Friday Not Going Postal Chatfest

An interesting week for we and Canada Post. One day a package that hardly registered for weight within province was taken for posting and the clerk said “eight bucks.” “Eight bucks! Forget it. Give it to her next time we visit.” On another day, two packages with identical size and identical content were taken to Canada Post, one going to Philadelphia (ten hours drive, in another country) and one to Toronto (two hours drive, in my province.) The Toronto package cost a buck more. My world has turned upside-down.

  • Via John, I learned about Yorkshire forced indoor rhubarb. There used to be a show on PBS called The Victorian Garden and there was an entire episode about forcing houses where vegetables and fruits were grown and kept through the winter. I always wanted to live on pale homegrown foods.
  • Check out footnote nine on page six of this .pdf copy of a Canadian Senate Committee Report on border security. They want to allow us to bring back up to $2,000 bucks a day from the US including hooch, booze and other sippables. This is new information to me and changes my otherwise dim view of the legislative body. Imagine the right to pop over to Alex Bay for a 2-4 of Thousand Island Pale Ale. Imagine.
  • What has the Internet really done for us? I think it is fair to say that the idle magazine reader question is a valid concern. It has been a long time since I bought thirty bucks worth of magazines to go through on a Saturday morning. In fact, I cut back all magazine buying to just Sports Illustrated. I like pictures.
  • This is as important a transitional weekend as Labour Day. By the next one of these bullet points comes into being, there will be an NCAA champion crowned and the baseball season will be in full swing. The bulbs are popping up in the garden and if there is any drying out I may stick a shovel in the ground. I need to thing about seeds and which tomato to grown. Think Stokes and Vesey’s.

Not much today. These are the times of plenty. I am doing real things in real time. I have a real time life in many ways.

Big Hop Bombs: The Week of Eleven Big US India Pale Ales

Two of my favorite eleven a side squads – IPA and AFC

Springtime is here. For me this is the perfect season for those American green, weedy IPAs that taste like liquid salad with gasoline for dressing. Autumn cries out for stouts and porters while winter needs a slow-sipped tripel or the malt bombs, whether doppelbocks or barley wines. In summer, the lighter beers reign: nothing bigger than a pale ale is right and better still a hefe-weizen, a Belgian white or even light lager. Except perhaps for an earthy dubbel, spring is about the stuff that smells and tastes like you it just started popping up in the garden’s herb patch.

In this batch we go from mere strong US take on the IPA to the double, the triple, the imperial on to the 120 minute, all selected from eight different US states. I expect that I will find once again that most if not all of these are bigger than anything you would expect to see out of the UK or Canada. I have only had a couple of these before and what I am really hoping to find is a new take on the hop – something more than mere excess that makes the beer stand out.

Snapperhead IPA: The new third offering from central New York’s Butternuts Beer and Ale, makers of Porkslap and Heinnieweisse. Snapperhead’s yellow can pours out a really attractive orange amber ale that holds up a fine white head that resolves to active foam and rim. A perfectly fine IPA with plenty of roughish but green weedy hop in the middle and even a bit of a burn as it goes down. Chewy malt sits in the second chair with plenty of light raisin, apple and apricot to take notice of. All twelve BAers that review it approve. Selling for $5.99 a six like the others in the range, this beer is one of the best values in craft beer going.

Hop Ottin’ India Pale Ale: from California’s Anderson Valley, their second appearance this week. Seville marmalade nose, bitter and cirtus. Another orange-amber ale with a little more depth of colour. The head is thick, rich, orangy cream and leaves a lot of lacing. An interesting comparison as this beer’s hop frames your mouth – the quality of the sensation and where the hop hits you, at least to me, is one of the particular qualities of these IPAs. Only one percent BAer disapproval, with complaints of too much bittering hops. Sure, that’s there but there is plenty more and I suspect, at 7% this will end up being in the middle ground of this crew. I like it but I like arugula, too. Think white pepper with baby spinach in a lighter cream sauce. A fine measure of heat in the end like one of those hot cinnamon candies without the sweet.

Sierra Nevada IPA 2007: honey-amber ale under off-white foam and rim. No pronounced aroma. Grapefruit hop with sweet raisin in the malt initially makes for more of a ruby red than white grapefruit juicy effect. Then the hops move more to a twiggy thing and the moment is lost. Some cream behind that hop acid and twig. Mineral finish. Quite good and balanced and no pronounced heat at 6.8% but not really complex enough up against this sort of field. Yet only 5% of BAers turn up their nose as they turn down their thumbs.

Southampton IPA: a distinct lemon herb aroma. Golden amber ale under a very fine white cream head. A finer, softer effect than the Sierra Nevada. The hops are citrus but are more of a lemon kumquat thing than grapefruit. Some honey in the malt, too. Very likable and, again, a very well hidden 6.5%. A civilized touch of relative restraint within the US style. The brewer claims five hops were involved and I have no reason to doubt it. All the BAers love it.

Hi.P.A: from Vermont’s Magic Hat. Quite a strong floral aroma (sweet freesia and rose) from this smoked amber ale under a big and lasting white rocky head. Softer than most IPAs and also a bit of a drier take on the style. Some graininess. Recessed fruit, a bit of peach and a bit of date with grapefruit, lemon and, more in the end, a good measure of twiggy bittering hopping. Quite still without the finishing burn the bigger acidic bombs leave. A bit of the 6.8% heat sticks out. Reasonable in all respects and likely a good steak and/or ribs brew from this level of bittering astringency. The BAers give it all but 2% approval but with a lower average.

Eleven: from Weyerbacher of Pennsylvania. Called a Triple IPA, I split with with a couple of pals during Friday evening beer club (you have started a beer club, too, right?). The beer poured a massive and sustained rocky tan head over butterscotch coloured ale. Big body, orange marmalade and booze which is what you would expect for a beer of this strength – 11.7%!. Loads of green herbal hops but they buckle up against the wall of creamy sweet malt that fills the core of this brew. The yeast provides a slightly cheesy or yogurty note. Heat in the end but not as much as there might be. A surprisingly high ten percent of BAers say no mainly citing lack of balance and intense boozy heat.

Maharaja: an Imperial India Pale Ale made by Avery of Colorado. Again, split with pals – this one was preferred to the Eleven above. Maybe it is the almost 2% lighter profile at a mere 9.9%. Another heavy orange-amber ale under a huge rocky tan head that resolves to a sheeting tan rim and foam. Orange marmalade creamy smooth middle to a moderately hot end with apple and white pepper with an odd lightness in the second half. Some mineral water and even salt in the finish from Avery’s hard water. Only 2% of BAers do not like this one.

Big A IPA 2006: this is simply my favorite double IPA. The previous version was my best beer of 2005. What it does that no other massive IPAs I have tried does is it appears to use so, melting like masses of rolled barley as a cooling creamy effect that is as bit as both the hop and the booze – here are the brewers notes and there is no rolled barley . Compared to the notes from 2005, this one is lighter in colour at just a straw with a thick sheeting fine foam head. Whacks of cream, whacks of white pepper, whacks of bitter garden greens in the hops and at 9.2% whacks of that, too. One thin percent of BAers do not like this one. Madness. Rice pudding meets gasoline.

India Pale Ale: by Arcadia Ales, a new brewer for me from Battle Creek Michigan. The beer pours a cloudy red amber under a rich white rocky, lace-leaving head. The nose is somewhat malty, somewhat lemon zest hops. One BAer calls it “pine and grapefruit with an offputting dishsoap smell.” In the mouth the lemon zest explodes with an accompanying second more astringent dry hop characteristic and a definite soapy feel…and a hint of Old Spice in the finish. Oh my. Read the BAer reviews as I introduce this fluid into the city waste water system – oddly only 7% give the thumbs down.

Flower Power IPA: from the Ithaca Beer Co. Reviewed before, I always find this one fits the bill. An orange-straw brew under a white frothy rim with plenty of lace. On the nose, sweet and orange and a bit of white pepper. In the mouth there is plenty of peppery green and acidic hop combining with apple and pear malt. The water soft, the yeast slightly creamy. A really fine example of the upstate IPA. Even the 2% of BAers who do not love it acknowledge the quality.

120 Minute IPA: Please click here.

OK, some of these were experiments gone wrong and others were really quite wonderful. I hope I never have to use the words “old” and “spice” like that again.

Web 2.0 For Suckers

This is hilarious…in that tiny sort of hilarity that really does not affect anything that you really need, care about or have thought much about before this point:

The row blew up after MySpace asked her to remove a link that let visitors buy songs from a competing service, pointing out that “we retain the right to block or remove content that violates our terms of use, including unauthorized commercial transactions”. The unauthorized commercial transaction here was that Ms Tequila’s profile included a widget – a small piece of code – that took visitors to the Hooka music service instead of the MySpace-approved Snocap.

The web shall set you free, if you pay the proper fee.

Help! I Hear A Guru Thinking About How To Earn More Money!!!

Yawn. Never heard of Kathy Sierra. Never heard of Tim O’Reilly. I have never even heard of the “blogger Ms Sierra described as ‘far more prominent than me’.” Time to remember no one really cares or should really care about blogs – for good reason. But pump up the non-issue and – WHAMMO! – conference fees go crazy.

Remember: you are hearing is from a prominent blogger. Send $29.95 for further details and my plan for the future.

Tory On Tory Handbags!

Sooner or later chickens come home to roost. They really do. I’ve never seen it but cliches do not lie. So it is fun, then, to watch someone somewhere who is a more principled, more confident leader than the bad batch of all stripes we have to deal with in Ottawa these days:

Danny Williams, the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier who has promised to make the federal Conservatives regret last week’s budget, on Tuesday ratcheted up his attacks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper. His government has launched an advertising campaign calling into question the honesty of Mr. Harper. “If we can’t accept at face value the promise of our Prime Minister, then who can?” asks the ad, which will run in newspapers across the country. “A promise made should be a promise kept. And as Mr. Harper pointed out, there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.”

What a shocker! Imagine holding the PM to account rather than playing hide and seek when he glowers and grumbles as he stumbles as appears to be the wizardry of the Loyal but Not Very Capable Opposition. I remember the first week of law school in Halifax when all the keener sons of Bay Street partners of Calgary politicians opened their yaps to answer a question condescendingly only to face the wrath and wit of the baymen Newfs in the back, ripping them and their answers apart as the rest of us giggled and got out of the way. Go Danny! Remember – Atlantic Canada is right on this point and Ottawa promised. It is as simple as that.

Group Project: What Were We Like And What Are We Like Now?

…and what are we becoming? I know I go on but this new report on the state of privacy and surveillance technologies in the UK reminded me of this one about blogging, especially this passage:

…before the telegraph, for example, almost all ordinary people read entire newspapers and were generally very up to date on all issues of the day. It was not uncommon for politicians and other famous people of the day to come to town and speak literally for hours on end about complex issues facing people. Ordinary townspeople would know exactly what was being discussed and were not spoken down to or had the subject matter dumbed down for them. Postman relates one typical example where Lincoln was speaking somewhere for something like six hours, excused everyone to go home and eat supper, and then resumed speaking again an hour later. Then the telegraph made the spread of information much, much quicker. But because of all the dots and dashes, information became sound bites overnight. As a result, people’s tolerance for lengthier, meatier writing began to wane. And newspapers at the time who began getting their news from far away over the telegraph began writing shorter and shorter stories.

It’s the general proposition that I think interests me – as usual – how we as humans go about largely unaware of these sorts of quick shifts and are not very good at assessing whether they are good or bad, whether we are smarter or dumber because of them, freer or less free. The promise and the payout. We no longer think about things that were quite common ideas quite recently, like the information divide – which I think I think is as much due to the general ease of internet access as much as the awareness that most internet use is idle and recreational. No one considers access to a phone as a measure of full functional participation now either.

So, without getting into the goodness or the badness, how far could people go in immersing themselves into the unimportant and the abandonment of individual privacy while still being functional in a democracy? Are they even related? Do I need a coffee?

ADQ Whippersnappers Take Control In Quebec

We are declaring early and not just so we can get in an little extra early snoozing. There shall be a minority ADQ victory in Quebec’s provincial election and we are frankly stunned – but mainly with the realization that people in power are starting to look like they are younger than me. Not that I am not a very young 43. Precocious many say. Dainty. But the point is politicians should look like Lester Pearson when they do not look like John Diefenbaker.

Update: Ok, Ok – so Jean McCurlytop won in a way that can only be considered losing. Who’s happy now? And who is happy that shouldn’t be? And should Stephan Dion just quit now? No one won the pool, by the way. But Jay lost it.

Sports Pool 2007: Final Standings For The NHL

The next question is one that has been long clamoured for so we better give in or we won’t hear the end of it:

5. Identify and put in order divided by conference the 16 teams that will make the playoffs. Ten points for each correct team minus one point of the number of places the team is out of order. For example, picking Detroit for second but they come in fifth makes it a seven point pick.

Get your picks in before April 1, 2007. I better figure out the points so far so this thing doesn’t get out of hand.

Complete sports pool 2007 links here.

Knut Pays The Taxman

[This post was written by Knut Albert Solem aka “Knut of Norway”]

The wait is oknutsbeersver. But the picture of the package on my doormat is not quite how it went. No, there was a new slip of paper in my mailbox, telling me there was a package to be picked up at the post office. So, what was the tab?

  • The alcohol tax was about 100 Norwegian kroner.
  • The value added tax (based on an estimated value of 300 Norwegian kroner!) was about 100 kroner.
  • The fee for the postal service to process this ended up at 180 kroner, including tax.

A total cost of 386 Norwegian kroner. 47 Euros or 61 Dollars. Not the most expensive beer known to man, but pretty close, as these beers retail at a few Euro is civilized countries. But, considering all the man hours involved, it was a quite cheap service. And they managed to stall me from abusing these beers for a month. The beers look fine, they have been carefully packaged, and their warehouse is probably quite cool at this time of the year. So, it is time for a big thank you, to Alan, to Jeff from the Cracked Kettle. I don’t know about the Department of Substance Abuse, though.