Bullet Points For The Week Of The Idle

It ended up not being that idle. Taxes yesterday. Driver’s license renewal Tuesday. I’m wiped. Must save up energy to pray for Morton tomorrow.

  • Here is the sound of someone singing in 1860. Here is what it means.
  • Funny how people have long memories.Interesting to note that baseball continues to settle – after a couple of years of little ball, now free agency is not as mad as it once was:

    this winter was the 32nd for free agency, and something worth noting occurred. For the first time other than the collusion years of 1985, ’86 and ’87, teams did not race crazily and expensively after free-agent starting pitchers.

    I remember my collusion years.

  • I feel like I have seen too much basketball for some reason. Do you really need that link?
  • The real reason I did not do it.
  • El Tigre has posited (or at least frets) that McCain will pick Romney. I find this highly improbably but in this US election campaign – the boring cannibalistic Democratic contest, the more interesting Republican one that ended too soon – anything can happen now. Apparently Fred Thompson knows he is not in the running for VP.

I have to admit, I have been on the internet less this week than most – could it be that there is a connection between the desk and surfing?

Pick A Date, Any Date, For The End Of Prohibition

Some of our US cousins are all happy happy over celebrating the 7th of April as some sort of anniversary of the repeal of prohibition despite strong evidence otherwise reviewed last year. While it is hard to pin point the actual date that celebrating should begin down south – and who really cares – imagine the situation in Canada where prohibition was, other than during WWI, a matter regulated by the provinces:

Québec rejected it as early as 1919 and became known as the “sinkhole” of North America, but tourists flocked to “historic old Québec” and the provincial government reaped huge profits from the sale of booze. In 1920 BC voted “wet” and by the following year some alcoholic beverages were legally sold there and in the Yukon through government stores. Manitoba inaugurated a system of government sale and control in 1923, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1924, Newfoundland in 1925, Ontario and New Brunswick in 1927, and Nova Scotia in 1930. The last bastion, Prince Edward Island, finally gave up “the noble experiment” in 1948, though pockets of dryness under local option still exist throughout the land.

Just a couple of decades ago it was illegal in PEI to stand up in a bar while holding a beer so these things do hang on.

The real point, however, for we Canadians is that the end of prohibition in the US led to a economic crisis in Canada due to the end of our monopoly on legal brewing in North America. In Craig Heron’s excellent book Booze: A Distilled History, it is shown that one St.John, New Brunswick taxi driver could make $1,600 bucks per bootlegging run into Maine in 1923. That is a real economic benefit to a hard-pressed part of this land. And, at pages 249-250, he quotes the following statement of proud Canadian brewing autonomy:

We have no knowledge or interest in the prohibitory laws of the United States,” the vice-president of Windsor’s British-American Brewery Company told a writer for Ladies Home Journal in 1923. “We believe we are privileged to fill orders for shipments of beer to the United States, even if it is illegal for citizens of the United States to have beer.

Huzzah, says I. So, I think it is fair to say, that any celebration on 7 April is also a rejection of good Canadian monopolistic illegal moonshine and beery goodness…and I think, frankly, that is a pity that our feelings are being treated so thoughtlessly in all this southerly happy making.

Belgium: Gouden Carolus Easter Beer, Het Anker, Mechelen

I had been planning on having this beer today as one small nod to the once busy task of brewing beer for holidays. Time was there were beers made for every saint’s day, every profession and every celebration of a stage in life. Now we are restricted to Yule and a few stragglers like this one for Easter. I had even complained about a lack of Easter brews when I was planning The Session last spring so I am at least grateful to have this one to try.

But before going there, I have read how Greg Clow over at Beer, Beats, Bites has uncovered calamity itself and has pointed out that the powers that be have censored the very label on this very bottle. I am quite innocent of all such understanding as my bottle kindly forwarded by the distributor, though slapped with the “Extra Strong Beer” label required by the Federal Food and Drug Act, is quite free from any thing dealing with the wickedness of the bunny.

Apparently, it is not so much this version of the bunny label, however, but previous versions that may have given the government some concern as is illustrated under the photos below. You will have to click to see the truth. I cannot bear it:*





Frankly, the more curious thing to me is the legal basis for the authority for making such a decision to enforce the banning of the bunny. In my chapter in Beer & Philosophy, I wrote about quite a number of these ridiculous sort of rules and they were all based on some sort or actual regulation. Ontario’s Liquor Licence Act at clause 62.1(10.2) provides that the Lieutenant Governor in Council (aka some particular bureaucract) may make a regulation in relation to labels:

…governing the information that may or must appear on labels and containers of liquor sold or kept for sale at a government store…

The government store is defined as a store established under the Liquor Control Act which would be the LCBO. You see, generally the LLA governs the activiities of the AGCO while the LCC speaks to what the LCBO can do – make sense? Well, in any event, regulations can be made for labelling at the store – but, as Greg points out, these beers are not for sale “at a government store.” So, in addition to there not actually being a bunny reference, there must be some other power to control labels. Under the LCA, it states at section 3(1)(j) that “the purposes of the Board are, and it has power…to determine the nature, form and capacity of all packages to be used for containing liquor to be kept or sold…” That might be it. But then somewhere there has to be a written statement of standards…and one would expect that to be found in the LCBO’s Trade Resources. And there it is: at page three of the Simplified Canadian Label Requirements (warning: pdf!) it states that beer label may not have imagery which is “misleading or imply irresponsible use of the product”. Hmmm – not very detailed authority for banning a bunny but the introduction to the LCBO’s SCLR mentions other sources of rules, including the CFIA which has jusrisdiction under the the FDA. Under that Federal law, beer is food and there is law about the labeling of food at section 5(1) of the FDA:

No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.

Could it be that beer is not meritorious enough to be associated with a rabbit? No, I think that we need to find the regulation that actually details this bunny stuff. The Food and Drug Regulations happily define in law what beer is but while section B.02.130(b)(vii)
allows for “irish moss seaweed of the species Chondrus crispus” it does not allow at all for Oryctolagus cuniculus – the European rabbit. Could it be under Canadian law the rabbit is not so much banned as just not included?

Anyway, I am having mine tonight in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus 2025 years ago and, in a bit, I will note down what I thought of the beer inside the bunny-fouled packaging.

Later: the beer pours the colour of seasoned pine lumber with a wild rocky head that quickly subsides. At 10%, one has to be somewhat responsible so I have nipped away at this one consious that the bottle has the equivalent strngth of five and a half ounces of rum. But it does not stick out as much as it might despite this being a quite mild mannered pale ale. It is somewhat tripel-esque but things can merge somewhat stylistically at this strength. Safe to call it a Belgian Pale Strong Ale as it is each of those things.

There is plenty of aromatic graininess, a little bit of mild apple and honey in the malt, a bit of a musty side and a nice cream note to the heart of it. There is a bit of a bite that makes me think there could be some wheat in the grist, too, but I know nothing about these things. The brewery says that the particular twist offered by this beer is the addition of three herbs but they do not stand out to my taste, though there is definitely a twiggy aspect. They also say “served with pride it isdrunken with respect.” Perfect – just as I like to be. Plenty of BAer love. Too bad it’s blighted by that frigging bunny.

*…it’s more than I can bear to think of you seeing these…

Sour Beer Studies: Kriek 100% Lambic, Cantillon, Brussels

I shared with one to the shock and dismay of my guests two years ago but I’ve grown up so much since then I thought I would revisit it to see what I thought. Back then I use the word poo which seemed to tick off a crank. Apparently some who write “barnyard” have never been in a barnyard. Let’s see how this goes today when it’s just me and the glass and a sticker on top saying I spent nine bucks for the 375 ml of the 2006 bottling.

Pop. There it is. Gravenstein apple and beef cattle holding structure. You will have to excuse me as I grew up in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and actually recognize the scents. Yet they are not repulsive. Not at all. Rather they are evocative this time. It looks lovely – pouring a clear deep blush – the colour of rosé wine, with a fleeting white foam that disappears after a few seconds. In the mouth there is less harshness than I recall even with the strident acidity. I must be weakening.

In the first sip, there is that green apple acid, a general fruit berry thing that I can associate with cherry if I think about the idea of a mouthful of under ripe pin cherries grown on the unrelenting North Atlantic brushland. There is also a little cheesy, yogurty rich funky tang that needles at you a bit but is overshadowed by the snap of the sour. More than anything it reminds me of the austere dryness of the wine I made with my own vines and my own hands back in 2003. As I get into it, though, I get the sweet fresh cherry layer. It opens up ever so grudgingly. My teeth feel slightly stripped of enamel but with a fruit note in the mix of dissolving calcium.

What can I say? If it were not for the specific acidity that mimics one under ripe variety of Maritime Canadian apple that happened to grow where I grew, I would not know what to make of this stuff. A theory of fruit preservation put in stark action? BAers still approve but I am still disappointed with my understanding of why I need that much acid in my body.

Useful Things To Know In The Coming Depression

While I am dutiful most times, I missed this over at Unkabugs unt Auntie F’s:

It will be important to know, in the coming tight times after twenty years of lavishing ourselves on credit, how to entertain. Music hall matinées will make a comeback, not needing the electricity that other spectacles require. So as you tune up your home mashing and tunning skills, perhaps give a thought to the stringed instrument inventory. Here’s a start.

Outcome? More Stalemate

Last night’s by-elections are enough of a win for both the Grits and Tories that nothing really changes:

Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River in Northern Saskatchewan was expected to be a close race. But it turned heavily toward the Conservatives after early results and Rob Clarke, an aboriginal who is a 17-year veteran of the RCMP, surged ahead of Joan Beatty, the former provincial New Democrat who was hand-picked by Mr. Dion. Bob Rae, meanwhile, sailed to an easy victory in the Liberal stronghold of Toronto Centre. (The NDP candidate finished second, but only three votes ahead of the Green candidate.) And Martha Hall Findlay thumped her rivals in the Toronto riding of Willowdale – a seat that went to the Progressive Conservatives during the Brian Mulroney years.

The Liberal grip on Vancouver-Quadra, a party stronghold for a quarter-century, loosened last night. Former B.C. environment minister Joyce Murray won the seat, but was only about 5 per cent ahead of Deborah Meredith, running for the Conservatives. It was a massive shift from the last federal election in 2006 when Stephen Owen had a 21-per-cent lead over his Tory rival.

The Liberals get at least two new strong voices on its side in the House of Commons but has shown weakness in the west, though the Saskatchewan riding was no one’s to win. It was however, Dion’s to lose and by dropping in his own candidate he may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The interesting thing will now be to watch Bob Rae. A gifted debater but he carries the curse of a man of two parties. Yet he faces a man of four across the aisle in the person of the Prime Minister – any history of the recent centre-left in Canada is only really remarkable for its parallel to the less recent history of the centre-right. It still be interesting to see if he is able to shore up some sort of solidity in the shadow cabinet or whether he will add to the factors pointing out the glaring – as in deer in the headlights – inappropriateness of Mr. Dion’s unofficial interim role.

Verdict: no spring election.

Friday Bullets For The Last Weekend Of Winter

Another Friday. They flow by like the days of the week. A week or so from spring and still there’s feet of snow. That’s not exactly helping. Morton’s teetering and the Orange are gone. At least things are going better for me than they are for Eliot Spitzer. WFAN had an interview with his lady-friend’s grade five teacher. This is a weird world sometimes.

  • Update: Well said and RIP, hairy one:

    Mr. Ponticelli, who described war as “idiotic”, had initially refused an offer of a state funeral made by former President Jacques Chirac, considering it would be an insult to the men who had died without commemoration. He relented after Mr. Cazenave’s death, saying he would accept a simple ceremony “in homage to my comrades”. President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Mr. Ponticelli and said a national commemoration of all of France’s participants in the war would be held in the coming days.

    I had no idea that more than twice as many French soldiers were killed in WWI as there were total Canadian solders.

  • Update: Bob Costas thinks you are a loser…or maybe it’s just me that he thinks is a loser.
  • Why can’t we have a sense of humour? Why couldn’t it be called Sinistre?
  • What did the dolphin say? “Hey stupid whales! You don’t see dolphins dead on the sand. Loser whales. I am out of here. Stay if you want.”
  • Further to the question of who exactly in what capacity is suing whom, please note this:

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is following through on his threat to sue the federal Liberals because of accusations, posted on the Liberal party’s website, that he knew of “Conservative bribery.”
    The lawsuit — a statement of claim for $2.5 million was filed today in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice — is a response to the “defamatory” statements made by the Liberals, Harper spokesperson Sandra Buckler said. “He’s doing what any other person with integrity would do to defend himself and his family,” she said.

    While the claim itself carries some errors that are a bit embarrassing for anyone who got better than a “D” at law school – pleading evidence, are we? – it is what it is. But does the spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister represent him in all things? Is this a political court case or a personal one? I’d be a little more comfortable if someone not on the public payroll was his spokesperson on this one.

    Update: I may be speaking out of my digestive tract about pleading evidence and the “D” thing as a read of Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act points out this dense bit of text:

    In an action for libel or slander, the plaintiff may aver that the words complained of were used in a defamatory sense, specifying the defamatory sense without any prefatory averment to show how the words were used in that sense, and the averment shall be put in issue by the denial of the alleged libel or slander, and, where the words set forth, with or without the alleged meaning, show a cause of action, the statement of claim is sufficient.

    I have not a clue but this may be the basis for an exception to the pleading evidence rule. See 1839’s Boydell v. Jones on “prefatory averment”.

  • Craig inquires into the delicate question of ladies of the night on PEI.
  • I have had the rewarding experience of being in a meeting with Senators Segle and was impressed by his dedication to local constituency work, something more in the nature of what you might expect from a senator under the US system. So I will not trot out my usual snark about monarchists on this point:

    Hugh Segal has introduced a motion in the Senate that would invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to prevent references to the Queen being dropped from the country’s oath of citizenship. The Kingston senator’s motion comes in response to a class-action lawsuit filed by Charles Roach, a Toronto lawyer born in Trinidad who never took a Canadian citizenship because he objects to the monarchy’s connection to slavery and refuses to take the oath.

    Yet it is note worthy to record for posterity that I have never quite voiced certain words in certain oaths for reasons of the history of the clan:

    The clan supported Charles I in the Civil War, and some of them fought for Charles II at the Battle of Worcester (1651). After the Restoration in 1660, the MacLeods felt a major grievance that Charles II had not been sufficiently grateful for their exertions on his behalf, and they never supported the Stewart kings again. The MacLeods took no part in Claverhouse’s campaign of 1688-89, nor in the first Jacobite rising of 1715.

    My feeling on the point is that if we are going to honour historical legacy, we ought to acknowledge the specific one.

That’s enough for this week. When we next meet over bullet points, it will be spring.

By The Beer Cooler of Wegmans I Laid Myself Down And Cried


 A fantastically bad shot of the actual Wegmans from GooglePlex

Not really but there was a moment of near tears – of joy and frustration, that is. What else, after a sensible visit to Fort Stanwix, could make me feel this way other than a beer cooler room in a not particularly recently modernized, middle sized grocery store in Liverpool NY just two hours from my house? Aside from all the macro-brew they offer at honest prices – there, filling half the cooler, was Ommegang, Southern Tier, Victory, Dogfish Head, Middle Ages, Ithaca and a whack of other mid-Atlantic brews in sixes and mixed twelves. There were also way more of our own Unibroue of Quebec than I can get here next door in Ontario as well as imports like Samuel Smith and Duvel. There were even special releases like the Southern Tier’s Un*Earthly which I had back at the hotel watching the UNC game against Louisville – $5.99 for a bomber! All within fifty feet of the cat food in one direction and the fancy cheeses in the other – not to mention a similarly robust selection compared to my visit to a swankier Wegmans in Ithaca last month. Here is their entire beer listing at the Wegmans HQ’s website. A solid grocery including fine craft ales in their everyday line-up at reasonable prices. What else could make a Canadian weep at the sight?

In other CNY news, Party Source is closed on Sunday. Drag. Drove right by on Saturday supper time, saying that I would be back tomorrow. Plenty of time I thought. Nope. But I was able to stop in at Galeville Grocery this morning and pick of a mixed selection of new to me beers. They have a new but limited selection of single 12 oz bottles for $1.59. Found another Kellerbier, Moosebacher, imported by Best Brands International of Georgia so prudently that it only cost $3.69. Note: BBI earns its use of the plural “beers” through also carrying one brand from Brazil.