Drink Michigan

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I posted last week about being asked to appear on Drink Michigan as a guest blogger/beer reviewer.

My first review is up today; go see it.

Also, too, Bob put a new link up at the top of our site, linking you to this and future Drink Michigan reviews.



Heaven On Earth

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ooh Heaven is a place on Earth:

From the event profile:
The 2011 Boston Bacon and Beer Festival will be Saturday, April 30th from 1 PM to 3:30 PM at the The Royale. Restaurants and purveyors from all over will be preparing their tastiest bacon based dishes for you to sample paired with beers from New England's greatest breweries. If that's not a good enough way to spend a Saturday afternoon, you should know that it's all to benefit the local hunger relief organizations Lovin' Spoonfuls, Community Servings, and Share our Strength.Tickets for the 2011 Boston Bacon and Beer Festival will go on sale Friday, April 1 at 1 PM. Keep checking this page for additional festival information.
The breweries who are bringing beer:
Blue Hills Brewery, Sam Adams, Brooklyn Brewery, Cape Ann Brewing Company, Clown Shoes Brewing, Harpoon Brewery, Long Trail, Magic Hat Brewing Compny, Mayflower Brewing Company, Mercury Brewing Company, Narragansett Beer, Notch, Peak Organic Brewing Co., Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Shipyard Brewery, Smuttynose Brewing Co., Wachusett Brewing Company.

Out of that list, Smuttynose is spectacular, I really enjoy Brooklyn's solid line of beers, Harpoon is a solid go-to and Magic Hat is like the Vermont version of Short's here in Michigan: let's do something weird with fruit, veggies...and beer! Most people know that brewery for it's #9 (apricot pale ale).

Oh how I wish I could go to this festival. It's my twins' birthday that day. So...it's on another ATKer to get to that fest and report. I want a live blog.


File This Story Under 'Damn!', or 'Holy Shit'

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The following story speaks for itself:

One Vagina Can Hold 54 Bags of Heroin, Plus $51.22

If you bought heroin from this woman, you are very dedicated.


The Constitutionality of the Attack on Libya

This question hasn't gotten a lot of coverage in the media. There has been some partisan whining and arguments, but it is hard to take them seriously when the GOP is also saying that Obama didn't asct fast enough. Those aside, there have been calls from Democrats, including Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, and John Larson, calling into question the Constitutionality of the actions in Libya. There is also Obama's statement from 2007:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Over at Volokh, there are several good posts on this subject, here, here, and here. There are a quick read, so check them out.

First of all, I support the action in Libya and also think that going the NATO/Arab League/UN route was the way to go. Assuming the role of 'leader' in this action would make it another US versus the Arab world intervention and would probably make Gaddafi into a sympathetic figure. That being said, I tend to agree with those who thought he should have gained Congressional approval. Like the author points out, every major US action since WWII (except for Korea) had Congressional approval. In addition, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 states that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat.

I don't think that short-term, small-scale actions require Congressional approval, but this doesn't seem like one of those. If it goes on much longer, the arguments saying he doesn't need Congressional approval seem to get weaker and weaker.


All Things Beer

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hoo boy. We've got a lot of gro und to cover, so let's get started.

First, brewing. Time to re-focus on brewing and up the sophistication of my process. I have relied on some brewing buddies for eauipment for my all-grain batches and for ease and laziness, I have done a lot of extract-plus-specialty grain brews. In the dead of Michigan's winters, I have gone that way because my garage, where I brew big batches, is often well below freezing.

Well, no more excuses. I am scrapping my hodge-podge of equipment and going with a brand new All Grain System along with a brand new brew kettle with a focus on stepping-up the quality of my beers.

Speaking of brewing, my World- Lansing-famous maple syrup porter is in the fermenter. I tried to move it to the secondary this weekend, a week after I initially put it in the primary fermenter, but the fermentation was still way too active for me to be comfortable with that move. In about 2-3 more weeks, though, I'll keg that badboy up in just enough time for maple syrup fests around the Mitten State.

And finally, I have been asked to be a Guest Blogger over at Drink Michigan! It's the destination on the web to celebrate all of Michigan's fermented products and is quickly carving its niche as the one single place to stop for anything you want to know about Michigan beer, wine and liquor. THey want me to start doing Michigan Beer reviews for them! I am thrilled and excited!


Sing Me A Song

Friday, March 18, 2011

This...is perfect.


High Holy Day

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Please observe ATK's official Highest Holy Day of the Most Extreme Magnitude as wildly as possible, with as much abandon as you can.

Please be safe. Don't be a douche. And if you drink green beer, you will be kicked off the site.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Goodbye Y-Chromosome. Hello Minivan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Way back in November of 2007, Smitty announced not only his incoming twins, but the impending purchase of a …gasp...minivan.

I reflected back on this post to see what crap I wrote about minivans and to see how much shit I gave Smitty about buying the darn thing. At the time, I said:

“You have to hand it to a guy who has enough confidence in his manhood to drive a minivan.

I just couldn't handle a mini being my daily driver. I am sure they ride and handle much better today, but the last one I drove made my pick-up feel sporty.

Oh, I will have to eat my words one day as a growing family will make the usefulness of the minivan unavoidable...dammit.”
Eat my words indeed. Tonight I pick up the glorious minivan.

The funny part is, I had talked my wife out of the minivan and into a three-row SUV…er crossover thingy. Then I priced them out. When a decent van is 6 to 7 grand less than a stripper Chevy crossover, the minivan gets pretty attractive.

I would never put this thing in the sporty category, but the new engine an transmission combo they just added can about tear the tires off the rims.  The engine has 283 HP for gods sake.  My old Mustang with a built 289 c.i. V-8 had about 240 HP. 

It ain't cool, but its the most practical vehicle for hauling around a bunch of people and stuff and the price was decent.


Prisoner Abuse

With all the recent news item to get pissed about, the treatment of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning caught my attention. This was probably due to the fact that it is getting almost zero attention. The NYT has covered it and Glenn Greenwald had a scathing op ed on the subject. Manning, among other things, has been charged with 27+ violations, some of which carry the death penalty, and is being subjected to the following conditions:

Let's review Manning's detention over the last nine straight months: 23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he's allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards' inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards' full view. Is there anyone who doubts that these measures -- and especially this prolonged forced nudity -- are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will? As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees -- let alone citizens convicted of nothing -- are entitled.

Much of Greenwalds ire is directed at the Obama administration, and he isn't alone:

UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman -- who last year hailed Barack Obama as, and I quote, "the greatest moral leader of our lifetime" -- wrote last night:

The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning’s health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane. . . . This is a total disgrace. It shouldn't be happening in this country. You can't be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent.

I know that Obama has a lot on his plate right now, but this combined with his executive order keeping open Gitmo and continuing the Bush Era detention policies and procedures is disappointing at best. Greenwald then points out the selective outrage of some on the left:

just fathom the contrived, shrieking uproar from opportunistic Democratic politicians and their loyalists if it had been George Bush and Dick Cheney -- on U.S. soil -- subjecting a whistle-blowing member of the U.S. military to these repressive conditions without being convicted of anything, charging him with a capital offense that statutorily carries the death penalty, and then forcing him to remain nude every night and stand naked for inspection outside his cell. Feigning concern over detainee abuse for partisan gain is only slightly less repellent than the treatment to which Manning is being subjected.

Ouch. There doesn't seem to be a lot of media criticism of Obama for this or for Gitmo. Jon Stewart didn't let it pass, though.


Extreme Hangover

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A friend of mine sent me this article about searching for subtlety in a brewing world full of extreme beers.

I'm not exactly weary of the Extreme Beers that brewers are doing, but am glad that the gimmick of massive beers is subsiding just a little. Gobs of craft brewers for some time were in a sort of beer-fueled version of an arms race, constantly being the first one to push past the 18% ABV and the 100 IBU (bitterness measurement) mark. Some brewers do it well and artfully (think Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA or Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout), but many are simply hop bombs (think Arcadia's Hop Rocket); fine enough to drink one, but you're left with a tongue that can't taste anything else.

Lost in the race to brew the next Double Imperial Black Coffee Chocolate IPA (actually, I wonder if I could pull that off...) are the beers that started it all. The "session" beers, the clean, brewed-just-right beers, the refreshing beers, the simple beers. I'm not talking about some Japanese minimalist crap where "less is everything." I think that in some cases, "less is more."

From the article:

According to Portland brewing consultant Hans Gauger, the high-hops and high-alcohol trend grew out of four factors: First, the American craft-brewing movement originally came about as a reaction to the thin flavors of the mass-produced beers (think Coors, Miller and Budweiser) that dominate the market. Second, Americans love everything -- especially their beverages -- supersized; we're a nation with a "bigger is better" mentality. Third, getting higher alcohol and more hops for the same price as a beverage that's lower in alcohol and more subtle in flavor looks to consumers like more bang for the buck.

And finally, it's difficult to brew a clean and delicate golden or blonde ale; and the cool fermentation cycle required for lager-making is time-consuming and highly technical. For mom-and-pop craft brewers, it's much easier to brew big, clunky English-style ales like IPAs (India Pale Ales) than it is to make something light and refreshing.


"An IPA is a tsunami of sweet, citrus and floral flavor that someone raised on Coca-Cola and Gatorade can get into," Gauger says.
I agree in some respects, though a "clunky English-style ale," done well, is subtle and perfect in its roasty, grainy, plummy perfection.

I think the point is this: it is very very easy to hide mediocre brewing techniques and big mistakes behind a massive wall of high alcohol, chewy malt and massive hops. It takes skill to brew the basics well. Take for instance Founders Porter, one of the most basic beer styles. Founders recently scored 100% on Ratebeer. Skill. I am glad to see that some brewers are eschewing the Extreme styles and are focusing on brewing the basic, subtle styles (like New Holland's Full Circle Kolsch-style Ale) really well. They'll be better brewers for it, the market won't be awash with $16-per-bottle malty hop bombs, and people who are still strident about their Miller may be more apt to try a craft beer since it won't taste, to them, like drinking syrup out of an old tin can.


Maple Beer!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

This past weekend, I finally got another batch of beer in the fermenter: my World** Famous Maple Syrup Porter!

This recipe is so easy it's silly. I start with a beginner-basic Brown Porter recipe (the lightest and least-roasty of the porters; just a single step darker and more "dark toast" than a British Brown Ale like Newcastle or MBC Nut Brown); munich, crystal 60L and some pale malt for the base malts, some chocolate male for color and toastiness, cascade hops at bittering and aromatic. So simple as to be boring and unremarkable. This is important.

The real magic is when I crash my hour-long boil by turning off the flame and adding a generous quart of freshly-drawn maple syrup. A friend of mine taps his own trees, and in return for a quart of the fresh stuff, he gets a couple of the beers.

Look at the yeast cake on THAT one!!
The beer is happily fermenting away. I'll take it out of the Primary this Saturday or Sunday, let it hang out in a secondary fermenter for about two weeks, and package it. I thought about kegging the entire 5 gallons, but I think I actually want to bottle some of this too so I can take it places and give it out to some people. Keg 2 1/2 G, bottle 2 1/2 G (about 20-24 bottles), call it good.

A few things went wrong with this batch; I brewed as we were holding a "Mud and Suds Party" at my house. A friend of mine is a potter. He brings some of his wares for sale, he sets up his wheel in my garage and throws pots while I conduct a beer tasting and brew a batch. Well, some distractions led me to not be as judicious with clearing out some husks as I boiled, and the syrup was slow coming out of the bottle, so I'm not sure I got all of it. I am hoping for a solid beer (as Charlie Papazian says: Relax, Don't Worry, have A Homebrew), and it'll probably be fine, but it's my nature to obsess over my process.

At any rate, I'll let you know how it turns out in about 3 weeks!


Barack Obama: Constitutional Scholar, Patriot, President,...Brewer?

Monday, March 07, 2011

I am surprised that Smitty did not find this first.

Charles Dharapak/AP via NPR
It seems that President Obama has raised his beer standards since drinking a whole bunch of Bud Light on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008.

According to NPR, Obama has been giving some micro brewed beer as gifts to world leaders, including a gift of “Goose Island's Urban Wheat 312 beer to British Prime Minister David Cameron last summer.” I am not a big fan of 312. He could have done better.

From: Obamafoodorama
Still, I would love to read a Smitty review of Obama’s upcoming White House Honey Ale. Maybe we should campaign for a bottle.

Read more at NPR.

H/T – Streak


Questions of the Day.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Let's say a guy making good money as a lawyer goes out and buys a $200,000 house, which is about what he can afford for his family. After a while, he decides he no longer likes his chosen career path and decides to go into a new field. He decides to go into the arts, where he brings home $25 grand a year making ceramic pots. He can no longer make the payments on his $200,000 house.

Pissed off, he rants to his neighbors about how the house is bankrupting him. If it wasn’t for the bank, he would be financially stable and his ceramic pot business would be doing just fine.

  • Is it the bank's fault that this guy voluntarily cut his own pay?
  • Is it a retired cop/teacher/firefighter’s fault that State legislators cut the State’s income over the last couple decades and now the State cannot meet it’s financial and legal obligations?



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