I'll take your little IPA, England, and make it this because it needs balls. 4:00 tea-time. Bah. It's 5 minutes to 11 in the morning and I need a little pick-me up.

This...this...elixir pours a beautiful opaque orange color with lovely ruby highlights when held to light. The coppery orange of a fresh penny. It leaves a thin but fluffy white head which leaves a lacing down the glass sticky enough to make you have to scrub it out when you're done rather than rinse it. There's a lot going on here.

Right on top, I smelled huge amounts of sugary caramel and a whopping load of ethanol. At 21% abv, you could run a fucking Prius on this beer. Behind it all, as it is continuously hopped for a two-hour boil (about an hour or so longer than a normal boil), is a strong backbone a citrusy hops. Oranges, orange peel. Maybe even a tad of pine.

Put this beer to your lips and quaff deeply. Massive caramel and malt. A big sugary, malty wave blasts your tongue; heavily sweet but strangely not cloying. Then the reason for the Malt Assault hits your tongue: 2 hours worth of alpha acids from an amount of hops that should be outlawed. Citrus melds into pine like a mosh pit when Metallica was still cool. But here's the deal. That many hops would make a normal beer taste vaguely like a tin can filled with blood. But with this much malt, you may as well drink a shot of vodka in sugar water. But the two together in this beer actually form a very well-balanced blend for an American Triple IPA. The sweetness is not so cloying because of the hop assault, which is not so tinny because of the malt explosion. I am telling you, this is a beer that both hop heads and scottish ale lovers will enjoy.

But just 1. I was buzzed half way through the pint.

Of course, you do taste that ethanol burn over the top. It is the one problem I have with this beer; that it has an alcoholic burn that I wonder whether or not is stifles some of the other tastes. But by "problem" I mean "constructive criticism." By "constructive criticism" I mean "I want to sound like I don't worship a beer that has more alcohol than wine."

The malts give this beer a fuller body than normal, as both the sugary taste and the ethanol really coat the mouth. The carbonation is pretty light. All in all, it's a pretty big-bodied beer without being a stout.

Normally, an IPA is refreshing and drinkable. Think India in the summer tiem and you need a beer to refresh yourself. Well, an American TIPA is not the beer to do that with. This is a very drinkable at a time. This beer drinks more like a barleywine than anything else. But it has such immense and surprisingly complex flavors in such a huge beer that it is every bit worth drinking. One at a time. If you tried to make this a "session beer," you'd be two things: wasting beer; and drunk.

Biggest downside: $10 for a 12-ounce bottle. But do it. Splurge. Shell-out the big bucks for a bottle and drink it like a bourbon.


Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup

Sunday, July 15, 2007

As I indicated in an earlier post, I judged on Saturday at the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup competition. This is a huge competition, with over 600 entries from both homebrewers and professional brewers (though their beers were judged separately). It is also acknowledged as one of the best-run competitions. It was both a pleasure and an honor to judge at this competition. I don't have the stats on how many judges there were, I counted aroud 60.

In the morning I judged Brown Ales (category 11 for the other beer geeks). There were 2 groups of judges doing this flight because there were so many entries for this category. When this happens (more than 1 group doing a category), you do what is called a "Mini Best of Show" in which one judge from each group then compares the top 1 or 2 beers from their own individual group to select a winner for the category. Of the 10 entries in my particular flight, 7 were Mild Brown Ales (11-A for the geeks) and 3 were Southern English Brown Ales (11-B). I was paired with two extremely experienced judges Dave and Chris (left to right in the picture...the guy in the middle was Doug, our Steward).
Dave came from Huntington, WV and Chris from Louisville, KY (by way of showing you how major this competition is).

Ultimately the winner in the category was one of the Southern English Brown Ales. This is actually an exceedingly rare type of beer to brew beause it is eqasier for a brewer to add just a tad more than necessary and end up with a Sweet Stout (which one of our entries should have been and it would have done much better). The beer that won was very specific to the guidelines and was an extremely enjoyable beer.

After a hardy lunch (and very tasty), my afternoon flight was the Stout category. There were so many stouts that they were actually split into 2 subcategories and then again into two group each. I judged category 13-A; Dry Stout (think Guinness, Murphy's and Beamish). Here's the catch: I judged with Gordon Strong. For the non-massive-beer-geeks, he is the guy who wrote the Beer Judge Certification Program style guidelines that all beer judges and all competitions use to judge beer. He did it. He chaired that committee. So he, um, kinda knows the guidelines.

So, I had all these visions in my head of Mr. Strong scoring a beer at like a 19 or below ("significantly flawed") while I simultaneously proclaimed that it was the best beer I ever had EVAH! But as luck would have it, I was within 2 points at most in terms of differences between my score and his on a beer. Reputation saved!

In all actuality, Gordon Strong was a very gracious, funny and accepting guy and helped me in my process of evaluating beers less conservatively than I had been.

To explain the process a little, judges evalute in pairs (or sometimes 3s). Thus my group of 2 judges will evaluate 8 or so beers together. Each judge in a pair will individually evaluate a beer. As it is apparent that each one has finished, you compare scores. The scores are acceptable if they are within 5 points of one another. If not, the judges discuss the differences in their scores according to the guidelines and adjustments are made to bring the cores closer together. Again, this is why style guidelines are so important; it helps judges evaluate based on accepted criteria rather than on tastes they like personally. Then, the scores between the judges are averaged and that becomes the beer's final score. Here's a score sheet.

From there, all of the winners from each category were matched up against one another for a single "best of show" beer. Stouts versus Weizens versus Browns versus Pales etc to find the competition's best offering. The winner will be announced when the Indiana Sate Fair actually begins (at the beginning of August).

Again, this was a true pleasure and honor to judge this competition.
It was very well-run. And at the end, there were kegs and kegs of home-brewed beer for the drinking, including last year's Homebrew winner and Pro-brew winner.

And today? I can't taste a damn thing. But it was well worth it.


So Many Beers, So Little Time

Friday, July 13, 2007

So today, instead of my normal weekly beer review, I am going to brag.

I am leaving late this evening to drive down to Indianapolis. No, Indianapolis itself - while a fine and entertaining city - is not the reason I brag.

The reason I brag is this: the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup!

I am headed to lovely Indianapolis in order to judge beers at the renowned (at least to us beer geeks) Brewers Cup. I can't wait. Saturday morning I will start out judging Brown Ales. After lunch, I will judge porters and stouts, which are my personal favorites.

This is guaranteed to be a great experience. I will have a full write-up, analysis, play-by-play and descriptions of my favorites up on Sunday or Monday.


Video of the Week #4

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Dude...where can I buy one?"


Und zis is how ve say goodbye in China, Mr. Xiaoyu

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

These people do not fuck around.

Yan said, "Corruption in the food and drug authority has brought shame to the nation. What we will have to learn from the experience is to improve our work and emphasize public safety."
Sure, but how you...uh...execute that lesson is another thing, guys.


All the Butt-Reamin' Assholes: Dialogue of the Day

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Dialogue of the Day comes courtesy of the 1989 movie Parenthood, staring Steve Martin and, actually, a pretty funny Keanu Reeves. I'm reminded of this bit of dialogue, more of a quick monologue really, after reading Noah's post on who can run for President.

Helen: l guess a boy Garry´s age really needs a man around.

Tod: Yeah, well-- lt depends on the man.
l had a man around. He used to wake me up in the morningby flicking lit cigarettes at my head. ''Hey, asshole, get up and make me breakfast.''

You know, Miss Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog or drive a car.
Hell, you need a license to catch a fish.
But they´ll let any butt-reamin´ asshole be your father.

And they'll let any butt-reamin' asshole run for President too, apparently.


Boy Scouts = Hamas ?!?!?

Elbert County, Colorado Sheriff William Frangis, likened a local Boy Scout Camp to a Hamas Training camp. Read the article and come back for my take on this.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a Boy Scout. I didn't make it to Eagle Scout, but I was close. I considered it one of the more useful extracurricular activities from my youth. I learned a myriad of things, such as shooting, archery, knot tying, basic survival skills, first aid, canoeing, and many other outdoor skills. To this day, I still enjoy participating in a variety of shooting activities, so I am also probably biased in that regard.

I don't know what a Hamas training camp sounds like (nor was I at this Scout camp), so I can't make a valid comparison. Nevertheless, making a reference to a terrorist group in a newspaper article in regards to a complaint is in poor taste, shows where his bias lies, and does nothing to contribute to a reasonable solution. This guy is an ass and I hope he loses in the nest election.

"The Scouts say no one complained to them."

"They didn't talk to anyone; they just did it," said 75- year-old John Dunn, a former Elbert County commissioner and 44-year county resident who lives about a quarter mile from the Scout camp.

One of the first steps in resolving any problem or conflict is to let the other party know that there is a problem. If that doesn't get anywhere, tkae it to the next level, but don't start the process by calling the Sheriff or a local newspaper. In all my years of participating in various shooting activities, I have yet to take the time to travel to all the neighbors and let them know what I would be doing. Mr. Dunn, having lived in the county for 44 years, probably knew that there would be shooting activity at a Scout camp with a range.

"The noise was unbelievable," Dunn said, adding that it was enough to scare the elk, deer, and birds in the vicinity. "We haven't seen them since."

He is claiming that the wildlife was scared off on May 19th and hasn't returned by July 7th. In my opinion, he is either lying or is an idiot. I have shot on a variety of ranges and have observed plenty of wildlife. I have showed up when a range has opened and observed deer feeding in places where there was gunfire just 12 hours prior. I have taken game in the woods where others have just a 1/2 an hour ago. I have shot sporting clay courses and seen birds and chipmunks in the trees.

"Frangis said in a letter to commissioners that the fundraisers the Scouts planned this year potentially could scatter thousands of pounds of lead from shotgun shells. He also said people have been seen smoking near stockpiles of ammunition at the camp."

There have been numerous studies about the environmental effects of lead shot and I am not aware of any that show that it is significantly harmful. As for smoking near stockpiles of ammunition, I would say that unless there are open barrels of black powder, the danger of an explosion is exaggerated.

Herman said neighbors are asking the Boy Scouts to stop all shooting activity at the range.

This is not reasonable. I have a hard time understanding people that move into the vicinity of a shooting range and then complain about the noise. Thankfully, in Michigan, shooting ranges are protected from this kind of harassment by law if they comply with recognized safety standards. I am not suggesting that people should be allowed to fire away 24 hours a day on their property. Part of being a good neighbor is being reasonable and respectful. Hopefully, the Boy Scouts and their neighbors can come to some kind of compromise.


Mr. [State Your Name] Goes to Washington

Granted, it's anyone's right to run for President, so long as you're a citizen and 35.

As a public service to you, ripped clean off from Project Vote Smart, go check out this helpful link whereby all 100-or-so candidates for President if the United States are tirelessly listed, inlcuding bios, links to their web sites and even content of some of their more fascinating speeches.

Of course, many of the mainstream candidates are listed. So are a few hopefuls. And these guys too.



Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Friday, July 06, 2007

It may never cool off again here in Lansing, Michigan. It may never rain again. It has been in the 80s and sunny for so long that I don't remember the rain. My yard looks like the "grassy area" of Camp Pendleton (think scrub grass and desert).

But when you're drinking a tangy summer wheat, who cares??

I have been trying to review summer-y beers as typically, though I do love a porter and a stout, heavier beers are a bit too much for summer heat. Thus, today's sample is Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. This is not, however, an AMerican Wheat Ale like we saw with this post. This is actually, at least in my estimation, another form of a Belgian beer called a Witbier, or, White Beer. More on that later.

As any good Wit, this offering poured a cloudy straw-yellow with a short, thick, white head that had some great staying-power. It left some lacing down the glass, though I think the lack of lace was due to my improper glass-washing technique than it was to a weakness in the beer, given the veracity of the head.

Right away, it smelled of very tart citrus, like lemons and limes, not oranges. There is another spice in there that I can't really put my finger on, but knowing a Wit, I am betting is was coriander. Overall, this smelled fruity and sweet and slightly floral.

I got a mild wheat character in this beer, though maybe a little mroe than I expected for this style of beer. There was a touch of hop bitterness, which walks the line of appropriateness for a Wit, but in this beer, it was just enough without covering the spiciness. It finishes with lemon zest and a nice wheat twang. Definitely crisp, refreshing and medium-bodied.

Overall, this was a decent Wit. It had the requisite sweetness, spiciness and tartness but it pales in comaprison to the Gold Standard of Witbier, Hoegaarden. Hoegaarden is what this offering from Leinenkugel wants to be when it grows up. That said, this is a solid "intro beer" for the non-beer drinker lulled into complacency by Miller and Bud. This is a decent pick for a more veteran beer drinker that wants something light and summer-y. A benefit of this over Hoegaarden is the price; this beer won't set you back much, but is still something that can be enjoyed by any "level" of beer drinker. Decent, just not mind-blowing.

Some notes on Witbier, accurately and competently done in Wikipedia:

Witbier, or White beer (French : bière blanche) is a barley/wheat beer brewed mainly in Belgium, although there are also examples in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It gets its name [White Beer] due to suspended yeast and wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy, or white, when cold. It is a descendant from those Medieval beers which were not brewed with hops, but instead flavoured and preserved with a blend of spices and other plants referred to as gruut. It therefore still uses gruut, although nowadays the gruut consists mainly of coriander, orange, bitter orange, and hops. The taste is therefore only slightly hoppish, and is very refreshing in summer. The beers have a somewhat sour taste due to the lactic acid. Witbier differs from other varieties of wheat beer in their use of gruut. Witbier is also often made with raw wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat found in other varieties.


Why Scooter Matters

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Now that the dust has settled on this story, I wanted to throw in a few words on why it matters (to me, at least). In discussing this topic, I have heard a few defenses repeated. Other presidents have done this...just look at Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. He is still getting a fine and probation. Finally, it is no big deal.

The power to pardon is a Constitutionally enumerated power of the Executive Branch. All presidents have used to pardon or commute sentences and some of these actions have been controversial. President Clinton essentially sold a pardon for Marc Rich. It was a morally bankrupt act, but it is also irrelevant to now. We should expect our elected officials to act better and as my mother used to say, "just because all your firends are jumping off bridges doesn't mean that you should."

The fine is substantial, but I am willing to bet money that some wealthy donor will step in and pay it for him if he has difficulty. I am not aware of the conditions of his probation, so I can't comment on how onerous they are. I am sure they aren't as bad as actually having to go to prison.

It is a big deal. Mr. Libby committed a crime and deserves a fair punsihment. A jury found him guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. In order for our government to function, there has to be some level of transparency and accountability. There also has to be some way of punishing officials when they behave illegally or unethically. In this case, there was little or no accountability. I am not suggesting that there was a deal to get Scooter 'off the hook,' but I don't see much incentive for future high-ranking officials to tell the truth in some investigation if they will just get a pardon or commution. In my opinion, this is a major concern. It sets a bad precendent and discourages the rule of law and accountability. Bush "wrote" in his autobiography, A Charge To Keep, "I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own." In that case, he was talking about why he refused to commute a death sentence, but it certainly shows a disturbing inconsistency.

At this point, there isn't much anyone can do, but complain. Bush has dismal ratings that probably can't go any lower. I am interested in what the Republican candidates have to say about this. Fred Thompson expressed his support for Scooter. This seriously hurts his image, in my opinion. The best thing any Republican can do is distance themselves from this administration.


Examining the Real Impact of CAFE

I am deeply concerned about my daughter's future. I worry about her having decent health care, a good-paying job, and having to carry the financial load of millions of retirees. I am also worried how climate change will impact her life and the devastating effects it will have on the world around her.

Climate change, access to health care, good paying jobs, supporting our retirees; these are all core concerns that Democrats share. So why are Democrats being forced to choose between the above values? By taking sides on increasing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), we are being divided between environmentalist and auto worker, between taking a stand against global warming and keeping some of the best jobs ever created in the United States. We do not have to be divided, but stronger leadership is necessary.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate moved increases in CAFE, and it is likely the House will follow suit. Chrysler, Ford, GM, Toyota and others are lobbying against the measure.

According to the Detroit News, the initial CAFE proposal would raise average fuel efficiency over the next 12 years by about 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks combined. This would be followed by 4 percent increases per year over the next 22 years until reaching 52 MPG. The Senate version deletes the 4% yearly increases.

As a staff person in the State Legislature, I have been taught to examine and dissect not only the positions of those we disagree with, but our own policies as well. I often thought I had to choose between the environment and the auto worker - until I looked at the numbers.

The tragedy of this situation is that when you look at the numbers, increasing CAFE - even if car makers can reach the mileage goals - will likely have little or no impact on the environment.

The impact of the American-owned fleet of cars on the environment is much smaller than one would expect. When we take the total amount of CO2 emitted from ours cares annually as reported by Environmental Defense and divide it by the total world-wide CO2 emissions, as reported by the United Nations, we realize that our cars emit 1.2% of the world's CO2. Sources from the Office of Senator Carl Levin concur with my assessment indicating that American cars account for 1.5 percent of the world's pollution. For arguments sake, I will use the higher figure of 1.5 percent.

If we increase the gas mileage of cars by 40 percent, it will not take the existing 240+ Million cars off the road. Again, for arguments sake, we ban all existing cars and replace them with new ones, so the fleet now instantly gets 40 percent better mileage. We have now reduced our 1.5 percent by 40 percent; meaning, we have reduced the world-wide pollution by a whole .6 percent. Even in this impossible scenario, that .6 percent improvement is likely eaten up by the yearly increases in the number of cars on the road and the number of miles driven. According to Cambridge Energy Research and the Federal Highway Administration, up until 2005, Americans were increasing the number of miles we drive by 2.7 percent a year. Since 1980, more than 50 million more drivers have been added to our roads.

Increasing CAFE is a waste of time and money because it will not ultimately help the environment, but it will waste precious research and development dollars that are necessary to find real solutions that could entirely replace the internal combustion engine. The American auto industry doesn't have R&D dollars to waste, so diverting their resources to stopgap measures such as hybrid technologies or short-term modifications to existing power trains will only delay the development of lower-pollution technologies. It should also be noted that just two weeks ago, General Motors shifted 700 power train engineers toward the goal of putting fuel cell and electric car technologies on the road.

I described this situation as a tragedy because we may soon wake up and realize that we have won one battle for in the name of the environment, but lost two real wars -- one in actually protecting our air and the other of protecting our workers.

When industry leaders object to added regulations their claims of job loss is often overheated rhetoric. In this case, their claims should not be dismissed. We have a marketplace created through globalization that makes small, efficient cars unprofitable. According to industry analysts, even super-efficient Toyota loses money on every hybrid Prius it sells. Yet, this is the same type of technology that will be needed to reach the short term CAFE goals.

I propose we look at much bigger solutions than CAFE.

If we, as environmentalists, go home happy once we have passed an increase in CAFE, then we have settled. We have been bought off by politicians who are afraid to really tackle global warming. We need a "Manhattan Project" on clean energy creation and clean transportation systems. We need trade policies that make efficient cars profitable. We need to look at all sources of emissions to cut the release of greenhouse gasses. And, without a doubt, we must make sure our trade partners do the same through enactment of tough labor and environmental standards in our trade agreements. A comprehensive solution is the only solution to global warming.

Our core Democratic values are at stake here. We have been divided among friends and it's time to come together to accomplish all of our goals. If we don't, we will find ourselves out of air, out of a job, and out of power.


Beyond Libby

This makes me want to cry.


Brewing Extravaganza

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Chief Assistant Brewmaster Joel and I held yet another Brewing Extravaganza this past weekend, brewing two beers, bottling one and drinking more than enough between the two of us.

For his part, Joel brewed a wildly successful British Brown Ale that is nearly a Newcastle clone (with his own touch). This ale was a huge hit among our friends and he flew through 40 bottles in no time. Supply and demand baby. Joel supplied it.

He did brew alone and feed Smitty Jr. and Joel-ette because yours truly forgot the one ingredient that makes a Belgian Dubbel...a Belgian Dubbel. And I live a half hour away. But that's what makes Joel the Chief Assistant.

I'll let Joel post his recipe if he so chooses. For my part, here's my brew:

Belgian Dubbel (18-B for the BJCP folks)

Size: 5.0 gal
Target Alcohol: 6.52%

1.0 lbs Munich Malt
1.0 lbs Pilsner Malt
1.0 lbs Aromatic Malt
3.3 lbs Liquid Light Extract
3.3 lbs Liquid Amber Extract
12 oz Belgian Candi Syrup
12.0 fl oz Traverse City Cherry Juice Concentrate - added to primary fermenter
1.0 oz Fuggle (4.8%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
2.0 ea White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale

For the brewing geeks, my target O.G. was 1.062. My actual was 1.070. And for anyone who cares, my brewing calculator also determines caloric value. All things going the way they should, one bottle of this beer is 220.68 calories.

Things went well for the most part; no spills, boil-overs, ripped grain bags, etc. I pitched the yeast appropriately at about 75 degrees or so with plenty of aeration. But 24 hours later, I still have no noticable activity; my airlock is showing no signs of life. But I have had this issue with White Labs yeasts before. They seem to take a bit longer to wake up and start eating versus the smack-pack type of yeasts that wake up and start eating as you open the pack. But White Labs maintains incredibly reliable justs makes me nervous and antsy when I don't see my beer going nuts right now.

Wish me luck, and in the mean time, I'll look forward to enjoying another one of Joel's great brews.


Never mind. It started getting better this morning. I can see just a light foam on top. That means by this evening, there's a chance I'll need to hook-up a blow-off tube. Thursday or Friday, I'll add the cherry juice and we're off the the races again.



Potential Drunks

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