The Square Of Taste

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Big, giant beers will always hold some sort of magic voodoo over me. I do, and always will, enjoy a well-crafted beer of nearly any style; Short's Bellaire Brown and even Michigan Brewing Company's Majestic Nut Brown are wonderful examples of a simple style done well...and enjoyed copiously. But there's this allure for me for these impossibly big beers. Perhaps it's my own predilection for larger-than-life? Plain bacon sucks; gimmie a bacon that smells and tastes like a camp fire. Folgers is crap; a Cafe' Americano is the lightest coffee I drink (and drink it I do...). While I appreciate subtlety and simplicity, it's bigness and boldness that really gets me going. I tolerate baseball and watch basketball, but love football and hockey. Subtle as a train wreck.

So when beer buddy Greg journeys to the far-off metropolis of Pittsburgh and returns with a beer from Terrapin Brewery's (Athens, GA) "Monster Beer Tour" series, I just can't help myself. He knows me so well.

This offering is Terrapin's Rye Squared Imperial Pale Ale. Add the word "Imperial" in front of your beer, and you've sold me; Imperial Anything holds the promise of ridiculously big flavors. I'm a sucker for marketing. Terrapin says "double the malt, double the hops, and double the flavor of the original Rye Pale Ale recipe." I'm verklempt.

Rye Squared pours a bright orange with an off-white, creamy head. The thick head leaves beautiful rings of lacing down my glass. Slightly hazy from the loads of hops that Terrapin drowned in this brew, the appearance of this beer alone is enough to convince me it's a beer I'll enjoy.

But I can't just look at a beer; that'd be a waste. I'll prolong my anticipation by taking-in the aroma first. Big huge citrus aromas hit me and remind me of my favorite West Coast IPA; all grapefruit, orange peel, orange blossom and tart apples greet my nose and promise me that I'm going to love this beer. And if evoking the memory of the best IPA I've ever had isn't enough, the huge malty sticky syrupy aroma behind the wall of Floridian fruits seals the deal for me. Gotta have some. Complimentary to the malty-sweet is just a hint of bread dough. But clearly on the nose, the hops win all my attention.

The taste doesn't disappoint. Hops and malt work in conjunction to bring me the beer I was hoping for: a sticky-sweet hop bomb. Big tangy citrus mixes with a northern Michigan pine forest to drive my tongue mad. Far from being all-hops, though, all of the sticky-sweetness of caramel and toffee are front-and-center, providing a great base for the huge hops to not overwhelm your tastebuds. I'll cast a few platitudes to breadiness and even some floral hops as well. Mild carbonation serves to cleanse the tongue between quaffs, helping enjoy this resiny, sticky beer without losing all sensation.

This Imperial Pale Ale bridges the gap between Pale Ales, Barley Wines and India Pale Ales of the highest order. It is truly a separate style from each of those three, deserving a class of its own to be sure. If you are a fan of giant Barley Wines or tangy West Coast IPAs, this is your beer. Surprisingly, though, it's not overwhelming. It's a do-able gateway to even bigger beers, even though it's a big beer in and of itself. And for this big beer enthusiast, Terrapin Rye Squared certainly kept me captive throughout the entire pint.


Like a Voice from Beyond the Grave...

Ah christ, you people are too much.

Where has Rickey been? Whither the great one? Certainly, this nagging question has caused many sleepless nights for all of you. What could possibly be more fulfilling than impersonating a crazed former baseball player?

…Well, as you know, it is election season and let’s just say that those potential voters aren’t going to intimidate themselves.

In all seriousness, the big reason RwR is on hiatus is because Rickey’s work responsibilities have recently expanded and he now holds a position which could be jeopardized by gossipy coworkers who perchance stumble across his profane little blog. (Yes Smitty, you were spot on—Rickey is a Honduran hitman. The dental plan is shockingly good).

The good news? Nobody out there knows jack shit about THIS blog. So Rickey’s officially taking refuge here. For the immediate future, ATK shall be Rickey’s new roost. A brand new venue for all things political, alcohol, and fellatio related. In other words, a blank slate ripe for defecation (and mixed metaphors!). Prepare to reap the whirlwind, gentlemen.


Lies, BS, and Campaign Ads

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I was driving my 7 year old to school the other day and she commented on an ad she saw on TV. Basically, she said she wouldn't vote for one of the candidates because she heard he wanted to get rid of social security and she didn't think that was fair. While I agreed that wasn't fair, I also pointed out that most claims in ads are not true, or at least only partially true.

This year is no exception. If you are unlucky enough to live in the Mid-Michigan Area, you probably have seen the ads for Mark Schauer and Tim Walberg. I would seriously consider not voting for either of them based on how bad those ads are. That being said, they are not all that unusual. We are often treted to negative ads where one candidate distorts the record and positions of their opponent. Fortunately, a voter has some fact checking resources and can see what is what with a minimal amount of effort.

This isn't always the case. In the last few weeks, I have started to see ads for the Michigan Supreme Court. They started off with the typical "tough on crime" and "fair and just" type. Michigan, unfortunately, has s system where we elect the Supreme Court for a fixed term. The Court gets little coverage and I would guess that most people couldn't name a single Justice. Most people that are running just try and get their name out and hope that voters will remember come election time. Another interesting aspect of our state is that Justices are non-partisan. While this seems like a good idea, both parties still claim their candidates and run ads. In addition, a variety of other advocacy groups run ads.

These ads are especially annoying because they rely on people's ignorance of how the State Supreme Court works and present an overly simplistic view. They will take a case where a Justice may have supported the free speech rights of some obnoxious bigot and say that it shows the Justice supports the bigot. This is simply not true and is grossly unfair.

There is an ad that is being run against candidate Bob Young that was paid for by several environmental groups. I couldn't find that ad, but found a very similar one that was put out by the Michigan Democratic Party. Here it is:

Holy Shit! Bob Young would let polluters off the hook. That isn't good and voters certainly deserve to know if he would, or did, do this. The TV ad focuses mostly on the claim that Young would prevent citizens from being able to sue a company that perpetrated some major BP-style disaster. In support of this, they list a case at the bottom of the screen in tiny print, MCWC v. Nestle, 479 Mich 280 (2007). I was skeptical and wondered if this case could show that Young was as bad as the ad says.

The above mentioned case deals with an environmental group that sued Nestle to enjoin them from operating a bottled water plant in Michigan. I remember when this was going on and it was controversial. The rather dull 36 page case boils down to a question of standing. Young basically said that in regards to one of the lakes, the plaintiffs did not have standing and could not proceed. Standing is legal principal that goes back hundreds of years and was the topic of many of the first cases heard by the US Supreme Court. It has been well litigated and is very well established. In order to have standing, a plaintiff must establish 3 things:

1. Injury: The plaintiff must have suffered or imminently will suffer injury—an invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized. The injury must be actual or imminent, distinct and palpable, not abstract. This injury could be economic as well as non-economic.

2. Causation: There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, so that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result of the independent action of some third party who is not before the court.

3. Redressability: It must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that a favorable court decision will redress the injury.

Young said that the plaintiff did not satisfy the first requirement. The facts showed that none of the plaintiffs lived on or near the lake in question, so that they could not have suffered any injury. What the group should have done was add a plaintiff that lived on that lake. There is a ton of case law that supports Young's conclusion and it is not an area of law that is all that novel. In other words, Young most likely made the right decision that was supported by past cases, both at the state and federal level.

Young may very well be a tool of corporations, but this ad is deceptive and misleading. I have a hard time making the leap from that decision to say that he would allow polluters to have a free ride. I should note that I am in no way endorsing Bob Young, nor do I want to just pick on the people that oppose him. I would like to point out that if you are going to vote for a Supreme Court Justice, you should be basing your decision on logic and reason, not BS conjecture.



Sure, it was a stupid political stunt, and this is a stupid season, but stomping on her head? Bet that took a real man to do this, dumb-fuck hick.


Can't Wait to Smell the Sawdust.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This has nothing to do with beer or politics, but we here at ATK sometimes delve into hobbies and home improvement, and I cannot help but giggle like a school girl at my latest purchase - I new big-ass table saw capable of cutting darn near anything I can throw at it.

Don't let the store brand fool you, this is the same saw sold by several other brands, but Craftsman sells it for hundreds less.  I have rediscovered Sears and have been eyeballing this saw for a few years.  It went on sale this week, so I ordered one up.

Anyone want to help me get it to my basement?  It will arrive in pieces, but in total weighs close to 500 lbs, so takes two guys to move it.  I pay in beer - good beer.


Bigot Fired From NPR

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First, Juan Williams was fired from NPR yesterday after comments he made regarding Muslims on FOX with Bill Fucking O'Reilly.

The comment:

Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” [emphasis added]
I love how he starts with "some of my best friends are Muslim." Always a sign of a bigoted comment to follow.

And I agree with what Sullivan says about it:
No, Juan, what you just described is the working definition of bigotry.

What if someone said that they saw a black man walking down the street in classic thug get-up. Would a white person be a bigot of he assumed he was going to mug him?
As Sully points out, the 9-11 hijackers and the Christmas Day Undiebomber were dressed like us...good ol' secular westerners. The Ft. Hood shooter was in a fucking U.S. Military uniform, as a member of the U.S. Military!

Juan got fired either because he is a bigot, or because he is a non-bigot so afraid of his bigot-but-well-paying tv show hosts that he said a bigoted thing to satiate them. Either way, NPR was right to let his ass go.


Rickey? Helloooo?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Once again, I have to bring out the milk carton.

As fans might have noticed, “Riding with Ricky” has once again gone missing.  It has been since August since we last we saw a post over at RwR.

Again, visitors to the site are now greeted by a page stating that it has gone private.

The last time this happend, Rickey was in the process of buying a house, so to avoid the risk of being redlined out of his chosen neighborhood, he went private.

Rickey may be up to no-good again.  Maybe he is interviewing for a job?  Maybe he needed to move again?  Maybe the in-laws discovered his blog?

Your guess in the comments.


Just Hafta Say

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Political rhetoric from racist homophobes being given legitimacy on the national stage in part results in suicides the likes we have heard a rash about lately. Sure, 24-hour news networks are getting around to publishing what has probably always been happening, but a part of me feels, unscientifically, that the sharp increase in publicized anti-gay rhetoric on much-watched television and blogs has something to do with an acceptance and use of especially demeaning anti-gay sentiment.

We need, instead, more of this:

And this.

And a lot less of this shit.

It's not that there were less gay people when I went to school in the late 80s/early 90s. It's that it wasn't a big deal in my school. Assholes were dealt with. Gay and straight friends stood-up to the handful of assholes.

I, for one, will teach my kids that love and compassion trump anger-fueled dogma and hideous stereotypes any day.

This is nice to see.

Despite what I believe about belief, it is an even higher form of silliness to suggest to someone who wants to believe that they can't because they don't fit the right mold of a believer. Stupidity.


Nothing To Lose Your Head Over

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My name is Smitty, and I am a hop-head.

Took a while to get there. Maybe some day I'll document my journey from Bud and Icehouse to Labatt and Molson to the world of local breweries. Even after discovery of the unlimited tastes of "craft" beer, it took a while to embrace hops; my first foray into IPAs left me whining that the beer I tried tasted like a tin can. Funny: it's a beer I regularly enjoy now.

Once I figured hops out, though, it was all over from there. No wonder beer's forefathers eventually abandoned other bittering agents in favor of the almighty hop.

And so here I am today, blogging before you as a hop-head. And before me is a bottle of Terrapin Brewery's Hopsecutioner IPA.

Ooh, tantalizing! Hopsecutioner. Will hop-heads, erm, lose their heads with Hopsecutioner? Will its sharply-honed hops leave me senseless?

Hopsecutioner turned my pint glass a beautiful copper, slightly hazy, with a pure white, cloud-fluffy head. True to its name, this beer loses its foamy head quite quickly. Thick rivulets of lacing clung tenaciously to the pint glass as the essence of the beer drained quickly away.

Bready, biscuity malts merge with sweet apricots on the nose like marmalade on biscuits. Right behind this tea-time crumpet comes some complex - but still somehow subtle - aromas: damp cedar wood, pineappe-citrus. Juicy aroma if aromas could be juicy. Beautiful aromas, to be sure, but out of balance with what I 'd expect from an IPA. Sweet marmalade biscuits shouldn't be the first thing I smell in beers known for the hopiness.

The taste delivers what the aroma promises: bread dough and sugary-sweet malts compliment soft citrus fruits like pineapples and red grapefruit. Delicious, earthy hops mesh exquisitely chewy, juicy caramel. Hopsecutioner is well-crafted...but is off from an IPA. It is a hoppy beer, no doubt, but the hops don't dominate. Nor do they contribute as a major player. They're a partner in a beer where I expect them to be everything.

For over 7% ABV, I don't get that alcohol burn. It has a lovely, chewy, medium body, and finishes slightly dry and just a tad resinous from the hops. Maybe Hopsecutioner would be a great beer for someone who wants to try an IPA but is skeptical of everything they've heard about hops. The delicacy of the hops in this beer would shine if they weren't out-competed by the big malts also characteristic of an IPA. I do like this beer and will have no issue killing-off the rest of the 6-er; its subtlety makes it very sessionable and quaffing one after another is definitely on my agemda. But I can't say I'm going to lose my head over this beer.


Religious Knowledge - Take the Test.

As has been reported over the last week, a study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life found:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
I found this concept facinating and took the test.  I got 13 out of 15.  I am such a heathen.

Take the test yourself here and let us know how you did.


Snyder v. Phelps

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

As many of you probably know, the Phelps case is set for oral argument today at 10 a.m. Scotusblog has an excellent in-depth analysis of issues and arguments by both sides. Basically, what is at stake is whether funerals will receive some level of heightened protection from protests or that there is a "funeral exception."

Not surprisingly, I am not a fan of Phelps and I finds his beliefs indefensible and outrageous. I wish the 'free speech' side had a more likable and sympathetic advocate, but that is not the case. While I find Snyder's arguments to be decent and compelling, I am not sure that I want to carve out an exception for funerals and wonder if the better approach would be to go after the Phelps cult in a different manner. What do you think?


Why run away from health care?

Monday, October 04, 2010

I have repeatedly said that the components of the health care reform bill are more popular than the rhetoric of the whole. 

For decades Democrats have run successfully in support of many of the components of the health care bill.  So, why is it any different now that they can claim success?  I think Democrats ignore the issue at their own peril and essentially wave the white flag.  E.J. Dionne, agrees and points out that some Democrats are now running on the components of health care, many of which just kicked in.  I predict those who don't hide from their vote will be the most successful in November and those who do will be tossed out.

We will see.

ALSO:  FiveThirtyEight's analysis of this issue is here.



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