Beer Fridges

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Many of us here at ATK live the suburban dream. 2-story houses, white pickett fences, 2.5 kids and a dog.

Well, okay. Maybe some of us are former-enlisted military guys with short fuses, barely-employed state workers, political wanks and the like. Our suburban "dream" is merely a facade that covers-up otherwise seething mental disorders, but that's why we drink beer.

And in order to add more pleasure to our collective drinking experience, many of us, in our suburban dream houses, wish to install some sort of beer delivery device, and what better way to do so than to occupy our idle, suburban hands with a little DIY project!First, fellow Marine and ATK newcomer Christian links to a guy who converted a normal 25 cu ft fridge into a 4-tap kegerator. Christian has a dream, people, and it is a 4-tap beer fridge. We like Christian here.

From, the definitive keg and keg conversion web site, check out their conversion kits. They have an outdoor keg and some tutorials on building your home bar.

If you are not a member at Beer, which I again assume all of our ATK contributors are, they have a whole forum specific to kegging and fridge-to-kegerator conversions using all matter of freezers and fridges: dorm-sized dealies, chest freezers, normal fridges and the like.

There are a gazillion more resources out there, including an article in Zymurgy magazine (which I could try to scan and add later to this post). Know some? Add 'em in the comments.


A Lifetime of Music—Year By Year

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Though not specifically mentioned, I thought this looked like a really interesting meme from Mr. F.  You start with the year of your birth on Wikipedia and pick you favorite album.  Other ATK contributors and viewers (Tony), give this a try if you want.

1969--Tommy - The Who

1970--Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Emerson, Lake & Palmer

1971--Electric Warrior - T. Rex

1972--Will the Circle Be Unbroken - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

1973--We're An American Band - Grand Funk Railroad

1974--Autobahn - Kraftwerk

1975--Hair of the Dog - Nazareth

1976--The Ramones - The Ramones

1977--The Grand Illusion - Styx

1978--Van Halen - Van Halen

1979--The Wall - Pink Floyd

1980--London Calling - The Clash

1981--Escape - Journey

1982--The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden

1983--Seven and the Ragged Tiger - Duran Duran

1984--The Unforgettable Fire - U2

1985--Scarecrow - John Cougar Mellencamp

1986--Licensed to Ill - The Beastie Boys

1987--One Way Home - The Hooters

1988--...And Justice for All - Metallica

1989--Mother's Milk - Red Hot Chili Peppers

1990--Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy

1991--O.G. Original Gangster - Ice T

1992--The Predator - Ice Cube

1993--Chaos A.D. - Sepultura

1994--No Need to Argue - The Cranberries

1995--Alice In Chains - Alice in Chains

1996-- Boys for Pele - Tori Amos

1997--Come on Over - Shania Twain

1998--No Substance - Bad Religion

1999--Enema of the State - Blink-182

2000--The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem

2001--Satellite - P.O.D.

2002--Bunkka - Paul Oakenfold

2003--Faceless - Godsmack

2004--Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

2005--The Warrior's Code - Dropkick Murphys

2006--Sam's Town - The Killers

2007--Dark Passion Play - Nightwish


More Beer Politics

Methinks we were ahead of the curve with our conversation from a couple of weeks ago:

If you haven't visited this site (, it's pretty much a political polling junkie's daily fix.


Summer Beer Fest & Site Updates

Friday, July 25, 2008

Today is the beginning of the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival! A small cadre of about 12 or 13 of us are piling into a VIP Party Bus, complete with couches and tables, and heading to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to drink to our hearts content. I will take some pix while I am there, and will report Monday. I won't be able to vouch for the quality of the photos, though. Nor of the post, which will possibly be well below our admittedly questionable standards.

So there's that.

There have been some changes here at Around the Keg. All for the better.

First, there are more links. We expanded the brewery links, and will be adding more as I continue to look up their URLs and stick them on. Next, we added a few more blogs to our esteemed blogroll: Christian's "Is This Supposed To Hurt"; Sopor's "Beer, My Universe And Everything"; and ATK Regular George's "I'm Not One To Blog, But...".

The biggest thanks go to ATK Contributor Bob. The sexy new graphic across the top, with our name in colors and different script? Bob.

But the coolest thing is that we now OWN..yes, OWN...the official domain name It's our little piece of real estate on these here tubes. Thanks, Bob.

So enjoy the new look, visit the breweries, frequent the blogs on the blogroll, and revel in the fact that we are officially


A Harsh Look at Africa

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kevin Myers, a columnist for the Independent, published 3 essays on Africa that were very thought provoking:

Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS

Writing what I should have written so many years ago

Is this the tolerance that our thought-police take pride in?

Some quotes:

This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection. Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.

I am not innocent in all this. The people of Ireland remained in ignorance of the reality of Africa because of cowardly journalists like me. When I went to Ethiopia just over 20 years ago, I saw many things I never reported -- such as the menacing effect of gangs of young men with Kalashnikovs everywhere, while women did all the work. In the very middle of starvation and death, men spent their time drinking the local hooch in the boonabate shebeens. Alongside the boonabates were shanty-brothels, to which drinkers would casually repair, to briefly relieve themselves in the scarred orifice of some wretched prostitute (whom God preserve and protect). I saw all this and did not report it, nor the anger of the Irish aid workers at the sexual incontinence and fecklessness of Ethiopian men. Why? Because I wanted to write much-acclaimed, tear-jerkingly purple prose about wide-eyed, fly-infested children -- not cold, unpopular and even "racist" accusations about African male culpability.

To say that I was uncomfortable reading these is an understatement.  Like many, I am appalled at what is occuring in Africa, but I have always wondered if what the rest of the world is doing is helpful to Africa.  Do our policies encourage some kind of improvement or do they alleviate our guilt as Africa slips further into barbarity?

I can certainly understand some of the motivation for Western guilt.  European colonial practices have contributed to current problems.  Unfortunately, the past can't be changed, but we certainly control how we act towards Africa.  While I may not agree entirely with the essays, the author is clearly knowledgable on Africa and he raises some good points that are worthy of discussion.  The fact that some are suggesting he be jailed is sad and does little to help develop some useful policies.  So, ATK readers, what did you think of the essays and what do you think can be done?


Video of the Week (But Not Every Week) #11

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It seems that to allow a taste test in a New Jersey brewery, state law requires that a tour impart some sort of knowledge upon the guests. The proprietor of Cricket Hill Brewery in Fairfield, New Jersey has some fun, taking the opportunity to tell his guests what not to drink.

It’s pretty funny stuff.

They also have a blog.


Quote of the Day

Monday, July 21, 2008

I saw this over at Lawdog and I must say that I can't agree more.

Folks, when your housepet starts quoting ancient religious texts, rest assured that someones day is about to get Very Interesting, Indeed. Trust me on this one.


Friday Beer Pepto Review

Friday, July 18, 2008

Considering the rough times at the Smitty household, and the great pressure Smitty is under to not only care for his loving family of five, but also deal with the pressure of supplying ATK’s 1.6 Million readers with a weekly beer review, I have decided to step up to the plate.

Nope, I will not offer a beer review. I cannot do that justice. Instead, in honor of the current condition of Smitty’s stomach, I offer you a review for every person who has drank a little too much, or had some nasty bug fly through their family like wildfire.

Today's review is common enough in Michigan that you can consistently buy it at Meijers. I recommend that you do. Today, we're looking at the cleverly-named Pepto-Bismol. Pepto, from the Greek word referring to the digestive system and Bismol, named after the active ingredient, which contains bismuth.

I tried the 16 oz, original flavor Pepto, which poured into the handy (included) plastic shot glass as a bright pink color with a fluffy, yet thin, milky head that stuck like thick lace down the side of the plastic cup. The foamy top was accentuated when properly shaken.

Huge aromatic, sugary scents and bubblegum assault my nose. Underneath it all, hidden but there when you pay attention, are some more earthy scents.

The taste is a notch-up from the more common Milk of Magnesia or generic versions. Cotton candy was the overwhelming flavor, with a surprising amount of natural cane sugar and a touch of corn-syrup popping through. This elixir would be completely out of control if it weren't for the judicious use of bismuth, which faded into a chalky finish under all that sweetness. It has a creamy and smooth mouth feel on the tongue, that coated, soothed and relieved.

This Pepto is pretty tame, but for those who want a slightly heavier body and prefer a higher bismuth content (BBV) there is also maximum strength. For those who prefer a more fruity taste, Cherry is also available.

This original Pepto though could be quaffed one after another as the trips to the bathroom build or for really rough stomachs. (Use as directed.)

Well done, Procter and Gamble.


My Life In Hell

My whole family is sick.

Smitty Jr. started it. Over last weekend, he had a 102-degree temperature and such. We got him on some antibiotics and he turned the corner pretty quickly.

But then, Monday night, I started to get it. Tuesday, I was pretty toasty, and by Wednesday was all but dead. Wednesday, both Mrs. Smitty and one of the Wonder Twins had it. Both Mrs. Smitty and I were sick as dogs, staying up all night...ALL NIGHT...with the Wonder Twin that slept only in 20 minute increments and was so uncomfortable that he could only eat about an ounce at a time before he would scream unconsolably again. We switched off so that the other spouse could lay down (but certainly not sleep...not with a fever and a screaming infant), but got no sleep.

The other Wonder Twin so far been spared, but now, today, he is starting to show some of the same signs the other one did as he got sick.

Two sick parents, not sleeping and thus not getting better, trying to take care of sick kids. Thank GOD we have family in town...


Wednesday Boredom

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In thinking about the search for vice presidential running mates the other day, the name "Dan Quayle" came to mind. And I giggled a little to myself, thinking about the infamous 'potatoe' incident. It is almost enough to make me feel sorry for the guy. He has accomplished many things in his life (he was the Vice President of the United States, for the love of Pete), but he will forever be remembered for one stupid moment.

In one bumbling moment, Mr. Quayle joined the pantheon of people who will, regardless of their other achievements, will be "that guy/lady who __________". A few other members of the club include:

  • OJ Simpson: Sure he rushed for 2000 yards. But those aren't the kind of cuts he'll be remembered for.
  • Monica Lewinsky: This one is too easy. Not unlike Monica.
  • Bobby Knight: Best known for generally going apeshit. Apparently coached basketball too.
  • Paul Newman, George Foreman: Sure one was a phenomenal actor, and the other was a world champion boxer. But for everyone under a certain age (probably 28-ish), they will forever be the Salad Dressing Guy and the Grill Dude, respectively (Okay, so maybe this one doesn't count. But I like it anyway).

Here's the catch; it can't just be something that a person is known for. Al Gore may have "invented the internet", but he's also the Global Warming Guy and the 2000 Florida election guy. Nothing OJ can do for the rest of his life will keep him from being OJ the White Woman Killer.

Best example wins. Go.


The...Belgian Prince Of Beers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So I'd be remiss if I didn't have an article, however late, about the sale of an American Institution to Belgium-based InBev.

Here's the deal. InBev, a Belgian-based brewing conglomerate, bought Anheuser-Busch (AB) for $70 a share, totaling about $52 million.

They then created a new company called Anheuser-Busch InBev (wow...lots of imagination...sort of like AB's beer...), at which AB will have 2 board seats. Thus, the maker of Bud and Michelob combines with the maker of Stella Artois and Bass (among many, many others), giving them yearly sales of more than $36 billion. That is expected to surpass the recent SABMiller conglomerate.

This has every bit as much to do with wanting to continue to compete dollar-for-dollar with SABMiller as it does with the fact that the American craft brewing movement, as a whole, continues to outgrow the macros.

I know I have over-simplified this issue (craft sales versus macro sales), and there's a lot more to it, because at the end of the day, despite the outpacing, Bud and Miller still crush everything else. They didn't make this move because DogFish Head and Stone are killing's because SABMiller could be killing them.

This also means, on another level, that the two American icons of Miller and Bud are no longer American-owned. They're now Brit (SABMiller) and Belgian (ABInBev).



Vintage Isn't Just For Wine

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Courtesy of Marc over at my favorite local watering hole, Brannigan Brothers, I enjoyed an exquisite J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale, vintage 1997. 11 year old beer. The bottle said it was 7.5% abv...but after 11 years of bottle conditioning and sitting around with eyast, it had the sow burn of 11+%.

This harvest ale is technically an English Barleywine, which is a kind of strong ale. A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is in fact a beer. In the United States, barley wines are required for this reason to be called "barley wine-style ales." In fact, the Beer Judge Certification Program differentiates between English and American-style barleywines. J.W. Lee's, brewed in Manchester, UK, is definitely of the English style.

The beer poured into our snifters a muddy brown color, with a chill haze to it that clarified as it warmed. Some sediment was evident in my glass, but I probably poured a little eagerly and violently. No biggie. As I swirled it before I smelled it, it left a viscosity on the glass like "legs" in a good strong wine. It poured with a low, off-white head that dissipated quickly.

The aroma was everything we dreamed of. Dark fruit likes prunes abounded on top of layer after layer of molasses. Brown sugar flew all over the place like a confectioners kitchen. Under it all was a peppery spiciness. It all ended on a sort of bready note.

The taste was so complex it illicited laughter. Sticky-sweet, with plenty of caramel and even some thick, sticky honey. As in the aroma, there was a silly amount of brown sugar and molasses; imagine this kind of cookie being baked, what with honey, molasses, brown sugar and caramel chips. A gorgeous warming alcohol presence adds some spice to this brewed confection. As the drink warmed, there were some beautiful earthy hops that emerged to remind you that indeed, this is a beer and not some heaven-sent dessert.

The mouthfeel is slightly lighter than massively heavy. Make sense? Like being able to bench press 250 pounds; maybe you can, but it's still damn heavy. The decade in the bottle lightened the body just a bit, but not much at all. Velvety smooth, warm from alcohol but not at all hot, this beer coated my tongue like the most expensive blanket.

Unbelievable beer. It wasn't just a pleasure to drink this beer, it was a comfort.


Open Mic Nite

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So we all know what happened last night. Jesse Jackson, apparently, wants to cut off Obama's balls.

Jackson appeared to be upset that Obama has, among other things, admonished black men to stand up and be family-men. Focus on their families and children. Without any sense of irony at being a man with numerous affairs and mistresses, he expressed, via wanting to cut Obama's nuts off, his disappointment at being allegedly talked down to, and that Obama still hasn't done enough for the black community (saying Obama "lacks passion in addressing issues that predominantly affect blacks"). You know...the whole "he's not black enough" thing we've discussed before.

Maybe I should be disappointed that Obama isn't passionate enough about addressing issues that affect predominantly white middle-class suburban beer drinkers with kids. And I'm sure my buddy Mike Wang is disappointed he's not passionate enough about Asian/Pacific Islander middle-class beer drinkers with internet surfing addictions.

This does two things, in my mind, both of which are good.

The first is that it further forces Jackson into irrelevancy. Second, and more importantly, it separates Obama from Jackson. I think that if Obama is not seen as too cozy with the likes of Sharpton and Jackson, it only helps Omaba among Hillary-disappointeds-looking-for-reasons-to-be-a-pain-in-the-ass and moderate voters.



Attack of the Radicals

Monday, July 07, 2008

For some context about this post, John Cole over at Balloon Juice wrote this piece about what a real, true Wingnut sounds like. About it, Cole says: "This comment from Perino has it all- sheer nonsense, a complete distortion of the truth, an attack on an independent judiciary, fear-mongering, and the characteristic brazenness we have grown to know and love."
The White House said Thursday that dangerous detainees at Guantanamo Bay could end up walking Main Street U.S.A. as a result of last month’s Supreme Court ruling about detainees’ legal rights. Federal appeals courts, however, have indicated they have no intention of letting that happen.

The high court ruling, which gave all detainees the right to petition federal judges for immediate release, has intensified discussions within the Bush administration about what to do with the roughly 270 detainees held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I’m sure that none of us want Khalid Sheikh Mohammed walking around our neighborhoods,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said about al-Qaida’s former third in command.
Right. Because HE would be allowed to go free because of the SCOTUS ruling. Or maybe he would, because he was caught and detained wrongly, which is nobody's fault but the Administration's.

I digress.

What it shows is that this party will continue to resort to fear-mongering in order to secure the Presidency again. My sentiment is further verifyed by the letter my wife got in the mail the other day from the Republican National Committee.

My wife.

Mrs. Smitty.

The registered Democrat.

The one who has worked her entire political career on Democratic campaigns and for Democratic Senators and representatives. That one. Mrs. Smitty, the Dems' Dem.

Anyway, the cover letter, addressed to "Dear Fellow Republican," emphatically asks: do you want to stop them?

It asks to "Stop Senator Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, San Francisco radical Nancy Pelosi and ultra-liberal Harry Reid from taking total control of our government in 2009..." It further extolls Mrs. Smitty to think carefully about what's at stake if a liberal democrat wins the White House, including total control over the next [three] justices appointed to the SCOTUS, total control over the War on Terror, our military leadership and our troops [variously deployed], and total control over our economy, government spending and taxes.

The icing on the cake is "So please tell me now, do you want to STOP the four horsemen of the left: Clinton-Obama-Pelosi-Reid from taking total control of our nation?"

Here's the best part. This letter has a huge green YES sticker and a huge red NO sticker. You're supposed to affix the sticker of your choice to the corresponding attached return letter and mail it back to them. The return letter is too priceless to simply quote from, so I have attached it in its entirety.
Indeed, by her choice, Mrs. Smitty apparently readily understands and accepts that her taxes will go up; that Al-Qaida will win and America will lose the War on Terror; and that apparently floods of illegal immigrants will hoarde across our borders in search of free government-run health care.

Why, Mrs. Smitty? My beloved wife? Why do you hate America?


The Future Is Now

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cars that run on beer, bitches.

The jokes about tipsy conventioneers aside, it's a sobering fact that flex-fuel vehicles are in America's future. So it's no joke that the Democratic National Convention, General Motors and the Molson Coors Brewing Co. have joined forces to ensure that convention VIPs will ride in GM vehicles fueled with ethanol that comes, in part, from beer.
Yes. The party that gives you Barak Obama also gives you cars that run on beer. Mr. Obama...can we have cars that run on beer?

Yes. We. Can.

Now, I will say that I am dismayed that there is enough "waste beer" every year to produce 3 million gallons of fuel to run in GM's flex fuel vehicles. Get on the ball, people. But at the very least, if wine snobs and liquor-only drinkers won't chip in and help us consume every drop of beer every year, I guess this is the next best alternative than just dumping it down the drain.

I am a little concerned about what these cars'...ahem...exhaust will smell like.



Potential Drunks

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