US Election Pool IV

UPDATE: two more players Monday morning…names linkified…

OK. I’ve talked it up here, here and here. Two days to go and it is still on and you can still join. Prizes. Real prizes of little or no value. Stuff from around my house. Maybe.

Anyway, here are the picks so far:

Electoral Vote Prez Key States Senate Wild Card
Alan 285K/253B Kerry K: Fla, Pa, Mo, Oh;
B: Me, Co
48-D, 50-R, 1-I Valesky, NYS, 49th
Hans 270K/268B Kerry K: Fla, Pa, Me, Oh;
B: Mo, Co
50-D, 50-R, 0-I Delfino, Co Clerk, Roch., NY
Wayne 277B/261K Bush B: Fla, Pa, Mo, Oh;
K: Me, Co
45-D, 55-R, 0-I Wash St. Aud
Wm Baker (R)
Nicholas 290B/240K/ 4N/1Bad Bush B: Fla, Mo, Co;
K: Me, Pa, Me
53-R, 46-D, 1-I Smith. Somewhere someone called Smith beats the incumbent.
Ben 305B/233K Bush B: Me, Co, Pa, Mo, Oh;
K: Fla
52-R, 47-D, 1-I Robert J. Smith, (D), NJ Rep, 4th loses
Ben #2 309B/239K Bush B: 1/3 of Me, Co, Pa, Mo, Oh;
K: 2/3 of Me., Fla
52-R, 47-D, 1-I Robert J. Smith, (D), NJ Rep, 4th loses
Lisa 274B/264K Bush B: Fla, Co, Mo;
K: Me, Pa, Oh
50-R, 49-D, 1-I Jim Jeffords. Somewhere he beats the incumbent.
Kateland 300B/238K Bush B: Fla, Co, Mo, Oh;
K: Me, Pa
51-R, 48-D, 1-I Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, loses
Kim 273K/265B Kerry B: Fla, Mo
K: Me, Pa, Oh, Co
52-D, 47-R, 1-I Mark Shurtleff, Utah A.-G. will win.
Rob 274K/264B Kerry B: Co, Mo;
K: Fla, Oh, Me, Pa
50-R, 49-D, 1-I Mo Wiltshire, Ga, W. Dist. wins
David 227K/311B Bush B: Fla
K: Co, Mo, Oh, Me, Pa
53-R, 46-D, 1-I Dave picks Wayne’s pick.

DIG THAT TABLE!!! First I ever created with my own blood, sweat and tears.

Once again, here are the rules:

  • Electoral College overall: 50 points for being spot on, one point lost for every electoral college vote off +/- for the winner. No points for being 50 or
    over off score.
  • President: 30 points for naming the winner.
  • Key States: 10 points for picking the winner in the following states correctly – Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Missouri, Colorado.
  • Senate: 20 points for for being spot on, four points lost for every senate seat off +/- for the final count of the majority.
  • Wild card: Pick your own non-Federal race at any level down to local district attorney for an incumbant to lose. 20 points if you picked right.

Join in the fun. Play today. We give prizes.

Know Thy Enemy

From The New York Times this morning:

You’d think that seeing Osama looking fit as a fiddle and ready for hate would spark anger at the Bush administration’s cynical diversion of the war on Al Qaeda to the war on Saddam. It’s absurd that we’re mired in Iraq – an invasion the demented vice president praised on Friday for its “brilliance” – while the 9/11 mastermind nonchalantly pops up anytime he wants. For some, it seemed cartoonish, with Osama as Road Runner beeping by Wile E. Bush as Dick Cheney and Rummy run the Acme/Halliburton explosives company – now under F.B.I. investigation for its no-bid contracts on anvils, axle grease (guaranteed slippery) and dehydrated boulders (just add water). Osama slouched onto TV bragging about pulling off the 9/11 attacks just after the president strutted onto TV in New Hampshire with 9/11 families, bragging that Al Qaeda leaders know “we are on their trail.” Maybe bin Laden hasn’t gotten the word. Maybe W. should get off the trail and get on Osama’s tail.

What has been bouncing around my brain is what happened in Madrid. What if today, two days before the election, there was an attack which killed one thousand people. Who would be blamed? Who would benefit on Tuesday? In Spain the attack was taken to be the reason that the hard-line government was voted out. But wasn’t the attack proof that the hard-line government had failed – not only was it being perceived as lying to the populace but it had not kept a public space secure. Similarly, if an explosion were to occur in the next few days or hours, would it not be cause to reject the incumbant as incompetant? Or would it be the basis for staying the course, either as unthinking comfort or wisely choosing stability. It is a bit of a mug’s game, back seat driving. A country as resiliant as the USA ought to be able to face their fear with confidence and strength.

Apparently, the polls since the latest Osama tape show just that – no change in voting intentions is being noted. The wisdom of the people will play out regardless of what is being attempted outside the voting booth. What is more troubling is the effort to alter the results within the booth, to keep the legitimate electors out and to get illegitimate ones in. From the transcript of the rejected Republican effort to get over 900 people – all legitimate voters it turns out – off the voters list in Ohio:

Mr. Lou Wray, you challenged my husband, and we live in the same neighborhood. Okay? But you’ve never met us a day in our lives, hard-working individuals. My husband is a full-time student at Kent State University, where I also possess a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. We work hard just like you do, trying to make our livings, trying to prove ourselves in this world to get to the point where we’re 80 years old, like you. But you signed your name to 200 documents of people you have never, ever met a day in your life, challenging our right to vote. And you don’t even know whether we live? in Tallmadge, Ohio. You have no idea. Somebody just called you on the phone and asked you to do a favor and you said okay. And now you look foolish standing up here saying, “I don’t know. They just called me on the phone. I don’t have anything.” You look silly.

If almost one thousand voters were to be put off the voters list because of efforts like this (and yes, equally, if as many illegitimate one added) or if almost one thousand people die in an evil act of terror geared to alter the outcome, are these not comparable attacks on democracy? That is as loaded as way of putting it as I could imagine reading but I can’t figure out how to say it less coarsely. Help me on this one if you can.

New York: Variety 12- Pack, Cooperstown Brewing, Milford

Another big buy from my trip a few weeks ago to the Party Source in Syracuse, NY. The case of this happy vista upon cracking the cardboard. Cooperstown Brewing is not actually in Cooperstown but is a proud cornerstone of the Milford, New York business community.

Like the Smuttynose case review posted ten days ago, I will work through the varieties included in this combo pack and give my impression of what the brewery is up to. One preliminary point, however. In this pack there are twelve bottles of six types as opposed to the four types. For me this takes out the “what do you think opportunity” – I don’t mind sharing a third but I think two bottles separated by a couple of days helps me think about whether I like a brew or not. Also, without having had one, drop the “golden ale”. Maybe once I have popped them, I will feel differently but to me that sounds like a pale ale that can’t work itself up to call itself even that. Plus, having sneaked one each of the stout and porter already, I know you could drop the stout. The porter is a real winner but the stout is not. You are trying to win me over with these mixed cases, so my advice is play your best cards.

I will review all six ales – and they are all ales which is a plus from the get go – as I pop ’em.

Golden Ale: I am not sure whether I have to retract what I wrote above, now a few days ago, but I am also not minding this light ale. That is what it really is at 4.3%. The brewery says:”Nine Man” is a golden ale, brewed from English pale and crystal malts, and with torrified wheat. It is bittered with Cascade and Cluster hops and finished with Cascade hops. “Nine Man Ale” was first brewed as a summer seasonal beer in 1996. It was kegged the first season but not bottled until the opening of the baseball season in April 1997.

– Original Gravity 1.045 / Final Gravity 1.012 /4.3% abv.

There is more body in this than a supposedly full-bodied Canadian macro-ale like Labatt 50. The hop selection and timing provides a good edge to the brew without florals or fruity flavour – maybe a wee lemon rind thing. The crystal malt gives it a slight nutty tone as well. Nothing remarkable except that at that moderate alcohol level, it does not come across as any kind of compromise. The beer advocatonians are a little restless with a 19% thumbs down rating. Here is one unhappy soul’s tale:Found this to be a decent, quaffable light ale. It has a pleasant medium gold appearance with a slight head. The aroma has hints of mown grass with some hints of Saaz hops. Tart, slightly fruity flavor. At the end, find it to be a bit clingy and starchy on the aftertaste.That reviewer rated it 2.9 out of 5. What do you want from a light ale?!?! But that is it! It is not called a light ale or even a lite one but a golden one. By not admitting what it is, has Cooperstown lost a market? Perhaps. For now, I say leave three of these in the box…maybe as a summer seasonal.

Pride of Milford: Strong Ale. The brewery says 7.7% which is about 2.2% higher than I would have guessed from the mouthfeel. It is rich but not Belgian fruity, more restrained like a low-end barley wine. The excellent Lew Bryson in his excellent, nay, seminal New York Breweries (1st ed. 2003 Stackpole Books) calls it at page 166:…a big beer that showcases the beautiful character of the Yorkshire [Ringwood] yeast. It’s malty, cookie-sweet and touched by fruity esters and Ringwood nuttiness that I love…I would agree with everything but the “cookie-sweet” unless we are talking ginger snap or milk lunch. I think this is actually moderately rich and dry – think amontillado or oloroso rather than fino if we were taking sherry which we are not but I thought I would say it anyway. The brewery says:

“Pride of Milford” is a very special ale with a tapestry of complex flavors and aromas. It is brewed with five malts and fermented with the Ringwood yeast at a higher temperature which gives this beer a uniqueness all its own. “Pride” has a distinctive reddish copper color. It is strong and rich beer. When “Pride” was first brewed in December 1999, many thought the flavor and aromas of this beer had fruit overtones. No fruit or adjunct flavoring is added to this beer. The unique flavor comes from our special brewing process.

It is not particularly pungent and has a soft mouthfeel, which would make it quite sneaky if one faced an afternoon at a cottage in winter with a fridgefull. Which raises the question of why this would be included in a case in July. I say include three of these in the case in winter replaced by the Golden Ale in the summer. I think beerish advocates would agree.

Strike Out Stout: The head fizzed like a Coke as it was poured and dissolved away within ten seconds. A nice flavour with chocolate and dry darker malts but subdued, a lighter bodied stout. An oxymoron. Fades in the mouth leaving a cocoa-chalky feel then just a little sour tang. The brewery is kinder to itself:

“Strike Out” is brewed with 6 malts including a balanced portion of chocolate and crystal malts. It is also brewed with 5% flaked oats for a velvet-like mouth feel. English pale, Munich and black malt, plus roasted barley round out the malt bill. Considerably lower in alcohol than both Benchwarmer Porter and Old Slugger Pale Ale, “Strike Out” is a well-rounded stout, opaque black in color with a roasted palate.

        People looking for a stout will be disappointed, especially with the 4.6% but also the crystal malt, quite off style, even for an oatmeal stout. Consider these

two great oatmeal stouts

         easily accessible to someone in the east end of Lake Ontario region. Both have richness. Strike Out does not. It should be reformulated with some body added or it should be called a dark ale, a lesser style. The yeast is a bit sour, too. Not really on for the style. I think I have made a stout like this and not been that proud of it.

One unhappy beer advocate

       captures my thoughts:

Almost black. Big Huge fizzy brown head. Good retention. Head forms craters as it dissintegrates. This beer appears to be very charged up by its appearance. Coffee bean, soap and leather are present on the nose. There’s something wrong with this beer. (Actually, many things.) Mouthfeel is way too carbonated. I get so damn much gas in every gulp that a burp is always the aftermath. The taste is astringent. Husky. Tannin like. Soapy. Stale. No stout qualities to speak of. I haven’t dumped a beer in months, but I just don’t feel like burping 20 times by the time I finish this one.

      So ditch this beer, Cooperstown. I think I am going to like the porter better from the recollection of the first. Leave this one out of the variety case to make some room of the seasonal.

Old Slugger Pale Ale: If there are two words that are bad in beer they are “Mt.” and “Hood”. Some call them spicy. Others, like me, rough and dirty, like a little bit of bark in every sip. I didn’t know what was so odd about this brew until I saw those two words – then I knew. Al Korzonas in his text Homebrewing – Vol. 1 (Sheaf & Vine, 1997) writes:

Another recently released American-grown cousin of Hallertauer Mittlefrüh. It is spicy (cinnamon), resiny and slightly sweet. It is recommended for any German or American lager. It is quite close to the Hallettaur Mittlefrüh in character, perhaps a little spicier. I recommend against using this hop for beers in which you want dominant bitterness – in a recent experiment I found its bitterness to be slightly abrasive when used in a recipe where the bitterness strongly dominated the malt.

      Not good news for a pale ale – that fairly malty, fairly bitter style.

Don’t get me wrong. This is an ambitious brew – ringwood yeast and its sour, woodsy thing; three very different hops, Mt. Hood as well as twiggy Fuggles and citrusy Cascade; as well as four barley malts including two types of crystal. For all that work there is an absence of finesse, the balance that makes all that flavour pull together. What would help? There is butterscotch but it is sitting there in a gap that needs to be filled up with biscuit. Again with the body…Cooperstown is just making them too light for the amount of flavour they want you to take in. Like the stout, it leaves you with an impression that it is thinner than it ought to be. Also like the stout, the head disappeared fast. The beer advocates give at a fairly low average for a micro.

Back Yard India Pale Ale: The head sustains longer than the stout or the pale ale. This is a good sign. The first taste is of vegetative rather than herbal hops. Clover sweet. There is a rough malt grain edge but is works in this one. This beer would go well with rich earthy flavours like ox-tail soup, parsley potato soup or roast squash. You know what I saying. I know you do. Maybe it is just that the ringwood challenge has been met with this one. A full three ales in the variety pack year round.

Interestingly, the unhappy beer advocates are talking about gushing bottles, cloudy ale and high burposity. These comments all go to problems at the brewery. My bottle was nothing like this, fairly still and balanced. So be prepared for bottle variation. The brewery says something very interesting:

English pale barley malt is predominant in this beer with just a small amount of crystal malt. It is well bittered with Cluster and Cascade hops and finished with a mix of local hop and larger amounts of Fuggle hop.The southeast zone of the leather-stocking region in New York (west of the Syracuse-Binghampton corridor south-west of Albany) was a hop growing area before the west was truly won and a local hop is a good hop if it is a heritage variety as this claim might be taken to imply. All in all, I am very happy with this beer. No Flower Power IPA from Ithaca but a worthy if less brassy neighbour. Redemption in the case.

Benchwarmer Porter: Comfort beer and, again like the IPA, a worthy placement in the case. The head is rocky and tan. The mouthfeel is full and full of mocha and fresh picked unsweetened black current. A beer fit for the Ringwood, but porter usually is. I used to make Ringwood pumpkin porter in my homebrewing days…but less about me, more about the brew. The brewery says:More than 4% chocolate malt, which is the most similar to the brown malts of the early 1700’s, gives “Benchwarmer” its dry coffee-like finish. It is fermented with the Ringwood yeast which is an excellent yeast for the brewing of porters.I am buying it but are the beer advocates? 43 reviews all all positive. One says:

Big foamy head and very dark color, but not opaque. Lots of hops for a porter, and they work well in drying out a slightly chewy mouthfeel, as well as imparting nice hints of herbs and dry leaves. Very tasty underlying flavors of espresso, dry molasses and earth. The finish is dry, with the coffee/espresso flavors lingering with a touch of alcohol. Really complex on tap.

Many reviewers taste some smoke which I did not get at all. Oh, well. Such is life. Very decent porter.

So all in all this is an ok variety pack but I now know what I will buy in a six and what I will not. Some concern for production quality but when they do well they do well. Nothing life changing but they are thinking and they are achieving – two things I have to remember to get around to from time to time Work on the stout and the pale ale, mix up the case to go with four styles not six and you are going to be ok.

Who Are You?

Any lurkers want to speak up? This is going to be another banner month here with about 9500 unique visitors and about 43,000 visits. About 26,000 of those visits are via RSS which I think means you are using an aggregator to read this – meaning you chose the site rather than stumbled on it. I still figure about 85000 of the uniques are search engine visits, maybe one timers, like those confused guys from the White House who show up looking for the results of seaching Google for “Kerry policies” which for reasons entirely beyond me Lord Goog places me today at #2.¹

Anyway, who are you? You who choose this place, whose statistical relevence keeps me interested in getting up an hour earlier weekdays to blab about something. Really, other than Hans…are you all connected to Heuvelton, too? What really kills me about google is I am #10 for “Heuvelton blog” but #2 for “kerry policies”. Please consider this when you push the value on the stockmarket to greater than Ford and GM combined. Please consider the meaning of bubble.