Political Nerdly Goodness

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here at ATK we haven’t been posting much election stuff this year, which is a shame because during Presidential elections we typically have great traffic and a good time ridiculing conservatives.

It’s also a shame because of the target-rich environment this election offers. Between various nutty rape-obsessed freaks on the right, to the asshole, sociopathic, blue-blooded liar that IS Mitt Romney, it would have been such a great summer to mock and laugh at their expense.

Since we are pretty uncreative this year, I offer some great political nerdiness. Below you will find three great election prediction websites to indulge those political geeks, who also love science and mathematics. The following statisticians, neuroscientists and Poly Sci Professors will make you wonder why the hell we are spending $2 billion on an election when they predicted the likely outcome in June.

Take a look:

Nate Silver is the most well-known election predictor, having appear on the Daily Show and NPR. Silver is a former baseball statistician and FiveThirtyEight.com creator, who last year imported his blog over to the New York Times.

     Check out FiveThirtyEight.

Prof. Sam Wang's academic specialties are biophysics and neuroscience. The Princeton University Professor has been predicting elections longer than Silver, and with equal accuracy.

     Check out the Princeton Election Consortium.

Drew Linzer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Emory University. His site, called Votamatic is less frequently updated, but interesting nonetheless.

     Take a look at Votamatic.

Utah Valley State University’s Political Science and History department have their own model.

     Check out Jay DeSart at the DeSart and Holbrook Election Forecast.


Here is a fifth source:
Wesley N. Colley is a senior research scientist at the Center for Modeling, Simulation and Analysis at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who has joined with J. Richard Gott, III, a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University.  The run various sports and election predictions.

     Go to Gott and Colley's Median Poll Statistics.


For those pissing their pants over this single poll or that single poll, I recommend you look at these sites, which better look at various soruces of data.  Some rely on state-wide polls only (Wang and Linzer); weight and agregate national polls with state polls, along with econmic data (Silver); or weitake the median of the state polls (Colley).


NY Times Brews and Reviews White House Honey Ale

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As you may have read, a few of us gathered a week or so ago to help Smitty brew his own, all-grain version of the White House Honey Porter, which is to be followed up by an extract version of the White House Honey Ale.

The New York Times has beat us to it, enlisting the help of a Brooklyn, New York brewer who brewed the Ale.  The NYT followed up with a positive review.  

I look forward to Smitty's improved, all-grain version made with his favorite grain, hops and the sweat and love of ATK.

UPDATE:  Over at Streak's Place, our friend is also brewing and bottling the Porter.  Too bad we live a half-country away and cannot do a back-to-back taste test.


2012 Great American Beer Fest Winners!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

One of my favorite posts of the year is every October.  I get to announce to all 6 of us the winners from the Great American Beer Fest in Boulder, CO.  Pro- and home-brewers from all over the country enter their best for a chance at winning one of the most prestigious medals in all of brewing.

The full press release is here, but since we're all really only interested in how brewers from Michigan did, here's the goods:

  • Hazelnut Coffee Cream Stout, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI:  SILVER
  • Kuhnhenn Braggot (honey/fruit beer), Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren, MI: BRONZE
Yeah, that's it.  Just 2 medals this year.  Well, we have 111 breweries in our lovely state and I think maybe we need to have some of our new breweries focus on quality over quantity.  Plus, Founders, New Holland, Dragonmeade, Short's and Bell's have won just about every award you can possibly win.

Check out the other winners here!

I'd also like to point out that occasional ATK-Alum Sopor, who now brews for legendary Rogue brewery in Newport, OR, has this to report:

  • GOLD: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Brewery, Newport, OR
Congrats to Gold-Medalist Rogue Brewery and our very own "Sopor!"

We expect a shipment of this brew as soon as possible, Colin.


NOS, Dude.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've decided to make the plunge into Nitrogen.

No, not for my car; I drive a Chevy Traverse.  NOS would be kinda a waste of time and effort, and quite frankly I am pleased enough with my junk that I don't need the ego boost.

No, not to make whippets for me to get high as shiiiit either.

No, it's time to introduce a nitrogen tap into my brewing repertoire.

I've not had to do much begging with Mrs. Smitty.  She enjoys a nitrogenated brew, especially a stout.  It enhances toasty-roasty flavors, and imparts a creamy taste and mouthfeel to an otherwise heavy beer.  Some of her favorite beers are more favorite with nitrogen.

However...it's an "investment."  Nitrogen requires its own special tank and its own special regulator and its own special tubing, given its molecular difference from good ol' CO2.  Heck, it even requires a special "stout faucet" to pour that perfect pint of cascading bubbles.

But look how pretty:

so shiny!

It's not pure nitrogen; that's really hard to force into a beer under homebrewer conditions.  It's a nitrogen/CO2 mix, available at my local gas supply store as "brewer's mix," or "G-mix."  But it is nitrogen-heavy, and given the smaller bubble size than CO2, gives the beer that creamy cask-aged mouthfeel you get from Guinness or Boddington's or a darn-good classic British Pub Ale.

And given that I'm now entering stout/pub ale season, with batches of Chocolate Milk Stout in the works, I figure it's time to amp-up my offerings and do a stout the way it's meant to be done:  through a stout faucet, maintained by nitrogen.

And worse comes to worse, I'll try that liquid nitrogen ping-pong-ball trick I saw on YouTube.


Hail to the Chief Beer

Monday, October 08, 2012

Feels good to be back in the brewing saddle after a summer-long break.  So busy was the Smitty clan with vacations and sports over the summer that I didn't get a chance to brew.  First time in a long while that that much time has gone between batches.

But no more!  Yesterday's brewing event was my all-grain conversion of the White House Honey Porter, and less than 24 hours after pitching yeast, we've got solid fermentation.

Crack those grains...
Though I was heartbroken that my normal Chief Assistant Brewmaster Joel wasn't able to make it, I had wonderful assistance in Acting Chief Assistant Brewmaster Bob (yeah, that Bob of this here site), and Assistant to the Acting Chief Assistant Brewmaster James, who is new to brewing altogether...but not new to beer.  The Lagunitas he brought over helped lubricate our collective bad-decision-making capabilities.  We were further joined by Lead Technical Observer Brian and Jon the Entertainer.

We will allow Mrs. Smitty to comment herself on how the day went; everyone who came over brought at least one kid with them, so it was actually a giant, screaming Kid Party in which a handful of outnumbered adults drank and brewed beer and pretended not to hear anything.

The White House Honey Porter will be ready for drinking on election night.  Party at the Smitty House on November 6!  Election results and beer!

The honey

Pitching yeast

Tonight I plan to do the White House Honey Ale.  This one is a extract-plus-specialty-grain kit you can buy exclusively from Northern Brewer.  I had planned to simultaneously brew the al-grain for the experienced guys and anyone who was curious, and the extract for a n00b who is actually interested in picking up the hobby.  As it turned out, everyone wanted to watch the all-grain process.  Who knew.  So, I'll do the extract this evening.  It'll seem fast and easy, and will be ready on Election Eve as well.
Beautiful fermentation!


For Amber Waves of Grain...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Where's the grain bill for this Sunday's Patriotic Brew Fest?

Almost here!

On Vehicle for Delivery...TODAY!!



Patriotic Brew Day

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Having put this off long enough, I have finally pulled the trigger on a brew day for the Presidential beers! This Sunday, October 7, starting after breakfast and before kickoffs, I'll be firing-up the burners, mashing grains and boiling wort!

Northern Brewer offers the recipe kits for the White House Honey Ale and the White House Honey Porter for a decent price. The problem is this: the kits are extract-with-specialty-grain kits, and this blog has gone all-grain for some time now. A conundrum.

Problem solved, however! There are enough people interested in being a part of this "Presidential Beer" moment - and enough people who haven't brewed yet but want to learn - that I can kill 2 birds with one stone! I purchased the Northern Brewer Honey Ale kit, and plan to introduce the n00bs who will be joining us to the ease and joy of homebrewing by doing that beer the beginner's way: stovetop kettle, steep specialty grains in a little bag, add water to the fermenter. Easy, done in 2-2 1/2 hours! I hope to urge some folks to take-on this fine craft, and may even be willing to part with my old stovetop boil kettle and bottling bucket to an interested party.

Then, I took about an hour, consulted some resources and pros, and converted - to the best of my and our collective ability - the Honey Porter extract kit to an all-grain recipe. While the stovetop crowd knocks the Honey Ale out, some of us can do the all-grain on the big burner.

I am actually really looking forward to Sunday. We'll move a TV into the garage and show some football while we brew. People are bringing kids over and Mrs. Smitty is preparing a "hotdog party" for the families that come over (tons of hotdogs, gobs of options for toppings, from sophisticated to ballpark). This isn't just a brew day...it's a brew party!

I have timed it so these two beers will be ready to be tapped on election night. So...follow-up party on November 6!

For the real geeks in the crowd, the original Northern Brewer White House Honey Porter Kit calls for:

  • 6.3 lb Gold malt syrup
  • 1 lb honey
  • 1 lb Briess Caramel 20
  • .75 lb Briess Munich Malt
  • .625 English Black Malt
  • .188 English Chocolate Malt
  • 1 oz Nugget (.5 @ 45 min, .5 @ 30 min)
  • 1/2 oz Halertau (end of boil)
  • Wyeast #1056 - American Ale
I converted it thusly:

  • 7.75 lb Maris Otter Pale Malt (base-grain, to simulate Gold malt syrup)
  • 1 lb Crystal Malt 60L (base-grain, to simulate Gold malt syrup)
  • all other specialty grains and honey remain the same, as is the hop schedule
I feel good about the conversion, and I am so in love with Maris Otter as a base grain for Brit-originated beers (thanks Sopor!) that I get all tickly just thinking about it.  It imparts just the perfect balance of biscuity-sweet that it really mellows and rounds-out a beer the way I remember them from my trip to the UK.  Its worth the extra pennies it costs per pound than any other pale malt base grain, and even more worth the extra-extra pennies to purchase the old-school floor-malted stuff that brewers over there have preferred for 200 years.

Pics and Facebook/Twitter-posting madness to ensue in a few days.  And if you're in the neighborhood around 11:00 this Sunday....come over.  There's beer to be had while there's brewing to be done.



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