“When I Was Your Age, We Ate Maple Leaf Cookies!”

The New York Times has an article on strategies kids take to get by living in the most expensive city in North America. Funny how it reminds me of something:

Peter Naddeo, a 24-year-old musician, earns $15 an hour working as a temp in Web development in Chelsea, and has perfected the tricky art of stretching lunch into dinner. He moved to New York from Pennsylvania last fall and can barely afford his $80 monthly college loan payments. He listens to a hand-me-down CD player because iPods are out of reach. He pays $600 for a 10-by-10-foot room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that has one saving grace: a window that faces east. For lunch, Mr. Naddeo usually orders a $3.50 plate of yellow rice and beans from a Latin American diner on Eighth Avenue, and eats late to ward off hunger pangs. Sometimes he hits up a bar in his neighborhood where a $6 pint comes with a small pizza. Or he relies on friends to feed him.

In the ’80s this was called living through a recession and no one had pals who fed him. Though that isn’t quite true as I recall buying groceries for a roommate who was down to eating carrots only. She was getting a little orange. One pal had a bag of maple leaf cookies that were put out on a plate whenever we came over. No one liked them so it was a cheap way to be hospitable. He was on mini-wage and there was only tea, cookies, cards and hockey of the black and white when we were over there. I do like the line above about a “hand-me-down” CD player. Boo frikkin hoo.

Isn’t this just called being young? Don’t you have to be broke for at least half a decade after school? And where is the New York of Archie Bunker? I blame George Jefferson, movin’ on up and all that. Everyone wants to live like people on TV.

The Web 2.0 Ideas That Won’t Go Away

How do you know that Web 2.0 is past, long gone and uninteresting? Reading yet another article about how the law needs to be changed to allow people to do things that no one wants to do anymore:

Earlier this month, some fans of the NBC television programs American Gladiators and Medium found themselves unable to digitally record the shows on their personal computers. The reason for the blocked recordings raises important technical and legal questions about the rights of consumers to “time shift” television programs in the digital era. The blocked recordings affected people that record television programs on their personal computers using the Microsoft Windows Vista Media Centre. Most people are unaware that Microsoft has inserted a feature that allows a broadcaster or content owner to stop the digital recording of a show by triggering a “broadcast flag” that specifies its preference the show not be recorded. When the user tries to record it, Microsoft’s software recognizes the flag and issues a warning that the program cannot be recorded.

So? None of them paid a license fee for the right to record the show and, in any event, it’s American Gladiators for God’s sake. If anyone thinks we need to law of copyright to be altered so that folks can bootleg a hack summer repeat of a 1980s joke, they need their head examined. The things that have not taken off and become part of general society like mashing-up, creative common licenses, YouTube, podcasting, Facebook and (frankly) blogging as anything other than internet diarizing are not vicitms of copyright law but illustrations why we do not need to tamper with the law to respond to another short-term trend. Legislators don’t rush to fnid out what the hobbyists are up to.

And have you noticed that no innovation of the internet is not really having an effect on the US Presidential election?

Belgium: Canaster, De Glazen Toren, Erpe-Mere

can1Here is a hint when you are traveling. If, after a tiring 600 km drive (to be followed the next day by another 600 km drive) you notice contract street sweeping equipment in the parking lot, get a new hotel. Street sweepers come and go in the night, you see. After idling their massive engines for fifteen minutes or so. It was like sleeping in a public works depot.

My only consolation was the bottle of Canaster I had brought. Labeled as a winterscotch-style ale I had brought it along as a reward for being me. It’s by the same good folk at KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren who made that saison I had last Thanksgiving. The beer is basically a Belgian brown with plenty of round brown maltiness, burlappy nutmegged yeast and some black tea and perhaps black malt astringency. It pours a thick sheeting cream head over chestnut ale. In the malt there is date and maybe dark raisin with a bit of a tobacco effect. It could have done with another something something but it was a very pleasant 9.5% brew that came across nothing as big as that. Plenty of BAer approval.

Not needing anything was the bottle of The Lactese Falcon Flanders Sour Brown Ale I picked up at Church-Key on the way home – you know, as a reward for being me. Yum – but I like the tastes of Parmesan cheese and Flemish sour beer and here they are in one brew. Plenty of roasted beef broth notes, vanilla, pear juice, balsamic, Worcestershire and Parmesan. Herself gets only molasses on schnozzal analysis. Somewhat controversial when it first appeared, here is a beer that intends to be itself – and one that may sort the style huggers from the brave and the free. I have another put away for a long sleep. I want to make sauces with it, soak meat in it – make welsh rarebit with it.

Nothing Says “Yum!” Like Third-Category Beer

While little translates as badly as regulatory text in another language from another country, there is a special place in my heart for Japan and its “third-category” beer which are described as nonmalt beerlike alcoholic beverages. Not third-rate. Third-category. Mmmmm. But apparently the average Joe in the land of the rising sun is switching to the stuff with a new-found zest:

The recent rise in prices of food products and services is hitting consumers, who are in turn cutting unnecessary spending from their family budgets. One example of the cutbacks can be seen in April beer shipment numbers released last week by the five major breweries. The numbers show sales of popular low-priced “third-category” beer, or nonmalt beerlike alcoholic beverages, rapidly growing, while sales of regular beer plunged significantly.

In the case of beer drinkers shifting to third-category beer, a decisive factor seems to be the price of the product. A 350-milliliter can of third-category beer costs about 140 yen, approximately 75 yen less than a can of regular beer. The April shipment of third-category beer increased by 9.3 percent, while shipments of regular beer dropped by 11.3 percent in the same month.

You can consider one yen a cent. We are, then, talking the difference between $2.15 and $1.40 a can so we are not likely talking about the craft beer fan…except that this could cause a domino effect across the board leaving out the top end of the market or those planning to supply it. And this seems to mirror what Stan noted might be happening in the USA. Beer in Japan has some odd aspects but we’ve been watching this third-category stuff for some time now and have found the description a “beer-tasting alcoholic beverage” the most informative so far though “a product two steps removed from actual beer” is up there. For the unknowing, this is a brief glimpse into the steps that are those two steps away:

A vital technological issue in producing a “third beer” product is achieving the right taste and color. Kirin’s solution, for which patents are pending, is browning, a process in which sugar is added to the fermented soy protein and then the mixture is heated, caramelizing the sugar and giving the beverage the color as well as the taste of beer.

One wonders whether the same machinery and ingredients might also make beer broth or automotive lubricants. Could it be that the there is nothing to gain from comparing craft brew to this sort of product and the budgetary issues which give rise to its production? Or are we all destined one day to be hoping for a bit of the old category three when we leave our underground factory jobs at the end of another thirty day cycle, marching merrily home in unison under the glow of another blazing green sunset? Is it the future?

Victoria Day’s Weekend’s Very Own Bullets

May two-fer. That is the level to which the legacy of England’s fourth best
Queen has been relegated. Drunks at the cabin. I know one. He’s there already.
While I prepare to go to my day’s labour. It’s going to rain all weekend, too.
No gardening for me and less fishing for the man in the cabin with 56 cans of
beer to work his way through.

  • Update: isn’t the
    proper discription
    “murdered child with bomb strapped to body”? When we
    rightly speak of the Canadian role keeping schools open, it’s this kid that we
    are trying to keep in the school.

  • Computer solitaire is the
    most successful program of all time. Who knew?

  • Be warned. The CRTC
    is rethinking
    it’s lack of justisdiction over the internet. In 1999 they
    realized they should have nothing to do with it but they are now fudging the
    point holding:

    services consisting predominantly of alphanumeric
    text and those with the potential for significant user customization do not
    “involve the transmission of programs for reception by the public and are,
    therefore, not broadcasting.”

    If we could all just stick to the
    keyboard please. I can’t imagine the botch the CRTC would create.

  • Bad week for the control freaks in the PMO:

    In any other time, these would be the most incompetent politicians. Sadly,
    they are only #2 in that race. But for the Liberal policy of letting the Tories
    hang themselves. Seems to be working.

  • Realist Caesarian art found in river because
    who wanted to be associated with Julie after the assasination.

  • Jesus won’t like this.

some McGonagall
today if you have the time. A fitting celebration of Victoria’s gift of
repression of all that is good.

The One Set Of Friday Bullets You’ll Need Today

May. Almost mid-May. This is the best part of the year, right? Is there anything better than the pre-black-fly world? It’s like mosquitoes (is there an “e”?) don’t exist, let alone wasps and hornets. It’s still all about the plants but not quite yet the mowing. May is a time of imagination.

  • You know what may is? May is the time for thinking about the things you will never do this summer. Like going to that bluegrass festival with mass banjo instruction. My inner novice banjo star would do so well at that sort of thing. But there might be bugs.
  • Good to see the powers of the surveillance crime controllers are entirely misplaced:

    In becoming the world’s most-watched nation, Britain was promised a commensurate drop in crime. But the estimated 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras in the U.K. have made barely a blip on the graph of public safety, a senior London detective in charge of the program admitted yesterday. Calling Britain’s multibillion-dollar surveillance network “an utter fiasco,” Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said video footage has solved only 3 per cent of crime.

    Multibillion. That is the beauty of a new technology. Boosts the economy without any real idea whether it works or not.

  • There is one thing that I don’t understand about the post-9/11 anti-faithers like Martin Amis:

    As the Ayatollah Khomeini used to say — in scandalized terms — affiliates of other religions think that they can go to church once a week, or even pray once a day, and that’s that. He said, Islam isn’t like that. The whole wave of Islamism is the revival of the idea that Islamism is the total guide to existence, that it’s not on the edges but right in the centre. If you adhere to this literalist way, [Islam] does follow you into every room in the house. It’s without its grandeur and beauty if you deny this central severity.

    What kind of person has faith that doesn’t get into every room in the house? It is like you have a relationship with the creator of all things and say: “feh – you can stay around but only in the rec room”? What kind of faith is that?

  • Dark matter is really out there. It’s apparently baryonic – unlike me.

Gotta run. School bus trip.

Consider Your Morning Break Options Accordingly

I thought that Tims had lost it when they introduced centralized baking. They certainly lost my trade but this is whacked:

Giving a free Timbit to a baby has cost a single mother of four her job. Nicole Lilliman, 27, was fired yesterday from her Tim Hortons job for giving one of the 16-cent blobs of fried dough to a tot. “I have been fired for giving a baby a Timbit,” Lilliman said yesterday. “It was just out of my heart – she was pointing and going `ah, ah…’ I should have gone to my purse and got the change, but it was busy.”

Can you imagine worse PR? How about Jesus showing up for the second coming and getting booted out before he’s done his coffee for annoying folks with the glow off his halo. No that would be not as bad – because that wouldn’t be firing someone for giving a baby a frikkin’ timbit!!!

Single Cask Brews: Manufacturing Scarcity Or Pure Genius?

I just about flipped out when I saw this post over at 2 Beer Guys (from the April 16, 2008 issue of The Coloradoan) about the Odell Brewing Co. (with whom I am not familiar but which I am sure is nice and run by fine folk, and all) doing a limited run of a series of single cask beers – each brew never to be repeated and the cask retired:

…Each batch of the ale, which will have more vanilla and caramel tones, will make enough for only roughly 120 cases before the recipe is retired, creating an exclusivity factor not usually associated with beer. Each 750 mL bottle – hand-corked, hand-signed and numbered – will sell for $24.99. “It’s a one-time kind of thing,” John Bryant, Odell chief operating officer, said of the process they hope will put them at the forefront of the market.

Excellent. Because we all need another mechanism to raise prices through exclusivity. But am I being fair? Am I being a rogue consumer who is too tight with the wallet. I would encourage, first, that you consider two posts by Stan from last January in which he makes a number of points relating to overly limited runs of barrel-aged beer and the effect on price and popularity. And isn’t that very last point, popularity counter-intuitive? Makes me wonder whether some of these high rated beers are a lot like the 60’s – that many who claim to have experienced them were never really there.

But my point is more, I hope, to the point. What is the basis of a $24.99 price tag on these bottles of beer? Is anything else at that price point? I trust that each of you will consider your responsibilities as an active player in the market and avoid artificial inflationary events. And, sure, it will be a price that is paid but so is “jerk tax”, that premium you pay whenever a vendor can get you for one reason or another. Why not $18.99 or $35.99? Using the math from the story, scrapping the barrel after only one use adds 450/1440 or 32 cents to each bottle or about a tenth that the corked bottle does (if what a US brewer told me last month is true.) Are you so out of control that you don’t care? Are you the sort that will run to this, that will try to profiteer even? Or will you just say no? What do you fall back on to make this decision?

Session 15: How Did It All Start For You?

I want to say one thing. Where the heck did the days of whatchure fayvrit bock go? All these questions like who’s your beer friend, what’s your best beer place? I wish we’d get back to beer and a lot less about me…or you if you are another beer blogger. But at least this one is about me and beer.

There. Done. Off chest.

So, I was trying to thing of auspicious moments on my early years with good beer. I am a lucky guy who, at 45, started in my university years interest in beer in early 80’s Halifax, a seaport town, that was interested in beer and drink and donairs and whether Keith’s or Moosehead was better house draught. A place where one could say “it’s a drinker” on a lovely day and know by midnight you;d be amongst 50 pals in the taverns, pubs and beverage rooms of our fair city’s waterfront. I’ve written about the 1980s Halifax pub scene then in an earlier edition of The Session, but here are some notes:

In frosh week of 1982, my second year of undergrad, I decided unfortunately to drink a large amount of MacEwans Scotch Ale much to my later distress. Twice that night I noticed that it went down with the consistency of HP sauce and was quite different from the local Nova Scotian lagale I had been drinking.

The next year, 1983, the college bar had a “beers of world” weekend and we all drank Dortmunder Union which came in in very thin glassed bottles with light grey labels. Not too long after, Maxwell’s Plum, an imports bar opened in Halifax.

Soon after that on Christmas Eve 1985, I ran into my high school pal, Pete, at his new gig bartending at The Thirsty Duck put on a new keg of the recent novelty arrival Guinness. We went through a fair bit of that at that pub, too.

In 1986, the Halifax scene takes another jump with the Granite Brewery (now also of Toronto) at the old Gingers location on Lower Barrington, started up its experimental brewing with a variety of levels of success. About that time, the New Brunswick micro Hans Haus or Hanshaus started in Moncton and, according to Brewed in Canada, lasted five years. They brewed a lighter lager but also a beer that I recall as being like a marzen, darker and flavourful.

In 1985 I am in Holland working and traveling in France and the UK will college pals and, again at the end of 1986, I am to be found backpacking in the UK, in the pubs trying what’s ever going. The latter time I visit the Pitfield Beer Shop which Knut visited in 2005 and buy two homebrewing books, one by Dave Line and the other by Tayleur as well as some basic equipment I expect I can’t get back in Canada like polypins. I still use some of that stuff as well as those authors’ more basic brewing techniques.

But I think the real break came when I got the November 1987 issue of The Atlantic and read the article “A Glass of Handmade” – an article that gave me a sense there was something happening in North American outside of Halifax, that was maybe like the UK, that was maybe something to look forward to. I wrote about that back here and even sorted a copy of the article for posterity in my bloggy archives. Go read it again – it’s a great snapshot of where craft brewing was in 21 years ago and reminds me of what I was thinking about when I was first learning about what beer could be.